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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
15 Nov 1993: Gerwel, Jakes
POM Professor, could you give me perhaps just an overall impression of where you think things stand in the country now?
JG The most obvious is that we are seemingly much closer to the end of the negotiating process which started in February 1990. It seems that we are going to conclude that part of the process and that we will be having elections in the beginning of next year. There is almost a sense of end of parliament. You know in South Africa we've always had this last week of parliament this rushing through of legislation and what's happening at Kempton Park now with a lot of things seemingly being finalised in quite a bit of a hurry is indicative that we are in fact coming to the end of the process. In short, just a summary, I think through all of the ups and downs that we are going through in the process, and I think I might have made this comment quite a number of times in interviews that we've had, that we must expect that it is not going to be smooth and even, there are going to be these dips and downs in the process, has proved true but it does seem that part one of democratising South Africa is now coming to a close.
POM Say on a scale of one to ten, how satisfied are you with the constitutional proposals that are on the table?
JG I should actually say that I am satisfied that we are moving away from minority rule, so in those terms I should perhaps give it an eight out of ten that I am satisfied that eventually we have reached the point where we are going to have non-racial, democratic elections in South Africa and that moves us away from minority rule. But what's come out of the negotiations, there's lots of criticism about that, I think for South Africa one wants national democracy, that's the first point and we're going to get that. However, the content of that democracy and what is done by it is equally important. We're going to need social and economic development. For that we need a relatively strong government able to do things. I'm not sure and I haven't studied the new constitution sufficiently to make comment on that, but I'm not sure that all of the qualifications have been built in. I'm not going to compromise the ability and the capacity of the government to do those developmental things. So to answer your question, I'm very happy and I'll give an eight out of ten to the fact that we have concluded certain things, that we will establish a national democracy but there are aspects of the interim constitution which makes one less than happy but all in all I wouldn't be too critical. I'm happy that we're getting into this position.
POM I have seen in the last few days media accounts of whether or not the concessions made by the government amount to federalism or regionalism, that it is still not quite clear whether the centre can overrule, even though the regions will have substantial powers, that they can be overruled by the centre. The point you made is a most striking one. A year ago we had a group of people from here, Dullah Omar, Zola Skweyiya, who did a tour of the States. They were very interested in the New Deal and how the New Deal had worked and how did Roosevelt jump start the economy. He jump started the economy with the war. When you look back at the process over the last three years what would you identify as being the major turning points?
JG There were certain breakdowns in the negotiating process. There was the one, I can't remember all of these dates, you will have to look at your diary for when did what happen, and we spoke soon after that, the two of us, when the ANC withdrew from the negotiations around the percentages for the majority for making decisions and you may recall at that time I said I think it was quite justified of the ANC to do that, but on the other hand we said we could not see why the Nats did not grab the best opportunity that they had. In retrospection, if we ask about how satisfied we are with what's gone into the final interim constitution, in retrospection that may not have been as clever of the ANC then to have moved out of that because if one compares what was on the table then and what is on the table now they might actually have conceded much more in the process.
You may recall, and I remember that because I have just recently proof-read the transcript that you sent me, you may recall that I said I didn't think the Nats could get better than what they were offered then, but in fact they did get better. You see the Freedom Alliance at that time was not in existence yet and now they have become a force, at least a force to be taken into consideration. At that time I don't think that the regional issue was as pronounced as it is now. So one of the turning points was the government, and again at that time I said I thought the government wasn't satisfied just to have CODESA 2, that they were wanting to play for more time to have a CODESA 3, that they thought they needed more time to make inroads into certain communities like the Indian and Coloured communities, that they thought that they needed longer control for that reason over the public media and so forth. And if one looks back that may in fact have been a turning point, not a turning point but not clinching a deal then might have put the ANC more at a disadvantage.
But really the big turning point I think came with de Klerk deciding to go into negotiations. I think the ANC had to make a lot of compromises along the way, but I think in that they might have established a basis for the kind of politics that we will have in the future, that we must have in the future, that of compromise and accommodation.
POM What do you think accounts for what appears to be the continuing inability of the ANC to make significant inroads into the Coloured vote?
JG It's a perception, the Coloured community it seems are not convinced that the ANC is more than an African organisation. It has a strong perception that the ANC is an organisation for African people. The Coloured people in the Western Cape do not seem to identify largely with the ANC as being their organisation. There seems to be insecurity around political violence, the capacity of the ANC to control political violence. So it's not just economic factors, it seems it's the whole question of violence although violence is really not a factor in the Coloured community by and large, political violence. But that seems to be a major consideration on their part. So the ANC will have in the coming months to convince the Coloured voters or the Coloured community to take them seriously and it's got to address the question of violence. There's no way that they can effectively address violence, I mean they are not in control, but they will have to somehow send over messages that they can do something about it.
POM What about the concessions that have been made. If you had to pick the biggest concession that you think was made by the ANC and the biggest concession made by the government or compromise, which would be the issues you would point to?
JG I think there is a major concession really, a constitutional concession made by the ANC was around regionalism and the ANC had always been, part of its slogan you remember, "United, non-racial, democratic South Africa". United had been understood as being a unitary constitution. I think that's the major concession that it's made because it does in fact impact on a number of other things, potential impacts on the capacity of the central state to redress because if you've got to do any kind of redistribution, I don't mean nationalisation but the redistribution that is necessary for development, that you need a strong central state, the regional dispensation may compromise that. The whole question of non-racialism in the ANC, the non-politicisation of ethnicity, the regional dispensation creates great opportunities for ethnic diversity to be somehow politically and constitutionally accommodated and responded to. So I think the compromise on the regions was a major one that I can offhand think of that the ANC has done.
POM And the government?
JG Well the government had designs at a time about power sharing.
POM For ever?
JG For ever yes. Now, I might have said that in one of our interviews too, it wasn't clear whether that was an opening gambit and a bluff or whether they meant it seriously but in any case that was part of their idea that they have this protected period of power sharing. They have obviously given that up and that to them is the major one. They have effectively relinquished the minority rule or the entrenchment of minority power.
POM A year ago, or last March, March of 1992, Mr de Klerk was riding high. He had won his referendum, his popularity in the white community and perhaps in the black community was at an all time high. And yet 18 months later he seems to have become more insecure, more indecisive, far less in control of his own party never mind anything else and far more ineffective both in negotiations and in terms of his relationships with Mr Mandela. And then if one looks at the opinion polls there has been this precipitous decline in support for the National Party. I think one in four of the people who voted for them in 1989 would have voted for them today. They might get 11% of the vote. What's happened in the white community?
JG Again, and we might have spoken about that too, I had the impression that the Nats thought that the longer they drag out the negotiating process the more it will be to the disadvantage of the ANC. I think we spoke about that when the ANC was unbanned, it came across as this mighty powerful organisation. As the process went on it became clear that they were less cohesive as an organisation, much less organised and they didn't necessarily enjoy all the natural support that one might have expected. And it seemed as if the Nats had the idea that the longer they dragged the process out the more the disintegration and so on of the ANC and the erosion of its support. But there's an Afrikaans saying, literally translated, "The rabbit catching it's own master", and in a sense this is what has happened to the Nats too because things happened too which affected their standing. I think the political violence might have played a big role in that. White people, the white community, I think became increasingly uncertain about the future as the political violence and the general criminal violence, social violence increased.
So de Klerk in the beginning, immediately after February 1990 he did give the impression, he had the image of being able to hold together to protect the interests of the white community as we go into a new and a changed situation. Increasingly that image has been tarnished or eroded and one can see what the reasons were for that but there was also this increase in the right wing organising outside of the National Party, the perceptions of there being a home for whites, a safer home than the Nats, because immediately at the referendum the Nats came through as the safest home for whites in the new South Africa.
POM That was just after the referendum and as more time went on you had these continuous defections to the Conservative Party. It was in tatters after that referendum, morale gone, split three or four ways and now it's a force to be reckoned with once again. What kind of a threat in the future do you think the FA, the right wing, represents? I think de Klerk made a remark that what you might expect from the right wing in terms of violence would be a campaign like the IRA has in Northern Ireland and indeed in Northern Ireland the IRA has about 60 operatives with a support base maybe of 500 and they tie down 30,000 troops. Do you think the right wing has that kind of capacity where one would have a destabilisation which would make foreign investors very reluctant, would shy away from South Africa for several years until they see what happens?
JG No. I don't think they have the capacity for a coup, certainly one can rule that one out by and large it seems. But they would have the capacity for a sabotaging role and the imponderable about all of that is what's going to be the position of the army with regard to that because a new national army will have to deal with any situation of attempted insurrection or sabotage or general destabilisation. Indications currently are that the army would have the political will to deal with that. That may be the positive thing, particularly an integrated army as well, but you don't want the simple position of a black army acting against a white right wing, that just further fuels the racial element which they are playing on. So you have an integrated army with white senior officers, as I suspect there will be, with the political will to act against that I think that must send some message to the world and it will hopefully send some message to those right wingers. I don't think there will be large scale destabilisation in the country but there's going to be, from their part, attempts at these acts of sabotage. Your question about the effect of that on foreign investment, I have a hunch that foreign investors are going to be put off more by black political violence and instability than this kind of conservative, reactionary, counter-change activities.
POM Do you think that violence will continue after an election?
JG Yes I don't think it's going to just die down like that naturally but there may be, if we go through the election process relatively smoothly, and we have a democratic government, that's going to be an important factor to bring a sense of order and stability to society and then you're going to have law enforcement agencies and organs with greater legitimacy to deal with the violence. I suspect that there's going to be a tapering off of violence after the elections. It will also depend, of course, on what the new government is able to do and to produce. Obviously it can't produce it in a month or two but if it has good clear programmes that there's going to be some development, that there's going to be job creation and, yes, I think there is going to be a tapering down of violence.
POM The International Republican Institute released a poll last week or the week before which showed the level of expectations among blacks as being incredibly high, that even after three years there has been no real diminution of what their expectations are. What do you think they have a right to expect? What have the people a right to expect after, say, five years of this government of national unity? What should you be able to see in the townships that would give you a sense of your life being better?
JG A number of issues would have to take priority in the development programme. Education, I think that's one area where people over a five year period, there's some evidence that there's an improvement in the conditions of schooling, that the access that black children have to schooling is improved and the quality of that schooling. I think that can be done. It's not going to be an overnight solving of the problem but if there's a programme, if we build schools in black areas, if we upgrade schools in black areas, if we do upgrading of teachers and redeployment of teachers. So education is one area where people can have expectations of amelioration.
Housing is the other one. It's a difficult one but that's one that will have to be tackled and there will have to be a programme of housing. Coupled to that, and I know that this is the ANC's game plan, electrification. There must be these physical things which the quality of people's lives seem to be changing.
Jobs of course is the other thing, that's the great expectation. I've been struck, by the way, you talk about Coloureds and speaking to Coloured working class people after the unbanning of the ANC, the release of Mandela, people say that now Mandela has been released, shall we have jobs? I think jobs are another thing where people are going to have expectations but again there are a number of variables in that, if you create jobs, the economy picking up.
But the three things that people could have expectations around are education for their children, they take that very seriously, the youth and children, that there is some improvement there, that housing shows improvement, and that I think people will be looking for more or greater availability of jobs.
POM Where do you figure Buthelezi stands in all of this. Do you think that he's got a game plan, or is simply playing things by ear or that he truly wants to be a spoiler?
JG I wish I knew. It just seems to me that he's just a spoiler but he's so erratic, he's so unpredictable that even to say that is to tempt predictability. At the moment it seems as if he's really spoiling, that he had the idea that he was one of the big three and that was the game he was playing for. I always thought that through violence that he was keeping himself on the political agenda as an important political force, saying that without Buthelezi in the process you can't have stability and peace in the country. He was increasingly being shown up to not be one of the big three. I think a lot of the tantrums now are around that. But the question is what is he going to do, how far will he go with this? The difficult question. If I read a newspaper like the Sunday Times for example, some of them take wild positions, but it's been saying for the past couple of weeks that we must go ahead with elections without Buthelezi, that he's missed the bus, as it were, but how do you run elections in Natal? Although again the indications are that he doesn't have the support that he's always claimed. The ANC had a rally there and Mandela drew 60,000 people, 60,000 Zulus to the rally. I don't know. I cannot see him really staying outside of the process. If I have to lay a wager now I would say that they will be in the elections, in some way they will finally get in.
POM It looks increasingly like the IFP, the moderate elements of the IFP, want to contest the election, that they are at odds with Buthelezi. One idea I was playing around with was that - I've interviewed him four times now and listened to him many, many times and I was always impressed (impressed isn't the right word), but the number of times he uses the words "I am insulted", over and over. He's got this fascination with his own ego, his own self importance. Do you think he might have an inkling that if in fact the IFP competed in the elections nationwide that he would come up with 5% or 6% perhaps of the vote and this would be the biggest insult of all because he would be truly shown up to be not one of the big three but just very far down in the league?
JG I suspect that because polls have been indicating that he's not going to be a major national figure and I think that may have a lot to do with it.
POM One thing I've been surprised at is the number of people in the ANC in particular who say that the DP shouldn't go into the townships and organise, how dare they do such a thing, or the NP or anybody that was part of the apartheid system. Where do you think the black community in general comes out of that one?
JG You mean what their position would be on that? I don't know. I think it's an untenable position. If we want to have democracy then the point is that they should have the right to organise as we should have the right to organise in AWB territory or in KwaZulu for that matter. I have a sneaking suspicion, and it's not been tested, that the black community by and large would have a greater tolerance to people trying their wares in the black community. I am equally sure that the National Party is not going to get major support in the black community but I would suspect if you were really able to canvass the black community that they would say let them canvass and campaign. I really think it's a bit disappointing the intolerance on the part of some of the ANC figures taking that position.
POM To go back to the political violence for a moment, again it has struck me that it has been a very, very bad year for violence particularly in the townships and yet somehow people have become used to a high level, that it takes a larger massacre to make it to the front page. If Buthelezi keeps outside of the process, if the hostels stay with him, it seems to me it's a very tricky situation in terms of that, and if there was an election in Natal that is close (some polls suggested it might be) that whichever side loses would claim it was because of fraud and intimidation. Are there some elements out there for an explosive mix along the way?
JG There is yes. But we will have to try and make the best of it. We are not going to have elections that are as tranquil and genteel as London or north of England borough elections. It's going to be bruising and it's going to be not always very tranquil but we will have to try and make the best of those situations through negotiations. I think the attempts to get Buthelezi in will obviously continue and will have to continue, but also the peacekeeping force, we must see how we use those peacekeeping forces to ensure maximum freeness and fairness of the elections. I'm not sure what the position currently is but I suspect it's still on the agenda that we will have international monitors and peace-keepers here. So the combination of all of those things we must try to make the best of it. But you're right, it's a potentially very explosive situation. There's going to be a lot of whipping up of emotions in elections. It always happens but here it's going to be even more so and in Natal, the situation in Natal, the conflict potential is very high.
POM I was visiting Harry Gwala last week. He literally says the ANC has sold out and is very bitter about the turn events have taken and I wonder if the ANC made an offer to Buthelezi that he couldn't refuse, that in effect met most of his demands whether or not the Harry Gwala's of the world would accept that.
JG Individually Harry would probably have lots of problems with that but Harry has been having lots of problems with the entire process and the process has gone ahead in spite of his objections and I think it is his right to object. Most of us three, four years ago thought that this process would go differently. If we look at the Harare Declaration and the way that the process has gone we've had significant deviations from that so he's got good right to have those views. As I say the process has gone ahead in spite of that and I think whatever needs to be done will be done in spite of his protestations. But you're right, I can imagine and I will be surprised and even disappointed if he doesn't raise strong objections.
POM What about the alliance itself, the COSATU/SACP/ANC alliance or are there indications of some fissures? Do you think that there will come a time in the not too distant future when what the ANC wants to do as a government particularly in economic and social matters may be significantly different from what COSATU wants to do for its membership and there is a potential, again a constant tension between the employed and the unemployed as it were?
JG I hope so and I say that as a strongly ANC supporting person, that I hope that there are those tensions because COSATU does represent the organised working class and what the government of national unity does is not always going to be exactly coinciding with the interests of the working class and hopefully there is going to be this continuous tension and debate around it, but hopefully a creative one too. Just from my own perspective at the moment it is not ensured that working class interests are going to be at the top of their agenda in the reconstruction process and that is what the trade union is there for. What I am watching with great interest is the future of trade unionism in South Africa with them going into government, how they are going to reconcile being part of government and being part of the governing alliance, not just being in parliament but being part of the governing alliance and that's going to be interesting to see how trade unionism reacts to that.
POM COSATU, to whom does their first allegiance lie? Is it the government which they are serving or an organisation of which they are a member?
JG It touches on broader issues too because the trade unions, and I think they are very well aware of that (people like Adrian Bird and others have articulated that in some of their publications) and the trade unions represent the largely urban and employed working class. Now to be employed with the current scale of unemployment is a relatively privileged position so there's the further question, who speaks on behalf of the unemployed and of the rural poor? So, yes, there are going to be a lot of fissures and interest divides, but I think that's right, it's part of this democracy that we're talking about. Not just democracy in the formal sense of the word, more kind of substantive interest groups that are represented.
POM I think I read some place someone saying that the real divide in the future will not be between black and white, it will be between employed and unemployed.
JG I think that is true. I hope that our economy picks up quickly and sufficiently for that not to materialise to the extent that is potentially possible, but yes that's right. There's a bit of a bitter joke going around amongst white youth, the definition of a yuppie they say is a young person with a job. Now you can imagine what the situation must be amongst the black youth.
POM Do you think in relation to the violence, a number of people who I've talked to, particularly in Thokoza, say nothing will stop this violence, it is now so rooted in the two communities, the violence factor is so deep it has almost a life of its own that doesn't make it amenable to being quietly stamped out. I suppose they say that in the context of - you know in Northern Ireland if the IRA say shoot somebody, they shoot the person, they may break into the house at 4 o'clock in the morning and shoot the person but there's no mutilation or desecration of the dead or anything like that at all. What is different here is the intensity, not just the fact that the rage itself exists, but the intensity with which the community takes it out on itself. Do you have any thoughts on what that intensity factor is?
JG The way to understand these things, for myself, has always been to try and find material explanations partly in material reality else one would be saying that these things are immutable, that the violence has a life of its own and that life can't be redirected or changed. A large part of the basis for that kind of conflict must have been around competition for scarce resources whether it be housing or jobs or whatever and that then has coincided with political and ethnic factors and apartheid has through that material degradation, that lack of material resources, has had the effect, and also through the social and political violence, has had this effect of the oppressed turning inwardly against itself. So, again, I don't want to give up on that. I think that a new government will take black life more seriously, Mandela has been making these comments over the weekend that de Klerk doesn't take black lives seriously. Now that's true, I don't say de Klerk as a person, but generally black life is less valued than white life. Taking that seriously things must be done around material conditions in those townships, whether it is that things are going to be done in the hostels, things are going to be done in the townships, I think there must be programmes for social and economic development around that. It's not going to eliminate the violence but one must be addressing the environment and the conditions within which that violence takes place.
POM Talking about redistribution, you have the civil service, a bureaucracy that can stymie any government's efforts to do anything. It's members have been guaranteed their jobs, their pensions, their whatever. The ANC has talked about there being a restructuring of around 3% to 4% around the top but in most bureaucracies it's the middle management and below that slow things down. Do you think this is one of the strong cards the National Party is playing with the government and if so does the government need a strong National Party to in effect be the governing alliance?
JG I don't want to assume that the National Party in the new dispensation will necessarily have a vested interest in not having social and economic development. It's going to present itself as a non-racial party. It also therefore needs to see delivery in terms of the improvement of the life of blacks so I don't want to assume that it will automatically use its people in the civil service to block reform and changes.
POM Won't there be a lot of people in the civil service who are supporters of the Conservative Party, in the military?
JG That's right, yes.
POM There are a lot of people who have been in strategic positions. One is reminded of in 1974 in Northern Ireland the two governments, the Protestant and Catholic mainstream communities put together a power sharing arrangement and the workers who controlled the electricity turned it off and when they turned it off the thing collapsed in three days. People said, "Who are these faceless people?" and they were just skilled technicians.
JG Yes. I wanted to say that in the beginning. But the second thing is that the ANC will have to study the bureaucracy to understand which are these points and they will have to negotiate to get people into those key positions. At the beginning of this year some of us from the ANC's Education Dept. went to Britain, it was just a week's thing which the British Council had organised with some of the educational people in various parts of Britain, but what we tried to do there was get some understanding of which are the key points in a bureaucracy in a civil service and I think that has got to be taken very, very seriously. You find in a simple organisation like the university which we tried to change quite significantly over the last eight years or so, but there is a clerk down there that can undo all the great transformation and changed plans that we do at the top. That's going to be a problem but there's going to be a gradual change in the civil service. People who are getting close to retirement who have got to be replaced and there will have to be the negotiation of the replacement of some key people. But you're right, that's going to be continuously a matter of concern how the implementation of policies can be disrupted and blocked by bureaucrats, by people in the civil service.
POM If someone had told you three years ago that within three years of Mandela's release the country would have set a date for elections and that 26 parties would be joining something called the Transitional Executive Council and beginning the sharing of power, the levelling of the playing field, would you have been surprised? When all is said and done are you surprised at the speed with which the process has taken place or are you disappointed and think that it has taken far too long?
JG No, I think one expected that it was not going to be a very quick one, that it was going to be a process. There was talk at that time, people talked about five years. I thought that was too much, I'd say two to three years would probably be the one that would bring us. You also mention the 26 parties. Three, three and a half years ago I wouldn't have imagined that there were going to be 26 parties. I would have thought that many of these unrepresentative parties would fall away because of the democratisation process. So the time frame has been more or less, give or take a little, what has been expected. The role played by these really unrepresentative political formations is the thing that people in the anti-apartheid struggle would not have predicted three years ago. The way that one conceived of this was the ANC and the Nationalist Party government contending with one another and confronting one another.
POM One thing I've noticed too is that up until this year when I've wanted to go into a township I would just go in usually with a white person just visiting one of the families, but now they consider it dangerous for me to do so. Everyone around me says it's dangerous to do so. What's changed? Attitudes seem to have hardened a bit on both sides, not gotten softer.
JG What happened here in Cape Town was instructive in that regard. One could always go into the townships, white people by and large. I think there has developed a more anarchic youth element particularly. I can't generalise for the rest of the country. You might have heard about the killing of this female student that we had here. She was in and out of the township and it was because of that that she was in the township that day and was killed and since then some of our white health education staff who have been working in the townships for a long time have had difficulty in getting there and are being warned by their friends in the townships. I think what happened is that there has developed this more anarchic youth element, not necessarily always politically connected although in this particular case there were claims by PASO that they were responsible and some of them were charged. The state of political organisation and political coherence I think has also deteriorated since the unbanning of the organisations.
In 1990 you still had the ANC and the other organisations having much more organisational coherence and control of their membership. I think what's happened in this process of negotiations is that old political life has not continued. We talked about demobilisation of political organisation, there was nothing really to take that up, organised political life, keeping people orderly and disciplined. I think that there has been a falling down in organisational discipline, there has been the greater development of racist feelings, the non-racial ethos was very strong at the time of 1990 that the anti-apartheid struggle was a non-racial struggle. So I would say by and large that South African society probably moved closer together in one political sense but I think socially the space for that kind of racist anarchical element has also increased. I mean you being warned by friends in the townships that it's not safe is an indication that the majority of people would not condone that kind of activity.
POM I think they are saying it's not safe for two reasons, it's not safe for me and it's not safe for them, so it cuts both ways.
JG We had the two students who were with Amy Biehl on that day, we had to find ways to take care of them because they are witnesses in this case and last week, or two weeks ago, there was painting on the walls of their parents homes, because they are not staying there they are in safe houses, "The PAC also kill black ANC's now". You can't say that a PAC did that but that was painted on their walls. One must expect that there's an element of what the sociologists would call 'enemy' in the situation. There is a greater confusion about norms than there was in 1990.
POM Do you think the level of tolerance between the two communities and within the communities is decreasing rather than increasing?
JG Again I want to relate that to resource competition. The life of African people particularly, black people generally but African particularly, has not really improved since 1990. On the contrary there has been an increase in unemployment, there has been an increase in urbanisation with the attendant resource shortages which that brings about, so on the edges of black society there is greater frustration, there are greater feelings of resentment which are then often translated in racial terms like we recently had in Cape Town and it's been repeated in Durban with African squatters moving into houses that have been built for Coloured working class people and Indian working class people. That demonstrates to an extent the racial content of this resentment which is coupled to competition over scarce resources. That must have affected the general attitude in those circles with regard to tolerance. There's greater emphasising of those groups' differences, of there being distinct groups and having the gradual access to privileges and opportunities.
POM The next government or the government of national unity, what are the greatest challenges it faces over the five years of its existence? What are the greatest challenges it will face?
JG Well holding the nation together in a very general and generic challenge. There are all the potential possibilities of disintegration of the nation. Diversities again, high on the international agenda is one of things that has come out of the fall of the previous socialist order, at least the diversity behind this idea of a common kind of solidarity transcending all those differences. Suddenly diversity is on the agenda again whereas the African state, post-independence, it's challenge had always been to hold together in national unity, it had been its great challenge. And for a South African government that's going to be a great challenge. To do that it needs national development, social and economic development. So starting with that generic one of holding together I think the major challenge is to get social and economic development going and it would be the things that I've referred to, education, housing, health, job creation.
POM One last thing. This Constitutional Court is a step away from trying to ensure there's a basis for establishing a full and equitable democracy insofar as it can be backed by the president of the day. Do you think that it will become an issue or expect it will be over in a couple of days but it's a nasty end to a process? Not nasty, it leaves an ugly feeling in the mouth that it's not quite clean.
JG I must say I've read about the DP's objections to it over the weekend but it's not something that I've actually thought a lot about. One will have to look at what happens in other countries, what happens in France in the Constitutional Court and I really don't have strong views. I haven't seen how it's done elsewhere but I think we must try to get a Constitutional Court which is certainly not a handmaiden of government. That would seem to me to be defeating the end if it were to be that. On the other hand I'm not sure that one must immediately deduce from the fact that the State President would have a say in the appointment of people that it will therefore be a handmaiden. So I would again make a general comment, I think we must find the mechanisms to have a Constitutional Court in which people can have faith. It's important for South Africa to have a working democracy, genuinely working democracy. That will be the insurance that we hold together. If we have a system that we can believe in, that we can trust in spite of the outcomes, that may be the greatest assurance of the population holding together and if this Constitutional Court is put together in ways which really radically depart from what is done in respectable democracies then we must attend to that. But I really don't have sufficient knowledge of what is done in other countries. I'm told that some of my colleagues were involved in that and I would have thought that they would not recommend things which are underhand. I won't say that this is an underhand way until I've had a better look at it.
POM Looking at the year ahead are you more optimistic that the country is slowly turning up the right course?
JG Politically at least, yes, and then comes the big rump of whether we can back it up with the necessary social and economic development. I don't know what you've picked up in your talk to people but there's a general feeling that at least we're getting to something.
POM I suppose what I pick up a lot is that there is a feeling out there that when there are new elections and new government that a kind of grateful world will give South Africa special investment incentives, that there will be a rush of money here and that I think would be the biggest mistaken assumption of all. The competition for capital is so fierce these days that you don't have to come to any place, there's always another place to go. So I can't quite see the economic side yet I suppose.
JG Obviously there's going to be some return. I've spoken to some people who are seriously considering returning but I don't think there's going to be a sudden rush. Money doesn't come into a place out of simple goodwill. They are going to make economic decisions and that is going to be based on the returns that they can get and that's coupled to the political stability. As you say there are so many places competing for the investments with South Africa.
POM Could you see a situation where there are elections and parliament sits and the government of national unity, where there continues to be a lot of instability in the country and that you would have this government of national unity imposing a state of emergency?
JG It's conceivable. I hope it doesn't materialise but I think we're probably going to have a greater coerciveness or authoritarianism on the part of the democratic government than we had all imagined or hoped for when we were in the anti-apartheid struggle. We talked about the right wing, so obviously there will have to be greater vigilance with regard to that but there may be other forms of social violence, for example, which will have to need much greater, I'm putting it mildly, vigilance and that would circumscribe the free, liberal environment that one would ideally want. I hope we don't start off life with a state of emergency. There are constitutional provisions with regard to a state of emergency, I'm not sure of the exact details of them, parliament must continuously check on that. I hope we respect those safeguards of democracy so order can become something which one get addicted to just for its own sake.
POM One of these, I won't say ironies, but one of the side effects of the conflict in Northern Ireland is that it has compromised British democracy in any number of ways that you would never have thought it possible of England, Prevention Against Terrorism Act, you can be held for ten days without seeing a solicitor, and then these are also used for purposes for which they should not be used. It's easier to charge somebody with being a terrorist than being just a housebreaker, you get rid of them much quicker.
JG That's right, it's a great temptation. My colleague always laughs at me. When I was much younger there was this saying that order without freedom leads to tyranny whereas freedom without order leads to anarchy, and I'd always made the comment that it's easier if there's a natural way that freedom without order re-establish itself but if you've got order without freedom it's much more difficult to break out of. One gets addicted to it. It's a simple way, it's an easy way, if you've got order and discipline just in one's private life and house it's much easier to deal with your kids in a disciplinarian way than to argue everything with them. I hope we don't start life like that.
POM OK thank you very much. I appreciate the time as always.