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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Statement By Mr. Thabo Mbeki, Representative ANC Of South Africa, At The General Assembly Of The UN, December 13, 19931

We would like to thank members most sincerely for allowing us once more to address the General Assembly.

This is perhaps the last time that the Assembly will discuss South Africa under the agenda item entitled "Elimination of apartheid and establishment of a united, democratic and non-racial South Africa". Before the next session of the General Assembly is convened, elections will take place in South Africa on the basis of an interim constitution which, for the first time, will incorporate in the South African political order the various provisions contained in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and will grant every adult South African the right to vote.

This week, as the General Assembly debates the issue of South Africa, the South African tricameral parliament will itself begin its own discussion of that interim constitution. Within a few days, that parliament will give legal force to that historic document, which has already been approved at a plenary meeting of the multi-party negotiating forum. As the Assembly knows,the Transitional Executive Council has already begun its work. The other bodies required to prepare the country for its transition to democracy will also become operational in the immediate future.

All these developments, to which the Assembly has responded in part by lifting the sanctions it imposed against apartheid South Africa, have correctly been recognized as important victories in the international struggle against apartheid.

Since 1989, the world anti-apartheid movement has been guided in its struggle by the benchmark decisions contained in the General Assembly Declaration on Apartheid and its Destructive Consequences in Southern Africa. Not all the objectives spelt out in that Declaration have been achieved. One of the central objectives of the forty-eighth session of the General Assembly must therefore be to complete the work in progress as defined in that Declaration. The work in progress is the transformation of South Africa into a united, democratic and non-racial country, through the holding, on 27 April next year, of free and fair elections on the basis of universal adult suffrage.

Soon our country will experience an all-inclusive constitutional and democratic process for the first time. It will take the first step towards a democratic, non-racial and non-sexist future. It will be a decisive step forward, but a first step nevertheless.

Because of our country's recent and current history, this advance in South Africa has seemed to assume a particular newness and an exceptional meaning within the context of the transformation of the world. Because of the place in African and world affairs that the South African experience occupies, it has seemed to be critically important that our transition to democracy should succeed, in the interest of democracy universally. It has also seemed that this transition not only should succeed but should be seen by both South Africans and the rest of the world to have been a success.

It has further seemed that this transition should contribute something real and meaningful to the struggle of the peoples of the world, against racism in particular. Furthermore, it has seemed self-evident that the victory over the system of apartheid, like the defeat of nazism almost 50 years ago, must signify a visible gain in the common effort to resist any tendency in the conduct of world affairs which, by permitting contempt for the solution of conflicts by peaceful means, leads to violent conflict, repression and war within and among nations.

To achieve the success that all these considerations demand requires of the United Nations that it remain engaged with the South African question until all the goals contained in the consensus Declaration on Apartheid of 1989 and subsequent decisions of this body have been realized.

In particular, all necessary measures must be taken to strengthen the United Nations Observer Mission in South Africa and increase its capacity to help us combat the persisting scourge of political violence in our country. In the first instance, decisions that have already been taken in this regard need to be implemented without undue delay. We would, however, also like to take this opportunity to express once more our sincere appreciation for the enormous and valuable work that has been carried by the Observer Mission as well as by the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the Commonwealth and the European Union.

We also believe that it is of critical importance that this Organization should spare no effort in its determination to ensure that the elections of 27 April are free and fair. We are greatly encouraged by the call already made by the President of the Security Council for the acceleration of the process of planning for United Nations participation in the election process. In that context, we wish to thank the Secretary-General for his response - the sending of a needs-assessment team to South Africa.

We know that this Organization fully understands the critical importance of these elections, not only for the people of South Africa but for the world. We are also convinced that it will continue to sustain its decades-long commitment to end the system of apartheid. Accordingly, we trust that the Assembly and the Security Council will be at one with us when we say that adequate and necessary participation by United Nations election observers should be measured in thousands rather than in hundreds.

As the Assembly knows, there are some organizations and administrations in our country that have elected to remain aloof from the multi-party process of negotiations. Some of these are threatening to unleash a civil war to block the democratic transition. We are certain that this Assembly will continue to speak with one voice in calling on these elements to rejoin the forces of democratic change. It is also of great importance that this Assembly make it unequivocally clear that the peoples of the world will do nothing to legitimize or give sustenance to machinations which are intended to frustrate the final liquidation of the system of apartheid.

We, for our part, will continue to do everything we can to persuade these groups to see reason, without losing sight of the fact that the overwhelming majority of our people are determined that the transition should go forward as agreed.

We would also like to commend and express our profound appreciation for the work that has already been done within the United Nations family to prepare this Organization to help the people of South Africa further to overcome the negative social and economic consequences of the policies of apartheid. In this regard, a special word of appreciation must go to the United Nations Educational and Training Programme for Southern Africa (UNETPSA), and to the Chairman of its Advisory Committee, Ambassador Huslid of Norway, for their invaluable assistance to thousands of needy students in southern Africa. The United Nations Trust Fund for South Africa continues to play a vital role in addressing the socio-economic ills of apartheid.

We also wish to pay a tribute to the United Nations Intergovernmental Group to Monitor the Supply and Shipping of Oil and Petroleum Products to South Africa, under the chairmanship of Ambassador Anthony Nyakyi of the United Republic of Tanzania. Under extremely difficult conditions, the Intergovernmental Group performed an important task and thus made an invaluable contribution to the struggle to end apartheid. We would also like to express our profound gratitude to all the Member States that have contributed to the success of the work of these committees.

Furthermore, we are convinced that the mandate of the Special Committee against Apartheid should be extended until a democratically elected government of South Africa has been installed.

The peoples of our region, including those of Angola, Mozambique and South Africa, are relying on this Organization to play its rightful role in helping them to secure democracy, peace and prosperity for themselves. We are certain that this Organization will not fail us.

We would also like to take this opportunity to reiterate our deep desire that just and lasting solutions be found for the conflicts in Western Sahara, Liberia, Palestine and the Middle East, Somalia and Bosnia. We extend our solidarity to the peace-loving forces in these areas and countries.

The time has not yet come when we can sound the victory salute over the system of apartheid. The day has not yet dawned when we can all proclaim that all the people of South Africa have begun to govern their country.

Until that moment comes, we must acknowledge that the struggle continues, and together we must commit ourselves to continuing our united efforts towards the victory of what is and has been the cause of all humanity.

Acting thus, four months hence, we, the peoples of the world, will have a chance to say in concert that the beast is no more.

Together we will win.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.