This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, 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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
17 Nov 1994: Molefe, Popo
POM. Let's start with the question of you come from a very humble, very modest background, you led a very ordinary life in terms of not being surrounded by too many people. Now you're living in this palatial compound in the North West, the former South African Embassy. Do you feel remote from your grassroots, cut off in a way?
PM. No, Padraig, I don't feel remote from the grassroots. As a matter of fact every weekend I am with the ordinary people. Since I have been in that province I address an average of six to seven meetings every week, talking to ordinary people. Only this past weekend I was talking to, addressing the farm workers and the farmers in a small town called Groot Marico which is known also as the poorest of the district in the Transvaal and I was the first senior politician to visit that place. I was the first black person to hold a meeting up there on the mountain, a place which was a preserve for whites only. It was for the first time the farm workers met also at that place. So I don't at all feel remote from the people. That house was given to me because I am performing a state function. I owe it to my position as Premier, the Chief Executive officer in the province. There are many functions that one has to hold and to do so you need adequate accommodation at home.
POM. Do other members of the government live within the compound? There are a number of dwellings on it as far as I recall?
PM. Well the Director General as a matter of fact lives in the complex, so does the head of my office, my political and constitutional adviser lives in the complex and a couple of other security people and civil servants live in that complex.
POM. After seven months now of being in office, how do you find the mood of the country? Do people, particularly the black people being patient, knowing there is a learning curve, not expecting too much or are they getting slightly frustrated and angry or how would you characterise their mood?
PM. The general mood of our people is one of goodwill, it is a positive one. But there are also elements of frustration because the expectations are very high, they had expected that all their problems would be resolved within a short space of time. They expected, for example, if you take the police, they expected that their salaries would be increased, they would be promoted immediately and they would be given allowances for working long hours, the command structure would be restructured almost immediately. There have been delays in respect of these matters, one, because the budget that all of us are using now is the budget of the old order, the apartheid system. It was not designed to improve the quality of policing, it was not designed to increase the salaries. It is tying our hands. It is only after April 1, 1995 that we will begin to address some of these problems, especially with regard to the police services in our country. As regards the ordinary people, again there is a bit of frustration but the 7.5 million people who are homeless can't get houses immediately. That is a reality of our situation. You can't give 7.5 million houses almost simultaneously, you cannot do it, it is not possible. But they also welcome the fact that we have begun implementing the hundred base project which includes free medical care for women who are pregnant and children up to the age of six can get free medical care. They appreciate the feeding schemes, nutritional feeding schemes in schools for children in Grade 1 and Grade 2. This is appreciated. They appreciate also the efforts to renew the urban areas and rebuild or redevelop the rural areas that we have begun. They welcome all these things. But also, of course, they welcome the general climate of freedom of expression and association. Our people can now speak freely. The repression that was there is now gone, it's a thing of yesterday.
POM. You moved into what originally has been Bophuthatswana; the area of your region seems to be the first or probably the most developed homeland. Does that present particular problems for you in terms of the civil service or, again, the police, that there were a lot of entrenched people in key jobs which you would have difficulty moving?
PM. Well there is certainly a difficulty in dealing with that situation, but the difficulty also arises out of the fact that we have guaranteed jobs to the civil service. But it also arises out of what one might call the mutual suspicions which are there. These are people who worked for the old order, it takes a little bit of time to persuade them to accept the new leadership but I think we've gone quite a long way to integrate them and to make them feel that they are part of government. We did this by embarking upon a rigorous process of change management. We set up a change management task group that has begun a process of addressing the concerns, the fears, the anxieties of the civil service and to give them also the opportunity to express their views on how they would like to see the transformation process happening and what they understand to be their role in that transformation process. And that has gone quite a long way to help us allay their fears and to integrate them into the new order.
POM. What I have found when talking to the other Premiers and members of MECs in different regions, was a lot of frustration at the slow devolution of power from the central government to the regions. Do you think this is a process that is happening at too slow a pace to allow you to do what you want to do? Why is the process too slow?
PM. Yes it has indeed been very slow. It has been frustratingly slow but over the last couple of weeks we made tremendous progress which all of us are satisfied with. The slowness in the process of devolution of power or assignment of power to the provinces is caused by the fact that the central government itself had many things that it had to grapple with in a very short space of time. They needed to make certain proclamations and to define clearly which are the powers that must go to the provinces, involve themselves in negotiations with the provinces regarding the assignment of powers. There's a whole host of technical problems which caused the delay.
POM. Do you think there are some Premiers out there who previously might have called for a unitary state but now would become federalists, would be in favour of the regions having as much power as possible?
PM. I'm not aware of Premiers who were unitarists who are now federalists. I'm not aware of that. What I understand is that the Premiers have merely argued for those powers which are set out in the constitution and powers which are supposed to go to the provinces. Where they are arguing in respect of powers which are national functions they are arguing the case on the basis that we want good and effective government and the Premiers, the provincial governments are the ones who are closer to the communities and the people and they are the ones therefore who are expected by communities to deliver and in order to deliver they need certain powers. Some of those powers are powers which are defined as national functions. Let me give you an example. Water affairs is a national function. When people who have problems of water in the province, look at the Northern Transvaal, there are problems of water there, problems of water in Eastern Transvaal, the North West and certain parts of Northern Natal, now you obviously need those powers devolved to the provinces in order for them to do the work on the ground. The same applies to the question of land allocation, problems pertaining to land. It's again a national function yet it is a burning political question in the province. So we are saying that we need to find a mechanism of enabling the provinces to deal with those matters which are defined as national functions and the constitution provides for the devolution or delegation of powers to the provinces, to allow provinces to have powers even if it could be on an agency basis, the constitution is clear on that. It's up to the central government to move rapidly on some of those things in order to enable government to take place in a manner that allows provinces to be effective on the ground.
POM. Do you think that this whole issue of federalism will surface again in the Constituent Assembly? There was a rigorous debate about it.
PM. Well obviously from political parties which have the view, the view that South Africa should be a purely federal system, they will pursue those arguments, so we expect the issue to be raised. But given the progress we made at the World Trade Centre we do not anticipate real difficulties. We expect that parties will be more constructive and will avoid returning the whole country to point zero where we have been.
POM. Are there different wings in the ANC? One hears of distinctions being made between the realists and the radicals and that for the realists to occupy the ground, in order to last longer they must deliver but they have a problem of delivery?
PM. Well I don't share the view that the ANC is divided into radicals and the realists. I think we are one movement which has worked as a collective for many years, gone through the negotiations. We went through the negotiating process as a collective, we suspended the armed struggle together, we accepted the policy of reconstruction and development programme together. All of the things we do we do as a collective. We start from positions of different views when we address issues but at the end of the debate we arrive at a common conclusion.
POM. Last week Thabo Mbeki talked about the need to privatise some of the parastatals and other state owned companies. Now I don't think there's anyone who would have believed that in four years the ANC would have travelled all the way from nationalisation to privatisation. Surely it must gall some people in the Communist Party who are still committed to socialism?
PM. Well we are dealing with issues as the ANC, not as the South African Communist Party as we have found that even those people who have leanings towards the South African Communist Party or are members have supported the ANC collective. If there is anything that the ANC can be proud of and boast of it is it's ability to analyse a situation and act on the basis of objective reality, to be able to be pragmatic is the hallmark of the African National Congress. We have a programme of reconstruction and development, we need to mobilise resources to implement that programme. There are many parastatals which the South African government created in order to create jobs for pals. Some of these parastatals have become white elephants. They have got to be given to people who can make them work effectively and be productive. Obviously the private sector is very good in doing so. But it is also about time that we used some of those parastatals for economic empowerment of those who are disadvantaged so that they can also join the mainstream economy while at the same time we are able therefore to generate resources to implement our programme. We will deal with the parastatals on the basis of the principle of affirmative action.
POM. Now, again, in going around the country we have been asking people about the RDP and have found almost a profound lack of understanding on the part of many people, some of them civil servants, some of them in government, some of them community leaders, who didn't feel any ownership in the RDP, that it was something that was hands down in a very vague way from the central government to them but that it didn't really have anything real to do with them.
PM. Would you please repeat it?
POM. In going around the country we found that there was a general lack of familiarity with the RDP, that some people would gaze at you blankly when you mentioned RDP. Some people would say, RDP yes, but had no understanding of what was in it. There seems to be no great enthusiasm, no feeling of ownership among the people about the RDP itself. It would seem that the government was very successful in marketing the idea of elections and how to vote and people were all part of the process together and excited, where you don't see that same excitement here about the RDP and about the need in people's lives.
PM. It's a difficult matter because the RDP has to do with the addressers, the question of addressing decades if not centuries of disadvantaged, denial of material benefits to the people, like education, housing, jobs which are better paid, general opportunities for upward mobility for our people were denied including the general participation in the economy. Now if you are addressing those issues in the context of an economy that is as damaged as ours, with such a large majority which is poor, anything you do is a drop in the ocean and it takes time for people to accept that something has changed. But also, as I said, there is the difficulty that we have not been in government, we are starting afresh to restructure the economy, to create democratic institutions of government, to mobilise the resources to deliver things, to implement also to do that work. It requires a lot of strategic planning, putting in place of mechanisms, integration of the civil service which is key in delivering the RDP, the creation of integrated local government structures, which is taking long because it is still being negotiated with conservative white local government structures, town councils, city councils. Now all those things are causing this delay and naturally our people would continue to feel that very little is being done. We obviously need to embark upon a rigorous process of development strategies for effective communication with our people. We need that to ensure that they can understand what problems the government is experiencing and what it needs to be able to meet their problems, to resolve their problems. That cannot be equated to an election campaign. The election campaign was about freedom, about liberation, the advent of Mandela being out of jail and an election in which they would participate for something very euphoric and exciting to our people and it was easy therefore to sell that message, especially because we were talking about the problems that we were going to address, the need to create jobs, the need to give an education, and those are the things that our people were worried about, including the need to be provided with houses. That message, for the first time they were hearing this powerful organisation saying that if we are in government we will address these issues. They are things that the previous government never worried about.
POM. The thing that strikes me about the RDP is a very simple one and that is, where are the resources, financial resources, going to come from to implement it? Now there have been a couple of things mentioned, comment on them in the order you want. Last year I interviewed Derek Keys and he very bluntly said that this economy could only generate a 1% increase in employment every year between 1994 and the year 2000, and I asked him the same question this year.
PM. At what growth?
POM. The rate of growth would be about 2.6% to 2.7%. He gave the same answer this year. There is a huge mass of unemployed people out there, anything from 35% to 50% of the population, and where do they get the resources to buy houses, what do you pay them with? You have a rate of growth of the population that is higher than the best estimated rate of growth of the economy, again until about the year 2000 because if you have a situation of a declining per capita income and increasing per capita income, you have a government that is committed to changing the proportion of government expenditure from 21% of GDP to 17% of GDP, less government spending not more. Where are the resources going to come from? The tax base is narrow, Mbeki says there will be no increase in taxation in 1995.
PM. Well that is a pretty long answer, but let's start with the first things. Mr Derek Keys is a very knowledgeable man and experienced in matters of finance, but I am not sure when he made that suggestion, the forecast about how, when he made his predictions, I am not sure if he had taken into account what is the potential for new investors in the country, jobs need to be created by new investors. They are now coming in, Pepsi-Cola, MacDonalds and so on are coming into the country, Volvo, they are all coming into the country. I am not sure if he took that into account. Secondly I doubt if he took into account the fact that when you start on a very ambitious programme of building houses that that in itself would create new jobs because you need more and more materials to build those houses and as houses are built the manufacturers of furniture must increase the capacity of production at that level. Your people who are involved in electrification of houses, telecommunications, necessarily have to expand. All of them therefore create more jobs. I can't give specific figures because I have not had the opportunity to study this and work out the arithmetic, but I think there exists a possibility that we could create more jobs than the prediction of Mr Derek Keys shows.
. But clearly the challenge is not an easy one. It will depend on what we do to create an environment that is investor friendly, our ability to create stability in the country, our ability to be consistent in terms of polices, economic policies, is going to be critical. Our ability to maintain a stable civil service, our ability to reduce government spending and when we say we are reducing government spending we are really looking at redirecting government spending in a manner that will enable us to promote the RDP. We have already begun to do so. You were running the Bantustans, they are no longer there. You were running fourteen or so departments of education. We are now integrating them into one department, so therefore you don't need separate budgets and many Director/Generals in different departments of education. I don't want to go into details because I suspect that I answered you in this vein some time ago when you asked me a similar question. So as far as reducing government spending is concerned, I think it is a possibility.
. Of course there is a contradiction in that statement. The contradiction is that we have inherited a huge public service and we have guaranteed them jobs for a minimum of five years, all of them, and they are earning huge salaries, so they take a lot from the budget of the state and those who are from the black communities were generally not paid like the whites and that necessitates that the government increase their salaries and that definitely would mean a loss on public service. What we need to do is to look at other things and we have begun to do so, privatising some of the state assets, parastatals, we have started doing this. The aeroplanes we've got, we need now to privatise them and get that money. What it means is that you would no longer be required to include in your budget an item that relates to the funding of a parastatal, you privatise them and therefore the government no longer has a financial obligation, commitment towards them. If, for example, we have ... in the North West on which we are spending, I'm told, seven million per annum, if we privatise that then we would save that seven million and it could go somewhere else. We are spending approximately 200 million rand on the broadcasting corporation. If we get private individuals to buy a significant number of shares and begin to get this parastatal to compete effectively, favourably and generate its own income through advertisements and so on, we could drastically reduce our spending on that. I am sure we could save up to 50% of what we are spending on that and gradually phase it out over maybe a period of five years. We could do that. And that is how, therefore, you redirect government spending.
POM. You mentioned the word stability and how important stability would be to getting the foreign investors to come into the country. Two questions, the first refers to the election last April; a week before the elections you had Carrington and Kissinger pack their bags, they went home saying there is nothing to mediate, there was escalation of the conflict between the IFP and the ANC and it looked as though the country was slowly sliding towards some kind of civil war. Ten days later the IFP had come in and you had an election that took place without any violence whatsoever, nobody talked about intimidation. But after the election the NP made accusations of voter rigging in some areas, the ANC did the same in Natal, the IFP did the same thing, Judge Kriegler admitted to losing about 30 million votes which were unaccounted for. Do you think that there was a kind of, I won't say a brokered deal, but an understanding among all the major players at that point, that what you needed was an outcome that would produce stability and to do that you had to have a situation where everyone could say they were a winner, therefore Buthelezi got KwaZulu/Natal, that kept him happy, the National Party got the Western Cape, that kept them happy, the ANC got a very, very large majority but not quite the two thirds that would have turned the situation into a one-party state, and that they recognised that the need of stability was more important that for the election to be called free and fair in the western sense.
PM. These are not mutually exclusive questions that you are raising. I think we recognise that (there were irregularities) but we also recognise the need for the result of the election to be perceived by and large to be legitimate, which means the majority of the people should accept that the outcome of the election is legitimate. It's not a question of one being more important than the other. We needed to strike a balance between the two and we were satisfied that although there were some irregularities in respect of elections that overall the election was free and fair. The irregularities were not of the nature that would have required a pronouncement by the United Nations or by any one of the organisations or the Independent Electoral Commission to declare it irregular and invalid. So it was really needing the balance between the two, that it was important for us to bring in the IFP because that was the only way to neutralise them, to give them something and it was necessary for us even if it meant we should lose Natal, to allow them to win it so that they feel they have power that would bring them into the government of unity. Once they are there they would like to understand that it is possible to work with the leaders of the African National Congress in government. I think we have achieved that.
POM. My question is, what is more important, in countries like South Africa, countries on the way towards democratisation, is it more important that the outcome of an election be perceived to be legitimate by the people, by the community, and produce stability rather than to try and judge it on the sole criterion of whether it were free and fair?
PM. Oh yes, I think for us what was important was for an election to be seen as reasonably legitimate. That was what was important for us because in many instances it is the widespread perception, positive one, which would determine whether we then have stability after the election or not and we succeeded in getting that. That is why we were able, therefore, to create a type of stability that saw the influx of so many leaders of the world, an historic congregation of heads of state on the occasion of the inauguration of our State President, President Mandela. I think for the whole world we had achieved a miracle indeed. That was important for us. We couldn't judge the election in the context of the South African situation, on the same criteria that would be used in the United States which is a country that has been democratic now for more than 100 years. You can't compare. We needed to take into account the strains and stresses that have come with the dictates of apartheid rule, we needed to understand that we were bringing together for the first time a range of political parties which were at each other's throats for no less than 82 years, if you like, and to therefore get those parties to agree to work together requires a miracle of Jesus Christ, and that is what we have achieved. Objectively in that situation therefore we needed to look at the context in which it occurred rather than simply looking at principles in isolation.
POM. Now, if I were a foreign investor and coming into the country, I pick up papers over a period of time and see elements of the MK in rebellion, I would see some of the SDUs in the townships still roaming and acting as gangs more than anything else, I would see taxi wars, I would see a crime situation of horrendous proportion with a serious crime committed every 17 seconds, I would see random strikes, shops closing down in midday, I would see huge pay demands. Many people could interpret that as very slow but steady disintegration of the social fabric. And what would a businessman say? Would he say, well I'd better wait another couple of years and see how this thing plays itself out?
PM. No, an observer of the South African situation would not think like that, would not think that this signals the disintegration of the social fabric of our society. They would understand that what we are experiencing now compared to what the situation was before the election, that indeed there is a vast difference, that there is tremendous stability in the country. I am saying that it doesn't give that kind of impression. If you look at the levels of violence in respect of the taxis, taxi drivers, it is different from what it was before the election. I think it would also be incorrect to expect that the advent of democracy would then mean everything else comes through. You know complete stability ...
POM. But they would argue that all those things are the sign of a normal functioning democracy and many of those things exist, crime in the United States, people being shot.
PM. Yes it is still occurring in the United States, you still have people gunning down families with submachine guns. We don't like it but I think we have relative stability. We have seen a number of illegal weapons handed in to the police over the last couple of weeks, and the fact that your self-defence units have now accepted to be incorporated into the police force as police reservists, this has helped a great deal. The issue of MK is like the teething problems of a process of transition and it is nothing unique. You had a similar situation in Zimbabwe after the take-over by the liberation movement in 1980. They could not provide jobs for an army of heroes who were in the bush, they came back, they were there in their assembly points, some of them never got into the armed forces. What we see here is the level of frustration of the members of uMkhonto weSizwe and some of them are people who have themselves been given crash courses, who have not been long in the army, they have not had the opportunity to go through that grilling and process of preparing soldiers, disciplined soldiers. So it cannot be equated to disintegration of society. Out of a society of approximately 40 million people you can't say that 2000 people who refuse to remain in the army that that constitutes disintegration. It constitutes a tiny percentage, zero perhaps percentage, of the existing army.
POM. I suppose I'm talking more about ...
PM. We would have liked to see a situation where the African National Congress when it came to power would build a new army because you would assist it in integrating that army and neutralising the conservative element in the old army, it would help. You would recall that the Chilean experience is one that is quite instructive, that they were able to take over political power but they lost control over their army and they could not govern as a result of that. There is always therefore a danger of a government that relies on political power but has no authority over its security forces. But I think the manner in which you posed the question of the new army, the creation of a new army in South Africa, besides that they would have no reason not to come forth, the government of unity.
POM. You talk about a situation where the politicians won political power but they didn't get control of the army, of security. One question I used to ask a lot a couple of years ago was, to whites especially, that if you had to choose between losing your political advantage but that your economic advantages would be by and large secured and the country run according to the way you would expect it to be run economically, which would you choose? And for the most part they would choose the economy to be protected, for there to be a free market system, for a conservative approach to fiscal matters and, Derek Keys, he said, "I have achieved all the objectives that I had to achieve before I left, i.e. we have a free market economy, the system of nationalisation and socialism are the dregs, in the past."
PM. You see I have a difficulty in trying to present the case in a compartment, it sounds almost like a mechanistic way. I think it is not a situation of either or. We are not dealing with a situation of absolutes. If you look at the South African context the question of political and economic power are two streams of the same process, as I see it. You cannot emphasise the one at the expense of the other and neither can one survive without the other in the context of South Africa. You can't, because you see it is precisely because the African majority, or the black majority in this country, were denied adequate political power but there was no stability in this country, that the economy of this country could not grow for at least a period of four years, four or more.
POM. Is Mandela the glue that holds the whole thing together, the whole process of the transformation?
PM. That is a man with amazing power, wisdom and charisma. I think to a large extent what we have achieved in this country in terms of unity and reconciliation and general goodwill that has developed as a consequence is to the credit of Nelson Mandela. I would therefore agree with you that he is the glue that is keeping everything together, the centrifugal force that attracts everybody.
POM. What if he were to die, there is a lot of speculation about the state of health. He is 76 years of age. Will there be a power struggle within the ANC itself or will there be an orderly transition, and, specifically speaking in terms, I won't call it rivalry because I don't think rivalry is the right word, between Thabo Mbeki and Cyril Ramaphosa?
PM. I don't think there will be any power struggle. At the end of the day it is the collective of the African National Congress that will decide who takes over. At the end of the day that is what they will do. And I have no doubt that when that moment comes we will make the correct decision. We were able to make correct decisions for many years when Nelson Mandela was in jail. There is no reason that we should now fail to do that. I think it is also important that we understand that the African National Congress is not one of building personality cults, it is one of collective leadership, that's how we understand it. If in the course of that one leader gets more projection than the other, then as a result his stature rises above the other, it is just a coincidence that that person holds a position that requires all of that. In many ways the South African revolutionary movement is a unique one. We are not like some of the countries where they have one leader and if that leader goes who would they put in his place? But we have not that kind of a leadership, we are not even like the PAC. You will need your Terror Lekota somewhere, you will need Matthews Phosa, Tokyo Sexwale, Jacob Zuma, Mannie Dipico, Thabo Mbeki, Mohammed Valli Moosa, a whole host of these people, Barbara Masekela, Nkosazana Zuma, there are so many. The list is just too long to count. At the end of the day what matters is the strength of the ANC on the ground, not an individual leader.
POM. Mandela went to Venda last August and said that the ANC was in tatters and this was due to a complete absence of leadership and that he was at Shell House every Monday working out ordinary matters. If I were Cyril Ramaphosa I would take that as a slap in the face. Here I had been the party's negotiator, concluded those negotiations, led the country to its first constitution, and my President then gets up and says, the organisation is in tatters, effectively there is no leadership.
PM. Your comment on the issue that the President was addressing was not the question whether Cyril Ramaphosa had done well at the World Trade Centre or not. That is unquestionable. The ANC did very well in its negotiations. We performed very well in the elections. But I think what the President was saying is that we did well at the World Trade Centre and we did well at the election process. We then as a result of our victory and the enormity of that victory had to take the leadership that was organising the branches on the ground and put them in parliament and when they got into government they had to deal with destabilisation arising from a series of strikes of civil servants, they have to deal with problems of acquainting themselves, familiarising themselves with this new way of organisation, running government, something that was alien to us. We didn't know it, we didn't ever experience it so we had to learn so our focus was on understanding how to govern and develop the instruments for governance, including passing legislation and so on and as we were concentrating on that we lost that dynamic link with our lower structures on the ground. That is one point.
. But the second matter that really caused the demoralisation and the lapse in activism on the ground was the fact that the energies of the people were really sapped, they had come from a very difficult campaign, they needed to take a break. But also the complacency that came with victory was that many people felt that because we had won the election there is therefore no need for us to do hard work, we can now rest on our laurels and wait for the leaders to deliver to us. Partly the reason was that many of these activists assumed that when the ANC was in power they would automatically get jobs in government and these things did not happen and there was disillusion. Now, what the President was calling for was a way to develop a link between the ANC as the leading political party and the structures of government, to understand that you will have effective government if you have a strong ANC on the ground. That really was the substance of the message that I understood him to be trying to get to people. It had nothing to do with slapping Cyril Ramaphosa in the face.
POM. OK. It was just a question! You gave a long and impassioned reply. That's why I like interviewing you. If you had to rate the government on a scale of one to ten, the national government on a scale of one to ten where one is very unsatisfactory and ten is very satisfactory, where would you rank it about?
PM. Very satisfactory. We have been able to reconcile our people, we have been able to create a climate for investment, everybody wants to come to this country. Therefore, we have created the basis to build the economy and create jobs for our people. We have been able to agree to a very important programme to rebuild the country, that one of reconstruction and development programme, important for us. But we have also been able to agree on a number of other important matters. We must address the wrongs of the past through a commission on Truth and Reconciliation. It's important. We have agreed on that. But we have also gone a long way in creating structures of government, administration of the provinces, at central government level various ministries and so on. We have gone quite a long way in rationalising the civil service beginning with processes which integrate various strengths of government agencies, the police in particular. We are doing extremely well there, especially in my province. We are leading in that regard, very well. And I think also the relatively peaceful manner in which we have been able to get the South African Defence Force to integrate with the various defence forces of the Transkei, the Ciskei, Bophuthatswana, Venda, uMkhonto weSizwe, the Azanian People's Liberation Army, to bring all those things together in such a spectacular manner is something very impressive and one would say therefore that we have been very, very successful. And I'm telling you in the seven months that we have been in power we have demonstrated that we could produce quality men and women, the team that would lead this country and focus on the task of building a better life for our people. We have done so. Nobody can now say, well you don't know anything about government. I am sure we have done much better than any country where you have had people assuming or going into power after independence. We have performed far better than them. We are a different kettle of fish, different quality of people altogether. It sounds like patting myself and my government on the back, but I am sure you would agree that we are doing very well.
POM. What about the Bop police, are they now part of the SAP or do they still operate under an independent command structure?
PM. We have a now established a joint operation where they operate under a joint command structure. But of course the integration process has not yet been completed. But they are working together. Tomorrow they will be working with me. Even now there's a team from Bop and these other fellows working with me. We started the strategic management task, change management task team, that is running this thing of the police. I have attended a couple of their meetings. I was extremely impressed with the progress made. I think my province is defining policies for the country as a whole when it comes to that area of work.
POM. Now I want to take you back to the old days of mass mobilisation and the boycotts and the rent strikes and the non-payment for services. It seems to have had a kind of a boomerang effect in the sense that millions of people are refusing to pay for services. They have got accustomed to getting them free and the first thing they would experience under an ANC government is that the standard of living goes down not up. Is there a culture of entitlement that's been created in the townships in particular, or even the rural areas, where people think they are entitled to things for nothing, it should be given to them.
PM. An honest answer to that question is ...
POM. Now you sound like Buthelezi. Can you elaborate a little on it and what it means and what it's implications are? A culture of entitlement, that people are getting used to not paying their rent, not paying for their services.
PM. Oh that was the last question, yes. Certainly a sustained campaign, boycott of payment for services which was backed by the United Democratic Front, certainly created a culture of non-payment amongst our people and it is something that I warned about when I addressed the last conference of the United Democratic Front, that we needed to change this culture of boycott, stop the boycott of payment for services because if we don't do so it is going to become a culture and it's going to be difficult for the African National Congress to govern. Today the reality is that many people think that democracy means that they should not pay for services. We are engaged in a difficult struggle now to convince them that they have to pay for services. We have now begun a campaign with the National Civil Organisation to persuade our people to pay for services and also to pay for the bonds. It is a very difficult issue which is threatening to destabilise government and paralyse the delivery of services at local government level. Of course political parties which before the elections argued that the ANC would not be able to govern and that the RDP is unrealistic, an ambitious programme, are now latching on this culture of boycott and encouraging it to make it impossible for us to govern effectively.
POM. A number of white communities have joined in.
PM. Yes, communities who have no history of struggle are now suddenly saying that they will not pay for services. Of course they miss the point. They do not understand the fact that, generally the trend here, the President of the ANC, Comrade Nelson Mandela, signed an agreement with Mr F W de Klerk who was the President of South Africa at the time, in terms of which all the arrears were going to be written off which were incurred before and up to 20 January 1994. Now these white people are now saying they are going to refuse to pay now after the 20th January, and demand that their arrears must be paid off. Clearly an act of destabilisation of the government and there is no basis for white South Africa to refuse to pay because they live in luxury, they were getting the best of services when black people were either allowed to live in shacks as squatters or in match-box houses with no tarred roads, no proper sanitation, no proper sewerage system. So the situations are incomparable. They are incomparable.
POM. How do you think the government must go about eradicating this culture of entitlement?
PM. There are a number of ways. The first one is to re-establish the link with community organisations and persuade those community organisations to understand that there is a need for people to pay and therefore they carry a collective responsibility to go out to the public and get them mobilised into paying. That's the only way in which we can reconstruct the country because when people who receive services pay for those services they enable the government to then take what they pay to provide services for people who have not been receiving them. And if they refuse to pay it's a selfish attitude which says that because we have we don't care about the other people who don't have. The second question that you have to address is obviously a comprehensive dynamic and effective communication strategy and an awareness campaign to make people aware that there cannot be a situation where people receive services and not pay for them. That kind of situation cannot be right, neither can it be just. That is what we need to do. We have to use the instruments at our hands like the South African communication services, use the television, electronic media, the print media, use the churches, go wherever people gather, factories, to persuade our people to understand that they have to pay for services.
POM. This is really in relation to local government elections. Many people have said to us in nearly all the regions that they are not ready for local government elections in October of 1995, that the central government hasn't given them the resources to be able to undertake the tasks they have to undertake, there are no voter rolls, there's no demarcation of constituencies, no wards drawn. Do you think there will be elections or that it will be necessary to postpone them?
PM. I think there will be elections. I am not yet convinced that the elections cannot be held next year. However, I am aware of the enormous problems which we need to resolve before an election is held. All the problems that we're experiencing are problems that are inherent to the whole question of transition. You will recall that you interviewed me many times before the national democratic elections, all of us felt that we were not ready to handle that election. At no stage did we feel that everything is OK but all of us accepted the imperative of that election taking place and we managed it relatively well. I think it is still too early to concede that we cannot go to local government elections. The compounding factor obviously in respect of our preparation for this election is the resistance by the conservative towns where the white people are in control, who refuse to go for the models of local government which would enable local government structures to immediately undergo the task of delimitation of boundaries, demarcation of wards and begin the process of registering the voters. They want to hold on to the privileges that they have got in the old order and continue a situation where guys there could meet with blacks but there should be no integration, they should need a separate group. They'd hold meetings, talk, and return to the respective homes, the representatives of ... Now unless we can resolve these matters the latest by March next year, by April, I think we will not be able to hold an election. Certainly there is no way the central government can make financial resources available to structures of government which have not yet integrated in terms of the new Transitional Local Government Act. It can't because where would they make the resources available? To apartheid structures?
POM. To turn to KwaZulu for a minute. Do you think that if or when local government elections are held that the conflict between the ANC and the IFP will erupt again, even perhaps more viciously because they are now talking about smaller pieces of turf and individual towns?
PM. The potential for conflict in that province is always there. The challenge is not that we should continue to be pessimistic, the challenge is rather that we should find ways of managing the differences between different political parties in a manner that would prevent conflict. We should not allow conflict to be ... How we do it is going to depend on the specific conditions in each area that we are taking over. We are worried about tensions that are beginning to develop between ... and Buthelezi and those Indunas or Chiefs who support him.
POM. Support Buthelezi?
PM. Who support Buthelezi, because it might result in a conflagration again in Natal and of course Buthelezi's supporters and himself have begun blaming the ANC for the differences between him and the King, although the reality is that when we drew up the constitution of this country, we sought inter alia to restore the respect and the sanctity of chieftainship, of royalty. Buthelezi has over the years sought to use the royal house to promote his political interests. Now the new constitution is saying, we are restoring the respect of the monarch and all other traditional leaders and in doing so we are asking them to be above party politics. That is what Buthelezi does not like because his party thrives on promoting tribal sentiment and relying on traditional leaders. Once you make the traditional leaders independent then that is the end of the Inkatha Freedom Party. It then remains a party of migrant workers and as they become aggressive even to the broader society in the areas where they live, then increasingly this political party's strength would be diminished and that is what is making him very fearful.
POM. Is there a role for traditional Chiefs in local government?
PM. Yes. There is a role for traditional Chiefs in local government. We make provision for the District Councils and Local Councils. In the District Councils the Chiefs are entitled to participate either as ex officio members or as elected representatives, they are entitled to do so. The same would apply to Local Councils and at the level of Local Councils there is a two stream kind of government. You have the tribal authorities which continue with the traditional way of organising society, the tribal courts, according to customary law and indigenous law, but at the same time there would be this Local Council whose responsibility is to provide general services to the community, like electrification, providing of infrastructure like roads, telecommunication and so on. And the traditional leaders are again entitled if they want to involve themselves in campaigns say like ... but even if they lose they are still entitled to become ex officio members of the council in the area under their jurisdiction. So they provide a kind of leverage and advice to government. Of course their participation in provincial government as well is small, but we have a House of Traditional Leaders which would consist of a number agreed upon in the province and they would advise government on all matters which affect them, when laws are made and so on.
POM. Let's switch to the PAC. I won't keep you more than another ten minutes. In October 1993 John Battersby who used to be the correspondent here for the Christian Science Monitor, wrote that, "From an organisation that was almost forgotten inside the country before its unbanning in February 1990, the PAC has staged a remarkable comeback." What happened to the PAC that they just fell off the map with 2.2% of the vote? Lack of leadership? They made no comeback at all.
POM. The reality is maybe that of our media people who wanted to create a perception that the PAC was a force to reckon with. Many of them made the assumption on the basis that the black majority were so angry that they would not support the ANC that was appearing to be more pragmatic and liberal. They would want to support a radical position. But little did they realise that the radical positions that the PAC was adopting were not in sync with reality. They were not addressing the basic needs of the people, the ordinary people who want to know what do you say about jobs, what do you say about education, what do you say about health, what do you say about security? We have had a lot of violence, they wanted peace. The PAC was offering war and more war, violence, and that is not something that our people were interested in. So firstly, therefore, the perspective was a wrong one. Secondly, they were not traditional organisations. They don't know how to mass workers from other organisations, how to build alliances, they know none of that. Thirdly, because they are irrational most of the time, people who are intelligent do not want to be associated with them. That is why even Advocate Moseneke who was one of the Vice Presidents could not stay with the PAC because he could no longer defend their positions intelligently so it was better for him to save his credibility by staying out. So that's the problem. They don't have leadership, they don't have strategy. They are unable to adapt to changes which we achieved and that is where their weakness lies. But I think now in the current situation my assessment is that more and more they are sobering up now, beginning to understand the mistakes that they have committed. We will see whether they have the capacity to mobilise and organise or not but certainly there is a dramatic shift from the old positions that they had adopted.
POM. Second last question, on the Truth Commission. How far should it go? What should be its role? How will it activate and be an instrument of reconciliation rather than accusation and recrimination?
PM. The first thing that our people want to know is the truth. What happened? They lost their loved ones and don't know what happened. Who was responsible for their disappearance? One thing, the truth must come out. The next stage obviously is consideration as to whether they should not be compensated from the first action. All these things obviously have to be done in the context of the broad policy positions of the new government. One unity, two nation building, three reconciliation. The manner in which therefore we handle the Truth Commission should not be contradictory to the need to project unity and reconciliation. So the Truth Commission therefore, as we see it, would not be a witch hunt where we want people to pay for their sins, where we want to punish them. It would not be an act of reprisal. It would rather be one of ensuring that the truth is known and where compensation is due that could be effected. And that having known the truth we could then turn our backs against the evils of the past yet at the same having a record that will enable us to know who were the perpetrators of atrocities so that in the new situation they should not be allowed to repeat what they have done. If they repeat that obviously they would have to be punished.
POM. Do you think if, say, a minister, if some minister from the National Party now a minister in the government of national unity was found to be implicated in the commission of a crime, that at least he or she would have to stand down, resign from public office?
PM. I would expect a self-respecting person to do so, because even if he doesn't want to do so there is going to be a public demand, public outcry that such a person should stand down and I think it would be prudent to do so. I would do so if I was in that position.
POM. I think one of your telephone calls was related to this thing, the Minister for Agriculture, who is trying to say he has a claim on the premiership and stir up all kinds of trouble. What's the basis of it? Is he backed by other factions?
PM. Well the first point is that the man is not a political activist. He does not come from the tradition of our struggle for liberation. He is a product of the Bantustan system and his struggle, when he got involved in the struggle, he will go off to become the leader of the Bantustan state. It was not to advance the struggle for liberation in our country. So his pursuit was for personal gain, material gain, not for the country.