7 December 2018 (Sandton)
Minister in the Presidency, Ms Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma,
Deputy Prime Minister of Lesotho, Mr Monyane Moleleki,
Distinguished guests from across our continent,
Ladies and gentlemen
I am honoured and humbled to be standing here this evening. It is not very often that you get the opportunity to be in the midst of so many successful entrepreneurs under one roof. It is a privilege, indeed!
We are here to honour outstanding achievers and role models in the business sector. We are here to say well done to the movers and shakers in the world of business. As we pay tribute to the recipients of the Global Business Confederation Awards, we do so content that the dream of building an inclusive economy that benefits all is within reach.
We are here to celebrate these hard-working men and women who consciously chose to take the initiative and take their destinies into their own hands. Through hard work and perseverance, they have contributed to an improved quality of life for humanity. We are here to celebrate excellence and initiative.
One of the most striking things about South Africans that continues to confound critic and admirer alike, continues to be our incredible capacity to rise everyday to defeat despair and steadfastly refuse to be passive participants in the process of rebuilding our country.
The stars, whose achievements we are celebrating tonight, could have chosen to wallow in self-pity given the immensity and enormity of the obstacles that lie on the way of every dream. Instead, they chose to pull themselves up to create a better life for themselves and their fellow citizens.
This is the story of resilience, patience and confidence!
Their resilience and achievements, despite formidable odds, are captured in a song by our own Lira (written by Labi Siffre), Something inside so strong! This beautiful song could be referring to the ugly legacy of apartheid when it
The higher you build your barriers, the taller I become, The farther you take my rights away, the faster I will run, The more you refuse to hear my voice, the louder I will sing,
I know that I can make it.
When they insist we're just good not enough,
When we know better,
Just look them in the eyes and say:
“I'm gonna do it anyway. I'm gonna do it anyway!”
Because there's something inside so strong
And I know that I can make it!”
What sets the stars of tonight apart from the rest of us is that they have embraced the spirit of “I know I can make it”. This is the sprit that drives entrepreneurs across the world. True entrepreneurs do not adopt a defeatist posture in the face of daunting challenges. True entrepreneurs are not quitters. They remain resolute and determined for they know that obstacles in the way of progress are never insurmountable. Whatever they do, their inner voices keep telling them: “I know I can make it!”
Indeed, to the many entrepreneurs who succeeded despite the policies of our ugly past heavily stacked against them and designed to squeeze them out of economic activity, we wish to salute you. To all of you and the stars we are celebrating tonight, we join you in your chorus: “We’re going do it anyway! Because there is something inside us that is so strong!”
The story of the early NAFCOC generation is a perfect reminder that the higher you build your barriers the taller I become. The further you take my rights away, the faster I will run! They can deny your place in time, they can squander the wealth that is yours, but each time, you will rise like a phoenix and claim your rightful place. Because inside you, there is something so strong! – and that is your capacity to succeed against odds!
The competence, merit and excellence personified by the recipients of tonight’s awards communicates a message that hard work and innovation pays! Their success is the most practical and visible response to the clarion call our government is making for all of us to play their part in the ongoing reconstruction and development of our country.
In the true spirit of vukúzenzele, the entrepreneurs we are recognizing tonight did not ask: “What will our government do for us?” Instead, they turned the question around and posed this question to themselves: “What can we do to create a better life for ourselves and our fellow patriots?” So tonight, we are gathered here to say “thank you” to them for responding to this question in the most direct and practical manner.
Our freedom and democracy has liberated South Africans to make a complete and decisive break with our ugly past. 1994 gave our people a passport to take control of their lives and responsibility for their destiny. The heroes and heroines we are recognizing tonight are the embodiment of vukuzenzele. They have refused to be passive spectators in the ongoing reconstruction and development of our country. Instead, they consciously chose to dirty their hands, and not pontificate from the pulpit; to contribute rather to complain or criticize from the sidelines; to make mistakes and rise up again in the course of creating a better life for themselves and their fellow citizens.
Indeed, we are here today to reward and acknowledge excellence. By putting their collective shoulder to the wheel, they have contributed immensely towards improving the lives of our people for the better. I am confident that together, we will succeed to turn the tide against poverty,
unemployment and inequality. When the National Development Plan reminds us that 90% of the new jobs will come from small businesses, we look up to the stars of tonight to ensure that this vision become a reality.
Indeed, government alone cannot overcome the challenges of poverty eradication and job creation.
Programme Director, ladies and gentlemen, we have come a long way since 1994. Acting together, we have made decisive advances and our goal of building a South Africa that truly belongs to all is now firmly within reach. We continue to register good progress in our effort to broaden access to a better life for all.
We are succeeding in positioning our economy on a growth trajectory that will allow us to respond more appropriately to our developmental needs. We have recorded many a milestones along this long and difficult journey. We were only able to achieve this impressive record of success because of the commitment of ordinary men and women of our country, some of whom we are honouring tonight. Yes, more still needs to be done.
We are proud of the achievers of today and are moved by their dedication and resilience.
Congratulations and well done to the stars of tonight!
I thank you