8 MAY 2004





Ladies and Gentlemen


At first glance some of you might be asking yourselves what relevance South Africa has for people living in Germany.  Yes, you will know that South Africa has completed a remarkable transition from being the isolated and embattled country of apartheid fifteen years ago to a model multiracial democracy today.  You will also know about and admire Nelson Mandela for the remarkable role that he played in promoting reconciliation in our country.  Some of you may have visited South Africa on business or on holiday.  You might have seen our wonderful game reserves and beaches; you may have visited our vineyards and the beautiful Cape of Good Hope.


But, if you are like most Europeans you will probably be in two minds about South Africa:

On the one hand, you will admire the success of our transition from apartheid to non-racial democracy.  You may be aware of our tremendous potential.


On the other hand, you will have misgivings about all the stories you have heard about crime, about AIDS and about the on-going crisis in our neighbouring country, Zimbabwe.


However, in the final analysis, you will probably shrug your shoulders and conclude that whatever happens in South Africa is in any event unlikely to have much effect on the lives of people living in Moenchengladbach, in Germany.


I would like to speak to you today about how South Africa has progressed during the past ten years and what the prospects are for our future.  But before I do so, let me deal with the reasons why developments in South Africa are indeed important to people living in Europe.


One word really encapsulates all the reasons one could advance – globalisation!  In a shrinking world the problems of one region will inevitably become the problems of other regions, and ultimately of the whole world.  Likewise the success of emerging economies and developing countries will bring benefits to the whole global village – to rich and poor countries:



In our globalised society such problems and conflicts will sooner or later breach international borders and affect the interests of us all.


Within this framework it is of fundamental importance to Europe that stability and development is achieved in the underdeveloped parts of the world, of which Africa forms an important part.  And within Africa, South Africa has a pivotal role to play.


Against this background I want to fill you in on the status quo in South Africa.


In the first place, it is quite important to understand that South Africa is not like Europe – even though we have a fully developed first world sector that is as modern as anything in Europe or North America.  On the other hand we are not like Africa either – even though parts of our country are still locked in third world poverty and underdevelopment.


In fact, South Africa is in many respects, much more like other middle-income countries in Latin America and Asia.  Like Mexico and Brazil, like Malaysia and Thailand, we are a country in transition.


We share many of the same challenges with other middle income countries:


We are on the road between the third and first worlds.


The following factors will determine whether we – and other middle income countries – will be able to complete this journey successfully:


Our social and political stability will, in turn, depend on our success in


Ten years after the birth of the New South Africa I am pleased to be able to report that we are doing quite well.


We have held three free and fair national elections and provincial elections.  We have an Independent Electoral Commission which is functioning independently and effectively.  We have also seen the smooth and peaceful transition from our first president to our second president, after the retirement of President Mandela.


There are, however, some problems:


Democracy, however, is not confined to the national Parliament.  It also presupposes the reasonable autonomy of the organisations composing civil society to which people belong:  the clubs of which they are members; the companies for which they work; the religious institutions where they worship, the schools and universities where they educate their children.


South Africa has strong and well-developed civil society institutions, including influential and well-supported churches; a vibrant private sector, strong trade unions and professional organisations and a full range of well-developed non-governmental organisations.


Democracy also depends on the rule of law and the protection of basic rights.


We have an excellent Bill of Rights and a strong and independent Constitutional Court. We have many institutions that have been established to enable citizens to claim their rights.   Nevertheless, some warning signals are flashing in this area. Some rights – particularly those that were included in the constitution to protect minorities – are being eroded.  These include, in particular, language, education and cultural rights and freedom from discrimination.  Members of the white minority – and to a lesser extent of the coloured and Indian minorities – fear that affirmative action provisions in the constitution might be abused to introduce new forms of racial discrimination.


Good governance and the government’s ability to deliver effective services to the people, will also be an important factor in ensuring social and political cohesion.


The reality is that the Government has not always been able to deliver on the promises that it has made to the electorate – partly because many of the promises were not achievable and partly because of delivery problems that it has experienced.

In some areas the record is very impressive:


In other areas of delivery, the performance has not been encouraging:


Finally, social and political stability will depend on our ability to maintain positive relations between all our diverse ethnic, cultural and language communities.  Inter-community relations are relatively positive.


Inter-community relations will, however, be negatively affected if communities feel that their languages and cultures are being threatened or if they feel that they have become the subjects of unfair discrimination.


Despite this and the other problems that I have identified I have no doubt that we in South Africa will be able to maintain the social and political stability that we will need to complete our transition to the first world.


How are we doing with regard to the second requirement that I mentioned – our ability to adopt and implement sound fiscal, financial and economic policies?


This is the area in which the ANC Government has performed most effectively.


We are beginning to reap the benefits of these sensible policies:


The Government has been less successful with its labour policies.


Its rigid and prescriptive labour legislation has driven up the price of labour and has created avoidable hassle factors for employers.  The result is that since 1994 the economy has lost almost half a million jobs in the formal sector at a time when job creation should have been one of its main priorities.   Unemployment, in turn, lies at the root of the unacceptable poverty and deprivation in which too many South Africans are still forced to live.


Fortunately, there are belated signs that the Government accepts the need for less rigid labour practices – but any reforms will be fought tooth and nail by the unions.


We are also doing very well with the third requirement that I identified for successful transition to the first world – our ability to compete in global markets.



For all these reasons, I am confident that South Africa will be the first African country to attain full first-world status.  It will not happen within the next decade or two – but we are on the right road:


There is, however, no room for complacency.  It will take a great deal of hard work and good communication to assure success.


My small foundation is working in a number of these areas – particularly in supporting and entrenching our constitution; in facilitating effective and open communication between community leaders and the government; and in encouraging minorities to become enthusiastically engaged in addressing the common problems of our society.


By doing all these things I am confident that the miracle will continue and that South Africa will successfully complete its journey to the first world.