Joint Sitting - 10 May 2004

MONDAY, 10 MAY 2004 __


Members of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces assembled in the Chamber of the National Assembly at 10:56.

The Speaker of the National Assembly and the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces took the Chair.

The Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.


The SPEAKER: Hon members, we are honoured to welcome amongst us today two South Africans who played a significant role in laying a foundation for the parliamentary democracy we started 10 years ago. As we mark this occasion, we remember how it was from this Chamber that Mr F W de Klerk made a statement that both literally and symbolically opened the gates to usher in a new era for our country.

Subsequently, on 9 May 1994, the democratically elected members of the National Assembly were sworn in. Most importantly, apart from electing the Presiding Officers of the National Assembly, the House elected the first President of a democratic South Africa, Mr Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

Hon members, both Houses have invited the two former members to address this Joint Sitting to commemorate the start of 10 years of parliamentary democracy. I would now like to call on the hon Deputy Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces to make some introductory remarks. [Applause.]

The DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP (Mr M J Mahlangu): Madam Speaker, Madam Chairperson, President of the Republic of South Africa, Deputy President, hon members and guests, I am humbled and indeed deeply thankful for the honour bestowed upon me to say a few words about the former Presidents, Dr Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela and Mr F W de Klerk at this auspicious occasion, the address by them of the Joint Sitting of Parliament.

On 2 February 1990, a year to the hour after he had been elected leader of the NP, President De Klerk delivered the traditional speech at the opening of the new session of Parliament. Most of his supporters realised that he would make important announcements on reform, but few realised exactly how far he would go. Towards the end of his speech, to the audible shock of the Conservative Party opposition, he announced not only the release of Nelson Mandela, but also the unbanning of all political parties and formations that had been restricted, including the SA Communist Party. He also announced that the government would enter into genuine constitutional negotiation to create a new South Africa.

During the months and years that followed, former President De Klerk led his government and party in the difficult negotiations that were characterised by numerous crises, including the assassination of Chris Hani, and were bedevilled by violence and boycotts.

After the election, Mr F W De Klerk served for two years as one of the Executive Deputy Presidents. In 1996, he led the New NP out of the Government of National Unity and a year later retired from active politics. Since then he has established a foundation which is dedicated to promoting communication, co-operation and understanding between community leaders, and supporting the Constitution that he helped to create.

As we celebrate 10 years of democratic rule, there can be little doubt about Madiba’s fingerprints over the past decade. Through his vision and leadership, our country has in the last decade changed from pariah of the world to a position of moral and political import. For the greater part of his life and as he correctly observed in his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, Madiba has been the symbol of justice in the court of the oppressor, the representative of the great ideals of freedom, fairness and democracy in a society that dishonoured those values.

He is the greatest statesman of our time and has indeed become a saintly icon of the world. It is part of Madiba’s charm that he can be humble without a hint of false modesty.

Having been inaugurated as the first President of the democratic South Africa, he arrived in his office with nothing. To get a notebook or a pen he had to ask the civil servants, who told him that every item of stationery, as well as tea and coffee, had to be ordered from Pretoria. It was not because they were unco-operative, they had their own style of doing things, to which Madiba easily adjusted.

Throughout his tenure he sought to give meaning and content to the policy and philosophy of reconciliation and nation-building. Although he sometimes came out strongly against whites who seemed unwilling to embrace the new political dispensation, he has never ceased to emphasise and appeal to whites and other minority groups to consider themselves part of the majority.

We, and indeed the entire country, are very grateful to be accorded this rare opportunity to be addressed by this humble giant of Africa. Indeed, his commanding presence will inspire us to greater heights in our quest for service delivery.

In a life that is characterised by social ills in unprecedented proportions, he symbolises the triumph of man’s spirit over inhumanity. Indeed, a South African writer, André Brink, has observed that he walked free and, with him, the nation began to walk to freedom. Although the challenges are new and the terrain of struggle has changed, we are still in the gallant walk. However, the momentum has increased and a sense of urgency is much greater.

We are in no doubt and indeed are satisfied that when he left office, he left us with a solid foundation, with able team leaders under the inspiring leadership of President Thabo Mbeki in order to continue building on those foundations. The President and indeed the entire nation have not failed Comrade Madiba in this regard. He knows, though, that we can never be satisfied with what we have achieved materially and in terms of attitudes. A lot more has to be done, and we dare not fail our people.

Madam Speaker, hon members, I present to you the honourable Dr Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela and honourable F W de Klerk to address this august Joint Sitting. I thank you. [Applause.]

                     ADDRESS BY MR F W DE KLERK

Agb Speaker, Mnr die President, vorige President Mandela, agb lede, ek het nooit verwag dat ek weer hier sal staan en die geleentheid sal hê om van hier af te praat nie. Baie dankie vir die groot eer my aangedoen. Saam met alle Suid-Afrikaners juig my hart vandag oor die wonderlike geleentheid wat ons vier as ons terugkyk op 10 goeie jare vir ons land en al sy mense. [Applous.] (Translation of Afrikaans paragraph follows.)

[Madam Speaker, Mr President, former President Mandela, hon members, I would never have expected to stand here again and have the opportunity to address you. Thank you for the great honour bestowed on me. Together with all South Africans, my heart gladly celebrates this wonderful occasion when we look back on 10 good years for our country and its people. [Applause.]]

The past 10 years were made possible by five very extraordinary years which preceded them. I am not saying this because it coincided with my presidency. No, they were extraordinary because of the historic agreements which we achieved during those years; because we averted a catastrophe and because we successfully created a new South Africa - a new South Africa offering hope and justice to all its people.

I would, therefore, like to start by paying tribute to all the men and women who helped to lay the foundations for the past 10 years. To all those from all parties who steadfastly supported my efforts to promote transformation while I was President, I say thank you. Together we all did the right thing. All of us are co-creators of the new South Africa. Together all South Africans, from all our communities, helped to create a new nonracial society in which all South Africans have a right to equality, a right to call South Africa their home and a right to enjoy the full spectrum of rights contained in our new Constitution and our Bill of Rights.

In particular, I would like to pay tribute to the leaders of all the parties who participated in the negotiations and those who stood by them - they are too many to name in person.

But today, in more than one sense of the word, is the day of Nelson Mandela, of Madiba. [Applause.] And therefore, a special tribute from me to a great leader, to a man who towered like a giant in this transformation, to a man who has shown all of us what it means to really build reconciliation. We honour you, Sir, on this day. [Applause.]

To President Mbeki, I would also like to pay tribute. From the beginning of these 10 years, as first Executive Deputy President, he helped to stabilise and lay the foundations that brought us to this joyful day. I wish him well in his new term of office. [Applause.]

We South Africans can also look back with pride at the accomplishments of the past 10 years. During this period we have entrenched our young democracy. We held three successful national elections. We witnessed the seamless transition from one President to another, and our democratic institutions, Parliament and the Constitutional Court, and our judicial system and civil society began to play their assigned roles in our young and vibrant democracy. In addition, a great deal has been done to improve the daily lives of millions of South Africans, especially in the fields of housing and access to clean water and electricity. The availability of social grants to the poorest of the poor has also grown dramatically.

Nevertheless, a great deal remains to be done. I have little doubt that the second 10 years of the new South Africa will be dominated by economic and social transformation. The manner in which we deal with this challenge will determine the long-term success and viability of our new society. All South Africans must now join hands to tackle economic and social transformation - just as we joined hands 14 years ago to tackle the constitutional transformation of our country.

We need to approach, I believe, transformation within the framework of three imperatives. Firstly, we need real transformation that will, within the next 10 years, substantially address the poverty and deprivation of the millions of disadvantaged South Africans. We must all work for programmes, programmes that will substantially increase employment, that will reduce poverty and that will effectively combat Aids and TB. We need to develop the skills required to make our country ever more relevant to the global economy. During this period we need to move, preferably naturally and organically, towards far more representative institutions.

Secondly, transformation must take place within the framework of the basic rules governing the globalised economy. We need to ensure that South Africa becomes a winning nation in highly competitive markets, so that we can become the first African nation to join the ranks of the First World. Thirdly, we need a transformation process that will enjoy the active and enthusiastic support of all our communities and of all sectors of our economy.

The Government will and must lead this process. But in this historic task it will require the support of all South Africans - working in unison. We need a transformation process that will unlock the enormous resources and talents of advantaged communities, that will mobilise them to enthusiastically address the pressing challenges of our society, that will focus on effective education and training programmes, that will facilitate the expeditious achievement of negotiated, pragmatic and attainable levels of representivity in the public and private sectors.

Our challenge now is to continue to bring real justice and equity to all our people - to those who are suffering and to those who are already contributing to a better South Africa.

I call on all our people to continue to work together, to take hands, and to make our wonderful country a shining example to the rest of the world. I thank you. [Applause.]

                      ADDRESS BY MR N R MANDELA

Mr N R MANDELA: Madam Speaker, Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Deputy Speaker, Deputy Chairperson of the NCOP, Mr President, Deputy President, members of the Cabinet, Premiers, hon members, we are deeply moved and humbled by your magnanimous gesture in inviting us to address this joint session of the two Houses of Parliament. We are aware that an exception to the Standing Rules had to be made in order to allow a retired old pensioner who is neither a member of Parliament nor the serving head of state of any country to address you. [Laughter.] That all the parties represented in Parliament unanimously consented to this extraordinary departure from the Rules touches us, not only for the honour it pays us, but also for the spirit of our nation that it speaks of. [Applause.]

We remember that on this exact day 10 years ago democratic South Africa celebrated its ceremonial birth with the inauguration of its first President and two Deputy Presidents. We recall the joy and excitement of a nation that had found itself, the collective relief that we had stepped out of our restrictive past and the expectant air of walking into a brighter future.

The national climate was one of magnanimity and a great generosity of spirit. As a people we were enormously proud of what we had achieved, negotiating amongst ourselves a peaceful resolution to what was regarded as one of the most intractable situations of conflict in the world. We were not aware of or blind to the extent, depth and gravity of the challenges ahead of us as we set out on that day to transform, reconstruct and develop our nation and our society.

However, the overwhelming feelings in those early days of democratic nationhood were of hope and confidence. We had miraculously, as many said, transcended the deep divisions of our past to create a new inclusive democratic order. We had confidence that, as a nation, we would similarly confront and deal with the challenges of reconstruction and development.

This old man, who was greatly honoured by the nation and Parliament to be elected founding President of democratic South Africa, notes with immense satisfaction and pride today the persistence and strengthening of that spirit of generosity, magnanimity and confident hopefulness about the future of our nation. [Applause.]

Merely observing this Parliament inspires national pride and confidence. “We, the people of South Africa”, the preamble to our Constitution states, “believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.” The makeup of this Parliament confirms that the people of South Africa had spoken in all its diversity, asserting the strength of our unity in diversity.

Allow us, Madam Speaker, to congratulate you, the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces and your Deputies on your election to these important and prestigious positions in our democracy. [Applause.] Parliament is the voice of the people and you, the Presiding Officers, bear a heavy responsibility in ensuring that the voice is clearly heard in national affairs and that its role be protected and defended. Similarly, our congratulations to all the members of Parliament in whom the nation has put its trust. Yours is the almost sacred duty to ensure government by the people under the Constitution.

Madam Speaker, we also wish to extend congratulations to our President and to those that he has appointed as members of his national Cabinet and to the positions of provincial Premiers. I have said it so often, but want to repeat it here, at what must certainly be the last time that Parliament will bend its own Rules to allow me address it. [Laughter.] No President or Prime Minister in the history of this country can claim to have done more for the people and the country than has been achieved by President Thabo Mbeki. [Applause.] He is a modest man and I know he would prefer that I do not sing his personal praises but his achievement as President and national leader is the embodiment of what a nation is capable of. Public acknowledgement of his achievements is to affirm ourselves as a nation, to assert the confidence with which we face our national future and conduct ourselves on the international stage. Thank you, Mr President, for leading us with such vision and dedication to your task.

Assuming that Parliament is not cavalier about its own Rules and that this is my last address to this House, what do I wish for our democracy in this second decade that we have entered? Let us never be unmindful of the terrible past from which we come - that memory, not as a means to keep us shackled to the past in the negative manner but rather as a joyous reminder of how far we have come and how much we have achieved; the memory of a history of division and hate, injustice and suffering, inhumanity of person against person should inspire us to celebrate our own demonstration of the capacity of human beings to progress, to go forward, to improve, to do better.

There are many theoretical debates about the meaning of democracy that I am not qualified to enter into. A guiding principle in our search for and establishment of a nonracial inclusive democracy in our country has been that there are good men and women to be found in all groups and from all sectors of society, and that in an open and free society those South Africans will come together to jointly and co-operatively realise the common good.

My wish is that South Africans never give up on the belief in goodness, that they cherish that faith in human beings as a cornerstone of our democracy. The first value mentioned under the founding principles of our Constitution is that of human dignity. We accord a person’s dignity by assuming that they are good, that they share the human qualities we ascribe to ourselves. Historical enemies succeeded in negotiating a peaceful transition from apartheid to democracy exactly because we were prepared to accept the inherent capacity for goodness in the other.

We live in a world where there is enough reason for cynicism and despair. We watch as two of the leading democracies, two leading nations of the Free World get involved in a war that the United Nations did not sanction. We look on with horror as reports surface of terrible abuses against the dignity of human beings held captive by invading forces in their own country. [Applause.] We see how the powerful countries, all of them so- called democracies, manipulate multilateral bodies to the great disadvantage and suffering of the poorer developing nations. [Applause.] There is enough reason for cynicism and despair, but then we should take heart from our own experience and performance.

Let us refrain from chauvinistic breast-beating, but let us also not underrate what we have achieved in establishing a stable and progressive democracy where we take freedom seriously, in building national unity in spite of decades and centuries of apartheid and colonial rule, and in creating a culture in which we increasingly respect the dignity of all. In a cynical world we have become an inspiration to many. We signal that good can be achieved amongst human beings who are prepared to trust and who are prepared to believe in the goodness of people.

Poverty, unemployment, preventable disease and ill health and other forms of social deprivation continue to blot our landscape as we strive to give content to the democratic commitment of a better life for all. Nothing impairs the dignity of a person so much as not being able to find work and gainful employment. The human immunodeficiency virus and Aids continue to threaten our future in a particularly frightening manner.

Our democracy must bring its material fruits to all, particularly the poor, marginalised and vulnerable. Our belief in the common good ultimately translates into a deep concern for those that suffer want and deprivation of any kind. We are inspired by the commitment that has emerged from all parties that have participated in the past elections. This Parliament, leading into the second decade of democracy, promises to take seriously that contract with the people to improve their lives.

We are impressed by the spirit of inclusiveness exuded by our legislature and our executive. We are warmed by the spirit of generosity that continues to characterise our nation and national efforts.

We thank Parliament for this opportunity to greet the dawn of our second decade of democracy. We wish you well.

May God protect our people. Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika. Morena boloka setjhaba sa heso. God seën Suid-Afrika. God bless South Africa. Mudzimu fhatsutshedza Afurika. Hosi katekisa Afrika.



The MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE AND LAND AFFAIRS: Madam Speaker, Madam Chairperson of the NCOP, the Deputy Speaker, and the Deputy Chairperson of the NCOP, President, Deputy President, former President Mandela and Mr De Klerk, on behalf of this Joint Sitting, which reflects the public representatives of our country and, I daresay, on behalf of the members of South African society seated in the gallery and those at home, I would like to say to both Mr De Klerk and former President Mandela that there not many words with which we can say, ``Thank you for having honoured us today.’’ [Applause.]

As we mark the 10-year anniversary of our democracy, as a country, we cannot forget the roles that both of you have played in different ways to chart the path in which we have all walked to be where we are. I can imagine the day when you, Mr De Klerk, took the decision to convince people that it was time to change; people who for many years have had to think differently about who they are in relation to others. I would say that that day marked a deposit into an insurance policy, a policy that has had value for all South Africans.

President Mandela, some of us who were young on that day when you came out of Victor Verster Prison wondered what the next step would be. When Mr De Klerk said that all political parties were unbanned, we actually never trusted that statement. We thought that it might be a trap. But, as South Africans, we always surprise ourselves. We had faith and we believed in who we are as a country and what we are capable of doing, and that faith and belief, but also hard work, has led us to build a country that you yourselves, as you have said today, have been proud to be citizens. [Applause.] We would like to say, in thanking you, that your words of wisdom have not fallen on deaf ears. The commitment we have made will continue to ensure that we do indeed build a better life for all South Africans. Thank you very much. [Applause.]

                         UNVEILING OF PLAQUE

The CHAIRPERSON OF THE NCOP: We shall now proceed to the unveiling of the plaque. The Deputy Speaker will read out the words on the plaque when the plaque is unveiled. The plaque being unveiled is a replica of the one that will soon be permanently mounted on the granite plinth outside the National Assembly. We now invite the hon President, the Deputy President, Mr De Klerk and the Deputy Speaker to join us in front of the podium. [Applause.]

The SPEAKER: Hon members, please don’t get up yet. Allow me first to say what I have to say. That concludes the business of the Joint Sitting. However, members and guests are requested to remain seated while the plaque is being unveiled. After the unveiling, the procession will leave the Chamber through the front doors. Members and guests would then follow. [Applause.]

The House adjourned at 11:35.