Item 1266 - Speech by President Nelson Mandela at the Launch of the National Economic Development and Labour Council

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ZA COM MR-S-1266


Speech by President Nelson Mandela at the Launch of the National Economic Development and Labour Council


  • 1995-02-18 (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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Launch of the National Economic Development and Labour Council

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  • English

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Page 3 of speech missing

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Deputy President Thabo Mbeki;
Minister of Labour;
Members of the diplomatic corps;
Distinguished Guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen

Along the path we have elected to follow as a nation there are certain points of towering significance, moments which encapsulate our transition and which are rich with potential for the future. The launch of the National Economic Development and Labour Council is such a moment.

Pride in our rapid progress away from division and conflict has become fundamental to our conception of ourselves as a nation. It gives voice to the belief that we have benefited from a 'miracle' whose content is defined in terms that are now an every-day part of our political vocabulary: nation-building, national unity, national reconciliation.

In addition to the agreements from multi-party negotiations, many sectoral forums mushroomed into life especially in that difficult period. These bodies emerged, often spontaneously, to start managing the country in a period when the illegitimacy of the then government was recognised even by its own members. NEDLAC is one of the foremost products of the process that saw democracy being born out of the womb of the old order.

Opposing camps transformed themselves into partners, articulating different and often contradictory interests, but united in pursuit of common goals.

Today we are building on the foundations of that emerging national consensus to work together for a better life for all South Africans. The launch of NEDLAC represents a milestone in the transition from an illegitimate system manifesting the worst forms of oppression to the most democratic expression of the popular will and unity.

Progress is being made in the Constitutional Assembly to begin the process of drafting the final Constitution. Local...

On this powerful partnership rests a challenging responsibility, to devise a strategy for the rapid economic growth and development that underpins prosperity.

NEDLAC is not simply an advisory body. Nor will it usurp the duty of government to govern. It draws together the organised representatives of civil society and of government in substantive and detailed policy work, in a process guided by the striving for consensus. To that extent, the outcome of its deliberations in the all- encompassing arena of development is bound to have an authority that government cannot ignore.

Nor should NEDLAC be a cosy deal-making body representing the powerful and well-organised against the weaker of our society. Aware of these dangers, NEDLAC will embrace representatives of all the major areas of civil society - Labour and Business to be sure, but also community-based NGO's, women, youth, and representatives of the urban and rural communities.

NEDLAC should, however, never take its representative character for granted. Each constituent will need to ensure that it is indeed representative of all sectors within its ambit. In particular, concerns about the representation of black business need to be addressed with due regard to the interests of all sides.

None of us, I am certain, would contest the assertion that our democratic gains will be shallow and persistently threatened if they do not find expression in food and shelter, in well-paying jobs and rising living standards. None, I think, would accept the thesis that democratic government is in conflict with rapid economic growth and decisive leadership.

The consensual mode of government that we seek characterises some of the most stable societies and strongest economies, some of which emerged from war and fascism. Their economic growth path and their deeply rooted democratic institutions are two sides of the same coin. In our own way, and with our own peculiar institutions and peculiar practices, this is the path that we have chosen.

If we insist on the enormous benefits this new body can bring, it is not that we think its objectives will be easily achieved, or even that we assume that it will succeed. On the contrary, it is to emphasise the scale of the challenge, and how important it is to the nation that all involved avoid the dangers that lie in wait.

Some of them could be a pre-occupation with meeting narrow, selfish interests. It is expected that each party, the government included, will represent its interests in a vigorous and robust manner. But ultimately the bodies will seek consensus in the national interest.

That will be the real test for NEDLAC, a test whose significance is underlined by the great opportunities emerging from the upswing in the economy, opening of international markets and possibilities for foreign investments. It is a test in a world that is highly competitive, and requires of us rapid steps to meet international standards in all spheres.

All of us face the challenge to help the nation achieve rapid economic growth and development. But the country does not want quick fixes that eventually run out, leaving chaos and disillusionment. It wants durable, sustainable growth and development.

NEDLAC does have the potential to stand at the forefront of our future. We dare not fail.

In conclusion, I would like to commend the people who worked and negotiated for the establishment of this council.
It is a great honour to officially launch the National Economic Development and Labour Council.

Let us get down to 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 22/01/2010 by Zintle Bambata




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