THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT SIGNING OF THE BILL SUPPORTING THE TRANSITION TO NONRACIAL DEMOCRACY IN SOUTH AFRICA The Roosevelt Room
2:18 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all for joining us this afternoon. It's a great honor to have so many people in the White House to celebrate the signing of legislation that marks the realization of a great dream -- the transition of South Africa to a nonracial democracy and the end of apartheid.
So many of you have contributed mightily to the realization of that dream, and I thank you all for being here. But I want to especially recognize the presence here of the family of Amy Biehl, who herself did so much to further that cause. Thank you so much for being here. (Applause.)
For generations the people of South Africa lived under the crushing burden of an immoral system which exacted a terrible toll and ultimately could not endure. Over many years, you and many others have shown courage and determination in joining with South Africa's oppressed majority to hasten apartheid's demise. This ceremony is, in large measure, a salute to the work you have done.
In 1986, after years of effort and despite a presidential veto, Congress imposed strict economic sanctions on South Africa. Our nation vowed those sanctions would be lifted only on the day when South Africa was irreversibly on the road to a nonracial democracy. Last week that day for which millions have worked and prayed and suffered finally arrived. Nelson Mandela, F.W. de Klerk and other leaders formally endorsed the transitional constitution -- the bill of rights and other agreements achieved during nearly two years of hard negotiations. And this April, the people of South Africa -- all races together -- will go to the polls for the first time in three centuries. We urge those who are not participating in this historic process to do so.
This is a moment of great hope for South Africa and its supporters around the world, but also a moment of great uncertainty. Decades of institutionalized segregation in South Africa have left a bitter legacy of division, of poverty, of illiteracy, of unemployment. For South Africa's democratic transition to succeed, the first post-apartheid government will need the resources to combat those conditions. The South African people have declared their determination to confront the challenge of change in order to pursue a better future. I am determined that our nation will stand by them as they face the difficult challenges ahead. The bill I'm about to sign will help to ensure that those resources are available. It lifts our remaining economic sanctions and gives South Africa access to the resources of the international financial institutions. It urges all our state and local governments and private entities to end their economic restrictions on South Africa, as well.
Through these and other steps, this bill will help South Africa expand the prosperity of its entire population. But removing sanctions will not be enough. Americans who have been so active in toppling the pillars of apartheid must remain committed to building South Africa's nonracial market democracy.
For this reason, I've asked Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown to lead a mission to South Africa to explore trade and investment opportunities, particularly with South Africa's black private sector. I am pleased that Ruth Harkin, our President and CEO of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, along with many private sector leaders, will be going as a part of the delegation. I deeply appreciate the bipartisan support this bill received, and I appreciate Congress's cooperation in passing it so quickly so that Secretary Brown and the delegation could carry the message of hope and commitment as they travel to Johannesberg, Soweto, Cape Town and Durban.
And now, with great pleasure, I sign into law this act celebrating the triumph of the human spirit, the perseverance of the South African people, the dream of freedom's new dawn, and the commitment of the American people to see that dream come true. Nkosi Sikelel, i' Afrika. God bless Africa, and God bless America. (Applause.)
(The bill is signed.) (Applause.)
END2:24 P.M. EST