Item 987 - DAVOS Panel discussion input by ANC President Nelson Mandela

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DAVOS Panel discussion input by ANC President Nelson Mandela


  • 1992-01-01 - 1992-01-31 (Jan-92)

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Transcription of speech made by Mr Mandela

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Migrated from the Nelson Mandela Speeches Database (Sep-2018).

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World Economic Forum Annual Meeting

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  • English

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I believe a great future lies within reach for our country. South Africans, working together, can build a land where everybody has the material conditions for a good and decent life. Our vision is a land where all, irrespective of race, colour or creed, have houses; children have a world of learning in schools; where no one goes hungry to bed. It will be a land where there are jobs, and every individual has the possibility to reach their full potential.
But that country has yet to be built. Today, after half a century of apartheid, the conditions our people live under is an affront to civilised values. Apartheid has created a country of extremes - the rich are extremely rich and the poor are extremely poor.

Yet South Africa is a rich country. The World Bank says its average income per person is similar to Brazil, twice as high as Turkey, and seven times that of China. But the richest fifth of the population take home three quarters of the country's income. No other country in the world is known to have inequality on that immoral scale. South Africa suffers under the weight of that inequality. Of every one thousand babies born in our "rich" country, more than ninety die before reaching five years of age. Yet in countries as poor as Sri Lanka, where the average income is less than one sixth of ours but, because it is shared more widely, only 25 out of a thousand Sri Lankan babies fail to see their fifth birthday.

The results of the Carnegie Inquiry, which examined every nook and cranny of life in our country in the last decade, shows how the suffering born of inequality wrecks lives wherever you look. The inequality between black and white and the intensified poverty of rural areas, have condemned millions of our people to malnutrition, disease and ignorance. Over three and a half million people were forcibly removed, stripped of their homes and their property, in planned social engineering to serve apartheid. This is what we stand to inherit: a land ravaged by decades of socio- economic mismanagement and manipulation. How are we to build a new South Africa that consigns that shameful record to history?

We do not ask for pity. We do not face the world with a begging bowl. We look to the future with dignity. We know that we will eradicate poverty through our own skills and labour. We recognise that our country has, because of apartheid, gone through a traumatic experience, no less than the wars that have been fought in Europe and elsewhere. Reconstruction needs drastic measures and, as in war-torn Europe after 1945, the new government will have a major responsibility to urgently address the basic needs of the people for food, shelter and jobs.

Today millions of South Africans are unemployed, more are underemployed and thousands more become jobless every day. Our youth roam the streets and our people grow old in poverty. To create jobs we have to invest. Our enterprises and banks have the responsibility to invest in infrastructure, factories, farms and mines. And the democratic state we are building will have to invest. We want to create jobs and eliminate poverty in a way that is sustainable. That means investing in modern, efficient and competitive plants, which is something South Africa has not previously achieved. It will not be easy to achieve the high rates of investment we need. Countries everywhere, including Europe and North America, have found it difficult. So we intend to use a full range of measures to achieve our goals by boosting investment in a mixed economy. We are speaking to you, as well as to businessmen across the spectrum in our country, and we say: let us do this together. Give us proposals that we can consider. Regrettably, to date, businessmen in South Africa have failed dismally to address the issue or make any concrete suggestions to address our needs. Among the range of options we will consider is nationalisation, within the framework of ensuring that key industries invest in the economy so as to strengthen it. The purpose is to turn the economy into an efficient engine of growth, creating jobs and the income to eradicate poverty and the legacy of apartheid.

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South African enterprises are, at present, owned by a tiny clique controlling five giant conglomerates. Taking some key enterprises into public ownership will itself be a major step towards overcoming the huge inequality in the ownership of our country's wealth. But we know that it is no use owning wealth if it is not used productively. Too many privately owned banks and enterprises have been accumulating profits without re-investing them in new plant and machinery. Too many have hidden their profits and shipped money abroad through transfer pricing instead of building and investing in the future in South Africa. Our own researchers show that some $55-billion was spirited out in this way between 1970 and 1988 alone. Too many have transferred their assets to companies in Switzerland or Liechtenstein.

In other words, too many private firms have gone on an investment strike. We are determined to invest to create a South Africa fit for our children and grandchildren. And so much hinges on the political process now under way. The UN General Assembly, the Commonwealth and the OAU have all endorsed a programme for the phased lifting of sanctions, as elaborated at the ANC's first national conference inside South Africa since its unbanning. At the request of an Interim Government of National Unity, the remaining sanctions, excluding the oil and arms embargo but including financial sanctions, would be lifted.

It is time to put narrow sectoral and party political interests aside in favour of the broader national interest. We have a nation to build to achieve our vision. It is possible if we have the will.

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Nationalisation, in our view, does not mean a universal, blanket policy or sticking rigidly to old dogma. It means examining selected major enterprises on a case by case basis. And our starting point would be those bodies and corporations already in state hands. In each case, the first question would be: `is their investment and job creation good enough?'. If not, the case for taking them into public ownership would be considered prime facie positive. We would examine their wages policies, their policies to overcome discrimination, their training polices, their actions on health and safety, and their openness to consultation and negotiation.

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Acquisition method: Hardcopy ; Source: ANC Archives, Office of the ANC President, Nelson Mandela Papers, University of Fort Hare. Accessioned on 15/01/09 by Razia Saleh




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