19 JANUARY 2002, Page 26

Resilient rainbow nation

From Mr Adam R. Fleming Sir: Andrew Kenny's recent article about South Africa ('Black people aren't animals', 29 December) made depressing reading. But it was ever thus. Since coming to the country

in 1991 I have found it interesting to observe the tide of gloom from the press. The lowest point was listening to the wails of a BBC commentator before the election of Nelson Mandela: 'I'm standing here in Soweto, in a country on the brink of revolution.'

He was right. The transformation of the country since has been truly revolutionary. Despite a continued depression in South Africa's main commodity markets, economic empowerment has taken off. The once empty roads of Johannesburg are now gridlocked with traffic, each street corner bustles with previously forbidden hawkers, and brand-new townships sprout with electricity cables that previously graced only white suburban developments.

As an employer of more than 50,000 goldminers, we have daily interaction with labour in one of the world's toughest industries. Thanks to a strong mining union with an understanding of capitalism that Aslef would do well to embrace, we have been able to survive the worst depression in goldmining this century. Through that rationalisation process, we have emerged the stronger: with the weak rand we are now re-employing many of those made redundant, as our costs have fallen to some of the lowest in the world. much of this courtesy of our workforce and their union. No one can deny many of the points Mr Kenny makes. Part of government's lot is to shoulder criticism, and no doubt the Mbeki regime has some things to answer for. But if helping to produce a peaceful revolution and running a conservative economic policy is any measure of performance, they have scored highly and deserve our support. As the process of economic empowerment continues apace, I believe people will see increasingly the other side of the coin: a country of outstanding beauty, an infrastructure that leaves many European countries standing, and, above all, a people of great drive and resilience whose fortitude in tough times is a lesson to us all.

Adam R. Fleming

Chairman. Harmony Goldmining Co., London SW1