Address by the President to the Parliament of South Africa

Office of the Press Secretary
(Cape Town, South Africa)

For Immediate ReleaseMarch 26, 1998


Chamber of the House of Assembly
Cape Town, South Africa

4:45 P.M. (L)

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Premier Molefe, for that fineintroduction. Mr. President, Deputy President Mbeki, Madam Speaker, Mr.Chairman of the National Council of Provinces, Members of Parliament,ladies and gentlemen, I am deeply honored to be the first AmericanPresident ever to visit South Africa, and even more honored to stand beforethis Parliament to address a South Africa truly free and democratic atlast. (Applause)

Joining my wife and me on this tour of Africa, and especiallyhere, are many members of our Congress and distinguished members of myCabinet and administration, men and women who supported the struggle for afree South Africa, people of all different backgrounds and beliefs.

Among them, however, are members of the Congressional BlackCaucus and African American members of my government. It is especiallyimportant for them to be here because it was not so long ago in the longspan of human history that their ancestors were uprooted from thiscontinent and sold into slavery in the United States. But now they returnto Africa as leaders of the United States. Today they sit alongside theleaders of the new South Africa, united in the powerful poetry of justice.

As I look out at all of you, I see our common promise. Twocenturies ago the courage and imagination that created the Untied Statesand the principles that are enshrined in our Constitution inspired men andwomen without a voice across the world to believe that one day they toocould have a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Now the courage and the imagination that created the new SouthAfrica and the principles that guide your constitution inspire all of us tobe animated by the belief that one day humanity all the world over can atlast be released from bonds of hatred and bigotry.

It is tempting for Americans of all backgrounds, I think, perhapsto see too many similarities in the stories of our two countries, becausesometimes similarities which appear to be profound are in fact superficial.And they can obscure the unique and complex struggle that South Africa hasmade to shed the chains of its past for a brighter tomorrow.

Nonetheless, in important ways, our paths do converge --by avision of real multi-racial democracy bound together by healing and hope,renewal and redemption. Therefore I came here to say simply this: Let uswork with each other, let us learn from each other, to turn the hope we nowshare into a history that all of us can be proud of.

Mr. President, for millions upon millions of Americans, SouthAfrica's story is embodied by your heroic sacrifice and your breathtakingwalk "out of the darkness and into the glorious light." But you are alwaysthe first to say that the real heroes of South Africa's transformation areits people, who first walked away from the past and now move withdetermination, patience, and courage toward a new day and a new millennium.

We rejoice at what you have already accomplished. We seek to beyour partners and your true friends in the work that lies ahead--overcoming the lingering legacy of apartheid, seizing the promise of yourrich land and your gifted people.

From our own 220-year experience with democracy we know that realprogress requires, in the memorable phrase of Max Weber, "the long andslow-boring of hard boards." We know that democracy is always a work stillin the making, a march toward what our own founders called a more perfectunion.

You have every reason to be hopeful. South Africa was reborn,after all, just four years ago. In the short time since, you've workedhard deepen your democracy, to spread prosperity, to educate all yourpeople, and to strengthen the hand of justice. The promise before you isimmense -- a people unshackled, free to give full express to their energy,intellects and creativity, a nation embraced by the world, whose success isimportant to all our futures.

America has a profound and pragmatic stake in your success -- aneconomic stake because we, like you, need strong partners to buildprosperity; a strategic stake because of 21st century threats to our commonsecurity, from terrorism, from international crime and drug trafficking,from the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, from the spread ofdeadly diseases and the degradation of our common environment. Theseperils do not stop at any nation's borders. And we have a moral stake,because in overcoming your past you offer a powerful example to people whoare torn by their own divisions in all parts of this earth.

Simply put, American wants a strong South Africa; America needs astrong South Africa . And we are determined to work with you as you builda strong South Africa. (Applause.)

In the first four years of your freedom, it has been ourprivilege to support your transition with aid and assistance. Now, as thenew South Africa emerges, we seek a genuine partnership based on mutualrespect and mutual reward. Like all partners, we cannot agree oneverything. Sometimes our interests and our views diverge, but that istrue even in family partnerships.

Nonetheless, I am convinced, we agree on most things and on theimportant things because we share the same basic values: a commitment todemocracy and to peace, a commitment to open markets a commitment to giveall our people the tools they need to succeed in the modern world, acommitment to make elemental human rights the birth right of every humanchild (applause.)

Over the past four years, we put the building blocks of ourpartnership in place, starting with the Binational Commission, headed byDeputy President Mbeki and our Vice President Al Core. This remarkableeffort has given high-level energy to critical projects, from energy toeducation, from business development to science an technology, cuttingthrough red tape, turning good words into concrete deeds. We are deeplyindebted to you, Mr. Mbeki, for your outstanding leadership, and we thankyou for it. (Applause)

The BNC brings to life what I believe you call "Masahkane," theact of building together. (Applause) As we look toward the future, wewill seek to build together new partnership in trade and investment throughincentives such as OPEC's new Africa Opportunity Fund, already supportingtwo projects here in South Africa in transportation and telecommunications.

We will seek to expand joint efforts to combat the grave threatof domestic and international crime through our new grave threat ofdomestic and international crime through our new FBI and Customs andImmigration offices here in South Africa. We will seek to strengthen ourcooperation around the world, for already South Africa's leadership andextending the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and creating an Africanuclear-free zone have made all our children's futures more secure.

I also hope we can build together to meet the persistent problemsand fulfill the remarkable promise of the African continent. Yes Africaremains the world's greatest development challenge, still plagued in placesby poverty, malnutrition, disease, illiteracy, and unemployment. Yes,terrible conflicts continue to tear at the heart of the continent, as I sawyesterday in Rwanda. But from Cape Town to Kampala, from Dar-Es-Salem toDakar, democracy is gaining strength, business is growing, peace is makingprogress. We are seeing what Deputy President Mbeki has called an AfricanRenaissance. (Applause)

In coming to Africa my motive in part was to help the Americanpeople see the new Africa with new eyes, and to focus our own efforts onnew policies suited to the new reality. It used to be when American policymakers thought of Africa at all, they would ask, what can we do for Africa,or whatever can we do about Africa? Those were the wrong questions. Theright question today is, what can we do with Africa? (Applause)

Throughout this trip I've been talking about ideas we want todevelop with our African partners to benefit all our people -- ideas toimprove our children's education through training and technology, to ensurethat none of our children are hungry or without good health care; to buildimpartial, credible and effective justice systems; to strengthen thefoundation of civil society and deepen democracy; to build strong economicsfrom the top down and from the grass roots up; to prevent conflict fromerupting and to stop it quickly if it does.

Each of these efforts has a distinct mission, but all share acommon approach -- to help the African people help themselves to becomebetter equipped, not only to dream their own dreams, but at long last, tomake those dreams come true. Yesterday in Entebee we took an importantstep forward. There, with leaders from eastern and central Africa, wepledged to work together to build a future in which the doors ofopportunity are open to all, and countries move from the margins to themainstream of the global economy; to strengthen democracy and respect forhuman rights in all nations; to banish genocide from the region and thiscontinent so that every African child can grow up in safety and peace.

As Africa grows strong, America grows stronger. Throughprosperous consumers on this continent and new African products brought toour markets, through new partners to fight and find solutions to commonproblems -- from the spread of AIDS and malaria to the greenhouse grassthat are changing our climate. And most of all, through the incalculablebenefit of new ideas, new energy, new passion from the minds and hearts ofthe people charting their own future on this continent.

Yes, Africa still needs the world, but more that ever it is equallyrue that the world needs Africa. (Applause.)

Members of Parliament, ladies and gentleman, at the dawn o f the 21stcentury we have a remarkable opportunity to leave behind this century'sdarkest moments while fulfilling its most brilliant possibilities -- notjust in South Africa, nor just in America, but in all the world. I come tothis conviction well aware of the obstacles that lie in the path. FromBosnia to the Middle East, from Northern Ireland to the Great Lakes regionof Africa, we have seen the terrible price people pay when they insist onfinding and killing and keeping down their neighbors.

For all the wonders of the modern world, we are still bedeviled bynations that our racial, ethnic, tribal, and religious differences aresomehow more important that our common humanity; that we can only liftourselves up if we have someone to look down on.

But then I look around this hall. There is every conceivabledifference -- on the surface -- among the Americans and the South African'sin this great Hall of Freedom. Different race, different religions,different native tongues, but underneath, the same hopes, the same dreams,the same values. We all cherish family and faith, work and community,freedom and responsibility. We all want our children to grow up in a worldwhere their talents are matched by their opportunities. And we all havecome to believe that our countries will be stronger and our futures will bebrighter as we let go of our hatreds and our fears, and as we realize thatwhat we have in common really does matter far more than our differences.

The Preamble to your constitution says, "South Africa belongs to allwho live in it, unites in our diversity." In the context of your ownhistory and the experience of the world in this century, those simple wordsare a bold clarion call to the future, an affirmation of humanity at itsbest, an assurance that those who build can triumph over those who teardown, that, truly, the peacemakers are blessed, and they shall inherit theEarth.

Thanks you, and God bless the new South Africa. (Applause.)

Africa Trip Speeches

First Lady Remarks at December 31st Women's Movement Daycare Center

First Lady Remarks at Makerere University

Remarks to the People of Rwanda

FINCA Women's Project

Remarks to the People of Ghana

Opening of the Ron Brown Center

Remarks at TechnoServe Peace Corps Project Site

Interview by the Discovery Channel

Remarks to the Community of Kisowera

Remarks at Reception

Photo Opportunity with the Presidents

Remarks in Photo Opportunity

Remarks with Village Business Owner

African Environmentalists and Officials

Remarks at Regina Mundi Church

Photo Opportunity with President Abdou Diouf

President Clinton and President Mandela

Remarks Upon Departure

Remarks at the Entebbe Summit

Remarks during visit to Victoria

Remarks in Robben Island

Interview of the President by BET

Africa Trade Bill

President to the Parliament of South Africa

Videotaped Remarks to the People of Africa

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