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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

03 Sep 1991: Pahad, Essop

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POM     A good point to start from, because it has been receiving so much attention lately, you must be tired of having to go over and over it again, is the position of the South African Communist Party (SACP), given the developments in Eastern Europe last year, the outlawing of the party in the Soviet Union itself. What kind of debate in going on within your party as you examine the various options open to you as you try to redesign yourselves in terms of a political party in SA in the 1990s?

EP     Can I just set the record straight, I don't know if Jeremy did with you because there have been a number of press articles purporting to present how the Party responded to the events that took place in the Soviet Union (SU). I just think for the record it is necessary that I explain some things.

EP     In so far as I am aware the news, I mean it was late Sunday night that I think people in the world became aware of this thing. On that Monday morning, after consultations amongst a number of us, and I think people forget that it is not just that I go to the office or Jeremy comes to the office and then we issue a statement, we issued a statement, which you can get from our office, but we said that we did not know enough about what was happening in the SU in order to comment about developments in the SU itself, but we reaffirmed our commitment to negotiations in SA, because there was speculation here that because a coup had taken place there, therefore it was going to affect the Party's position and, two, we emphasised again our position that you could not sustain socialism in an undemocratic environment. This is what we said on the Monday.

     On the Tuesday we met a grouping of some of the Party leaders in this region and Wednesday morning, at a time when even, certainly the SA press, was still talking tanks crushing, I mean the coup crushing the demonstrators in tanks, the Party issued a statement in which we called it unconstitutional, we called it a coup, so that as far as we are concerned, I think we acted as timeously as was possible in the circumstances.

     When the Natal Midlands region issued a statement it seemed to us that it gave the impression that they were in favour of the coup, we immediately issued a statement saying that this was not the position of the SACP, however every individual party has a democratic right to express his/her personal opinion. Those were the circumstances under which we issued a statement, I am putting this to you because I think it is important for you to make an assessment of how we did react. At least the facts should be accurate.

     We had a meeting of our internal leadership, I will give you the statement anyway which we issued yesterday, and we had quite an extensive discussion over the weekend. There was no difference of opinion and Natal Midlands were present at the meeting itself. What has emerged is that we won't move from the position that the actions taken by that small group of people were unconstitutional.

     We were of course concerned that, and we think it is an important element in trying to understand what happened in the SU over the last four or five years, that whereas Gorbachev is a leading symbol of the process of perestroika and glasnost, and they were determined to democratise Soviet society, which we fully supported, what he failed to do was to actually democratise the tools and the principle tools, and these tools are the Party and the state, and we think this area of weakness, it seems to us from the outside because one does not know what is happening on the inside, but at least to us from what one can see, he certainly did not succeed, or the people around him, the forces around him, did not succeed in democratising the tools and therefore, you had this problem, in our view, that a party of 15 million members, which is what it is at the moment having lost 5 million members, that the actual events took place and they seemed to be totally passive. It was not clear to anybody where the Party stood, and we think this was surprising when you consider that it is a Party of 15 million members. We think part of this problem lay in not democratising the CPSU to the extent that the political structures, or other structures would be democratised.

     So there was a problem for us as a Party in the sense of trying to understand how any party should react to a coup. But we were not saying and we are not saying that we expected this CP to go out into the streets. We were not advising anybody what to do, it is up to them, but we would argue that this passivity is in itself perhaps a reflection of what was going on inside the party itself, and quite clearly Gorbachev was head of this party for the last 5-6 years, so to that extent he and everybody else in the party leadership are responsible for this. This I think came out.

     What certainly came is our very strong condemnation of the suspension of the CPSU and indeed its banning in a number of republics. In any way as a party which had been banned for 40 years, or more than 40 years, and having experienced that, we are opposed to banning of political organisations, and we think it shows very little about the democratic credentials of those in the SU who helped to defeat the coup, to talk about democracy when your next step is to actually ban a political party. Quite clearly if there are people who were involved in the coup and had committed criminal acts in terms of your law, then you should charge them. That would be within the legal system. So of course we would condemn it and do condemn it and express our solidarity with the CP of the SU.

     What is also important for us, and we have said this in our statement, but let me explain it; you have people in SA you have people in other parts of the world who were horrified at the attempted coup, but these very same people are silent when the CP is attacked and it is this discriminatory approach to democracy which is extremely worrying. I don't know that you can be a democrat in a few sentences, and then turn and be in favour of the suspension and expulsion of the CP, absolutely not, even those people in the US who talk most about democracy. In this country those who shouted most are silent and we are asking why are they silent? For our own country, SA, it is necessary for all of the people who claim to be in favour of democratisation to come out and say we are in favour of a multi-party system in our country, we are in favour of a political environment in which you have free political activity, freedom of political association, freedom of political movement, and if that is the case, then we would argue that we must apply those standards to everybody if we are genuine and not be discriminatory, and I think that they have been discriminated against. So I think we have some serious grounds for criticism of these other parties.

     The other element that enters into this picture for us is that those who - and it is interesting that they talk like this about Eastern Europe too, because some of the basic laws still remain in force, that a time when a lot of the other crimes were going on against dissidents there, were being justified at that time by the SU authorities, that these people were being tried in terms of the legal process, the due process of law in the SU itself, this attitude of the SU was rejected by most people in the West. But, when they said they were going to try coup plotters, I am not saying that they should not be tried, I am just saying that these coup plotters are incidentally going to be tried within the same due process of law that they've tried last year and the year before.

     Now, I think there is a question that people have to ask themselves, that if previous dissidents did not get a fair trail because the law itself was badly flawed, there is a question for legal experts to ponder, whether this lot are going to get a fair trial in terms of the due process of law in the SU. I am in no way justifying or defending these coup plotters because we have come out against them, we have come out against them because we have said that they violated the legal norms and violated the elected institutions of Soviet society.

     But I think that we need to approach this thing, therefore we think in a more rounded way, rather than just in a way, select a target in the way it has been done, certainly in this country.

POM     What I am coming back to are two things: one is that your making a statement of solidarity with the CP in the SU will do little for your reputation in the West or in constituencies here. Some people would say it is bad politics, your identifying with an organisation that is an absolutely and thoroughly and completely discredited, which the leadership itself says, scrap it, abolish it.

EP     Let us talk about SA then. That is what I don't like, it is double standards. The fact that I was in exile for 25½ years is because they supported the apartheid regime, that is a fact whatever else they may want to say. And right now, the West pushes damn hard for democratic changes to occur overnight in Eastern Europe, we will sit around and prevaricate about the problems and the complexities of the racial issues in SA, and what not. So I don't think that they can be on a high moral horse to say to us that we are supporting discredited parties when they have been supporting a discredited party, and an illegitimate regime since 1910, and it is Britain itself which is primarily responsible for the creation of this illegitimate regime and illegitimate constitution. So frankly, I do believe that there are not very many lessons that Western governments can tell us about what is a discredited party. Anybody who has supported discredited parties in their own countries and organisations, as in the US, I mean there is a litany of US interventions, whether you want to take Chile, you want to take Guatemala, you want to take El Salvador, you want to take Panama, where they kept what they now regard as a CIA agent and a drug runner in power for so long and when he was no longer useful to them they engineered his downfall and he is now on trial in the US, one of their own intelligence officers. A country which has consistently supported UNITA in Angola, it even supported RENAMO in Mozambique, I don't believe is in any position to give moral lessons to us about supporting discredited parties. Now, I wanted to make a point first, because your point was what these Western powers will think, so let me say that is the first point.

     The second point is, we don't think the CPSU is a discredited party, I mean we need to understand what we mean by discredited. We are ready to accept that it made a series of fundamental errors, I said earlier that one of the problems they faced, we face in trying to understand the SU from the last week, was the passivity of the 15 million members. For us to declare solidarity with a party which has stood by us, and our struggle by the way, in our most difficult times, and let me repeat here, at times when the West did not want to look at us, the US must not come and run away now. The fact is the US State Department would not even allow its lowliest officials for years to meet with the ANC. The British Foreign Office would not allow its lowliest officials to meet with the ANC, right through the 1960s. This was their position. We were terrorists, it was only in the mid-1970s that there began to be a slight shift in the positions of these countries, to the extent that, by the way, when Oliver Tambo went to the US for the first time they sent some person from the State Department to go and lecture to him about the ANC's relationship with the SU. So, I think we must understand the historical circumstances in which these things occur, and people must not think that now they are seeing changes in SA, that you can just forget. Mandela serve 25 years in prison. Do you think if these Western governments had not applied the kind of fantastic pressures on the SA government that they applied in relation to people like that, that Mandela would have actually spent 25 years in prison? I don't think so.

POM     What I am getting at is ...

EP     No, no, let us be clear about our positions here because I am saying that if you want to come with moral positions and positions which say why are you having solidarity with a discredited party, I am saying we must understand that those who are going to be accused of this, because you did not accuse us, you said these others are, I don't believe have a moral right to accuse anybody, none of them. Not least the British government, not least the US government, not least the West German government which incidentally helped to give SA nuclear capability. All of these are documented facts.

     We will continue to express our solidarity with the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, but we are very far from there. I do not believe that they can sustain the banning of the CP in the Soviet Union. Let me also add, what happens to the CP in the Soviet Union is not the decision of an individual, or even the Central Committee, it can only be the decision of that Congress. We believe that if the constitution says that Congress is the highest policy making structure in the organisation, then it is Congress that must decide what happens to this party. If of course Congress waits and decides to dissolve it, that is a democratic decision of Congress and the delegates and we accept that decision, that is no problem. But it must be their decision, it must be the decision of the members themselves what they do with their organisation.

POM     Just to get to you on one aspect of this expression of solidarity. Is your solidarity with the Party of the institution or solidarity with what the Party stands for, which in terms of their structures would be a command economy, it may not be regarded as democratic.

EP     If that is what the institution wants, sure. Our solidarity would not imply necessarily agreement with all of their positions, as their solidarity did not necessarily imply agreement with all our positions. But as a party, and as a party that has played, in our view, a very positive role in the anti-colonial struggle, that may be debated by other people, but that is fine, other people are entitled to their views, we are entitled to ours.

POM     What I am getting at is that for the public these ...

EP     Which public? If you are talking about our public in SA, let us make a distinction please. If we are talking about the African working class in SA, they don't have this problem by the way. I mean what is true is that whatever little bit was done to ascertain the views of blacks in SA, the majority of them practically might have supported the coup in the SU. So I think we should be clear what we are talking about when we talk about the SA public. If you are talking about the middle strata, that is a different element. If you are talking about big business, that is a different. I am not saying that any of them are unimportant.

POM     What I am talking about is that, at least from what Jeremy said, you are a party of about 12 000 paid up members which is in real need of getting an organisational structure going on the ground and therefore, really in need of being able to appeal to whatever broad target constituency. And that, in that constituency there are non-white people who just live busy lives, whose perceptions may not distinguish between your support of the Communist Party in the Soviet, which to the mass public, by television radio and papers, has been discredited, but that does not necessarily mean that you agree with their positions or their policies. Do you get what I mean?

EP     Exactly what does it mean? It means it makes a mock of it. I think we must distinguish between what is more difficult in the position we have taken. We take a position and thereafter we have to say to ourselves, now how do we explain this position to the people? So we have taken a position, it is now up to us. If we fail to adequately explain our position, then we have failed. I think what is going to happen is that in the run up to Congress, the All-Party Congress in December, this is going to be a very important part of the debate and discussions that are going to go on. What will emerge at the end of this, is I think a more rounded view of the Party, because now Party branches are really going to discuss the issue on the basis of documents also supplied, but also on the basis of their own understanding, at the end of which will emerge a position. Now if at the end of it a position emerges which is a variance with our present position, we will have to go with the decisions of Congress.

     I am rather confident, but I don't want to prejudge our discussion, but I think I am rather confident that by and large these positions will be substantiated. But anyway that is prejudging. In the end Congress will make the decision for us. Once Congress has made a decision, whatever the decision is in that case, I would say that as a Party member it could then be our responsibility again to go back to the people and explain.

     Now, I want to define the people: our primary constituency, of course, we know is the working class, I think we have said that over and over again. But we have also said and understood that business is an important constituency, they cannot be ignored by any political party. But they are not our primary constituency, our primary constituency is the working class.

POM     Doesn't the ANC say that its primary constituency is the also the working class?

EP     Yes. It is also the ANC's constituency.

POM     So you are both, in terms of constituencies, you are appealing to the same group?

EP     Sure we are going to talk about that further. We are talking now about the SU. Our policies and our views first and foremost have to be acceptable to this constituency, the working class. Beyond that we would say yes, we recognised that it would be necessary for us to engage in discussion other sectors of the population, if they want to engage with us and explain our positions to them. I am saying that my reading of the situation is that insofar as the working class in this country is concerned, I don't think that there is going to be a problem in terms of the working class constituency in this country, about expressing solidarity with the CPSU.

POM     I am looking at approaching it from the political ramifications side, more than the economic side. This association between the ANC and the SACP, it seems from the cross-section of people that we have talked to, and we have talked to about a 100 people, most people say of the alliance between the ANC and the SACP that it is becoming a matter of increasing concern. The US and organisations like the IMF are more wary of this association and they will become even more wary when they see that the SACP comes out and expresses solidarity with the CPSU.

EP     Let us just be clear, because we are wasting a lot of time here. I mean in all seriousness, you cannot seriously be telling me that we should not express solidarity with the CPSU?

POM     I am not saying that.

EP     No, no, no, because some government is going to decide that, look, that is going to be their business. I have said to you before that none of these governments have any moral right to lecture to us about who to express solidarity with.

     That is a problem and whether we express solidarity with the CPSU or not, that problem will remain on the table. The collapse of socialism in Eastern Europe and the profound crisis besetting the SU have certainly altered the balance of forces between the US and the Russians. That is fact of life. It therefore weakens all of the, to use their own term, the democratic anti-imperialist forces throughout the world. That is an obvious pattern. So therefore we are operating in a much more complicated, much more difficult international context and the Party in SA has to take this into account. So nobody is saying that we can sit here in SA and ignore what others saying. We are very well aware of that, there is nothing new, the US and them have been pressurising for a long time to try to break the alliance between the SACP and the ANC and COSATU. The question is why? Irrespective of whether or not we had issued a statement in solidarity with the CPSU or not, I am saying just make this distinction, because it has got nothing to do with it. They would have found some other reason.

     One of the reasons is because these people believe, and I think quite wrongly believe, that if you break the alliance between the SACP/ANC then the ANC will turn out to be this very nice moderate organisation and it can deal with them on all of the things that go with moderation, from their perception it would be acceptable and they could come to some kind of nice agreement between the present regime and the ANC.

     They are wrong. They are wrong because they don't understand the ANC to start with. The ANC is not a revolutionary organisation it is in alliance with the SACP. It came into an alliance with the SACP precisely because it was a revolutionary organisation, so I think they just have to understand this process. Whether the ANC is in alliance with the SACP or not, my own view is that if the ANC is to remain the premier national liberation organisation in this country, it will have to articulate the interests and aspirations of the masses of this country, and once it does that, it has to take certain positions which are going to be seen to be radical by others. If it is to sustain this support, that means it would have to remain faithful to the principles that made it popular. Nobody has a God-given right to the support of the people for all time. You have to earn this right. And you earn this right, I think, by and large by your policies, by your programmes and by what you do. So, it seems to me that precisely because these forces have not really understood the ANC, they certainly don't understand the Party, the SACP, of course the SACP has, and ANC people have acknowledged this, has made a contribution towards sustaining the ANC. We still regard it as an important task of Party members to help strengthen the ANC.

     Vice versa, I think the ANC has helped the CP, has given the CP a better understanding of the national liberation struggle, national liberation movement, by helping us to better appreciate our own strategic objectives, etc. I think that did, as I said to you during the first interview, there has been and remains a mutually reinforcing influence between the two sides. I am trying to answer now those others but that does not mean they are not going to go on, they are going to now intensify their efforts, thinking that here is an opportunity now because of what has happened in the SU to further weaken this alliance.

     I would say, what else can we say except that we will resist these attempts. That is all I can say. I am not going to sit here and say, look here we are going to defeat them. That is nonsensical, all I can say is we will resist them and insofar as my reading of the ANC is concerned, the same thing will happen within the ANC, that they will resist these pressures that will emerge from these countries in the West.

     But I want to add, because your book is going to come up, that if people think that because of these changed balance of forces, and quite clearly, of course, a democratic government in SA is going to start from a weaker position, vis-à-vis the international context, that our people are actually going to sit idly by in a perceived context from their point of view, that is what it is going to be, and we have got rid of one set of the clauses, but another clause is going to want to impose policies on us. I think they don't understand our people. I really believe they don't understand our people. I believe that if the West wants to pursue those kinds of policies, in which they want to dictate to us as to what our own policies and positions should be, I think they will get another shock, as they did when they realised how strong the ANC was. These very same people by the way, had been rejecting the ANC for a long time, until they realised how strong they were. I think there is yet another shock. I do not believe that our people, who have for so long fought for their own independence, are so easily going to give it up and are so easily going to hock their country to somebody else. So, we are not necessarily always in a position of weakness, we might struggle a bit more.

     I want to add here too, that I am not convinced, and we can have lots of debates on this and find that the solidarity movements in places like the US and them are dead. They are not. I think we will see emerging different kinds of internationalist activities, and I believe we have built up a sufficient support base that would support us in our struggle against, if there is, I am not saying there is going to be, but if there is, any kind of attempted undue pressure on the part of the US government, I don't think we are going to be acting alone. I don't think any US government is going to think it is going to act alone. There will be forces in the US that will act in support of our people, and I don't think those forces can be ignored, even in the body politics which the US. We are not alone necessarily.

POM     Let me come back two things.

EP     I have to leave.

POM     Seven minutes. One is, the SACP and the ANC are both competing for the same constituency, and relating to that, how do you, as a party, with all this kind of chaos that has been going on in Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, the changing face of Communism, how do you define yourselves in this changed situation?

EP     That is an interesting question and that indeed, I think, is going to form part of a major debate and discussion within the party itself as part of the discussions we may have leading up to the Congress.

     The draft constitution has not yet been produced, we were saying last week that we are going to be finished by the end of this week for circulation to our own members. As you know some press have already got copies of our political manifesto. In that manifesto, which I must stress over and over again, is a draft, and in a sense that is why I am not too unhappy that some people have got it because I am pretty certain the draft is going to be quite changed by the time we come to Congress. That is what a draft is supposed to do.

     The draft manifesto talks about Marxism. I think an interesting debate that is going to take place, from what I heard over the weekend, but it might not because it depends on the programme. [I think an interesting debate that in the last part of the programme we spoke about ... by the signs of Marxism and Leninism.] Why is it that in the manifesto we are only using the term 'Marxism'? I think it is going to be an interesting debate, I don't know what is going to be the outcome of that debate.

     My personal view, and I wouldn't express it now, but I am not sure what is going to happen, but I will express it in order to discuss it. My personal view is that rather we should use, however the other formulation is guided by, or within the framework of, or however they use, that to say Marx, Engels, Lenin and other great theoreticians, people like that in other CP Parties, including our research, which I think has made a small contribution to the development of Marxist practice, in relation to the commission of expressions and in relation to how to build alliances within national liberation movements. I believe the SACP outrightly has been more successful than almost any other CP in this sense. But anyway, I don't know, but other parties have made contributions and other great thinkers have made contributions. That would be my personal view, to say that we take the debate out from just about Marxism and Leninism.

     Also I think because my own view, which has been for some time, that we have ignored somebody who actually did make a most profound contribution to the development at this table, and that is Engels. Certainly in the whole set of philosophical areas, even in other areas of revolutionary action. If you read Engel's theory on the second peasant war in Germany, I think he laid the basis for whole methodological approach understanding of the worker/peasant alliance.

     But that is my personal view, which I don't mind expressing to you now. But I am saying I think that would be an interesting debate itself.

POM     Will there be any debate on the changing relationship to capitalism the uses of the market, the non-uses of the market?

EP     Well, sure. I mean, as you know we have already made criticisms of the East European countries and the SU that they ignored the market factor. What I think is required of us of other CPs is for us to make a more systematic analysis in research about how you relate the market to a socialist economy, because a previous major experience has been to ignore the market at their own peril. Personally, I have argued already for months now, since coming to SA and I have argued this at business meetings and others that I have spoken at. I will tell you what I have argued, but it may not necessarily be the position that will emerge. I have argued that first of all it seems to me that these socialist countries ignored the basic Marxist methodological principle. The basic Marxist methodological principle is that objective laws of development operate independent of the will of an individual.

POM     Operate independent of the will?

EP     Of an individual. Take the Marxist approach, what happens in the plan of things. But if you make this assessment in relation to capitalism and certain objective laws of development in capitalist countries. It would seem to me that if you took, within a socialist economy, you still had what I would argue as commodity production, and that where you had commodity production, whether you like it or not, the market is a factor. So, to ignore the market, you ignore it at your peril. But to think that you could somehow, by sitting in an office in Moscow or Berlin control the entire operations of the market, then you are flying in the face of this objective development which meant that the whole notion of supply and demand, now I would not use supply and demand in the same way as when I studied economics, but quite clearly supply and demand is a factor in helping to determine price. If you took the production of suits in the SU, and told them that they should sell them to managers of big department stores, nobody in their right minds would buy those suits. I don't know if you have ever seen them, they have beautiful material but the most awful cut. So even if you see them in the window you think that my God, I would not pay six pence for it, and whereas it costs 120-140 roubles, which is maybe a month's wages for most Soviet workers. But because there is no supply and demand factor, or at least they did not allow it to operate, they set the price somewhere else in Moscow, but from the point of view of the factory, the factory manager is quite happy because factory management and the workers have to produce an X number of suits, and when they produce more than X number of suits they get a bonus because they produced more. They don't care whether these things are sold or not because they got their wages and they got their money and they got their resource allocation, in terms of their production. If they went to the shop some of the suits would be sold because the people have very little choice in the matter, but those that are not sold just hang around in the shop. The shop owner does not care very much, and he necessarily did not have to show a profit either.

     So, I think in that sense, I mean I am giving a very elementary example, but I think it helps to clarify that it would seem to me that if supply and demand had played a role in this process, what the manager and his trade union in the department store, should have done was to send the bloody stuff back to the factory and say I don't want it. I think that would have forced the factories to produce better goods and forced the bloody managers to understand that something was cock-eyed. But the fact that this didn't happen, I think had a continuation of this process of production. It does not mean that there was nothing good that came out of there, there is some very good stuff that is produced in the SU. Somebody told me that he was surprised to buy a beautiful child's bicycle at such a cheap price. He could not understand how a businessman could sell it at that price. I said that is part of the problem.

     That applies to SU-Czechoslovakian textiles, they were very high quality. I did not buy anything in England for the ten years I lived in Czechoslovakia, and I was going to England 3-4 times a year and I know England, I have lived there and I have shopped there, but Czechoslovakian textile is a high quality textile, so is their pharmaceutical industry, they have high quality medicines. So I think we need to have more sort of Catholic approach to these things.

     But I would say that even in those countries if supply and demand and the market had played a bigger role, things would have happened in a sense that they would have earlier taken some very difficult decisions which they could not in relation to whether or not you can have some large numbers of unemployed. But I think it would have forced them to come to terms with a number of problems and issues. I think in our own understanding, let me say this, we are not coming to power tomorrow or the day after, so, from the Party's point of view I think quite clearly anybody who is a realist will understand that socialism is a long-term objective. I think we need to try to understand how this will operate.

     I think the other element we would need to look at very seriously is the question of ownership, that there can be multiple forms of ownership, the relationship of the private sector to this. It is a pity in a sense, if you look at the GDR, they did have some private sector, they owned factories in the GDR for a very long time after 1945, I think they were bought out only in the 1970s. My figures may be a bit wobbly but I think nearly 40% of the retail traders were private. Certainly more than 50% of Hungary's trade was with the West and not with the other Communist countries.

     So I think there are much more complex mechanisms that play here when you look at each one of these countries separately. I think if you look at the Hungarian agricultural reform, in the late 1970s, I mean Brezhnev in the 25th Congress of the CPSU, I think had a whole chunk in which he praised the Hungarian changes. This was once supposed to have meant for the SU, the direction in which Soviet agriculture should move, but they failed to do this. But then again they failed to do many things. But quite clearly the CPSU itself in its Congress had recognised already at that time and before that the Hungarian system, in which they went for a private co-operative state and encouraged private initiative in agriculture. But if you look at the Czechoslovakian agriculture, highly successful incidentally, they will tell you right now, although I haven't been back to Prague, that is one of the reasons why these people can't get the support that was given to farmers. Those guys were very happy under socialism. A very successful system.

     So, in looking at the totality of the picture, I would argue that whilst here, and we are of course pushed against the wall on all these issues, however my own view is that we should not be pushed against the wall. What for? We should take the offensive on these issues. What is wrong is wrong. What is obsolete is obsolete, I am talking about in the body of theory and practice. But if we are convinced about our vision, our perspective, our own commitment to our own people in this country, then it would seem to me that we need to go on the offensive on this issue. Recognising the mistakes, sometimes the terrible mistakes, sometimes horrific mistakes, the catastrophes that were committed in these countries is recognised. Recognised in the presence of achieving that were also attained in those countries and then to proceed to explain to our own people. Because for us, the final arbiter, about whether or not we survive in this country is the working class in this country and not anybody else. They will decide, they will pass judgement on us. If they don't like us, well, however many interviews they are not going to help us. If they like us and think that we are worth having, we will thrive in this country. I think that is how I would see it.

POM     One very quick last question. How would you differentiate between democratic socialism, and an advanced form of social democracy?

EP     Again I think that is a very, very interesting point of discussion. I think, and I am speaking for myself, I think we really need to study very much more closely the advanced forms of democracy in the Scandinavian countries. We really need to begin to understand what happened, and we really need to begin to see quite clearly what we had previously assumed to be our fundamental differences. We would need to examine those. I think they need to examine it too, I mean the social democrats, it is not one sided. Because they had a view of us.

     But quite clearly, as I am sitting with you right now, on the 3rd of September 1991, if we could have the social welfare system that Sweden has today, in SA now, I would be a very, very, very happy man. Quite clearly the depth of their social system is immense. I think on issues like the gender question, in Sweden they are very wealthy on this issue. In the socialist countries there is a lot of rhetoric, but I think in Sweden it is not rhetoric and we must impress that is an important element of our struggle for socialism, the gender issue. One would want to look at Sweden and see how far they have gone, I don't think they are fully satisfied, I don't think they will say that they are fully satisfied at this moment in terms of the balance of power that still exists between the two sexes, but nevertheless, I think they have gone pretty far, further than many other societies I can think of. I think we need to study them, I think we need to understand them, I think we need to learn from them, I think we need to look and see what did actually happen and what are differences. They also have vital differences amongst themselves and there are parties who say they are social democrats, and they are very conservative, e.g. the Portuguese is one of them.

POM     Thanks 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.