Address by Executive Deputy President
Thabo Mbeki, to Corporate Council on Africa's "Attracting
Capital to Africa" Summit, 19-22 April 1997; Chantilly
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is not given to every generation that it should
be present during and participate in the act of creation.
I believe that ours is privileged to occupy such historic
Five years ago, many in this room would not have agreed
that the people of Africa would have found it within
themselves to end the system of apartheid peacefully,
to queue one after the other, black and white mixed
together, for hours on end, under the African sun, to
decide on a government of their choice.
Many would have thought it insane that the thought
would occur to these Africans, both black and white,
that they should initiate and sustain a multiplicity
of efforts to create a new South Africa, based on forgiveness,
national reconciliation, non-racialism and national
Indeed, the very notion of victory over white minority
domination, resulting in the black oppressed majority
participating in deciding the destiny of all the people
of South Africa, was a thing which even the so-called
experts on Africa seriously doubted.
All this has happened. Even I stand here today as a
product of that process. The world has termed these
extraordinary processes, an unprecedented miracle.
As Africans, we are moved that the world concedes that
miracles of this order can come out of Africa, an Africa
which in the eyes of the same world is home to an unending
spiral of anarchy and chaos, at whose unknown end is
a dark pith of an utter, a complete and unfathomable
Out of this same Africa, a new star of hope has risen
over that part of it, which is described as Angola.
Only a few days ago, parties that had fought against
each other for decades, as deadly enemies, came together
to form a Government of Unity and National Reconciliation,
to serve the greater good of the millions of Angolans
who have been victim to the pestilence's of war, including
disablement, displacement, degradation and death.
Those who know what Angola was and what Angola is,
will agree with us that this is a new African miracle.
We are privileged to be witness to a gripping and epoch
making contest which assumes many forms and involves
many and all layers among the people of Zaire, to give
a new birth to their country.
As Africans, we have a vision, a hope, a prayer about
what will come in the end. We see a new Zaire, perhaps
with a new name, a Zaire which shall be democratic,
peaceful, prosperous, a defender of human rights, an
exemplar of what the new Africa should be, occupying
the geographic space that it does, at the heart of our
Much is now written about Zaire. Daily events assume
proportions of permanence. The confounding ebbs and
flows of social conflict are seen as defining moments.
And yet, as Africans, we would like to believe that
we know that, at the end, what all of us will see, thanks
to the wisdom of the people of Zaire themselves, is
not the heart of darkness, but the light of a new African
Once more, out of Africa, out of these towns which
have joined the vocabulary of places that are part of
our common knowledge, Goma, Kisangani, Lubumbashi and
Kinshasa, a new miracle slouches towards its birth.
But still, outside of our continent, the perception
persist that Africa remains as of old, torn by interminable
conflict, unable to solve its problems, condemned to
Those who have eyes to see, let them see. The African
Renaissance is upon us. As we peer through the looking
glass darkly, this may not be obvious. But it is upon
What we have been talking about is the establishment
of genuine and stable democracies in Africa, in which
the systems of governance will flourish because they
derive their authority and legitimacy from the will
of the people.
The point must be made that the new political order
owes its existence to the African experience of many
decades which teaches us, as Africans, that what we
tried did not work, that the one-party states and the
military governments will not work.
The way forward must be informed by what is, after
all, common to all African traditions, that the people
Since 1990, more that 25 sub-Saharan countries have
held democratic elections. This is what we mean when
we talk of a process on our continent, perhaps seen
through the looking glass darkly, which affirms an indigenous
and sustained movement towards the elimination of the
failed systems and violet conflicts which have served
to define the continent in a particular way in the eyes
of many in the world, including this country.
There exists within our continent a generation which
has been victim to all the things which created this
negative past. This generation remains African and carries
with it an historic pride which compels it to seek a
place for Africans equal to all the other peoples of
our common universe.
It knows and is resolved that, to attain that objective,
it must resist all tyranny, oppose all attempts to deny
liberty by resort to demagogy, repulse the temptation
to describe African life as the ability to live on charity,
engage the fight to secure the emancipation of the African
woman, and reassert the fundamental concept that we
are our own liberators from oppression, from underdevelopment
and poverty, from the perpetuation of an experience
from slavery, to colonisation, to apartheid, to dependence
It is this generation whose sense of rage guarantees
Africa's advance towards its renaissance.
This is an Africa which is already confronting the
enormous challenge of uprooting corruption in African
life. The insistence on such notions as transparency
and accountability addresses, in part, this vexed question.
On this, as on other questions on which the continent
succeeded, however difficult they may have seemed, we
are convinced that victory is certain.
The difficult period from which our continent is emerging,
imposed on Africa an enormous brain drain. Many among
our best prepared intellectuals left to seek better
lives in countries such as the United States.
As Africa achieves its rebirth, so will these, who
have better possibilities to create something new in
the continent of their origin, be encouraged and attracted
to return to the challenging and satisfying life of
the reconstruction and development of a motherland revisited.
The world investor community has understandably asked
that as Africans we must establish the conditions to
enable them to take rational business decisions to make
long term investments in Africa.
We are saying that many African countries, as you heard
yesterday and will have heard today, are doing precisely
that. And we are arguing that what we are witnessing
is a sustained process of historic importance.
This Summit, held under the aegis of the Corporate
Council on Africa affords us an opportunity critically
to examine one of the key pillars necessary for the
success of the African Renaissance - the economic regeneration
of the continent.
In addition to the social and political issues we have
already addressed, Sub-Saharan Africa and the rest of
the continent have also embarked on a process of economic
reform, which is necessary and vital, if the continent
is to succeed in attracting a growing slice of foreign
We want to move beyond the current situation where
Africa accounts for a small portion of all foreign capital
flows to the emerging markets. Already the success of
recent reforms is apparent in the sub-region's accelerating
GDP growth, which has reached an average of 4% in 1995
compared to 1.4% in 1991-1994.
This is still way below what we would like to see.
Given the challenge we have to address, none of us should
be satisfied with an average growth rate of less than
10 percent for the continent as a whole.
It is clear to all of us that we cannot achieve this
sustained rate of development unless Africa succeeds
to attract the necessary international private sector
capital and directs such domestic capital as it can
generate to productive uses.
With regard to economic reform, there are many issues
which are of common concern, including the liberalisation
of trade, the reform of financial, commodity and other
markets, the functioning of multilateral institutions,
development assistance and resource transfers from the
developed to the developing world.
We are interested that these matters be discussed in
a atmosphere which recognises the legitimate interests
of the poor.
In this context, we also recognise the importance of
our own, African business sector, which has a critical
role in continuing the African Renaissance into the
21st Century, capable of both acting on its own and
in partnership with international investors.
For instance, the exploitation of the continent's huge
mineral resources, which is currently one of the most
important growth sectors of the African economies, can
no longer be the preserve of companies from outside
of our continent.
But our message to our fellow delegates at this conference
who come from outside of Africa, is that the moment
has come when you should suspend your disbelief.
Africa has and is readying itself for growth and development,
fuelled by her own efforts and the profitable and safe
injection of international private capital.
From good conference and the warm interaction we always
manage to have among ourselves as human beings, let
us do what we have to do together to achieve the sustained
development of Africa.
As all other peoples, ours demand a better life. This
requires of our governments, the private sector and
non-governmental organisations that they continue to
work ceaselessly towards meeting people's basic needs
in jobs, welfare, education, health, the alleviation
of poverty and so on.
Reforms that seek to undermine the continent's medium
and longer term ability to discharge its responsibility
to its peoples in these areas on a sustained basis will
lead to frustration and renewed social turmoil.
We are encouraged by and welcome the steps taken by
members of the US Congress to sponsor the "Trade
and Investment Initiative for Sub-Saharan Africa"
legislation that seeks to create a more coherent trade
and investment policy between the US and Africa.
The convening of this Summit has afforded all of us
the possibility to interact with the leaders of this
country to ensure that the subsequent legislation both
meets the concerns which inspire his legislation and
responds to African aspirations.
We are certain that this process will bear mutually
As we meet here today, the African continent is hard
at work striving to convince the world that it is time
that, for the first time, the Olympics are held on our
continent. The Bid by the City of Cape Town for the
Olympics in 2004 is, in reality, an African bid.
Apart from the fact that Cape Town can in fact successfully
host the 2004 Olympics, we believe that the time has
come for the rest of the world to demonstrate its commitment
to the African Renaissance by awarding the Games in
the year 2004 to the African Continent.
Africa's time has come.
We should no longer allow the situation where the world
records growth and development and Africa communicates
a message of regression and further underdevelopment.
The new century must be an African century.
As it begins, the Olympic Games must be hosted by the
Africa needs your support to carry through the difficult
and complex task of achieving her renaissance.
Africa awaits your arrival at the southernmost point
of our continent to celebrate the prowess and excellence
of athletic achievement which belongs, not least, to
Africa's own youth.