Address by Nelson Mandela at presentation of award to Chairman of Barloworld, Warren Clewlow

September 2002

Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

It is a great privilege to be present at this occasion that not only celebrates the achievements of one particular South African company but in fact marks an important piece of South African economic history.

When my good friend Warren Clewlow invited me to join you for this important occasion I was delighted to be able to accept. It is always an honour to be in the company of such an important South African industrialist as Warren, particularly now that I am a retired old pensioner without office, power or influence! Thank you for remembering that you once knew me, Warren.

As I said: this evening marks a significant bit of South African industrial history. It is remarkable when one considers that Barloworld has been providing Caterpillar machines in South Africa for three quarters of a century while our economy in its modern form is not much older than a century.

These machines have helped to build the great infrastructure that surrounds us today and that makes of South Africa the advanced economy it is on our continent and in the developing world.

Those machines have helped to create the magnificent road network that connects places and people, to build dams for fresh water and to construct harbours and airports to open up South Africa to the rest of the world.

It is this quality of our physical infrastructure together with such other features as our well developed financial services system and our information and communications network that provide the soundness of the fundamentals of our economy. Those caterpillars have indeed been the builders of our economy.

I would also like to particularly thank our hosts Pam Barlow and her son Simon for their wonderful hospitality here at Rustenberg tonight.

It is fitting that this presentation should take place in the home of the widow and son of Peter Barlow, who along with his brother Charles - known to one and all as "Punch" - were responsible for laying the foundations of the company that is Barloworld today.

These two men took a small engineering firm founded in 1902 by their father Major Ernest Barlow, and built it into one of South Africa’s greatest companies. We are also therefore, celebrating the centenary of Barloworld tonight and remembering how much family run businesses contributed to the development of the South African economy. There is perhaps in that also some example to be followed by emerging new businesses as we seek to achieve black empowerment in our economy.

We also acknowledge the role Barloworld has played in other aspects as developments unfolded in South Africa. Under its previous name, Barlow Rand, it was the first major corporation to recognize trade unions, through the Barlow Rand Code of Employment Practice introduced in 1978. These advances were of course achieved through the heroic struggles of the labour movements, but is was the more progressive businesses like Barlow Rand that facilitated those developments through their enlightened responses.

Barloworld, through its foundation, has also been involved in the funding of many education initiatives for our people over many years. The latest of these is an agricultural school and medical centre which I will be opening in Limpopo Province next month.

First and foremost we are celebrating the partnership between Barloworld and Caterpillar tonight.

And we pay tribute to Caterpillar, which not only has had a 75 year involvement in South Africa through Barloworld, but also in recent years has been a direct investor in the country. This investment is in a manufacturing operation in Boksburg and a large parts distribution centre next to Johannesburg international airport.

I am also pleased that we are joined tonight by the owners and senior managers of other Caterpillar dealerships from Spain, Holland, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Egypt and the United Kingdom. To you, and our honoured guests from Caterpillar in the United States and Switzerland, on behalf of the people of South Africa, I say thank you for coming to our country.

We need your economic presence in our country. As mentioned earlier, the fundamentals of our economy are sound and it is universally acknowledged that our economy is very well managed and that we have a stable democracy. What we require above all is direct foreign investment so that our economy can grow in ways that create jobs and prosperity for our people.

It now gives me great pleasure to ask Mr Vito Baumgartner from Caterpillar to present the award to my friend Barloworld Chairman Warren Clewlow.

I thank you.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation