CAPE TOWN, S. AFRICA: Nelson Mandela, looking fit and every inch a president, opened the third South African Parliament since the 1994 all-race elections with a healing hour-long speech: "We can neither heal nor build, if on the one hand the rich in our society see the poor as hordes of irritants, or if, on the other hand, the poor sit back expecting charity," Mandela told Parliament in a televised speech. TIME's Peter Hawthorne reports from Cape Town that South Africa has made a remarkably smooth transition from white-only rule. Some cultural problems must be sorted out, with violent agitation in some provinces by the Inkatha Freedom Party, a pro-Zulu rival to Mandela's African National Congress. "The country is remarkably stable, although there are a couple of hiccups now and then in race relations," Hawthorne says. Mandela's government is challenged with extending the country's infrastructure from modern white cities to poor black settlements and townships like Soweto, where poor blacks can see the lights of Johannesburg from the stoops of their unheated, unlit shacks. But in the past two years the government has developed a workable administrative infrastructure to deliver necessary services. Hawthorne notes: "The orderly ceremony in Parliament reflects the way the country has been able to accomplish this remarkable transformation. There's no doubt that South Africa is better off now than it was three years ago, but much remains to be done."