MEETING WITH PROFESSIONAL MEMBERS OF THE
COMMUNITY OF MADEIRA


REMARKS BY 
MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI, MP
PRESIDENT OF THE INKATHA FREEDOM PARTY AND
MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA

MADEIRA: SEPTEMBER 14, 2000

I thank you for the invitation extended to me to address the elite of Madeira, including businessmen of Madeira. Last year, I had the honour of attending a dinner held in honour of President Jardim in celebration of the good relations which continue to characterise my interaction with the Portuguese people and my long friendship with His Excellency Dr Jardim. This dinner was held in Durban, the main city of KwaZulu Natal, at the Portuguese Club, and in my address on that occasion I remarked on the longstanding dialogue between myself and the Portuguese people, often expressed from that venue.

I believe that my province of KwaZulu Natal shares a deep affinity with the province of Madeira. Ironically in this respect, we have been called by the same name, for the British Empire often referred to KwaZulu Natal as the "garden province". Such affinity lends itself to exchange and dialogue on our successes and experience in social programmes, political direction and developmental initiatives. South Africa has much to gain from the wisdom of Madeira, for we are engaged in the process of economic and social transformation following our political liberation in 1994. What we have learnt through our long political struggle and during the past six years of rapid transformation, may likewise prove valuable for the success of Madeira.

Today, the focus of my country’s government rests on the alleviation of the continuing social difficulties of my people. While we have achieved political liberation, we are yet far from securing an end to poverty, unemployment, ignorance for lack of education, criminality, and insufficient service delivery. As part of a national programme of human resource development, we have created a skills training fund which is being resourced through a levy on the national payroll. Such an unprecedented and massive programme aims to raise the level of skills training and adult education across the board, enabling our people to seize the wave of opportunities now opening to us as a fledgling democracy.

We recognise the fact that a country’s greatest resource is its people and are therefore committed to stimulating the development, upliftment and fulfilment of our population’s potential. However, we also take cognisance that we are no longer operating in an isolated environment, as was the case during South Africa’s pariah status. South Africa has emerged into a global market and must realise the opportunities for outside stimulus to provide the necessary climate in which development and social upliftment may prosper. In this regard, foreign investment becomes potentially our greatest asset towards fulfilling our country’s liberation vision.

As an emerging market, South Africa holds several trump cards over other countries. We already have an established infrastructure, developed by a minority government with exceptional business acumen. Indeed, while showing its lack of human respect, the old apartheid government proved to be a masterminded structure, particularly in the face of international sanctions and foreign disinvestment. This strategy, initiated by some segments of the liberation movement, caused white-owned business to reorganise itself and close ranks, spawning the complication of monopolies and practices in restraint of trade, with which we continue to struggle today. The most affluent segments of our population remained widely unaffected by sanctions and disinvestment, while further doors closed for the poorest of the poor.

For this reason, when Dr Oliver Tambo addressed the United Nations General Assembly in October 1976, calling for the economic isolation of South Africa, I reacted in strong opposition, recognising the long-term detriment to the country we would inherit after liberation. I take no satisfaction in the fact that I was right, for today we are struggling to attract investors who were turned away when our industry was at its strongest. But the potential for good profits are now higher than they were in those days. At that point I had already established the cultural liberation movement, today known as the Inkatha Freedom Party. After the banning of black organisations my people did not have a membership-based organisation which they could join to create a cohesive force to fight apartheid.

Throughout my political career, I have advocated liberal economic policies for my country and have called on government to adopt certain courageous measures which would trade short-term and short-lived social benefits for long-term economic gains. In the past, the majority Party in South Africa did not believe in the free market. They were influenced by socialism and believed in nationalisation. However, the ANC has declared its macro-economic strategy as GEAR, which is an acronym for Growth, Employment and Redistribution. When they announced this in Parliament, I applauded their Damascus experience. But unfortunately in the past couple of years, our government has been obstructed in its efforts to implement GEAR by the election partners of the ANC, which are the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). We, however, think that the presence of the IFP in the Government of National Unity in which my Party participated, did have some impact on the thinking of the leaders of the majority Party.

Today, if one traces back the sound measures taken by our government, such as rigid fiscal discipline, one will often emerge at the point where these were strictly IFP policies. However, other important policies such as that of privatising the large segments of our economy still under the direct control of the State, have often been spoken of but have not yet been implemented. For this reason, I continue to call for maximum flexibility in the labour market, personal savings, and long-term investments in our future. For years, I have maintained a valuable dialogue with distinguished leaders of business in my own country, and I recognise that the business community is eager and ready to launch South Africa on to the arena of major international players. I have not seen this only among our industrial giants, but equally among entrepreneurs and the recently established black empowerment initiatives.

I believe that South Africa holds the keys to the development of our entire continent. Investments made in South Africa are investments made in the future of our continent. The Portuguese people are uniquely qualified to lead and spearhead a new partnership between Europe and Africa, forged on the notions of development and mutual respect. After we closed the chapter of 150 years of European colonialism in Africa, we are now ready to open the chapter of European partnership with the African peoples to promote development and take full advantage of the many economic opportunities that the continent offers. Amongst all European communities, people of Portuguese extraction have established in the African continent a strong foothold which makes them truly African and yet genuinely capable of providing a bridge towards enhanced economic exchanges with Europe in general and Portugal in particular.

Our Government has committed itself to developing and promoting small and medium sized enterprises and entrepreneurial ventures, which remain the fastest growing segment of our economy. Such ventures also begin to address the increasing rate of unemployment and offer the opportunity for creative South Africans to capitalise on one of our country’s greatest potential assets - that of tourism. In the short time that I have spent in Madeira, I can testify to its legacy of natural beauty and abundant fertility. The names it has been given, such as "flower" and "garden" are aptly descriptive of your beautiful province. My own country shares this natural blessing of beauty, and our variety of fauna, flora, and scenic opulence have secured the promise of tourist income.

South Africa is indeed rich in potential and I believe that we ought to find few obstacles to attracting foreign investment. Yet, I cannot smile enthusiastically and greet you with one hand, while hiding an unspoken reality in my other hand. I am acutely aware of the concerns of international investors regarding the situation of criminality in my country, which I want to openly address on this occasion. The South African Government has initiated various competitive programmes to attract investors, including tax holidays and the accelerated depreciation of fixed capital investments. Yet I know that many still measure the wisdom of investing against the yardstick of law and order. In this regard, as in many others, South Africa is working hard, but still struggling.

Having remained in South Africa throughout the liberation struggle, throughout negotiations, and throughout our transition to full democracy, I have witnessed immeasurable strides towards social stability, peace and reconciliation taking place in my country. Only now is it becoming widely understood that the armed struggle waged against apartheid was turned against our own black communities in an attempt to secure the political hegemony of its perpetrators after liberation. Only now is the truth emerging concerning the thousands of black people who lost their lives at the hands of their fellow black South Africans. My rejection of the armed struggle was based on my firm determination to inherit a country worth bestowing upon our children.

The low intensity civil war of the black-on-black conflict played itself out between the military wing of the African National Congress, uMkhonto weSizwe, and the Inkatha Freedom Party, which rejected armed conflict. Compounded by the campaign of vilification launched against me and my Party in the 80's, the schism between the ANC and my Party, Inkatha, grew. My greatest fear was that the cycle of violence would consume any hope of reconciliation, for in the minds of many ordinary South Africans immersed in the chaos and bloodshed, the perception remained that I must kill you because your father killed mine.

The great challenge to closing this chapter of violence, particularly following the 1994 elections, demanded that the leadership of our two parties give evidence of our commitment to reconciliation and peace. I was profoundly aware that the spirit of reconciliation would need to percolate from the highest levels into the hearts and minds of grassroots South Africans, until ordinary people could claim ownership of our country’s commitment to peace. Shortly after his release from prison, I wrote to President Nelson Mandela, requesting that we share a podium in one of my province’s most violence-torn areas. In October last year, I finally stood with President Thabo Mbeki at the unveiling of a monument to the victims of violence in Thokoza.

Together, we marked a milestone in the quest for peace, stability and reconciliation. On that occasion, President Mbeki spoke openly of the cruel injustice waged against me and my Party for so many years during the campaign of vilification, painting me a puppet of the apartheid regime. Since that day, many prominent political leaders have joined their voices in announcing the truth of those terrible years, and my crucial role in securing the liberation of South Africa has at last been publicly acknowledged. I am giving this background not to illustrate that all differences between my Party and the ANC have disappeared, but merely to show that we have committed ourselves to gaining social stability, peace and reconciliation above all other considerations - both political and historic - for South Africa’s people. The example of political co-operation between my Party and the African National Congress deposes well towards the hopes that the future of our country will be characterised by increased social stability and general reconciliation. Day by day, we are building and projecting an example which we hope will soon begin permeating into all our communities.

Therefore, although South Africa continues to struggle in many areas, we are blessed with a hope that most emerging democracies on this continent have not yet known. We are willing to work together towards a common goal and, in this pursuit, the IFP is continuing to give a worthy contribution to the governance of South Africa. To my mind, a democracy can only be strengthened by alternative viewpoints and opinions, and it is through the synthesis of differing ideas that the coalition government at both national and provincial level have succeeded thus far. I trust that a continuing commitment to achieving genuine liberation in all areas of need, including poverty, criminality, high levels of unemployment and a lack of education, shall eventually secure the South Africa we wish to see tomorrow.

There is no doubt in my mind that South Africa can overcome the difficulties it faces through criminality. It is abundantly clear that the legacy of the armed struggle has been the creation of a generation of morally disabled young people. Yet I am convinced that it is the youth of my country who will usher in a time of peace and stability, for it is with our youth that the engine of a revolution lies. Nothing less than a revolution of goodwill may turn the tide in South Africa and we are already beginning to see the evidence of such a revolution as young people increasingly become more politically responsible, socially active, and personally conversant with the possibilities of a South Africa that has joined the global market.

It is my deepest desire that the spirit of my country will expand across the intangible psychological boundaries which have held us captive by many years of isolation and political oppression. As countries throughout the world move into South Africa and invest in our country, I believe that the vision of complete liberation will be fulfilled. My country needs the assistance of its long-standing friends. We require exchanges in the field of commerce and trade, and I believe that as we engage in such pursuits, our trading partners shall receive the benefit of a country rich in untapped potential. I trust that this mutually beneficial relationship shall continue to characterise business between Madeira and South Africa, and shall encourage its increase in the years to come.

I thank you.

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