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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

19 Apr 1996: De Lille, Patricia

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POM     You said you had just come off an all-night session. This is with regard to the constitutional negotiations. What particular aspect of the constitution were you working at all night and was an agreement hammered out or is it still one of the outstanding issues?

PDL     I was part of the committee dealing with competencies, the national executive powers of the President, the various schedules of competencies, concurrent powers and quite a number of issues. We have been able to at least agree on the composition of the new Council of Provinces, their powers and functions. We did quite a bit of work. The only few issues outstanding for us is that we now have to look at the competencies for local government, the competencies for provincial government and see which ones will be concurrent powers and that we will do sometime next week but we have agreed on most of the issues.

POM     In this whole process, the PAC is one of the smaller parties in parliament, in what way do you think you have been able to shape or mould the debate on the constitution and have an influence on what the final product will be?

PDL     Well we, like all other parties, have made our submissions, we made our proposals and try and put up a voice for those particular proposals. In the process of public submissions as we were looking and going through over two million public submissions a lot of our proposals ...

POM     Two million public submissions?

PDL     Yes, yes. It was a difficult process but at least the administration was well organised so as to filter and separate issues for us and as we went on with the process for the past 18 months now, as submissions came from the public, we found in between them also other groupings who were supporting our views and we were then able to say that, look, our view is supported by this group and by that group and so on. That's just the dynamics of the process. Whether we've been able to influence it will depend on the final product that we are going to come up with. As you know there are still some outstanding issues like the property clause for instance, the issue of the lock out and a few issues on the Bill of Rights, socio-economic rights, enforceability and things like that, and it is still going on. Finally at the end of the day we will be able to compare what we expected from the constitution to what it actually achieved, to make that assessment at the end.

POM     In that regard what have been the most important questions? What have been the most important issues to the PAC?

PDL     Well to us it was to ensure that we don't lose sight of the historical contacts of our struggle, to ensure that we have quite a strong central control of power which we believe will ensure that you then effectively correct the imbalances of the past and not have a situation where you give too much power to the various provinces who might then just distort that imbalance. We felt strongly that power must be devolved but it must not be at the expense of saying that the people want power further down at local and provincial level knowing that even if they do get the power they will not know how to apply that to correct the imbalances of the past. So we were looking out for issues like that.

POM     So you would be siding more with the ANC on the issue of a strong, central government vis-à-vis federalism, regionalism or whatever you want to call it?

PDL     That's correct.

POM     Where would you have disagreed with the ANC on an issue? Where would your stand have been strongest?

PDL     Well the ANC came around to our position because we were the only party right from the beginning who questioned the role and the function of the Senate, the way it's composed now and what functions it was supposed to perform. We have argued that the Senate is not representing provincial interests but rather party interests and should we have another body like that that body should be representative of the views of the provinces and not of the political parties per se. We were not convinced in the beginning that the Senate - we have said that the Senate was merely a duplication, a mirror image of the National Assembly. Towards the end many parties came that way and that gave the birth of the Council of Provinces and to such an extent that the Council of Provinces will come in almost immediately at the end of May to make way for that kind of representativity and views from provincial structures.

POM     So you would say this is the PAC's particular contribution to the constitution, is the Council of Provinces?

PDL     Not the name per se, but the concept, although what we would love to see also in the Council of Provinces was the inclusion and some role for traditional leaders, traditional authorities in the Council of Provinces.

POM     Now here you are, you're coming off a national congress that was very divisive, that pointed out the weaknesses in the leadership structure of the party, it's financial disarray, it's policy disarray. In fact you name it, it's disarray on virtually every aspect of what makes for cohesion within a political party. Top that up with your performance in the local elections of last year and you have a party on the verge of extinction. What emerged out of that congress that gives you hope that the future of the party can be salvaged or is there a real possibility that the future of the party can't be salvaged, that it has become so marginal that the best thing it could do would be to go out of business and let its individual members go their separate ways?

PDL     I don't think you're correct in saying it was divisive. What has happened there, to my mind, is actually long overdue. What has emerged is a kind of membership who felt that we are not meeting the demands placed on us. As far as I am concerned what has come over rather than divisive, it's more a matured membership who were able to feel and to see that we are not totally fitting into the new political dispensation, that we were slow in transforming the organisation, we were slow in adjusting to the new transitional dispensation that we find ourselves in. And you know how fluid and volatile politics in South Africa is. We have not been able to respond or to be pro-active but we have rather been seen to be reacting to what was happening in the country. And they were saying, what are you doing about it? Although some of the members wanted to reduce all the problems that we are facing to only leadership problems that is not so. You can put a new set of leadership there tomorrow but it will not solve all the problems of the PAC. And all these things were aired and they were discussed and debated and obviously tempers were high, it was very emotional because people felt that some way or the other the organisation is slipping out of their hands. And positively what came out of it was that we have agreed on a time frame, we have agreed on the way forward and the way forward will be to have a convention which convention will invite and bring in all Pan-Africanists, all PAC members who are not active in the party, supporters of the PAC, intellectuals, academics, bring them together and look objectively as to the role of the PAC and is there a role for the PAC. They will look at new policies, new strategies and it's only once you have a proper plan of action that you then say, OK there is still a role for the PAC, who is going to implement this, who is going to see that this vision is carried forward, that you then elect leadership that can have the commitment to implement such a programme. So I think, like all other organisations in the country, they are all transforming, they are all changing, they are all restructuring, the PAC is going through exactly the same process. I think what is different this time around is that because we also subscribe to accountability, we subscribe to transparency and democracy within the organisation, we are talking about it openly, we are not making a secret of the problems we are up against.

POM     Now there has been one allegation made by this one former leader of the party that many of the problems of the PAC stem from the fact of divisions between the Nguni speaking and non-Nguni speaking elements in the party, that the Nguni speaking people ...

PDL     Who are the Nguni now?

POM     They would be the Zulu and Xhosa speaking people.

PDL     No. I mean I've been in the PAC for a long time and I am not aware about Nguni and Xhosa and all of that. If that is happening it's definitely not to my knowledge. As far as I am concerned we've always had all kinds of leaders in the PAC, there is not one so-called ethnic group dominating the leadership of the PAC, not at all.

POM     This is an article I'm looking at by a man named Newton Kanhema, he writes for The Saturday Star. This would be an interview he had done with the previous Secretary General, with Maxwell, where he says : -

     "The recent resignation of PAC General Secretary Maxwell is the result of latent struggles between the Nguni and non-Nguni speaking people as well as the exiles and the internal leadership. The Nguni compromise Xhosa and Zulu speaking South Africans while the non-Ngunis are predominantly Sotho speaking."

PDL     That's far from it. I'm in neither one of the categories and I play a key role in the party leadership and I'm not aware of it. Definitely that's not correct. I am sure people have got the right to speculate and to make conclusions from what they see as the problems in the PAC but I don't think it can be reduced to that. Maxwell left, we never had a mass resignation out of the PAC in top leadership categories. We had three, four people leaving but definitely not for reasons as you are stating it there.

POM     How about those who say that the PAC has failed to provide an alternative vision for blacks, that in a way most of your best policies over the years, your best ideas over the years have been simply co-opted by the ANC and that you are left without a vision that is substantially different from what the ANC vision would be for South Africa?

PDL     No.

POM     How does your vision differ from their vision?

PDL     I think if you want to talk about the vision you might also equate it with objectives. The objectives in the ANC and the PAC are the same, no doubt about it. We differ as to how to achieve those objectives. You know the composition of the ANC, ANC/COSATU/SA Communist Party aligned vision, we have always had a more purist type of Pan Africanist vision. I think where we have failed is that within the framework of that vision to develop relevant strategies and policies that will achieve that vision or that will take you to that vision. It's still too early a stage in a very young fragile democracy to say that in fact the vision of the ANC is even the correct vision. Vision is different from promises that were made in the elections. We have not seen that the ANC has had the capacity to actually fulfil those promises which will then take them to their vision. So it's very young, it's a very young democracy and I think you have to, in a period of five to ten years, be able to see the various lines emerging which will then show even maybe two different visions or different directions. But it's not as simple as that.

POM     How would you say that your vision is different from that of the ANC?

PDL     Our vision might even be the same and the vision is a general thing that we would all like to see at the end of the day that we attend to the needs of the majority who have been historically deprived. It's the same constituency we're talking about, the same African constituency that the ANC, 99% of the ANC's membership comes from the same constituency. Why it's important for the PAC to remain within the political scene is to give that constituency, which is the majority in the country, the option and the choice of having to have one or two political parties. There is no way that the Democratic Party or the National Party or any of the old white-based constituency parties, it would take a longer time for them to get entrenched in that community. We and the ANC are entrenched there and as being the most vocal and most known within the country and therefore it's important for the PAC to remain there.

POM     Could you give me one reason why I as a resident of a township or whatever should vote for the PAC rather than the ANC?

PDL     Even when it comes to voting today, again, and I answer your question now, again it is that one electoral base that you have and the electorate will really vote for the party who attends to their day-to-day issues. If the PAC is not there to attend to or raise the day-to-day issues, bread and butter issues of the people it's obvious people will not vote for them and that is what we have recognised, that we have failed to be there at the time when the people, the grassroots, the poor people need the PAC because we did not have an effective mass political programme. And this is also one of the issues that we are going to address now because you can't be sitting back and hoping and praying that people will vote for you. You actually have to illustrate to the people that you can help and this is what the ANC has done. The ANC through various mechanisms, through various ANC aligned NGOs, community based organisations were there and they are still there to attend to the problems of the communities. The PAC must do the same and it is only then that the voter will then have a choice. Right now they don't have a choice.

POM     Right now you get roughly 1% of the vote and the ANC gets 66% of the vote. How long will it take before you become a viable alternative to the ANC, where do you get the resources to become that viable alternative and what kind of policies do you develop that are different from the policies advocated by the ANC?

PDL     This is what we are going to do now in June. We've started a process where we are going to call this convention together, where we are going to analyse and debate and discuss where do we find ourselves now, what is the reality and where do we want to go to, how do we get there and for whom are we designing these policies. Those are the issues that we are now going to address head on for the first time in the PAC, since the unbanning. When we were unbanned we still ran on the old outdated PAC polices and principles without adjusting to the new dispensation and that's why we have these problems today.

POM     Would you say that the PAC as a political organisation has in many respects been too much under the thumb of its military wing, under APLA, that APLA has exercised a degree of influence out of proportion to its importance?

PDL     Yes I would say that we misread the input of the armed struggle. The PAC used to say that the armed struggle is the principal form of struggle and were hoping that you can get a takeover in this country through the armed struggle. When it became clear many years ago that that's virtually impossible because you were up against one of the best armies in the continent and what the PAC should have done at a much, much earlier stage was to try and re-adjust its methods so that the armed struggle was not seen as the principal form of the struggle but rather mass mobilisation and mass political programmes. So it was misread, yes.

POM     Does APLA still have a residual influence that's still there, that's out of proportion to the realities of politics in present day South Africa?

PDL     When you say residual what do you mean?

POM     Is there still an excessive militaristic influence in the party that believes that the struggle isn't over, that the struggle must still be pursued?

PDL     No, no, they have also come to accept - one positive thing that came out of this conference was that for the first time it was now, in the PAC's decision making structure a decision was taken anonymously that the slogan "One settler one bullet" must be stopped, that the PAC has stopped the armed struggle on 16th January 1994, that is not an option any longer and therefore more concentration must be given and that looks at demilitarising the militants that we've had in the PAC.

POM     If tomorrow morning you were to join - if you were in the ANC rather than the PAC, what difference would it make to your political belief system or the goals you are pursuing or the things you are trying to achieve?

PDL     Well you know, Patrick, I'm a different type of politician. To me it is not really what a political party - I've got my own personal commitment. Whether I'm in the ANC or the PAC I will still like to do what I am doing today. What I see is happening not only in the ANC but in other political parties is that politicians in South Africa today, because of the transition that we find ourselves in, they don't have that free conscience, that free mandate. They can't vote the way they want to vote, they can't say what they want to say because they are bound by this clause in the constitution, 43B, and I think it makes it difficult for any politician to operate under such circumstances.

POM     That is the clause that says you can't cross the floor?

PDL     You can't cross the floor and if you do then you are out of politics, that type of thing. There are lot of other influences.

POM     That's gone in the new constitution I would assume?

PDL     Yes it will be going. You still see a lot of shift. I think once that clause is out there will be a lot of shifting from one party to the other, most probably some new alignments and so on. But to me it will make no difference whether I'm in the ANC or the PAC. I think in the PAC I still have the leeway to say what I want to say and to do what I want to do. I am not certain whether if I had to be a member of the ANC tomorrow I will still be allowed to do the same, to say what I want to say because my conscience tells me to say so. I don't think that the PAC will disappear completely. I think there is a concerted effort now more than ever before that we should pull it together, at least as far as I am concerned it's the last chance. If you don't do it now then if you ask me the same questions four years down the line and we're still discussing the same problems I will definitely say to you there is no hope.

POM     To go back to the constitution for a moment, do you see the constitution that's emerging now as being significantly different from the interim constitution or merely being kind of a fine tuning of it?

PDL     No, no, I think it's definitely better than the interim constitution if you just look at the language for instance, if you look at a lot of the issues that were dropped. The interim constitution had just about everything in it. It's a far more streamlined constitution but it's important that this one will have more legitimacy because it's being written by elected representatives, the public had an opportunity to make their input and I think in comparison to the interim one this one will be better.

POM     You say it will have far more legitimacy but it won't have legitimacy insofar as the IFP will say they will accept it but they will not regard it as being a legitimate constitution. On this issue, why do you think it is, everyone agrees that Mandela, Buthelezi and De Klerk signed an agreement on the 19th April 1994, everyone agrees that they set out on a piece of paper the things that were the issues that were the outstanding issues that would be put to international mediation and yet here is Mr Mandela, regarded as being the ultimate man of his word, who on this particular occasion won't keep his word. Why not call in a mediator and he may sit the three of them around a table, listen to them for an hour and say, "There's nothing to mediate, I'm going home", in which case Mandela can say, "I've kept my word". Why is he balking so much at this one?

PDL     Just without looking at the content of the agreement it's a matter of principle too. In this particular case it's a matter of principle that you must honour your agreements and there I can say many of us are disappointed that the President did not honour, or doesn't want to honour that agreement. The other one, the agreement that was reached was more sort of a tactical one to get the IFP to participate. I think the ANC knew quite well then that they were not going to honour this but it was merely a way of getting them into the elections. It is disturbing and if that agreement can be honoured and it will mean it will bring peace to strife torn KwaZulu/Natal. I really have serious problems that it can't be done because mediation in any case is not binding. Mediation is a way of trying to bring parties closer together. If the mediation failed the parties have the option to revert back to their original positions and I don't know why the difficulty, whether it is just politicking, whether it's just grandstanding, what really is behind it I don't know. It puzzles me like many other people are puzzled in the country.

POM     But no other, as far as I know and this could be incorrect, there has been no concerted effort on the part of the other parties to stand up and say to the ANC, "You're wrong on this one."

PDL     Oh no, we've been doing so consistently, most parties. You know the Shell House debate, the debate just recently about when it came to the traditional leaders in KwaZulu/Natal, I think many people and many academics, many institutions have said that. It seems to be falling on deaf ears.

POM     Just on Shell House, again Mr Mandela stood up in parliament and said, "Listen, I take responsibility for Shell House. I ordered the ANC to protect Shell House, to shoot if necessary", which they did. He prevented the police from having access to the building after the incident, which many construe as obstruction of justice. Do you think that under the terms of the Truth & Reconciliation Act that he should have to go before the Truth Commission and apply for amnesty like other people who have ordered murders?

PDL     I don't think he has ordered murder. If he has issued the instruction that they should protect the ANC headquarters at whatever cost, as a leader you are entitled to do that. If it then further leads to murders, which you can say it was planned murders, I think it's difficult just to give a one line answer to it. You have to have more facts at your disposal. I can remember the last briefing we had with Madiba where he informed us that in fact they now have information that those Inkatha people were taken there by the police and it was the police who allowed them to go through and so on. So I think maybe if it gets to a court of law where the actual facts are on the table, even though he had ordered that they should protect, I just personally feel that it might come out that he wasn't wrong. But it remains to be seen what the facts will bring up. Whether he should go to the Truth Commission? Most probably if some of the Inkatha supporters who were injured there or lost families they go to the Truth Commission then and he will be asked to respond, I am sure he will do so.

POM     Do you think the Truth Commission is going to work?

PDL     That's another one that we have to see how time goes. Just from what I've read in the press the past few days it looks to me that many people have now found a platform where they can speak about their problems.

POM     Just two last questions. Sorry, can you just finish what you were saying?

PDL     On what now?

POM     We were talking about the Truth Commission.

PDL     Yes. I just get the impression that it's given a platform to people, to victims, to share their trauma and their experience and somebody is listening to them and many of them are saying that they don't want revenge, they merely want to know what happened to their children, to their husbands and fathers. And again we are just at the telling stage. I think that once we arrive where it comes to, after people have said their say and they now want compensation and the compensation is not favourable to the victim, the victim might say it was not worth the while. So I think we have to watch, monitor this process and see how it's going to evolve.

POM     Just two other things. One is, what if General Malan and the other generals are all found innocent? What kind of reaction do you think that would provoke in the black community? Would people just accept it? You know that in the United States a couple of years back there was a man named Rodney King, a black man who was beaten up by police, it was on video and everyone could see it but when the police were tried they were acquitted and the black community erupted in anger and burned down half of Los Angeles. What would be the impact, do you think, on blacks here?

PDL     The blacks have always been very tolerant people in some way. It remains to be seen what will happen then. I can't honestly, Patrick, I don't want to be a prophet, but I can't think that there will be that kind of excessive anger that will lead to something like what happened in Los Angeles. And also the Malan trial, unlike the Los Angeles one where it was daily, right through the day in your newspapers, your television and that, I don't think the Malan trial is getting that much exposure so the people can follow it.

POM     And last, you have this increasingly acrimonious relationship between what would be called the ANC and white liberals that degenerated into the so-called debate on television between Dennis Davies and Barney Pityana. What's at the root of the hostility?

PDL     I think in the case of Barney and Dennis ...

POM     I'm using that as an illustration, but there's a tendency to say ...

PDL     Yes, but it's just not that. Anyone for that matter, whether you are a liberal or a black or an academic or an institution you're just not allowed to criticise in this country any more. I myself have been called a racist by the MEC for Health in KwaZulu/Natal, Mkhize, and said I don't care about black people dying, on this whole Sarafina thing. My simple response was that democracy, accountability and transparency knows no colour, but there is an increasing intolerance and arrogance being displayed by ANC leaders which I think is not doing them good. I think what should really be done in this country is that black people must also learn to play and to operate within the rules so that you don't open yourself to unnecessary attacks. But if you think that because you are in power you don't need to go by the rules or perceive standards and you can just do what you want, you open yourself up for attack and I think this is exactly what we are experiencing now. Yes, as far as the white liberals are concerned maybe we've not heard enough during the apartheid years about some of these characters who are surfacing now who all of a sudden now become the people who pretend to have been in the front line of liberating this country. There are a lot of characters who are surfacing, not Dennis Davies, Dennis Davies we all know him for many years. He's not a racist. We know what Dennis went through himself because he put his head out as a white person during those years. There are more and more of these characters surfacing and saying, supposedly want to know what is wrong and what is right and it's a worrying thing because it's affecting everybody. You just don't know whether you can criticise, even if you criticise constructively.

POM     Do you think in that sense there has been a slight drift towards South Africa become more of an autocracy where the ANC is not establishing a one-party state but has leanings in that direction where it is intolerant of opposition, the more it entrenches it's own power?

PDL     I think they suffer from an inferiority complex even though they are in power, even though they are there, there is some complex here. People should move away from those racist connotations and actually pander to the view that, yes, look blacks can't govern this country. I think if that view is held by these white liberals what the ANC should do, the ANC should prove them wrong and just take up the challenge rather than feeling that there is this complex that we're not doing things right. It will have to be thought through but I think it's also just another development but a very key development that you can't just ignore because depending on how we handle the situation now, how it will influence the future of this country because if you want to silence everybody and say that because I am a black person I can't do anything wrong, that's basically what it's saying now, it's not acceptable.

     My view is that all of us must say in this country that, yes we are in this mess together, we are all learning, the one should complement the other but then also accepting that there are these tendencies who claim to know all. But then of course the other reason why this is surfacing is because most of the government departments are run by white consultants. Last year we paid over five billion rand to each who use the same white consultant intellectual liberal to run your department for you, and then another white liberal outside criticises. There's also something wrong there. You must then be consistent because it's the same white liberal consultants who were running the departments for ministers and were earning a lot of money. I tell you, black consultants just don't get work from government. They can't even get an appointment never mind work from government.

POM     Have you tabled questions in parliament about this?

PDL     Yes, yes, and also from the Democratic Party. They spend a lot of money on consultants. That's besides that each and every minister is allowed to employ two advisors. Each one of them earns R28,800 per month, each and every minister has got two advisors, and you must look at some of the advisors that some of these ministers have. If you look at, for instance, the Department of Transport, the previous Director General was a Mr Scheepers and this Mr Scheepers then was replaced by an Indian guy called Mr Khetso Gordhan as the new DG, and then this Scheepers was employed as a special advisor to the minister. So he got his golden handshake and he still comes and earns that money. There should be a more proper arrangement of transfer of skills. You see those who have the skills also don't want to transfer it, they actually want to sell it. They are making money with the skills that they have, which they acquired during the apartheid years. So I think the shift should be to employ people who can impart skills that can also empower the black people.

PDL     Patrick, I have to run now. Anything more?

POM     Of course I do, but - 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.