Official Opening Of New Premises For Toyota In Vryheid
Address By Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP


 

4 November 2011

 

Vryheid: 4 November 2011

 

It is a pleasure to join Mr Pieter Maree and his team as we celebrate the opening of new premises for Toyota in Vryheid. This dealership is a known quantity in the Vryheid community and we all share your pride and enthusiasm in having brought it to a new home. May this new premises open new doors of success for your business.

 

I was honoured to be asked to officially open this premises. I grew up in Nongoma and I remember that whenever we talked about town, we meant Vryheid. Although much has changed in South Africa, Vryheid remains a central point in this area. I hope that Mr Pieter Maree and his team will see many people coming here when they are looking to buy a car. I wish this business every success.

 

I know that it is no easy feat to run a business in South Africa, never mind a successful one. Following the global economic downturn, many people lost their livelihoods and businesses closed. At times, it is difficult to see a future in our economy. The important role of investments cannot be over-emphasized, particularly from multi-national companies like Toyota.

 

I have walked a long road in this country, and I have seen many people giving in to despair. During the most difficult days of Apartheid, I heard the complaints of people who couldn't see a future for South Africa. I challenged them to become part of creating that future, and I created a home for those who were willing to accept the challenge. Together we ushered in a future in which we could all stake a claim.

 

The challenges of today's South Africa are different, but no less daunting. We don't face racial discrimination, but we face widespread poverty. We have overcome political oppression, but we are up against corruption, HIV/Aids, unemployment and recession. Yet despite all we face, there is still hope.

 

To my mind, Toyota has been a beacon of hope in South Africa. I am honoured to count the founder of Toyota in South Africa, Dr Wessels, as one of my friends. He faced a difficult trial during Apartheid when multi-national companies came under intense pressure to disinvest from South Africa. The ANC's mission-in-exile sounded an international call for sanctions and disinvestment against South Africa, and countries like Japan were urged to withdraw their business interests from our shores.

 

I never agreed with the call for sanctions and disinvestment. I knew it was the poorest of the poor who would suffer the most, while the minority-driven economy would reconfigure itself for survival, creating monopolies and cartels. I regret that many multi-national companies left South Africa, with long-term consequences for the economy we would inherit in 1994. But I remain grateful that Toyota did not leave.

 

It was not an easy decision for Toyota. Anyone who failed to support the call for sanctions and disinvestment was branded a supporter of Apartheid. Of course, that was not true. I myself worked to undermine Apartheid from within, rejecting nominal independence for KwaZulu and refusing to negotiate a bilateral settlement with the Nationalist Government. The first dashed Apartheid's plan to balkanize our country and rendered grand Apartheid untenable; the second secured the release of political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela, and the unbanning of political parties.

 

But I was not alone in working against Apartheid. There were many within the business community who worked towards liberating South Africa. Their decisions and actions helped bring the change we are all enjoying today. Companies like Toyota refused to bow to political pressure and remained in our country. Toyota offered jobs to blacks and whites and ignored legislation like the job reservation laws. Toyota operated in areas in which Apartheid legislation barred them from operating.

 

I was impressed by the backbone of Dr Wessels and the leadership of Toyota. This was always a very progressive organisation, and today it maintains an excellent track record. When South Africa finally achieved democracy, Toyota continued to prove itself ahead of the game. It did not wait for legislation to compel it to do things as far as labour practice is concerned. It did what was ethical and right, not out of a legal obligation, but a moral obligation to its people.

 

I hope that this is the ethic and spirit that imbues Toyota in Vryheid in the years to come. Being here tonight brings back many memories for me. I have seen businesses open and fold in Vryheid. I have seen others prosper. I hope that Mr Maree's Toyota Dealership will prove to be one of those that stay the course.

 

It is now my pleasure to declare Toyota Vryheid officially open.