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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
15 Dec 1995: Molefe, Popo
POM Premier, let me just first ask you if you had to give an overall assessment of the progress in your own province, in the North West, over the last 18 months from the mess you inherited from the Mangope regime to where you are today, what progress have you made in straightening things out, putting the province on a course towards growth, development and decreasing unemployment, what problems remain and what are the greatest challenges that you face as premier of that particular province?
PM Well, Padraig, I think we have made tremendous progress in the North West province and indeed we are ending 1995 on a very high note both for the government of provincial unity in the province and in respect of our economy and I think we owe it to a large extent to the overall support that we have enjoyed expressed in the unity of the people of our province, the public service and the strategic and visionary leadership that the Cabinet of our province and our leadership of our party gave to the country and to the province. We have certainly achieved a lot. The economy is growing now. There is a lot of interest in our province in terms of trade and investment. We have a number of companies which are now locating or establishing in the province.
POM South African companies or ...?
PM Both South African and foreign. South African companies, you have the South African Breweries moving in. We have a foreign company which started in South Africa and is producing explosives which is establishing and a new plant will be opened next year in May. The South African Breweries establishing in Rustenburg. We have American and South African investors moving in to the game reserve of Madikwe near the Botswana border, establishing game lodges there. We are looking at anything between 10 and 30 million dollars which would take you to anything between 35 and about 96 or 100 million rand in that investment. We have the Chinese, Taiwanese, who are busy negotiating the establishment of a ceramic tiles factory.
POM You were talking about the inflow of trade and investment.
PM Yes I was saying that the Taiwanese are also moving into our province to establish new companies. One such company is a ceramic tile company with huge operation potential to employ at least 100 people, but it is largely a capital intensive company really, it's called The White Horse Ceramic. On the trade side we have had some contacts with the Cubans who are already doing trade now with Kynoch which is a company that produces fertilisers in our province. There are indications that they would be importing a lot of maize from our province. There are discussions taking place between them and one of the giant mining companies in South Africa which is Gencor to look at the possibilities of exploiting the nickel mining in Cuba. There are a whole lot of other things that are happening. Tourism is picking up tremendously in our province. All the hotels for the last three months have been chock-a-block full. We can't get accommodation so it really cries out for expansion in the tourism industry by way of further infrastructural development which is really key to the promotion of tourism, and also of course for the upgrading of transport, more specifically from the transport and aviation side improving the airports, expanding the airports near the Sun City so that we can begin to land 747s and 737 jets so people can charter planes right away from their country and land in our province. We recently had the million dollar golf which was watched by over 1.5 billion people world-wide. We had the Miss World pageant at Sun City which was again viewed by over 1.6 billion people the world over, all of them really focusing attention on our province and indicating the extent of capacity that is there to organise and host a huge function of that nature.
Now, on the development side we are focusing on issues of human resource development and to that extent we have established partnerships with Harvard University in the United States and the two universities in our province, Potchefstroom National Christian High University for higher education, the University of the North West and the Development Bank of South Africa. We were building capacity firstly starting with the politicians themselves in a very well and carefully worked out change-management process programme and then it proceeds to defining quite clearly the strategic priorities and the needs that the provinces have in order to be able to achieve those strategic priorities. We would also be dealing with the retraining and orientation of the public servants so that they could begin to serve in line with the new vision and the new policy of the provinces. They must be more service orientated in order to be able to implement the reconstruction and development. In a sense we are seeking to introduce really new ethos which would also ensure that there is a very clear culture of work, a work ethic, and also allow civil servants - there's a major problem and I think it will take us no less than another three years that are coming so we have to work on it.
PM It's a combination of all those factors. Firstly it's that they are used to operating in a haphazard way where there were no performance evaluations, there was no clear strategic framework within which they were operating. And that applies to both the Mangope regime as well as the old apartheid South Africa's government civil servants. So we have now to turn them around because those systems were not designed to serve the vast majority of the citizens. They were designed to serve the interests of politicians and the small elite around them. That is precisely the reason why you would find in a province such as that one of ours which has 67% of the population living in the rural areas having been neglected over the years, that no development was done there, only 10% of that population had access to sanitation, only 30% had access to clean drinking water. So clearly the challenge is a mammoth one so we have to address those questions. They are like that, the position is like that because civil servants were not intended to serve the broader community. We got into government on a mandate to serve the people to give them a better life and to restructure the economy and society, to democratise the institutions and to allow for participatory democracy to become the culture that characterises our society and for that reason therefore our public service must operate within that framework and be service orientated. They must be very friendly to those that pay their tax money, they are masters the general public.
Now we also embarked on, pursuant to developing our human resources, an understanding that in our province the human development index places us at 0.59%, number two from the bottom. So it means we have to develop our people in terms of skills, academically and so on, and the key component of that is the change in the education curricula, changing it in line with the requirements of the development strategy, the RDP. We are now shifting to science, mathematics and technology. 60% of our curriculum is going to be these categories of specialisation and the other 40% will be other disciplines. In that way we think we can develop our human resources in tandem with the requirements of the economy. In order to achieve that we have begun renovating our schools, extending our classrooms, building new schools. During this financial year alone we have embarked on a programme to build 740 new classrooms in urban and rural areas with the emphasis on the rural areas. We are also building new ones, new aid projects which will be coming into play, of new schools altogether in the coming year. We are accelerating that process by giving bridging finance to small contractors because there is a combination of accelerating that and at the same empowering emerging black contractors who have to participate in the economy of South Africa because historically they have been excluded from that. Our objective therefore is to use government capital expenditure to promote the empowerment and development of small and medium enterprises.
POM How do you deal on the supply side with the resources that you have at your disposal to do all these things? What budgetary constraints are there on you? You are doing a lot of things, spending a lot of money on a lot of innovative programmes particularly on the education side, but the country is operating under very strict fiscal controls and the provinces only have their allocation from the central government. How do you get around that? How do you deal with it?
PM There are a number of ways in which we are dealing with this question. One way is the restructuring and the re-organisation of the state assets which would include hard decisions relating to trimming down of these assets, privatising those that have to be privatised, closing down those that are not fulfilling an essential social service to our people, remaining with a few and streamlining the strategic missions of these parastatals in a manner that would conform with our development perspectives. For example, if you look at our Development Corporation in the past, it was giving loans to its employees for homes and to buy new homes and so on at very low interest. It was engaged in property management, collection of refuse and so on. Now that's not what a Development Corporation is established for. It has to focus on industrial development, encouraging partnerships between government and the private sector, look at capacity building in terms of training managers to run small businesses and developing those small businesses. That's what it has to do. It has not been doing that so we are re-orientating it to move in that direction. And all the other things we will shed off and pass them on to private contractors. So we are mobilising the resources, we will get some resources from there to then embark upon these projects.
The second manner in which we are dealing with this issue, obviously, is to exercise much more fiscal controls in terms of expenditure on the side of government, to reduce recurrent expenditure and increase capital expenditure, expenditure on infrastructural development as opposed to spending more on salaries and pensions.
The third category is really the category of mobilising therefore the NGOs, civil society like the Independent Development Trust, Kagiso Trust, agencies of the World Development Bank, the Development Bank of South Africa and many others, to do certain projects that are within their abilities in communities. Fourthly, we are also mobilising the private sector to also invest in projects, programmes to develop human resources, to develop infrastructure so that they too could begin to accelerate their trade. So that's the way in which we are doing it as of now. I know of course, fifthly, we are embarking upon a very rigorous campaign to attract investments into the province. We are debating issues of incentives, what sort of incentives we have to create in order to attract business to far flung provinces like that one of ourselves. So we are looking at all those things.
POM After 18 months on the job do you think the provinces should have more powers than are currently given to them under the interim constitution in order to carry out their functions more efficiently and more completely or do you think there are sufficient powers there, in particular on the revenue side do you think that provinces should have some powers of taxation in order to raise their own revenues?
PM Certainly yes, we have to debate the powers of taxation on the part of the provinces in order for them to be able to raise their own revenue. We are already debating that and clearly the constitution makes provision for that but quite clearly the scope is a very narrow one. We have got to broaden it a little bit. One of the debates that has to start now is around the question of levies and VAT on the casinos for example, whether we should not begin to debate some delegation of powers or extension of powers to the provinces to determine, to deal with the issue of VAT and levies on hotels rather than leaving the provinces to levy a certain fee on hotels but the VAT, value added tax, is controlled elsewhere, because we might meet up with certain problems which we need to know how to handle them as provinces. I think that is one of the critical issues we would be looking at in the coming period. There are obviously other matters that we will be debating, the extent to which provinces may borrow and what guarantees the province may make and under what circumstances, what would be the constraints in that regard? Those are issues that we would have to debate.
POM Are governors generally in favour of more powers to tax, to borrow, to raise revenue, to have discretion over expenditure?
PM Certainly we would like to do that, but we also must understand that we are a government that has come to power in order to unite the country. We seek to unite all the provinces. We are one government that really operates at different levels. There has to be a national strategic framework within which all of us have to operate and the budget of government from central, provincial to local level has to operate within that national strategic framework. You can't have a fair situation where provinces would just go on a borrowing spree without due consideration of the consequences, the implications for the country as a whole. You can't do that because at the end of the day when one province commits the country to huge debts internationally and that province is unable to generate revenue to service those debts, the central government is going to be required to bail that province out and therefore it is proper and within the context of co-operative governance that the province and the centre must first discuss the parameters so that nothing untoward happens which would have far-reaching consequences for the country as a whole, people of that province and the central government.
POM You probably know better than I when you're in Johannesburg or Gauteng all you hear about it crime, crime, crime and the massive problem that crime is posing all across the country. And yet the word hasn't crossed your lips when you've been talking about the North West. Is there a crime problem there that is significantly different from the rest of the country? Is it less of a problem, more of a problem? How does it differ from crime in the rest of the country?
PM Are you talking about crime in my province?
PM OK. Well crime is a problem for the country as a whole, but our province is number two most peaceful province in the country, second only to the Northern Cape. We have a much bigger population than the Northern Cape. They have about 700,000 people. We have 3.6 million people or so. What we have had to deal largely with in our province has really been petty crime, a little bag snatching there and so on, housebreaking, but we are not taking chances, we are not complacent with that situation. We are now mobilising the police within the context of national strategy for crime prevention to deal with that situation. Only yesterday I had a meeting with the most senior Police Management Group to talk about crime, talking about taxi violence, criminal violence, hijacking of vehicles, violence against the farmers, to just say how do we move? And in January we will be meeting again. I have asked the police and the farmers to meet. They have been meeting to discuss, to deal with the issue of violence. We have run workshops or seminars on this question and in January I will personally be meeting all the farmers in our province to discuss their safety, to look at problems of stock theft. I think overall we are pleased with the manner in which we have been able to manage the problem of violence in the province. We have already met with senior management and security teams of the holiday resorts in our province, major resorts like Sun City and so on to make sure that the tourists are protected during this festive period. Our meetings are going very well so far.
POM So crime is not a major problem where it is a major problem for the country as a whole?
PM Yes it's not a major problem but all of us are working together to get rid of this problem because if we don't assist the provinces like Gauteng, Western Cape, KwaZulu/Natal to resolve the crime problems it is going to spill over to the rest of the provinces in the country.
POM Why do you think it is lower in the North West than in most other provinces?
PM I think the Gauteng province is the most highly industrialised province in the country. It is cosmopolitan, it has big metropolitan cities. It has, therefore, as a result of that, a cosmopolitan society. People come from all over the world to this place. They move from poor areas in the country as a whole, they migrate to these cities and therefore you would then have a lot of unemployed people in this big city and for that reason you then have a lot of syndicates operating here because that is where money is and that is where you have a lot of people who really are in need.
POM What's the rate of urbanisation in the North West? Is it below the average for the country as a whole or are people from the rural areas flocking in in increasing numbers to cities and towns?
PM Certainly they are moving in large numbers into cities, they are. It is increasing, therefore our economic development strategy and growth strategy for the North West is addressing the question of urbanisation. We are addressing also problems of land tenure which makes it difficult for government to promote infrastructural development in the rural areas because you have traditional leaders there who say this is land communally owned by the tribe, we can't allow you to come and build houses here. Banks are not able to lend money to individuals there because individuals cannot own land, they cannot own property, so the banks don't want to deal with that and therefore our development strategy has to address the question of land tenure because we can only develop infrastructure if we can be assured that there will be land available. And concomitantly I think in a sense by doing so we would also be addressing the problems of urbanisation, problems of migration to the cities by bringing services to the local areas because people would then be able to stay where they live, they can find jobs.
Tourism, inter alia, is going to play a critical role for the rural communities. For example, you need to start craft centres in rural areas where people could learn things like mechanics, carpentry, shoe making, dressmaking, knitting and so on in the rural areas as well as electronics to fix radios, televisions and so on. But you also need to be able to promote manufacturing of curios and artefacts which could then be sold on the market, in the game reserves, holiday resorts and so on and that keeps people active, there is a hive of economic activity in the rural areas. Now we are dealing with issues of infrastructural development, ensuring that our public works programme is much more community based and more labour intensive to employ the rural folk in the construction of roads, dams, water supply construction projects and so on. All those things we are dealing with. Brick making for smaller town and rural areas, get people to be involved in those sorts of things. We are embarking on community bakeries also where people get trained and they are given bridging finance to set up their own small bakeries. Dealing on the agricultural front of course, engaging in pilot land reform programmes where the state acquires land and it helps people to work that land, gives plots of land to the people to work it, provide them with ...
POM The state acquires land from farmers?
PM Well part of it is the state, the land that was owned by the state. Others land that belongs to the farmers. For example we are negotiating now with three to four farmers in Boskuil, in Grasfontein in order to acquire a piece of land which can then be used by those communities who have lived for many years under the white farmers, not earning anything, working for nothing, working like slaves. Now as part of our drive to restore dignity and human rights to every South African citizen we have to uplift those communities as well.
POM Is violence against farmers a problem?
PM It's beginning to rear its head, it is not a major problem but it is beginning to rear its head in the province. One farmer was killed two or three weeks ago in our province and we don't want to take chances. We are beginning to address it. We have to address it as a matter of urgency. But we don't have a major problem in our province on issues of crime and so on. We are relatively a very peaceful province. There is a lot of goodwill in our province and I think judged against the background of the fact that before the 1994 democratic elections our province was regarded as one of the most difficult ones, very conservative, the Bantustan government there of Chief Lucas Mangope was refusing to become part of the process of transition. You had the right wing movement, you know those chaps who crashed into the World Trade Centre with huge armoured vehicles, like Eugene Terre'Blanche, they all come from my province, but we have now effectively stabilised the situation. We are uniting our people around the common perspective of North Westernism, we are developing that pride and confidence of belonging together in that province and that I think is essential for growth and development in our province.
POM How would you say, other than the obvious that the North West is more rural, what kinds of challenges does it face that are different from challenges in other parts of South Africa? What kind of problems are indigenous to the North West?
PM There are a number of problems. The first one is that you have a concentration of tribal societies, a preponderance of tribal societies in the province. 67%, as I indicated, of our province is rural. Therefore, you have people who are used to a traditional way of doing things, very conservative, averse to democratic ideas, feeling threatened, especially the traditional leaders, by democracy. They think that when you bring in modern democracy you are therefore taking away the powers that they have been exercising. So the challenge therefore is to find a balance between modern democracy, traditional and indigenous norms and customs, indigenous law and traditions to make sure that you bring about that harmony. We are beginning to make progress in that regard by allowing the traditional authorities to also participate in the district council structures of local government where their views could be heard. They could participate either as elected members or on an ex-officio basis. Regardless of what happens they would still be there. We are still sorting out the question of representation on those structures. The second problem we are faced with is the problem of really resolving the issues of abject poverty in the rural areas, developing infrastructure there to ensure that we can meet the basic needs of our people. We have centuries of neglect and the difficulty we have is that investors are not keen to invest in rural areas so it is therefore the state that must invest in those rural areas because it has a responsibility to provide services to the people. It must therefore create the kind of infrastructure that can allow people to be involved in productive activity, productive labour in the areas. The third challenge that we have to deal with, it's not unique, I think it's a challenge that everybody else is dealing with, is one of welding together seven different departments of education.
POM You have seven departments in the North West?
PM Yes, from the previous order. You have those departments which were under the House of Delegates, Department of Education & Culture, you have Transvaal Education Department, you have the National Department for Christian Education, you had Department of Education & Training that was operating throughout the country, then you had the Department of Bantu Education, Department of Education of Bophuthatswana, you had the Cape Provincial Education Department and the Transvaal Education Department. Many of them, you see, and we had to weld them together, integrate the personnel that were working in those departments. A major, major challenge.
POM Is that part of the task of the Public Service Commission or is that a provincial task to bring about this rationalisation within the civil service?
PM It's the task of both because the Public Provincial Service Commission operates as a national one and we also have provincial ones, so it's a task of the politicians, the Public Service Commissions at both levels to deal with that. The fourth critical challenge that we have to deal with, which for example your Gauteng province doesn't have to deal with, is the task of creating for the first time democratic local government structures, what we call the Transitional Local Councils, or Transitional Representative Councils and Transitional District Councils. And I say it is a challenge because historically these structures did not exist in former Bophuthatswana so we have established them for the first time. It therefore means there is no infrastructural capacity both organisational and fiscal, it does not exist, there are no skills, there are no resources. We have for the first time to meet that challenge. Central government announced in the media that it is making available only 800 million rand to run local government. Clearly that is inadequate. It is a drop in the ocean. We need a much bigger slice to be able to firmly develop those structures because the government of national unity throughout the country is going to be made or broken on its ability to consolidate local government structures, or its failure to do so. If it fails it is going to fail countrywide, but if it succeeds then it means even the Reconstruction & Development Programme would succeed because it will have to be implemented more vigorously at that level.
POM This is what I was going to ask you, that there seems to be a strange contradiction here, that on the one hand the government says that the centrepiece of its programme for the future is the RDP and on the other hand it says that the implementation of the RDP will be handed over to, in the main part, to local government structures which are the weakest branch of government and, as you say, lack skill, lack infrastructure, lack resources. How are they supposed to do this?
PM Firstly it means we have got to mobilise resources for them. We have got to build new partnerships. We in the North West province had a summit on partnerships within the context of co-operative governance. We held that this past weekend. We are building partnerships at a range of levels. At the political level we are talking of partnerships between the provinces and the central government. At the provincial level we are looking at two categories, partnerships amongst the provinces themselves. The third level is partnership between the provincial government in a specific province and the local government, establishing mechanisms, political and technical mechanisms at all those levels which would then ensure that there is policy formation which is acceptable to all levels.
Secondly, to determine management skills, provide technical skills at a range of levels. We don't have the engineers, we don't have town planners and so on. At a technical level you can then harness universities, those local council structures which have been operating in urban areas which are more advanced, and use that to empower the emerging ones. Well, of course, in those partnerships also you would need to bring in your Universities. We are already co-operating with the British Overseas Development Administration. They are part of our programme in the North West. At the last meeting of the Premiers' Forum we mobilised the National Business Initiative in South Africa to mobilise resources from the private sector for the training of these new councillors who have just come in to give them capacity to be able to implement the Reconstruction & Development Programme.
So we are dealing with those partnerships, but related to this question of partnership we are also addressing the concept of Masakhane, the campaign of Masakhane, because if you want the private sector to be involved and services to be delivered and infrastructural development to occur we must also make sure that provincial, national, local government take responsibility to promote Masakhane campaign to promote these partnerships, but also to say to every citizen, you have a responsibility to pay for the services that you consume because that's the only way in which other people who did not get the services at the same time as you did must also get them. They depend on the tax you pay, the rates you pay for services in order to get their own supply of services.
POM Now that campaign got off to a very good start and then payments went up considerably and then they have, for the most part, dropped back down to the level they were at before the campaign started.
PM We are reviving the campaign. We have done a pilot project in our campaign. When we started, for example, in two months the figures were 18% but after two months they had moved to 39% so we are pushing it. In the coming period, at least between January and April, we will be vigorously promoting that campaign and in April we will do an evaluation of that campaign. So we will stick to it so that when it intensifies we can then say to the banks, you can take risks, our people are ready to pay.
POM Why has there been so much difficulty in making them understand that services don't come for nothing? One knows that they have been in the habit of not paying for years as part of the mass struggle but why 18 months down the line is there still such resistance to paying for services?
PM Firstly it is the question of the performance of the economy. Many people are unemployed. Secondly, the services that they are required to pay for were of a poor quality, in some cases they were not getting services, when they get them the bills are not properly done, they are always incorrect and people are protesting against that. Thirdly, at local level where these services are provided the structures which were providing these services were illegitimate, they were not democratically elected government structures. The proper structures that have legitimacy were only elected on 1st November this year. Now it's a combination of that and, of course, also the culture that had begun to develop because of many years of boycott of services people had developed a culture of entitlement; we are entitled to these services, after all this is our country, why are they expecting us to pay?
Now the challenge therefore is to change that culture. Clearly with regard to the initial points the economy is now growing, we can create more jobs, there is hope that more people will get income. Our infrastructural development programmes which create jobs, which are labour intensive, would ensure that more people get these jobs. RDP would create more jobs. Our drive to develop small and medium size enterprises should see us employing more because smaller enterprises have an absorptive capacity that is increasing all the time as they grow. The next issue obviously is the fact that an election has now been held and people have overwhelmingly voted for the African National Congress policies and clearly, therefore, the majority of those councils would be councils that are accepted by our people. The drive to improve efficiency within the public service and local government structures through management and capacity building and improvement of technology would ensure that the quality of services that we deliver is better. And within that kind of context, therefore, we expect the situation to improve.
POM What if it doesn't improve? For example, even though the economy is growing for the first time in decades the level of unemployment is not diminishing in any real sense at all and most economists accept that there is no relationship between economic growth and the creation of jobs. Europe is a very good example of where you've economic growth, 4% - 5% a year, but you've levels of unemployment that have been stuck at 14% or 15% for the last eight, nine, ten years.
PM I think it is definitely improving. When we moved into this election, before the election I think the level of unemployment was anything between 45% and 50%, it has now dropped to 38%, 35%. I am looking at the country as a whole. That is at least the figures I have seen in the papers and I think, therefore, there is a relationship between the growing economy, greater participation of South Africa in the global economy, international sport, all those things have increased activism. You have seen the informal sector of the economy growing, therefore more people are getting an income. So I think it does move us in the direction of improved economic situation for the ordinary people.
You ask a hypothetical question; what happens if the situation doesn't change? Well I am not one who likes answering hypothetical questions, hypothetical situations, but I would imagine that rather than one sucking an answer out of his thumb, he would want to do an analysis of the situation as to how we understand the new problems which make people not change. Whether we had done a correct assessment, appraisal of the situation if we said that they were not paying because there were no democratic structures, that it was an economy that was not growing and so on, and a government that was not oriented towards service delivery to the people emphasising redirection of spending from recurrent to capital expenditure, thus developing infrastructural development. If even when we address those problems it still becomes clear that nothing happens we have got then to re-evaluate the situation and on a scientific basis determine the causes and then attempt to develop an appropriate response.
POM Let me put the question a different way. At what point must people stop blaming the legacy of apartheid for all their ills and start saying the future lies in our own hands and we have got to grab it and not always point to the past for excuses?
PM I think once we elected the new structures at local level, we put them in place, it meant that the accusation of apartheid and reliance on that legacy of apartheid it would justify, the inability to deliver came to an end. We must talk now. We must look at ourselves. We have now been placed in a situation where we can tackle our problems. We have got to look at our own ability to deliver. Have we developed an adequate culture of work, new ethos, ethic of work? Are we productive enough? Are we, with the instruments we have, developing skills that can make every South African a productive individual? Do we develop a correct policy framework whether at national level or by-laws which would promote a greater freedom to contribute to growth and development? Those are the challenges that we have to deal with. Are we organising ourselves for those purposes? I don't think we can continue blaming apartheid for ever. It's incorrect. It's an easy escape route. Very soon very few South Africans would believe that story. What we have to address is whether we have a plan to change the lives of our people and if we have that plan are we implementing that plan? Do we have individuals who really are conscientious and enthusiastic enough to address the issue?
POM You talked about the global economy and at a national level the country has entered into a number of international agreements including becoming a member of GATT which involves the lowering of tariffs and companies becoming more competitive. One of the things said against South Africa is that it's level of wages is too high for its level of development, that when you look at other countries like Poland and Brazil or Taiwan or Malaysia or whatever, their labour is more productive in part because their wage rates are lower and their unit wage costs are therefore lower and that what you have in this country is a kind of a growing elite that belong to the unions that are inhibiting the promotion or creation of jobs and that there must be wage restraint.
PM I am not sure what that conclusion is based on. I have been to Taiwan, I have been to Malaysia, I have been briefly to Singapore, I have been to many countries in Europe, the United States, I have found that the salaries are very high for those people.
POM Their productivity is also very high.
PM Per capital income is very high. I think in South Africa we have argued for a living wage. We have 53% of South Africans who are living below minimum living level, or perhaps even below poverty datum in South Africa and it is so because they earn very, very low salaries. I was talking to employers in my province who moved into that province in the hey-days of apartheid when the Bantustans were introduced and the government of the Republic of South Africa when it was still a racist republic, created what it called border industries to encourage business to move into the Bantustans and to keep people in the Bantustans. They gave huge incentives to investors, incentives which enable the person to make a profit even before they started their operations and they were paying a pittance to the workers. They are now trying to move to acceptable standards. Some of them are now already at 80%, 75%, others 92%, they are moving, they are negotiating that with the unions to move at acceptable levels. Because how do you expect South Africans to be able to buy a house that would cost no less than R60,000 or no less than US$30,000/40,000 if they are not getting the kind of income that would enable them to purchase a house. The banks are saying to them, if you earn below X amount we will not give you loans. That's what they are doing. People can't get loans because they are black, because they are earning low salaries. It's a contradiction in terms for a would-be investor, potential investor to say, no, no, because we have to pay competitive salaries we can't come because the salaries are high.
POM Salaries are high in relation to the level of productivity. It's the productivity that's low.
PM Well we agree that it has to be tied to productivity, that's why the unions also have to play a critical role in creating a paradigm shift in the thinking of the workers that they should understand the more they produce the more they can demand for their labour, and the more they produce the more sustainable the organisation that they work for would be. But I would not countenance a situation where I would support the idea of low salaries for the workers ostensibly for the reason that they are not very productive. We are addressing, together with the private sector, questions of in-house training, skills training to empower these workers to be more productive. That's what we have to do. That's where the answer lies for the problem, not in giving them slave wages because if you give them slave wages you are creating greater social problems for government because you have a whole lot of people who become pensioners as they retire without any property of their own, no homes, nothing, and they all come to government to demand support. They can't pay for the medication of their own children, they can't pay for the education of the children. So it's a very vicious circle which has to be addressed at all levels by all of us, all the actors in that situation.
POM Just two last questions and they are rather quick ones. One, has there been a change in ANC thinking on the role that traditional leaders must play, particularly at the local level? That you can't run roughshod over what had been traditional though non-democratic, that you must find a way to integrate developing democratic institutions with local norms, local traditions of how authority and power is exercised?
PM Well the African National Congress has not changed it's thinking with regard to the role of traditional authority because we have always argued that the democracy that we build has to be participatory democracy. The people must drive a democratic process in order for it to be sustainable yet at the same time we understand the diversities of cultures, the traditions and customs that this multi-cultural society of ours has, but we would not allow culture and tradition to undermine the question of human rights, individual rights. So the constitution protects the fundamental rights of the citizens and to the extent therefore that tradition and indigenous law undermines the fundamental rights in the constitution, that is chapter three of our constitution, the constitution will have to prevail over that. So we have to find that balance therefore between tradition and modern democracy, the question of fundamental rights. We can't allow, for example, traditional leaders to suppress women in the name of tradition. We can't, because our constitution frees them. It protects certain fundamental rights that they have to exercise. So we are developing, therefore, a system in which there will be harmony between the traditional society's way of doing things and the demands of modern democracy which has to be participatory.
POM The other two things are, one, the interpretation of the local government results. Here you had the ANC that was for months before the elections pilloried by every party for non-delivery, there was talk about massive disillusionment at the grassroots, too much attention being paid to appeasing the fears of whites rather than addressing the needs of blacks, talk of the gravy train, of one thing or another. Yet the ANC comes along and it gets just about 64% of the vote of those who voted and all the other parties didn't really do very well comparatively speaking. IFP polled 8%, the PAC next to nothing, the National Party stuck with what it had before. How would you interpret the results as a political animal when you look at the results? How would you interpret the results and what lessons are there in the results for the ANC?
PM Let's start off with the North West province. In the North West province in the urban areas we got 77%. For the rural areas we got 85% for the ANC. Now as a political animal that I am I would interpret that to mean that there is no alternative to the ANC in this country, there is no alternative to the vision and the plan that the ANC has placed before the country to build a better life in places where ordinary people live. Secondly, that the manner in which people voted expresses the profound confidence that they have in the leadership of the African National Congress and it's government. They have confidence and they are pleased that the government is delivering because, if I may just give you an example, we have started in the last 18 months no less than 300 rural water supply projects for the country, a programme which has to be concluded within a framework of 18 months since we started and at the conclusion of that project we would have given an additional 3.5 million people who did not have water at all, clean water. At the end of our rural water supply projects we would have given water to 3.5 million people in a period of 18 months and that is unprecedented in the history of developing countries.
So it is correct that our people have confidence in this government. We have changed the education system to open it to all the children in this country even the ordinary and poor people, they are part of policy formulation and they determine what they should pay for the education of their children. We have drastically reduced the levels of political violence. It has almost disappeared in the whole country in just 18 months. It has dropped drastically. The economy has begun to grow, moved to approximately 3% and we are confident that by 1999 we would have pushed it to anything between 5% and 6% and will sustain it at that level, not allow it to grow. We have been able to embark upon the integration process that recognised the sensitivity of different races and ethnic groups in the public service, the police and the army, and that augurs well for the country and this is what gives our people hope and confidence in the leadership of the ANC and the government of national unity. We are delivering.
POM When you say the results say it shows that there is no alternative to the ANC, that almost puts the country in a position of being a one-party democracy. Does not the lack of alternatives, which is one of the key features of democratic development, hinder the development of democratic institutions?
PM There is no lack of democratic development because we are saying our democracy is a participatory democracy. I think the gauntlet has to be thrown back to other political parties to develop a vision that conforms with democratic values as understood internationally. They have not been able to do so. It's not our fault. We want to continue to allow the ordinary people at local level to participate. For example, we would like to think that one of the key challenges that we have to address is defining the role of local government in respect of delivery of housing, whether it should continue to be controlled firmly at national and provincial level or we should devolve greater powers to the local levels where these structures can then embark rigorously on housing delivery because they operate at all levels of locality it's better to have them dealing with issues of housing than to expect the provincial government or national government to embark on that because we would delay, we might embark on three or four projects only in a year but if you leave that to the local government structures then they can prioritise and they can implement those matters very easily at that level. So I don't see this as a one-party kind of state, whereas if it is a one-party state as a result of the choice of the people, not as a result of the policies and the laws that we institute which prevent other people to choose what they want, then we cannot be blamed if those people have chosen the ANC because it says things that strike a chord in their hearts. Other parties are failing to do so.
POM Last, last question. When you assumed the premiership of the North West you would have had a set of expectations about what you could do, like in your head what you wanted to do and where you wanted to go. After 18 months what percentage of your expectations have you achieved? 80%, 70%, 50%?
PM I would say that I think we have reached in the region of 80% or so of our expectations because you see we were not expecting impossible things, unrealistic things. We expected to be able to stabilise the province, unite the people of our province and racial polarisation. We have succeeded in that regard both in terms of the broader community, law enforcement agencies, we have succeeded in that regard. We had sought to structure our department restructure, integrate and rationalise them as well as the public service. We have done extremely well in that regard. We had sought to ensure that we control expenditure levels, keep them to the barest minimum. We have succeeded to do that. The target that the country wants us to reach, they want provinces by the end of the five-year term of government to have reduced their expenditure levels to 35% in respect of the public service recurrent expenditure.
POM 35% of?
PM Of the budget that we get. We are already spending 40% so we are left with a reduction of 5% and I think we will manage it in the period. We set ourselves the task of developing a legislative programme which would be a framework, or instruments that we would use, for effective governance. We have succeeded in doing so. Well it's continuing but in a large measure we have done so. We have sought to increase our ability to attract investment, we now have a strategy in place, we are refining it all the time, as well as our provincial perspective on growth and development, a strategy to attract investment. We have done that. I have a document here which we will be finalising in respect of that. Here we are, Macro Planning Perspective for the North West Province. So we are working hard and I am satisfied that we have attained a lot. We sought to create conditions of peace and stability. Out of 107 community policing forums we have already established 105. We are left with two, improved the collaboration between the police and the community. We have embarked upon a series of projects to develop rural communities. On the education front expansion of facilities we are having problems but we have attained 40% of the classroom building projects and we hope to achieve 80% of that by March next year, by the end of this financial year. We are accelerating that process. We are now providing bridging finances to the small contractors because we can't leave them out and combining therefore higher technology with labour intensive kind of programmes which would draw in smaller and emerging contractors to build their capacity. I am confident that we are doing well.
POM Did Lucas Mangope leave anything good behind him?
PM Certainly he left something good. He left good infrastructure which we have inherited, which we are expanding upon. He has left a couple of relatively experienced civil servants, important media structures that we are using for the province communication structures, that we are using for the province. I think he has also done a lot in terms of encouraging a lot of peacefulness amongst the people. Although the police force was very rough in dealing with the people the large majority of the people are very peaceful.
POM OK. Thank you.
PM And I think we must say that we are indebted to him for his contribution. A man cannot be bad in all respects. There are positive sides also that we need to acknowledge. Thanks.
POM Thank you. It's always a pleasure to talk to you.