Item 1435 - Message to the opening of the Donald Gordon building and the inauguration of the Graduate School of Public and Development Management, Wits University

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ZA COM MR-S-1435


Message to the opening of the Donald Gordon building and the inauguration of the Graduate School of Public and Development Management, Wits University


  • 1993-10-13 (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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  • English

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Mr Chair, Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Donald Gordon, members of the international community, distinguished guests;
the official inauguration of the University of the Witwatersrand Graduate School of Public and Development Management takes place at a time when our country is undergoing the pains and expectations of our national transition to democracy. It is an historic moment when we must grapple with the challenges of peace and reconstruction. These are great and exacting challenges that South African individuals, groups, organisations and institutions must now rise up to meet. It is an obligation that faces us all equally.
The difficult negotiations process has demonstrated that the old order, however illegitimate and criminal, has deep roots embedded within out society and institutions. The imminent establishment of the Transitional Executive Council leads us into the next phase of dismantling apartheid and creating the conditions that will be conducive to the first ever democratic elections in our country. Wits University, and like institutions in South Africa, face the obligation of placing such resources as they can provide for the achievement of genuine democratic change as part of our common, achievable goal. It is our desire to entrench a common citizenship underpinned by a commitment to full human rights, justice and equality that links us together.
We are also confident that institutions will understand the need for the sometimes painful adaptation necessary. We all need this framework to enhance the development and realisation of new policies. Wits and its counterparts must become the springboard from which the new generation will emerge. There is no doubt that ail the good work and intentions of constitutional development will come to nought unless a society builds the appropriate institutional capacity. Policies, programmes and projects stemming from democratically-elected and accountable legislatures, whether at the national, regional or focal level, depend on a strong institutional capacity for practical and successful implementation.
There is an urgent need to intensify the interaction between institutions and the community. Organisational and management capacity is likewise needed within the diverse bodies making up civil society in order to enable and empower community-driven development efforts. The arduous tasks of reconstruction and social upliftment which lie ahead insistently demand from us, and we must prepare to yield in favour of the new dispensation whose shape and form will be determined by the extent and nature of our participation.
Clearly effective, efficient and equitable management of scarce natural and social resources will be at a premium within our society for the foreseeable future. It is therefore highly fortunate that this School of Public and Development Management has as its prime objective precisely the meeting of this need.
It is also the case the South African universities will face a series of pressures, demands and strategic challenges within the context of a changing society. Various interpretations of the role of the university will continue to be advanced from the point of view of a plurality of stakeholders. Demands for the university to be representative, relevant and more responsive to community needs will be put forward..
These demands must be considered in the spirit of reconciliation and reconstruction. We must build together or else we will perish together.

Clearly the pursuit of knowledge, as well as excellence through knowledge, must constitute the core mission of any great institution of higher learning and teaching. The need for academic freedom, space and time for scholarly endeavour and guardianship of the critical research process is great. Across a range of scientific, technological, humane and social science disciplines, knowledge needs to be pursued for its own sake, as well as for its beneficial and socially useful aspects. The academic and research excellence of its tertiary institutions form a critical part of the developmental armoury of any society.
The performance of its universities may be one key factor in regard to the ability of a country to build and sustain critical comparative advantages, as well as capacity to innovation and fresh perspectives on a wide-range of crucial societal problems. It may therefore be the case that in many instances it is precisely committed engagement with critical social and developmental dilemmas and needs that will drive the kind of excellent scholarship valued internationally.

In this sense a university within a transforming and developmental environment, such as South Africa, would need to balance its inward and outward orientations accordingly. Within the context of a judicious strategic framework the challenges of scholarship and the need for the university to play an increasingly developmental role could well constitute an aspiration, if not imperative. A leadership vision able to nurture and inspire a variety of important constituencies, and able to build information, communication and resource-sharing networks well into the broader society will without doubt render universities and other tertiary institutions indispensable assets within a developing and transforming South Africa.
That is why we hope that the path is now opening for our universities to become gateways to a wealth of international knowledge and experience. In regard to our Southern African neighbours and our fellow African countries it is to be hoped that our universities will make a particular effort to communicate and link with counterpart institutions in our region and on our continent. There are any number of lessons and learnings which we in South Africa would be advised to pay close attention to and seriously factor into our own reconstruction and institution-building work. A growing partnership of knowledge between our own and other African institutions of research and teaching is likely to benefit all of us. In this context, the proficiency in languages such as French and Portuguese will be the key to open the door of cooperation.
In this sense the university should ensure hat it develops as a resource and nodal point for this vital networking role. Close attention must be paid in research and in teaching to ensure that the intellectual resources exist for increasingly vibrant academic, social and economic partnerships within southern Africa, and Africa as a whole. The university must endeavour to equip South Africans with the appropriate historical, political economic, technological, cultural and linguistic skills to contribute significantly to African development efforts. This will hopefully mean that we will have more knowledge readily available concerning our fellow African countries than was the case in the past, and also more expertise in languages such as Portuguese and French which will assist us greatly in creating closer and more dynamic partnerships.
The present South African civil service, especially at its leadership and policy-making levels, has been widely perceived as the preserve of specific ethnic and political groupings. Such a situation would not be acceptable, appropriate or sustainable in the future.
It is or crucial priority, as we forge ahead with a new democratic constitution, that our institutions and mechanisms of governance are credible and legitimate. A new public service will bear the enormous task of implementing new development-orientated policies and practically transforming previous apartheid administrative cultures, practices and habits. The more accessible a new civil service is seen to be, as well as experienced by ordinary people, as legitimate, just and non-partisan, the greater will be its success in meeting effectiveness and efficiency benchmarks. The sooner serious moves are made within the civil service management echelons towards greater representivity of all South African communities, including women, the sooner the public service will manifest itself as a valuable nation- building asset in the times ahead.

We cannot begin to build a new society without addressing the legacy of apartheid inequality and injustice. Hence the relevant and appropriate formulation of affirmative action policy is essential. It is therefore in everybody's interest that judicious and well-managed affirmative action programmes are established in the public and development management field, closely linked to effective and appropriate human resource and training programmes.
On the other hand it may well also be the case that existing public officials may also need particular training and retraining to equip them for service within a new development and client-oriented paradigm, and programmes and courses will have to be worked out in this regard also.
There is no question that the new Graduate School of Public and Development Management, at the University of the Witwatersrand, has a leading-edge role to play in ensuring that equal opportunity policies in a transforming public service are backed up and bolstered by the most excellent professional public management education and training possible. We have every confidence that this institution has been correctly configured and dedicated to this mission of ensuring that competent, proactive and ethical managers will be available to staff the South African public and development institutions of tomorrow.
It is necessary to recognise and honour the contribution of those who have championed and resourced this splendid vision for building of human resources for good governance in a future democratic South Africa. The international donors from many countries who have assisted this project in large or small ways have certainly made a key contribution to the future development capacity of our society and region — they must indeed by thanked and praised for their acumen in giving their support to the establishment of this school. Likewise, contributions made locally have been no less important and represent a vital indigenous contribution to empowering our own future social and economic destiny. However particular mention must be made of the Liberty Life Foundation, represented here today by their Chairperson Dr. Donald Gordon, whose contribution has made possible the construction of this impressive and beautiful building to house South Africa's first post-apartheid School of Government. It is a strategic company indeed which realises early on the future economic prospects of all business concerns in South Africa are inextricably linked to good policy and public management. Good government policy, supported and implemented by excellent and professional policy managers and public managers will ensure favourable development and economic prospects for us all. A well-managed governance system will synergize with a dynamic business sector to ensure outstanding development prospects and a win/win situations for all.
I therefore convey my very best wishes to all concerned with the establishment and resourcing of this Graduate School of Public and Development Management. I know that your work since 1990 has already born fruit and some of your graduates are already managing in public sector organisations and NGOs. Nonetheless, a vast task of human resource development and capacity-building lies ahead of our society. Many excellent institutions will be needed across a wide spectrum of needs. There can be no doubt however that this Graduate School of Public and Development Management will need to play a key, leading role as we advance into a future of democracy, reconciliation, peace, economic progress and development for all.

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Acquisition method: Hardcopy ; Source: . Accessioned on 2015/07/03 by Rivo and Themba




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