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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

27 Sep 1995: Eglin, Colin

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POM. Mr Eglin, if I could first ask you a general question, after eighteen months of this government of national unity being in operation in what direction is the country heading? Are you satisfied that it is heading in the right direction or do you have some serious concerns that there are fissures in the democratic structures that have been set up in 1995?

CE. I think on balance if you are talking of heading in a direction, I think one of the better things about the present situation is the direction in which one is moving. The direction is within the constraints of fiscal discipline to go in for a major socio-economic restructuring following the political restructuring and in that sense I think the direction is still there. The question mark is of course on the delivery side and there I think the delivery is falling far behind the intended time of delivery, and of course if you don't deliver you can expect a more fractious, a more discontented, in a sense a more disillusioned public and out of that you might get some fracture lines in the democratic society. So in terms of direction that's the better part of it. In terms of actual achievement and delivery I think we're falling far behind.

POM. One of the things I've seen a lot of reference to on this occasion that I had not in the past, and that is to the so-called gravy train. Is there a gravy train or is it a bigger or no different than the gravy train that existed in the past?

CE. I don't think probably in terms of quantum of reward for individual or access to money for individual, each person, I don't think it's any worse than it was before but you've got a practical difficulty in terms of perception and that is before the gravy train was measured in terms of what is gravy in a fairly affluent first world society. In other words salaries and perks and advantages were kind of comparable to what they would have been at managerial level in the free market society, whereas a big section of South Africa was excluded from that. Now a significant number of people have come from the third world economic society, many of them not having employment, many of them earning very low salaries and suddenly they are moving into salaries and rewards which are comparable not with the society from which they have come in a sense, I am talking of the economic society, but in this new society into which they have now emerged, in other words the first world society and quite clearly there is now in a sense a new elite developing which didn't exist before.

. So I don't think for instance MPs salaries are any greater than they were before. But the perception of 75% of the people who are still stuck at R2000-00, R3000-00 per month seeing members of parliament earning R15000-00 a month, certainly must make them feel there is a gravy train. So I think it's not so much that salaries or reward has gone up more than it has been but because people who didn't enjoy them before are now receiving them and the rest of their community is sensitive about it. What has happened is the size of the affluent is increasing more rapidly than the aggregate of the society as a whole. If the whole of society had moved forward like that was fine, but as a sudden shift of a part of that society into a degree of affluence whereas the rest of the society is still where it was or more or less, and I think it's this disparity of wealth which was before a disparity you could say between white and black and there was almost a recognition of that reality but when in fact it becomes within your black community itself then the view is a gravy train. And also before, the voters who voted, if you're talking of gravy train in terms of public office, the voters who voted up until 1994, last year, were themselves relatively affluent so they didn't think their members of parliament were extraordinarily affluent. But when you've got voters of whom five million are unemployed and seven million are living in squatter shacks then they have got a different perception of what members of parliament or public officers should earn. So I think it is not that the quantum in terms of individual reward has gone up but the people who are receiving the reward are accountable to a different constituency and therefore the disparity is visibly greater than it was before.

POM. Maybe you can help me on this because I have a lot of difficulty in understanding exactly how the system of voting works in local government and I should tell you that every other person I ask how it works gives me a different interpretation.

CE. Well I can only tell you there are variations to deal with it in rural council areas and things where you couldn't establish viable voters' rolls and communities and things like that. But for all what I call normal local authorities, and bear in mind that what we're having now is an interim local authority just as we've got an interim central government, basically if that square over there represents 100% of the voters, 40% will be voted for across the board in that local authority area on the basis of proportional representation. So it will be the same, they will have lists and if a party gets 10% of the vote it will get 10% of those seats. So 40% of the seats are voted for on proportional representation throughout the whole local authority area. The other 60% is divided into two halves, 30% and 30%, those are seats, and those 30% of the seats are allocated to those areas within the local authority that always had statutory local authorities. So if there was a white local authority or a coloured local authority or an Indian local authority in those areas they would be allocated that block of seats.

POM. So they are guaranteed 30% of the seats.

CE. In those areas, not to the people because there may be blacks living in those areas. In those areas they are allocated 30% of the seats. And in the areas that never had representation, black areas because they didn't have black local authorities in terms of this Act, they are given that other 30%. So that is a common voters' roll for everyone, these are common voters' rolls but within areas which were essentially previously coloured, Indian, white and areas which are essentially black. It doesn't mean to say that if there's a white living in a black area he will then be registered there and not there and if there's a black living there he will be registered there, but in the main because the Group Areas Act has not been adjusted completely, that would be the effect. But if I take Hillbrow for instance, which will fall under this lot because it falls within a white local authority area, I would assume that there would be more blacks registered there than whites. So it isn't that blacks are on a separate roll and whites on a separate roll but the area which was covered by let's say the Johannesburg local authority is given 30% and the area that is covered by Soweto is given that 30%. So that's how the three, that's right across the board in the whole local authority. This is also divided into wards, into wards in that area and wards in those areas.

. Now what you get of course in the main, the major disparities are that in the smaller towns in the Transvaal on a proportional basis I suppose the whites would be lucky if they got 1% of the seats because there are so few of them, so the whites would be hopelessly over-represented in the smaller areas of the Transvaal and the blacks would be under-represented because they both have the same number of seats. In the Western Cape you get just the reverse because the blacks are much smaller than the coloureds and whites together and so the coloureds and whites are under-represented and the blacks are over-represented. That's the formula, that's proportionate and this is wards and that's everybody and the other one is divided into two sections, the existing local authority areas get 30% and the other non local authority areas get 30%.

POM. I live in Cyrildene outside Johannesburg.

CE. You'd get a vote there and you'd get a vote there.

POM. I'd get two votes?

CE. One for proportional representation and you'd get a ward vote.

POM. Now just as a hypothesis, what if all the domestic servants and gardeners or whatever in Cyrildene all came out ...?

CE. They all registered and they all voted, if they were registered there.

POM. If they were registered in ...?

CE. In that area. If they were registered in Cyrildene they would vote in Cyrildene.

POM. What if their candidate 'won', it wouldn't matter whether they were black or white.

CE. No, no, there's no racial separation in terms of the voters' roll, it depends on where you are registered, so if the black gardener has a room in Cyrildene in the house where he works he would register there and that's where he would vote and I think you will find significantly in the Transvaal, in many of the suburbs, there may be a significant number of blacks registered. They might even outnumber whites, well I'm suggesting that Hillbrow is one. Hillbrow which is technically white in terms of the area, I should imagine in terms of registered voters is overwhelmingly black. This was a kind of cobbled together compromise at the time of CODESA, at Kempton Park, to find a way of getting it going. There was an argument it shouldn't only be wards because then it will be strictly racial, therefore a mixture of PR for 40%, wards for 60% and the wards divided into two blocks. So if nobody else has told you what it is you had better hang on to that.

POM. In recent weeks the Democratic Party in particular has been sounding more and more like an opposition party in terms of its accusations, maybe accusations isn't the right word, but in terms of its statements that the government tried to railroad major legislation through parliament in the last days of parliament without adequate public debate and the ANC increasingly was wielding the stick of its own power and paying less and less attention to the idea of consensus.

CE. Well our concern wasn't only that the ANC was doing it but that the Nats were collaborating with them in doing it because the Nats were voting, you saw them voting there on that constitutional issue together with the government. So I mean it wasn't that the ANC was doing it, it was the ANC/National Party government together that was doing it. And the ANC is the dominant party in government but there are nine other Cabinet ministers, three from the IFP and six from the National Party, so it was that the government per se that was insensitive. But I want to be quite frank, yes I think we've come out strongly on certain issues but we still are stopping short of behaving as one would in what I call a normal Westminster society where the function of an opposition party is merely to oppose. In other words if you listen to many of our speeches while they are critical they are also very constructive, they would put forward alternatives all the time. So that ours is not what I would call a traditional opposition for the sake of opposition but equally we've got no reservation of opposing when we think that something is fundamentally wrong. And so it is a difference in style, it is selective opposition on key issues rather than general opposition merely to say that we are in opposition, and I think it has more credibility because I think when you are supportive on good issues it also strengthens you when you are opposing on bad issues. So we think considering our numbers we're fairly tough and outspoken but it is on selected issues where we think it is credible to oppose. I think just to oppose for the sake of opposition you start losing credibility.

POM. Now with this present dispute going on, particularly in the Western Cape over the demarcation of the boundaries for the metropolitan Cape area, bringing into question the powers of the president versus what the constitution says, in that context do you see the Constitutional Assembly fine-tuning the interim constitution or do you see it making fundamental constitutional changes?

CE. Let me quickly express a subliminal concern that I have; when we originally decided on who should draw up the next constitution, this one that we are busy drawing up now, the Democratic Party was satisfied it should be an elected body because we didn't believe that anybody else had the status prior to an election but we didn't believe that that elected body should be the parliament, we actually believed we should elect a Constitutional Assembly for the purpose of drawing up the constitution. And a very good reason was that it is extraordinarily difficult for people who are in power to look objectively at a new constitution because the very fact that you are in power you tend to defend your position of power and you are certainly unlikely to surrender any more power than the power that you already have to surrender in terms of the constitution. And so there is a concern that here is a body drawing up the constitution and if that body is dominated by the majority party, if it feels it's been thwarted by the present constitution it's more likely to dilute the next constitution than to strengthen it. Likewise if you take the question of whether more power should flow to the provinces or to the centre. There is no doubt that the ministers who are exercising centralised power will see no good reason to shed any more power to the provinces. I think there is always a danger of a group of people in power drawing up the constitution for the next group of people who might come into power so it could well be that the effect of all this is to weaken the powers of the constitution vis-à-vis the government in the next one. I hope it doesn't work that way but there is a fear that this could be the case.

POM. Is there any tendency on the part of ANC premiers now that they have power, to want more power?

CE. Well (a) we don't come in touch with them directly. One of the sadnesses is that although we have tried through the Democratic Party to get direct representation from the premiers to the CA the majority of the CA said, well let's use the Commission on Provincial Government as the pipeline and so it's always been filtered through that commission. And secondly, the ANC has decided that none of their premiers can make direct representations to the CA, they must make it via the party and then the party will make the representations on their behalf. So there has been a tussle, we have tried and we still are trying to get the premiers of the provincial governments to come and make direct representations but so far they have not. The only one has been the Province of the North Cape where they have at least set up a Constitutional Committee and direct from them the Constitutional Committee has sent through their recommendations. So if you ask me, I'm not aware of how strongly or weakly they feel. I should imagine there is a degree of tussle going on within the ranks of the ANC with the centralists saying more power and the provincialists saying more power. But, unfortunately, that doesn't come through directly to the CA because we've been insulated from them.

POM. It's kind of ironic that a process which is touted as being so transparent and everybody is invited to make their submission as to what should be in the constitution or not in the constitution, that the premiers of the provinces are precluded from making direct representation.

CE. Well they make it but as I say it all comes through the party to which they belong or they come through in a kind of consensus way through the Commission on Provincial Government but there's no specific direct input from the ANC provincial people.

POM. In the ANC given that the system of government is proportional representation, a list system, which would strengthen the tendency that your first allegiance is to the party and not to the people, do you think the ANC behaves in many ways like not a party but the government? Let me give you an example, an example would have been when Popo Molefe fired Rocky Malebane-Metsing and he was hauled before the National Executive of the ANC and they said he must find a way to reinstate this guy, find him some job. But it seemed that the party was interfering in what would be the prerogative, one of the first prerogatives of a premier in any democracy is to hire and fire people in his Cabinet at will.

CE. Yes, well, I don't know whether that was just the party interfering in what I call a benign way and saying, look let's try to sort out this thing, or whether the party was giving a formal instruction, I don't know. I presume in these rows there are over Piet Marais and Roelf Meyer the National Party Head Committee is having discussions as well. I think the ANC is a fascinating animal in this sense on two issues. One is it philosophically tends to want to have a centralised approach to things and yet it itself is structured federally. It has got a very powerful NEC but equally it's got very powerful, seven very powerful regional components. Itself has got a strong regional component and they tell me at ANC conferences that the regions are very powerful and very outspoken. So they reflect the dilemma of where do we go.

. The other one which is interesting and that is that in a normal way a political party that has endured a long struggle of liberation and then wins the struggle for liberation would tend to completely fuse the party and the government. In other words, we have won and therefore we now take over. I still think it's remarkable that in the circumstances the ANC has shown a certain degree of separateness between the party and the government, I think particularly in parliament where there is a prevalent view amongst members of parliament that their duty is to check on the government. And, therefore, if you come to the portfolio committees and you read some of their reports they are extremely critical of the government. So the ANC is ambivalent on both of these issues but I think it's an interesting mix at this moment. Of course it might move in one direction or the other but at the moment it's a combination of centralism and decentralism and it's a combination of all kinds of democracy.

POM. Is President Mandela the glue that holds that kind of coalition of contradictory ...?

CE. I don't know whether he holds that glue, I don't know whether he holds the glue between centralists and decentralists and democracy. I think he holds the national glue, even if he was a bad president, because he led the ANC to victory he would have still held the glue as far as the ANC's unity is concerned. But I think he is much more, he has become the father figure of the nation and in that sense he is keeping the whole show together in what otherwise could be a very uneasy struggle between the various elements. So, yes, he's very important but I don't know whether he's as important in policy matters as he is in what I call philosophical matters. In philosophical and directional matters I think he's the key person but I'm not aware as to how much he argues or gets involved in the argument between the centralists and the decentralists.

POM. Do you worry about what might happen when he steps down, in the next government?

CE. One can always worry, I've always decided in life there's no use worrying about inevitabilities. If by worrying he wouldn't step down that would be a different matter but I went up to Kenya very often and when I heard first of all Jomo Kenyatta was the voice of darkness and death, he had been in office for three years and they say, well it's not too bad but what will happen when the old man goes? I think you get the same kind of thing, five years ago Mandela was the object of great concern and dislike as far as many whites were concerned, very few understood what it was all about. Now there's a different view on it. I would think that it's critically important that he stays on during this formative period and I think the impact of his behaviour is going to carry on for some time. He's not going to be off till 1999 and I'm not worried in that sense. I would prefer that somebody of his stature was still around but I don't think that means the wheels are going to come off because he's going to disappear, otherwise we might as well start leaving the country now or disinvest if that's the only criteria. I think he is a most remarkable and unique person for this stage, but I don't know that five years down the track that a single person is going to be as critically important as a single person is now.

POM. As the dominant party in government, what should the ANC being doing differently than it's doing now?

CE. You can instruct people, I just think that they are not showing great managerial skills. I think many of the policies are admirable and the directions and the concepts and the openness and the transparency and the participation and the discussion, will they manage that they can make it work? I find that they are not demonstrating a great degree of managerial skill and that goes from the top right down, lower down. The Cabinet doesn't impress me as being managerially orientated, when I come to parliament I think they are good democrats and good at discussions, I don't think when it comes to management it's as tightly rigged as it should be. So I would argue first of all the whole question of managerial skills.

. The other thing, it's not the ANC's problem per se, it's all of our problem, I think we haven't yet evolved the change from the legitimate lack of discipline in terms of the law, in terms of society and all the rest of it you had in the liberation struggle, to what you should be having now. It's a small thing but really I don't mind the workers in Johannesburg going on strike over whatever it may be but I think the trashing, breaking up water mains and things like this is a sign of social indiscipline which I think is making the whole question of delivery of goods and services which depend on a growing economy, putting it all in danger. I've just come back from overseas, it's not that people think this country is going to fall apart but every time they look on the television they see something like that, they see some patients dying in a hospital because the nurses have gone on strike, whatever it may be, people say, well I'm going to wait a little longer before I come to a decision about the future of South Africa and if it's a businessman saying it he says, well I'm going to wait a little longer until I invest.

. So that in a society in which economic growth is an absolute imperative, if you're going to have delivery on the RDP, somehow or other society has got to show more discipline in order to achieve that economic growth. I think Mandela understands it, I think if you see his statement again yesterday after 500 days in power, he was saying yes, we've got to address these issues, the violence the indiscipline of society, etc., etc. I don't think the indiscipline has reached proportions where it is dangerous to the stability of the state but it's extremely bad for the image in terms of our immediate goals of economic growth.

. So I think somehow or other the ANC has to get it, it's a hard thing to tell it's supporters, but if you want a better life for all, and that's what you voted for, then somehow the society has got to look as though it wants a better life for all and it actually disciplines itself so that that better life becomes possible. But social indiscipline, I use that word, is not going to lead to a better life I'm afraid. I think it's a process through which a whole society is going after many years of deprivation, of not having access to political power, how do you know to apply the pressures now that you have political power in a way that doesn't damage the potential of the society.

POM. Going back to the RDP, 18 months ago this was touted as being the centre piece of the government policies for economic development. It seems to have kind of withered on the vine in a certain kind of a way, that it is not delivering what it said it could deliver, that the resources are not there to implement many of its programmes, that many of its resources are being poorly used or not used at all and that it's more of a case of almost when you talk about the RDP of nobody saying the Emperor has no clothes.

CE. Yes, and so? What's the question?

POM. The question is what in fact is the RDP delivering if in fact it is delivering anything or is it more an exercise in PR at this point than the implementation of concrete policies that result in concrete results, particularly the creation of jobs?

CE. Yes I think the RDP is falling progressively behind in terms of delivery. But equally I think one has to look at what the RDP was going to do. First of all it was only going to spend an extra two million rands per year which actually isn't a large amount of money in terms of the total gross domestic product so it was a fairly modest proposal on the basis that it would be two, two then five, then seven, then twelve. So it never was intended in the first couple of years to get to the twelve, it was intended to come in incrementally at two so in that sense it was modest. But for the RDP to succeed it has to succeed in three areas. It has to succeed in the contribution made by the government, that is that amount of money and whatever restructuring the government can do by saying we are good government and good policies, that's what the government was going to do. The other one was the private sector which was critical. Unless the private sector grows or the GDP grows by 3% per annum the money won't be enough. That depends on you growing by 3%. Well so far it hasn't achieved that target and therefore the private sector, the economy has fallen behind and therefore the tax base and the resource base has fallen behind and the job creation base because governments don't create jobs in the long term, they might give jobs for a short term but long term job creation is here. So that one hasn't delivered yet.

. And the final one is, and I call it community and the individual, it is Masakhane, it means 'help ourselves'. Now that hasn't got off the ground properly for two reasons. One is I think because local governments aren't in place, or community government isn't in place and in fact delivery really takes place, or RDP takes place at community level more than anywhere else. So they have fallen behind on that and I don't think the public has yet caught the spirit of the RDP. It's still too much a dependency on big brother to hand out, not that the government and the private sector we must make an equal contribution to make it work.

. So for these three reasons, I think the government's reason is (a) they didn't have their policies in place. I think even more so is the restructuring of the civil service, it's proving to be a much more disruptive factor than anybody had appreciated. So, yes, it's falling a bit, we should be 18 months down the track. I suppose in terms of policy we are 18 months, in terms of delivery I suppose we're about 15 months and the way it's going when it should be 36 this will probably be down to 25. So we are falling progressively behind and if I analyse those three reasons the most critical one is that one and this is why ...

POM. Which one?

CE. The public sector, the economy growing. If the economy doesn't grow the only way the government can do anything is print more money and that is just devaluing the value of your currency. So critical to that is the economy growing. But those three elements have to work together if the RDP is going to succeed. So it isn't just is South Africa succeeding and so far we are not succeeding to keep up with the timetable of the really modest expectations that there were for it. The public might have had greater expectations. If you look at the government's programme, that two million, five million this year, is not a great amount of money and actually I don't think that your problem is the amount of money available at the moment, I think it's there's no delivery. In other words the government can't spend any more on RDP because it hasn't got any agencies through which it can spend it. If RDP is not just a handout, soup kitchens or free meals, if it actually is a community uplift programme I don't think they could have spent any more money in the time available without these other things taking place at the same time.

POM. Could you in that context address three things. One would be, as you said, the restructuring of the civil service is a much larger and more complicated problem than originally anticipated. Two, that provincial governments aren't working that well because of a poorly trained civil service. And, three, if that's true at a provincial level and the cream of the leadership has gone into the national level, what happens at the local level?

CE. OK, I'm pleased to address all three of those. The civil service at the national level, I think there are enough qualified personnel available to have a fairly competent civil service but you have a practical problem and that is you had seventeen racially structured civil services before. Six homelands, four independent states, the coloured, Indian, white, black departments, four provinces all racially structured. Now the constitution requires that you should break down the racial structure so you are taking seventeen racially structured civil services and you are reshaping them into one central civil service, non-racial and nine provincial civil services, non-racial. Now that restructuring is going to be a problem. The second one is the provinces are all new provinces, it wasn't that you had existing provinces or existing states as you had in America and you just graft something on to it. The provinces are in a sense artificial. Natal not too bad, Free State not too bad, all the rest weren't on the map in that form before so it isn't just saying, well we're going to add a little bit to that province, actually within the provinces it's a major restructure. Those two factors are a problem.

. The second one is the constitution makes provision for the fact that civil servants shouldn't suffer disadvantage in terms of employment because of the new constitution. That puts constraints once again on hiring and firing. It was designed essentially to try to protect, the National Party insisted on protecting the Afrikaner white civil servants who they thought would be under pressure. Well it may be doing that to an extent, but we now find that it is also protecting a large number of highly incompetent former civil servants in the TBVC countries. All of them got rapid promotion. You saw the story in the press the other day that they now find that there are thirteen Chief Magistrates in South Africa but there are thirty nine in the Transkei. They are also protected by the constitution. So you are not only protecting the reasonably competent people who you might have wanted to get rid of for other reasons, political or racial reasons, but you're also protecting a large number of people who were incompetent and remain incompetent but who have to still be employed at the same levels, so that aggravates the problem.

. Then the last one is the civil service has to be made more representative of the people as a whole, that's a constitutional requirement, and while it's correct and while it leads to what you could call directive or affirmative action it does create, have a disruptive effect. And I think the end product will probably be better than the old product and you will have more creative thinking. But in the process of changing from an old system to a new system with new personalities, with old experienced fossilised people departing and new inexperienced people coming in, it is becoming very difficult to gel and that applies at national level although there I say I think there is a reservoir of competent people if you go across the racial divide. When you come to provincial level there is a smaller reservoir because the population isn't as evenly spread. I think Gauteng could probably have enough competent people to run two provincial governments. I think the Northern Province probably hasn't got enough people to run one. So you've got a practical problem of the mal-distribution of resources especially when you come to provincial level.

POM. That's human resources?

CE. Yes that as well. The other you can get rid of mechanically. You can plan money around. Human capacity. And the last one is the local which worries me very much indeed. I mean you're creating a vast number of new local authorities which will carry with them always the charm and inefficiency of transparency and democracy and all the rest of it, but who are going to be the new Town Clerks, who are going to be the new City Treasurers, who are going to be the new Engineers? I don't know. And what does concern me is not the degree of democracy but the degree of competence you are going to have at local government level. You ask me if foreigners say, Colin what can we do to help? I would say within your own limited resources anything they can do to improve the human capacity at local government level, which I think is going to be a critically important and very worrying level.

POM. In that context, just as an aside, I at the University of Massachusetts with some other institutions in the United States have put together or are in the process of putting together over the last two years a massive proposal for AID to train people at the local level and I'll get you a copy of the draft proposal, it's being amended as we go on and change of budget and whatever, but a letter of support from people like yourself ...

CE. Assistance to get the economy going is a private sector responsibility from outside, but if anybody wants to assist in what I call, how do you help democratic government or governance, I would say plug in at local level, that's where it's going to be the most critical, that's where there's going to be the greatest shortage and in terms of delivery it's where you need the most competent people. So I would certainly support anything in that direction.

POM. I'll send you on a copy, but this is bringing me to what I see as the contradiction, so to speak, is that on the one hand the RDP is being touted as being the engine that will drive reconstruction and development and it is said that this will be implemented, that the primary vehicle of implementation would be at the local level and at the same time you are going to elect local authorities who will given this task who will be the least resourceful, least talented.

CE. No, no, I'm inclined to agree. What worries me is that it may bring more, it may develop people themselves, it may give people a greater sense of community and even that may be helpful but from a purely technical administrative point of view I think those local governments are going to be hard pressed to deliver on that account. So you ask me the problems, yes those three, local government is the one that worries me.

POM. What about the recent rate of absenteeism in the final weeks of the last parliamentary session where the government couldn't put together a quorum even to pass the budget, the most critical piece of legislation to come before it?

CE. I think you must be careful, it wasn't the budget, it was a supplementary estimate. In other words it was what was left over but not yet put into the budget, so the main budget was approved and then you get what is called the little budget which is the supplementary budget to pick up all the additional items of expenditure which have already been identified. I think it's unforgivable for a government, well I don't think it was absenteeism in that sense, I was at another committee at that time, we were sitting up in Stal Plein, up in the President's Council Room, nobody said there's an important vote taking place. The women all went off to Beijing or whatever, I don't know where they were, but it's terribly bad management. What I am saying is the stage managers of a government, the Whips, the Leader of the House must know that there's a critical, important debate and they send us what the British call a three-line whip to every member to say you will bloody well be there, but they didn't do that. So I don't call it absenteeism in that sense, let's say a certain percentage was just absenteeism because of indifference but a large amount was not indifference, the vote was taken at an unusual time, 7.15 in the late afternoon, some people didn't know it was going to take place then, the Whips did not tell the people to get in their seats. So I would attribute that less to the indifference of members and more to the lack of managerial efficiency on the part of the people who should have arranged for them to be there.

. The same thing happened when the government, that's the ANC and the Nats combined couldn't get a two thirds majority. Damn it all, between them they have got 82%, 83% and they couldn't get 66%. So you know, just an old-fashioned kind of South Africa, pull their fingers out, the bosses should have seen they would be there. And of course a week later when they had a replay they did have their two thirds because they got their act together. But to me it just shows, I don't think, it's not a question of members of parliament not wanting to do their share of the work that is here because I think on balance they work harder than they used to work because of all the committees that are functioning, but it was just the bad management of the parliamentary process by the people who are responsible seeing that the majority is in their seats.

POM. In the British system you're dragged in from a hospital on a stretcher.

CE. Yes, well you saw Dave Dalling in the end, he came in in his wheelchair the next time around. They should have made sure he was there the first time round. I think we're wrong to apportion this. I'm not saying that everybody is equally conscientious, I don't think that is the essence of the thing, I just think it's the process, because of the pressures, because of the unevenness of the work flow, because nobody knew what was important or wasn't important, the people who were the stage managers, the floor managers as you call it in America, they were bad floor managers, they didn't deliver when they could have delivered.

POM. Turning just for a moment to the question I ask every year, the ongoing question of KwaZulu/Natal, here you have political violence rapidly on the rise again, you have the IFP who have walked out of the Constitutional Assembly, you have Dr Buthelezi making increasing noises about not just federalism any more but autonomy. Is there a real crisis looming down the road or do you think this is something that in the end will be negotiated out, one? Two, can you have a constitution that is not accepted by the country's largest province or in which they do not have an input?

CE. Well I don't say whether they are functioning within the constitution, Buthelezi is sitting in the Cabinet and Frank Mdlalose is the premier in KZN, you can say they rejected the present constitution but they are actually key functionaries, well that's no rejection. I mean a real rejecting is saying we'll have nothing to do with it, so it's a political rejection but a de facto acceptance. I was at Kempton Park, they rejected the present one but there they are all sitting. So it's an ambivalent position that they are adopting, it's a hard line but I don't think it indicates a rejection in the sense that it's a rejection in that it's not the constitution we want but it isn't a rejection to say that we are going to go into conflict or into war against the constitution. I think there's a difference between them. If you ask me I think it's unfortunate.

. As far as the killings are concerned I don't think that's a great argument between Zulus and others because I think the people who are killing are Zulus killing Zulus, it's got nothing to do with that. I don't think it's got much to do with federalism. I think if you went to those poor people who are being killed they would actually say, what's federalism about? The killings appear to be an ongoing settling of scores between political opponents in the same ethnic community largely. I don't quite know how if it's cause is merely that there are tensions within a community or also whether the side or sides have also got paid thugs that are doing it. I find it very difficult to believe that these are spontaneous violent outbursts within communities because then they will be more easily identified as who was responsible but there appears to be somebody walks in and shoots seven people or something like that and disappears into the mist and then the next weekend somebody of the other side gets seven people. So it's very ugly. I don't know whether it reflects, certainly I don't think it reflects an ethnic divide in Natal. It might reflect a political divide, it might be settling scores of revenge between elements that can identify each other.

. On the broader picture I'm disappointed that the IFP is not involved. I think they had a contribution to make. I don't think it matters from the CA's point of view. The CA has got to draw up a constitution and they must get two thirds, they might be able to get up to 90% without the IFP and that would be pretty good. What becomes bad, of course, is if the minority that withdraws or opposes is ethnically based, concentrated in a region and then uses this as a back basis for self-determination kind of thing. So it isn't the fact of drawing up the constitution, how good or bad it is, but what are the consequences on the ground.

. Unfortunately, I must get the impression that the IFP knows that this is an assessment and therefore they play this game as well. If the 10% of people living in a Tswana dominated province are not going to take part in the Constitutional Assembly we would say then that's too bad, but when 10% of people living in KwaZulu/Natal with a history of fierce mobilisation say it then people are worried not so much about the constitution but the consequences. So one is almost using a subliminal threat of the killing fields, not a threat, a warning of the killing fields as a way to achieve a political objective. I don't know how conscious or unconscious, but the fact that you ask me indicates not that it's so worried that it's the largest province over there, it is a province which has become historically known for its political violence. I'm not blaming who - if you look at that as a region, that has been a characteristic of Natal and therefore people are concerned, not that there's a 10%. I think if the constitution was approved by 90% of the members, provided the 10% was evenly distributed around the country we would say it is a triumph. If it was supported by 90% but 10% were so opposed to it that they could switch to violence in their opposition then it's very serious. I don't know.

POM. I went up to the Shaka Day celebrations in both Stanger and Umlazi over the weekend and Buthelezi was playing the self-determination card almost in the open, talking about the final destiny of the Zulu people as more or less independence.

CE. He is a good friend of mine, I've known him for many years, long before he was in the exalted position he is now and he's an enigma because in parliament he's like a cuddly teddy bear, he's so friendly and kind to everybody, jovial, and then off he goes to Ulundi and he's a different person. Come back here and every time we meet, everybody, again never really a rough word. So there you are, it is worrying. Also it's a problem in that I don't know how much of it is of, let's say, ethnic mobilisation, spontaneous ethnic mobilisation, and to what extent political leaders are mobilising ethnically. So yes, if you ask me, in the long term it is worrying. I don't know what support the IFP has got in KwaZulu/Natal, I mean I don't know whether it's gaining or not gaining, I don't know.

POM. I think I saw some independent survey by Markinor which said that if there were an election tomorrow that the IFP would lose it.

CE. Well that may be right or may be wrong. I think market surveys in heavily tribal areas are very often inaccurate because you don't get to the tribal people in the same proportions as you get to the people in the cities and there the individual would have less view on it, you would have to actually go and hit the nail of getting the right Amakosis to give you the answer. I don't know how strong it is. It certainly sounds pretty strong when you hear old Gatsha holding forth.

POM. To go back to the economy, I have talked to every Minister of Finance from Barend du Plessis to Derek Keys twice, Chris Liebenberg, and I've asked them all about the capacity of the economy to generate jobs and all of them have given the same reply, they have all kind of smiled, looked at me and said, if we can reduce unemployment by 1% a year up to the year 2000 we'll be lucky. So they are really saying that on the employment scene, on the employment side there is not really any great possibility of jobs being generated in large amounts that would make a significant difference in the level of unemployment and yet unemployment is at the heart of the economic problem. Again the conundrum, are the people being sold something that simply can't be delivered?

CE. Well I don't know what the expectation of the public is on jobs, I don't know whether they are expecting more than 1% or 3% or 2%. In a society where we were reducing our employment every year for the past ten years, 1% is probably about 5% more than it was the year before, but we had a minus employment rate before. I'm not arguing that it's good, I don't know what the level of employment is going to be. I think it's also extremely dangerous to look at employment in terms of what I call a formal employment in the formal sector. If you are going to wait for the formal employment only, which is going to rely heavily on that internal and external investment I don't think you are going to achieve. But if I take two areas in which there was no formal employment and in which there are now hundreds of thousands of people employed, that is the taxi industry. Ten years ago there was no taxi industry because it wasn't allowed. By merely opening up the taxi industry we have actually created jobs and a small amount of economic haves and economic capitalism for I suppose eighty to a hundred thousand people who are now in that particular industry, not as workers for other people many of them, but as workers for themselves.

. I think even the informal trading thing, it doesn't count as being employed. You say the streets look untidy but what I am saying is somehow those people are employed, of course they are employing themselves. If you go into the townships, say Khayelitsha, 60% unemployed, but a hell of a lot of people are earning a living. They are running hairdressing salons or they are selling coke or they are fixing bicycles or mending television sets or they are making burglar bars. Now I think we have relied too heavily on the formal sector and unfortunately the effect of colonialism followed by apartheid for the vast sector of your black community inevitably created a psychology of dependency, you were dependent on somebody else because you weren't allowed to be dependent on yourself, it was forbidden to be dependent. You had to be dependent on either the government or the big companies to give you jobs and I think you've got to work out of that psychology of dependency to a greater psychology of self-reliance.

. And I think it is starting to move but it's falling way behind. So if you ask me it's not going to be just the economy in what I call the formal sense in that the Chamber of Commerce or SACCOB or Raymond Parsons are going to say, we created 30,000 new jobs. It's how many people are being to sustain themselves economically compared with what was before. And I think the whole question of the small micro-businesses, the individual up to the medium sized businesses are areas where this country is going to have to concentrate on. I don't think it's going to be by opening up new aluminium smelters. That gives you foreign exchange and that's very necessary, or stainless steel plants, it's very necessary. But it's how you are going to inculcate a concept of self-reliance among ordinary people. So it's a mixture. The jobs depend on the growth in the economy, jobs don't precede it, jobs follow the growth of the economy. That involves investment and involves more money coming into the system. More ugly scenes, more rapes of tourists, more people being killed, more unacceptable scenes on television and that is all retarded.

POM. And the capital outflow per year is still greater than the capital inflow isn't it?

CE. No, it depends what you measure once again but in terms of investors inside South Africa it is greater than it was the year before. You might find short term outflows of South Africans wanting to get their money out, we're talking of not just the flow of capital but how that capital is used. In terms of investment it certainly has improved but it hasn't improved to the level that you're going to get the take off which will take you to 5%. If you really look at the economy it's not good but it's not decadent. From 1979 till 1989 we had never more than a 1% growth but on average a zero growth, it was minus sometimes, but at least we've now got a 2.6%, 2.5% growth last year. We might end up with a 3% growth this year. It's not good enough especially if you've got a population growth of 2.2% or 2.4%. But it shows it's moving too slowly, but our whole government is moving too slowly. I think the society is moving too slowly. Your very early question, I'm not upset or concerned at the direction in which we are pointing, I'm concerned at the speed with which we're moving.

POM. So that would be your greatest fear?

CE. That's my concern at the moment, yes. What we're trying to do is if you look around, and I say it to foreign visitors, they are quite impressed by what they have seen because they have gone to all the right places, you know you realise that what has been built up here has been built up on harnessing the human capacity to the extent of 25% in this country. There has been a significant harnessing of white capital to human potential and then harnessing of black human potential but not fully developed human potential at the lower level. We are trying to actually get the society so at least it uses, say, a 75% capacity. So suddenly a country which has achieved what it has economically in spite of apartheid and colonialism on 25% usage or development can be running an economy which harnesses 75%. I think in that sense in a generation's time the economy should be doing very, very well. If you've got this process, how do you harness that extra 50%? It involves skills, it involves training, it involves a psychological approach towards work, towards self-fulfilment and all of those things are still in the process of being fashioned. So I think the direction is fine, I think the rate at which we're moving is far too slow for comfort.

POM. OK, thank you. You always make a terrific interview.

CE. Right you are, a pleasure.

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.