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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

11 Aug 1992: Skhosana, Mahlmola

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POM     What is going on with the labour movement? I thought that the call for mass action in the wake of the collapse of the talks at CODESA was an occasion during which all elements of the labour union would have joined together in common solidarity, and yet NACTU came out against the stayaway.

MS     We did not come out against the stayaway. Our view was and is still that mass action is part of the weapons that we will use. What actually happened is that we met with COSATU and we agreed on the issues, that is the demands, and these were demands that were related to workers. One of the demands, for example, was that we had wanted a moratorium on retrenchments; we were experiencing serious retrenchments. We also needed the government to respond to the question of violence, our members were getting killed at bus stops, in trains and everywhere. We had agreed that together we must demand a constitution making body, that is a Constituent Assembly (CA). We made it clear that we would not demand an interim government because we don't know who would participate in that body.

     After having agreed with COSATU, we then said what we need is to get everybody on board with us, that is ANC, SACP, PAC, AZAPO and other independent unions that are not affiliated to any of us, so that we make these demands broad. We were expecting to have a meeting with COSATU to get a follow up of those meetings, we then read in the media that they already had this agreement with the alliance, i.e. the ANC and others, meaning that COSATU ditched the agreement we had with them.

     Number two was that at that stage it came to our attention that most of their unions e.g. NUMSA, were balloting and declaring disputes, meaning that by the 3rd and the 4th they would be on a legal strike and our members could not be legally protected against disciplinary action by management, so there was dishonesty there.

     Thirdly, there was also the question of arrangements which were being made with SACCOLA, the employer body, and agreements were supposed to be entered into by COSATU and the employers and we were not part of that. Our understanding was that if it is a mass action, there will be no pre-arrangements entered into by us with employers.

     We followed that through the media; COSATU never came to us to explain what they were negotiating with SACCOLA. We were relying on the media and what they were agreeing at that stage was that on these two days there would be a shutdown, management would shutdown, i.e. members of SACCOLA, but it would be understood that it would be on a no work no pay basis. We then sent a fax to SACCOLA and we said we are not part of that agreement so if they shutdown we expect them to pay our members.

     Those are some of the problems we experienced, COSATU was not honest with us, it did not come open to us and you cannot invite us through the media, we are an organisation. They can't go and negotiate privately with SACCOLA and expect us to endorse those agreements; that is the reason why we said we would not be party to this.

POM     What accounts for this unwillingness on their part to consult you or to honour arrangements that you jointly seemed to reach together?

MS     We haven't met to get an explanation from them so far, they haven't told us anything so we don't want to make assumptions. We want them to tell us the reasons why.

POM     So you had envisaged that there would have been a general strike called by NACTU and COSATU?

MS     Independent unions and all other political organisations.

POM     But it would really have been done under the umbrella of the unions rather than under the umbrella of the political parties, is that right?

MS     No, it would have been a joint venture, across the board, it would not be sectoral. But in this instance the call was sectoral because it was meant to oil the engine of CODESA.

POM     How long would this strike have lasted, the one you planned with COSATU?

MS     We had planned a maximum of three, but probably it would have gone on for two days.

POM     Would any labour movement or union have difficulty in sustaining a work stayaway that went more than three days if workers weren't going to get paid?

MS     They would. The problem here is that stayaways are also accompanied by shutdown of business, meaning that if you went to any of our townships you will realise that there is no economic base there, so if you think of things like food and basic necessities bakeries, for example, have to bring in supplies every morning, on days like stayaways all those basic necessities don't come into the townships, meaning that people must leave the townships to go and look for basic necessities because we don't have them there. People would be forced to go and look for those basic necessities, so you can't keep them for more than a week, it can't happen.

POM     Does this put a very definite kind of limit on the extent to which mass action can be used?

MS     Yes, it limits the capacity of mass action in terms of what periods we need. You can't take it any longer than two days; on the second day usually people start flocking to work, it usually succeeds on the very first day, from the second day people start trickling back to work, that has been the trend.

POM     I remember you saying to us two years ago that one of your fears was that in the negotiating process some of the old timers, like Walter Sisulu and those who have come back from exile, would sit around the table with the government and they would simply be out-negotiated because they did not have the skills to bargain and make trade-offs and to reach negotiated situations.

     When it was revealed that the ANC/SACP/COSATU had offered the government a veto threshold of seventy-five percent for a bill of rights and seventy percent for the inclusion of items in the constitution, did you regard that as a sell-out?

MS     First and foremost they themselves, after the collapse of the talks, said they had no mandate from their members to do that, so they out-negotiated on that point. In fact they were helped by the government's stubbornness to refuse to accept the offer. They were out-negotiated.

POM     How do you think that would happen with somebody of the calibre of Cyril Ramaphosa leading that particular negotiating team, what was their thinking behind it all?

MS     I think we should not make mistakes here, we should understand that trade union negotiations and political negotiations are two different kinds of negotiations. So, if you take your trade union experience to political negotiations, it is a learning process also for Cyril there, so he is not bringing any new skills, he still has a lot to learn. He is not coming there as an expert. It would also depend on your aides, who is around you, who is helping you, how efficient those people are, so the success of the negotiation process is not entirely dependent on an individual, it is team work, who advises them and whether they do listen to their advisors (I don't know who advises them), but Cyril can't go there as an expert, I don't think he would make it.

POM     Do you think now that in future negotiations that take place at CODESA that the bottom line for items to be included in the constitution will be sixty-six and two-thirds percent, as evolved in Namibia and other countries, and no more?

MS     I depends also, I mean these few days we were also pressed after all the mass action and the mess that was going on in the townships; Mandela came out to praise De Klerk, it took us by surprise. That makes it difficult to think what these guys will do because it is so soon for Mandela to start praising De Klerk that you ask yourself if there was any need for the mass action in the first place if De Klerk is such a good guy as Mandela is saying now. We have problems there. Now, whether the ANC will not concede is another matter.

     I believe the NP government has got its own bottom line and they will just hold on, like De Klerk said that 'we will sit back and watch this mass action until it's over', and that is what they have done and before he has even called Mandela back, Mandela starts to praise him. One cannot bet on the ANC negotiations. The problem with these negotiations is that there is too much secrecy, there is no openness. Before, just before Mandela was released from prison, at least at that time they used to even call us and other organisations for briefings on what they had been doing, etc. But recently they are just surrounded by a veil of secrecy, so it is very difficult to know what is happening, it is very difficult even to know who their negotiating teams are, who are their advisors, etc. But I am sure that if push comes to shove, the ANC will give some concessions like they did with the seventy percent.

POM     If you look at the last negotiating session, the one that took place at CODESA, would you see it as one in which the government had out-negotiated the alliance but were just too greedy at the end to say yes to the best offer that will come their way?

MS     I think so. The other problem here is that what is CODESA? Is CODESA a negotiating forum or is CODESA a conjunction? That is another problem we have, because CODESA is a round table where everybody can come and everybody can talk and everybody can differ and everybody can agree on a consensus, etc. It is not basically a negotiating forum. But if for example, the government had not been greedy, as you say, I think the ANC would have been in trouble.

POM     Let us look at the period from when CODESA deadlocked, both De Klerk and Mandela said, yes, we have serious problems but we can work them out, to a point less than a month later where they had walked out of the talks and made fifteen demands that had to be met before they get back to the negotiating table, and had moved mass action from the back-burner to the front-burner. What was going on within the ANC itself, do you get any intimations of a struggle between the left and the centre within the movement itself for the control of the course of direction that negotiations should take?

MS     I think what we must understand is that the alliance is not monolithic because people have got different views about CODESA even there. Chris Hani addressed a rally in Maritzburg and he said his happiest moment was when they moved out of CODESA because CODESA is there to liquidate the liberation movements. That triggered a response where Mandela made it clear (Mandela was travelling abroad), at his first press conference when he came back from abroad he said that some individuals might have said certain things about CODESA, but as soon as the government meets their demands, they are going back to CODESA; meaning that there are certain different views on CODESA.

     The media was characterising it as Mandela having a field day on the radicals. The current debate now looks like when the talks resume, a new structure altogether might be there, not necessarily CODESA, a new structure, or possibly they might have the same set up as CODESA but call it a different name. Also the possibility of the international community in the form of the UN could have a higher profile than before in the next negotiations, if they go back. So there might be a number of changes that are going to take place before the next set of negotiations, we might now move to more serious negotiations than what has been happening before.

POM     Do you think the internationalisation of the problem in the form of the UN beginning to have a small presence here is a big step forward?

MS     I think it is very important. For example, the question of violence, there is no way the NP government can feign innocence on that, there are lots of revelations coming out through the media now. You can also observe for yourself that since we had high profile UN people coming to the country, some of these massacres have been reduced. So I think it has positive impact.

POM     Would you like to see them play a role in the actual negotiations themselves, or should that strictly be between South African parties?

MS     I think the issue is not only a South African one. The international community played a significant role in placing this government where it is. If we say this is a history for South Africans, where in the history of man have conflicts like this been left to the conflicting parties to resolve? Certainly nowhere, because it will play into the hands of those who have the power and the resources, and that is this government. The government wants that kind of a situation because it gives them an advantage. If we let a body like the UN or the Commonwealth, or whoever, oversee the process, the government's upper hand over the other opponents diminishes and that is what we must fight for, to balance the powers so that we can have everybody coming in there as equals, not one person coming in there pretending to be equal and yet he is more equal than others.

POM     To turn to the mass action for a moment: do you think it was successful?

MS     To a certain extent, yes it was successful in the sense that if you check the number of people who didn't go to work, although arrangements had been made before. If you just look at it in terms of people who didn't go to work, yes one can say it was a success.

POM     In the broader sense the purpose of this was ostensibly to send a message to the government that the masses were solidly behind the ANC and its alliance and that De Klerk and his government would look out there and see this mass of people and be willing to get back to the negotiating table and meet the demands of the ANC. Did it send a message to the government?

MS     No government can do that because if, for example, the taxis and the buses were running normally in the townships, I think a number of people would have gone to work, we all know that. There is no scientific way of counting the number of people who did not go to work when we all, as South Africans, know that if it was not because of these other things, other people would have gone to work. The government knows that very well so they are not going to move. Also you cannot take for granted that if people are marching, some people are just marching, they are not supporting anything, they are just part of the frenzy. It is not that they are supporting anything.

     One thing that we cannot deny the ANC at this stage is its popularity, but the strength of the ANC has not been tested and popularity and strength are two different things, the government knows that the strength of the ANC has not been tested. You can get people to march but after two days they will go back to work, so the government can sit back and Mandela will start praising De Klerk.

POM     Are you saying that while this was a successful stayaway in terms of the number of people who didn't go to work, it wasn't a highly successful stayaway in terms of the political impact it would have had on government or the government's future actions?

MS     I don't think so. I think the government is still intransigent and will not move on those issues from which they do not want to move.

POM     So what do you expect to see happening in the coming weeks; there is a lot of talk about Mandela praising De Klerk, De Klerk saying you don't have to stand on the steps of the Union Building with fifty thousand people to talk to me, you are always welcome to open the door and come into my office; what is going on?

MS     Mandela said over the weekend in the Ciskei that he has phoned De Klerk so the possibility is that there are also talks behind the scenes. [and by the time the talks start a lot of ...] For example they are now trying to resolve the problem of political prisoners, there are still about four hundred prisoners inside and the ANC is trying to get them out, but the government is saying they can get them out but the ANC must understand that the government has got its own people who committed crimes, so they want a general amnesty. The ANC is not the government, they can't give the government that guarantee. If they lose the vote and other people have not entered into a deal with the government what is going to happen? That is putting the cart before the horse.

POM     What do you see as the way forward?

MS     I think the government has realised that talking to the ANC alone is not going to solve the problem, the government has realised that there are other players that they must also bring into this process, that is why they are talking to the PAC to try to sort out the differences that will bring peace, and the government will try to identify other parties because they are realising that they can't be stuck with the ANC and I think the government has extracted enough concessions from the ANC, they need to extract concessions from other people, then that will be regarded as an agree

POM     Do you see the government talking to the PAC, to AZAPO, the Conservative Party too? What about Buthelezi in this context? We interviewed him last week on 28th July and he sits up there in Ulundi and he is very bitter and very militant and talks strongly about that his people and the KwaZulu government will not be party to any agreement reached at CODESA to which they were not a part in negotiating. He would simply refuse to go along with it; the Zulu people and nation would not be left out. Aside from the consideration of ideology, do you think he has enough strength and support that if he became marginalised he could be a spoiler, that he could make that part of the country continue an ongoing, low-intensity civil war indefinitely?

MS     I think once the government withdraws its support and backing for him, he will be finished. Part of his frustration is that he realises that fact because on his own he would never have achieved what he has achieved so far. So, depending on what role the government determines for him, once it has signed an agreement with the ANC, PAC, AZAPO and others, they will just have to withdraw support for him and he will toe the line, like all other Bantustan leaders, he is no different from them. All that we need is for the government to pull the plug on him. He will have to dismantle the KwaZulu police, the government will have to withdraw money for meeting salaries of civil servants and himself, etc. What can he do then? He will end up being bitter, for a period he will be able to be destructive, but once the government turns against him, I think he will toe the line. So long as he enjoys the support of the government, he will have to be accommodated.

POM     To look at the Goldstone Commission (GC), among your membership have they got any faith in its findings, particularly when it looks at things such as Boipatong and comes out with a report saying there was no direct evidence to link De Klerk, his cabinet or the security forces to the violence?

MS     The weakness of the GC is the old saying that prevention is better than cure. The GC is just chairing, not preventing, people die, then they investigate. That is not what we need, we need prevention of these things and that is not taking place. That is the commission's weakness. Of course the commission has limitations, they can only deal with the evidence that is presented to them, they can't deal with evidence which is not there, so like I say, it has inherent weaknesses. The people who are there, the major parties, the ANC, IFP and NP government, how committed are they to that Peace Accord (PA)? Every time people die they start accusing each other. Among themselves they don't communicate to say that this thing is going to happen, can we prevent it? We have this PA Committee, but all the black townships were declared unrest areas and when we asked the ANC people who were sitting in that committee, they did not even know, they were not even consulted, they simply heard about it over the radio and saw it in the newspapers. Despite those committees being there, the government just goes ahead and implements its plans because they hold the power.

POM     What has happened to the NPA? It was signed with great fanfare less than a year ago and the last year has probably been one of the most violent or perhaps the most violent in SA's history.

MS     In fact on the very first day, whilst we were at the Carlton Hotel, people were already dying at the station in Westgate, about three people died on that very Saturday and that has never stopped. The people who signed that accord had no intention to implement it. If they did, they have no control or influence over their members.

POM     Can you have meaningful negotiations if you don't bring the violence under control?

MS     The two things go hand in hand because you can't say let's stop the violence, the two must happen parallel. We've got to have the negotiations going on and we have got to have a process of removing arms from everybody and if this thing doesn't stop we have to finally agree that the SADF must be confined and we have an international force here to monitor the townships.

POM     Is there still no doubt in your mind that the security forces are the surrogates who are responsible for most of the violence?

MS     Definitely. Right now as you came in here you saw a big poster of an organiser of one of our affiliates who was shot this past week by the SADF. They stopped him, he passed and they shot him. Let's say, for example, that this guy did pass, for whatever reason we don't know, and they shot him. If Goldstone is going to investigate, what is he going to investigate? Because the army is there, they shot this guy; if he was running away, they have got two-way radios so in any given township, there isn't one police truck, but many. They could have taken the registration of this car, got other cars to give chase and arrested him, but they decided to shoot him, hardly one kilometre from where they were. We are not going to face this Goldstone Commission, we have got to be made fools of there listening to how there is no evidence that the soldiers shot him. It means the culprit who actually murdered this man will not be brought to book.

     So this is their weakness and all these politicians coming in public with their good intentions etc., don't help us, the problem is that the people who are serving under them are the problem, they are causing the deaths, that is what must be stopped.

POM     When you say the people who are serving under 'them', you are not just talking about De Klerk, but you are also talking about the ANC.

MS     I am including the ANC, you have read Chris Hani's report in the newspapers, I am talking about Inkatha. Right now I talked to this man in this company, just now IFP members assaulted our members yesterday.

POM     In the area where you live, in Benoni, has it been declared an unrest area?

MS     Daveyton yes, the black townships have been declared unrest areas.

POM     Are things approaching anarchy? Are things out of control?

MS     Not exactly, what has happened, because of the mass action incitement, is that some youngsters burnt some bakkies and trucks, but the committee came out to speak very strongly against that.

POM     Is that the Peace Committee?

MS     No, the Civic Association and the local people. We got a lot of people like church ministers to call the youth to order. We thought everything was in order when some of the youngsters who actually went to one supermarket and took things from there, they were apprehended by the police. We thought it was over with, there is no reason for this kind of thing to carry on in the township; it is relatively OK now.

POM     What about what Chris Hani, about evidence on the Self Defence Units (SDUs) being out of control, hijacked by criminal elements for doing their own thing, not being subject to any kind of political discipline?

MS     That is a problem we are faced with, all of us, not just the ANC. We have criminal elements within the communities and what has happened is that with the laissez faire attitude about allowing everybody to own a gun, some of these guns have fallen into wrong hands. Those people are not necessarily members of the ANC, they are simply using the name ANC, these are just criminals. The difficulty is that the ANC presently, like any other organisation, don't have the capacity to apprehend those people, because the only way of doing it is to educate them; but how do you educate a thug? He is not given to reasoning. The ANC is alone in this problem and the government fuels the problem too, because for many years no black person was allowed to run around with a gun in this country and they were very efficient in making sure that you don't get possession of a gun. Why do they now all of a sudden become so inefficient? It is because a lot of guns are in black hands and in wrong hands and people are shooting people, that is the reason.

     I want to be honest and say I sympathise with the ANC and I think the problem must not only be confined to the ANC, it is a general problem that we have as a community, to deal with the thug element in our communities, because today they can use the ANC name, tomorrow they will use the PAC name, the next day IFP, etc. Certainly criminals elements have been found with police uniforms, they rob the police, take their uniforms and wear them to rob people. It is a problem that society must deal with and part of dealing with it involves education, but the problem is how to educate a thug.

POM     When we came here, in the first month we were very struck by the prominence of COSATU in the post CODESA collapse period; they seemed to have assumed centre stage, it was they who were making most of the plans for the mass action, their officials were appearing on the radio and television; they seemed to have a very political role as distinct from a labour role. Is COSATU wanting to become a political movement?

MS     No, I don't think so, but you've got to understand that the trade union movement has a viable and identifiable structure and it is the workers who are eventually going to pay the price. Obviously on issues like stayaways unions will take the prominent role because it is their members who are going to be affected first and nobody else can communicate to workers better than their leader, politicians will waffle a number of things which workers might have problems with. So it is better for the trade union leaders to lead in those kind of preparations, to lead this kind of a struggle. I don't think COSATU wants to play a political role, but simply it is the workers who are going to sit at home or march to make the action successful, their leaders have to play the main organising role.

POM     When you look at the last six months, with CODESA meeting and collapsing, were you surprised that it collapsed?

MS     No, we were not, we were also concerned, we knew that at some stage the crunch would come, so its collapse did not take us by surprise.

POM     The collapse came because the government blew it more than the collapse came because the ANC walked out?

MS     I think the government blew it, but also I think that within the ANC itself the collapse was a blessing because it gave them breathing space. A lot of people were concerned. The problem is that there has been too much of a veil of secrecy about what has been happening. I think it was a good thing that it collapsed so that the ANC can re-strategise.

POM     Even as you say that, you have Mandela and De Klerk having their secret meetings or telephone conversations, or the ANC and the government having meetings, so that in a way, more things have been going on in secret since the talks collapsed.

MS     There again it is a question of the ANC being outmanoeuvred by the government. For example, if the ANC, after the collapse, tried to talk to the PAC and other organisations to say that this is our position, let us find a common position, it would have helped, but they have not done that. Because they are not doing that the government is doing it. It is moving ahead of the ANC, this is where the problem is, the ANC seems to allow the government to outmanoeuvre it and sell their own ideas to people. Maybe within the next few coming weeks, the ANC might call a meeting and ask other organisations to come for discussions, but it might be too late.

POM     What do you mean by 'might be too late'?

MS     What I mean is that, for example, the PAC is already meeting with the government and logically I would have believed that it would have been better if they had already met with the ANC, so that they could be briefed on what is happening behind the scenes, putting them in a more sound position when they do meet the government. So even the PAC is going to meet the government at a disadvantage because they will not be in possession of the proper information, but if they had met with the ANC, maybe they would have been informed about a number of things which they would have been able to raise with the government.

POM     Do you think that the right wing is no longer a threat in terms of capacity to either disrupt the process to the point where it can be a severe obstacle, or is it still there in some latent form waiting to emerge?

MS     I think it is there. Our worry now is that if you look at the emergence of the new right, if those guys finally find some common ground with the NP government, the NP government will become more intransigent than it is now. So there are going to be a number of alliances, the politics are going to be very fluid. The NP is going to somehow find an alliance with some of those right wing movements as well as looking at attracting other people, like the Buthelezi's and other's. At the moment they are also trying to establish NP branches in our townships to take up some of the black vote.

POM     Have they tried to do that in yours?

MS     In Thembisa they have a branch, in Daveyton the former Mayor was approached by the NP to form a branch, but he refused. So those kinds of things are happening.

POM     Are Africans in particular, in townships, not afraid to openly declare themselves as supporting the NP?

MS     I think for now they will be afraid, but as time goes on, they will come out. I don't think we will go to elections without some Africans having publicly declared themselves to be NP supporters.

POM     How many?

MS     It might be a small number of people.

POM     What percentage would it be?

MS     Well, you might put it at two percent or so, [but these will be mostly ...] Every community has its own conservatives and we have got our own middle class who are conservative. Those kinds of people might join the NP.

POM     Do you think that this whole process has been made more difficult by the fact that the parties to it are doing two things simultaneously; on one hand they are negotiating and on the other hand they are electioneering, and the NP is trying to attract the moderate black vote and in order for them to achieve this they must portray the ANC as this radical communist dominated organisation, and then its own supporters get confused because they don't know why the government wants to make compromises with a radical communist organisation?

MS     I think that is a problem and at the same time I think Mandela has the same problem. He is going to go out there and say to people, "We are not as radical as these people are painting us", but he has got these radical elements which he must always control. This is another problem because there is electioneering at the same time where Mandela must also convince people to vote for ANC; he is worried about the coloured, Indian and white communities who are not joining the ANC. Therefore he is going to say, "We are not as bad as people are painting us to be, while we have one or two communists amongst ourselves, they don't run the show." He has got that problem also and that is the problem the NP is also facing.

POM     So when you look at the next several months, do you see progress, do you see the country slowly moving towards an election for a Constituent Assembly, under the generally accepted norms for such elections?

MS     I don't see it this year, maybe the first part of next year, possibly.

POM     But you see it happening?

MS     I think we have reached a stage where there is no alternative but to go to a general election in this country. What is left now is the timing of this general election and I think what is worrying all of us is the violence that is raging, whether when you run election campaigns in this country are they going to accelerate the violence, at what stage do you call for elections? As soon as we can have the violence under control in this country, I think we will be on our way to elections.

POM     And if you fail to get the violence under control?

MS     Definitely not elections and the delay of elections also has a linkage to the economy, because so long as we don't have political stability, we will not have a sustainable economic growth.

POM     How has your membership been doing in the last year, the economy has been getting worse?

MS     We have been hit hard by retrenchments, this is the reason why we have entered into an agreement with COSATU that we should demand from both employers and the government a moratorium on retrenchments, we have been really hit hard.

POM     Does that have a demoralising effect on union members?

MS     A union can't grow in a depression because we lose members. What is happening actually is that we are spending most of our time trying to service those we have, we are not able to go out there to organise more members.

POM     South Africa has always been a country where the masses of the oppressed people are highly politicised and actively participate in the struggle for their own freedom. What would your average member be most concerned with? Would it be the politics that are going on or would it be the bread and butter issues, or getting enough to get by or wondering how the soccer team is doing?

MS     I think by and large, if you look at the reasons that people join the trade unions, they don't join because they want to be members of this or that political party, they join precisely because they want to improve their quality of life. Bread and butter issues, that is what people are worried about and of course, once they are secured in terms of their earnings, in terms of their children being at school, in terms of their health, then leisure like soccer in SA is very popular. So on major soccer competitions, like the Cup Finals, everyone will go to the match, even the union officials will be there. Basically that is what people are worried about. The challenge in this country, the real struggle is going to begin after the political dust has settled, because now people are going to begin to want the improvement of their quality of life, economically and socially. Whether the government will be able to deliver (a democratic government) is another thing, and after how long. That is where the challenge lies. For now people are involved, they are participating in the struggles, they are staying away, marching, with the hope that after all these efforts we will benefit, and that is where the crunch is.

POM     I know I asked you this the last time but I will ask it again; what have they got the right to expect after four or five years of a democratic government?

MS     There are certain things they are expecting immediately, those cannot wait for five years.

POM     Like what?

MS     To deal with the questions of education, that there must be normal schooling, children must get proper education and there must be normal schooling in the townships.

POM     You say normal schooling, you mean normal as in young people being able to run schools?

MS     No, that is abnormal, that is anarchy. What we are expecting is that children must go to school to learn and teachers must take control of administering the schools, that is what the average person is looking at. Their immediate environment must be improved; where is no infrastructure like running water for example, sewerage, tarred roads, electricity, they will expect those should be installed immediately. Streets must be swept, garbage should be collected, there should be proper public transport to take kids to school, there must be a lessening of crime in the townships, they must be able to walk freely in the streets, without fear of being molested (women and girls), normal life must prevail. On Sundays people should be able to go to church, sports, etc. That is what they expect immediately.

     Those who are outside employment are expecting that as soon as the dust settles, jobs will be created for them. Those who don't have houses, are expecting that some housing projects will be started immediately to house them. They are not going to wait for five years for these things, these are the immediate things which are expected to happen.

     Now, you and I know very well that some of those things are not going to happen immediately. The question of education can be addressed immediately, for example, but job creation takes some time, provision of houses also will take some time, but we will have to prepare our people to have short-term and long-term programmes for these things. Some of things we also believe can be done immediately. The environment can be improved immediately because we have made people aware now, people are environmentally conscious in the townships now. They know some of these things should not happen and they are demanding that their areas must be cleaned, etc. Some of those things can happen immediately but we have got to divide them in such a way that this can happen immediately. That will take longer but the government of the day must deliver within the first eighteen months. If they fail to deliver, they will lose the next elections.

POM     Given the problems that face the country the trick here might be to lose the first election?

MS     Whoever wins the first elections and fails to deliver has no hope of winning the second election. I think SA black people, particularly in the urban areas, have no loyalty to anyone, if it doesn't benefit them, why should they vote for you? We can say to the union," Vote for this party", but if they are not convinced that this is the party for them, why should they vote for that party? They will go for the opposite party.

POM     When we talk to people in the PAC, they say, almost with a smile on their faces, what happened at CODESA was exactly what we said would happen, the thing would collapse and it wouldn't work. They initiated a movement, especially amongst young people, towards joining their movement. Is support for the PAC growing, is it a viable political organisation?

MS     It is, like all of them. Young people are moving from one organisation to other organisations, but my personal worry are the adults. I think the strength of an organisation is dependent largely by having a visible, active membership of elderly people and until that has happened, we have not yet sent the right message to elderly people. I would not bet and say that because some youngsters have joined that organisation it is growing, no, I think we have different standards of assessing an organisation. I would assess an organisation in terms of elderly people. Once more elderly people join an organisation, I would say that organisation is growing, but we cannot talk about youngsters.

POM     In terms of those which are the growing organisations and which are having more trouble in organising themselves?

MS     There is no proper scientific analysis about growing organisations, because how do people assess that? I would simply say that it depends on an area, there are certain areas where you find this organisation is more popular than others, you go to another area you find a different organisation commanding the majority support, etc. It is very difficult, but I would say that if they think that some few youngsters have joined them, then the challenge is how to bring the elderly people into the movement. That is where Buthelezi has succeeded in getting elderly people in the IFP, which is something we all still have to learn.

POM     Thanks very much for your time.

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.