Item 1264 - Speech by President Nelson Mandela at the Opening Dinner of the 18th Annual Investment Conference

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ZA COM MR-S-1264


Speech by President Nelson Mandela at the Opening Dinner of the 18th Annual Investment Conference


  • 1995-02-13 (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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18th Annual Investment Conference

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  • English

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Distinguished Guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen.

It is a pleasure to be here tonight, at such a distinguished and truly international gathering of leaders of the world of finance and investment.

An official opening of an investment conference, and one that focuses on investment in our country, is understandably an event that generates keen interest among South Africans. It is a cause dear to my heart and of great importance to the future of our newly-established democracy.

This is not the first investment conference hosted by Frankel Pollak in our country. But it is the first to be held in a democratic South Africa. That is a fact of the utmost importance, for upon it hang a multitude of consequences. The nature and the number of investment opportunities, the character and the scale of our country's needs for investment, and the consequences of investment for the people of this country, are of a quite different order.

It is heartening to know that nearly a hundred overseas delegates have been attracted to this conference. Such an awesome assembly of experience and expertise in the world of finance and investment could not have been drawn here just out of curiosity or passing interest. Rather, it indicates, I believe, a sustainable regard of South Africa as a country of investment opportunities, an interest in participating in the reconstruction and development of our country.

In the short period since our first democratic elections last year, our country has achieved a remarkable degree of national reconciliation, unity and stability. Many thought so smooth a transition impossible, amongst them a sizeable number who influence investment decisions. They were daunted, perhaps, by our long history of division and conflict.

But South Africans have proved determined to put that past behind them and ready to build a common future. A consensus inscribed in our negotiated Interim Constitution and in the support of all parties for the Reconstruction and Development Programme, underpins our Government of National Unity.

However, our substantial progress is only the necessary foundation for addressing further challenges.

The initial period last year was used to establish a government able to implement the programmes which are needed to bring real improvement in the lives of millions of South Africans. With this stage of preparation behind us, we are now required to move into a period of accelerated socio-economic transformation, one in which change should become increasingly visible.

Amongst our most urgent tasks is to consolidate democracy. This year's local elections will give our country democratic local authorities, thereby removing one of the most serious obstacles to rapid movement in reconstruction and development. A permanent constitution is being negotiated in the spirit of consensus-seeking which characterised our earlier multi-party efforts.

With a legitimate and mandated government in place, it has become easier to address problems of crime and violence. With the transition to democratic local government gathering pace, we are in a position to expect that communities share responsibility for the development, implementation and financing of programmes.

Entrenching the highest moral standards in public affairs and private business is an objective of the greatest importance to government. On this we cannot falter.

These are not easy tasks. If we are confident, and if others have confidence in us, it is because our political stability rests on something even more solid and secure than formal constitutions and consensus between parties.

The achievement of the goals to which government is committed depends on an active partnership of all social structures. That spirit is manifested in the current approach to redefining policies and dealing with problems which arise as the country sets about transforming itself in order to address the legacies of apartheid.

Consultation amongst all role-players is the order of the day. This reveals a nation united in pursuit of common goals, something which puts the stability of our country and its future prosperity on an even firmer footing.

One of the most important partnerships which is shaping our future is that between government, business and organised labour. Later this week we will be launching our National Economic Development and Labour Council. This forum will see the three economic role-players jointly shaping a strategy for the sustained growth and development essential to the achievement of our goals.

For its part the government is committed to a frugal use of national resources, creating a climate for investment and growth, and setting the economy on a footing in which it can stand its own in a highly competitive world. Amongst other things this means:
-gradually reducing the fiscal deficit;
-shifting government spending towards more capital expenditure;
-easing exchange control regulation and opening our protected economy;
-financing the RDP primarily by restructuring national, provincial and local government budgets towards RDP priorities.

Positive signs of success in applying fiscal discipline have come with recent figures on government spending and revenue, indicating that the deficit for the year will not exceed its projected target.

We do appreciate the constraints which our dual currency system is placing on encouraging investment and the Cabinet is giving serious attention to how and when it could be dispensed with.

We are firmly committed, as a founding member of the World Trade Organisation, to implementing the new GATT agreement as part of an industrial restructuring programme.

Further evidence of confidence in our government comes in the form of a whole range of positive indicators of domestic business activity.

Foreign investor opinion is also shifting from an attitude of cautious interest to practical investment. Although recent international developments have generally not favoured the cause of new investment in emerging markets, the effect on confidence in South Africa has been marginal and temporary. We are, however, learning from developments in Mexico and other countries in managing our own economic policies.

We have also taken serious note of observations that there may be drawbacks in the way we relate to potential investors. In particular our foreign missions will be reflecting on comments that strong interest in investing in South Africa is sometimes frustrated by lack of readily available information about concrete opportunities. Government is also considering the merits of providing potential investors with a single point of reference for their negotiations, rather than several agencies, as is presently the case.

The South African business community is ready to embrace the climate of competition which the world now offers. Society as a whole is ready to provide an open door to investment. This requires, on the part of our business community in particular, deliberate efforts to rise above the years of protectionism which isolation fostered.

International investors also face a challenge. Given our common vision of a prosperous future, we would urge investment not only in our equity and capital markets, but also in those ventures that will provide longer term growth opportunities, a kind of Marshall Plan to eradicate the mess created by apartheid. I am confident that, together, we are equal to this task.

Ladies and gentlemen.

To our hosts, Frankel Pollak and Gencor, thank you for the excellent dinner.

To our international guests, thank you for the opportunity to show you our country and what it can offer. As a new emerging market, we believe that we are unique in our ability through negotiation, hard work and clear thinking, to find pragmatic solutions to our problems. We are getting it right. Do not in the future find that you overestimated the risk and missed the opportunity.

May our partnership flourish!

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Acquisition method: Hardcopy ; Source: ANC Archives, Office of the ANC President, Nelson Mandela Papers, University of Fort Hare. Accessioned on 22/01/2010 by Zintle Bambata




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