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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
19 Oct 1994: Myeni, Musa
POM. When I saw you last you were very apprehensive that no elections would occur, that the country was slowly sliding into civil war, especially in Natal/KwaZulu. Now six months later how would you evaluate the state of the nation after six months of a new parliament and government being in existence?
MM. First of all I think we must recall that I said that no elections were going to take place without the IFP on the one hand and the Zulu nation on the other. And you remember it was only on the 19th April that an agreement was reached which then brought in the IFP into the election which took place on the 27th April. So it was just a few days before the election that the IFP decided to participate and I still think that what happened on the 19th April was by divine providence that saved this country because we would have had terrible bloodshed if the Zulu nation in the whole of Natal and the PWV did not participate and I know for a fact that quite a number of groups within our own party had already geared themselves for a long drawn civil war so they were prepared for it.
. Now that elections have come and gone, one must state that the elections were extremely fraudulent, very, very fraudulent, and one must also record that in Soweto alone 159 boxes, all from Inkatha Freedom Party strongholds, disappeared and were never counted, 37 boxes from Vosloorus, the IFP stronghold, were discovered long after the results had been announced. Only 153,000 votes were recorded for the IFP in the PWV area and those came from white suburbs. All boxes, or all ballot papers from black areas were never counted. I saw with my own eyes the fraudulent act of people who were working with computers, working for the IEC. One ballot paper, for instance, where the IFP had got 50 something thousand votes, only 50 was actually recorded on the final paper that went into the computer room. And where the ANC got 20 votes from one particular polling station, in fact what they did, they would then prefix - it was 20,123 and then what they did they would then put a '1' in front of the 20 to read 120 instead of just 20,000. And that was the pattern right through and we did pick that up and now it has come and gone in the interests of peace and national reconciliation we decided not to pursue these matters in court and declare or challenge the outcome of the elections.
. Now we are faced with a situation of administering the country. As I have always stated, there is a vast difference between liberation politics and the politics of administration. Now people have to grapple with the whole art of government. Promises have been made and the question is: can we really deliver in time before people begin to lose confidence in the new government of national unity dominated by the ANC? How much resources do we have to meet these requirements? That is the biggest question and, of course, so far the government of national unity has performed magnificently well beyond anybody's expectations.
POM. You have just been saying that the government of national unity has been a terrific success.
MM. Yes, so far, but of course one should expect and accept that there will be normal democratic conflicts and disputes which are very characteristic of open debate and you will find this in every multi-party democratic system or in bi-party systems, like in your own country, the US, but that must be accepted. In terms of delivering to the electorate, I think it's going to take a little while to restructure our society and integrate various hitherto balkanised departments and ministries of government under the apartheid regime. That will take a little while. Some departments are more advanced in this respect than others, so one has got to appreciate that the wheels of government are going to grind very slowly until, I believe, we achieve what has to be achieved in the next three years. This includes the writing up of the final new constitution and I believe that's where we are going to begin to see very, very heated debate and the ANC wanting to dominate the whole process, being the majority party in government and the other parties probably rejecting this.
. But what pleases me as an IFP person is that the elements of federalism are already in place, provinces are already in place, powers to be enjoyed by these provinces in the constitution as per Schedule 6 of our interim constitution, and I do not think that the ANC will want to move away from that. Those who will be drafting the new constitution will be hard pressed to do anything silly which might negate the present situation because seven out of nine provinces are led by ANC governments and they have tasted power. Those premiers and those Cabinet ministers in those provinces have tasted power. I do not think they will want less powers in the new constitution to be drawn up, in fact they will want more powers.
POM. Is this not a big issue that the central government has not yet devolved specific powers to the provincial governments and this has made it difficult for the provincial governments to enact their programmes?
MM. Yes it is a big issue in that provinces are not able to perform effectively and competently simply because the powers that are provided for in Schedule 6 of the interim constitution of 1993 have not actually been devolved downwards but the reason is simply that those provinces that do not have those powers yet, do not have the administrative capacity as yet, so the first thing you have to do is to develop the administrative capacity of these provinces in order to draw down powers from central government and start exercising those powers.
POM. Which provinces would you specifically point to? Which regions would you specifically point to?
MM. Which do not have those administrative capacities?
MM. I would say mostly the Eastern Transvaal province, there was never a provincial government there; the PWV, there was never a provincial government; the Northern Transvaal. Now what is happening is that in the Eastern Cape which has got the problem of amalgamating two former independent homelands and then coming up with one system. Natal/KwaZulu has a very developed administrative capacity compared to any of the other provinces. KwaZulu was a well administered area. Bophuthatswana had a very, very good administrative capacity. I don't know what the situation is but they have a better administrative capacity than the PWV where I am. The PWV and the other two provinces of the Transvaal, the North and the East, have inherited what used to be one big administration of the whole province of the Transvaal. Now some of the officials who are based in Pretoria used to be in charge of the whole province. So now you have to decide on the assets and liabilities, who takes what, which staff of the former Transvaal Provincial Administration goes to which new province and so forth, both liabilities and assets, and then decide exactly on your capacity. At the moment we are very much advanced as a province, the PWV. We are setting the pace for a number of provinces in many respects. We have now passed our Tender Bill, having started with the Exchequer Bill. Some of the provinces have passed more bills but they have had to withdraw them because they were passed very hastily without taking into cognisance or into consideration a number of legalities. So with the Tender Bill we now know that as a government we can now invite the private sector to submit tenders once the board itself has been established as provided for in this new Act.
POM. Which board is this?
MM. The Tender Board.
POM. It takes bids from?
MM. The Tender Board is a public government institution which invites tenders from companies to provide the public sector with products and services. Say, for instance, in education or social welfare or health, just to supply medicines in hospitals you just don't go to one company and buy that underhand, companies must compete. They must submit their tenders to the Tender Board which is accountable to the Ministry of Finance which is then part of the legislature. So that is the open tender system. In order for us to then perform specific administrative functions you have to have a Tender Board in place. Now we have the Exchequer Bill, now we have put that in place as well and there will be a lot of other things, Commissions responsible for specific functions, and just now we have another Development Facilitation Bill which we are busy with at the moment and receiving public hearings on.
. Now coming and focusing therefore on the whole process I think there are teething problems here and there like the integration of former private armies, the MK, the military wing of the ANC, the Azanian People's Liberation Army of the PAC, into the South African National Defence Force and you are aware of demonstrations by the ANC's military wing and, as you might remember, the Chief of Staff of the South African Defence Force is the former Chief of Staff of the ANC's military wing, Mr Nyanda, and the Minister of Defence is the former Commander of the ANC's military wing, and that is Mr Joe Modise. Now if you take those two people as the two top people in this establishment, besides the other Generals who are highly qualified and you have the ANC's military wing toyi-toying and demonstrating and demanding A, B, C, D, then you must understand that this is embarrassing also to the ANC because these are their own people and the government is an ANC government and the army is in the ANC arms.
POM. How would you rate the performance of Tokyo Sexwale in his first six months? He had made a promise that 150,000 houses would be built within a year and there is no way that that can achieved.
MM. First of all, as a person Tokyo Sexwale is a fine human being and I like him very nicely. I understand statements he makes as a politician, he is no different from many ANC politicians of perhaps making media statements before one is actually confident and absolutely sure of what is going to happen, but I think that question can be best asked by Tokyo Sexwale himself, what he thinks. But he has answered this question in the Legislature many times by simply saying that whether we achieve 150,000 this year or not, but that is the annual target. Somebody must have a target and he based it on the fact that we have 50% of the homeless in the PWV and there is a backlog of housing of 300,000 a year and therefore he came to the 150 figure by simply saying 50% of that 300,000 should be built in the PWV.
POM. There seems to be a rift between the provincial governments wanting their devolved powers, wanting the powers they want, or they need, or they think they need, to do the job and not getting them from the central government.
MM. You will have to appreciate that some of the ministers at national level strongly believe in a centralised form of government and some of them come from the Marxist school of thought and therefore the devolution of powers, or too much power in their terms, to provinces will probably reduce their influence on the ground and therefore they will tend to resist attempts by provinces to demand more powers to be devolved downwards and one can probably surmise and say that these ministries are hoping that things will be delayed until a final constitution is in place and then new elections are held and probably a more centralised form of government is established if the new constitution thus provides. The conflict is expected because this is power and those at central level want more powers, those at provincial level want more powers, and the IFP is smiling at this because we are saying, well ANC people, you are quarrelling about power but you said power to the people. Where are the people? The people are not at central level. The people are at provincial level, so if you really mean it, give powers to the provinces so that provinces who are in daily interaction processes with people can exercise with those powers. But if you give Joe Slovo powers up in Pretoria as one person with a huge administration in Pretoria, he cannot effectively involve everybody throughout the country, whereas if he delegates these powers to ministries responsible for housing in every province, people will interact more meaningfully and it is therefore a participatory democracy as we wanted, we in the IFP.
POM. Now there's been a phrase I've heard here a number of times since coming, that has been 'the gravy train', that all the politicians are on a gravy train and are already enriching themselves at the expense of the population.
MM. Let me put it this way. First of all politics is unfair because whether you are a professor or an ex-professor or you have a string of degrees or the other guy has Standard 2 or has got Standard 7 or 8, as long as you are all members of parliament you are paid exactly the same, which is a great disincentive for people to learn because some people will say, what is the use of spending many years studying when in fact I am going to be paid exactly the same as a former university professor if we are both in parliament? That is one point. The second point flowing from that is that for people with Standard 2 and those people who do not have high tertiary education maybe R16,000 is a lot of money for them. People who come in from the bush, maybe this is a lot of money for them. People who have never worked before, maybe this is a lot of money for them. But people, like myself, who are ex company directors, this is nothing, absolutely nothing, particularly when you bear in mind that that R16,000 for members of parliament includes car allowance, includes your entertainment, then 43% of that is taken by government in tax.
POM. It's R16,000, one six?
MM. Sixteen thousand gross.
POM. That an MP - ?
MM. R16,000 gross, OK. Then 43% of that is deducted in tax, then you take home something like ten comma something, or in fact then you still have to pay pension fund, medical aid, you take home just under R10,000 and they call that a gravy train. It will be better if it was a meat train because then you would have real meat not just gravy. Furthermore, the other point I would like to make, if you really want to attract good brainy people you have to be prepared to pay for them. If you compare R16,000 to what senior managers are being paid in companies then you begin to understand that managers in companies are normally paid, let's say senior managers, are paid R20,000/R25,000 plus company car, plus other fringe benefits. We have no fringe benefits. Nothing. It's just a straightforward salary.
POM. Do you get no medical coverage?
MM. No, you pay for it. You pay for your medical cover and the government may contribute a small percentage but you pay, that's right. I don't have it because I have five children and I have to pay over R1000 and I said it's too expensive, and I can't afford it.
POM. I know you're in a hurry so I would like to just ask you two more questions and then we can get together again later on because I'm here for at least two months. One is the rift between the King and Chief Buthelezi.
MM. What is the rift?
POM. There is a rift between the two of them. How serious is that rift and what consequences does it have for the Zulu nation as a whole and for the IFP as a political party?
MM. First of all let me start, the IFP is not affected really. The IFP is a political party led by Chief Buthelezi. He started it irrespective and independently of the King and the King is a King today because of Chief Buthelezi's efforts. His, shall we way Uncle, the senior Prince who ruled as a Regent when the King was young, did not want to give up the throne. It was Chief Buthelezi who fought for the young King to get his throne back and it is Chief Buthelezi's efforts that led to the construction of about five palaces of the King for his five wives and the King has acquired a lot of wealth in the process because of salaries that he has been receiving, maintaining the royal families over the years, and it was through Chief Buthelezi's efforts. There is no human being in his right mind who can doubt what Chief Buthelezi has done for the Zulu monarchy. But recently we are aware that the King has been duped somehow. The IFP nearly did not participate in the elections because the IFP demanded that the King's role in the future South Africa must be clearly defined in the constitution. There were demands that were made on behalf of the monarchy. Chief Buthelezi did not participate in the constitutional negotiations of CODESA because the King was prevented by the ANC to have representatives in those negotiations and Chief Buthelezi then said, "I'm not going to be party to those negotiations if my King is not represented." So you can understand the commitment and dedication of Dr Buthelezi to the monarchy. Furthermore, Chief Buthelezi, through the KwaZulu government came up with a law which put all tribal land under the control of His Majesty the King and it was called Ingoyama Trust which was, after the elections, disputed by the ANC, etc., but that has been put to rest. It was Chief Buthelezi therefore who defended and protected the land of the Zulus and he said the only person we can entrust this land with is the King himself. OK?
. Therefore, because the ANC has been very smart in realising that the best thing to do is to separate, split the King and Chief Buthelezi, so that the King will forget the demands he made before the elections. This is what they have done. The King is no longer interested in the monarchical demands, he is no longer saying a thing about that. But now the Zulu nation is saying if the King wants to go to the ANC, let him go to the ANC, we are not going with him. He in the end will be the loser, definitely. Today he can't move freely amongst his own people. Over the years he was moving freely amongst his own people. He now fears his own subjects. We also know how much he has been given by the ANC. We know. He confessed, he himself confessed. But we love him. He is our King, but we are differentiating between a monarch and a monarchy. A kingdom is something that will always be there. One King will be born and will take over. He will die and another one will come. So he is just one King in a line of Kings. But the kingdom is what we will defend, yes.
POM. The other one is on the RDP.
MM. Let me answer that one. There is nothing new with the RDP.
POM. People don't seem to understand what it is.
MM. What we have been doing, for instance, the KwaZulu government, what it has been doing over the years with a limited budget and what other government and various departments have been doing, developing people, providing training, what NGOs have been doing over the years, what the ANC did, they took all these projects and they came up with one concept and called it Reconstruction and Development Programme. But when you look at exactly what they are talking about, it is what we have been doing over the years when they were in jail and when they were in exile. So it's nothing new. But what is new is that a large sum of money is put in the hands of Jay Naidoo, Minister Without Portfolio, and we do not know how this money is going to really reach the people on the ground, whether it will or will not. And what is new is the steamrolling of almost every donation or everybody into making a contribution towards the RDP budget. But what I personally think will be more critical will be the application of those funds and the actual physical development that will take place, whether it will take place or not. The money is there but we are not quite sure how it is being utilised. There are officers who are responsible in each and every province for that particular purpose and we hear that people must start projects and the RDP project will then help them along the way so the RDP is not going to initiate projects. There is still a lot to be done.
POM. If I went into a typical rural village or even into an urban area in KwaZulu/Natal or any other place and I said to somebody, picked at random, and said, "What is the RDP?", would they have any idea what it is?
MM. They won't have an idea.
POM. They would just look at you and say, "Is that a new suck of thumb?"
MM. Which is true. They do not know. It's just one of those educated concepts which sound very nice but how you implement it is the next question. OK. I apologise.
POM. Not at all. We can meet again, I hope, and pick it up from here some other morning or whenever.
MM. You have my new number?
POM. How would you rate Mandela's performance?
MM. Very well. I think he has done a sterling job for South Africa here and abroad and he has kept all these warring parties together and the problem is after him what will happen. I don't see any guy who can emulate him.
Continuation of interview later on
POM. Is this a public hearing?
MM. That's right. This is the committee on what is called Urban and Rural Planning and Development, Land Reform and Environment Sub-Committee. And then we have this so-called Development Facilitation Act so today we are doing public education so there are people there, we are explaining what the bill is all about and then Saturday and Sunday we will be receiving public opinions on the bill and on Sunday we have to compile the reports. On Monday nine 9 o'clock put it in the pigeon holes of every Standing Committee member. Three o'clock we meet, we discuss the report; eight o'clock on Tuesday we submit it to the Secretary of the Legislature because according to the rules, 48 hours before - then we discuss it in the Legislature on Thursday. On Friday it must be in Cape Town in parliament because that's when it is going to be read. So we just haven't got the time. It was published on the 7th of this month and then that left us with three weeks of doing public education, discussions, public opinions, everything.
POM. Do you find that members of the committees understand the rules or is there a great deal of confusion about?
MM. We are dealing with very clever people.
POM. They are all very clever people?
MM. Very clever.
POM. That's dangerous.
MM. This is the Speaker's job to mastermind the rules, to remind members that in terms of rule so-and-so this may not be allowed. Other members must just familiarise themselves with the rules and obey those rules that are very, very procedural. The rest, all the nitty-gritty, we leave that to the Speaker. It his job. He is paid for that.
PAT. The Speaker sets out the rules for the PWV, the Provincial Assembly, and Kevin did an annotated analysis of them when they were in the formation and sent them back.
MM. Oh really?
PAT. And then we took his memorandum and sent it to all the other Speakers at provincial level and said if they wanted him to come out (that's why he's doing this trip) and do a mini workshop on rules, on committee structure, etc., so that's what he's been doing.
MM. But did you see our final text?
PAT. I received it but I haven't looked at it. Upstairs I've got six copies of different rules. Everybody wants me to look at their rules.
MM. They are fairly standard I think. We've got a lot of people. We've got some Canadians, Germans, French, not Swiss, Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, part of the Rules Committee as well.
PAT. It's interesting. All these speakers really want to talk about is they have the same problems, it's very universal.
MM. But I think our guy here, Trevor Fowler, is one of the best speakers around. If you are around, I would say you must visit us on Thursday, just sit there as an observer, monitor, then give a critic afterwards.
PAT. What time is your session on Thursday? It might be possible.
PAT. Oh I think we're in Bisho.
MM. The lousiest place. Those guys don't know whether they are coming or going.
POM. What happened to the Brigadier?
MM. He's on the farm, confined to one farm there.
POM. Confined to one farm?
POM. He's under investigation now for dealing in uncut diamonds?
MM. Well I don't know. I heard about that. That's his problem.
POM. I know you have to run. Thanks for coming by. I'll be in touch with you again in a couple of weeks to just continue on.
MM. You're welcome.
POM. As always.
MM. Take care. And where are you hiding in South Africa?
PAT. Braamfontein. We have an office.
MM. So now you are stationed here in charge of Southern Africa?
PAT. Yes. We have an office on Jorrisen Street, Braamfontein.
MM. So you have to sort out the mess in Mozambique?
PAT. I think we've got to get out of there while we're still whole. We did a great programme in Mozambique.
MM. But those guys had to emulate our example, because really I think after these conflicts all you need is a government of national unity because a winner takes all situation after this - Who does he listen to?
PAT. Yes, listen to Mandela. Mandela makes the same point. Yes, who does he listen to?
MM. I mean Chissano has been in power now for a few years, he should know better. I can understand he was from the bush, he was in power also in the bush but he might want everything, the people must prevail on him and say, "You have to decide." Look at Savimbi today. If he had accepted the results he would be living a normal life and his people and the country would be being reconstructed and developing but he is still in the bush. So you have to choose between these two situations. Do I want to live this kind of life for the rest of my life? Particularly what I think is important is your people. These guys are well looked after even in the bush. Savimbi and others don't starve, but what about their people?
PAT. Are these IFP members?
MM. No, we're talking Unita.
PAT. Oh, Angola.
MM. Don't you worry. I've been to Argentina I don't know how many times and how amazingly ignorant some people are. You know you say to somebody, "I'm from South Africa." "Oh yes? You know I have a friend of mine who lives in Accra, do you know him?" "No, do you know how far it is?" And you say South Africa, they say "What country?" They don't know South Africa is a country. "Oh it's a country. Which one? What is the capital? Which country are you talking about?" But why is it so?
PAT. Well Americans have an inflated idea that everything floats around them.
MM. But I wish they could intervene in Nigeria. They are intervening in Kuwait and Iraq and in ... they did a good job there, but that country is the most populous in Africa and yet undemocratic. The guy who won the election is now lingering in jail. Abiola is in jail and you can't get him out. What about sanctions? You are not dependent on their oil.
PAT. No, we're not.
MM. Just embargo and put the Generals under pressure.
PAT. Foreign policy, national security.
MM. You see now you are winning in Korea, North Korea.
PAT. Oh we're winning.
MM. I think that that guy - but you guys, you do mess up things. You are awful. But you are helpful in many instances, but you are awful too. You see, Carter, ex-President Carter, Jimmy Carter, I think he is playing an excellent role for the Democratic Party government. I think he is doing very well.
PAT. I was surprised that the US government didn't put him on that mediation team that came out here. Was it Kissinger who came?
PAT. I was surprised that he wasn't on that.
MM. Maybe it was good. In retrospect I think it was. Had it not been for Washington Okumu from Kenya I don't know where we would be today.
PAT. Did he and the Chief Minister have a history to their relationship?
MM. Not a long one, but they had known each other and he is a Christian and Buthelezi being a devout Christian the approach was right and he managed to speak sense to all parties. It was tense. You remember?
PAT. Oh yes, definitely.
MM. OK, have a good time.
PAT. Thank you very much, Musa.