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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Mandela: Democracy a Success

CAPE TOWN -- President Nelson Mandela said Thursday that the first 100 days of South Africa's democratic government was a success and promised coordinated programs to transform society following apartheid.


"We have at last a robust and vibrant democracy with broad consensus on the most important national questions," he said in a televised address to Parliament.


Mandela avoided major economic policy statements or the announcement of specific programs but reaffirmed his government's commitment to a four-part program of change aimed at redressing the grievances of apartheid.


The president was given a standing ovation as he entered the Cape Town parliament where, on May 9, he was elected as South Africa's first black president.


He said the government's flagship Reconstruction and Development Program, or RDP, should include schemes to improve the lives of all South Africans. "The RDP should therefore be understood as an all-encompassing process of transforming society in its totality to ensure a better life for all," he said.


Mandela said 2.5 billion rand ($700 million) allocated to the RDP in the first year had already resulted in further large commitments from ministries that would run new projects.


He said rural development programs had been launched including water and sanitation for 1.7 million people in the Northern Transvaal and KwaZulu-Natal provinces, the return of land to 29,000 people dispossessed under apartheid and a land settlement program for 2,000 families.


The South African president has won high marks from supporters and most rivals for statesmanship, although some backers complain that he has erred on the side of appeasing the minority whites in order to protect a fragile economic recovery.


Mandela said crime, violence, attacks on police and drug abuse were among threats facing his government, adding: "There can be no argument about the need to take urgent, visible and effective measures to eradicate these problems."


Crime, including an average of almost 50 murders a day, has hit an all-time high, and police have been targeted by gangs who have killed more than 160 officers this year.