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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

28 Feb 1995: Mayekiso, Moses

Click here for more information on the Interviewee

Click here for Overview of the year

POM. It must have been a big change for you to give up the presidency of NUMSA, the second largest union, to become not only an MP but an MP without a portfolio. What changes has that brought about in you? Why did you decide to run for parliament rather than staying on as Director General of NUMSA?

MM. Well, my coming into parliament was not only my decision it was the decision of my union and also the decision of the Federation, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, that we should, myself and the group of labour parliamentarians, including Jay Naidoo, to, if I can say in inverted commas "to represent the interests of the workers, the working class in this country." We considered this, I considered it seriously because, as you say, my politics were built around the trade union movement, around the Metalworkers' Union and I have been number one official, top official of that organisation. Deciding to accept the challenge was a big thing, a big jump, but finally I felt that to serve the interests of those members, the NUMSA more than one million members, and also other workers and generally the poor in this country, then it would be a challenge; let me take it. So I decided to take up the MP's position under the ANC. Yes, I am just an ordinary member of parliament and that doesn't bother me that I don't have a portfolio, I'm not a minister and I'm not in any ministry, etc., etc., but the good work that we are doing here that gives somebody pride is in the committees, in the study groups, in the select committees where we are carrying the mandate that we got from our constituencies, mostly from the workers. I am serving in the housing study group and select committee, labour committees, RDP committees, minerals and energy committees, etc., etc.

POM. You must spend your whole time at meetings.

MM. So I spend most of my time in meetings, though it is not in active participation as it used to be where you were in direct contact with the workers and in direct contact with really representing the workers against the bosses, but it's a continuation of that particular engagement.

POM. President Mandela a couple of months back kind of admonished COSATU by saying you've got to hold on with the wage demands until - Does there come a time when the interests of labour clash with the interests of government and at that point do you see yourself as acting on behalf of the ANC as a parliamentarian or acting on behalf of the workers?

MM. It is how we were proposed by the labour movement in this country, we are ANC MPs. I am also now elected in the National Executive Committee of the ANC and because of that COSATU nominated us, elected us into this parliament, proposed us to the ANC, not under the impression that we will be representing COSATU, but they proposed us knowing that we have a background of fighting for the workers of the trade union movement, therefore we will be more biased towards the working class in all our decisions in the ANC, in parliament and elsewhere and we will be in active communication and participate in COSATU structures so that we get what the workers feel in regard to politics in this country and in regard to shaping political policies and policies of the government, and that therefore we will be prone to be lobbied by the trade union movement to stand for the rights of the workers and the working classes. So that's the understanding, but not that I am going to take a mandate from COSATU, but I will take a mandate from the ANC with a biasness of the working class and the workers. That's the understanding that was set out. There will be times, sometimes there will be issues that will be clashing with the trade union movement and issues on which I am maybe feeling strong on them.

. So we in the ANC, you find that there are people from different spheres of our societies and they express different ideas when it comes to parliament than when it comes to the ANC structures, but the disciplined members, those have to merge into one policy at some stage. Then if that situation comes one has to argue actively on behalf of the working class and the workers, one has to argue for the implementation of worker approaches, working class approaches on issues and try to influence the ANC, try to influence the government on behalf of the workers, but if you lose the vote, you lose the vote, therefore you will try again, you will try again. So that's our job, to push for policies that are pro worker, that are pro the poor and then if we lose we try again and not say, oh well we can't be heard therefore we get out of parliament or we get out of the government. We are here to fight for those rights, the worker rights.

POM. After nine months of the government of national unity being place, if you had to rate it where one would represent very unsatisfactory performance and ten would represent very satisfactory performance, where would you place it in that range?

MM. Well I would put this government in the range of that it has succeeded.

POM. What I am saying is one is the lowest, they have done bad job, ten is they have done a very good job. Where would you put them, a seven, an eight, a six, a five, three?

MM. I would say they have done a good job, an excellent job, more than was expected and it has been a short period and with people who never put foot into parliament but they have acclimatised so quickly and have democratised this place quickly and democratised the approaches in formulating policy. Take the example of the committees, the committees used to be rubber stamps of the ministers before, the MPs were just ordinary rubber stamp people to fill the house and now that has changed. The committees are not rubber stamping, they are influencing policy, they demand the say in policy formulation and passing out of bills and legislation. So we have succeeded in that. Again, this is the government of national unity, we have succeeded to keep the country going, to keep the country at a level where we can say that there is democracy and there is unity towards the goal of governing. Yes, there are hitches; Inkatha doing this and that, etc., etc., and we say that those are also democratic characteristics where there is fighting, there is lobbying, there are parties pushing their interests in whatever manner. We have succeeded in that. We have succeeded to put down, or to influence, the right wing in this country, especially through their organisations, to say that you have a role to play, you don't have to push for your own Boerestaat and feel that you cannot participate in the present set up. Then they are in parliament, they are still in parliament and they have lessened their call for a Boerestaat. Then this government has put together the homeland governments. That's significant because in bringing back all those governments together, etc., the provinces are succeeding in implementing and trying to grapple with day to day activities on the ground and the RDP, the Reconstruction & Development Programme has succeeded in laying the foundation towards delivery.

POM. That's interesting because I've spent about six weeks going around asking people, from Premiers of provinces to heads of departments, about the RDP and sometimes they know very little about it, sometimes they have conflicting ideas of what it's about and they have absolutely no idea at all how it's going to be financed, and finances now range from 11 billion rand to 36 billion rand. The money is not going to come out of domestic savings. Could you address the first part to that? Among ordinary people RDP seems to have a very low profile, they don't know what it means, what it's supposed to do.

MM. Well that may be so, but when you test the success, yes there is reasonable progress. It's a new concept in South Africa, South African politics, the Reconstruction & Development Programme. It's going to take time for everybody to understand what the RDP is. There are conflicting interpretations of what the RDP is, even in our ranks (there are) conflicting interpretations on how it's going to be implemented, how it should be implemented, where the funds should come from, etc., etc. The funds, the RDP is not going to have funds to build houses. The RDP ministry is not going to be doing that. It can fund the processes towards building of houses, processes towards many issues, but line departments, like housing department, health department, etc., etc., those departments are going to finance projects. Yes, the RDP will fund some projects like building of roads, etc., etc., and again there it will be focusing on the process, not on actual financing of the project. Our people have to have different interpretations because of the expectations on the ground and because that is the process of educating, conscientisation, etc.

POM. There was before your Congress a lot of talk about the grassroots being upset at what they saw as being a lot of time and energy devoted towards alleviating the fears of whites and not as much time being placed on their concerns. Was that a valid interpretation on the grassroots' behalf?

MM. I would say that it is not a sincere interpretation. It is not an informed response. People are expecting a lot, therefore you have to interpret that having that in mind, that some would expect that the government would have built millions of houses by today, millions of jobs, millions of hospitals. But it doesn't go that way. The government has done all it could to address the interests of the people on the ground. We have to commend that and it couldn't do more. No government could do more than what has happened already. There are feeding schemes that are going on in schools for young kids, there is free medical assistance to pregnant mothers, there are moves, giant moves, towards building houses for the people, there is progress towards forcing the banks to lend where they declined before. In many departments there are some moves to address the plight of the poor in this country, the grassroots. If that is going along with telling the white community that you belong here and don't go away, let's address the issues here, you cannot leave that for the other, you can't leave it, therefore that has been going parallel. Nothing superseded the other so therefore it's the wrong interpretation to say that the government concentrated on white fears and not on (grassroots' concerns). Yes, it has and also has concentrated on both; I think it has succeeded on both. Should we have not tried to pacify the white community, not materially to convince them, that's what we did, no money is involved and no funds are involved that people can say you are building schools for whites and not for blacks, no. So what are we talking about here? It's only that then we have been saying that whites have room and then taking funds to the needy. So therefore I think that is a good balance that we have, and now because of that there is investment coming in, investment, and people are not disinvesting, the white community is not disinvesting because they are controlling the economy of this country, so we have money to stabilise that, also to try to stabilise the grassroots.

POM. They control the economy of the country, so in a way what you won in the election last year was a political victory but not one in terms of economic empowerment.

MM. Definitely it was a political victory, not an economic victory, but it was a giant step towards economic revolution. Now if you may term it to that the black people in this country should have a say in the economic control of affairs in this country, there we have today NEDLAC which is going to make it possible for our communities to have a say and we are encouraging the black participation and also the participation of the black business in big business in this country so that then we cannot depend on white communities. It's going to take time so therefore it has to be revolutionised.

POM. My point would be that, do white companies still control 80% of the output of the country?

MM. Yes, this is where the political victory has to play a role, that then we should look for ways and means of addressing the issue of the cartels, the issue of the monopolies, because the monopolies are not going to build the economy of this country. It needs the encouragement of small and medium business that is going to build the economy of this country. The monopoly may work negatively. We are not saying that we are going to declare war on monopolies but where possible we have dismantled the cartels.

POM. If anybody had told you three years ago that the ANC would have moved from a policy of the need to nationalise certain sectors of the economy to the point where last week Thabo Mbeki was talking about how state assets were going to be privatised, would you have been surprised? That's a kind of ideological leap to say the least?

MM. Well there is the Freedom Charter that has been guiding our struggles, that has been guiding the ANC struggles, which has been the backbone of our movement. Those were our dreams, the dreams of the liberation movements. When you get to power then things become different because then you have to address not only your constituency, the liberation movement, you have to address the economy of the country without dreaming and then you get your dreams gradually step by step addressing everybody, all the demands. Now we are faced with a situation where if you go according to what the Freedom Charter is demanding then you would chase the investors, that's clear, and then you wouldn't be able to get where you wanted to and to liberate. So therefore we had to choose whether to follow dogmatically our dreams or to slowly engage the economy, engage people who are active in the economy to stabilise in this country and in order to stabilise Africa as a whole. So it was a big challenge but there is no deviation, there is no mass deviation because the Freedom Charter doesn't say at this stage in one month when we are in government we have to nationalise, or one year, it just puts the guidelines, and then under those guidelines you have to work out processes towards proper liberation, socio-economic liberation of the people. At this stage you have to work tactically, that's what the government is doing, that's where I locate Deputy President Mbeki's announcement.

POM. I have interviewed Derek Keys twice and I will be doing Liebenberg tomorrow and I'll ask him the same question. The first time I saw Keys he was Minister for Finance and he said the best this economy could do between now and the end of the century is increase by about 1% a year. I spoke to him last year and I posed the very same question to him again and said, "Would you still agree with your own assessment that you made a year ago?" He confidently said, "Yes, I stand by it." Do you see jobs being created on a massive scale that actually makes an indent into the nearly 50% of the population that is unemployed or working in the informal sector? Will you agree with Keys that the best the economy will be able to do will be to reduce unemployment by a percentage point each year between now and the end of the century or do you say, no, we can create jobs?

MM. I agree with him that's there's no way that the present government can in big percentages create jobs because of the international economic conditions and because of the economic conditions internally and also because maybe of the level of the economy in this country, because the government itself cannot just create jobs for the sake of creating jobs where there is no need for jobs, therefore that will bankrupt the government and the country and therefore we must gradually create jobs and corrode the unemployment and at the end be able to say, OK this is a percentage, and keep increasing the percentages until you corrode the whole unemployment percentage. Yes, through the RDP there will be jobs created like fixing the roads, but it must be jobs that are going to boost the economy, to contribute in developing our economy through those roads, putting water, dams in the rural areas, etc., etc., in order to assist those people to get water to produce food, etc., etc. It must not be just to create jobs for the sake of creating jobs as was happening in Eastern Europe we are told. Yes, it's not an acceptable situation where people are unemployed, they have no means of getting food, but we are inheriting a disastrous economy because of apartheid and therefore we have to work properly and not to replace that crisis with another crisis.

POM. But then is the country in danger of becoming two societies; a society of those who have a job and a society of those who haven't got a job?

MM. That we must get rid of; everybody must have a job. What I am saying is that that is going to take time. This year, we cannot say that, we cannot fool our constituents and say that we are going to create jobs by 1996, everybody will have a job. Yes, I will agree with you, there will be those who have jobs and don't have jobs and therefore we must corrode that percentage of those who don't have jobs. Everybody must have jobs at the end of the day and that must be a priority. We must not be relaxed, that , oh yes we will corrode it. It must be the job of the RDP that we must quickly create jobs for the people and through all means possible so as to stabilise and to give people homes, give people food and education, etc., etc.

POM. Now one of the keys, not Derek Keys, but his brand of economics and the brand of economics being practised by the government which is essentially market oriented, mixed but mixed market oriented, we've been talking about unemployment rates, you're also President of SANCO, right?

MM. I used to be, yes.

POM. Used to be?

MM. Then coming to parliament, then I had to resign.

POM. Let me ask you about the local elections in October. How do you get people to understand why they have to vote, not to turn Mandela out of office? There's a widespread apathy and in the limited period that's left, one, do you think it is possible to have elections as scheduled in October or will they have to be postponed because the registration period may have to be increased; and do you think people have any real idea of what local government is because they never really had it?

MM. Yes there is apathy. That has to be expected because, as you say, people have never had elections for local government, others do not even understand what the local government is about and they know that, as you say, they voted for Mandela, and therefore Mandela must fix their problems. They don't know that there have to be structures, etc., etc., so a big percentage of our people needed a chance to be orientated towards how the governance works, how the government works, the structures of government, and also that people, once one votes he feels that OK I'm finished, therefore when you come back with another thing they say, oh no, there's something here, maybe they want to topple Mandela, topple the democratic government.

POM. Mac Maharaj was telling me that this morning. You go to people and they say, "What do you mean? Must we vote again? Are we getting rid of Mandela?"

MM. We do have that problem. The elections may be rescheduled, postponed, because I agree the registration is very slow, the registration of voters, and this is very important because that is what is going to tell us what the population of the country is, etc., etc., and there may be, we may change even the approach to say that, OK, those areas that are ready must go for it; those areas where we are satisfied that the registration has done it's course then we say, therefore we say, we give the election period, maybe a year, to say on those areas then we will go for it. As we go along then we will register and vote. There may be some rearrangements.

POM. Now you've also a second job as well as being an MP, you're also a member of the Constituent Assembly which is drawing up the final constitution.

MM. Yes.

POM. Do you think that this constitution is going to radically change from the existing constitution or that what you will end up doing is finessing a little bit here, finessing a little bit there, but essentially leaving it the same?

MM. According to what is happening now in our theme committees in the Constituent Assembly, and in fact it's the redraft, it's drafting the new constitution.

POM. Starting from scratch?

MM. Starting from scratch. The old interim one has laid the basis but you are going to see some areas changed, those controversial areas changed drastically. It's a real building of a new constitution.

POM. This mustn't make the National Party feel very happy? Their whole strategy was to ...

MM. There are some areas where we have to drive home the fact that the African National Congress has won the majority of the votes in this country, then it has to build a new constitution. Because we want stability in the country we have accommodated the parties that lost into the government of national unity and we want to satisfy everybody, so therefore if there are unreasonable demands then we may not accommodate. We will accommodate what is reasonable for the interests of the country in the building of the new constitution. We won't be dogmatic and say that we are in power therefore we have a sole job. We will accommodate progressive proposals.

POM. What accounts for, and this is a question that occurs to me every time I'm here, was there seems to be a continual tension between President Mandela and Mr de Klerk, where it's a very vicious, it seems like a bitter relationship rather than a friendly relationship?

MM. Well that must be expected. I don't know how the world is interpreting the relationship between the National Party and the ANC because it's not really a Mandela/De Klerk relationship. It's a relationship between the National Party and the ANC, a relationship that says that we have to stabilise the country, we must save our country, not that, yes, we must be just friends for the sake of being friends. So it's very different. That De Klerk has not got into that relationship, liking it or favouring it politically, because he was forced into that because the country was in flames because of the National Party's apartheid system, and he got into that, also he wants to tell his constituency that, oh well, we're still in power. He never wanted to lose power, but conditions dictated the situation. Mandela was attracted by the fact that the white community are still in control of the economy and also we have the right wing element, therefore we must have the government of national unity and we must have relationships with De Klerk, we must give him Deputy Presidency, we must call him the man of integrity in order that we stabilise our country, not that De Klerk was not involved in training Mandela. Mandela knows that De Klerk was instrumental, he was the leading figure in the National Party, he was the leading figure in formulating apartheid policies but when you want to deliver to the people then you sometimes make friends with your enemies. De Klerk is still an enemy to Mandela. Mandela knows that De Klerk is an enemy to the ANC, to himself too, but he is forced by circumstances to work with Mandela, but for the sake of the nation as a whole that gentleman's friendship had to be worked out. And also then therefore you have to be genuine about that. Internationally De Klerk is regarded as a man who is really a good white man who saved the country. He was involved in apartheid. He was involved in its implementation. He, inside, is still believing in that, but the tide is against that and therefore he has to toe the line and work with Mandela.

POM. Just picking up on that, how far should the Truth Commission go? Should it go to the point where it could disclose if the evidence was there that not just former National Party ministers but National Party ministers in the present government authorised illegal activities, hit squads, murders of individuals or whatever? Would that be a good thing for the country as against trying to build reconciliation? Should those people so named have to step down from public office? Should there be any kind of a remedy, so to speak, not just to confess your crime and walk away?

MM. The way we interpret the Truth Commission is that we want to settle the old scores, meaning that we must be able to say to those people who are grieved that we have managed to address the issue, we know who killed your husband, who killed your child, what happened. And when I say settle the old scores, people are grieved inside, they don't know what happened to their beloved and they don't want to retaliate and the government doesn't want to retaliate. What we want is the truth to come out, to know who killed Mxenge in Durban, who killed Goniwe, who killed Ruth First, and even vice versa on our side, our ministers, our MPs, our leadership, our people will also appear in the Truth Commission to say that I did this and that and that. It's not going to just affect the one side and not the other side so it's going to affect everybody. The nation needs to know the truth so that it can settle that once and for all and we can forget about the past and we get to the future. That's important for the economy, that's important for everything because as we in this government now, the new democracy, these truths will be coming to the fore bit by bit, haphazard, for a long time if we are not allocating time. This Truth Commission, everybody must come so that then we hear everything once and for all. Because if it comes in dribs and drabs it will create tensions as we go along etc., etc. So I think it is a good thing that we have that.

. Secondly, that when the truth comes forward it must not be a witch hunt from the start, witch hunting in order to retaliate. Those people who have committed those crimes because of living in a certain ideology, apartheid, etc., being instructed from above to commit, then we believe that if we say that unless people really committed such atrocities that they deserve trial, only then we would say that this one goes beyond that, for example going to a certain house and killing innocent people. So, if we were fighting a war, why should you fight with children? Things like that. Extreme atrocities where it is clear there are crimes that are linked to war, the actual war, where there is face to face war. We cannot, like Barend Strydom in Pretoria, we cannot say he was fighting a war there. How can you just shoot anyone whom you see in the streets? That cannot be justified. And, for example, going to kill church people, where people are praying you go and kill them. That kind of thing, that's crime not war. And so therefore we must differentiate between war crimes and ordinary crimes because you hate a black man or a white face. Biehl in Guguletu, you cannot regard that as just killing an unarmed woman. This woman, American scholar, was killed in Guguletu. It is difficult to understand, it can't be political just to say jump on any white woman and kill the woman and say you are at war. That's rubbish. So what I'm saying is that I think things will depend that all in all the war crimes have to be taken as war crimes, forget about that, we just wanted truth to come out and therefore let's forget about all those atrocities, because those atrocities will come out from our side and also from their side. And the last point that you raised, whether they should lose positions, I think many people would be implicated as direct operatives or as - what do they say when you are linked?

POM. Accessories?

MM. Conspiracy or in, what do they say legally? A word that they put when you are part and parcel.

POM. Accessory.

MM. That will come out which will implicate a broad range of political leadership in this country. So, therefore, it is not easy to say that they must lose positions, etc., etc., but we would say that it depends on whether you were involved in a war or you were involved in a criminal exercise against humanity. If you were involved in a war then in that process therefore certain policemen were killed, etc., because you were engaged and therefore that was a mission and therefore I don't think that should be penalised. Therefore people should keep their positions.

POM. Mandela said recently, and I know we've talked about this before, I'm just quoting him, that the youth in the township had over the decades a visible enemy, the government. Now that the enemy is no longer visible because of the transformation, their enemy is now you and me, people who have cars and own a home. You always talk about the length of time it's going to take to decrease the level of unemployment. You still have these huge quantities of young people who essentially have seen no change in their lives. What was happening in parliament last week with kids trying to come in and trash the place is a good indication of what their feelings are. How do you get to terms with that? It's almost like the rate at which problems increase becomes greater than your rate of ability to deal with them, so no matter how you catch up you're never catching up.

MM. We must expect that there is economic damage in this country that is not going to be healed over night and that what's going to happen is that hordes and hordes of youth are not going to have jobs immediately, and what we should do at the start, what we are trying to do as a start, is to facilitate access to education, that those youths who are still of that age must get to school easily because you find that youth that is outside now looking for jobs are sometimes people who are supposed to be at school. Therefore that must be facilitated, that's why the Minister of Education said that even if you don't have money, get to school; even those who don't have text books, get to school. Then a person, a child, must not be chased away because it doesn't have fees, it doesn't have books, it doesn't have uniform, and that's a beginning that is going to corrode big numbers and also people must not be chased from school because they are old, because of their age. There are some endeavours in some areas where the age, if somebody is too old to get to certain classes, therefore there should be special arrangements that they be also accommodated in a certain way towards training, education, etc., etc. That will accommodate big numbers so that then whites who are still trying to create jobs, people are trained and educated on the other side. I think this is where we have to put more efforts educating, training, and then the private sector must take the responsibility here not only for their workers but also for the communities where they are able to assist in the process of training the youth and keeping the youth busy to sharpen them for when they get jobs. Then that will tame, that will put water on the fire.

. The second area is then that through the RDP jobs must be created and the target must be the youth of our country, and again training links to that. That's not going to get rid of the backlog or get rid of the numbers, percentage, but if there is a will, if the government has a will, people will understand, the youth will understand that the government is trying. Yes, that march was justified because there were atrocities that were committed by the government of the Western Cape, the Ministry of Education, they were marching against that ministry that is still living in the old apartheid approach, seeing these kids as black and discriminating, which we condemned. There was no need for that march, it was created by the ministry, the provincial ministry of the Western Cape. In other areas the children are accommodated in the white schools, they are accommodated, new schools are created and old schools that were not used are opened and white schools are accommodating children, there is no problem. If you look at Gauteng there is no problem around the sphere of education because there is enough open accommodation. Yes, there are problems here and there but not a general trend, there's no racism.

POM. What are the greatest obstacles to the implementation of the RDP?

MM. Obstacles to that are finances, the first problem, that there are no immediate finances so that we can do what we would like to do 100%. Secondly, the skills, the RDP has to start from scratch to skill people, to arrange training, etc., etc., instead of directly creating jobs, to see that we have a ready made force that is skilled that can take up jobs. Thirdly, the fact that the local government is not yet there and is still going to take time to put democratic local government which is a number one instrument to implementation of the RDP, to democratise our local government. And fourthly, that you have a strong civil society but that lacks financial resources. If you talk of the civic movement in this country it lacks resources to be able to tackle the issues so that it runs parallel to the local government, the government assisting the democratisation of the process, assisting the implementation and making people ready for this process. They are looking at the trade union movement, that the trade union movement, though it has some resources, but it's not like the other trade union movements in the UK, in the States where there are resources, they have resources, you have stable finances. We are still depending on international donations, international assistance, therefore it's going to be difficult to actively participate in training workers. So those are problems that we are still going to grapple with.

. Yes, the crime is another problem that we have to grapple with. It's easy to do that when we talk of just crime, organised crime, but when you talk about ordinary crime caused by unemployment then that's where the difficulty comes in. It's difficult to be harsh too much on those people but, yes, you can be harsh on drug syndicates, organised crime like that and bank robbers, etc., because they are paid, it's not that they are unemployed. So, therefore, the government has to be decisive when it comes to that. The violence has ebbed considerably. I would say that the violent activities are less than 5% now.

POM. Is it starting to rise again in Natal?

MM. It is starting to rise again, that could also be another problem.

POM. Thirty one people in January, it's a lot of people.

MM. If then the moving away of Inkatha from parliament becomes linked to violence then that could be another problem that would affect the implementation. So I would say that we are still having problems but we are optimistic. It's not like the problems of yesterday. We can contain it. Mandela is becoming decisive and says that we are not going to tolerate criminal activities, organised or unorganised, we are not going to tolerate violence. The way he put down the resistance in Transkei from the police is showing the determination that we want to implement the RDP, we don't want disturbance towards that.

POM. Just one or two last questions. If one goes back to the violence again, the Institute for Democracy in South Africa conducted a poll which indicated that only 26% of all respondents were prepared to allow political opponents, would tolerate the IFP or the NP or whatever coming into town to vote in their areas. There is a huge lack of political tolerance.

MM. Oh yes. Yes, you have to understand that from the background that there has been intolerance in the past where you find that in our areas we wouldn't tolerate the National Party presence, the presence of the enemy as it was termed. That was the time when there was no democracy, the new dispensation was not yet there and there was intolerance. In the white communities where the AWB wouldn't like the presence of the blacks, the National Party would fight the ANC physically, etc., etc. And I would say that we are still suffering the remnants of that. People on the ground are still believing that the National Party is an enemy and you will find the National Party still regarding the ANC as an enemy in their own constituencies, the Inkatha Freedom Party and all sorts of things. I think that is expected because of the animosities that were generated by apartheid and the fight against apartheid. It's going to take time but if there is political will that the political party leaders tell their community that we are in the new dispensation, that there should be tolerance, so therefore it is going to take a lot of work to drive that home that there should be tolerance.

POM. Is the walkout by the IFP serious, a very serious problem?

MM. Well it's not serious at all. It has not impacted even the economy, the business where you find that the Stock Exchange falls when something like that happens. There was nothing this time, they just took that as a joke and the economy didn't take that seriously. The economic indicators are showing clearly that that is a joke. And this is a joke because also then the government is not going to tolerate always accommodating Inkatha and Buthelezi's child's play. If you talk of mediation, why should we have mediation whilst there is no deadlock, whilst the government of national unity is working properly? Why should there be mediation? It's where there are deadlocks, so we don't see why ...

POM. But the ANC signed an agreement that provided for mediation.

MM. For when there are deadlocks.

POM. So just bring a mediator in, sit him down.

MM. To do what?

POM. And after twenty four hours the mediator says, "Hey, I've nothing to do", but you've got your mediation.

MM. But mediation for what? There should be terms of reference that now we are calling mediation for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Why should you do that if there is nothing to mediate? For the sake of mediation? Mediation for what? Then I think it's an act of lunacy and also an act of desperation that Buthelezi is losing power in Natal, losing power nationally in fact because of his approach and his walking out that doesn't affect us. We say it's a non-issue. He must stay as far as he wants outside. It's his democratic right to come into parliament and get out of parliament, to come into this government of national unity or get out of the government of national unity. We are not going to persuade him as before. We have accommodated Inkatha and Buthelezi enough, wanting to really accommodate everybody. Now that he is too big for his boots then he must be allowed to jump into the nearest lake and then, but the law and order, no-one must be allowed to further kill into this anarchy and chaos in our areas, no blood must be allowed to be spilled by political egos of politicians. The violence in Natal must be stopped and the President is prepared to do that, to stop the violence there.

POM. Has the ANC or the government of national unity got a Winnie problem? Does it have a Winnie problem, Winnie Mandela? Has she become a real problem in terms of both her financial dealings and the criticism of government policy and especially disobeying the presidential decree not to travel to West Africa? Where is the line drawn?

MM. Well we are saying that Winnie is part of this government, part of the leadership of the ANC. The ANC at present is dealing with the matter whether she defied the President or not, the press is saying that she has defied - until she comes back, because it will depend on the reason why she had to leave whilst it was said she must not leave. It may be that, oh well it was going to be a disaster because already the arrangements - so it will depend upon the explanation. Then we can say, I think it's too quick to say that yes she has defied. And, secondly, the financial arrangements, again on that one the ANC has set up a disciplinary committee that has investigated whatever allegations, but not witch-hunting, and it is only that committee, it's only after then that we can say that so-and-so has been having financial dealings that are against the government.

POM. The same would apply to Peter Mokaba?

MM. Well the disciplinary committee will act on information that is provided to it. That means if anybody has some information he will go to that committee and say I've got this information against so-and-so but the committee is not just going to look for problems but it will accept the information. Once it has information that warrants investigation it will act on that and if it warrants discipline it will act on that, and if it warrants whatever action; but we are saying that it must not be witch-hunting, you must definitely look for evidence, concrete evidence before you act on anything, whatever action. The ANC has a constitution which lays down what should be done to anybody who is breaching the constitution and the code of conduct so therefore the disciplinary committee will be interpreting that on whatever occasion. And also we are saying that there should be a government code of conduct for the public employees, especially the ministries and people put forward, elected. That also has to be worked out and then be followed and whatever breach then has to be investigated and be acted upon. The government is not going to tolerate corruption, it is not going to tolerate breaches of good governance and we will make sure that there is clean government.

POM. Last question. How would you say you have changed, or have you, over the last few years? Four years ago would you have been an advocate of - moderated your position on socialism?

MM. Well I'm a socialist and I would say in the true sense that being in the government of national unity we had to moderate our ideological feelings and what we wanted to see when we get freedom. We wanted to seek a socialist dispensation. That is not going to happen because we have a government of national unity and also even then we were not seeing the socialist goal being achieved in one jump but we were seeing that it will come through the democratisation gradually. There will be one person one vote, political democracy, and further then we work towards that goal, socialist goal. I think we are still on that trend, therefore it's moderation to accommodate that process. That process is a gradual process towards the final goal and moderation that in this freedom we would have thought that there would be just the only people in government, the ANC government without the government of national unity. We had to moderate that to accommodate, in order to stabilise the country, accommodating the parties that were on the other side of the war. And so those are the major areas of moderation.

POM. Thanks very much. You're a great interview. I will see you again in about six or seven months. I'll see you before that because when I come back to Cape Town again you will have those materials together.

MM. Yes, then we will meet and you can get the material and you can see who to get as a publisher.

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.