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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.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 1993: Skhosana, Mahlmola

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POM     We were just saying it's a very difficult situation, how would you characterise the difference in the way things were when we visited you last August and the way things are today? Last August was the middle of the stayaways and the mass action.

MS     The problem is that the process was taking too long, the negotiations were taking too long. Also at the same time while the people are negotiating, the parties are negotiating, there is also electioneering in their parties with what is happening inside there. There's a lot of point scoring and electioneering, point scoring and electioneering at the same time. Nobody at this stage is sure what will be the outcome or the result of the elections so people have started positioning, parties have starting positioning themselves. That is on the political field. But on the other hand in the black communities the biggest problem we have is that there is almost a complete breakdown of education, more particularly this year. Couple that with the problem that has come as a result of the failure of town councils in the townships to continue to render basic services to the people, so services are not rendered. If they are rendered it's at a very low scale. Unemployment has risen in the process. We have numbers of people unemployed in the country. You have all these problems.

     There's a bigger problem which is that while there should be results on the ground the quality of life of ordinary people in the township has not changed for the better. That is where we are.

POM     I remember you saying last year that if there was any agreement between the government and the ANC that such an agreement wouldn't work. If the ANC were to enter into an agreement they wouldn't be able to deliver to everyone and yet it seems that the government and the ANC have entered some kind of pact together that they've worked out, basically invited everybody, but they've worked out the basis of what this agreement is about and really the rest of it is a matter of railroading it through to the Negotiating Council.

MS     There is a strong feeling that those kinds of agreements have been entered into but the ANC itself has not even tried to sell those to the people in the townships, or even in the rural areas.

POM     If you look at where the ANC was at this time last year and where the government was at this time last year and you look at where they are today, what concessions have each side made, what are the major concessions that you see each side having made during this period?

MS     I see ANC having made a lot of concessions. Government has not made any concessions. ANC has made a lot of concessions and in return they've not gained anything out of those concessions. For example, if you look at the election date, the National Party term of office expires some time in 1994 so they had to go to elections and face the electorate in 1994, so agreeing on a date does not mean that it's a concession on the part of the government but it's within the programme of the NP government. There is nothing new there. In any event they were going to go to elections next year.

     The question of joint control of the armed forces, of security forces, government has not given in to that. They continue to control that. The ANC has not benefited out of that.

     You can take, for example, sports, the ANC weren't very happy to get certain activities of sport to be lifted, rugby for example and other sports activities, but what have we gained out of it? Nothing. You go to the townships, what is there? Nothing.

     So the ANC has made a lot of concessions. I don't believe that the ANC or Steve Tshwete, for example, can stand in front of black people and say, "This is what we have given, this is what we have benefited in the townships on the ground." They haven't.

POM     Can you point to any specific concessions that they made in terms of the negotiating process itself?

MS     I think in the past few years they have realised that they are putting deadlines of about nine months about this and that, they finally agreed with the government on the regional status. They wanted a unitary state, now they are agreeing with the government on regionalism and federalism. They have made concessions there.

POM     Do you think that elections will occur next year on 27th April?

MS     Difficult to say because this process is controlled by De Klerk, so it depends on the NP whether they believe that at that time they can take up enough votes. It depends, but it is controlled by the NP government. If they want elections to be held next year on 27th April elections will go on. If they don't want, for whatever reason, then they will not go on.

POM     Now this always kind of confuses me, a lot of people have said just what you say, that the ANC have made a lot of concessions, yet when you look at the other side, at the government and the NP, its base seems to have shrunk, it seems to be very divided and fragmented and I think one recent survey showed that it will only get one out of the four votes that it got in 1989 when it was elected. Why, if they are dictating the pace of change and the form it will take, why is their own support base beginning to collapse all the time?

MS     I don't think that one can judge the NP government on this. For example, if you think of the referendum, you saw the referendum, who gave the NP a chance? Nobody gave them a chance at that time. There was this huge fear that the Conservative Party was going to win. But the tendency of whites in this country is that it is people who vote NP, so when it gets to the actual time of voting I don't see any strong party within the white community except the NP. They will rally behind the NP.

POM     On a scale of one to ten if you look at the first draft of the constitutional proposals and the second draft that came out yesterday, how far would they go in meeting your expectations in terms of what a constitution should be?

MS     To be honest we haven't seen it in the first draft. We haven't even seen the first draft. We tried to phone and ask people who were there, we were told that some of these documents are not meant for the public. So we are following that thing from the newspapers. I don't know what it looks like.

POM     Would you get a copy if you walked in and asked for one?

MS     I don't know. We haven't got a copy, we've been asking. Nobody has been sending us anything. I haven't even seen the first draft because I'm interested, and all of us in the labour movement are interested, to see what are they saying about workers and worker hours. That has not come up and in the news clippings that I have seen in the media nobody has said anything about workers. So I haven't seen anything.

POM     Let's go back then to workers; in one of its more recent reports the SA Institute for Race Relations said that, "Boycotts and stayaways are so entrenched that they may well extend into a post-apartheid society as well as the coercion to ensure their success." Do you think with the advent of an interim government composed of parties that receive more than five percent of the vote in the election, do you think there will be a change of attitude on the part of workers?

MS     The right to strike is internationally accepted, the right to picket, stay away. It happens all over the world. Why should it be different in this country? I think it is when we have to intensify our struggle as workers to make sure that the new so-called democratic government don't enrich themselves at the expense of workers. Unless the labour movement remains militant they will just continue to enrich themselves.

POM     This debate has been going on within COSATU too with NUMSA calling for COSATU to withdraw from the alliance immediately after the election. How do you see your relationship as NACTU to an interim government? Is it not necessarily an adversarial one, an adversarial one rather than a co-operative one?

MS     We will maintain our independence. We will co-operate on those issues where workers will benefit but we will refuse to be hooked into processes that benefit politicians at the expense of workers. We will maintain our independence. If they come with, for example, the issue of job creation where workers will benefit we will look into that and we will be party to that problem, create jobs for members, create jobs for the communities. We will look at improvement of the quality of life in the townships, for example, where projects of electrification of the townships, tarring of streets in the townships, reconstructing the efficiency of the townships, even in the rural areas. We will be party to those programmes because those benefit not only our members but society at large, but we will not be party to schemes of politicians where, for example, they increase bureaucracy so that it becomes overblown and all that and they go and raise money from the IMF and the World Bank and tell us that we should not make demands that are reasonable to workers because they want to maintain the bureaucracy or maintain themselves in office. We will not be party to that.

POM     Many articles that I've read on the South African economy emphasise the point that over the last several years the rate increase in wages has been greater than the rate increase in productivity and that if SA is to be competitive in the international market that it will have to either raise its level of productivity or lower the level of wages. It is also argued that if wages are frozen for a time that it will allow more people to be employed at a lower wage rate than less people at a higher labour rate.

MS     If you check last year executives, company executives, gave themselves increments between 10 28% and you look at what increments politicians are giving themselves, there is going to be turning of tables in this country and that must go for everybody, including politicians in parliament and company executives. That's number one. Number two, the question of productivity is a national problem. That is a problem that has been created by the apartheid leaders. It's going to take some time that we work towards looking at the concept of productivity. There is no debate within NACTU about the importance of productivity. We agree there should be productivity and we are saying productivity goes hand in glove with education and training. You've got to train people, you've got to educate people. You've got to create a conducive environment for people to be productive. At the moment those things are not there. Let's create conducive conditions for people to produce. We agree with that, there is no debate about that. But we are saying that productivity should not be linked with exploitation of workers to make super profit. We are saying no to that. So we will be entering into debate about productivity but we are willing, there is no debate, we are not against productivity. It's important.

POM     What is NACTU's position on the process itself as it is unfolding at the World Trade Centre, the Transitional Executive Committee to oversee the transition to elections, then elections for a Constituent Assembly which also becomes the legislature, and a government where all parties receiving more than five percent of the vote are represented in the cabinet? Do you think that's a good way to go forward?

MS     No we don't think so. Elsewhere in the world in the history of this kind of conflict you have always had someone else, for example the international community whether the United Nations or Commonwealth or OAU, to take up a visible position to control the process. At the moment the process is left to De Klerk's government because we are now going to fight an incumbent in office with that process, with the incumbent. The resources that are used they come from the incumbent so they will control the process. So the whole thing is deliberately a ploy to keep De Klerk in office. At the end of the day how many of those parties are there? Some of them are even non-parties, some of them are parties that have been created by De Klerk himself and his government. He will take all the Bantustan parties there, all of them. You take the tricameral parties there, these are a creation of De Klerk. Now the question that you have to ask yourself is who is negotiating with who there? And once you ask that question you get into problems because you never know who's negotiating with who. It clouds the issues, confuses the issues, and that is why the process is so confusing, deliberately confused by that process because in this country you've got the oppressed people and the oppressor and if you are going to negotiate, like everywhere else it has happened, the oppressor has to negotiate with the oppressed and you don't find that situation here. It's confused. So no-one outside that process can tell you exactly what is happening there, what is tangible which is happening there. Organisations like the ANC, particularly ANC comrade Nelson Mandela, now and then in interviews if you read, you go to newspaper libraries, you will find the interviews where he talks about sufficient progress that has been made. But you ask yourself, where is the progress? You can see that there is no progress because he himself, while at times he has praised De Klerk, but he has been forced in a number of quotations to condemn De Klerk publicly because this thing is not going anywhere.

POM     Would you be in favour of an interim government that would be basically a power sharing government?

MS     Where is power being shared in the world? Because the so-called interim government, the so-called power sharing concepts, are nothing else but assimilation of the black elite. There is no freedom that comes with that. We are either free or we are not and the thing of the interim government now, later on this kind of a thing it doesn't work. Where has it worked? We should not try to be unique as South Africans. This thing has never worked anywhere in the world, why should it work here?

POM     So what would you like to see as an alternative to what's happening?

MS     The alternative is the oppressor that side, the oppressed this side. We negotiate and we agree on basic principles.  Elections are not there for caution, elections are there for exchanging power, the greatest majority, the greatest party that takes the greatest majority of people around the country. That's what happens all over the world. The Republicans in America, which is today the greatest democracy, can't say "We want to share power because we are part of this." People in America would say, "We don't want to be ruled by you, you stand outside, let's put someone else." That's what happens all over the world, but once you try to make all these silly guarantees then it doesn't even make sense to begin to even have elections.

POM     Your view is that the form of government that would emerge from the present track being followed would be inherently undemocratic, it would be a government of the elites, it wouldn't be capable of addressing the fundamental social and economic problems of the country?

MS     I don't see it, how it can be, because you're going to have a government here which is so lean that they will not even be able to intervene in the economy of the country on behalf of the poor in this country. They are not going to have that.

POM     If that is so then surely the ANC is kind of sounding its own death knell in the sense that if they are in power as the primary partner in an interim government for five years and after five years nothing has really changed, only marginal changes have been made, and the poor in townships are poorer than they were when the government came into place, I mean they would throw them out and turn to parties like the PAC or AZAPO or those who have been saying, "I told you so."

MS     I don't think it will be as easy as that because if this constitution is to last a very long time the competition will make sure that no party that draws the greatest majority rules the country.

POM     That's the interim government?

MS     Yes. Unless at the Constituent Assembly stage the proper constitution is drafted and the constitution makes it very clear that the party that draws the greatest majority of votes runs the government. Elections are about transference of power, they're not about power sharing, and I don't see that coming from the ANC. The PAC sitting there, it is no different from ANC. They are sitting there also, they are part of the agreement, they are no different from the ANC.

POM     Do you think that the ANC would poll more than 50% of the vote in elections?

MS     At the moment in terms of their popularity, yes, I think so. The problem is that the ANC's popularity has not been juxtaposed with their strength. At the moment, I can speak because I live in the PWV area, I think they can even pull more than 50% of the votes. For example, let's make this an example, if ANC pulls 70% of the votes I have no problem with ANC running the government. Why shouldn't it run the government? Why should people come and say now let's share power when 70% of the population of this country have said, "We want ANC to run this country." Because that is what will give the ANC sufficient power because they will have enough mandate to be able to address the legacy of apartheid in this country, but if they are saying no, we have to accommodate this one, accommodate this one round here, they will not be able to address those issues. All the so-called parties that are there, what people are actually fighting for there is to continue their privileges. They are not fighting for anything, they're just fighting that let's continue, let's find a way in this new system where our privileges can be protected and we can continue with our privileges. That's all.

POM     Do you think that the trade union movement as a whole should play a different role during an interim government period vis-à-vis a majority government that would take over after that?

MS     We have only one role to play as trade unions. We look at issues that affect the economic and social life of our people and that is what we should continue to do. In the election itself our position as NACTU is that we are going to be looking at issues, not at personalities, but we will be looking at issues, the party that addresses the issues or comes nearer to addressing issues that are important to workers. So the issues of workers will remain on the table for a long time and whether it's entering, whether it's a new so-called democratic government, the issues will remain the same.

POM     Do you think that the rise of the right wing poses a serious question to the whole process?

MS     It poses a problem as long as De Klerk is in power.

POM     That will be at least until next year.

MS     As soon as we have a strong government they cannot pose any problem because they have to be dealt with and the government of the day must do what is necessary.

POM     But if you go from this time last year where the right appeared to be on its last legs after their performance in the referendum and you look at this year when it seems to have its act together, it seems to have a broader base of support and it seems to have come together under this umbrella of the Afrikaner volkstaat, what do you think accounts for this?

MS     It accounts for what I said earlier on, this process is taking too long. Because when you come to really talking realities they will not be able to answer the questions, they have failed consistently to prove and bring a map in SA where they could have their volkstaat. Their concept of self-determination is misplaced because even in international law it's laughable. They are colonisers in this country, they are occupiers. You have never heard of a position where colonisers demand self-determination from the colonies. You have never heard of that, so there is no basis to their demand.

POM     Do you think that they're a threat in the sense that they have sufficient fire power, sufficient support in the lower ranks of the military and the police?

MS     In the short term, yes. In the short term, yes, they have, but once you have a proper government, like I say in the short term they can disrupt but in the long term no. If you have a strong government and you deploy like what happened in the war when they deployed the fifth brigade, and when you deploy and you deal with them properly like this regime is dealing with us properly and effectively in the townships, they are treated with kid gloves, that's the problem. But the day they have a government that will deal with them like they deal with us in the townships the nonsense will stop because you take Terre'Blanche, what war did he fight? Where did he fight war? I don't think Terre'Blanche can feel comfortable to walk the streets in any township, I don't think so. So the problems that I'm seeing, as long as De Klerk is in power he will treat them with kid gloves. They also help him because he's using them to force concessions against his opponents, that if you don't want to agree with me you look at these gorillas behind me so I am the only gentleman you can deal with. So they are also helping him to force concessions.

POM     If that kind of situation were to prevail, do you think foreign investment would be leery of coming to SA until it sees what the situation is going to be like a number of years after?

MS     I think even now it will take some time for foreign governments to come into this country, it will take some time for multi-nationals, for foreign money to come into the country. But even if they come most of them, I think those who come into the country will be more capital intensive than labour intensive so there will be few spin-offs for the biggest majority of people who are unemployed. The region itself, SA, in this region, the problem of SA is also holding inside the country as hostage because unless there is some investment in this country which might help to filter into their own country it's not going to happen even in those countries around us here. So it's a regional problem.

POM     So without foreign investment there seems to be little hope of the economy being able to pick up?

MS     We definitely need foreign investment in the country so that the economy can pick up. We need to address firstly the problem of unemployment and then other social issues. We definitely need it, and for that to happen we need political stability in this country. That is why I say if we have this half measure, half cooked agreements and so-called interim government, it will not bring lasting stability in the country. Then you are talking about four or five years of putting off investors from coming into the country.

POM     How about the violence? Despite the Peace Accord, despite all the statements by politicians, the violence in the East Rand recently between the IFP and ANC, there's a different kind of violence.

MS     Our people, if you go to any house in the East Rand or anywhere in the country, our people are not at each other's throat, it's not there. We have a problem here, the problem with having numbers on our side if you look at elections. We have numbers on our side but we don't have the power. The power is with De Klerk. For De Klerk also to try to get some of those votes it is important that he is seen to be doing something in those townships and the only way that he can be seen to be doing something, he has done that. The ANC youngsters get out of hand and provoke situations but who can tell us that some of the people within ANC, PAC, AZAPO, NACTU and all that are not working for De Klerk? Because there are people in the township who are using this organisation just to create confusion and they are not loyal to ANC. Any loyal member of ANC or PAC will listen to the leadership of the organisation but there are certain individuals who are not prepared to listen and we cannot believe or rule out the possibility of some people being agents provocateurs in the townships. You have that situation.

     In the township where I live in Daveyton we had a meeting, I am the chairman of the Civic Association, we had the police, we had IFP, we had ANC, I was in that meeting and we asked them, "Are you fighting each other?" They said, "No, we are not fighting." Now who is killing people in this township at this moment if they are not fighting? Once we were in a meeting with the ANC and IFP discussing some of these issues, they said, "We are not fighting but people are continuing to burn the township and the army is there in the township." Now who is killing whom? The newspapers in the last few days are reporting that De Klerk is travelling in Latin American countries and if you check the spiral of violence that whenever De Klerk travels abroad there are no problems in the country and when he comes back the problems start. Now he has deployed the army there to make sure that while he is abroad few of the skirmishes and lives are lost until he comes back.

     Now we cannot, because you go to any township, we cannot, at this stage we have no proof that De Klerk's third force is not exacerbating the situation in the township. For example now, he has deployed the army in the townships. Our people are starting to die in the trains again, once more. Now what are they dying for? Because you can't tell me that in a coach when people are sitting there that you can come in and say, OK these people are ANC people or IFP people. They just kill people in these communities, they cannot be ANC people nor can they be IFP people. There was a fellow sitting in a tavern and drinking and two people walked in, they didn't ask are you ANC, are you IFP? They just shot you in this community. About six people are in hospital, five died immediately. You cannot tell me that we have got violence of ANC and IFP there. No, this is a shebeen, people are drinking and these people are not asking who's ANC, who's IFP, they just shoot indiscriminately. This is happening when De Klerk has deployed the army in the townships. How is it possible that people, their own folks in the townships, people can kill like that and go through and kill people and still disappear.

POM     Do you still believe that it is the government's intention? This has been going on now for four years, or three. The intensity has increased rather than diminished.

MS     It has increased and who does not want stability? Who does not want peace? That's the only way they can divide the black vote and get votes from more people is to offer stability. What else can they offer with their track record?

POM     That's kind of interesting in the sense that we talked to a man yesterday who was on trial with Mandela at Rivonia, part of the ANC, and he's got to a position now where he believes that no matter who wins the election maybe only the Afrikaners can bring stability to the land.

MS     With their brutality? You see those are some of the things I don't believe the Afrikaner can bring stability. The problem here is that you are fighting an incumbent in office so they are using the state resources to spread violence, spread whatever they want to spread, they will control the elections. In this country we are also having a problem of fighting an incumbent government, they are using state resources, using electronic media, for example, the print media also we don't control the establishment. We don't have any influence and I don't believe that the Afrikaner can bring about stability in the townships but they are using the state machinery to be able to turn this thing on and off as and when they please. This is the thing.

POM     A number of people have suggested in fact that nobody is running the country, that the government may be running the government.

MS     Where they appear to be weak and have lost control it has been deliberate. If you want to see how they're running the country you go to any white suburb. Who can just walk into a white suburb and do as they are doing in our townships? You cannot. It's deliberate and done in terms of the racist approach of the NP government. In certain sections of the community they will turn a blind eye. In certain sections of the communities these things will not happen. Why is it not happening in the Indian community or so-called coloured community? They are running the country but these things are done deliberately and selectively. It's running the country selectively.

POM     Do you think its election strategy is that it will run basically on the basis that they're the only party that can bring stability to the country? That you can't trust anybody else because there's killing all over the place and if you want a stable future vote for that party?

MS     But if you can look also at their track record in Namibia. What did they do in Namibia? Here in the elections we think they will be even worse.

POM     Where does Buthelezi fit into all of this?

MS     The problem, I think, with Buthelezi now is

POM     December last year he was an ally of the government, this year he and the government appear to be the worst of friends. Is it pretence? Is it part of some kind of master plan?

MS     I think your problem is that the Nats looked into which side of their bread is buttered and they realised that internationally the ANC has stature and recognition and respect. If you have to be acceptable internationally you must be seen somehow to be agreeing with the ANC, that is politics. The Communist Party is doing that right now, that while these guys are  Mandela is a communist no longer but at least there is something that they can benefit out of this relationship. But in siding with the ANC they left him behind, they didn't take him along with them. That is another problem that is there. Now even then the problem is also caused by the violence in the townships where now De Klerk comes in as a peacemaker to both of them. Now this is a problem. Now they have left him behind but if, for example, they can bring him along he will eventually come along and in the final analysis he will go along with the NP.

POM     If they would go along with satisfying most of his demands do you think that the ANC in Natal would go along with it or would they think that they had been ten years really at civil war and their own national leadership sells them out completely?

MS     I think he's got to understand that the world is not stagnant. There is no war in the ANC on the Zulu people. He's got to make concessions because we cannot continue dismantling, he's asking that we dismantle the Bantustan structures in one part of the country, but retain those structures in another part of the country. It can't happen. So he has got to understand that, finally I think they will make him understand that he's got to make concessions. The regional structures as the constitution is now they will be there and it is understood that we are in Africa, there are certain African norms and values that cannot be done away with. For example, the chief issue, because there is no political party that can demand that they get rid of the monarchy in KwaZulu. The monarchy is not in question here. It's understood by everybody that the monarchy will continue in the Zulu tradition as it is continuing now. It's not a matter of discussion over the table, it can't be.

POM     But Buthelezi is trying to play the Zulu card by saying this is a nation that's under threat, not the IFP or his government or whatever, but the nation itself.

MS     The point is he is not the only representative of the Zulu nation. Harry Gwala is as Zulu as Buthelezi. Gwala pays respect to the royalty in the Zulu nation like Buthelezi does, he is no different, but politically they disagree. So you cannot stand on a platform and say the Zulu nation

POM     The King increasingly is making very political statements.

MS     The King is making very political statements but he also has a role to play as a king and he has got this fine line that he's not to cross. The issue here I think, where he's got problems, is when parties like the ANC and the PAC, I don't know with whom, Communist Party for example and NACTU, COSATU support the question there, you've got to get rid of the Bantustan concepts.

POM     I must say in the interviews we've done in the last two years we have found him to be far more bellicose than Buthelezi.

MS     Even there, just to chip in there, it's not accurate because the founding fathers of the ANC were Zulus in the royal family in Zululand and past kings and chiefs have come from KwaZulu and Zululand. The founding fathers, it just happened, but if you look at Jacob Zuma who comes not very far from Ulundi, in Natal you've got Harry Gwala, you've got a number of people who are very important in the ANC itself. So it's not accurate to say that the ANC is Zulu, it's not, or that it's Xhosa, it's not. It has everybody there inside and with their policies of non-racialism it means that every person is welcome into the ANC as a home because ANC is a movement, it has all these vibrant interest groups in the ANC. At times the argument of Chief Buthelezi, the arguments that were put by NP ten, fifteen years ago so he's got to move very quickly.

POM     Just shifting a little bit, do you think that white people in this country acknowledge in any way the wrong that was done to black people by apartheid?

MS     I still have to come across a white man who says that. All whites are interested in in this country is to continue their privilege, it is their God given right to continue to exploit and oppress people and when people try for their rights in their own country they see it as a challenge to their God given right to continue to exploit. And because they still have this massive power they have not even found themselves to acknowledge the wrong they have done.   I don't know whether you'll understand it, we haven't discussed this thing with the PAC leadership and all those kinds of nonsense, but our oppression did not start in 1948, it started long before 1948.

POM     What about APLA which is like a new variable in the equation? Do you think that the PAC controls APLA or that APLA is really independent of the PAC and is following its own agenda?

MS     I think the problem is here you have trained people in the country, you don't have the resources to look after them so they are left to fend for themselves. In that fashion you cannot control them, nor can you have influence over them. If this regime, if we had, say, the UN coming into the country, collating all the forces, then you would have control. But so long as this regime is criminalizing these liberation forces, armed forces, then these things will continue and no organisation, no-one can be held responsible or be expected to control these guys. Where would you control them from? The only way you can control a soldier is to put him in the barracks, then you can control him but if he's out there you don't even know who has come into the country, how many of them have come into the country, where did they come? There is no way to control them by the liberation movement. If we need to control them let them be here, give PAC that money to be able to put those guys here, give ANC enough money to even keep uMkhonto here. Then you can control them and if they get out of hand and do something then you are able to say to people that we have provided the resources for you to look after these guys if they continue to do this and this, so let's talk about it. But as long as you don't do that who can control it?

     The SADF is controlled in a similar way but in spite of all the resources they have done it, they've gone out of their way, they've raped, they've murdered, they've killed, they've done so many things in spite of the fact that they are looked after and they're being controlled. What more about that organisation that does not have the resources to do so and you criminalize the existence of the armed forces of the liberation movement? That is the problem.

POM     What you're really saying at one level is that the PAC

MS     SADF is controlled in a similar way. They've got barracks all over so that they can bring these people inside there and they control them from there. How many of their soldiers have raped, killed and maimed people in this country? SADF soldiers, how many of them have done it in spite of all the resources that De Klerk has? They have done it. They have gone out of their way, they've raped, they've murdered, they've killed. They've done so many things in spite of the fact that they are looked after and they are being controlled. What more about that organisation that does not have the resources?

POM     The PAC can't rein these guys in and the PAC can't unilaterally declare a ceasefire or renounce violence particularly against soft targets.

MS     You declare a ceasefire, are you able to look after the people?  People want the figures. [I'm not a member of PAC but I think it is said that if people want criminalizing the ANC does not have the problem with uMkhonto, who can control uMkhonto cadres working in ?] They must stop criminalizing them and let these organisations be given enough resources to look after these people, the trained forces. It's one way of dealing with it.

POM     Looking ahead to next year, are you more optimistic or more pessimistic?

MS     I'm more pessimistic about what's going to happen. I truly believe that as long as the whole process of change is not taken over from De Klerk's government by the international community we will not see progress in this country and the sad thing is that the international community always responds when everything is completely in disarray. They never respond in time in their intervention in this country, whereas it would have been better if they stepped up their intervention in this country now and that process can go smoothly. But leaving everything to De Klerk, there's no way one can be positive about what is going to happen.

POM     Thanks very much.

MS     The international community always responds when everything is completely in disarray. They never respond in time. When we are almost at the level of either Angola or Mozambique or Liberia, that's when they will step up their intervention in this country whereas it would have been better if they stepped up their intervention in this country now.

POM     Thank you very much.

MS     It's very difficult to say.

POM     Just one final question: if there is an interim government how long does it have to show that it can make a difference in people's lives?

MS     In the townships you will find people arguing that they must start with education. I rather say let them start with, say, housing. Others would rather say let them start with job creation. It will also depend how much support they get from people in that interim government. That also means that it will also depend on the resources they will be having at their disposal and they start looking at some of these things. So we have to address the question of education. Short term, medium term and long term we have to look at the question of housing, job creation. The major problem that people seldom talk about is the problem of rural poverty, it is the land question. How do you make land available for people? Will there be enough resources and where do you start? If you look at the people in the urban areas, you look at those things that are more affecting us, and the greater majority of black people in this country are in the rural areas, that's because of the past apartheid laws in terms of influx control laws. But there is a great deal of suffering there, poverty, it is the land question. How do you make land available for people in the rural areas to be able to live on subsistence farming or whatever they can think of. So there's a whole range of problems but will there be enough resources and where do you start? If you look at the people in the urban areas, you look at those things that are more affecting us and the suffering there, now who is lobbying for those people? The problem is that if you say you are a Minister of Welfare you are destined to pile up because the demands you don't know, where to begin with we were part of the problem of trying to resolve the problems during the height of the drought and we had all these problems of, programmes of setting up structures of reaching the people. It was one of the biggest problems we had at the time.

     The other problem was that it wasn't because there was no food in this country that people were not eating, it was simply because people did not have money. As you go to the rural areas food becomes more expensive.  So people with more money are expected to pay more for their food.

     If you look at health, for example, there are no clinics there, people are not working there so medical aids don't make their money, bosses don't make their money so all of them will come here where workers are here and the medical aids can make money. So you have whoever, you must look at your own ANC members because they're not dealing with ANC members here, they're dealing with the country. Even in education they're dealing with the country. The farmers, for example, have got a strong lobby in terms of their interests in land and all that. You have trade and industry, in this country it's got a very strong lobby and the industrial workers are here with medical aids which make money.

     So you have different interest groups and once you are in government it doesn't matter whether it's ANC or whoever, you must look at your own ANC members because they are not dealing with ANC members, they are dealing with the country. Even PAC, the country, the industry, they have got a very strong lobby and the industrial sector also. Big business has been good in that process in this country, through CBM, the call it a business movement, it's the one that was just meeting all these people. These people have got a big

     Now guys like us at that time were in a position to ask - the experience these guys have got, they've got experience from Zimbabwe, they will know what it means because they demanded, for example, the farmers were not making money by growing mealies because Mugabe's government was not paying well, so they grew tobacco and exported tobacco and got US dollars. By the time the drought came and the government, can they hold you hostage, and they can. Now it depends but I think business will have a bigger say in that enterprise even in the future SA.

POM     OK.

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.