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1994 - Mr Major’s Joint Doorstep Interview with Nelson Mandela

Below is the text of Mr Major’s joint doorstep interview with Nelson Mandela, made in Cape Town on Tuesday 20th September 1994.


PRESIDENT MANDELA:

We have signed several agreements on investment, aid and on the assistance we are getting from the British Aid Team, and it was covered a wide range of issues on which [inaudible].

QUESTION (Mike Brunson, ITN):

Mr President, since this is such an historic day could I invite you to recall whether you heard the original "Winds of Change” speech in 1964 and where you heard it and all that has happened since then?

PRESIDENT MANDELA:

It was a very exciting speech. It was difficult at that time to comprehend the magnitude of what was going to happen in Africa and the British Prime Minister had a vision which was very altruistic and which propelled the movement for liberation all over the country, and especially in our country. And one tended to forget that in the intervening period, but now of course with the impending visit of the Prime Minister we remember that speech was a great speech indeed and I think it did a great deal to fuel the movement for liberation of the country.

QUESTION:

Where did you hear it yourself though?

PRESIDENT MANDELA:

I was around, you have to remember that I was around for a long time...

QUESTION (Reuters):

Where would you like to see the British aid money spent most?

PRESIDENT MANDELA:

It is not a question of where I would like to see. British aid has been well structured in various fields - education, military training, economic - and all these are very important aspects of our lives and I think British aid has been well structured.

QUESTION:

Could you tell us something about the agreements you signed this morning?

PRIME MINISTER:

We have signed a range of agreements. The one that the President did not mention was an agreement that we have signed for greater scientific cooperation. What we are effectively seeking to do is to work as well as we can with the new South Africa in terms of business, in terms of helping to redevelop and restructure the country in terms of the needs that exist, in terms of sharing the expertise that exists in the United Kingdom and exists in South Africa. We both have a great deal I think that we can gain from one another and the sum of the parts working together in many areas will be greater than the whole. So I think there is a great opportunity for us. I have brought with me on this occasion a very senior collection of businessmen, the President of the Royal Society, my own Scientific Adviser, a very senior educationalist, Sir Peter Newson, and of course some sporting Ambassadors. And I have brought them to illustrate the sheer breadth of the historical links that have existed between my country and. South Africa and as an indication of the areas in which we can develop and extend those links in the future. That is not an inclusive list but I think it is a pretty good start.

QUESTION:

Britain has slipped over the past years from 1st in the list of South Africa's trading partners to 4th, would you like to see yourself back in first place, do you think you could and how could you achieve that?

PRIME MINISTER:

I can give you some very good news this morning, since you say we are fourth, because we are back to second. So we are heading in the right direction and I have every ambition to see it improve.

QUESTION:

[Inaudible].

PRIME MINISTER:

I truly hope so.

QUESTION:

President Mandela, the British government in the past were not always the greatest supporters of the ANC, have you managed to put all that behind you now?

PRESIDENT MANDELA:

There are two ways of looking at this problem, one superficial, and the one taking account of what goes on [indistinct] I can assure you that our struggle has been unique in that it has received support from a wide range of governments, Conservative, Liberal and radical, and I think that the support we got from the British government, to which no publicity was given, has been tremendous in ensuring that some of the democratic changes that have taken place did occur.

QUESTION:

[Indistinct] what were the below the surface, less superficial, measures taken by the British Government to support your cause?

PRESIDENT MANDELA:

I can assure you that if I had any complaint against the British government that this would be the appropriate time to voice it, and the fact that I am doing nothing of the sort shows how grateful I am for what came to us below the surface.

PRIME MINISTER:

I will give your questioner a practical example, if I may. Over the last 10 years or so, perhaps a practical example is actually living proof with me with Lynda Chalker behind me who has been Minister for Overseas Development for a very long time. Throughout the past decade she has been structuring assistance, structuring aid actually to help in some of the most unprivileged parts of South Africa, now that is a single illustration which many could be given and I hope it will put your mind at rest.

QUESTION:

President Mandela, could I ask about your relations with the [indistinct] Royal Family at this time?

PRESIDENT MANDELA:

My relations with both His Majesty King [indistinct] are very good. We all face problems from the point of view of persuading our respective constituencies to work as harmoniously together as I and His Majesty and Chief Buthelezi, we are not alarmed over any developments because we believe we have the capacity to address them and to get things to move to normalcy in the near future.

QUESTION:

[Indistinct] will never meet Chief Buthelezi again.

PRESIDENT MANDELA:

I am aware of that. The [indistinct] is an event [indistinct] not on the basis of tribal affiliation but an event which should be celebrated by the whole of South Africa. My intention to take part in those celebrations was to [indistinct] to transform what is now a tribal to a national affair. But we have not done sufficient spadework to convince the people on the ground that this is how we should handle this event. But I have no doubt that we will be able to convince everybody that we should open up this event so that it should be celebrated with the dignity that it deserves.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, without wanting to pre-empt your speech this morning how will you characterise what you are going to say to Parliament here today?

PRIME MINISTER:

I reflect a little on the past, but the bulk of what I have to say about the future, about the prospects of a wholly new age for South Africa and over a longer timescale a wholly new age for the rest of Africa as well, and I will touch on practical ways in which I think that might be brought about in partnership.

QUESTION:

Could you very briefly sum up for us the the importance of the relationship that you believe there is between the two countries?

PRESIDENT MANDELA:

The [indistinct] of our relationship can never be over-emphasised. I did indicate inside here to the British Prime Minister that our relations date from times immemorial and it is our task to strengthen them. I am convinced that on both sides that there is the will and capacity to contribute towards the strengthening this relationship. It is in the interests of both countries and our respective people that that relationship should be intensified. And I think that the Head of Government was prepared to play that role.

PRIME MINISTER:

I think our relationships are sufficiently close for me simply to say that I entirely agree with what the President said, nothing more needs to be said.