About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

17 Apr 1996: Camerer, Sheila

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POM     Minister, just a couple of the most obvious and political questions. One, the state of the negotiations.

SC     Yes, well the bit that I negotiate is more or less on track. We have a real problem with the property rights clause. We were making quite good progress when the anxiety of the business community about the issues sort of engulfed the negotiations and whereas we thought we had, with our advisers, reached something that would fly they thought otherwise and that precipitated a crisis at the Arniston bilateral after which the experts were sent off to draft a property clause and that's even worse, it's regarded as even worse by the constituency, so they have gone off to get Senior Counsel's opinion. We have Gauntlett and Wallace, our Council chairman, having delivered learned opinions on it and they have given it the thumbs down in a fairly adamant way, so we are actually back to square one. The next couple of weeks are going to be crucial obviously but it's the kind of issue that gets settled at the court's doors when it comes to the constitutional negotiations. That is the main problem we have with the Bill of Rights.

     The other aspect, the structures of government supporting democracy, I also negotiate that and we haven't really got any major problems. Our one aim, which has not yet been agreed to but it looks as if it is going to fly, is to introduce a cultural commission to safeguard cultural anxieties, fears, protections, whatever, and that isn't in any of the documentation yet but it's being dealt with in a kind of super committee on education and cultural matters. So that probably will be introduced.

     As far as the provincial competencies are concerned, there is a major hiccup there I gather again, although I don't specifically deal with it. It was apparent that everybody regarded the bilateral in Arniston as successful, quite a measure of agreement was reached on tricky issues, and apparently that's been torpedoed by a new memorandum that Johnny de Lange has suddenly produced which has gone against all the agreements reached, or a lot of them, or somehow undermined those agreements that we believed were reached. I don't have the details but if you're interested in that you'd better speak to the parties concerned but they have apparently suffered a setback, which always happens in these negotiations.

POM     Now the essence of the dispute on the property clause, as I gather it, is over the price at which land might be expropriated, whether people would be paid market value.

SC     That's one aspect of it but there seems to be a reluctance to deal with it as a property rights clause because a large lobby in the ANC thinks that that would just be maintaining vested rights, the spoils of apartheid and so on, so there's a reluctance to confront the issue in the sense of giving a property right. I mean there's a wish on the part of the ANC to deal with it more as a land reform clause. Now the business community and our constituency certainly are happy that a property rights clause shouldn't stand in the way of land reform but they still feel that security of tenure should be guaranteed in the property rights clause and that there should be protection of property owners against the rapacious state. In other words that the state can't just move in and disrupt the property market and do a bit of land grabbing without proper compensation.

POM     You can't have forced removals?

SC     Well yes, we don't want those, do we? I suppose in the end it does boil down to the compensation clause but that hasn't been the main problem, the main problem has really related to the nature of the protection or guarantee or right and whether it is immune from any land redistribution policy. The factors to be taken into account on awarding compensation when the court does that have more or less been agreed.

POM     To move back a bit, why did the National Party appear to give in so quickly and easily on what for a long time was thought to be one of its immutable demands and that was for entrenched power sharing of some description in the final constitution?

SC     I don't think that's the right way to see it because as far as my experience of the matter is concerned the NP insiders never really believed that that would be accepted in the final constitution. We tried, it was our policy, we believe it is good for the country to have an entrenched government of national unity in the constitution. We've argued strongly for it but I think we always had a pretty clear view that the ANC was against it. We did try and persuade them otherwise but we failed and so the fall-back position came into operation and that is to try and include in the final model some sort of structured consultative process. The final details of that haven't been revealed. I know Roelf Meyer and Cyril Ramaphosa are discussing that. One of the things that's being talked about is the extent of forced inclusion in the Cabinet would go as far as leaders of opposition parties for instance, there might be an agreement to go that far.

POM     That leaders of the opposition parties would be part of?

SC     Would be ex-officio part of the Cabinet in non-portfolio positions possibly, but some sort of attempt to be inclusive in government. That's one idea that's being thrown around at the moment, not only by us apparently. Forced consultation, structured informing of opposition parties on defence issues, things like that, greater powers to the committees, devolution of power in the Bill of Rights, that sort of thing.

POM     It seems to me that one of the difficulties that the NP has faced over the last couple of years is that it's simultaneously part of the government and simultaneously trying to play the role of opposition and that between the two it loses its identity. You've also got the identity factor arise in that you were the party of apartheid; if you take away the apartheid you take away the underpinnings of the party so to speak. Is the party undergoing a deep identity crisis?

SC     I think the party has undergone a problem with its dual role. You've been interviewing me over all these years and you must know that the party has tried to shed its apartheid baggage some time ago but obviously we do carry that baggage around with us still to an extent in the eyes of our target audience which is the black community. So, yes, but I don't think that's the main problem we face now. I think the main problem we face is this dual role and I think this year we have taken very definite measures to address that. Firstly appointing, taking our perhaps the most senior Cabinet Minister out of the government and making him our Secretary General and I think everybody would concede, whether they are supporters of his or not within the party, or fans of his or not, that he's the most competent man in the party, the best manager, the best people person, the hardest worker and would be most likely to succeed in that job. And I think we've already seen the improvement in certain ways, our relationship with other parties, our process of consultation with our metropole, so to speak, our wider constituency, and also internationally our constituency, the way we are reaching out at the moment and the way that our organisation is becoming more cheerful about everything. It's something that on the executive of the party, on which I serve, we've been recommending for about a year to get because of the difficulty of being in the Cabinet with the ANC and fighting them at the same time and the NP having this tradition of the leaders being the Cabinet Ministers that it put the other members of the caucus in an impossible position because they couldn't be expected to fight on their own while the leaders cosied up to the ANC. So the fact that we've taken a senior person out to lead the parliamentary opposition is an extremely good move and is really working. I think it's pacified all the complainers in the caucus, I think everybody is more positive and upbeat about things. But I don't know that this has actually trickled down yet, this new spirit in the party which I think is really much more positive to the constituency. I think the constituency will take a while to catch up with the new vibe, so to speak, because they were of course getting fed to the teeth with us, really being neither Arthur nor Martha in terms of whether you're government or opposition. Also the idea of a movement of like-minded parties in a loose alliance or perhaps one day a tighter alliance or a getting together has been very well received in our constituency.

POM     That's an alliance with the other parties like the IFP?

SC     Non-socialist, well yes, even possibly an alliance with a breakaway group from the ANC, which is a long shot of course.

POM     Why do people put so much hope in the belief that the ANC is going to split?

SC     I personally don't. I say it's a hell of a long shot, if ever. There are some people who think it could happen but I think if it happens it will take a while. So I don't think we're banking on that. What Roelf Meyer is saying is that he gives us three to ten years, you are presumably going to interview him, to get our act together and be a force to be reckoned with as far as the ANC is concerned.

POM     How do you see your party attracting black votes?

SC     Well we are, we are attracting black votes.

POM     In significant numbers?

SC     Well I think for a party that tried for the first time to do so, half a million votes isn't a bad record. You could say it's at least something to build on. And there we had absolutely minimal party structures in the black community and what has happened subsequent to the election, not perhaps before the local government election but as a result of the local government election which is of course much closer to the grassroots, we have been succeeding in building party structures much more easily in the black areas than we did before. I've noticed it personally but it's the same reports coming from everywhere. I mean in my region that I am the chairman of, in Gauteng, we have Soweto, Ennerdale, Lenasia, Orange Farm, that's the old white south, so to speak.

POM     Now do you go out there? Do you go into Orange Farm?

SC     Yes, we've got an executive which is totally dominated by black, coloured and Indian people. I would say on the 70-odd Regional Council we have, that's delegates from the various party structures, about ten of them are white. They've all been around, been in the party for a year, year and a half, those are the sort of people that come to us, maybe two years.

POM     Thinking in terms of developing a significant black constituency, on the one hand it would appear to fly in the face of reality. Here is a people, as a group and as individuals, that have been systematically oppressed by your party in one form or another and then you say we've changed, we're a different party, please come and vote for us. Would it not require them to forget the injury and oppression that has been done to them in the past?

SC     Yes, absolutely, you're correct, but one can look at this on a number of levels. Generally speaking I think South Africans have been incredibly easy and flexible as far as knuckling down together in spite of all the things that everybody has done to each other. If you look at the lack of resentment and bitterness on the part of those who have been locked up it's truly remarkable. To a lesser extent of course that could apply across the board, not everybody was locked up and there is a readiness to forgive. You see I think that's people's experience of apartheid, although generally bad in the black community, was perhaps less acute in certain cases. It's not as though everybody was locked up, tortured, detained, lost their jobs, removed, all the really bad things that happened perhaps affected a proportion of the society but there are a lot of people who actually benefited from the way society operated in the past. Although you can say that life wasn't as free, life might have been safer. There are lot of people in the townships that say bring back apartheid, this is terrible, their families being systematically knocked off and it didn't happen then.

     So there are different perspectives on this and the kind of people we find that support the NP are young people who accept that the party has changed it's view and is sorry for apartheid and it's apologised and wants to make a new start. It's also people who used to be PAC and hate the ANC and will never be ANC members. That's how their fathers and grandfathers were and they've grown up the same. You know people are born and die Nats, it's a phenomenon of South African politics, I'm not sure to what extent it is in other countries, but you do have this sort of family loyalty to the party that I've seen all over the place. But a lot of the black people who have come aboard the party have been PAC orientated or Zulu who are disenchanted with the IFP, people who would never have supported the ANC at all and aren't happy with the alternatives. That is our target group. Also middle class people who want security and don't like socialism. One of the target groups, the most sympathetic group that has been identified is, for instance, women between the ages of I think 35 and 55/60 who earn roughly R1000-00 a month and more in the black community, would be more likely to support us. They are people who want stability and continuity and safety, etc.

POM     But wouldn't basic to attracting a significant number of black voters be that the entire leadership structure of the party itself must change and in fact that the leadership structure must become black?

SC     Yes, slowly it's happening.

POM     You can't have black followers but white leadership.

SC     That point has been made very clear to us by black people in a number of think tanks. The one thing you can say about the NP, it's addressing the problem seriously. We've had in the last few years umpteen think tanks about it with black people, with black people who do not support the NP. They have basically told us how we're mismanaging everything, or we were. And we've actually followed their advice and the leadership structure as you see is changing but it's not only at the top. We are getting large numbers of black people into our party structures which is very reassuring, on the basis that they trust us. We've changed, they like our values, our principles that we've published and set out and committed to, our vision for the future. We've got to go and sell that to a larger audience but we have attracted an audience to an extent now.

POM     Turning for a moment to the Truth & Reconciliation Commission.

SC     I've just spent four days in Chile at this Chilean conference, of course you can never get away from the Truth & Reconciliation Commission there. They pride themselves on being the only successful one. They have such an odd set up there. It would be like PW Botha heading the army in South Africa at the same time as Mandela is running the country. It's so weird the way - I don't know if you know the Chilean thing but it's really peculiar.

POM     How far should this be taken? Already there are legal actions in the wings as people say they're named without having a chance to prove their innocence, or if you're named anyway you're ruined whether you are innocent or not innocent. The fact of being named ...

SC     Actually the Act is not being complied with at the moment and it's something we are raising. You know I was intimately involved in developing that legislation on the Justice Committee and we built in safe-guards to prevent that happening, that there should be in each case a dossier compiled. Now somebody must be lying or be inefficient because there are very strict guidelines that where somebody is to be questioned about their involvement there has to be a preliminary investigation and hearing and only if they are satisfied there is a prima facie case against the person would they be then involved in a public hearing. So this sort of thing shouldn't happen. Obviously you can't stop people saying something in open court but if that's happening, and I believe it is, then it means there is insufficient preparatory work behind closed doors which in fact was meant to happen. But you know these things once they get on the road they don't always strictly comply with the legal framework. That shouldn't happen in terms of the legal framework that we adopted.

POM     You said you were intimately involved in setting up the legislation that brought the Truth Commission into being. Let me give you one case and see where it fits or doesn't fit. That is that President Mandela has publicly said that he takes full responsibility for the Shell House shootings, that he ordered Shell House to be defended and if that meant the use of firearms so be it. He instructed that the police not be allowed to enter the premises after the shootings which on its face is an obstruction of justice. In terms of the Act would that not require him to come forward and to apply for amnesty like everybody else?

SC     No I don't think it's that kind of case really. In terms of the date, it may just fall the right side of the date for the Truth Commission, but it's not as though - he could be had up on a criminal charge for obstructing justice but then he would probably say he wasn't because he had done it in consultation with the Chief of Police at the time. I don't think that's an amnesty story at all.

POM     Even that he ordered ...?

SC     It's designed for quite different - well he was defending, self-defence. I really don't think that's the kind of case that will fall into the amnesty provision. I don't think it's intended to cope with that sort of thing at all, because it was all done in open quarter, in a highly confrontational situation where people were armed, police were roving around, the people in Shell House were worried about their safety, there was self-defence. All you could say was there was an excess of self-defence in which case there might be a charge of homicide and I suppose accessory after the fact and obstructing justice. Everything is in the open. The whole point about amnesty is that you've got to go and confess that you committed a crime that nobody knows about and then ask for amnesty, or if you are had up for something you can then go and claim amnesty. But I don't think Mandela would. I don't think it falls into that category at all. I can't see it myself. Why do you think it does?

POM     Well it's violence that was committed in relation to a political activity.

SC     Yes but it wasn't surreptitious murder. It was self-defence in an open confrontation situation. I cannot see it in that light at all I must say. Perhaps I'm reading it wrong but I really have difficulty. I don't think the Truth Commission is designed to cope with very open possible offences that took place in the full glare of publicity. It's designed to cope with crimes that took place as a result of the liberation struggle and apartheid and oppression. I don't think that's the point. I would say that whatever happened, whatever Mandela did in that situation it's quite different from the guys who ran off and placed bombs and blew up cars because they were doing it to disrupt the process and they weren't under threat or any obvious one. I think criminal law can cope perfectly well with the Shell House situation. I don't see it as a Truth Commission activity at all.

POM     Relating that to the Magnus Malan trial and the difficulty the NP had with the arrest of the generals ...

SC     Well I don't know that we had difficulty with it. In what way did we have difficulty? We said that it was rather flimsy evidence I think and it's been proved to be the case. McNally has virtually conceded that the only thing he can pin on anyone is conspiracy to murder and yet this huge show trial with them all had up for murder, he knows very well he's not going to be able to make it stick.

POM     What message, if he walks and the other generals walk, what message will that send to the black community regarding the quality of justice?

SC     I don't know that the quality of justice is under suspicion in this country because we have a Constitutional Court, we have a bench that's pretty representative, or it is getting more so every day, and nobody has really challenged the standard of our courts and the impartiality and independence of our court system. Even our worst enemies have always said there are exceptions of course but on the whole the South African legal system has stood up marvellously well under the apartheid situation. So I think if Hugo finds that these guys aren't guilty well nobody is going to say they are. If there's not enough evidence to prove them guilty of murder then there isn't and that's that. After all the test is 'beyond a reasonable doubt' in this country.

POM     Well I was going to use two cases out of the United States, one would be the Rodney King case.

SC     We have a very different criminal justice system.

POM     But the reaction, there was a jury that found someone innocent and the entire black community erupted.

SC     We've never had mob rule. Let's see. Maybe.

POM     Erupted in anger.

SC     People who erupt in anger around court buildings are normally the PAC and they are always regarded as the lunatic fringe.

POM     I thought they belonged to you now!

SC     No! Only the ex-ones, only the reformed ones.

POM     Let me go back to the government of national unity. Do you think the ANC understands what democracy is?

SC     Well at the moment they are very hyped up about majority rule, that's for sure, and I think they had a very clear view of democracy and freedom and equality, perhaps a clearer view at the negotiations at Kempton Park, but now that they are in government they find democracy, transparency and so on, openness in government etc., etc., a bit of a pain. I think people who get into the mode of governing always find issues like transparency of administrative justice, access to information held by the state, freedom of expression, freedom of the media, much more of a nuisance than they would if they were on the other side. So we are detecting some intruding reluctance, shall we say, on the part of the ANC to entrench these rights without limitation in the latest round of negotiations on the Bill of Rights. There is a definite change in attitude towards this. I think within themselves they are fairly democratic. I think what one mustn't forget is that they are rather a wide church and they tend to disagree with each other vehemently. I just sat in a Cabinet Committee meeting where they disagreed with each other. It's been quite refreshing. It never happened in any Cabinet Committee meeting I've sat in in the past under the old government. On two occasions there were really vehement disagreements between ANC ministers which I quite enjoyed I must say.

POM     For example, take the Sarafina incident. In a 'normal democracy', whatever that is, Dr Zuma would have resigned.

SC     But you could have said that about - no I would say in a highly developed western democracy like England and America they might have. But I can remember cases where the whole of the media said Nat ministers should resign and somehow they didn't resign. I don't think there's the same tradition of resigning in Africa that there is elsewhere. Not that I defend this at all. I think that she made tremendous mistakes and there was a very good case for her resignation but not so much the resignation but perhaps she should have not - I agree that the ANC shouldn't have stymied this Parliamentary Committee's activity to investigate.

POM     That was majoritarianism at it's worst.

SC     As I say I've picked up that they are terribly keen on majority rule now, majoritarianism. They are getting very aggressive and assertive about it which is not a good sign. I hope it doesn't continue in that way because that doesn't bode well for the future of multi-party democracy in this country. No it doesn't. But there are people, I find it particularly among the sort of storm troops in parliament, where I think among the leadership there are more clear-headed people who realise that unadulterated majoritarianism might actually have a bad effect on the country.

POM     Is there a hardening attitude towards majoritarianism and their becoming more assertive connected to what I would call, for want of a better word, increasing acrimony between the ANC and 'white liberals'?

SC     Yes I think so, they don't like the trend at all. We find ourselves on the same side as the liberal lobby very often in these confrontations on issues like open administrative justice and freedom of speech, the various workshops one goes to, the negotiations one's involved in. We're lining up with people like the Black Sash, the Human Rights Committee and the Democratic Party and the Nats, we're all on the same side against the ANC and I think every now and then we managed to shame the ANC into revising its position. But it's true that that is happening.

POM     What's the nature of the difference, is it a difference in values?

SC     It's majoritarianism of votes. It's an attitude, we're government, we can't be bothered with all this sort of nonsense. They are acting like 'wicked old Nats of the past'. In quotes please. When I see your transcripts I always freak out. You must please delete those sort of comments because it doesn't say in brackets, chuckle, chuckle.

POM     I suppose what I mean, is there again a cultural difference in the manner in which government is perceived that is increasing getting reflected? Is there a rejection of western liberal values?

SC     I think there is to an extent. If you look at this debate between Pityana and Dennis Davies, an appalling debate which didn't do either of them any good, but it didn't reflect well on the chairman of our Human Rights Commission I must say, the attitude he took. I think you've identified correctly the problems that are beginning to grow. It's the same old sort of African majoritarianism, that one-party statism that is beginning to creep into the psyche of the ANC I think and obviously we have to do whatever we can to mitigate that.

POM     That's why I was asking you whether you thought the ANC understood what democracy was in its real sense.

SC     I suppose when they were in the opposition, yes.

POM     Like they will be the largest single party for the foreseeable future, opposition parties to them will be fairly small, they may even win over 662/3% in the next election.

SC     We've obviously got to prevent that. There's a mitigating circumstance and that is that we have provincial governments, quite significant provincial governments who aren't ANC controlled, and that's in two of the most important provinces, and two others. The most important province in terms of wealth and clout and so on they don't have a totally free hand, we have quite a large measure of support here, both us, the DP and the IFP in Gauteng. I think that helps. They dominate the poor, tribal, rural provinces to a degree but the big important ones they don't. So I think that's a good balancing factor.

POM     Another thing I wanted to ask you in relation to the value question and I want to relate this later on to culture and the Cultural Council that you were talking about, is the Makgoba affair. What does that say? When you interpret what went on and the manner in which it was resolved or not resolved, what does that say about the state of race relations in the country?

SC     What it says to me is that the liberals are very starry-eyed and very shocked when the chaps who they've been fighting for all this time turn out to be aggressive and turn on them. And I think that was true of Davies and it's true of Charles van Onselen. I think people were very well intentioned but they weren't prepared to accept, I mean the white liberals who were on the other side in both those cases, weren't prepared to accept that black people who didn't measure up could get away with murder in terms of what they said, what they did and so on. The white liberals stuck to their principles and felt rather bruised about it. That's how I see it. I think shock and dismay was the way it could be characterised.

POM     If he lied about his CV should he not have been required to step down or is that again using western values or would the African case be: we have suffered from so many disadvantages that ...

SC     That we can lie about our CVs?

POM     That a little embellishment on one's CV here and there is in the scheme of things minor and not very important and to put this total emphasis on it misunderstands what black people went through in the past and misunderstands the nature of transformation in the future?

SC     I don't know what you want me to say about that. I think that the correct route was followed eventually. This business of empowering people and allowing them to really run free and do anything they like in the name of non-racism is just ridiculous. I line up with the old liberals.

POM     But blacks see it very differently. They see it as an alignment of powerful, privileged forces.

SC     Well they appear to. I don't think all of them do. I think people exploit the feeling of black youth perhaps, the angry black youth. In Makgoba's case that's what he did and I suppose Pityana does it. There is that feeling that we can do anything because we've been discriminated against in the past. It's a very immature sort of approach and hopefully one will grow out of that eventually as things normalise here.

POM     But in a certain sense what one is seeing is, or at least I sense, a hardening of black attitudes particularly among the leadership by saying we're taking over and the Africanisation of South Africa is going to take place and whites may scream and shout and do what they want but it's going to happen and either adjust to it or ...

SC     But this isn't terrible. Everybody accepts that's going to happen. If you look at the proportions of the population obviously it is going to. There will be Africanisation but where I think perhaps you're wrong is that the whites are saying this shouldn't happen. I think most white liberals say it should and will happen. It's a matter of how it happens. You don't want to have complete unfairness and stupidity and arrogance about it and I think the whites are quite correct to point out arrogance where it occurs. That doesn't mean to say they are against it happening. Charles van Onselen is the last person who would be against Africanisation of our country. He's always promoted the idea, but he said, "I'm not going to let this idiot get away with murder." That's basically what he said. Apparently he's too awful, Makgoba, in terms of arrogance and disregard for the merits of other people, just the way he handles people. Apparently he has minimal people skills. That's what I was told by a lot of people who weren't in the fight at all.

POM     Looking at Afrikaners for a moment, in a sense now the Freedom Front would say after the last local elections that they now represent a majority of the Afrikaners.

SC     That's not true. Their support is sinking fast. That really is not correct.

POM     The Freedom Front is sinking fast?

SC     Sinking fast. All the polls show they've got, they've more or less disappeared. Can I just expand on that? In the local government elections in my constituency area, which I still am in although I'm not directly elected any more, we actually gained support in the old white council wards, so we increased our position. Now our main opposition was always the Conservative Party or the Freedom Front, the heirs of the viable Conservative Party, our main opposition is now the ANC and of course they got the majority there but not at our expense. We actually grew at the expense of the Conservative Party in that area.

POM     So you would see the Volksfront as becoming more irrelevant and not being a factor?

SC     Absolutely.

POM     Are the concerns of Afrikaners being marginalised by the ANC in the sense that the threat from the right never really materialised? One could argue that Mandela or the ANC successfully bought off Constand Viljoen, they gave him his Volks Council and they promptly rejected the plan of the Volks Council, the volkstaat is increasingly receding into the dim and misty past.

SC     Where they deserve to be.

POM     Their concerns are not being dealt with so that issues like language or mother tongue education ...

SC     I disagree, I think they just dealt with them badly. I think the way we've been tackling it is much better and that's been conceded by Pieter Mulder, to me anyway, and Constand Viljoen more or less. They weren't ever serious about the volkstaat.

POM     Who weren't?

SC     Well behind their hands they all say, well we know it's not viable, people like Pieter Mulder, but what we want is entrenched constitutional support for the future of Afrikaans by way of language guarantees, education guarantees and this Cultural Committee which they are probably regretting they didn't think of. They have also got a document about Cultural Councils. And I think that the ANC is going to be prepared to meet them to that extent.

POM     On issues like mother tongue education?

SC     Yes. There's a major thing going on at Mandela level, so to speak. I think there will be satisfactory guarantees in the end.

POM     Let me just toss some things out at you and you can react pretty quickly to them, you don't have to give long answers.

SC     I won't be able to because at half past I've got to be at another meeting. It's terrible. Roelf Meyer suddenly announced today that we're reconvening at half past. If I'm five minutes late it will be all right.

POM     When you look at the future what will be the single most important determinant of the successful development of South Africa as a democracy as you go into the 21st century?

SC     I think it's going to be multi-party democracy. If we can maintain multi-party democracy I think that is one of the secrets of success. The other is to maintain economic growth and that means that we need sensible economic policies. Those are the two things that I see as very important because I suppose the one could influence the other in the sense that investors both local and foreign will be reassured if they see a multi-party democracy working where there has to be give and take, where there has to be consultation between minorities parties and the majority party or parties as the case may be and there will be a balancing. So I think it's very important that the opposition parties survive and even flourish, and economic growth, investor confidence.

POM     But when you look at the demographics and the trend, you say the Freedom Front is disappearing, the Conservative Party has ...

SC     You mean gobbled up by us.

POM     OK, it's being gobbled up by the NP, the Conservative Party has been gobbled up, it's gone, the PAC for all intents and purposes ...

SC     Fortunately.

POM     - doesn't exist. The IFP, if one looked at the local government elections ...

SC     I think they're strong, but they're provincial.

POM     I mean at a national level.

SC     But there are huge numbers of them nevertheless. It's the biggest province. There are seven million people, seven million Zulus sitting there.

POM     But they are not all voting for the IFP.

SC     Yes but I mean seven million Zulus in Natal and even if it's just over 50% there, there are at least four million of them. We only got four million votes.

POM     But they are still a provincial party not a national?

SC     Yes that's right but they are quite a strong element there. It's like having to worry about Quebec.

POM     So that takes us down to the National Party and the ANC and just by sheer demographics alone the white population is going to get smaller.

SC     But we don't see ourselves as a white party. In fact we're more of a Coloured party than a white party. You talk about Afrikaners, the Coloured community, there are three million of them, are by and large Afrikaners. That was the debating to throw at the Freedom Front. Which Afrikaners are you talking about? Only whites? And then they get very embarrassed because they never actually really mean Coloureds. But the majority of Coloureds, a huge majority of Coloureds are Afrikaners and a huge majority of Coloureds vote for us. It's three million people. So the ANC can't be too unfriendly towards Afrikaans. They really want that Coloured constituency. They're apparently not going to get it according to what I hear in the Western Cape.

POM     Lastly, do you think that the constitution that's emerging out of the Constituent Assembly is in any way significantly different from the interim constitution or is it really just a fine tuning of it?

SC     Well it's significantly different in the sense that you're not going to have a government of national unity entrenched. You're going to have a changed Senate which will be actually a more sensible body I think, relating strictly to the provincial governments. So I think those are major structural changes but you will have a slightly watered down Bill of Rights I think and slightly watered down provincial competencies it looks now but actually I think in the end that battle is going to be won, it's just that we've got a hiccup at the moment. So I think we will have more or less the same situation with the provincial competencies and powers.

POM     There's kind of a irony in the fact that in the early nineties the National Party fought hard for group rights, with the ANC and its allies arguing that the best way to protect group rights was through a strong Bill of Rights.

SC     I think that's very simplistic because that was pre-1990s, it was in the early eighties that this group rights story ran around and we were persuaded, I never supported it anyway, but we were barking up the wrong tree and that the way to go was individual rights. And from the late eighties the NP has fully accepted individual rights as the way to go. Of course everywhere else in the world now minority rights and group rights are becoming very respectable things and I daresay we will get to the point eventually where we will be able to talk about minority rights and group rights. I think at this stage we are more or less stuck with individual rights and group enforcement. Minority rights and group rights and we did it actually. The mainstream thinking in the NP was very focused on individual rights as the way to go.

POM     What I suppose I find odd when you say that, is that people I would have talked to in the early nineties who were part of the government's negotiating team were still all putting their money on group rights.

SC     No we never were dealing in group rights. A lot of lip service was paid and so on. I can remember sitting with Pierre Olivier and Kobie Coetsee and myself in 1988 and saying forget group rights, it's got a bad name, it won't fly, it's nonsense. And in any case what did it achieve. That was really early eighties. Maybe Gerrit, he was used to it being in the Broederbond or something.

PAT     Can I ask a question about this? It's about your own position and why it took the National Party so long to wake up, put you here, put you back. At this point you should be going from here some place else. It has to do with the seriousness about the transformation of the party and there must be backslides of some kind that go on. I remember you talking at the conference about the fact that there were no women on the dais.

SC     Absolutely, I don't have any sympathy with what De Klerk did after the change but I think there was a bit of a laager mentality around. The fact is that he has in incredibly difficult circumstances managed to keep the show on the road as far as our party is concerned and I suppose he said to himself the easiest way to do it is to keep all the Broederbonders and the Afrikaans white males happy and so he had one Coloured from the Western Cape and the rest was WAMs (white Afrikaner male) as far as Cabinet posts went. Now that he's looking at an election situation he's saying to himself he's got to broaden his representativity, like he brought me in the year before the election last time. He's quite open about it. He says I'm a fighter. And I think that this whole negotiation thing, he actually said to my husband that the Deputy Justice portfolio was the only one we had in the security arena until eventually they agreed that he could chair that Cabinet Committee but that wasn't clear in the beginning. I'll tell you a couple of other things, that he wanted one of the inside-trackers, the Broederbonders, to go and deal with all the Generals and the Truth Commission. I know that's what happened. Chris Fismer is a big Broederbonder and so was Gert Myberg and there's always been a sort of inside track which I've really resented but I suppose those are the facts of life every now and then. Just when I became Deputy Justice Minister last time we had the security portfolio as well, it was Justice and Intelligence, and my predecessor, Danie Schutte, was the Deputy Minister of Justice and the Intelligence Portfolio like Nhlanhla now, so he knew all about what was going on and as soon as I arrived it disappeared. I have never known what went on but I am quite glad. I suppose I could be very cynical about it. I suppose he felt the pressures were mounting up to have a female on board again so he did, but the pressures weren't there then.

POM     Just on your way out, there was this very high profile killing of the Director of the National Intelligence Service.

SC     Yes that was very weird. In that car.

POM     Yes seven o'clock in the morning, shot dead in his car, and then the story died.

SC     Extremely suspicious the whole thing. I'd love to know the inside story there I must say. Do you know?

POM     No.

SC     It's really horrible and I agree it's a nightmare something behind that one.

POM     What was the reaction in the NP to Pallo being dropped from the Cabinet? Did it come as a surprise to people? How do they rationalise?

SC     We were surprised actually. The only thing that was said to me afterwards was of course Thabo Mbeki and he don't see eye to eye. They had a big bust up recently. It's all Thabo's people that are being appointed. I was very surprised because I thought he was quite influential but he's an incredibly arrogant guy. Maybe he had a lot of enemies, I don't know.

POM     OK, thank you.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.