Address by President Nelson Mandela at the National Assembly, Cape Town

28 March 1996

Madame Speaker;
Honourable Members of the National Assembly.

We have just concluded the general budget debate, based on the budget which the Hon Chris Liebenberg tabled here just over a fortnight ago.

I believe that many among us, if not all, would agree that once more the Government of National Unity has demonstrated its commitment to the pursuit of the goals which the country has set of ensuring that we handle the public finances in a manner that is consistent with the objectives spelt out in the Reconstruction and Development Programme.

It goes without saying that the vision spelt out in that Programme cannot be achieved overnight.

The process of transformation has to be carried out within the constraints that we have inherited from the past.

This does not mean that we have to adopt a timid approach to what we have to do. But neither does it mean that we can afford to be reckless. To find the proper balance requires that we carry out our work in a sober-minded fashion and without allowing ourselves to become slaves to dogma.

I have been pleased and encouraged in the period since we came into government and with regard to the budget and budget processes, to see the growth of cohesion among the Ministers and Departments of State, between central government and the provinces, between the executive and the legislature and between the executive and NEDLAC.

For the first time in the history of our country, we can honestly say that the budget process and the outcome of that process reflect a broad spectrum of views of people from many walks of life.

This is consistent with our continuing efforts to develop a national consensus around the issues that are fundamental to the realisation of the common goal of creating the new South Africa.

Unity within the Cabinet itself has strengthened as we worked together to identify national priorities, on the basis of the RDP, without being over-constrained by exclusive commitment to the Departments we happen to head.

As a result of the evolution of policy affecting all the Departments of State and the implementation of some institutional changes to give us the necessary capacity to implement those policies, the possibility has increased greatly for the Departments each to implement the programme of reconstruction and development within the area of its mandate.

As the Honourable Members also know, we are now involved in the elaboration of a Comprehensive Growth and Development Strategy which will further ensure consistency in the objectives we seek to achieve as well as give a clear direction to government as a whole, in all its tiers.

Once again, we will continue to seek the agreement of our social partners in this regard, including labour, business and the rest of the non-governmental sector.

We therefore enter the new budget year confident of making ever greater progress towards the gradual and sustained realisation of the objectives of the RDP.

I would like to thank my colleague the Finance Minister, the Hon Chris Liebenberg, most sincerely for his important contribution to the positive processes I have been describing.

Despite the fact that he has never been a politician, my sense is that we who are politicians have not behaved in a manner that made him too uncomfortable to sit among us in the Government of National Unity.

But the truth of the matter is that when we asked him to replace Derek Keys as Finance Minister, we pulled him out of retirement and had to persuade him to put in abeyance plans that he and Mrs Liebenberg had already worked out for themselves.

It gave me great pride as a South African and confirmed my conviction in the patriotism of many of our people when Chris Liebenberg put aside his own personal interests and readily responded to the call to serve his people.

And so we struck a deal which has enabled us to utilise his great capabilities not only within the specific field of Finance, but also within the process of governance as a whole. Thus he has kept his part of the deal.

The time has now come that we live up to our own undertaking. That undertaking was that Chris would serve in government for a relatively short period of time and that when he indicated that the moment had come for him to relinquish his job, we would not stand in his way.

That moment has now come. The time has arrived when we should say thank you and thank you again to Chris Liebenberg and allow him to return to the plans which he had set for himself.

We have moved forward decisively with regard to the matters which we asked the Hon Chris Liebenberg to help us to address. I am therefore pleased to honour my commitment by acceding to the request of our Minister of Finance that he returns to private life.

The Hon Chris Liebenberg will therefore surrender his reins to his successor as from April 4th, 1996.

I am also pleased to announce that Chris has generously agreed to give such assistance as we may request of him on an ad-hoc basis. Most certainly, we will have occasion to call on him as need arises.

On behalf of the Government and in my own name, I would like to wish you, dear colleague and friend, good health, happiness and success in all your future endeavours. We would be honoured to be of help to you and Mrs Liebenberg on an individual basis if ever you required our assistance.

To replace the Hon Chris Liebenberg as Minister of Finance of the democratic Republic, I have chosen the Hon Trevor Manuel, presently serving as Minister of Trade and Industry.

His place as Minister of Trade and Industry will be taken by the Hon Alec Erwin, our current Deputy Minister of Finance.

This creates the difficult problem that the ANC now has one more Minister than is allowed by the Constitution. I say difficult because of my confidence in all my ministers.

After much reflection, I have decided to assign the Hon Pallo Jordan other tasks outside of the Cabinet.

I would like to take this opportunity sincerely to thank him for his services as Minister of Posts, Telecommunications and Broadcasting and to express my conviction that he will perform as well in his new assignment as he has done in others that the ANC has given him over the years.

His place as the new Minister of Posts, Telecommunications and Broadcasting will be taken by the Hon Jay Naidoo, currently Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the President.

Consequently, the RDP Office will be closed down. I have instructed Deputy President Mbeki to handle the matter of the relocation of the important projects, programmes and institutions which currently fall under the supervision of the RDP Office.

The RDP Fund will be relocated within the Ministry of Finance.

I have taken this decision because of the evolution within Government to which I have already referred, as a result of which the various Departments of State are better placed to focus their activities on the realisation of the objectives spelt out in the Reconstruction and Development Programme.

the fact that the RDP is not the responsibility of some specialised Department, but the compass, the lodestar which guides all Government activities.

I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the Honourable Jay Naidoo and his colleagues in the RDP Office for the pioneering work they have done to set us on the road to the true reconstruction and development of our country.

The Ministers of Trade and Industry on one hand and Minerals the centrality of these Ministries in terms of the achievement of our socio-economic objectives, including the all-important goal of job creation.

Both these Ministries have to deal with a wide range of issues and have both domestic and international responsibilities.

Accordingly, I have decided that they should be strengthened by the addition of Deputy Ministers.

I have therefore decided to appoint the Hon Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka as Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry.

I have also decided to appoint the Hon Susan Shabangu as Deputy Minister of Minerals and Energy.

To replace the Hon Alec Erwin as Deputy Minister of Finance, I have decided to appoint the Hon Gill Marcus.

With the latest appointment into senior positions in the executive of the Honourable Members Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Susan Shabangu, Gill Marcus, Sheila Camerer and Eileen Shandu, we have taken another step to address the national challenge of the emancipation and empowerment of women.

It goes without saying that we are still not satisfied with the progress we are making in this regard and will therefore continue to attend to this important matter within the context of our possibilities.

Without in any way minimising the importance of any Ministry, I would nevertheless like to refer to the reality of the role of the women leaders of our country in some of the ministries that are critical to job-creation, and the improvement of the quality of life of the people, including Housing, Public Enterprises, Health, Agriculture, Public Works, Welfare, Trade and Industry, Minerals and Energy and Finance.

I am confident that the newly-appointed Ministers and Deputy Ministers will carry out their responsibilities with the seriousness and dedication to which we have become accustomed.

I would also like to take this opportunity, as I have already done with the Hon Eileen Shandu, to convey this message to the other new Ministers and Deputy Ministers who shall be sworn in later today, these being the Hon John Mavuso, the Hon Patrick McKenzie, the Hon Sheila Camerer and the Hon Stephanus Schoeman.

I commend all the new Ministers and Deputy Ministers to this House and to the country as a whole, confident that they will live up to our expectation to defend and advance the interests of all our people, working as dedicated and loyal members of the Government of National Unity.

Thank you.

Issued by: The Office of the President

Source: South African Government Information Website