President of the Republic of South Africa
Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly
Deputy Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces
Former President F W de Klerk and Mrs De Klerk
Former Deputy President Baleka Mbete
Members of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures
Members of the family of the late President Mandela
Ladies and gentlemen
It is indeed a great and rare honour to address you today on the important occasion of the launch of the project to celebrate 20 Years of a Democratic Parliament.
It is fitting that as we mark 20 years of this important institution of the people that we do so by unveiling the bust of former President Nelson Mandela. President Mandela led us through the painful transition from an old South Africa to a new democratic country. The unveiling of his bust is an expression of respect for the role he played in leading our young democracy.
We use this moment to pay homage to the leadership of the first President of a democratic South Africa. Through him we honour the many leaders and ordinary South Africans, before and during his time, who played a role in ensuring that we attain freedom.
We remember him for the wisdom he shared with us. He taught us perseverance and the responsibility that comes with freedom, when he said:
"I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended."
He is no longer with us but we continue his long walk to a prosperous South Africa.
From Mandela's thoughts and teachings during his lifetime, the world got insights into his enduring style of leadership. We benefited from his lessons on leadership. His lesson was that "A leader. . .is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realising that all along they are being directed from behind."
It is therefore befitting for our democratic Parliament to honour the leader who was a gift to mankind. As a "popular organ of people's power", we salute the late father of the nation. We treasure the moments he spent with us. We treasure his great contribution to humanity.
In celebrating 20 years of this democratic Parliament, we are proud to have been led by a leader of Nelson Mandela's stature. He graced these walls with his majestic figure that belied his profound humility. He towered over the birth of a new democracy, leading Africa's last nation to be free.
He led South Africans through a path of reconciliation, in line with his belief that "if there are dreams about a beautiful South Africa, there are also roads that lead to their goal". To him, one of those roads was "forgiveness".
Through forgiveness, our country is very different to what it was two decades ago. Since then:
- We have seen 20 years of transforming society and entrenching democracy.
- We have seen 20 years of people involvement in the processes of this Parliament.
- We have seen 20 years of people-centred development and progress.
As a result we are, in many respects, the envy of many old democracies.
Through Madiba's leadership, we started building a united and democratic country that is able to take its rightful place as a sovereign state in the family of nations. We are happy to have had him as our "shepherd".
With these words allow me to welcome you to the launch of the programme to celebrate 20 Years of a Democratic Parliament with the unveiling of the bust of Nelson Mandela.
I thank you.