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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
12 Nov 1994: Lekota, Patrick
POM First of all could you describe the difference that's happened in your life from being a regular member of the ANC and living in your home to becoming the Premier of a region surrounded by bureaucrats and ministers and the whole apparatus of state? Has it been any different than the way you live, or what are the biggest differences?
PL In many ways I think the central point of transition is that until the elections we were in opposition to government and we were in a position where we criticised those who were in power and we sought to bring that government down. I think that even though we began as early as before the elections to begin to formulate the shape of what we wanted to do, given an opportunity after change with the country, in the main our politics were on the protest kind of train. After the elections and when we came to power we needed to move away from the politics of just opposition but to the politics of fuller action, to take the lead, to occupy positions which we have never occupied before and to act as a tempering element between the objectives which had been set and perhaps which over the years had grown to certain levels of expectations, to temper those with the knowledge of what could be done.
POM Have many of your members had a problem in making that adjustment from the politics of protest to the politics of governance?
PL It is now about six months since the elections and something that I think we didn't contend with but which has become quite apparent is that we did not prepare people for that transition, to know that once we come to power our supporters could not continue in the same way. For instance, where they had grievances that those grievances could not be discussed with authorities. Many of them still approached things as if we were the old government which was not prepared to discuss matters with them. It has still not yet sunk in the minds of many that the government that is now in power is there because we have elected it and it is obligated to talk to us and it has made such a commitment and it is willing to do so. So we do continue to find situations in which people will immediately go on strike, not so much because they are striking against the government but because they haven't made that mental transition that what we need to do now is simply to get talking and the matter will be discussed, receive an explanation. From that point of view, yes, the membership, the voters, the supporters of the movement have not made that transition as quick as all that.
But the fact that they have not made that transition is also a reflection on the leadership I think. It does show that we did not ourselves anticipate that problem and therefore work to prepare them for when that period comes. So I found, for instance, that probably about three to four weeks after I had been elected I was called to the Eastern Free State to do a show there, Newsline, and the people who were there had grievances, old grievances of course, and they wanted to see immediate action taken with regard to these matters and even the manner in which they spoke to me, some of them were quite drunk, they had quantities of liquor. So some people were very angry about the fact that I had appeared there. I agreed to come and talk to them even when I saw that some of the people were drunk I persisted and went on with the interview, but I said it is important to appreciate the fact that since before 1910 Africans have never been part of democratic process in the country. It's the very first time since, indeed since 1952 when the white people came here, that once again they are part of government and they can influence the course of events in their lives, especially talking to regions such as my own. It is a new instrument that our people have got in their hands, political power and it's an instrument they must learn to use and anyone, give anybody a new instrument they are bound to make some mistakes in the beginning in terms of wielding that instrument and we need to exercise patience and to work at helping them wield this new instrument.
I can say now that there have been significant differences since that first one and the present. Even the simple recognition that I am now talking to the leader of the province or I'm talking to one of the members of the government and so on, has slipped in and people now realise that the same respect that we gave all of the other leaders, although this is someone who has just come from amongst us, from this community and so on, but he is no longer just like that, there is a certain representativity, certain authority that this person will have. So it's just come on and it's come on, not imposed. People have moved towards that position. Sometimes I find I go to the stadium for a football game or rugby or cricket or something, a lot of the other people, you find many of the young people get access and they come because they feel, well, this is one of our comrades, one of our leaders and they do this. But you find a lot of others who say, no you can't do that, you can't just call him by his first name.
POM Mr Premier.
PL That's right. So that kind of process is taking place and I think we are seeing some positive sides about it. We spoke a lot before the elections and if you may recall from some of the literature that our movement produced, we spoke about the tasks that confronted us, about concluding a successful negotiation process or concluding the negotiation process successfully, preparing and fighting the elections and then of course preparing to govern. Part of these programmes I'm referring to really should have been dealt with as part of this process. If you say we are prepared to govern, one of the things we should have done is to run a programme in which we say to people, anticipate these problems and begin to discuss them. We didn't do that. We should have set up structures ahead, anticipated that the day after the elections we would need to do this, that and the other. Although we spoke about that we never really sank our minds into that problem, unbundle it and make detailed preparation. We were too concerned with winning the elections and because I think in the background of our minds there was a deep fear that what's the point of preparing for governing if you haven't even won the elections. If you lose the elections whatever preparations you have made are going to waste. So we didn't, we neglected that. Not deliberately but simply because of that natural pressure of the fear, the ignominy of defeat in the elections.
POM So what have been the biggest difficulties you had to overcome in your first six months in office?
PL Well the first problem was this problem that I've already referred to, readjusting the tactics, establishing a continual working relationship with our support base but clearly recognising the difference. Thirdly, there was another problem that arose, the problem that arose inside the movement was that there were those of our comrades who were in government and others who were outside of government and there did develop a tension at a point where people started talking about the ANC inside government and the ANC outside government. We started to see that there were two conflicting sections of the movement and we had to confront this, to say that even though some were now serving in the civil service, others in elected positions and others were not and remained in the structures of the ANC pure and simple, that the ANC remained the same organisation. There were not two organisations. There was just one ANC. Some of us were deployed in government, others were deployed in the army or civil service generally, others were deployed in the structures of the ANC outside of government. But the net effect was all of us remained one organisation. We had that debate and we were able to clear it I must say. At the present time the approach that has now emerged very powerfully is to see the organisation as one and therefore to recognise the fact that there's an obligation on the part of all of us to make a success of this government of national unity otherwise the whole organisation whether inside of government or not is doomed.
Then the second area or programme that arose was that the implementation of the RDP is an obligation on the part of the government because it is government policy, but those of our people who are members, who are in the structures of the ANC, who are in communities, who are in allied organisations, have got a duty as well, a role. And we need to define the roles, to say those who are in government will play this role, those who are not in government what role do they have to play? Because it can't be like they just fold their arms and sit back. The movement as a whole must attack the implementation of the RDP. So again there was a gap at this level, those who were outside of government feeling that there was not sufficient information reaching them from those who are in government. Therefore, there was a certain uneasiness that those who are now in government have now abandoned base, they are not interested in what's happening and they are not interested in giving feedback and so on. That is now inside of the movement, but it might turn itself into a problem in communities which have voted us in power who are not part of the structure of the ANC in the formal sense but who are our supporters, who now sit back and wait to hear or see what the movement is now doing.
We found that we had not developed the structures to start to govern and the process of getting rid of the old fifteen administrations of the country was inundated with problems and then setting the new nine administrations according to the provinces plus of course the central government. That of course took a long time. And whilst we were wrangling between ourselves in the provinces and the government at the centre communities were sitting there uncertain. What is taking place now? We have elected these people, what is going on? So a certain impatience arose from communities generally now, wanting an explanation, wanting to be involved, wanting to see something practical take place.
And then of course there was the question of the interpretation of freedom. Some of the people felt once the elections had run their course, once the voting was done, some people moved on to any unoccupied land and set up their shacks. They felt, well, they are free now, their party had won after all and they set up some shacks here and settled themselves. So the question of what really freedom meant, the question of constraints in which we had to operate also created some problems of its own.
Now I would not have said anything if I did not mention the problem of allaying the fears of whites. There have been all kinds of stories which terrified large numbers of whites. People bought out food, cat food, toilet papers, they literally bought out even supermarkets, whites that is took out their money from the banks because people anticipated war. They bought bullets, certain bullets were completely bought out of the gun shops, ammunition and so on. So it was quite clear there was extreme uncertainty on the part of white communities as to what was going to happen. And people like Premiers in the province, some of us were names which were relatively unknown and we hadn't been heard perhaps until now, but all the Premiers, and very few of us who had been heard but many of us had been heard more in the black communities than in white communities. People in black communities were more familiar with who we are and so on and somebody like me for instance with a name like Terror, I still didn't even have that tooth at that time, can you imagine? It caused all kinds of nightmares for various people. Of course people said who's going to win the elections, but when we did win the elections people said well we have this Terror now, what is this? And we needed to allay these fears and there was fear that people were going to run into town and smash shops, take commodities and all of that. Within provinces one had to deal with that and say this is not going to be allowed, we don't want that, this cannot be done. I had to stop at least two marches I think. People were trying to go into town and run amok and really be free. Of course they didn't really want to go there and smash shops. They wanted to go just to feel that they could walk free and they had won the elections and that was it. But you knew that among them were others with an agenda different from that, who would use the power of numbers to smash shops and so on. So we had to intervene. We began to develop, of course, confidence.
There was the question of the future of the languages, Afrikaans, and to talk to them about it. And this was a very, very critical question. On the farms in the Free State, for instance, farmers had been told how people were going to kill them and take their land. I remember the Zimbabwean incident of Tekere in which one farmer was killed and Tekere took for himself the farm, anyway he was involved apparently. According to the reports he was supposed to have been involved in it. Now those kinds of things people anticipated might happen here. So again you had to talk to the farmers and address certain sectors and so on. But I can say now without hesitation that I think within the province, the Free State, the development has been exceptionally constructive and I think we have bridged the gap.
POM Do you find that the white civil servants are fully cooperative or is there any tendency for them to try to hijack your policies and undermine you from within?
PL I think there was a very high potential for this but I have had a number of meetings with the civil servants, I have addressed all of the civil servants, education, public works, health and so on, assuring them of our policy, no-one was going to be fired summarily. We were going to set up new ministries but our government was going to start by using as it's first recruiting point the civil servants who are already there because after all we were obligated towards paying them. So in fairness I should say that in our province more than 60%, or even 70% of the civil servants, black and white, have been very cooperative. Now so much for that. It is true that there are elements there and I have spoken to these on a number of occasions who are not pulling their side, whose commitment is not with this government of national unity. On a number of occasions for instance in the administration, in the building where my offices are, there has been killing of fish, sometimes at night vandalisation of some of the offices, where somebody has come into the offices at night, broken cups, interfered with computers, killed these fish that you normally keep in the bowl in the offices, things like that. But again in fairness I must say to the civil servants that until now we have been able to identify who did this and there are a lot of white civil servants who have been sensitive to exposing this kind of thing. Again, as I say, there is more goodwill than the other side of things. I really must say that this is so.
POM If I remember in 1990 there was an issue of women being put in, they had to comprise one third of the NEC or whatever. You came out against it and said elections to positions should not be sexist but should be on the basis of merit, not on quotas.
POM How do you reconcile that now with the need for affirmative action in order to bring Africans and a sizeable number of women into senior positions in as short a period of time?
PL Well the debate has continued, beyond that conference that debate continued in the movement and ultimately in the build up to the elections the NEC revised the question in a formal way and although I was not part of that debate, in fact sometimes I thought that they gave people a contract to make sure that I would not be, so they took this decision. I think what happened is that I was actually pulled out of the meeting to go and do something, by somebody quite in a very informal way, but it was just to make space and by the time I came back I found that I had been in this meeting but this decision had been taken and I couldn't understand how a decision like this could have been taken when I was called out and I was taken somewhere and when I came back the decision had been taken. But it was not that people didn't really want to contend with a difficult argument. So with that disposition and going to the elections our own position was that the ANC's lists must include a third of women. I was not very comfortable with that position I must admit because I felt that it compromised the question of the element of merit but it was now fait accompli because it was a decision of the NEC so we all accepted that and we had to follow that as our guide.
After the elections we needed to deal with the question of setting up Cabinets in the provinces, etc. and whatnot, and I was quite involved with this process as a Premier of the province, setting out the Cabinet and so on. I appointed to our Cabinet a few women to start with and the resistance I got from the men helped me into sobriety, really. Right inside the organisation I found there was a lot of resistance and this for women whom I put in not because I was saying it's affirmative action, they were people competent for the job, one of them was an Attorney, and none of the men in the Cabinet was an Attorney who had the qualifications and I wanted her to head the police and policing. She is a very competent person, quite experienced, but there was resistance. And then suddenly I was really alarmed that it is really a serious matter and in the civil service I just found any meaningful position is just men. I have experienced opposition time without number and I'm saying not from outside the movement but from inside the movement to start with.
So my own position, even in the NEC, I was saying to the comrades that we need to take a fresh look at this question and treat with a seriousness this matter more than perhaps we realise. I dealt with this and, of course, people were saying I'm born again and I say, well it's not a question of being born again. This is a serious matter, again the question of merit and the thing that I found objectionable is where you have someone who really is competent, who can do this and simply because this person is a woman you will not be prepared to accept her. This is exactly what happened to us. You could do any job but if you were black you were not going to be allowed to do that job. And what's the difference? But within our province we were also successful in other ways in this regard. The Speaker of our provincial parliament is a women, the Speaker of the Provincial Legislature.
PAT But also isn't the ANC Whip a woman?
PL No, our Whip is a man. We have a Deputy Whip who is a woman. Also the Secretary for parliament is a woman. So we have made some telling movement and I can attest to that. I found that we really needed to put some effort into this kind of thing.
Now with regard to the civil service affirmative action is a slightly different thing. It's not a question of quotas so much, it is the question of people who have been in the civil service who are really competent but who are not allowed to rise within the ranks simply because they were black, or sometimes because they were women, or sometimes because they were paraplegic, or sometimes because they were gay. Within our province I have found it in a very short space of time. Various individuals will say just because of this I have been discriminated against. And you look at their qualifications, you look at their performance and you just realise this is not the right thing, or because they belong to a particular political party. There are those who are members of the Conservative Party who would not be promoted by the National Party or would lose their positions because they were Conservative Party members, they were known to be members of the Conservative Party even though they didn't bring their political affiliation there, they were civil servants, not members of the National Party, they were whites, but because they belonged to a particular political organisation which was not the one that was in power, they suffered discrimination on this basis. And then of course the NGK, when it split and others went to the Protestants, others got to be victimised also on religious grounds because they had gone with this conservative section of the church and had not come along with the National Party.
So when you look at that situation, you are there looking at it, affirmative action is there really to correct the situation. It's not a question of quotas and it would not affect the question of quotas. It is guided by merit. It's more to do with correcting imbalances which have been created because of discrimination on the basis of either sex, creed, political views, conscience and so on, and colour. In the main, of course, colour. So I don't think it is in conflict, it is not in conflict. The affirmative action is slightly different from the question of quotas where you say it must be so-and-so whether that person has got merit or not and even when you have someone who really merits that position they will have to stand down because we must have a quota that does that.
POM When we were travelling around the country for the last month visiting the different provinces a few issues came up again and again. One was the slowness with which the central government was devolving powers to the provinces and a lot of frustration in the regional governments about the lack of getting their hands on that power so that they could implement their own policies. Is that a widespread felt feeling among the provinces?
PL Yes, all of the provinces, all of us in the provinces feel very strongly because as I say we didn't make preparation to govern and the day after the elections, just after the election results were known, when we were now supposed to start and implement our government, we were beginning then to work on setting up the necessary structures which is part of the preparation to govern. When you are setting up structures you are now preparing to govern. The process is a long one. You had to get all the powers from the provinces to the central government, all of them, and then the central government would then assign those powers to the provinces. Weeks were passing, weeks were passing. In time the people were saying, we have elected you, why are you not doing something about this? Why are you not doing something about that? Why are you not doing something about this? Then we had to say we haven't got the powers. What powers? We've elected you. So that created problems and then we had to go back and press the central government. The press of course was not helpful because the press created the impression that we were asking for more powers. Meantime what we were really busy doing, we were trying to obtain from the central government powers which had been agreed and which should have been agreed as being provincial powers. We were not asking for new powers. We were not saying they must expand them and so on. When it came to this all the Premiers were as one because people wanted us to fulfil, to implement. We couldn't implement without that and the central government they were simply not ready and then we had to wait for them. So it is true, it is correct that that was a problem.
POM Is that improving?
PL It's improved a lot. In the last week when we were at the Premiers' Forum we noted and actually made a statement to this effect, that we were very happy. Look, last week we had powers on education handed down to us, powers on health handed down and welfare, and local government. Only last week. It's about six months since the elections so you can see how long it's been.
POM You mentioned local elections. The second thing we heard from almost across the board that there were simply no structures in place to conduct local elections next October, no voters' roll, no demarcation of constituencies.
PL That's been done now. That's correct. That has been done now.
PAT In your province?
PL Well all of us must really start, in all the provinces. There aren't at this present time, as we are sitting here, there aren't the necessary structures. They are not there at the present time.
POM Do you think they will be in time by next October or that the elections will have to be postponed for a while?
PL There's already been a postponement. These elections were supposed to be in April next year, then they were supposed to be in July. The date that has now been set is October and they will push so far back to enable us to deal with these forums that you are referring to, zoning, wards, you have to register to have a voters' roll now. This time you can go on a voters' roll, every town and so on, the farms and all of that kind of thing. So to deal with all of those programmes we have had to push it so far back to October. If we begin with the process say at the beginning of the year, January, February, because you are working here, you are going to go on a voters' roll for a particular town so you can have the local government there dealing with it initially in the towns, so you will have a number of points doing it simultaneously because every town will be doing it for itself. If so we should be able to make progress, we should really be able to make progress. At the moment we have given the towns powers now, we have given them the powers, not all of them but we are giving them, every week we are giving them, I think we are almost finished in my province now, giving them powers to appoint interim Local Transitional Councils, appointing Mayors and so on. So we have done quite a considerable number of them in the Free State already and many of the other provinces have also begun. Now whilst those are in place, those are the bodies now locally which must see to the registration of everybody and things like that so that when the Independent Electoral Commission says look we are going to do this and this and that's our position. But the elections will be run by the Independent Electoral Commission, we are not going accept that they should be run by Home Affairs because there hasn't been the kind of inter-relations that would justify confidence and even eliminate the problems that we had before the national and provincial elections.
POM The third thing that came across very clearly was people's lack of familiarity with the RDP. They would give you a blank look.
PAT Even people on the Executive Councils, not just people on the ground.
PL I don't know about the other provinces but members of the Provincial Council in our province would be able to talk to you about this. The thing is that every province now must develop its own programme to say now as a province this is our programme, this is how we are going to implement it, that is where we are starting, this is the number of houses we are hoping to build by the end of next year, and so on. We should be able to do that. I couldn't account for each and every one of the provinces but within my province I know that they can tell, members of the provincial legislature can tell you that. It's a different matter when it comes to communities. A number of questions arise. Communities want to know, what is the government going to do for us? I made some announcement about how many houses we want to build, in which towns we want to build, how many in each of the towns that I have mentioned and so on. It goes into the press so many people can read the newspaper, but in my province the only newspaper that is available really is the Afrikaans newspaper and people now can't read Afrikaans quite apart from anything else so they don't even buy it. So you tell it on the TV, you tell it on the radio and the next thing that happens is that people don't know, what are they supposed to do in all of this process? And we were discussing this yesterday as well, one weakness is that at this stage we have not been able to return to communities first of all to affirm our commitments, those promises that we made before the elections, secondly, to say to them, what are the practical steps we are taking to fulfil those promises, thirdly, to say to them what is their role in all of this? How are they expected to slot in and so on? Because you have to make them part of the process and then they possess it. We have said that the RDP must be a people driven programme, then of course the people are not going to be able to drive it if they don't have the necessary information about it.
POM So they must feel ownership.
PL What I am trying to say is that what we have not done yet, and even in the meeting yesterday I was saying that, we have not succeeded at this stage to acquaint our people with it. I'm now talking about communities, ordinary people in the townships, in the squatter camps, to acquaint them with the contents, to say to them this is what we want to do according to the RDP, and secondly, this is how we are going to do it and this is where we want you to play a role. That we haven't done and one of the reasons, the major reason why we have not been able to do that is because we have been spending all of our energies on the struggle between ourselves and the central government for the necessary powers. You couldn't go to the people and say do that. Of course we have invested, we have set up with houses and we have handed some houses out and we have been engaging the community in Welkom, we are busy with a project in which we are building houses again there. But it's limited. In other provinces it's different. In other provinces they have been fighting over where their capital is going to be, what the name of that town is going to be and so on. So that has also absorbed their energies.
POM What about the Truth Commission? We've heard a lot of sides, those who are for it and those who are against it and both sides give good arguments either to support it or not support it. Do you think it is necessary, that some accounting for the past must be made before you can get on with the future?
PL Well not for its own sake but it's important. We have lots of families who have lost people who were killed and so on and we need to be able to say to their families, so-and-so died at such and such a place. It's important. When we wanted amnesty we were advised to confess what we had done so that we would then be given amnesty and this is what most of the members of the army had to do, members of MK. What we are saying is that it is important that the others must also do the same thing, including even in our own ranks. It's not that everybody in the ranks of the ANC has been exposed the truth. So we do think it is something important that should take place. Their families which are demanding from the President, what happened to my child? And we couldn't just say forget it, it doesn't matter. You can't say that. You would have to say, well, look. Mostly it's not that people really want to persecute those who do that. If you know that one of the members of the family died there they have some ceremonies that they want to do, but it all puts them to rest, they know where the members of their families are and so on. It's only correct. I think if we didn't have something of this nature we may continue to entrust the lives of innocent citizens to people who don't deserve to be trusted with such a responsibility because they have already abused it before.
POM So if a minister from the previous administration, or a minister in the current administration, were found to be directly implicated in the commission of a crime by ordering, say, hit squads or whatever to be organised or to carry out certain operations, do you think that person, whether minister or MP should have to resign from the government, from parliament?
PL I would imagine unless he got an amnesty. Unless he got amnesty. I would think that the public would not be happy to have a person like that. I would imagine that it would be proper that such a person should vacate public office.
POM Do you think that each individual should have the right to go to whatever agency of government would be in charge of intelligence records and say, I want to see my file? I want to see who was spying on me. I want to see what you wrote up on me. I want to see who were the informers.
PL You are talking now about someone who ...?
POM Anybody. As a citizen should I be able to go to say the Minister of the Interior or Home Affairs or whatever and say, you keep the intelligence files, I have a very strong reason to believe a file was kept on me, I would like to see that file, I would like to see what's in it and I would like to see who was spying on me?
PL Well we were having this talk about the right to information. I think there are cases which actually deserve the right to do that because they need some information which will help them solve some problems and so on. I don't know, the police followed me and so on. I think they would all have information about me. I don't think I have any particular significance, significant need for it. Even those people who followed me, who arrested me and so on, mostly I would be interested in the information on them. Not so much about what they know because every information they picked up on me I know about that information anyway. It's information about them, I would be interested to know about them, about those who were arresting us and doing that, to see what they did because some of them are the people responsible for the killing of some of the innocent human beings and why must one protect information like that? We could solve lots of problems and not amnesty them.
POM If you looked at the central government and had to rate its performance over the last six months, where one would be very unsatisfactory and ten would be very satisfactory, in what range would you put the central government? If you had to rate the performance of the central government on a scale and one represented a very unsatisfactory performance and ten represented a very satisfactory performance, what range would you put them? A five or a six or a four or a three or a nine or a ten?
PL I'm not sure I understand the question you are asking me. I don't know whether it's because I'm sleepy.
PAT One on the scale is very, very poor performance and ten is a very highly acceptable performance in terms of the central government for the first six months of the government. How do you rate it on that scale of one to ten? Poor, very, very poor or highly satisfactory?
PL I would say maybe we have done something like 70% to 80%. We've done quite OK I think.
POM How about Mandela?
PL I think the President has done exceptionally well. I would give the President really, I wouldn't hesitate, I would give him 98% I think or something like that.
POM Does the party ever worry about or is it prepared to deal with the consequences, say, of the untimely death of Mandela? Would there be a power struggle?
PL I don't think so.
POM Do you think everything is in place to ensure a smooth line of succession?
PL There wouldn't be very serious tensions really. I really don't think we should have problems. Hardly anyone would move away from, we would probably have Thabo to lead. There would be a bit of some grumblings about Mbeki but they could only end in grumblings.
POM The economy. What is the level of unemployment in the Free State?
PL It's very high. Nationally we have about 46%. We have 48% unemployment. And problems like the Free State, without industries and so on, it's in a bad way. I think our unemployment rate in the Free State, it is one figure that always eludes me. Must be about 28%, 30%. It's really high.
POM Derek Keys when he was Minister for Finance told us in an interview that the best this country could expect between now and the end of the century was to reduce the rate of unemployment by about 1% a year and two weeks ago I asked him the same question and he very bluntly gave the same answer. The people don't like to hear this but you'll see, unemployment will be very hard to bring down. If unemployment is very hard to bring down how can you put in place a programme like the RDP where there aren't the resources to implement it? Where will the resources come from? You can hardly go and build a house for somebody and say, there's your house, without saying now you have to pay for the house and you have to pay for the services that come with the house.
PL Part of the resources that we are using is redirecting funds which have already been there in the budget but which we had devoted to some larger project. And we are redirecting those funds towards these things. I mean you go into the Free State, forty million rand was set aside to put on lights for a certain tennis court for whites when next door you have nothing but just squatters and yet they are taking forty million here to build lights in a tennis court that already is there so that they can have flood lights at night, still leaving people without houses. So we are redirecting those funds to start with, we are doing that. Secondly, we are raising some of the funds which were located in some parastatals like so-called development corporations which were nothing but just a foundation project and so on. We are moving that money away from there. In terms of organisation of the economy, with casinos, taxation, casinos, winning and betting and things like that, we are sure we shall be able to raise some money there. And then of course there is the fact that after all these years of apartheid we have very strong international support which we are trying to convert into concrete financial support for development projects. So there are various sources that we hope to be able to turn and that from turning those resources we can begin to give this economy some impetus. Once we build the economy of the country and it begins to run and people are employed in large numbers, when they have their own money they will build themselves their own houses and all the government has to do is to facilitate that process.
POM Do you find in your dealings with ordinary people in the townships that there's a kind of a culture of dependency, that they are waiting for you to do something rather than understanding that if their lives are to improve they themselves must play a major role in it?
PL Most of the people you see in the squatter camps and who are unemployed and so on are people who generally have been part of the culture of earning their own living. Some of them come from the farms so they are used to tilling the soil and eking a living out for themselves. It's just that they don't have land and things like that. And when you talk to them, for instance I was giving out food, relief food, in Bloemfontein to people in the squatter area and they said we really appreciate this but what we want is work. We can't sit here waiting just to be given that. It's not so much the question of having the food. It's a question also of the fulfilling, fulfilling the human being by work, earn their own living and so on and not be humiliated into waiting for charity. It reduces them, humiliates them and people want that situation in which they can walk tall, proud and so on and not as beggars. And this is a very important element of it, so people really want to have work, not dependence, not sit back and have some Christmas presents.
POM Another thing we heard a lot of talk about was the 'gravy train'. The first thing that politicians did when they got into office was to enrich themselves even if it meant they just took the findings of a commission that existed in the past. It would seem to me that the ANC of all organisations should be politically sensitive either to the perception of them becoming well off as soon as they come into government and leaving the people behind them.
PL Well it's a very difficult question I think. I think our own position really is that we have not done anything of this nature. The Melamed Commission that had to look into this was done under the old government before even we were there on the scene and when the commission had made its recommendations and then we came into government we did not even have time to review its work, but you couldn't say to people, no you wait we will pay you the day when we have reviewed the recommendations of the commission. You had to pay people. Once they were employed you have to pay them. We then accepted in the Melamed recommendation on the proviso that these provisions are subject to amendment once they have been studied. In the meantime we had to have some common reference point on which to go so we used that. Most of the civil servants actually earn more than us politicians, I can tell you that for a fact. I am the Premier of a province, I am earning less than the Director General and a number of other civil servants. They are earning more than us and we have taken a cut now of 20% for the President and the Deputies, 10% for ourselves, we have gone even lower. The bureaucrats are left there because Melamed, what Melamed did was to look at the salaries of the elected politicians and work on keeping those low. Melamed did not treat the public sector salary structure as one composite whole. He dealt with the first portion, he brought that one down and left the others on the same level that they are. But when some people who were ignorant of this fact began to make some of the noises we felt we needed to respond to that because it could really lead to anarchy. And we have taken some of these cuts.
POM So do you think it's largely a perception that has been created in the media?
PL Yes it was created there. Also there was some serious mistake by some of the people. Archbishop Tutu who has been fairly close to the movement over the years as you know, when he made a statement that the politicians are busy just enriching themselves and so on without consulting, if he could have just consulted the President to say there is this kind of thing, can you give me an explanation on this. And then the President would have explained to him what the state of play is. I don't think he would have made the statement he made. But once he went into the public to make a statement like that, and therefore cut out this area of consulting with us and saying, what is happening, he made it impossible for us to discuss it with him and he did inflame people because people know that he is seen to be close to the movement over the years. But we have accepted that. We have accepted that we don't lose anything by anyway being seen to act in the interests of the people. He has just given us another opportunity to cut off some more money to do this. But by the time the facts are known of this thing, of course, at a later stage, it will not reflect very well on some of the people like those who are creating this impression.
POM Just two or three more questions and, really, thank you for the time. I realise how difficult it must be. One is on Buthelezi. Is the rift between him and the King becoming sufficiently severe that it poses the risk of civil war or something like that in KwaZulu/Natal?
PL First of all I just want to say that I don't think it is bridgeable, it can't be bridged. It's not a new problem, it's an old problem. It's a problem that goes back to the late seventies I would say. Although Buthelezi and the National Party government were able to browbeat the King over all of these years when freedom came the King sensed that moment and he knew that it was the time for him to run for freedom and he has done so. And I don't think that it can be bridged because it's been too long. The King has really suffered under the National Party collusion with Buthelezi. The second thing is you raise the question about whether it could lead to civil war. I have no doubt in my mind that some individuals will probably lose their lives from the tension that has developed there. I wouldn't imagine that it is likely to be a major, huge civil war. No I think it will be a very limited kind of tension.
POM Does the holding of local elections next year in KwaZulu/Natal, could they re-ignite the violence between the IFP and the ANC since now they are fighting over smaller and more concrete pieces of turf?
PL No I don't think so. I think the fact that we are working together with Inkatha in this government of national unity and at provincial level and so on, I think our chances now of sustaining stability and peaceful interaction are much, much higher. There is no doubt about the fact that here and there you will find some pocket of tension that perhaps is not bridgeable.
POM Last two questions. One concerns the PAC. John Battersby, the guy who used to work for the Monitor, in October 1993 wrote that, "For an organisation that was almost forgotten inside the country before its unbanning in February 1990 the PAC has staged a remarkable political comeback." It obviously didn't. What happened to them?
PL We had always known that the PAC had no support but you needed to have a very intimate knowledge of black communities to understand that the PAC did not have support all along. What these elections did was to prove that and we have said that one of the reasons that the PAC was very reluctant to get into the negotiations and go for elections is because they realised that that was going to expose the weakness of their position in communities. So that is it. In my province they don't even have a member in the legislature.
PAT But they did so poorly. They had the top ballot position. In any country that would give you an automatic 3% vote in an illiterate society. The polls that were done, public polls that were done showed them with much higher percentages. There must have been something so soft about those people when they came into that polling booth and they had to choose somebody, they went for Nelson Mandela, right? Was their support soft or just don't you believe it was there?
PL The moment after the elections ... who was Deputy Chair of the Independent Electoral Commission. Body blows like those which just phased them off.
POM The right, with all the fear of the right rising up, of the armed struggle, of sabotage, they went out with a whimper it seems. Are they still a factor to be taken account of?
PL The right wing are experiencing very serious problems. Many of them were arrested, as you know, before the elections because of the bombs. And a lot of people who were scared by all these threats, stories of blacks attacking them and so on, many of those whites have abandoned that position as they saw our new government unfolded and they listened to its pronouncements. Large numbers of them have abandoned them. The recent killing of Professor Heyns last week, if anything is going to have an impact that further numbers of whites will come back from the right wing sections to join this side because that funeral and the assassination of Professor Heyns has made one point clear that that leadership of whites who support the process is very serious. It actually has more enemies inside the ranks of Afrikaners than outside. So I would say that the right wingers are going to be even weaker now, especially after the assassination. When the elections weren't successful and there were no killings of people and whatnot, they lost very badly, but the killing of Heyns has just increased the momentum in this way. Even the right wing organisations, the Conservative Party and so on, have had to condemn that killing. And when they do that what do they say to their supporters? They are really saying to their supporters, it is wrong to do this. We hold the view that it is right wingers that killed him.
POM Thank you ever so much. I won't annoy you again for another six months.