Address by Nelson Mandela to Cape business leaders

24 March 1994

Thank you for the invitation to speak to you today.

In 34 days time on 27 April all South Africans will, for the first time, have the opportunity to elect a government of their choice.

For decades the African National Congress has struggled to bring peace, freedom and a better life for all. On 27 April we will have that chance.

We will for the first time stand tall and proud as equal citizens in our country.

We will for the first time as fellow South Africans end the system that as focused on the privileged few that used our language and cultural differences as a measure to divide us as opposed to being a source of our common strength.

We can instead, on 27 April, open a new chapter in our history and start to rebuild our country to achieve peace and security and a better life for all.

The choice before the electorate is whether we have 5 more years of the same problems - of despair and limited opportunities, or a new beginning, a future of hope and opportunity for the people of Cape Town.

It will be a choice of having an ANC government with the will to govern and a plan to get our country growing with jobdds an opportunities, or th econtinued economic mess of the present of unemployment; corruptionand wastage.

It is a choice between having an ANC government which understands the needs of the future because it knows the neglect and division of the past.

On 27 April the people of Cape Town can make the difference.

You can say that you want a government that listens to the people - to the business community; to the aged, to the youth to the disabled.

You can say you want a government that puts people first.

You can say you want a government that will unite the country and build a better life for all South Africans.

There are some parties who would like us to believe that the past does not exist.

Let me say candidly. You cannot have a government that tries to ignore its past, because to do so will not enable it to tackle honestly the challenges of the future.

The African National Congress set out its vision for a non-racial society on 8 January 1912. For over 80 years the ANC has led the struggle to bring about change - to bring peace and build a better life for all.

Let me assure you - the ANC is a home for everyone. It is a truly non racial organisation. It stresses that South Africa belongs to all who live in it. It is also the organisation that initiated the negotiations process.

To build a better life for everyone in the country requires a clear plan. It also requires that we rise above the narrow interests and do what is best for the country. We have to harness our resources in ways that will ensure that our economy grows and creates jobs and opportunities for all South Africans.

Our plan rest on 4 key pillars :

-We want a democratic society based on equality, non-racialism and non-sexism ;

-We want a nation built by developing our different cultures, beliefs and languages as a source of common strength.

-We want an economy which grows through providing jobs, housing and education;

-We want a peaceful and secure environment in which people can live without fear.

These will be the principles which will guide us as we work together to build a better life for all.

An elaboration of our plan is contained in the Reconstruction and Development Programme. We have developed this by extensive consultations with all the major players in our country, as well as through the people forums that have been held throughout the country.

While others throw up their hands in despair and point fingers, let me assure you, we want to roll up our sleeves and tackle the problems.

We are aware that eliminating the mess created over decades by the National Party will not be easy. And I know also that you may not agree with all the details of our plan, but you have the right to know what we intend to do and where we stand.

You can also make the difference as business people, because our plan has a key role for you. Together we are capable of achieving our goal of a better life for all South Africans.

One of the most urgent tasks we face after the elections is the drafting of a final constitution. The ANC has always stood for basic democratic principles, which include:

-a constitution and Bill of Rights which guarantees human rights for all including a minimum standard of life

the right of all people to elect a government of their choice in regular, free and fair elections in a multiparty democracy

-an independent judiciary and constitutional court protected from any government or party political interference.

-a democratic government at provincial and local levels with the power and resources to meet people's needs

freedom of association and the right to worship

Let me state unequivocally that the ANC has committed itself to the constitutional principles agreed in the multiparty negotiations as a basis for the drafting of a new democratic constitution.

Despite the size of majority we may win in the elections, we will consult and debate to reach a national consensus.

We intend to encourage and maintain an open society.

Freedom of the media will be essential to the flourishing of democracy.

We believe that government administration exists to serve the people. It must be answerable to them. The ANC will encourage private citizens to use the Independent Public Protector to investigate corruption, dishonesty and violation of rules of conduct on the part of government officials.

We will not allow corruption!

We want to maintain a style of government that involves people. We want to continue to consult as we have in the past. We want to ensure that the government does not lose touch with the people.

But democracy has to be more than the vote. We have to measure it by the quality of life which is enjoyed by ordinary people - men and women, young and old, rural and urban.

It means giving all South Africans the opportunity to share in the country's wealth, to contribute to its development and to improve their own lives.

The ANC believes that there are essentially three central economic problems in SA that need to be addressed:

1.High unemployment

It is estimated that 47% of our economically active population cannot find work in the formal sector of our economy. And yearly 200 000 enter the job market.

2.Low levels of investment, low productivity of investment and low growth rates.

Since 1976, our levels of investment have been declining.

3.Income distribution

This is terribly skewed towards whites.

In tackling these problems, the creation of jobs, and the development of a healthy environment for business opportunities, must be key.

We will create an environment conducive to both foreign and domestic investment through stable, consistent and predictable policies. It is ironic how local business people have been slow to realise what wonderful opportunities will present themselves in a democratic SA.


One often reads in the newspaper that there is uncertainty about ANC's economic policies.

I am unable to think of any other country where an extra-parliamentary liberation movement has engaged in so much debate and consultation with different stakeholders in the economy.

The ANC is deeply committed to building consensus around economic priorities whenever this is possible. We have initiated and participated in dozens of fora aimed precisely at reaching agreements on the way forward.

Furthermore, I submit to you that we have moved beyond pure debate on economic policy to the implementation of policy. A democratic state will maintain and develop markets, but we envisage occasions and circumstances when it will be necessary for the government to intervene where growth and development require such intervention.

The Minister of Finance has recently conceded that he has been obliged to take major economic decisions jointly with the ANC.

Some of these decisions will facilitate a more rapid integration of SA back into the world economic community and will form a sound basis on which to pursue further economic strategy after the elections.

I will mention a few of these decisions:

The ANC has been successfully engaged in negotiations with foreign bankers to regularise our foreign debt situation.

The uncertainty that has been created as a result of the complete mismanagement of the country by the National Party required us to make use of IMF facilities to build the level of our foreign reserves.

The ANC ensured that the IMF did not impose requirements which would affect the ability of South Africans to determine their own economic policies.

We have re-negotiated the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in December, ending a regime of complicated tariffs which ran into figures of some 13 500. It is much simpler now, creating greater access to overseas markets and enabling us to expand our export abilities.

Numerous economic cooperation agreements have been concluded as a result of the ANC's credibility with foreign governments and the goodwill we have developed towards SA. More of these mutually beneficial agreements are in the pipeline.

No other political party in SA has the legitimacy and the credibility of the ANC. Only the ANC has the authority to pull SA from the mess that we are emerging from today.

To achieve higher growth, an ANC government will stimulate the revival of the private sector and, at the same time maximize employment growth and ensure a narrowing of the income differential between rich and poor people.

We must also redress the massive inequalities in access to publicly provided services. Reform will take place, but this will be within the framework set out in the Interim Constitution.

But we do have a plan to get our country growing. Let me map out some of the elements of our plan. It is generally acknowledged in South Africa that many of the services taken for granted by white South Africans do not exist for the majority of the people.

Our plan is therefore directed at creating jobs and meeting the basic needs of people.

There are four key elements to our job creation programme:

We plan to start immediately with a national public works programme which will address community needs and create jobs. Through this programme alone, we aim to provide employment and training for about 2.5 million people over 10 years, building roads, providing water, electricity, schools, clinics, housing, and meeting other needs.

Create more opportunities for small businesses, by making it easier for people to start their own business. An ANC government will change licensing laws; provide training and access to loans, and in particular, assist women. The opportunities for small business will be considerably enhanced, and the Eastern Cape can gain significantly from this.

In the formal sector of the economy we will encourage the initiative that have been taken to restructure our industries and to enhance productivity and competitiveness. The trade unions in the mining, textile and metal sector have, for some time, been involved in tripartite negotiations to enhance the viability of these industries with growing international competition.

Labour stability and productivity will be critical in the coming years. The ANC will pursue policies that will ensure labour stability by ensuring that our collective bargaining arrangements facilitate settlement disputes.

To improve the quality of our labour we must invest in our people. Skills training and Adult Basic Education will be necessary if we are to prepare our industries to deal with the challenges of the 21st century.

In the Eastern Cape, I know you have been saddled with substantial industrial disputes. An ANC government will take steps to ensure that a greater co-operative relationship is developed between business, state and labour. This has started with various forums being initiated. We need to consolidate this process.

The last area of job creation lies in rural land reform. This will be a major area of poverty relief to utilise arable state land, and land that is not being used. Here too, assistance will be provided through training people who wish to know how to use land effectively and making markets and credit more available. Food self-sufficiency in certain areas will decrease urban migration and poverty as people will have some source of income.

These initiatives together with our plan and training of labour, more efficient and equitable government expenditure, and a better allocation of our resources, will be the necessary kick start to growth and development strategies.

The Cape has a key role to play in this initiative and will share in the resource allocation and investment opportunities. What will be necessary is for local players to facilitate co-operative initiatives that will enhance opportunities for investors in the area.

Through our jobs plan that is linked to infrastructural development, we will be placing money in people's pockets, and creating opportunities for them to help themselves.

As business people you should be taking the lead. As entrepreneurs, you need to demonstrate the confidence that our country holds great opportunity.

The Cape has enormous potential to contribute to our national economy.


Over the last few months confidence in the countries future and in particular the economy has gained momentum mainly as a result of progress in negotiations.

About one year ago investments of R10 billion were being planned; today the amount of investment that will be made in the next while is almost R50 billion and growing by the day.

The optimistic signs announced by the Finance Minister is largely attributed to the ANC, because people are confident of the future of an ANC government.

The economy is running below capacity at present but as growth takes off spare capacity will quickly be used up, presenting new opportunities for all of you sitting here this evening.


The ANC's economic policy has been carefully thought through. Our Reconstruction and Development Programme has been endorsed by many leading economists.

In addition, the Interim Constitution, ensures that public resources are properly managed within the legislative and institutional framework

It provides for an independent and self financing office of the Auditor General with powers to examine the books of all levels of government without political interference.

Furthermore, it provides a coherent framework in which the South African Reserve Bank will be able to conduct monetary policy in such a way as to guard the value of the currency. It also ensures that in future the Reserve Bank will be more accountable to elected representatives of parliament.

In the past the procurement policies of government have been less than fair and transparent. As a result of this the ANC insisted that the interim constitution provide a framework to ensure that government tenders are won by the most competitive bids. But, small business too, will be provided a healthy share of government contracts.

I am also aware of the concern around tax. The ANC does not intend to tackle this matter through a piecemeal approach.

For this reason we support the establishment of a Financial and Fiscal commission to evaluate our tax regime. We certainly seek that everyone pays their fair share, and that the burden particularly on the poor needs to be alleviated.

But let me assure you, whatever measures are adopted will be to strengthen confidence, and not to overburden the SA taxpayer.


The Cape does feature clearly in our plans as part of an overall programme of Reconstruction and Development.

We must not underestimate the incalculable damage that apartheid has left and the legacy which we inherit.

An ANC government will have a responsibility to bring stability and promote a secure environment for you and your families to live in peace.

This can only be achieved with policies that address the basic needs of people, provide opportunities and ensure that our economy develops and is able to take its place in the world.

As a well known comment puts it:

"if you cannot provide and protect the many who are poor, what prospect do you have of securing the few who are rich"

The ANC seeks to protect all who live in South Africa..

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation