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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
05 Dec 1993: Giliomee, Hermann
POM You were talking about the mistakes the negotiators made at the second tier, particularly Buthelezi, your point being?
HG Well I think that the essential characteristic of successful transition is that one party shouldn't be able to win everything or lose everything, they shouldn't fear losing everything or they shouldn't think that they can win everything, and Buthelezi is someone who despite whatever faults he may have has been a major player over the last ten years and the point is that in this election he can simply lose everything, he can be wiped off the board. If there had been some kind of scheme on the sub-national level that regions would also be comprised of sub-regions and that he could have contested, say, the ancient kingdom of KwaZulu or the core area of the Zulu kingdom as a sub-region so that he would at least have been assured of a significant say in Natal. But that now I think is also in jeopardy, he may be reduced to a rather small opposition on both the national and on the regional level so in that sense I really don't expect Buthelezi to come in. I think you can almost say that he has painted himself into a corner but he also has many armed men so there is a chance that we will not have an election in that Natal area, that in fact the violence may so escalate that it may not be a feasible proposition to hold an election in that Natal area. That, of course, will affect the rest of the country and whether you could then proceed with the area being basically out of control, I just can't get a firm handle on Buthelezi's own power position in Inkatha itself, whether it's possible that he could be ousted, the kind of noises that the King currently is making, whether he could find himself in a corner. But on the other hand I would say his enormous conflicts with the ANC have been of such a nature that I doubt that he would even be granted a very peaceful retirement. I can't imagine him farming with his cattle and the ANC be quite happy to treat him as a major gentry farmer. So it's just very difficult to call that one.
POM What significance do you attach to the King's remarks over the weekend?
HG I think I know so little about the internal relationships there. The King has always been more conservative than Buthelezi. There was always a feeling in National Party, government circles, in the eighties that the King would be prepared to take independence whilst Buthelezi would never touch independence. I find it significant that he would say something which appears to be in conflict with what Buthelezi is doing but I don't know whether we've got the King sending up a balloon and so on, I just find it very difficult to judge that one.
POM I say that in the context of I've interviewed him four times and each time he has become more hard line. Each time I come out saying, "Gee, he's more hard line than Buthelezi", far more caught up with his cause of Zulu explanation of what's going on, so what he said to me came like from left field.
HG I simply don't know about those politics. I find it very difficult to judge that one.
POM Without Buthelezi what is the IFP?
HG I don't think it's anything. Buthelezi is a kind of tree under which very little grew. He's Inkatha and I just can't see him being deposed and then the IFP saying, "Look we've got rid of him so therefore we are now participating in the election". The whole Natal/KwaZulu politics is just a mystery to me. I just don't pretend to understand.
POM But if he does stay out do you believe he has the capacity to act as spoiler? That is that there will be a chronic state of unrest in Natal which would reduce the probability of foreign investment coming into the country?
HG Some of my friends who know that area much better feel that Buthelezi has got more than enough shooting power in the form of his KwaZulu Police to match the ANC at the very least and if they themselves, these policemen, see themselves threatened in the sense that there will be action taken against them after the election, you may get the trapped rat phenomenon, that they would be fighting for their very lives and that it may make much more sense to start almost a conventional guerrilla form of warfare or to do so from the Mozambique area. I feel very, very despondent about the KwaZulu/Natal situation whereas I do feel that there is a chance that you could have a normal election in the rest of the country.
POM What about the rest of the Freedom Alliance?
HG I really think that the right wing has got such a paucity of ideas and leadership that I just don't see them getting up to anything more than acts of terrorism where they would be caught and so on. The key figure is Constand Viljoen and whether he could link up with part of the army now. I think Constand Viljoen is a cautious man. I can't see him rushing headlong into an attempt to break down the pillars of the constitution, try and get the army engaged, or a section of the army engaged. I've got less of a fear of the right wing at the moment. I think the right wing can be handled especially if Viljoen plays a constructive part, but I think the KwaZulu/Natal situation is just very serious.
POM When you look at the whole package, if someone had said to you two years ago that by the end of 1993 there would be a Transitional Executive Council in place, a date set for an election for what will be essentially a majority voting system, would you have been surprised?
HG I would have been surprised even in December last year. I remember when the first reports came through of the bilateral talks between Ramaphosa and Meyer in November/December last year, I was in Washington and I was looking at the proposals of PR also in Cabinet and that the National Party would be reduced to say having five or six in the Cabinet and that essentially it will be a form of majority decision making with some bow to consensus seeking, then I would have said, no, I don't think de Klerk would be able to sell it to his constituency. I think it was in fact the last six, nine months have been in fact quite traumatic to many people and they find it difficult to come to terms with it. Looking back at it, I made a point in one of the articles that I wrote, that to some extent it was always a foregone conclusion after de Klerk in December 1991 at the eve of CODESA 1 announced that he is prepared to go for an elected interim government plus Constituent Assembly. You see the entire negotiations in the first two years were built around the idea of a non-elected body drawing up the constitution, the current existing parties, and in that sense Buthelezi and he were in full accord. But after having accepted an elected Constituent Assembly and interim government this majoritarian outcome was virtually a foregone conclusion unless the National Party was able to attract significant black support which was never really on the cards. You can never really beat the ANC on propaganda, on electioneering. I think they are world class when it comes to turning a situation around, playing on both the west's feelings and the black population locally. So perhaps one should have been rather more alert to that possibility but de Klerk in fact when he made that decision to some extent I think he lost control over the process.
POM That he lost control?
HG That he lost the ability to enforce the kind of government that will be strictly power sharing, that would simply be a type of, give rise to an emasculated ANC type of government. He lost that game or he willingly abandoned that game.
POM What has happened to him and his party in the last year? For the first two years it seemed he could do nothing wrong.
HG If you look at the opinion polls he came down from about 50% of white support to roundabout 30%, 33% of white support. He lost all the black support. At some stage he had the support of about 22% of blacks and I think the National Party had something like 10%. That's all gone now. So he basically sacrificed his electoral base as an alternative governing party and the key calculation that he has made is that you could perhaps tempt the ANC into a power sharing government but that will be a very unstable government because the ANC will constantly claim that it hasn't got the free hand, it hasn't got the free rein to do what it wants to do and you would in fact gain very little in terms of stability in the government. His big ploy at the moment, I think, is to try and, as someone said he said to the Cabinet, try and govern from behind or try and direct from behind, that when economic issues come up you would say, "Look if you do that type of thing it will have this consequence and therefore we are warning you don't do this", and you can even afterwards say, "Look, we accept that this kind of thing won't work." If you think about it carefully perhaps it is a strategy that one can't dismiss that seems to be pretty realistic.
POM That depends on him regaining some of the support he has lost.
HG Well it seems to be now pretty - he won't regain much support, he will pick up more white support. I think the party could at the upper limit get about 21%, 22% of the votes. That is not to be sneered at. You can then say, "OK that is my base, I will go with that base into the new government." And the moment that the ANC shows any signs of not being a very competent government or favouring certain sections of the population over others, urban over rural, trade unions over unemployed, Xhosa over Zulu, then a kind of a support will gravitate towards the National Party or towards a centrist type of party that the National Party would be the core of. I always thought that de Klerk would never get away with this, with this white constituency, but of course a white constituency must have options. They must either, like the Protestants in Northern Ireland, go and stage a very successful demonstration like in 1974 where some take fright and say we can't go on with it, but the white constituency never had any option. They couldn't force an election, they couldn't force another referendum and de Klerk has now decided to stick it out and he carried it off.
POM Of the sixth deal that was made on Tuesday or Wednesday, I forget, at the World Trade Centre, there are two things that I have asked, two provisions I have asked everyone about and I never got the same answers. One is, what is the mechanism by which decisions will be made in Cabinet? And the other is, what is the deadlock breaking mechanism?
HG Well I think the decisions in Cabinet must be consensus seeking but also with a view to efficacy of government, that basically cancels each other out. The ANC got what it wanted, the National Party got what it wanted but there is no doubt that if the ANC wants to take a certain decision it will not be constrained. I just don't know whether that type of decision could be tested by the Constitutional Court. I would doubt it because Cabinets take decisions in such anonymous ways and such opaque ways so I would basically say that it is a face saving device for the National Party. Also I think with declining electoral support it is a much more acceptable, a wiser course to take than to insist on increased majorities to simply have that kind of formulation that you must have consensus. Obviously if the government as the dominant party claims that it needs a certain decision for efficacy then it can make that decision. I don't see the National Party cave in on all those six issues as people like Ramaphosa have tried to argue. I think it was, given its shrunken electoral base, it was a fairly realistic compromise in which both the National Party and the ANC gave and got something.
POM On the deadlock breaking mechanism?
HG I remember the 60% in the end, I think I forgot the intervening steps, but in the end it will have to be 60% majority in the referendum.
POM They have now reintroduced something where for a majority in parliament or for a certain constitution it will then be referred to technical committees.
HG Something like that. Yes, I think so. I think the figure that was given, that aroused a lot of attention was the 60% instead of the 66% one, which most of the opponents of de Klerk and Cabinet wanted the 66% eventually as a deadlock breaking mechanism but there are so many hurdles that need to be crossed until you get to that referendum. I would imagine that that would become a major issue.
POM That it would become a major issue?
HG That there will this final showdown of a referendum to force this constitution through. I don't think that will happen. I may be naïve but I tend to think that a final constitution will not deviate all that markedly from the current one.
POM In which case the National Party will have gotten much of what it wanted. It wanted as much of the constitution in place before a Constituent Assembly.
HG Yes, yes I think so. The ANC really wanted to have a kind of skeleton type of constitution and they wanted it over a very limited period but now you're actually talking about national symbols for your interim period, you're talking about a fully fledged constitution of 160 pages, fully fledged Bill of Rights. All that I think favours the National Party and you had a process which was, for whatever its defects might be, a highly legitimate process, highly visible process. You had some of your best academics and lawyers and politicians engaged in this process. I just find it very difficult that the ANC will turn around and cut the whole constitution and write the one that it wants.
POM Many people have said to me that it's more important to hold an election now on the 27th April even in the face of high levels of intimidation and violence and even if the elections wouldn't be called free and fair in the sense that the international observers use it, that what you want is an election that defers a sufficient degree of legitimacy on the winner rather than waiting for some ideal date when violence has ceased.
HG I can understand the rationale of that but on the other hand it must also be of such a nature that your major population groups must accept the election. There's no sense that if Johannesburg accepts the elections, the business leaders accept the elections and say this is fair, but if there is a widespread sense among your white constituency or Zulu people or whatever that this whole thing was basically a charade that you had to go through in order to get the ANC in power, I can see some troubles ahead for a new government.
POM John Kane-Berman, I don't know if you saw his critique of the constitution, there are just some key points I'd like you to comment on. He said South Africa's next constitution will last for a shorter time than it took to write. He says, "The constitution making process made four mistakes along the way. They have been too hasty. They have prematurely set the election date. They have focused on sharing rather than on limiting power. They have neglected to provide for protection for minorities."
HG I can understand that. On the other hand if you read the literature on negotiations there must be some kind of cut off point. Parties mustn't be allowed to think that this is a kind of never ending business. I think the National Party to some extent made a mistake by locking itself into a fixed election date. On the other hand I think the whole process could have unravelled if you had no sense of this is a deadline and I must meet this particular deadline. I wouldn't criticise the National Party, I wouldn't criticise the constitution making process all that strenuously on that account. It's not as if we have for ever to come to a decision. Certain parties like Buthelezi and the right wing would have stayed out for the reasons that we just discussed. Whether the minorities are not sufficiently protected is a difficult one. I myself am not very happy with the language, the decisions on the language issue. On the other hand if you have a situation where minorities out of all proportion to their electoral strength are able to thwart any particular government you are also in for some difficulties. I think we've got a fairly comprehensive Bill of Rights, a fairly good one. I think the cultural issue has been diffused, although not perfectly satisfactorily, and the main thing is that the minority party would have a say in Cabinet, it will not be completely excluded from Cabinet.
My argument that I've made all along is that the minorities should be able to be indispensable. That is the best protection, that a new government will have to get someone with whom not to actually share power but to share responsibility and if the economy doesn't pick up, if certain reconstruction measures are not pushed through timeously, you need to say, "Look I have to work with a kind of a consensus seeking government. I cannot do all these things, I must get everyone on board." If the ANC had all the power then it must also accept all the responsibility and I would imagine that the ANC would very quickly come to the discovery that it's much better to claim that we share power so therefore we share responsibility, or rather we need to find a way of sharing responsibility and through that conceding power.
So de Klerk and the National Party would always be the kind of party that will somehow provide a type of approval for certain government policies which will be very necessary for people who want to invest or people who want to be assured that certain taxes are fair and legitimate and so on. So, yes, I think minorities could have been given more protection but I would like to see how, I would like to see what type of protections are called. By and large I am fairly happy with the constitution.
POM I'm going to ask you, as I've been asking everyone just to do this exercise, on a scale of one to ten with one being very dissatisfied and ten being very satisfied, where would you place yourself?
HG Always when I can't make my mind up about a student I would say 59 you know. Say 59.
POM 59 out of 100?
POM 5.9. There are two things, the National Party is in a weak position of bringing about a trade off between the ANC and the IFP.
HG Look there was never a way in which you could have got all three into the ring, the National Party, the ANC, the IFP. There was never a way. The National Party tried for the first two years to have basically the National Party and the IFP sizing up to the ANC. In the end I think there had to be a choice somewhere. I would have thought in the first two years, in 1991 I suppose some of my comments may reveal that, that the National Party would have stuck with the IFP, because without the IFP as an election party the National Party probably knew that it would be reduced to the kind of 20%, 18% support that it currently has. But we're talking about factual history, I just don't know whether the ANC was so desperate for power that it would have countenanced a type of scheme in which the IFP is brought to full co-equal status with ANC in the negotiations.
POM You couldn't see that?
HG I can't see that.
POM In CODESA 1 and 2 it looked as though the government was sitting on one side of the table with its allies and the ANC on the other side with its allies, basically it was bi-polar. Then you had Boipatong, the ANC walking out, mass stayaways culminating in the meeting between the government and the ANC which resulted in the Record of Understanding. That seems to be a major shift in government strategy, that they have now essentially put in their lot, have decided to throw in their lot with the ANC, have abandoned their idea of trying to put together a coalition.
HG I wrote about it at the time. I interviewed three government ministers on the left and three on the right and certainly people, off the record, like Kriel and so on said there was a decision taken by de Klerk, Fanie van der Merwe and Neil Barnard where they decided, if we are not going to come to a deal, if we're going to let it drag out you will be weakened all along, the economy will be weakened, the National Party will be weakened, the state will be weakened and we'll be much better off now to settle for some kind of deal and in fact they so often reneged on undertakings given to the ANC on fencing off hostels, banning cultural weapons, that if they didn't give the ANC certain things which they gave in the Record of Understanding that the entire negotiations may unravel and disintegrate. That was what Roelf Meyer said and he would say that the major concession that we made was the undertaking by de Klerk in December 1991 to have an elected Constituent Assembly and constitution making body and interim government.
Kriel and these other people would say that the day we signed the Record of Understanding we lost Inkatha for ever as a partner and that the law and order wasn't of such a nature that it was seriously threatening the state. I remember him saying to me fairly unambiguously that if he had to fight he would rather fight against the ANC than to fight against the IFP and the right wing. What was interesting was that this type of debate wasn't, as far as I could ascertain, very comprehensively discussed in the Cabinet or whatever. It was de Klerk, Fanie van der Merwe, Neil Barnard on the one hand and not really talking in detail to Kriel or to the Generals, everyone, what is the state of play of the security situation. Is the state in danger or not. This whole thing turns on de Klerk. I heard for instance, I'm sorry that I never followed it up, that that decision to go for an elected interim government and Constituent Assembly in December 1991, he had in fact not discussed that at a full Cabinet meeting. He had only sounded out four or five people and he made a dramatic move but then the entire public attention got focused on Mandela's attack on de Klerk in that CODESA meeting. At that time I was in fact doing interviews and I nearly put it down on paper but I can almost guarantee that he didn't take that to the Cabinet.
POM ... footnote.
HG Well I'm more and more convinced that it is the major turning point in the entire negotiations process.
POM When you look at that whole process and you have identified with regard to the National Party and the government one of its major concessions or compromises. But on each side, what would you identify as the major concessions and compromises made by government and made by ANC?
HG I think the government's major concession was, of course, that you would get more of a majority rule form of system for the next few years, that you would concede the demand to balance the minority and the majority so carefully that the majority cannot really do anything without the endorsement and support of the minority. I think it conceded that. In return you got what they always wanted, to have the ANC in a position where they had to take responsibility, where they had to start taking responsibility for their actions and finding out for themselves that you cannot govern a country alone. That was the gamble that they have taken, that this will be the major discovery of the ANC pretty soon that no single party can govern the country alone. And the National Party also got this continuity that there is no hiatus in the sense that parliament suddenly disbanded and there is no constitution in its place, there is constitutional continuity and you have a normal election, you then transfer power to a new government so you can present it as a kind of incremental broadening out of democracy but not this collapse of the state, collapse of the existing institutions.
So the ANC then, by the same token, conceded the idea of liberation along any conventional means, that you have in fact captured the state through overthrowing it and your struggle has been so successful that you in fact force the state to abdicate and capitulate like the state in Romania or Greece in the 1970s or Argentina in the early 1980s. What the ANC, of course, got is basically freedom of action to really put their imprint on government and to say, look this is how we're going to govern this society. I would argue that both sides gave and took and in the end no-one really can say that one had conclusively won and the other had conclusively lost. I wrote something where I said that it's almost like there was this Italian Foreign Minister just after the Second World War and asked about the difference between the Italians and the French, he said, "Well the Italians will have to forget defeat but the French will have to invent victory", and he said, "Our task is much easier." The National Party suffered a defeat in the sense that this entire project of white nation was defeated. The ANC must invent some kind of liberation that it's liberation was like the other liberations on the continent or something like the Russian Revolution or whatever and neither of them really can convincingly argue that it got its own way. In a certain sense it's quite an achievement that you can have that balance of play.
POM When I asked the people who were involved on both sides what their degree of satisfaction was on the outcome of the negotiations, the average would be about nine.
HG Nine for what?
POM For your degree of satisfaction.
HG Did they say nine?
POM Yes, both sides.
HG I never grade very high so I would say my 59 is more realistic. I think the negotiators probably would say that. They've gone through the process. One mistake that they made is that most of the population is very much still cut off from the whole thing, they should have broadcast all the negotiations live on TV. In that sense there may have been a greater endorsement of their view by the rank and file people.
POM I was astounded the morning after the main feature story on television was the row going on over the symbol for the Olympics 2004. Kempton Park came second.
HG Were you there at the negotiations? At the final stages?
HG What do you make of it? How would you grade it?
POM On the one hand it looks as if the ANC has gotten most of what it wanted and on the other hand what real options the government had, they began with a bad hand and had to find a way of dealing with it that I think you're right in terms of they will try to govern from behind or advise. The main institutions of the state will be white. One of the issues that that I raised with people three or four years ago was which is more important here, political empowerment or economic empowerment? And certainly the way in which Trevor Manuel and Derek Keys go before the IMF and the World Bank and sing to the same tune is a very far cry from where the ANC was.
HG I agree with you and with the hand that the National Party has and with the weakening hand with their loss of electoral support I think they didn't suffer a major, irreversible, total defeat and that you will never hear from them again. I think they will still be around. But I think the ANC has played it exceptionally well over the past four years. I think they have negotiated well and they have succeeded to get what they want. Now, of course, it becomes much more difficult to duck your own responsibilities or to duck taking responsibility for what the government does. It washes both ways. You can't say, "I'm not really responsible because I really didn't get what I wanted." You must say, "OK I got what I wanted. I am now mainly in charge, or fully in charge, and therefore if things go wrong I can still continue to blame a bit on the historic legacy", and all that but at some point in time you will have to say, "Perhaps I followed the wrong policy option."
POM Two things disturbed me in regard to the ANC's commitment to democracy, that was their stand on the Constitutional Court which would have effectively given control of it to the State President that might undermine the constitution. The other one was on the single ballot.
HG I think they are centralisers, they would put anything in the hands of the central government. I don't really think, if it can do anything about it, it would probably like to stifle any federalisation of the constitution. I think we have only got a very weak federation at the moment. There is a framework in which a federation can develop unless it's held back by the central government. I don't think that the ANC will willingly devolve really significant powers to the regions. I think if it does so it will be because it doesn't have the manpower to control it. It may come at a certain point where it simply decides to give it to the regions to fight it out, that they will find it so difficult to handle all the conflicting demands. But surely I think there were two sure give-aways. The Constitutional Court was of course a colossal blunder on the part of Kobie Coetsee. The fact that they took it was surprising but also the fact that they then gave it back I suppose is again a plus mark for them, that they didn't insist on keeping it.
POM A nice story. I heard that they had taken a decision to abandon their position on the Constitutional Court, give the DP what it wanted. They made that decision and Ramaphosa spoke to a member of the DP and said, "Well I tell you what, if you support us on the single ballot then we'll change our position."
HG So they immediately got something back. I think it profits immensely from this single ballot. It will be interesting, de Klerk claims that since the provinces could draft their own constitutions this will be the last time that you will have the single ballot, that in future a province could determine when it wants to hold its own election and it could determine if it wants to vote separately from the national government. But for a start I think the ANC profits immensely from this. I think when you've had so many statements about this is the greatest day since 1652, I sometimes say this is the greatest blow to pluralism since 1652.
POM If the Freedom Alliance were to contest the elections, fighting the elections on the basis that they are opposed to what's being put forward as the constitution, is there any possibility they could come in second?
HG No. No I can't see them fighting as a cohesive unit. The kind of right wing racism and Buthelezi's position, I think it really can't be reconciled in an election where you are under pressure to clarify on the basis of your alliance. It is effectively a racist party. The other one in fact is almost an Africanist party, it is an Africanist party very much in certain areas with close affinities to the PAC. So I just can't see that they could fight effectively and I can't see them coming second. It's very difficult for me to see that. Once they start participating in the election they will unravel and I think their rapport will start dropping.
POM Buthelezi said there is a fifty/fifty chance of civil war.
HG In the Natal area yes.
POM Under what circumstances do you think South Africa could be plunged into a civil war?
HG Not a nation-wide civil war I think. You have for all practical purposes a low level civil war in the East Rand. For all practical purposes there's a very low level civil war in the Natal area but I would imagine that if Buthelezi stays out, the IFP stays out and you get attempts by the ANC to establish a presence closer to Ulundi, then I would imagine that the type of killings and revenge killings will escalate and you will be in the kind of a plain where you actually have a really medium sized civil war because I think the key would be, it's not all that many, but your key would be your KwaZulu Police whether Buthelezi would tell them to pull out the stops and this is now war. But I don't see civil war in the rest of the country, apart from the Natal area and the East Rand. Some violence building up here in the Western Cape, I don't know whether it is politically motivated or not. I suppose the demand of the ANC for the withdrawal of the self-defence units is going to be a crunchy issue, the withdrawal of the internal stability units, that's going to be a crunch issue.
POM Are they deployed here in the townships?
HG They are, the Western Cape ANC has asked them as well. The police have felt there's no-one else to take their place. They have been trained for the kind of dangerous policing in the black townships. Then you would get the situation where certainly the East Rand, that will just be a one way street then and the hostels will either be taken or they will be completely eliminated as electoral competitors.
POM So the SADF under these arrangements, it's command structures are virtually unchanged.
HG Yes I believe, for five years, yes. Their main structures are untouched. They will not interfere in politics. And the police also, the National Party got its way there as well in that you have got a very significant decentralisation of powers to the police but some kind of FBI type of functions at the top, at the central government.
POM 18 months ago after the referendum, de Klerk was at the peak of his popularity and appeared to be doing nothing wrong, he had that magic touch. 18 months later he appears indecisive, a lame duck, his party is fragmented. Might the National Party be one of the victims, if you take apartheid away from the National Party what do you have left?
HG Quite considerable interests and privileges and possessions of the white middle class, certainly it's not a class that sees itself defeated. They are not willingly going to hand over their property and they are not willingly going to tolerate interference in their schools which goes against their own values. So you haven't got an ideology in any real sense except a kind of a defence of typical middle class interests and values and so on and that I think the Nationalist Party is still the best defender of. I think your picture of de Klerk is a bit overdrawn. You must remember that he didn't lose a single National Party member of caucus, he didn't lose a single Cabinet minister. That is quite an achievement for such a major, major shift. Every time dissatisfaction built up and then when it came to the caucus he was able to persuade them. He certainly lost significant white support but on the other hand as we come closer to the election many of these whites will say, "We must work and we must prevent the ANC from getting 65%/70%", so some support will flow back but as I saw I don't expect the National Party to be much higher than 22%/23% or something like that.
POM Do you expect the Conservative Party to stay out too? Will its voters stay away or vote for the National Party?
HG I see the Conservative Party staying away and then the voters going to vote for the National Party, so the Conservative Party will go into the Wilderness. I don't see the Conservative Party participating, or Buthelezi participating. I see them both outside.
POM Both staying outside.
POM In which case do they become politically marginalised or is there then the threat of them becoming mobilised?
HG Well it depends on what the government does. If the government sticks to fairly uncontroversial policies, no major increases of taxes, no land distribution issues, no emotional issues, then probably they won't mobilise, but if the government immediately tries to do certain important symbolic things you could get the white right wing taking to the streets, bombs and things like that.
POM Could you have a situation where you have a new government taking over under a new constitution and one of its first acts would be to declare a state of emergency and suspend the constitution?
HG Well, that is a possibility. We must be one of the very few countries going into such a dangerous transition without any security legislation on the books. I think they have repealed virtually everything.
POM But they didn't provide for ...?
HG But there's no other alternative kind of - I mean detention without trial, I think they abolished Section 29, that type of thing.
POM Do you see any way that the elections would be postponed?
HG It doesn't look like it at the moment. No I can't see that they will. No, I suppose everything is so geared towards that at the moment that I find it difficult to believe that it will be postponed.
POM I've asked you this before, but you get this new government of national unity, the level of expectations out there are still incredibly high, they have come down somewhat but they are still incredibly high. What would a person living in a township have a right to expect after five years of the national government?
HG I suppose the squatter will expect a house or at least participation in some house building scheme whereby he could build his own house and get some wages. I suppose some services in the townships could be improved. I believe here in Cape Town 97% of the storm water drains are blocked. Perhaps they will be unblocked. Probably in terms of pensions and things like that, more welfare spending. But the major one would be housing, but that, of course, brings you to the question which is really the ANC's constituency, it will not probably combine under one blanket, both the brick house people and the squatters, the shack dwellers. The brick house people would want improvement of their township conditions and the shack dwellers would want brick houses. So all that I can see that the ANC can realistically do is to announce a plan to build X number of houses over the next 20 years, next 10 years or whatever.
The problem with education is not so much the lack of funding or finance but the complete breakdown of discipline. So that you can't do much about. Law and order, the breakdown of law and order in the townships, you can reduce some community policing but I doubt that there will be any dramatic improvement in the law and order situation, crimes and thefts and murders and mayhem. To be quite frank with you I really can't see an ANC government being able to provide a major, major improvement in the living conditions of people. Therefore I think they will probably go for certain high profile, symbolic issues. One will be land obviously although there is no desperate demand for land among city dwellers. There would be some rural Africans who would want more land obviously but they may announce that we have bought out so many farms and this will be turned over to Africans for farming or we will, I don't know whether they will actually confiscate certain farms, absentee farms and whatever, but I think the major issue then will possibly be a symbolic thing on land. For the life of me I can't see the bulk of the population living in much increased material circumstances in five years time. Certainly you would have, your top cream of your black population would move into civil service jobs, private sector jobs, things like that, their children will be going to private schools or to some good government schools but for, what is that old saying of Yeats, "You will still be poor", that certainly will be true.
POM Do you think it will be bad for the country for the ANC to get more than two thirds percent?
HG Yes, I think it will be bad but it probably will get two thirds. I think a good result will be a 62/37 type of result, or the Namibian one of 57/40 something like that, but the ANC probably will get 66/67. It will be important for the National Party to win at least one region so I think it's important that it wins here in the Western Cape, but then again in the Western Cape it could then be a conflict of wills between the leaders of the African population here in the Cape Town area with the regional assemblies, Cape Town could become a new seat of conflict especially once they try to remove some of the squatters further away from the N2 or the highway. But I think we would be able to survive through the first five years.
POM Do you look to the future with a fair degree of optimism or do you give it 59 too?
HG Curiosity. No, no, we are so addicted to this society now. You just will be endlessly curious about what's going to happen next.
POM When you look at the economic side, the constraints that are there, it just seems [in fact I thought that South Africa will be coming ...] when there's a settlement the whole world will be so pleased that they will pay for it. You get the intimation that foreign investment is going to pull away and there will be special funds.
HG Do people like Ramaphosa and Mandela, do they really know it? I suppose they know in a certain way, but do they know the extent to which they are locked into an international system where your scope for movement is really so limited. The only way in which you can get the economy to grow is really through export led growth not through any massive state investment or whatever. But do they know it?
POM That's one of the areas where some of the more radical people I've interviewed over the years would talk about all kinds of economic principles would have to be written into ... Going back to read the documents produced even three years ago on the economy, this that and the other, it's gone completely by the board.
HG I suppose this Merge group taking over the Reserve Bank is a final desperate attempt to try and do something about it.
POM We had a group in Boston two years ago doing a tour in the United States, the Constitution Committee was there, they met one of our people and were very interested in the New Deal and one of our fellow's presentations on the central bank was that you've got to get control of the central bank, they were mesmerised by it. Actually I can see why.
HG To get control of the central bank?
POM Yes. I don't know whether they've got parameters but you can't have a Chris Stals out there saying, "I don't care what their policies are, I'm unelected, I'm a custodian of the economy and I intend to just keep constraints where they are. That's it."
HG But what do you do if you've actually got the central bank and you start fiddling with it and your inflation goes over 20% or 30%, what do you do then?
POM You're in bad trouble.
HG You need Chris Stals to blame.
POM That's why you're having a government of national unity.