NOTES FOR DEPUTY PRESIDENT ZUMA LUNCHEON WITH AUSTRALIAN BUSINESS LEADERS

The Hon Dr. Meredith Burgmann,
The Hon Michael Egan, Dame Leonie Kramer,
Mr Charles Jamieson,
Mr Ian Porter
Ministers Pahad and Balfour
High Commissioner Magugu
Mr Bruce Cutler
Mr Keith Steel
All Dignitaries present
Friends, Ladies & Gentlemen

One of the greatest achievements of our new government is arguably the peaceful ushering in and maintenance of democracy and democratic principles in South Africa.

We have come a long way since then and believe we are winning the battle to assure any sceptics that we are equal to the task of rebuilding and transforming our society and, most importantly, to assure all our stakeholders that the future of business in South Africa is a secure one.

The greatest challenge we face now is ensuring that all democracy is real to and works for all South Africans. We believe that the best way to ensure that all our people are beneficiaries of the fruits of democracy this is through their economic empowerment and upliftment. Our foremost mission is to ensure that all South Africans are able to afford the basic human needs at the very least.

We are fortunate in that we share this view with the majority of South Africans, particularly the business sector. This has led to the formation of strong, deliberate, strategic partnerships between major business organisations and government. This is due to a common understanding among all parties that the social ills of our country cannot be ignored any longer. We believe that it is essential for us to work together to ensure that the peace and stability that exists in South Africa is maintained.

For our part as government we are confident that we have created a business friendly environment and have gone so far as to review existing labour legalisation and its potential impact on investment and job creation. The pupose of this exercise has been to improve labour market efficiency, promote small business and ensure that our legislative framework promotes job creation.

The Investment Upgrade by Standard & Poors is testimony to the progress we continue to make in this regard, being the third upgrade by an influential US rating agency. It is also testimony to the fact that our tough Fiscal & Monetary policies over the last few years are paying dividends.

Indeed we have satisfied all the requirements for Foreign Direct Investment to take place. Our infrastructure and financial system is of world class standards. We are fast getting ready to participate meaningfully in the global economy.

Entrenching and maintaining democracy is obviously not an end in itself. It brings with it the challenge of ensuring that all South Africans have an equal chance of making it and taking advantage of the opportunities that are offered by our new system. That they all have a roof over their heads, and food in their stomachs.

We strongly believe that the best way to ensure this, in the long term, is to grow our economy to sufficient levels to meet the needs of all South Africans.

The partnerships that we have developed over the last six years and that we continue to develop are therefore an important tool to ensure this. South Africa has managed to turn things around so that we now see increasing numbers of investors coming in to do business in our country.

Through co-operation initiatives such as the Business Council, Presidential Working Groups such as the Business, Agriculture and Labour working groups, to name but a few, we have formed a forum where issues affecting the running of our country, in general, are brought to the table and discussed openly. This forum is chaired by both the President and myself, as Deputy President.

There are many other initiatives that South Africans, as individuals, as companies big and small or as community organisations, have undertaken amongst themselves, because of an understanding that every South Africa has a role to play in the general transformation of our society.

We commend the Australian Southern African Business Council for Playing a meaningful and positive role to South African business entering the Australian market and for promoting bilateral Trade.

We would welcome the formation of a similar structure in South Africa to:

To provide a trade service to South Africans doing business with Australia.
To offer assistance to Australians wishing to enter the South African Market.
We welcome also the meeting of the Joint Ministerial Commission that is taking place on the 24th October in South Africa, which will place emphasis on trade & investment between our two countries. I am certain that business on both sides will take full advantage of this development.

We believe that South Africa provides a good opportunity for entry into markets in neighbouring countries. As a member of the Southern African Development Countries (SADC). South Africa serves as a gateway into a big part of the African continent.

Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to talk briefly about a critical element of our transformation process. The privatisation of state assets is an issue that we regard as very important to enhance our prospects. We in South Africa have taken the approach of taking on strategic partners to buy stakes in our State Owned Assets.

In this way we free up resources for other national projects while maintaining a stake in our national assets and ensuring that all South Africans benefit from them. These partnerships are making an important contribution in terms of increased competitiveness of these assets.

Ladies and Gentlemen, We believe that South Africa has never been better placed to attract foreign direct investment. We know also that Australians doing business in our country will find that the reality of doing business there fare surpasses the perceptions that are perpetuated by negative elements

Thank you

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