Address by President Nelson Mandela at the Community Builder of the Year Awards

11 February 1999

Master of Ceremonies
Editor of the Sowetan, Mr Aggrey Klaaste
Chief Executive Officer of SABC TV, Mr Molefe Mogkatle
Distinguished Guests
Community builders,

In a society such as ours nothing is so important as building a strong sense of community and shared goals. Thanks to such leadership peace and democracy have brought us the chance to address the basic needs of our people.

Though our nation inherited a state geared towards minority needs, and though the majority of South Africans had been denied the education or experience required to govern a modern society, we have done remarkably well. No government before has done so much to improve the lives of millions, especially the poor, at this democratic government.

But the task is far from complete. The challenge to mobilise all South Africans to be community builders in every walk of life has never been greater.

I therefore consider myself privileged to be in the company of men and women who have made the rebuilding of their country the theatre of their operation. Congratulations to you all!

We should also commend our public broadcaster in helping to honour community building in a way that can be witnessed by the w nation. It is partnership such as this between the Sowetan and the SABC that is critical to the achievement of our goals.

We need a concerted effort by all South Africans working together: rich and poor; workers and employers; government, business and community organisations, in a national crusade to speed up delivery of services; to create jobs and end poverty; to combat crime and corruption; and to remove the effects of past discrimination.

At the opening of Parliament we discussed our country's urgent need of an "RDP of the Soul", for the moral regeneration of our society, for self- respect and respect for others. The achievements we are honouring tonight show that the initiative of the people is a step ahead of us. They are an example to all South Africans, a call upon us to examine our consciences and ask ourselves: What am I doing to make South Africa a better place for all who live in it and to improve the lives of the most disadvantaged? What am I doing to counter criminal and corrupt activity? What am I doing to help reconcile and unite our people?

And what, we should ask at this time, are we doing to ensure that our second democratic elections should be a success? These elections will not only confirm our break with the past, but strengthen us as a nation to turn our hopes into reality.

We need therefore to mobilise all those who have not yet registered to do so, and in particular the youth. The right to vote is too precious, and has been won with too much sacrifice, for us to let it wither because our people have failed to put themselves on the voter roll.

Our active participation in the coming elections will be the ultimate contribution we can make to community building this year.

I thank you for allowing me to share with you in honouring community builders, men and women who are beacons of hope on the path to a better life for all.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation