Hon Speaker, hon Deputy President in absentia, hon Members of Parliament, our guests in the gallery and my family up there, thank you for coming. [Applause.]
Let me begin by extending my heartfelt gratitude to our glorious movement, the ANC, and to our people for affording me the opportunity to serve our country in this our tribune, indeed the activist Parliament, of a democratic South Africa. It is a choice our people made, after careful consideration, to consciously build a South Africa that belongs to all who live in it.
Our forebears did not only seek to eradicate apartheid, but above all they sought to build a society that is based on humane values, yes, the values of ubuntu.
The Constitution, which is the product of serious negotiations, is a testament to and an embodiment of the aspirations of our people. Human dignity, equality and freedom are not only values that underpin our Constitution and are therefore couriers of the spirit of our Constitution, but they are also the direct antithesis of apartheid's values of racial discrimination, economic exclusion and gender oppression.
It therefore remains our mission to obliterate from our society not only the acts of discrimination, but also the effects thereof. Therefore, it is unconscionable for anyone, for any political party and for whatever reason, to persist with the fallacious argument that the pursuit of formal equality through equal opportunities can eliminate poverty, inequality and unemployment. These challenges require that we pursue equality of outcomes, even substantive equality, through affirmative action and employment equity, and anything short of this is but a mirage and fiction.
Our forebears and posterity alike have imposed on us the responsibility to reverse the legacy of apartheid. From this responsibility we should not shrink. This responsibility we must take on with zeal and tenacity. My dear colleagues, from this responsibility we cannot be released. We dare not fail our forefathers, and yes, we cannot fail our children, either.
Our electoral system has been designed to ensure a multiparty democracy that includes even small parties. However, I must mention that democracy is nothing if it does not ensure that the voice of the minority is heard, but, even greater, that the will of the majority prevails.
The double-pronged nature of democracy obligates both sides of this House to promote the fulfilment of the whole and not only a part thereof. As much as the majority party must ensure that the voice of the minority is heard, even more so, the opposition as well as the ruling party have the responsibility to build our nation and society. [Applause.] The point I am making is that nation-building and social cohesion are not only the responsibility of the ANC, but of all Members of Parliament and other leaders in society. [Applause.]
Let me illustrate my point through an anecdote that was related by King Sabata Dalindyebo. According to the story, two men were fighting. It was a stick fight. These men were very angry and their wives were urging them on. The wife of man A shouted:
What's the matter, my husband? You are much stronger than him and a better fighter, but he is defeating you. You are losing because you only have a stick in one hand, while the other hand is useless for fighting because it is stupidly holding a blanket to cover your nakedness.
Drop the damn blanket ... [Laughter.]
... forget your nakedness and fight with both hands!
I want to urge Members of Parliament to mind both the stick and the blanket. [Laughter.] Debates may be hot, contradictions may sharpen and interests may collide, but we should at all times preserve the integrity of this House ... [Applause.] ... the integrity of our people and the integrity of our country. Yes, we should criticise, but constructively. We should never ever seek to demean others or border on using backward tactics, like exploiting the genuine fears of some of our people in order to score narrow political points and advance selfish interests.
This is an era in which all of us must join hands together as one to move South Africa forward to a future in which one's skin colour, sex, culture or religion shall have no bearing on the heights to which we can ascend.
Come on! Come, my dear colleagues or, shall I say, my dear children. Your country, South Africa, needs you. Let us go to our people and tell them the truth about their country. Let us be truthful to ourselves and to our people.
The democratic project to transform our society and liberate our people from the legacy of apartheid and colonialism continues. Remember, as we do so, that the blanket matters as much as the stick does. The end should never justify the means. The journey is as important as the destination.
To all of you, my colleagues, at the end of the 20 years I have been mandated to serve our people, I wish you all the best in your future endeavours.
Ho ya ka makgoro ha se ho lahlana. Tselatshweu. [Going our separate ways does not mean we will never meet again. Go well.]
I think I am fortunate in that I did not create enemies here - on both sides of the House. [Applause.] I have good friends among the opposition members as well as in my own organisation. I am not aware of any enemies from the opposition. One of my best friends whom I have been working with for 20 years is hon Donald Lee, a great friend of mine, and Dr Pierre Rabie. Where is he? I don't see him.
Anyway, thank you very much, comrades and Mr Speaker. I hope members who are coming back will continue to work together harmoniously. Remember that when you do criticise, please let your criticism be constructive. We should not just criticise for the sake of criticising as that won't help us, but if you say, "I don't like this, because of this and that, and a better method of doing it is this way", that is what I call constructive criticism. Thank you very much. [Applause.]