Item 089 - Remarks by President Mandela at a farewell luncheon for business and labour

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Remarks by President Mandela at a farewell luncheon for business and labour


  • 1999-05-26 (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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South African Government Information Website (

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  • English

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Only days before the election that will usher in a new democratic government, it is most gratifying to be able to play host to such a galaxy of leaders of business and labour. Your kindness in giving up some of your precious time to one so soon to become a former President is heartening, and I hope that members of the government here present will take note!

There is a special significance in this event which allows me to take leave as President of a critical part of the leadership of our economy after five momentous and historical years.

A large part of that significance is defined in those we wished to share this occasion with us.

Amongst you are leaders of our corporate world who have responded to my personal call, since I left prison, to contribute directly towards meeting urgent and immediate basic needs of some of our most disadvantaged communities. Your response has meant new or upgraded clinics, schools and hospitals for hundreds of thousands who would otherwise have to wait for the effects of longer-term programmes to reach them.

Amongst you are members of the Job Creation Trust set up by organised labour to mobilise resources amongst employed workers and business to help fund the creation of jobs for our fellow citizens who are unemployed. Those to whom democracy has brought workers' rights have responded by affirming in the most practical way their responsibility for the well-being of the nation as a whole.

Amongst you are members of the Business Trust, responsible for the initiative by business to mobilise resources and guide their use for job creation and skills development, in partnership with government. Here we see a direct an organised engagement of the private sector in social transformation.

In short, this gathering reflects the organised involvement in reconstruction and job-creation of the two principal forces in our society. Locked until only a few years ago in an unremitting conflict they have been liberated to work together to create a society which reflects the fact that we are one people with one destiny.

It has been an immense privilege for me to have been a participant over these five years in the process that has brought us to this point. Many in the international community, seeing from afar how our society defied the prophets of doom and their predictions of endless conflict, have spoken of a miracle.

You who have been closely involved in the transition as it affected the economy, will know that it has been the product of human decisions.

There has had to be a series of often difficult compromises that allow each constituency to pursue its specific interests within a framework that is shaped by the interests of the nation as a whole. The establishment of NEDLAC; the Jobs Summit; and the initiatives which this gathering represents are some of the landmarks of the process.

Amongst other things this has brought stability to our country and created conditions for progress that is quite remarkable, considering the odds against which we had to work. Without the preparation required for governing a modern economy, our first democratic government has brought about a quiet revolution in our institutions and laws. We have begun the delivery of services to millions of people and turned our economy from stagnation towards a path of sustained growth based on sound foundations.

It is not necessary in such a gathering to lay out the details of these changes. Nor is it necessary to state that proud as we may be of the progress that has been made, we face far greater challenges. The projects for job-creation and reconstruction have made a good start.

But compared with the need and the potential, there is no reason that what has so far been done should not be dwarfed by what lies ahead in the next five years of government under a new generation of leaders.

You will not need me to tell you that the person whom we all expect to be the next President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki. He is someone who is steeped in the ANC's approach to matters which seeks to ensure that of every debate and every challenge we should emerge more united. Much of what has been achieved in this first years of freedom, in particular in the economic field, is owed to the fact that the day to day business of government has been largely in his hands.

I will therefore take leave of government fully confident that there is hope for our economy; that there is hope for South Africa. The future cannot be brighter.

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Acquisition method: From website ; Source: South African Government Information Website. Accessioned on 8 Nov 2006 by Helen Joannides




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