The result of the referendum (18 March 1992)
Speech by State President FW de Klerk delivered on the steps of Tuynhuys on the result of the referendum
18 March 1992
Ladies and Gentlemen
The result at this stage, with two regions outstanding, indicates a 68% YES-vote and a 32% NO-vote.
According to the trends in the other 13 regions and in looking at Durban and Roodepoort it is clear that the final count will be in the vicinity of at least 65% YES and 35% NO.
Ladies and gentlemen, today will be written up as one of the most fundamental turning points in the history of South Africa. Today we have closed the book on apartheid. That chapter is finally closed.
There were those who objected, in one way or another, to the fact that this was an all-White Referendum. I think it reflects an element of justice that we who began this long chapter in our history, should have been called upon to close the book on apartheid.
What started out with idealism in the quest for justice for that was the starting point of the policy of separate development failed to attain justice for all South Africans and, therefore, had to be abandoned and be replaced by the only viable policy able to work in this country. And that is power-sharing, co-operation, the building of one nation in one undivided South Africa.
It does not happen often that in one generation a nation gets the opportunity to rise above itself. The White electorate has risen above itself in this Referendum. The White electorate has reached out, through this landslide win for the YES-vote, to all our compatriots, to all other South Africans and the message of this Referendum is: Today, in a certain sense, is the real birthday of the real new South African nation.
Ladies and gentlemen, N P van Wyk Louw wrote:
"O wye en droewe land, alles
onder die groot suidersterre.
Sal nooit 'n hoë blydskap kom
deur jou stil droefenis? ...
"Sal nooit 'n magtige skoonheid kom
oor jou soos die haelwit somerwolk
wat uitbloei oor jou donker berge,
en nooit in jou 'n daad geskied
wat opklink oor die aarde en
die jare in hul onmag terge; ..."
(O wide and despondent land alone under the great southern stars,will elevated joy never emerge from your silent sadness? ... Will there never come over you a mighty beauty like the hail-white summer cloud that blossoms over your dark mountains, and never occur in you a deed that will resound over the earth and taunt the years in their impotence; ...)
In South Africa today there was a deed which resounded over the earth, carrying a mighty message of reconciliation; a mighty reaching out to real justice. Today we gave final shape to a process over a period of years of really beginning to build a new South Africa.
I am all too aware that this result places an enormous responsibility on the shoulders of all who promoted the YES-vote particularly on me as Head of State and Government and on the leaders of the National Party and the Democratic Party but also on the shoulders of all those leaders and their followers who could not vote: because the result also asks acceptance by the leaders of all the other population groups in South Africa and also asks them to reach out in the knowledge that it is only through co-operation, only by meeting one another, only through giving and taking, that we shall be able to negotiate an accord on which long term stability and security and prosperity may be built.
We are on the eve of really penetrating negotiations. Ladies and gentlemen, in standing on this threshold we face a future full of challenges. Nothing is going to be easy but we have chosen our direction. We have laid the foundation on which to build real reconciliation, long-term stability and peace and progress for all. Therefore, I say: "Let us look forward. Let us take hands. Let us use this magnificent result as a great impetus for that which we have to do and what we are about to do."
I should like to say thank you to all who made possible this magnificent result, this positive result, this YES for South Africa. Thank you to my own Party. Thank you to the Democratic Party. The YES-vote was not a vote for either Party it was a YES-vote for South Africa, for a philosophy, for a solution.
I wish to say thank you to all those community leaders who, on their own account and on their own initiative, also took a strong stand. The private sector played a very specific role. The media played a very specific role in informing all those who had the right to vote. But so many others also gave a lead, stood up and were prepared to be counted, spoke up for what they believed in.
All of this has brought our nation to a truly great moment. May we not lose this greatness again in petty party-political squabbling. Let us use this new, high platform and from it move onward and forward into a better future a better future for all South Africans.
The poet, Fagan, wrote:
"Ek kyk en sien die skare voor my staan,
Zoeloe en Xhosa, Sotho en Shangaan en ek, 'n Blanke,
vele volkere ja, almal verenigd om Gods seën te vra
op net een tuiste, net een vaderland,
want die Alwyse het ons saam geplant
en saam laat wortel in Suid-Afrika"
(I look and see a multitude before me Zulus and Xhosas, Sothos and Shangaans, and I, a White. Many peoples, yes, all united in seeking God's Blessing for a single home, a single Motherland, for here God, All-knowing, planted us together and together let us take root in South Africa.)
That is the only foundation on which we can build the future and I extend my hands and I say, on behalf of all who voted YES, to all other South Africans: "Let us walk forward together. Let us find peace. Let us bring an end to violence. Let us do a mighty deed together through negotiation. Let us make sure that the future will be beautiful and open and pure and let us cast our eyes upwards and thank God together for this beautiful land and all its people and commit ourselves to Him to seek the future in the essence of life: His Word, His Love, His Justice."
Thus we shall build a new South Africa that has room and a place for all its people, that will offer security to those who have much to lose and offer those who have not yet been able to share fully in democratic rights and other areas opportunities, equal opportunities, full participation and true citizenship together with all others.
Our future, ladies and gentlemen, lies in bringing together those who really want peace and in forging this nation together into an overwhelming majority against radicalism, from whatever source. There is a risk, now, of radicalism both from the left and from the right because radicals do not want us to succeed in building a one nation. They do not really want peace.
It is up to us the 90% or 95% of the South African nation from every walk of life, to take hands and stand firm against radicalism; to reach out and build a new future for all our people.
I thank you for your support. I wish you well. Everything of the best. Let us say YES for South Africa.
Ladies and gentlemen, on the point of our leaving we have just received the Durban result. It is:
YES-vote: 204 371
NO-vote: 35 975
YES Majority: 168 396
Ladies and gentlemen, there is no doubt that this has been a landslide not a landslide in the sense that we are euphoric or just plain victorious; it was a landslide for the sake of and for the cause of peace and justice in our country.
Thank you very much.