The Presidential Years

May I just say in conclusion, that one of the challenges that face us in this country, and you must understand it very clearly is whether blacks can run this country successfully. That is the critical challenge that faces all of us. The question is, can the workers of this country go through the transformation from a liberation movement, from being a resistance movement to builders of a new South Africa? This is the challenge that faces us. We are in power today and the question is whether we are able to use that power to build our country, to better the lives of our people.

you must embark on strikes when negotiations fail [APPLAUSE]. But I sincerely hope that you are now going to look at the situation from the point of view that you are in power. It’s not just Tito Mboweni or Mac Maharaj who are in power, you are in power. [CHEERS]

There are problems, there are problems that you have to address. There are at least five million people who are unemployed, who don’t know where to get a meal during the day; who don’t know where to sleep; who don’t know how to clothe their children; how to pay for their school fees. That is your problem to solve. In striking, don’t look at your own personal interests, or just the interests of your union, you must take a broad approach. You must create conditions where business can actually expand and absorb those five million people who are unemployed. It is your task to do so. You must also know that although we are entitled to fight for better living conditions we must pace ourselves: the higher the cost of production, the more business want to retrench people and increase the army of the unemployed – bear that in mind.

The East today – I have been to the East four times now – you have what you call ‘Tigers’ – countries with a flourishing economy and a labour force which is far more sophisticated that our labour force in this country. Where you find people with degrees working on machines in a factory. And who are prepared for their good of their country in order to promote economic growth and create employment opportunities – they are prepared to take low salaries in order to ensure that everybody has a job. As a result of tightening their belts they have been able to increase production, to stimulate economic growth and to ensure, as much as possible, full employment.

It is your task to ensure that that happens in our country. That we look not just at ourselves, at our unions only, we look, we take into account the situation of labour throughout the country. Unless we sacrifice, we have that determination to tighten our belts, in order to ensure that the creation of jobs goes apace and that those people without jobs are absorbed by industry, it is going to be difficult for us to get our economy to grow.

I know that is unpopular to you and that is why you have grim faces now [LAUGHTER] but that is something you must accept. Without us tightening our belts, it is going to be very difficult, very very difficult to solve economic questions in this country. I am talking to people who are leaders in their own right who realise the responsibility, the challenge of being a black government in this country and who are going to rise to the challenge, who are going to rise to expectations.

I feel always very strong. I move around feeling that at the end of the day I will be able to take stock and to say this has been a day, a productive day. Because my comrades, my colleagues are people who are committed to serving the interests of the poor in this country. We have done so but there is a lot more to do and tightening our belts, taking into account the interests of those who are unemployed, the seven million who are in squatter camps, we can only solve their problems by tightening our belts and by remembering that unless business expands, unless there is job creation in this country, it is going to be difficult for us to solve the economic problems I have referred to.

Original Source

SABC Archive, SABC Information Library, Johannesburg.