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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
13 Dec 1995: De Lille, Patricia
POM Patricia, let me ask you first, the last time I interviewed you was in 1993 in Kempton Park. What's changed in your personal life and your political life and in the country's life since that time?
PDL That's a very broad question but I'll try. Personally, for myself, we've moved away, not moved away but had to change from liberation politics to parliamentary politics. After the World Trade Centre we went out, prepared for elections, had elections in April and then became part of the National Assembly here in Cape Town. So personally for me there is a change of getting into a more structured type of politics where there are certain rules in Parliament and you have to obey those rules, which I personally didn't find very easy, it disciplined me in many ways. At a political level a lot has changed. I don't think that I have been able to absorb everything. There is, of course, the whole framework of the new interim constitution which affects the lives of everybody. There is transformation, transformation while we are in a transition at the moment and just so many other issues. Unless you want to be more specific?
POM Oh, I will be in time as I get on.
PDL And then for the country, the country has been celebrating for months after the election and the establishment of the new democratic order and it took some time before the country got down to saying that we are in charge now, we should start working. But as far as, I would say, the majority of the people are concerned, the change has not been felt yet. It has been felt in many different ways in different parts of the country but if I can generalise I will say that that change must still be filtered down to the African people.
POM What's happened to the PAC? It did very poorly in the general elections and it did even more poorly in the local elections and many people say that it's kind of destined for the political scrap heap.
PDL Let me just say, and I'm not trying to make excuses for poor performance but rather to address the factors which have an influence on the performance, if you look first of all at the 1994 elections we were just not mature enough and able enough to deal with election politics, the preparation for elections, the co-ordination, the organising, putting an electoral structure together countrywide. And it was such a massive task, the mistake we made, I think, was that we've put more emphasis on the political message rather than spending more time and putting more effort in putting together election structures all over the country because if you analyse the day after, you see that what is important is that the message comes to about 5% of what you're supposed to be doing, so we were not well prepared at all. We really went in there unprepared and that was the result. But not only that, there was also the issue of personalities. You had President Mandela, you had President de Klerk and at leadership level, especially with President Mandela there were very few leaders who could actually match him, that you could run a campaign around your leader. There was just no comparison with President Mandela. And then, of course, we also had a problem of resources and international funding dried up and so on.
Coming now to the local government elections, with the local government elections first of all there was a different Act governing the local government elections whereby we now had a voters' roll, you had to register your party in a particular ward of constituency to participate in the elections. Now the PAC, if you take the example of the Western Cape, the elections in the Western Cape except the metropole, there were about, say, 200 different wards where elections took place and the PAC only registered to participate and contest the elections in 20 of them. In other areas where we have registered candidates they were disqualified for not paying rent, for being in arrears, and they were disqualified for various reasons. So in the end we actually only contested 20 seats and out of the 20 wards we were able to obtain four seats. When the comparison is made and the analysis is made they will say out of 200 the PAC only got five seats, and not out of the 20 which they registered to participate in. That is the difference with local government.
Here in Cape Town, as you know, and even in KwaZulu/Natal the elections will take place next year in May and again we've learnt a lesson. We have to ensure that we are registered in the different wards to participate there. We have to ensure that we've got candidates that are up to date, that meet the requirements by the law which we have not done. We actually accepted people were honest, to say OK I'll stand, and not knowing that these people were not up to date with their rates and so on.
I had an opportunity for the month of October, from 15 September and the whole month of October, I travelled to the Free State, the North West Province, Gauteng Province, Mpumalanga and then the Western Cape, where I was able to make an assessment of how prepared we were for elections. I found that very little preparation was done, preparation in the way or organising of infrastructure and so on, and again the immaturity of our members in being prepared to take on, to get involved in the elections. So the same thing in the different provinces. I was shocked to find that in a province like Mpumalanga, for instance, we were not registered to participate in Nelspruit, in Valencia. There are quite a number where you've got a high concentration of voters, we were actually not even registered to participate there now.
You know how the local government elections were structured? By a certain date you have to do this, by another in a month's time, and our people have completely just ignored those deadlines and they were not registered and so on. So we were registered to participate in very few of the wards countrywide. In most instances where we did participate the candidates themselves ran completely their own election campaign, they had no assistance from a national office, there was not a national fund put together to assist the various candidates in the different localities. So, again, we have learned from that, although it's a bit sad that it took us two elections to actually now say, but we have to do more groundwork, groundwork in that we need to concentrate more on preparations for elections.
POM What has the PAC been doing in those two years? You're talking about a party that sounds as though it's in total disarray.
PDL No, no, it is in disarray, it is in disarray. The morale of the members of the PAC was very low after the 1994 elections. It took them some time to get over that and by the time they got partly over that they then had to start preparing for local government elections. It is just very, very, poor organising, very badly organised. No it's true.
POM I know that recently the student wing of the organisation called for a replacement of the present leadership.
POM And it begs the question, this leadership seems ineffective. Even the president in a poll, I think just before the local elections, showed that he was trusted by 5% of the voters, respected by 30%, feared by 5%, disliked by 27% and unknown by 34%. That's not exactly a high profile and there are no other national names that come immediately to the tongue when you talk about the PAC. Is it not time to turn the organisation over to a new generation of younger, more visible - I know that's a difficult question and I'm publishing nothing until the year 2000, but I think it's a question that has to be addressed seriously.
PDL I can't agree with you more. We've done so after the 1994 elections, we then went to a Congress, Annual National Congress last year in Mmabatho in December, and then the membership again evaluated our performance in the 1994 elections and certain resolutions and decisions were taken as to how to deal with the problem. Now the current leadership will be measured and assessed against what we've decided in 1994 and we are going for a congress in 1996, April of 1996, that's where the assessment will take place. And this time, because the last time when we made an assessment there was always this hope that it might improve, that things will come better, that people will start working harder because at the bottom of all of this it means hard work. In April when they make the assessment the people will have to decide. There are a lot of problems with leadership, there is a feeling that leadership is not leading, leading from the front you know. Leadership is not visible. And that applies for national leadership, it applies to regional leadership and it applies to branch leadership.
So I don't have the answer but I'm almost certain that when we go for congress next year we will have to now come up openly and honestly, I think we owe it to the nation. If we have failed then let's say we have failed, we are starting afresh. We are starting afresh with new leadership, with new ideas, trying to adapt to the transition and the whole transformation of the country. There is no way that if you want to be in the political game that you cannot be alive to the changes. You have to adjust almost on a daily basis to get into the mainstream of politics. PAC has been stuck in a type of politics which is still like during the liberation days when you had no responsibility, you were there to raise issues on behalf of the people. Now it has changed, it's the issue base now. You have to take up the problems of the people, it's as simple as that. And PAC will have to take a serious look, a very, very serious look.
POM If I were to ask you how the PAC intrinsically is different from the ANC?
PDL Different in what way?
POM With regard to policy, with regard to the manner in which it would like the direction of transformation to go in terms of dealing with the realities of the outside world. It's one thing to have a set of policies but we now live in a global village and you can't have policies that are isolated from the rest of Africa or from the rest of the world for that matter.
PDL Well I think the difference with us and the ANC now of course is the ANC is in government, we are not. The aims and objectives are very much the same, we might differ as to how to get there and that comes in then with policies. We had right in the beginning up front said to the ANC we will support you where we agree with you, we will work with you to rebuild, to reconstruct the country because our aims and objectives are the same in that we want to uplift the poorest of the poor, we want to bring relief to the majority of the people that we represent. But we also said that we reserved the right to criticise constructively as and when we feel that the way they are going it is not the way that we see it will be going. And then what we have done here at parliamentary level, we have always when we have disagreed with the ANC, when we have criticised what we see it's not going the way we think it should be, come up with alternatives. We have proposed alternatives, not just saying that shoot something down and say that is not right, we're rejecting it. We've said we are concerned about certain issues. The other process that we have started, because if you want to show the difference between the two organisations you have to have policies and that is another weakness within the PAC, there is hardly any written down policy, policies that can deal with the various issues and we have just started now about six months ago with a process of developing policies and we've completed six policy documents which will be taken to our conference next year for consideration by our members, so at least you have some uniformity and you are on the same level of thinking when it comes to policies.
POM If you had to point out the major policy differences, or differences in policy between yourselves and the ANC at the moment what would you point to as being the major policy differences?
PDL You know, let me first say, there is of course the ANC and then there is the government of national unity. If you look at, for instance, the ANC policy, the original one on the RDP what it was in the beginning from what it is now, it's been watered down a lot which has then become government policy because of the influence of Inkatha and the NP, so we had to distinguish between ANC policy and government policy although they did not always differ that much but there is a difference. And then, of course, some of the ANC policies are not very clear. You look at, for instance, let me start with the education, for education certain announcements were made by the State President, by the Minister of Education, like free schooling up to a certain age, the whole issue of language and culture within schools and so on but up to today you can't really find a complete explanation or a clear explanation of what this free education means. We are saying on the other hand from the PAC that the way we see it you should rather say that no child will be deprived of going to school because the parents are not able to pay, rather than to say it's free and that free cannot be clearly identified, from what age group up to what standard and so on. But then we have to go into detail in some of these things but education is one that we differ with. Then of course there is the whole issue of the economy.
POM On the economy where do you differ? The economy appears to be growing for the first time over a decade, international capital is flowing in for the first time, it's impossible to get a hotel room in Cape Town, it's impossible to get a plane to Cape Town. Certain segments of the economy have picked up enormously in the last couple of years, so where would you differ?
PDL I think there's a distinction that we draw here that if the economy is supposed to be growing as you claim it is the difference we want to see is that it must grow and that growth must be felt outside of the established people who benefited from the economy. When we look from the outside in, we see that it looks like it's the same people who are benefiting by the growth of the economy and the base has not been broadened to include, to reduce the unemployment figure, for instance. I mean unemployment is growing all the time so how do you measure the two, growth vis-à-vis unemployment? So we see it is the same people who are benefiting again from the growth of the economy but we do accept the point you raised earlier on about the global village, we're now part of this global village, Africa has now come out of the isolation that it has been in for many years. But what we want the government to ensure, the ANC to ensure is that the influx of capital and the growth of the economy, they must ensure that it's broadened, it's filtered down so that we can reduce the unemployment rate in the country.
Again there, if you look at the ANC's economic policy, there's no clear economic policy, there is the Minister of Trade and Industry, there is of course Public Enterprises, state enterprises and all of that. It becomes much more difficult to pin down any particular sector within the economy and say that is because the ANC economic policy is not working because it's so inter-related and it's so massive. And there again comes in the immaturity of the PAC now to deal with issues and analyse issues at that level. Rather the time when two years ago we were still a liberation movement and you could just look at it and say, no that is not going to work, but now actually things are being put in place and you have to be very vigilant, you have to scrutinise and the PAC is not doing that. I don't want to claim for one minute, say, look ANC policies are not working, when I don't have in my own mind a much more clearer picture of what exactly the details of those programmes are. Otherwise it will just sound like sour grapes if you continue criticising and say it's not working or it will never work. We still need within the PAC that capacity to enable the organisation to live up to the new demands they place on us and I think that is in one way or the other what some of the leaders, some of the membership in the PAC feel that we are not matured enough, we don't have the capacity to deal with and analyse properly all situations within the country.
POM I've talked to all the Ministers of Finance since 1990, and former Ministers of Finance, and they all say that the economy can grow and even grow up to maybe 5% a year if sufficient foreign capital comes in and the political situation gets more stable, but they all say that there is really no prospect of increasing employment, that there is no relationship between economic growth and employment. This has been shown in most European countries which grow at 3%, 4%, 5% a year but their unemployment rates have been stuck at 12% or 13% for the last decade or so.
PDL How do you explain that? I can't explain that.
POM Because one way that you grow is that you substitute capital for labour, technology takes the place of people. Many people would say that this is a high wage economy for its level of development, that if you look at your competitors in Poland or Brazil, not to mention Asian countries, that the level of productivity here is much lower, that the level of wages on average is much higher.
PDL Do you also consider the difference between what the actual work force is paid compared to what managers and chief executive officers earn in this country? They are at the level of quite high world standards and then the workers are not, comparatively speaking you can't compare a worker in Europe with a worker in South Africa who is earning far less, but then the chief executive officer of the same company will earn sometimes more than a chief executive officer in Europe. So there are also certain discrepancies here.
POM I agree with you on that but there's the larger point of the unions say we're out to get the best deal we can for our members, and many unbiased people, international economists, would say you have a choice to make, you can keep increasing wages in the unionised sector of the economy but if it's not matched by productivity in an international economy you're going to lose jobs, you're going to be uncompetitive. I even go the flea market here and I buy things in the flea market that are imported from Turkey and Malaysia and other countries, even small arts and crafts are more expensive here than they are in other places, so what do you do to get around that?
PDL Just explain, are you saying that the small business development, small, medium business enterprises are playing a role in the growth of the economy? Is this what you are saying?
POM I'm saying that they are not playing a sufficient role because they are not competitive with imported goods. Malaysia is generally used as the example of a country that's growing very quickly but it's labour force is highly productive whereas here the labour force is not considered to be very productive.
PDL I think we are sitting with a unique situation in this country, Padraig, whereby you have government, the workers and then the employers, where we are trying to achieve something that I can't remember as being achieved anywhere else in the world because the interests of the workers are not the same as the interests of government, it's not the same as the interests of the economy, of the people who want to make money, the capital bosses. If you look at the relationship between the government and the labour movement, in the labour movement the unionised workers comprise between 15% and 20% of the total work force in the country, but that is where things seem to be happening, consultation, there is the NEDLAC forum where they are supposed to bring the three groups together, and then trying to develop that understanding. But to me it seems that it's not workable at this stage because the unions have got to protect their base, the unions have to protect their workers, see that there are no job losses and the government, on the other hand, as you can see what's happening right now with privatisation and re-structuring, needs money to pay the debt of this country, and then you've got the employers themselves. I, personally, just feel that. I can't see how these three groups can be put together and come up with something that will benefit the country, benefit the country in that it will inject into the whole economy of the country, if you can reach an agreement with the unions that OK higher productivity, lower wages, but it is for the interest of the whole country.
The labour movement in South Africa is one of the strongest if not the strongest on the continent. You know I'm a trade unionist myself and I have seen how other unionists were neutralised in the rest of the continent. You look at President Chiluba, he was also a trade unionist and how powerful the trade union movement was in that country. South Africa is unique because a lot of the union leaders in government were also drawn from the labour movement and there is this issue of owing, government owes them something. We have put you into power therefore we are expecting you to take care of our interests. That is the bottom line that we're seeing that I see needs to be sorted out. How they are going to do it I don't know. Now, for instance, I was told in the meeting the day before yesterday with the minister, the union leaders within COSATU refused Sam Shilowa to participate in the debate. The younger trade union leaders are saying we are talking ourselves because you say one thing here and then you go out and you go and make a deal with the government. So there's also all kinds of tensions within COSATU but somewhere there an arrangement needs to be worked out to get the unions to accept the kind of plans that they have for the economy without the unions losing face with their membership and without losing benefits for their membership.
POM Is there an official PAC position on this or is that just your personal position on the whole question of wage increases and productivity and employment?
PDL Well it's my personal position, this is the way I see it at the moment. There is no official position from the PAC. We do have official response to the restructuring of state enterprises and the way we see that needs to be done. That is a PAC position, yes.
POM Now what's the difference between the PAC and the government on privatisation, for example?
PDL If you look at the debate taking place right now and what stage of the debate we are in, we're supposed to be at the stage whereby consultation must take place, all inclusive transparent consultation with all the stakeholders involved in state enterprises. Then the process had to go whereby there are also various sectorial task teams that were set up, there is the Minister of Public Enterprises, but in the end what was supposed to happen was that all this all inclusive process had to deliver some options of restructuring and privatisation, of which privatisation is but one facet of restructuring to the government of national unity, to the Cabinet. And they then had to look at those options and decide and consider the options. What we see happening now is the other way round in that the Cabinet has come up with a position and now this position must now be negotiated with the various stakeholders and that is where the friction comes in with the unions. I was at a workshop about a month ago where we had the chief executive officers of the parastatals and the unions and with the Portfolio Committee, they then gave us a report of how far they are and what their views are about re-structuring. And the first question really I put to them was, is this your view as the management or is it a joint view, management and workers? They said, no it's a management view. The minister, Stella Sigcau, that day admitted herself to not continuing with the process until such time that you have the joint management worker task force which must make one set of proposals to the process. That, of course, has not happened and therefore that's why you see the friction now because unions feel that they have not been consulted.
POM Can you see the PAC saying in a policy, there is going to have to be wage restraint because unless we restrain wages we're not going to be competitive internationally and unless we're competitive internationally we're not going to create jobs, so if we are going to create jobs then we're going to have to accept the fact that there is going to have to be wage restraint for a period of time? Can you see the organisation taking that position or will it say, well the problem is that management is paid too much?
PDL No, it will not be advisable because that will be the position taken by government.
POM Which position?
PDL The one you just outlined now. I think we must stimulate debate in this country. If that is the position coming from government I am sure you will get a different view from the Democratic Party, from the PAC, but I think those are the issues that need to be thrown open for public debate. So the PAC will not take exactly the position the way you outlined it now, that's more what government would outline. We will obviously respond to what they propose because they are the people who are in power at the moment, but I can't see the PAC going that route at all. Again it's my personal view, it still needs to be debated and discussed within the party itself.
POM The PAC is still perceived as being a radical party, whatever that means, I don't know these days but it's got that tag attached to it.
PDL It had many tags, that was just one of them, anything from racist to radical to left wing to far left, you name it. I think those are perceptions, those are tags that people would like to put into the PAC. I personally don't believe that radical in the sense that we have been running wild in this country, it's not true. I think we've made our contribution in a much more positive manner. We've participated in the World Trade Centre process, we've participated in the elections and how people come to that conclusion it is for themselves to decide.
POM Is this not a matter of ...?
PDL It's not a matter of concern to me. I think if radical means it's because you are speaking the truth, then so be it, because there's also the tendency of people not wanting to confront issues head on but having to politically patch it up and present it in a different way. I don't think many in the PAC have got the diplomacy to actually do things that way or say it that way.
POM Now on the one hand you talk about yourself as learning parliamentary politics rather than ...
PDL Like everybody else.
POM Like everybody else. On the other hand you are on record with some very radical statements of your own, like 'white teachers should be chucked out of black schools to make room' ...
PDL That's not true, unless you can show it to me, I can tell you that's not true, not the PAC.
POM Oh my, Patricia ...
PDL No, no, you're talking about AZAPO. That's not true. This is Zachias Moleti(?), the PAC's publicity and information secretary.
POM It's just incorrect?
PDL It's not PAC. I have seen PAC come out, the PAC spokesperson on education, Dr Tshabalala, he had come, that's why I said no because I know he was busy with this, and the PAC came out and that's the PAC spokesperson on education, he came out and he said the PAC does not support that. That is as far as I know. I didn't know about that statement but it's definitely not the PAC position.
POM That I just noted for the record in Invo(?) on 16 August 1995 which states that "The Pan Africanist Congress of Azania has come out in full support of the campaign by the Azanian student movement to have white teachers chucked out of black schools." As far as you know that's not PAC policy?
PDL It's not PAC policy, and if I can have a copy of that I can actually follow it up but definitely I know it's not.
POM I'll give you a copy. The other thing I came across, I've done my homework, it says "Invade farms", de Lille, The Star, this is on 31 July, it says, "PAC MP Patricia de Lille yesterday rejected the Truth & Reconciliation Commission and called for Nuremberg style trials in South Africa. She said the commission was flawed and the PAC did not recognise it." That's one issue I would like you talk about. The other one is that, "De Lille said PAC members should invade farms and take them by force. She accused the government of corruption claiming more than 36 provincial government cheques had mysteriously disappeared." Would you like to take each one in turn beginning with the Truth Commission and then the farm issue?
PDL Yes, let me go with the Truth Commission. On the Truth Commission we participated in the debate in parliament in the Justice Committee.
POM And you welcomed it first?
PDL Truth & Reconciliation Bill, in that, unfortunately I don't have the copy with me here now because I just had an interview about it yesterday so it's still at home, but the PAC had pointed out various sections within the Truth & Reconciliation Bill which we were not satisfied with. The first one was the whole tone of the bill, which is an Act now, and the even-handed doctrine, even-handed doctrine whereby those people who fought against apartheid and the people who fought in defence of apartheid are being treated at the same level. We said that the criteria should be different, that because apartheid has been declared a crime against humanity by the whole world that those who acted in defence of apartheid should be treated differently, and we actually see those type of crimes as criminal, looking at the international law and the Geneva Convention and all of that. On the other hand we said that those who fought to eliminate apartheid must be treated differently, but we also said that with the exclusion of those who acted excessively outside of their mandate, and we were specific in mentioning where people have raped, where people have enriched themselves, where people have violated excessively human rights and so on, those cannot be condoned by anybody because even internationally it's not condoned, it's dealt with. So we made those distinctions.
The other one we were concerned about and we expressed, also on the parliament record if you could maybe look in one of the Hansard's you will see exactly what we said on the Truth Commission. The other one was the composition. Cabinet was finally going to decide about the composition and not parliament, I mean the president was going to finally decide on that, and we felt that because it's going to be Cabinet it will then be considered to be political appointees whereby the government of national unity composition must be reflected in the composition of the Truth Commission and that's exactly how it turned out today. If you look at the composition of the panel who did the selection and then made recommendations to President Mandela you can see that coming through. And we basically said we are not looking for a majority truth, we are looking for the truth and therefore the process should be more open and not confined to finally being decided by the government of national unity. The other one we also objected to was the right of victims to sue which we also felt that maybe it's in conflict with their constitutional right and it is the same issue that's now being taken up by the family of Steve Biko, the Mxenge family and AZAPO challenging that particular provision within the Act.
POM You are saying that families should have the right to sue?
PDL Yes they should have the right to sue, and that has been taken away by that. On the issue of Nuremberg trials, what I have said is that the concept of Nuremberg trials must apply here. Now when people talk in this country about Nuremberg trials they automatically assume that people will be arrested, they will put up against the wall and they will all be shot dead. We said the concept must be applied in our country whereby we don't want revenge but you want retribution. People must be brought to book, justice must be seen to be done. And then how to operationalise the concept of Nuremberg? That should be decided by us and that is why the PAC say retribution and not revenge because we feel that if you at this stage do not go through that process, which is going to take long, it's going to be time consuming, but if you don't deal with it properly now you will be setting a precedent. What is going to stop the existing regime to do the same, and then when another regime comes in say that, you know but we've done this with the past one? So we must be careful not to set a precedent but deal with these issues properly. That is now on the Truth Commission. You can ask further questions if you think I have not addressed it.
POM Do you think people like FW de Klerk who was a key player in PW Botha's administration should be arrested and tried for apartheid crimes against humanity?
PDL I think it's acceptable world standard that the ruling government of the day must take responsibility for whatever happened in that country, direct responsibility in that the Nationalist Party was the ruling party at the time, they were ruling this country, therefore they have to accept the responsibility. Therefore people like De Klerk, like PW Botha, should take collective responsibility because what they will then find if you go deeper into the whole issue is that the generals who gave the instructions will say that they received instructions from higher up and then those people who actually carried out the murders they will say that they got their instructions from the generals. So you won't be able to single out only the person who finally in this chain of command committed the murder, or committed the crimes when that person can claim that, "I got the instruction", but that does not mean that that person himself can use that as an excuse because I think they also had the right to refuse to carry out 'unlawful' instructions. So that is why we say that direct responsibility must be taken by the government of the day and therefore De Klerk and all of them must take responsibility. I don't think it's good enough that if you've been a head of state that you can say, "I didn't know what happened", then you were not worth the position that you were in. "I can't take responsibility because I wasn't there at that particular time", you know, and if you say collective responsibility by the ruling party of the day or the ruling government of the day then you are able to deal with all those issues.
POM Well if they took collective responsibility should they be arrested and tried for crimes against humanity that were perpetrated during the National Party regime?
PDL I personally feel that those responsible for the atrocities must answer in one way or the other. Whether they are going to be tried, be taken to a court, be sentenced, that's completely a different question. At the end of the day justice must be seen to have been done in one way or the other. You know many of them are even stubborn today still, they are still defending apartheid like anything as if apartheid was not declared a crime against humanity. They are even guilty of it today even though they are not there any more. We can't just wish it away. We have to find as a country a mechanism that will deal with all those problems and as people come forward, because right now you must also look at the victims. What recourse is there for the victims to address this? We tend to concentrate on the perpetrators, how will the perpetrators get out of this thing? We tend to ignore the victims in the whole issue of the Truth Commission. That is why you see that families are taking the issues up themselves with the Constitutional Court and it will be interesting to see, I think we need to wait because the Constitutional Court is the highest and it's the most respectable body in this country, institution. We will have to wait and see what they are finally going to rule on the issue.
POM How would you apply that criterion to, say, the young men who were convicted of the killings in St James' Church, for example, when essentially civilians were gunned down?
PDL You see those issues are linked to the cut-off date. Remember out of the negotiated settlement what came out was the cut-off date. It was recognised that there was conflict in the context of apartheid. If you look at St James and then the cut-off date of 5 December 1993 was agreed to, the PAC objected, one, to that cut-off date because we said that is not the day when we actually got our freedom in this country, but the day should be 10 May, the day when President Mandela was sworn in, because technically speaking on 5 December the old regime was still in power. Now the St James issue, the St James Church one fell, I think it happened somewhere in June of 1993, so it was still within the cut-off date. Many other incidents happened, and I'm not looking at the content, I'm not trying to justify what happened at St James or what happened at the other places, but those issues were all linked to this cut-off date and therefore those people responsible were entitled to amnesty or indemnity, but you find that those people are in jail today because they were taken to a court of law, they were arrested, they were taken to a court of law and they were sentenced and the law took its course there. So those people could have claimed also today, that's just automatic for them that they should be indemnified. But we say no, because you were arrested, you were sentenced in the Supreme Court, in a court of law and that is where people are today, they are still in jail. I mean although people would like to link the PAC in this instance with the demand by the right wing to also shift the date to 10 May but the reasons for the right wing are completely different from the reasons that we have advanced.
POM How would you distinguish - they would say they were doing it for political reasons too? How do you distinguish between the murder of civilians in a church and say by a revolutionary army and the murder of civilians by a state regime? [What, since it's innocent people ...?]
PDL The only distinction I am making is the distinction that those who fought against apartheid and those who fought in defence of apartheid, that's the only distinction I'm making. I'm not making a distinction when it comes to murder. Murder is murder. When a person has been killed, a person has been killed and therefore we support the view that the law must take its course and therefore many of the PAC people are still in jail. But if you look at the right wingers and if you look at the people who fought in defence of apartheid, those people are still free today. Some of them are even in parliament. Some of them are even getting pensions, they are getting golden handshakes. You see the uneven treatment that's there? The perpetrators of all these crimes are really getting off much less severely than the ones who fought against apartheid. But we cannot condone murder by anybody.
POM Well that's one more of my pieces of paper. This is from The Star on 27 June and it says, this is from PAC Deputy President Peco(?), is that the correct pronunciation, he says, "Imprisonment of APLA members is not conducive for stability in this country." He was commenting on a case last week in which two members of APLA were jailed for 25 years each for murdering a white farmer and his daughter in August 1993. Peco says the killings had been a guerrilla operation. So he was saying essentially the murders were political, but you don't just gun down ...
PDL There again if you look at the underlying principle here, there again it's linked to the issue of the cut-off date. If you really wanted to apply the cut-off date in an even-handed manner there was no question about it because that is before the cut-off date, it would have been a clear cut for amnesty or indemnity. But it didn't happen and in most instances it's only with PAC, where PAC cadres were involved, where the National Party people coming up for trying to protect, or ANC people for instance, those things just applied automatically. There again you can't compare the PAC with National Party but you can compare them with the ANC freedom fighters. Why ANC freedom fighters got all the - relating to the cut-off date, get it just automatically. There was no question even, some of them were even released from jail, those who were sentenced already. But the same does not apply when it comes to PAC and that's the other issue. We had several meetings with the Minister of Justice. When I came back in July from Mpumalanga, when I visited a jail there, I found one PAC man that is just in jail, was found in possession of an unlicensed firearm, the charge against him was also being a member of a banned organisation and that man is still languishing in jail. And I also went to the Pretoria jail, the same thing there. There are just no more ANC freedom fighters because they have all benefited from the cut-off date.
POM Now did you bring this to the attention of the minister?
PDL Yes, we did.
POM Did he look into it?
PDL We have given him a complete list of people all over the country, all over the country.
POM And what has his response been?
PDL Well there's always that they are investigating it. Some people were released I think in Transkei about twp, three months ago but we continue talking to him on an ongoing basis about the various cases. The only one that is completely outside of the cut-off date is, if I can remember correctly, is the Heidelburg one, the Heidelburg Tavern. That incident is outside of the cut-off date and those people have been sentenced, they are in jail right now.
POM What kind of moral distinction do you make between say, a farmer and his daughter being gunned down in the name of the fight against apartheid and somebody who lives in a shack, a black person who lives in a shack and his daughter being gunned down by security forces in defence of apartheid? How can you justify just killing somebody?
PDL You are doing exactly the same, what I've said earlier on, that we've got a problem with the even-handed doctrine. I mean you are making exactly the same comparison. You are not saying that the number of people killed in the defence, in the fight against apartheid were in numbers far less than the thousands of people killed by those who fought in defence of apartheid. That is the moral of it. If you want to talk morals that is the moral of it and that is where the whole world has decried on a moral basis, have declared apartheid a crime against humanity. So if you want to get into incidences and making comparisons then the overlying factor and the overlying criteria should be, what was wrong? And what was wrong was apartheid, this even crime apartheid, unless you try and justify, which many people are trying to do now. At least today you hardly find anybody who say they supported apartheid in the past, everybody is now politically correct you know and says we never supported apartheid, we always felt towards the blacks and all of that. But that is the moral of it. Apartheid was completely immoral.
POM So on the question of the farms, that the farms should be taken by invaders and taken by force? Do you want to tackle that one?
PDL You know on that one what I've decided to do was, I don't fight with the media any more, I don't antagonise them. I just let them write now what they want to write. In that particular instance it hit the papers on a Monday morning because I spoke at a Hero's Day rally in Khayelitsha and I actually said to the people there, "I am hoping the media are listening to what I am going to say now because tomorrow they are going ..." Then the same Monday night the SABC invited me to come and explain what I have said and I said yes, the opportunity at least, I will reach a few million voters, a few million people on the television. What I said, and I had a paper with me, and I'll give you a copy and you can take it with you, I was making a comparison. You know PAC has got a slogan which says 'Iwzeletu iAfrika(?)', which means 'the land is ours'. I said to the people, you are saying 'izweletu iAfrika', do you know there is no land left, there is not land available? What land are you saying is still yours? I then quoted from a document which I got from inside a department, which I won't mention, documentary proof of what is happening just here in the Western Cape. You have got white farmers leasing farms from the government, say 20,000 hectares for R50.00 per year up till 1999. You have got a person leasing 65,000 hectares at very minimal amounts and in the same area where I led the campaign in Grabouw where the people wanted now - the government gave them alternative land but they had to buy the land and these people were charged ...
POM Is this the government of national unity?
PDL Yes. The people were charged, they wanted to sell the land to the people at something like R75.00 a square metre and a plot was going to work out something like R13,000.00 and if the people get a R15,000.00 subsidy from the government and R13,000.00 must go towards the plot of land, what do they have left to build the top structure? And I said this is the unfairness I'm talking about. While they want to sell to the poor people land at that price, this is what they are doing on the other hand. I then had the papers with me on television, I actually showed it to the people and that thing just died where it started because that journalist was just too lazy to say that this is the comparison that she has made. And I will give you a copy of it, this is what she has said. And the night when I explained it on television the following day the response was massive. In fact a person from the particular department where I got the information from wanted to ask me for the same information and I refused to give my information, because I had the original stamped copy. We left a photostat copy where that person found it for me. So I was sitting with the original with a government stamp on it and I said, "No I'm not giving my information to you". He said he would take me to court, where did I get the information. I said, "You take me to court, unless you can prove that the content is wrong then you can't do anything." So I then explained on national television and the debate just died down there.
Nobody ever thereafter asked me to explain why did you say invade the farms and all of that. We in fact, what I said at that rally, is that we as the PAC, we occupied land in Grabouw illegally because people refused to pay that high price for the land, they said they would rather take the land, and that is what happened and everybody knew in the country it happened. We occupied the land three times and three times we were evicted from the same land and I led the invasions there. I was on the spot there all the time so people that know the background and knew what happened in Grabouw, and then finally after three evictions they now say, OK you can have the land but this is what you must pay for land. And I said, "Where is the fairness?" But I've got a copy there of that document, I'll give it to you. You can see what really, when it comes to the land issue, is going on.
POM Just, Patricia, a couple of other things. When the PAC was launching its campaign for the local elections your president made a stinging attack on the ANC for its lack of delivery on its promises. The disorganisation, as you have described as being in the PAC, would make it very difficult to believe that the PAC if it were in government could deliver anything, so like it's criticising the ANC for saying you haven't delivered, you haven't done this, you haven't done that, but the PAC itself has no capacity to deliver the same things.
PDL Well I can't answer for him. What I can say is more or less the time that you say he made that statement it was like all over, there was just a general perception, especially in the media, that the ANC is not delivering, and various statements appeared in the media whereby money was given for RDP and it was returned or money not used and things like that. I can't answer for him but I think he might have based his argument on that. I've said earlier on that it is just not good enough for the PAC to criticise, it is just not good enough. If you want to criticise you must say that this is not going right but here is an alternative. And if Makwetu in that statement had just criticised without saying what the alternative is then I can't agree with him there because I always believe that if you say this thing can't work then you say we suggest or we propose this is the way it should be done.
POM But the party is not in that position yet. I asked you earlier what are the crucial ...
PDL No, but no other party is in a position to deliver except the parties that are in the government of national unity who have got control over the resources. What I'm saying is the role the PAC can play, with the implementation for instance of the RDP, the PAC must play a more active role within the communities so when there is money and resources available for the RDP the PAC must make an impact at that level and say, look instead of spending it on this, we suggest that it be spent that way, within the broader community, rather than standing aloof, outside, and saying you are not delivering.
POM Is the RDP in your view working or is it a lot of hype or is it up to doing the job it's supposed to do?
PDL Just looking at what has happened, just before local government elections, two, three weeks before the time there was this sudden announcement of projects all over the country, major ones which I personally saw as an electoral tactic by the ANC to say, look the RDP is working, it is delivering. I am also a member of the Portfolio Committee of parliament dealing with the RDP but as a committee itself we are not actively involved in the decision making as to how money must be spent, where it must be spent. That has been taken by the executive arm, by the Cabinet. Where we as the committee of parliament come in it's only where they need certain legislation to assist with the implementation of that programme. Then, of course, we are also involved with the PAC when we discuss budget, when they announce how much money is being set aside for the RDP and there we can also make our suggestions.
I would say as far as I can see, with the backlog that has been created over 48 years, it is impossible for any government, whether it's the ANC or PAC or NP government, to deal with that back-log in a year, even ten years. It is a process that is taking place. Now what has frustrated the process was the announcements, the marketing of the RDP, it was marketed very, very aggressively and that was not linked up to actual implementation, that is where the problem came in. I just felt that the concept of RDP was over-marketed, it is very well marketed. But when you go around the country you can actually see that very little of that good idea, it's a very good mission statement, it's a statement of values, but the implementation thereof must be balanced out with the concept.
POM So what should the ANC in government be doing that it's not doing?
PDL I just feel that the issue of RDP, how government is dealing with it - you know of course that there is no ministry for RDP, the RDP has been given to Jay Naidoo who is the Minister without Portfolio, and the process here at parliament is that all these ministers come once a year and they come and present their budgets to us and motivate why they need the money and how they are going to spend the money. Next year they must come back and account and say this is how we have spent the money. Now we are not getting an RDP budget coming to parliament because Jay is the Minister without Portfolio. This RDP has now to be funded by allocating resources from one department, re-budgeting, re-prioritising and all these words Jay is using, for him to run the RDP. We would like to see a situation whereby the RDP must be built into the various ministries. RDP naturally is part of the whole set up of government and so why not if now the Minister of Housing is responsible for housing, then her budget must allow her to deliver houses or she must deliver houses and come and account to parliament, and if she can't deliver then she must come back to parliament and say, I've not delivered. If she has done good then we can praise her, we can say, "Well minister, you have done a good job." We want ministers to take more responsibility because they have got a hell of a lot of authority so they must take the responsibility that goes with that authority and then build the RDP into the various departments rather than have a separate department for the RDP. And then also give it to the minister with no portfolio. We think proposing that last year we got support from even people within the ANC who also see it as too important a delivery strategy for the government to be dealt with in the manner that it's dealt with at the moment.
POM On the issue of gravy train, do you think there is a gravy train? Or is the gravy train any different than the gravy train in the past, or is it a creation of the media?
PDL There is a difference between the gravy train now and the gravy train of the past. The people who are now on this gravy train, let me put it that way, there are some, and I made a statement in parliament once which I see Tony Leon has borrowed from me, it's to say that there are some people who are even getting meat and gravy in the existing parliament because all the MPs of the previous government they are drawing two salaries monthly. They are drawing a salary pension and they are also drawing their parliamentary pension. So there is no way that you can compare all parliamentarians to be on the same because others are earning more and some of them are also in various companies, directors, some people are just very rich inside there. I think the government, the Cabinet ministers took the lead when they showed that they are taking a reduction in salary. I still strongly feel that, and I'm not saying that people are overpaid, but I am saying that we need to find a balance between the salaries of not only members of parliament but of public servants in general in relation to our GDP. Because if we are saying to the people out there, you must tighten your belts, we need assistance here, we need some sacrifices here, then we must be seen to be leading on that. We must lead by example. I think the gravy train issue has been overplayed by the media. In fact I know for a fact that many MPs are worse off than they were before they came here because of various reasons, having to maintain two homes, the travelling, the children. There are many MPs sitting with a lot of personal problems but at the same time the media has put out this perception that everybody is on the gravy train. I can assure you that that is not the fact of the case with everybody here. Some people are finding it very difficult.
POM One last question. Before the local elections everybody was criticising the ANC for its lack of delivery, the gravy train, it was one thing after another, yet it came out of the elections with just about the same level of support that it received in 1994. The PAC didn't even improve in its position, did even slightly worse. How would you interpret the results of the election? Why did the ANC end up doing as well as it did?
PDL I think your interpretation is not correct. If you can hear the example I put earlier on whereby 70% of the total electorate registered to vote, not the same number of people who voted in the 1994 election, only 70% registered to vote, out of that 70% you then had the 65% or so actually voted. So the numbers were substantially reduced. So if you say that the ANC got 62% of 23 million in 1994 and they now have 64% of 12 million, it is actually less people that voted. That is my analysis, that is how I analyse it. I think the media deliberately ignored that part of it. I think I have read one article where the media actually did that and said, look in fact support has decreased for all parties, it has decreased for all parties. Even if you take 1% of 23 million and 1% of 12 million and 1% of three million, there is a difference. So the ANC is a mass based organisation and they do have support and their support will not just vanish in 18 months. The ANC also has got a strong organisational structure you know. They've got a strong national office going, they've got structures in provinces and so on. They of course now have the advantage in they have ministers, MECs and MPLCs in the various provinces who can also assist, so the ANC's organisational structure is much better, if you want to compare it against the PAC. The PAC just can't match the organisational capacity of the ANC at all.
POM Do you think, just finally Patricia, that there is any danger of the country becoming a one-party democracy?
PDL I don't think so. If we maintain proportional representation I think part of the danger will be dealt with, but there is a possibility that the ANC will have such a convenient big majority that the other part of the 100% will merely be there to make noises and not be able to do anything effectively to maybe stop them when they want to take a decision. But we as the PAC have got no problem with majority rule. This is what we have always advocated. We were against an enforced constitutional coalition of government of national unity but we accepted it for the period of transition and after the period of transition then the majority party must rule. If the ANC get in in the 1999 elections, if they get 62%, let me just put an example, 62% of the vote, they should be entitled to appoint all the ministers that they want. They should appoint the full Cabinet and it's up to them if they want to bring in - other parties will on a proportional basis be represented in parliament and I think that is the way we are moving now. If you look at the proposals coming to the Constitutional Assembly there is a move towards keeping proportional representation.
POM OK. I will leave it. Thank you very much.
POM I really appreciate the time.