About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

21 Aug 1991: Mayekiso, Moses

Click here for more information on the Interviewee

Click here for Overview of the year

POM. Moses, I have a question arising out of the situation in the Soviet Union today where Gerrit Viljoen yesterday asked the ANC where it stood on the coup, suggesting in some way that the ANC might be sympathetic with it but the ANC hasn't yet responded. What would your position on the coup be?

MM. Well I think I cannot respond on behalf of the ANC, the ANC would have to respond, but as a trade unionist I believe that if whatever action is in the interests of the people, if the people of the Soviet Union felt that Gorbachev was not leading them in the right direction, therefore we cannot judge them and say that then because this is our interest or that is our interest, therefore you are right. Then it seems that the coup is being supported in many areas except in Russia and therefore we would like to be guided by the masses in the Soviet Union, then if that is in the interests of the masses, if that's what the masses want to get rid of Gorbachev, therefore we will say then we support them but if it's against the masses, it's just a clique, then we wouldn't be in favour. Whatever we can support is something that has to benefit the people generally.

POM. You are saying that in areas outside of Russia that the masses of the people are supporting ...?

MM. No, there are contradictions that we see in the media here. It seems in Russia not to affect other states than the masses marching expressing opposition to the coup, but in other areas there is no significant protesting taking place, because if then the masses are pro the coup that will mean then that Gorbachev was not mandated, he was moving alone without the support of the people. Then if there is a massive move against the coup that will mean now that leadership has not consulted the people.

PAT. How do you see that outside the constitutional framework of the Soviet Union? How do you see the transfer of power taking place outside the constitutional framework?

MM. Well it's difficult to say, it depends on the conditions in the countries. It's not the first coup, there have been many coups and there will be many coups in future.

POM. Will the SACP be issuing it's own statement in regard to the coup?

MM. Well we have not discussed that and I don't know if the office has worked out anything but I would say at the present moment there is no resolution, no decision towards that.

POM. I want to go back to something pretty basic and that is to the nature of the problem in SA, the nature of the problem that negotiators will be asked to try and resolve when they sit around the negotiating table. There are a number of different points of view. You have those who say the problem is racial, that it's about the oppression of the black majority by the white minority, and you have those who say it's really a conflict between two forms of nationalism, black nationalism and white nationalism, and those who say yes there is racial oppression of the blacks by whites but within the racial groups there are significant ethnic differences and these must be taken into account in a future dispensation, and you have those who say the real problem here is access to resources, the mal-distribution in the distribution of resources between the haves and the have-nots. In your view what is the essence of the problem that negotiators will sit down to try and resolve?

MM. Well I think there are other questions that would come from the premise that in SA there are class divisions, class divisions that are hidden behind race, behind apartheid, but all in all the capitalist class that is in power in this country is using apartheid, is using race, has used race and apartheid to exploit, to oppress and to repress people. That apartheid was putting the black people in a very desperate position which has created a gap, you see that gap in land, the Land Act that deprived people of their land, the Land Act that has authorised the minority to buy, I would say, 87% of the land whilst the majority, which is about 80% of the population, is occupying 13% and have no rights to own even that 13%. [There then has been this link between -] Then in the factories pure exploitation, pure racism, the labour laws, the gap that they have created between the two races, white and black, in dividing people. There is that inter-relationship but all in all it's the class oppression, class war that is raging.

. The negotiators, therefore, have to that war, then they have created this landlessness, homelessness, health crisis, transport crisis and poverty, in many areas famine, and then the negotiators have to answer those problems. We say that there should be two tier negotiations; the negotiations where the politicians are negotiating the transfer of power. When we talk of the transfer of power we are talking of people being able to be empowered, to be able to control their day-to-day lives. For example the trade unions have negotiated new LRA and they have to continue negotiating the new labour law for the future. It should be the trade union bosses and the government, all of the people who are concerned in that area, then that would be part of the empowering of people, part of transferring power to them and the restructuring of the National Manpower Commission, the labour laws. If we talk of housing, the civics' housing developments, the local government, then the civics have to be heard at the negotiations together with trade unions and political parties that are concerned about changing to non-racialism in this country. Then the restructuring act that has produced the black local authorities that has introduced racism in local government, so it would be a project for those organisations.

. Let's talk about electricity supply. There is an Act that is controlling the energy and the Energy Council that is now a forum that is negotiating and is controlled by the civics, negotiating transport again, the trade unions and the civics backed by the political parties. Then if we do that, are able to consult everybody, and then move towards that national body, that the main negotiating party then would be advised by this forum on how to change, how to non-racialise, how to restructure and even restructuring the economy.

POM. This is something I would like to have you elaborate on a little more, something you talked about the last time. One line of thought is that negotiators get to the table and what they negotiate are the rules for an interim government and for a Constituent Assembly and the CA draws up the constitution, the constitution is put to the country and the political parties campaign and a government is elected and then that government, on the basis of the pledges it made during the campaign, carries out its mandate. There is the other group who say not only must you have negotiations on the process of constitutional change going on, you must have a parallel process going on that would be negotiations about the nature of the economic structures themselves and that agreement must be reached on the nature of these structures and on the broad principles for redistribution before a new government is elected.

MM. What we are saying is that these things must go parallel and there should be like the LRA, there are negotiations already to restructure the National Manpower Commission, etc., all that. Also then we have continued, we have started already, we have met the Minister of Transport where we said there should be a forum that is negotiating the new transport policy in this country. We have also met the government on this local government and development housing. We said that there should be a new housing policy and there is going to be a forum, a summit, around that and the restructuring of the economy that is happening already; that process of the restructuring of the industries and the restructuring of the economy would be more about that. Both these things have to go parallel with the national negotiations.

POM. There would in fact be almost two sets of agreements. One would be on the nature of the economic restructuring and the other would be on the nature of the constitutional settlement. They would both have to be endorsed simultaneously.

. Over the last year there has been a new creeping tendency, or there was an increasing tendency in the west, Europe, America, to characterise the violence in the Transvaal as tribal violence between Xhosa and Zulu. Do you find that a misleading characterisation?

MM. That is a misleading characterisation because they know clearly that the violence is perpetrated by Inkatha, Inkatha perpetrating that violence even amongst the Zulus in Natal, let alone the Zulus in Transvaal, and it's not a Zulu/Xhosa war, it's not black on black violence because it's not even only Inkatha. Inkatha has white members and Inkatha has police backing, white police, white army, and Inkatha has been financed by the government of the country through the KwaZulu government, through Trust Bank, and therefore it's not just as simplistic as that because we have seen the government, the structural violence starting from the National Party government in coalition with the KwaZulu government, the warlords, the police, etc., etc., to fight against the progressive organisations like the ANC, like COSATU. I will say it's ideological war, a war against the people because it is the people who are being killed, the massacre in the trains, that general massacre conducted by whites and blacks, the white police, and the massacre in the streets, the townships; there is no distinction made. Then it's just terrorism, sustained terrorism.

POM. What's the purpose of the violence?

MM. The purpose is to neutralise the people, neutralise democracy, neutralise the ANC, that the government should negotiate with a weak ANC, with a weak COSATU, with a weak South African Communist Party and trying to elevate the other forces as national forces like Gatsha Buthelezi, elevating him to the status of Mandela, [or Inkatha of the ANC] and that is the propaganda, and also some old things in Africa where you found that the colonisers when they see that they are about to lose power they resort to violence to destabilise the country, destabilise the economy, destabilise everything. That has happened in Mozambique, that has happened in Angola, that nearly happened in Zimbabwe.

POM. Do you see what you would call the alliance between Inkatha and the government as being a capitalist alliance, that these are the forces that support capitalism?

MM. We believe that the CIA is involved, CIA involved in it and therefore it's more broader than people can think, more broader than Inkatha, more broader than this government, more broader than it's a campaign to really keep the status quo that there should be, that there's just political change in this country, not economic change, so that the balances of forces, the balances of power, don't have to be altered. Then those balances of forces, balances of power, we're talking of the economy now, the restructuring of the economy, etc., etc., and as we would believe that the government orchestration of it started way before the unbanning of the organisations, the political organisations and leaders, then that was the aim, release them, unban their organisations and you stick to a (plan).

POM. When you say, "We believe that the CIA is involved", is that the trade union movement, the ANC or the SACP?

MM. The progressive movement in this country believes that and the trade unions.

POM. So this would be a commonly held perception?

MM. Yes, the CIA in the past - the CIA is involved.

POM. This leads to the accusations made repeatedly during the past year by Mr Mandela that the government has a double agenda, the olive branch of negotiations on the one hand and the violence orchestrated on the other. You obviously believe that.

MM. Yes, and that double agenda was planned before they embarked on negotiations.

POM. Do you see revelations about government funding of Inkatha, would that constitute the final irrefutable proof that the government has been involved in the organisation of violence, in financing violence, perhaps in carrying out the violence itself?

MM. That's the irrefutable proof. We have been saying that long ago, for a long time.

POM. You were saying that last time.

MM. And no-one was prepared to believe us and now here is the proof that is beyond doubt and we believe that there is still more to be revealed, still more. We hope that the newspapers and some organisations are still going to dig more because it has shown clearly that the government has been behind Inkatha, behind the violence, directly and indirectly.

POM. Just to get on one thing, I want to distinguish between ...

MM. And the bosses also have been involved, that has been revealed.

POM. The bosses being?


POM. They've been involved too in the violence?

MM. In financing and also in the violence itself, supporting ...

POM. I haven't heard that allegation.

MM. Oh yes. Take ISCOR, you find that they accommodated in the hostel that is called KwaMadala then they allowed non-ISCOR workers to stay there and they are operating from that hostel. All the violence in the Vaal is from that hostel.

POM. This would be a parastatal rather than - this would be part of a government-owned, financed, industry as distinct from private employers? You're saying private employers are involved in this?

MM. Are involved. It's not only ISCOR, there are some others but I'm making ISCOR as an example of employers being involved. There are some who have given money to Inkatha but they say that we are entitled to support the party that we want to, but they knew clearly that they were supporting violence in supporting Inkatha. Inkatha has clearly aligned itself with the - and vigilantes and they are Inkatha members, people who have maimed communities.

POM. I want to make a distinction between De Klerk, the government and the security apparatus.

MM. I can't.

POM. You can't. So you would say they are one and the same and that De Klerk himself ...?

MM. They are one and the same, you can't separate them. The army is controlled by the government. There is a Minister of Defence who is under the State President then definitely he must be reporting to the State President on major issues and the law and order, the Minister of Police. That's why we are saying that they are deeply involved and the revelations that they were deeply involved and we believe that the government must have known that this was happening but it can't say so today.

POM. He can't say so.

MM. He cannot.

POM. Where does this put De Klerk in the whole thing of moving towards a new SA, one man one vote? What kind of strategy do you think the NP or the government is embarked on? What are they trying to do? What's the aim here?

MM. Well what they want is to negotiate not to lose power, to negotiate a sort of Muzorewa-type in Zimbabwe transfer of power where the white community is still in power but there is a black base in front. They don't want sincerely to transfer power to the majority of the people and to introduce proper democracy. They wouldn't want to lose economic power too so the aim therefore is to reject, that's why they are rejecting the sort of interim government that is envisaged by the ANC. They are bitterly opposed to the Constituent Assembly. They put themselves as a player and referee, which is not acceptable, because they don't want to change, they want the status quo to remain, that's their aim.

POM. I'll go back to some of those things in a moment but I'd like to stick for a moment with the NP saying they don't want a transfer of power. Now a number of surveys have been carried out which show that a majority of the people in SA, including a majority of supporters of the ANC, would accept a kind of a coalition government between the ANC and the NP with the ANC being the senior partner in the alliance as an acceptable outcome. Would you find that an acceptable outcome? Would the SACP find it an acceptable outcome? Would the trade union movement find it an acceptable outcome if at the end of the day what was proposed was in fact that there would be power sharing, with most power going to or seeming to go to the ...?

MM. Well the coalition, we are for a coalition government. Yes we can be for it if then at the voting system then we become equal with some political organisations. Then we can say that there is no outright majority therefore let's form a coalition government. We believe that then there should be, an interim government, there should be an open vote where people have to vote for a Constituent Assembly and after that there should be an open vote where people vote for their leaders, for the government, the constitution. If the NP wins, fine, if the ANC wins that's fine and if the SACP wins it must be fine. A coalition for what?

POM. Let's assume that the ANC fell short of a majority.

MM. Yes, then the condition would be forcing that there would be a coalition. You can't run away from it.

POM. Even in those circumstances would you ...?

MM. In those circumstances, yes, you have to accept that there is now maybe equality of votes when you are voting for the new government if there is no-one who is claiming an outright majority therefore there should be a coalition government. That is the proper democratic way.

POM. What I'm getting at is many people who we've talked to say what will happen is that during this process of negotiations an understanding will be reached that for a period of time after the new constitution is in force that the ANC and the NP, and perhaps other parties, will form a government of national unity for maybe five years or ten years so that some of these enormous social changes and economic changes that have to be addressed can be addressed.

MM. No, no, no, we cannot accept that, that's not acceptable. Why didn't we do that in Zimbabwe? Why didn't we do that in Namibia? Why should we do it in SA? There should be an interim government and the nature of that interim government will depend on what is negotiated. It may be that coalition, it may be whatever because in a situation where there is no constitution an interim administration that may be a coalition. Yes, we may not reject that outright. But once a constitution is set up it should be one person one vote and the party that wins therefore has to control the country just like the NP won and then it has been controlling everybody, in some areas without the mandate, there are some sectors of society. If then out of that voting system where people are wanting a new Cabinet, a new government, and there is no outright winner, it's then that you can consider a coalition.

POM. Let's say the ANC won and they decided that the best man for the job of Minister for Finance was Barend du Plessis?

MM. Oh yes, then it will be that party deciding who should have which department. That's what's happening now but it will be the ANC that is the government and again it can choose from the community the best people to head the ministries. That would not be a coalition government if Mandela is the person tomorrow then he goes to Du Plessis as a person who is capable and says, "OK lead this department".

POM. But you wouldn't find it inimical to the interests of the working class that a man who is so closely identified with capitalism would now be in a new SA the Minister for Finance?

MM. Well that was not a socialist government. We have to accept that, that that will be a government, a nationalist government not a socialist government. That way you would have a mixture of people. We have not taken over power, then the whole thing is negotiated with a national approach.

POM. I am sorry, I'm missing something here.

MM. The whole arrangement would be a nationalist arrangement, just like the NP government, it's a nationalist arrangement so it's not a socialist arrangement so therefore there is no way that you can say we don't want Du Plessis if the ruling party says to Du Plessis, "Take this position", because capitalism will still be there, it will still be the free enterprise system. You can't say we are rejecting him because of his capitalist approach. It will still be a capitalist system, free enterprise system.

POM. So where does that leave you? You want a socialist system.

MM. At the beginning, these negotiations are not negotiating socialism. It's negotiating the government's the ANC believes in mixed economy, it doesn't say that it's going to change the country into a socialist country.

POM. No, but what you're saying is that, if I get it correctly, while the constitutional negotiations are going on there must also be major negotiations on future economic structures that would involve mechanisms, modalities for transferring resources from the haves to the have-nots?

MM. Yes. You can't negotiate socialism. You can negotiate the best arrangements that can take up the needs of the people, the aspirations. No capitalist will agree to transferring economic arrangements into a communist arrangement so it will be a process of a revolution on the ground that is going to introduce new systems and then it could be then the balances of power allow the negotiations to usher in certain forms of socialism. But at this moment I wouldn't say that when we get to the new government, no, then we would be in a position to say we don't want Du Plessis, we don't want that one, we don't want that one.

POM. You won't be in a position to say that?

MM. We won't be, we haven't taken over. We have to accept that we haven't taken over power then it's going to be a long process, a long process, painful process.

POM. So could you as a member of the SACP really find yourself in opposition to a post-independent ANC government that would be more capitalist oriented than you would like?

MM. Well the SACP would then be an independent party, if the ANC is pushing for just position then it will get the support but if it's totally against socialist interest then it will get opposition and the SACP may even play as an opposition. It may be in coalition with the ANC and it may act conditions will tell. It's difficult to say now because we don't know. When the ANC takes over we will be in a position, as you say, to say we don't want to be seen there using the boat, coming closer to the socialist set-up.

POM. But it could move the opposite way too?

MM. It could move the opposite way where then it will now convince them, some organisations, that they must be in opposition. Then it could move to the left and then the left organisations, the left would be a coalition and would push more and more for changes.

POM. Last year I asked you what was the difference between the SACP and the ANC and you said in part that the SACP was the party of the working classes. Wouldn't the ANC say that it's the movement of the working classes?

MM. The ANC is a multi-class organisation.

POM. Multi-class?

MM. You can find people like [] in the ANC but it is more biased to the poor at the present moment. It is not solely the party or the organisation that we can say then surely it's socialist.

POM. The ANC in the light of the Inkathagate revelations has taken a position on an interim government that the present government must resign and then all parties could form an interim government in which they would all share power together in some way. Do you believe that this government will resign, that it will vote itself and its state and its apparatus out of existence?

MM. I don't believe it will. Then it has to be pushed to that stage, pushed by the international world. That's why we are still calling for sanctions and isolation of the South African regime more and more. They will be pushed by the struggle on the ground, that's why we're saying mass mobilisation, mass struggle must continue because we have not yet got what we want.

POM. Is there any way that some kind of alternative form of an interim government could be advanced but one that would still leave this government as the government, that De Klerk would still be State President, that his government would still be the ruling government even though there would be responsibility sharing and there would be members of the ANC, perhaps, in charge of some ministries or having joint control of ministries?

MM. We can't allow the ANC to run apartheid so if we choose some people to run some ministries, under whom? Under De Klerk? Then under the present racist government, that won't be acceptable to be there. What we want is a purely interim structure that is going to have the support of the people, where people are going to know that there is neutrality, that it's a structure that's going to be able to be controlling the army in a neutral way, controlling the police, etc., etc., and the administration generally. If now then we just take ministries, the Ministry of Agriculture, what's going to change?

POM. That would be co-option in fact.

MM. It's co-option in the true sense of it and we would never agree to that position where we are co-opted.

POM. So this issue of an interim government seems to be like a line has been drawn in the sand. The government must resign, period.

MM. Yes.

POM. Before really negotiations can go forward.

MM. And then it can negotiate through its party, the NP. The NP, the ANC and the parties that negotiate that interim structure.

POM. So in the event of the government refusing to do so then one would expect a new campaign of mass mobilisation?

MM. Then the struggle continues. Yes.

POM. There are eleven working groups going on. One of the things that fascinates me about the process is that you can have on the one hand all these angry exchanges between the government and the liberation movements, accusation and counter-accusation, and on the other hand you have working groups, groups of members of the ANC who meet with civil servants or members of the government and try to thrash out agreements.

MM. Yes, that's why we say that the (talks) must run parallel because you may not get the interim arrangement through just negotiating as we are negotiating now. You may get that through tackling all these areas like the National Manpower Commission, the LRA, the housing policy, the electricity policy, transport policy and all these. Then you find just from the ground negotiations to restructure the whole thing and it may end up at the end of the day putting us in a position to say, where the government says, "Oh we are prodded through these negotiations, with these forums, through these working groups", and that it was of no use to continue rejecting the interim government. Anyway, the agreements are interim already. Let's say in the local government we in the civics want to put together all the civics, trade unions and the political parties to negotiate and discuss the future of local government and the government was there, the NP, the government must be there in that, in the restructuring of the whole thing. Then if the government doesn't accept, take this, then mass struggle, etc., etc. Then that's how we are going to force now this unbending government. Like this conference, the Peace Accord that was signed between the government, Inkatha and the ANC now, it's a giant step towards the interim structure if you look at how the police are going to be controlled, the army, by these committees.

POM. But the final responsibility for security still lies with the government.

MM. Yes but what I am saying is that it's a step, that if then the government is genuine about the peace then the army and the police, really there's genuine control with committees, then that could be a step towards it. Then if in all angles you find that giant step forward without us controlling the army, because how can you control the police today? If you can't control the police, it will be difficult as the Minister of Police whilst the Generals on the ground are ...

POM. That's what I'm getting at is the issue that you want this government to go out of existence because of black legitimacy or is the issue that you want to find a way where all parties share in the administration of the government?

MM. The interim government.

POM. Of the interim government? Is that absolutely necessary, what you're saying; is it absolutely necessary that the government resign? That's what I hear you saying.

MM. What I am saying is that if the government, whilst we are negotiating we have to face the whole issue on the ground while the government is there but not dropping their call. But there could be this; at the end of the day the government would see that we have a genuine cause, yes, we have lost the ground. The call for an interim would never be equal to any other negotiations. What I am saying, it's happening within the trade unions that we are making new laws etc., etc., there are many negotiations that are happening. Those negotiations may corrode the stand of the NP party at the end of the day where the NP say, "No, we should accept the interim." Anyway we have given instructions, what's the use of continuing resisting therefore when we get to that stage. It's going to be a long battle this fighting for this and that which is going to be approached in different ways, fighting for this interim government. That's why I don't believe that during the course of this year the talks may start, the actual negotiations will start.

POM. On Inkathagate again for a minute, who were the main political winners, who were the main losers? In particular what has it done to the standing and stature of Gatsha Buthelezi?

MM. Well we wouldn't like to talk about Gatsha and what we can talk of as a person is the government which has power to stop violence. The government instead of stopping that violence has fomented, has put petrol on the many fires of violence, financing violence, financing Gatsha, financing the KwaZulu government, financing vigilantes and even supporting them directly. So therefore the government has been an active number one partner in violence, the structural violence, state terrorism. It has been a loser in political terms because everybody was seeing De Klerk as a man of integrity, seeing the NP as a changing party, so the whole scandal has shown that the NP is still the jackal it is now they have tried to put their sheepskin on it, De Klerk trying to put the sheepskin. And then this opened the eyes of the world but the world is not that crazy. So the ANC has come out strengthened from the scandal because that's what the ANC has to say, "The trade unions, the party, we have come out strengthened because we have shown, we have proof that what we have been saying that the government is involved in destabilising in the violence directly, that the government is not genuine, it is not sincere in really genuinely negotiating as equal partners." It does not want that, it wants to negotiate with a weakened ANC.

POM. And Buthelezi? Where does it leave him?

MM. Buthelezi is an instrument. He's just like other instruments of violence. He's one of the agents of the government. He's a homeland leader. He's a homeland leader, he's the leader of the vigilantes, Inkatha vigilantes and they're just like other vigilantes. He's just like other homeland leaders.

POM. Where do you think that will leave him at the negotiating table? Will he be sitting alongside Viljoen?

MM. It's difficult to say now where he will be sitting but what he was saying is that the structures that he is controlling as part of the government, he is part of the government, part of De Klerk, he has to be on the side of the government as one of their homeland leaders that has chosen to be locked into De Klerk's structures. There are some homelands that have changed and are on the side of the progressive organisations, the democratic movement. They will be on the side of the people. So we see the table as two sided, the side of the people and the side of the government.

POM. And on the side of the government you will have Inkatha and all the other homelands?

MM. The homelands that are still wanting to be in that camp. Those who want to come on the side of the people they will be accommodated. I don't see Gatsha really moving away from (where he is) and he has shown that he is committed to violence.

POM. If one goes back to, say, 1967 and you look at the history of Africa and you see that with one or two exceptions there haven't been any cases where countries or governments in an election transferring power to a new, different government, they've either become one party states or the government enjoys such a monopoly of power that that it keeps re-electing itself. What do you think will make SA different?

MM. Traditionally this country is different. You find that those African countries that you are talking about they came to power without any organs of people's power from the ground, practical organs of people's power, which are the organs which are going to make sure that power is transferred to the people. When we say the transfer of power, we don't say the transfer of power to political organisations, we say transfer of power to the people where people on the ground at grassroots will be able to say that we are controlling the country, we are controlling SA and you have trade unions that have civics in the factories. We have civic organisations that have constituencies in the townships, political organisations that have branches on the ground, regions, and those are the structures that have to give mandates to the leadership, top leadership. Those are structures that have to be accountable, we have to make the organisations accountable, make the elected leaders accountable on the ground, giving them mandates, power to represent and what then? SA won't allow that. Those structures were built out of all these struggles and they have that tradition of a democratic approach to all these, report backs. So it's going to be a bit different here and there's no trade union movement in Africa, there's no strong civic movement like here in all those African states.

POM. Do you see local government structures as being a key part of new political structures?

MM. They will be, yes, they will be. That's why there should be now people on the ground involved in the negotiations on the ground, again running parallel with the national negotiations to changing, non-racialising the present racial local government, creating a fiscal base, a tax base that is going to benefit everybody regardless of colour, creed and forming up new local governments, non-racial local governments. The civics will remain independent of political parties or local governments and they will act as watch-dogs of such structures that when they are carrying the mandate given to them to closing the gap that is created by apartheid exploitation and also developing people to a new viable society.

POM. Last year you said that the major threat to the process came from the right. Would that still be your assessment?

MM. It's still there. The Ventersdorp incident.

POM. How do you view that? How do you view Ventersdorp?

MM. Well they are a threat. They can destabilise. I don't think they will ever come to power but they can create lots of problems. I think De Klerk is supported by the army and the police and they think that he is not selling out the white power.

POM. Would you think that most of the police, the white police, are supporters of the Conservative Party?

MM. I would say so far they are supporting the NP. If they were supporting those right wingers then there would have been a coup already because that's what they are gearing for.

POM. That's what they're?

MM. The right wingers, they would like to see a coup.

POM. Do you think if tomorrow morning De Klerk said, "OK, I'll go for an interim government and we are going to vote ourselves out of power", do you think that could precipitate a coup?

MM. That may change white minds, that may, because they would feel that now we are losing power.

POM. Well they would be. If De Klerk came to you and said, "Moses, I'd really like to do this but I assure you that if I go in there tomorrow morning and pull my Cabinet and my parliament together "?

MM. We don't care whether there is a coup or not but then the democratic process has to happen, then he must give in, he must give in to the interim government. If the whites then stage a coup that's their democratic right to stage a coup. Then we can't say OK let's feel for De Klerk, let's feel as if we're in his shoes, then there will be a coup if he does even that. It's none of our business if the whites are fighting each other in this country then it's none of our business that battle. We have to demand what is rightfully ours.

POM. So it's a democratic right to have a coup? It seems an odd democratic right.

MM. That's their decision.

POM. It would be the decision of the army.

MM. But it's their decision if they say they must have a coup. It's a coup against another white government. It has got nothing to do with us and our struggle continues whether the coup is there or not. It has nothing to do with us.

POM. A number of studies now show that if you look at unionised black labour and white labour, generally white labour, that on balance there's about a 15% difference between a black worker in a union in a particular occupation is paid and what a white worker in the same occupation is paid. That gap has been narrowing over the years and is now at about 15%. Some economists say that the real problem now is not race so much as black unions gain more ground and more membership but is one of the employed versus the unemployed, that you have members of unions getting better off as a result of wage negotiations and part of the trade-off of that is that black unemployment increases as employers substitute capital for more expensive labour so that what you have are really two classes of black people now; those who are becoming a lot better off because they are working and members of trade unions, and those who have nothing.

MM. Yes there is that situation but then it's not a situation of the trade unions. The trade unions are fighting against unemployment because of the economy in this country and then the trade unions have to still negotiate for better conditions for their members. But the trade unions of SA are different from any trade unions in the world because they also are saying that this structure, this economy, must be restructured so that it can create jobs for the people. We can't say now there is no fight for jobs. There is fight for jobs, there is fight that people must not be retrenched and more jobs must be created, that there's massive unemployment. I would say that's true like in the auto industry; in NUMSA, they're getting big wages, more than maybe people in the motor industry. There are differences also in the industries depending on the strength of trade union negotiators. I don't know what your point was?

POM. My point is that in most economies as labour becomes more expensive employers either employ fewer people, lay off people and substitute capital for labour because capital becomes relatively cheaper.

MM. You can't really eat your cake and still have it. We have to accept that people join the unions for better benefits and not that then there should be unemployment. The employers are pushed by profit motives wherever they invest and, yes, they are threatened by labour and if they think they can get best profits by using new machinery, automation, then they will go for that. If they think they can get more profit by paying more they will go for that.

POM. But that in part is determined by the level of wages.

MM. Not wages, profits.

POM. Higher wages mean lower profits.

MM. In SA I don't think the black workers are getting high wages such as that that they are contributing to unemployment in this country and they are contributing to decisions, economic decisions. The workers here are the worst paid in the world. American workers, British workers, German workers, what are we talking about? So therefore in this country that is still not in question. What is controlling them is the soft motive approach where then, OK, we must cut off the labour not because they are getting more money but just because we want to be more profitable. We want to introduce a machine to be profitable, produce more quickly, etc., etc.

PAT. Are you saying that organised workers are the worst paid in the world or the whole body of the labour market is the worst paid?

MM. The whole body.

PAT. Of the employed labour market is the worst paid in the world?

MM. The workers in SA.

PAT. Employed and unemployed?

MM. When you talk of the labour in Britain you include everything. The people who are working in SA, they are spending their money to helping even those who are unemployed. They share their salaries with their brothers, with their sisters and caring for the unemployed in the family because there are no unemployment insurance benefits that can keep people alive. You find that you get that for just six months and after six months you don't get anything, whilst in other countries they are getting as well as your unemployment you get that, especially in Europe.

POM. As a matter of interest, there have been some suggestions that De Klerk more or less allows the violence to happen because it shows him to take action against right wingers; it shows the police acting against white people who threaten violence just as they would act against black people. It took some of the spotlight off Inkathagate, away from him and made him again refurbished his image in the international community.

MM. Well I can't answer that because there have been lots of incidents, right wingers provoking the government and provoking black people so there have been many incidents. So to isolate that incident I wouldn't be talking, saying the truth, because the right wingers have been trying to there have been also squabbles where Pik Botha was going to address them and they stopped the meeting. What I am saying is that it may have happened like that, that also it could happen that the right wing have been trying to disrupt black meetings and/or ministers meetings and there has been violence between the police and the AWB in some areas.

POM. Two quick last ones. What's happened to the PAC? You talked of them last year as being a potential major actor at some point in this whole thing.

MM. In the locations.

POM. Or in the future?

MM. I don't know what's going to happen. They sometimes are interested in negotiations at times and then they say, "No, we are not". It's difficult.

POM. In terms of having a constituency out there?

MM. Well their constituency is not yet significant. They are still I can't say OK here is their constituency, it's a big constituency. It's difficult to say.

POM. When we met you last year the violence was at one of its highest levels. When you look at last August what do you point to as measures of progress? What have become new obstacles? What do you point to as measures of progress in the form of moving towards a democratic, non-racial, SA and have new obstacles come in the way of moving towards that?

MM. Let me say that there is progress. What we've been saying is that something is done but it is not enough. We say that the Harare Declaration demands are not met. There has been violence even there. So we are still in the same situation and the violence has escalated and now the demands in the Harare Declaration still stand and there is a new demand now that the government must quit for an interim government before we can negotiate.

POM. And any new obstacles that have come to the fore?

MM. Yes, the violence and scandal, Inkathagate scandal. Violence is the problem and the financing of violence by the state. You can't negotiate while people are being mowed down by the state.

POM. Do you think that the National Peace Agreement that's been negotiated ...?

MM. We don't think it's going to help much.

POM. You don't?

MM. But then it will lay down parameters and we can say, OK, people, you are not following the Accord. That's the advantage, that we have a document that we can use.

POM. It won't stop the actual killing or won't have much impact.

MM. We'll still have the killings.

PAT. I have one question. It has to do with the role of the civic associations and trade unions and you were making the point that they were operating with government. My question has to do with the development of communism and socialism where it seems that what you're saying about the role of trade unions and civic organisations and the on the ground structures for decision making and negotiations is the opposite of what is understood of conventional communist structures which are very centralised and needed to be centralised and they would deliver the product essentially without offering [] for independent organisations, trade unions, civic organisations. So I am having a little bit of a hard time trying to figure out what task as a leader of the Communist Party you are pursuing, which of these is your role? A civic leader, a trade union leader or Communist Party leader? What is the Communist Party's role in this? What is it?

MM. We believe that that command of centralised structures cannot work here. We think that the mistakes that the Soviets did were to neutralise the powers of the Soviets. Therefore the civic structures which we refer to as organs of people's power will act as those Soviets and the trade union shop steward councils and the people on the ground and therefore it should be socialism based on mass democracy, democracy from the ground, not democracy from the top. The tradition here has been that the leadership must be accountable, organisations must be accountable. You talk of mass democracy; it must be socialism based on democracy not on commandism.

POM. Thank you very much.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to theThis resource is hosted by the site.