Item 1143 - Address of Nelson Mandela President of the African National Congress to the Finance Week Breakfast Club

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ZA COM MR-S-1143


Address of Nelson Mandela President of the African National Congress to the Finance Week Breakfast Club


  • 1991-07-19 (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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ANC Archives, Office of the ANC President, Nelson Mandela Papers, University of Fort Hare

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Finance Week Breakfast Club

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  • English

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Mr Chairperson, Ladies and Gentleman

Thank you for offering me the opportunity to address this distinguished gathering. I have been asked to speak on the priorities of the ANC and it is advantageous to do this so soon after we have complete the first National Conference within the country for more than 30 years.

The conference itself was preceded by extensive discussion of all the relevant issues in branches and in regions. When delegates arrived at the conference they were already fairly conversant with the issues involved. What emerged as decisions were therefore not a result of some sudden caprice nor dictated from the top downwards.

From this conference one can, however, say that the priorities of the ANC remain substantially what they were before July 2. The only difference is that the organisation is more united and cohesive behind these and there is a newly elected leadership to implement them. The new leadership is a remarkable collection of individuals representing the various strands of our organisation: experienced members of the previous Executive, leaders of the Mass Democratic Movement, former exiles who were not previously on the Executive and ex-prisoners who have spent many decades in prison.

This is a group in which I have great confidence and I believe the country should be pleased that tey have been chosen.

Our priority remains the search for peace, which we believe is not possible unless there is freedom. Furthermore, and this is where your main interest presumably arises, lasting peace can only be secured when social justice, including the vast disparity of wealth is addressed.

The ANC is unequivocally committed to peaceful resolution of the apartheid conflict. Too many people have died and been maimed by apartheid bullets. Too many people still stand to die unless the current wave of terror being waged against African communities comes to an end. Far from it coming to an end, indications are that it may be spreading to other areas.

It is vital that those who may see some short-term advantage in this violence, in that it may weaken the ANC, understand the devastating long-term consequences for our country. A culture of violence is being firmly engrained within the consciousness of our people. South African history has taught blacks that in this country matters are not usually solved through discussion but through violence. That is why people supported the armed struggle as a means of defence against the aggression inherent in apartheid.

Now that we have suspended armed action, people again see that political advantage is being south through a reign of terror. This is not meaningless terror. We believe that it is aimed at weakening the ANC and building an anti-ANC alliance. It is hoped that acts of terror by redbanded attackers will increase the support for organisations whose political backing is limited.

Businesspeople must understand that this had very dangerous implications which will not leave the economy unaffected. We are not going to stand by and watch our people being massacred. We will use all necessary means, including strike action to try to impress upon the government that this violence must come to an end.

We need business to support our call for a binding set of agreements aimed at ending the violence, which will provide a code of conduct for political parties and the Security Forces.

We want peace but this demands a democratic social order. We are committed to establishing a constitution that is not merely an ANC one, but a constitution that enjoys the loyalty and respect of all patriotic South Africans. We believe that such a constitution should be backed up by a justiciable bill of rights and an independent judiciary.

We know that many whites fear the dawn of fundamental democratic rights such as universal suffrage. They fear that they may now be subjected to apartheid in reverse. But there is no reason to fear this. The ANC is committed to nonracialism. They very first words of the Freedom Charter declare that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white. We have no desire to practise discrimination against whites.

What is more there is no reason for whites to fear for the protection of their culture or languages. These will all be guaranteed in the constitution and bill of rights. We have no intention of attacking legitimate rights. What we will attack are the privileges accumulated through apartheid domination. We will try to create a South Africa where fundamental rights are guaranteed and basic social needs are met.

We are looking for a constitution that conforms to universally accepted democratic principles.

How do we get there? It is our view that this new constitution must be made in the most democratic manner possible and this we believe is through election to a Constituent Assembly. The Constituent Assembly would make the constitution. The composition of the Constituent Assembly would conform to the amount of support that the various organisations enjoy.

This approach is both democratic and inclusive. The democratic principle is given effect through organisations or parties having an influence in the Constituent Assembly directly related to their electoral support. At the same time, we favour proportional representation which ensures that minority parties do have some say.

The entire process of transition is one where we have to ensure that freedom of political activity is allowed and maintained. The government of the day should not be allowed to use its powers as a means of advancing its own political goals at the expense of other organisations. There is no doubt that the present government is partisan and uses its powers to the disadvantage of certain political forces and to advance the aims of others. We believe that government during the period of transition, including supervision of elections for a Constituent Assembly should be through an Interim Government.

This Interim Government would oversee the process through to establishment of a democratic constitution.

But as mentioned earlier, we believe that lasting peace requires that we also address questions of social justice, including economic policy. While some social questions must await a constitutional settlement before they can be properly tackled, many questions of economic policy need to be tackled now.

We are well aware of the need to address economic questions in a manner that does not pit the need to address social disparities against ensuring economic growth.

If we define economic growth narrowly, as increasing GDP output, this approach will not in itself be useful unless it is located within a national development strategy. Such a strategy, we believe, should address both socio-economic development and poverty. It should aim at empowering communities, while improving material conditions of life within a new growth path.

Poverty and basic needs must be seriously addressed. Even the current budget which the government claim is ‘redistributive’ has been shown by sample terreblanche of Stellenbosch University to still allocate R2500 per capita to every white person for social expenditure while allocating R500 for every African. This needs to be reversed urgently.

Development agencies such as the Development Bank of Southern Africa, the Land Bank, South African Housing Trust and so on, which are all parastatals, are making little social impact because they lack legitimacy and are following old ideas of development. This approach consisted of delivering a product with little concern for consultation or involving the communities affected. It is a property to democratise these operations or to create new development institutions that can meet the challenges of a new South Africa. The same task confronts private sector initiatives, like the Urban Foundation.

Retrenchments and job creation are also urgent issues to be addressed in the coming period. These issues need to be considered simultaneously, which can only be done in the context of a new growth strategy that encourages investment, which is currently locked into speculative activity.

We suggest a strategy which focuses in the first instance on basic goods, such as housing- broadly including social infrastructure and services and properly planned urbanisation- and linked not only to providing shelter but also to reviving the economy.

The four issues we prioritise are housing, education, land reform and providing a basic welfare for the very poor. All these can be addressed now. If we take the land question, there is a need for restitution. The Land Bank has access to land. There are over 1000 white farmers who are in debt beyond the value of their assets. Should this not be taken for redistribution?

This focus on redistribution and basic goods might not be a sufficient condition for generating growth, but it is certainly a necessary condition for growth.

Together with you, we recognise that growth is crucial. We envisage a democratic state pursuing an industrial policy aimed, in the first instance, at meeting basic needs and increasing employment. In the words of our Department of Economic Policy, industrial policy will also aim to ensure that South Africa emerges as a more significant manufacturing exporter. A democratic industrial restructuring process should involve the state, business and the trade unions and other organisations of civil society. It should also aim to promote a more balanced pattern of industrialisation, capable of overcoming the current acute overconcentration of economic activity in certain urban areas.

With regard to the mining industry, we will have to develop a plan for the optimal extraction of gold in the national interest. This would aim at promoting a plan in full consultation with the leading producers and trade unions.

In conjunction with this, a new system of taxation, leasing and financing will need to be developed with measures of public ownership where appropriate. This is an urgent question in the light of the changing structure of the industry at a world level, uncertain prices and current threats of retrenchment.

Basically then, we believe there must be a reworked industrial, minding and agricultural strategy. These should aim in the first instance at meeting basic needs and creating jobs. But the aims should also be to improve exporter performance and our technological capacity. Details need to be developed through cooperation between the key players, that is, the state, business and organised labour.

There is a need for macroeconomic stabilisation. Such matters as reducing inflation are crucial if the economy is to grow and attract investment in the future, but this will best be achieved through placing South Africa on a new growth path and not by merely tinkering with monetary policy in a period of recession.

But for there to be any real progress in the economic domain we all know that there has to be political stability- the violence must end. I conclude by urging you to join us in demanding that the government use the powers at its disposal to bring the reign of terror to an end. Please use your voices to call for a genuine process of transition whose outcome must satisfy the majority of South Africans. That means that the object of the process must be to achieve a democratic result. Only when we are free, that is when , for the first time we all have equal rights in the land of our birth, only then will we have peace.

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Acquisition method: Hardcopy ; Source: ANC Archives, Office of the ANC President, Nelson Mandela Papers, University of Fort Hare. Accessioned on 18/01/2010 by Zintle Bambata




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