The Presidential Years

While acknowledging that it would take time to put in place the structural changes needed for a comprehensive programme of transformation, and while recognising the protracted nature of such change, it became necessary to use the first address to Parliament in May 1994 to signal government’s intent.

Mandela announced the R2,5 billion that had been re-directed from within the budget to fund the Reconstruction and Development Programme in the coming year, and that as a sign of government’s seriousness in dealing with the most urgent needs of the poor the government would, in the next 100 days, implement a set of Presidential Lead Projects:

- Free medical care for children under the age of six and pregnant mothers;
- A nutritional feeding scheme in every primary school needing it;
- A programme already under way to electrify 350 000 homes in the current financial year;
- A public works programme to rebuild townships, and restore services in rural and urban areas;

The first Budget also included a once-off five per cent Reconstruction Levy on individuals and companies with taxable incomes of more than R50 000.

Mandela threw his weight behind these initial programmes which had to be implemented in the very short period of 100 days if government was to retain credibility. It was little time not only to build the infrastructure of clinics that were essential to make a reality of the promised access to free health care and to set up the procedures for distribution to schools of the ‘Mandela sandwiches’ – it was also little time to get funds allocated to these flagship programmes, and Mandela made sure that happened.