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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

28 Sep 1995: Gerwel, Jakes

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POM     Professor Gerwel let me maybe just begin with a very open-ended kind of question. Eighteen months into the transition, in what direction do you think the country is heading?

JG     Obviously various areas that one needs to look at as being key areas in which the country may be developing, the important challenge I suspect was that of political stability, the country holding together. South Africa being what it is or what it was a lot of people predicting or suspecting that we will have political instability, we will have racial polarisation, so holding the country together is an important area where we had to develop and eighteen months down the line I think we've done pretty well in terms of the political stability of the transition. Yesterday for example, in yesterday's Cabinet meeting the typical speculation by the media that because of the discussion of the local government election and different positions being held by the National Party and the ANC that the government of national unity was on its last legs and that it was facing a crisis and yet the government of national unity continues to function virtually unaffected by that difference. The Inkatha Freedom Party, for example, who were very, to say the least, ambiguous towards the local government elections was very supportive and constructive in the Cabinet. So in that respect the country is holding together, national reconciliation is working very well.

     The other aspect, of course, I would say there are two components to government policy, government objectives, one of national building, reconciliation, holding together. The second one is that of transformation and change, socio-economic change. And again I think for that to happen, people's lives to be changed, our economy needs to be stable, needs to be growing, and again we may not be the fastest growing economy in the world but if you think we had a negative growth a couple of years ago we now have a growth of between 3% and 4%, unemployment is still a problem, a large problem, but again our economy, the economic base, the macro-economic framework for eventual change and transformation is there. So in that regard too we are not doing too badly. The other aspect, one worrying aspect of course, that is the social stability, talking about crime, criminal violence and crime generally. That is the one worrying aspect of our society. You may actually identify a fourth area of development, one could say the establishment and consolidation of democracy. And again I think we're not doing too badly. In many respects we're an example to some long established democracies. So all in all I actually think there are grounds for optimism.

POM     Let's go back to the IFP for a moment. I was talking to Colin Eglin yesterday and I spent the weekend in Durban at the Shaka Day celebrations and saw Dr Buthelezi in full tribal garb and mixing with his people and preaching a very tough line, I mean bordering on the Zulu people must find a way to self-determination. Yet Colin Eglin said there are at least two Buthelezi's. When he's in Cabinet he's conciliatory, when he's in parliament he's like a cuddly bear, he's friendly with everybody, and then he goes off to Ulundi and becomes a different personality. What kind of threat to stability does the continuing absence of the IFP from the Constituent Assembly pose, and the continuing rise in political violence again in KwaZulu/Natal?

JG     Well the continuing violence and seemingly sometimes escalating violence in KwaZulu/Natal obviously poses a threat to stability, stability in that region, but it does affect the mood in the entire country and the absence of stability it also affects the capacity and the potential for development, I'm talking about socio-economic development, in KwaZulu/Natal. It is negatively affecting investment in the country generally because KwaZulu/Natal violence is being seen as South African violence so it does affect investor confidence in the entire country. So I would say that there are two aspects to the KwaZulu/Natal situation, there are two threats if you let me call it that. In the first place the general social and economic instability, the lack of economic growth due to that violence, and secondly political. The establishment of democracy in Natal is being seriously impeded. I think what South Africa needs to establish is not uniformity amongst political parties or political players or political role players. The differences that we have will always be there in different forms. It is institutionalising the ways of dealing with those differences and in KwaZulu/Natal we cannot confidently say that we have institutionalised the democratic way of dealing with those differences. That's the danger that's being posed. There is often talk about secessionist possibilities in KwaZulu/Natal. I'm not sure whether that is not a little bit exaggerated. I think KwaZulu/Natal or Inkatha in Natal will probably push for the maximum amount of autonomy and doing their own thing. I'm not sure that they are really talking about seceding from the country. So those are the two threats. It does destabilise the general socio-economic infrastructure and secondly it poses serious threats to the establishment of democracy in the country.

POM     Now I recently read where President Mandela said that if the devolution of some extra powers to the provinces was necessary to bring about peace and stability in the country then he had no objection to that happening and the statement was qualified by, I suppose, your office saying that this was not a retreat from the ANC's position regarding a strong central government, yet at the same time you talked that the IFP would be looking for the maximum degree of autonomy. Is this emerging as one of the major considerations that the Constitutional Assembly faces or is it the major one?

JG     Not just with reference to KwaZulu/Natal. I think that was always going to be one of the major issues in the new constitution as compared to the interim constitution. The arrangement of the power relations and the constitutional arrangement between the provinces and the centre independent of what KwaZulu Natal may pose as a possible threat, so that was always going to be the crucial, the shape and form of the South African state and that has in fact proved to be so. Yes, so quite independent. You might have noticed that in the first period of the new constitution also the provinces where the ANC was the majority party were acting more and more like federalists, so it was not simply a matter of party political differences but that provinces and the apparatchiks in the provinces started to develop vested interests or develop interests in provincial structures. So, yes, it is a question and I think that's going to be a major debate still before we get to the final constitution.

POM     If the IFP continue to boycott the Constitutional Assembly and if they vociferously object to what the final constitution says what are the repercussions in terms of having the largest province, in terms of population at least, in the country withhold its support from a new final constitution?

JG     I think as happened before the elections in 1994 ways will have to be found, and I am sure ways will be found, to accommodate the differences in approach between the IFP on the one hand and the other parties. At the moment it does not seem to be all of the political initiatives between the ANC and the IFP for example, at one point they were going to exchange their constitutional proposals but that doesn't seem to have happened. This whole matter has not been dealt with in government yet. It is being dealt with between the two parties at this stage but there will just have to be some political interventions and initiatives. At the moment the concentration as far as KwaZulu/Natal is concerned is with bringing the security situation under some kind of control. Also from the part of the Constitutional Assembly the attention goes towards finalising a draft constitution and I think thereafter one will probably see greater attention to managing the differences that may emerge.

POM     Do you see this constitution that will come out of these deliberations as being kind of a fine tuning of the interim constitution or a constitution that may be radically different in some respects?

JG     I think there are certain constitutional principles which have been agreed, will have to be abided by in the final constitution and you know that the Constitutional Court will or can also rule on the degree to which the final constitution meets those prior obligations. So there are limits to which the new constitution can differ from the interim constitution. But the arrangements of the relationships between the provinces and the centre, that's one possibility where there may be differences. There is an ANC proposal, for example, and I must be careful, I can't speak for the ANC so I must carefully paraphrase what I understand of their proposals, down-scaling of the provincial governments and bringing those powers and functions to a greater extent into the Senate, where Senate is the body that deals with provincial matters. So that is one possible rearrangement of the relationship between the provinces and the centre.

POM     The Premiers of the provinces, I wouldn't think, would give their support to such a proposal. As you said, there's nothing like the taste of power to feed one's appetite for more power.

JG     Although I think there may be a realisation that creating this kind of even semi-federal system is much more complicated than might have been suspected and that the developmental needs - it's quite difficult to meet that with these devolved provincial structures. I think there is a greater realisation now that it's not that easy just to be in power and run a province.

POM     This is a two part question. One relates to criticisms that I've heard repeatedly that what the government lacks is managerial skills and this is why delivery is so slow, it's why quorums don't turn up in parliament, that there is difficulty is making the process run smoothly because managerial skills simply aren't there. That would be one comment. Two is that the cream of the talent, so to speak, is in the National government. It's where most of the ANC leaders, the trade union leaders opted to be in national parliament rather than in provincial parliament. When you get to provincial parliament level the level of efficiency and capacity to deliver is much, much lower than it is at the national level. And then you get down to local government where one would think that the absence of talent would be even greater than at the other two levels yet the local government is being touted as the main vehicle in which the RDP will be delivered. So in a way one is looking at what is potentially the weakest structure of government in terms of skill and capacity to deliver what is the most important element of the national plan for recovery.

JG     I would be careful about simple catch-all explanations like lack of managerial capacity, explaining everything in those terms. I think one has got to disaggregate these things a little bit more. For example you mention parliament and quorums in parliament. I think it would be quite unfair towards parliament to paint it in the un-nuanced way as it had been done. I think parliament does need to check up its management, its organisation, but that too is the result of the fact that we really have a parliament that tries to operate democratically now much more than the previous parliament. With the committee systems really now being public hearings, with the open and transparent way of operating, and that often clashing with plenary sessions, so there are those things, it's not simply lack of managerial capacity, there are a lot of complicating factors in it, it's not all just negative, there are many positive ones to it. But yes there is, there is a recognition in government that one of its major problems is lack of capacity particularly in the provinces, capacity in the civil service, capacity in the so-called delivery agencies and that needs to be addressed through training and other means of rationalising the bureaucracy. The government also has got to find ways of utilising existing expertise from the old order, motivating that expertise to work towards the delivery of the new while at the same time changing the racial and gender composition of the civil service. So those are complicated challenges, on the one hand making the civil service more representative, on the other hand retaining what is good and the best from the old order.

     As far as local government structures are concerned, it's not clear, we haven't actually tested that, it's not clear to me that the delivery capacity is necessarily going to be that bad at the local government structures. It may be that that provides the opportunity for tapping into the talent which there is at the grassroots, at the community level. But it would be premature for me to predict that that will happen in that case. The delivery there may in fact be much more hands on delivery whereas I think a lot of the delays at the other levels have been planning delays. The national RDP for example spent a lot of time putting plans in place because it didn't just want to rush into spending of money, falling into the debt trap. So I think there also needs to be some generosity in judging the structures. You know it's eighteen months and I don't think that people must always expect delivery, whatever, delivery has also become a catch phrase. The transformation of our society is going to be a longer term thing. But, yes, there is general recognition that particularly in the provinces capacity building is essential.

POM     Do you think that South Africa is held to a different standard than other countries in Africa? That too much, like you say it's eighteen months into the transition and if one looks at the last four or five years at one level the changes have been absolutely remarkable, that there is a tendency to put an emphasis on the negative, on what's not working or not being done rather than accentuating the great accomplishments of the last couple of years?

JG     Well yes, there is a lot of critical assessment but that's not necessarily a bad thing. If we are being judged by different standards from the rest of Africa that may be a compliment to the country and it may be a compliment that we pay ourselves too because a lot of the criticism comes from South Africa. The South African media for example is quite critical and that may be a compliment that we are paying ourselves, that if Africa is the failure that people present it to be then we don't want to be judged by those standards and we are putting particular demands on ourselves. I don't think that's a bad thing. It speaks for the self-confidence of our democracy that we do that. I think the thing that may worry politicians about that is that it could lead to growing disillusionment and restiveness amongst the populace, but I don't think there's much sign of that, that people are becoming insurrectionary restive. I think there is a healthy democratic demand that governments do what they promise to do. So I'm not actually worried by that. On the contrary I think if we continue to put those demands and standards to ourselves so much the better.

POM     Yet here you had a parliamentary committee that recommended the doubling of the salaries of MPs. Given the acknowledged lack of delivery of services over the last eighteen months how could a parliamentary committee be so out of touch with the sensitivities of ordinary people as to recommend doubling their own salaries?

JG     I actually didn't even follow that because I didn't really know whether that was serious or important, I'm not even sure which committee that was or whether it was a number of MPs coming together because I'm not aware that there is a structure which has the capacity to do that. There is a statutory structure that will make recommendations to the President about salaries, there is a commission on the remuneration of political office bearers which the constitution sets up. So I'm not even sure what that structure was. But I heard yesterday in Cabinet that that had in any case been repudiated immediately by the Whips in parliament. In Cabinet yesterday we very firmly said with regard to the nurses' demands that there would not be any increases this year and that goes for everybody and made the comment too that in as far as our parliamentarians think that there can be a wage increase for them it should be communicated that there just is not money for that. So I'm not sure, really I didn't even follow that up because I'm not sure that there is a parliamentary structure with the statutory capacity to do that. Perhaps I was wrong but I actually, when I heard about it, thought about it as almost informal trade union talk rather than anything with statutory capacity.

POM     Talking about the nurses for a moment, when the strike took place at Bara and the other hospitals in the region, they were not strikes organised by trade unions as such, they were kind of ad hoc coming together of people with common grievances and you see this quite a bit in the public service sector; policemen go on strike and I think somebody told me that President Mandela's bodyguards even went on strike. Maybe that's just a myth or whatever, but that there seems to be a kind of a disintegration in the public service sector where people take actions that are not commensurate with the level of their grievances. To say we will allow people to die because we want a wage increase is only a symptom of something much deeper.

JG     I think just taking the nurses as one example, I think it is a symptom amongst other things of the unhealthiness of lack of organisation because you're right, the nurses on strike are a largely unorganised group which reflects upon the lack of legitimacy of the Nursing Association I think it's called who are supposed to represent the nurses in the central bargaining chamber. What has come out of all of this, what emerged was that that old largely white dominated structure from the past doesn't have the legitimacy. Neither NEHAWU, the Health & Allied Workers' Union, it seems have not organised properly in that sector. I think what it does emphasise amongst other things is that a well functioning society is one in which people in civil society are also well organised. Strikes as such, of course, are not a very uniquely South African thing. I remember some years ago when Britain was going through many strikes we were sitting here wondering how the hell does society survive all of those strikes. So democracies like our own which have been built very much on the contribution of the trade unions as well, must expect to have industrial liveliness. I think the challenge is for people to organise themselves and with the new Labour Relations Bill, for example, for us to be able to build lasting partnerships and the way that we deal with our grievances. So, again, I'm not totally surprised at the phenomenon which you describe. I think it's somewhat a predictable function of our new freedom as well as a search for new structures of expressing people's feelings and grievances.

POM     I want to go back for a moment to the local elections. Every person I have talked to this time round has had difficulty in explaining to me what the electoral process is. I'd like you to tell me your understanding of how the process works, one. And two, how did South Africa manage to move in eighteen months from one of the simplest electoral processes in the world which was the April 1994 elections to one of the most complex, and if educated people and experts and members of parliament and ministers all have slightly different or completely different interpretations of how the process works, how in God's name is the average citizen supposed to know how it works?

JG     Look I'm not going to pretend to be an expert on that either. Some time we will have to vote and vote in our representatives of the local government structure, but what we have is part of the complicated and intricate negotiations with regard to transition. We are acting currently under the Local Government Transition Act so we are really in the process of transition. I think one explanation for that is because of the racial geography of South Africa and that the two principal parties in the negotiations, representing by and large the old white order and the emerging black order, had to negotiate ways of ensuring a relatively stable transition which both protected the interests of the old group against too much of a rupturous change and also protecting the emerging interest against simple retention of the old order. So I think the complexity comes out of the fact that it is again part of the complicated negotiations at Kempton Park.

POM     But do you think if one goes among ordinary people and one asks them about local government they have very little idea of what local government is. I've gone into townships and talked to people about what is local government, they have very little idea what it is. How will your voting system work? They have no idea at all. It's like talking higher mathematics to them. How do you get over that in the short period of time? It's just two months left.

JG     The voter education has probably not been as intense as it has been before the national elections. But if you think back and perhaps if you read in some of your interview notes too you might have found similar concerns where the people understood the voting system. You remember we had this big argument about whether there should be one vote or two votes for the national elections and how terribly complicated simple people were going to find it, and in the end we had one of the lowest percentage spoiled votes. I think there is largely a lack of similar interest in the local government elections and that doesn't surprise me too. I mean April 1994 was almost an orgasmic experience and to ask people to have a similar passion again a few months later is perhaps asking too much. But this is about setting up local government structures and I think we must go through this process and have the structures and then people get involved in government near to them. I think it's going to be easier for people to feel a kind of tangible connection once those local government structures are there. You must also remember that most of us had never participated in elections generally, but local government elections had either been something which was only for whites or we had these discredited quasi structures which none of us really participated in. So that's also part of the explanation for the lack of enthusiasm. But I think we must actually wait and see until we get into the local government election campaign and see whether that does something to people's enthusiasm and understanding. I must quite frankly admit to you that it was very late in the day when I first got around to registering as a voter and I sometimes still have to go and sit down and see exactly what I do and what I vote for when it comes nearer to the time. I just think there has been general - yes, after April 1994 not a similar excitement about another round of elections.

POM     People have expended their passions and their excitement. It's difficult to rise again to the occasion. One thing that has always puzzled me, and I may have asked you this question before, but how did Saatchi & Saatchi end up with the account, the advertising account for local government? Here was a firm that was, I won't say notoriously, involved with Margaret Thatcher, but represented the National Party and then was entrusted with one of the vital tasks of communicating what local elections were all about to the people and it seemed to do a singularly poor job. How were they selected?

JG     I really don't know. It's been totally outside of our office.

POM     Reading the signs and you would say, "If you want clean water, if you want this - register". It didn't even say "Register to vote", it just said "register". And to the average person, again, what does the word register mean when they have never registered in their entire lives?

JG     I don't even know who would have been responsible for that decision, whether it was the Department of Constitutional Development & Provincial Affairs or whether it was the Task Group that was involved in the Masakhane campaign, I really don't know.

POM     Let me turn to the interview President Mandela gave a couple of days ago on the occasion of 500 days in government and the quote in The Argus said he blamed the media for the impression that most of his attention was given to whites, saying white editors and owners glossed over his work for the majority and focused on gestures towards conservative whites. Then he also said, and this is a direct quote from him, he said, "My task is to unite the country, to prevent whites from leaving with their skills which should be put to use here." The two seem kind of contradictory in a certain way. But do you think there is any organised conspiracy, not organised, even a disorganised conspiracy among white publishers to put the emphasis, to play up what President Mandela has done for whites to reassure them to stay in the country, that they are being treated as equal citizens? And why would they want to do that at the expense of pointing out his other achievements? What is the end game?

JG     I don't know, I'm not very much one for conspiracy theories. I don't actually believe that there is a conscious or even an unconscious conspiracy in the press in that regard and I'm not sure that the President intended saying that either. He is world-wide, probably what he projects most is the great conciliator. That comes over a lot in the media. But even The Citizen yesterday or the day before had an editorial where it praised the President very much and was even-handed in its praise both for holding the country together and attending to black people. No, I don't think that there is - it's just that certain things catch the eye. I mean the President going to see Mrs Verwoerd is a lovely piece of copy. So, no, I do not ascribe to the view that there is a conscious conspiracy to portray blacks as being dissatisfied or neglected. I don't see why that would be done. That wouldn't serve anybody.

POM     But at the same time he also said one must take into account that the media is controlled by whites and that the element of racism is still there.

JG     Well yes, again you are asking my own view, I can't speak for the President. People's experiences, the way that we see the world, the way that we relate to the world, that we portray the world, all of these things are obviously influenced by one's background as well and that the press is predominately white it would obviously affect the way the things that they see, the things that they report, the market that they think they are talking to. Again, I wouldn't necessarily ascribe that to active racism but the fact of our racial segregation, our racial differences, the different lives that we've been living, must affect our activities or actions, our words, our pictures.

POM     But many black columnists have said the same thing, that too much emphasis is being put on trying to appease the white community and that the black community in general, not looking at any specific thing, is disturbed at this tendency of the government to pay more attention to the concerns of whites than to the needs of blacks. Do you think that's a fair or unfair criticism?

JG     You mean by journalists generally? I'm not sure what you're asking me, whether it is correct to blame the press or whether the press are making valid criticisms.

POM     In fact there are two because there is a slight tendency to blame the media. Thabo Mbeki has done it on a number of occasions and the President just in those remarks. When I say he blamed the media for the impression that most of his attention was being given ...

JG     I think what the President is saying, I don't think the President is a media basher. I don't think one could generalise and say that the President blames the press. I think the President's comment, I haven't read his whole interview but I'm just judging from what you say, is that the media contributes, can contribute to the perception that he is only doing things for whites which is not true. Factually that is not true that he is only doing things for whites. As he has said and pointed out that the changes that have come about have been mostly for blacks. I suppose whites would be able to point out that there have been more negative changes in their lives. So now if you ask me the one question whether it is true that nothing is being done for black people and everything is being done for whites, no it is palpably not true. The question whether the press portrayal does contribute to that perception, yes probably and again not necessarily in an actively racist way because you say many black columnists have been saying that for a long time.

POM     I know the question I wanted to ask you that I'd forgotten. What if on 1st November two million unregistered black voters turn up at the polls and want to vote and are told that they have to be registered to vote and they say, "Well nobody ever told us that, why can't we vote now?" What do you do with those voters?

JG     Well I can't answer that, I suppose that's what the Department of Provincial Affairs will have to think about. All I can say is South Africa came through the IEC experience and established a democracy. I'm sure we'll find ways to deal with that but I don't know what they will do practically. I've got a great confidence in our capacity, as Simon Barber said rather acidly, that South Africans have this remarkable capacity to bumble through and somehow land on their feet.

POM     Mm, we start quoting Simon Barber! Let me turn again back to KwaZulu/Natal, I suppose it disturbs me about the lack of attention that appears to being given to the problem, it's like more of an attitude, well if the IFP want to walk out of the Constituent Assembly that's their problem. Whereas to travel around, like just this weekend and hear Dr Buthelezi and other leaders, they were talking, whether for public consumption or not, something very close to sedition. He has moved from federalism to autonomy to the right of self-determination which is at least a rhetorical escalation of what he is promulgating. Why is the threat of secession not taken seriously?

JG     I wouldn't say it's not taken seriously. I think there are a number of constraints on KwaZulu/Natal being able to secede successfully. Economically it won't survive and the industrialists, the economic powers in the province are certainly not backing that. Dr Buthelezi at the time had strong support from the sugar barons and other people in KwaZulu/Natal, I don't think he will have it for that. So there are real constraints on secession. But it's not as if it's not taken seriously. As I said to you I think the attention now is on addressing in the first place the security situation in KwaZulu/Natal because a lot of the kind of politics, almost pre-modern politics as being conducted in KwaZulu/Natal is related to the security situation there with the coercion, intimidation, no-go areas. On both sides, there are no-go areas for the IFP as well in the province. So the attention at the moment is addressing the security situation.

     As far as the political aspect is concerned the IFP tried to make of international mediation the main issue, which really is a red herring. Our own view was that it probably could have been addressed but on the other hand there was a view that the country could have been drawn down that red herring trail again by focusing on international mediation. The question to the IFP was, tell us what are the things that we need to mediate about and then we'll do that, which they didn't do. But I am sure that at some point, once the security situation is sufficiently, or felt to be sufficiently, addressed and the constitution making process both in central level and in the province because the province is also doing their thing about the constitution, that there will be the political interventions. I understand that at the provincial level there are in fact quite concerted efforts at a multi-party approach to some of these problems, that at the regional, the provincial level there are serious attempts to bring the old SPUs and SDUs and self protection units and the self defence units together. The Minister of Police reported on that and that the executive and the legislature in the province are trying to get some multi-party consultations and meetings. But you are right, my own feeling is too that there should be a bit of more concerted political intervention in the province. What the substance of that would be I don't know, I don't pretend to be sufficiently versed.

POM     Why not have international mediation where you bring your international mediators here, they sit around the table, they hear the presentations from the ANC and the IFP and they say, there's nothing to mediate, and the IEC has lived up to its obligation that it would go to international mediation and it doesn't say that it has to accept what comes out of that mediation, and the mediators can say, we don't understand why you even have us here.

JG     Yes, that's one way to do it.

POM     They've lived up to their promise so they can't be held responsible.

JG     The promise was, as I understand it, that they mediate outstanding matters and that the ANC was saying let's put those outstanding matters on the table and then let's get mediation on them.

POM     The IFP would say they have put them on the table many, many times. They list up to twelve issues that they say are outstanding. But it seems to be, again, an issue that is resolvable.

JG     I'm not sure whether one must really assume it's so resolvable. Without getting into the party politics of it, but the IFP does have the capacity and the inclination to as soon as it gets on to a thing to slide further and further and further into that morass of inextractable matters. And I think that was part of the ANC wariness about it, they said, put some real concrete matters on the table. And that's also the National Party position. I saw a letter which Deputy President de Klerk wrote to Mr Buthelezi early on in the life of the new government to say, look we had agreed that we would mediate outstanding matters but circumstances have changed, do you think there are still these necessities for mediation? But, OK, the point is, my view too personally, that I think the sooner the parties do something to get that thing behind them the quicker we can move. But that matter has not been brought into government. It's being dealt with as a matter between three parties, amongst three parties.

POM     Do you think it should be brought into government? That to me would seem to be an issue of the most pressing concern.

JG     I think it's a matter that really needs to be picked up again energetically between the ANC leadership and the IFP leadership as part of their respective constitution making processes and then at some point being brought as a more formal matter to government or between the Constituent Assembly here and the KwaZulu/Natal constitution making body. But there needs to be some formal taking up of contact about the matter.

POM     You said a couple of minutes ago that KwaZulu/Natal wouldn't try to secede, wouldn't have the economic capacity to do so.

JG     Wouldn't have the backing of the business people in the province.

POM     But do you not think one of the lessons of what was Yugoslavia was that in matters of this rationality plays absolutely no role whatsoever, that the people in Yugoslavia, Bosnian Serbs, whatever, have decimated themselves economically ...

JG     Oh yes indeed, I know that.

POM     - with no particular concern to economic growth or whatever.

JG     There's always a possibility that people will act irrationally. I just think given the social and political forces in the province it's going to be difficult for one party and one grouping to be able to pull off secession. But I'm not saying that one should not take it seriously and I think it should be addressed seriously both as a security measure and as a political matter.

POM     Are you personally satisfied now that enough evidence has been produced to vindicate the allegation of the ANC in the pre-1994 election that there was a third force orchestrated with the approval of the National Party government at the highest level and that this accounted for most of what was called black on black violence?

JG     Well highest level, I wouldn't express myself on which high level and who knew what. There was systematic state involvement in the fomenting of conflict situations. Yes, I think that's pretty well accepted.

POM     Now what would now account for "black on black" violence?

JG     Are you talking about Natal again? It's a continuation of the old conflict between the ANC and IFP. It's a complicated situation. The unemployment, poverty, gun smuggling, illegal trade in firearms in that province with it's bordering on more than one country, the remnants of the SDUs as well as the SPUs, the fact of no-go areas, the self-entrenchment of patterns of violence. It's a complicated situation which grows out of the history of the province in which the formantic of the conflict would cause a crucial part not simply the only part.

POM     As Secretary to the Cabinet what would you like to see done differently than is being currently done?

JG     In KwaZulu/Natal?

POM     Not just KwaZulu/Natal, in general.

JG     The interim constitution and the government of national unity makes for a managerially rather rambling outfit. Perhaps we need to establish some clearer loci of managerial authority of government. We are very democratic, consultative, almost federal in our national government with the different departments and all of that. I think we need a little bit of pulling together of the locus of authority to be able to drive certain things in government. While obviously a situation like crime, I think, needs to be addressed very assertively and concertedly and then KwaZulu/Natal remains the big problem where I actually think we need a decisive kind of political intervention coupled to the security intervention because I am convinced without firm security intervention the situation is going to continue to linger on the way that it does.

POM     It's eleven o'clock. We have to go. Once again, I've hundreds more questions but they will have to wait for another time. Thank you as always very, very much. I told you I'm extending the study now to the year 2000? I don't know whether that letter got to your table or not, because I went to my publishers and said it doesn't make sense to stop at 1998. You've got to cover in effect the Mandela era, five years before and five years afterwards, there's a new election and that's the finishing point, a new turning point. The other thing I think I wrote to you under separate cover and that was, again, an interview with the President that the last time went around in such circles. I chased two months from person to person and then found out that it had ended up with a committee who had turned it down and it's my own strong feeling that if this were brought to the President's attention and he knew that all his old comrades and everybody who was on Robben Island with him is part of it, that he in fact would see that it has historical significance.

JG     Yes, I also thought so but I told Joel Netshitenzhe, you must speak to him directly, he's handling communications, and I very strongly recommended to them that they fit it in. They run the President's media scheduling and they obviously look at the overall map of things, and I told Kathrada also to tell him that I think that they must do it.

POM     Who's the person who's head of the media?

JG     Joel Netshitenzhe, have you been in contact with him?

POM     Yes I talked with Joel and then he said it would be sent on to somebody else, then I got to Mary.

JG     Well Mary just puts it in the diary. Speak to Joel. I've spoken to them.

POM     Would it possible for you to just personally put a word in the President's ear?

JG     Well the President doesn't involve himself with the details of his life.

POM     I can imagine why! It would be really sad if I end up talking, as I have now, with everyone except the President himself who is an astute student of history and has a very fine sense of the historical moment. For his voice not to be heard would diminish the work.

JG     I agree.

POM     I've spent ten years of my life doing it and I think my investment in the country and my sincerity and commitment to what I'm doing that it kind of disappointed me.

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.