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 Speech at Ivory Park Primary School – 21 September 1994

Below is the text of Mr Major’s speech at Ivory Park Primary School in Tembisa, on 21st September 1994.


I am delighted to be here at Ivory Park today. I would like to thank the Principal, Mr Jonas Lephalala, and his staff and pupils, for making it possible for me to visit your school. I would also like to thank Minister Mufamadi, Premier Sexwale and the PWV members present for accompanying me on this visit. I am grateful to the Community Leaders here today for the insights they have provided into some of the key issues facing your community and others like it throughout South Africa.

This visit has given me a glimpse of how many ordinary South Africans live. You face tremendous challenges, but also I hope, tremendous opportunities. Communities like yours will help build the new South Africa, just as you have built this school, of which you can be proud.

We in Britain are ready to help. Immediately after the election we announced that over the next three years we would provide some R340 million of bilateral aid. Yesterday President Mandela and I signed an agreement covering development co-operation between Britain and South Africa in support of the Reconstruction and Development Programme. That sounds like a good agreement on paper – but what does it mean in practice? What does it mean for you?

It means that we will be working with your Government and with independent organisations to draw up projects to benefit people who have not yet had the kind of advantages that they deserve. We want communities to have better education, improved access to health care, increased opportunities to earn a living, and to be able to live in a secure and peaceful environment.

When he was released from prison, President Mandela set about encouraging the youth of South Africa to return to school. There is enormous human potential in this country. It is your richest resource. Our aid to education is to help you make the most of that resource – improving the quality of maths, science, and English teaching in schools. I hope that the books we have provided to establish the library in this, and other, schools will also help children discover the pleasure of reading and learning.

In health our programme aims to support the development of Primary Health Care provision for all communities, to give ordinary people easy access to basic services.

Local business is the lifeblood of a community. Part of what we can offer is training for individuals in basic work and business skills and advice for people setting up and running businesses in the community. And I am determined to encourage more British business to come to South Africa and to invest here to join the many British companies who are already working with you.

Community development will be successful only if people are able to go about their daily lives safe from violence, crime and intimidation. The peace monitors here today are one example of how local communities in South Africa have actively taken on responsibility for their own safety and security. The South African Peace Structures are unique. They played an invaluable role in the elections. I am glad we were able to provide assistance to them in this.

We are now discussing with your Government how we can give further support to community safety and security. Two British Police Officers are already helping the Ministry of Safety and Security to develop basic level training for new recruits, and to review recruitment procedures. As part of a new initiative, we propose to lend you some of the people who have worked successfully on community policing in Britain. They will be assisting Ms Duarte and her team in developing a strategy for community policing for this Province and helping to set up a similar scheme in Western Cape Province.

Let me end on a lighter note. I spent a marvellous morning at the Alexandra Oval, watching some of Britain’s leading sports-people coaching promising young South Africans. I brought our sports celebrities here to strengthen our sporting ties. One thing that can really bind peoples together is sport. That is why I wanted to mark South Africa’s return to the world sporting community by announcing this morning our plans to carry on these coaching clinics for your young people. And I would like to mark my visit to Ivory Park by presenting the school sports teams with some equipment. I wish you every success with it.

The rest of the world watched your elections with great admiration. I feel very privileged to have been able to come to South Africa so soon after that historical event, and to have had a chance to meet you all. I will go home with fond memories of my visit to your beautiful country. And the sound of your excellent school choir will remain with me for a long time. Thank you.