13 November 2004


I would like to welcome all of you to South Africa and to say how pleased I am that you have chosen our country, and our city of Cape Town, as the venue for your international conference. I’m sorry that Elita and I can’t be with you in person – but I can assure you that we are with you in spirit.


I am also happy to have this opportunity to say a few words to celebrate Ronnie Lubner’s 50 years in business in the Plate Glass and Belron Group. The modern world in which we live – the great buildings, the shopping malls, the cars and planes, the cellphones and TV – has been created by exceptional individuals.  All the progress that we have made has had its roots in the dreams of extraordinary men and women who have had the magical ability to turn their dreams into reality.  Ronnie Lubner is such an individual.  He has helped to develop the PG Group into an important international player with annual revenues of close to 2 billion rand. Whatever our perspective, whatever our view of South Africa might be, the chances are that we will see it through glass provided by the companies of the PG Group – through the plate glass windows in our homes and offices and through the shetterproof windscreens in our cars!  So, in this way the P G Group is helping us all to develop a common vision of our country – a vision that is strong, flexible, crystal clear – and shatterproof!  However, Ronnie’s activities have not been limited to his business:  he has also shared our common vision of a better, a fairer and a more prosperous future for all our people.  Congratulations Ronnie for all that you have achieved in your remarkable career and for all that you have done for all the stakeholders of the PG Group and for South Africa.


I am delighted to learn that you have spent today doing good work in our poorer communities. Your experience will have acquainted you with the enormous challenges that we still face.  The next ten years will be critical for the new South Africa.  They will determine whether the tender plant of nonracial constitutional democracy will really take root and grow.  All of us – in our own way – must do all we can to nurture this plant, to protect it and to ensure that it will grow into a sturdy tree that will provide fruit and shelter for all of our people – and not just for the 50% who have benefited from our first decade of nonracial democracy.  I have the greatest confidence that our people will be equal to the task – just as they were ten years ago when we created our new society together. Our continued success will be of critical importance not only to ourselves and our children, but to our continent and to the world.  We must continue to show the world that seemingly intractable problems can be solved peacefully through negotiations and compromise. We must continue to show that people from diverse cultures and races can live together in peace and toleration – and we must show that we Africans can compete and succeed in a globalising world.


Organisations like the The Mandela Rhodes Foundation are making an essential contribution to the realisation of this vision.  They are showing how we can bridge our divided history and serve current and future generations of our people by helping to produce excellent leaders for the future.


The FW de Klerk Foundation stands ready to work with The Mandela Rhodes Foundation in its mission to build exceptional leadership capacity in Africa. My best wishes to the Patron, former President Mandela, the Chairman, Professor Jakes Gerwel, and the Chief Executive, Mr Shaun Johnson.