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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
31 Oct 2002: Maharaj, Mac
POM. Mac, let's move to deal with some kind of current issues today because the end point of any of my analyses is going to be the December conference because that kind of sets the agenda for the next four years. It will give the direction in which the ANC will move in the next four to eight years and the direction of the government.
. A couple of things, one is you have been invited to attend the December conference and you were of a mind whether you would attend or not attend. Now you have decided to attend. You thought it over and why did you think it important for you to attend this conference?
MM. I think, Padraig, we need to have a larger picture of the country and in terms of that when I reflect on the ANC coming to power with the advent of democracy one of the things that happened is that the ANC was assured of victory at the polls but it is also assured of victory at several more polls to come into the future. There is no doubt that it is the primary political force in the country and that it would be in power for a substantial period of time. Now many people have looked at this problem from the perspective of building democracy and the argument has moved towards a viewpoint that has dominated the debate at the moment that for democracy to thrive it needs a viable opposition. I think there is some merit in that viewpoint but I think it misses a larger picture. Precisely because the ANC came to power fairly secure in the knowledge that it would be in power for several terms ahead it was able to take decisions that many political parties in a democracy find difficult to take, that is some longer term view of the country and I think that the longer term view involved an enormous restructuring of the economy and whatever the rights and wrongs of particular actions I think that by and large it took some very, very tough decisions which any political party insecure about its future at the end of its five year term could not have done.
POM. Would you point to some examples?
MM. I think that was a distinct advantage because the restructuring of the economy and society, given where it was coming from, was of an enormously large order. At the same time the ANC was also the only force that had gathered a long history and experience of working to pull the country together. This was its tradition and this was another key item on the agenda. How do you bring population groups who had been nurtured in fear and hostility of each other to come together? Similarly, the convergence of national and class issues had posed an imperative of finding a way not to fudge the contradictions that existed between the classes and will exist but to still provide a framework and a perspective of pulling together.
. Mandela is presented as a reconciler. I think I have mentioned to you before that nation building has two parts to it, reconciliation and reconstruction of our society, so I think that the portrayal of Mandela as just a reconciler is to ignore that his administration also had to grapple with the re-focus of the economy and the rebuilding of our country. I see a huge continuity between the Mandela government, ANC government, and the Mbeki government which is ANC. What did it have to do? We clearly had inherited a closed economy and that closed economy had reached the end of its road in presenting within a closed economy framework a growth potential. It was also an economy that had been substantially mismanaged. I think the figures show that from 1984 to 1994, ten years, the growth rate of the economy was about on average one percent per annum against a population growth rate which was far beyond that. So structural unemployment was embedded here in this closed economy and then of course everybody knows the huge inequalities and everybody knows the figures of huge lack of basic services for the overwhelming majority of the population and I think everybody knows that access to land if left to the market forces themselves would not touch the hem of the problem of giving those who constituted the majority of the population and had no access to it now to say, and they had been the poverty stricken, to say well, right, you can buy your land. I think that Africa is showing that the land question is a burning issue.
POM. That's Africa as a whole. Southern Africa?
MM. Southern Africa, particularly Southern and Central Africa . Here we had this closed economy and we had to reposition our economy in the global economy. Any solution which suggested that we should simply take this closed economy and work it and change the beneficiaries would not work. We often forget in this debate that it was a minority of whites who were controlling all the levers of power and the benefits of the economy. I am saying that through that monopoly of power white power had managed to filter down the benefits side by side with the inculcation of fear to be distributed and shared within a minority. The same closed economy, control of the economy, now where you needed to distribute to the majority would not produce the required growth.
. Opening our economy in the current world order meant that we had to reckon with, despite the support and moral support of the world, we had to reckon with the reality of the business world and of governments that they are ready to pledge things, promise things, but to do things which take benefits from their own side and do it sort of like an act of charity is a non-starter. We've seen it. Foreign direct investment has not flowed into SA and yet today if you look at Angola which has just in the last year or year and a half reached a point where the civil war can be said to be over and every paper is full of stories of huge mismanagement, siphoning of funds and self-enrichment of small elites, very, very small elites, and still a lot of corruption, nonetheless if you open the newspapers today and check and see how the flood of big businessmen from the west is taking place to Luanda and look at the figures of how much money is being invested by multi-nationals and by governments in the west in support of their business, nothing like that has taken place in SA. It can lead to a despondency on our side but it's because we began to meet the challenge of integrating our economy by a systematic approach.
POM. But just to deal with that, the ANC for years has been advocating a certain economic framework, a framework that didn't take account of external events over which it had no control, i.e. globalisation. A global economy means an open economy so you didn't really have an incoming government or even a continuing apartheid government which reached the point of where it didn't have a choice, just external events would swamp you or you opened up to a new world economic order.
MM. No, the potential is there that the external events will overwhelm us. The reality is there of a globalised world. We needed to insert ourselves, taking on board the rules of the globalised world but changing them because we joined World Trade, yes we related to the IMF, to the World Bank, but do you know we didn't take a loan from the World Bank until round about 1999, our first loan. The World Bank used to say to us, "Why aren't you doing it?" My own department took a lot of expertise and technical help from the World Bank. I sent people from the department to go and train at the World Bank but we did not take the loan. We said what we are missing is the technical and skills help that you have but we do not want to take the loan because we do not want the conditions to be imposed on us that went with the loan and we interacted with them in a friendly, non-hostile way and from time to time the World Bank would say, "It seems you don't like us." We said, "No, we see the need for you but we do not want to take the loan so that you impose conditions on us. We want the conditions that we impose on ourselves to be generated by our reality in this globalised world. So we want the rules to be changed."
. Now we never said it as crudely but the rules obviously needed changing because we came to a democracy in a unipolar world and to me sometimes it's an advantage on our side but it presented unique challenges. Had we come out in a bipolar world of, say, the seventies, we would have been tempted to think that the state has got the resources and that where there is a shortfall of resources we can either play the game between two super powers and extract the best benefits or we could align ourselves with one super power against the other and for that extract resources.
POM. Quote, unquote 'a reward'.
MM. Yes. But we came into a unipolar world and we can see how in that unipolar world a single super power is failing to capitalise on its real strength. The US if it chose to walk the talk of saying that we the US were part of the 20th century shaping to put on the agenda of the world that democracy is the necessary condition to move forward in this world, if it had taken that as the champion then it would have to walk the talk of supporting the growth of democracy even in the way it interacts on matters of the economy. But no, the US is showing an increasing tendency that it determines the rules and it violates the rules where it doesn't suit it, where the rules don't suit it. That's a bad model for the 21st century. We had to therefore insert ourselves into this global economy by accepting the rules of competitiveness but we had to fight and we are continuing to fight to change the rules. Alone we could not have done it. We are a non-player as a South African entity but we sought first to follow the model that had been emerging for some time, a sort of south/south dialogue to culminate in a north/south dialogue. It hasn't worked. Too many internal contradictions in the south/south alignment interfere with building a solid block to debate and discuss in globalised economy the need for even rules. Yet we strive for that.
. Secondly, we had to see the need to try and pull together the African continent and in particular the Southern African economies so that by the size and potential of this economy as a region we could command a certain capacity. And given our past and the world support for our struggle against apartheid and given the form in which our transition took place, we have a credit balance still in the minds of the world.
POM. That is a diminishing credit balance.
MM. It's diminishing but it is a credit balance still. Even now the President of SA, Thabo Mbeki, is perceived and accepted in this global world as a key spokesman for the continent and for the region. That's irrespective of whether they like him or do not like him but it is also associated with how you confront the changing of the world in this unipolar globalised world. The examples are legion. We rapidly, faster than required in the World Trade Organisation, removed tariffs on the clothing sector and the textile sector. We did not get a comparable return in unfettered access to the markets of the large economies of the global world.
POM. In fact you lost hundreds of thousands of jobs in the textile industry and got nothing in return in terms of access to developed markets.
MM. But that doesn't mean that the picture is totally gloomy because in the interim we got an agreement with the US where we could export certain textiles with a certain percentage of local raw materials to enter into the US market and now you are seeing in the Western Cape and Natal a growth in the clothing industry but no longer manufacturing what it used to manufacture. So how long ago, alas, is a limited time span but to change the rules only to the benefit of us is a problematic thing because if you wish to expand your power to intervene to change the rules, you cannot think in terms of just the SA economy speaking.
. So we have problems, for example, in agricultural products. The global picture is clear, neither the US economy nor the economy of the European Union taken as a collective is prepared to move at the speed that the events require, to open its markets to agricultural products from the south and from the developing world and to remove its subsidies so that we are truly living in a global world with the benefits of competitiveness resulting in the consumer, wherever they are in the world, getting cheaper products. It is a scandal of the world today that the European sugar industry based on sugar beet more expensive and subsided enormously, still does not allow the sugar cane producing countries from India to SA. Mauritius is now wiping out its sugar industry because its ceiling on the quota has now meant it cannot back that. Be that as it may, the sugar industry is a classic example whether you look at the US economy and the production of sugar and the European economy and the extent of subsidies which are actually undermining of competitiveness because they are still saying that in practice it's not the global economy and it's not competitiveness that counts, it's the preservation of our individual economy's jobs that counts, that the pain of restructuring that we went through in our textile and clothing which we are a new democracy have gone through, they are not prepared to go through in the sugar industry.
. Now, Padraig, you've got to change the rules and you cannot change the rules by simply saying we, this tiny economy, are going to take on this Goliath and change the rules. We have to change it in a real 21st century world and the pressure for that change is bringing, in my view, marginal results up to now but there is a legitimate area of debate in mapping the way forward. Do we say that the global world and this unipolar world has everything so heavily stacked into it that the only answer to crack the nut is to retreat to our closed economies because you give up on the idea that you can change the rules. Or do we say that in our assessment we have gone so far in positioning a collective of states from the developing world, we have made some headway, we have got an acknowledgement in principle from the unipolar world and the large economies that what they are doing is unsustainable for themselves and that there is a growing body of opinion in those developed economies saying it is wrong and unsustainable that we should continue this subsidy route because while they demand our removing our subsidies they do not remove their subsidies.
POM. Let us take that back to the initial point you made, which is something I want to come back to and that is one of the benefits of the ANC coming to power knowing that it was going to be in power for some time allowed it to make tough decisions without having to look over its shoulder at an opposition breathing down its neck that might beat it at the next election, therefore it could take decisions such as removing the tariffs on the textiles without fear of an electoral backlash. In the developed world with their very competitive democracies, if you want to call them that, the opposite prevails. Any government that said we must take a larger view and remove our agricultural subsidies in order to make room for developing countries to get a larger share of the market would be writing a death prescription for itself in an election to come.
MM. It would be a death prescription only if the leading political parties failed to put the right question on the agenda and work for it. It needs the key political parties in any developed economy to come to an understanding of what they put as the key issue on the agenda. Do they want to live in a world where they are an island in themselves and handing out charity or do they want to live in a stable world?
POM. The last election in Germany, to take the most current example, which might be contrasted with the election in Brazil, in Germany Schroeder ran on a 'more jobs, economic growth', especially more jobs. Germans have this thing about unemployment.
MM. Yes, and it's a real problem in their economy.
POM. In all the developed economies unemployment is an increasing problem, not a diminishing one. We'll get back to that phenomenon of growth without jobs. But you don't have or you have no sense of western developed economies being prepared to put the larger questions on an electoral agenda. For example, you would find many people, not cynics, you have many people who believe that the build-up to the whole debate on Iraq, Bush's focus on Iraq, the threat of terrorism and the threat of Iraq to American security, was all timed to coincide with the November elections where they only need to win two seats in the Senate to control the Senate and they already control the House so all organs of Congress, the Executive would be in their hands. Many people believe that the debate on the economy is not structured around the larger issues, it's structured around the traditional view of how you get the economy moving through either fiscal stimulus or through monetary policy or through restoring investors' confidence but they're all traditional things. There are absolutely no ideas on the table and no-one talks in global terms.
MM. No-one talks in global terms and therefore you leave the electorate at that level, some politically illiterate, and secondly, those who see the problem become a fringe group incapable of influencing the politics and therefore we have to ask ourselves has that potential to change the rules reached a dead end? That's a legitimate debating question.
POM. But your alternative if you return to a closed economy
MM. Is disaster to me.
POM. That's not an option?
MM. But it's a good issue to debate because through that rather than emotional but informed debate you are lifting the electorate in the countries that are aligning themselves with this need to change the rules.
POM. Where do you see the debate taking place here?
MM. It is taking place at the moment around privatisation but it is locked up in a singular question of privatisation. The logic of this carte blanche anti-privatisation is one that I faced in government, in Transport. We raised the question in Transport in the policy making process and in a study which we did which cost us R20 million, 'Moving South Africa'. 60% of the transport sector in the economy is controlled by the parastatals. Now you can argue that commanding 60% of the transport industry you should retain that grip in the name of nation building and addressing the disadvantagement of the previously disadvantaged and say use that. But the challenge that we were facing is that control was leading to inefficiencies in our economy, it was leading to adding costs to our competitiveness of our export products and huge anomalies were sitting there. And so we needed to restructure and we needed to ask hard questions, why do we as a state control this business, to what benefit to the country? Is it to the benefit of just that workforce in that business entity or is it supposed to contribute as a transport, because it's a spine of the industry, to make our goods more competitive?
. The issue got fudged under an ideological debate. The debate needs to be teased out into a rational debate of the way forward. Many things happen in real life, not in the neat theoretical and rational ways in which you analyse it, zigzags arise and it happens in normal life. When I was crossing in Vula, the night before I was due to cross, my jacket got stolen with my money, R4000, my diary got stolen.
POM. You were saying that things go wrong.
MM. Go wrong and you have to improvise. I even found I was supposed to cross by foot at night and when I asked for the moon calendar I found that the night that was scheduled for my crossing was full moon, but that didn't mean it meant I had to take a zigzag detour for my plan. I therefore crossed at midday under the nose of an outpost with no reception inside the country of people to pick me up and move me. I did that, I was supposed to make a first stop in Durban to get an intelligence reading before heading to Jo'burg. Instead, knowing that some people were missing, I had to head to Johannesburg with no resources in Johannesburg and from Johannesburg work my way down to Durban to get a briefing and then come back onto my mission.
. Now I'm saying that happens in real life too, in every area, and that could happen in such a large question as re-shaping the economy. But the issue for the existing democracies is mirrored in when we talk about Madiba. I believe, if you ask the question, why is he such a world icon to young and old, to commoner and royalty, to politicians, presidents and ordinary people, men and women, religious and non-religious people? There is an acknowledgement sitting under the surface that something was bequeathed to us in the 20th century in the negative column and that was a divorce between politics and morality, so much so that even those who tried to wear the mantle of morality, e.g. George Bush's supporters who almost portray themselves as people of great moral clarity, are not trusted because that's not what is seen as the problem. It's a different disjuncture between morality so it's not the chap who's thumping the tub and claiming morality behind his politics, it's a deep malaise which says politics as a career and a profession is conducted in a way where I cannot perceive the fairness of it.
POM. I cannot perceive the?
MM. The fairness of it. And there is need for a sense of fairness. Now if you look at Madiba he never said Gaddafi is a good man, he never said Gaddafi's rule is a good form of rule, but he entered the fray over Lockerbie to say this matter has got to be resolved without going to war. So he sought to address the question by saying what has happened has happened. How are we going to live in this world?
. I was still in government when President Clinton came here and on the steps of Tuynhuys in Cape Town, the presidency, they both addressed a press conference and Madiba said, "Anybody who tells me not to do what I'm doing can go and jump in the sea." And people felt how dare you say this in the presence of the President of the US who had imposed the sanctions on Libya, how dare you say this? You're disrupting the order. But Madiba didn't say I am saying Gaddafi is a good man, his rule is good, he said you have to resolve this Lockerbie question in a way that becomes a form of conflict resolving outside of going to war.
. The result is we all have a perception from what has been happening that he got Gaddafi to provide the Libyans that were being accused to a trial. He tried to change the conditions where the trial would take place and even now is pursuing the matter on the grounds, firstly, that the single prisoner in Scotland should be moved to a more friendly environment in terms of his religion and, secondly, he's saying jurists have said that the trial was not right. But thirdly, the signals are coming through that Gaddafi is prepared to pay a compensation to the victims. So he's trying to say let's get this thing out of the way, let's get sanctions out of the way, let's get into a constructive interaction and then you have a chance to influence the change in a way that's different from the way the 20th century did it.
POM. Let me use him we've got a paradigm because he is the paradigm and the problem is when you have the paradigm that when he dies the paradigm in this rapidly changing world quickly dies with him. In a way when you talk about the residuality of goodwill that still exists towards this country, it exists almost, in my mind, entirely because of the living presence of Madiba.
MM. That's putting it so sharply, which is a correct perspective.
POM. I said almost entirely, not entirely.
MM. I know. But it's also putting it in a way as if there's discontinuity. I think nobody can replace Madiba and anybody who tries to, forget it. What you need to capitalise on is those elements that go into the icon status of how to resolve conflicts and try and carry that forward to that it becomes embedded in the consciousness of the world as a way to it. So what Madiba, the icon, throws out is 20th century you were the century of democracy. Correct. You need to expand that and make it a continuing focus of how you interact with countries and you need to take the principles of internal democracy to democracy in a world order.
. That is why Madiba, he hasn't explained it that way to me, but for me I can lock in immediately when he says, "I have a problem with the United Nations", throughout his tenure he said it. He says, "I don't like the way it is structured, it doesn't meet this new world but I still work in it", and he says to George Bush over Iraq, "You are approaching this matter with disrespect for the very institution in which respect needs to be developed. You must work and abide by the decisions of the UN." He said, "I don't like the idea of going to war with Saddam but my bottom line is the UN must decide."
. Now you will see he did that on several things but so is the Mbeki administration doing it. Even when it has sent so-called peace keeping troops into the Democratic Republic of Congo it has taken a consistent position. I would want that to be a decision of the African states now gathered under the African Union and I would want that decision supported and endorsed by the UN. Now Mbeki is continuing on that. That he does not have the icon status of Madiba to be able to say it the way Madiba would say it is not the heart of the issue. The heart of the issue is, are you pursuing the path that says in this world order a state should not unilaterally decide?
POM. But he lacks the moral authority element.
MM. Undoubtedly, undoubtedly. And we can debate whether this asset this country possesses in Madiba has been adequately utilised once Madiba retired from office. We can debate that but the lesson that we cannot lose is that we have got to introduce an element of fairness in politics. We have got to introduce a system which says I do not decide unilaterally in conflicts with any other country, I will subject myself to an institution and in this case the only institution that's available with all its defects is the UN and we are prominent, even under Mbeki, less public than Madiba was in criticising the UN but we made the criticism of the UN that this veto power sitting in five states, the way the Security Council is structured vis-à-vis the rest of the UN is undemocratic and we've been fighting to change that. Some people have interpreted that to mean SA wants a seat in the Security Council. That has not been the issue that we've raised but our own colleagues in the developing world have for some time entertained that suspicion and that's a real issue but Mandela could stand up publicly with his moral authority and say UN, your structure is wrong. Thabo Mbeki doesn't have that moral authority and he has to work in other ways to realise the same goal.
. But I'm saying if we were looking at what is needed in the established democracies, just as I'm saying there are certain things that should be debated here but should be debated in a different framework, it's not privatisation versus anti-privatisation, it's not do we obey the WTO or disobey them, it's how do we change the rules of the WTO, how do we muster forces over a consistent platform that says if subsidisation of an industry is per se anti-competitive, then what we have to work to is around the world economies the removal of subsidies. The first question is we the developing world because you have power to impose it on us, and sometimes because we believe it is right, converge and remove those tariff barriers and subsidies. Why aren't you, the established economies and the democracies and part of the unipolar force, also not doing the same? Because you are posing the question wrongly, we did not pose the question of the removal of the textile and clothing tariffs by raising the fear of job losses, we raised it as necessary to reshape our clothing and textiles to be competitive in the world. One of the consequences was job losses and we now are able to say had we put that at the top of the agenda the debate would have become a purely emotional one. No, we are now able to say the benefits of that restructuring are beginning to come through because the clothing industry in its restructured form has a greater sustainability than the way the clothing industry was previously organised. And, yes, there was huge pain and because we were in our minds secure that we would be re-elected
. Just to return to the established democracies, and it sounds very arrogant for me to say it but I'm saying it as a debating issue, what did we inherit from the 20th century that's positive for the world and the individual countries? What did we inherit as unfinished business that has to be addressed with new paradigms? One of those, to my mind, is if democracy is the correct way to order any country's internal life, the globalised world demands that that concept be transferred beyond the boundaries not vis-à-vis just individual countries but vis-à-vis the way we regulate the world. That's a challenge.
. The second one is how do you resolve conflicts? Because the 20th century legitimised that any undemocratic system could be overthrown by force of arms and it also showed us the price of not acting timeously in the advancement of democracy and getting into world conflicts. The price was there. Nobody can deny that the rise of Nazism in Germany was part of the consequence of the conditions imposed at the Treaty of Versailles and the failure of the powers that be in the rest of the world to timeously act when Hitler was now on the ascendancy inside Germany. .
. Be that as it may, resolving conflicts in this 20th century, in this nuclear, biological warfare capability age, says we have reached the end of the road of resolving conflicts by going to war because the consequences of leaving that message of the 20th century is the destruction of our entire planet. Why are Bush and Tony Blair able to say, "I don't have proof that Iraq can today wage nuclear and biological war but it's potential to do that, to develop it, is grounds enough to go to war against Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein." That's a hell of a concept of pre-emptive strike. The 20th century in legitimising war as a means of resolving conflicts both internal and external led to unilateral decision making, power decides what's right, it led to use of means of warfare which targeted civilians. Now we're saying that is terrorism. If you deliberately target innocent civilians you are being a terrorist and it doesn't matter whether you're a state, individual or secret collective or a public association.
. So these are the challenges like this question of unity and diversity but I think that there are certain issues like that standing out and there is an obligation on politicians, whichever party they belong to, but more heavily on those that are the leading contenders in any country, to agree on do they pose the problem with a common mind. They can have different answers to put to the electorate but can we ensure that the electorate is focused on the definition, defined problem that the existing parties all agree upon. Why can't it happen? There is a deep consensus between Democrats and Republicans about the basic shape of the US, about how it should interact with the world. Why not in that put the problem definition clearly and in a consensus mission statement and say here's the challenge now, so that the public is mobilised, debates and buys into that that is a challenge. After that the problem becomes which means will make us meet that challenge?
POM. But in fact the debate has taken the opposite route.
MM. Opposite direction, completely.
POM. I was telling you, I think, I have to give a couple of lectures when I go back and one is really on this question of terrorism and why the rest of the world hates you, why September 11th was a not major event in world history. I was told that if I say that I'll lose my job.
MM. You're going to lose your job?
POM. I said that's crazy. These are issues that must be so that the debate there has narrowed but you also have the debate here has narrowed. To go back and the advantage of a party coming to power in a new democracy that enjoys overwhelming support allows it to make major decisions for the long term, not just the short term, and it doesn't have to look over its shoulder. At the same time your constitution provides for a participatory and a viable multiparty system. Events such as the floor crossing seem to me to have narrowed the participatory element.
MM. The debate about how do we give flesh to participatory democracy.
POM. OK, that's one. Two, when, as the ANC seems increasingly prone to do so, that if you disagree with them on any issue, on any issue, you are labelled more or less, I use the language advisedly, an enemy of transformation, as though you are somehow trying to undermine what the government is trying to do, is again narrowing the focus of debate.
MM. Because the government is inadequately putting before the people the defined problem in a context that is not narrowly focused. I believe people have a capacity when you raise their eyes above the horizon, I think they have a capacity to respond.
. Now the question we were addressing is I thought carefully why am I going to the ANC conference. I am going there because I believe it remains the force. I am not going there as a voting delegate, I am no longer a voting delegate. I do wish to lend my visible support that I still have faith that this force is the one that has got to deliver and by my presence to give that moral support and hopefully also witness how the debates are happening to discern where and how it should be shifted to have the correct focus.
. I would love to see whether there is going to be debate or whether there's even going to be an acknowledgement that one of the key challenges is how to take this deepening of democracy which was its strategic objective at Bloemfontein conference, or post-election period, to say how do you take that deepening of democracy in the context of participatory democracy. There's a huge challenge there. We restructured our budget from being just an annual budget to develop a medium term rolling framework for three years at a time. It was an enormous exercise, Padraig. Even the developed economies do not have that rolling medium term expenditure framework but we shaped it and it's caused a lot of pain but what it did was to put the trade-offs that take place between one department and another over the budget, it located that in a more longer view so that the trade-offs don't take place in a meaningless jockeying, power-mongering way. It has got to ask where are we taking this country?
. There's a similar debate taking place that now that our record is showing that a number of the painful decisions that we took, and have continued to take and hold to, are producing a growth rate in our economy which is higher than the global norm. Low as it is, 2.7%, all economists are agreed, is likely to be this year. Next year Trevor Manuel in his medium term is saying next year it will be 3.3 - 3.5%.
POM. Trevor made those forecasts without taking into account the impact that AIDS is going to have on the economy.
MM. That's the weakness.
POM. Right away it's false estimates.
MM. Wait a minute, whilst that weakness is there I am saying the economists in the financial sector are agreeing that our growth rate is now above the global growth rate. Even yesterday as I was driving, listening to the commentators, the performance of the rand, the currency, the growth rate, all saying look, we are managing better than the rest of the world because of the tough decisions that were taken. That there are still weaknesses in our positions is incontrovertible. No, in my mind no argument can take place. I buy, from the time I was in government, that AIDS is the largest threat we face into the future. I therefore have not been happy with positions taken by government and I agree with you in his framework he has not factored in the implications and costs of AIDS. Not just costs in financial terms but in human terms and in future generations and therefore the skills base of this economy. Be that as it may, the point I'm making is that the larger picture says this economy is growing at a rate that is above the global norm, that the economy is withstanding the external shocks better than other economies are withstanding them in the emerging market, that the currency which has been taking huge knocks should not retreat into more exchange control. In fact this morning I just saw the headline, Maria Ramos and the Department of Finance saying further loosening of exchange controls coming.
. You could if you emotionally debated the issue always face the retreat into the laager and the closed economy and we have to credit this government that it is withstanding that onslaught and sometimes it descends to emotional argument but it is withstanding it and what is needed is to keep this focus so that the public have got the key facts, the problem is defined not in a narrow but larger way and people's visions are raised high into the horizon so that we act together.
POM. I've heard you say the data shows that the SA economy this year and next year will grow at a higher rate than the global economy as a whole, that it's withstanding external shocks, that some of the tough decisions that were made in earlier years are now beginning to show their impact in terms of the sustainability of the decisions made, and you say yes, I agree that Trevor didn't take into account the economic and social and political costs of AIDS. So I would say, Mac, you're leaving out the most important factor so that these predictions of growth being above the world economy are meaningless because the major factor that in the long run will determine the direction and growth rate and resources available to the country is the toll of AIDS. So that's a nice figure but it doesn't have any real meaning because it left out of account
MM. Hold on, hold on. Aren't you trapping yourself that while you are raising a perfectly correct issue you are saying that that singular issue, either success is assured by addressing it now without taking into account that, yes, two things are happening, (i) Madiba has been standing at the front of the AIDS, often challenging the government, not just leaving it at a challenge but doing things on the ground, (ii) government also appears to be now softening its stance and (iii) therefore, whether it is resolved at the forthcoming conference or whether it is addressed and unresolved is an important item on the agenda.
POM. There are two items how you deal with preventive measures in the future and how you deal with the lack of preventive measures that have been taken in the past. So you've two problems. You've one time bomb that's going to explode anyway and you have the other time bomb that can be diffused if proper measures are taken.
MM. From my vantage point as now a retired activist, what I see is that there is another credit sitting on the credit balance side of the ANC, that it has historically had this capacity to change position by acknowledging the inadequacy of its previous positions. Now it comes back to my question of politics and fairness. That credit record that sits in the ANC if it is resorted to by openly saying in the debate, yes we pursued this path, it hasn't delivered the results, it is wrong, we are now moving to this path, you are perpetuating this informed public mind. You are also perpetuating a sense that over icons, like Madiba, Madiba part of his world icon status is his ability not to portray himself as a saint. He presents himself as a fallible human being and that is why even where we may not be happy with a particular conduct we rush to defend him.
. Now that same thing is needed in world politics, that no party should present itself as infallible. They can present themselves as the force that should be in power but what they do should be informed by saying we will make mistakes and we will acknowledge mistakes when we make them. That is the way to bring a reconnection between politics which is necessary in society and a sense of fairness.
POM. OK, everything you've said is perfectly valid but you very cleverly moved the issue. My issue is simple, it's that Trevor made these projections of growth, of the economic outlook, of the benefits of not having gone and taken out, like other countries, huge loans from the IMF and then finding that 20% of your budget goes in interest costs on repaying loans, but he presented these figures and said, "Well I must put a caveat beside these figures because I haven't factored into them at all what the economic impact of AIDS will be. Moreover, my department has been conducting studies on this which it refuses to make public."
MM. Because the government took up a position on AIDS. To shift its position it has either got one of two parts, it either fudges the issue and changes in practice or it confronts the issue, puts the information on the table, says we have created a problem by the way we've approached it, we now have to change. Trevor Manuel's obligation to do that in the public arena is partly circumscribed by the politics of it. He has got to convince the cabinet and the President and that's why whether the matter comes up for debate in the ANC conference is an important thing, how it comes up is an important thing, what is decided is going to be important, not for me a straight answer, which I would like. It may well be that real life will take a zigzag before it arrives at that position but all I'm saying is the world challenge gives the ANC an historical record of capacity to change, acknowledging the failure of the past in order to move forward. If it follows that paradigm it will be reinforcing what is in its tradition. If it doesn't it will be taking one more step in not addressing the leadership challenge that the world has. Now, it's a debating issue. It needs to be debated. It just does not need a fiat from the top.
. Padraig, I was saying about this AIDS thing, about the centre, the importance of the conferences in the ANC. Yes, it's not as if this is going to be an historic, watershed conference. I have come to the conclusion there's nothing like that. I don't see the ANC conference in December as one of those landmark, historic conferences. To me it's more of a work in progress type of conference. It can either become as a work in progress simply a mobilisation and closing of ranks or it can lay the basis for more rational debate and processes to grapple with the problem of how to look at the global picture and make an assessment, how to measure how far down the line have we got in achieving our strategic objectives that we set at Bloemfontein, and what do we need to do to fulfil those. That's how I see it but I think that I am therefore not going there with high expectations but I'm going there to see how my colleagues in the ANC, the alliance, are measuring up to grappling with the real challenges. It's very modest expectations but I think precisely because it is so much of a work in progress, depending on how it shapes will tell us. For example, a conference like this in a democratic order there's going to be a temptation for all its deliberations to be open, open to the media, everything. In my own mind I think that that openness is needed but I see the need for quite a few
POM. You were talking about that the conference should be open but at the same time
MM. At the same time I think some of the issues that need to be addressed, if they are addressed at all, may well need closed sessions. I know lots of people, and the media in particular, will read closed sessions as a negative development. When I think about it I think that from the distance where I now sit a few closed sessions may well be a positive sign, positive in the sense that I would read them as indicators that they are having some serious discussions which allow them to go into where's the mistakes, where's the self-critical look, and that to me would be a positive thing.
POM. In fact to do everything in front of the media means that things are presented in a certain way and then the act of them being (this is the Heisenberg Principle) the act of the fact that you know there are going to be reported changes, the nature of the content of what you're going to say.
MM. The content and how you say it too. It leads to triumphalism and everything is fine. And where the threats are raised they are raised emotionally because you wish that audience, and you're addressing now a diverse audience so you're looking for the common denominator, you're looking for the simplistics, whereas the issues you face here now are not the simplistics at this stage. At this stage you've got the complexity on the table to arrive at the simple formulations. So that's my reading.
POM. In that context I must say, and I read Thabo's address to the Policy Conference very carefully and then I checked it for the word use, use of the word 'enemy', use of the word 'struggle', use of the word 'opponent', and the use of the word 'right wing', and the use of the word 'development' and things like that. And while large passages of it made extreme sense, were well thought out and very well argued and presented, I find it disturbing that again the only opposition that there is, the Democratic Alliance, is seen as an enemy, portrayed as against transformation, portrayed as trying to maintain white privilege and power, as being the last pillar of apartheid trying to maintain its interests. I find that disturbing, it's both polarising, I think, and I think it's also incorrect. Even if it's correct it should be stated in a different way. I find the continual use of the word 'enemy' without defining them, 'they', 'they', 'they', very disturbing. I find the lumping together of what is now the new term which I had never heard of, the ultra-left, all as being wishy-washy populists and emotionalists who don't think through the issues and the ramifications and who somehow are trying to infiltrate the ANC and undermine its agenda. I find that disturbing, the whole thing of infiltration and taking over. I find the notion of if it has to be fewer, OK, get rid of them. It's almost like in fact there was a funny headline in The Star that I got, if this was the old days, this could be read a very different way, it said, "Mbeki calls for his critics to be silenced." I said, oh-oh, if you're before the Truth Commission you could be asked about that word 'silenced'.I find that very disturbing, the language used and the categorisation of everybody who does not agree with me or with my programme of action, who questions it is somehow anti-transformation, trying to maintain things as they are, not saying that there are different ways of achieving the same goals if we meet on common ground.
. Now, you mention privatisation and I remember what happened in Czechoslovakia where I find merit in the argument that public assets belong to the people and therefore in a way they are all shareholders and that if you could develop a mechanism by saying, OK we will take Telkom or whatever to be privatised and we will give shares to, maybe not individuals, but say to community groups representing different areas and then when we go public they can either hold on to their shares or they can sell them. They can say we're the better -
MM. You see this is where the advantage we hold of coming to a democracy with such a world experience should be informing our debates.
POM. Is it?
MM. It's not. Community ownership, fantastic concept, but it has got to be linked with participatory democracy because buried in community ownership is the Yugoslav experience of entrenching that community interest and blocking the larger interests of the entire nation. Now the Yugoslavs tried that.
MM. Yugoslavia under Tito, he tried that and what you have is you can either go for a model of diffusion of power but then you lean towards a theory of the state being an arbiter of these diffuse centres of power. Now that has an implication for participatory democracy because it's very easy to sit as an arbiter and therefore be unaccountable so we need to define that even when we put it into a community to give it a vested interest how do we circumscribe the parameters such that the communities, particular communities' interest, does not become the paramount thing in determining. So there's a debate there, there's an experience, and because of the alliance question the debate should be informed by things that happened under the socialist experiment. One of the things about the socialist experiment was, yes, the production level of the Soviet economy in 1980 was below the production level of 1913 Russia. How many years did it take them to get the production levels just to that 1913 level? Then you can talk about the road beyond it but then you had a growth through industrialisation with enormous pain and collectivisation but what it gave you was a dead end, you could not get production moving. By the time Khrushchev came to power, Khrushchev you will remember said, "We will beat capitalism."
POM. Bury it.
MM. Bury it, we will produce more so that there will be plenty and he put a 20 year programme, we will be reaching communism. But all those state enterprises became drags holding back the growth of the production. Now the idea that the productive capacity should be owned by the society as a whole and be administered and conducted in the interests of the entire public, legitimate, it's a legitimate question because we see the inequalities in many places. We look at what corporates are doing in the US.
POM. But I'm talking about a community as a shareholder and if they disagree with the policy of the company they can sell their shares on the market.
MM. Diverse, diverse.
POM. And say to hell with it, we're getting our money and we're going to reinvest it in our own way but we're such a small shareholder out of the whole lot, we're almost like individuals holding shares and there might be a partner, a foreign partner that owns 51%.
MM. I was looking at it the other way because there is what not to do. If you take our electricity supply, with the best intentions in the world the parastatal, ESCOM, when we came to power was given a mandate to take electricity to the unelectrified areas in the rural areas and indeed it tried. It set up these new power lines into the rural areas, a number of small villages got electricity but the cost per kilometre of setting up those power lines to deliver there from the national grid was so high that it became unsustainable because the returns you were getting were effectively saying you've got to generate the income in the cities to cross-subsidise that and the cost of that cross-subsidisation was just burgeoning out. So a number of places stopped. The same thing happened with telecommunications, telephone lines with Telkom.
. Shortly after I left government I found that the multiple renewable energy supply technically has been resolved, that is to say wind, water, solar, a combination of that with a back-up with a diesel engine. That technical problem has been resolved and I said why can't we select a few villages where these renewable energy sources are available, set it up, fund the cost of the capital investment but then say to the community that this is your power supply, you have to be trained to run it, to maintain it. The capital cost you don't have to fork out a penny, you're a poor community, but you have to agree that you will transparently in the community, because you own it, will set the tariffs for yourselves in such a way that the cost of running it, the cost of maintaining it, and the cost of its depreciation and renewability of the capital will be within that term, you own it now. Here's the technology, here's the training, here's the skills we'll give you but here's your parameters in setting the tariffs. Your tariffs must recoup the costs of running it, the cost of maintaining it and because this equipment is of such a nature, take a windmill, you don't have to replace it for 20 30 years. So over 30 years you may have to replace that windmill so over 30 years in the tariffs the cost of a replacement is put out. Annually you're building that reserve, you're depreciating. You manage it, it's yours. You don't have to put the grid lines, you don't have to charge anything, it's the community that says we want electricity in the school because we want our school to have computers and it's the community that says we don't want the lights at the community centre at night so it will be switched off at night, or it says one day a week the lights must be on from six o'clock in the evening until ten o'clock and it says for our homes we want electricity but nobody is going to have a permanent light out of your house switched on for nothing, nobody will have a light outside the house and we will only use bulbs of a certain maximum wattage. So they are containing their costs but they own it. That's possible with a small thing like that which is village by village centred. It doesn't have the cost of taking the Telkom lines over hundreds of kilometres into a bush area and where it's just to service thirty homesteads and there's no way that those thirty homesteads are going to share the cost for six kilometres of line over rough terrain.
. So that one, because it does not impinge on interest of others around and it vests the ownership in that community, is feasible because there's no conflict of interest and no need for a mediator to sit down mediating conflicting interests. But for me the issue is start to doing it and bear in mind that history has thrown up a lesson, you create an institution to deal with a current problem. You even can see that in ten years time that institution will not be needed but when the ten years comes the most difficult thing to unravel is the institutions that you have created. They have a tendency to linger on even when they have outlived all their usage. So it's very easy to create structures. Even in business here at the bank I see the pain that they have to go through when they restructure because all sorts of interests come into play and they seek to neutralise the objective that you want because they see any change as a threat. There is an incapacity, there's an inertia that drives an institution to continue to exist beyond its life span. Do we say this openly to the community? Do we say right at the beginning that this is being set up to achieve this purpose? If we can somewhere down the line measure that the purpose has been achieved then we must know that the consequence of that is that the institution we have created goes. Can we always remind ourselves of that issue?
POM. But even if we remind ourselves it doesn't mean that it will happen.
MM. That it will happen, but it is important to start by reminding yourself why you exist and are you achieving that objective. Very important. So at the economy level and even at the social level these things crop up all the time and the lesson of history is there. Be careful, it's very easy in the face of a problem to set up an institution.
POM. Or a commission.
MM. The ANC said, I think three years ago at a conference in PE, "We're going to create the new person."
POM. Cadre, yes. It was like something that was out of a
MM. A three month phenomenon. A year ago we said this is the year of the volunteer. Do you hear the word 'volunteer' any more? It's gone. Question: you were creating a new person in a material environment that was asking a person to be not human. You can only sustain that for short periods in a burst of mobilisation and it goes. Lenin tried it.
POM. The goal has got to be clear.
MM. Clear, defined end state. The Soviet Union had the Stakhanovite Movement named after Stakhanov and raising production, there's huge literature of ferment but within two years it was gone, because you're asking a person to give everything of him or herself and you are saying live outside the realm of material returns, live outside the realm of incentives. So you try to build an incentive of public acclamation of
POM. But you're doing, I would think, something else. I read that PE thing very carefully, it's almost like saying live outside of being human.
MM. Yes, that's what I mean. By the current confines of real life you are saying I'm going to have an abnormal person. Now I still firmly believe that in 1994 when Mandela made his victory speech and he said, "Tomorrow morning the entire leadership of the ANC will be at their desks at Shell House", the mood in the country was such that you could have appealed at that time, across caste, colour, race and class to say it's an enormous task, this is what we want. Almost the Kennedy thing, "Ask not what your country can do for you but ask what you can do for your country." You could have had a huge mobilisation addressing certain focused areas such as we shall repair our schools, we will paint them ourselves, we will ensure that everything is connected. We will do this, we will do that, point by point and say this we're going to achieve in three years. Padraig, I am sure far beyond the ranks of the ANC we would have got people responding but they could only sustain that for two/three years. Look we inherited a country where white people in very professional jobs were retiring at 55 and 60, you could have got all those retirees coming forward and saying can I do this, can I do that? I will keep the school's accounts. I will do the books for the school. I will do this for the hospital. I will do that. But you couldn't sustain that for nothing and you would have to give approval of it by public forms of acknowledgement but then you know, you can't sustain beyond one year, two years, three years. You already as a leadership are saying this is merely to stabilise and get certain things going, I now have got two years to plan how we take it from there. I think we could have done something like that in 1994. OK, we missed that boat. That's life. But to try and create the new person was a non-starter, non-starter.
POM. Again, if you take that when Thabo talked about the creation of the new cadre and take that again and go back to the use of the language of 'enemy', 'struggle', 'struggle', 'revolution', 'revolution', 'revolution'. The use of the word revolution rather than seeing themselves as a party just governing the country, you have the power, you don't have to fight to get it, it's now how you use it. I just found the language disturbing and the imagery of even creating this kind of robot-like person who will respond.
MM. Again if we look at history and because there's a tendency to debate these issues by using Marxist jargon and clichés, the better, fewer but better, concept is a Lenin statement. He had a pamphlet called 'Better, Fewer But Better'. It was the title of a pamphlet. But if you look at the history, that was the basis on which others built up the purges.
POM. Well that began to appear in papers a couple of weeks later whether this conference would be used and that in elections for the NEC that the ultra left, whoever they are, they are still not fully defined, would be purged. That's dangerous.
MM. What I'm saying is from where we sit and the history that we have there is another tendency in the ANC and that tendency says when you occupy, in military terms you capture a fortress, a strategic outpost, it gives you a chance to unfold and here coming to power in 1994 perceived even by the right wing whites as the real power, you now needed to say how do I use this power to set the agenda but to set the agenda in a particular way as an agenda that serves specific interests in your society but also is couched as the interests of the entire population. You make an agenda of a particular class formation or social formation a national agenda not by imposing it as narrowly focused on one. It says its grounding is this formation but it is also in the interests of all the others and therefore you articulate it in an embracing way. You then have to grapple with the problem of what does this mean for debate and you have the responsibility to set the tone of the debate. That is the debate. You will come out the winner if the debate is conducted on a rational basis and it is conducted on fact. Now once you do that your space to win out, to modify your own outlook is opened but once you debate it emotionally and you throw out the facts, leave them aside and just put it in general couching, the capacity to retreat is blocked, your capacity to learn is blocked. So you are able to set the agenda, you are able to set the tone and the argument for me is not what somebody else is doing, the argument is am I setting the agenda, am I setting the tone which is going to be constructive to my delivery? On that level I have serious question marks from history's lessons about better, fewer but better.
POM. But I'm asking you a very direct question, do you personally find that kind of language used by the President of a country where he denigrates those who oppose his policies as enemies of almost the country. The word 'enemy' comes in.
MM. My response is, as the leader of the ANC, the ANC sets the agenda and the tone, the conceptual about better, fewer but better, and with all its implications of denigratory terms is that in history that concept had the dangerous consequence of leading to purges. I'm unhappy with that. Whether it will lead to purges is now enhanced but whether it will in fact lead to purges is an open question but I am saying you cannot allow those consequences to grow. Is it going to die like the 'new person' died? I hope so because then it minimises the danger of going into the purge phase. Is it going to die like the 'volunteer'? I don't think everything about the volunteer was wrong. I think there are certain elements in the concept of the volunteer that could be explored still and utilised. I don't see why a community could not take responsibility for the school in its area to be in a state of repair and maintenance.
POM. Why, just taking that a step further, you had referred to Kennedy's statement about "Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country." His Peace Corps swept across a generation of young people. He mobilised them out of a concept of helping other people in other countries. That too has sustained itself in a very different way, it's still there and people still join it but that has been unable to happen here, of a generation saying like you say, paint schools, forget about the big tasks, the school needs a window,the school needs a door, the school needs a proper desk. We can build them.
MM. There's a tap leaking, repair it.
POM. Why do people not respond?
MM. I don't believe that the answer is that the people are wrong. I believe that as a political activist whose job is to mobilise people you have to ask, have we represented it the wrong way? Have we not conceptualised it unfolding the right way? That is where you are examining work in progress. You would be asking them, you, Padraig, you come from Umlazi, you are in the ANC, you are in the community structures, tell us why we have not succeeded in Umlazi. Don't tell me about why the rest, tell us what you did to make it succeed and when Padraig says I have tried everything and failed, then you're able to say, you from Brighton, PE, tell us your case, and there you find Brighton succeeded and you are able to say now, what are the lessons? What didn't you do in Umlazi? This is not a personal criticism. This is a criticism that says the people are there, why have we failed to mobilise them? What didn't we communicate rightly? What didn't we take as action steps? Did we identify the right people or did we identify the wrong people? How can we identify the right people better nexttime? Those are the issues that are presenting us at the level of volunteers. It's not just people say a leader must walk the talk.
POM. A leader must?
MM. Walk the talk. Sure, I don't think that there is a leader who is not working his or her butt off in government. They are very busy. So at the level of an example of somebody who is working round the clock we're there but is your team getting a sense that you are giving them responsibility, measurable, things that they can achieve and using that as a building block so that your team is driving now. Signs of that, very mixed messages. Very mixed messages, while the advantage I said that we were there in power long term, that's an asset you don't squander. That long term survival allows you to take tough decisions but the benefits of the tough decisions must begin to flow through and if they are not flowing through you've got to do something about it. You'd better think whether you conceptualised it correctly. I am saying the benefits are there but conducting yourself as taking it for granted is a very dangerous thing.
POM. Well we're back to delivery, identified.
MM. The President when he took over identified his tenure as a tenure grappling with the delivery problems and that was put forward. The issue now is as work in progress what are the problems we're facing in delivery and the answer cannot be the persons are wrong, we need a new person. Social development takes place with human beings as they are and makes them do things that they normally would not see themselves doing.
POM. We talked about it before, Baqwa's final report saying delivery had not improved in any measurable way in the last five years and identifying a huge list of problems. Well related to that when you talk about community participation and you come back to how the people are represented, again I found, I've got a copy of the draft of Van Zyl Slabbert's initial report, what he identified seemed to me to go some way to addressing the problems associated with having only a list system.
MM. And yet his survey shows an overwhelming majority saying 'as is' is fine.
POM. That's right, but beyond that a system that is a list system only, I don't know of a country that has a list system only, be it proportional representation, that allows for crossing. I know proportional representation systems where you can cross and that's fine but I don't know one built only on a list system. Now I find merit in the argument that a list system means that every politician is a career politician, very few go into it and say I just want to serve my community, you find those working in communities. But those who want to get elected want once you start getting elected it means you want power. Once you have power you want more power. How do I get power? How do I move up the ladder? I'm a career person. How do I advance myself? I've a lot to give, I need more power. I've got to please the people in the party. If they say he's doing a fine job, move him up the list, give him something, I'll get rewarded and promoted which is very distinct from the manner in which I serve the people particularly if I have a designated community that I don't know. It's supposed to be my constituency. To me it seems against the principle of against what it says in the constitution of participatory democracy, it's not enhancing it.
MM. Now hold on, let's separate two conceptual things, representative democracy and participatory democracy. I think the challenge at the end of the 20th century was that here you had formal democracies, stable and existing and yet there is a huge sense amongst the ordinary people that they cannot impact. So the formal democracies gain. The advance that's needed in the 20th century is how preserving the good attributes of a formal democracy you can deepen that to bring in participation. Here we were sitting at that confluence of history and I think that besides the tinkering with the electoral system and addressing the question of the representatives being accountable, which still will be stuck in a formal democratic mode, the formality of democracy, there is the large question of this century, how within any formal system of democracy do you create a nexus with the people in their communities so that they begin to have some say over their lives. That's the challenge. The question was posed as purely within the arena of formality of democracy and there it's become pure political trade-off. Yet in the ANC's agenda, in its perspective of its strategic objectives, it describes the task of the post-1994 era as the deepening of democracy within a participatory framework. So we've used all the right words but we are slipping back to address the question only in the formal arena of democracy. Yet I believe that the challenge of this century is whatever your formal system the challenge is now how do you bring communities into a participation and some measure of control over their lives and that's where the challenge of the civic society comes in.
. The challenge is that in our constitution, I may be putting it, exaggerating the statement, I am not aware of a constitution, and I'm referring to the 1993 one, I'm not referring to the final constitution, but I think the final has it too, but in the 1993 constitution we typed a paragraph in which the words 'civil society' appeared formally in the constitution. I'm not aware of another constitution which has that. Our job was now to give flesh to that and that is forgotten.
. So you see again, Padraig, to me I don't have answers. It's a question to me how do youpresent a problem statement? If our problem statement says we want to make the formal structure of democracy increasingly responsible to the electorate, one question. The second question that must be put is how do we make people, having given their authority to the formal structure, still remain active players over the issues that directly impinge on them where they live and where they work and where they spend their leisure time. The question has disappeared.
. All that Van Zyl Slabbert was asked to address was the formal character and I am saying if you address it all the time in that way and you haven't put it into your problem statement in a wider way it gets drowned. Because you put it in the formal way all that gets drowned is preservation of power. Right? That's gone. And I'm saying our job should be to put the problem statement correctly and even if you don't have an answer to it you've got to keep defining that problem statement so that the mind will focus on that issue.
. So that's the challenge we're sitting at and that's way I can sometimes fudge the issue, sometimes make excuses for the government and the ANC, at other times feel disappointed. For me, no, the issue is are we constantly investigating, is there discourse taking place to put the problem statement correctly so that we begin to address the problem statement in its correct way and then we find answers. That is why what happens at the level of formal democracy is important to me but it's not the end of the road because to me it's just a paving stone to this nexus that is needed in political life which is necessary in society between ordinary people in their communities and the structures by which they have impact.
POM. To revert to that on two levels and the first goes back to opposition parties in parliament, particularly the DA which again the language used, to me, is the language of demonisation, remnants of apartheid, their belief in laissez-faire. Thabo went through this whole thing on tracing their history back. Now in politics everything in a way goes but there's a limit particularly when you have so much power to denigrate anybody who is not saying we believe the return of apartheid or we believe that there shouldn't be transformation, we believe that maybe there are different ways of going about it I'm all for privatisation, maybe more so than you are but we might go about it in a different way but we want to help the poor, we would suggest different way. We don't think delivery is too good. In parliament that's our function to say delivery isn't good and to remind you that delivery isn't good. To be shuttled aside as having nothing to contribute is dangerous.
MM. One admits the danger but I'm saying if we look at that in the context of that danger I was still in government when the DA published a report on building a rainbow nation. I was one of the few that stood up, used my portfolio to critique that document. Nothing happened. You know why? Because you have only two options in this change that the country is going through. Either you treat the opposition with disdain and ignore them or you treat them
. And I have said, Padraig, I found my experience of parliament a very disappointing one because I found no real debate. When I raised my critique of the DA's policy nobody from the DA responded, nobody responded to say you are wrong, you don't understand this, and we get back to this document and we say this in relation to your criticism, or to say this criticism is valid, we will reformulate it. No, just ignore it. Because I left feeling my criticism had got to certain jugular points and what you did as a politician is ignore that there was a jugular that was struck. Kill it by silence. I am saying both sides have this problem.
. So the parliamentary experience is the debates are no real debate. It's all set pieces. Everybody walks in there, tomorrow you're going to have a two-minute slot. You've prepared what you're going to say, you don't care what the others are saying. You make your speech and you go, you've put it into the parliamentary records, finish, klaar. Nobody is saying, hey guys, wait, Trevor Manuel raised this and this point. Now continuing debate in the media, in the public arena, at meetings, you've missed this point, you've missed that point, we agree overall but we disagree here, we disagree there. Take the debate down to the people so that they can understand. Instead the politics is take the debate to the people just to get them on your side by whatever argument you can put to bring them on your side. No question whether you are raising the level of their consciousness and understanding, and that applies to the parliamentary form of debate.
. That doesn't mean I am asking for a dismantling of parliament, I'm only saying it's better than what we had but not good enough but you can only address the not good enough in the context that you say we share an obligation to ensure that our people who are voting for us every five years are better and better informed and able to grapple with the issues so that they can make an input.
POM. Doesn't that become again humanly more, almost like a process of osmosis, doesn't it become humanly isn't it human when you know that you are going to be re-elected that in fact the electorate don't have and really don't wish for an alternative at this point in time to allow just what you were talking about, just slowly slip out of your consciousness. There are no repercussions if you don't do it, you're going to be there the next time anyway.
MM. That's the example that politics everywhere is setting. That's the disillusionment with politics that is taking place around the world. The example of politics is that it's only about power play for your self interest.
POM. But has that already taken place in this country?
MM. It's taking place, it's taking place and that's why I'm saying ANC, you have the capacity to say we defined the agenda for the next 25 years historically to be the following, what are they? Are they still valid? If they are valid how far have we moved the country to realising those strategic objectives? Why haven't we reached further than we should have? How can we in the coming period make us come closer to realising that objective and the objectives were set in only four points. The rest was argumentation to support those four strategic objectives. I am saying we have that capacity and we ought to be looking at delivery against those objectives.
. When Madiba was President at the end of the second year I think he asked all ministers to give him a four-page report on their respective departments. He said, "I don't want a longer report. I want four pages only. I want you to articulate what was the strategy you are following in your department and articulate how far you've gone, what are the obstacles you are meeting and what are your plans for the next period." He told me he abandoned the exercise because ministers began to file 50-page reports, drowning it in detail. He said it just became impossible because all they were telling me is the good things that they have done and all the good things were nuts and bolts, they were not allowing me to see the wood from the trees, where are you going in your portfolio?
POM. He couldn't see their vision.
MM. He couldn't and they couldn't put the facts out of the thousand things they had done in the year, they couldn't distil from those which ones were taking you nearer to your vision being realised.
POM. They couldn't, in a sense, articulate their vision.
MM. Yes. One was to articulate their vision, then measure what you have been doing and distil from it those things that were taking you closer to realising your vision, then measure those things that were impeding you and then put a plan how you're going to overcome them. That's what he wanted.
. OK, what do I see in the bank where I am? I see that happening all the bloody time and I see the effective businesses able to put it down in three pages, able to measure it and able to tell you where they are going. So it's not an alien capacity but politics, the way it is practised in the world, tends to fudge the issues and that's a challenge but it's a challenge that I believe in SA - which formation has the best capacity and history to meet it? At this stage it still remains for me with the ANC. I don't want to critique the DA because I think that the same thing applies whether on the global scale that we were taking of earlier, how do you as a small country and a small economy impact in the global economy to change the rules of the game? Same problem. How do you as a small opposition party impact on the country to influence the rules of the game? I know Tony Leon will say, but Thabo doesn't want to see me. I never said because Bush says I'm not prepared to go along with you, we say we give up. I said it's a debating issue now that if that was our agenda on the global scale to the extent we have failed to get the rules changed, have we exhausted it? Are we at the point to abandon that strategy and return to a closed economy?
. So we have a debate making us more conscious that, yes, this is what we are pursuing and we want to mobilise not just in SA and in the developing world, we want to mobilise in the developed world. It's what we did with apartheid. We didn't say because the US is hostile to the ANC from 1952, give up finding a response from the US that supports our case against apartheid. We continued and if there is a transition in 1994 that is called a miracle, partly it was American divestment from the South African economy. That triggered a thinking in PW Botha's cabinet that, hey, we are beleaguered now, we are losing our most reliable friends.
. The ANC strategy was mobilise those who in class formation would support you but go beyond them and mobilise the other side. That's the problem of politics. It is accepting the agenda of the formality of politics and modelling itself on the way politics has come to be perceived around the world.
POM. Which is with a very high degree of suspicion and disregard and turnouts are
MM. Cynicism. Not only suspicion. I call it a disjuncture between fairness and morality on one side and politics on the other. It was not supposed to be like that. It can't be. If politics is an inherent element in society it ought not to be just the negative elements of society. I feel fulfilled in all that I did in the struggle against apartheid. I feel fulfilled in the five years that I spent in government and I feel that I have retired knowing that in the new terrain that opened up I did not look forward to another term with a sense that I will feel fulfilled.
MM. I felt that it's my criticism of politics. It's my criticism of politics, this disjuncture. It's my observation why Madiba is an icon around the world, that there is a deep disillusionment with politics as it is practised today. I don't say that there shouldn't be rewards, I don't think anybody can do things without rewards and incentives, but I do feel that the way it is practised has created a huge separation so that you are not constantly under that pressure that politics is supposed to be for the public good.
POM. But you said your first five years were fulfilling. Why didn't you think that a further five years could be equally as fulfilling?
MM. I found the first five years as fulfilling because they gave me an insight on the magnitude of the problem of rebuilding this country. I felt I had, together with the department, done things, and with government, that was moving the country forward but I had simultaneously experienced this overwhelming environment that those objectives would constantly get traded off in small trade-offs to move forward and I began to get a sense that the trade-off environment was the overwhelming environment.
POM. When you say the trade-off, you're talking about?
MM. Even within government, you'd make a wonderful statement as a cabinet and then tomorrow you've forgotten the statement. You're busy with a little trade-off between one department and another department. I, in the Maputo Corridor, participated in both governments coming together, conceptualising, implementing the corridor, saw the need that the purpose of the corridor was to develop inter-country trade, develop skills transfer, ensure development of both sides' economy, deal with problems of growth of the economy, job creation, improvement, very good. But I saw the trade flow was crucial. Here was the road, beneficial to both sides. The railway, port, beneficial to both sides. Then I saw the need for enabling that flow of goods to have a one-stop border post at Komatipoort.
POM. Yes, you told me about it.
MM. I travelled there to go to Josina's wedding. We had agreed, we had demarcated the area, the designs were there, we studied the Canadian, the Brussels, the Luxembourg, all, it's still not there. Why is it not there? Both sides, inter-departments, inside our side, everybody wants to be king, everybody wants their specific interest to dominate everything else. No movement forward. Why? You've got committee after committee after committee meeting and meeting and meeting and meeting. Nobody is coming down there and saying this is the purpose, this is why your departments exist, we want this to happen within the next six months.
POM. When Thabo came in, as far as I recall in his presidential inaugural address, saying cabinet ministers will be judged on performance, there will be monthly meetings, they will have to submit monthly reports of the progress they are making and this is going to be a hands on managerial team that will implement and deliver. There hasn't been a cabinet reshuffle, there hasn't been any dead wood removed.
MM. Because you have not created the mechanisms for quantitative evaluation of performance. This is the challenge even in business. Everybody says performance evaluation but as long as the criteria that goes into performance are qualitative and have no concrete measures, it's no performance measurement. The moment you reduce it to quantitative measures, agree on the measures because even in this group you can't just set it from the top. You have to sit down in a cabinet, how do I quantify measuring you, my ministers? Come out with five criteria and how we're going to score it and who's going to score it. Once I've got that hurdle clear I've got the tools to evaluate and demonstrate that I'm not acting subjectively on my wish list, I'm giving you the fairest chance to perform and I'm going to evaluate you transparently. And you yourself in your tenure can measure yourself and anticipate how you are performing.
. Today in the public service restructuring, Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi set up pamphlets, booklets written on performance management in the public sector. It has not moved forward. In the teachers Kader Asmal is trying to say, teachers, I will evaluate your performance. He hasn't even gone past the first base. Teachers, you and I, do we agree if we need performance evaluation? Yes we are agreed. Right, now what are the criteria? How are we going to measure it? No, he says, I'm going to send inspectors to evaluate your work. Teachers say no way. He says I find it unacceptable you're not on duty, is that what you're covering up? The teachers say we are not going down that route of inspectors coming and checking on our work. Where's the disagreement? You haven't agreed that there needs to be performance evaluation. You haven't agreed what should be the elements of that evaluation and how it should be scored and who should do the scoring.
. Here, in our group, a person gets a performance evaluation and says I object to the evaluation. We say, right, we have procedures where you can take your objection, be heard, and see. Then there will be a ruling and then you can't go further, you have to accept that evaluation. Even your bonus will depend on your evaluation. Your salary you're guaranteed but your bonus is going to depend on the evaluation. But you can't argue I don't know the criteria, who scored it. It's all settled, sorted out by agreement with the staff within the law of labour relations. You can't move with the teachers at the moment, it's stuck.
. I am not saying I have the answers, I haven't looked at the problem in depth but it needed for somebody at the top, even the minister to say, hey, wait a minute guys, have we signed off on the need for it? Have we signed off on criteria? Have we signed off on how to measure it? And don't tell me that there's a column there in the criteria that says is he well mannered because it's a question that's open to a subjective answer. I can say Padraig is well mannered and polite and somebody else says I don't like the way he looks at me and for that reason I say he's not polite. You've got to have quantifiable measurements.
POM. Taking about just what Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi may have issued yesterday, she came out and talked about the loss of skills, the increasing loss of skills in the public sector. Here you have one report that says there is a lack of skills, a whole list of what's wrong and what recommendations of what might make things better and, as I said, people who are found to be inadequate can hardly be expected to set up a committee to deal with their own inadequacies because they don't have the adequacy. They do it and you're losing people, skilled people, at the same time so you're getting delivery more stalled. It seems to me again that, unless I'm misreading this, that Mbeki tends to insinuate, and sometimes says, that that lack of delivery is being held up by old apartheid elements still deliberately bogging things down. Now I must tell you I don't buy that, I just don't buy it for any number of reasons, but again it's saying that there's an enemy within that is trying to stop us, is not facing up to the reality. We have a problem here and it's our problem.
MM. And we're in charge, the buck stops with me.
POM. And it's not that there's some cabal of people in there, the public service, saying how come he screwed things up, how can we make things go slower, how can we ?It comes back to what you referred to as pamphlet, purges, enemies within. I get very disturbed when I see public figures use the word 'enemies'. V S Naipul has a quote that I used at the front of one of my books, "Only the enemies are real." It's a quote I keep using, I find myself always going back to it.
MM. I fought an enemy that we defined as a system.
POM. As a system?
MM. We didn't personalise the enemy.
POM. OK. Now is there a system that is the enemy?
MM. Yes there is. We are our own enemy as South Africans because we are not addressing our mindset. We are our own enemy because we are not adequately presenting the challenges as an agenda that we are setting and motivating and justifying by reality. A tone we are not setting and therefore we are not setting the precedent that the buck stops here and building the team. There isn't enough sense that this country is winning. I know we've started Proudly South African, everything, and it is telling us let's sell the good news story and there's a lot of good news so that is fine. But Padraig, it's a mindset.
. When I reflect on my five years in government there were some people I got rid of but they didn't overwhelm me in my mind. My mind with my department was, chaps, this is what we've inherited, this is the potential of people we can bring in. I'm going to do it reducing the size of the department, increasing their capacity, increasing their productivity and doing the job better. And my DG came to me, "What problems are you facing?" Sometimes he said, "Oh there's the old guard." I said, "OK there's an old guard. How do we diffuse their capacity to resist change?" I didn't say how do we get rid of them, I said how do we diffuse them and harness them to do the job we're giving them and do it better than they ever did it. I think that, maybe I'm living in a fool's paradise, but by the time we left the department and I had a sense that we had moved quite a distance. I had cases of the whites getting together, the old guard, but I had cases where I never banned the meeting. I said to my DG when he came saying that this is happening, I said, "Fine, but we have already taken steps. We have promoted white women who were stuck at secretaries' positions. Let the meeting go on. I want to know what's the outcome of the meeting." And I heard the outcome, the women stood up and said, "What nonsense are you talking? You say this is a bad government, this is a bad minister, this is a bad DG? Nonsense. Under you in the past we were just secretaries and tea people and clerks. Now for the first time we're given responsible jobs and we are doing it better than you did. We're not part of your group." And the whole initiative collapsed.
. I heard similarly of Africans newly brought into the department getting together, saying we are ANC, we will decide what happens in this department. And again the DG came to me, he said, "I hear this is happening. I'm very, very concerned." I said, "So am I." He said, "Shall I ban it?" I said, "No, no. Let them meet. But aren't you ANC also?" He says, "Yes, they've invited me." I said, "Go, go." Then I heard what happened at the meeting. One African got up and said, "Hey, we're meeting as ANC to determine what should be done in Transport. How come the minister who's a member of the NEC is not here? Are you saying we can decide without him participating? I think there's something wrong." The meeting collapsed.
. So mindset to me, I know your power is constrained but if you sit in the seat of power, constantly exercise your power that the responsibility stops with you, I couldn't go to cabinet and say I have failed to do this because Trevor Manuel didn't give me an adequate budget. No, not an excuse. I knew what is going to be allowed, trade-offs between each claimant, now we've cut the cake, this is what resources I have got, now we've got to make things happen within those resources.
POM. In a very odd way, just because I was going through material last night and I had asked you a question about what was the joint family system and what you're talking about in cabinet is almost like the joint family system, the head of the family, all the money is put into the pool and then the family makes the collective and individual allocations and that's that.
MM. And the family must prosper.
POM. In a way you're used to that, in a sense, it came from that kind of background.
MM. But I think everybody has it, everybody has it in every family.
POM. Mine was the same.
MM. The problem is that we are not translating that adequately. It may be happening but we're not presenting it as the manner in which we function. That's the issue and I think it comes back to the mindset. If your mindset is to look for where to put the blame away from you, then you would always find reasons. But if your mindset is I start off with the blame sits with me then I can allocate to others lesser responsibilities but I cannot drift on to making that the main reason why I have not done it. I must start off with the mindset, it stops with me.
. When I was in Vula it was not my survival, my personal physical survival that was ever, ever the dominant thought in my mind. My survival was predicated on the operation succeeding. Ipso facto others said I need to survive so the others assured my survival and I could concentrate on the mission succeeding. But if I sat there dominated by my personal survival I don't think we could have gone the distance we went. That's my own view and others may have a different view. I have known other comrades in the team more preoccupied with their survival.
. So I am saying mindset and understand that this mindset is an inheritance but when you're sitting at new frontiers you ought to say I am going to steer a mindset change and you know you cannot steer it yourself. The survival of Vula, my own survival, could not be achieved if I was dominated and thinking only of my survival. By ensuring that I was focused on the survival and success of the mission I was able to get people in the team who gave as much attention to my survival. So they did that part. My part was to attend to ensuring that the mission succeeds. And isn't that what politics is about?
POM. But one sees we've gone back and this is one of the questions I want you to think about because I've marked it when I go through the stuff, not an adequate answer, and that was on the question of child abuse, the epidemic of child abuse and sexual violence against women. How was I relating that? You have the call for moral regeneration and a commission, another commission that was set up on moral regeneration. I mean a commission can't morally regenerate people. One doesn't see any signs of that new mindset emerging.
MM. Good. This morning before you walked in that file you saw me walking out with was a file on a project that has been going on in about ten schools in Gauteng. It was now taken by a consultancy to evaluate and the woman running it, I'm told, is a French woman, she's been working in Alexandra Township and she's been focusing on standard three children to build the citizens. She's been interacting with the classes and I was told this morning before the file was brought to me of a direct experience she had, and I agree it's anecdotal. She went into that school, has been working there regularly with the standard threes, with a syllabus.
POM. She's French?
MM. French. And what happened to her is two things. She's taking their life skills and their citizen's qualities and in her evaluation she asked the children to portray how their life is today, how they see themselves at 20, how they see themselves at 40 and how they see themselves in retirement. The shocking thing that was coming out was a hell of a lot of abuse in the home. In one instance one of the girls, she then set up she called the mother and the daughter and she said, "Now, you're the daughter, you are today going to be the mother, and you're the mother, you are going to be the daughter. That's the role I want you to play." This young girl, to cut a long story short, started screaming at the so-called daughter (the real mother who was now the child) and slapped her around and ordered her about. Towards the end of that exercise this woman then intervenes and says to the mother and the daughter, "What do you think of this, this thing that has happened now?" And the mother said, "This is shocking, totally unacceptable." She said, "But isn't your daughter, when she had to play your role, doing the things that she experiences from you?" And the mother said, "You know, nobody taught me how to be a mother. This is right. The way she behaved herself is exactly the way I behave towards her."
. Now here was an episode trying to grapple which is lying at the root of our abuse of children. It's not just the rape, it's everything underlying it. Now this whole thing has been evaluated by a consultancy and it's come to my desk to say what do you think, Mac? Should we as a bank finance the roll-out of this either in the entire Gauteng or countrywide? We sat and talked here before I read the documents. I said it needs the role players, have you defined the role players because it needs the teachers because this woman and her small team can't be everywhere all the time. Where's your sustainability? That needs the teachers. Have you spoken to the Education Department? Where's the funding? Have you talked to other businesses? And he said, "I like it because it fits in with moral regeneration." I said, "Don't drown it yet. Have we identified the role players, got the correct crucial role players to make it successful and sustainable? Have we got the resources? Have we got the sign-off? And I don't care whether it gets signed off by I would prefer it signed off by the President or by the Deputy President who is heading moral regeneration but it's not going to slip into that moral regeneration programme just lying down in words. Here I see something that has actually got case studies coming through. We may not have measured enough quantitatively of the output but I'd like to see the documents."Now, something I didn't know that was happening Padraig, they've run through ten schools already.
POM. Who's financing this?
MM. It was financed by a small group of businesses, supported by the minister, and now they said let's get a consultancy to examine what we've done and to give us a report on how effective it is because we said we want to know how effective it is. Give us that for us to evaluate whether we should put our resources behind it. I said if we are to put our resources in it we must have done everything to ensure that it's going to be sustainable and sustainability is not just money. Is there a programme that the teachers in those schools are drawn in to make it part of their lifestyle? Is there a programme that brings in the parents? And I said we meet formidable problems there but can we do it? So he says, "I'll send you the file." It was a thick file, it didn't need reading the entire file. But I'm answering your question, I've not heard of this thing and now I see it come on my desk and my mind is tuned: can we contribute? Because I asked the chap who came and did the briefing, he said, "Yes the teachers are involved." I said, "What are the problems? I see problems because are they going to do this thing after hours as well? Are they going to meet the parents after working hours? Are they going to be demanding more pay?" And I saw in the report that it's done on Saturdays with the parents and the teachers, many of them are objecting, they're saying it's inconvenient to do it on Saturday. So the obstacles are being identified by the report. You need to sit down and say how do we move it forward? And it has the potential of unrolling if the key role players are correctly identified, if the people who are to steer it are correctly identified, if the government gives its support we can roll it out because the resources, we will find it, Padraig. We will find it. If it's going to cost us in the private sector R30 million we will find the R30 million.
POM. Ultimately you will inherit those children, they're going to be your employees and as adults they're going to be abusive adults if that's all they've learned.
MM. It is the citizen of tomorrow because that kid, the file showed, goes through this at standard three and then every year as they move up to standard four, to standard five, you've got to have a continuing programme. So I've heard some wonderful anecdotal stories from it all saying there is a responsiveness. That doesn't mean that the curriculum that is being used is perfect. That doesn't mean all the outputs you desired are there but it does show that that consultant's study has shown there is something really positive coming out of it.
. This very French woman went to that school that she's been going regularly to in Alexandra Township, she was leaving the school when hijackers attempted to catch her. She drove off, you may say foolishly, her car was riddled with six bullets. Miraculously she survived. She got to her safety, she went to the police station. They took her statement, nothing happened. A week later she got up and she said, "I have to go back to that school. Forget what has happened, I am going back." She went to the police station, she said, "I'm going back to that school. I'm going to ask the children to identify those hijackers." The police said, "You'll get nowhere." She went with the police to the children, 70% of the children got up and identified the hijackers. It is now one year and not one has been locked up. 70% of the children at a risk to their own lives identified, came forward when she presented the problem. What have the children done now? She has been speaking to the children and the children have written a letter to the MEC for Gauteng, Safety & Security. Themselves writing a letter saying this is what happened, this is what we did, we have identified, we have told the police, we have made our statements but it's one year and the hijackers are still around us here.
POM. They were never arrested or charged?
MM. Yes. So this teacher
POM. They weren't even arrested?
MM. No. This teacher has had to grapple with the problem of saying to them, "That doesn't mean the end of the story for you children. Life will deliver some results and others it won't, but have you exhausted your activity as a citizen?" Or do you end up by just saying the police are doing nothing, the hijackers are still moving around the street here. We've identified them and there's nothing we can do. So she comes workshopping this problem and says to them, "I think you children have to write to the MEC." She gives them that leadership and they realise what it means to be a citizen. But the advantage, she's holding those children together with a set of values about how they live their lives.
POM. If there's no response from the MEC?
MM. Do we give up?
POM. What will happen to the children?
MM. Huge risks, huge traumas, but if we roll out the programme throughout this province the chances of succeeding are better and the price of the trauma is there but, remember, this teacher also, this woman, she had to face her traumas of having six bullets in her car and going back to that same school.
POM. She's an extraordinary woman.
POM. I'm just doing this as a kind of devil's advocate, she has inculcated certain values into these children. When they were called upon to put those values into operation they responded positively at risk to themselves, identified the hijackers, saw the police do nothing. One disappointment. Two, now see themselves at risk from the hijackers who know where they live and know who they are.
MM. And may be somebody from the police too.
POM. And may be somebody from the police. Don't feel any sense of protection so begin to query, well should I have stood up in the first place? I've only put myself at risk, nothing has happened so has it been worth it? OK, I go the next step, I still stay with the teacher and the values and we collectively write to the MEC detailing everything that's happened.
MM. Nothing happens.
POM. And nothing happens.
MM. But Padraig, you can't build change only on the worst case scenario.
POM. I know, I know. I'm just what I suppose I am getting at is that let me give you the analogy in a different way. In economics there was the theory of the late starter, i.e. if you came late either into the industrial revolution, it would apply now to the IT revolution, you really were at an advantage to those who discovered the British suffered because they were at the front and they put it on narrow rails and then they were stuck with a whole infrastructure that was outdated and the cost of replacing it was so huge that they were stuck with it and you couldn't replace it piecemeal so you could never take the next leap because the capital cost was so great. Somebody else who never had that kind of system comes in and buys the best infrastructure on the market, installs it and is way ahead. Now here you have a microscope of a little area where you have police, you've parents, community activists, you have the social environment and the teachers, and my question is can you address a single problem within that context without having to address the whole context?
MM. You have to address it by moving forward and you have to address it by rolling out the programme to all the schools so that that change in behaviour becomes such a pressure that if in one locality the police don't act, the MEC has no hiding place and the value will reach people kids will fail in it, not because something is wrong with them but because the external environment has not been responsive. But the intention of it if you roll it out is to change the external environment as well.
POM. Would part of that programme, since you talk about it, include an element that would say on many occasions when you behave as good citizens you are going to find, because of other factors, that there is not a satisfactory response but that doesn't mean that you should give up on your values.
MM. That's the key.
POM. You must work to change the external environment.
MM. And when you're doing good that doesn't mean you won't get hurt. But remember one thing, that the values that you are operating on are in themselves a powerful agent of your own self-esteem because what you're going to carry in your adult life is first of all how you estimate your own value. It's a real life story. Life skills is not saying your problems will be over. Life skills is saying you are equipped to maintain your values and cope with problems but no assurance that you'll overcome every problem. I can teach you to swim but that doesn't mean you are assured that you won't die of drowning.
POM. I can tell you about the dangers of smoking, that doesn't mean that you're going to give up smoking. On the contrary. It means you go for another cigarette.
MM. But don't you see, yes we've deviated, don't we see that movement in society this one has this enormous potential and I might say why don't you start at standard one, you might say no, standard three is too young, you should start at standard six. Those things we will refine as we go down the road as experience teaches us. The issue is somebody is doing something and the challenge now is can we have that somebody to make it sustainable and roll it out, possibly Gauteng, possibly the whole country. But have we identified who are the partners, have we brought the Teachers' Union into it, got them to buy in, got the Department of Education to buy in, got the universities to supply also lecturers to do additional work from their Departments of Psychology, their Department of Education and to be involved? Got the parents and the civic structures? Have we identified the role players and said which ones are the key building blocks and then said resources, we're not going to go and cry to government, we'll say, OK, we'll go to business and we will find the money. And we say to business, this is the advantage you're going to gain, this is how you are going to be perceived as a partner in building this country. You are not looking at your short term gain, you're looking at a longer term gain. We have to debate it and we have to pick up those things that are happening and see how to mobilise them to become larger movements happening in our society.
. So, my position is not what attracted me, it is not that I have criticisms of the moral regeneration, it has never fired me because I feel that the model that they are using is too much piety, too little reality. This one I see a lot of reality but I don't want to pose it as one against the other. If you choose to do it the way it's been happening with moral regeneration, go on, but here's something where I would hope you would come in as a parent not now wearing your moral regeneration hat but if it converges with your concept of moral regeneration I hope you learn something here and your presence will help us to understand something. So I am not posing the two against each other. I feel happy that this CE of a division in our group saw the need to come and ask me what do I think, should the bank support it? It will mean a huge commitment from the bank, it can't be a one-off commitment. We have to talk about it and find a way but I am attracted by what I see. It gives me hope. I think that this ten year old has got a better chance in life than the ten year old who doesn't go through this system.
. What I am saying is there is a hell of a lot happening if you open your eyes to see and then you don't have to be starry eyed and grab everything and be doing everything, just as I have to say from a strict business point of view, hey, wait a minute guys, we are funding this, we are funding that. Last year we funded social programmes to the value of R40 million. That we do annually but now say, should this one have a place? Can we add our resources? We could even reduce some other efforts that we are doing and give this one special priority. I may lose out on the debate, Padraig, but let us take it there having thought it through carefully.
POM. Is my time up?
POM. I don't get an extra ten minutes because it's my birthday?
MM. No you don't. You think I'm Niel Barnard, eh?