About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

28 Nov 1994: Maduna, Penuell

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POM     You've been a Minister now for seven months in the government of national unity. How would you say the transition is going? Is it going more smoothly than you thought it would; is it proving to be more difficult or less difficult?

PM     I would say on the whole it's gone quite smoothly. Certainly it's been smoother than some of us might have anticipated it would be. Of course the road has not been that kind of smooth; it has been bumpy on some occasions, and I want to believe that that would be expected. We have been governing this country with three parties, with the majority party far outstripping the other two. In other words, the minority parties put together cannot countermand the strength of the majority party. So we have a very clear situation where in fact you have a clear majority, which in a normal democratic set up would have been single-handedly governing the country, co-governing the country for reasons which are peculiarly South African. So it's a really interesting development in the world of political and transitional science and it's been a success.

POM     ... circumstances are purely South African, assuming that ...

PM     I mean that, in fact, you see if you look carefully at the ANC, the majority of the people who gave their votes to the ANC are blacks, the indigenous majority in this country, indigenous African majority. Now, if you look carefully, you would have had a situation where a party which is basically black in terms of the votes that it could count, imposes its will as it were on the unwilling white minority, which is not an insignificant minority. We also would have had a situation where that ANC would have been confronted with a civil service which, at critical managerial levels, is absolutely white and male dominated, Afrikaner male dominated for that matter. And you would have had a similar situation with regard to the army and the policing agency, and you would have had a similar situation with regard to the economy: business, small and big, is basically white dominated and white orientated. Now, in that kind of set up the majority party would have found it extremely difficult to turn things around in this country single-handedly. So in a South African set up such as I have tried to describe, it was imperative for the majority party to bring the minority parties into government and in fact utilise, as it were, their strengths and benefit from ... so therefore we have a government of national unity which is governing this country on the basis of a collective wisdom, the wisdom of the majority party as well as that of the minority parties and it has worked well so far.

POM     How are decisions taken in the Cabinet? Is it on the basis of consensus or if consensus is not there then the ANC will try to persuade you?

PM     There hasn't been one major issue where consensus has been lacking through and through, fortunately or unfortunately. In fact, even on the Truth Commission, we know Inkatha prefers that there should be no Truth Commission and we also know that the National Party prefers ... Then again we have put together a deal for purposes of public scrutiny and comment already, and therefore there has been consensus that it should be put out as it was and allow people to debate it. It's also interesting that we haven't had a situation where the ANC has yet to say, "Stuff the minority parties, we want to have it this way". We have always tried to achieve consensus because we want to believe that it's in the interests of the country to ensure at all times that the governing parties are together on policies and implementation. Of course, on some occasions, it's going to be pretty difficult to do so and the ANC will have to be prepared to say, "Oh well here ... this is it, this is our view". And I'm only hoping that it's not going to happen too soon, but it will definitely happen that the ANC will have to take a stand on some issues and say, "This is how we want it".

POM     Many people have said to me that one of the surprises in government has been the performance of the Freedom Front; that Viljoen ... entered into the spirit of the thing to the point where people say that, if there were an election today, many people who voted for the National Party would now vote for the Freedom Front. My question is, is the National Party slowly losing ...? It's the junior partner; its voice isn't heard that often, and it doesn't know any longer what it stands for.

PM     You see there was a time when the National Party could mobilise people, white people, with ease on the basis of sheer racism, and it had them solidly behind it. Gone are those days. Now the National Party is undergoing a fundamental transformation because it's got to present itself as a non-racial party. And I think it is going through a difficult period because its ardent followers were sheer racist jingoists for a very long time. If it were now to present a different image, as it has done over the past five years since 1989 with the ascension to power of De Klerk within the National Party and in the country if it is to do that and do it successfully ... if it is going to be truly non-racial, it can't avoid the question of the content of the National Party. It can't, in other words, remain the voice of white South Africans and at the same time cease to be non-racial. In other words, it must at some point confront this basic question: will it have credible enough blacks to join it and lead it? Because you see it will have to overtly say how it seeks to resolve the basic question confronting the country, and that is about the total liberation of the blacks, because change in this country essentially is about that above all, the liberation of blacks from historically created conditions of mass poverty and so on. It's got to be able to say how it's going to resolve that. It's ducking and dodging right now, even on the whole issue of affirmative action within the South African context. It's moving rather too cautiously. It doesn't want to clearly define a position. But there isn't a party in this country that can dodge that question because the blacks are in the majority, have been short changed for centuries in this country, and they can't remain where they are; and at the same time parties remain hoping that they get their vote. The ANC itself will have to sit down and say this is where blacks are, where the indigenous majority is in our own agenda regarding the future of this country.

POM     Is that part of the argument of Thabo Mbeki in the paper that was leaked to the press or whatever and ...?

PM     That's not correct. There has been a debate in the ANC and Thabo and some of us to some extent have been in the forefront in that debate. And that debate is not in fact confined to the ANC; it's a national debate. What does liberation mean? Liberation from apartheid, does it mean only that you see the black majority in government, in Parliament and in the provinces? Or does it mean something more than that? Does it mean the emergence of programmes to liberate people from conditions which were created over centuries of colonialism and dictates of apartheid? Now, of course, Thabo then sits down, reduces that debate ... puts out a paper and it was not in fact leaked to the press. However it reached the press, the fact of the matter is that the press is aware, the media are aware of this vibrant debate, not only within the ANC but nationally. And it's a healthy debate by the way. There is not a single party, as I say, that can dodge that question. It's always in the centre of our political struggles for change in this country, and you can't push it aside now that we have got the vote. So what I'm trying to say is, it's not as if Thabo Mbeki gambled, it's not. Somebody surely must sit down and reduce this to written form; try to cast the debate in the way we understand it. What has subsequently happened is we have put together as the National Executive Committee of the ANC a team around Thabo that is preparing what we would call the ANC's strategy and tactics document in the new consideration. That team consists of Thabo himself, Pallo Jordan, Mac Maharaj and Joel Netshitenzhe. They are reporting to the National Executive Committee; they have already concluded a series of drafts of the document and the National Executive Committee is looking and, by the time we hold the conference on the 17th December, the National Conference of the ANC, we will have that document and our branches and regions will also have had an opportunity to debate and discuss it. It's going to be finalised by conference so that we take a concrete position regarding this issue.

POM     Is there a kind of a movement away from how the ANC has behaved in its first year in office which has been very conciliatory, going out of its way all the time to assuage white fears and as a movement come back to a position where it's saying, "listen, our real agenda, the real reason we're here is to see about the upliftment of blacks and they must occupy a higher place on the agenda?"

PM     No, it's not. The ANC is not shifting from the perspective of a non-racial order; it's not. Secondly, the ANC has always acknowledged that, inasmuch as there are white fears which cannot be dismissed as being irrational, there are also black aspirations which can never be dismissed as being irrational. Now an effort has to be made obviously to maintain the balance between the two conflicting demands: the need to address genuine white fears which we acknowledge do exist on the one hand, and the need also to address genuine black grievances and aspirations which cannot be dismissed as being irrational. Now there is an attempt at doing precisely that. In other words, all we want to say is that non-racialism must not be distorted to mean that you leave things as they are. We are saying that, through the RDP, through affirmative action for instance; a whole range of things ought to be done to uplift the conditions of the erstwhile oppressed in our society. Failing that, we shall not have resolved the basic problems confronting this country. It has always been part of the perspective of the ANC which has been articulated over time now in many different ways. We are saying that, in fact, at the centre of our problem is massive disability, massive poverty, massive squalor, massive homelessness, massive joblessness, all of which afflict basically the indigenous majority in this country. We are looking at people who live in shacks. You will not easily find one white person living in a shack in this country and yet you will find many indigenous South Africans living in those conditions, and surely those conditions have to be addressed. If you are looking at water reticulation and supply problems, they are afflicting those people essentially. There is not a single white who will say, "I don't have water to drink or water to use for washing".

POM     ... a radical restructuring of the whole social and economic ...?

PM     Absolutely, absolutely.

POM     So you've got those who want to go a bit slow and, on the other hand, you've most of the parties who say we must move faster.

PM     Well let me tell you, the speed of the process is determined by a lot of forces and a lot of factors we've seen outside the ANC in the government. One major factor for instance is economic growth: if there is no economic growth then that will retard the speed of the process geared towards addressing those imbalances. At the same time, it's interesting that there won't be growth if you don't pay particular attention to those disabilities. It is behind everything. We believe, rightly or wrongly, that if for instance we adopt a correct housing policy and begin to implement it, it will jack up this economy. Economic scientists have already told us that that is not a solid base, but the economy would indeed be jacked up because a lot of jobs may be created by a correct housing project. For instance, those who manufacture door knobs would get work; those who manufacture window frames and all the fittings will also get jobs. The brick layers and the brick makers and so on and it can have a multiplying factor you see. So you need those policies. In other words, it's not a shift away from policy; it's an attempt at saying that policy has to have a meaning and content.

POM     For example, in the context of the RDP, in the last month I have been travelling around the country, have talked with most Premiers ... members of staff, all those people, whatever, and when it comes to the RDP I find there's a kind of blank stare; the ordinary person doesn't understand very much about it, doesn't know what it's about. And even in the regional parliaments, there was a great deal of difference in how the people interpreted it or think it's about. A couple of questions: one is, why hasn't the government been able to sell the RDP to the people and say, this is not a government plan and unless you play your part it won't happen. So ... motivating communities, telling them how they can get in on the process.

PM     You see there are many reasons for this, but the essential reason, interestingly enough, is because this country has been governed from the centre for rather too long. There is a tendency among many people, including business people, to think that it is the government that has to initiate programmes. The RDP is about all of us and about all of us playing one role or another. That's pretty interesting, but a lot of people don't see it that way and government would have to embark upon real RDP propaganda and expend resources; get people to realise that they cannot leave whatever they are doing to RDP. RDP is about growth, it's about the creation of jobs, it about creation of facilities and so on and so forth.

POM     It's about an ideal society.

PM     That's right, it's about an ideal - about embarking upon programmes that would give you an ideal society. That's that. Now, yes, it was initiated by the ANC and adopted by the government and it was generally accepted as an ideal kind of programme; but then again when it comes to implementation people still do not know what role they are going to be playing in the implementation. I have, for instance, said to people, "it's interesting that when you are talking about feeding schemes at school, you can leave those community based projects to the feeding schemes and government can subsidise those feeding schemes and ensure that the wares those community based entities are selling are linked to the RDP." That is very much possible, that is very easy to do. But then again you are talking about organisations at the community level so that people can then come forward and say, "This is what we have to offer". Some are going to say we are going to offer sandwiches to the little kids at these prices and others are going to say we will offer milk and yet others are going to say we will offer all sorts of other things. Now you link those and, immediately you do so, you create jobs for those people; because on a regular basis now they have got this market, the schools where they are going to be selling. We are not saying that the teachers themselves must stop teaching and begin to sell mealies. We are saying that the communities must organise themselves to do this, the ... the parents and so on. And immediately you realise that there is a school in almost every little township, then you will realise that the community can organise itself, come forward and say you just need a subsidy to get started, or they can go to business and say to business, "Link up with us, we will market this, you supply, we draw a little cut, you also get your cut". It's interesting. Local dairy boards or local dairy people can say, "Look, if our trucks come to sell milk to the kiddies, what we do is, we link up with you ... you distribute the milk and government pays us and then you get paid for distributing the milk". You create jobs immediately and the bakeries could say the same thing, "We will link up with you, market our bread, cakes or whatever here at this school at this rate and ... for you a little cafeteria within the premises of the school ...' So in other words every little effort can easily be crafted into the RDP.

POM     ...

PM     [... If you are talking about employees, people just to go around preaching RDP.] You can't afford that from the budgetary point of view; we don't have that money, but at the same time some of us with the assistance of Minister Jay Naidoo are talking to people and saying exactly what I am saying to you: that whatever you are doing can be linked to the RDP. There is a need for ... in the community to build a school. The ideal is that you should be able to say to the builders, brick layers and so on, "You are the community yourselves. Come forward, build this school. There is a need to lay out a road, to construct a road, come forward, do it yourself. We will pay." A need to lay water pipes, sewerage pipes, water-borne sewerage pipes and so on and so forth. It can be done and I am telling you, you can link all the community efforts to the RDP. Business people come forward, "you want to build houses, link up with people who can build here in the community. [You know coming in as huge monopolies,] try and identify partners here, link up with them, give them jobs in other words. Give them something to do. You've got the resources as big business, link up with them; let them work with you."

POM     Is business playing a full role or is it still kind of sitting on the sidelines watching what's happening, or has it enthusiastically jumped in?

PM     Yes and no. Some business people have already jumped up enthusiastically and said "Yes, we want to do something". Of course, then they are expecting guarantees from the government because to them this is primarily business. That's that. They are expecting some return, maybe not as comfortable as the returns they might have got elsewhere, but certainly they would make an input. For instance, they would incorporate social investment discussion where they are saying that they are prepared to invest socially to ensure that the community is indeed brought up. That is exciting news for us, for government; but then again they are quite right in saying the government must help and ensure that there is stability there, because you can't just invest there if those facilities are going to be consumed by the ever raging fires in some of the communities. In other words, the whole problem of crime and so on: help us address those. I mean those are genuine complaints. Nobody is going to throw his money into a burning furnace. In other words, there is a lot of enthusiasm already. I have said yes and no. Maybe the no part of it is that people are still very cautious, and maybe this is natural; one wouldn't expect them to come forward immediately and say this is what we are going to do, unless they know what they are letting themselves in for. That's fair. You know we are a new government and I doubt if we have the capacity to change things around immediately.

POM     I've been associated with some people who have been conducting focus groups across the country, bringing people together with a skilled moderator to get them talking about all kinds of things. There are two things that stand out. One is that there is a lot of anger spilling up and, two that the perception of the gravy train, whether it exists or doesn't exist is ... in the minds of people.

PM     If you say there is a lot of anger, I doubt if it is correct. There are elements of course who are inciting people to all sorts of things, and those are really futile exercises. When they confront the government, they will extend their resources confronting us; they should be working with us to do things, we want to do things. If they decide that they will spend a lot of time marching on us and breaking into buildings, occupying them and so on and so forth, then that will be a futile effort and I am happy to say that that is not a predominant phenomenon right now. People know their aspirations are not going to be met overnight. They know that. They want to be able to say something is beginning to happen and, indeed, that's why we are saying something visible has to start happening. And then again, a person who didn't have a house on the eve of the 27th of April does not expect to have a mansion the following day, but they want to be able to see that there is a viable project which is already beginning to give people houses. Those who didn't have water under apartheid are not going to immediately say, "Now we want to have water under you", but they will say "It's enough for us to see dams coming because then we know that our problems are going to be addressed". And so on and so forth. And that is beginning to happen.

PM     The whole thing of the gravy train you know mischievous elements started that and fortunately for us it didn't wash with the majority of people. Let me tell you that what we are getting now under President Mandela is nothing compared to what whites were paying themselves in this country. The perks they were getting we don't get them. As a Minister I don't have any housing subsidy from government right now. And in fact if people want to attack the government, the best resources for which government is competing with business, then they must be prepared to pay something that will retain people in government. .... Supreme Court of South Africa, I'm admitted to practise law in this country. In addition to that, I'm a Notary Public; I am holding a Master's Degree in Constitutional Law in this country, with constitutional litigation as my speciality. Right, that's four. Five, I'm into tax law. And the other thing is, I'm black by the way, blackness sells in this country. I could sell myself to the highest bidder by simply standing in the middle of the road and saying, "Here am I, Penuell Maduna'. Those who know me ... and I would get something more, more than I am getting right now from government and I would even have the option to be in business in my own name and right, in addition to practising law. In other words, I would have the whole world grovelling at my feet. But right now, what we take home is peanuts and we have taken a cut now. ... We have said, maybe the right thing to do is to take a cut. People in government were having all sorts of perks; they were really enriching themselves in the past. This is not happening with us; it's not happening with us. Those who were saying it is happening were merely being mischievous and we said to them, "Come and acquaint yourself with facts. Ask the right person". And in any event, this was not imposed by us on the fiscus. There was a commission under Judge Melamud; it was established by the Transitional Executive Council in the old government to investigate. They are the ones who said this is what we could take. And there is another commission which is going to be established to address this question and those who have been very overpaid must come forward and say so. And they must also come forward and say what they think we are worth as a collective and as individuals. And there is another thing: there is an element of racism in it. They never raised for one moment the issue of the huge perks that they paid to whites in government in the past. They never raised that. They raise it now, surely suggesting that in fact it's not correct to pay blacks a living wage. And ... they don't do that even today; they were part and parcel of the racism contained in the wages and salaries scales that were paid to blacks in the past. So I am not surprised that this is happening. Suddenly the government is dominated by black monkeys, is paid too much. ... how much are they paying us? And you must know that in fact that we are managing public affairs; we are responsible for everything good and bad that is happening in government. If we were managing their companies, how much would they pay us? Peanuts. We have not changed those peanuts. Why do they expect us to take peanuts from government? We must take something that will retain people in government, especially those resources that government is competing for with the private sector.

POM     Now, to take it a step further, you are trying to put fourteen different civil services together into one civil service; you have all the senior posts occupied by whites; you have an affirmative action programme, but you have also guaranteed that nobody will lose their jobs ... How can you bring in cheap ...?

PM     Firstly, it's going to be very nice indeed that there are so many civil services and therefore so many civil servants. What is interesting in that regard is that, precisely because of this, you have a lot of people, black people and women who have developed in the civil service who are not going to lose their jobs. And in some departments, like this one for instance, it's been proved that, as you bring them together, as you rationalise all the civil service functions, at lower level you already have 65% of the mix being indigenous Africans. That's interesting, and I have been told that in one province, for instance, the Eastern Cape, the ratio is 85% to 15%. Now it's an interesting thing that in the Eastern Cape we will no longer be talking affirmative action for blacks at lower levels, but we might have to talk affirmative action the other way round. That's another interesting thing. So it doesn't look as ominous as it might initially look when you first collide with it. The second thing, yes, we are constitutionally bound to ensure that people do not lose their jobs. At the same time, we are constitutionally bound to create a representative civil service, public service. It's a difficult process of reconciling all those seemingly contradictory processes and demands and, of course, it's even more complicated by the budgetary constraints. We don't have more money than government has had all along; we have a budget deficit right now. So that's what makes it difficult. But it's interesting that overall, the critical areas that you are talking about are the managerial areas. As I've said to you, in our department, 65% at the lower levels is indigenous, but then again you are talking about the higher levels. There are many ways to do this. We should actually embark upon crash courses in order to promote people who all along, because of their race and colour, have not been promoted. You are also going to bring in people from the erstwhile homelands who have adequate qualifications for purposes of induction at the managerial level. Fortunately, they are not going to lose their jobs even at that level. So it may not be that difficult; but it's not the kind of thing we can achieve overnight. The other thing, of course, is that we need indeed to address the need to trim down the public service. It's a very complex process. I'd rather not say much about it because I don't want to alarm people. You would have to retain others and, if the economic situation improves, find a way to farm them out to projects and to the private sector where they might even be more use to themselves: but it won't happen overnight, it's a very difficult process. I don't think there is any country that has succeeded in bringing down the civil service budget the way we say it ought to be done. So it's going to take a number of years. I can't see us concluding it in the first five years.

POM     ... University of the North West, training programmes in public administration ... make an application to ... for a hefty sum of money to train. Do you find civil servants at the higher levels co-operative? They do have the means: you can make policy but ultimately they're the ones who implement it. They know their way around the system ... things can get lost...

PM     I'm not saying it's not happening, but I haven't come across it over the past seven months here in my department. Let me talk specifically about my own situation; I haven't come across it. You know ... things are very interesting. "I don't want to lose my job right now, so I'm not going to do anything that may cause me to lose my job." Then they sit back and they say to themselves, "Change has come and surely things are not going to work the way they used to in the past". It may not help them to resist us. Resist us and go where? That's a labour question. And the other thing is, for the first time now they are competing with blacks for their own jobs. If they defy me here, nothing prevents me from saying, "My friend, we can't work together. I'm going to carefully comply with the law and cite you". They are going to lose their jobs ... They are not irreplaceable and they know that. So resisting us is not going to help them. There are those who are trying to ... being sidelined, will strike and so forth, but speaking for myself I can't see that happening seriously. They are... I wouldn't hesitate to apply that principle they have always insisted upon all along: no work no pay. No work no pay. And people who want to work will do the jobs of the other people. They will lose their jobs and they know that.

POM     To go back to the RDP, the question I've asked is, where does the money come from to make all this possible? The IMF is beginning to warn what the costs of the RDP might be and the resources aren't there.

PM     Depending on how you look at things, the resources are or are not there. If to you the RDP means that essentially it has got to be funded from government coffers, then the resources are not there. But if it means to you that the RDP would hinge essentially on a vibrant rate of growth in this country, stability and so on and so forth, then the resources are there.

POM     That's a terrific assumption, a huge assumption. This year, the best projected for a rate of growth is 2.6%; the population increase is 2.4%. Per capita income ...

PM     That's why I am saying that the resources are not there if you are looking at it in terms of the resources in the hands of the government. They don't have the resources. But you see the government can only participate to the extent it can in conjunction with others in promoting the RDP. I want to believe that, as we are all getting linked to the RDP in terms of our functions in society, then we will be able to deliver. For instance, an investor ... is approaching the government and they are saying that they can easily get all sorts of things done once the government is prepared to invest in the requisite infrastructure.

POM     ...

PM     Some consortium that is prepared to participate in the delivery of resources.

POM     It's a private resource?

PM     It's a private resource. They will link up with people who have done this abroad. It's a good investment for them and nothing prevents them from doing that. Government may participate in funding the construction of dams, [but they are going to there in ensuring that they deliver]. So, how things can be done? I'm not an economist so I can't use the kind of language that an economist would use about how these things are going to be done, but I can tell you that once ... it's going to happen. The chaps who want to invest in houses: they are selling houses to people and people are going to be buying them. You know, as a black, I lived in conditions which were horrible despite all the legal qualifications that I had at the time. ... And I came forward to commit myself contractually, I got a house, and I can imagine a lot of people want to do the same thing. They don't want government handouts. They don't want that. ...

POM     This relates back to what you said earlier about how people were passive under the racial government to do things rather than initiating them on their own. Do you think there's a culture of entitlement out there; do they feel that they are entitled to things?

PM     No, no. You know you go to a shack dweller and say this to them, and they will tell you that they are not expecting government to give them handouts. They are looking for an opportunity. Of course, they are in circumstances where they can't do without some affirmative action programme in that direction; but if you say to them, "We will get into these houses and rent them", they will begin to ask you, "At what point do they become ours?" Then you tell them they won't own these houses because you are renting, you are not buying. And a lot of them are saying to us, "No, set up low cost housing; give us this subsidy that you said you would give, R12 500. We will utilise that money in the direction of acquiring houses." They want to own their place. Yes, there is massive unemployment and some of them, at the same time as jobs are being created, are being liberated from unemployment and they are developing the capacity to buy. You can just take for an example the houses which are being built in the East Rand. People have already been there and they are saying, "We won't buy them, they are expensive, they are way beyond our capacity". It's interesting that people who are going to those houses are people who are living in shacks. OK, we are looking for easy ways to provide houses which people can easily afford, and we are taking advice from many countries and from many experts. We will eventually, of course, have to make our own policies in this regard and Minister Joe Slovo and the housing members of the Executive Councils in the various provinces are having meetings all the time to discuss this. The private sector is going to participate; the government is also going to participate, laying out essential infrastructure and so on and so forth, but I don't think it's completely ... What I always want to emphasise is that it's not going to be done overnight. You know we've had a housing backlog in this country for ages. The past government decided not to build houses for blacks in 1968 as a matter of policy, because the policy then was to drive all of us back to our own homeland; and they spent a lot of money doing that and then, once they stopped doing it, there was this ... urbanisation which resulted. Now you've got to address all that. The government is going to embark on the infrastructure; the government is also going to participate in building low cost houses. There is money, though it's not a lot, that's bad, but we will do it, we will do...

POM     Is there a possibility that, as you start improving the housing situation given the fact that low cost housing is available, does that in fact serve as an incentive for more people to emigrate towards the cities, increase the rate of urbanisation so that your capacity to build houses might be exceeded by the ratio of people coming into the cities?

PM     You see, it depends on how we are going to handle it. Obviously, if we concentrate on building houses in the cities and towns, then the movement is going to be in that direction; but if we build houses, rather than local government structures, in the rural areas (and part of the plan is to do precisely that, to build infrastructure, build schools and so on there), people are going to stay in their respective areas. People don't like moving around unnecessarily. They move because they are running away from conditions of deprivation.

POM     ...

PM     That question has been raised so many times and at the centre we have said, if you've got money to do what you want to do...

POM     ... where do they get the money from?

PM     Well you see that's the major question: where is the money going to come from? The money in fact is going to come from the central system and there isn't money in the kitty. That's a basic question. You can give them money ... found the money. There are provinces that could never stand for one day without ... in the budgetary sense and that's the problem. It's a major problem. It's not as though somebody is sitting here and centralising everything ... the powers that are defined in the constitution. Nothing prevents us from doing that except the budgetary constraints.

POM     On the question of local government elections ... whoever you talk to says there's no way the country will be ready for local elections by next October. The registration of voters hasn't begun and the voters' rolls ... delimitation of boundaries and it's a huge task; and of course the administrations of the provinces don't have the resources to do it.

PM     Well the centre is going to be helping them. Look, we want those elections and we're going to have them. I don't agree with those pessimists who are saying that because of these problems we can't do it. It's doable unless they are saying that everything is going to be done by the centre; if that is the case, it's not doable. Then we will never have democratic structures of local government for ... and yet we want to democratise that level and facilitate delivery at that level.

POM     That's what the RDP ... Do you think that having elections next year might re-ignite the KwaZulu conflict between the ANC and the IFP in KwaZulu/Natal again?

PM     That again is based on the wrong assumption. Yes, there has been a lot of turmoil and a lot of conflict between us and the IFP. It's interesting, but it's not because of political competition. That's ... We have said to the Police, "Deal with the violence". The past state was financing that violence; the IFP got a lot of money from the government towards the violence. ... In other words, if there isn't anybody now who is going to be fuelling this from the money point of view, funding nefarious activities and then saying the ANC and the IFP must sort it out. It's interesting that ... We will work hard to stabilise it. There is no reason why the IFP should fight us; they should fight us at the polls, yes, and try to convince people that it is the right party to govern.

POM     Do you find it difficult to work with Gatsha Buthelezi?

PM     No, not at Home Affairs, we haven't had any problem.

POM     ...

PM     ... We are not governing this department and parties on the basis of partisan politics. I am not here to do the bidding of the ANC. I am here to implement the laws of the country.

POM     Just a last question about stability, and I've put this to a lot of people ... seven days before the election, Kissinger and Carrington packed their bags and left the Carlton Hotel saying there was nothing to mediate. There was an escalation of violence between IFP and the ANC, and it looked as though the country was slowly sliding towards some kind of anarchy by election day, when miraculously Buthelezi said he would contest the election, violence stopped overnight and you had an election which by all accounts was free of intimidation and.... the international community and observers were quick to say it was a free and fair election, the job's done. Then there was this breakdown in the counting process where millions of votes got lost and, when the result was announced, it made everybody a winner; it was a miraculous result. Buthelezi got KwaZulu/Natal, the National Party got the Western Cape and the ANC gets a big majority, but not enough to give it absolute power, more than 661/3 %. The question was, was there any form of informal broker where the leaders of all the parties said, "let's forget about taking action against each other in court ... the most important thing now is that we produce a government that is perceived as being stable and legitimate in the country ... everything else is of a secondary concern."

PM     What's the question?

POM     The scenario I've painted would be...

PM     No, there wasn't that formal kind of meeting where people said "This is what we are going to do". No, no, there wasn't a formal kind of meeting. I want to believe that it was prudent for all of us to accept the result and start rebuilding this country. We could have expended a lot of time fighting over all sorts of minor details about those elections, but then the country would have suffered because I think all of us had some grievance regarding the election. Now we had to decide whether or not we wanted to put more emphasis on the grievances than on the need to rebuild this country because people have ... At the same time we had to say to ourselves, this gets us started in the right direction for the country. But there wasn't a formal kind of meeting. In fact there wasn't even such a meeting within the ANC itself; we didn't meet to discuss what to do in the ANC; we just accepted the results.

POM     The Truth Commission. How do you see it working?

PM     Well Parliament will pass a law; there is a draft Bill circulating; Parliament will pass a law regarding that and the Commission is going to be established with sub-committees that are going to be dealing with various aspects of the work, and then people are going to be coming forward to claim amnesty, tell the truth, express their grievances and so on and so forth. And also to claim compensation, those who think they are entitled to it.

POM     Could it wreck the government of national unity?

PM     It shouldn't. You see those who say that are those people who think that they ... things they might have done in the past would be enough to wreck the government. It shouldn't. What may wreck the government is sweeping these things under the carpet. There will be people who want to say, "No, no, we are all untrustworthy, this is what happened. So and so was never really called upon to account for what they did in the past and they did it to us. What do you want us to do? Take the law into our own hands?" It shouldn't wreck it. Carefully handled, it is going to liberate us as a country from our past.

POM     You wouldn't see it as ... persons on the National Intelligence ... they took decisions to organise hit squads or ... Will that come out?

PM     It should, it should.

POM     Then ... stand down from office?

PM     Well as I say, it depends on how we handle it. It depends on how we handle it. But once we know that this happened and he is actually called upon to account for it, that is enough. Look, we have thought that there are many problems in this country as a result of ... there was a lot of untold suffering. We accept that. I want to believe that we will be able to handle all this. They shouldn't fear anything. What we fear ourselves is that what people know is going to keep seeping through as it does. People are implicating ... and people are beginning to say to us, "Why don't you act against them?" And by the way, as we come to know things, nothing prevents us from locking them up. That's another thing. So you have got to decide whether you are going to lock them up and wreck the government or call upon them to account and atone their past. We were part of the conflict as well to the extent that we did things, but we were prepared to come forward ... Some of us have done so in the past under them. We were grounded and then we defied them. We told them what to do.

POM     OK. Thank you. See you in six months.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.