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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

05 Sep 1995: Nefoloyhodwe, Pandelini

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POM     Can I start by my asking you why AZAPO will not participate in the upcoming local elections?

PN     Our view, as always, has been that the Kempton Park process was of such a nature that it was impossible to promise anything to the disadvantaged community and be able to deliver. So our framework is that by its very nature that agreement was bound not to be able to let anybody who enters into it to deliver and as a result we, as an organisation, feel that we need not enter a situation which we see in advance that even if we are in it we will not be able to do the things that we shall have promised our people and that will sort of incapacitate us, it will make us useless. So what we are saying is there is no need for us to enter the lower level of elections when actually we rejected the real elections that govern the process of our country.

POM     Do you not tend to think that if you refuse to participate in elections for one reason or another, whether they are national elections or local elections, that in the end you are going to marginalise yourself?

PN     Well we don't believe that we will marginalise ourselves because we think we have analysed the situation correctly and that in fact the elections that will be coming after the last election will definitely be very different from the elections of 1994. We are not sure whether there is such a thing called the 1999 election, the reasons being that all governments are run that way. Until such time that the elections are declared it is not a foregone conclusion that in 1999 we will have elections. There may be other intervening factors that make it impossible for those that govern to call for those elections. Our orientation is that we are ready to participate in future elections, national elections and we are ready provided those elections meet the requirements of elections as determined by the international community. We are doing so purposely because we know that governments come and go and people who are in government, sometimes dictated by other circumstances, may come and impose conditions for participation in future elections, which conditions if we believe are not democratic we will necessarily not be party to such a situation. But if the elections that come in the future are open and are conducted in a fair manner the organisation is now ready to enter those. It is not ready to enter these elections that are consequent of a decision that we rejected earlier.

POM     But the international community in 1994 said that the April 1994 elections were free and fair elections.

PN     Well that I've debated with you for quite a long time. What is fair? I have not changed my mind, because the international community, as I said earlier, was worried, was not interested in issues at that stage. The international community was interested in one aspect of our country, just to get rid of the apartheid regime and replace it with a regime which is no longer of an apartheid nature. So the international community had not entered the arena that we want to enter and that is why it was very difficult for parties that they went into this election thinking that these elections were on issues. They did very badly. The international community was not funding that programme and agenda. They were just funding one programme, to be able to have some kind of transition which is focused at retaining what was and for as long as at least they have shifted from a white dominated government to some conglomeration of some government. That's why it's called a government of national unity although I doubt whether there is any national unity in that government. So that's really the essence. I have not changed my mind at all on that matter.

POM     How do you answer critics, and there are a lot of them, who say that AZAPO are a well-educated, intellectual elite who are very good at pointing out the deficiencies in the policies of rival parties or movements but who somehow don't connect with the masses?

PN     Well that critic actually I will tell you, it's meant to weaken us, it is primarily meant to weaken us because there is no country in the world that I know of, at least to my age, that tolerates a situation where people are governed without the intellectual capability, of any country, whether America, China, and that intellectual, analytic capability it's actually a resource for any country and therefore we reject the implication that if you are a group of intellectuals you are therefore useless in society. We say in fact this country needs more of that quality than any other type, particularly because we are coming from a situation where people were oppressed and they were in ideologies of the past. We were all revolving around the apartheid ideology and you need people who can theorise, people who can project, people who can take us from that to the other level. But the second part of it, it's untrue, because our organisation still commands a large support within the black community and therefore it is neither here nor there. It is the same statement that any party would level against other parties for purposes of political gain.

POM     But if you had to make a realistic assessment at this point of the degree of support that you command within the African community, what would you peg that at? 10%, 15%, 20%, 5%?

PN     There was a stage when you came here, I told you that there were surveys conducted by independent bodies, and in those surveys they had given us between 15% and 20%. That was about three, four years ago, and that was in fact the time when we were the least funded organisation. We still are. But as matters stand now, the surveyors have not conducted a survey about AZAPO, they are preoccupied with those that are in the government of national unity, but our own assumptions, without having gone into conducting any survey, is that we are moving well ahead of 60% now because of the issues that the other parties have not been able to deliver. But there is another level where we are very, very strong, in fact we are about 90% stronger in that level, is that we command the opinions of this country. That is, if you go to the ANC and you get good guys there, some of them came from us, and you go to the PAC and you get good guys, then you go to anybody and you get good guys there, you will find that the kind of thinking and analysis of issues will not drastically differ from our own. What differs is that the ANC has got policies that would be contrary to the analysis of those guys you will find there. So for all intents and purposes, the question of the national anthem, for instance, we have always been saying that it is not necessary to have two and the ANC has just decided, yesterday or something, to say that they will maintain the two. So gradually you will see, if you will check what I have been telling you for the past years, you will gradually see the ANC before it enters 1999 elections almost doing the things that I was telling you, which is actually the correctness of our projection.

POM     So do you see yourself in a sense as a think tank, that members may leave and go to other organisations like the PAC or the ANC, that they bring the strategic sense of how to approach things from AZAPO?

PN     No we don't see it as such. What we normally say is that obviously in an organisation you do have a lot of members and from time to time you have your core members retained. They are the membership that may from time to time feel uncomfortable with you and go and join other organisations; that we support. We believe that it's a democratic process and they have got a democratic right to feel uncomfortable and go to the other one. Now what we are saying is that as the process of the change in our country continues, you are going to find more thinking converging, but converging to our own, not converging to other organisation thinking, and when that begins to converge that is the strength we carry if future elections were conducted, and, as I said, we are ready to get into those elections. Now we carry that strength, we carry the intellectual capability, we can run the country because we have trained ourselves to do so. We carry also the opinions of the majority of our people in the country and that is the strength that would make us, we believe, to win the next elections that come and then we run the country without having to depend on those that have left us to other organisations.

POM     So if the 1999 election were held tomorrow, do you think you would get about 60% of the African vote?

PN     Well depending under what conditions they will be held. That's very important for AZAPO. If they are held in a democratic fashion we think, yes, we will probably even score higher, but I'm just giving you what I think we have at the moment.

POM     What would you list as the democratic factors that must be met in order for there to be free and fair elections?

PN     The democratic factors are very easy. They are standard ones, that they must free and unhindered political activity. There mustn't be a situation where if you want to go and campaign in KwaZulu/Natal, for example, and you are told that you are not the right party to tell your story to the electorate. So that's a very big condition. Those conditions do not exist in some parts of our country at the moment which makes it impossible for a party to score at a particular point and particular area. Then the other is that the elections, there must be a common voters' roll. Do you know that the 1994 elections had no common voters' roll? And the international community which you are talking about they declared them free and fair, and they know that elections have to have a common voters' roll. That is to make sure that you don't have all kinds of confusion as to who votes what, where. Now if that is not happening in 1999 again then we are being cheated, we are being made to conduct elections of our own kind. Fine, that's what AZAPO would say, well fine, conduct it your own way. So the common voters' roll will be part of the fundamental issues that we would need. We would not like a situation where the people who are in the government of national unity are getting an advantage of using state facilities for their political gain.

     I will give you an example, at one stage Nelson Mandela went to KwaZulu-Natal and he went there as an ANC leader, but he is also President of the country because you can't remove him from being President of the country. When he was there he then called on the army and the police from his ministry to accompany, to protect him so that he can be able to address ANC followers in areas where he believes Inkatha would have been dominant. Now, whether you like it or not, he has been protected by the state in order to carry out an ANC function. Obviously, as I say, you cannot remove him from being the President, he must be protected, we don't want him to die in that fashion. But if that is not done for me when I go and address an AZAPO rally in that particular area then we are unfair, because then the parties that are in government are using state machinery to protect themselves and they are not according the same protection to parties that are not in government. So that's another condition that we would favour where if protection is given it must be given across the board. Those are just the basis, there are other small little things about how the polling booths are conducted.

POM     Sure, the nitty gritty stuff. Correct me if I am wrong, but I have been under the impression that AZAPO has not been very encouraging of white parties going into townships to carry out their election campaigns. By the same token do you not think that white parties who want to go into black townships should receive protection and be allowed to campaign there?

PN     Yes. We have not been very happy with allowing white parties to go to the townships and I will tell you why we have not been very happy. We have not been very happy because in AZAPO we regard the Nationalist Party and all white parties that have perpetuated apartheid as parties that need transformation first because they could say they are democratic parties, and we have been arguing that if they retain the same principles and attitude and hope that we can be happy it is tantamount to continue to inculcate in our people the same values and norms that have made our people to be junior partners in the country. So we are more worried about what they want to preach than that they are white in, say, this is a white person. But we are worried about, we want to guard against the old apartheid, racist philosophy to be brought back door and for that reason we have come out very clearly that we would need a drastic showing from the white parties that they no longer maintain, and I can tell you things that they still maintain, which they want to preach, they still maintain the property clause should be retained in the constitution. Now they know, they know, there is no way that they cannot know, they know that it is actually these property clauses that have made all of us poor and made them richer. They know. Now they must be honest at one stage to say, well we have made other human beings poor and we have actually made them terribly poor and that they have to take a responsibility as well to get those other human beings to be equal. They cannot retain all the norms and values of the past and hope that AZAPO will see it as fine, we are in a democracy now, you can continue to preach your values which oppressed us, which doesn't matter. We need to protect the integrity of the future at one stage and that is the reason why we have not been very happy with it.

POM     Do you not think that the essence of democracy is freedom of speech and that if white parties go into the townships the people in the townships can listen to them and simply vote against them?

PN     That is what democracy says. What democracy doesn't tell you further, that if you are like me I would like that dictum of democracy to tell people further. Democracy says freedom of speech, it says freedom of assembly, it says all number of things, but in reality it doesn't say other things that are required by society and society has to be able to require them. Democracy, as I say, if you have freedom of speech then we must have a Hitler again. Democracy is freedom of speech and another person who may want to be Hitler may actually hang on, say it's my democratic right to say the things I want to say. Now there is a limit to that dictum, that's what I wanted to mention. There is a limit to that dictum and that is the limit to which AZAPO is concentrating. But you can have freedom of speech but this various freedom at one level they must not be capable of injuring other human beings. Fine, but that is the qualification I will give, that at the end of it they must not be capable of injuring others where we believe that your freedom to say the things you are entitled to and you then say the things that you are entitled to, in terms of the democratic process, and those things when we analyse those, we can't know in advance, we give you the freedom first of expressing whatever, but if we find out that what you continue to preach every day is detrimental to the other folks that we live with, then we curtail your particular freedom of speech. But we are not curtailing the rule. We are curtailing the products which emanated from the rules. But in doing so we might actually ban your meeting.

POM     You would actually ban?

PN     Yes, your meeting, in doing so. But when we ban your meeting we have actually restricted you only on the rule. But if you check, we are not actually banning meetings, we are afraid of what might occur at the meeting. And democracy has not been able to find a method of actually curtailing what you say and still allow you to have a meeting.

POM     Who should have the power to say ...?

PN     Are you with me?

POM     What I'm looking for is who should have the power to decide what can be said, what is injurious to other people and what is not? One man's injury is another man's glorification, so who makes the rules?

PN     This is one other thing that where a government of the day has been democratically elected, that is why we favour the situation where we say the party that wins must carry out the programmes of that period as dictated upon by the mandate they got irrespective of whether I was not elected or not, I can get my other chance also to come back. So we favour that because we feel that at one level of that democratic process, what is called the majority, they may not even be very much a majority. I know in countries where 30% of the people vote but they are still called a majority when the 70% they didn't go, but I'm not talking that language now. I am merely saying that where that occurs, where a government is declared to be a government of majority, despite my problem about that, then that government must be allowed to exercise that last point you were asking me to exercise it, to see whether when I go to a meeting and utter whatever I'm uttering in the opinion of the government of the majority, whether I am entitled to continue, whether the government of the majority is guarding the interest of the people who gave it its mandate. So it has got a little bit of freedom to do so although that freedom in some instances has been misused and then we discover later that it has been misused and obviously we are going into another election and we kick you out on the basis that you misused that freedom. So there is always this problem. But, where the government of the day does not hold the same opinion that someone is infringing into activities that injure others, it is also a democratic right of another party to voice that out, to say we believe that what you are allowing as a government of the majority to OK, it's injuring us and that is precisely what AZAPO was doing when it was talking about white parties. It was the other leg of democracy which says if AZAPO feels strongly that the utterances of the former white parties will injure and perpetuate the ills of the past and thereby again oppress the disadvantaged community, then AZAPO picks it up to say we are not comfortable with what these guys are doing and therefore we will not tolerate and we will not feel comfortable to allow them to come and perpetuate what we believe is out of order. A person can argue whether AZAPO is correct or not but that's what it is.

POM     Do you make any differentiation between different elements in the National Party, like elements that have actually become more progressive and elements that are still stuck in old apartheid thinking?

PN     Yes, I will qualify, we make that distinction, but we have always operated, in AZAPO in particularly, we have all operated around systems, around groups rather than operating around individuals when we deal with society, and therefore we will recognise the fact that certain individuals within the National Party have outgrown and we will have no problem with them having outgrown the past. But we would not want to be bogged down by recognition of those particular individuals if the Nationalist Party as an organisation or a system of values and norms has not shifted then we would still deal with the Nationalist Party whilst acknowledging the fact that it does have two or three elements which are moving towards the right direction but as the Nationalist Party as it stands today we would have this and that difficulty. It's very confusing if one concentrates on individuals and not on a system.

     It's like now, the international community has concentrated on President Mandela and they have made a mistake because President Mandela as Mandela is a very respected person, maybe the most respected in the world now, but that respect, if that respect is not turned into food, shelter and other benefits for the millions that made him president then it's meaningless to AZAPO. So AZAPO would say, fine, you are a very good guy, you are a very good comrade, Mandela, and we are happy that the world acknowledges but my friend, Comrade Mandela, we are not happy that your acknowledgement becomes what the country must evolve itself on a daily basis because that is not what you were elected to be. Let them recognise you but where is your programme to free these people who have been in misery?

     So we deal with systems rather than dealing with individuals and I've just given you an example about the world making a mistake. They think that Nelson Mandela is the saviour. They don't realise that there might come a day when people will pull down Nelson Mandela's statue, not on the basis that he was not a good guy, but on the basis that he forgot that being good has nothing to do with what he was elected for, and he continued to be in the glamour of being good and pleasing and pleasing the public and not pleasing the electorate and the electorate deep down are getting worried and worried and worried and one day it can just tumble. And people will be saying, but what are you doing with the statue of Nelson Mandela, such a good guy, such a guy who fought for this and that? Now people will say he forgot that he should have delivered the things that he said he must deliver and that is what our campaign is going to be when the next elections come, just to tell you a bit of that. That is, those who go into being elected and they come to the ordinary people and say, we will be able to do A, B, C, whilst knowing that what they signed for will not allow A, B, C to be delivered. That is to be dishonest and we will be saying that that is why we didn't go in because we did not want to be dishonest. We didn't want just to go to the pay packages, we would have been dishonest because we checked what was agreed and we realised that even if you were so intelligent it would be impossible for you to do the things you are saying you will do for the people, unless you change first the framework along which those things are possible.

POM     You continue to campaign on the basis of continuing struggle, the struggle isn't over, and yet most surveys show that a majority of black people believe the country is moving in the right direction and an increasing number of them accept that things can't change overnight. How do you reconcile what would appear to be the dampening of expectations on people's part on the one hand and your concept of continuing struggle?

PN     Now we've got to first define what is it that we are continuing with which we call struggle, otherwise we will get confused in ourselves and we may get this question not answered in the manner you want. Now a struggle obviously it's happening everywhere in the world, that is how we believe. Whether it's in America, the people of America are still wanting to be better off. That's their struggle. We are pursuing here in this country, just like in any other country, there is no time where you can go to a country and you find that the voters say, no we are OK, this country is giving us everything that we need. Therefore, that's why I'm quantifying that struggle, there is nothing wrong in AZAPO continuing with this struggle.

     The second thing is that we will agree that, no, the country obviously it's moving in the right direction because the wrong direction has been halted. There is no doubt, we also agree, but it is not the rightness of the direction that bothers AZAPO. Direction, yes, but it is where are we going to? I don't know whether I'm very clear here. It's a very distinct difference from those that accept that the country is moving in a right direction and leave it there. AZAPO continues to say, yes, we think that it is moving towards a right direction but where are we going to? What are we, because we are in the right direction we have just gone into the gravy train, so do we just leave it and say, well because we are in the right direction let the gravy trains and everything occur because the country is moving in the right direction? So that is the difference between us and the other people, that we don't leave it there. We feel that whilst that may be so we want now to know exactly where we are leading to and it is that which is part of our struggle. Apart from the fact that anyway even if we were in government we would still be in that struggle, to better the life of our people which is actually a normal struggle all over. So there is nothing sinister or nothing untoward about us having to continue with the struggle. Now the struggle is waged at different levels. There is armed struggle, those are the methods of that struggle and we have said categorically that we no longer wage the armed struggle. We used to. I think in some of my utterances in the past you got that. So we have stopped the armed struggle because we believe now that the conditions for waging an armed struggle are no longer there. But that does not make us abandon this struggle, those were just the methods of pushing that struggle to accelerate it and we are now using other methods which are quite normal, which do not scare anybody, and we believe that we must continue to do so till we become the next government. And we know that even if we become the next government other parties will also continue with the struggle to become the next government. Let me just put it in a nutshell, democracy in essence ...

POM     Is about struggle, competition.

PN     Exactly.

POM     Just on that, do you think there is a degree of corruption in the government both at the national level and at the provincial level that is really disturbing and reminiscent of the past?

PN     No I don't believe that way, but I will tell you what is happening. There is corruption, but what has happened again, it's a consequence of the agreement that was reached. They reached a very, in their own way, a nice agreement. That agreement says that everything that was in the civil service, the police, the army, must be retained. Now to AZAPO it was saying that if you had wanted changes which would be meaningful to building up a new society you have to do it using the instruments of the old society. That's how AZAPO interpreted it and in fact it's just like that. So it said, you can change the presidency, you can change the people who are in parliament, but we want you to agree in Kempton Park before we go and change the people in parliament that the instruments to carry out those changes of personalities in parliament will be the same instrument we were using prior to the agreement. Now what that means is that if I was a policeman and for one reason or the other I believe that this agreement will last for five years, because it lasts for five years, it's stipulated, and I sit there and speculate that in five years ordinarily those that were forced to agree to retain me may come up the winner and therefore I may not be capable of being retained again because there will no longer be this agreement, what do I do if I'm a corrupt official of the past? Because the past had a lot of corrupt officials, even before the agreement. So what do I do? I continue to make sure that by the time these new changes after five years come I am a rich person, or I've done those things that protect me and my family using my old corrupt ways. Now the other advantage I have is that there are new people in government, ministers, who do not know the rules, who cannot trace me, how corrupt I am. It's very difficult when you are a new person, minister, how do you trace when the whole department is full of old guys who have been manoeuvring their own ways within and that is full of, in our history that is a lot. So within the police those corrupt individuals still exist even though they were not dismissed and there was not even a way of searching whether they can be dismissed. That is why even after the election we still continued with the atrocities of the people who were in these - bandits, people who were in those secret killing groups which were formed by the previous government.

POM     Hit squads.

PN     Yes. They continued because of that factor I'm telling you, because there was no way where Sydney Mufamadi would have known where they are because when he comes there they greet him, they salute him in the most honourable way. He would not be able to see behind the salute that I am dealing with a criminal who has been hunting me for years. Now that's what is happening. The civil service is the same. So what you are seeing now, money disappearing, disappearing, it's a consequence of the agreement reached and therefore there is no way where the ANC led government would be able to get around that.

POM     If you were to become the government in 1999 how would you deal with this problem? Would you fire massive numbers of civil servants? But then again there are not enough qualified blacks who have the administrative skills to walk into new departments and know the procedures. You just mentioned yourself, new ministers on the block and they can't put their finger on the various things that are going on in their departments because they simply are new and don't know. So how would you deal with the problems?

PN     If we were to come into power the first thing we will not allow is that we retain everybody, it gives us already some power to do what we think is right at this time when we are in power. So it is not that we will not find them, the people I am talking about, we will find them. There is no way when it is announced that AZAPO has won and everybody is out of office. So that we take very, very seriously. But the fact that we would not have this clause which says no-one should be removed from position gives us ...

POM     That clause only goes up to 1999 anyway.

PN     Well we don't know, it depends whether in 1999 this very government will not be perpetuating it. There are talks already, the Nationalist Party is already saying that we should continue. Just to digress before I come to that point again, to make it continue this government of national unity is very easy for the Nationalist Party. They need just to scare the ANC again. It's quite easy. The just scare them. As we move towards what is called the declaration of the new election, they just scare them that the whites will rise up and they are unhappy and they have the machinery to scare them. They have just scared them recently about white farmers and Mandela took 87 million immediately that there will be no food, so it will be easy. If they scare them we may not have elections. There's a digression. I just don't want you to get an impression that automatically we will have an election in 1999. If we have them I will be the happiest person but I didn't want that impression to go with you.

     Now if I were to go back, if there is no such clause that says you must retain so-and-so, retain so-and-so, because it's not done anywhere in the world. Presidents in the world when they get into power they start looking for people who can enhance their government. It's very difficult to rule, in fact it's making your job very difficult. Democracy must actually go that route. When you get into power democracy must say you came with new vision, that is why we elected you, and therefore we are giving you also a democratic right to check which team, what is your team, so that you can do the things we elected you for. But in this case what they did is they didn't leave room for them to come in to do the things that they were elected for. Again it was because of the faulty nature of the agreement. So we will have that room and with that room there we can, even those that are in the civil service, those that were in the police, if they know in advance that there is a possibility that if I do something which is out of order I'm going, even before the five years comes to an end, there is the likelihood that that on its own is a deterring factor. That's how I'm raising it, it's a deterring factor where you feel uncomfortable whether you will be going on. And when you go to work you try to be smart so that you don't continue perpetuating the ills of the party but anything can be done on you. And we will not be dismissing all at once but we will just use that as a deterring factor and obviously there are those that have been discovered through various investigations of legal nature, commission of enquiry, and those who we will immediately have to dismiss because it's already evident.

     The Goldstone Commission on its own is full of evidence. But why at the moment they are not able to dismiss some of those who are also mentioned within the Goldstone Commission? It's precisely because there is an agreement of the government of national unity. Some of them are very senior people within the Nationalist Party. It involves even some of them who are ministers. Recently there was a report which talked about those kinds of things and Mandela had to come up and say he did not release that report. He saw the report which talks about some of these Nationalist Party people. Now he didn't release it because he thought the country will go down. If he was given a mandate he would have released that, mandate in the sense that I am talking about. He would have released that and got rid of the people who may be a stumbling block. But in this country we are dealing in, the new South Africa, is at the moment it's own kind, don't compare it with other democracies. There is no democracy which is comparable to it. It's of its own kind, it's trying to get out of its own way and in that process you can't run away from corruption. There is no way, in fact it has created seats for that corruption.

POM     If you were to fire, say, a lot of the white civil servants in senior positions who are in a position to impede the implementation of policy, do you have enough qualified black people who are familiar with and trained in the methods of public service to take over their jobs?

PN     To think that way is not actually correct because it is not a question of firing white personnel and bringing in black personnel, otherwise AZAPO will not exist. If we do that we will actually be attending to our country's problem wrongly. Now here we are looking at the human resources that we have in terms of those that align themselves in our own judgement as a government with a future versus those that do not align themselves with that thing. There are many black people who do not align themselves with what AZAPO wants to do and therefore it is not just like because you are black you are going into our civil service, they are there. So we will be sifting personnel in terms of strengthening the future so that the future can emerge. And if there are white people, which I think they are there, many of them, they are increasing in number, who want the future to be of that nature and as AZAPO is ... there is no way we can just go to him and say you are white, get out, black come in, because that's nonsense. So what we will do, as I'm trying to explain, is that we will then assess what we have and what we don't have, but assess that in relation only to the programme of the future and in relation to people who want to go that route and if we will find a lot, in fact we will never destroy any civil service. And also let me just say, at every work, every line or function you would always find that if you've got Director Generals, you've got a deputy, you've got assistant deputy, and they are always within that fashion and I don't believe for one moment that if the Director General is out, everybody who is below that he doesn't want to go that route. In fact it has been proved by the Goldstone Commission that it is the top brass who know a lot of secrets more than the other people who also want to be promoted. So one of the ways to do it is to get some of the people who always wanted to be up also but for reasons of apartheid they were not of the quality that De Klerk needed. So De Klerk had his own people, even men with their wives who are there now, who never supported De Klerk, who are waiting, but De Klerk could not have made them Director Generals because that would have worked against him, but they know a lot. They have got knowledge, there's no doubt in my mind that I can find a lot of them who have got knowledge and we could always make them to have. So our going around that matter is not so much to look for a white person, that is not the first thing, it's to look for those people who can be a team of the future. And therefore you won't have this thing of having to argue that blacks are not men who can fit in, you are making sure that the resources you have are brought up in that fashion.

POM     On the other hand you adopt a position that white teachers in black schools should be removed and should be replaced by black teachers, which is slightly different.

PN     But I suppose you were listening to the TV programme of the day before yesterday where the student wing, our student wing, was with Mary Metcalfe who is the MEC for education here, there were education people who was also there, and PASO was there, SANSCO was there, they were in a panel, and also our press conference which we held before that interview. At our press conference, this is what I am going to tell you now, which is the essence of the campaign of our student wing, there is no such a campaign documented or otherwise which says remove white teachers and employ black teachers. The campaign is actually telling, employ unemployed black teachers and save black education. That's the campaign. But in this country these things happen that way and I am not surprised. I've been in the struggle for a long time. In this country things happen. Once you say 'employ black teachers', someone sees a white person being removed, and the newspapers concentrate on 'remove all the whites'. But also in the course of the youngsters, going school per school, emotions ran high to the extent that even amongst our own youngsters, there were youngsters who went around seeking white teachers to say they must be removed. That happens in many instances where a campaign is not of that nature, but as the practice goes on, other people go this way or that. That is why we had to hold a press conference as AZAPO, to make sure there is no misunderstanding over the essence.

     Now the essence, and it was agreed in the final, everybody now agreed, the essence is that you have a lot of unemployed black teachers in the township who are trained and the reason why when posts are open in the townships they are not engaged, the reason is actually perpetuating apartheid, I will give you the reason. Black teachers during apartheid were never taught mathematics, sciences and other highly technically skilled subjects, which is correct. That's what happened. And the reasoning is that if we want our children to learn mathematics and those sciences then there is no way where we cannot jump and employ white teachers to come and teach. Right? Fine, that's a very plausible reason and I am going to tell you later why I go against that reason. Now, the second thing is that whilst that is happening South Africa has opened all the eleven languages to be taught at every school and what has happened again is that largely in white schools now, white teachers have been employed to teach Zulu, to teach Venda, to teach Pedi, whilst actually the people who are better qualified to teach vernacular, these languages that they have been speaking and forced to speak English and Afrikaans, white people have never been taught those. Now AZAPO is saying there is a racism prevalent here, that if people want to be fair who probably have certified, let's get those who can teach science and mathematics to come this way so that we can have this problem resolved of unemployment. Let's get them and go and teach the other vernacular languages in white schools. But white schools, because they are C models, they are refusing to let their children to be taught by black faces.

     Now that to us, you must know AZAPO is an organisation that deals more with the psychology of people in black consciousness, that's what we are talking about, so at AZAPO we are saying, we are creating images which are consistent with the past. If we continue to create those images then AZAPO says no. If we want to integrate our schools let's have our children grow up with the images that anybody can teach. We mustn't have the images that have been in the township perpetuated and then you leave the other images perpetuated, white schools become white and black schools become black and white. Now that is an anomaly.

     Now the other thing that we are saying is that the white schools are continuously wanting to retain their autonomy. I stay in an area here called Roodekop, it was a predominantly white area, and if you go to the school there it is now 90% black kids and it is 90% white teachers. Now you ask yourself, the last point I want to make, you ask yourself, the government is committed to affirmative action and AZAPO would want that affirmative action too, OK. Now if you go the affirmative action route you should not admit only to the fact that white teachers have got mathematics and science and therefore that's it and that let's continue. Then when will you affirm? If this country adopts that style then there is no difference between what was, because they had mathematics in the past and they are still teaching mathematics now and there is no-one from the black community who is a black teacher being affirmed to teach those subjects, then the country is at fault and that's the company, the company is actually saying you are at fault. Don't look only at the ratios, look at what are you doing to affirm these disadvantaged people who would never be able to teach mathematics maybe in the future because if you leave them it will be like De Klerk left them in the past and therefore you have no big gun to do it. We are saying, employ them, if there is a problem with their teaching ability you can even use these other teachers that are said to be removed in order to make them better mathematicians. So the reality there really is a very tricky one, it's very tricky, that's why people can't see it, they only see white, black, white, black right through.

POM     Let me give you a very concrete example, if in a township you had a white teacher teaching mathematics, sciences or whatever and you had a large number of unemployed black teachers in that township, would you be in favour of a policy that would replace that white teacher with some of these unemployed black teachers and bring their skills in mathematics and sciences up to par?

PN     No, I will go against that policy. Still arguing the question of affirmative action, that policy will be destructive in the sense that when you would start affirmative action programmes you don't do away with those that are maintaining your balance because then you are destroying even the future career of your own children, so you don't do that. But it will be an anomaly for you to perpetuate that which you have without doing anything with what you see on the unemployment side. And that's where the campaign is; it says, fine, that is OK. Now what it means is that when you go into an affirmative action programme in a country such as ours, as you pursue it, another white person has to lose somewhere. That's why I say it's tricky. It's an unfortunate situation because if you affirm any black person today there is no way, because you must affirm that black upwards and up to today by apartheid norms it has been white. So you must keep on throwing a black inside, inside, you must keep on scoring. As you are scoring that place where you are scoring at it is also a circle which has got parameters, you can't blow it, so that it must be fifty/fifty, because then if it's your company to be unprofitable. So the reality, as we are talking, leads to what the newspapers want us to see. But that is not the essence of the campaign, the campaign just says, well affirm people here, you will see to finish as you go higher. If you find a white there, get around that matter, but we want people to be affirmed, because if you don't affirm you are perpetuating something that De Klerk never did.

     So in reality sometimes you are forced to retire people. Now if you retire them again they will say no, but you are dealing with AZAPO, you are getting all those whites away from their jobs and here you have brought blacks, but it's inescapable, let me put it very - it's inescapable in a country that was run on racial lines that when you start affirming people it will be a white person versus a black person. In a few instances a person would ever be affirmed, there are very few blacks therefore whom you need to remove. In fact people will laugh at you and say, why do you have to remove one black person at a higher level in order to affirm another black person? So it comes to that.

     So I really wanted you to get an understanding that even if AZAPO had chosen other words to describe it, I doubt whether the media would not have gone the same route, but we are saying it's wrong for them to go the same route and not judge the essence of the company. But the fact of the matter is that at one stage or the other those who have been privileged would have to contend with another who comes there and takes that other position, and if he takes it what happens to the other chap who has been holding that position for years? And if we create more positions where do we get money? And again we are in that vicious circle.

POM     Catch-22.

PN     Yes.

POM     Just a couple more questions. One has to do with the local elections. I have great trouble understanding how this system works. Could you explain it to me?

PN     That is the ...?

POM     What's going to happen on November 1st. I've got a lot of trouble understanding what I would be doing when I walk into the ballot box.

PN     At the moment the issue stands as follows; I'm not an expert on what the parliament is doing, I'm more looking at what we can do in order to criticise parliament. But when you do that also you come to look what you must criticise so I am going to tell you from that perspective. They are now beginning to come to an agreement that they must have a voters' roll of every province, at every locality, and it appears it has become crucial, the point we mentioned when they went into parliament. It has become crucial not because they wanted it that way, it's because now the parties are vying for local power and it's no longer proportional representation. They are now feeling that if we don't check who votes where the ANC may bus people to that place the Nationalist Party will not gain, so that we need for their interest rather than as a principle in AZAPO. They are also going to try, the date for registration of candidates has elapsed, they are postponing to the 12th of September when they will then have registered candidates, the people who are going to campaign, and on the basis of those that have registered to campaign, some independent whatever, they will then conduct the election on that basis. What I have not cleared myself, which was a debate of theirs, whether it will still be on party political lines, which means that ANC will field one person, or people will be allowed being ANC members, say in Jo'burg here, to have two or three ANC candidates. Do you get the point I'm raising? In some instances in other countries they do allow a situation where you get in one party three people but then the one that will have more votes will be the one who goes in, particularly in one party states type of thing.

POM     This is a PR system?

PN     Yes, that is PR, but I'm not sure whether they are going strictly to say one party one candidate for a place, that I can't tell you. Now if you were to wake up on November 1st you would find two things happening, you would find places where there will be no election of that nature I'm describing because there will, like KwaZulu-Natal, part of the Eastern Cape, in the Transkei the Chiefs are refusing to do anything, and there is still a bit of a problem with other areas as well, so when you wake up in the morning on November 1st you would obviously hear about areas where people are going for votes and you will also be told that that area and that area and that area the election will not be conducted until the situation becomes conducive for that because there is violence, there is bickering, and blah, blah, blah. And then when you wake up the day when the election shall be announced you would still find a situation where they do not know whether those areas that did not go through the election as to when they will be ready to go to elections. So what is going to happen here is that we will have local elections, we call them staggered, and the likelihood that it can take us another two, three years before local elections are conducted in certain areas. The likelihood because this constitution is a five year constitution. My own projection is that in areas such as KwaZulu-Natal where we might not have local elections up until we move into the next election.

POM     But if I were a voter, how am I going to vote? I am going to walk into a polling booth and I'm going to be given one polling form, one ballot, two ballots?

PN     That I can't tell you now because they have not as yet announced anything to that effect. At the moment they are fighting over demarcations, that's all. The arena at the moment is to say if you have Johannesburg and Soweto how do you make sure that the Soweto majority does not overwhelm my suburb and they have been fighting, they are taking each other to court on that. They have not as yet told the public, if you wake up now this is the procedure, they have not even gone into a massive voters' campaign like they did before. They haven't done so which would then inform the people as to what is going to happen.

POM     Would I be correct if I said that you're not quite sure what the actual procedures for voting will be on election day?

PN     Exactly.

POM     And would you say that the bulk of the population have no idea?

PN     Exactly, exactly. If you go in the street get someone who can speak English and say, can you tell me what you are going to do? That person will not be able to tell you. And that is how bad the crisis is. The people don't want to understand that there is a little bit of government of national unity crisis here.

POM     Just a couple more questions. One is that it's been 18 months now since the government of national unity has come into place. What's changed? I had my first conversation with you in 1990 a couple of months after Nelson Mandela was released and all the organisations were unbanned. What's changed in your personal life? What's changed in your political life and what's changed in the country's life?

PN     What has changed in the country's life first is that the political activists, the people who were fighting for liberation, like myself and others, are relatively at the moment better off. Not in terms of money, not in terms of possessions, not in terms of wealth. In terms of the fear that when I leave my office I might die. In terms of then before that one would come to the office and not know whether if I go to the toilet or whether I would not be arrested as I am going home, what will happen at places like those. That is insofar as the political activists are concerned, ourselves. So in relative terms the degree to which we were in danger of dying has gone a bit low. I cannot tell you how much percent, it's not satisfactory, you can still die. But that has now shifted to the general population. The degree to which an ordinary person fears death has increased. This is very important for me because that is what our country has become. That is where the political activists who were very few then against, the government had concentrated on us and the ordinary person who boarded a train, will board a taxi without fearing to die. Now after the independence, whatever, it's not even independence, after the April 1994 elections what has happened is that the political activists some of them are in government now, they are regarded and blah, blah, blah, that kind of thing, and so there is some kind of security at that level but the violence has gone the other way round. An ordinary person does not know in KwaZulu-Natal whether if across the street today I will now die, and that is the two posts of change. In reality there has not been change in relation to the violence against the majority of the people. And people tend to say violence has abated. Yes, to some degree, I don't want to give you a wrong answer, but to the extent that an ordinary person lives well and not fear death it has not done anything.

     Now you asked me another question, what has changed in my personal life. What has changed in my personal life is that the armed struggle that used to be part and parcel of AZAPO's leadership concern has now been suspended by us as the leadership. Now that is a change that we have brought into the process. We have done so because we felt that it would help to minimise the violence against our people but, as I say, it has not done so because those elements of the past are now perpetuating it at taxi ranks, they are killing people there. There is nothing more than that which I am telling you which has changed in my personal life. I don't have a job which is different from the job I was doing and therefore the new South Africa hasn't brought any fundamental change to what I was to now except that when I leave the office the fear to die has been a little bit minimised, that is the end of the story. Now you asked another question, what is the change ...?

POM     What has changed in your political life?

PN     Let me come to that. In our political life there is nothing that has changed. I still hold firmly the belief that this country needs fundamental transformation and that until that transformation occurs the ordinary people, workers, peasants are going to suffer, and that we still have to pursue this fundamental goal of bringing about the standard of life of our people to a reasonable degree. So I have not shifted except that my analysis of issues now, because other issues have come in, may not necessarily be reaching the same conclusion that I might have reached in 1990. That is the only thing that I can say, I am a man who wants to make sure that as the country progresses what I might have reached as a conclusion in the past does not necessarily hold me at ransom. I can always reach another conclusion consistent with the development of the country, that to a limited degree, that's all I can say.

POM     If you had to rate the performance of the government of national unity, and in particular the ANC, because we are really talking about the ANC to all intents and purposes, over the last 18 months where one represented a very unsatisfactory performance and ten represented a very satisfactory performance, where would you place it after 18 months?

PN     If I do that I would want to qualify that I have never regarded the ANC as a ruling party, I have never regarded it as having the power to rule the country because of the issues we discussed in the past, they don't have the instruments; the instruments were removed and I have regarded them as people who have gone into office. I can read them. If you were to ask me a different question, how do I rate their office performance? Office, not the power, not the governing of the country, because I don't believe that they are governing the country. They are trying to govern the country collectively under a government of national unity which is not working well and that is an entity which does most of the things. There is nothing that is done by the ANC and gets implemented by the ANC straight like that. So I am going to rate their office performance, not the other thing. Now in terms of their office performance I would feel that Nelson Mandela has done well. Office, I'm talking about office, I know I have told you that national government part, but office, because Nelson when you judge him as Nelson, not at the level of the power, he has been able to bring people of this country to focus on what he terms the rainbow nation which if you ask me whether I agree or not, I don't agree with that. I don't believe there is - his rainbow qualification is that we must retain what has been and that is what makes us the rainbow, I don't agree. But for one reason or the other, the mindset, the mindset as characterised by Mandela's efforts, that you can score relatively 60%, 70%, as an office of Mandela.

     But if you were to score other ministries you may actually end up rating them in terms of what they have achieved. Now I haven't, for instance you take the Minister without Portfolio who is supposed to have achieved everything that our public wants, he has failed dismally, I don't know whether one percent or he's where he was before he went to this portfolio. There is nothing on the ground that shows that RDP is there. If RDP was somewhere I can assure you this government every time it has these dignitaries who come from Africa or abroad, they would have an occasion of taking a tour to the RDP projects. I haven't seen that, even by their own way of - I mean they must boast about their success. All what they do, you hear from speeches, RDP has worked, RDP has worked. Now you wonder that many governments if they have got a big project, whenever other people who have supported that project come, they are taken there and you find on TV screens that that project is going this way. There is nothing. They haven't moved an inch.

     If you check the economy, the economy has gone a bit up. The economy has gone a bit up because labour unrest was reduced by co-opting COSATU and NACTU into parliament under NEDLAC. Now you can't call that an achievement because what has happened is that temporarily the leadership of the trade union movement was removed to service the government, but the workers here have not gained that which the leadership of the trade unions has gained in terms of the gravy train. So it is going to come that the workers are going to rise again, so I cannot say we have gained as a country. I can see that workers are still going to cause us problems, they are just at the moment not sure what is happening, they are beginning to learn that this government cannot do anything.

     So I might be painting a very bad picture. It is because the yardstick to see that something has changed, I have always said so to the workers, is that if you are a worker and you wake up in the morning and you had a certain routine, and I am going to give you a short routine now for one worker. A worker will wake up at five o'clock, the worker will go to the nearest train station, the worker will board that train, the worker will go to work, he will receive that salary at the end of the month, the worker continuously does that, and where the worker stays it is still a shanty house. If you say a country has succeeded in bringing some changes that worker must see that during that routine, that this routine has changed here, has changed there, has changed there, as a yardstick. And I haven't seen that changing to any single working class person of this country. I have seen that change with those who were fighting for freedom who are now in government, that says change, 90%. The only change that you can see visible is the Mercedes Benz, places where they are now staying in the suburbs, the majority of them, they have moved from the four-roomed house, they have gone there, we see them more often on TV and that is clear. Now if that is not seen against the other situation of the people who voted, then we are in for a big jump. So that is change that I can describe for you which I see every day.

POM     Almost the last question, and thanks for all the time. Does AZAPO support the RDP or does it think it's a flawed programme?

PN     There are certain things within the RDP we support wholeheartedly. For instance, I am running a project, a big project here, which is in five provinces on agriculture. That's my job here. I run an NGO and from time to time I meet with RDP officers and people who are in these projects because AZAPO has not adopted a strategy of rejecting everything that is in the RDP document because the RDP in fact in reality, it's a philosophical document, it has no implementing steps. That's where it runs short. If you read the whole document, the things they say, AZAPO would not have a problem, probably AZAPO will even find more reason why they should be said the way they are said, and the only thing that I have discovered in my practice now is that the implementing side has not been effected because the money hasn't gone to the people. Today I was reading an article where NGOs are dying and then the RDP office is saying that it wants to bring about a national development agency which will delegate the money from the government to the NGO. So to some extent the coming into being of the RDP has killed some of the NGOs which is a negative matter. But otherwise AZAPO is not fundamentally opposed, except that there are certain features of the RDP which AZAPO would not support.

POM     Just to go back to the elections for a moment, my understanding is, and I tell you I'm confused because everyone I talk to gives me a different version and everything I read says something different, my understanding is that if you are a property owner you get to vote in each ward in which you own a piece of property; so that if I, say, were a white a person and I owned in this area a piece of property in Cyrildene, and say I owned some in Houghton, let's say I owned some in Parkview or whatever, in each of these different wards I would have a vote, so that I could be one person and have four votes. Now that seems to be a complete violation of the constitutional principle of one person one vote. First of all is that true?

PN     As I say, at the moment I can't really give you any answer to that because they have not as yet publicly announced who will have how many votes under what conditions. What we have had, as I was telling you, is the property clause that the DP, the NP want to retain and I think it is probably in line with what you are saying, they want to retain it so that it becomes an instrument to gain more votes. What is the use of retaining it if one does not want to use it profitably? But I cannot be able to tell you exactly what they are going to say.

POM     But if, let's say, if a situation did emerge where you got a vote for every piece of property you owned in a different ward, would you regard that as a violation of one man one vote?

PN     That would be totally out of order.

POM     Would AZAPO take it to the Constitutional Court?

PN     We would take it if we get a funder.

POM     It always goes back to money!

PN     I can tell you another case we want to take, but we don't have a funder. The Truth Commission, as presently passed by parliament, which says that it is going to investigate past atrocities and then forget about them. We have sought legal opinion on whether that Truth Commission, a compromise between the ANC and the NP, is not actually violating their own interim constitution and we have found that in terms of that legal opinion, which has been sent to lawyers who have confirmed that in fact that Truth Commission as it stands now, if it was to be sent to the Constitutional Court, it may not stand because one opinion takes this matter from the international agreements. It traces what the international community under the United Nations Charter has agreed, that if people commit atrocities against any other human being those people would have to be dealt with by the courts of the country and the international court also comes in. Here again I tell you that in Eastern Europe now one of our judges is sitting, Judge Goldstone, he is sitting precisely to punish those people there who have gone against this international sort of agreement. So there is an opinion which says that these people who committed atrocities against South Africans during the olden days must also be subjected to what Goldstone is subjecting those human beings to in Bosnia. Are you with me? So that opinion we are quite happy with, that if the standards of the world are of such a nature that anybody, it doesn't matter where you come from, you commit atrocities against human beings in the manner in which it is described, you also have to face the music as the music which is done by our own judge. So we find there is a good argument because our own judge is sitting to do that.

POM     So would you agree with Winnie Mandela when she says that FW de Klerk and PW Botha should be charged with crimes against humanity if the evidence of their complicity in crimes does exist?

PN     We will not specify the way Winnie has specified because it's as if Winnie has got evidence already against PW and the others. No, AZAPO wouldn't do that because we can't tell you now. All we can tell you politically is that they are politically responsible because they were the Presidents of the country. But AZAPO would rather say anybody within that framework I've described who is found to have committed atrocities, if it is PW Botha or FW de Klerk or whoever, must then be brought to book. We will not at the moment say we want that one and that one because in the end when evidence is brought you may find that that one you want is not the one that applies to the rules and then you get into trouble. Maybe Winnie has got already evidence. But we will support her sentiments to include every person who has committed those atrocities.

POM     Very last question, and I guess the piles of your interviews are going to be higher than anybody else's, there are going to be a whole stack of them. Most economists agree that if this country is to jump start itself economically that you have to have a rate of growth of about 7% or 8% a year, one that will substantially exceed the rate in growth in population. Most also agree that the only way you can get that 7% or 8% or 9% growth rate, to find the resources to build houses, to electrify, to establish waste disposal systems, whatever, is with a massive inflow of foreign capital. Do you not think that foreign governments, foreign capital as it were, would see AZAPO as a very radical organisation and that if it came to government they would be very reluctant to invest in the country, and if they didn't invest in the country then where would you get your resources to carry out your programme of transformation and restructuring?

PN     Unfortunately, foreign governments and people who have got money they don't use that yardstick in order to invest. It's just unfortunate. They don't use what you are saying in order to invest. That is the public usage about investment because that is supposed to weaken the government, for whatever reason. But it's not, in economic terms that's not what an investor looks for. That is why you have found investors supporting dictators and investing large sums in a country where there is one person who is ruling. And then you ask yourself, but these investors are coming from democracies which believe in governments that must be elected every day, why are they investing? Now the truth of the matter is they invest if they believe that, whatever form of government is there, their investment will be secured. Now how it is secured they are not bothered, it can be secured undemocratically. If it is secured democratically of course they will give money so that that democracy they want must secure the investment. If they are secured by a dictator they will secure it by giving bribes to the dictator to remain so that for some years they deal with one person and therefore their contracts are not reviewed every time a new government comes into power. Now that's the economic route which every investor takes. These things that they talk about, that the government is radical, that's for us politicians, we are in a game to pressurise each other to allow us advantage. So what we do is we focus on who is coming to power, it is not the real issue on investing. People who invest in Muammar Gaddafi's place, and you will wonder why do they go and invest in such a country where they say there is a Muslim Fundamentalist, the reasons are economic, they are not found in politics, no they are economic. Politics are the instruments to further those reasons and to further those interests. And that's it.

     So if AZAPO comes to power you might actually find a situation where there are more investors because if AZAPO comes to power and the KwaZulu-Natal instability, which is under Mandela, favourite candidate of that political argument we are talking about, and Mangosuthu Buthelezi believes that AZAPO has never fought with him and therefore he has no reason not to negotiate with AZAPO, Mandela was out of order, he was just trying to oppress him and AZAPO finds a solution with Mangosuthu Buthelezi, you might find more investors coming and therefore it's not dictated by the fact that it was an AZAPO government, it's dictated by what is on the ground which that government has created in which this economic interest of the investors finds root and finds essence in expanding their interests. Once they do that they invest with whoever, devil or no devil, they are getting their proceeds, finish. So there is no problem, don't even worry about that. It will resolve itself as time goes on.

POM     Thanks very much, I really appreciate it. I'll get the other transcripts to you when I go back to the States. I have the early ones in Boston.

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.