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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
08 Nov 1994: Fismer, Chris
POM. Let me start maybe with an obvious kind of question. It's been several months now since the elections were held, provincial governments are in place, the Cabinet is in place, government is functioning, what have been the changes on the political landscape since the April elections?
CF. There are the obvious visible changes of new faces and we are still going through changes of all sorts virtually every day. We're still in the process of appointment of senior officials or reaffirming the appointment of people that had held positions. There are programmes of affirmative action in place, so one sees visible changes and new faces still every day. There are some changes in methodology, or the way that government functions and operates. In many instances the government has picked up on the way things have been done in the past but there are also changes being brought about in that, that's as far as the executive is concerned. I would say the executive stick very closely to procedures that have been followed by the previous government, Cabinet committees, how they function, how the system of Cabinet memorandums and minutes and so on work. The changes in parliament have been more visible. There it's a complete new culture, a complete new ball game and also very different ways of how things are being done.
POM. How are decisions reached in Cabinet? You know their decisions are made by consensus but in practical terms how are they made?
CF. Cabinet functions through basically three sub-committees and any minister or deputy minister takes something (Cabinet committees consist of ministers and deputy Ministers), you take an issue or a subject to a Cabinet sub-committee or a Cabinet committee through a memorandum that is distributed to all members of that committee before the time. A specific procedure has to be followed how that's being done. It's then on the agenda and it's being discussed and debated in the committee. The committee reach a decision. I sit on two of two of the three Cabinet committees. On all of those Cabinet committees that meet weekly we never up till now had a vote and we have debated all issues and there were some heavy issues in front of us. We debated them and came to some sort of agreement, consensus. Usually it's an agreement flowing from a meeting. Sometimes it's a kind of a political compromise where the different participants compromise on what the decision should be but that's the exception, the rule is just plain consensus being formulated from the whole meeting.
POM. Could you talk about how that worked in the case of the setting up of the Commission on Truth and Reconciliation?
CF. Yes. May I just complete that process of Cabinet decision making? The minutes then are noted from the three sub-committees, it's presented to Cabinet and Cabinet usually just take note and give a final approval on the minutes of the sub-committees.
. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, or the bill which is now under a whole new name, it's the Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Bill, I think is what the name is at the moment. That has been taken to Cabinet committee in the same way by the Minister of Justice. He had gone through a process in consultation with NGOs and other relevant parties before the time to come to a certain proposal but the first time government took note of it was when he took it to a Cabinet committee. It was then discussed and it was clear that there were many issues that needed further deliberation and debate and what has been done in other instances also, but it has been done here, is that a small task group has been appointed with one or two representatives from every political party participating and we sat down in a more informal kind of environment and deliberated on all the points of differences that we had and so on and formulated compromises or new agreements. It's done in a spirit where such discussions enlighten one another sometimes on a new viewpoint and on both sides the one convinces the other that something should remain as it is or the other one convinces them that it should be changed in some way.
POM. What were the major concerns of the National Party that had to be addressed?
CF. The biggest concerns we had was that the whole process and the way that it functions should be regarded as legitimate and fair, also by the constituency that we represent, and by the security forces and by the community at large and our debate and approach has been influenced by what can be done to make the process more legitimate, more acceptable. And from our side, although it has been said right from the word go that this is no witch hunt or Nuremberg type of trial, we look at ways and procedures to ensure as far as possible that that is the case. That's broadly speaking what the approach has been, that naturally has filtered down to specific proposals and specific issues which mainly concerned the way that the commission will be appointed, how as well as all kinds of proposals relating to the procedure that they will follow in their investigations.
POM. Will this be confined to just a review of possible state complicity in criminal acts or doing assassinations or whatever, or will it also cover activities of the ANC and as such what kind of activities?
CF. The proposal makes provision for three pillars of completely different functions, each that will be served by a particular committee. The one is to deal with amnesty. The second will deal with the investigation of gross human rights violations, that is the so-called Truth Committee part of it, and the exercise. And the third one will specifically focus on the victims of that gross human rights violations and look at ways and means to give some kind of compensation or acknowledgement for what the victims have experienced. That's the three parts.
. Now the amnesty process, the first one that I mentioned, will mainly finalise the whole amnesty process that we already had since negotiations started between the previous government and the ANC. Many people have already received amnesty. That will not be affected in any way but there are, we believe, a number of outstanding cases that have to be dealt with mainly now on the side of the previous security forces where the focus on amnesty up to now has been mainly in favour of ANC members. One can expect that in the next round it will focus strongly on members of the security forces who apply for amnesty. Although they could have applied under the present dispensation I think that under the previous government they were in doubt of whether they should come forward and apply for amnesty because they were insecure of whether that would be honoured by a new government and incriminatory evidence that they provide will be used against them. So they were hesitant to use the procedure up to now. I think with the new government in place and with the commitment of the new government to honour amnesty and the proper procedure that has been set now, and the proposed legislation as it stands now, will convince them that they can also come forward and request amnesty. That's the amnesty part.
. The gross human rights violations also deals with gross human rights violations on all sides of the spectrum. That has been a very important issue for us as the National Party, that it should cover the broad spectrum of the phase of history that's now behind us. Very initial drafts didn't have a balanced approach to give attention to gross human rights violations on all sides. That's one of the very initial changes that has been brought about in the proposed legislation and at the moment it will be possible for them to investigate the gross human rights violations on all sides.
POM. Will this include allegations of violations of human rights at the Quatro camps, or ANC camps in other countries?
CF. Yes, yes. It can include that and the way that individuals conducted themselves there. And it can include acts of sabotage in the country, restaurants, power stations, security installations, farms, attacks on farms and so on come into it, which were mainly perpetrated by the ANC. And then in the security forces it can also include the type of things that they possibly did of arresting people and then killing them or torturing them or people who disappear or whatever the incident may be. The whole broad spectrum can be covered. There's the aim to filter it to the most serious kind of cases by giving particular definition and meaning to gross human rights violations. There's an understanding that many things have been done and it would very possibly not be possible to deal with all of them in the twelve months or so that they will function, so the aim is to concentrate on the most serious kind of offences. But the aim, and one will have to see if it can remain like that throughout the process, is in this examination of gross human rights violations, not to concentrate so much on particular individuals and particular names but more to get to know the tendencies and the broad history and the frame of mind and the influencing factors and the understanding for what happened. That is how we understand one another now. It will depend on who the people on the commission are and how they conduct themselves, whether that will remain there to come to grips and to understanding with a particular very unacceptable phase of our history, to know what happened. I hope it remains within that aim. There is naturally the chance that it can shift, that it can become one-sided, that it can become a witch-hunt.
POM. Would there be a differentiation made between, say, an act of sabotage by a member of the ANC and say the organisation of hit squads directed by a minister of state?
CF. I think one can have a very long debate about the morality of what influenced both sides. I acknowledge that. But in the end if a bomb has been planted in a restaurant in Johannesburg amongst innocent people, it's a bomb, it's terrorism, it's killing and if that very same bomb has been planted by members of the security forces under a car of an ANC member in a foreign country it's exactly the same. I don't see how you can make a distinction. One can then go beyond that and say, what was the struggle involved and who was on which side and what was the morality of their cause, and maybe there you can make distinctions on who had the better moral cause. But on the factual deeds that have been committed I don't think you can make a difference and I would be very disappointed, and it doesn't stand in the legislation as it is at the moment, for the commission to make a distinction and say we're not really interested in this part of the struggle because we have sympathy with the cause that they were fighting for and therefore we're not really interested in going into the details of the bombs that they have planted and the people that they have killed and so on. I think that would be extremely unfair and one-sided.
POM. If, and this is just an if, a Cabinet minister or even an MP were implicated in a crime and the evidence showed that indeed they were implicated, should that minister or MP have to stand down?
CF. No it's not being dealt with in the legislation. We have many Cabinet ministers at the moment who as individuals benefited from the present dispensation of amnesty, they have already received amnesty. The other night on television there was a deputy minister and they had a sort of personality profile on his life and where he was brought up and so on and he talked frankly about his involvement in the struggle and how he was involved in stealing dynamite at a factory and how they sabotaged electric pylons. He talked on television and he said if necessary he will go to the Truth Commission to give evidence on that. But that was with a sense of pride that he talked about his involvement. And there is no debate really going on, or there were no calls in any newspaper or anything that he should resign for acknowledging that. I think in that sense it's being regarded as something of the past, of a struggle in which both sides were involved that led to certain things. That's the way I try to understand it, that we must put that behind us and we have made peace. We have made a new commitment and a new agreement on how we should approach the future and therefore knowing that, we should put it behind us. The question just is, once they identify people who have been involved on the other side, on the security forces side who are now not part of the political majority, whether they would be treated with the same kind of leniency. One will still have to see.
POM. Would there be a possibility that the commission could tear apart the government of national unity?
CF. There's a very strong determination in the government of national unity to succeed and up to now we have with serious issues and crises we dealt with it without tearing apart. So it has to be really something serious that will tear this government apart. That's the broad perspective that I just want to say before I mention that, yes, if this thing derails and it becomes a kind of a one-sided exercise to humiliate the one side then it has that possibility. It is a very risky exercise. Although I have full understanding and support that we should have it and that we should go ahead with it, one should be mindful the whole time that you are working with a very sensitive kind of exercise that has all the potential to derail.
POM. I want to go back to the elections for a moment, in April. It's generally been described as a miracle. One week it looked as though the country was sliding into anarchy and civil war and suddenly the violence stopped and people came out in their millions and voted freely and fairly. Now recently there have been allegations by further allegations by the ANC of voter fraud in KwaZulu and countervailing accusations by the IFP about the ANC and then you had allegations by both the NP and the DP of vote rigging. Was in the end this an election that was not massively rigged but rigged sufficiently so that it would come up with a government that would be acceptable to all the people and regarded as being stable and legitimate? Was that a more important consideration than had it been absolutely fair and free. And what I would point to is that most people say that if somehow the IFP had lost in KwaZulu there would have been a civil war. This is a final outcome where everybody got something. It wasn't a zero, some gained, it seemed a little bit too good to be true.
CF. Too good to be true.
PAT. Except for the PAC. There always has to be an exception.
CF. There are many exceptions. The PAC exception is an important one. Many people would have said before the time if the PAC gets only one percent they will do something seriously, if the right wing are being destroyed they will do something seriously. Now a little bit of both of that happened but not to any real consequence. It has been a good result for the country, more or less and I think what carried the day was the spirit of the population at large to make this thing work, the spirit that they showed at the polling booths and the long queues that they waited in. And I think that had an affect and made an impression also on the political leaders that really we have to make this thing work. That's what the population wants us to do. Naturally, for many years and months before the election there was careful political preparation for the new dispensation and the main role players being especially the ANC and the National Party who amongst their leaders were very well prepared and informed, what are we going for and what's the situation after the election. So in broad essence we were just sort of waiting how we were going to function in a government under President Mandela as President with De Klerk as a Deputy President and with majority ANC participation and National Party presence of some kind. That was broadly understood and accepted by the leadership as well before the election. So there was no shock or surprise in the result in that sense and people were prepared and planning very carefully how to deal with it.
. I was involved for months before the time in, for instance, making arrangements in the Union Buildings and in Tuynhuys for the new incumbents and showing them the homes and preparing homes and offices and preparing the inauguration, where one sort of worked on the basis that the result will be more or less something of what it has been. But I must say the way that the election was administered and the way that the process functioned was close to being a scandal. It was very badly done and there was very little control in the sense that it would be impossible, it had been impossible afterwards to accurately control and see whether it was done in the correct way or not. It was really a shambles and one of my biggest disappointments of the whole process that one has lived through with so much enthusiasm was how that election was administratively handled. That for me, knowing how badly it had been handled, the miracle is so much more that we could have come out of it with a result. The mere fact that there was a result, that that result was more or less acceptable and that all could live with it and we could make government to work notwithstanding how the election had been run.
. Then people always ask the question that if I say so what would I have seen as a better result. I think the National Party has been negatively affected by the process to some extent. My personal testament is that we had 20% of the vote, that in a properly run election we would have received maybe somewhere in the region of 25%. Inkatha would have received less in Natal, they were also doing very terrible things there and the ANC wouldn't have had 62% but I would say maybe somewhere 55% or something like that. But it would be impossible for anybody to guess what the scale of the irregularities was. They were visible all over the country and the control systems to check everything and to properly scrutinise everything and properly count everything they were just not in place, not at all, not at all. The counting procedure collapsed once or twice through the process completely where they had to start all anew on how to put together results and how to come up with something. So that was quite a frustrating phase and it's really a miracle that with that mishap we could get out of it because everything was clear, there is no way that you can say. "Sorry, we buggered up, let's do it all over." There's no way that you could do that. There was no way that the world would take note of it. The election was on for two, three hours when foreign observers said, "It's perfect, it's free and fair", they were satisfied when the polling booths were only open. So it was clear also that the international world would walk away and say, "Perfect", they are satisfied. The country would have erupted in chaos. That would have put us on the track of Angola which nobody of the main role players wanted and it was just that you said it happened, forget it and make it work with what we have.
POM. So in a sense the object of assuring that there would be stability and order took precedence over whether it was substantially free and fair on the scale of irregularities. Would that be an accurate conclusion for me to reach?
PAT. Can I just ask a question? If you juxtapose what you said earlier about how people were getting ready to govern, was there a not a tension there between getting the election over with with at least a modicum of legitimacy because if you were concerned about the process of administrating the election it was the political figures conceivably who were driving that election to take place on April 27th as opposed to giving more time to sort out and give the authorities running the election the time they needed to do it appropriately?
CF. Yes. And I must say one must be fair, I think too little time was given for the people to properly prepare for the election, the Independent Electoral Commission who has been appointed. They had too little time without any doubt. And there was the distrust of the ANC in organs of state to help with the administration of the election. It was too big and they played it too high and therefore the employment of so-called independent people who were in many cases inexperienced, not properly educated, not properly trained, unemployed people off the street to run the election, they were just not capable of doing it. In the end it was saved, in many instances, by the defence force intervening with helicopters to transfer polling booths and distribute papers and print ballots. If the ANC had an approach right from the beginning that listen we trust the structures of state to be involved in it as well, the Department of Home Affairs who has the experience in running elections, the police, the army with all their infrastructure, it would also have been much better.
POM. Just in the fuller context of elections, in our movement across the country we've heard from a lot of people that they very much doubt whether necessary preparation will be made for the holding of the local elections next October, that provincial parliaments haven't demarcated constituencies, there's been no registration drive under way. Do you think they will be held at that time or do you think that they will probably be postponed so that people can be better prepared for it?
CF. It appears to me that in some provinces there is so much preparation that has to be done that I have serious doubts of whether they will meet the deadline of elections in October next year. The approach that we have in government is that however we should stick to the date of October next year to be sort of an impetus for the people to do the necessary preparation work because if you postpone it now they will just slack down on what they have to do in the interim. But it may be necessary some time next year to postpone it at least in some provinces.
POM. Now if the national elections and regional elections provoked so much violence in KwaZulu/Natal between the ANC and the IFP, would not local elections where the turf is smaller and closer to the people re-ignite or could re-ignite that kind of violence again?
CF. Yes I think it has the potential and one must be aware of that risk but if we could have managed with the kind of spirit that was shown by the population at large in the general election I don't think that spirit has disappeared and that spirit together with maybe a better organised election and maybe the comfort that the bigger liberation is behind us, we're through with that, President Mandela is in Tuynhuys, maybe there will be a chance of a sense of some comfort for the people participating in the elections. But the biggest problem that we will experience on local government level in my view is the collapse of services and a very strong culture that has become a custom of not paying for services. On the one hand the conditions have become very bad in many areas where people say, if these are the conditions it calls for a kind of revolutionary approach, but on the other hand the fact that those conditions to a large extent have also been caused by the people's lack of paying for anything. So you're in a vicious circle and how you break out of it would be very difficult and I have a great deal of sympathy and admiration for the way in which the ANC members of government now call on the people to pay but unfortunately it seems up to now not with a great deal of success.
POM. In one sense the first benefit of the 'struggle' to many people in the townships is that they're going to have to pay for things they didn't pay for before, so it's a loss not a gain.
CF. Yes. That's how many of them unfortunately experience it.
POM. One other thing we heard going across the country was complaints by Premiers and the regional parliaments that sufficient powers were not being devolved to them and that they were essentially powerless, incapable of getting the power to make the necessary changes at their end of things. Is that a legitimate complaint? Why has the centre been so slow to devolve powers to the regions?
CF. It may be legitimate but it's temporary. I don't think there's appreciation for them that time is required really to put the whole new constitutional dispensation in place. What's a bit ironic about the whole thing is one of the main issues in the negotiations had been federalism and the devolvement of powers to provinces and the ANC had been very strongly opposed to that and we moved very slowly to convince them about the necessity for it and on the other side Inkatha who had even stronger federal views than what has been implemented in the constitution. But the ironic thing is that if you look at the seven ANC Premiers at the moment, they are the greatest proponents of federalism and where's our powers, and we want more powers and what's Cape Town doing and what's Pretoria doing? You cannot help but smile if you experience it from the Premiers.
. One of the reasons why we argued, for instance, in the negotiation phase against the strong federal elements that Inkatha, for instance, wanted to bring in is the argument that we didn't have a federal dispensation. We had to build it from scratch and to do that is a very complicated and long process. It's not only a matter of electing a provincial legislature and a government, it's the creation of infrastructure. It's having the necessary administrative capacity, the personnel, the public service, the budget, the income. Some of the provincial legislatures and executives have just said afterwards, "We now have an executive, we have a legislature and we have a constitution stating our powers, why can't we do it?" And you said well it will take about a year to create a budget around that, to create the necessary income, to create the necessary legislation, the transfer of people in the public service, the rearrangement of the whole public service.
. It will take not only months, it will take years and we should take it step by step. When we are ready for a particular function the budget is in place, the public service is in place, then you can sort of have it. It moves by steps. If you had talked to them six months ago or five months ago, you would have found that they were terribly aggressive about not receiving this. A lot of that aggression has dampened down now, it's to a lesser extent now because in the meantime they have started to receive particular powers and functions. I think it will take us five years to really implement this provincial dispensation.
POM. There could be an unequal devolution of powers, that if some regions are better administratively prepared and capable of carrying out the functions of a particular power, that that power would be devolved to them. But it might take another region twice as long to get to that stage and that position would be withheld.
CF. That's possible, yes.
POM. I want to talk about the RDP in a minute, but before that if you as a member of the government, seeing yourself as an individual standing outside and observing it, on a scale of one to ten where one would represent very unsatisfactory government and ten very satisfactory government, where would you rate the government of national unity after seven months?
CF. I think we fluctuate between six and eight. On some particular aspects we're more closer to eight, some other aspects we're closer to six.
POM. Could you give me an example?
CF. One can study now department by department. The integration of security forces maybe will be something closer to six. The way government finances are being handled and how that came into effect, economic policy and so on, I think we're closer to eight. The formulation of policy is closer to eight. The execution of the policies is closer to six. That's more or less how I would judge it. More or less, and I hope by saying between six and eight I try to say it's in the region of good to very good. Or satisfactorily good to very good, in that region.
POM. When we came back and began to have a look at the political landscape what we saw was part of the MK in rebellion and SDUs still roaming the townships, not brought under control, horrific violence (the Sunday Times report that a serious crime is committed every seventeen seconds), the taxi wars, the seeming inability of the police to bring the level of violence under control, Mandela's declaration over the weekend that the SAP was in fact waging war on the ANC, random strikes bringing cities to a halt, huge pay demands, a simmering war still going on in KwaZulu/Natal. It gave one a sense of the country sliding slowly, almost imperceptibly, towards anarchy, just breakdown.
CF. It depends on where you position yourself when you judge that. In a sense I would argue against that by saying before the election, four or five years ago, three years ago, before 1990 when we started this whole process, one could have said that this country will definitely slide towards anarchy and it's definitely going to end up in chaos and civil war and economic decline and whatever. And if one at that time said is it possible to turn it around and to work out a solution for it all, I think many people would have said, "No, impossible, but if possible it would be a very difficult task." So nobody in his realistic frame of mind could have expected that it would be easy after the election and I think some people have too high an expectation that we had the elections, the results have been accepted, it was a sort of miracle that everybody talked about and now everything is going to be hunky-dory and fine. No way. It's going to be a tremendously difficult and complicated process to keep on succeeding and keep on turning the whole thing around. But it's an impressive list of problems that you have mentioned and I think we're aware of that and it will take quite a struggle to successfully deal with it.
POM. Do you think all parties, and I suppose particularly the ANC, underestimated how difficult and complex the transition itself would be? That it wasn't just a matter of putting new faces in old positions but you have to build new structures, get rid of old structures.
CF. It would be very difficult and even unfair to generalise and say that the ANC had too high expectations of how easy it will be and so on. Naturally it differs from individual to individual and some had a very realistic picture of the challenges. I think some over-emphasised the fact that so many problems have been caused by incapable, corrupt, apartheid orientated members of the regime and now they realise that many of those people in the circumstances were very capable individuals who really did quite a good job in aspects of state administration and so on. I think in that sense a more realistic position has grown with a lot of them on the kind of problems that we face and it's not so easy just to explain every problem that has been caused by apartheid.
POM. Looking at the RDP for a minute. Again, wherever we went we enquire about what people think RDP stands for, what they think it's about, how they think it would be implemented and frankly what we've been getting back is blank stares from most people, just the letters RDP don't register. Even when you say Reconstruction and Development Plan it doesn't register. This would apply to MPs, many at the provincial level. You will have Premiers telling you that they have different department chiefs in their own governments who have different interpretations of what it's all about. It would seem the government has done a bad job selling the RDP or preparing the public to understand what it means and the sacrifices it will entail, that everyone is in it together.
CF. Yes. It's a very broad based programme. I think one of the reasons for confusion is that the RDP has changed quite a lot from what has been an election promise and an election document of the ANC to what has become an official white paper of government. If you take the ANC draft before the election and you take the government white paper now and you compare the two and the underlying economic philosophy it's completely different. It has made a complete shift. I would describe, maybe it's an over-simplification, but the ANC document before the election as a socialist kind of reorientation programme with some elements of development in it. But the government white paper now is much more based on the economic realities of the country and in describing the economic system more or less as it is and how that can be utilised and empowered and directed towards affordable development. Thus it became a document that although we could have identified ourselves and had the same kind of development views before the election, the underlying economic philosophy to do it was completely unacceptable to us, now it's acceptable to us. We regard it as one of the best examples of a role that we have played in the government of national unity, to bring about that change in approach. But you will still get on grassroots level and even in provincial governments and amongst MPs, people who still think in terms of the pre-election ANC programme and not the redrafted what is now the government programme. But on the other hand I think, although what you say may be true and it was interesting for me to hear the observation, I think for such a complicated and comprehensive plan it succeeded to a large extent in grabbing the imagination of the population at large and at least I think if you have an opinion poll of what the RDP is, people would more or less, even if they give a very stupid definition, but they would know what you are talking about, and in that sense I think it's quite something. It's been misused the definition, quite a lot, everything that people are doing they say it's RDP.
PAT. That's why it grabs the imagination, a new definition for everybody.
POM. But we were talking yesterday evening to a coloured couple whom we have been interviewing for the last five years and they are intelligent people who read and follow the news, who are very harsh in their criticism of the manner in which the RDP was being sold to people. They were both saying, why doesn't the government have a programme like the voter education programme, why don't they have a similar project on the RDP on television or on radio or whatever and pull people into the process?
PAT. Interestingly they weren't far away from Derek Keys' comments about the promotion, the need for a public relations effort.
POM. Talking about him, we interviewed him last year and we asked with regard to employment what were the best projections that could be made in terms of increasing employment. And he said the best projection would probably be about one percent a year. And I asked him the same question again this year and he said, "I stand by what I said last year, the best the economy can do is probably a one percent increase in employment." Which means the absolute number of people unemployed will be increasing given the growth in size of the population. Where are the resources going to come from to harness a few million people into productive, income-yielding jobs?
CF. There is an economic programme, and I don't try to give the impression that there is a quick answer to it, there's not a quick answer to it, there's not a quick fix solution to it and it's not a matter of just stating policy and being naïve about what the results will be but something of a complete economic reorientation of setting specific goals and pursuing those policies over a long period of time in a very determined way may slowly turn the tide. Whether that will be fast enough to avert a people coming into protest at some time again and having a second revolution, if I may say, or declining into some form of anarchy, it's not really possible to protect that. I have confidence that on a broad balance that we can succeed and that it's worthwhile to give all your effort for that process to make it succeed but being very well aware the whole time that it's a risky exercise and that it's not quite sure whether you will succeed in the end.
POM. The Minister for Finance, Chris Liebenberg, recently said, "South African business must start scoring tries. I feel like a scrum half who cannot get the ball at the scrum because my loose forwards are not there to support me." What do you think he meant or was driving at? Has business been playing a sufficient role in the transformation process or is it in many senses still standing on the sidelines looking on?
CF. I think the problem is business is motivated by something else than what we are being motivated by. They are motivated for profit. There is an overlap we both are being motivated or need stability and in a sense where they judge that there is too high a risk in the field of stability they don't venture to seek profits. In many instances if one looks at the changes that are now being brought about within businesses it's clear that a lot of them, although they never said it, they even opposed the previous system, but I think they enjoyed the previous system to some extent. They are now implementing affirmative action programmes and then that's very liberal orientated businesses who were opposing government all the time.
. So my question when I see it is, why do they do it now? Where have they been all the years when they criticised us in the previous government of what should be done and how it should be done? Now they sort of follow their act after the act. But there is no way that you can politically motivate foreign investors to come into the country. They need particular economic signals of whether they will come and invest here and you can have the best PRO in the person of President Mandela and you can have very emotional political pleas, if people aren't impressed by the economic factors they won't invest and they won't venture into new business and new job opportunities. I think the approach that Chris Liebenberg has with the policies that he wants to implement, is to redirect ourselves to create that circumstance in which the economy can grow and bring about the results that we need for the country. I am impressed by the way that ANC members of government understand and accept those economic policies and that gives me hope that there's a good chance that in the longer term we will succeed.
POM. What were you able to do in the end to convince the ANC, which had now become the government of which you were part, to convince them that they had to move away from this socialistic oriented document which was the RDP before the election into a more market driven model for economic growth? What were the persuading arguments?
CF. I think it would be, I would very much like to say it's mainly because of the role of the National Party and the arguments but I think that will be a bit overstating, a bit propagandistic. It's good to say that for the public but it's not really the truth. But I think it played an important role, but there are other factors that also play a role. The influence of foreign governments and advisors, like for instance the United States and European governments and their liaison with the ANC played a role. The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in the role that they play in developing countries like South Africa and saying, listen if you do things within this framework then we're all with you, if you do it in that framework then we will turn a blind eye.
POM. You do it our way or no way.
CF. Yes. And those kind of indirect pressures made them at least open to listen to other arguments from our side. I think Derek Keys as an individual played a significant role.
POM. Just one or two last questions, I know time is getting on and you have more pressing demands. One is on the situation in KwaZulu regarding the King and Buthelezi. Does the government see the growing rift between the two as a cause of concern or just at heart a continuation of the struggle between the IFP and the ANC?
CF. It's both. It is a continuation of it but it's a new element that has been more sharply focused on in that struggle and therefore most definitely a cause of concern. I must say people with a more western orientation, by name the white people of the country, have a difficulty in really understanding sometimes the underlying currents of what's going on there. Even if you function with them in government there are so many things that you feel that you understand each other so clearly and that you are the same human beings, thinking in the same frame of mind and with the same love for the same country and that you can work together, but sometimes things arise like the feelings around the King and the undercurrents of what really are the issues there and the importance of the issues which I just don't have the depth of fully understanding what's going on there, and the possible effects that that can have for the country, apart from that I think it's very serious. But to pre-judge it as merely an ANC/Inkatha thing is, for instance, it's correct to say it but it's not the whole truth and it's not enough to fully understand it.
POM. And finally, what do you see as the major obstacles facing the implementation of the RDP?
CF. That there would not be a sufficiently strong economy to support those aims and that the only thing that one can do is sort of damage control to keep things together and then call that RDP while the RDP was in fact something completely different, to put us on a different course and to re-orientate and re-prioritise everything. So I think the most important factor for the RDP to succeed is a strong growing economy. Then you have at least an instrument to redirect otherwise you redirect without something in your hands.
POM. Thank you very much. I really appreciate the time and what you say.