Address by President Nelson Mandela at the launch of the Lubombo Spatial Development Initiative, Durban

6 May 1998

Your Majesty, King Mswati III;
Your Excellency, President of Mozambique, Joaquim Chissano;
Premier Ngubane;
Cabinet Ministers;
Distinguished Guests;
Ladies and gentlemen,

I am deeply honoured to join with the Heads of State of our two neighbouring countries to launch an initiative that is of great importance to all of us. It is also a great pleasure to welcome all our visitors who have come to share in the occasion, and I hope that most of you will continue to be part of this bold endeavour.

The potential of the Lubombo development initiative for tourism and agriculture is truly amazing. Even more remarkable is the extent to which an area of such abundant natural wealth has suffered from neglect. Now that we are all free, our three nations can work together for the development of this region as a whole and realise its true potential.

Together our governments are putting in place a secure and viable investment framework, one that will allow us to put an end to this cruel legacy of poverty amidst such a wealth of resources.

Through interaction with investors, local and international, we intend to ensure that this framework is in line with best practice world-wide. That is a critical feature of the Spatial Development Initiatives being implemented in various parts of the sub-continent. Their objective is to establish globally competitive industries and create new jobs.

Much has already been done on the part of our governments to ensure that this happens.

We are putting in place a stable environment to regulate and facilitate investment. It will define and ensure forms of secure property ownership; protect and conserve the environment; ensure that local communities benefit from development in their areas; and enable the private sector to maximise the many opportunities that exist.

There is no intention to prescribe the type and extent of individual investment projects. Our role is rather to ensure the provision of infrastructure and create the environment for business to thrive in. The space has been created for the private sector to bring its capacity for innovation and entrepreneurship into this shared project for mutual benefit. Today's launch gets this process off to a start.

Government recognises that the upgrading and construction of transport routes are vital to a viable scenario for investment. This is therefore a core component of the development initiative strategy. Construction began last year already on a road between Richard's Bay and Maputo. That key infrastructural project will unlock the development potential of the Lubombo region and stimulate yet further new investment opportunities.

We are also looking at the feasibility of upgrading routes that run through the region from Richard's Bay harbour into Swaziland and Mozambique. This would help integrate that the regional economy of the whole Lubombo area.

Today you will have the opportunity to meet with Cabinet Ministers from all three countries, and the technical experts they have appointed to ensure that government performs its part. They will be able to provide you with the detail of the many measures we are taking.

Suffice it to say now that they include steps to create stable and co-operative governance in the region as well as standard transnational protocols.

Swaziland, Mozambique and South Africa are working towards a protocol that will give expression to the partnership we have forged to use the area's resources for the benefit of all who live there and for our countries.

This will set the framework for more specific protocols which will ensure that we achieve the best investment climate. These protocols are being developed by technical teams working with government departments in each country and specialist organisations.

The teams are looking at issues such as health and the control of malaria, a critical issue for the development of tourism. Border posts will be streamlined and visa requirements minimised. And we are working through the land laws of the three countries to ensure that land disputes are resolved in a way that facilitates secure forms of tenure for local communities and investors alike.

Ladies and gentlemen;

Tourism has been described as a peace industry - one that promotes contact between peoples and cultures. It has the capacity to play a strategic role in development, and therefore in entrenching the peace which we now enjoy.

Tourism is expected to grow significantly faster in Africa than in the rest of the world in years to come. The Lubombo initiative provides investors with a foothold in one of the most important tourism development initiatives on the continent.

Together, we can forge a partnership for peace and economic growth in Southern Africa. Let us grasp the opportunity with both hands.

Thank you

Issued by: Office of the President

Source: South African Government Information Website