Remarks During Visit to Victoria Mxenge Housing Development

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Cape Town, South Africa
August 8, 2009

SECRETARY CLINTON: First, I want to thank you for letting me and my delegation of distinguished Americans and members of the American press to come and see your community. I first went to one of your sister communities back in 1997. And I saw the hard work that was building the houses and giving people a better life. I came back the next year, in 1998, with my husband, former President Bill Clinton. And we saw even more progress. And then, we saw the house that we helped to build on the other community in Victoria Mxenge.

And so, we wanted to come and see a new community. So we came here to sight-see. And we are so proud to see the houses that are being built, because these are houses that will give shelter and happiness to the families in them, and the women and the men who have built them. And so I am very proud to see the progress that you have made, and to know that because of your efforts and this model, there are 50,000 houses built like this across South Africa. So, I want to applaud all of you.


SECRETARY CLINTON: You know, we saw so many areas as we drove here, where the housing was not at all as nice or as strong or as well built or as big as the houses you are building. And I would hope to come back in a number of years and see even more houses built by all of you, and more people joining you to build their own houses. Thank you all very much.


SECRETARY CLINTON: (In progress.) You know, those who were with me in India, you know, it now has 1.1 million members. And, you know, this group has grown and divided. And it is something the government should support, charities should support, churches and other religious organizations should support. But the women and the men (inaudible), that's what makes it (inaudible).

(Inaudible) was saying on the ride in that (inaudible) some of the government (inaudible) housing (inaudible). It's not big enough for their families, for their belongings, it all looks the same, there is no personality. And you know, human beings want to have something that is their own. And so the more we can empower that, the better.

PARTICIPANT: (Inaudible?)


PARTICIPANT: Smart power.

SECRETARY CLINTON: (Inaudible) smart power. But think about it. Think about -- you know, I said yesterday and I have said before in speeches I've made, that challenge is universal. Opportunity is not. And Patricia, whom I have known now for a number of years, illustrates how smart (inaudible) are, given a chance to change their future. And that's what these women have done.

You know, these women were not given an education. If they had, they would be standing there or standing there. But they've made (inaudible) their God-given talents, and it is so impressive.

QUESTION: (Inaudible?)

SECRETARY CLINTON: We had a very, very good conversation. We talked about this new bilateral dialogue that the foreign minister and I are going to head up. And he made very clear, as he did in his brief remarks afterwards, that he wants to take our bilateral relationship to a new level. He had a very good meeting with President Obama, when they were together in Italy. They will see each other again in the fall, both at the United Nations and at the G-20.

And, of course, we are very supportive of South Africa playing even more of a leadership role on both regional issues, security, conflict resolution, mediation, and on global issues like climate change and non-proliferation. And we are going to get to work on all of that.

QUESTION: What about (inaudible)?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I am going to see him. I know him from the 1990s and the work that he did (inaudible) peaceful transition of power in South Africa. This is why he and former-President Mandela won the Nobel Peace Prize, for that extraordinary, peaceful transfer of authority. And, you know, I will just, you know, have a chance to say hello to them.

QUESTION: One quick question, though, for --


QUESTION: -- the military bases that the U.S. wants to open here --

SECRETARY CLINTON: That is not true.


SECRETARY CLINTON: No, no. We have no military bases on our agenda, no. That is not -- you know, first of all, South Africa has a very good military. South Africa -- we want to help South Africa in any way they need help from us. But no bases.

QUESTION: (Inaudible?)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Zimbabwe is very difficult. And you know, Patricia and I were talking. There are more than three million refugees in Zimbabwe. They can't live in their own country. And people come to South Africa because you're free and you're dynamic and you're making progress and you're working together. And you have political freedom. And it's tragic that your neighbors don't have the same kind of opportunities in their own countries. So, I --

QUESTION: That's because of the sanctions.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, but the sanctions were meant to be targeted at the leadership, which has -- this is a personal opinion, but it is the opinion of my government and of President Obama -- the leadership under President Mugabe has turned its back on its own people. I mean, people in Zimbabwe are starving, that's why they come here. They have no work, that's why they come here, the schools are shut. The hospitals are not working.

And what we wanted to do was try to create some pressure on the leadership to do what it should do to take care of their own people. And I know that's what, you know, President Zuma is working very hard, as President Mbeki did before, to try to change the attitude of the Zimbabwean (inaudible). That's what we want.

We want -- wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to go home, if you were from Zimbabwe? I mean, you would be able to go home and raise your family and build a house like this, and have a future. And what's stopping it? Bad government. Bad decisions by the leaders. The people work hard, just like the people work hard here, in South Africa. So (inaudible) --

PARTICIPANT: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, I (inaudible) --


SECRETARY CLINTON: No excuse. I think I said I have the people, I will borrow (inaudible) --


SECRETARY CLINTON: And I hope they do not charge me too high.


SECRETARY CLINTON: These are good business women.


PARTICIPANT: Thank you so much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all. God bless you.

PRN: 2009/T11-19