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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

15 Feb 1994: Asmal, Kader

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KA     Ah the publisher of the Boston Globe.

POM     Oh is that right? We doing a panel at that international press discussion tomorrow, the IPI, it's very interesting to talk around, total absence of ... not only of the audiences but of the panels. That's left aside but it's one of the major issues, there are no women.

KA     But these are publishers really aren't they? Is The Irish Times here?

POM     No they are not, I thought they would be.

KA     They are making money hand over fist. So there are no Irish representatives?

POM     No.

KA     Oh shame! Peter Preston is here from The Guardian. I saw a picture. So how far have you got with your research?

POM     I would say almost to the half way point. I'm living in Johannesburg and will stay through May.

KA     Oh you're here for the next two months.

POM     I've been here really since last September, but small trips back to the States, since last July with small trips back to the States to keep my job and I will stay till the end of May and then determine what course to take. I'll be coming here through 1997, the book is due in 1998 and of course the problem I have is that I have too many people. I've got 800 hours of interview material already and haven't even got half way. My biggest problem is becoming management of the thing so I may cut people down into just a core group and have these other people as background. The best part is the family part. I have these ten families and they range from rich conservative whites living up in Zeerust to an African family living in Orange Farm and I do the families and children and the extended family two or three times a year. That's far more fascinating. It comes straight out, no wondering about what's behind that question.

     I don't know how you're stuck for time. I'll be back here again probably in less than a month. I'd like to get your opinion on a couple of things. There was a panel at IPI this morning and it was supposed to be about Whither South Africa but Valli Moosa and Ben Ngubane kind of locked horns with Valli Moosa saying that the ANC had been for federalism before anybody else, it was they who proposed first there would be ten regions and they would have powers and to say that the ANC was anti-federalism was simply not true. And you had Ngubane on the other side saying you don't know what federalism is, it's this, it's this, it's this. This seems to be one of their big stumbling blocks at the moment. How do you compare and contrast the way we see ANC use the word federalism and the way the IFP uses it?

KA     First of all it's not a terminological dispute. There is no absolute technical definition of federalism. There are unitary states with large federal features and there are federal states like Germany with strong unitary features. I read a South African National Party document here on the election manifesto which describes Spain as a federal state. I mean, the Spanish will fight to the last person to say Spain is a unitary state and they describe Italy as a federal state. So South Africans are coming fresh to this. The government proposed a form of state in September 1991 which would have left to the central government constitutional affairs, foreign policy and defence. That's all. Not even independent taxation powers. So when you're talking about a debate it's not about federalism or unitarism, it's about whether the central government will have any kind of authority for reconstruction and development or, like as I say, I am speaking tonight and I shall be using this, that we are entering a state after a war and you need a new deal, a reconstruction programme after a war. So I have never been het up about this definition issue.

     In February 1991 we produced the ten regions plan and we said we've had a highly centralised state on the one hand and the so-called devolution through the homelands and oddly enough with the highest concentration of wealth, highly unitary system, in five companies, oddly enough. And those who wanted decentralisation, devolution which we have always stood for have never turned attention to this strong concentration. So we are a highly unitary state with a racial form of devolution in the independent states and the homelands. So Valli Moosa is right that in fact in February 1991 we proposed the ten regions and in that document you will see we used a formula that some things can only be done by local government, some things can only be done by regions, some things can only be done by the central government. And each in its own area should not be supervised by the other except for the general national standards. We're not talking about an abstract thing.

     There are vast inequalities between the Northern Cape and the PWV, which accounts for 43% population, more than 40% of the gross national wealth of South Africa. So from that point of view we've always wanted devolution, decentralisation. That's why we said that the seat of the Constitutional Court shouldn't be in Bloemfontein. It's part of the way of devolving office is to put it elsewhere. I'm a strong believer that Cape Town should be the capital of South Africa, not because I live here, because like the German principle, it is good. That's a federal feature in the United States you don't have but you have in Germany, you have devolution.

     Now where the issue arises, the fundamental issue, is do you have exclusive powers and so our compromise was that we have a list of exclusive powers. In South Africa exclusive powers means regional tyranny frankly and the kind of exclusive powers that the IFP wanted in their document of December 1992 was a confederal system in the precise sense of the word, that it's an independent state coming in its full largesse to another state. Now the united South Africa concept is a basic necessity. Beyond that we've never had an obsession about which powers can be performed where so in the negotiation in common with most countries we said education is a regional function but not higher education because we do have a rational university system. We have too few universities but they are all lumped, because of apartheid, in the Eastern Cape, in the Northern Transvaal and there's not enough at that level of education throughout the country and governments use baits, attractions, carrots to say we should set up a university now in the region. So we've worked out environment protection, this is the most heavily polluted country. We can't leave that to nuclear regional units so in short we've had no difficulty in saying that functions that are best carried out at a particular level should be carried out there.

     The solution that appeared in the end here was that effectively all executive powers will be in the regions, in the list of functions and that only on four grounds central government could intervene, to national standards, to ensure if a region can't perform a function, if they are unable to perform a function or to ensure that citizens are not prejudiced. So to that extent Valli Moosa is absolutely right. Now whether you call the ANC approach a federal system or not I'm not particularly het up. We are agreed that there will be constitutional protection, that's one side of federalism. But beyond that there's a vast variation. In the United States you have a system effectively where the central government can use one form or another of getting its way and there are lots of examples. If for example a particular region will not have a minimum drinking age and the federal government will say we won't give you more money for the roads. We can't do that in South Africa. That will be in breach of the constitution, it's an improper purpose.

KA     So the argument is an artificial one. The real argument is not about whether the constitution prescribes the powers, or there's no central government supervision, is what will be the powers of central government to bring about reconstruction. And the IFP doesn't believe in that. The IFP believes in a so-called Zulu set up, effectively a confederal state. So if they locked horns I would have liked to have locked horns myself.

POM     Do you think that a way will be found out of this impasse with the IFP?

KA     Well I don't think the IFP is negotiating in good faith. I don't know if Valli Moosa has said this there but he has written about this, that at no stage in 22 years has the IFP ever made a meaningful response to a compromise solution on any issue that I'm aware of, on a single issue. Even where there are agreements they have entered into they have broken them, and I'm talking about at CODESA and the multiparty negotiations, unless you are able to tell me on this particular issue with the proposal made the IFP has made a compromise and agreed or that a compromise proposal has been put up and the IFP has agreed to it. In other words they have not been negotiating in good faith. I don't think they are interested in a negotiated settlement before the elections because basically they don't wish to have an election held. And it's a question in the end of the legitimacy and the extent to which they have support in Natal. They are a minority party in Natal. They are not even a significant player in the whole of South Africa.

POM     I was going to ask you about that. Buthelezi has projected himself as being one of the big three who should have been in all the decision making. He's a man who is highly egotistical, can't complete a sentence without saying he's insulted or somebody has insulted him. If he were now to turn around and contest elections and got say 4% nationally and 30% in Natal it would be the ultimate humiliation. He couldn't take it.

KA     Well you provide the answer. But we must still continue offering an opportunity for the IFP to get out of the hole it is in because we want a politically inclusive, and in terms of a legal constitution we want an inclusive settlement after April and we would want the IFP with 16 seats out of 400 to be there, not pissing in but pissing out. It's very important that they should be pissing out rather than pissing in however minute and minor their contribution is. But there's a problem as to whether there is an IFP independently of Chief Buthelezi. That's a problem and we can't assist forces in the IFP that want to play a meaningful role, it's up to the alliances within the IFP to decide. Now for the election now it's too late to change the rules and it's impossible to conceive the elections can be postponed.

POM     So you would say that for legal reasons they can't come in now even if they wanted to?

KA     I would have no objection to this illegitimate tricameral being convened to extend the date of registration as long as the date of the election is not interfered with. I would have no objection to that. But there is no sign. On the contrary Mr Buthelezi's statements have been to threaten civil war or to prepare for civil war, to prepare the so-called Zulus for civil war. I think a lot of people in Natal will take objection to the appropriation of the term 'the Zulu nation' by a segment of those who have held power in Natal. So I have no objection personally to an extension of the date to fit in the IFP or elements in the alliance.

POM     Talking about the constitution for a minute, if you had to rank it on a scale of one to ten in terms of how satisfied you are with it, where would you rate it?

KA     Well you can't give it a global rating, you give it a rating in different areas. On the Bill of Rights for example the rating would be different from the structures.

POM     Can you give me a figure?

KA     Well to give you a figure, I may not know the familiarity with that. There are transitional provisions there that are very cumbersome. There are provisions in the constitution which shouldn't have been in the constitution but as part of a negotiation process you accept them, about universities, schools and all that. There are detailed provisions about the transition that are temporary provisions. The Bill of Rights has serious flaws in it but the first part of it in relation to language, parliament and all that, that is pretty formal, pretty acceptable, so I think everybody else may give you a rating but they may not have lived through the drafting of it, the different balances of it. It's a large cumbersome one and the national territory for example should have been one line, instead there are 16 pages and an appendix. This is a crazy idea. It has extraordinary apartheid definitions, names of owners of land. We tried to say that there must be a certain elegancy in the interim constitution, there are 16 pages of it. That's what constitutes the national territory. This is the kind of legalism. On the other hand the last national unity and reconciliation is a unique provision in the constitution. The government wanted a total amnesty for unknown offences, for unknown people and we stood there because there must be disclosure, there must be a minimum understanding of the past. And so therefore that provision itself is ten points out of ten because it allows us to grapple with our past in the future without threatening anyone, without scape-goating anyone. So on balance I can't give a figure. There are flaws in it, there are serious omissions in it, there are things in it which shouldn't be there, but that's the result of the cumbersome negotiation process which is unique in the world.

POM     On a general basis more satisfied or less?

KA     Yes, as part of a peace treaty to bring you to the next stage I am more than satisfied, not because there were victors. We lost out on a whole range of things in the Bill of Rights.

POM     Just off the wall, do you ever think that the negotiating formula used here could be used in Northern Ireland?

KA     On the basis that you put everything on the table, you negotiate everything, you may do it sectorally through technical committees, ad hoc committees, sub-committees, so you move the problem out and look at the larger areas of agreement and then as you know by the very nature of things there is a momentum to come to a conclusion and the conclusion was that we arrived at a date for the elections, everything had to be done in relation to the elections, so we had to by November agree. When there is that inexorableness you make large scale compromises. The lesson for Ireland whether the actual process will work or not was conditioned by the fact here that we had no parties with a democratic mandate whereas in Ireland there are parties. I mean Sinn Fein exists, the Democratic Unionist Party exists, Fianna Fail exists, so I would believe myself that if there is an understanding of the fundamental nature of the issue, there has to be. And here it was how do you move from an illegitimate racist system which denied Mandela and me a vote to a democratic system which will grapple? So we agreed with these 33 constitutional principles which will bind the Constitutional Assembly. That's a lesson for Ireland because those constitutional principles will condition the future work of a Constitutional Assembly. In Ireland I think we can do that too, or the Irish can do that.

POM     As a result of that time when you were in Boston at that Bill of Rights Conference, the Bill of Rights is scoring ... Commission ... spend a year going round talking to people and then to summarise the whole thing.

KA     I know the reports, yes.

POM     But a Bill of Rights on everyone's ... right across the board and this is something that could be built around. I'll drop a copy off to you, you might be interested.

KA     But if for example the Southerners offered the four provinces a solution with a large degree of autonomy, the four provinces solution, or redefined the four provinces because numbers play a game so we have nine regions from four provinces. In the offer there, and if they offer a high degree of autonomy to the provinces, if they guaranteed language, culture, identity, which we have done, then there's a basis to get out of the malaise. And the Bill of Rights because it's a very good Bill of Rights in the Republic of Ireland, there is, but the new superimposed, not the Supreme Court with its Catholic ethos and Catholic personnel, as what we did with a Constitutional Court, there are ways round it. But there has to be agreement in the end that we must move towards a united Ireland.

POM     There has to be agreement on what you finally want to agree to.

KA     That's right. There has to be agreement on what you want to agree on. Whereas this continual emphasis the British have that it's an inseparable part of the United Kingdom and no change without the consent - you can't, on that basis there are problems simply as to what you are going to negotiate about then, bi-nationalism, confederalism, because the real crunch is what's going to be the status of Northern Ireland in all these negotiations. We had an agreement that we have to move so in the end the government said on the 28th April the TBVC states will be incorporated. They had to but they held out for 32 years on that, it was the last stage of the agreement. When they got what they wanted they said the TBVC states would be incorporated into South Africa. Therefore, the Irish, I think that their All-Party negotiations are a good thing. Here the parties had no legitimacy. We had no legitimacy in the sense that we didn't know what our support was but there were these parties from the tricameral Parliament who took part in it.

POM     One thing surprised me in the constitution and it was the double vote or the single vote and the insistence of the ANC in standing behind it, whereas I think if the NP had opted for it alone that the ANC would have said it's undemocratic. I find it undemocratic.

KA     The issue of the ballot rose because we proposed in 1990 that there should be a regional component for the election of the National Assembly on the list system, it would be rather distant otherwise. This argument that you could have for the whole of South Africa a list for the elections but that would mean that no member would be associated with a region. So the genesis of this was that the original list, and because there would be distortions in proportionality because we don't know how many voters there are going to be, then you have the national list to give you full proportionality. You understand? Now this was until August last year. In August last year there was a sudden rush that the provinces should be set up after the report of the regions and not only that but there should be elections at the same time in the provinces. Now that came very late in the day. Now the rational way of doing it, like in Namibia, is to have a Commission of Enquiry for two or three years and then draw up the regional boundaries and then have a separate election. So for the first election the sudden introduction of the provincial elections led to the following matters. In every country where you vote twice there is a huge wastage of spoilt votes. There is 60% illiteracy in South Africa. The vast majority have never voted. To ask them to vote twice is in fact to confuse, like in Angola, 25% wastage.

POM     They don't know what they are really voting about.

KA     Yes. And one of the eight or nine factors of the electoral system is people must see a connection between the vote itself and the results of that vote and invariably it is either you get confused if you don't vote twice, you don't vote at all or you say I must give my second preference. It's not really a second preference. The first election in South Africa is really a referendum, a referendum as to which party/movement is going to be involved in the process of governance under a government of national unity.

POM     And legitimacy.

KA     Yes legitimacy. And if you have a discrepancy between the two then I think you effect the notion of legitimacy. Now I have been a very strong advocate having proposed proportional representation successfully, I have been a very strong advocate of a single ballot. Even in Germany you look at the discrepancy between voting for individuals in a party and the party list, you vote twice in Germany. The highest proportion of spoilt votes in a democratic country. Now don't give me the fact that in the United States you may vote for five elections in one day because you've been voting for 200 years. And I don't know what the discrepancy is on spoilt votes, if Democrats mix those, but it doesn't matter in the end. Things don't turn on subtle differences of who has power in the region. Our position is that this is a first ever election, it must be simple, straightforward. It should never happen again but the history of this process is people have forgotten that there was never an original idea that you should have elections for the National Assembly and the province and, with great respect, undemocratic. The normal democratic principle is that the party that becomes the largest party forms the government. There's going to be a government of national unity. We proposed that. That's not particularly democratic but that's the South African solution. In the same way it's not very democratic to give a Senate elected by the Provincial Assemblies equal power in making the constitution.

POM     Do they have veto power over ...?

KA     Equal power, there's a joint House of Parliament. So when you look at the democratic thing it's a definition of democracy.

POM     What happens, say, in a situation in which there isn't consensus but the ANC controls more than 51% of the votes? Would then the ANC simply say we can't get the rest of you to agree, it's too bad, we're going to go ahead with it?

KA     The constitution says decision making in the Cabinet will be by consensus but such consensus shall not frustrate the will of the majority.

POM     I can see this in the Constitutional Court.

KA     No, no. But decisions can only be taken in certain areas by a two thirds majority, so a simple majority will not do. That is constitutionally adopted by 200,000 votes, a majority of 200,000 votes, about 52 to 48. The government had some loopy idea about 80% majority, so we agreed to two thirds majority. People don't acknowledge the ... consensus to what is the protection of minorities and particularly in countries that work on absolute majorities, majority principle like in the United States. The President displaces thousands of people, appoints his own people, that's the majority principle.

POM     You can elect a President without getting a majority at all, it's a popular vote through the Electoral College.

KA     But Mr Clinton only got 44% of those who voted, I mean those who registered to vote.

POM     The other half ...

KA     You talk about that, I wouldn't use the word that it's undemocratic. It may be in the South African context problematic, it may have been insensitive but in the end it was a package arrangement in November and we offered again, wrongly in my view, we offered the Alliance a package which included double votes, two weeks ago and it's now been in the press because Thabo Mbeki mentioned it in the press as part of the package so I think very much turns on that. If there's a package going it's part of a compromise arrangement. But I'm convinced that someone who had looked at electoral systems elsewhere that it would have been absolutely disastrous to have had two ballots.

POM     Do you think it would be good or bad for the country for the ANC to get more than two thirds of the vote?

KA     Oh I think it's absolutely vital for the ANC to get as large a majority as possible because that will establish clarity in terms of support, clarity in terms of the kind of reconstruction policy that we have. We have a vast number of policy documents that we have issued in the last year or so, most recently our reconstruction and development document. But the ANC is bound by the constitutional principles, it can't shake and give a De Valerian constitution to the people of South Africa. Even a simple thing like we can't recognise the special role of the Catholic Church, Article 44 in the constitution, that's forbidden under the principles because of religious freedom. And I think really it's a referendum, the elections are a referendum and a referendum presupposes a statement about support for a movement, a national organisation. I am a strong believer in the ANC getting the largest possible support because I know the traditions of the ANC, the traditions as we mention in our election manifesto, that our constitution we want to be adopted by consensus. If there is a dissenting minority of one third you are not embracing the constitution to your bosom.

POM     Do you not think that having so much power concentrated in one party opens the way for a one party state? I put that in the context of two years ago I had a chat with Moses Tchitendero, the Speaker of the House in Namibia, and he said SWAPO went out there with the idea of getting as much power as it could, of getting as many votes, as high a percentage as possible. He said in retrospect it was good for the country that they didn't because it has allowed the development of a real opposition where dissenting views had to be taken into account, where you had to begin in the compromises and trade marks that are the hallmarks of democracy.

KA     Unlike SWAPO, we are ANC, a movement, it's an alliance of various forces in the ANC. The real opposition will come regardless of numerical opposition from within the ANC. That's the great strength. So when the debates took place in the British House of Commons from 1945 to 1950 the real debates were inside the Labour Party and they had a majority of 150. In the House of Commons, the Tories were discredited, woebegone, frightened. The same thing when Roosevelt served his three terms the debates were in the Democratic Party never in the Republican because Roosevelt had huge majorities. And that's the dimension and concern about that we are an alliance. But apart from that each country has its own issues, its own answers and I don't wish to, to be fair to Namibia, I was there two weeks ago, they are having problems, they have formulations in the constitution that are totally impossible to operate. We succeeded in saying that there must be restitution of land which was taken away under the Group Areas and the Black Spots removal, but also for land policy the state could buy land. Now in Namibia there is no such provision that the state could buy land for the purposes of redistribution with compensation. And in Namibia it's only willing purchaser and willing seller. Now we have our own experience in South Africa because the World Bank has said that unless there is a solution to the land hunger there will be civil turmoil, a major report to the World Bank produced in South Africa. So the reason why the maximum support for the ANC is required is because I think there has to be a concerted drive to attend to the aftermath of an apartheid society and I think that the ANC is best suited for that. The ANC, you have to accept it, is structured in a different way from any other party I know. Mr Mandela is a very good illustration. Mr Mandela doesn't decide the policy of the ANC. Charismatic figures do that.

POM     Sometimes he's made a statement and the following day the policy kind of contradicts it, a certain amount of humour to it.

KA     Well it may do that because we are an open body. I can't imagine Roosevelt or Truman or De Valera allowing themselves to be contradicted by anyone and Mr Mandela has made proposals about various things which we have debated and discussed in the National Executive Committee. And so in that way therefore, I said the opposition will come from within the ANC, the real opposition. We are not a burnt out case as most of the white parties are burnt out, they go through the motions and I for one believe, I have very strong views about capital punishment. I should oppose more meaningfully because the opposition supports capital punishment, the DP supports capital punishment, they are divided. The National Party of course always supports capital punishment. The real opposition to capital punishment will come from within the ANC. That's one example. We are the only party that says abortion must be available to women. Now that may be imprudent to say that but we have said it in our reconstruction document. So the debates not the opposition, the real debates will take place in what they call in South Africa that I don't like, is a parliamentary caucus.

POM     Do you think that the ANC after the next five years, say in 1997, could split off into different wings reflecting different ideologies?

KA     Well in exile everybody argued that that's the inevitable thing that will happen to the ANC. It didn't. There is a fervour in the ANC that enables the ANC as a broad movement to come to agreements on issues. The issue is not whether they are ideological, they are issues if people feel uncomfortable in the ANC it will break up. I would be one to leave the ANC if I feel personally uncomfortable but the diversity of opinions, attitudes, possibly even ideology is its strength so that we can adopt a reconstruction document that unites pretty well all the strands in the ANC and there are strands in the ANC and we admit to strands in the ANC. But the unity of purpose is remarkable. I see no reason why so long as the ANC stands on certain basic core values, non-racialism, non-sectarianism, a capacity to mobilise and support of the men and women of no property. I use that specifically. Capacity to represent the great unwashed. As long as it invokes the need for action to deal with poverty which is the existential issue here of hunger, of disempowerment and the way we elected our lists, it was a remarkable illustration.

     Everybody thought the head office will decide who is going to go on the national list and it came all from the bottom up. Really extraordinary. It cost us millions of rands. It came from the bottom up. Six ballots conducted by impartial bodies and some extraordinary results that I beat Winnie Mandela, I beat Joe Modise the head of MK. I say that in a personal way, that's an extraordinary thing that I could actually appear above Winnie Mandela. Now where does that happen because in most countries you manipulate the results. I mean head office decides effectively who are going to be the candidates. And that's the great strength of the ANC that the internal democracy is not a mystification it is a real thing. I don't see why the ANC should break up. I would not want an ANC government after three elections. I've said that publicly. I wouldn't want an ANC government after three elections. In any event what people don't realise here, it's very difficult to get 50% of the votes after the first election under the list system, very difficult. Mrs Thatcher had a majority of 120 with 44% of the votes. On the list system it's very hard to get 50% of the votes. The full import of that hasn't caught on here. So basically the list system is a coalition system, a compulsory coalition and after the first election we will have voluntary coalitions but you're not going to write about this until 1997.

POM     So you're safe. Finally, does the threat from the right, their intransigence, the veiled threats of terror campaigns and Buthelezi on the other side of the country solely trying to use the Zulu nation, it seems like with the connivance of the King, to stake out their claim to independence. Do you think (1) that there may be a lot of violence in the country for some time to come, particularly in Natal, and (2) whether it is possible to have free and fair elections in certain parts of the country?

KA     Well, free and fair elections because you will be able to cultivate in five years from now, three years from now, there have been situations where there has been much more violence and elections have been held, in Campuchea, Cambodia is an example, Pol-Pot, murderous tyranny, they had state power. They still had elections in 1985 and journalists have been there and the resistance movement and the government controlled different parts of the country but there were elections. And Angola is a classic example and no-one doubts in Angola, even Savimbi doesn't doubt whatever Pik Botha may have said, that the elections were free and fair in Angola. So I am going to use what Reginald Maudling said about Belfast, you can tolerate a certain level of violence, I think he said, and that's a very easy way of accommodating yourself. As long as British soldiers are not killed it doesn't matter who else gets killed. I think what you can't minimise in the South African context is the consequences of legitimate structures, you will have trouble with them after the election. But once there are legitimate structures I think Afrikaners are not going to pull down the very system that the racist social welfare state has built. Durbanville which I went to for the first time, it's an urban paradise, it's a garden city, Durbanville. You get that in upstate New York, you get it in Solihull in the West Midlands, garden suburbs, but those are the upper middle class, upstate New York, but these are ordinary lower middle class, middle class houses, beautiful services, beautiful provisions, all use of state power. The Afrikaner is not going to destroy that. They threatened in November that if the TEC comes into force there will be the ten plagues, I think the AWB did. So they had five ANC houses, offices have been blown up, yesterday a Sasol petrol line was blown up, now this is low level, you expect that, even a more accentuated level. But the idea of a civil war breaking out will not occur because there isn't that social base. No people in history have destroyed the very thing that they are committed to maintaining through violent means and so therefore there isn't that social base.

POM     So it will be more important that the elections be legitimate than that they be free and fair?

KA     Very relevant that they should be substantially free and fair.

POM     The western powers often put on these ridiculous observing teams that if there's one ballot wrong they call the election unfair or whatever. Probably if you took people over to America and had them observe elections they might find them more unfree and unfair.

KA     Yes. As I say, substantially, in other words there may be regional variations of no free political activity, no-go areas. We are having a meeting tomorrow here and we are going to ensure that there is free political activity in this university on very pragmatic and practical grounds but also on policy grounds, but the preferred virtue is freedom of speech that conditions the capacity to affect everything else. And so we're going to do that. We've been grappling for three months because the students had different views. They thought only the liberation movements should have the right to free speech. So we squared them on that and so therefore by conceding to a particular power group that they could have a veto over the election process, you are surrendering the integrity of the electoral process, the integrity of the results and you can't concede. That's why we say substantially free and fair because if we said it must be entirely free and fair, as you said you look at a minute transgression here and a minor transgression there and say it wasn't uniformly free and fair. And there are provisions also holding parties responsible if they don't allow for free and fair activity.

POM     Finally, the biggest threat to the future?

KA     Oh well the biggest threat to the future is the inability of an ANC government to meet the legitimate needs of the people. That's the biggest threat. Everything else flows from that, everything flows from poverty, the lack of security, lack of order in our country, the low level of technology flows from the apartheid society. All the great miracles of Taiwan and South Korea and Singapore have been based on massive investment in education. They have a highly skilled educational force and no nonsense about sweated labour. I mean Republican Congressmen may say the textiles produced there come from sweated labour, they are high wage textiles. But massive investment in education. And South Africa by any index of inequality, the three indices in equality, is the most unequal country in the world so you've got to handle, you've got to deal and respond not to mystify but in a real sense, poverty, deprivation, absence of clean water, absence of housing, lack of compulsory education for primary school kids.

     And it's legitimate expectations, aspirations and it's remarkable how modest the aspirations of South Africans are. We come from immodest societies. How modest they are that they don't want a yacht or a second house, a palatial mansion or a supermarket to be nearby. They want clean water, they want shelter, they want education for their kids, they want the possibility of work. And unless the government meets the very legitimate aspirations, and unless white society understands that they must be met, that's the biggest threat, that's what will destabilise the emerging democratic order. You can't build a democratic order unless there is agreement on what the Germans call 'socialestat', that no-one should fall below a minimum and the greatest threat will be the inability of a democratic government to meet the very modest minimum demands which are quite legitimate. And that's what the struggle has been all about. It hasn't been to insert a democratic order and insert black faces. It is a reconstruction of our society. How's that?

POM     OK. Thank you.

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.