Message by Nelson Mandela to the 52nd National Conference of the African National Congress (ANC), Polokwane

16 December 2007

Mister President
Deputy President
Comrades and Friends

Our greetings and best wishes as you gather here for the fifty second national conference of our organisation.

You are faced with very important decisions at this conference, but the African National Congress has been the leading political movement in our country for almost a century exactly because its members were always called upon to make serious decisions for the people and the country.

We have earned that position of leadership because of the manner in which we conducted ourselves and united our people around common goals for the good of the people and the country.

Today there are signs of deep divisions in our organisation. Differences and tensions in an organisation are not unusual or abnormal. It is the manner in which we deal with those differences that matters.

We peacefully resolved the conflict in our country because we as an organisation were able to sit down and negotiate with our enemies and adversaries. We could reach out to all the people of the country, uniting them around our common national goals. Unity within the organisation and the unity of the people of South Africa had always been of utmost importance to the African National Congress.

Whatever decisions you are to make at this conference – including decisions about leadership positions in the organisation – let that noble history of the ANC guide you.

Of course, it saddens us to see and hear of the nature of the differences currently in the organisation. We take heart, however, from the knowledge that when it mattered the ANC could always find the wisdom and strength to avoid actions that would divide and destroy the organisation.

It is to that wisdom that we, our membership at large, and the entire people of South Africa again look as you gather at Polokwane.

We have called ourselves the parliament of the people and demonstrated that we deserve that name because we could rise above factionalism, racism, tribalism, ethnic divisions, sexism and other forms of social prejudice and discrimination.

We are confident that you, our mandated delegates, will once more prove to ourselves and the nation that we deserve to be the leading organisation we have been for almost a century.

I thank you

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation