This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, 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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
16 Aug 1991: Ramaphosa, Cyril
POM Cyril, I suppose I'd like to start just with something that you said as you walked into the room and that is that you are so busy and have so many immediate tasks on hand that you find it difficult to put aside the time you need to think. How do you do that? How do you manage to get this thinking done since this thinking must be one of the most important components of the whole process?
CR We are in the ANC going through a period of reorganising, restructuring the organisation and in the process of doing that we are setting up systems and so forth and you find that you get embroiled in a whole lot of things, you get involved in many things that keep you engaged on a daily basis, on an hourly basis and I have found that you do so many things at the same time that you hardly ever have time to take a moment's breath. You don't even get enough time to sit down, to reflect on the many things that you are doing and happening around you. I am just hoping that this is a transitory type of phenomenon and once the restructuring has been completed the workload that rests on my shoulders now will reduce somewhat and I will then be able to take enough time on a daily basis to think, to plan, to strategise and to have a whole range of people doing what I am doing now. I think that is the most effective way of operating as what in the business world they would call an executive officer of a company.
POM How do you prepare yourself for the process of negotiations and how do you view its past? Is there a projectory that you think of and do you see them following a certain course?
CR Yes we do. Our conference in July decided that we should set up a negotiating team which will have the necessary back-ups, task forces and experts in that area. Our National Executive Committee has agreed that we should open up a department, what you could call a Negotiations Strategising Department in the ANC. We call it the Negotiations Commission. Five National Working Committee people have been put in charge of that and I have been charged with the responsibility of heading that Negotiations Commission. In that commission you've got people who already are working out an idea of the course of negotiations with the government and the various phases that negotiations must go through. No doubt the first phase is to be prepared ourselves in our own ranks and we are now in the phase of consultation, thorough consultation with our constituencies on the strategic shift that was effected a few weeks ago by our National Executive with regard to our approach to negotiations.
POM That strategic shift being?
CR Prior to that meeting, prior to Inkathagate the approach had always been remove the obstacles, all obstacles, prisoners must be released, exiles must come back, violence must be eliminated, stop trials, remove repressive security legislation. That was in mind with what the OAU decided in the Harare Declaration and also the UN Declaration. We were pursuing that course and saying that we will not attend a multi-party or all-party congress with the regime until all these obstacles have been removed because the view was we had to level the playing fields and you had to allow the ANC to operate as a fully fledged political organisation without structural hindrances or constraints, without making it impossible for it to operate like they have done in the past 27 - 30 years.
So after Inkathagate it became clear to us that that was the obstacle, the main obstacle is the government and you've got to remove the government because once you remove the government then all the other obstacles are removed. It's like a jigsaw puzzle, so you solve one and everything else falls into place.
POM Is Inkathagate one of the critical turning points in this process in the last 18 months which called for fundamental reassessment of strategy?
POM I've asked this question and I will ask it of you because I've asked it of people in the government and across the board: do you take the revelations of Inkathagate as being the final irrefutable proof that this government all along, and I say the government, not rogue elements, has been pursuing this double agenda of the olive branch on the one hand and on the other hand trying to consciously destabilise the ANC through slaughter?
CR Yes. We've always know, we've always suspected it and we've always been aware because there have been snippets of evidence coming through but this was the final evidence and final proof that they have been doing it. Now we have two choices: the one choice was to say we're not going to have any further dealings with you until you come clean on the secret funds and you make commitments. We set out a list of demands, "Until you comply with all those demands". That, in our view, would have set the country a few steps backwards because we would not have used Inkathagate as a springboard to legitimise, well not really legitimise, I shouldn't use that word, to reinforce our demand for an interim government. Now Inkathagate has actually given much more proof, I think, to many other people that this government is so corrupt, so much more illegitimate that it can never hope to continue, it shouldn't be allowed to continue governing even through the period of transition.
POM Now Patricia and I were discussing this whole debate about an interim government a number of times and we were trying to think of other countries where you actually had an interim government take over in this kind of process and we were really unable to come up with any. Even in Angola you have Unita accepting the legitimacy of the existing government after the elections. Haiti, Czechoslovakia, so this is kind of radical in a sense, in terms of societies in transition to democracy you were looking for something very different than any other one has. You mentioned the word 'legitimacy' and I was wondering where with regard to a Constituent Assembly you say, well if the government doesn't like it let them come up with an alternative that will achieve the same thing and we will consider it. If the issue here with an interim government is where you're not saying let us have a set of arrangements but you're saying it's that the sovereignty of this government, the legitimacy of this government is in fact the real issue here and before we can have real negotiations that sovereignty and legitimacy must be taken out of the way.
CR That's what we're saying.
POM You are?
CR We're saying that. We're saying we must have a sovereign government that will be charged with the responsibility of ushering us peacefully, neutrally through the period of transition because transition, this big wide road that we see in front of us called transition, has a lot of potholes and we want to be steered properly on this road and avoid all the potholes. Our situation differs from Angola and I guess it differs from Haiti because we have had a long experience with this government but the world has also had experience in dealing with this government. I say Inkathagate turned things around even more for us because it revealed not only the support for Inkatha but it also revealed the treachery and the dishonesty of the SA government not only to us but to the world community where they enter into undertakings and agreements at UN level with regard to the governance of a country which they knew they could just, let me say, where their interests were not directly affected. They undertook not to interfere with the political process, signed and sealed, but in spite of having done that they still interfered with the political process. The question that we ask is: what more are they going to do here where their interests are much more directly affected?
Now Angola has not had that experience. Of course Savimbi knows that dos Santos is going to play political tricks, he knows that there may be a whole lot of things that will be done to tamper with the political process but you see he's got some insurance because right now Savimbi is integrating his armed forces together with the MPLA forces. I may be wrong but the information I have is that that integration process is taking place now. Now in that period of transition the control of your armed forces, the control, OK let's say the army or defence force and control of your police and the control of your media and its propaganda particularly television and radio which is centrally controlled here, it's crucial that also the control of your civil service which is actually going to run, to administer the period of transition, that is crucial. Now Savimbi and dos Santos have reached some agreement. I have not seen the agreement and I can kick myself in my foot because I should see it, I should know exactly what the agreement is, (OK, I'm new in this job).
POM Looking for setting it as a condition of that the government must in fact resign, end its sovereignty, is in a sense an absolute position, it can't half concede its sovereignty, it can't half resign, it has to do it or it doesn't do it. In the event of it refusing to do so by saying, we will consider any kind of form of interim arrangements and you can be here, you can be there, we can have this commission and that commission and the other commission and you can be all over the place but we are the government and we're going to be the government until a new constitution is enacted. What options do you have at that point in terms of putting pressure on the government, particularly in view of the fact that the international community appears to have applauded, broadly speaking have applauded, de Klerk's response to Inkathagate and he's gained more international favourable reportage because of Ventersdorp? What do you do? This is a demand and you're somebody whose negotiated with mine employers over the years and what room do you have to back off, what room do you have to compromise?
CR The point is on the sovereignty one there is going to be very little room for us to move because we don't want to be co-opted, not at all. We believe that if we are going to have fundamental changes in this country as the government argues we are, this is the time when the government should entrust the future of this country not in one political party and trust it in itself, the ANC and Inkatha and the whole other organisations so that we all take joint responsibility. The important thing is that we take joint responsibility around a government of national unity so that we start testing the waters of how a final government of national unity is actually going to work because the government is saying they don't want a winner takes all. Inkatha is saying they don't want a winner takes all, and we may, we may actually want to - well let me say we actually want to have reconciliation in this country. We want to have reconciliation and, without giving any firm views of this, it is not inconceivable that we might have some of the people who have been in charge of certain departments in government in the new government. It is not inconceivable. You could have a Finance Minister who is still in office today being in office in, say, an ANC government. My own view, and this is a personal one, is that you could actually have the period of transition through an interim government being probably your most significant period in the history of your country because we will be seeing whether it is actually going to be possible to - if it's going to work. Can we trust a du Plessis to be in charge of Finance in the future having seen how he operates during the period of transition when a lot is at stake?
Now it is going to be important as far as I am concerned, and I don't see why the government would resist such a reasonable, the most reasonable type of demand where all of us are saying, the ANC is saying, we don't want to be in control solely during the period of transition. No, we don't want that nor do we want Inkatha to be solely in control nor do we want the Nats to be in control. We want all of us to share responsibility and that is going to prepare us as leaders, as political parties, our following, the members and everyone to actually be seized with this whole concept of reconciliation and it is going to enhance reconciliation more than anything because it is going to be an interim government of national unity more than just being an interim government where political parties get together for a talk show type of meeting. It's going to be action. Everything is going to be played out before the whole country with a view of uniting everyone and emerging with a South African nation during the period of transition which is finally consolidated after the period of transition.
POM So in a sense you're saying that if you had this government of national unity, interim government of national unity in place that you at the negotiation table can review its performance and your review of its performance would in a sense determine the course of your own negotiations, what's possible or not possible?
POM [This comes back to something that is part of the ... part.] When you go to the negotiating table I assume that your team, the ANC, will have worked out in advance what it wants more than in the sense of we want a one man one vote democracy, but in the sense of that we want a government that can work and work quickly to achieve the level of national reconstruction that's necessary to jump start the whole social and economic process, which is a slightly different consideration than saying we want one man one vote majority rule. You could have - you know what I'm driving at? You could have an ANC government working on its own but yet it's authority to govern mightn't be there because you don't have proper control over the civil service, whereas if you worked through a transition arrangement it's seen that you and the Nats and others have worked together, to say if this kind of arrangement works it allows us to move forward much quicker.
CR Yes, yes. Indeed.
POM So loosely could you just maybe outline what you think are the main objectives, what you want to come out of the negotiations besides a new constitution, one man one vote, one person one vote, beyond a Constituent Assembly?
CR The economy is one area. There is going to have to be some document that will have to be signed on the economy.
POM I was going to ask you that. Last year one of the questions I asked a lot of people was whether whites might be prepared to concede a lot of political power in order to safeguard and protect their economic power and in most cases the answer was yes, they would do that if it became a trade off. So it's change in the lives of people who think that must happen if this is to be a successful transition. So you would look at a statement on the economy?
CR On the economy that would deal with the whole range of issues such as, for instance, how distribution is going to be effected. You see it occurs to me that we are going to need to address the fears of white people as well and make sure that they do not just start fleeing when the new government comes in. For instance, we are saying the main structure of our economic policy is that we should have growth through redistribution and the other side says, no, you should have redistribution through growth. This is probably largely due to the fact that they don't understand how we believe redistribution should take place. We have not identified very clearly and specifically areas where redistribution needs to take place, i.e. I would argue that what you do immediately is to redistribute housing so that black people immediately just as a start, for instance in a place like Soweto, are actually given all the houses that people have been occupying all these years. They are not theirs, they are renting so there's no security of tenure and you just give all those houses at one go to all the people in Soweto and say, these are now your houses. That in my view is actually going to lead to growth because once a person knows that they own their house they want to put up a brick wall around it, they want to improve it, they want to do this and this and that. I stay in a flat in Soweto. I've always wanted to put up a brick wall around it and make it more secure or whatever but I can't because I don't own it. If I knew that I owned it I would have put up a beautiful brick wall and done my garden nicely. If you go there, it's horrible right now. So you start by doing something like that. The government must give up land that it owns because of the injustice that our people have suffered throughout the years. The government must release all tracts of land that it owns and give it to people. You have to find a formula of how you give that to the people and the government must start acquiring land from idle landowners and absentee landowners and what have you. The government can acquire land and that can be given to the people. So you can go through a whole range of things.
Now it occurs to me that some of those things will need to be put up in a document so that the white people can know and understand. They must know that we are not saying that we want to go and take Oppenheimer's house, he must feel secure in his house, but at the same time we must make it clear that the vacant stand next to Oppenheimer's house is going to have to be given up in one way or another and so on.
POM But it would also have to incorporate the understanding that in order for this massive reconstruction to take place there has to be a fundamental redirection of resources, that otherwise it simply can't be done. How would you tie this to levels of expectations? Last year in particular we were told that levels of expectations in the black townships were extremely high and people thought a new government tomorrow and bingo, and within a very short period of time the quality of their lives would improve drastically. (i) How big of a problem is this? (ii) What difference do you think a new government, a government that will emerge out of this process, what difference will that government make in the life of the ordinary black family in five years? (iii) What should they reasonably be able to expect?
CR The first is expectations, the second is what difference will a new government make, and what should they reasonably expect?
POM What should they be able to reasonably expect.
CR Let's start with the last one, what should they reasonably expect. I think once a new government comes in it will actually have to make sure that people understand the constraints that the government is going to have to operate under. Basically you actually have to make sure that you embark on a massive education or conscientisation campaign to make sure that the people understand the national balance sheet. They should know what the actual situation is fully. The country will now be theirs, they will not feel alienated like we do right now. They will know that when we talk about resources it is not some distant thing but is something that they can relate to, and we need to make clear what the resources are that are available, what resources are needed. The government will have to come out very, very clearly so that people know the extent of the difficulties that the government is going to face. People need to know where the government is going to get its money and how much money it needs to get and how it's going to get it and how it intends to spend it and so forth. Also the government must be able to set out what it plans to do in a way so that people know that whilst I live in a dusty street the government intends with the resources it has, it's going to address that problem. I may not get a tarred road now but there is a programme under way for us in this region to get tarred roads.
I say this because in the trade union experience that I have had I found that when workers know what the odds that they are up against are, the difficulties and the problems, they are able to reconcile themselves to a much more realistic type of goal than just a wild goal which may not be within reach. So I say this because there is going to be a need, a very big need on the part of the new government to make sure that people understand simple things like even basic economics and how it works. Having done so, once people know what to realistically expect, you will find that it's not going to be that difficult to galvanise support behind the government, the support of the people to address the challenges that the new government is going to have. If you don't make sure that you rely on the people and on the constituency, the new government could have problems.
POM Would this pertain through the negotiating period of where, again, people might have unrealistic expectations of what the negotiating process is about. In some quarters we hear, even the ANC people say, what's this process about? And the sharing of power, transfer of power, they say, transfer of power right away, there's no consideration that there may be stages before you get to that level, that this process is not kind of a one step thing.
CR You have to do that.
POM How do you do that? You'd have to do this during negotiations as well.
CR We'll have to do it during negotiations as well so that people also understand the process that we are involved in.
POM How do you do that? How do you perform this, which is a massive task, of pulling people in, telling them what's going on, even in negotiations telling them what's realistic, adjusting their levels, getting feedback from them, acting on that feedback?
CR Oh yes, we're going to do that through our structures, through the regional structures, through the branch structures. We are now in the process of setting up the machinery on the ground, machinery that is going to be put in place to support or to sustain the negotiation process. Our view is that that is probably the most important element of the whole negotiation process where you get mandates and you are able to explain fully on the ground what the difficulties are and what our people should realistically expect. Now if you do that on the ground word spreads. We still argue that whilst we may have 700 000 members and have a small core of active members, even less than 100 000, through the various formations that we have, formations that also support us, we are going to be able to spread the word. For instance, we have a Negotiations Commission at national level and we are actually saying every region and every branch and every formation that is allied to the ANC should have a Negotiations Commission of its own so that you have a core of people who would form this network, people that we can plug into and people who would be able to plug into the various constituencies that they are accountable to on a whole range of major issues. For instance, a very good example is yesterday we had to decide whether Mandela should meet de Klerk and we said, "Let us now see if the network works, let's feed this information into our network and let us get feedback from the ground." We're expecting a feedback within two weeks. Now it's no longer a question of Mandela is going to meet de Klerk, it's now a question that's going to be discussed even in my branch. My branch is going to hold a meeting, there are about 200 people, and we're going to discuss that because we will make sure that there's a line that leads to that and it's going to be exciting to hear what people on the ground say. Mandela himself says, "I can't decide, let's hear what the people on the ground decide". That's wonderful, that's the most wonderful part.
POM It's almost utopian.
CR Yes. That is how our people want it. They have demanded it and now we are giving it to them. But we are also saying we want to see how this machinery is going to work. If it turns out that this machinery is a bit slow in reacting we want you to understand that there are certain actions or certain things that we will do without getting a detailed report from you. We may want to sample, test a sample and just hear what people on the ground are saying.
POM To go back to your experience in the trade union movement ...
CR Let me deal with the other questions because I haven't dealt with the other two. Expectations are high, people expect to see changes with the new government. That is natural, that is to be expected. When there's a change in government people all over the world expect better from that government whether in the United States, in the UK and so on. In the UK they are expecting that the Conservative Party will be out of power and the workers, the trade unions and everybody else, many people, expect that the damage that Thatcher did to that country is going to be reversed so the expectations will normally be high. But no doubt they won't be as high as ours because ours are going to be a lot higher because people are living in squalid conditions, people are living in shacks and shanty towns. They expect that when a new government comes into power the situation is going to be improved. For instance people in Phola Park where there about 35/40000 people who share one tap of running water, they will naturally expect that they will have more taps and in no time they will no longer be living in such a horrible place. That is natural. But then what you do is through your conscientisation campaign you make sure that their landing is not going to be a very rough one, it's not going to be a crush, they are actually informed, make sure that they know that whilst the government is committed, you see what you have to realise is that the de Klerk government, for instance, has not even (not that I'm saying one should make promises) succeeded in indicating, clearly communicating its opposition and distaste and dislike for places like the squatters and the hostels. It has not said our people should never live in a place like this.
In our union our members know that their union is totally against their living in hostels and that has enabled the members of the union, and all other workers who are not members, to give maximum support to the union to get rid of the migrant labour system because they know that the union's stand is that of being against the migrant labour system. De Klerk's government has never come out to say, we are against shanty towns and shacks and we are going to embark on a programme to eliminate them. The new government will have to say something like that. It will have to say, as a matter of policy we are against this, we don't believe and agree that people should live in such squalid conditions and we are setting up a programme of getting everyone out of this terrible place. Obviously we have to do it within the constraints of the availability of resources. At least everybody understands.
In Alexandra they are busy working now, community structures, on a programme of developing another area nearby where they are going to put up big houses and so on and people know that when that reaches fruition all those horrible shacks will have been demolished. There is still a lot of violence there that is coming from other quarters but people are getting united in this drive, this new drive. Whilst they know that resources are not plentiful they also know that their civic association and their other organisations are against the squalid conditions in which they are living and they know there is a push to get them out into better living conditions.
So a new government would have to ensure that whilst expectations are high they should be realistic, not realistic in terms of telling people that, don't expect to get out of this place, realistic in terms of telling people that we want you to get out and when the whole plan reaches this stage we think you will be out, and so forth. It needs to show a commitment.
POM So in terms of just say a five to six year scenario what should people be able to expect, what change should it make in the life of somebody who is living now in a squatter camp?
CR I think that a new government should be able to effect changes to that, that the people who are living in such squalid conditions should see themselves having advanced a few steps further away from the squalid living conditions that they are exposed to at the moment. If it doesn't do that it will fail and it is the type of government that may never be returned to power. I think it is possible.
POM I suppose what I'm getting back to again is the authority to govern as against being in government. Because the level of these problems is so massive, you had talked about if an interim government or if an all-party interim government is seen to work well that for the first crucial years after the enactment of a new constitution it may be desirable to carry that forward so that there is not political gainsaying, you are not being accused of not delivering on this, not delivering on that and not delivering on the other.
CR Carry forward what the interim government ...?
POM Yes, carry forward a reconstructive interim government afterwards so that for a number of years you get the impetus to tackle massive problems from the fact that there is a government of national unity rather than a government of a political party as such.
CR You could do that although it's going to be impractical to actually continue with an interim government like that.
CR That's right. It may be impractical but you see you could get to a situation where after a new constitution has been approved and parties, on a proportional representation basis, run for elections and win, parties may want to, well let's say the dominant party that emerges may want to rely on the experience of how a government of national unity works and actually extend a hand of reconciliatory friendship and say, we worked well with you, de Klerk, under that. You haven't done as well as you thought you would, we want you to be part of this government. Gatsha Buthelezi similarly, so-and-so similarly, let us build a government of national unity and move forward. Of course, you have to accept that if you have won the key positions will go to the dominant party. For instance it is not inconceivable to think that we could say de Klerk must continue be acting as State President during the period of the interim government but once a new government has come in then we would say, "We have won, we therefore want a new man there but we want to continue using you", become Deputy President or whatever. That sort of thing can be done but the interim government will have given us enormous experience.
POM This is a question I've asked of everybody and I'll try to get through it quickly. It's about the nature of the problem that the negotiators will face when they sit around the table. Some would say that they think the problem is one of the racial domination of blacks by the minority white community over an extended number of years. Some would say the real problem is between white nationalism and black nationalism in one form or another. Another group would say, yes indeed there are severe racial differences but within each racial group there are also severe or potentially severe ethnic differences and they must be taken into account too. And some of the people's positions on this fall along ideological lines. The academic community tends to fall the same way. Then finally someone said to us, they said, "Well it may be all of those things but most importantly it's about access to resources, who gets resources, how they are redirected and how do you improve the quality of the lives of the majority of the people". In your view what is the nature of the problem that you are facing when you all sit down at that table?
CR It's probably all of the above but in the end I think things like your ethic differences, your racial differences can be resolved for as long as you have a government that is going to be sensitive to such problems. I think one of the reasons why the Nationalist government plunged this country into the chaos that it has for all these years is that they by design decided not to be sensitive to the racial problems and in fact decided to go the other way and exploited that in a political way and started for themselves ensuring that all resources in the country were just available for them because they were people of a different race group. In the end because they could control resources they strengthened their racial bias and by so doing continued holding onto power now in a new government, and maybe say at the negotiating table, no doubt many, well some political parties like de Klerk's political party, are going to want to know how the racial problems are going to be addressed beyond removing the legislation.
POM And ethnic too, right?
CR Yes that as well. They will want to know that and in our view we are going to fall back on a simple and straightforward universal principle of giving as much freedom and making sure that resources are universally available to the individual but a new government should not kid itself and hope that by so doing either in a Bill of Rights or in some other instrument it will have resolved the racial problems and the problems of allocation of resources not only along racial or ethnic lines but along regional lines as well. That is going to be another problem because a person in Namaqualand is going to feel that people in Durban or Cape Town or Johannesburg are much better off than they are. The new government will have to be sensitive to that and address that and address that in the most imaginative way to make sure that we do not fall into the same type of problem that the Soviet Union has fallen into and countries like those in Eastern Europe are actually falling into.
What I am saying is that a new government, even at the negotiating table before we get to a new government, will have to display a sensitivity that will be understood by other people whilst we are saying that we are not going to hold out rights for people on a racial basis, and especially rights for people on a racial basis or ethnic basis or even regional basis, because if you do that in a constitution or whatever document, that would be a recipe for disaster but you have to find a way of addressing it in your policy and in practice as well that has to be addressed.
POM Maybe if I put the question this way it might be better formulated. You have the government over here who go on and on about minorities, minorities, minorities, groups, blah, blah, blah, and you have the ANC over here saying a unitary non-racial democracy. Rather than spending a lot of time saying which is it, shouldn't negotiators say, since we could spend years talking about what the problem is let us put that aside for a moment and let us agree on what are the objectives that we want to come out, what objectives do we want to achieve as a result of these negotiations and then proceed by trying to develop arrangements between us that will allow these objectives to be achieve?
CR You could do that too, but you see we would not want to do that and end up with a solution that is actually going to make sure that de Klerk's objectives with regard to minority rights are entrenched in some constitution in one way or another. We wouldn't want it to. You see one of the other things that one needs to recognise is that, well at the moment there doesn't seem, in fact I am almost convinced that there isn't any difference between us and de Klerk with regard to a question of minorities. He has finally, in my view, come around to see our point of view because he has been saying all along that they want to have minority rights recognition in the constitution and we shot that down through and through and said that we would prefer to have a Bill of Rights which recognises the individual more than it recognises groups. In that way we have argued you have the best protection for all the people in the country. We've had protection for minorities in this country and it has not worked. Why? It's being the minority has had privileges and has had absolute protection to the exclusion of the majority of the population and we therefore cannot say that the majority of the population will have protection as well as the minorities but the minorities will have special protection. We cannot agree to that because we have had a history. I think we also go beyond that and say in many countries of the world that we know of, it is the individual who enjoys maximum protection much more than the group and through that you are able to have checks and balances that will make sure that the group that the individual belongs to is not marginalised, is not treated in such a way that the rights that the individual has are undermined. That is the approach that we would use.
POM Two things on the economy, one I think you've answered but just so that I get it more specifically. You talked about access to resources, how important this was and must the manner, maybe the amounts and even the modalities and the mechanisms for fundamental restructuring of the economy be spelt out in this economic document you talked about as part of the negotiation process itself?
CR I haven't settled in my own mind how that should be done to be quite honest. I just have reason to believe that many parties will want something to be spelt out either in the constitution or in a separate document. The constitution, for instance, may say we are going to have a mixed economic system which will address itself to the imbalances that have existed throughout the years and do that through affirmative action or whatever, ensure that there is growth and that growth should come either through redistribution or whatever and that redistribution should be channelled or should be handled in this way and this way, full stop. You may want to have something like that, not such a detailed agreement because if things proceed in the way that we think they should you're going to have the government intervening in the economy but also you're going to have a very important private sector that is going to, through the market, give direction to the economy as a whole. So you might need something separate but I haven't settled in my own mind how that should be.
POM How important are the kind of considerations of international investment in SA? Some studies have indicated that you would need foreign investment of about R100 billion over the next ten years, R10 billion a year just to achieve a 5.5% growth rate which is necessary just to stay level, not to move at all. Within the movement itself is there any kind of leaning towards, (i) i.e. we really need foreign investment and therefore must create the climate, or (ii) you can't rely on foreign investment, there are too many places all over the world in competition for investment, we must generate the resources internally ourselves.
CR Yes, I think we recognise the fact that we need foreign investment, that the reality of the situation is that we're not going to get as much foreign investment as we believe we should have because over the next five years it's not going to be that easy for all those companies that left to come back in a great hurry. You still need to create a political climate, a conducive political climate for foreign investors to come back. There has to be confidence in the country and so forth.
POM That again is an argument of sorts for a first new-constitution government being one that would draw upon multiple parties rather than ...
CR Yes, indeed.
POM How much longer do you have?
CR Ten minutes.
POM Trade unions: I came across some fascinating figures. The thesis was it's really that SA is becoming a country of two classes, the employed and the unemployed, that if you look at the wages of blacks in trade unions and of whites, that the average differential between blacks and whites in various professions or workstations has narrowed now to about 15%, the gap has steadily narrowed throughout the 1980s but that has been achieved in part as a result of increasing black unemployment. As labour costs get higher you have business just substitute capital for labour so in a sense the country could fall into the trap of becoming a more elite, first it was the black middle class and whites and then you have the mass of unemployed mostly black which would be increasing all the time. Is that, do you think (a) a fair analysis and (b) if it is how do you treat the very delicate problem of, which you must come across in looking after the interests of your members, balancing them against the larger interests of the society as a whole?
CR I would not agree with notion that much of the unemployment has come about as the result of labour costs going so high that employers have had to try and find other ways, maybe more mechanised way of producing. I would rather say that because of the lack of investment, the type of investments that create jobs, we have not been able to create new jobs all round. Investors are employers of capital, not even talking about foreign capital but capital in this country has been on strike for the past 15 - 20 years. Investment has been declining rather than going up and if there has been investment there has been a lot of investment in economic activities that do not produce jobs on an ongoing basis. For instance there's been investment in building, there's been investment even on the stock exchange, the types of investment that do not in the end produce jobs. We have not been putting up new factories. Our manufacturing capacity is very, very weak. Now that has led to a lot of unemployment.
How the trade unions are able to try and balance their interests and the interests of advancing their members interests and also the interests of others, first and foremost as we all know a trade union has to look after its members, that is it's mission in life. We have found in trade union movements in this country on the question, for instance, of a minimum wage the trade union movement has held back for quite a long time on settling a minimum wage and those unions that have agreed that there should be a minimum wage have held back from setting a minimum wage at a very high level because their concern has also been for those people who are unemployed. Those who have argued that you shouldn't have a minimum wage are those who would say as soon as you have a minimum wage you are actually creating firmly some labour aristocracy because those who are unemployed are going to stay unemployed because the employers will be directing all their attention to enjoying that they pay a minimum wage and if you don't have a minimum wage you are able to ensure that at least everyone does get a job even if that job does not pay more than that it's come from the trade union. There are those unions who said peg it very low because if you peg the minimum wage too high then you exclude many workers.
POM The last two questions. One is as you embark on this process of negotiation could you say what common ground exists between you and the government? What differences exist and which of those differences are differences of principle and the others would be differences of tactics of procedure or modality or something like that?
CR We have a lot of common ground on both principle and process but we also have differences on principle and process. On process we have differences with regard to the interim government because that is a process issue. Similarly there's a difference on a Constitutional Assembly. On substance we are virtually agreed on many, many things like constitutional issues and differ on a few like how you devolve power. Do you centralise all power or do you give all power to the regions? We are agreed on a Bill of Rights, in fact the government has virtually welcomed our Bill of Rights. That is important because the core of your constitution really is around the Bill of Rights, how much of the rights are you actually according to your citizens? I guess in the end on principle issues, on issues of substance you will find that we will be able to find each other but it's the process that is going to be more difficult of how to get to that new democratic constitution. That we will get a democratic constitution is a fact. We will be prepared, for instance, to talk to the Nationalist Party on how you devolve power, that is the one that I can think of immediately. There are two or three others.
POM When they talk about power sharing they talk in terms of the NP or its equivalent actually having a share in government, like a power sharing government where they would hold some government portfolio. They would see that as a matter of something written into a settlement whereas what I would understand from you is that you're saying we might have an understanding that that would happen but it would be up to the majority party, the party that won the election, to make up its mind whether it wants to do this or not to do it, we're not going to seal ourselves into some kind of an arrangement before. Is that a disagreement or do you understand the government to mean that by power sharing?
CR I understand them to mean a little bit of that but also a little bit of the other. They want to have the right of veto. Veto not in the racial sense but there should be a House where there might be equal representation of parties, a second House where bills that are passed by the assembly or parliament could then be vetoed by them. I think in the end we might be able to overcome that. I don't think it's going to be that insurmountable but you give and take.
POM That brings me to the final question, this question of give and take. It was Viljoen when I asked him about common ground, he said that you both agree on one person one vote, you both come into negotiations with well defined positions and a willingness to understand there would be give and take, give and take implies respect. The manner in which the government has been treating you over the last year with this double agenda suggests they don't respect you. It also suggests that you can't trust them at all. As you said in an interview in the Weekly Mail that on the ground there is no trust of this government any more yet respect and trust would seem to me to be very important components of a successful negotiating process. Are they necessary or does it grow out of the process? Is it a by-product of the process that becomes part of the dynamic rather than a starting point? Can you begin by saying, "I don't respect you and I don't trust you but let's sit down and negotiate"?
CR Negotiations are usually between adversaries, people who have two interests that are conflicting and when you contest for state power you always find that negotiations are between enemies. Enemies don't usually trust each other and they don't really respect each other but you see that grows out of a process. As you go on you build relationships, you cut deals on small little issues that may be insignificant and as you both deliver, as your stature grows in the eyes of the other then you become more trustful of the other. In a year's time when you come back, ask me why I say so because I will be able to tell you a very interesting story. I don't want to tell you now, but a very, very interesting story that has to deal with trust, how you build up trust because you build that up in the process.
Savimbi when he signed he didn't trust dos Santos and the respect that he might have for dos Santos and the respect that dos Santos might have of Savimbi is still just a little. He respects him because maybe they reached a stalemate in war but respect is going to finally grow and grow depending on how they deal with it, how that relationship will grow. The relationship that will evolve at a negotiating table between leaders, between the parties, between the membership on the ground is the one that is finally going to count and bring about trust and respect. Then it helps in the new constitution when you can see whether you can bring them in into your Cabinet or not. You don't bring in an enemy who you know is going to stab you in your back.
POM Thank you.