Mandela: Backbone of business

2013-12-08 14:01

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SA thrived after the release of Nelson Mandela. He was a magnet for capital. Mamello Masote speaks to business leaders about Madiba’s influence

Nelson Mandela turned South Africa from pariah state to the world’s darling, and in doing so, he brought the country into the global economy.

He encouraged investment and was well known for cold-calling businessmen and asking them to invest in infrastructure and schools.

Under his leadership, various economic policies were introduced: the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), to provide basic needs such as housing to black people, the Growth, Employment and Redistribution (GEAR) policy - to liberalise the economy through privatisation and encourage foreign investment as well as Black Economic Empowerment (BEE), to redistribute assets and opportunities to previously disadvantaged groups. He brought foreign investors to the country and oversaw the economy’s revival from the laager into the world economy.

Mandela was revered by many, including business leaders, and here are some of their reactions after hearing of the news on Friday:

MTN Group CEO Sifiso Dabengwa

“Even after 27 years of prison and hardship, only one thing counted for Madiba, as Mandela was affectionately called by his clan name: Creating a democratic, prosperous future for all the people of the new South Africa. This combination of humanity and unique statesmanship made his true greatness manifest for the entire world,” said Dabengwa.

“He never lost his compassion, humility and common humanity. He’s an inspiration to us all. He taught us to love ourselves, to love one another and to love our country. So, as we celebrate his selfless efforts on behalf of human dignity, it also represents an enduring challenge for us all.”

Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko

“The only way for us to pay adequate tribute to Mr Mandela is through our thoughts and our actions. We should reflect on his achievements, attained despite the circumstances of his life. We must remember his values, his sense of dignity and his respect for every human being. And we must all act in a manner that continues the tradition of demonstrating humanity towards others, of reaching out to those who are most in need, and of committing ourselves to be of service to the people. In this way, we will ensure that Mr Mandela’s memory lives on.”

Transnet CEO Brian Molefe

“We have lost a great leader and humanitarian who inspired us and gave hope to millions. He was more than an iconic figure or a poster on a wall. He personified the spirit of forgiveness, love and compassion – rare attributes in any age of our collective histories.”

Molefe urged South Africans to honour Mandela’s memory by ensuring that his good deeds live on, embodied in all our actions.

“That is the best we can do. We must continue to celebrate his life.”

Anglo American Director Khanyisile Kweyama

Khanyisile Kweyama, executive director in South Africa for Anglo American, said Mandela would be remembered for his determination to achieve equality for all our citizens, the conviction he displayed throughout his life, and his dedication to uplifting society’s most vulnerable.

“As the largest mining company in South Africa, Anglo American will constantly strive to emulate his achievements by committing wholeheartedly to making a real difference in the prosperity and sustainability of our citizens.”

“[Mandela’s] visionary, inclusive and even-handed leadership were truly the building blocks on which our thriving democracy was built, and the political sacrifices he made during his lifetime continue to benefit everyone in our country.”

FirstRand CEO Sizwe Nxasana

“Nelson Mandela was a unique person, and a role model for every leader in the world, particularly his humility, his grace, his strength and his love for his people,” said Nxasana.

“While I am sad he has left us, his great legacy lives on. What is important now is that we celebrate his life and the impact he had on this great nation. We will miss him, but we will always remember him.”


The JSE stopped trading for five minutes at 11am on Friday to pay respect to the fallen statesman.

“Nelson Mandela’s global statesmanship made him one of the most revered leaders the world has known,” said JSE CEO Nicky Newton-King (pictured).

“His attention to all he met, combined with his ability to listen and to understand those on the other side, were just a few of the reasons that so many people in the world today have been influenced by Nelson Mandela, including some who were his former adversaries.”

Chairman Humphrey Borkum recalled reaction to Mandela when he visited the JSE trading floor.

“There weren’t many occasions that trading activity would simply halt on the JSE’s old open-outcry floor, but Nelson Mandela’s visits always had this effect.

“I was privileged to meet with Mr Mandela on several occasions, both when the exchange was in downtown Johannesburg and later when it moved to Sandown. In each case he would take the

time to greet and share a moment with every person he encountered.”

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies

Davies said Mandela’s death brought back memories of his 1998 address to the 50th anniversary of the then General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, a predecessor of the current World Trade Organisation.

Mandela stated that no number of rules should be forced on people if there was no justice and he spoke of the need for an outcome in multilateral trade negotiations that would allow the poorest people in the world to benefit from international trade.

“We think those messages remain absolutely relevant even today, as they underpin what we are trying to do here in Bali: to craft outcomes which will take forward the work programme that supports development and the interests of the poorest countries in the world and the poorest people in those countries,” said Davies.

Davies also said South Africans should use Mandela’s death to recommit themselves to the values and practices he stood for.

Shoprite Group CEO Whitey Basson

“The world has lost an iconic statesman and a courageous leader,” said Basson.

“He, with modesty and humanity, devoted his life to changing and shaping our country for the best. Let us continue his long walk and climb every great hill with his devotion and acceptance of the responsibilities freedom brings.

“Although filled with sadness, we are grateful for what he did for us all.”

»?Not all companies showed tribute to Nelson Mandela in a statement, as some used their online platforms to pay their respects. The Apple iStore had this famous quote, which Mandela borrowed from Marianne Williamson,?blazoned across their website: “There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

Woolworths and Pick n Pay also had messages saying goodbye to the famous statesman

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