First Speech By Black In Parliament Building
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ For the first time, a black spoke Tuesday in an official proceeding at South Africa’s Parliament building, state radio reported.
Blacks make up 75 percent of South Africa’s 35 million people but have no representation in Parliament and no vote in national affairs.
The precedent-setting speech came during committee debate in Cape Town on the proposed budget for Cape Province. Similar debates took place Monday and Tuesday in capitals of the other three provinces.
Cape Town is this country’s legislative capital. Pretoria is the administrative capital and Bloemfontein the judicial capital.
The session in Cape Town was addressed by Temba Nyati, a black appointed last year to the provincial executive committee.
Nyati spoke about the importance of municipal government. He later told the state-run South African Broadcasting Corp. blacks should view participation in local government as a first step toward sharing power at higher levels.
The parliamentary committee meeting in Pretoria to debate the Transvaal Province budget also was addressed by a black, John Mavuso, who serves on the Transvaal executive committee.
″I believe we have really arrived in South Africa,″ Mavuso said. ″I thank the almighty God for making this possible.″
The debates mark the first time that members of the white, Asian and mixed- race chambers of Parliament have participated in joint work sessions.
Members of the far-right Conservative Party walked out of the debates Monday to protest being ″co-governed″ by other racial groups. Lawmakers to the left of the National Party government described the sessions as a farce, in part because no joint voting will be conducted.
On Tuesday, members of the majority Labor Party in the mixed-race chamber walked out of the debate in Cape Town to protest a government official’s defense of segregated beaches.
A new constitution in 1984 created the Asian and mixed-race chambers of Parliament but still excluded the black majority from national affairs.
The white chamber is able to get its say on all major legislative issues.
By law and custom, apartheid establishes a racially segregated society in South Africa in which the 5 million whites control the economy and maintain separate districts, schools and health services.