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1994 - Mr Major’s Comments on South Africa Visit

Below is the text of Mr Major’s September 1994 visit to South Africa, from his memoirs “John Major - The Autobiography”.


SIR JOHN MAJOR:

I visited South Africa in September 1994, five months after the first fully democratic elections in the country’s history, and addressed both Houses of Parliament. There was a limit to how much practical help Britain could give out of an overseas aid budget that is targeted at the very poorest nations, but I promised £100 million of assistance. Afterwards, at lunch - in the room in which, over thirty years earlier, Harold Macmillan had delivered his famous ‘Wind of Change’ speech - I saw something of the remarkable spirit that had taken the country into the new era. Former inmates of the notorious prison on Robben Island sat chatting with white MPs who had served in the previous National Party government.

That trip had many memories. After addressing the Parliament I flew to Johannesburg accompanied by British sports stars Alec Stewart, Judy Simpson, Rob Andrew and Bobby Charlton. Colin Cowdrey, who had brought the South African cricket administrator (and former Test captain) Ali Bacher to see me in 1991 to seek to help readmit the South African team to international competition, was there to meet us. In Alexandria township I opened a new sports ground built with British funds whilst the British stars played pied piper to the children and began impromptu coaching sessions. In the nets, to my great satisfaction, I bowled out Steve Tshwete, the South African Sports Minister, with my first ball. It was one of the happiest of visits.