The Rt. Hon. Sir John Major KG CH

Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 1990-1997

1994Prime Minister (1990-1997)

Mr Major’s Arrival Statement in Cape Town – 20 September 1994

Below is the text of Mr Major’s arrival statement in Cape Town, made on Tuesday 20th September 1994.


Mr Deputy President, Mr Premier, Ladies and Gentlemen. I would like to say first what a thrill it is to be here at last and how good it is to meet so many old friends. Only four years ago when I became Prime Minister, very few people would have predicted this moment, that in 1994 a British Prime Minister would set foot in a non-racial democratic South Africa. And yet it has happened. Today we stand at the dawn of a new age for South Africa, a new age when with faith and hope and courage all things are possible.

Norma and I have long wanted to come here. We may not know South Africa but we do know South Africans. As well as you, Mr Deputy President, President Mandela, many other South Africans have been friends of ours and have visited Downing Street in recent years. These are friendships that Norma and I look forward to renewing with very great pleasure.

Your elections earlier this year evoked admiration, emotion, excitement, thousands of miles away in Britain and across the world, they opened a huge opportunity not only for South Africa but for South Africa’s friends.

I am not here alone today but with a large group of those friends – the Minister for Africa, Lynda Chalker, well known to many people in this country; and Tony Nelson, the Minister of State at the Treasury; with captains of industry and of finance; with the President of the Royal Society, Sir Michael Atir, one of our most eminent scientists; and with Sir Peter Newson, a leading educationalist; and I have with me also five sporting Ambassadors whose names will be familiar not only here but throughout the whole of the sports loving world, Sir Colin Cowdrey, Sir Bobby Charlton, Judy Simpson, Alex Stewart, and a recent visitor returning, Rob Andrew, whom I am sure you will remember.

This team represents only a small cross-section of the interests which Britons and South Africans have in common.
I have the privilege later this morning of addressing your Parliament. On that occasion I shall be able to say that we are here to make a new beginning, here to make new friends, and here because in so many areas of life Britons and South Africans have a tremendous amount to offer one another.

For the next three days my party and I are going to spread ourselves across South Africa, we intend to make the best use of every single moment we have. There is work to be done and we long to get on with it.

Thank you for your welcome.