South Africa President Nelson Mandela in Farewell Speech Accuses Apartheid-Era Leaders of
South Africa President Nelson Mandela in Farewell Speech Accuses Apartheid-Era Leaders of Attempting To Undermine All-Race GovernmentBy TOM COHEN
MAFIKENG, South Africa (AP) _ In a militant farewell speech as ANC leader, President Nelson Mandela today accused apartheid-era leaders of waging a clandestine campaign to destabilize South Africa’s all-race government.
``The leopard has not changed its spots,″ Mandela said of the National Party, which implemented and abolished apartheid and still represents the Afrikaner minority of Dutch-descended white settlers.
``These elements find it difficult to redefine their role in the setting of a non-racial democracy,″ he said. ``They continue to be imprisoned by notions of white supremacy.″
Mandela warned his African National Congress that some whites wanted to maintain vestiges of apartheid to protect their privileges of the past.
Those ``who have not accepted the reality of majority rule″ were helping to instigate South Africa’s widespread crime, sabotaging the economy and using the mass media to spread anti-ANC propaganda, he said.
The goal, Mandela said, was to make the country ungovernable, subvert the economy and erode confidence in the ANC’s ability to govern.
While his wide-ranging 53-page president’s report on the ANC cited problems faced by the organization, including corruption and power-mongering by ANC officials, it mostly criticized others for failing to work on behalf of the nation in the post-apartheid era.
The speech took more than four hours to read, forcing the 79-year-old Mandela to rest several times and frequently drink water in the stifling hot auditorium.
The attack set a militant tone for the conference, which will see an older generation of revolutionary leaders such as Mandela, Walter Sisulu and Govan Mbeki step aside for a new order led by Mbeki’s son, Thabo, now the deputy president of the ANC and the country.
Mandela also accused the mass media and some aid and development groups of working against his government.
In the 3 1/2 years the ANC has been in power, ``the matter has become perfectly clear that the bulk of the mass media in our country has set itself up as a force opposed to the ANC,″ Mandela said.
Some aid groups, he maintained, were in fact acting as the political ears and mouthpieces for local and foreign interests acting against his government. In particular, Mandela cited a U.S. Aid for International Development document he said stated its goals as challenging Mandela’s government on key issues, ``in some respects making President Mandela’s task more difficult.″
Mandela also listed the ANC government’s achievements, including a new constitution, a stable government and programs to provide electric power, running water and housing for millions of poor blacks ignored under apartheid.
``Who in this country could have done better than the ANC?″ he asked at one point in a booming voice, breaking from his prepared text.
The ANC’s 50th national conference since humble beginnings in 1912 marked the final step of its transition from a liberation movement to a political party.
``It’s a proud moment,″ said conference delegate Vusi Makhosini, 22, from KwaZulu-Natal province. ``As Mandela has gotten older, it has become the time for a younger generation.″
Mandela wore a yellow ANC T-shirt for his last speech after six years as head of the party that led the anti-apartheid movement and won power in the nation’s first all-race election in 1994.
Thabo Mbeki, 55, is expected to be the only candidate to replace him, and will automatically be considered the new party president when the nominations close tonight.
Mandela will remain president of the country until 1999, when the new ANC leaders chosen this week are expected to head the government after national elections that year.
A party atmosphere permeated the University of the North West campus this morning, where delegates chanted in unison and performed the high-stepping ``toyi-toyi″ dance, the staple of the movement’s protest days that had often been followed by a police baton charge or volley of tear gas.
Many wore yellow T-shirts bearing slogans of the conference: ``Building on the foundations for a better life,″ and ``Forward to the 21st Century.″
While the scene suggested unity, the conference could reveal rifts in the ANC over leadership and policies.
The only candidate so far for deputy president _ national chairman Jacob Zuma _ could face a floor revolt from Mandela’s ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.
She arrived in a black dress with her famous raised-fist salute, drawing cheers from about a dozen delegates.
``Mama will set us free,″ one man shouted, referring to Madikizela-Mandela by her name from the apartheid struggle, ``mother of the nation.″
The ANC was expected to change its rules today to make it more difficult for Madikizela-Mandela to get the floor nomination. Current rules require support from 10 percent of the delegates by show of hands. The new rules would make it 25 percent _ or 766 of the 3,064 voting delegates _ who must sign seconding petitions.
Madikizela-Mandela has been isolated for years by the mainstream ANC leadership because of her insubordination to party discipline.