Item 1057 - Address at South Africn Chamber of Business (SACOB) Dinner, October 2001

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ZA COM MR-S-1057


Address at South Africn Chamber of Business (SACOB) Dinner, October 2001


  • October 2001 (Creation)

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Transcription of speech made by Mr Mandela

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(18 July 1918-5 December 2013)

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Migrated from the Nelson Mandela Speeches Database (Sep-2018).

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  • English

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Thank you very much for this great and in many ways unexpected honour. Again I am convinced that what we are witnessing tonight is the instinctive respect that people have for grey hair and other signs of old age, rather than an award based on achievement in this field.

Even so, though, I am extremely honoured and particularly pleased to have been invited to dinner.

To me this tribute by South African business is specially striking and an indication of how we have all changed and developed as South Africans over the years. It is to me a sign and recognition that we need partnerships in this country if we wish to succeed.

In my first speech after my release on 11 February 1990, I naturally also touched on matters of economic policy. I was told that some of the pronouncements I made in that speech caused serious ripples in financial and business circles in the country and abroad.

My subsequent interaction with senior South African business leaders as well as with international figures helped me to gain a greater understanding of the current economic conditions in the world. Through that interaction and engagement we were able to adapt our thinking and approaches on a number of key issues.

This was of course not a matter of individual thinking and decision-making. It was our entire organisation and movement that examined and learnt about the prevailing conditions and that made rational decisions about the appropriate route to follow.

That from that rather strained relationship at the time our first speech we could arrive at the point where business tonight pays tribute to us is - as I have said - a sign of how we learnt from one another and had the flexibility and adaptability to change and make changes.

I say this because these changes and accommodation of other points of view are not one way processes. It is not only ourselves that had adapted; business itself has changed in its approaches, policies and practices over this last decade as we all sought to transform our society.

One practical example that I have personally witnessed in this regard, is the generous manner in which business people participated in our programme of building and upgrading schools and clinics in the disadvantaged areas of our country. As is well known, I started with this programme soon after my release from prison and continued it throughout my term as President. And the programme still runs as strongly after our retirement under the auspices of our Foundation.

No businessperson, no matter from what background, has been found wanting when we approached them to participate. This is to me the clearest sign of business caring in practical ways for the poor and disadvantaged communities.

I notice in the release that was sent to our offices that you state: "The time has come for the business community to witness and share Dr Mandela's vision for the future, of effectively putting in place an economic plan that will ensure internal growth coupled with the increased participation of Black people in the mainstream economy".

This is a highly commendable approach, although I must once more state that you overrate my contribution as an individual in this regard. The economic plan you refer to is the product of the insight, wisdom and hard work of all those members of my Cabinet who dealt with economic matters, including particularly the then Deputy President (now President), the various Ministers of Finance (and particularly the current Minister who is internationally recognised as one of the best), the Ministers of Trade and Industry, of Labour and the various others in economic fields.

That you wish to commit yourself to practices and plans that will enhance internal growth is to me the greatest award of this evening. It has always baffled me to hear that our business leaders lack confidence in the economy of their country while at the same time it was recognised that the macro-economic framework was exceptionally well managed by government. It confused a lay person like myself to learn that one of our main problems was a lack of investment in our economy on the part of our own business people.

If you were to ask me how you could best honour me my answer would be to urge you to rally patriotically around the economic needs of our country. As we overcame our political problems, we have the capacity and strength to do it in other spheres as well, particularly in the all-important economic arena.

We need to grow our economy and create jobs and greater prosperity in which all can share. To achieve this we need partnerships across all sectors of society.

It is equally commendable that the need for greater Black participation in the mainstream of the economy is so publicly acknowledged.

We must ensure that all South Africans have a sense of ownership in all sectors of society. The long-term stability of our democratic order is also dependent upon all sectors of the population participating meaningfully at all levels of the economy.

We wish South African business well in the difficult and competitive global world in which we operate. We know that if we combine our energies and efforts for the best of our country we will be successful.

We thank you most sincerely for this honour which we accept on behalf of all those in government who worked so hard to ensure that our economic policies are sound.

I thank you.

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Acquisition method: From hard drive ; Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation Prof J Gerwel. Accessioned on 26/02/09 by Razia Saleh




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