Item 1176 - Small Business Development Corporations Business Revival Dinner Conference in Association with The Star and Sowetan Keynote Address by Dr Nelson Mandela President of the African National Congress

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ZA COM MR-S-1176


Small Business Development Corporations Business Revival Dinner Conference in Association with The Star and Sowetan Keynote Address by Dr Nelson Mandela President of the African National Congress


  • 1993-11-01 (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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  • English

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Distinguished guests and friends, we feel privileged to have been asked to deliver the keynote address tonight. This business revival conference takes place at the most crucial time in the history of our Country, i.e. On the Eve of the Introduction of TEC and New Non Racial Non Sexist Democratic South Africa. We are just 156 days away from the first Non Racial elections.

There is no question about the coming into being of a new non racial democratic South Africa despite all the difficulties we are experiencing in our Country. Political victory is assured.

It is, however, equally true that the political transformation that we have struggled for, can never be complete unless and until it is accompanied by corresponding transformation and democratization of the economy. This transportation and democratization of the socio-economic landscape would guarantee human dignity and enshrine total freedom for all. It also has some serious implications for the business as we know it today.

Business forms the cornerstone of our economic activity. What does transformation and democratization of the economy then mean to the business sector. In our humble view, it means redefinition and restructuring of business in South Africa to unleash its full potential. It means business, large, small and medium must strive to define itself in the national image, reflecting the needs, aspirations interests and vision of a New South African nation rather than a sectarian and/or sectariary one. Businesses must seek to transform themselves to reflect a broader and more representative view of national interest.

We need to stress that transformation and democratization of the economy also means that the work place can never remain the same given all the dramatic changes that are taking place in and around it. Political democracy is incompatible with absence of democracy in economic life. A citizen cannot be regarded as sufficiently mature for political democracy and simultaneously denied democratic rights in economic life Chairperson, this has serious implications for management as we know it today. Its philosophy, style and practices. It basically means a new way of life for business, to ensure business, revival, survival and most importantly its success.

The people present here tonight are well versed in issues of business. You all know that Global Economics are today driven by Investment, Technology Education and Competence. We also know that the new non-racial non sexist democratic order, should be underpinned by sustainable economic growth. It is also agreed by many key players that South Africa's economic growth would be export led.

Competitiveness, productivity, innovation and capability in management of new technologies will be determined by the quality of our human capital. Our people, the most previous of all assets.

With increased globalization, and internationalisation of the world economy South Africa will face fierce, keen and stiff competition in Global markets, trade and investment. In view of the fact that central to all economic and business activity be it technology, investments, management, entrepreneurship, its people, and that the challenges ahead are most formidable, our people should be well equipped with the necessary, requisite, and relevant skills, expertise, competencies, information and knowledge.

It is our humble view that if we succeed in creating positive growth in the economy, it would not be sustainable if we do not empower our disadvantaged masses. It is true that fair distributional outcomes can only be delivered if individuals have reasonable equal chances and opportunities to succeed. If disadvantaged masses are not empowered with skills, knowledge information and competence it is clear that gross inequality of outcomes is a natural consequence, no wonder we take affirmative action based on equity, fairness and justice so seriously to ensure not just business revival but sustainable business success.

Impressive growth alone, can do little to improve equity because the poor, disadvantaged, oppressed, excluded, exploited and especially those who have suffered from economics of exclusion are ill-equipped and ill-prepared to take advantage of opportunities. The reduction of inequalities of outcomes is a precondition for improved and better life style on one hand and sustainability of economic growth on the other. It is thus not surprising that it has become more than urgent for the new democratic state, private sector, its agencies governmental and non governmental institutions and international community to visibly address these gross inequalities. Empowerment of our people is a pre requisite for business revival and sustainable business success and economic growth.

Allow me to make a few observations about management relevant for business revival and success. Management approach, style and philosophies need to be redefined if we are going to make sustainable success of our business. A new breed of a manager is required. Our country requires managers who will be conscious of their society, who will be motivated to build organizational capabilities to respond to the needs of society. The ability to manage under conditions of disorganization and unstructured reality are to be critical skills of tomorrow's successful managers, who should lead the business revival. Our managers are more and more going to deal with their own psychological reactions in other people. Due to changes that are taking place managers may encounter a range of maladaptive reactions, values, lifestyles, work disenchantment, or political crisis which must be skilfully dealt with.

The key to understanding the leadership demands on managers is to accept that the manager has to manage but that the manager no longer has automatic authority, her or his authority depends on earning legitimacy. South African business will have to be restructured to permit the new breed of a manager to accept new responsibilities and to meet the demands placed on her or him by the new evolving environment.

The increasing complexity of the general business environment places high premium on leadership ability, its quality, skill and practice. Managing change, high levels on uncertainty, ambiguity and at times confusion, the predominant skill is an awareness of subtle environmental changes and sensitivity. This would favour a manager who can think decide and act in terms of the context of the firm not as a separate unit. Managers interpersonal and socio-political skills will need to be far more extensive than is currently the case. Management challenge will extend beyond the realms of functional management, such as accounting, finance, marketing, computers, production. The understanding of socio-economic and political dynamics that underscore our complex society is a critical skill for all managers. Front line managers need a deep insight and knowledge of the job to be done, understanding of where the job fits into wider pattern and sensitive social awareness combined with firmness.

Business revival and success needs super human management effort, and leadership ability. Strong doses of business leadership not just management are required. Management is about efficiency and implementation of plans but leadership is about effectiveness, not creating plans but vision and strategies. Management is about doing things right whereas leadership is about doing the right thing.

Business revival and success calls forth for bold leadership in the business arena. Leadership is about coping with change. Major changes are more and more necessary to survive in business.

This brings me to another critical issue for sustainable business success which is linked to bold leadership. South African business has suffered greatly from what experts call short termism - short term focus. Our planning horizons want results yesterday. We never take a long term view like our counterparts elsewhere especially in South East Asia. It has become imperative for us to take long term view if we are going to succeed. Short term focus does not inspire confidence into the future. This is further linked our investment culture. But most importantly critical expenditures such as training and development are viewed as a cost rather than as investments for the future. It is high time that we begin to be positive and regard expenditures on areas such as education, training and development of our human resource potential as an investment not a cost item.

Furthermore we are all agreed that profit is critical and necessary for business survival. Profit is not a dirty word but we need to say that South African Business in general is spoilt and used to usually huge profits. A small dip in profits send panic buttons resulting in curtailed investments in a number of areas such as human capital and consumer loyalty and minimal reinvestment of profits.

I think it might be fitting and proper to say that, the ANC is committed to building and inspiring investor confidence. This is a given, and something we understand. An ANC led government would go beyond inspiring investor confidence, but would be in the forefront of creating an environment conducive to economic growth and business revival. The ANC would adopt macro-economic policies and specifically encourage economic growth and business revival.

The Japanese model is worth our consideration. The Japanese economic miracle and destiny was not left only to the free play of market faces. The government in Japan, has undertaken from the beginning to identify objectives and priorities for the Japanese economy. The Japanese government has also sought to facilitate the achievement of these goals. It has in any case tried to ensure that the private sector does not lack the wherewithal for this purpose. This approach moved a Senior American Businessman in a 1978 US Department of Commerce Publication to describe the Japanese state role in the following fashion, "Put all this together one does not come with a totally planned economy of the USSR type far from it. The essential characteristic of the Japanese Government business relationship is that the business community and various government departments have been in close communication with each other, from the days of the Meiji Restoration. The result is a style of industrial development which has allowed Japanese business considerable independence even when subject to administrative guidance facilitated by a variety of government aids and incentives.

The acceptance to a greater or less degree by Japanese business men of the governments goals and priorities is based on two all important factors:

1. A reluctance on the part of both business and government to unilaterally adopt policies or undertake major moves in high priority sectors of the economy without consulting each other. (This becomes critical for international competitiveness).

2. A propensity which all Japanese share, for a consensual approach (something we are all learning fast, others would still have to learn in our country) to harmonize differences that may exist within as well as between each group). (It is clear to me that a collective synergistic role of New Government, business, society and labour in industrial development will have to be encouraged, fostered, cultivated and nurtured. To date totally under developed.

The new democratic state will have to foster an enabling. Environment for the encouragement of entrepreneurship and small medium sized enterprises which is so crucial for job creation. Promotion of entrepreneurship culture and provision of entreprenurial education, combined with vocational training and entreprenurial development are imperatives that a new democratic government can only ignore at its own peril. We must refocus on the true nature of economic development at grassroots levels in cities, towns, townships and villages. We need to nurture cultivate the Enterprising spirit of our ordinary people, their imagination and innovativeness, we must rediscover the enterprising individual who is willing to take risks, who breaks new ground and plays an innovative role in our economy. These are the enterprises who are going to lead business revival and sustain business entrepreneurs. These budding entrepreneurs are found in the breadth and depth of our country. They are found in hawker markets and informal settlements. They are everywhere. We must rediscover them and nurture them to viability. Our approach to financial assistance should be innovative, taking cognisance of the reality of the exclusion of the majority from the first world economy. For instance, many viable projects do not get off the ground for lack of financial support, which requires security that is not even in our vocabulary because of apartheid. We must break away from this impediment of collaterals and begin to look at the viability of the project and ability to make and afford loan repayments. Access to capital formation is critical for business revival and success. If we succeed in this I have no doubt that in each and every black household in our country we would have a highly successful entrepreneur thus, contribute immensely to: job creation and sustainability of a new democratic order. Real economic development is a do it yourself process at the grassroots level that can at best be helped by social economic policies.
In conclusion, I do hope that all present here tonight have benefited from the input of the most eminently- qualified speakers. It is my hope and that of the ANC that our willingness to accommodate and meet the needs of Business Community are not seen as a sign of weakness but our resolve to offer optimal and sustainable solutions and meet the expectations of our new nation. We sincerely hope that you will be able to influence and shape your business in a manner that would no longer prolong the agony and suffering of our people.

There is nothing as painful as achieving political freedom and in the process failing to meet minimum expectations of the people.

There is no doubt that we face formidable challenges but fortunately these are not insurmountable. Our problems cannot be solved overnight. But the capacity, resilience, resolve and willingness of the majority of our people cannot be underestimated. In Durban on Saturday evening last week at a Dinner I said there are three types of people, Normal Persons, Exceptions and Geniuses. I explained what each one of them mean:


I have no doubt that we have within our midst in the business community and ordinary people of our country exceptions, and geniuses the movers and shakers who will rise to the occasion and lead from the front our business revival and the transformation and democratization of our economy.

History is calling us to rise to the challenge. Our choice is very limited. There is no turning back from the highway to total freedom and complete liberation.

We must seize the moment and opportunity.

I thank you all.

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Acquisition method: Hardcopy ; Source: ANC Archives, Office of the ANC President, Nelson Mandela Papers, University of Fort Hare. Accessioned on 19/01/2010 by Zintle Bambata




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