Item 1242 - Address by President Nelson Mandela at the Tribute Magazine Dinner

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ZA COM MR-S-1242


Address by President Nelson Mandela at the Tribute Magazine Dinner


  • 1994-10-16 (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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Tribute Magazine Dinner

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  • English

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There are many conventional ways to spend a Sunday afternoon. It is so decreed that such moments should be savoured with one's family, resting from a heavy schedule and gathering energy for the week ahead.

There is little in this assembly, besides the sumptuous meal, that would place it in this category. But, that is, only if one were to lose sight of the larger family comprised by all gathered here tonight: the eminent business-persons, professionals and others, and the enterprising and industrious Tribute magazine team headed by Jon Qwelane.

This would have been an atypical Sunday afternoon, above all, if we were not gathered here to contribute to the cause of our most precious possession, our children; as well as advancing national reconstruction and development.

So I thank you most profoundly for this rare opportunity to be with this, our family, and to lend our support to an initiative made noble by its objective of bettering the lives of all South Africans.

I should apologise that I was unable to view the film, Germinal with you, due to other commitments. However, I had occasion, a few years ago, to read this eminent work. And I still vividly remember its profound message and subtle lessons: concern for ordinary people; the need for human beings to treat one another with compassion; the injunction to use technology not just for profit but essentially for the development and well-being of communities.

Indeed, this is what brings us together here tonight. I should congratulate Tribute magazine for this bold initiative. It takes courage and creativity for a journal such as this to issue this challenge to society as a whole, especially the business community, that the time has come for us to join hands to rebuild and develop our country.

More often than not, reference to the Reconstruction and Development Programme conjures up images of a government delivering to a passive populace.

Certainly, the government has the responsibility to lead the process of transforming society. This is what we are striving to do, as reflected in the comprehensive proposals contained in the RDP White Paper and other major programmes.

The aim is to restructure the whole of the state and reorient it to serve the objectives of reconstruction and development. We will continue with programmes to create conditions conducive to investment, to lower government consumption and to work for belt- tightening on the part of government officials and the rest of society.

But this cannot be accomplished by government alone. Communities do have a central role to play. It is there, where delivery takes place that people should take the initiative to ensure that the infrastructure for implementation is set up. And through such forums as the parliamentary hearings on the Education White Paper, they should take active part in policy formulation.

However, today's event brings into sharper focus the challenge facing the private sector. What this Tribute initiative is saying to all of us is that the business community should become an active partner in the process of reconstruction and development. We must invest in South Africa; invest in enterprises that will create jobs and help improve the quality of life of the people. There have already been discussions with relevant ministries on this, and what we expect is that practical action should start without delay.

Master of Ceremonies,

Our recent visit to the US again demonstrated the goodwill within the international community to assist us in our efforts. While aid is crucial, our most important concern is to bring more investment into the country. The challenge that this poses is that we should encourage it, and aggressively seek to build partnerships with investors.

It would be a sad day indeed if South African companies were to discourage such investments because of fear of competition. The country as a whole will benefit from investments; and they will give a spur to our efforts to restructure South African industry to make it more competitive internationally. We are also faced with the challenge of taking full advantage of opportunities offered by the United States and other countries which have given some of our products preferential status.

These are just some of the tasks we face. In essence, the question that Tribute has brought into sharper focus is, what is the business community doing to expand the country's economic base and create more jobs; to restructure industry and ensure growth, productivity and equity; to help meet the broad social goals of the nation!

Needless to say, much emphasis in our programmes has to be put on the health, education and all-round development of children. We are therefore particularly grateful that Tribute has decided that part of the proceeds of this Fund will go to the President's Trust Fund. This will go a long way in helping to alleviate the conditions of street children, those who are in detention, and indigent students who require bursaries.

The Trust Fund itself has received many contributions from individuals and companies who appreciate that this is not an act of charity, but an investment in the future. The Board of Trustees of the Fund will in the next few weeks set up executive and administrative structures it needs, and make the necessary detailed announcements about its operations. A decision has been taken to widen the net of beneficiaries to include abused and disabled children.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is the totality of these efforts, motivated by the need to help ourselves, that will see us succeed as a nation.

We have said in the past that there was no easy walk to freedom. Indeed, if we have to reach the mountain-tops of our desires - to attain a better life for all South Africans - this will be from the sweat of our brow.

Such is the spirit behind the Tribute Fund. We hope that it will be a trail-blazer for many more creative endeavours to reconstruct and develop our country.

I should therefore thank you, once more, for what is in fact a typical Sunday family get-together, an inspiration for us in our work.

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Acquisition method: Hardcopy ; Source: ANC Archives, Office of the ANC President, Nelson Mandela Papers, University of Fort Hare. Accessioned on 21/01/2010 by Zintle Bambata




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