OPENING ADDRESS BY PRESIDENT NELSON MANDELA TO THE FOURTH SESSION OF PARLIAMENT, 7 FEBRUARY 1997
Madame Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly;
Honorable Chairperson and Deputy Chairpersons of the National Council of Provinces;
Honorable Members of Parliament;
Ladies and Gentlemen:
A new year is upon us, once more affording us the opportunity to account in a comprehensive manner to the citizens on the awesome responsibilities they have mandated us to fulfill.
All of us, in the executive and legislatures, the majority party and Members in the opposition benches, are called upon to outline practical programmes to improve the nation's quality of life.
Again and again over the past year, the people showed remarkable commitment to the country's well-being. They took advantage of resources offered through RDP projects. They turned adversity into opportunity in the export market. They excelled in international sporting events, including the Olympics and Paralympics. And they joined hands to raise awareness around crime, and actually to work together to combat it.
In practical action, a new nation is being forged; a nation whose New Patriotism and sense of pride derive not only from ideas in our hearts, but also from concrete progress made in improving the well-being of all.
Our task is to mobilize all our people, to create more and more opportunities, to ensure that the citizen's potential is given the fullest expression. We have to do this and more, sensitive to the feelings of the majority and the minority, the haves and the have-nots, those who have the media to communicate their ideas and those deprived of such resources.
We can all derive pride from the fact that we took a historic step in this direction last year through the adoption of the new constitution: the basic law of our land reflecting the nation's yearning for a rising quality of life, in circumstances of democracy, peace and respect for human rights.
In a sense this is the first session of the new parliament.
And allow me to take this opportunity to welcome members of the National Council of Provinces, the living embodiment of co-operative governance. Their presence here already starts to redefine relations between government and the people: not abstract national or regional or local people, but South Africans, requiring and deserving of the highest professional service from their elected representatives.
Last Friday, I had the honour to thank our erstwhile Senators for their service to the nation. I wish to reiterate that today.
At the same time as they infused the debate in these chambers with their unique knowledge and expertise, they were also pioneers at an important moment of creation, the culmination of which is national parliament as we have it today.
The major restructuring of parliament represented by these changes epitomizes the maturing of our democracy. Of no less significance is the process that led to the adoption of the constitution: including mass involvement on the one hand, and the meticulous approach of the Constitutional Court on the other. With each major judgment, this Court grows in stature and places our democracy on a higher pedestal.
Co-operative governance and the New Patriotism also mean a loyal opposition: an opposition that opposes, but remains loyal to the constitution; an opposition that takes part in the major national programmes to reconstruct, to develop, to reconcile, to improve South Africa's standing in the world, to enhance business confidence, to put shoulders to the wheel in the fight against crime: in brief an opposition that takes full part in the efforts to build a better life for all.
We are encouraged that all parties in this chamber have committed themselves to this national consensus.
Through the new constitution, we have laid the foundation for a peaceful and prosperous nation. But it is just that: a foundation. And it will not amount to much if its provisions are not felt in the daily life of our people.
We must and will popularise the constitution. But, above all, we need to act together to implement its provisions.
We can take pride, Madame Speaker, in the fact that, as we enter the last half of this government's mandate, in ail matters of governance, we have laid the foundation to move even more speedily to our nation's goals.
We enter 1997 with all but one locality in the whole country enjoying democratic local governance. The completion of this process during the course of last year was significant not only in the peaceful manner in which it was conducted, but also because a new corps of leaders has emerged, in close touch with the people and steadily but surely starting to make an impact on their lives.
To improve the food security and nutrition of at least the most indigent of the population, projects which amount to R400-million and reaching over a million people were undertaken last year. The Primary School Nutrition Programme now benefits more than 3-million children. Programmes to develop new farming entrepreneurs, to return land to communities and resettle others, and to start tenure reform are starting to change the face of our countryside.
Over 700 000 people have already been supplied with water, and projects are under way which will affect over 6-million citizens.
After two years of preparing the ground, the national housing policy is now fully operational. Today, more houses are in production than at any other time in South Africa's history. Millions now enjoy the benefits of electricity.
Arguably, nowhere else is the fact of democratic transformation felt more keenly than in the area of universal access to health facilities. The building of clinics and hospitals, the immunisation programme and the beginnings of a new drugs policy - all these and more are practical and new qualitative steps that have transformed the majority of South Africans from being neglected outcasts into beneficiaries of a compassionate health policy.
During the course of last year, by dint of hard work by the health ministry, the efforts of relevant community-based organisations and, ironically, the debates around one famous play, the campaign against AIDS was more visibly put on the national agenda. Indeed, it is in part because of South Africa's efforts, that we were invited to take part in the UNAIDS meeting in Davos, Switzeriand just this week.
For the first time in South Africa's history, citizens are starting to benefit from integrated human resource development represented by a non-racial education system, life skills training, financial support to students in tertiary institutions, supply side measures in industry to promote training, and a sports programme based not only on the promotion of healthy lifestyles, but also on constructing facilities in areas that were hitherto neglected.
With the estimated 3% growth during the course of last year, the South African economy has turned the comer towards consistent expansion. Beneath this figure, which is of course less than what all of us would prefer, are strong signals of a robust industrial revolution in the making.
This is reflected in the many mega-projects with investments of more than half-a-billion Rand each, a phenomenal growth in fixed investments and improved capacity utilisation in enterprises. The physical volume of production is on a steep rise and so are our manufactured exports. The potential of the tourism industry has started to manifest itself; and in the overall, our balance of payments has started to improve.
We are heartened by the fact that small and medium enterprises can today boast of a government that not only promotes their interests; but one that has in place the structures, the procurement policies and the will to allocate resources to this sector. Be it in the housing programme, the building of roads, the school nutrition programme and public works projects, these entrepreneurs are gradually becoming a critical part of the economic mainstream.
We are confident that the new labour relations legislation, so painstakingly set in motion during the course of last year, will improve the management of this important area. Although no one piece of legislation can be a panacea to our deep social problems, this new regime should temper conflicts at the workplace and help strengthen the partnership between business and labour in national development.
Despite exchange rate pressures, our fiscal and monetary authorities have performed extremely well to ensure that we meet the targeted budget deficit and improve the management of government finances.
In brief, great progress is being made to implement the Growth, Employment and Redistribution strategy, itself an achievement in integrated planning introduced last year.
Another such achievement, which is starting to make a difference, is the National Crime Prevention Strategy. Despite the difficulties, despite the fact that such achievements mean little to those who still experience crime, the fact of the matter is that the offensive is on, particularly with regard to most priority crimes. Government is confident of making further progress in the fight for safety, security and stability.
In this regard, the role of the intelligence services deserves special mention. These brave policemen and women and intelligence operatives have made a critical contribution behind the scenes to the success that we have started to register.
We pay tribute to all these dedicated citizens who quite often put their own lives in danger so that we can all lead safe and secure lives.
Indeed, Madame Speaker, we have laid the foundation for a better life.
This is what the Reconstruction and Development Programme is about. The RDP is alive and well. It is not merely a sum of projects but an integrated national programme to improve the nation's quality of life.
But we would be less than candid if we did not acknowledge our shortcomings.
Firstly, because of capacity constraints, some projects could not be undertaken. For instance, a number of provinces have barely spent the funds allocated to them for housing and building of classrooms. It therefore does not make much sense to our people, for us to decry the debt burden and lack of resources while we are unable to utilise even what we have.
Secondly, ordinary citizens continue to complain about practices that have not changed in many government offices. Corruption, including the endemic problem of so-called "ghost workers" inherited from the past, continues to bedevil the civil service.
Thirdly, the growth achieved last year was not sufficient to absorb entrants into the labour market.
Lastly, there are increased reports of crimes such as child abuse, rape and domestic violence. In some instances, offenders easily elude our criminal justice system because of a fragmented and ridiculously backward data base.
We can list other examples, not to create despair; but because we are determined to address these shortcomings. This will be a major area of focus in our programme this year.
The primary consideration in this programme is the citizen. For, we can peddle figures of billions allocated to any project; but the question is whether the funds have been spent, and how they have benefited the citizen The people come first; and our models, strategies and plans should be measured by this yardstick.
In a nutshell, the weaknesses we have identified boil down to three things: cooperative governance, management and capacity-building.
In so far as local government is concerned, there is nothing as urgent and as critical as the training of councillors. Their ability to raise funds and manage them, to play their role in the multi-billion housing and infrastructure programmes, to attract investments, to deal with distortions of the apartheid era, and to work with communities in a partnership for development are skills that should be built more intensively this year.
At the same time, amendments will be introduced to the Local Government Transition Act to help stabilise local government finances. While provincial and national government will step in to assist where practicable, progress in this regard will depend on the Masakhane effort to build co-operation between communities and their local representatives.
Closely related to the issue of local government is the matter of traditional leaders. In a number of areas, the social fabric of communities has suffered because of conflict between elected structures and traditional authorities. We will this year intensify interaction with this institution, and we hope to launch the National Council of Traditional Leaders within three months.
This year, in keeping with the spirit of the new constitution, some of the recommendations of the Finance and Fiscal Commission, and consultation between national and provincial structures, a large percentage of the national budget will be allocated globally to the Provinces. This step implies greater responsibility and accountability on the part of the Provinces.
Intense discussions are taking place between national and provincial executive structures. In these consultations, the vexed questions of national minimum standards, national priorities, national norms in spending and a rigorous common system of finance management are being thrashed out; and we are confident that there will be no major hiccups.
In the final analysis, the question is not so much technically what powers and rights this or the other sphere of government has; but what service we can perform and how well we should co-operate in meeting the mandate of building a better life for all.
Closely tied to this is the question whether we are making any headway in transforming the civil service to become a public service in fact.
I wish to congratulate the staff at all levels for their efforts during the trying times of transition. We had to land running. And because significant achievements were made in social delivery, an impression was created that we had found in place a civil service ready to implement the new policies.
From the experience of the Presidential Review Commission, it is quite clear to us that, while work on long-term restructuring of the public service should continue, immediate practical actions are required to speed up the transformation.
From the investigations that the national ministry is conducting in the Provinces, Task Teams will be sent to deal with such weaknesses as personnel records, management of finance, strategic planning and prioritisation, information technology and labour relations.
What may seem simple and straight-forward are precisely the things that require thorough attention. Without this, the danger is as stark as it is real: that we shall not be able to meet the challenges of transforming society.
The Green Paper on Service Delivery has been drafted and the aim is to have legislation in place as soon as is practicable.
At the same time, it has become critical to examine the question of government services which can easily, more cost-effectively and more efficiently be undertaken outside of government. This has to be done with sensitivity, with the interests of the citizen at the centre of our considerations.
I wish to assure the civil service that all these changes will take place on the basis of consultation. The historic agreement reached last year on a new salary and grading system is still in place. Like with all agreements, there were conditions applying to both sides, and government will strive to honour both the spirit and the letter of the agreement. If and when a review is required, this will be pursued on the basis of negotiations.
Indeed, if we do not restructure the service, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to build on the foundation that has been laid.
We shall have good plans and even the resources to carry them out. But we shall year-in and year-out be saddled with unspent funds, terrible services and millions siphoned off in corrupt practices, in callous disregard of the most vulnerable sections of society.
The challenges in the areas of safety and security derive also from similar weaknesses.
We need to ensure that when a crime has been prioritised, that emphasis is felt throughout the whole criminal justice system. We should this year establish a comprehensive data base, improve the witness protection programme, empower victims and introduce a new style of work with clear delivery targets and deadlines which must be met. We are also putting in place proper mechanisms of co-ordination among the police, the intelligence community and the prosecutors particularly on crimes that are a national priority.
Further, within the framework of our commitment to the culture of human rights, government is grappling with the issue of bail and appropriate sentences for such serious offences as rape and murder associated with robbery. Legislation on these issues is being drafted. This is being done along with practical measures to improve the investigative capacity of the police.
Let me warn the criminals, especially the car hijackers, the drug syndicates, those who smuggle weapons, corrupt personnel in the criminal justice system, the rapists and child abusers and those involved in taxi violence: we will continue to escalate the offensive against them; we will make their life really difficult this year.
Many of them have been identified and we have examined the ways in which they have been evading the law. We are closing in on them; and we shall demonstrate convincingly that, in our young democracy, crime does not pay!
In the near future, we shall complete the investigation and take steps to cut the number of commercial entry points into the country, including some odd so-called international airports. it is quite clear that the careless attitude of the days of Third Force destabilisation and sanctions-busting is not only providing a heaven for criminals, some of whom were part of these networks; but it is also plainly and simply a threat to national security.
However, when ail is said and done, success depends on our whole society adopting a new value system. For, in many ways, by buying stolen goods, conniving with unscrupulous business-persons to evade tax, allowing criminals to lord it over communities, we do become our own worst enemies.
We also become our own worst enemies by co-operating with forces which commit crimes such as murder and destruction of property, in the name of campaigning against gangs and drugs. We must mobilise against crime yes; but as partners in a law-governed society that respects our legitimate government and other citizens; a law-governed society that does not tolerate illegal occupation of land and houses.
As a result of the tireless efforts of the police, the intelligence community, the national defence force as well as the affected communities and political, religious and business leaders, we have all but eliminated political violence. For this, all these sectors and others must be commended.
Yet with the kind of timing, selection of victims and political rationalisation that are bizarre in the strictest sense of the word, some individuals decided a few weeks ago to use bombs to challenge our democracy. We have examined these dark clouds and we are certain that the storm they threatened to bring has been averted.
Let me reiterate that there is no reason at all for any of our citizens to seek redress through violence. The avenues are there in the constitution and the structures it sets out for airing grievances. It will be the height of folly for anyone to seek to provoke the patience of a people who have elected, against their own deep emotions, to forgive and to reconcile. For their retribution will be decisive and telling.
Let me take this opportunity to commend the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for the magnificent work they are doing to realise their mandate. We did not expect their work to be easy. And we are struck by the impact they are making on the national psyche, for theirs is a process that hurts as much as it cleanses.
We are confident that they will be able to meet their deadline; and we hope that the recent decision they and the Freedom Front persuaded us to take on the amnesty deadline will assist in their work. In this regard, and in the interest of an inclusive process, I take this opportunity to place before parliament the recommendation that the cut-off date for amnesty be extended to 10 May 1994.
As it inches towards the truth, the TRC is helping to seal the coffin of a heinous system and to unearth what remnants of the old networks that may still be burrowing in our midst. It is helping to consolidate our democracy; and thus to complement the magnificent work of the Public Protector, the Human Rights Commission and other such institutions.
Another set of institutions critical to the advancement of our society are the Youth and Gender Commissions. We are confident that the Youth Commission will this year start to make its presence felt throughout society, promoting the interests of this precious asset to our nation.
After considering recommendations from parliament, I have accepted the names put forward for the Gender Commission. I wish to congratulate the Chairperson, Thenjiwe Mthintso, and the other Commissioners-designate whose names will be made known in a media statement during the course of the day.
Let me also take this opportunity also to welcome the new Chief Justice of the land, ismail Mahomed; and to assure him and the judiciary that we shall promote their independence and do our bit to make their work easier.
We have earlier noted the progress in the implementation of our socio-economic programmes.
During the course of this year we shall further speed up the process of practical implementation. South Africa must become a beehive of communities acting to change their lives for the better.
The nutrition programmes we referred to earlier should reach one-and-a-half million people and a further 2 million school-children. Close on to two-hundred thousand housing units are in line for construction.
18 agricultural ventures should be completed this year to develop new farming entrepreneurs. A further 1 ,7-million people will benefit from the water and sanitation programme; and over two-hundred thousand destitute people in rural areas should be allocated land on which they can live normal lives. More public works programmes will be undertaken especially the rural areas, and the Bill on secure tenure rights should be adopted this year.
I wish to reassure the commercial farming sector that these measures, as well as the proposals on water rights, will be pursued in a manner that does not undermine an industry which is so critical to the nation's food security and exports. At the same time we all know too well that long-term security and productivity in the country-side depend primarily on the upliftment of poor rural communities.
This year, more than 500 clinics will be built or upgraded, and the construction of at least 7 hospitals should commence. We aim in this period to decrease the national backlog in devices for the disabled by 60%; and we will strive to achieve an 80% cure rate for tuberculosis by 1998.
In line with the South African Schools Act, we will start implementing provisions relating to compulsory attendance, a code of conduct for teachers and students and national norms for funding.
A White Paper on Higher Education should have been introduced by the end of the year; and we hope to reach the same number of students with the financial aid scheme as this past year. It should be emphasised that the basic criterion to determine continued assistance will be academic performance.
The restructuring of the welfare system has begun. We will ensure speedy implementation of the decision to attain efficiency, resolve the problem of corruption, and bring more focus on those in acute need, especially unemployed mothers with children under five.
These are just examples of some of the programmes we are committing ourselves to. Within the departments responsible for these programmes, the process of reorienting spending and costing plans on a medium-term basis will continue.
Related to this is a delicate balance that needs to be struck between two extremes: On the one hand, our tender procedures are either not suitable to current needs or they are at times so rigidly applied as to become a break on implementation. On the other hand, there are instances where individuals in authority have ridden roughshod over these procedures, leading to unauthorised expenditure.
These procedures need to be reviewed, in line with the demands of transformation.
The confidence we have regarding these socio-economic commitments derives from the fact that our economic fundamentals are sound. This has given us a firm base from which to achieve higher and sustainable rates of growth and development.
The government's programme to facilitate this positive trend is guided by the critical sign-posts identified in our macro-economic strategy, namely, growth in production for export, infrastructural development, restructuring of state assets, reduction of the budget deficit, human resource development and a comprehensive labour relations dispensation. Critical in all this, is to create jobs and ensure equitable redistribution of wealth.
Our programme this year includes the implementation of the Maputo Development Corridor Initiative in terms of road construction and the other industries, big and small. Similar initiatives will be launched in KwaZulu/Natal and the Eastern Cape.
Investigations are being conducted in the Northern and North-western Provinces; and in all these projects, great care will be exercised to allocate a given percentage to small contractors.
In Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria, Metropolitan Development Initiatives will be launched combining industrial hubs, housing and community centres, roads and other infrastructure. Through these initiatives, we shall start to fundamentally reverse apartheid planning: ensure that workers stay close to their workplaces, and that the racial divide in residential areas is done away with.
The municipal infrastructure programme will see to the implementation of over a thousand projects costing more than a billion Rand; and the gigantic programmes in the telecommunications industry will start to change the lives of millions.
In order to encourage changes in production methods and improve skills training and technology usage, a number of incentives will be put in place during the course of the year. And the tax holiday initiative has become fully operational.
A range of promotional measures and diplomatic initiatives will be undertaken to facilitate exports. At the same time, significant progress is being made to tap foreign capital, as the true potential of the country becomes more and more apparent abroad.
All these elements of our industrial revolution will go a long way to create jobs, and we should start, slowly but surely, to reduce the army of the unemployed.
The macro-economic strategy identifies the restructuring of state assets as a critical part of our programme, to attract investments and technology, ensure efficiency, guarantee affordable prices and reorient state assets towards the goals of reconstruction and development.
In a matter of months, besides the mammoth task of general restructuring, Telkom will acquire a strategic equity partner, and SunAir and Aventura will be wholly privatised. The Airports Company and Safcol (in forestry) should complete their bidding processes this year. Alexkor (in diamond mining) is also being attended to. South African Airways and Autonet should have completed their restructuring processes by the first half of 1998: and intense discussions are under way in Transnet to address these and other subsidiaries.
All these steps will be taken in full consultation with all role-players; and I wish to urge both management and workers to respect this principle.
Our nation should be proud of a trade union movement that has taken active part in the major national debates, and along with business, started to realise co-operative relations in the workplace and in NEDLAC.
But yet on both counts, the trade union movement faces the challenge of unity across racial lines, taking advantage of the opportunities that have opened up and adapting fully to the challenges of the current phase. On the other hand, business has a long way to go with regard to such issues as equity in the workplace and reorienting companies to the developmental needs of the moment.
We hope that this year, negotiations on issues of basic conditions of employments employment equity and the vexed question of a national social agreement will reach some resolution.
As indicated earlier, we are equally optimistic with, regard to issue of government expenditure.
During the course of this year, we shall complete the plans towards medium-term budgeting, in order to bring budget allocations closer to our strategic objectives and to speed up re-prioritisation within departments. We shall also intensify efforts to improve the government's management of cash flows and eliminate unnecessary burdens on the fiscus.
I also wish to emphasise that, in our efforts as government to ensure that the nation lives within its means, we will take into account our mandate to the electorate, particularly the social requirements of the present and the future, and the benefits that will accrue from bold decisions.
The South African Revenue Service should be commended for the improvements in the tax collection system. We are however concerned that many people are not meeting their tax obligations, and as such, the tax burden is borne by too few honest citizens.
It is fair to assume that we all want the programmes outlined above to materialise; that we all want South Africa to succeed. But we must be prepared to foot the bill for success.
To broaden the tax base and break the culture of non-payment, we have offered certain relief measures which expire on 28 February this year. All persons who qualify are again urged to make US8 of this opportunity. Those who have not responded should be assured that, after this, will be the knock of the tax-man and woman, backed by the full force of the law.
In the overall, we are confident that we have moved into high gear in the implementation of the macro-economic strategy.
I would also like to reaffirm our commitment to the phased removal of remaining exchange controls.
We appreciate the new surge among all sectors to promote South Africa's true qualities abroad. This has already helped improve the economic environment, and, with the co-operation of all, it can only get better.
I wish to take this opportunity to congratulate the South African National Defence Force for its continuing contribution to the maintenance of our country's integrity, for the assistance it has rendered to the police in combating crime and dealing with natural disasters, and for the speed with which it has taken up the challenge to prepare for active peace-keeping tasks that we may be called upon to undertake.
The integration process and development of new doctrines have proceeded fairly well. But we cannot claim that the process has been flawless. The challenge is for the former statutory forces to embrace change and to eschew the temptation to maintain the status quo. It is for the former non-statutory forces to utilise the positions they hold to help speed up transformation and not shy away from responsibilities at the slightest hint of difficulties.
Debate will continue this year on the White Paper and the Defence Review, but what is critical is to move towards practical implementation. One of the issues in this regard is the defence force's requirements for equipment. The question here is not whether, but how to meet these requirements and how much the country can afford. As Commander-ln-Chief, I wish to emphasise that we shall not shirk our responsibility to the defence force.
We are confident that out of all these efforts we shall strengthen our unity as a nation.
But this will also depend on the ability of government to communicate clearly, coherently and professionally, as well as the preparedness of the media to transmit and interpret our actions and omissions in a professional, objective and fair manner. The government welcomes the report of the Communications Task Group and its recommendations are being processed for implementation.
As we improve South Africa's communications, including in the areas of culture, film, monuments and other media; as we mature to understand one another better, and as we join hands to improve our quality of life, we shall at the same time be building a nation ready for the challenges of the next millennium.
Our young democracy is still grappling with the challenge of its positioning in the international milieu.
It is understandable that at times this debate will be heated and acrimonious; because it is a debate more than just about how we relate to the world. It is part of the process of defining who we are. It is part of the resolution of past divisions within South African society - divisions which informed our divergent views of the world.
Within the Southern African Development Community, the first steps have been taken towards a free trade area within 8 years. Historic initiatives exemplified by the Maputo Development Corridor are gradually going to become the norm, as we bring our collective strength to bear to meet common challenges. It is a measure of our collective destiny that even bilateral negotiations between ourselves and the European Community had to be underpinned by regional realities.
Welcome progress was made in bilateral trade arrangements with Zimbabwe, and we aim to move faster this year to complete negotiations on the Customs Union.
We were honoured last year to be elected as Chairperson of the SADC for three years; and we will continue to work to strengthen the Community and enhance its standing in Africa and abroad.
In this context, we shall continue to make our humble contribution to the resolution of the crisis in the Great Lakes Region and to assist in facilitating the peace process in Angola.
Over the past year, we strengthened our relations with countries such as India and others in Asia, Brazil and others in Latin America, Saudi Arabia and others in the Middle East.We are all only starting to appreciate the full meaning of these relations in terms of exports, opportunities for investments and sources of capital. And evolving quietly from this, is a special relationship that is more or less natural among countries with broadly the same level of development, socio-economic challenges and interests.
How this will impact on South-South co-operation, assist in redefining the world balance of forces and enhance the unique potential of each of the countries, are matters that still require further examination.
Our commitment to the strengthening of the Organisation of African Unity is a matter of course. We also wish to congratulate UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan and offer our co-operation as this august body restructures itself. As President of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, we will continue to contribute to building the bridges of co-operation between the North and the South. We shall also start in earnest this year to prepare for the next Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement which we shall be honoured to host in 1998.
In the next few days, we shall play host to the King of Sweden as well as the Vice-President of the United States of America. These visits epitomise the intimate relations we have forged across the spectrum before and since our democratic elections. Bi-national Commissions with the US, Russia and the Federal Republic of Germany, and our special relations with countries of Northern and Western Europe, Japan and others speak of the positive climate that we have, to pursue South Africa's interests, which are in many respects the interests of the majority of the world's peoples.
We shall not falter in our contribution to the resolution of conflict and promotion of peace throughout the world. In this context, and in the context of our own principles, we shall continue to approach the issue of the manufacture and sale of weapons with circumspection. And as in everything else we do, we shall always defend our right as a nation independently to take decisions.
In all areas of endeavour, we have laid the foundation for success. At work, in sport and leisure, in business and the professions, in the schools and places of worship, we are forging a resilient nation; a nation conscious of its responsibilities to itself, to future generations and to the world in which we live.
The government has got the practical programmes in place to contribute decisively to the attainment of the nation's objectives. At the same time as we intensify the implementation of reconstruction and development, we shall improve co-operative governance as well as capacity and management at all levels.
The foundation for a better life has been laid. In the spirit of the New Patriotism, we can only rise to new heights.
ISSUED BY: The Office of the President, 7 February 1997