Address by President Nelson at the launch of the Lubombo Spatial Development Initiative: Maputaland-Maputo Road

22 August 1997

Your Majesty, King Goodwill Zwelithini;
Cabinet Ministers from Mozambique, Swaziland and South Africa;
Premier Ngubane;
Honoured guests;

It is with great pleasure that I join you in celebrating the start of the first major project of the Lubombo Spatial Development Initiative. Important as the road itself is, there is much more at stake. Mozambique, Swaziland and South Africa all have local populations living in great poverty caused by decades of oppression, destabilisation and political conflict. Yet their natural resource base is renowned for its agricultural and unsurpassed tourism potential.

Now that Southern Africa is free, we can together harness the natural and human resources in this part of our region. We can transform the legacy of poverty and neglect into sustainable economic growth and stability. The road we are beginning to build today is a tangible pledge by all three governments to create the conditions for achieving this goal.

It is therefore a special privilege to welcome our distinguished visitors from our neighbouring countries. Your presence today at this ceremony is a powerful affirmation of the partnership of our peoples.

The Lubombo initiative is one of a number of large-scale projects based on public-private partnership currently underway in the region. Some will target tourism and the agricultural export market, like this one; others will focus on manufacturing or other economic sectors. But all will promote job-creation and training. They will all foster economic growth.

These development initiatives will create the environment for underutilised economic potential to be transformed into profitable investment projects which create sustainable employment. Together they will change the face of our infrastructure, both national and regional, creating essential conditions for new trade and investment opportunities, economic development and improvement in the quality of life of all our people.

The areas opened up by the Lubombo initiative are certainly not short on investment opportunities. They have rich soils and a subtropical climate highly suitable for high value subtropical crops for export. They have much that is ideal for the development of tourism: biodiversity, natural beauty of the mountains, lakes and coastline, as well as a rich cultural diversity.

We are taking this step today because our three governments recognised that improved access between our countries is critical for enhancing the investment potential that each of us has. That is why the creation of transport infrastructure linking our countries is at the heart of the Lubombo initiative.

I am happy to learn that there is full commitment from all levels of government to this initiative. Through Amakhosi, and structures such as the Roads Forums, a process of local consultation has begun. In the months to come, more intensive interaction with communities and the private sector will unfold.

It is also encouraging that 30 per cent of the work is to be done by emerging contractors and labour-based construction; that training will be ensured; and that physical structures worth R2 million will be left to communities upon completion of the contract.

And it is notable that care is being taken to minimise negative impacts on the surrounding nature reserves.

The road will be like a thread onto which beads of existing and potential activities will be strung. It will provide access to as many people as possible, including communities previously isolated. It will open up areas previously inaccessible for tourism and agriculture. It will improve links between our countries and connect with coastal tourism resorts and nature reserves inland.

In short we are launching a major investment project which is designed to promote our broad vision of reconstruction and development.

Your Majesty,

This project is of great importance to the economic well-being of our three countries. Its success will depend on our ability to consolidate partnerships between different levels of government, between government and the private sector, and between government, investors and communities.

We will succeed to the extent that we embrace the initiative as part of our common effort to bring long-term prosperity, peace and stability to our region.

I thank you.

Source: South African Government Information Website