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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

26 Apr 1995: Mboweni, Tito

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POM     Let me begin first by asking kind of a personal question. I've known you now since 1990, I think the first time I met you was at the University of Natal in Durban, I think it was with Stephen Friedman, I think you were hanging around there for a while at the time and you looked a little bit lost and forlorn, you had just come back into the country. And then later on I remember in an interview you being very angry at the way in which you had been treated when you were sharing an apartment here in Johannesburg with somebody, the landlord knowing you were black they wanted you out. Then you went from that to making a great outburst one time about white businessmen, how they think they know it all and they could lecture you. Now you're the minister. OK. How has it changed your life? How do you find the South Africa you live in now different from the South Africa you came back to?

TM     In all stages? No, I think in the first place more than being minister the issue is about how do I feel now as a citizen, as a South African I think. Well a number of things have changed since then. I suppose I'm far more relaxed.

POM     You are, definitely. I can tell you that.

TM     Yes. I am far more relaxed now and I have less pressure of work, but let me talk as a citizen. Far more relaxed, beginning to again find my feet and my roots by trying to spend more time now with relatives. For example, for the first time since I came back I may have my welcome home function with relatives only in August because I have never had the time before. But I am finding that there is a major discontinuum, a huge open space say between myself and some of the friends I had before I went into exile and it's difficult to cross that discontinuum, I call it, it's like a big vacuum. But there is also a sense of powerlessness in terms of the fact that the things which made one so angry to get involved in the struggle will take some substantial amount of time to get rid of and that worries me a lot. You go to townships here in Cape Town, still see squatter camps. You go to Alexandra Township and still see extremely horrible conditions under which our people live. But that's how I feel as a citizen, but I also still feel that there is a lot of racism in South African society and as a black person I still experience that even when I enter this building where I work and some white policemen and women who ask me for my pass, and I have to tell them to get off because by now they should have made it their business to know who I am. Or when I get into an aeroplane the white air attendants, they way they still speak to a black person. It's like, "What are you doing on our aircraft?" Sometimes when you go to a shop and you want to buy something people wonder whether you have the money to buy it, sometimes there is an assumption that you don't have the money to buy it.

     So I moved recently, talking about flats, I bought a flat recently in Johannesburg in Killarney and people who live there are very old and well off and the property there is more of an investment than anything because the prices there will never come down really, they will always go up.

POM     In Killarney is it?

TM     Killarney.

POM     That's one of the most famous tourist places there is in Ireland. I'll keep that in mind, Killarney.

TM     Yes, yes. It's a very rich place where retired old people who don't want to go to old people's homes, they go there, and it tends to be a place which attracts a significant number of black women who are looking for work as domestic servants because they know they will have to look after retired people who have money. So I moved in and the first thing that surprised people was that I was young. The second question they asked was how many children have I got? Have you got a mother, an uncle? So I have been saying to them, "Why do you assume that I am bringing a thousand people into a flat? Do you think this is some kind of Soweto Green?" I don't know whether you have heard of Soweto Green? Have you heard of Soweto Green? But those racial assumptions are still there and they get worse when they are reinforced by class prejudices.

     But I spend some time now also reconnecting with the country, driving around the country, getting to know people again and visiting more than one part of the country. I come initially from the Northern Transvaal and Gauteng so one has to know more than just the Northern Transvaal and Gauteng and get to visit other places which was never allowed before. One of the places I like to visit, incidentally, is the Kruger National Park which when I left the country black people were not allowed to go to. There was a separate little park called Manyeleti, that's where blacks were allowed to go, conditions were horrible there. So, that's how I feel in summary.

     As far as business is concerned I don't think they moved substantially, but I think one of the problems with business is that they tend to assume that they are dealing with people who have a limitation in terms of their capacity to deal with issues. Because of that I still feel that there is a sense in which a combination of race and class is still very, very predominant in our society and something which we have to deal with.

POM     Yes, what you say about business I find really interesting because you hear so much about the entrepreneurial whites must be kept here, they have the know-how and they know business, and yet you have had three reports in a row, you have had the IMF study, you have had the Manufacturers' Futures Survey, you've had the Monitor Survey, all of which say this economy is totally, completely and utterly uncompetitive and needs upgrading from not just the skill of the labour force but in the quality of its management. This leads to the larger question. How does the economy get off the ground in the absence of massive, I mean massive, foreign investment and in the absence of an acceptance by unions that wage rates here are very often disproportionate to what unit costs are in other parts of the world?

TM     I've got my views on that but these are not issues on which I spend most of my time agonising over but we can talk about them. First, I think it is not correct to say that South African wages are disproportionate to what's happening in other parts of the world. It may be correct to argue that certain sectors have wages which are disproportionate to levels of production and therefore in comparison with the trading patterns there may be a problem there. That being the case I think that key issues are, in a sense it will be difficult for me to say anything different to what's in the RDP because I am a co-drafter of the RDP so that section on the economy really would express my views without actually going into details. One, there are a number of structural questions about competition, about investment, about labour provision, about new technologies, about recession development, all of which, I think, are critical to getting the economy going again. But I am saying I don't want to bore you because I will just be regurgitating what's in the RDP document.

POM     This year, for example, the economy, for the first time there's a positive rate of growth which may be any place between 3% and 3.4%. When you offset that against the rate of growth of population it hardly makes a dent in the problem.

TM     Yes but it's important that it provides the base for confidence. So I think as we enter into the other restructuring questions that are in the RDP, within the context where there is some confidence in the economy, that makes life a little bit easy. There are for example indications that American companies are beginning to reinvest in South Africa.

POM     Yes, 206 came in.

TM     The most significant ones, of course, have been Pepsi, I think Levi Strauss, IBM, all those kind of companies. But the key issue is that of restructuring. Before these companies also complained that the South African market is a bit closed making it difficult for them to enter. One shouldn't over-react to what companies say because they are also looking for an advantage but at the same time I think they are right about all those structural questions, the concentration of economic power. But it's all in the RDP, I don't want to get into that.

POM     Still four or five companies that control 80% of the economy.

TM     Yes, there are critical issues to generating external capital as well. So I think we need to handle those questions and then we need to enter into what we call an accord, an agreement, a framework, an employment framework, a job creation framework which will then allow for us to enter into an agreement with business and labour to say there is a danger of going along the route of capital intensity; what is it that we can do to invest but still be committed to creating jobs, to see there is an understanding and accord there.

POM     This is like a trade-off between efficiency and equity?

TM     No, no, not a trade-off. It's an agreement that says we are committed to job creation. If I open a television station I may have a choice between employing four people, twenty machines, four computers and control the machines from the computer. Just as a by the way, I walked into the studios of Sky Television, there is only one person in the studio, another one person outside and the security man at the door. This is Sky Television. So I walk in, the cameras are concentrating on the news reader and when they put a commercial the news reader walks across to sit with me and the camera starts following him. Not moved by people, the chap with the computer is giving them instructions all the time, even the forecast is done on the computer. It doesn't create jobs and yet we could have had four people moving those computers. This is job creation, but it doesn't undermine the profitability, they may lose a little bit of a margin. So I am saying we need an accord for that kind of thing. So these are some of the issues I think.

POM     To go round another way, what are the greatest challenges you face as the minister for labour over the next four years?

TM     It's not much really. It's not much. You see the labour arena in South Africa is too legalistic which I hate. I hate having to spend my time interpreting laws, that's for lawyers. I'm an economist. So every time I have to do that I really agonise about it. But what I see as my challenge is to move more away from this legalistic approach and more towards a co-operative and more economic approach because labour is economics. The world of work is production, that's why they .... So labour issues need to move more and more towards economic bases away from the legalistic. So that's one challenge.

     The second challenge which flows from the first is that perhaps you can manage to create some kind of social democratic consensus which will lead to greater co-operation between capital and labour instead of the current conflictual relationship which is hard.

     The third challenge of course will be to see greater organisation by trade unions to ensure that they grow in numbers and that is important for me politically so that they can become as well part of the champions of civil society. It's very important. It will also help to strengthen our democracy. I am very worried at the moment, the trade union movement in South Africa is still very small, organised trade unions still very small.

     Of course challenges, put the new Labour Relations Bill in place to improve the working conditions of workers, occupational health and safety, reduce the working hours.

POM     Just going back to the Labour Relations Act or Bill, you talk in that of having kind of factory forums.

TM     No, no, workplace forums.

POM     Sorry, workplace forums. Could you just elaborate a little on that, what the idea is and how it is to work?

TM     Well the idea is that in each workplace, which will be defined through NEDLAC, what a workplace - sort of factory, a factory is a small unit of a workplace, but it still has to be defined. Here there are certain issues which belong to this workplace which may not be the same to another workplace even though it's all employers and workers. So these issues must be discussed at the workplace, issues such as affirmative action here in this workplace, things like work organisation, things like introduction of new technologies and so on, things like industrial restructuring. So this can be discussed in the workplace forum. Other things we say they belong to collective bargaining, wages, these sorts of typical things which bring about major strife.

POM     Now in the workplace do these forums then reach decisions with employers?

TM     No, that's who participates. It's employers, particularly the managers in those particular workplaces and the workers in those places. They can call experts from time to time to help them, those are the members. They define an agenda and they discuss and negotiate.

POM     And they reach decisions.

TM     They reach decisions.

POM     But they reach decisions by consensus. For example, if an issue were unresolved at a workplace forum it shouldn't then be taken up by a union and become a matter of collective bargaining?

TM     No. But it will take a bit of time before there is a clear distinction between workplace forum issues and collective bargaining issues. It will take a bit of time.

POM     If I had said to you four years ago, Mr Mboweni, four years from now you will have made speeches about privatisation of certain state assets, that would have surprised me. The way the word nationalisation has completely disappeared from the vocabulary of the government one finds it hard to - is it still a question?

TM     Well four years ago indeed if I would have spoken about privatisation I would have been surprised myself.

POM     You would have been surprised yourself?

TM     Yes, as you say. Today if I advocate privatisation I will be surprised too. So, yes, I am not a proponent of privatisation at all and neither is the government policy. There has been no decision, there has been some media speculation in The Economist. It is a difficult ideological and practical question, do we privatise ESCOM, TELKOM? And I think there is a difference myself between privatisation and entering into strategic alliances, it's a different matter altogether. And we've now been opposed to entering into strategic alliances, but privatisation is a problem. Anybody who is going to propagate privatisation in South Africa is surely going to cause almost every three weeks another strike in this country. It's ill-advised and ill-placed.

POM     Let's just look at strikes for a moment. I pick up The Argus this afternoon and you have the Public Health Service Union threatening to bring the government of the Cape to a standstill, they are going to take over buildings, they are going to do roadblocks, they are going the whole way. Yesterday you had the incident about the Fisheries where the Fisherman Association took the head of Fisheries and his deputy hostage for 24 hours. Since I've come here in the last couple of months there has been more of this kind of activity, of unions taking matters into their own hands and taking dramatic action, not normally action that is regarded within the confines of collective bargaining. You've had the police, you've had teachers, one group after another making ultimate demands and saying if we don't get them we're going to disrupt things. It seems to me that that's kind of out of harmony with the spirit that's needed in the country.

TM     No it's not. It's not out of sync, it's not out of synchronisation because democracy has certain consequences, freedom of expression, of association, different types of expressions. What it says to me as a democrat is that there remain a million other issues in our society which are not resolved and indeed could not simply have been resolved by the election of last year and that therefore a challenge to all of us is the extent to which we manage these transformative struggles all around the place, and there are many. Personally I also engage in many transformation struggles in my own department, every hour of my day.

     So the struggle for transformation for change, whether we call that change revolutionary change or whatever, it's a continuous struggle so that the dialectic, the dynamic between the new spirit abroad of democratisation and the fact that we must not confuse super-structural transformation with concrete material transformation and in many instances the old order is still in charge. And so the struggles, be they of a class nature or political nature, social nature, are intended to alert the political superstructure that here things are still the same, they haven't changed.

     Now one may differ as a democrat from time to time with the particular methodology employed to effect this transformative agenda. Sometimes, at some point, others may sound a little bit anarchic, some point may sound a little bit out of sync, but for me both as an actor in the political arena and also as an observer, I like to observe political events, it means I participate in them. It seems to me that one must not be over-sensitive, one must accept that the contradictions are so many, varied, and occur in different places and times in the whole of South Africa, sometimes they will explode. I mean Jacob Zuma phoned me this morning and he says he has been having meetings with the unemployed workers who are demanding that there must be a new law in the country which says there must be work in rotation in the country, that people must go and work half a day, others come to work the other half a day and share the wages and share. They say that if we can't help them then we should take them to the prisons so they can queue there and get some food as prisoners get food, the failure of which perhaps the soldiers must just shoot and kill them so they shouldn't have to suffer. Now introducing a new contradiction. So unemployed people and so on. There are many and varied things.

     My view is that we must handle these things with the requirements of democracy and therein lies my philosophical base. I don't accept that come April 27th 1994 things will begin to be peaceful. The struggle in class, race, social, gender will continue. We may differ, as I say, from time to time with people about whether the particular methodology they employ is correct or not but if somebody wants to take me hostage in order to highlight an issue I will say to them, "I think you are wrong in the methodology you are employing in a democratic society, because you know that before, within apartheid, if you took a hostage you would have been blast to pieces in no time, so don't then as well seek to discredit or to undermine the very democratic basis which has been laid for you to be able to advance your struggle any further." So I will say to people, "Don't do things which may lead to our society moving along an authoritarian route, don't do that because it jeopardises democracy and remember we all fought for this and some of you were not even around when we were fighting for this, but please don't jeopardise this thing."

     But democratic expression, organisation, all those things are full democratic rights and the logical consequence of the democracy is that you must be willing to accept all of this and deal with it accordingly. Now you have many organisations in the world, some are anarchic, you go to Britain there is an anarchy organisation, you go to the US, there's anarchy. The only way in which one can relate to those organisations is by the manner in which the general population embraces particular democratic values which from time to time may seek to weaken the social base of that kind of activity. But you have to be very, very careful that you don't respond to such activity by sliding into authoritarianism and not democracy.

POM     Now if I were a foreign businessman sitting here listening to you, I would have to say, "Gee this place is unstable, there are contradictions, there are confusions, all kinds of strikes, all kind of work stoppages, anything can happen in the course of all these things being worked out. I'm not putting my money in there for another ten years till I see in fact how they do work out. There are lots of other places around the world that will give me equally attractive investment."

TM     I will say, "Which places are those? Oklahoma?"

TM     Ireland?

POM     Their Industrial Development Authority has been one of the most successful in the world.

TM     I say in Ireland anybody can be blasted any time, depending on how you settle the issues.

POM     There are no guns going off their now, it's just like South Africa.

TM     It's a temporary measure. I say how many demonstrations of people struggling in Ireland to change their lives?

POM     Not many.

TM     Having to take up even arms.

POM     Not many, too passive, Scotland, Germany.

TM     Scotland, I would say you never know what direction the Scottish National Party will take. So everywhere, in Germany they can bring down the country any time.

POM     I'll turn the question around.

TM     Of the democratic societies by definition are vulnerable to anybody who may want to destabilise. By the same time democratic societies, by being democratic, have within themselves sources of strength. In Britain there is a strike almost every day. In Germany there is a strike almost every day. In Indonesia, South Korea there is authoritarian government which means things can blow up any time and your money businessman can blow up in smoke any time. You say you put your money in China? Sweat shops. The society can blow up any time there. Remember Tiananmen Square? So I think this notion of some kind of idealistically stable society where business people can put money is very idealistic.

POM     Well you know what I mean. I'm talking about, there is a perception out there.

TM     In Israel ...

POM     What I am getting at is there has been articulated by President Mandela, by other members of the government, that before the country can expect there to be significant foreign investment of the amounts that will be required to bring about the transformation of the society, that the society would have to appear to be stable to foreign businessmen. Whether it is or not is a separate question, it's the appearance of what the country is about is more important than what it is actually about.

TM     My view that the only countries which feed that kind of description now are probably Switzerland and Austria and no other country. Even Singapore is a little town, it's stability really depends on some authoritarian laws. I wouldn't like to live in Singapore when I chew chewing gum I maybe land up in jail, I mean that's extremely authoritarian and authoritarian regimes like that won't survive long. You see in South Africa, as I was saying, mere election does not resolve the contradictions of our society.

POM     But if you do look at countries that have made spectacular leaps forward in recent years, and they would include the ones you've mentioned, and they all have streaks of authoritarianism, but it seems to be there is something else too that they are all culturally homogenous, that they have a terrific belief in education that comes before almost everything else. They are willing to put the collective good before the individual good so that one makes a sacrifice as such, like going back to sharing work. There are more shared values and I would see these are traits which South Africa is conspicuously lacking in.

TM     It's early days, it's early days. We are only one year into it.

POM     I'm talking about the longer term problem. Education rather than being something that children should look up to became part of the struggle and was part of the Bantustan, it was bad teachers, it was boycotts, it wasn't a way out.

TM     It's early days I think. It's early days to judge. I mean most of these contradictions still have to work themselves out. Most of these contradictions still have to work themselves out, it's early days.

POM     Would you talk for a couple of minute about those earlier reports that I mentioned, the IMF, just run down through it. I know it's a list and that doesn't say how unit wage costs are comparable to other countries making similar products.

TM     I dealt with that, let me give you an example.

POM     The World Bank made an estimate of the number of jobs lost because of higher wage costs here. The World Bank has estimated that union induced wage increases led to a net loss of 200,000, or between 200,000 and 400,000 jobs between 1979 and 1990.

TM     Which sectors are they talking about?

POM     They talk about the whole economy.

TM     I think it's a bit high, I think it's a bit far-fetched because how are the wages determined? Through negotiations, sometimes through strikes but eventually through negotiation and in collective bargaining arrangements the employer is also taking into consideration what they can afford. What they can afford, they can afford. And I haven't heard of cases where the employers just completely close shop. The other thing that you need to remember, that there's a very low base from which you start in South Africa, workers used to be super-exploited and that has had to be improved and if companies thought that they will survive in South Africa on the same basis as they survived in the sixties or even in the forties, I think it's a big mistake, or in 1986 when May Day started, I think it's a big mistake. So I really would like to verify that figure. I mean there are workers here in South Africa who earn R400-00 a month, divide by three what is that? It's about how many dollars?

POM     Less than $100-00. $110-00.

TM     Yes. A month, in high volume sectors like the tourist sector now. Look at the workers working in the hotels, take home R400-00. And you can't compare that with what a worker at the Hilton Hotel in England earns. See what I mean? And you can't compare what a South African motor worker earns to what a member of ... Metal in Germany earns. Say perhaps if that's a high wage sector then they should look at levels of productivity. Actually those levels of productivity in that motor sector are not as bad compared with other developing countries. So I think that's a very right wing interpretation, typical World Bank.

POM     Yes, but it didn't stop South Africa from going cap in hand to the World Bank looking for loans.

TM     We haven't gone, we haven't done that.

POM     Isn't it over a year ago you went to the IMF and the World Bank?

TM     Well it wasn't even cap in hand, it was for a loan meant to improve the reserves, the reserves were bad. We didn't have to agree to it, there were no conditions, that was the first challenge, it was not even a first challenge, it was a special compensation facility, no conditions are required for that. World Bank, IMF begin to put conditions on you, as you know, after you've exhausted your third challenge, then they put conditions.

POM     My opinion would be that the World Bank structural and adjustment programmes destroyed more economies in Africa than it ever helped.

TM     We are very far from that, because we can borrow from the open market.

POM     This is a kind of, not just a contradiction, but the paradigm in my mind is that you have these immense problems, that there is no way they can be solved in the short term, no way. They can be ameliorated here, a little bit done there, but they cannot be resolved to the point at where the transformation of society takes place in the short run. You have a population with around 40% unemployed, how long will they wait? Five years, ten years, fifteen years? How long will the internal pressures - Thabo Mbeki was quoted in the paper as saying the ANC will probably split into two parties after ten years or so when the transformation of society has been achieved. That's assuming that the transformation will be achieved within ten years.

TM     That's a rationalisation.

POM     How do you draw a course there down the middle so you don't have your people saying, "You guys are simply not delivering. It's been five years, I'm still in my shack. It's been five years, I'm still unemployed. It's been five years, I still have no skills. It's been five years, I still can't even if I get my matriculation I can't get to university." Where do they draw the line?

TM     I think people will be idealistic to think that in any society we are able to solve all society's needs. At the most I think what we are able to do is to provide the broad democratic framework within which the various distributional issues will have to be resolved. The jobs issues. I think as far as housing is concerned my view is that there is a requirement that at least as far as urban housing is concerned, because rural housing is not a problem at all, people in the rural areas build their own houses. Our key problem is urban housing. There I am quite convinced that we should enter into a massive programme for housing. There are no white folks in South Africa who live in shacks so we have to be able to move very fast, build all different types of housing. That I think is achievable.

     Full employment, which country in the world has full employment? We don't have full employment, we have cyclical employment, you can try and reduce the rate of unemployment or the level of unemployment rather. And I think only the East European countries were able to achieve full employment because they used particular controls in society and they created false employment and so on for the sake of it. I don't think we are in that position where the bulk of work will have to be created by the private sector, not the state sector. If it was just the state sector we would have an overblown employment situation where South African Breweries, currently they employed 200,000 workers, perhaps only employ 600,000 (??). But you can't do that in a capitalist society.

POM     When Derek Keys was Minister for Finance I interviewed him and he stated very bluntly that the best this country could achieve between now and the year 2000 would be about a 1% decrease in the rate of unemployment a year, and the year afterwards when he wasn't minister I went back to him again and I said, "OK, now you're not minister, are you any more optimistic or pessimistic or what do you think the situation is?" He said, "I stand exactly by what I said." We get 1% increase employment or 1% decrease in unemployment which again, it's like for the next several years which leaves - we're not talking about bringing unemployment down to nothing, we're talking about bringing it down from maybe 40% to 30%.

TM     It is 32% now. If we can bring it down to 15%, we will have done a lot in the next five, ten years and if we can bring it to 10% ...

POM     You will be better off than most countries.

TM     Then I will retire. It's a very, very tough environment. The local economy is not doing very well. As we speak today the dollar is in complete shambles. It's tough. But you see the mission around which the ANC has been organising has been one to lead the people of South Africa in a liberation struggle. First thing was to deliver food for everybody because that we have been able to do. Secondly, we have said we also want economic and social liberation. Economic liberation would mean getting rid of all those economic constraints which were based on race, different access to financial institutions, access to the salary scales based on race, grades, and that we are working on. Some of these things I was talking about are aimed at that kind of thing. Social liberation will have to do with issues like social needs, basic needs. But there is a limit to which that kind of agenda can go and I am sure political parties in South Africa in the coming years will then have to deal with these questions about how do they manage the economic, social and distributional questions. Perhaps that's what Thabo Mbeki was taking about, I'm not quite sure, I haven't read his interview. But when we reach that stage there will now begin to be differences based on what kind of ideological positions you have. I don't agree with him that the ANC will split. What may happen is that some people may begin to find it difficult to identify with the ANC, having the organisation splitting in a conference, I'm going that way, you're going that way. The ANC as an organisation will remain but it's character may change over time, you see, so splitting is the wrong word. I know the ANC and the ANC when things are difficult the ANC closes ranks.

POM     Two last questions, one is on AIDS. It is fast becoming an epidemic here and I think it's almost one in every ten people are HIV positive. In Natal it's like 20, 25 percent of the population is. One of its features in Africa in general is that it has wiped out the elites, the skilled, the educated or whatever. When you make labour policy, make planned labour policy, do you take into account the impact of AIDS?

TM     We have to. It's going to be devastating and I think just like all other countries in the world we have to take this very seriously and one of the things that we will be doing is AIDS education in the workplace in collaboration with the Ministry of Health because, as you know, as far as AIDS is concerned, all we can do is education, prevention. That is an issue of concern, yes. It's terrible.

POM     And last, looking at first of all the case in the North West, Rocky Malebane-Metsing, when Popo fired him essentially the ANC stepped in and said, "Hey, hold it, we want to look at this and review it", and in a way he was told to find a way to put him back some place in the government. Now it would seem to be, a parallel situation with President Mandela, that a premier has the right to hire or fire at will without having to give cause, that that's a fundamental right of being a premier. You pick who you want to serve and if they are not serving you, you kick him out of the door and bring somebody else in. And here you had the party going above the government, saying let's bring it to the NEC, let's review this, and then coming up with a recommendation that Popo find a place for him in the government as whatever, special advisor or whatever. It struck me as being anti-democratic, that the party became the instrument of the exercise of power rather than the government.

TM     Yes, but that government is there because of the ANC. So the mandate of the premier is an ANC mandate. It's nothing outside of the ANC that can be a mandate to him.

POM     Couldn't you say it's a people's mandate?

TM     What people's mandate? That mandate, the ANC went to the people for the mandate so he didn't stand there as an individual. Popo would be nowhere near a premier's office if he had gone there on his own.

POM     Sure, I know that, but ...

TM     So therefore there is a relationship.

POM     But in other countries the system wouldn't work like that at all. I mean the party could never step in and overturn - say in the United States a governor takes an action, he fires his Minister for Health, you would never have a situation of where - it would legally not be possible for the Democratic Party or the Republican Party to step in and say to that governor, "Hey, take that guy back and put him in a job".

TM     But it's a different thing. We had a lot of things to balance. The ANC is a coherent organisation more than the Democratic Party, it's a central national organisation. There are certain things that if I want them to go through that parliament I must clear them through the ANC or else those parliamentarians would block them if they sense a divergence between ANC policy and what I am trying to bring to them, they would block that thing. Dead as a dodo. So in terms of public political management we must ensure consistence of policy with your party structures here. Most Democrats in the States are disillusioned. Why? Because they think Bill Clinton is no longer pushing the Democratic agenda, because of the loose political system he can do whatever he wants to do. Here if people thought Madiba was going outside of ANC policy they would bring him to order. It's a different thing. How many times have the Democratic National Council met? The National Executive Committee meets every three months to make sure that the situation is politically managed.

POM     But does the NEC still meet on a weekly basis?

TM     No, the ANC meets three monthly. The Working Committee meets fortnightly. Officials meet as regularly as possible.

POM     So as you look down the line between now and the next time I see you, which will be six to nine months, after I've traced you all over the world, I'm like a Scud missile ...

TM     New York, Geneva, London.

POM     Sometimes you should just drop me a note and say, "I'll be in the States, come down to Washington". It would be much easier. I'm at the University of Massachusetts in Boston.

TM     Oh yes, in Boston. I was in Boston the other day.

POM     OK.

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.