Owen Horwood 1980


Owen Pieter Faure Horwood was born at Somerset West, Cape Province, on 6 December 1916 and grew up on a farm near Paarl. He matriculated at the Paarl Boys' High School (Dux, 1935) with distinctions in Mathematics, Science, English and Latin. After reading Commerce at the University of Cape Town, he was awarded the B.Com. degree and a post-graduated diploma in actuarial science. The war interrupted his studies to qualify as an actuary with the Faculty of Actuaries in Scotland.

Having worked as an accountant and secretary for some time in Cape Town, he was appointed Senior Lecturer in Commerce at the University of Cape Town in 1947. In 1954 he was promoted to Associate Professor and two years later he went to Salisbury, Rhodesia, to become the first Head of the Department of Economics at the University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.

In the latter part of 1957, Owen Horwood was appointed Head of the Department of Economics at the University of Natal and Director of the Natal Regional Survey. During this period he published copious­ly, and accepted an invitation to act as Visiting Professor of Economics at Duke University in the United States during 1961-62. In 1965 he became Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Natal. In May 1973 he was elected Chancellor of the University of Durban-Westville.

Early in 1970 he resigned as Principal and Vice-Chancellor and was appointed to the Senate of the South African Parliament.

Prior to his accepting a Cabinet post, he held directorships in a number of leading South African companies and served on some twelve official commissions of inquiry. He was also financial adviser to the Government of Lesotho for six years.

In August 1972 Owen Horwood was appointed Minister of Indian Af­fairs and of Tourism. In May 1974 he was relieved of these portfolios so that he could become Minister of Economic Affairs. Since February 1975 Senator Horwood has occupied the position of Minister of Finance.

In April 1978 Senator Horwood was made Leader of the Senate of the South African Parliament. During March 1980 he received South Africa's highest civilian award, the Decoration for Meritorious Service.

In numerous fields Owen Horwood has made an invaluable con­tribution towards the advancement of Southern Africa. His im­portant contribution in the field of economics arises from his un­shakeable faith in the maintenance of private enterprise and the capitalist system. Together with Abraham Lincoln he believes that the poor cannot be helped by destroying the rich, nor the weak be strengthened by weakening the strong; that prosperity cannot be obtained by discouraging enterprise, and that one cannot help people permanently by doing for them what they could do for themselves.

He has never believed that the International Monetary Fund, the United States or anyone else could demonetise gold. He has always believed firmly that gold as a reserve asset will remain the cornerstone of the international monetary system.

Owen Horwood has designed and implemented a policy of financial discipline in government finances, applied in suc­cessive phases. This unique policy has not only succeeded in safeguarding the Republic from the worst effects of the grave international depression following the oil crisis that began in 1973, but has also converted a very large deficit on the current account of the balance of payments into a record surplus of more than R3 000 million in 1979. During the first phase he ap­plied a restrictive fiscal and monetary policy in order to improve the balance of payments and to reduce inflation caused by ex­cessive spending. Government spending was effectively curtailed, and it is indeed a great achievement that it has been kept vir­tually constant in real terms that is, after allowing for the rate of inflation), for five years in succession.

Phase two of his approach introduced a policy of "growth with financial discipline", while phase three, which was announced last year, placed greater emphasis on economic growth with the maintenance of financial discipline. Senator Horwood described this as a policy of "growth from strength" and it included important new components such as the implementation of an exchange rate policy based upon a managed floating of the rand, divorced from the American dollar, the introduction of the financial rand system, and improvements in the forward exchange market.

His latest budget announcing a policy of "faster growth from greater strength", is a confirmation of Senator Horwood's success as an economist and as Minister of Finance. What is more, his insistence on financial discipline in public finance has not only yielded positive results in Southern Africa, but has also won him international recognition.

The son of a Springbok cricketer, Senator Horwood has always taken a keen interest in all sport, especially cricket. He captained well-known cricket clubs for ten years.

Senator Horwood's outstanding career may well be attributed to his personal creed: "There's never any reason to be bored - provided you put your back into the task at hand, and do it with all your might."

The Council and the Senate of the University of Port Elizabeth count it a privilege to award the degree of Doctor Commercii, honoris causa, to Owen Pieter Faure Horwood.