'Democracy must deliver'

2004-05-10 13:08
Cape Town - South Africa's democracy must bring its material fruits to all, particularly the poor, marginalised and vulnerable, says former South African President Nelson Mandela.

Speaking in parliament - to celebrate 10 years of non-racial democracy - Mandela said: "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 last elections," he said, referring to the national and provincial poll on April 14.

"This parliament, leading into the second decade of democracy, promises to take seriously that contract with the people to improve their lives."

He said poverty, unemployment, preventable disease and ill-health, and other forms of social deprivation "continue to blot our landscape as we strive to give contest 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. HIV/Aids continues to threaten our future in a particularly frightening manner."

Lauding Mbeki

Mandela also took pains to praise the role being played by incumbent President Thabo Mbeki during his address.

He said: "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."

Although Mandela has said previously that he would have preferred former constitutional assembly chairperson Cyril Ramaphosa - now chairperson of Johnnic Communications (JCM) - to be his deputy president, he said on Monday: "He (Mbeki) is a modest man and I know he would prefer that I do not sing his personal praises, but his achievement as president, as national leader is the embodiment of what our 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, Mister President, for leading us with such vision and dedication to your task", said Mandela, who turns 86 later this year.

Mbeki was deputy president under Mandela in the first five years of democracy from 1994-1999.

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