View Header


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 5, 1994
                       REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                        AND THE VICE PRESIDENT
                        AT SOUTH AFRICAN EVENT
                            The South Lawn 

11:20 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to all of you. Last week we watched with wonder as the citizens of South Africa went to the polls, as voters lined up for miles and miles, coming on crutches and in wheelchairs, waiting patiently, crossing the countryside to exercise their franchise, to create a new nation conceived in liberty and empowered by their redemptive suffering.

I have just spoken with President-Elect Mandela and with President de Klerk. I congratulated Mr. Mandela on his victory and told President de Klerk that he clearly deserves tremendous credit for his leadership. Their courage, their statesmanship, along with the leadership of Chief Buthelezi and others, has made this transition smoother than many thought possible.

South Africa is free today because of the choices its leaders and people made. Their actions have been an inspiration. We can also be proud of America's role in this great drama. Because those of you here today and many others have helped to keep freedom's flame lit during the dark night of apartheid, Congress enacted sanctions to help squeeze legitimacy from the apartheid regime. Students marched in solidarity. Stockholders held their companies to higher ethical standards. America's churches, both black and white, took up the mantle of moral leadership. And throughout the fight, American civil rights leaders here helped to lead the way.

Throughout, South Africa's cause has been also an American cause. Last week's miracle came to pass in part because of America's help. And now we must not turn our backs.

Let me begin by saying that we all know South Africa faces a task of building a tolerant democracy and a successful market economy; and that enabling the citizens of South Africa to reach their potential, economically, is critical to preserving the tolerant democracy. To show that reconciliation and democracy can bring tangible benefits, others will have to help. I'm convinced South Africa can become a model for the entire continent. And America must be a new and full partner with that new government, so that it can deliver on its promise as quickly as possible.

We've already begun. Over the past year, the United States sent experts to South Africa to negotiate a new constitution -- or to help them negotiate the new constitution. We provided considerable assistance to help their elections work. We lifted sanctions. We sent two trade and investment missions to lay the groundwork for greater economic cooperation. And we had a very fine American delegation of election observers there during the recent elections. And I'd like to especially thank the leader of that delegation, Reverend Jesse Jackson, for his outstanding contributions to the success of the South African elections. (Applause.) Thank you, sir.

Today I am announcing a substantial increase in our efforts to promote trade, aid and investment in South Africa. Over the next three years we will provide and leverage about $600 million in funds to South Africa. For this fiscal year we have increased assistance from $83 million to $143 million. Along with guarantees and other means, our resources, which will be mobilized for next year, will exceed $200 million.

Through the programs of 10 U.S. government agencies, we will work with South Africans to help meet the needs which they identify -- to build homes and hospitals, to provide better education, to promote good governance and economic development.

I'm writing to the leaders of the other G-7 countries and asking them to join us in expanding assistance to South Africa. And we urge the international financial institutions, such as the World Bank, to do the same.

Next week, I'm also sending an official delegation to South Africa for President Mandela's inauguration. Vice President Gore will lead the trip, along with Mrs. Gore. They'll be joined by the First Lady, Secretary Brown, Secretary Espy, and many others, including those here in the audience today.

We are taking these actions because we have important interests at stake in the success of South Africa's journey. We have an economic interest in a thriving South Africa that will seek our exports and generate greater prosperity throughout the region. We have a security interest in a stable, democratic South Africa, working with its neighbors to restore and secure peace. We have a clear moral interest. We have had our own difficult struggles over racial division, and still we grapple with the challenges of drawing strength from our own diversity. That is why the powerful images of South Africa's elections resonated so deeply in the souls of all Americans.

Whether in South Africa or America, we know there is no finish line to democracy's work. Developing habits of tolerance and respect, creating opportunity for all our citizens, these efforts are never completely done. But let us savor the fact that South Africa now has the chance to begin that noble and vital work.

Thirty-three years ago, Albert Luthuli became the first of four South Africans to win the Nobel Peace Prize. As he accepted the award, he described his people as, and I quote, "living testimony to the unconquerable spirit of mankind. Down the years they have sought the goal of fuller life and liberty, striving with incredible determination and fortitude."

Today, that fortitude and the strivings of generations, have begun to bear fruit. Together, we must help all South Africans build on their newfound freedom.

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

And now I'd like to ask The Vice President to come forward to make some acknowledgements and some remarks and to talk a little about the historic trip that the American delegation he will lead is about to make.

Mr. Vice President. (Applause.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Mr. President. May I begin by acknowledging the presence of the delegation, which will be accompanying the First Lady and Tipper and me to South Africa. You know from listening to conversations among the three of us that we're very excited about this trip. It is one of the great moments in history.

The last pillars of apartheid are crumbling and three centuries of injustice are coming to a close. Many have brought about this moment, and we are very excited, as I mentioned, about the possibility about the opportunity to witness this transformation.

May I acknowledge Secretary Espy who is going to be joining us in the delegation, and your National Security Advisor, Mr. President, Tony Lake, who has worked tirelessly in the last 16 months and in other capacities prior to this administration to help bring about this moment. Ambassador Talbott of the State Department and his colleague, George Moose from the State Department. And, Mr. Ambassador, thank you for the State Department's outstanding role in bringing this about.

There are others who are present that I would like to mention. The President has already mentioned Reverend Jesse Jackson in his role as the leader of the election monitoring group. Some of you here may not know that, while there, he received special recognition and thanks for the manner in which he and the delegation he led contributed to this outstanding event, and played a considerable and important role in helping to guarantee and insure the integrity of this important moment in history.

Director Carol Bellamy of the Peace Corps is here; Administrator Brian Atwood of AID; Ruth Harkin, President of OPIC; Ambassador Harry Schwarz, who will be coming to the podium in a moment; and ANC Representative Kingsely Makhubela, who will also be coming to the podium in just a moment; and other distinguished guests, including the members of the presidential delegation, composed of extraordinary individuals who contributed in a very personal way to the magnificent transformation taking place in South Africa.

Each of you here today can be proud of the role that you played in dismantling apartheid. You led the way in one of the great moral struggles of this century.

May I say that you will be getting calls today -- we could not call you earlier -- inviting you to a gathering at our residence on Saturday night, those of you who can come, for the delegation prior to the departure for South Africa. And I hope that most of you will be able -- I hope all of you will be able to come and join us on that occasion.

There are a number of members of Congress who were extremely instrumental in raising the level of awareness in America to the horrors of apartheid. Unfortunately, due to key votes scheduled today on Capitol Hill, these members could not join us for this event, but they deserve special recognition for their role in bringing us to the threshold of new era in South Africa.

Now the hard work of nurturing democracy and strengthening free market reform begins. South Africa faces a challenge more daunting than dismantling apartheid -- the challenge of building a nonracial democracy and a culture of tolerance.

As President Clinton has made abundantly clear, the United States of America will help. We will be there, doing our part. Our work there is part of President Clinton's larger strategy of enlarging the world's community of free market democracies in Africa and elsewhere.

I will have an opportunity, along with several members of the delegation, to talk to the leaders of other nations in Africa that are in various stages of the transition to free market democracies. I'll be visiting Namibia and Benin, as well as Cape Verde, on the way back from the inaugural events.

Even as we focus today on assistance to South Africa, we are mindful of the importance of encouraging development throughout Southern Africa and beyond. South Africa's successful transformation will support these goals and give hope to all who love freedom. The monumental statesmanship demonstrated by President-Elect Mandela and President F. W. de Klerk provides a shining example to help restore peace in nations like Mozambique, Bosnia, Haiti, Rwanda, Angola, Burundi and elsewhere.

As President-Elect Mandela said following the four days of voting, the people of South Africa have been victorious; they have won. He also spoke to those all around the world who believe in the struggle for justice and democracy and self-government. And in eloquent words, he said, this is your victory, too.

On a personal note, I thought back to the Sunday morning, U.S. time, not that many years ago when Nelson Mandela was released from prison. Our youngest child was the only one awake; and I was watching the television, literally transfixed by the scene unfolding in South Africa. And it occurred to me as a parent that for all the times when parents have to explain terrible, unjust horrors and tragedies in the world and watch children contort their faces as they absorb the news that there are terrible things in this world they're growing up in, that was a moment, as this inauguration will be a moment, when parents around the world will have the joy of being able to explain to their children the deeper meaning of an event that transcends the ordinary, lifts the human spirit, and gives us all hope that the greater capacities that lie within the human heart can find expression in ways that reshape our world and link the horizons and give us the opportunity for a much brighter future.

On practical matters, the $600 million trade and investment package that the President has announced today, is the culmination of close cooperation and commitment between the Congress and 10 executive agencies. It also continues and builds on the work initiated last fall by Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, when he led a very successful trade and investment mission to South Africa.

Brian Atwood and the Agency for International Development also deserve special recognition for creatively expanding the size and content of their investment programs. For the first time, AID will be working with the South African government to support its development priorities.

I'm particularly pleased in this regard to be speaking at the USIA-sponsored conference on June 3rd in Atlanta to promote business and educational exchange between the U.S. and South Africa -- June 3rd and June 4th in Atlanta.

And OPIC President Ruth Harkin also led a major business investment mission to South Africa and announced three U.S.-South African ventures that could pump millions of dollars into the country's disadvantaged community.

Other agencies that have played leading roles in developing our robust economic package for South Africa include the Peace Corps -- and I acknowledged Carol Bellamy earlier; the Trade and Development Agency; Ex-Im Bank; the U.S. Trade Representative; and the Treasury and Defense Departments.

In closing, before asking our two guests to join us, in the past week, we witnessed this extraordinary historic event, but we should not forget, as Harry Truman once said, that people make history and not the other way around.

Courageous men and women in Africa, in America, and many of them here today, helped to topple apartheid. The challenges ahead require continued hard work. To reiterate President Clinton's words, we pledge to help all South Africans build upon their newfound freedom.

And now it is my personal honor to be able to introduce Ambassador Harry Schwarz of South Africa, and the Deputy Chief Representative of the ANC mission to the United Nations, Mr. Kingsley Makhubela. They will present to President Clinton a visible symbol of the rebirth of South Africa, their new national colors that capture the multicultural diversity that is blossoming today in South Africa.

Mr. Ambassador, Mr. Representative. (Applause.)

END11:38 A.M. EDT