SPEECH BY PRESIDENT MBEKI TO THE TAMIL PEOPLE IN DURBAN
13 APRIL 2003 - CHATSWORTH STADUIM
VANAKKAM: VANAKKAM: VANAKKAM
A happy New Year to everybody. I am told that according to the Tamil people, this is going to be a very good year. Let me start by saying thank you very much indeed to the Kwazulu Natal Tamil Federation for inviting us to participate on this happy occasion of the Tamil New Year. I am told that the actual date on which it falls is the 14th of April. I think that this is a very good omen because it means that the elections on the 14th of April because they fall on Tamil New Year will be very happy elections. Those elections are four days away and what, thank you very much, for those lights, now I can see everybody. The Tamils should never be kept in darkness. The elections are four days away and one of the things I would like to see is that the Tamil population of our country should go out on that New Years day to vote. It is very important that the Tamil population of our country should exercise the democratic right for which many Tamils fought for, for which many Tamils made many sacrifices to ensure that we get this right to vote and I am talking about important leaders of our people not only leaders of the Tamil people but leaders of the people of South Africa. I am talking about people like Monty Naicker, like George Ponnen, MP Naicker, like Billy Nair, Kay Moonsamy, Lenny Naidoo all of these are great heroes among our people who fought. Lenny died so that all of us should be freed and to honour them, let us on New Years day, our New Years day, the Tamil New Year’s day, let us all go out and vote. That is also important, that is also important, because the Tamil population of South Africa has got a duty and a responsibility to play an important role in determining the future of South Africa. We cannot allow any situation in which anybody suggests that the future of this country can be decided without the participation of the Tamil people and therefore the question of who is going to constitute the government of Kwazulu Natal after April14th and who is going to be the government of South Africa after April14th, that’s an important decision that the Tamil population must participate in making so that indeed whatever government we have in this province and whatever government we have in South Africa as a whole that must be in part a product of the decision, a product of the view of the Tamil population of South Africa. What is also important is that the Tamil population plays that role for reasons that have already been stated. The Tamil population has an important role to play in the reconstruction of South Africa after those elections. We are one of the most diverse countries in the world and here you would find people of many colours, and cultures, religions, races and indeed that is why our National motto says” people, diverse people come together: its own language KE IKARA KE. These diverse people of South Africa have come together to constitute the South Africa that we have today and the Tamils are an important part of that diverse population and play a role in all aspects of our National life, in politics, in the economy, in culture, social development and so on. And I am saying that part of the challenge to participate in this forthcoming elections and therefore participate in the deciding who should govern our country and who should this Province and that has to do with the role that the Tamil population plays and must play with regards to deciding the politics of our country, its economy, its culture, its social development, I say all of these things because there is nobody who can doubt the resilience, the resilience of the Tamil population of our country. Reference is being made to the questions of culture, of language, of tradition. A 140 years after arriving in South Africa, the very fact that we have somebody today, the Tamil speaker speaking in Tamil. The fact that we enjoy and listen to this music that is being played by our friends from India, the fact that we are able to sustain our religion despite all of those years, many many long years after the Tamil people were uprooted from their original country of birth, the fact that those language and so on survived is an indication of the resilience of the Tamil population. It is also that the same resilience which gave people who were poor the inspiration to the things that they did, who didn’t wait for others to build temples for them, who didn’t wait for others to build schools for them, who said as poor as we are this is our religion, as poor as we are we have to look after the future of our children. I am saying that there is nobody who can question the resilience of the Tamil people of our country, who have been able to do those things. The President of the Tamil Business Forum has just referred to a common task that we face of co-operation among all these diverse people of our country, co-operation across racial and colour and other lines, religious lines as part of this process of the birth of a new nation and I think all of us all South Africans needs to take example, inspiration, from what Tamil culture in this province is doing. From the things that we have seen, I have seen some of this earlier when I had been in this province, the fusion, the interconnection, the blending of Tamil and Zulu culture that speaks to the resilience of that culture, that speaks to it’s openness, that speaks to the fact that, that culture is not only Tamil but is also South African. We have to depend on that resilience to address the challenge that we have to address even after the elections on the Tamil New year. We must speak as we must speak about a better life for all, a better life for all South Africans and we say, to achieve that goal, one of the things that we must do is to unite the people of South Africa in the pursuit of that goal of a better life for all our people and I am quite certain that we all of us know the problems that our country faces, the problems that some of us as individuals face. These are the problems of poverty. Many people in our country who are very poor, problems of people who have no jobs, who would like to work and maintain themselves and their families but cannot get jobs. We know that there are problems of crime, of criminals who undermine the safety and security of the people. We know that there are problems of health of people who are afflicted by ill health and people who die because of ill health, even in circumstances when their lives could have been saved. So we face, all of us, common problems of TB of Aids of diabetes of hypertension and all sorts of challenges of this kind. We face the problem of drug abuse even among young people of drug abuse of alcohol abuse and so when we say a better life for all and say that we must, unite the people of South Africa in the common struggle to achieve that better life for all we mean we must unite to confront all of these challenges, of poverty, of joblessness of crime and so on. I am saying, the involvement of the Tamil people of South Africa in that united front of South African people will be a critical factor in ensuring that we do indeed solve all those problems. But we also have, when we talk about that better life for all, we also talk about the building of a non-racial South Africa, a non-sexist South Africa.