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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

02 Feb 1994: Golding, Marcel

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POM     Over the last 18 months what has changed and what hasn't changed if you had to give an overview of the events that took place?

MG     I suppose the political landscape has changed quite dramatically in the sense that for the first time I suppose South Africans see the real prospect of having democratic elections being held. I think 18 months ago whilst the idea was very much alive I think people there had a great optimism, I suppose, at the time but it wasn't really on the agenda. I think today for the first time with the Transitional Executive Council in place, with the Electoral Commission established with the Independent Media Commission to be established, I think we are on the threshold of a democratic election. I think economically the situation has become quite bad, in fact worse for ordinary people. There may be signs that the economy may be bottoming out in terms of the recession but for ordinary people that's not the case. We've had thousands and thousands of workers retrenched in the last period.

POM     How many in the Mineworkers?

MG     In the Mineworkers in the last 18 months close to about 70,000 miners.

POM     How many, seventy? Seven oh?

MG     Yes. In the last three years we've had close on about 160,000 miners who have lost their jobs, there's been a dramatic scale down in the mining industry, particularly in gold mines, but all other mines have had quite severe curtailment.

POM     Now what happens to the bulk of these workers, do they go on to find other jobs?

MG     The point is with the shrinking economy the prospect of jobs is really limited. What one has to appreciate is that in South Africa we are essentially a minerals economy, substantial amounts of foreign exchange are driven by the export of minerals. The fact that there has been a world-wide recession has had a dramatic impact on commodity prices which has affected our industries, which has had a dramatic knock-on effect on those industries that depend on mining. Let me give you a practical example; coal producers, for example, have been affected by the coal price. That impacts on a whole range of energy considerations. That in turn doesn't supply those sectors who are also then affected. So it has had a ripple effect in the economy and the calculations, depending on who you speak to, for every one job lost in the mining industry there are about two jobs lost in the rest of the economy.

POM     Is that right.

MG     So 18 months ago I think things are bad but I think for working people things have got worse economically. Politically, however, I think people are looking up in that you see the elections on the agenda, but I suppose it's more optimism on people's part wanting to get a better future and more opportunities.

POM     I've notice among people I've talked to in various townships that there's a great mood of high expectations. Are those going to be delivered?

MG     I don't know whether it's high expectations; I don't know whether people who have no sanitation, who have no pavement, a few clinics, no flush, no clean water, whether that's necessarily high expectations. To me those are really basic things that all decent societies ought to have. So in that sense I think the expectations of ordinary people are quite realistic, they are quite reasonable, and it's something that I think is incumbent upon a democratic government to address. We believe that there are substantial resources that are not being properly used. Education is one example, health care another example where the amount of money that we spend on both those sectors is comparable, in both those areas. For example, I think if I remember correctly 22 billion rand is spent on health care in South Africa, and that's quite a major section of our wealth. It's comparable to many developing countries of a similar size and yet our health outcomes are worse in terms of deaths per thousand of children, in terms of TB, malnutrition, a whole range of things. So in our view it's not the question of money, you can't have more money and solve the problem, it's a question of the design of your health care system, how you use your health care resources. The same applies in education. The amount of money we're spending on education is comparable to countries of a similar size yet our education outcome is appalling. It's got nothing to do with the amount of resources in those two areas, it's how those resources are being utilised. But obviously there are many other areas in terms of housing where we will have to spend more, the government will have to spend more in terms of expenditure to increase the number of houses because at the moment, despite what they are spending, again the outcomes are appalling. So it's for us a more redesigning government, to make the government much more sensitive and much more effective in dealing with what its resource capability is at the moment and obviously there are going to be sectors where we have to find more money but I think that's linked to a growth path and development strategy which can then generate more income, can generate more jobs, can provide more opportunities for people.

POM     Do you accept that foreign investment is a necessity if the economy is to really be jumped?

MG     Look I think as much investment as can come to the country would be certainly welcome and necessary.

POM     Do you think you could implement your plan of reconstruction in the absence of there being significant foreign investment?

MG     I think certain aspects of it can be, yes. I think certain aspects of the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) can be achieved with domestic resources. It depends on a whole range of critical factors I suppose. The whole attempt to get the economy growing, providing jobs, providing opportunities is obviously not a one dimensional thing. The international investment component is critical especially if you want to get technology developed in South Africa, if you want to ensure that markets are opened up to you and if you want to get foreign direct investment in South Africa. Obviously those things are critical but there are certain sections that may not necessarily require foreign investment as a key to get it going. For example, insofar as the creation of housing is concerned it seems to me that if one can structure a partnership between business, you can structure a partnership with government, trade unions and financial institutions to make it a national effort to house people, then one can begin to deal with some of those particular problems. Obviously the government will have to make sure that its macro economic plan is not only driven by demands of people but is driven to restructure the economy more generally. For example, we've got to get our industries more productive, we've got to make sure that our training of our workforce is critical so that we can become more efficient, we can compete internationally. So it's not only one aspect. I think one must have a much more holistic view and try to ensure an effective balancing act to deal with those issues.

POM     Some would say that productivity here is relatively low with regard to the wages that are paid, that the wages are relatively higher here than they are in other African countries. Do you accept that one of things that must happen is that the trade union movement must realise that for a period of time you may have to put a cap on wages, on wage increases, because the choice will increasingly become, or the divide will increasingly become not between black and white but between employed and unemployed?

MG     The productivity problem that we do have in South Africa, yes there is a problem but not a problem of the workers choosing and the solution is not a low wage policy. It seems to me that the solution to getting your industry more effective and more productive is to invest in human resources, to invest in people. Now the way our economy has been built and developed has been predicated on cheap, black, disenfranchised labour. It has not been predicated on developing the skills of people investing in labour. So if one is going to achieve that objective it's not that you have to cut back on wages. On the contrary you have to invest more in people and it seems that the amount of money which workers take in their pocket is mainly a small part of what I call the social wage that is necessary. So one has to maybe restructure the wage package and link the wage package to things like productivity, but that must be seen as part of an overall programme of restructuring your industries. Productivity is not only a worker's problem, much of it is management's problem in terms of how they organise the work place, in terms of the authoritarian structures, in terms of the fact that there's no participation, the fact that they don't disclose information, the fact that there's a lot of industrial strife. You can't get high productivity with high industrial strife. It can only be in a peaceful climate where there are meaningful rights and obligations for both parties. You can't persuade workers to be more productive if you don't disclose information on why your productivity is low. You can't just accuse them that they are being unproductive.

     So the whole question, again it's a holistic thing of dealing with it and we try to do that in our own industry with our profit sharing or productivity programmes as an example, to say there's got to be meaningful reciprocity if you want the productivity to be increased, if you want a more stable and secure environment, if you want your company to be more efficient. You've got to redesign it, you've got to position it for the 21st century and it doesn't mean paying low wages. That's not the solution, because you look at Japan, you look at the competing countries, it's not based on low wages, it's high wages because it doesn't matter how sophisticated your technology, you need people to operate it. And for us the key is the development of human resources, obviously, and investment. Investment in human resources is critical to that.

POM     Just to wrap up one thing, if you were the resident of a township, what have you the right to expect after there being a power sharing government for five years?

MG     I think people have the first opportunity to decide on a government of their choice. I think what one would expect is that the government would provide security and peace in the area in which I live, in other words to make sure that I can go to work if I have a job and my kids are safe, my kids can go to school; that they begin to address those basic needs which have been denied to communities, rebuilding those communities, involving people in rebuilding those communities, making sure that crime is tackled and that jobs are created. I suppose it's just basic needs where I don't have flush toilets, to have a programme where there are flush toilets, where I have been having to educate my kids in darkness, I suppose, to see if there is a possibility of putting in lights. Obviously the obligation on one in the township is to pay but you can only pay if you have a job. So I suppose the expectation is that I get an opportunity, I get a job, I get a secure environment, I can get my family secure and opportunities created for them.

POM     Now with regard to the constitution, the interim constitution as written, on a scale of one to ten where would it fit regarding your own perceptions of what you would like to see in a constitution?

MG     I think the ANC has done an excellent job. I'm not saying this because Cyril was a colleague of mine but I think in the circumstances of an extremely divided society the negotiating team has done an excellent job in creating the conditions in which we can rebuild the country. Obviously the problems which we're experiencing now will have to be addressed, obviously, if we're going to maintain peace and security. There will be a few things obviously that one will probably have to look at again, maybe second generation rights, that would have to be looked a bit more carefully. But I think overall ...

POM     I was kind of surprised that they were left because they had been such a key part of the trade union campaign over the years.

MG     As I say there are a few other things that one will obviously have to look at in the Constituent Assembly, I think this is a transitional constitution providing all the necessary securities for all those that feel concerned about an ANC government. I think the ANC government has committed itself to the principles on which it has negotiated that constitution. I think there's no problem with the principles, they are sound principles. I think obviously our experience when the ANC is in government will determine to what extent having a constitution with that amount of regional powers devolved, the impact it has on economic development, whether allowing regions to do certain things is actually beneficial for national development or whether giving regions too many powers causes greater tensions in terms of allocation of resources, etc., etc.

POM     So on one to ten?

MG     One to ten? I think I would give it seven, seven to eight.

POM     I'm doing this with everybody, I'm plotting a chart. You mentioned something there, at the end when this package was being put together, the six-pack, I have found it hard to find out from different people, even people who were involved in the negotiations, exactly what was resolved. There seems to have been left a fair amount of ambiguity regarding the way in which decisions will be made within the Cabinet, regarding the procedures to be followed if there was a deadlock in the constitutional convention. First of all would you agree with that?

MG     I don't know. I was not involved in the negotiations but it seems to be a government of national unity, it doesn't matter who is in government, but the reality of the situation is that there are specific priorities that have to be addressed but if one is going to create conditions in which the economy is to grow then you must have a climate of peace and security. There's got to be a stable environment, there's got to be law and order.

POM     You just finished on the note of the need for peace and stability.

MG     Oh yes. The problem is the apartheid government has been unable to solve the problems, they have been unable to quell the unrest, etc. The key point is whether the Nationalist Party or whoever is in government there if they want to get a growing economy, if they want the recession to be tackled effectively, if they want get inflation and everything under control and they want to create opportunities, there are certain basic things that have to be done. I suppose there are three or four pillars on which any successful programme will have to be undertaken: one, you've got to have peace and stability, a climate of law and order in the country. That law and order can only be achieved through a democratic government, that there will be legitimacy. So there are two aspects to the law and order programme that will have to be tacked, the one is the political violence that needs to be dealt with and, secondly, is the question of crime and the vast number of guns that are floating in our townships. So that would be like a package and you would have to unpack each of that. Thirdly, the economic pillar of that is really addressing the basic needs of people. And what does that mean? To unpack that, that's again about four or five key areas. One, you've got to create jobs. If you link your jobs to your basic infrastructural development it does provide a kick start to the economy. It's not sustainable but it provides a kick start. Fourthly, you have got to redesign your industries, you've got to restructure your industries so you have to have an industrial strategy and if that's linked to your basic needs of investment in education you're building the skills capacity to take your industry into the 21st century. Fifth, where are you going to create meaningful jobs? Not sufficient in public works, there won't be sufficient through industrial study. You've got to have a coherent land reform programme so that people can use the land more efficiently to provide food, etc. There's also a source of income. And sixth, you're going to have to develop your small business capacity to provide meaningful opportunities for small business to develop, develop an entrepreneurial class to take up and develop in those areas which have not been developed.

     So on the economic front that would be some of key things. The other pillar I suppose would be a nation building pillar. You've got to build a sense of national unification within our diversity and that to me is equally important. You have to have a strong judicial system which upholds the law in some ways, that is fair in dispensing justice, with justice accessible and equitable and developing an open society. It's moving from the old to the new and to me those would be the key pillars for the new South Africa.

POM     Some people would say that when Derek Keys went to Washington with Trevor Manuel and went before the IMF and the World Bank that essentially they were accepting the lines laid down by the international community for aid, structural adjustment programmes, which have really horrible effects in other African countries. But it was symbolic that Manuel was there with Keys and they were really selling the capitalist line.

MG     The thing is to me one can't be simplistic about selling capitalist lines. The reality of the world we live in today is that we live in a world capitalist system and South Africa is structurally linked into that system in a particular way. It's essentially vertically integrated because it provides the raw products and through the export of technology and all those things. But what we do think is that South Africa does have the possibility of moving on to a growth and development path that increases the opportunities and wealth of its people. Now to me there is no pure capitalist system. Each country has a hybrid of state intervention and market driven forces. The market is critical in that it is a mechanism that determines the efficiency of your utilisation of resources and in that sense it is an important feature of your society. But the state is equally important in that it can provide the parameters, does provide the framework and in certain instances may have to intervene. How and when it intervenes, that obviously will have to be an ongoing debate. Yes, structural adjustment in many African countries arose because of indebtedness, they were over-indebted and they had to service their debt. In South Africa the interesting thing about sanctions is that we limited our debt and we are a reasonably debt free country and as long as we keep our borrowing low and utilise domestic resources more effectively I think we have a chance of avoiding the debt trap. What I think we need is to drive those sectors of society that, like big business who aren't very supportive of ANC and very reluctant to change, to get them to think about changing their practice. They are still living in the old ...

POM     Something must be done with those eight to ten conglomerates that control 80% of the Stock Exchange and production of wealth in the country. They're monopolistic.

MG     I agree, I think a lot will have to be done, but I think probably initially there are some very important steps that you can take which does not even impact on their wealth but would have a dramatic effect on the society. Just one example: reforming the Companies Act around corporate disclosure and corporate governance. Just one big issue. You're not even tackling their wealth, you're just opening up so they must disclose more of what they are doing that allows you to begin to identify things, making sure, another small thing, that corporate taxes are properly collected, they are having a proper revenue agency that collects the taxes. There's 40% tax but realistically they are only collecting 15% or 20%. Then, thirdly, making sure that the Pensions and Provident Funds where workers have substantial assets, where we can begin to get, trade unions can get control over their assets. When they talk about empowerment to me it's empowerment in those sectors. If you look at the Old Mutual, if you look at Sanlam, whose money is that? It's the Mineworkers' Provident funds that are there and it's that money that's been directed by investment into specific corporations. So the corporate governance is a problem. It's going to be a long haul to change those things but I think there are specific things you can do quite rapidly which can change the terrain in which transformation can begin to be effected.

POM     Now you talked about the peace and security and law and order and one part of that is internal, to do with the townships and the other part would be external to do with the threat of Buthelezi and the right wing. At this point in time, in your personal opinion, do you think that the Freedom Alliance will come into the elections or that part of them will come into the elections?

MG     I'm always the eternal optimist. I was always one of the few that said we should have the election even earlier. So I might as well continue on the eternal optimism. I think some of them will come in. I think there is a realisation, anyone who has looked at struggle around the world must come to the conclusion that you can't fight a war perpetually. You can't. There does come a point where you have to strike some type of balance, of recognising the rights of others in some way. It seems to me that in terms of Buthelezi, for example, many of these things that he initially wanted were conceded but what he has done is he's upped the stakes all the time. Now he wants total fiscal powers, he wants the double ballot, he wants the right to amend and for regions to draft their own constitutions. And then there's a fourth point which he makes subliminally and that is that he is the traditional leader of KwaZulu, of the kingdom of KwaZulu, so in other words it doesn't matter who wins; "I'm the traditional leader." Now it seems clear that he's not concerned about the national needs of the country and to me it's a problem.

POM     Do you think he's so painted himself into a corner that it would be very difficult for him to get out without a loss of face and being insulted and 'my dignity being attacked', which is part of his theme song?

MG     It seems so. Let's take the two ballots. There are arguments that you should have two ballots. I don't understand the logic of it. I can understand the point that you may have regional parties who may not be on the national list but it seems to me that if there is a ballot form made up with all the parties who are contesting the election would be regional or national, you exercise that ballot. So if you live in Natal and you want to exercise your ballot for a local party there, for that particular party, you support it. And it seems to be, I don't know it will be my first election, it seems to be when they latch themselves on to one party they support the party because they support the programme.

POM     I suppose the argument would be that if you have two ballots you could vote for one at the national level and then vote for a different party at the regional level.

MG     Yes that's true, but do most people think like that? Do most people act like that?

POM     I know in the States splitting votes is quite common. You vote Republican for President, you vote for a Democrat for Senator. You vote for a Democrat for Senator you vote for a Republican for Congress.

MG     But we're not having that type of election. We're not having a presidential election. We're having a party election. So to me it doesn't flow because when they vote for the President they're not necessarily voting for the party, they are voting for the person, that's what you identify with. It just happened that symbolically the presidential candidate becomes the leader of the party for that particular period. It seems to be the thing can easily be resolved differently and that is to say that the first round should be a one ballot and then one decides that regional elections are either every four years and national every five years, so automatically you have two ballots that are exercised. That could be a way out in dealing with it but it seems to be that there is an insistence by some parties to have a two ballot.

POM     What about the threat of Buthelezi with regard to force, with regard to attempted secession or whatever? Do you think that's on the boards or just a very wild shot?

MG     How would he maintain, the question is how would they maintain the fiscal base, just as an example? How would they? Where would they get the resources to maintain various things? Do they have a national defence force capability? I think obviously what is critical is that the standing army remains loyal to the new democratic government, that's important. Obviously if they start shifting then you would have problems in being able to enforce the outcome of free and fair elections.

POM     So you feel if just the financial spigot is pulled on Buthelezi to relieve him of resources and that his resistance bleeds away too?

MG     I think so.

POM     Do you think the same would be true of Bophuthatswana?

MG     Absolutely. The purse strings are tied in Pretoria, but the point is that De Klerk is always looking for allies, looking for building a broader coalition. The idea is that, and this is a big thing, to stop the ANC getting two thirds and do everything possible to stop them. So I wouldn't be surprised if they attempt to build up a wider front and all of a sudden support him and reneging on the ballot which they have initially all agreed.

POM     But the ANC would have to agree to that.

MG     I agree, I agree, but what I'm saying is I suppose in a situation where you have even your initial partner now saying, "Hold on we also want a two ballot", all of a sudden and you find yourself as the only party insisting on a one ballot, may be invidious to justify. And in addition you get business coming out in support today of a two ballot system. Anglo American Corporation who initially has always argued it never stands above politics has now come behind the system. So with those forces ranged against you and then the spectre that the international community may even then also say, "Listen as a last ditch attempt for peace, agree to that." But what happens? If you concede then he wants fiscal powers, now I want the right to draft my own constitution, now I want this, now I want that. What then? So obviously it may end up if there is a package ...

POM     So how do you think he sees things? If he keeps upping the ante at some point the ante becomes too high and he either has to capitulate or be left out on the limb of the tree with somebody sawing away inside. Has he thought this through strategically in terms of what resources he would have at his disposal to resist if that's what he wanted to do and the authority of ...?

MG     I must confess I don't know. The utterances of Mr Buthelezi have been very strange I must confess.

POM     Looking at the far right, do you think they pose more of a threat?

MG     I think insofar as probably general instability is concerned they could cause quite a problem for the country. I mean they have just blown up our offices today.

POM     Blown up which?

MG     Our offices in Klerksdorp, the right wing. They blew up our union office today. Miners no doubt, white miners, having access to explosives. They are a problem.

POM     The argument is that they have the technology, they have the know-how, they have people well armed and they have people throughout the security forces who are sympathetic to them and many of them are former members of the security forces themselves and many of them occupy key positions.

MG     What's just unclear is where is this volkstaat going to be that they are fighting for? That's the absurdity of the situation. What are they talking about? Where is the volkstaat going to be located? For them they haven't thought that thing through very carefully. I suppose Buthelezi's position about KwaZulu is very clear, he's been working in that particular area and enclave for a long time, you can understand what he's talking about. But a volkstaat exclusively for whites? Where is this going to be? Where only whites exercise citizenship rights?

POM     There will be a degree of internal instability after the elections that will make the international community wait and see what's happening in South Africa before it commits resources or foreign investment.

MG     I'm sure, I'm sure. South Africa is no doubt competing with many other places for investment so I think although South Africa does hold many more opportunities to many other parts of the world, our infrastructure is much better than many parts of Russia, telecommunications are much more effective, our financial market and institutions, we've got a whole range of things going for us but I think the big issue is stability, security of people's investments. I think there will be an initial wait. There may be some money coming in but there will be a wait and see attitude, particularly to see what the response of the right is, people like Buthelezi.

POM     You mentioned De Klerk trying to build up a coalition to try to ensure by all means that the ANC wouldn't have a two thirds majority in the Constituent Assembly. Do you think it would be a good thing or a bad thing for the ANC to exceed 66?%?

MG     I think the ANC should get as many people supporting it as possible. I think what is very clear, what the ANC has said, and this is the manifesto (I was part of that committee) it says quite clearly 'despite the size of the majority', they bind themselves to two things, (i) the constitutional principles, and (ii) consultation and debate with people around the constitution, which I think is critical. They are not saying they are going to use their majority to swamp and do as it pleases. I think it recognises that we are going to have to consult, we're going to have to debate. The two thirds only gives you the constitutional power to do what you want to but I think the tradition will be to consult more widely.

POM     I remember us talking to Moses Tjitendero in Namibia, he's the Speaker of the House there, and he was saying SWAPO was all geared up to getting two thirds or more of the vote. He said it was a good thing they didn't because they had to learn to work with a real opposition so they had to be back and forth, bargaining and counter-bargaining before they could get things done and that was a healthy way to launch a democracy. It would be like here if one party really has the power, really has the power ...

MG     Well there are two areas that you're talking about. The thing is with the magnitude of the socio-economic problems that we have you do need decisive and effective government, you do not need a lame duck government. That is the worst thing to have. Second, you can't compare Namibia to South Africa, it's one million people. South Africa is 34 - 40 million people, a different scenario, the magnitude of the problem is much, much bigger. I think you do need effective, you need strong government but you also need government that will engage people and participate and take people along. That's what we've learnt in trade unions that despite your power you have to deal with other parties, you have to deal with people who disagree with you. So the ANC might have the legislative power by having that but in making sure it's economic programme works that's not sufficient, you've got to work with business, you've got to get them on board, you're going to have to work with the trade unions. So to me it's two different processes that are at work.

POM     Do you see a situation arising where the interests of trade unionists and the interests of the government of the country might be at odds with each other?

MG     I'm sure at some point there would be because the government is a government of the country, the trade unions are really for a particular interest.

POM     When you're in as a candidate for parliament, are you in as a candidate who represents labour interests or are you in as a candidate who is a member of the ANC and therefore represents interests across the board?

MG     I'm a labour candidate on the ANC platform fighting for the ANC. I take with me obviously the traditions and views of labour into the ANC, concern about workers' interests and protecting worker's interests. But at the same time you know the trade union movement in South Africa is very interesting in that we've not only been a sectarian movement, we've not been a movement only exclusively concerned about our members. Why have we been like that? Because it's our members' children who don't have jobs, it's our members' brothers who don't have jobs, our members' families who don't have jobs, it's the same people. And they do understand the need to make sacrifices and do certain things, but where they are not prepared to make sacrifices is where their rights are impinged on. So there may be sacrifices when it comes to constraints, for example on wage levels, but there will be no sacrifice on their rights, which I think is correct, their rights to do certain things.

     That's why I'm saying let's take a practical example, if you have corporate disclosure, much more corporate disclosure, when the unions are involved in negotiations then the workers can say, "Yes it's true, the financial problem is difficult", as opposed to how our company reports are presently written. It seems to me that, yes, there are going to have to be a whole range of compromises as we move. The role of government is to represent the country, to do what is in the national interest of the country and labour is to represent its members and protect its members' interests. But the whole style under which we have been working in the last few years is to build co-operation between business, labour and government to strike a deal, to make sure that our various interests are represented and dealt with so there's some meaningful reciprocity. The problem we didn't have success is that we had a lame duck government, a government that had no imagination, had no policies, had no vision, had no will. Obviously you can't get anywhere in that type of situation. Secondly, where employers who usually strike deals with government on a game farm or a golf course or whatever, there's no transparent or open government. You can't work like that and we want to change that. It's not big changes, obviously you're fighting special interests, but those things have to change.

POM     Just one more question I think. If you look at the three years during which negotiations occurred, what were the biggest, in your mind, concessions or compromises made by the government and the biggest concessions or compromises made by the ANC?

MG     It's such a long time. The government was foolish when it broke down CODESA. It had a better deal on the table then; it's got a worse deal now.

POM     That's the best deal they ever had.

MG     Absolutely. I think in that sense the ANC has done quite well in brokering this deal. It's not time to be a hack and saying there's nothing to criticise but I think overall if one were to evaluate things, I think ANC put in place very important things: (i) the Bill of Rights which is critical. I think it's made sure that our forces are integrated. Secondly it's made sure that there's an independent judiciary. I think it's made clear and very important as a Public Protector to deal with potential corruption, allowing citizens to take things to a Public Protector, to prosecute mal-administration. I think those are important things. Emphasising independent media. I think those are healthy and important things. In that sense I think we have the foundations of a very vibrant and vigorous democracy.

POM     Thank you for the time. As always I know you're in a rush. Going back, where does COSATU's allegiance lie? To its membership or to the government?

MG     Its membership. It's not to the government at all, it's to the membership.

POM     Even though it's part of an alliance?

MG     No, it's to its membership. There's a convergence of interests in the present conjuncture but obviously when the ANC becomes government, depending to what extent the ANC believes that there requires to be a national accord, let's put it that way, a national accord with business and labour to achieve certain goals, then COSATU will once again come in as one of the partners of such an accord but then again if the government were to push that position it wouldn't only be with COSATU it would have to be with trade unions, and that includes your conservative unions.

POM     Now are you seconded from COSATU?

MG     No, NUM put me forward as a candidate on to COSATU's list of twenty. The COSATU list in turn was endorsed by the congress and by the ANC and we went through a selection process. I've gone through that process.

POM     I suppose what I am saying is if an issue comes up in parliament where COSATU and the ANC are on some kind of collision course, are you there to protect COSATU's interests or are you there are as a member of the government that must take a broader view than just the interests of COSATU?

MG     I think to be correct one has to take the broader view, one would have to take the broader view. But again, I think often as we have worked out things we've always recognised that you can reach compromises which have reciprocity for all the parties. That's precisely what a deal is about, a deal is not where you get your own way. I suppose our responsibility is to make sure that within the ANC parliamentary caucus there is a sensitivity to what labour is thinking and that the labour movement is a key component in the period of transition and is an important and stable institution in the society that one cannot run roughshod over and that instead of seeing it as an opponent, see it as a partner. We've got to cultivate a different style of government, a government where you rely on the unions as opposed to opposing them and smashing them and taking away their rights.

POM     Do you think the level of tolerance between blacks and whites has increased or decreased in the last couple of years?

MG     It's a very difficult question to answer I must be honest.

POM     I put it in the context of ...

MG     I think what you've seen is no doubt a greater assertiveness of blacks in the country and maybe that assertiveness is not taken very lightly by whites and is seen to be aggressive. I think one must understand that. I think people do feel that they are now going to have rights but I think obviously that will be tempered over time like it was in Zimbabwe. It's ironic. When I was there in 1980 there was a lot of tension because of scares about Mugabe and after elections a few bomb blasts etc., but people realise, things didn't change overnight. Their houses weren't taken away. After the 28th things are going to be the same, on the 29th things are going to be the same. It's probably after a few months when the government has been able to put together a legislative programme and put forward specific plans and implemented them can you begin to see a material effect. But obviously the ANC will also have to play its role in making sure that it harnesses that energy and that assertiveness constructively.

     I always use the metaphor in our union when I try to explain to business, that the union movement is like a raging current, a river, just going down destroying everything in its path in the early days. Where there was a problem it struck. What we then did is we took this raging current and we put little sluice gates on it so we regulated our relationship. Now the water flows through, there's still a current, the water flows through in a more regulated way. But now in a new phase, we call it a reconstruction phase, now we're trying to put little turbines on the side but we cannot generate electricity with a trickle, it's got to be that gush, that vibrancy that goes through there. It's only then can you generate that electricity. And we've got to use that energy in a constructive way. Don't try to stop the current because you won't generate the electricity and you've got to use that current in a constructive way.

     Where workers are militant on the shop floor engage them, don't crush it, "OK, now you oppose it, what do you suggest? If you suggest that you want to do this and this and this, let me explain to you why it's not feasible or practical." It's a different style of dealing with people than saying, "We just disagree with you and we'll smash you, you can strike and we don't care about you." And to me it's that cultural change that's critical in the country. That will deal with what you identify as intolerance, or I don't know what the word is.

POM     The very fact that you mention the word 'assertiveness', that has come up a couple of times in stories white people tell me, like standing in a queue in a supermarket and a black person was there before them but might have gone off and got another item and they come back and put it in their basket taking their place in front of them; "How dare you?" Or on the streets walking when you see two or three blacks walking towards you they would force you off the sidewalk and things like that.

     One last thing is about the civil service. Their jobs are entrenched. This must be already one of the most bloated civil services in the entire world with not only the central one but with all the 14 others as well. How do you see affirmative action being applied in a way that makes a difference in the short run, i.e. you can have the powers, you can have 70% of the vote but the people who know the leeways of power are the civil servants and unless you have them with you they can make you just look ineffective.

MG     I'm not sure but I think the Nixon quirk is quite useful. You get hold them by the balls and their heads are sure to follow.

POM     OK. I'll leave this with you, the proceedings of a Conference in Namibia two years ago at Mount Etjo and you might find some use for it. You can get in touch with the National Democratic Institute. It's how to set up your own country.

MG     OK. All right, thanks very much.

POM     Thank you. Do you have now, in March or April, will you be setting up a regular campaign schedule where you spend the full day?

MG     I've been asked to something very specific in the elections. My job is I'm head of what's called the briefings unit.

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.