About this site

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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

29 Aug 1991: Mboweni, Tito

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POM     Tito, I remember when we talked last Christmas you were very much different than you were when we first talked to you the previous August. You had been here a while, you had gone around parts of the country; seen the conditions under which people lived; you had had trouble getting an apartment; you were angry with the way you were being treated by the business community; in short, you were very steamed up. How are things now? You told me then that I should follow the path of somebody who had been in exile and came back, you are that person.

TM     My views have not changed, if anything the developments of the recent weeks relating to the government's handling of a slush fund combined with the violence which has been sweeping across the townships, have reconfirmed my anger and sense of frustration about the process.

     We can't have a situation where an incumbent government uses public funds to support a specific political organisation in order to destabilise the others. It is something else if they use their own private funds but this time they are using government funds. A lot of people have died in the townships. Alexandra township is one township which is closest to my heart; as things are at the moment, there is a lot of violence that is going on there, basically Inkatha violence against the residents of Alexandra, and part of my family lives there so you would understand my obvious anger at the situation.

POM     Alexandra seems to have been saved last August, like nothing happened until .... things seemed to be OK. Is there any doubt in your mind that the violence there is Inkatha which is covertly supported by the security forces?

TM     I think there I have no doubt even though I don't have the full documentation that may prove it, the pattern of events there is very, very clear. Inkatha is heavily involved centrally. At some stage the ANC had this theory about a third force. The third force was this apparently hidden, violent arm. But all along there were some indications that this third force was clearly emanating from within the security forces and, secondly, that Inkatha was also being used as part of this third force.

     Now, there was a lot of diplomacy, because I think the attempt at the time was to try and get Inkatha away from its previous positions, there was no direct attack on Inkatha as such, but now, after the slush fund scandal, everything that we have always suspected, that the police and Inkatha were the first, second and third force, has been confirmed. Even though that is not the official position of the ANC but that is what it is. I think they are the first, second and third force.

POM     How do you feel personally about de Klerk, do you think that he has known that these activities were taking place?

TM     Oh yes, no doubt about that. He is the State President and by definition he chairs a number of committees which deal with financing. His Minister of Finance, Barend du Plessis certainly knew about this as the State President, I am sure, demands to be briefed about what is happening on the police and the military side of things, otherwise he would be a very weak State President. Imagine the President of the US not knowing what his military Generals are doing.

POM     Ronald Reagan.

TM     Well, not quite as you know by now.

POM     Is there a different perception in the ANC now of de Klerk than there was a year ago?

TM     My impression is that things have changed slightly. When Nelson Mandela came out of prison he described FW de Klerk, Kobie Coetsee and Gerrit Viljoen as men of integrity with whom the ANC could do business, as it were, in other words, with whom negotiations could take place. Nelson Mandela battled to explain this particular position of describing these chaps as men of integrity, but he tried his best. Nelson Mandela's own integrity, I think, was instrumental in people beginning to think that de Klerk, Viljoen and Kobie Coetsee were men of integrity, not necessarily because these men were men of integrity, but because people thought because it is coming from Mandela, Mandela must have reason to say this.

     And then the violence came, then Mandela made huge efforts to try and stop the violence: He went to see de Klerk, he went to see Vlok on a regular basis to try and say to the state 'stop the violence', but nothing happened. I was with Nelson Mandela at the summit of the Preferential Trade Association (PTA) in Swaziland, sometime early in the year and in that summit meeting Nelson Mandela said that, "I can no longer say that this man is a man of integrity" and then he went on to say that, "It is becoming difficult for me to convince my colleagues that this man is a man of integrity", precisely because of the violence, you could see that the old man was very worried. In his briefing to the PTA, he said amongst other things, that he had put his own neck on the chopping board by trying to convince his colleagues in the National Executive Committee (NEC) that de Klerk was a man of integrity, and now he was convinced that the government was involved in the violence, that the ANC had numerous affidavits which clearly proved the role of the police in the violence, and that things had become very difficult for him.

POM     I want to get back to your own situation. Are you still living where you were living before?

TM     Yes. I managed to maintain the flat which I was being chucked out of. I made a protest. I should get you that correspondence at some stage. Once I wrote the letter, they apologised.

POM     On ANC stationery?

TM     Yes. So I am still staying there and there is no problem now.

POM     How do you find your acceptance in the broader community?

TM     I don't know because I tend to be very busy and the sort of people that I come into contact with would, in the main be the business community. The business community is another difficult group of people. I won't go over the issues again.

POM     Have you found any change in their attitudes since last year? Are they still dogmatic?

TM     Yes. They are very difficult. We clearly have to try and find a formula which would encourage the business community perhaps to move more and more closer to the positions of the broader national democratic movement. But you see, the bulk of the business community here is living in its own world. They have not come to grips with the issues of the day and that is the problem.

POM     How would you set out the major policy differences that you have with the business community at the moment?

TM      One, the SA business community is stuck to this idea that the government should have no role in the economy, save the traditional role of government, i.e. security and defence; education and training (even that education and training part of it must be privatised); certain selected public utilities (even those in the long term, the SA business community want them to be privatised); taxation (even though the tax rate must come down); you know, that sort of thing. Two, the business community still maintains a hostile posture to the trade union movement, which is not very productive in SA.

POM     When you say hostile, what do you mean? The labour movement has been one of the big success stories of the liberation movement.

TM     They had to battle like anything. Even now there are still major issues which are on the table which are still subject to major struggles. For example the whole issue of collective bargaining. Some companies here, very big manufacturing companies, are trying to break down the national collective bargain into plant level. By so doing you reduce the strength of the union movement; you divide workers, so that in one plant you give one wage rate and in another one another wage rate, which ends up dividing the union movement. I still pick up vibes from the private sector of people who are unhappy, terribly unhappy about the gains which have been made by the trade union movement, and if they had their way, they would try and reverse those gains. They are already complaining that productivity and wage rates are not going in line.

POM     Is this true?

TM     No. The main problem about productivity is that it needs to focus on the level of skills and the climate. In a situation where, for example, there is political tension, your costs will increase because you will have lots of stayaways. In a situation whereby there are very poor skills for workers, the cost of production inevitably increases.

POM     So, they would argue, conventional studies would indicate, if you look at the statistics, that in fact starting off in the eighties the wage increase in wages was higher than the rate of increase in productivity. Do you agree with that but attribute it to different reasons than the private sector, or do you dispute it?

TM     I think it is true that from 1973 onwards the organised working class in SA has managed to make certain gains in relation to wages which perhaps they were not able to achieve prior to 1973/4 and the reason being that in the post 1973/4 situation, the trade union movement has increasingly put its stamp into the negotiations set up. But you see, those wages (pre 1974), were so low as to be really ridiculous and scandalous, yet there has been an increase. Hence, I am saying to you that in the process there have been lots of other costs which have come into the labour force, I agree with that; into the production process, which have been as a result of lack of skills, political instability and so on, and therefore if you check your graph of your increasing wages and the costs, you will actually see that there is some differences. But I am saying that it does not give an overall picture, because it does not explain to you, for example, what has been happening to the other racialised wages.

POM     To which wages?

TM     Wages are still based on race in the main, even though that is breaking down.

POM     A couple of issues there. From my understanding of the studies that I have seen, they would indicate that the average wage rate for a given skill or occupation for blacks who belong to a trade union is now about 50%, the differential has been narrowed to 15% for wages for whites in similar positions. Do you accept that?

TM     There is still a differential.

POM     Yes sure, but do you broadly accept the above?

TM     I suspect that could be true, but the fact is that there is still a racial differential.

POM     The point here is ...

TM     Can I just finish the other things? I think that the other difference between ourselves and the private sector is on this whole question of free markets. What does it mean? The private sector seems to be worded to the idea that deregulation, privatisation, removing the role of the state to the barest minimum, will then free the markets and that is what they want. We are of a different opinion, we accept that market forces have an important economic and social function to play in our economy and that these market forces will make a huge number of decisions pertaining to demand and supply, which in turn will act as another positive contributory factor to the whole economic development.

     On the other hand, we know about the problems that are associated with completely free and unregulated markets, and that is why in many western countries, including Germany, there is high regulation of markets, precisely because markets have a number of inbuilt weaknesses. Actually we keep on saying to the SA business community that, point to a country in the world where there is completely no regulation, at all, and the private sector keeps talking about the success story of Germany and Germany is a highly regulated and bureaucratic economy actually. It just happens to be an efficient bureaucracy, but it is highly bureaucratic.

     I think those in short will be the key areas of differences between ourselves and the private sector, but I think I left one out. The last one is the extent to which the conglomerate structure of the SA economy is a positive variable in the economy, or a negative variable. We think it is a negative variable, the big private sector corporations think it is a positive variable. We don't agree. We are talking for instance about having to consider the introduction of anti-trust legislation into the SA economy, to try and breakdown these massive conglomerates which are dominating the economy. Many medium to small sized corporations in the private sector tend to agree because they have been victims of the big conglomerates.

POM     When you point out that the big four, control under affiliate control, about 80% of all production and distribution in the country, do they accept that or do they say that is not true, you data is wrong, or you don't understand what is going on, or do they say yes, that is right?

TM     They say that these chaps are economically illiterate, we don't understand what is going on. It so happens that one of our major sources of information is McGregor. McGregor is a company, McGregor On-Line Services, it is a private consultancy firm doing most of the research. They bring out every year something that is called "Who owns Who".

POM     Is this here in Johannesburg?

TM     Yes, you can get it from the CNA.

POM     How do you spell it?

TM     McGregor. He publishes a huge volume every year called 'Who owns Who', that happens to be our major source. In there he has traced the detail about the networks and he has come to the conclusion that the six major conglomerates actually control the SA economy. He has given the data there. These chaps always refuse. Anglo American for example says that they don't control 45% of the stocks listed on the stock exchange but they control only 30%. My response was that 30% is still very substantial.

     So those are some of the differences that we have with them, but I think nevertheless that there is room for understanding, there is room for future co-operation. My basic position is that there is no way in which an ANC government can seek to develop the SA economy without the co-operation of the private sector, it is impossible. Private sector by definition is active in the generation of wealth, is by definition an obvious partner in any effort of national economic development. So therefore, I think despite the differences which exist, effort will have to be put into finding common ground, common national ground.

     I have been toying with a number of ideas in my own head. One of them is that the government has what they call the State President's Economic Advisory Council which includes business people, government and the intellectuals. Perhaps now that the ANC is thinking now about government, about putting itself in a shadow capacity, it should begin to think about how we can also have our own economic advisory council that also includes people from the private sector; they can input their ideas into our thinking and we can also input our ideas into their thinking, and in the process of that begin to create an understanding about how to create a situation where there can be joint effort, because you see, at the end of the day, what we are trying to address here, is not an economic policy for ANC members only, it is an economic policy for the whole of SA, and as such it is an economic policy which is going to affect ANC members, non-ANC members, private sector, everybody. I think this sort of thing would be very important. Closely related to that is how to more seriously engage the black business community into strategic thinking about how they as well can become key forces in the economy of the country.

POM     From where you were last Christmas to where you are in the 9 months that have elapsed since then, there really has not been much convergence of opinion between you and the business community regarding economic policy, you still find them rather arrogant and prone to treat you rather paternalistically.

TM     Yes, they still do. Don't forget that in the mainly private sector that we are talking about, it is white in the main in SA, and when Tito Mboweni comes along (laughter) some of them have not quite gone beyond their prejudices and that also, I think, influences their approach to economic policies. They still see us as products of Bantu education, 'What do they know?'

     Now, we then have to start engaging in bilateral discussions with individual companies within the insurance industry, Insurance and Pension Funds Industry. Once we began doing that, the industry got embarrassed. At the moment on my table is a proposal from the Life Officers Association of SA to have bilateral discussions between the LOA and the Life Officer's Association and the political parties. The LOA is the overall body representing the whole industry. They again want to discuss prescribed assets, etc., which is not a bad thing, but the premise from which they start on an issue like this, is to come and convince the ANC and others that they are wrong in thinking that they can use the life savings of people in this way. How dare you use a poor man's savings? The Old Mutual for example is one of the biggest in the industry and always argues that its interests are for the 2 million members that they have. They have a long way to go.

POM     I want to take that position, their responsibilities to their 2 million members, back to the discussion we were having about trade unions and the level of wage increases. First to clarify one point, when industry says, or business says, the rate of increase in wages is greater than the rate of increase in productivity and therefore we must hold down wages if we are to lower unit costs and become more competitive internationally; you would say, yes wages may be higher than productivity, but there are a host of other reasons why productivity is low, what we need to concentrate on is improving the rate of increase of productivity and not reducing the rate of increase in wages.

TM     I think what we will argue is that there are certain attendant variables which need to be addressed when talking about the cost structure of industry. We agree that at the moment, SA industry is high cost, and as a result SA produced manufacturers are not competitive internationally. Now which are these attendant factors which make it that way?

     One, is the whole question of skills development. The experience from the Far East, particularly Taiwan and Japan and South Korea, is that, in order to reduce your cost factor you have to invest in heavily in skills development. So by the time your workforce comes into industry, it is fairly scientifically literate, has a basic knowledge about what to extract from the industry, you are going to spend less time training them on the job, and so on. That is what you learn from the Far East and that is critical to SA, and within the context of Bantu education, we really have a lot of work to do, to reduce that particular cost. Because people come from matric without any science background, hardly able to read and write and industry spends a lot of time training them, which is another additional cost, and they still cannot be of the same level as those who come in fairly prepared.

      Two, secondly, and I think this is critical, is the whole question of research and development, the acquisition of new technologies. SA at the moment imports over 84% of its technological needs. The only area in which SA is technologically competitive is in the military, Armscor. Which raises a lot of questions for us in future. What do we do with Armscor? Do we dismantle it, or what? So research and development has to be a priority. I did not bring with me the schedule of research and development in SA, but I could get it for you.

POM     We have been asking people in industry this and they say, nonsense, SA is on the cutting edge of technological development.

TM     It is very low. I have got the schedule in my office because I have recently been involved in a major row on research and development.

     Thirdly, the stabilisation of the working environment, which then means in the first place that our political system has to be democratic and stable, thereby removing the additional cost that is brought to bear on industry by stayaways and things like that.

     Finally, I think there is the cost which has been brought to industry by the very apartheid system itself. Where do workers live? Far away from work, therefore they have to demand a wage which will also compensate for this travelling. It is not going to be easy to remove those sorts of costs.

POM     One or two studies that I have read have made the point, again going back to the differential between black and white wages on average, unionised black labour rates and white labour rates are now down to 15%. A differential exists but I want to tell you I think that differential exists between black wages in the US and whites. There is about a 30% or 40% difference between what a man is paid for a job and a woman is paid for the same job.

     The point is, your union did it thus far for your members. You negotiate say, a five year wage packet which increases labour costs, business responds by you trading off the relatively cheaper cost of capital against labour, the net result is to create some more unemployment. The case that I have seen is that what you have developing is kind of an elite, that is white workers plus black unionised workers, who are relatively well off, and the black unemployed. The real problem here is how to create jobs. Can you look at that in the context of individual labour unions, i.e. they get the best deal for their members, that is what they are there for?

TM     That is why they are in business. I think that the classical economic theory says that there is always a trade off between wages and employment and the graph goes like that. The higher the wages, the fewer the number of workers that you can employ. In other words it is a kind of regressive diagram, wages and employment. A high wage rate means you are able to employ very few people, a low rate means more people. But that is classical, a classical regressive theory in dimension to wages and employment creation.

     Whilst I think there could be some sense in applying the classical theory in the SA situation, I am highly doubtful of that. I think that it is true that wages cannot forever rise. Let me rephrase this. It may not be correct to say that wages will continue to rise, say 50% above the rate of inflation, that will not be possible to achieve. But on the other hand, we need to focus on why is it that unemployment is growing in SA. The main reason why unemployment is growing in SA has to do with the fact that investments in new plant and machinery has shrunk between 1988 and 1989. It has gone down to something like minus 1.7%. The case is that SA capital has increasingly been shifting its focus more towards the stock market and less towards manufacturing and so on, which seems to be the trend, for example, if you look at Britain.

     This obviously is related to government policy at another level. The SA business community explains this shift by saying that people have lost confidence in the long term prospects of the economy and therefore would go for short term benefits in the stock markets. So they are removing most of their money to put in the stock markets, Johannesburg, Tokyo, etc.

     We think that is a problem. We need to find a way of redirecting those sorts of surplus funds which are available back into manufacturing industry. It is that manufacturing sector which will be in a position to absorb new entrants into the job market. But, an additional problem is what I have mentioned already, what are these unemployed people bringing to the table? No skills, not literate, not numeric, serious problems on our hands. I think it is less to do with wages and more to do with an overall crisis situation in SA, and that is why I think I agree with Steven Gelb when he says that one of the immediate issues that will confront a post-apartheid government, would be how to influence investment flows of the funds which are currently controlled by the conglomerates, and I think it is a critical policy point. If we are to talk about any state intervention in the economy, I think we have to seriously address how the state is going to intervene in relation to influencing the direction of these investment flows, because these are critical for the development of the economy and it is these investment funds which are going to affect, in the long term, the economy's capacity to absorb the economically active population.

     An additional problem which we discussed last time, is that if you look at the SA economy as a whole, you see pockets of concentrated economic activity, then you see massive areas of SA where there is literally no economic activity taking place and that has resulted in the urbanisation crisis which we have in SA, because if there is no economic activity taking place in the Northern Transvaal, by definition people are going to vote with their feet and come to the PWV area. When they arrive here there is no proper urbanisation strategy to provide housing, jobs, etc., in the PWV and you end up with this sort of situation which you see here.

POM     Do you put your emphasis on urban areas being able to absorb the migrants and provide them with an infrastructure and the housing that they need, or do you see that the primary emphasis should be put on slowing down the flow from the rural areas to urban areas by developing a rural policy, try to create more jobs in the rural areas?

TM     My personal opinion is that SA's future is an urban future. From that perspective, I would think that one therefore needs to focus on a coherent urbanisation strategy in SA. That coherent urbanisation could include, amongst other things, the development of rural towns, no doubt about that. You have got hundreds of small towns in SA, which because there is no overall national development policy supporting them, may end up collapsing, and yet I think, if SA's future is an urban future, these rural towns need to be supported, in order for them to act as a local centre of economic activity and - I am not suggesting that there will be nobody living in the rural areas, there will be - but then the question is what will they be living on in the rural areas? Rural areas, most rural areas by definition in economic terms should be there for agricultural purposes, and that means that we need to tie in, in our overall economic policy with a rural and agricultural strategy.

POM     This brings you to the question of land, and land ownership and land redistribution. The government has repealed the Land Act of 1936, but they have really not done much more than that. In a way, it could make blacks worse off because whites can now afford to buy land whilst blacks can't buy the land sold off by whites because they don't have the resources. Does the ANC now have a Land Policy?

TM     There is a proposal that has been put through by the ANC's Land Commission to deal with the land issue. But let me just say before that, that there are instances where black people will be able to buy land in the current situation. Already I am aware of a number of instances where people, business, black business people from Soweto who have bought land from white farmers who can no longer afford to work on the land. Remember that about 80% of the white farmers are heavily indebted to the SA Land and Agricultural Bank. If anybody wanted to talk about a policy of nationalisation of the farms, all you need to do is to call the loans, they would all pack up and start looking for jobs elsewhere. But I don't think that is going to be the approach anyway.

POM     What you are saying is that if the government wanted to confiscate land, it would merely implement the law, and under the law they could foreclosure all the land and that would be it?

TM     Oh yes.

POM     It is kind of ironic.

TM     It is. But you see, obviously the issue will have to be tackled with a lot of care. Most of the white farmers are good farmers and I think they have struggled to feed this country in difficult times, but the question does arise that land redistribution has to take place. There are many instances where people, within living memory, know that they were forcibly removed from specific land and dumped in specific squatting areas, and I think those are about 3.5 million within living memory who know that. The other set of people are the ones who have an historical claim which goes back prior to 1936 and prior to 1913. Those sorts of issues will have to be properly put before a Land Claims Court which will then have to adjudicate these issues.

POM     This is the ANC's?

TM     Land Commission.

POM     The ANC would establish a Land Claims Court in which it would adjudicate claims. Would it compensate? What if you had been forcibly removed 10 years ago and I had come in, would I have bought the land as a white person?

TM     Yes.

POM     From whom would I have bought it?

TM     The state.

POM     What happens? Who compensate the person who is on the land?

TM     The state. I think the state, unfortunately, has the role to compensate because an argument could be made that this poor white farmer bought the land from the government using his or her family resources, and that government of the day used the money for whatever they used it for, be it for slush funds and everything. It is incumbent on the new government to have to do something about that. You can't blame the farmer, it is not his fault, but it means that the whole country then will have to be involved in the effort to compensate these people through the tax system, that is the only way. But in the long run, as long as it is seen as a process of redistribution at aimed at (i) correcting historical injustices, (ii) and this is what I would emphasise, to enhance the entry of black farmers into the agricultural sector, this is absolutely critical.

     I would be very wary of a situation where Tito Mboweni goes to claim land just to sit on it, not use it productively. If I was in the Land Claims Court, I would say, 'Tito Mboweni, what do you want to use this land for?' If he says I just want to settle down, do nothing about it, and it is fertile land that could be used for productive agriculture, I would try and persuade Tito Mboweni whether we could not just buy the land from him and use it for other productive purposes.

POM     Do you see that as being more of a requirement than a consideration? That if I was buying land and all I want to do is to hold it in terms of speculation, that the value of land will increase and I will just sell it off ten years from now and make a profit. Should one be allowed to acquire land under those conditions?

TM     My personal view would be that the Land Claims Court will to take into consideration that the land must be used for production. There may be other instances where the land ...

POM     What about areas that are now urban areas, where blacks have been forcibly removed so that the area could become an Indian community? There are a lot of cases like that in Durban I think, in the mid 1980s. If I were then to establish a claim to a site onto which you have now built a house, what would happen?

TM     My view would be that you would only be compensated for it, you can't get it back.

POM     You mentioned the tax policy, which is the last thing I am going to ask you about. When one looks at the tax structure ...?

TM     Did you see me on TV last night?

POM     No.

TM     You didn't? I was on this tax topic. We can ask them for a copy actually.

POM     SA has one of the highest tax bases and highest tax structures. You are reaching a level where to increase tax rates becomes more than counterproductive. How do you, short of taxation, get the resources to do all of these things, plus redistribute wealth?

TM     I think there are a number of things. One, is the redirection of expenditure from current resources which we normally describe as a post-apartheid dividend. In other words, instead of having over 13 ministries of education, each with a permanent secretary and a minister, you cut it down to one. Now you reduce all sorts of expenditure. That will give us quite a dividend that we can then use for some of these social economic activities. Two, we can introduce other taxes without necessarily increasing the current rates of taxation. For example we could introduce the wealth tax, we could introduce a capital gains tax, we could introduce a minimum business tax, we could introduce progressive property tax to be in line with the property based on the principle that if you live in a big house it means that you can pay for it. Other innovative mechanisms, but I agree with you that we should not seek to bleed the tax system in such a way as to make SA unattractive as a country. I agree with you there. We also have to be aware about the limits of the tax system as a mechanism of redistribution. It is a critical mechanism but a limited one.

POM     You position on VAT is that you oppose it in principle or do you oppose the manner in which it is being applied across the board so that foodstuffs, clothing, even the cost of going to a doctor is high? Is your opposition purely on principle or the manner in which it is being applied?

TM     Our opposition to the VAT system in SA is based on the fact that, as is currently proposed, VAT is going to increase the hardships of people. We have not said that in principle we do not want an indirect tax system, no.

POM     Are you in principle opposed to VAT?

TM     No. I can't say to you that the ANC will never implement VAT, the ANC would most probably have a VAT, but I think a VAT which could be proposed by the ANC would have a number of critical exemptions and zero ratings. For example zero rating of basic foodstuffs, inferior goods, which we know that as your income rises, you consume less, therefore by definition inferior goods are consumed by the poor. We can also zero rate medical services and prescription medicines precisely because we want a healthy country.

     Now there is a debate at the moment about what do you do about by-pass operations and all these other sort of high class type of operations. That is a debate I think we can enter into at some stage, but we still need to do a lot of research. At the end of the day, it is all ill-health and we are saying that you can't tax ill-health.

     The other thing, obviously, that the ANC would not tax are union subscriptions. Obviously the ANC would not tax foodstuffs which are used by pregnant women, those sorts of things. But I think it would need to be considered very carefully in a legislation. Basically those are the reasons why we are opposed to the current structure.

POM     Finally, has the path of the economic debate, the course of the economic debate taken any kind of change or direction in the last year, or is it basically about where it was last year, especially on issues regarding nationalisation?

TM     I think yes. My assessment would be that the debate has not changed fundamentally but we have managed to slightly move the private sector into accepting a more vigorous intervention by the state. I think we are winning that one and I think as well from amongst the democratic movement, there has been a greater realisation about the role of the private sector and therefore this thing about developing a democratic mixed economy which will foster co-operation between the private sector and the public sector, between the trade union movement and the state, and all these forces, co-operatives and so forth. I think it is increasingly gaining ground, but we still have a bit of a way to go. That is why the sort of forum that I am talking about would be very critical as a debating forum.

POM     This is the Economic Advisory Council?

TM     Yes. Either in the form of an Advisory Council or in the form of a forum, where the ANC, the trade union movement, the private sector, black and white come together, once perhaps in six months, to debate issues. And as a result of those debates, all organisations would have been influenced. Now nationalisation is as true as subsided. I think it was in many ways blocking the process of debating the nitty-gritties of economic policy. But I think we are running out of time. I think that we have to move very quickly into finalising our positions.

POM     You were talking on Saturday about, or bemoaning your lack of access to economic and technical expertise, is it a real problem?

TM     I think it is a problem and it is a problem which must be confronted. The government at the moment has got access to major resources, the Reserve Bank, the Ministry of Finance itself, the Ministry of Economic Co-ordination and Public Enterprises, they have got support from the private sector which we don't have. One of the critical problems in SA is that we do not have a genuinely national civil service. It is a particular civil service which has been servicing the NP government so that the distinction between the NP and the civil service in SA is bland, and we will have a serious problem.

     But I think a realistic position to take would be that we should seek to identify and encourage those in the existing civil service who would like to make a contribution in future, to stay on and make that contribution. We have a lot to benefit from their presence. It is not going to be possible for the ANC to overnight build a genuinely national and impartial civil service.

     But I want to add another thing which I think most of my colleagues don't understand. That when you become government, the civil service which you build must be genuinely national in character. It does not mean that every ANC functionary is going into the civil service, because you don't want to repeat the mistakes of the NP. We should start a process of building a truly national civil service and therefore perhaps a civil service commission/public service commission, or whatever it is going to be called will have a major task in future, to create this impartialness in the civil service.

     This will mean, amongst other things, that on day one we would put adverts in the papers, calling on people to apply for specific things, econometricians, etc., who are available in the universities, in the private sector, to come in and become part of a new national effort. Now these are the sort of civil servants who, even if the ANC is voted out of office the following day, should stay on and service the country. Now building that sort of civil service, for me, is a great challenge, and it is from that civil service that we can then access the skills that will be necessary to build on what is our economic policy framework.

POM     Thank you very much.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.