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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

Apr 1995: 'Top Level' TV Programme

Click here for Overview of the year

Felicia Mabusa-Suttle, Jay Naidoo, Sankie Mthembi-Nkondo & Others

POM     This is a programme on the RDP.  Easter Sunday night.

X     Minister, on Friday this last week you did receive a letter from me on the mismanagement of funds that are available to you of ten billion, even at 3%, where government is now committed to paying 15% over an average running the graph over ten years, about ten years, and will be in future, so we're talking about the creating of funds of the 230 billion that government owes, that this ten billion given you at 3% gives you a saving of 12% which means on a yearly basis you are obtaining a further 1.2 billion per annum.  Why, Minister, has this money not been taken up yet?

FMS     Is that for the RDP?

X     This can be for the RDP, this can be for the housing of the minister sitting next to him there taking Mr Slovo's place, which is one hang of a slot to be in, but with this type of money -

FMS     Are you doubting that she can do it because she is a woman?

X     No, women I respect and I respect them tremendously.  I do feel that women, if it weren't for the women behind the men and sometimes the woman runs ahead of the men, that we will lack a lot in this country and we expect to see that the Slovo slot will be covered fully from now on.  But here now in the creation of finance from the people on the ground -

FMS     OK.  Let's hear from Mr Jay Naidoo.

JN     Well as the Minister of Finance has announced that the government is revising the whole financial and taxation systems and proposals like yours must be entertained by the Minister of Finance and are being entertained.  We are looking at ways of preventing leakages in the financial system, the taxation system.  But there are many people who are not paying taxes today, or not paying for the services they receive.  So there is a comprehensive approach towards addressing how we take the resources which are limited in South Africa and use them for the priorities of the RDP within the provision of housing or water or land reform.  So that is very much part and parcel of the discussion taking place in government and we welcome the suggestions you are making.

FMS     The RDP is it working?

Chris     I think the RDP is working.  My name is Chris and I am from the Masakhane campaign.  I think when you check the RDP you must check, you know it is a year now that we have a new government and there are many things that have happened.  We have got children, the clinics free, unlike the olden days when this was not happening.

FMS     Masakhane campaign.  Explain to the people.

Chris     Well the campaign was to achieve two things.  One is to improve local government;  two is to get people paying for the services.

FMS     During our research we came across interesting comments about the RDP.  A women in Soweto for example said, "I've heard people talk about it on radio but I don't understand what it is all about."  A resident from a squatter camp said, "I've heard about it but I don't understand it."  Some whites believe that it is a black problem.  Basically it seems people have not been told exactly what the RDP is.  On a lighter note someone called it Revenge of the Dark People.  Mr Naidoo, is it?

JN     Part of the RDP is reversing the legacy of the past which is to make sure that South Africa, and all South Africans, irrespective of their colour, whether they are men or women, whether they are urban or rural, enjoy their rights under a new government.  But essentially the RDP is about shifting the resources of our country away from wasteful expenditure of the past where they use the white elephants that were created by the past government, to what is meeting the basic needs of people: the provision of water and electricity and proper education simultaneously with creating jobs.  It has been electrifying the townships and, like I said, we will electrify for the next five years 2.5 million homes.  How many jobs will be created, how many small and medium enterprises that will do the electrification rather than ESCOM doing it?  So it's about meeting the needs of people whilst creating jobs, whilst training our people in the skills that are necessary to make an economy that is competitive in an international world.

FMS     Stay with us, when we come back  we'll talk about housing, jobs, living conditions, crime, etc., when we come back.

     Welcome back.  We are talking about the government of national unity one year from now.  Have the lives of South Africans changed since the elections? That's our topic tonight.  Minister Sankie Mthembi-Nkondo, Minister of Housing.  Houses for all are high on the list of priorities.  Are you happy with the ANC's promise that one million houses will be built?

SMN     Felicia, I am, because when we made that target number we had done our research and there is no way in which we can run from the reality of the backlog created by apartheid so it is a recognition of the fact that something has to be done and we have to quantify it.  And, secondly, it should be understood that we have got people who are living in conditions that are unpardonable and we have to lift them from those conditions.  We have got people who are in the squatter communities, if you go to those communities, when you leave that place they are almost in tears.

FMS     We had a delegation here last week and they called it South Africa's most visible disgrace, a squatter camp.

SMN     They are a disgrace and as a nation which has to be proud of itself we have got to do something about it and our ambition and objective as government, and also as the Minister of Housing, is to make sure that after a period of time we begin to show a very impressive and deliberate way of dealing with the problem.  You might be aware of the fact that already in this short space of time we have been able to approve about 196,896 subsidies; they have been approved, which means that in reality we will begin to see that number of houses coming up.  But it's not going to useful for us to talk of those houses unless there is co-ordinated effort and that's why Mr Naidoo and myself and other ministers are working very closely together because we don't want to repeat a problem of the past where you find toilets, you find site and services, and the act is incomplete.  What we are doing now is to make sure that by the time those dwellings spring up people will have their water, people will have their piping for sewerage, people will have their electricity in time, and this is the ambition we have.  And it should also be understood that it's not going to happen overnight because first and foremost we have got to take our people through.

     You have just said, when you were talking to Mr Naidoo, that some people may not as yet understand what the RDP is.  It does also apply in housing.  People who have to have access to credit must understand the intricacies of what happens when you take a bond, what is a loan, how do you pay it.  And in a few weeks time, Felicia, people will be able to go to banks to get all the information that they need because these subsidies must be supported by loaning from the banks. So this is the process that we've been engaged in since we moved into office and we must say that what we have achieved in these few weeks was never achieved in 48 years of apartheid because for the first time when people go to the banks they will have somebody who listens to them.  They will have somebody who will give them more information on their loans, they will have someone who is going to listen to their problems and there are the whole range of issues that have been set up and established in order to deal with the different problems on the ground.

FMS     It's a big job for you.  Many obviously say Joe Slovo had the job before, it was a big job for him.

SMN     It is a job and it must be done and it is a challenge.  I am glad because I have taken the challenge and I am going to make sure that what my predecessor, Mr Slovo, did is not lost, it has to be emulated.  And the only way we can respect the effort and the time he put into setting up structures in the Ministry of Housing is to make sure that we succeed to the best of our ability.

FMS     Are you happy?

X     I am one of those fortunate people who can afford to get a low interest rate when you have a bond.  I have a specific question - the Minister of Housing has spoken about subsidies.  I have a slight problem with that because while it looks good on paper or when it is spoken about, the problem is that the poorest of the poor in the township won't be able to benefit from this firstly because it will be expensive for them to maintain their bond.  I think history has shown us that.  Most of our people cannot afford the bond.  Now the government on the one hand gives bonds and on the other hand they raise interest rates and my belief is that they give with one hand and take with the other.  How do they hope to benefit the poorest of the poor in the country? The previous racist regime, what they did was they had a scheme in the township where they let people pay for their houses, the unfortunate thing about them is that they let people pay indefinitely.  That's why today people are not paying their rent.  Can't this government look into the problem of making the houses affordable and making sure the people are able to afford their houses without them going to the banks and paying the high interest rates because the way banks operate if you're poor you pay the highest interest rate?

SMN     Let me correct you, the government doesn't give bonds, the government gives subsidies.  By subsidy we are referring to an amount that either a community or individuals are given by the government and from there on they have to seek other means to be able to pick up on their amount to be able to get a house.  So what we are doing now is that we've approved all these subsidies and people will be able to go to provincial housing boards to access these subsidies and all the explanations will be given to the people at that point, within their communities.  But let me also tell you, just to update you, to say that we are aware of the fact that people have been paying for their houses for more than 30, 40 years.  I'm from Meadowlands.  Ever since we went into that house we've been paying.  But this government has addressed that problem.  In the Eastern Cape about two months ago we went with Mr Naidoo and the President and the MEC in the region and at that point we are also going to give to people houses that have been paid overdue.  People who have been paying for a very long time and they have actually paid beyond the quality of the house were given those houses and we will continue to do that.  We will continue to do that looking at the individual houses and the individual people and years of payment that have gone into that.

FMS     OK.  Let me move on, I'm coming back to you, but I have someone here that I think questions the government, both the past and present.  Mr Paul Perreira, Institute of Race Relations.  You have monitored the old apartheid era and now you keep a watchful eye over the government of national unity.  Are they delivering?

PP     In many ways it's far too soon to tell and Minister Naidoo is quite right when he speaks of a massive legacy.  We know, and we have documented for 66 years now at the Institute, the iniquities of apartheid.  I'm not going to deal with those tonight.  I want to just continue the discussion that's being had at the moment with the Minister of Housing because the essential issue that was raised from the floor deals with the poorest of the poor and the government, or certainly the Premier of Gauteng and one or two other politicians, have ruled out site and service schemes for people who are known as squatters, informal housing in other words, areas like that.  They have spoken of the need to provide formal, proper housing, etc., but naturally it is through a system that is affordable to the country which is a subsidy of effectively a loan and it effectively deals with a number of people in the community.  But my question deals with the massive urbanisation which takes place, with people moving to the cities from what used to be called the homelands, people who have nothing, who do not have employment, who cannot pay back any loan however much that loan is subsidised, etc., and you have an actual need in terms of simple site and service.  Is it now on the government's agenda, where it wasn't ten months ago, to provide those people with the simple rudiments of existence which at the moment they do not have and certainly policy that government has enunciated in the last few months they shall not get.  They are actually those in greatest need.

FMS     Mr Kulu ...., City Press, your editorials have also pointed to that.  Some of your major concerns?

Kulu     Thank you Felicia.  My duty is basically simple, is that of articulating the aspirations of the people.  I simply listen to what the people are saying.

FMS     What are they saying?

Kulu     People are really, really demoralised in the townships.  They are demoralised in the sense that they don't see anything visible that the government is doing at the moment.  All what they hear is sweet sounding words of the RDP.  With due apologies to my friend Jay, they say it's all sounding so well but in reality they have not seen a single visible thing that is happening since the new government has taken over.  One such example is housing.  What they were told by the Premier of Gauteng was that houses are going to crop up in numbers and this far nothing, but nothing, has happened.  So these are some of the things that people talk about.  I would be very glad if I could get some nice realistic promises that politicians make.

FMS     I want to have someone else and then I'm going to get your response there.  Graham Simpson, Deputy Director of the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, you also talk about disillusionment, on the ground people becoming frustrated.

GS     I think it's not a simple process.  I think that on the one hand we have seen the power of the politics of reconciliation.  I think there is a lot of faith in the political process.  But I think the reality of people's lives is that we have seen at the level of violence in our society, we've seen very little change substantially.  Sure there has been a supposed decrease in the levels of political violence, but for many people it seems to have been replaced by high levels of violent crime.  I think we run a very serious risk if we don't recognise that conflict in South African society and communities that have been deprived of the basic necessities has very often revolved around access to scarce resources.  If we say we're going to inject resources into those communities we mustn't be naive about assuming that there is going to be automatically a decrease in the level of conflict.  Because the conflict has revolved around those things it may actually escalate the stakes.  We need to anticipate that, we need to build, and I'm not saying law and order, we need to build safety and security into the delivery of resources, into the RDP.  We need to recognise that those - we can't afford to just spend on the assumption that it will automatically solve a problem.  Yes, I think people might become disillusioned unless we provide safety and security along with housing and water and sewerage.

JN     I'd like to offer the response because I think I've been a trade union organiser for the last 15 years, I know what it is to deliver.  But if one takes up the points that have been made by Graham, for example, the levels of political violence have dropped by 80% in all areas except for some areas of KwaZulu/Natal.  That's a real visible improvement.  Yes, our major challenge now is to shift resources towards meeting the basic needs of people but in a way that is sustainable because it's useless us building a clinic if we have not restructured the health care budget to pay for the nurses, and pay for the medicine.  But if one goes back to what Kulu is saying, let me give you an example of how the media needs to keep people informed.  Two weeks ago we launched the Moratelli(?) One Water Project in the North West Province, a project that has started delivering water over the next two years to 150,000 people in 39 rural villages.  There was no press coverage of that.  Two months ago we launched an integrated urban renewal project in the Port Elizabeth area in which talks about providing the sports fields, the sewage, repairing the houses.  Again there's no reporting on that so one is saying that there have to be responsibilities, that it may take some effort to leave the newsrooms and take a four-hour journey to Mutsi(?) where some of the women are here to see that land reform is in place.  And that is what needs to be portrayed.  People need to be kept informed and we welcome the criticism, but I think there needs to be a check and balance.

FMS     Mr Tequani from AZAPO, are you happy with what you are seeing at street level?

Mr. T     No.  Definitely, Felicia, I think the position of AZAPO is known, that we found it problematic for structuring the government in the way it is structured because in that government of national unity you have a partnership which is not sticking together and I think what the leading party, the ANC, forgot to do was actually to liberate the economy. When you take over government, the economy of this country, the land question, is very crucial to us.  If we are going to build houses we need space, we need land.  If we want to have money to put up programmes which can uplift the standard of living of our people we need the mines , they must come to people, we must control those things.  But up to so far all these things are in the hands of particularly white people in this country.  I can go on further to say what we have been saying up to now is actually vindicated by what is happening.  All these nice programmes the Honourable ministers are talking about are actually being overtaken by events.  I don't see how when the police are toyi-toying, when the students are toyi-toying, when the teachers are toyi-toying, maybe the soldiers are going to toyi-toyi and from time to time we actually want to give them a little bit of what we have.  We are not going to mount any of these programmes.  I can tell you here and now that there are no structures on the ground, even those who voted for the ANC government are disillusioned and for us to put up programmes from the ground we need these people.

FMS     Mr. Tequani, is it easy to criticise from outside?

Mr. T     No, no, no, we are not criticising from outside, we are inside the country.  Felicia, let me put my point, let me put my point, Felicia.  All I am saying is that there was no way we could go into this kind of arrangement when we knew the arrangement was not going to deliver.  So all we are saying is, in fact right now what is happening, suppose we are inside, when you criticise we would have been censored so we are fine to be ...

FMS     When we come back we will continue to talk to the people about the RDP and South Africa a year from now.

FMS     South Africa one year after the elections.  It is very easy to get caught up in technicalities and facts and figures on a programme like this but let's take a few moments and allow the audience to reflect on the past year.  Let's start off with the lady here.

X     (This speaker is speaking in her own language.)

X     But we shouldn't try all the time to spend outside and look beyond because the point that she is raising actually is a community issue whereby the community itself should be able to know of the structures within its own environment, because there is no way in which people from Gauteng here can go and relate to issues in the Eastern Transvaal.  They have got their Premier, they have got their MECs.

FMS     But that's what she says; who is our leader? Who takes care of us?

X     She's from the Eastern Transvaal, they've got their Premier, Matthews Phosa.  They have got the local government structures which they must revive and get to work and those are their leaders.  They should know of their leaders.

FMS     OK.  Let's get some more.

X     Felicia, what I want to say is this, that we have got a government of national unity that is only 12 months in office and running a country is unlike running a company where I can stand up and issue instructions and at the end of the day all the workers they listen to that, but a country is a different thing altogether.

FMS     Let me get some young people now, let me get some young people.  I am trying to get as many people as possible, it's tough.

X     Minister Naidoo, how can we as students become involved in the RDP programme?

JN     Well I think we should start off with the question about rural areas.  We have taken an approach in government that unless we address the rural areas with the same vigour that we address the urban areas we will have more problems in Gauteng because people are leaving the rural areas to come to the cities because they have no jobs.  So a key part of government's work is a rural development programme and therefore the priorities of the government this year are providing water in the rural areas, is providing land, especially for single household heads that are female, is providing housing and electricity in the rural areas.  So we are adopting an approach that says rural people's concerns are as important, if not more important, than urban people.  But the last point is that transformation is not going to happen overnight and we are trying to transform the government at every structure of the government and it's not a magical cure. The RDP will work because we all put our energies together and over a number of years we will make this government what it is supposed to be and make the country what it's supposed to be.

FMS     Mr Perreira?

PP     I just want to throw a spanner into the work of this happy RDP meeting, and that question from the pupil in the audience prompted it, and that is just to raise the concern that RDP is a government policy, it's not an act of God and it's not a holy cow and we mustn't allow it to become one.  It may or may not be desirable that it works.  But let me raise this concern, the National Intelligence Service at the moment defines the success of the RDP as core to the national security doctrine which is a very frightening concept in terms of watching over civil liberties, etc.  So the question isn't how do we help the RDP, it's let's monitor the thing.

RK     My name is Richard Khumalo, I voted for this government and I am presently waiting but I am concerned with the perception that is being created that we, the masses, don't know that it's not easy to transform.  The government seems to be apologetic.  It's actions do not reflect what they promised the masses. Thirdly, the government has got an accountability to the masses who put them into office and the masses are talking of issues like: we are the taxpayers and the government is busy inviting people to take our taxes away.  Another example, a union like POPCRU has been protecting, bringing up their grievances and nobody was taking it up, but today because of a union called SAPU, which is led by whites, the government saw fit that it must sit down and address those grievances.

FMS     Let me just have someone from POPCRU here.  Do you agree?

X     Thanks Felicia, I am from POPCRU.  Actually I want to say what was said by a comrade up there.  There is a very big mistake.  We are seeing our President supporting the actions of SAPU whereas for quite some time we have been in the struggle, we have been struggling with other organisations, other unions with similar aims and objectives.  But the problem what you have now, the government has to notice this destruction which has taken place done by the management, more especially in the departments we are organising in.   If this internal restructuring is not changed the management is going to delay the RDP programme.

FMS     Let me hear from the panel then.  Mr Tequani?

Mr. T     Yes, Felicia, I am trying to say that even if government had good intentions and I have shown that there is no way that they can deliver, but the other thing is to be able to take along with you the people and the people must have confidence in you.  Some of the people in parliament have not actually done so.  They are complaining that they should be given enough time but in the shortest possible time they have been able to change their lives, they have been able to get money for themselves.  I think in other countries, struggle has been fought in other countries.  I know I have been to Eritrea, I've been to Zimbabwe, I've been to many other countries in Africa and abroad where struggles have been fought.  The first thing you do when you get into government, you promulgate and have a code of conduct particularly for the leadership so that you can be able to make sure that the people you are leading can look up to you and have confidence in you.

FMS     Mr Tequani, are you talking about what has been termed the gravy train?

Mr. T     Yes, I'm talking about that and many other things which I know of.

FMS     But I saw Mr Naidoo, he had that suit before he got into government.

Mr. T     Felicia, I remember when he dry cleaned it.  What I am saying is, these people don't know what is happening in the townships, and I suspect that some of them know that in five years time they won't be there so they have got to make sure that in this space of time they should amass and get as much as possible.

FMS     Mr Naidoo, I've got another article here with I would like you and Mrs Mthembi-Nkondo to answer.  'Gravy Train', in Living Magazine Jon Quelane says, "In spite of the power transfer it's full steam ahead for the gravy train.  They are addressing white fears and neglecting black expectations of black concern."  True or false?

JN     The first I would like to respond is to strike.  I don't know where he gets this view that we haven't been in the township.  I'm sure I've been more often in the township than he has.  Just to understand that we spend a lot of time in our constituencies dealing with what people's perceptions are and answering their problems.  And I think that's the approach we should take.  In terms of POPCRU and SAPU we have had negotiations with both those unions and reached agreement with them and their leadership about how we're going to handle this problem that is now facing us.  If you take the last question that was asked in terms of the young lady there, in terms of students, they have a vital role to play because they are the future leaders and we have surely seen that the way for the RDP to work, the most important thing is the education we receive and the skills that we have.  That is what is going to make our country grow.

SMN     Felicia, can I just respond before Kulu because I think so many questions have been asked and there hasn't been a response.  I think we must be very careful when we deal with national issues and avoid populist talk because if you go back to the history of the past government and look at the privileges that the parliamentarians and the ministers seem to enjoy and look at the pay packets that we are having you can't compare these two.  That's the first thing you need to know.  But secondly, it must be understood that for the kind of work that parliamentarians do they need to get assistance.  First and foremost parliamentarians are supposed to go to their constituencies.  We are on recess now.  They have to run around and go to their constituencies to do work.  But at the same time I think we must also be careful not to dissuade the attention of society by coming up with criticism that doesn't go anywhere.  Almost all the ministers of this government on a regular basis were on the fields.  These last two months I have been talking to people on the ground concerning issues of housing.  For an example, people in Khayelitsha have already set up foundations of what we are talking about in our White Paper as support centres.  People in that area have started building as a community on their own and these are issues which the press has not been able to report about.

FMS     But isn't it true that when you have blacks in government all of a sudden it becomes a gravy train and no-one called it a gravy train during the previous administration?

SMN     I'm not through Felicia, can I also answer the lady's question which she asked initially but there was an intervention.  She was saying that she does not see any move towards assisting the poorest of the poor.  It's not correct.  In our subsidy proposal we are saying that people who are not employed and those who are around R800 are going to be given R15,000 subsidy.   That's first.  But people who come under the level of R800 to R1500 will get the subsidy of R9,500.  We have looked at the different income levels.

FMS     Someone says, can you get a house for R15,000?

SMN     It's a support ... fee, because one other thing that people need to know about is that government on its own cannot build houses for individuals.  Not even the richest of countries in the world have done that.

FMS     I need to move on.  Again, I go back to the journalists, there seems to be more criticism about the gravy train now that you have mostly a black government.

Kulu     I don't think that is quite correct.  I think if there was that whipping up of emotions about the gravy train, but I think we have moved from that.  We have corrected a situation here because if you look at the present government surely, surely they owe it to the people, not to themselves.  We have checks and balances, we are simply watching and critically, I am sorry we have to be critical about the government because if we are not critical of the government chances are we may lose out or they may not do the things that they are supposed to be doing for their people.

FMS     But again, Kulu, they gave you some areas of interest that the media should have been covering and no-one covered it.  Good news is no news.

Kulu     I think they must blame their PRs, because I don't see how media cannot cover if the minister here can put up houses in Soweto. I'll tell you that is the biggest news ever and we have not seen a physical house that's been built.

JN     I want to take issue of what has been done.  I think Kulu has to recognise, and it's been said to us by journalists, good news is not sexy, it doesn't make headlines, and that's the reality.  And I think that the press in this country there is a responsibility on themselves to keep the public informed otherwise we all become watchdogs and no-one does any work and we all end up complaining about each other.  That's not the way to build the RDP.

IB     I would like to say a few things please.  My name is Ilse Bray.  I want to make a few statements which I'd like to throw out to you all.  Number one, you cannot separate the issues of housing, education and jobs.  It is your job to help the people to create their own jobs and build their own houses.  It is not your job to do it for them and you must make yourself available to people.  There are people here who are able to help you do your jobs.

FMS     Response from the minister?

JN     Well certainly, I think that's the approach that you want to see, that people start doing things for themselves.  That's why we're saying the Masakhane campaign is about how do we build a partnership between people and government.  The Masakhane campaign is about that partnership, that at every community level we are saying get a forum together that involves all the stakeholders, liase with the local transitional council to discuss what are the programmes we need to introduce in that local community.  Our whole approach is in fact saying, how do we empower society whether it's the NGOs, the civil organisations, the rural organisations, to make the RDP work.  And that's in our approach and therefore I would support that approach.

FMS     A question, quickly.

X     Felicia, the Minister once told the youth and the veterans of the struggle that the RDP is an inclusive programme, whereby today we met one of his department, they told us that RDP is not a welfare department.  And the other thing, the President, he went to India, on his way back he said he wants to see people encouraging foreign investment in the country and they will be supported by the same government. We are there, we are negotiating with the Chinese today, we want to bring them into the country, we need the government to rescue us.  But today we are informed that there is no way in which the government will help us before we can go and form some forums whereby they are today taking NAFCOC and the likes as their first priorities of this countries, whereby they have been monopolising the economy of this country.  We want to have access to that economy also.

FMS     Another significant change in the past year for South Africans has been the introduction of the Bill of Rights, but has this changed the day-to-day lives of ordinary people?  Mr Perreira?

PP     It certainly does, Felicia, it's a massive change, a massive improvement on the situation we had before and essentially where one can see it is that people are freely lobbying and talking and questioning and criticising as this audience does in a way that simply would not have happened before.  The lobbying is massive and it shows that people feel a lot freer and that's largely to do with the Bill of Rights.

FMS     That's great.

X     Thank you, I'm from the Community Health Awareness Programme.  The minister mentioned the issue of health for pregnant women and the young.  Now I think this highlights the fact that the reason a lot of programmes are not working is not because there has been a short time but because very poor planning, a whole lot of clinics, people take children there, pregnant women go there, there is no medication.  I want to ask the minister and the other person who spoke on health, the gentleman from AZAPO, what it is that can improve the delivery of the most basic health care at ground level?

JN     The President introduced, when he first opened the parliament, free health care as a Presidential project.  That gave the right to pregnant mothers and children under six to have free health care.  Alongside that we started to put into place a programme around clinic building and we have allocated resources in this year's budget to ensure that primary health care centres are set up across the country.  So we are, alongside the problems we face of overcrowding, now putting into place a primary health care system and that has been a priority for us for the year 1995.

FMS     Let's hear from the domestic workers.

Eunice     I am Eunice from the Domestic Workers' Union, I am an organiser there.  What I would like to know is when will be the day where employers and workers work together and we would like to know when we will be accepted as human beings by our employers.  It may be the employers can maybe handle us like their dogs because their dogs can get in the lounge, they can sit on the couch and they can eat on their plates.  If maybe they can handle us like them and we would like the LRA to do something for us.  There must be a document which may cover domestic workers because domestic workers are not covered at all.  Thank you.

FMS     Right. Now that got to the heart of the matter.  Somebody said that there's a different mug and different plates for domestic workers.  When are we going to treat domestic workers as members of the family?

X     A few of the things that concern business I'll mention very briefly.  The first is this question of crime.  It's pervasive, it's vicious, it harms the economy, it scares investors, it scares top level people away that we need in this country.  I know it's a complex question but how do you address it?  And the other one that I also want to touch, and it's a major question, nowhere does one really see, to the best of my memory, any particular attention given to the question of population growth.  Economic growth perhaps touches 3% this year, our population growth is 2½%.  If you look at the projections of population growth and what we have to achieve by way of economic growth to provide what everybody wants we are probably in for a disaster.  Do you give attention, sufficient attention, to the question of population growth, family planning and so on?

FMS     Mr Naidoo is shaking his head.  He says no.

PP     That gentleman should subscribe to the Institute of Race Relations and he will find from our publications that population growth is dropping off in terms of the increase in it and we will, within about 20 years, hit a level point and that's with urbanisation.

FMS     Mr Minister, do you want to quickly answer that and then I would like us to wrap up.

JN     A key part of the RDP is looking at the population stabilisation strategy, but the key to that is raising the levels of living of people and as they become more educated they will learn about family sizes.  In relation to police and crime there are over 600 Community Police Forums.  The community has to organise themselves as the first line of defence against crime and we are working with the South African Police Services particularly around providing services and infrastructure in under-serviced areas, in the previously rural or black areas.

FMS     Also obviously unemployment at 46%, illiteracy at 15 million, crime and lawlessness escalating.  In our wrap-up I would like us to just touch on those.  How does the RDP plan to work?  What are the solutions?  Mr Tequani what would you suggest from AZAPO, from outside?

     Mr.T     I don't see any solution with the way the government is structured now.  I actually see things falling apart.  The first thing I would like to say is that we must stop making empty promises to people.  If we want to do anything we must be able to tell them what we can do and that which we cannot do.  But concentrate on building the unity particularly within the black community.  That way we cannot talk about community policing and questions of crime and so on.  With the police getting what they are getting now, they are getting brought all over the place and the crime rate will increase.

FMS     Mr ... your concern?

X     I would plead that we stop concerning ourselves with white fears and look to our black people firstly.

FMS     But we need the white manpower because they have been responsible for the economic growth in this country.

X     And they have been responsible for other things as well. They have put us where we are today. We need to have employment, create employment for our people.  We need to create decent roofing over our people.  These are physical and things that we should attend to.  That is the only way I can see this country going through in a smooth period, if these things can be provided for.

FMS     Mr Perreira?

PP     Well, Felicia, we need first of all, primarily and only, an economic boom and for that to happen we need policies and strategies that will create that.  That in itself will provide the rest of the solution.  And in the human rights culture which we're getting now we need to get away from racism, whether it's anti black racism or anti white racism.

FMS     Minister Mthembi-Nkondo?

SMN     We should have a positive attitude towards ourselves.  It's very important.  I am saying this because I am aware of the fact that people have not been observing the progress that has gone on in the last few months.  There are houses that have been built. If people go to their MEC offices they will be given the statistics. That's one.  But secondly I would like to say that we need to build through the Masakhane campaign which has already been initiated and we haven't gone far but already we have improvement.  We can see people that are responding very positively because people have been there and they have been listening.  We need to emulate the good in our society and stop complaining and be part of the development and be part of the growth because as soon as we find ourselves standing to criticise the next person we will never move.  There are training schemes that are going to take place through the RDP in order to accommodate school leavers.  We are also going to have a ripple effect. As soon as the housing delivery starts we will be able to employ people within their communities.  But lastly I would like to say that there's a lot happening outside.  For example, we've got foundations of support centres where communities themselves have started building and this is having confidence in oneself, this is having faith in oneself, and those who are always optimistic should go out there and look at these communities.

FMS     If I may ask you, as a woman, to appeal to employers re domestic workers.

JN     Could I just answer that?  There is a major revision of the Labour Relations Act.

FMS     Oh, I've got a man now, OK.

JN     I'm a trade unionist.  There is a revision of the Labour Relations Act and the new draft that's been put on the table for discussion gives all the rights to domestic workers that they have demanded. Similarly to manufacturing workers, public sector workers and to agricultural workers. That is what we have done in terms of rights of workers.  But that brings me to another issue.  Freedom gives us rights and it gives us responsibility and we have got to understand our own responsibilities as individuals as communities, as political parties and as government and through the partnership that we build that we will be able to implement the RDP through the vehicle of the Masakhane campaign.  It is us working together and, just a point to Kulu, addressing white fears does not cost us one cent.  It saved us money because it's prevented conflict that could have taken up money.  All the money that we've dedicated in the RDP has gone towards addressing the needs of those who were disadvantaged, the black community, women and workers.  That has been the constituencies the RDP attempts to address in its first priority.

FMS     The South African miracle can happen if the RDP is put to work.  Many South Africans continue to hope for a better life.  The RDP can take care of both white fears and black impatience, yet a year later South Africa is faced with a major challenge and ultimately it is South Africa's own people that will change their lives.

     Thanks for tuning in and thanks to our panel, our audience, our Top Level crew and our crew here in the studio and our audience at home.  Good night.

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.