Address by President Nelson Mandela at the Intergovernmental Conference "Growth and Development in the Global Contect", Stellenbosch

24 February 1997

Deputy President Mbeki;
Cabinet Ministers;
Premiers and members of provincial executive councils;
Representatives of local councils;
Distinguished guests;
Ladies and gentlemen

When the nation's elected representatives took their seats for the opening of the first session of parliament under our new constitution, we could report with pride that we have laid the foundation to move even more speedily towards our nation's goals. And starting from these foundation we outlined a programme of action with concrete targets for the coming year and beyond.

The positive response amongst all sectors of society makes clear what is required of us. Our task now is not to develop new policies. Rather it is to ensure that the Constitution's provisions become a living reality. It is to see that the policies to promote growth; to combat crime, and to speed up socio-economic delivery, whose impact is already being felt in the lives of our people, are implemented with increasing effect.

This InterGovernmental Conference is therefore most timely. May I welcome you all: from each sphere of government; from every department of state and all nine provinces; representatives of the councils in all our localities and metropolitan areas.

The importance of the conference is heightened by the new constitution's recognition of provincial and local government as distinct spheres in their own right. If we are to build a prosperous and safe country, then all three spheres - national, provincial and local - must be geared to working for a better life for all South Africans. And they will need to co-operate with each other, on the basis of a shared vision and common programmes.

That is why the constitution also puts co-operative governance at the heart of government. This principle finds living embodiment in the National Council of Provinces. But it is a principle that requires co-operative relations between and within all spheres of government. It is a commitment that draws on our broader experience of partnership, in the many forums and negotiations that promoted transition and which have emerged to shape the building of our new nation.


One test of the success of this Conference will be how much it helps forge a common vision of co-operative relations that promote economic growth and development in the interests of the nation as a whole.

Aligning nine provinces and central government, within a national framework, will be no simple task. But we cannot afford to fail in this matter. Whether it be the Macro-economic Strategy for Growth, Employment and Redistribution; the National Crime Prevention Strategy; the programme for accelerated delivery of social services, or the democratisation of government and society, effective co-operation between the three spheres of government is all-important.

These policies underpin our prospects as a nation in the competitive global world which democracy has opened up to us. They are part of what we bring to our pursuit of development integration within the framework of SADC and to our pursuit of development integration within the framework of SADC and to our participation in the affairs of our continent.

The national policy measures and development initiatives to promote exports, growth and development all impact on, and require the co-operation of, our provinces and localities as much as they bring national benefits.

The disciplined use of public finances requires a common financial system which accommodates both discretion for provinces and the capacity to manage our country's finances within a national framework.

The war against crime requires local, provincial and national governments to operate hand in hand: in combating crime; and in bringing the socio-economic improvements that are the key to long-term crime prevention.

If our social policies are to bring the required improvements in lives of our people, and boost their skills in ways that make South African products attractive to the world, then it is of the utmost importance for us to ensure that national policies and provincial responsibilities strengthen, rather than impede, each other.

Popularising our new constitution so that people everywhere know their rights and how to access them, is not the task of one national department. Every department and each sphere of government will need its own programme to help make democracy a living reality for all South Africans.

And amongst our most urgent tasks, in all areas of policy, is to identify where lack of capacity is hindering progress and to find co-operative ways of making good the gap.

Ladies and gentlemen,

For all these reasons it is of national importance that we develop this common vision of growth and development through co-operation - and then transform it into shared programmes of action and institutional arrangements and procedures.

This applies to the co-ordination of policies; to the joint planning needed to achieve our larger goals; to the implementation of policies and the monitoring of implementation, to the resolution of disputes and conflicts that will, no doubt, arise; and to the sharing of information and expertise. It applies to procedures for identifying blockages and undoing them.

Existing intergovernmental institutions like the Inter Governmental Forum will play important co-ordinating roles.

We should however keep an open mind on what permanent structures and institutions we need to facilitate co-operative governance. The right ones will be found if we focus on those which serve our goals and objectives by promoting the interests of citizens. Bureaucracy and a proliferation of processes should not be allowed to absorb our energies.

The Department of Constitutional Development has initiated certain processes for implementing the Constitution and co-operative governance, and it will ensure that there is the widest consultation to achieve consensus. Your deliberations in this conference should help ensure that decisions on these matters are not unduly delayed.

Ladies and gentlemen;

This two-day Conference has set itself an ambitious agenda. But that is unavoidable if it is to grapple with the challenges of growth and development.

It is the normal practice to conclude an opening address with a wish for the success of the Conference.

Perhaps it would be more appropriate on this occasion for us to recall that we are here because we belong to a government elected with a mandate to bring fundamental change to our country, in order to address the legacy of apartheid through reconstruction and development. The positions we hold, our authority and our command over our nation's resources, derive from a trust which the people of South Africa have placed in us.

We therefore have an obligation to ensure that this Conference does succeed, that it is purposeful and concludes with a practical indication of the way forward. It must help us find ways of ensuring that the policies which have the nation's support are implemented with all due speed.

Together let us forge co-operation for growth, development and reconstruction.

I thank you!

Issued by: Office of the President

Source: South African Government Information Website