South African Embassy, Vienna
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Topnews, South Africa in Austria

18. July 2019


Address by Mr Horst Kleinschmidt

Nelson Mandela would have been pleased to know that in 2019 there are people like you in Austria, who continue to understand the importance of solidarity. He would have been pleased to know that there are people who stand up for the defence of democracy, freedom, human dignity and equality.

Today we witness many democracies to be once again unter threat. To defend open and just societies demands that we stand up for social and economic equality and that we stand against racism and all types of prejudices. It also demands that we understand the causes why a person leaves or has to leave their country and becomes a refugee. We must do much more to understand the link to the weapon and armaments industry who lobby and act in the promotion of wars – and today ever more: proxy wars. For example, Rheinmetall - Germany builds bombs in South Africa - not far from where I live in Cape Town – which are then exported to Saudi Arabia to bomb Yemen. Besides killing people this and other wars are the cause for on-going waves of refugees.

Nelson Mandela would remind us today that our young democracy is being threatened from within; that corrupt politicians and business people have hollowed out the very democracy we cherished since 1994. Our democracy was subverted and the stabilty in our country threatened. Of the 25 years since democracy we lost and regressed for several years due to the criminal conduct of Zuma and company who work with foreign as well as local instances, with white and black compatriots alike to shut the space for transparent, fair and proper conduct and in this way they have threatened democracy in South Africa.

We hope and believe that this attempt is now in the past. The three special investigative commissions, President Cyril Ramaphosa himself and the proudly independent judiciary have put a halt to allowing South Africa to slide into the category of a ‘failed state’. We passiontately hope that a new basis has been created for us to attend to the many contradictions that burden our country.

Our tasks are formidable: We cannot continue to be the most unequal country in the world; we cannot continue with the failed education system we put our young people through; we must and can re-distribute land within open and democratic principles; we must re-build our Cities which to this day are places divided according to Black/poor and White/rich and that continue to be race and class based. We welcome the recent announcement by our National Prosecuting Authority to finally take up the close to 300 legal matters handed them by the Truth and Reconcilliation Commission nearly 20 years ago. This will bring policemen and others to justice for the human rights violations they committed during apartheid. This is important. The pain and brokenness caused by apartheid cannot be overcome if charges are not brought – if wrong-doing is not punished and exposed.

I urge you here today, despite all your efforts to counter the adverse trends in your own country, not to abandon us and to continue to accompany us in solidarity, with criticisms if need be. Our days of gain and succcess wil return. Keep at it. It is the most noble undertaking. Educate to create awareness. You are doing the right thing.

The world we live in demands international solidarity. We need you – and I trust that you equally need us!

Thank you.


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