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Mandela emphasises commitment to peace
Item type: Interview
Acquisition method: From website
Source: ANC Website
Unique ID: NMS018
Editorial changes: Paragraph beginning: "Well, I am very confident that day is not far." Sentence in web text: "One thing I have been able to assess is that Mr. De Klerk is a integrity..." Changes made: "is a integrity" changed to "has integrity"
Presentation(s)Occasion: Press conference given to local and foreign journalists by Nelson Mandela on his release from prison
Date: 13 February 1990
These are extracts from the press conference.
Q) When President De Klerk announced your release....he said that after meetings with you he had come to the conclusion that you were committed to peace.
Last night you committed yourself to the intensification of the struggle.
Would you care to comment?
(A) There is no conflict between those statements. I have committed myself to the promotion of peace in the country, but I've done so as part and parcel of the decisions and campaigns which have been taken and launched by the ANC.
There is no conflict whatsoever.
There is not a single political organisation in this country inside and outside Parliament which can ever compare with the ANC in its total commitment to peace.
We ...the armed struggle, is merely defensive. It is a defence act against the violence of apartheid, but we remain committed to peace. If the Government gives us the opportunity, if they normalise the situation, we are ready to make a positive contribution towards the peaceful settlement of the problems of this country.
(Q) The Government's new battle seems to be protection for minority rights and a new negotiated constitution.
Do you detect, here anyway, group rights, and do you see any room for accommodation here between the ANC and the Government.
(A) The ANC is very much concerned to address the question of the concern Whites have over the demand of one person, one vote. They insist on structural guarantees, that is the Whites, to ensure that the realisation of this demand does not result in the domination of Whites by Blacks.
We understand those feelings and the ANC is concerned to address that problem and to find a solution which will suit both the Blacks and Whites of this country.
(Q) The Government has indicated that you are willing to act as mediator.
Do you agree with... that term?
(A) Well, in a sense I have been acting as a mediator because I believe the first step towards a solution of our problems is a meeting between the ANC and the Government .
So I have been playing that role, but now that I am released, it is for the ANC to determine what role I should play.
(Q) What do you plan to enhance black unity in the direction of PAC and in the Inkatha.....
(A) No single person can undertake such an enormous task. It is the duty of the political organisations, in particular the ANC, to determine in what way can we increase the momentum of unity among black organisations and then give instructions.
(Q) What is your view on sanctions? And do you intend to take up Mrs. Thatcher's invitation?
(A) Everything that we set out to achieve through sanctions is still the same. Nothing has changed. You must remember that the demand in this country is for a non-racial society. We are very far from that, and it is too early for anybody to expect us to call for the lifting of sanctions.
(Q) Will you take up Mrs. Thatcher's invitation to visit?
(A) Well, an invitation from a British Prime Minister is something very important, and we cannot treat it very lightly. But on this question, call for the lifting of sanctions.
(Q) Mr. Mandela, you have told us of parts of your life in prison....(inaudible)
(A) I have lost a great deal over these 27 years. My wife has been under sorts of pressure and it is not a nice feeling for a man to see his family struggling, without security, without the dignity of the head of the family around, but despite the hard times that were in prison, we have also the opportunity to think about programmes...and in prison there have been men who are very good in the sense that they understand our point of view, and they do everything to try and make you as happy as possible.
That was wiped on bitterness which a man could have.
(Q) Could you tell, on the basis of you talks so far, how close you feel you are to having a meeting with the Government, between the ANC and the Government.
(A) Well, I am very confident that day is not far. One thing I have been able to assess is that Mr. De Klerk has integrity, and as I said yesterday, he seems to be fully aware the danger to a public figure of making undertakings which he and I think that is a very promising sign. In my discussion with him, he has been very flexible, but as an organisation of course we are concerned not so much in the personal virtues of an individual.
Our policy and strategies are determined by the harsh reality of the fact that is what determines our attitude. But I am confident that if Mr. de Klerk is able to carry the National Party with him in the new line that he has taken that normalise the situation as soon as possible.
(Q) Of deep concern in Natal has been Gatsha's insistence that he has a very personal relationship with you....what will your public attitude now be towards Gatsha Buthelezi?
(A) That should be a matter of no concern. We have differences with Dr Buthelezi.
Firstly, on the question of violence.
Secondly on the attitude towards Government structures.
And thirdly, on questions of sanctions.
These are a fundamental difference, but nevertheless, he is a figure with a following. It may not be as big and may not command as much resources as we command, but he has a following and it seems to me correct to try and settle problems in which he is involved amicably, and I wrote to him because I did not think it was correct that Africans, blacks, should be killing one another, and that situation we must try and solve.
(Q) You have spoken a couple of times this morning of your sensitivity to the concerns of the White, population. Have you modified in any way your views on the redistribution of wealth?
(A) No, my views are identical to those of the ANC. The question of the Nationalisation of the mines and similar sectors of the community is a fundamental policy of the ANC and I believe that the ANC is quite correct in this attitude and that we should support it.
(Q) Mr. Mandela, you have been talking a lot about the assurances that you'd like to give Whites.
Does mean that you would be prepared to compromise on the system of one man, one vote, maybe by having separate voter's rolls, things like that?
(A) No, I have said I would not like to go into any specifics at time.
This is, however, a matter which is regarded as extremely important by the ANC. We decide the actual structure of the guarantees, that might be developed at the time when we are addressing this question.