Madiba is wearing a floral garland
When there is a change of dispensation, the minorities become concerned because they reason that under the old dispensation, even though that dispensation was very harsh, we knew our position and we were able to adjust. We don’t know what our position is going to be under this new government and therefore it is the duty of the leaders of thought either in political organisations or in government always to be sensitive to the concerns, the fears of the minority and to address them candidly. Burt we can’t do so unless you yourself are very frank in expressing your concerns. This is the opportunity and we are going to listen to you. I hope the chairperson will at least allow five questions and we will see how many more questions we will take after that, as well of course as your concerns. Thank you. [APPLAUSE]
[ON THE PLATFORM UNDER ANC BANNER, LALOO CHIBA, ESSOP PAHAD, BERTHA GXOWA, AHMED KATHRADA. MADIBA IS SEATED BETWEEN MATHOLE MOTSHEKGA AND KATHRADA. WALTER SISULU AND DR RAM SALOJEE IN THE AUDIENCE. SISULU IS GARLANDED. ALBERTINA SISULU ON THE STAGE IS GIVEN FLOWERS. BERTHA GXOWA IS GIVEN FLOWERS]
Firoz Cachalia is the MC.
[MADIBA RISES WITH HIS NOTEPAD TO ANSWER THE QUESTIONS WHICH HAVE BEEN POSED BUT NOT AUDIBLE IN THIS DVD. HE IS NO LONGER WEARING THE GARLAND]
These are important questions and I’m happy you’ve given us the opportunity to deal with them. The first question is what are we doing about job creation? And before I answer the question
I would like to place the question of unemployment in context because it would be a mistake to think that the question of joblessness has just dropped from the skies, that there is no history. We all know that in the decade leading up to April 1994, R51,1 billion left the country as a result of political uncertainty. Secondly, the economic growth of the country, the rate of growth was negative. And there was high inflation which was in two digits; also the budget deficit was in two digits. But what was even more shattering was the discovery when we took over that this country had a public debt of no less than R254-billion which we are now paying at the rate of R50 billion a year. That is R50 billion which we do not have in order to create jobs and to reduce the rate of unemployment. That is the background to this issue. Now it is not very easy to deal with because one of the major decisions we took when we took over as the government was to reduce the rate of inflation, to reduce the budget deficit and we have succeeded enormously in that regard. [APPLAUSE] But to reduce the rate of inflation and the budget deficit meant that there should be a drastic cut in government expenditure and we took that decision. And we are ruthless in making sure that we cut down government expenditure, bring down the rate of inflation as well as the budget deficit. From an inflation which was in two digits when we took over, about 13% we were able to reduce it to between four and five percent. Unfortunately what happened in Asia, Russia and Brazil affected our plans but we were also able to reduce the budget deficit from two figures to about 4% when the Asian flu broke out. That affected our currency because today the economies of the world are so interdependent that what happens in Scotland has an effect on South Africa the same day. The economies of the world as a result of the process of globalisation have become interdependent. So we were affected by all these issues. And we therefore inherited a situation whereby there was huge unemployment in this country, we did not have and do not have the resources to address that unemployment. Because whereas we are able to go to the United Nations at a time when we owed more than $100 million in the form of arrears for membership, which the apartheid government did not pay when it was suspended, we were called upon to pay that debt. I had to go to the United Nations and to speak to Clinton, Boris Yeltsin, Jacques Chiraq and others, Jiang Zemin and to ask them to write off this debt. Which they did. [APPLAUSE]
I then came back to my country confident that now that I have got this arrears debt written off, I’m going to get this R254 billion written off and I asked the Minister of Finance to give me a breakdown of this debt. I nearly fell on my back when I was given these particulars. More than 90% of this debt we owed to our workers here. What the apartheid regime did was to take pension funds and to support, to enrich themselves out of those pension funds. We could not write off that debt because if we wrote off that debt, a government which rights off a debt which it owes to its workers, we would lose all credibility. So we have no alternative but to pay that debt. Now, we do not have therefore the resources to address the question of unemployment. But I would expect you, not only to ask a question but to make suggestions as to how we solve problems. I’ll give you one example of people who are creative, who recognise that they are South Africans, that they have got an obligation not just to put questions but at the same time to suggest solutions. There is a former beauty queen in this country, Amy Kleynhans. She is not only a beauty queen, she is a politician in the proper sense of the word. When there was the Miss World competition here, when she was the reigning Miss South Africa, she was expected, like all the other Miss South Africas – I mean other world beauties, she was expected to carry the flag of the country. She refused. She said, ‘That is not my flag. Im not going to carry it’. And of course she was slandered by the conservative white press in this country. Now that girl saw me a few weeks ago and she said, ‘There is this retrenchment of teachers, I have got a plan. I have now organised about 50 of the retrenched teachers and I have arranged that the children after school can then phone one of these teachers to say, ‘I am doing Mathematics and I have got a problem with Mathematics. Here is my problem. Can you solve it for me?’’ Then of course she needed funding to be able to pay these retrenched teachers. I gave her full support and immediately organised for her to meet one of the leading firms in this country, one of the big five, to supply her with funds to be able to carry out this plan of giving jobs to retrenched teachers. Her aim is to have about 1 000 teachers and she is having discussions, I referred her to the national Minister of Education Dr Sibusiso Bhengu. I also spoke to Leopile Tanyana [sp?] who is the President of the Transvaal Teachers Union as well as to Willie Madisha, the President of SADTU. They are now discussing as to how to help her in order to carry out this plan. That is just one example. So although this question is a legitimate one, I would like people also to think in terms of solutions.
But still on the question of job creation I, sometime last year, met the representatives of the KWV, the Stellenbosch Winery, Unifruco and Bonitas from the Western Cape. And I asked each one to go a build a clinic and a school amongst the coloured community in the Northern [sic] Cape. They agreed to do so. But Dr Willem Barnard, of KWV he said, ‘Mr President we appreciate what you are doing, asking business to build clinics and schools but to us this is peanuts. This is not what we are really interested in. We command billions, we want you to tell us what we should do with our billions. Not for you but for the masses of the people in the countryside. I then asked Thabo Mbeki to get Trevor Manuel, Tito Mboweni – he still was the Minister of Labour at the time – Kader Asmal, and to form a committee to advise me what to do. That was one of the reasons for the Jobs Summit on the 30th of October last year.
2.NOT SURE WHETHER THIS IS IS. POSSIBLY LUSIKISIKI]
Work for peace, work with the police and make sure that on the 2nd of June you go and vote. There is no organisation in this country that is a threat to the ANC [CUTS]
3. Brenda Fassie singing at an ANC rally
SABC Information Library, Johannesburg.