Address by President Nelson Mandela at Toyota South Africa Manufacturing, Durban

27 October 1998

Mr Chairman;
Toyota staff;
Distinguished Guests,

It gives me great pleasure to join you in celebrating the production of your two millionth vehicle.

After South Africa's first democratic election in 1994, we all celebrated that we were at last free; that the world was open to us and we could live without fear and oppression. We also knew that we faced many challenges as we worked to reverse the damage apartheid had done to our country and our people.

We had to secure our democracy for the future through a new constitution and the creation of institutions which protect the public interest, including bodies who keep a close watch on politicians - every gift, I receive over R350-00 must be declared, but in this case I do not have to do this as this splendid vehicle is going to the Children's Fund.

We also knew that our democracy would remain a hollow shell and our freedom fragile if they did not bring real improvements in the lives of our people, especially the poor. The majority of South Africans had, till then, been denied access to the most basic amenities of life, and we had to start changing that, as a priority.

Today, some four and a half years later, we can say with pride that, despite the many difficulties we face, we have laid the foundations for a better life. Already two and a half million people have gained access to clean water; over 600 new clinics have been built; five million children are reached through the Primary School Nutrition Programme and over 600 000 houses are near completion or completed. Electricity, telephones, roads and other services reach millions for whom these things were previously only a dream. No previous government even attempted to do as much.

But government could not do this by itself. It was the result of all the sectors of our society agreeing that what we have in common is more important than any differences there may be. All these and millions of people all over South Africa are working together for the reconstructing of our country.

The Toyota Teach project is a prime example of a private enterprise working with government to achieve a higher education standard. The benefits are not only for the enterprise but for the whole community and you must be commended for that.

It is this kind of partnership that we need to see us through the many more challenges that we face. We have started on an immense challenge that will take years to complete.

Apartheid had left us with a stagnating economy; a high budget deficit and a manufacturing sector that was not competitive enough to raise exports. Government's economic policies are designed to create a climate in which private enterprise can flourish. They combine the careful use of public resources, in order to focus them on the goals of reconstruction and development, with a restructuring of our economy so that it can succeed in the competitive global economy. We have turned our economy round through the continued application of these sound policies.

Over the last four years an estimated R40 billion of Foreign Direct Investment has come into the country partly as a response to government measures, including a wide-ranging investment promotions programme. These coupled with South Africa's vast natural resources, cheaply available, makes South Africa an attractive manufacturing location.

The private sector - both employers and workers - and in particular the motor industry, has a vital role in generating economic growth. Our ability to create jobs and alleviate poverty in a sustained way will depend on how much we can exploit opportunities to boost manufacturing, add value to our primary products; attract investment and increase exports.

That is why this event is a significant milestone, not only for Toyota South Africa, but for us all. When the Toyota Motor Corporation invested R484 million to buy a 27,8% share to Toyota South Africa in 1996, it was a sign of confidence in this company to produce, market and sell its product. And it was a sign of confidence in the soundness of our government's policies and the potential of our country. Along with this investment, came training opportunities in specialised skills.

And you have not let them down. The 2 millionth vehicle produced by this plant is a clear indication that South Africa has the potential to compete globally.

The training programmes you have instituted, the long term investment to upgrade your plant, your efforts to improve quality and raise exports all deserve encouragement. You must also be commended for your decision to invest in South Africa's future by donating this car and others to the Children's Fund.

The jobs summit later this week is another example of how the most powerful forces in our society are ready to join hands in order to deal with the challenges we face. It will guide us further in creating jobs and boosting our economy. Its success will depend very much on the commitment of each sector; labour and the private sector, government and community organisations, to the building of a better life for all South Africans.

We want to urge you all to play your part in this building process, to ask yourself; what am I doing to build a better life, not only for myself, but for my country and my children. I believe that when each of us can answer that question honestly and proudly, we will have very few challenges left. Joining hands, we can turn this into the country of our dreams.

I congratulate you again on your production milestone and on the domestic and international recognition that it has brought.

I thank you.

Issued by: Office of the President

Source: South African Government Information Website