Speeches & Remarks

Speeches & Remarks

Remarks by Minister Naledi Pandor on the occasion of the Media Briefing on South Africa's participation in the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York from 24 – 30 September 2019

16 September 2019

Members of the media – Good Afternoon

In our last media briefing, ahead of the SADC Summit in Tanzania, we promised to regularly brief you on our international relations and cooperation work. This media briefing serves to fulfil that purpose.

The briefing focuses on South Africa’s participation in the upcoming 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), which will take place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 24 – 30 September 2019.

You are already aware that President Cyril Ramaphosa has delegated the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation to lead South Africa’s delegation to UNGA as the President wishes to concentrate on critical issues needing his attention in South Africa.


THE United Nation General Assembly’s theme for this year is “Galvanizing multilateral efforts for poverty eradication, quality education, climate action and inclusion," and was announced by the President-elect of the General Assembly (PGA), Mr. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande (Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN).

The theme of the PGA is timely and resonates with South Africa's seven priorities as outlined by President Ramaphosa during the State of the Nation Address on 20 June 2019. These are:

  • economic transformation and job creation;
  • education, skills and health;
  • consolidating the social wage through reliable and quality basic services;
  • spatial integration, human settlements and local government;
  • social cohesion and safe communities;
  • building a capable, ethical and developmental State; and
  • a better Africa and the world.

The UN General Assembly General Debate affords Member States of the UN the opportunity to address issues of national, regional and international importance.  We will also utilise the opportunity to speak of the unfortunately tragic events of the past two weeks and to repeat our belief in African unity, peace and friendship. 

Our participation in UNGA will provide us with an opportunity to interact with our counterparts across the globe and to articulate South Africa’s perspective on the general assembly theme.

The delegation is made up of the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms. Barbara Creecy and the Minister in the Presidency, Mr. Jackson Mthembu.

The President has appointed a delegation that is consistent with our resolve to use resources maximally and curtail costs.


We plan to use the upcoming UNGA74 to restate and affirm our commitment to multilateralism and the central role of the UN in the system of global governance. Our overarching strategic approach is predicated on the notion of an equitable, just and fair world order buttressed by a multilateral system that includes respect for international law.


This year's General Debate will provide South Africa with an opportunity to provide an assessment of the current global and continental peace, security and development challenges, as well as to lay out our vision for the African Continent and the world; to articulate South Africa's objectives as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council from 2019 to 2020 our commitment to reform of them and to building on the late President Nelson Mandela's legacy of working towards a peaceful, just and prosperous world.

One of South Africa's strategic focus in international engagement is to defend and promote the primacy of institutions of global governance as the vehicles through which current challenges facing the international community including in the areas of peace and security, sustainable development, human rights and the reform of global governance could be resolved.

We will also highlight South Africa's role in the implementation of the African Union's (AU) Agenda 2063 and the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Furthermore, South Africa will argue for stronger and enhanced coordination between the AU and the UN especially in the resolution of conflicts in Africa.

UNGA74 coincides with the inaugural year of the Nelson Mandela Decade for Peace 2019-2028, which was adopted at the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit in September 2018 as a contribution to the strengthening of multilateralism and a means of advancing the values and principles of Nelson Mandela, as well as those of the Charter of the United Nations.

South Africa will encourage all Member States and the international community to be guided by the Nelson Mandela Decade for Peace in their efforts to preserve multilateralism and to achieve peace, cooperation and respect for the principles and objectives of the Charter of the UN.


On the margins of the General Debate, other UN-related High-level events have been scheduled and there will also be opportunities for bilateral meetings and side events in which the South African Ministerial delegation have been invited to participate. The following High-Level events have been confirmed:

  • 23 September 2019, High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage;
  • 23 September 2019, Secretary-General's Climate Action Summit
  • 24 and 25 September 2019, High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development
  • 26 September 2019, High-Level Dialogue on Financing for Development
  • 26 September 2019, High-Level Meeting to commemorate and promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons;
  • 27 September 2019, High-Level Meeting to review progress made in addressing the priorities of Small Island Developing States through the implementation of the SAMOA Pathway.


Thank you.


OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road

Keynote Address on Worlds Aids Day

Keynote Address by Deputy President David Mabuza on the occasion to Commemorate World Aids Day Dobsonville Stadium, Soweto, Gauteng Province

1 December 2018

Programme Director;

Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi;

Ministers, Deputy Ministers and MECs;

UNAIDS representatives and Goodwill Ambassadors;

Special Guests from multilateral institutions and Global partners against HIV;

Members of the Diplomatic Corps;

Civil Society Formations;

Distinguished Guests;

Fellow South Africans:

Thank you for joining us on this World AIDS Day.

The World AIDS Day is a day of commemoration in as much as it is a day of action.

It is a call to all our people to know their status, to care for their well-being, and to take responsibility for their own health and that of others.

The fight against HIV and AIDS can never be won without considerable effort, hard-work and dedication.

It cannot be won without human agency, change in behaviour and in managing the expression of our sexual identity.

It is a day that demands of all of us to pause, to think and reflect to ensure that no matter our station in life, no matter our age, no matter our class or gender, we all take responsibility by testing for HIV, TB, Cancer and other ailments. It calls on us to take preventive measures as a first stance in tackling this pandemic.

Equally, today we are entering a new era, an era of empowerment in knowing our status.

For today, we call on us to a campaign of knowing our status, of getting tested and of making the necessary change to sustain our health.  Checka Impilo!

Today marks 30 years since the first World Aids Day was held in London in 1988.

Since then we have come a long way in testing, treating and managing the spread of HIV. Today we are able to manage and frustrate its ultimate end of deteriorating into acquired immune deficiency.

Our fight against HIV and AIDS throughout the years has had many ebbs, challenges and flows.

We have had times of wisdom and times of vice; times of science, sense and ignorance. We have had times of arrogance and stigma; times of care and times of reckless abandon. Yet we have emerged from these afflictions with the resilience of a nation renowned for the best HIV response in the world.

This has been a long and arduous journey.

Though we stand proud, tall and on a pedestal, with our achievements so profound - the road ahead remains long but not difficult.

It is still winding and challenging; with its pitfalls, potholes and rough edges in abundance.

Yet we are determined to walk this last mile of the way of a seemingly distant future, a future of infinite possibility, a future of an HIV-free world.

Even though that day is elusive, we keep walking, for it is within reach.

We keep walking because we are determined. As South Africans, we are a nation known for its resilience against any adversity.

We keep walking because we are committed to:

Zero new infections of HIV and TB;

Zero discrimination and stigma against those afflicted by HIV;

Zero AIDS-related deaths, and;

Zero new vertical transmissions.

This is a journey we will not alone, for we have always had caring friends across the globe.

We are all too aware that together, standing hand-in-hand, with all shoulders to the wheel, with our partners in the Global Fund on HIV, in the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and other civil-society organisations; we have a global force of change to be reckoned with.

With these long-lasting friends, with each of our brother’s keeper - our sister’s keeper, we will ultimately rid the world of HIV and AIDS.

We are all fellow travellers that are evermore committed to walking this long and imperilled road together.

From the ultimate milestone of an HIV-free world, we shall not hesitate, detour, give-up nor look back.

For we know what unity and struggle mean. It means in so far as HIV is concerned, we are neither giving in nor turning.

We will stand and fight the HIV pandemic together. We understand the lessons from our stigmatised past. We are all too conscious of the pain and sorrow we have suffered to arrive at the point of comprehensive HIV response.

It was by no small feat that we today have the largest treatment campaign in the world.

To date, our country has initiated 4.3 million South Africans on anti-retroviral treatment in the public sector, with an additional 235 000 in the private sector.

This is not a solo achievement by the state. It is rather a collective achievement from the courageous struggles of great men and women around the world.

It is the fruit of those who refused to be silent when people lost their lives and were denied life-saving treatment by cost alone.

It is a sign of their courage and conviction not to cower from confronting this pandemic with science, sensibility and comprehensive research.

They remain today, as they were yesterday, as it will be tomorrow, the lode stars that will enflame our commitment to fight HIV for generations to come.

In their memory, and commitment to their legacy, we will leave no stone unturned to create an HIV-free world.

In their innumerate struggles, they have created caring governments, active and well-heeled civil society.

They have united a people determined to put an end to the national despair, and support people bulking under the yolk of disease.

Today we count these victories as they are - for HIV is not just a virus that afflicts the health of individuals; it destroys families and communities; it handicaps nations and holds out socio-economic potential of a people to ransom.

Most importantly, it is a parasite that targets the poor and the vulnerable. It thrives in conditions where women cannot negotiate condom use from a position of power. It depends on superstition, ignorance and stigma to kill hope, to kill people and to kill aspirations.

It is merciless in its targeting of innocent children and young girls. It devalues the sanctity of human life and affronts the right to health and subjugates those without resources to fight its cowardly afflictions.

Understanding its license to kill, we are determined to fight back by ensuring that our healthcare system is an accessible public-good that is well supported.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As a government we are too well-aware that our responsibility is to provide leadership, vision and policy solutions to take us forward.

We are also aware that the needs of a society always determine its values, just as its leadership must show foresight and vision.

For when governments fail, the people fail.

Where governance collapses, services suffer.

Where healthcare is dysfunctional, people die. Families are decimated by preventable and manageable diseases. National development is curtailed.

This imposes on us a national imperative to ensure that healthcare is affordable, is efficient, is not overburdened and is of the best quality possible.

No more must people be deprived of treatment, respect and lifesaving care because of their race, social standing and other accidents of birth.

No more must what is best, be considered better by the stretch of one’s Rand or the depth of their pockets.

We are committed to rooting out inefficiency, laxity and dysfunction from our health system.

We are determined to be efficient, effective and to use the little resources we have as best we can.

In the last year alone, we have managed to test 11 million people and initiated 567 293 people on ART. We are targeting HIV together with its fraternal sibling - Tuberculosis.

We are determined to find those that are missing our national reach, those who have little knowledge and are vulnerable to multi-drug resistant TB.

We seek to screen and test 14 million people for HIV and TB, and 7 million for high blood pressure and diabetes. This will help us to add an additional 2 million HIV infected persons to the existing 4.3 million already receiving ARVs by December 2020.

Going forward, our focus should be on young people and men. It is young people, especially those between 15 and 24 years of age and men that are not testing for HIV, not being initiated on ARVs and not reaching viral suppression.

But all these efforts will come to naught, if we are not of a single mind and share a common purpose. A major factor in successfully implementing the National Strategic Plan, is the functionality of the AIDS Councils at all levels of our country, from national all the way to the ward level.

This should not be seen as the sole responsibility of those working in the sector, but a responsibility of all of us to build healthy communities that are free from the pandemics of AIDS and TB.

It is therefore incumbent on all of us to cultivate a culture of active-citizenship where we work, socialise and club together for the progress of our nation.

In any event, active-citizenship is a civic duty to keeping government focused, accountable and responsive.

We are looking to our young people to play a leading role in this struggle as capable and dynamic agents of change.

We look to them and to their energy to be revolutionary ambassadors across society; ambassadors that advance awareness about how to prevent TB and stop TB and AIDS related deaths.

We are looking towards civil society, business and traditional leadership to actively take part in the fight against HIV and TB.

If there was any time where the voice and weight of our traditional leaders is required to champion this course in human development - it is now.

By taking responsibility, through your activism, by bringing your voice to bear on these and other challenges, we can end the pitfalls of ignorance, discrimination and stigma associated with HIV.

It is all in your hands. It all begins with you, with me, and with everybody.

Let us all test for HIV, for TB and cancer to take charge of this gift called life.

On this World AIDS Day, let us commend and celebrate those who have taken the first-step.

They are our untold heroes and heroines. They have carried the burden on their shoulders to protect themselves, their loved ones and all others.

In their honour, one preventable death is one death too many.

For their courage and valour untold, we would all do well to emulate their example.

Just as we fight the HIV pandemic, we should, with equal measure fight to end the culture of gender-based violence.

It is a blight on our democracy that we fought so hard to attain. Gender-based violence does not represent the values of ubuntu and those of human rights that we stand for and have pronounced in our Constitution.

As it is written by poet Laurette, Professor Keorapetse Kgosietsile “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow - time is always now!”

The time is always now when far too many hear the knock at death’s door without access to life-saving treatment.

The time is always now when parents die and children become orphans to lead child-headed households.

The time is always now when women continue to live under the yolk of oppression, subjugation and the tyranny of patriarchy.

The time is always now when stigma and ignorance prevent people from adhering to treatment.

The time is always now to have courage, to test and to live a responsible and productive life, whether one is negative or living with HIV.

It is my sincere belief that the end of HIV is within reach, and a better tomorrow is upon us.

I hope today you will join us and you all will make your small contribution in taking us closer to an HIV-free world by testing and knowing your status.

I believe it will happen in my lifetime, if not, in my children’s lifetime. On countless occasions, we have proven to the world our capacity as a nation to overcome any adversity.

Checka Impilo!

I thank you.

Opening Address by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the South Africa Investment Conference, Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg


26 October 2018


Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to welcome you all to this inaugural investment conference.

We are pleased and humbled that you have responded to the call by the government and the people of South Africa to participate in this conference and thus be part of a new dawn in our country.

As representatives of the domestic and international investment community, as representatives of business organisations and international financial institutions, by your presence here, you have chosen to walk with us along the path of growth, employment and shared prosperity.

Like us, you believe that South Africa is a land of opportunity – a land where the soil is rich and the oceans teem with life, where the beautiful vistas of our country are spectacular and its diverse people are vibrant and resilient.

For you know that its people are its great wealth.

Like us, you believe that there is vast potential in South Africa; and that it has enormous potential that has been constrained for decades by narrow prejudice and debilitating human neglect.

Together with us, you celebrated the miracle of our peaceful transition to democracy.

You were there when we began to rebuild our economy and fundamentally change the fortunes of our people.

You witnessed both our achievements and our missteps.

You supported us and wanted us to succeed as you wished us well.

And when we stumbled, you looked on with concern and disillusionment when it seemed that we may squander the remarkable inheritance of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

Yet, throughout these difficulties, you have retained an abiding interest as both domestic and international business in the fortunes of this country.

We know that, like the people of South Africa, you have harboured a profound hope that we will prevail.

This inaugural South Africa Investment Conference is therefore an expression of a shared hope and a renewed confidence.

It is a bold and unequivocal statement that we are determined to put behind us the period of uncertainty and discord and embrace a future of cooperation and partnership.

We are here to declare that we are determined to build a country that is driven by enterprise and innovation, to develop an economy that is diverse and resilient and prosperous, and to create companies that achieve sustained returns not only for their shareholders, but also for the workers that drive them and the communities that support them.

We are country that is rich in ways that we often do not appreciate.

There are few places in the world that have the abundance of minerals that lie beneath the ground on which we now stand, that have the soil to sustain such a diversity of plants, crops, livestock and game, where the sun shines nearly all year around and where the golden beaches stretch on forever.

We have an incredible natural inheritance, whose economic and social value we have not yet even begun to effectively explore.

Our political and social inheritance, by contrast, is deeply contradictory.

Through decades of deliberate underdevelopment, the majority of South Africans were dispossessed of their land, assets and livelihoods, and denied the education and the skills that make meaningful participation in the economic life of the country possible.

The devastating effects of this manifest injustice still define our society and severely constrain our economic development.

The continued exclusion of millions of South Africans – particularly as it relates to skills and to ownership of assets – is the single greatest impediment to the growth of our economy and the development of our society.

It explains the persistence of poverty, unemployment and inequality nearly 25 years into our democracy.

It is for this reason that we have placed economic growth and job creation at the centre of our national agenda.

It is for this reason too that we have prioritised the education of our children and the skilling of our workforce, and it is for this reason that we are accelerating the provision of land and other assets to the poor and marginalised.

And it is for this reason that in April this year we launched an ambitious and, in the history of our country, unprecedented, drive to raise at least $100 billion in new investment over five years.

We did so understanding that no meaningful growth and no significant job creation would be possible without a massive surge in productive investment in the economy.

Over the last half year, as we have prepared for this Investment Conference, our four Presidential investment envoys – Phumzile Langeni, Jacko Maree, Mcebisi Jonas and Trevor Manuel – have travelled across the country and around the globe to meet potential investors.

Invest SA, our award-winning investment promotion and facilitation agency, has compiled an investment book of projects that represent great potential.

Today, a number of local and international companies will make announcements on investments to expand existing operations in the country or establish new ones.

In addition to the announcements that will be made at this conference we have received investment pledges from a number of countries.

We have appointed task teams to work with these countries to convert these pledges into investments.

We have emphasised the need for more South African companies to lead the investment charge, demonstrating that they have confidence in this economy and in its ability to deliver decent and reliable returns.

In furtherance of this, I call upon South African companies to engage with our investment envoys on their investment plans, including capital expenditure programmes, so that we can have a better idea as a nation what the future portends for our country on the economic growth landscape.

This conference takes place in the wake of a number of decisive measures we have embarked upon in the last few months to improve the investment environment.

Following thoroughgoing consultations with various role players in our economy, we have been addressing issues of policy uncertainty and regulatory obstacles that have impeded investments in a number of industries.

We have been working with the World Bank to improve the ease of doing business in South Africa and crafting a new FDI strategy for the country.

Invest SA is intensifying its facilitation and aftercare service in terms of international best practice.

Together we are working to fast track investment projects and reduce red tape.

As part of the decisive measures that we have had to take, we have had to confront challenges in some of our largest and most strategic state owned enterprises, which have experienced years of poor governance, a decline in financial and operational performance and corruption.

Given the crucial role of these state owned enterprises in the economy, as providers of critical infrastructure and bulk services, it is essential that they be restored as engines of growth and development.

We have replaced the leadership in several state owned enterprises, ensuring that we have people with experience, integrity and the relevant skills who are now leading the development and implementation of sustainable business models.

As a country, we have also had to confront the bitter reality that several public entities have been severely affected by corruption and the phenomenon of state capture.

One of the urgent measures we have had to take is to end such corruption and hold those responsible to account.

We have established a commission of inquiry into state capture that has begun a thorough and far reaching investigation into these practices.

We have also established commission of inquiry into the South African Revenue Service and the Public Investment Corporation, institutions that are both vital to the effective functioning of our economy.

We are certain that these commissions will not only unearth all instances of malfeasance and governance failures, but will help to restore the integrity, credibility and effectiveness of these entities.

As we put in place the pillars of sustained growth into the future, we are working to address immediate concerns, specifically the effects of two quarters of negative economic growth.

Last month, government announced an economic stimulus and recovery plan that aims to restore growth, save existing jobs and create new ones.

As part of this plan, we are taking immediate steps to finalise reforms in key sectors like mining, oil and gas, tourism and telecommunications – all of which are sectors that have great potential for growth, but which have been constrained by policy uncertainty.

The revised Mining Charter has been finalised.

This is the outcome of extensive and meaningful consultation between government, community, labour and business and represents evidence of our commitment to solving the challenges in the sector collaboratively.

Government has decided to draft separate legislation for the oil and gas industry, settling a long-standing dispute that will provide direction and certainty to an industry with great potential.

Through the publication of a new Integrated Resource Plan for public comment, we have provided detail on the country’s future energy requirements.

Government also signed off a number of outstanding renewal energy supply agreements, bringing significant further investment into a growing sector of our economy.

We have finalised consultations with the telecommunications industry and other stakeholders to ensure allocation of spectrum reduces barriers to entry, promotes competition and reduces costs to consumers.

Our independent communications regulator is now preparing to licence available high demand spectrum.

We have initiated a review of our visa regime to facilitate greater arrivals of tourists, highly skilled individuals, business people and investors.

We are reprioritising our budget – within the existing fiscal framework – to invest more in those activities that will boost growth, including agriculture, township and rural businesses, and infrastructure.

We do so in a severely restricted fiscal environment.

As the Minister of Finance indicated when presenting his medium-term budget policy statement earlier in the week, we are determined to ensure public spending remains within sustainable levels – and that we generate greater revenue by pursuing growth with a single-minded determination.

We see infrastructure investment as a critical enabler of growth and job creation, and are therefore consolidating government infrastructure spending into a single Infrastructure Fund.

We intend to use that Fund to leverage investments from development finance institutions, multilateral development banks, asset managers and commercial banks.

A dedicated team will oversee the implementation of an extensive infrastructure programme covering areas like water, transport, energy, telecommunications and social infrastructure.

Despite the challenges of the present, our economy has several fundamental strengths that makes it a suitable destination for investment.

South Africa has established a diversified manufacturing base that has shown its resilience and potential to compete in the global economy.

Yesterday I had occasion to open the R1 billion Gibela passenger train manufacturing factory in this province.

The investment is a collaboration between Alstom from France and a local consortium made up of black businesses and the community.

The factory employs 800 workers, of which half are women.

We applaud this investment as it confirms South Africa’s manufacturing capability.

Multinationals with a presence in South Africa cite numerous advantages, from excellent financial systems to world-class infrastructure.

South Africa is a regional manufacturing and services hub on the African continent, and, for many companies, serves as a base to export products globally.

We have done much work in recent years to improve investment incentives, establishing, for example, several special economic zones across the country, each having unique offerings for investors.

These include ready infrastructure for business development, reduced costs for key inputs such as land, water and electricity, and reduced corporate tax rates.

We are determined that our economic policy must facilitate inclusive growth.

Given our country’s history of dispossession, and the continued economic exclusion of millions of our people, we have a responsibility to bring all our people into the economic mainstream.

Earlier this month, we convened a Presidential Jobs Summit, which brought together government, business, labour and the community sector to determine a set of practical, achievable interventions that would increase the pace of job creation.

The Jobs Summit agreed on more than 70 focused interventions that will, among other things, boost domestic demand, increase and broaden exports, create pathways for young people into work and develop sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, mining and the waste economy.

In addition, we are intensifying work to build a robust and effective education and skills development system that equips our youth for the workplace of tomorrow.

It is important to note that seven of South Africa’s universities are in top 500 in the world.

There are nearly a million students in higher education, and there has been a marked increase in science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduates.

We have implemented policies to promote black economic empowerment, to provide black people, women and people with disability with the assets and opportunities they need to participate more meaningfully in economic activity.

Another area that is critical to economic transformation is land reform, which is currently a focus of intense debate across South African society.

There is general agreement among most South Africans that we need to accelerate land reform not only to redress a historical injustice, but also to effectively unlock the economic potential of the country’s land.

We have appointed an Advisory Panel on Land Reform, which comprises people with extensive experience in farming, policy development, academia and law.

The panel will advise government on the implementation of a fair and equitable land reform process that redresses the injustices of the past, increases agricultural output, promotes economic growth and protects food security.

We are committed, as government to pursue a comprehensive approach to land and agrarian reform that ensures transformation, development and stability, while providing certainty to those who own land, to those who need land and to those who are considering investing in the economy.

Our approach reaffirms the constitutional protection of property rights, which, among other things, prohibits the arbitrary deprivation of property.

Together with robust legislation to protect foreign investments, an independent judiciary and the firm rule of law, our Constitution should allay any fears that investors may have of factories being expropriated.

South Africa’s strategic position at the tip of Africa, makes it a key investment location, both for opportunities that lie within its borders and as a gateway to the rest of the region.

Earlier this year, African heads of state agreed to the establishment of an African Continental Free Trade Area that will provide access to a market of more than 1.2 billion people and a combined GDP of more than $3.4 trillion.

This will fundamentally transform the economies of many African countries and will further enhance the attractiveness of South Africa – with its diverse manufacturing base, advanced infrastructure and sophisticated financial sector – as a compelling investment destination.

Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

As South Africa emerges from a period of great difficulty and uncertainty, as it confronts challenges that are immense – but not insurmountable – we can declare with confidence that South Africa is a land of untold opportunity.

It is a land that has known the pain of division and conflict and deprivation.

But, equally, it has experienced the exhilaration of liberation and knows very well the value of partnership and collaboration.

It is therefore our great pleasure to invite you to become our partners in realising the great possibilities that this country has to offer.

We invite you to invest in our mines and factories, farms and game parks, call centres and technology hubs, refineries and solar farms.

We invite you to invest in our people, to harness their energy and unleash their latent capabilities.

We invite you to become valued partners in realising the vision – and sharing the benefits – of a new era of renewal, an era of discovery, an era of prosperity and progress and promise.

I thank you.



Issued by the Presidency


Programme Director, Minister of Labour, Ms Mildred Oliphant,

Nedlac Executive Director, Mr Madoda Vilakazi,

Ministers and Deputy Ministers,

Leaders of labour, business and the community sector,

Members of the diplomatic corps,

Distinguished guests,


Fellow South Africans,


We gather here today to answer the call of the people of South Africa for decent work.

 We have gathered here, as social partners, having agreed on a broad range of measures to create and protect jobs.

 Unemployment is the greatest challenge facing our country at this moment in its history. Unemployment diminishes our ability to eradicate poverty, tackle inequality and improve the lives of the working class and poor.


It has a devastating effect on families and communities, eroding people’s dignity and contributing to social problems like poor health, poor education outcomes, substance abuse and crime. The extreme unemployment in this country is the product of an economy that for several decades has been starved of any meaningful investment in its human capital, where most people have been denied the opportunity to own assets or develop skills. The structure of the economy, which was built on the extraction of minerals, where ownership and control are highly concentrated, remains largely untransformed. As a result, the decline of the mining industry and manufacturing has cost the country millions of jobs and much economic capacity.


Low levels of growth in recent years has undermined our efforts to overcome the economic legacy of apartheid. Policy uncertainty and inconsistency, onerous regulations and declining business and consumer confidence have curtailed investment in the productive sectors of the economy. Significant levels of public investment in infrastructure, which kept the economy afloat following the 2008 global financial crisis, has been tapering off as consumption spending and debt servicing has consumed a greater portion of our budget.


Our economic performance has also been undermined by state capture and corruption in both public institutions and private companies. State capture and corruption has undermined investor confidence and public trust, eroded key institutions of the state and diverted resources intended to support development.


While progress has been made in lifting millions of people out of dire poverty, many of our people still face great hardship. The apartheid spatial landscape makes economic opportunities scarce, increases the cost of living and diminishes quality of life. Many people, especially young people, lack the skills and work experience needed to find a job and participate meaningfully in the economy.


As we speak, rising international oil prices combined with investor concerns about emerging economies are pushing up the price of petrol and other fuels, making life harder and more expensive for all South Africans, but particularly the poor. The jobs that have been created over the past few years have not kept pace with the growth of the population or the expansion of the workforce.


We have therefore gathered here at this Jobs Summit to respond to these economic challenges, which manifest themselves through unemployment, poverty and inequality. In the National Development Plan, we said that if we were to effectively and sustainably tackle this triple challenge, we should aim to reduce unemployment to at least 6% by 2030. We need to acknowledge that we will not be able to reach that target unless we do something extraordinary.


Since the announcement of the Jobs Summit in the State of the Nation Address in February, all social partners have been engaged in intensive discussions to craft an agreement to begin to address this crisis, I wish to commend all social partners for the hard work that has gone into making this Jobs Summit possible and to thank everyone who has contributed to organising this summit. The social partners have agreed that this Presidential Jobs Summit will emerge with a framework agreement that is both ambitious and realisable.


It is the product of intensive engagement among the social partners over several months, in a spirit of cooperation, consensus building to address a problem that affects all of us. Importantly, the framework provides the outline of an emerging social compact to grow an inclusive economy and fundamentally transform our society.


One of the great difficulties we have faced in recent years is that cooperation between communities, labour, business and government has weakened, making it difficult to advance the collective interest. Countries that have succeeded in tackling economic challenges and social problems have had the benefit of getting all social partners to reach agreement on what needs to be done and to work together to ensure that it gets done.


Countries like Ireland, Spain and the Netherlands have been successful in forging social accords in response to economic difficulty. Yet, in South Africa, with low levels of trust, weak confidence and heightened social tensions, we have neglected our greatest strength as a society – our ability to unite and work together.


It was by working together that we managed to overcome apartheid, that we brought an end to an intractable conflict that had raged for generations, and were able to write a democratic Constitution that guarantees the equal rights of all. Now this framework agreement gives us the opportunity to once again develop trust and forge cooperation. Through this framework agreement we are demonstrating that we are capable of developing a new social compact for jobs, growth and transformation.


This Presidential Jobs Summit is just the start of a process of engagement and collaboration that will intensify in the coming months. This Jobs Summit is not a once-off event, but the first phase of an extensive process in which all social partners will work closely together to improve growth, protect existing jobs and create new jobs.


The framework agreement makes provision for monitoring mechanisms – including a Presidential Jobs Committee (what I have dubbed the Presidential Jobs Brains Trust) – to ensure effective implementation of the measures to which we have agreed. It acknowledges that there are several areas that require further work and refinement, and social partners have agreed to devote more time for discussion to reach consensus on these.


I will now touch on the key issues that the social partners have agreed should emerge from this Jobs Summit. As a critical starting point, social partners agreed that in the current economic environment the Jobs Summit must focus on both creating new jobs and retaining existing one.  All social partners have committed themselves to concrete steps to avoid retrenchments and support struggling companies.


To address this challenge, we have agreed that the training layoff scheme, which was introduced in response to the 2008 global financial crisis, should be immediately revived and improved. Business and government have agreed to establish rapid response teams of experts to assist businesses in crisis. There is agreement that all possible alternatives and opportunities need to be explored before retrenchment is considered, including executive salary sacrifices and the foregoing of dividends.

 For the economy to grow and for jobs to be created, it is essential that there is a substantial increase in domestic demand. This means that South African companies, government and consumers must buy local. If we do not buy the food that comes out of South African soil, there will be no farms and no farmworkers. If we do not buy the goods made by South African hands, there will be no factories and no workers. The most direct way for South Africans and South African companies to create jobs is to buy only South African products.


This is a message that must reverberate across the country and that must find expression in concrete action. The framework agreement goes into detail on measures to promote local procurement both within the public and private sectors – even to the point of outlining interventions in specific sectors and companies.


Government has undertaken to simplify and speed up the process for the designation of products for local procurement, and organised labour, in partnership with Proudly SA, will proactively identify opportunities for new designations.  As part of this agreement, a number of companies have made specific commitments to local procurement initiatives as part of their operational strategies. These include companies such as Adcock Ingram, Anglogold Ashanti, Clientele, Coca Cola SA, Edcon, First Rand, Lixil, Mondi, Nandos, Nestle, AB InBev, Sappi, Sasol, Standard Bank and Tsogo Sun. They will be the first to be invited to join a ‘Buy SA Circle’, which recognises companies that are leaders in buying local and have demonstrated in practice their commitment to supporting South African enterprise. Companies that sign up to this commitment will, among other things, be celebrated at an annual dinner convened by the President.  While promoting local demand, social partners have also identified the need to more aggressively promote South African exports.


From this Jobs Summit, we will embark on an export drive that prioritises manufactured and processed goods, ensuring that we derive the full employment benefit of our mineral and agricultural resources. We will seize the opportunities presented by regional integration and the establishment of an African Continental Free Trade Area to produce more goods for other African markets. Social partners have agreed to unblock impediments to expanding exports – such as inefficiencies at ports and poor knowledge of potential markets – and to ensure greater support to companies seeking export opportunities. Through this framework agreement, we will be mobilising finance on a far greater scale, ensuring that it is focused on building our manufacturing capacity.


The financial sector, as part of its transformation code, will invest R100 billion over five years in black-owned industrial enterprises.  Government will work with the financial sector to develop facilities for financing at preferential rates and extended repayment terms.


The social partners have agreed on strategic interventions in economic sectors that have great potential for growth and even more potential for employment creation.


The agriculture and agro-processing value chain, as set out in the NDP and the nine-point plan, is one area that has significant potential. It is estimated that global demand for fresh produce could increase South Africa’s horticultural trade from R54 billion to R90 billion by 2030.


Through our programme of accelerated land reform, we will expand the area of land under cultivation, substantially increase the number of people productively working the land and provide rural dwellers with the ownership and tenure rights needed to unlock the economic potential of their land. Specific interventions include the procurement of new hectares under black ownership and redirecting expenditure to black-owned and women-owned farmers, producers and processors.  Blended finance models for effective agricultural support are being finalised. In addition to government initiatives amounting to approximately R600 million, Agbiz and the Banking Association of South Africa have developed a blended finance model designed specifically to make additional funds available to assist potential redistribution beneficiaries to access capital.


In the metals, mining and machinery sector, government has agreed to expeditiously finalise an export tax on scrap metal and ensure better access to incentives like the Downstream Steel Industry Competitiveness Fund. Other value chains that are receiving focused attention include sub sectors of the manufacturing industry in clothing, textiles, leather and footwear, furniture and the automotive industry.


Organised labour, through one of its member unions, plans to open a union-owned clothing factory in the Eastern Cape within the next two years.


This innovative and welcome initiative will create around 100 jobs initially and aims to contribute to the re-industrialisation of a province which suffers from widespread poverty and unemployment. If we are to succeed in creating the number of jobs we need, it is essential that small, medium and micro enterprises like these take their rightful place in the economic life of our nation.


Social partners have agreed to maximise the collaboration between public and private sector hubs and incubators.  Government will continue to advocate, educate, assist and monitor the implementation of the 30% set aside for SMMEs by all spheres of government and their agencies.


One of the country’s greatest potential strengths is our young population, whose capabilities and talents the social partners are committed to develop as a matter of priority. A specific area of focus is the development of the technical skills that are required in the industrial economy.


Mechanisms are being put in place to enable companies to form partnerships with nearby TVET colleges, where the colleges offer the theoretical component of the programme and companies offer the practical and workplace components.


This is part of a series of initiatives supported through the framework agreement to ensure that graduates are absorbed into the economy. Effective skills development on a large scale will not only help to expand the opportunities and capabilities of young people but will also assist in reducing the wage gap between the lowest and highest paid due to skills scarcities.


One of the greatest barriers to investment, growth and job creation is corruption within all spheres of government, state owned enterprises and companies. We are determined as government to intensify the work we have already started to end state capture and root out corruption wherever it occurs and to bring those responsible to book. The social partners have agreed to support the government’s anti-corruption strategy and to develop their own complementary strategies.


Business has committed to implementing a zero-tolerance approach to corruption and will develop several initiatives to develop training to combat corruption. Social partners agreed on the need to introduce financial disclosure for all relevant government employees and the conduct of lifestyle audits.


Fellow South Africans,


Through this Jobs Summit, government, labour, business and the community sector have agreed on concrete interventions to boost employment. We estimate that these interventions will create an additional 275,000 direct jobs a year. This is over and above the jobs that would have been created without these interventions, which was on average about 300,000 a year over the past four years. The Jobs Summit agreement complements other initiatives to create jobs.


In addition to what has been agreed between the social partners under the auspices of Nedlac, several companies are working – either individually or with others in their sector – on plans to expand and create new jobs. They have taken the initiative themselves, understanding that sustainable employment creation is beneficial to their business, to the communities in which they are located and to broader society.


They understand that job creation is part of a virtuous cycle. Greater employment increases demand for goods and services, enabling established companies to expand and new ones to emerge, thereby creating more job opportunities and greater demand.


Stimulus and recovery plan


The framework agreement that will emerge from this Summit provides significant additional impetus to the implementation of the economic stimulus and recovery plan we announced two weeks ago. The plan includes a range of immediate measures to restore the economy to growth, improve investor confidence and establish a platform for greater job creation.


As part of the plan, government will:


-          implement growth enhancing economic reforms,


-          reprioritise public spending to support job creation,


-          establish an Infrastructure Fund,


-          address urgent needs in education and health,


-          invest in municipal social infrastructure improvement.


Our experience is that infrastructure development can draw many unemployed people into economic activity relatively quickly. The Infrastructure Fund we are establishing, which will be supported by a strong technical team in the Presidency, will ensure that infrastructure projects are implemented faster, with less wastage and have a greater impact on employment creation and localisation.


Government’s contribution to the Infrastructure Fund will be in excess of R400 billion over the next three years, which we will use to leverage additional resources from developmental finance institutions, multilateral development banks, and private lenders and investors. Through specific economic reforms, government will unlock opportunities in sectors of the economy that have great potential for growth.


These include mining, oil and gas, tourism and telecommunications. The Jobs Summit framework agreement will support this through reforms in other areas – such as streamlining of water license applications and registration of medicines.


The stimulus and recovery plan will see the reprioritisation of around R50 billion of public funding towards activities that will stimulate job creation in agriculture, township economies and rural areas. By expanding the package of support to black commercial farmers, the plan will boost an underdeveloped part of the agricultural industry and provide jobs to those who most need it.


Government has also prioritised the revitalisation of industrial parks, primarily in townships, which will create job opportunities in areas where many of our people live. This commitment, to take jobs to the people, also informs our plan to establish a township and rural entrepreneurship fund to support South Africans with businesses in townships and rural areas. The plan will also have an impact on the filling of critical medical posts, including nurses and interns. The stimulus and recovery plan recognises that growth alone is not enough – it needs to be accompanied by employment, specifically for young people and women.


We need to achieve growth that is inclusive and redistributive. Everyone has a role to play in forging a social compact to create jobs. Trade unions must continue to act as a check and balance.  They must articulate and advance the interests of workers and must push back against exploitative practices and unsafe environments in the work place.  Unions have taken up the challenge to work with employers to eradicate discrimination in the workplace, to promote labour stability, to reduce income inequality and to reach fair and sustainable wage agreements – understanding that these are necessary conditions for increased levels of investment and employment.


When it comes to business, firms have a specific responsibility to provide goods and services and introduce training and new technologies and production techniques which increase competitiveness and productivity and reduce the negative impact on the environment.  Business leaders have taken up the challenge to better recognise the value of regulatory interventions which seek to root out private sector corruption and which seek to stimulate more inclusive growth through limiting anti-competitive conduct and structures.


An effective social compact requires a capable, developmental state, that has the resources and administrative capacity to offer workers and working class communities credible and effective programmes of service delivery.  The developmental state must be capable of guiding and regulating market activity in such a way that the structure of opportunity is transformed and inclusive.


South Africa needs a new approach to growth and development – one informed by our collective interest and which harnesses the capabilities of all social partners who should see themselves as being irrevocably committed to creating a prosperous society where all our people live a better life in peace and harmony. We are agreed that our country cannot achieve meaningful progress without faster growth and a great deal more jobs. And we cannot achieve this if each of us works alone.


We need to trust each other as social partners, to understand how our shared and individual interests combine, to cooperate and to work together for a common vision – a growing economy in which the benefits are shared by everyone. Through this Presidential Jobs Summit, we are each, as government, labour, business and community, confirming our determination to build a better South Africa for all. I want to conclude by reminding us what we said in the preamble to the National Development Plan:


“We have created a home where everybody feels free yet bound to others: where everyone embraces their full potential.


We are proud to be a community that cares. We have received the mixed legacy of inequalities in opportunity and in where we have lived, but we have agreed to change our narrative of conquest, oppression, resistance (and may I add unemployment, inequality, poverty).


We know:


What we do, and how we do it, is as important as what we want to achieve.

What we are, is because of who we have been and what we want to become.

We are people at work

We work to create plenty

Our work brings us ever closer to our dreams

Work grounds our dreams even the more fantastic they are

The reality of work connects us to our dreams.”


These are the dreams of millions of South Africans. It is their dream to find work that this Job Summit must make a reality.  As we sign and implement the framework agreement, we do so for those millions of South Africans who yearn to work.


I thank you.





Madame President of the 73rd Session of UN General Assembly, Ms María Fernanda Espinosa,
Secretary General, Mr António Guterres,
Excellencies Heads of State and Government,
Heads of Delegation,
Ladies and Gentleman,

I have the honour to address this august body, the United Nations General Assembly for the first time as President of the Republic of South Africa.

It is nearly a quarter of a century since the founding father of our democracy, President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela stood at this podium to declare that:

“The millions across our globe who stand expectant at the gates of hope look to this organisation [the United Nations], to bring them peace, to bring them life, to bring them a life worth living.”

As we mark the centenary of the birth of this great global leader, we are bound to ask whether the United Nations has met the needs and the expectations of the millions who stand at the gates of hope.

We are bound to ask what contribution the United Nations has made to a more peaceful, more prosperous and more equal world.

More importantly, we are called upon to ask – as we did yesterday during the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit – what the United Nations and the assembled global leadership must do to secure lasting peace, reconciliation and stability across the globe.

Allow me to express the deep gratitude of the government and the people of South Africa to the international community for convening the Peace Summit to honour the memory of Nelson Mandela and advance his legacy.

We applaud the Political Declaration of the Summit, which recognises the period from 2019 to 2028 as the Nelson Mandela Decade of Peace.

This reflects a new and sincere commitment by the world’s leaders to comprehensively advance peace and security and resolve all conflicts and wars.

To succeed in giving effect to this commitment, the UN must become what billions of people across the world want it to be – a representative and truly democratic global parliament of the people.

Throughout its seven decades, the UN has been a source of hope for the oppressed, exploited and poor.

During the dark days of colonialism and apartheid, we drew strength, inspiration and encouragement from the UN and its Charter in our quest for self-determination.

With the support of the UN, we were able 24 years ago to bring an end to the nightmare of apartheid.

Nelson Mandela led us to freedom and gave us the great opportunity to transform our country.

We have embarked on a journey of transformation, and work is in progress to deal with the ugly legacy of apartheid.

Madiba’s vision continues to guide us as we seek to improve the lives of our people in many respects, through improving the educational outcomes of our youth and transforming an economy that was constituted to serve the interests of a few.

We have started a comprehensive dialogue on the question of land reform, which is guided by our Constitution and the rule of law as we seek ways to ensure that the land is shared among all who work it, as set out in our Freedom Charter.

Even as our country is going through difficult economic challenges we have made progress.

We are reforming our economy and creating an environment that is conducive to investment, and have embarked on an investment drive to attract $100 billion dollars in the next five years.

To the poor, vulnerable, and marginalised, the UN today is a beacon of promise in a landscape of doubt.

To billions across the world, the UN is the most powerful instrument we possess to achieve a more equal, more humane and more inclusive world.

They are men and women with dreams and aspirations that transcend the hardships of the present, who want to contribute to a new global civilization defined by care, justice and solidarity.

They want an end to the greed, ignorance and conceit that is driving the destruction of our only home, the earth.

It is within our hands, as the leaders assembled here today, to forge a more representative, equal and fair United Nations that is empowered and equipped to lead the struggle to end poverty, unemployment and inequality in the world.

We are a young world, where more than half the global population is under the age of 30 years.

This is even more pronounced on our continent, Africa, where two-thirds of its people were not yet born when Nelson Mandela was released from prison.

We are living in the Age of Youth.

This places a responsibility on us, as leaders, not only to put the interests of young people at the centre of our efforts, but also to empower women and young people to be more prominent in directing the course of global affairs.

It is young people who are fighting the wars that we started.

It is women who are bearing the brunt and hardships of the wars that continue to destroy their families and lives.

As we speak, young lives are being lost and futures are being destroyed.

There is an urgency to the measures we must take to end conflict and war.

Not only must we stop the death, destruction and human suffering that is visited daily on millions of people, but we must act with purpose to prevent the loss of another entire generation to its aftermath.

We must accept our shared responsibility – and our shared interest – in ending conflict, and, using the outcomes of the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit, to empower the United Nations to be a more effective instrument for mediation, peace keeping and post-conflict reconstruction.

Our resolve to end ongoing conflicts and our determination to root out terrorism must be matched by action and by the appropriate deployment of resources.

We must act with the same urgency to resolve some of the world’s most protracted and intractable disputes.

The fact that the people of Palestine have endured occupation and suffering for nearly as long as the United Nations has existed, makes their plight no less pressing, nor their suffering any less acceptable.

We must similarly intensify our efforts to secure the right of the people of Western Sahara to self-determination and full national sovereignty.

One of the greatest challenges to the achievement of global prosperity and development is the continued exclusion of millions of women and young people from meaningful economic participation.

It is therefore vital that we deploy every means at our disposal to address youth unemployment and ensure universal access to educational opportunities that are appropriate to the changing world of work.

We need a deliberate programme to ensure that the digital revolution – which carries such great potential for both disruption and empowerment – is effectively harnessed to promote social justice and human progress.

The call to leave no one behind requires that we strengthen the institutions of global governance and make them more responsive to the needs of young people, particularly in the developing world.

Institutions like the United Nations, World Bank, IMF and the WTO need to be reshaped and enhanced so that they may more effectively meet the challenges of the contemporary world and better serve the interests of the poor and marginalised.

Reform of the United Nations, and particularly its Security Council, is a priority if we are to give full effect to the values and principles enshrined in the UN Charter.

We must resist any and all efforts to undermine the multilateral approach to international trade, which is essential to the promotion of stability and predictability in the global economy.

The history of the global economy informs us that no country can prosper at the expense of all others, and that no people can hope to live in comfort and security for as long as millions of others languish in poverty.

It is therefore essential that we take collective responsibility for the development of all nations and for the improvement of the lives of all people.

This responsibility is manifest in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on the financing of development, among others.

Together, they represent our common commitment to tackle poverty, underdevelopment and environmental degradation.

They represent our common commitment to tackle diseases like Aids, tuberculosis, malaria, diabetes and cancer.

Our task as global leaders is to pursue the policies that are required to turn intent into implementation and mobilise the resources needed to turn implementation into impact.

Your Excellencies,

As Africans, we have made significant strides in addressing the challenges that have confronted our continent over many decades.

We continue to vigorously implement our commitments contained in the African Union Agenda 2063, which is our collective plan to rid our continent of underdevelopment, poverty and conflict and improve democratic governance, the rule of law and the promotion of human rights.

We have reached agreement on the establishment of an African Continental Free Trade Area, which will fundamentally transform African economies, giving rise to a new industrial age on the continent.

We are working to silence the guns in Africa by 2020, to bring an end to conflicts that have cost the lives of millions of our people, displaced many more and stunted economic growth and human development.

As the continent with the youngest population in the world, Africa has the potential to be the next great frontier for global growth.

With effective investment in education, improved health care, good governance and greater economic integration, Africa has the potential to develop its productive capacity on a scale and at a rate that will lift tens of millions out of poverty.

The youth of Africa are poised to transform their continent.

As the people of South Africa, we are committed to be part of this transformation.

From the ashes of a system that was described by the UN General Assembly as a crime against humanity, we are building a new democratic nation, united in its diversity.

We are working to correct the injustices of our past and to build a society that is free, inclusive and sustainable.

We are pursuing an economic path that draws on the resources and capabilities of all our people to eradicate poverty, unemployment and inequality.

We are determined through our international relations to be a force for progress and peace and global equality, and will continue to advance the interests of the African continent and the Global South.

Allow me to conclude by once more drawing on the wisdom of Nelson Mandela, when he said: “Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great.”

This is not the generation that will stand expectant at the gates of hope. This is the generation that will change the world. This is their time, and this is their age.

Let their greatness blossom.

I thank you.