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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.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 1996: Felgate, Walter

Click here for more information on the Interviewee

Click here for Overview of the year

POM. Mr Felgate, to start with, since we talked last time a number of important political developments have taken place. One has been the rejection by the Constitutional Court of certain provisions in the national constitution. Two, there has been the rejection by the court of the KwaZulu/Natal constitution. Three, there have been the local elections here in Natal itself and maybe I'll take those three as starting points. There is a lot of talk at the moment about the IFP going back into the Constituent Assembly and we're speaking now for the deep record, this is not being published until the year 2000. What likelihood is there of that happening and if it does happen under what conditions is it likely to happen?

WF. The IFP is aware of the fact that there is a need for a multi-party constitutional settlement. It is actually committed to assist in bringing a multi-party constitutional settlement into being. At the moment we're exploring whether or not our return to the CA would materially assist the emergence of a multi-party constitutional agreement. We will not return to the CA if it's going to be a case again of the IFP being isolated into a corner and then having to withdraw because it's really not part of the process and it would be expected to rubber stamp whatever other parties are doing. The chances, I think, are very good or more than very good of the IFP returning. The issues that the Constitutional Court has referred back to the Constitutional Assembly are all issues on which the IFP can hang its deepest concerns. We are, for example, deeply aware that the new constitutional text is unmanageable, unimplementable in rural KwaZulu. You cannot sweep away the role of the Amakosi and replace the Amakosi overnight with elected tribal councils. It would just be bloodshed. It won't work, it can't work, it will not work, so it's absolutely essential that we seek to alter that fact. The local government issue has been referred back to the Constitutional Assembly. We can attack the issue of the role of the Amakosi in local government. We can attack the question of the monarchy which is the counter-side to the role of the Amakosi. So going back will enable us to tackle a real issue but there's no point in us going back to tackle the real issue if we're just going to have the rest of the parties ganging up on us for political reasons, not for constitutional reasons.

POM. How about the question of international mediation? How strong a consideration is that? Up to this point it's been almost a question of principle that there would not be any participation of the IFP in the constitution making process until the ANC agreed to honour its commitments regarding international mediation. Is that now becoming less of an issue in the light of the court's decision?

WF. I would say that the IFP is caught in the dilemma of having poured a huge amount of political capital into the question of international mediation and it won't be easy for it just to drop the issue. My own view is that international mediation is not to take place and even if it now took place it's too late and it will have very little to offer. I don't believe that we should make international mediation a make or break issue. We've got to deal with it politically. I am just adopting the point of view that right now we're exploring the extent to which the issues referred back to the CA will enable the IFP to make a contribution towards reaching a multi-party agreement, but I don't believe the international mediation is actually highly relevant. If you took the judgements of the Constitutional Court as such the question of the international mediation just doesn't come into it, it's irrelevant to it and international mediation could be as live as ever before, but if you actually read the text of the comments of the Constitutional Court and read them as forecasters of what the court will decide in the future and if you predict the development of Constitutional Court jurisprudence I think you will find, well I find that the question of international mediation recedes into the background and is less and less important. It's not a question of deciding major issues which was the case in April 1994, it's now the question of salvaging what can be salvaged and refining what can be refined in the current constitution. Again politically the IFP rejects the current text of the constitution because it doesn't cater for some very essential necessities in South Africa.

POM. What specifically would you be referring to?

WF. The powers of the province as restrictions on the growth of autocracy, the breaking the tendency towards centralising all policy decision making process, vigorous centrist control over matters which should be left to local communities, content of education as just one example. I think the whole question of powers of provinces and the immunity of provinces against state intervention organised by a ruling party in its own favour are vital for democracy particularly in this country. So those issues of breaking the headlong move of the ANC towards autocracy, there are fundamental issues.

POM. So these would be issues that you would raise in the CA?

WF. Yes, the CA has got to deal with these issues. It's got to deal with the powers of the state. That's been referred back to it. You've got to deal with the powers of the provinces, not the powers of the state. It's got to deal with local government, it's got to deal with policing, it's got to deal with the Civil Service Commission. All these are vital elements in what one needs to put together as a package to inhibit the growth towards autocracy. So we've got a role to play there and I think it's an important role we can play there and we've got the open door to walk through now.

POM. So in the event of your going back would the IFP address itself just to the issues raised by the court or would it seek to broaden the whole constitutional debate?

WF. No we do not intend broadening the whole constitutional debate. I repeat, the IFP will not go back in order to end up in an isolationist position. That will do more damage than it will do good. We're only going to go back if we can develop a broad front of a multi-party remedy to the deficiencies in the constitution and that's why we're having these rounds of talks with all the parties prior to making a final decision. So we're not going to go back to raise fundamental issues to be difficult, we're going to go back to deal with the issues that can be dealt with to improve the constitution. The constitution as a constitution must be rejected by the IFP but I believe it's a democratic constitution that must be refined and must be given an opportunity to prove itself and to be put into a place where incrementally it can be made a better constitution.

POM. Now I'm neither a lawyer nor any kind of constitutional expert but I have made an attempt to read through the constitution and found myself very confused when it came to the second chamber, the National Council of Provinces. I can't quite figure out what it's powers are supposed to be, what role it is supposed to play, how it is supposed to operate. Have you any clarity to offer in regard to that as to what is envisaged and to how it would work?

WF. There is no clarity at all. Provisions in the new constitutional text as far as the Council of Provinces go is skeletal, so much so that the recognition that this is the case has led to the establishment of a technical constitutional work group spear-headed by the Speaker of the House of Assembly and the Speaker of the Senate and now a member from each province. Now I'm a member of that technical group and I'm a member of the Steering Committee setting up a workshop on the very issue of how we make a Council of Provinces work, how we put it together. It will be put together by legislation, it will be put together in terms of parliamentary procedures but it will have to be put together. It is not a complete entity in the text of the constitution as such.

POM. Does the text of the constitution even adequately spell out what its powers would be? Like, for example, with regard to, say, matters coming before that would deal with the provincial affairs of a particular province, whether the province in question would have a veto right with regard to legislation that would affect it. Is that spelt out? Could that be put in legislation or is the whole thing really up in the air?

WF. The whole thing really is up in the air. To some extent and to some important extent the role of the Council of Provinces is conceived of as part of co-operative government. Instead of having a situation of confrontation between central government and provinces, the text of the constitution attempts to cast the role of the Council of Provinces in one of aiding co-operation and avoiding confrontation. Therefore there is no provision in the Act in which any one province can veto a law which affects that province only. It's got to seek support from other provinces for the vetoing of that law. If there is a law of the central parliament which affects one province only and that province decides that it is unfair and it should be opposed, that province will have to go to the Council of Provinces and persuade other provinces that that is the case and they could well also end up in a situation in which their provinces were disadvantaged. Under the 1993 constitution in the Senate, the Senate could veto any law which adversely affected the province from which the members of the Senate were speaking. So IFP Senators are right now busy attending to veto law on a change of the ... Trust Act and if it can gain a 51% majority in the Senate then it will be vetoed and the chances are that that will be achievable. We're going to fight in the last phase of the constitutional negotiations for the return of that clause because we don't see that as necessarily in opposition to the basic need for co-operation between levels of government.

POM. Do you think the Council of Provinces is an improvement conceptually over the Senate?

WF. There is widespread consensus amongst all parties I think that the Senate in the 1993 constitutional framework was not working, it was not of any great significance so there was a need to reconsider whether (a) we have a second house and (b) if we do have a second house how to improve on the Senate. So we needed to replace the Senate and the Council of Provinces is the outcome of that thinking.

POM. Would you see this Council of Provinces then as having a lot more teeth than the old Senate?

WF. Not necessarily a lot more teeth in the sense of having veto powers or being able to block things. It has a great deal more relevance in the legislative process I believe. Some aspects of the Council of Provinces have been referred back to the CA to deal with and we will have to deal with the issue, particularly on the lack of any veto role or blocking role the Council of Provinces may have as far as change to the constitution is concerned. We believe that the Council of Provinces should have a far more potent role to inhibit ad hoc change of the constitution which are merely devices to support a ruling party.

POM. Again just to summarise this part of our discussion, am I correct in saying that there is a fairly strong likelihood that the IFP will go back to the CA but that it will only do so if it feels that it will be taken seriously within the CA and that it's not really being ganged up on for political purposes, that you feel that the issues which the court have opened up are sufficient in themselves to address IFP concerns, and that as far as the Council of Provinces is concerned it's, at this point at least in your mind, far more in its conceptual stage than something that's been really thought through and fully understood?

WF. That sums it up, yes. Incidentally it's Constitutional Assembly, not Constituent Assembly.

POM. Did the court address all of your concerns or were there concerns that it didn't address or do you feel vindicated by its findings?

WF. No there's a mixture. The IFP is vindicated in many respects. The issues on which the court rejected the powers of the province, it did so largely because the constitutional text did not meet the provisions in the 1993 interim constitution which were there because they were concessions to the IFP. It was an IFP innovation which produced the text which said that powers of the provinces should not be diminished to any significant extent. It was the IFP's insistence on the powers of provinces being protected which has led to those sections being referred back, so the Constitutional Court has vindicated some of the IFP's major concerns. We fought against the tendency in the 1993 constitution towards centralism and particularly we fought against the centralisation of the Public Service Commission. You cannot have a province with a government where the senior officials of that government owe allegiance to people outside the province, and that is produced by a single national Civil Service Commission where promotion of future careers depend on national decision makers, not provincial decision makers. The question of the provincial civil service has been referred back to the CA for further dealing with. We were particularly concerned about the need to have local government spelt out because unless you have local government spelt out you're going to have a local government run by laws from the centre and you make a party political footfall out of the form of government at local level. Now that's been sent back. So the Constitutional Court has sent back issues which are vital to IFP interests and have been vital to IFP battle against all other parties for some time.

POM. Are there any issues that the court did not address, or findings of the court that you would take issue with?

WF. There are many issues which we would regard as issues which would improve the constitution that the court did not send back to the CA; fiscal arrangements between provinces and the centre is one of them that comes to mind, the latitude with which provinces could evolve policy matters is something which we would like to improve on, the whole question of the overrides in which concurrent legislation enables the state to override provincial legislation. That's part of the matter that's been referred back but I don't believe that's been referred back in such a way that the total complexity of that problem can actually be attacked. So it will only be a partial solution to the problem.

POM. Where does the KwaZulu/Natal constitution stand in relation to deliberations about the national constitution? Here you had the court say, if my memory is correct, that it found it fundamentally flawed. Does this mean major surgery is required? Has it spelt out in detail the areas in which it is flawed? How does the future of the KwaZulu/Natal constitution dovetail with the new constitution that will emerge or be put before the court as a result of the current negotiations that are going on?

WF. Put it this way, the KwaZulu/Natal constitution is not fatally flawed. The Constitutional Court has fatally flawed it by their interpretation and their views of matters. We provided the Constitutional Court with bridges to cross which were possible to cross. The court chose not to cross those bridges and our representations to the court were based on a fairly in-depth examination of constitution adjudication and jurisprudence across the world. In other parts of the world courts have found in favour of the kind of elements we put into the constitution but until we have a court judgement, a court interpretation on the 1993 constitution we're working in the dark. That had to be tested. I think the IFP played a very valuable role in testing the court's thinking on the matter. So we have now got for the first time parameters set out by the court which guide constitution making. We could have made a difference. The fact that we failed to get what we wanted I don't think must be seen as a total failure. It wasn't as though we wrote a constitution which could not be passed. We wrote a constitution that was not passed and the elements rejected in it were elements rejected by the Constitutional Court which could have been accepted by them had they chosen to look at the constitution differently. That's now water under the bridge. At the moment there is no prospect whatsoever of re-negotiating the provincial constitution prior to the adoption of the national constitution. There are just no prospects whatsoever so we're not even going to try. There has been no attempt to resuscitate provincial negotiations. Once the national constitution has been finalised and becomes the law of the land we will look at the final constitution and see what kind of provincial constitution can be drawn up under it. The national constitutional text makes provision for a provincial constitution but we have to look at the judgement of the court and also at the reasoning behind the judgement which was given in their lengthy written reply to objectors to the constitution and make up our minds where we go from there.

POM. Now in terms of time frames it would appear that there is a clash of not intentions but just a clash that the ANC wishes to speed things up and have a re-submission to the court by the end of October, whereas the issues that you raise, or if you do go back to the Assembly, it may take a considerable amount of time to resolve or for consensus to emerge.

WF. I don't think that's necessarily true at all. The basic issues are all known. There is very little that can be said that's new. There is no new argument. What we really need is a political decision making process which will then lead to the constitution text. Once you've reached a political decision, for instance of how to tackle the question of local government in rural areas and how to deal with the Amakosi or the chiefs in those areas and the tribal councils, once a political decision has been made the constitutional text will flow because we've got it all at our fingertips, all parties have, all our constitutional advisers have got it, it's an overnight business. There is now either the prospect of political settlement or there is not. If there is no prospect of political settlement there is no prospect of constitutional settlement. It's as simple as that. And I think there's also a lack of understanding that in the normal process of negotiations you negotiate for three hours and then you go back to your parliamentary work, your parliamentary committee work, and another week goes by and you have another meeting for four hours and so in two or three weeks you may get seven hours in if you're lucky. We're looking at between now and the 7th October 88 to 90 hours of negotiating time. That's a lot of negotiating time and if you've got a political decision you've got sufficient negotiating time. Ramaphosa has agreed that if we do embark on substantial discussions, if we are making real progress then he's not going to allow an artificial time restraint to destroy a constitutional settlement.

POM. Even if this meant that it would not be within the time frame?

WF. Even if it meant that it is pushed. There is no constitutional reason why it should not be pushed into next year. The extra three months is neither here nor there actually. It's a politically motivated timetable and if there is the prospect of a true multi-party agreement then those political considerations become paramount.

POM. To turn for a moment to the local elections in KwaZulu/Natal, to summarise the elections one paper said, and I forget which, "IFP wins ANC rules." There has been a lot of 'footage' whether in the print media or the electronic media about the elections here and what they win. Let me just point to a few things that come to my mind and then you can just comment on them. One is that the IFP did emerge as the major party in the region. Two, that it's support appears to come mainly from or was confined to mainly rural areas of the province. Three, that it got more or less decimated in the industrial heartland of the country, whether in Durban, Maritzburg or Richards Bay. Four, that as a result of the elections a lot of soul searching has gone on within the IFP as to the future direction it must take to attract a larger share of the urban vote and to broaden its base. Five, that there has been what some would call a division or a fault line between what are called the hard-liners in the party among whom you are included, whatever that means. Maybe you'll explain to me what it is to be a hard-liner. Six, that the party emerged out of its last conference more wedded to policies of the past than gearing itself for the 21st century.

WF. That's a wide range of issues. Firstly, the IFP has heard a message from the electorate which basically says that we've got to re-prioritise our interests if we're going to be relevant to the urban population. There's no question about that. In the research that we undertook prior to the election it became clear to me that the issue, for instance, of the constitutional independence of the province, or autonomy of the province, constitutional powers of the province were not issues which were going to win or lose votes. The major IFP battles are not relevant to voting at local government level. It's clear that the IFP has lacked policy penetration into the urban voter and even now declared IFP supporters are unclear about IFP policy issues. So we've not penetrated the political market, we've not correctly sold what is saleable. We've tried to sell the wrong thing and that is clear.

POM. In a sense you're saying that you fought the election on the wrong issues?

WF. Fought the election on the wrong issues and relied on the wrong image of the party as an election winning image.

POM. Now some of the accounts I have read say that you were one of the major strategists guiding the local elections here. If that is so was there an internal battle as to what should be focus of the elections?

WF. No it was nothing to do with that whatsoever. We made a decision that the management of the election campaign had to be completely revamped and my role was a role of managing the elections. Election content wasn't the issue and there was no dispute about the election content. We were all equally culpable, we were all equally wrong I believe. Some of us still don't believe how wrong we were. There wasn't dispute about the message to the electorate. It was simply a matter of the management of the electorate, the training of candidates, the discipline of candidates, the production of posters and how to run individual candidate campaigns and so on. So we're on a learning curve there and it was on those issues, it wasn't on fundamental policy issues that there was any dispute between myself and Jiyane and whoever else.

POM. But you say that your own research showed before the election that the major political issues which were the focus of the campaign, national constitutional issues and so forth, weren't of much concern to the man in the street. Then why in the face of that knowledge did you run an election focused on that?

WF. Anybody who watched the election closely and watched what we said closely would have seen a very marked turn in both the election style and election content from the beginning of June when those results became available to us. But just patently, one couldn't reverse a national image produced over a decade or more in a short space of a couple of weeks. So the electorate out there, you can only reach a certain proportion of them actually. The vast majority of the people went to the polls on preconceived ideas which had been generated over a decade or more. So it's not a matter that you can redress in a couple of weeks or shorter. We're looking at a longer term reorientation of the party. The thing that's most significant in terms of election relevance is the fact that research showed that the IFP and the ANC were fishing in the same pond for the same fish. The notion that there was an electorate out there, an electorate that was divided between the IFP and the ANC is not as true as people think. On major issues there is no distinction between ANC sections of the sample and IFP sections of the sample. Just for example, IFP members rejected black trade unionism on two grounds. Firstly it developed elitism and IFP workers are dominantly unemployed workers, the poorer of the poor, and they saw trade unions as being of no relevance to them. And the related issue, of course, is the trade unions as part of the development of elitism have become irrelevant to job creation. So trade unions are criticised and in the same way we found that 83% of IFP respondents criticised black trade unions on these two grounds. We tested that in an ANC sample and over 80% of ANC ordinary members and supporters had exactly the same attitude. If you look at the importance of issues, all assumed that the violence issue in KwaZulu/Natal was the highest issue. It wasn't. It fell somewhere around fourth or fifth on the list of priorities.

POM. So the figure here of unemployment came first with 39% and violence was at 19%.

WF. That's about it. [That's ... you conceived of violence being the issue.] A lot of our campaign was on that, as other parties had campaigned on that. The message we received from research is that there is an electorate out there and we've got to fish with the ANC for the same fish. It's not as though there's an IFP group and an ANC group and the matter is cut and dried.

POM. Why do you think violence finished, I won't say so low, but was so much less of a priority than probably strategists in every political party thought?

WF. Well if you look at it comparatively, over the last year more people have died in road accidents than through political violence. Nobody dreamt of making a road accident a vital political issue. Because people die it doesn't mean to say that the individual regards that death as relevant. People know there has been violence, they all know of somebody who has been affected by violence somewhere along the line but most people also know that death comes from various sources, they are fatalistic about it and, as I repeat, road violence is not a political issue because it kills people. Because people die it's not necessarily a political issue.

POM. In Northern Ireland they use a phrase "an acceptable level of violence", because again more people die in road accidents than die by political violence.

WF. No I don't think that's the issue. The issue here is that undoubtedly violence has been abating. The number of deaths is one thing but the generalised spread of violence is another thing. You can have a general abatement of violence and then you can have regional violence which pushes up your death figures. Now there are difficult areas like Richmond, like Port Shepstone and areas in KwaZulu/Natal but generally speaking people have experienced a great lessening of violence. That's another reason why it's so low in general terms. People in Richards Bay, Empangeni, the northern parts of KwaZulu are not any more preoccupied about it because it's virtually stopped in those areas.

POM. Why do you think it has?

WF. The post-1994 election period was characterised by abatement of violence. Constitutional settlement and democratic election did reduce violence. I think as far as this June 1996 election is now further going to reduce violence. So people are given something constructive to do about their plight sociologically and politically. It's people who have got no alternatives who resort to backing violence. The average person is now where we have got an emerging democracy and there is something that can be done about their plight.

POM. Now you mentioned the issue of policing. Is this one of the crucial issues that you would be raising in the CA, policing powers for the provinces?

WF. It's not necessarily policing powers for the province, it's accountability of policing to province. That's the critical area. We're looking right now at a situation in which on Tuesday this week a contingent of four policemen and I think something like eleven defence force people raided a home, found a gun, the owner of the home produced a license, it was a licensed gun, he became obnoxious about the raid into his house at two o'clock in the morning, he was carted off and then next thing he was delivered to hospital dead on arrival. The provincial Commissioner of Police cannot ascertain the names of the people who were sent into that home. He cannot ascertain the commands given. He cannot ascertain what happened between their arrival at the home and the delivery of the corpse to the hospital. The police are refusing to say anything outside of their lawyers being present. There is no accountability of that police operating group to the Commissioner of Police and the Commissioner of Police is even less accountable to the Premier who is Minister of Safety & Security. Accountability of police is the crucial issue as far as province is concerned. We're aware that you've got a national police force and you can't replace the national police force. The right of a province to establish a City police force or a police service is another matter, but the actual mainstream police activity and accountability to it you're going to have a politicised police force and that's going to be bad for justice.

POM. So what is the role of the security portfolio at the provincial level? What does a minister for Safety & Security do?

WF. The issue is in a melting pot. Technically in terms of the constitution and interpretation of the constitution the Commissioner of Police is answerable to the Minister of Safety & Security and can be directed by the Minister of Safety & Security.

POM. That's the Provincial Commissioner?

WF. Provincial Commissioner. In practice the Provincial Commissioner reports to the National Commissioner and will first receive instructions from the National Commissioner. If the instructions coincide or support the instruction from a Premier he will do it. If they don't then he won't. So in practice there is no accountability which in constitutional terms there should be. And the present Minister of Law & Order, Mufamadi, has now issued a directive that the provincial Commissioners of Police are in the first place accountable to the National Commissioner and not to the minister. So there's a process of centralisation again taking place and again accountability is the issue.

POM. So that a province, for example, couldn't put together its own crime package or anti-crime package?

WF. A strategy against crime is decided at the national level not at provincial level and that's part of the problem.

POM. Going back to the local elections, how do you read them in terms of the distribution of political power? Again, you have the ANC controlling the metropolitan areas and in that sense I think budgets amounting to over four billion rand, the IFP control the regional councils with budgets approaching seventy million rand, the constitution confers direct powers on local governments, the relation to the national government. Do you get squeezed in the middle, does the provincial government particularly in KwaZulu/Natal?

WF. It's too early to tell. The regional councils are new. The proclamation setting them up and directing them is a working proclamation that's got to be amended to make its final proclamation. The powers of regions in terms of what's available to us in constitutional terms between now and 1999 are considerable. The funding for regional councils has not yet been decided. Generally speaking you have got very large sums of money being spent by the metropole authorities.

POM. Sorry, you were saying that the metropolitan?

WF. They are spending a lot of money and therefore they have a significant role to play. There is emerging thinking of moving towards city/state type structures which would make the provinces fairly irrelevant and make them pro forma in what they were doing. But that whole question has not yet been sorted out. The metropolitan authority should be a co-ordinating authority, the sub-structures should be the places where decisions are made and that is the basic position.

POM. You had mentioned about the large sums of money that are at the disposal of the metropolitan councils. Does this not take from the power of the provinces in the case of KwaZulu/Natal where you have an ANC dominated central government, you have the major allocation of resources in KwaZulu/Natal at the local level disproportionately, very heavily disproportionately, in the hands of the ANC and that the IFP dominated provincial parliament is kind of caught in the middle, getting squeezed from both sides?

WF. That's misrepresentation of the position as it is now. I just made a point that if there is movement towards a metropolitan authority becoming a city/state type structure then you've got another matter. At the moment the role of province and provincial MECs are absolutely critical when it comes to housing, when it comes to health, when it comes to Public Works Departments, when it comes to education. These issues are firmly in the hands of province and they are the issues from which people are expecting delivery. So there's a misrepresentation about the significance of the control of the metropolitan areas by the ANC except, as I say, and I repeat, except that this goes hand in hand with a move towards city/state type structures and therein lies a challenge to the provinces. But at the moment unless that development takes place the fundamental issues are in the hands of province and they will remain there. Planning, economic development, tourism, environment, education, health, public works, all those issues are provincial and the provincial government is spending money on those issues and will be the agents for delivery to the people.

POM. This is almost an aside, when we were driving back from Maritzburg yesterday we were talking about housing and you mentioned that every year, even before the 1994 elections and the new dispensation, that every year more money has been provided for housing than was actually spent on housing, that the resources are there to build houses but houses aren't built. Could you explain why you think this is so? I think you mentioned the sum of R800 million last year was left over in KwaZulu/Natal that had been allocated for housing that had gone unspent or was rolled over.

WF. All over, all provinces and at national housing level at the end of the financial years there are surpluses. This arises out of the fact that to spend R800 million or R1000 million on housing projects it is not only the building of houses that's the issue. An R800 million housing project demands road building, it demands a replanning of the reticulation of water, electricity, sewerage, refuse removal, the basic services, the whole question of education, hospitalisation, schooling, all those issues have to be brought into the development of a housing programme of that magnitude. It's not as though you've got hospitals and schools with spare capacity waiting for new houses so that there can be new entrants into their service requirements. So housing is not simply a housing development, it's a major regional development and major regional development by the very nature of it is time consuming, it's multi-sectorial and it relies on common purpose between people who have got altogether different vested interests and by it's very nature it's a very time consuming process.

POM. When you look at the future in that regard are you optimistic that these mechanisms and that scale of planning can take place or will the problems proliferate and multiply at a rate that's greater than your capacity to deal with them?

WF. I think they're going to, for the foreseeable future, multiply beyond our capacity to deal with them. The process of urbanisation is still taking place.

POM. So you think they are going to?

WF. The problem is going to worsen. If you recognise that in Durban, for instance, there are more people living in informal settlements, shacks and squatter areas than there are in townships, if you recognise that those squatter areas, and informal settlements have got no form of local government, they've got no form of social services, they lack the infrastructure for solving problems, there are no community decision making processes, and if you look at the reality that those squatter areas are being swelled by the fact that the bulk of your population in which in black South Africa more than 50% of all your population are 15 or 16 years and younger, that whole population bulge is moving into the market place, moving into the housing requirements, moving into health care demands and education demands and there is no prospect of meeting those demands in the foreseeable future. The situation will be aggravated and will get worse, probably get worse, unemployment will increase and housing backlogs will increase.

POM. And do you expect any of this to have an impact on the ANC's standing nationally or provincially? In this province it certainly hasn't had locally.

WF. We're faced with a situation where there is an evolving backlash but the irony of it is from an IFP point of view the backlash is characterised by a retained belief that the ANC could do something about it if they so chose. The ANC is being criticised because they're not providing houses or hospitals or whatever it is. They're not being criticised because they are incapable of doing it. There is the belief that the ANC could do it and therefore there is a demand on the ANC to do it. There is no disillusionment yet, they still believe the ANC can do it if the ANC so chose.

POM. Is there not a contradiction here? On the one hand you said that your research showed that the IFP and the ANC are fishing from the same net, essentially for the same kind of voter with the same kinds of concerns and priorities, so in that sense the ideology in terms of ideological attachment to ANC or IFP does not appear to be as major an issue as perhaps one thought it was in the past. Yet on the other hand one sees even in the absence of performance that there is not only no great shift in support away from the ANC but in terms of the local elections here they cleaned up in all the major urban areas in the province?

WF. Yes, as I said earlier in this discussion, the politics of euphoria revolving around liberation of politics and idioms is still there and is being kept alive and it's an intervening factor but it can't go on for ever. Until it is removed as a vital factor we will have a continuation of support for governments that don't deliver. It's all a matter of time and the impetus that liberation politics has given the ANC is still pushing along at high speed and is not likely to abate in the next year or two. One other factor must be recognised, that in the local government elections in KwaZulu/Natal there was a huge return to ethnic voting which distorted the whole question of local government. The DP, if you look on the map of the seats they won and the councils they control, are confined to Hillcrest, Pinetown, Kloof, really upper middle class white areas. Those people didn't want their local governments to be run by blacks, they wanted whites to run them. It's as simple as that and they had to chose between whites to run it; the IFP and the ANC were out of the running. The National Party won along the coast from Umhlanga, Durban constituencies, South Coast constituencies, predominantly white and blue-collar white voters. Again there was ethnic voting and again people turned to an ethnic solution to their problem. So ethnicity still retains an importance.

POM. Did the Indian vote go primarily to the Minority Front?

WF. No predominantly towards - the National Party and the Minority Front made major gains in the Indian vote. Then again the Indian vote, the House of Delegates as a predecessor, as far as they were concerned, the National Party was the party of delivery and the party they relied on. So a disproportionate amount of money was poured into Indian communities in Durban particularly by the National Party when it came to educational facilities or health or hospitals or whatever. Block voting on ethnic grounds has intervened to some extent. This is not detracting from the fact that the IFP did in fact lose the elections in urban areas. It's not as though that factor can be swept under the carpet. It's not. I'm just saying that the trend when you look forward is going to be one which will have to deal with the reality of ethnic block voting and I don't think I'm saying more than that.

POM. Do you think we're going to see more of that happening in the future, not just here in KwaZulu/Natal but on a national level as well?

WF. I think it's inevitable. In all reality the National Party will never become a black society rooted party. The DP likewise. A great deal of political time has to go by before white communities really look forward to being ruled by black authorities. So I think it's a factor that will go well into the future.

POM. So that when the National Party presents this vision of a multi-racial party that will be one day perhaps dominated by blacks and that it can attract significant numbers of black votes either in 1999 or 2004, is it really talking about a pipe dream?

WF. It's a pipe dream, and I'm not saying that in any sour grapes sense because they are the official opposition in the sense that they're the largest opposition party. Outside of massive realignment ...

POM. Sorry, you're saying it is a pipe dream?

WF. It is a pipe dream yes. The only survivor is in terms of participation in a massive revival. That's why De Klerk some months ago floated a notion of realignment but there were no takers for it. De Klerk as far as the other minority parties are concerned leads the National Party as the enemy in the next national elections. The 1999 elections as far as the opposition are going to be concerned is to fight against De Klerk to emerge as the most important opposition party.

POM. Would the same logic apply to the IFP? Is the IFP going to have difficulty trying to expand its electoral vote among whites?

WF. The IFP has got a strange degree of confidence in the future because there is no way in which it's a constituency that can be swept aside. It's not going to disappear. There is no prospect of it disappearing as there are prospects of De Klerk's National Party disappearing. We are deeply rooted in black society and the time must come when the relevance of the IFP is enhanced by a gravitation away from the ANC of disaffected voters and leaders.

POM. But I'm saying outside of KwaZulu/Natal if here you have a return to ethnic voting as revealed in the last elections in 1999 can we expect to see nationally, and I think you said yes, more ethnic voting and if this is true in terms of strategy must the IFP direct itself towards attracting the African vote away? Does its future lie in trying to take, pull away the African vote from the ANC or get hold of the disaffected African vote rather than pouring its resources into trying to attract white voters?

WF. No, it's not rather than. White, any other coloured voters together represent something like 24% of a total population. No party can ignore that percentage of electorate. One would have to, as much as one can, woo support from white voters. There is at the moment a protest vote against the IFP in white society, their protest is against some things Buthelezi has been doing.

POM. Sorry, a protest vote against?

WF. IFP. The white voters are protesting by voting for ANC, they're not voting pro-ANC, they're voting against the IFP, they are protesting at the created image of Buthelezi justified or unjustified, they're protesting against the IFP's recalcitrance in the negotiation process, they're protesting against a number of other elements in the IFP. So one doesn't see the lack of white votes for the IFP as being a permanent feature. It's a passing phenomena which I think we must address.

POM. Maybe we're talking at cross purposes. On the one hand I hear you saying that in the future we can expect whites to vote for the National Party and the DP, that they're returning to a pattern of ethnic voting. Indians will vote maybe increasingly for an Indian party or whatever, that if your party is to grow nationally, if whites are even moving away from the ANC back to the NP and the DP does your future not lie in putting your resources into attracting the large number of Africans who are becoming disaffected with the ANC?

WF. And the answer was no. The answer is that you've got to address both issues. Even if you've got an ethnic vote it doesn't mean to say that in black society you've got undifferentiated - there's also ethnic voting within the black society. There's an anti-IFP vote in Transkei. It's an ethnic vote. It's not only a black/white issue. What I'm saying is that that will remain a factor in voting patterns for some time ahead but it's not the only factor. It's vitally important that parties actually break out of that straitjacket. The fight for the white vote I think is a very important IFP fight and all I'm suggesting is that those white votes who are not trapped in ethnic voting, and we're not talking about everybody, we're talking about a tendency, it's vital that the IFP actually gain those votes as well as the disaffected ANC votes. But more importantly there's a huge floating vote, uncommitted, who in the first place are voting for power, voters run after power, they tend to vote for the most powerful figures and the most powerful party, but that will change over time. There will be more votes available to the IFP from the floating vote, a pool of floating vote and it's a very large pool. The protest vote against the IFP by whites and Indians in particular I think will be reversed. There are prospects of changes of voting patterns but not likely to be seen effectively by 1999 but in terms of medium or long term trends the IFP is very confident about the future.

POM. Looking at the government of national unity and the decision of the IFP to stay within it, I think at the time you said there were good political reasons for staying within. What were the reasons for staying within versus the reasons for getting out and why did the reasons for staying within outweigh the reasons for getting out particularly in light of the fact that if you're part of the government then it's difficult in 1999 to run against the government and a government performance in fact you have been part and parcel of that performance?

WF. I don't think that is all necessarily true at all. Being part of the government doesn't stop you campaigning against the government. In fact you could enhance your campaigning because you've got more insight into what is going on and you can have a better relevance to remedying what's going on. Generally speaking the IFP's presence in Cabinet has put some brakes on a tendency towards autocracy and centralisation of the decision making process. The reasons for remaining in Cabinet I think, of the government of national unity, particularly in black society are important. It gives the IFP a relevance in the eyes of its supporters which otherwise it wouldn't have. For Buthelezi to be a national minister and for IFP to have national ministers makes the IFP a party of some consequence to the people who support it. So it comes with pros and cons and the cons are very largely hypothetical, sometimes almost Alice in Wonderland politics, theoretical politics. When it comes to actual real politics we find that there is better advantage in staying in the government of national unity and that's why we're there.

POM. There was talk, or was it speculation, of some kind of an alliance between the ANC and the IFP. Was this mostly media hype?

WF. It was no reality whatsoever, there was never any talk about merging with the ANC. It was never a part of any IFP agenda or discussions. It was purely misinterpretation of a drawing together on the question of violence between the IFP and the ANC.

POM. Just looking at Durban for a moment, here the IFP and the ANC are in an alliance.

WF. No they're not in an alliance here. In what sense are they in alliance?

POM. I understood that the Deputy Mayor is IFP.

WF. That is no indication of an alliance per se. It's prudence on the part of the ANC not to treat the IFP as the vanquished to be squashed. I think it's part of prudence in politics and I know there is no alliance per se between the IFP and the ANC even in Durban.

POM. I know I've just five minutes left so two quick questions. If you had to pinpoint the five reasons why you think the IFP did so poorly, not just poorly but so poorly in major metropolitan areas like Maritzburg for example, what five factors would you point to? And two, what are the lessons of the local elections for the IFP in terms of how it must re-orient itself to be a viable party nationally in 1999? Three, what concrete steps are being taken to bring about that reorientation?

WF. Firstly the IFP did badly because we were inept at candidate campaign level. There was a wrong culture in the IFP that once your name was on the candidate list the party had to fight for your seat, you didn't have to fight for your seat. So there was a lack of relevance there. I don't know about other parties but the IFP certainly had great difficulties in the selection process where not the best person for the job was chosen, not the person who could win the campaign was chosen, the person who had the most influence perhaps at local branch level was chosen. So bad selection of candidates, bad campaigning by candidates themselves is one thing. The lack of the necessary money even in rudimentary terms is another factor which led to our campaign loss in urban areas. In urban areas particularly the money you can pour into media, the money you can pour into organisers, into offices, motor cars, telephones, printed matter, knock and drop approaches, all limited. So on the mechanics side there were a number of factors. On the image of the party side I think there's unquestionably, and this is just a personal opinion, it's not a party position, a party which relies on servicing its hard core constituency members and support groups is going to lose out. Because we've been so attacked from without there's been a greater tendency in the past to do what your constituency wants you to do. Politics in electoral politics is the business of getting your constituency to change to become acceptable to the voter out there who has not joined your constituency yet.

POM. Change to become acceptable to?

WF. Change your constituency so that it becomes more acceptable to the voter out there so your constituency enlarges. If you've got a constituency which we have got based to some extent on a traditional, tribal background, you must persuade those tribal background people that it's not their invested interest to be tribal to the exclusion of anything else. They must change and move with the times. We haven't specially done that. So we pandered to a shrinking constituency support base and we haven't led that support base into seeing the relevance of becoming more acceptable to the vast majority of people out there. There has been an internal development of IFP protest voting against the IFP. Pietermaritzburg is a shining example of that. There is no way in which the election results reflect the IFP's strength in Maritzburg. Our paid up membership far exceeds the number of votes cast. Quite clearly IFP people voted against the IFP. There's a protest vote.

POM. Because?

WF. We'll have to go into that. It's an area in which violence is more of a problem. Midlands right next door, right on the doorstep of Maritzburg, it has been a strife-torn area and the hard line leadership in the area has been rejected, so there's a constituency demand for a greater degree of moving towards solving problems with the ANC and not opposing them as the evil enemy. So there's a protest vote in Maritzburg as there was in Gauteng local elections. The IFP clearly voted for ANC in Gauteng. We can't bluff ourselves that it was a rigged voting and the IFP voting boxes were thrown in the rubbish dumps. This is not true. We've got to learn those lessons. So I think the reason for that failure is (a) organisational, (b) it's financial and (c) there is a policy issue and we must address, probably as I said earlier, that there has been lack of IFP policy penetration into our own rank and file. Our own rank and file don't know why they should be supporting us and why other parties should be supporting us. So what was your second range of questions?

POM. The second is, what must the party do? Unless it addresses these questions fairly urgently it doesn't augur well for the future of the party.

WF. We spend a lot of money on outside consultants precisely because we were aware of the emerging problem even before the election results. We had outside consultancies. We engaged in research. We're going to continue with more research and we will still retain outside consultancies because quite clearly both in terms of policy orientation and in terms of internal structuring the party has to address what has to be addressed. So we're aware of problem areas and we're taking the rational, I think, well thought out steps to do so. It is said that at national conference I emerged as the victor against the Secretary General and the hard line won and there was aversion to update their policies. It's absolutely untrue. National Council has accepted the need for restructuring of the party, reorganisation and we're proceeding with that. So we are aware of the need for internal reorganisation, the need for restructuring of the party and I think we're going to make major moves and major changes which will benefit our 1999 position.

POM. When you read in the papers accounts, say for example of your last national conference, are you amazed, do you wonder whether the reporter was at the same event that you were at or how they managed to put a spin on things?

WF. Well I'm not particularly amazed because there is an enormous lack of analytical journalism in the country. Journalists have not come through a school of training to bring about the analytical type of journalism. Papers tend in South Africa to articulate the views of people about the IFP. They are writing for an audience that wants to hear about the IFP. Now I'm a member of the National Council and I really do know what's going on in the IFP but after every major decision there's talk about splits in the party. There are no splits in the party. There are no splits in the party about whether we should go back to the Constitutional Assembly or not. We're looking at the pros and cons. There are pros and there are cons. Some people argue for the pros, some people argue for the cons. In the end the party makes the decision and that's the decision. There are no splits. The myth that the party is always subject to splits and that there's the whites versus the blacks or hard liners versus modernists, we inside the party look at those reports with some degree of amazement but they're part of the culture of the media world so you live with it.

POM. So the media projection of Dr Jiyane as being humiliated or being made to take the blame for the performance in local elections of the party are, again, more creation of the media than anything else?

WF. I've been at every National Council meeting prior to the elections and after the elections. I can guarantee that there's not one word being said which blames Jiyane for the election results. There's not one word being said which blames me for the election results. The media says Felgate's responsible, the media says Jiyane's responsible. The media says Jiyane and Felgate are opposition to each other. It's just myth, it's not true. It is not true, in all reality it's not true. I'm not saying Jiyane is a good or a bad Secretary General. I'm not commenting on that at all. All I'm saying is that the supposed sets of conflict between him and I are just not there in reality.

POM. Finally, is there time when you look at the scope of the problems, the rate at which they are multiplying and the capacities of institutions either to be built or to change, is there time for South Africa to become a truly democratic multi-party country or will it slide ineluctably into being a de facto one-party state?

WF. I think there's great danger of it moving towards, there is already more than the danger of movement towards autocracy and one is aware of ruling parties faced with rejection by the electorate extending their life in various ways. One is aware of all that and there is the danger of moving towards a one-party state. But I think there's something inherently viable in South Africa which rejected apartheid. Apartheid wasn't won by the ANC in exile. There was no marching army across the border. There was a South African rejection of apartheid as a way of life and that rejection came long before 1990. So I think that those issues are live issues and that there is hope. We've got a difficult road ahead.

POM. OK. Thank you.

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.