Item 314 - Notes for introductory remarks by President Mandela at a meeting with the board of the Associated Press

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Notes for introductory remarks by President Mandela at a meeting with the board of the Associated Press


  • 1995-10-11 (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 Website

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Meeting with Board of the Associated Press

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  • English

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Paragraph beginning: "But experience over the past moths has taught us that this miracle can only sustain itself and flourish if it strikes its roots deep into the fertile soil of goodwill both here and abroad."
Changes made: "moths" changed to "months"

Paragraph beginning: "And, talking about constitutionality, we have just returned from parliament after the Constitutional Court had questioned the manner in which we had introduced some local government election measures. And we draw pride from the fact that we have such a robust and independent Court. "
Changes made: "patliament" and "local government elections" changed to "Parliament" and "Local Government Elections"



Mr. Louis Boccardi, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Associated Press;
Distinguished Board Members;

Honourable Guests.

I should say, on behalf of our government and our nation, that I feel honoured to be among this impressive array of leaders of the media in the United States of America.

I am even more encouraged that you have brought along your spouses - because I am confident that, if something I say is not properly understood, you have in your midst individuals with a keen sense of discerning hidden meanings.

I hope you have travelled well and have had a good rest. At least one thing I can assure you: and that is that you can count on the hospitality of South Africans.

Associated Press has a history of service to the cause of spreading knowledge, inculcating a culture of informed judgement, and encouraging rational debate within and among nations.

We are therefore grateful that you have included South Africa in your itinerary for this year's tour. Sometimes, as South Africans, we tend to wonder whether we deserve all this attention. What with the new and less sensational task of governance and development!

I am confident that, from this discourse, we will learn from one another.

So, ladies and gentlemen, if South Africa is meant to be a news-maker, what, in our perception, is that news?

Certainly, our people derive much pride from their history of resistance, and the miraculous transition. We derive much pride from the legend of international solidarity of which you were, and still are, an integral part.

But experience over the past months has taught us that this miracle can only sustain itself and flourish if it strikes its roots deep into the fertile soil of goodwill both here and abroad.

One of the most critical things in our country today is to strengthen the culture of human rights and ensure that people enjoy the freedoms that were denied them and that they deserve. Along with this, we have to ensure good governance and constitutionality; and bring the nation together in a partnership for development.

And, talking about constitutionality, we have just returned from Parliament after the Constitutional Court had questioned the manner in which we had introduced some Local Government Election measures. And we draw pride from the fact that we have such a robust and independent Court.

This morning I attended the launch of a project which is part of the Children's Trust Fund named after the President. This pilot project for rehabilitation centres for juveniles has received generous contributions from virtually all the major corporations. At the same time as it serves a welfare obligation, the project will create jobs.

All these developments make one's hectic schedule a rich and fulfilling experience; and they reinforce one's confidence in the future.

Our confidence derives, above all, from the steady progress that we are making on the economic front. The good tidings that Spring has brought is that, at 7,5%, the rate of inflation in our country is at its lowest level in more than 20 years. Because of this and other factors, the Business Confidence Index of our main Chamber of Business is at its highest in more than ten years.

The most significant basis for this economic upturn is the phenomenal growth in fixed investments, a reflection of the profound confidence that entrepreneurs have in the country's long-term prospects.

In these positive developments reside answers to the difficult problems of proving jobs, housing and services. We can therefore say our socio-economic programmes, fiscal discipline, and the quest for reconciliation and stability are starting to bear fruit.

However, society expects much more. We are also concerned about problems of capacity, given that domestic demand is double actual economic growth. And at the current rate of about 3%, such growth has not nearly dented the enormous backlog in unemployment and other social problems.

It is therefore crucial for government to work out a strategy to help speed up economic growth. This requires bold thinking and a clear set of priorities, a task that the Presidential Ad Hoc Committee on economic matters and cabinet are grappling with. Some of the more obvious things pertain to our unwavering commitment to reduce government consumption. We should ensure that the little resources we have are used mainly in capital expenditure.

We have to restructure state assets by making parastatals more efficient and development-oriented; by introducing joint ventures; but also by selling off those that do not serve any useful strategic purpose. Guidelines on this are being worked out by relevant ministries; and the pace of this process is much faster than in many countries which experienced similar challenges.

In pursuit of our commitment to an open economy, we are addressing foreign exchange questions; and our Minister of Trade and Industry is in intense but fruitful discussion with role-players on how to ensure that our highly-centralised structure of ownership does not prejudice competition, and disadvantage consumers and foreign investors.

South Africa cannot hope for meaningful growth; we cannot attract investments if we are afraid to boldly and critically look at the issue of incentives, taking into account the experience of other developing countries. The same applies to the challenge of striking the correct balances regarding productivity, higher wages and corporate salaries, and absorbing the unemployed into the mainstream of the economy.

Addressing these and other questions will help ensure that the current trickle in foreign investments becomes a steady dependable stream.

In this regard, we place a high premium on specific sectors of the economy which require rapid expansion and, in some instances, restructuring. These are, among others, agriculture, infrastructural development, housing and construction, skills development and the area of modern communications. It is in these areas where accelerated investment in capital and skills is most critical.

Ladies and Gentlemen;

I have outlined some of these issues because we are convinced, as Government, that we need to turn the goodwill of our transition into concrete strategic programmes for economic growth and development. The news about our successful political transition and its difficulties is incomplete, if it is not underpinned by clarity on strategies required for our miracle to sustain itself.

All sectors of society, including parliament, the private sector, trade unions, non-governmental and community-based organisations, small and medium enterprises and others have a critical role to ensure that this strategy succeeds. So does the media, especially institutions such as the Associated Press which help inform the choices of major decision-makers.

This then is the framework within which government is discussing the critical matter of helping to facilitate economic growth.

And it is clear to us, that government leadership to the process cannot be carried out in the traditional manner of the disparate institutions that we have inherited from the apartheid era. This strategic undertaking transcends the narrow departmental line functions even at the level of day-to-day implementation.

We therefore have to carefully deliberate, within government, on how to co-ordinate all this work. This is precisely because, firstly, we should avoid introducing structural changes at such a pace that it would destabilise governance. Secondly, we should guard against seeking solutions simply in a new and cumbersome bureaucracy. Thirdly, the institutions we establish should not generate new problems instead of solving old ones.

As such, it is understandable that the process to resolve these matters should take a bit of time. But such is the character of a really revolutionary concept.

We are convinced that we are on the right track; a course that will place South Africa on the highway of sustained and high growth rates; a course that will accelerate the task of creating jobs; and speed up the overall reconstruction and development of the country.

Ladies and Gentlemen;

It so happens that you find us in the middle of a local government election campaign. And you know only too well the passions that a democratic contest arouses.

I have chosen to speak about these economic challenges because that is exactly what the long-term outlook of the country is. These are the issues that really matter. And, as the leading organisation in government, the ANC would be failing in its duty if it allowed the rhetoric of an election campaign to obscure these critical issues; if it failed to give leadership and assist those who are steeped in the politics of the past to become part of the builders of a better future.

The consistent economic upturn demonstrates that the majority of South Africans, black and white, have rolled up their sleeves and are tackling the real problems. That is the real news of South Africa 18 months after our first democratic elections.

I thank you.

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Acquisition method: From website ; Source: ANC Website. Accessioned on 17/11/06 by Helen Joannides




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