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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

08 Nov 1994: Gerwel, Jakes

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POM     I suppose the question I would like to ask refers to more what appears to be the state of the country. When one has been away for four months and comes back and one sees part of the MK in rebellion, an increase in the role of crime, serious crime according to the Sunday Times, a number of SDU units not handing in their weapons and acting as gangs, the seeming inability of the police to get a handle on the crime situation, President Mandela saying that he was not declaring war on the ANC, random strikes bringing cities to a halt, huge demands for pay increases, taxi wars, civil war still going on in Natal/KwaZulu and it's very easy to get the impression that the country is going slowly towards a form of anarchy that no-one can control.

JG     Juxtaposed like that it sounds like a litany of bad news and social decay and deterioration, but one has actually got to - those things are there, there are these indicators of the social ills, but I've just seen this morning a report to an inter-governmental committee of a survey done by the HSRC and the sense of security experienced by black people, African people, has actually dramatically turned around whereas before the election, I don't remember the exact figures, the rate of sense of insecurity was very high and those feeling secure very low. It has turned around, that must say something about one's interpretation of all of these worrying factors that you quoted. I think the most important one is probably the social crime, the others are manifestations of political activity. You know strikes are a form of industrial democracy and particularly the kind of democracy around South Africa is a factor that will continue. Demands for wage increases is nothing new in South Africa. The MK phenomenon is a particular thing which one can talk about separately.

     I think the more endemic problem is that of social crime and social ills. In one sense one could say that that too is a reflection is a very perverse way of the normalising of South African society, that it is no longer the political aspects that form around - normal abnormalities are coming to the fore. But it revolves around policing and I'm not just saying it's bad policing, it's insufficient policing. Our police force needs to be, there need to be more police, the whole concept of community policing needs to be worked out. Yes, there are those problems and if one puts that together like that you almost think of society collapsing, whereas in fact I think what is really happening in our society is normalising, greater political stability, there is greater political legitimacy and that provides the basis for addressing many of these questions. Now if you go into ways in which these are being addressed, the simmering Natal situation which is a different one from the Natal situation and conflagration a couple of months ago. The simmering may be the simmering of the ... over ... the simmering of ... preceding the start of a fight.

POM     I would link that to the holding of local elections next October. Travelling around the country most people said to us that there was no way the country would be ready for local elections by 1995, some of the regions hadn't even got to the process of providing the infrastructure for them. One, do you think the elections will be held then? Two, would the conflict between the ANC and IFP in KwaZulu/Natal re-emerge as the turf is now much smaller and the stakes are higher?

JG     Elections are due to take place not later than November. This morning there was a preparatory meeting for the elections. A lot of work still has to be done. A lot of work had to be done for the national elections in April and there are similar predictions that we won't be ready, but even in the middle of the elections there were prognoses and diagnoses that we weren't ready. That is a determination in the government that the election should take place then, so that is really the basis for the democracy as far as ordinary people are concerned in bringing democracy to them. Whether that will lead to further conflict between the ANC and the IFP, I wouldn't be surprised if it does within the Natal. I don't think I want to call it conflict between the ANC and the IFP, Natal is just a very particular, strange kind of place. It's a murky, dark area, that's the one area where traditionalism has been shrouded in mists and clouds and anything can happen. It is a challenge to the Natal political leadership but, yes, there always is the danger of conflict in Natal.

POM     Now, not linking the two, but the rift developing between Chief Buthelezi and King Zwelithini, does this result in terms of the pitting of Zulu against Zulu in the longer run, or is it just really small ...?

JG     The conflict in Natal has been among Zulu and Zulu, it's been Zulu against Zulu, so the rift between Mr Buthelezi and King Zwelithini is but another aspect of the rift among Zulus. The ANC-supporting people in Natal have been mostly Zulu people, so this is not new in that aspect that the Zulus are now being looked upon. What it does do is to highlight, as they say in the jargon of the country, the constructiveness of Zuluness, there is more God-given Zuluness out there. The whole thing about the Zulus is not the social and political construction, it is a real thing, and the Zulu kingdom is not an ancient kingdom that you're talking of, it's a 19th century colonial - it came about in that period of the colonial wars in that particular period, and then again in the latter period of apartheid and the Buthelezi period during a particular time the King was given a particular position. Now that the King takes another political position, the latter is passed in different forms. It is just another chapter in Zulu politics. It is a new rift in Zulu politics. It in fact eventually will be a more unifying thing, with the King really standing above party politics.

POM     The King started off ... around central government?

JG     That's the idea yes.

POM     So he's wearing a different halo so to speak?

JG     Well he's protected from being too much of a party player.

PM     Just again with regard to Buthelezi, we saw him early last week and there was a question of him, of the foreign mediation that is supposed to be part of the deal struck between the ANC and his party before the elections, he identified that as being the key thing and we got the papers today and it has now come before parliament and the Constituent Assembly and that there appears to be on almost the part of everyone a great reluctance to allow foreign mediation into the country's constitutional process.

JG     Well that is why, probably one of the achievements that we reached is the interim constitution that we did without being governed or managed or chaperoned from outside. The agreement to the international mediation at that time was around particular issues and the view in the government of national unity is that those circumstances have changed now and there is no reason for that international mediation. If there are things that KwaZulu/Natal desire then that should be negotiated in the government and the provinces can write their own constitutions. So to be insistent upon international mediation because there was an agreement with that at a particular time and under particular circumstances is a little bit understandable.

POM     He harps a great deal on that, on complaints in the provinces about the lack of powers that were being devolved to them and which powers would be handed down by the government, essentially precluding them from carrying out their duties.

JG     Local parties I'm not so sure, but the provincial governments and the Premiers, most of them who are ANC Premiers have been party to the writing of the constitution and the constitution is actually quite clear on that. It is not as if anything is being withheld from them which could have been done differently in terms of what the constitution says. The major problem is establishing administrative structures and the constitution is quite clear on that, if there are not the administrative structures then those functions are transferred to a competent authority in the central government and that was done and there are regular meetings between the Premiers and the central government and there are tactical committees backing that up who are consistently working on the setting up of the administrative structures handed down so far. A lot of powers have in fact been transferred to the provinces. But I understand their own impatience about not having powers.

POM     There is a certain irony to it and that is some of them are saying that not having power puts (them in a very difficult position).

JG     Now the ANC are sometimes the most vociferous federalists.

POM     Are there arguments going on or is it settled about whether the state devolves powers, or whether the centre devolves to the peripheral or whether the regions give residual powers to the centre?

JG     I think that argument is only starting. We discover now how difficult it is to set up even this quasi-federal system that the constitution envisages. It really is a massive task, but at the same time, as I said earlier, the majority of the provinces are also coming around to the idea that the centre devolves powers and this is an interim constitution so one must accept that for the final constitution that probably will be one of the key and the central points of it. And many people in the provinces may now, because in their province it is no longer the provinces of the old order, they may very well ask for greater devolution of powers.

POM     Again, talking to people about the RDP, you mention it to the man on the street and he gets a glaze in the eyes, mention it to some MPs and they recognise what the initials stand for but not what it is supposed to do. Even in some of the provinces the Premiers were telling us that different heads of different departments actually had different interpretations of it. It seems that it hasn't been marketed very well in terms of the analysis of the election policy. People were shown how they could do it, how they were to vote.

JG     One of the things that any marketing strategy would be, I would imagine, would be to demystify the RDP. The government at the time has believed in central planning and the way that one should socially engineer society. I have learned and I am convinced that if we want to reconstruct our society and if we want development in our society we must also avoid this for the RDP, it's a much more dynamic and multi-faceted thing of development and reconstruction projects than that. So I can see when people get this glaze, I think we in central government, and particularly the RDP ministers should guard against this 'the RDP' as a ... There is a commitment in our society to address poverty, to address or redress the imbalances in our public and industrial economic world and that's really what we're talking about rather than just 'the RDP', and obviously the government had to have a plan, had to have a policy on that. But there is a danger of over-raised expectations on this whole concept of the RDP.

POM     Do you think, and we talked about this in other years, that there was a level of expectations, that specific promises were made particularly with regard to areas like housing, which the government now realises can't be met.

JG     If one has to look at all of these promises, I mean I can't speak for what the ANC did during it's election campaign, or what the National Party did or what Inkatha did as campaigning parties, and expectations, obviously people have expectations even if no promises were made and there was an expectation of people in this fundamental political change that came about that they must realise their lives must be better ones. I think the government is going to deliver, I have no doubt, I mean it's not going to give everybody a house in a year or two years or three years or five years, but housing for example, there's a housing plan being worked out and I am sure there is going to be delivery in terms of housing. The lives of people are going to improve. Similarly with health, and I'm just naming some of the areas where there has already been in six months time an encouraging move towards changing. I am wary about ascribing to people, ordinary people as they are called, the total lack of political sense as if they are all really just sitting waiting that overnight things should come. But it is really a question of how the government and the private sector together, managing the economy, having a relatively sound macro-economic framework within which development takes place where the economy can grow because there's job creation of which 50% of the work force is unemployed, whether that can be addressed. I mean, again, I am impressed by the discipline and rigour that go into planning around these matters and these issues. There is always going to be in any society, not only ours, I mean a rich country like the United States there was always a tension between expectations and what you've delivered.

POM     In terms of is there a culture of dependency, over the years in people's hearts and minds they did what they were told, they moved where they were told to move, they worked where they were told to work, they went to school where they were told go to school, and that there's still a very high residual level of that left which kind of has them waiting for the government to do things for them rather than for them to understand that they must do things themselves; if their lives are to improve it won't be through the effort alone of government but through their own effort of sacrifice?

JG     It is easy to generalise either way about these things, exactly how it characterises society, whether it's possible at all to characterise society as a whole. One could on the other hand say that this is a society in which there has been, especially the last ten years, very little of that dependency. Society has been characterised by resistance in the face of the most brutal form of repression that people stood on their own two legs and took on the might of the apartheid state. One can refer to things like, for example, what was called the educational struggle of the kids who just didn't accept but took on the education system and brought it to a halt. One can refer to the rent boycott and say there was a way that people were prepared to lose their homes and their services by boycotting those rents. So the common denominator about this vibrant NGO factor that we had in South Africa, was the value independent civil society, strong resistance tradition. What one really is going to address is, just for an example, the rent boycott which at the time was a strong, independent, anti-apartheid manifestation. It is that form of culture of entitlement, people call it these days, which has now got to be addressed rather than a dependency complex, almost what has developed over the years is that people see themselves entitled to certain things.

     For example, not paying for services. That's one of the big problems which Joe Slovo and his ministry is battling with now, how to break through that, to get people to understand that the delivery of housing, for example, is dependent upon people paying for their services. We were saying in the schooling it's not so much a dependency complex that has got to be broken through but that resistance culture in the schools has led to a complete breakdown in what's called the cultural learning and that's got to be recaptured. It's also connected to the whole thing of legitimacy. People said these were all illegitimate structures so there was a moral legitimation for not doing those things. We've got to break through that as well.

POM     Everyone we have talked to talks about the miracle of the elections and the smoothness of how it all went without any violence, and most have also suggested that it probably wasn't a free and fair election and there was in fact a kind of a brokered result, one that made everybody a winner, one that was acceptable to people in the country as a whole so that the question of legitimacy was superseded by the question of substantial pre-concerns. Only 67% of the votes were counted, the rest were just lost, they're out there some place, but it still would justify the government on the face of it that it worked and that acceptability was more important than conforming to traditional western standards of what's free and what's fair.

JG     Well I don't know about that, which party is speaking and why it's speaking about how (the result was arrived at), it depends in which province they are and which party. Johann Kriegler said at the time, the chairperson of the Independent Election Commission, that his brief was not to certify the absolute accuracy of the elections but that it was substantially free and fair and I must say that's good enough for me. In itself it was an exercise most people who would take advantage of the whole thing would describe it as a miracle and the government of national unity seems to work well. The smaller parties, there was some contest with the smaller parties as well who are not in the government of national unity and they seem to be happy and it seems to be working, so unless there is irrefutable proof of massive rigging I think most South Africans will say, thanks very much, we had an election that was free of violence, an election that was free of intimidation and an outcome of those elections which seems to have brought the nation together.

POM     Derek Keys, when I talked to him a year ago when he was still Minister of Finance, talked about prospects of the economy and he said that it was his considered opinion that employment will increase by no more than one percent a year between now and the year 2000. And I saw him a couple of weeks ago and I asked him the same question and he gave the same answer. Now if that in fact is how unemployment is going to be reduced, it won't be reduced because I guess the numbers will increase, the numbers of the population that are unemployed. How do you generate the re-growth and then go back to have a house and pay for the services and pay for the house? Which comes first, the house or a job? What kind of jobs are available? Unemployment is a problem not just here but in most African countries and most European countries have accepted that if you are over 50 years of age and you get laid off you're not going to work again. So you have the population increasing still at a very high rate, a rate of economic growth that doesn't even match the rate of population growth, so where do you generate the resources to boost the economy, especially when most economists also say that tax levels are probably as high as they can go and the tax base is too small because they are an added burden.

JG     There is a more optimistic view as well about the economy's capacity. Foreign investment is one solution which the government is looking for to encourage growth in the economy and it is for that reason that political stability is so important that this miracle, or even contrived miracle if that is what it was, is so important. The sound economic policies, all of those things do engender confidence, but it's also the realisation that the small business sector, the informal factor, are probably under-rated job creation agencies and some of the ministries, for instance Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Finance, are actually looking into it departmentally, that small and medium and informal business as a means of job creation or keeping people gainfully employed. The RDP itself, the Reconstruction and Development Programme as a public works, the building of houses, electrification, other reconstruction projects have in it an employment and a job creation aspect. It's not only that 50% of the population is unemployed but there is a sense that we must gradually start addressing that. But you're right in saying that people must pay for services, [but in one sense also it's cheaper than in ... situation, that many people are notorious ... you pay for services, you're unemployed and this emphasis of this public works aspect of the reconstruction, it leads to some form of job creation while the social service deliveries ...]

POM     You're talking about the usual base of whatever tax has been generated and can't be stretched much further but can be redistributed to make some things more equitable. Do you think it has the effect of reversing a level of economic growth, that will bring in the foreign investment that is needed?

JG     I think so. My advice is that the indications are that there is an increased interest in foreign industry in South Africa. There is still a nervousness to start building systems which may be counter-productive because you can't be depending in miracles, people want to see that society is stabilised. But the advice that we have had is that there is in fact an increased interest by foreign investors in the country.

POM     So if you were a foreign investor you would believe that after seven or eight months there is a level of suitable stability and he might invest in South Africa rather than some other place in the world, rather than any other deprived region?

JG     Hopefully, the point that Derek Keys always made in private conversations was that the best investor is the market and I think his reservations were about the valuation of South Africa as an expanding market, but that too is dependent upon development so you need the development of people in order to create markets. That's why this insistence on how we're doing in electrification and some priority projects because it's not only social services that you provide for people. A person with a house, a person with electricity becomes a client or a customer for other goods and services. So investor interest in South Africa ultimately depends on how we show the market that we can sell the products.

POM     Looking at the right wing, has the Conservative Party effectively marginalised itself? Has Constand Viljoen co-opted their followers?

JG     Constand Viljoen has very definitely managed to take the centre stage in Afrikaner politics. The Conservative Party has totally cancelled itself out of the political arena but it has marginalised itself with regard to the central position taken by Constand Viljoen. I sometimes have the impression that Viljoen is almost - if there was an election now that he may in fact do much better vis-à-vis the National Party even. It's a question of him becoming centre stage in South African politics at the moment. I think that provides more of a vision to Afrikaners than any of the other political parties, even including the National Party.

POM     So when you look around, the AWB three or four years ago weren't taken seriously, the manner of their exit from Bophuthatswana and appearing on television robbed them of any credibility they ever had as a potential fighting force.

JG     Yes, that certainly destroyed them. I might have mentioned that I have never taken the AWB as a serious problem, just a great nuisance. They could have been sabotaging but that Bophuthatswana incident ... And that put Viljoen, Viljoen is a real soldier, he was totally put off by the those AWB soldiers.

POM     Looking at affirmative action and the civil service, you have competition that everyone's job is ... you have separately to bring black staff into the civil service at high levels, the government to reduce the civil service by 200,000 people. How do you bring about these changes? That's like a long term process rather than something that makes a great deal of leeway in the short term, because in the short term ... the duration of the government.

JG     There is some contradiction in the constitution by balancing jobs in the current civil service and at the same time trying to restructure the civil service to be more representative. That has to be done by at least 6% annually, there are quite a number posts coming up. There must be a plan and a strategy now, even now making appointments to vacant posts we're hamstrung by some of the provisions of the Civil Service Act, Public Service Act because it provides that serving civil servants get promotion. At the moment I'm sitting with ... and I'm waiting for the Public Service Commission now to repeal some of our legal provisions else it will mean going through hundreds of applications and having to unmotivate each of the qualifying civil servants.

POM     Could civil servants or elements in the civil service, would it be difficult for the government to implement the programme?

JG     I've got such a small department that it's difficult for me to see how anybody can make it difficult for me but I suppose in a large department probably. Many ministers complain that the civil servants - I don't know whether it's just a lot of prejudice. We're all coming from outside, there was a lot of talk about this civil service and the bureaucrats. I must say those that I inherited here have not been unhelpful, they are not obstructionists, probably because it is such a small department and probably because Mandela is such a persuasive President and it's such a small department. But many ministers, some ministers complain about that.

POM     How long do you think the government has to give people a sense of accomplishment, to convince people that things can't be done overnight, but at the same time people have electrification or something happening, something that will improve their lives?

JG     Before what happens? How much time they have, time before what happens? You were asking how much time they have to deliver before what happens?

POM     Before there is a massive drift of support away from the ANC, perhaps to the PAC who sit on the sidelines and say, we told you so, we told you they couldn't deliver. The question of the relationship between the government and the unions. Some study I read said that the hatred between a white person and a black person had been reduced to 16% and that a black elite which belonged to a union and the unemployed and that the real question facing the country was not a racial question it was a question of the haves and the have-nots.

JG     The question has always been the haves and the have-nots, there has got to be a deracialisation of the haves and the poor blacks. While the bulk of poor people remain blacks, the racial element will remain there. The relationship between the government and the unions, I think it's the general tension that has developed there, not that there has always been tension in the democratic movement between the unions and the political parties. So your question of how much time the government has, I find it highly unlikely that there will be divisions within the ANC. I think even if there is delivery, the ANC is such a broad organisation that sometimes, well always there have been tensions, but there have been different strands to the ANC and that continues at the moment. I'm not actually thinking about a time limit for the ANC to deliver or else is going to happen. The government has the responsibility to change the lives of the people, to start looking about changes there and I think it has that five-year life-span and in those five years it must demonstrate that the lives of people have changed.

POM     At this point if you were outside and have observed the government for seven months, seven and a half months since the elections, on a scale of one to ten where one is very unsatisfactory and ten is very satisfactory, where would you place the government as a whole?

JG     Probably I have different view of as a whole the government of national unity holding together, I would score them very high for that. I have always responded to the way that the multiparty government of national unity works, but one would not be aware that it is a multiparty government if you were sitting in on the debates, on the meetings of the Cabinet, you would not realise that people come from different parties. Those arguments never run on party lines. It is an amazing thing to see people from different parties taking the same position on an issue as that another conglomeration is taking, another position on that. So in that respect I think it actually works very well. If you go through ministries, some are doing better than others. Not for publication, some of those which are doing well, the Ministry of Health for example they score very high in respect of the ministry and portfolio and she made peace with the bureaucrats that she inherited. She has still got the Director General and started moving on things. Minister Asmal, the Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry, I would score him as high as a nine, suddenly we have grown a liking for water and that is what water should be but has never been. The Minister of Public Enterprises was always known as a homelands ex Prime Minister of Transkei, Stella Sigcau, she has an impressive command of her portfolio, it is a technical one. The Minister of Finance, or both Ministers of Finance did very well. The Minister of Trade & Industry is doing very well. The Minister of Justice is doing well as are the security Ministers, Sydney Mufamadi and Joe Modise who have done remarkable jobs of holding together and changing things. There are some that are not moving as fast as others but the government of national unity ...

POM     And where would you rank President Mandela?

JG     President Mandela is, of course, unique. Certainly he is undoubtedly the major moral presence in the world today and he brings back to the government, in the way he governs, the whole question of national reconciliation, nation building. A lot of his time and attention goes into that. National stability. There are those matters of nation building and national stability that he understands. And, of course, he has just put South Africa internationally on the map as a nation, largely because of him. He's probably our greatest national asset at the moment.

POM     If he were to die suddenly?

JG     It never will be easy to replace Mandela.

POM     Is there anybody there - he's actually the glue that holds the whole thing together. In the absence of that glue would things become much more factionalised?

JG     Mandela just holds such a moral authority that it's not going to be easy for anybody else to say they are going to do the same things as Mandela does. Thabo Mbeki has that role nationally. I'm not suggesting that he's going to be a second Mandela, but the holding together, he has the same approach to things as Mandela.

POM     What about the Truth Commission. Last week I had an interview with Professor Heyns and we discussed the Truth Commission and he said that it might be the moral thing to do but it could give rise to a result that would be more immoral and he could see the breakdown of the government of national unity, lead to all kinds of things. Not saying that it would happen but that it could happen.

JG     The draft Bill has been approved by Cabinet for submission to parliament so that really is not a question. I am also nervous about it, the government of national unity, these moral issues. These matters have to be managed very carefully, quite apart from the government of national unity, imagine we had won the revolution and we were the only party in power so the government of national unity was of no concern, I still would be nervous about the highly complex matters that are going to be dealt with around reconciliation and information. The operation could easily become the opposite of what it intends to be. It has really got to be dealt with in a very sensitive way. The question is about these Nuremberg trials, what did it do to the world? I don't know, it's a very complex moral question and I just think that the Truth Commission option here surely is a bit of a latter day alternative to Nuremberg. I have the same nervousness, people suffered grievously in this country, not only those who have been killed and had these dramatic human rights violations in the eighties and so on. The ordinary person was pushed from pillar to post and was suffering the healing of our nation in the building of a democracy and making sure that we never again do those kinds of things. I hope if it happens, the intentions are quite clear that it is not a witch-hunt, it must be recording of the pain of the nation.

PAT     Are you satisfied with the legislation and this process ...?

JG     There has been a lot of working on this bill and attempting to be narrow enough not to lead to this whole period of recrimination.

POM     If, say, a minister in the previous government and who is a member of the government today and evidence emerged of their complicity and what could really be called a crime, would they be obliged to step down? This morning there was a deputy minister interviewed on television who boasted about what he did quite openly, he placed bombs and set them off and things like that, which some people, the National Party would qualify as a crime ... equality of treatment.

JG     >That's the indemnity I suppose, the amnesty.

POM     What do you think is the greatest obstacle in the path of the implementation of the most important parts of the RDP?

JG     Well the most obvious one of course is lack of resources and the state of our economy, a high percentage of our national budget going for ... So that is the most obvious obstacle. A second one is social instability. We need to have a relatively stable social environment in order to do the development, recreate healthy community life. But really at the base of things, the government needs to deliver.

     I'm sure we've always tried to do that but the government has an inter-departmental working group chaired by Finance and the RDP ministry which is the core for the mobilisation of international development aid. And they are actually quite hot on that and they demonstrated at this RDP or donor's conference that South Africa actually wants reconstruction and development to be a home based project and it should not be narrowly dependent upon aid. Secondly, the aid that it accepts must be articulated with South Africa's own budgetary processes, it's own privatisation. Some governments have already enquired why the money is not being spent and that was the subject of the interdepartmental group. And secondly we are not going to switch off our projects which are not high priorities but which require recurring expenditure. It is a very hard to speak about it on the part of the South African government and also I suspect, I haven't spoken to them, it's connected with so many NGOs, but I think the government is also saying that they are not going to be the sole defenders of NGOs whose business it is to do good works, that it wants some insight into foreign aid. Foreign aid is mostly going to be government to government , it is not the concern of the NGOs.

POM     I will relate that to a remark made by the Minister of Finance in which he said that he felt like a scrum half who cannot get the ball out of the scrum because my loose forwards are not there to support me.

JG     I'm not sure why he used that analogy because the ball is not coming out of the scrum enough. There have been a lot of discussions between the ANC and the senior tycoons in South Africa. There was this so-called ... the input and the planning was good. I don't think that the private sector has exactly delivered a major contribution into this programme of reconstruction. Perhaps it's only going to be in about six months time. By and large there is satisfaction with the way the government is going, economic policies and orientation. I was speaking to ... about four weeks ago when the white paper on the RDP was being prepared. They had interaction with Jay Naidoo but it wasn't clear what they discussed because they also knew the definition of their role. Joe Slovo managed to negotiate this mortgage indemnity scheme with the private sector. I think that was a major contribution to the provision of housing.

POM     In the Cabinet decisions are made by consensus. How is consensus defined?

JG     I don't think it's defined, it's never been that sort of Cabinet up till now. A lot of discussion, and as I said the discussion has never been on party lines, there has never been voting in the Cabinet. The Truth and Reconciliation Bill, for example. There are three Cabinet committees, one on economic affairs, one of solely administrative affairs and one on intelligence affairs. So matters coming to Cabinet first go to these Cabinet committees and that's where there was discussion and talk, there is the formal decision making to take the recommendation to Cabinet but an informality to it as well, so that's been one way, one thing that has contributed. I don't think these committees have ever been used for consensus. It works very well. For example on the three bills now before parliament, and we have come a long way in the Cabinet, there is a sub-committee consisting of Mr de Klerk, Kader Asmal and Dullah Omar and they would then go and work and bring back some things to the Cabinet. The same with the Truth Commission Bill, there was a working group of three parties and they would work it out in the Cabinet Committee, there was further discussion and then to Cabinet. That's why I say the government of national unity is really working very well. At first I thought, "Oh my God, here we go", but when it came to Cabinet there was none of the Buthelezi stand-off that I thought there would be, knowing him. He was apologetic, there was the feeling that he embarrassed the government of national unity so much, the censure was passed and he accepted it. I found that surprising.

PAT     I just have one question about the ANC and it is question about where is the party going?

JG     I think the ANC is going through, there's this up-coming conference in December that's going to be a formative one because really we're talking about a new situation, a new animal. Up till the elections the ANC used to call itself a political party and a liberation movement. This was historical but it did in fact cover its operations. Now it is even more transformed because now it is a parliamentary party and it has remnants of mass based organisation, I say remnants because the organisation isn't in good shape. In fact the organisation hasn't been in such great shape organisationally even before the elections but now it has deteriorated. You have within the parliamentary ANC, you have this undefined relationship between parliament and the executive and in parliament I'm quite sure you have this relationship, tension between the standing committees in parliament and the empowered parliament. They should have worked out what is that relationship between the back base organisation and the party in power, in government, which is of course further complicated by the nature of the ANC in any case, the tripartite alliance. So it's an interesting time of redefinition for the ANC. But I think the extra-parliamentary organisation has been largely depleted of its leadership by people going into government and into the civil service also.

PAT     Is it possible that ... in the local government elections?

JG     I would be surprised if they do. I think the ANC may actually do better in the Western Cape than it did in the provincial elections. But it's still unclear, there are lot of things that have still got to be defined about those elections. I shan't be surprised if the National Party ... I'm not sure if people like the Freedom Front are going to do well. When he offered me this job, the one thing that I did, I voted for the ANC in the province because I think they needed my vote, not that it was a wasted vote, but nationally I voted for the Freedom Front because I thought they needed my vote. It will be interesting to see what happens at the local level because that's probably where they're going to have conservative Afrikaners more concentrated than one vote in a black area, in Bellville or ...

POM     It could be identified.

JG      All the votes will then be counted by district, so if there areas where there was support for the volkstaat, I must remember to tell Viljoen, that I wanted Belhar to be a volkstaat.

PAT     ...

JG     I have a problem understanding what the hell I'm doing! The Director/General in our civil service is the head of the department, then you have the minister. We're going to have a distinct department and a ministry, a conglomerate of a ministry and the department is not much of a department so the leader's job will be chasing a lot of activities and coming from the job that I do and at my age I don't ascribe to be running around, so it's really defining what the focus of my job is for the President.

POM     Thank you very much for the time. We'll be back again before 1997. How would I go about getting an interview with the President? He's the last outstanding person, outstanding in every way. Thanks again. I can never see people voting to move parliament to Pretoria, this is such a beautiful city.

JG     I don't think it will happen in my term of office here.

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.