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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

15 May 1996: Asmal, Kader

Click here for more information on the Interviewee

Click here for Overview of the year

POM     You were saying?

KA     I was saying that I think, although we're speaking now towards the middle of 1996, we still find a situation here that we have to maintain the equilibrium of the transition. Two years ago there was an iron law that transition had to be maintained. When we entered the government of national unity, it was proposed in August 1993, the reason was that of course there was a monopoly of power in the civil service, in the economy, the armed forces, the state machinery, and we had to therefore take that into account in order to plan for the future and therefore the fact that the President was able to get Constand Viljoen a few days before the election to come into the election, not only legitimised the election process for the lost Afrikaners, I wouldn't describe them as the right wing Afrikaners, they were rather the forsaken Afrikaners, forsaken by De Klerk. The coming in of the IFP was mostly due to the fact that they couldn't be left out. The only gain here was the election and they couldn't be left out and they came in, literally, a day or two before the elections. Now no-one could have calculated two years ago and certainly not some of the leftists who all analyse the nature of state power, what is the state, of how feeble Afrikanerdom was.

     Now the feebleness was due to two reasons. One is that there never was a coherent attempt like in other revolutionary situations, like for example the venom of the attack of the establishment against the French Communards in 1871, they used German guns to kill their own people, or what happened in Chile in 1975. Now there wasn't that degree of coherence, class or race coherence. We may have miscalculated that but I don't want to be too clever by hindsight on this calculation. Secondly, Afrikanerdom never was a united force in that sense. And thirdly it was a very orderly way in which the ANC presented the whole transformation issue. We didn't say Africanisation, we said transformation and in different ways ministries have dealt with it but we had to keep the system going because what results in desolation if governmental structure collapses.

     Like all departments mine was run and effectively still is run by Afrikaners. The difference is the assumptions are very different now. That's the great difference. The assumptions are to make the civil service representative, to remove gender and race discrimination, to ensure that services are provided in a non-racial way, and I think it's truly remarkable that within two years we have ensured that. Effectively with very little hiccups. I mean the real hiccups will come when we have to, to use this Americanism, down-size the civil service. Even then that is being done on the basis that they won't dismiss people, they can take retirement, not fill posts. We haven't gone as far as some of the countries go and since we are saying this, in Australia they are dismissing 1500 Foreign Affairs officials just like that, what I lived through in Ireland when university jobs were not filled for five or six years. We are not doing that and the orderly but systematic way has ensured that even if the Nationalist Party now leaves the government that the ANC government, and nobody talks about the ANC-dominated government which is what they used to say before, the ANC government is not chopping their heads.

     But it is still true that the equilibrium we have managed to maintain has still to be maintained. And as the President, you may have missed it, has said again and again that there are people who believe that the ANC defeated the whites in battle and that it was a kind of surrender. That's a misunderstanding. It never happened that way, mercifully, because I think the transition would have been very different if there had been total winner and loser. In a sense then the 1993 constitution was a peace treaty. Now the constitution is a social compact. Some people don't like elements of that compact. Fundamentally it's not different from the 1993 constitution. The fundamental assumptions are not different. The distribution of power is not different, that's what a constitution is about. But stylistically it is different.

     Again, it was written by consensus and you mustn't be too seduced by the so-called four or five points which led to the midnight and post-midnight negotiations, they are not matters of substance. The National party recognises you couldn't go to a referendum if we had failed on those four issues. One may be a more substantial, seemingly substantial matter, that's the lock out clause, but as a labour lawyer I know there's an inherent right to lock out that the employer has and nothing in the constitution says it's going to preclude that. So the fundamental issue then now is how do you maintain the momentum towards change and transformation and there may be very unpopular decisions to be taken. Unpopular decisions because we can't create the conditions for growth unless we cut down public spending which we have to, to create conditions of growth. We're not going to create jobs by putting state investment into jobs because we know it hasn't worked, so we're not going to re-nationalise iron and steel which have privatised. So there may be further tension but the tension won't be on racial grounds it will be on social and economic grounds because we have to cut down on the public service, cut down on expenditure in certain areas and develop expenditure elsewhere. We can't continue insisting that the problems of non-delivery are structural. We have to adopt more flexible and innovative ways of doing things.

POM     Minister, when you look at the constitution that was passed just a little over two weeks ago, on a scale of one to ten in terms of its comprehensiveness, its inclusiveness, its balance, its bill of rights, how would you rate it on a scale one out of ten?

KA     For its comprehensiveness ten out of ten. The reason is not a very positive virtue because it refers to every possible contingency that will arise. For me a constitution has to have a high degree of flexibility, conventions arise. What has happened here is that the parties have seen this as a contract with all the details to be included in it and there is extraordinary detail in it and it's possible but we might regret the details because details give rise to litigation. The more general things are, like many modern constitutions, I'm not one of those who believes that the American constitution is the (last word), after all there have been so many amendments to the bill of rights to a start, but I would have preferred a shorter and less comprehensive one in that sense. On the other hand in many ways a unique constitution in the world. There is a development of the notion of cooperative governance which is the centre, the province and local authorities. It talks of fears of operations, fears of jurisdiction rather than levels of government, which implies subordination and superiority. I think this is a very South African way of dealing with the whole question of whether you have unitary or federal government because the notion of cooperative governance has many federal features. In a sense it is an adaptation of the German experience.

POM     Now cooperative governance, could you be a little bit more explicit about what precisely that means?

KA     There is a duty in that chapter of the constitution that all levels of government must cooperate with each other, they must not interfere, that's a very federal feature, in the sphere of competence of another level of government. That's a very federal feature, unitary states give total supremacy. Then there is a division of functions between local authority and the province and the centre, but recognising that in South Africa it's not an academic exercise here, there are vast inequalities, vast inequalities in expenditure, inequalities in services, inequalities in the provision of services and therefore the central government is given authority to establish standards. Secondly, there is a carefully worked out formula for the funding and financing of the provinces which is a very federal feature, rather than in a unitary state a minister decides how much money is to be given for water development in the provinces. That's not so here. Then thirdly the emphasis on bulk allocations rather than specific item allocations. That's very much a federal feature too, it gives vast discretion to the local authority to do so. Fourthly, cooperative governance implies that disputes shall be settled not by litigation but by agreement.

     The agreement will come largely through the South African concept of the Council for the Provinces which is an integral part of parliament where each province will have ten representatives, six which are fixed and four who will be rotating. Each province will have one vote. So in other words a province will have a single vote representing, therefore, an authentic provincial position rather than disparate positions between parties inside a province. This will in fact mean that we now have a proper Senate although it's called the Council for the Provinces, because the previous Senate was really a replication of the National Assembly. The ANC had an automatic, in fact we have two thirds majority in the Senate by an arithmetical accident. Now this will generate genuine provincial positions which may, because all social institutions have a life of their own, may supersede party political positions, so for that it's very much like the German model. So again it's been a very creative adaptation.

     But I think the real prize, the jewel in the crown is our bill of rights. That's the real jewel in the crown because it has, from the lessons of other countries we have put down, that area of application will not be between the government and the state only. In the United States it took nearly 100 years to work out whether the bill of rights has direct impact on individual relations. It took nearly 100 years, and that gives rise to fashions. Secondly, we put affirmative action as a constitutional principle in a bill of rights, to provide redress for the past. Thirdly, we have economic and social rights in the constitution. We have therefore resolved the silly debate that the only rights that can be legally protected are the traditional political rights. Fourthly, we have provisions which are unique, like the right to information is a constitutionally protected right. The right to administer justice, in the United States you had to pass an Administrative Procedure Act to lay down fair procedures for decision making. This is in the constitution.

     And most important of all, in the light of what happens even in Canada under Trudeau, the provisions relating to the state of emergency, because all countries have to have a state of emergency, are the most tightly drawn anywhere. It's a real, as the Irish would say, a real spencil(?) operation, a real spencilling(?) operation on the capacity of the executive to use emergency for partisan political reasons. First of all whether the occasion demands an emergency is not judge-proof as in Ireland it is judge-proof under Section 28 of the constitution. A judge could say, there is no necessity for the emergency. The nearest you come to is the Lawless case in the European Convention of Human Rights, but even then having come to the conclusion that an emergency is an extreme measure it was not necessitated by the objective physical conditions. They declared that the margin of toleration would be in favour of the Republic of Ireland. So here it is not judge-proof, it is something that the courts can interpret. They can now second guess the executive with extreme power. So we follow the best practices we can find in the world. Secondly, there are certain rights far above what international conventions lay down which this government can't interfere with even in a state of emergency. We can't. Then if there is detention without trial it is for a very limited period, there's an access to lawyers of your choice, a doctor of your choice. This is in response to the existential position in South Africa that you were not even obliged to inform your family as to whether you were detained or, secondly, you could be moved from one police station to another and given the run around. Now even in detention there are rights.

     So on that scale the bill of rights very positively, it will be 8½ to 9 on that. I think the bill of rights will be the jewel and, of course, our special contribution in a common law country, the ultimate interpreter, the guardian of the whole constitution is the Constitutional Court which itself the executive does not appoint the judges as in common law countries they do. We have a special procedure for the appointment of judges. So overall, although it's very detailed and there are many provisions that normally you don't find in the constitution, that itself is part of that consensual model. So on the consensual model approach it scores very highly because the ANC, if they didn't have two thirds majority, in the end could have got its way. And so the ANC accepted not the need, accepted the wishes of minority parties to put in things about how the various public offices should be appointed like the Ombud, which we call the Public Protector, the Reserve Bank. Which country puts the Reserve Bank in the constitution? It's in the constitution and that's because the National Party believes the Reserve Bank and its independence is the Arc of the Covenant. Then we put in the Auditor General in the constitution. It's most unusual to put the Auditor General in the constitution. That's normally dealt with by legislation. So there are many things in the constitution to reflect the consensus model.

     I don't think it is possible to say how do you score on a scale as far as the consensus model concerned. I mean, for example, the National Party wanted power sharing to continue after 1999. Well the ANC's belief was that having proposed the government of national unity, slightly force majeure because of the fatuous situation. We believe now that what is required now is majority rule within the constraints of a bill of rights and the constitution. Also I should say very late in the day we accepted, something with relevance to Northern Ireland which I mentioned at our last interview, the need to recognise certain rights, to exercise collectively of language, culture and religion. That's very late in the day. And this was to meet the Freedom Front's desire for self-determination which need not any more be territorially based self-determination. It's really the need for autonomous community development but in the context of nation building. So it is, whatever criticism I make about the details, that's largely as a scholar what I feel but there is a point beyond which perfectability of style has to give way to the exigencies of the situation. I should say that, of course, we have this Canadian expert as you know, the constitution written in plain language and so therefore it's understandable.

POM     Who is the Canadian expert?

KA     Oh I forget his name. He was resident throughout here, funded by the Canadian government and every piece, except one piece historically I must say, very late in the day the language issue came up and the Afrikaners wanted total equality in the sense that the present status of Afrikaans should not be interfered with and I recall the late stage Cyril asked me in that meeting, go and draft something. So I put in this clause recognising the marginalisation and the impoverishment of the languages, traditional languages, the state will encourage the development of all languages, and the phrase that appears there, which is a lovely evocative phrase, what the judges will make of it I don't know, but all languages shall have parity of esteem.

POM     Now I want to tell you a story.

KA     Now that is very interesting.

POM     Do you know what's so very interesting about that?

KA     No.

POM     Is that I coined that phrase for the Opsel Commission and it appears as one of our key recommendations throughout the whole Opsel Commission. It is based on ...

KA     Well you and I have obviously we didn't coin it, we got it from somewhere else.

POM     Obviously.

KA     This is very interesting isn't it? I must look at those.

POM     All throughout saying the idea must be to create ...

KA     You tell me now, what does parity of esteem mean?

POM     It sounds terrific, it's evocative.

KA     Right.

POM     It kind of supersedes the idea of equality. It's about dignity.

KA     That's right. And General Viljoen, he's not an English speaker, but he thought it was perfect, 'parity of esteem'. It's good to be creative sometimes.

POM     I must mark that phrase and send it to you. It's all over the place in the report.

KA     You would only make a copy? You don't have another one?

POM     Yes.

KA     OK, right, go on.

POM     Are you satisfied in your own mind, given the overwhelming support the ANC has in the country, that the National Party is in the midst of an identity crisis, that the Conservative Party has withered on the vine?

KA     Yes, extraordinary.

POM     The Freedom Front only can represent a diminishing community, the PAC for that matter for all intents and purposes withered on the vine and the IFP has shown itself, at least by the last local elections, to be purely a regional party not a national party, that the ANC is almost for the foreseeable future entrenched in power, will be in power and that this inhibits the development of a multiparty democracy.

KA     Well we do have a multiparty democracy. What you mean is a factual situation. Well we have in a sense that interests are represented not only by parties, we have an extravagantly powerful business sector which to a large extent calls the shots. What the confusion is, is how are interests represented? Interests are represented, you know this as a political scientist, in different ways, as an historian too. They are not necessarily represented through a political party. There are the labour interests through COSATU and other unions, the business interests through Chamber of Mines and SACOB, enormous influence they have. If you are talking about countervailing power then South Africa is very rich in countervailing.

     What we must be very careful about, and the Ugandan election is an example of that, parties must represent interests. The IFP is a purely chauvinist, a politically confessional type of party and therefore it is a regional party but based very much on chauvinism. The National Party's problem is that it is an ethno-chauvinist party, but everybody recognises it represents the interests of the wealthier section of the whites. The Democratic Party in the end is an ethno-chauvinist party. It represents the interests of the powerful and rich English speaking whites. That's the interest they represent. The Freedom Front represents much more the interests of farmers and of the urban poorer Afrikaners, the lower middle class, the Afrikaans alienated working class. That's the interests they represent. So that is why the PAC is a nothing in the sense that African, broad African interests are represented by the ANC, but not solely African.

     The golden thread of non-racialism is really very important. You create an artificial opposition and it's very interesting to see how the National Party will work and next year when I talk to you again we will see. If the opposition does not recognise some ground rules then we are in trouble because in all emerging democracies, like Britain in 1906 the Labour Representation Committee becoming the Labour Party, immediately the Labour Party accepted conventions of appropriate behaviour. You don't subvert the constitution, you don't subvert the armed forces, because before that there was a strong syndicalist radical tradition of incitement to mutiny, for example, in the armed forces. The Labour Party accepted ground rules and the Labour Party represented a particular class interest also. Here in South Africa it will be very tempting to have a very negative and therefore destructive opposition in South Africa and a volatile situation. I remember why Portugal, Spain, Greece in my lifetime went through long periods of fascism because the party system failed them. And that is why we have to give coherence and shape because the party system failed them, failed the people, because the interests that really controlled these countries found the party system not being able to moderate, modulate, to understand and to represent those interests. That's a problem. And so you had the rise of fascism.

     Now in a multiparty democracy we cannot afford to have a breakdown of the integrity of the constitution, so as a strong civil libertarian and stronger anti-racist, as someone who believes in transformation in South Africa, the ANC is the vehicle because basically the ANC is a coalition of various interests and so the effective debate of the last two years on a whole range of issues has been in the ANC. The direction of the economy, it wasn't Stals or Liebenberg or his predecessor who invented the idea of fiscal rectitude. It wasn't Stals or Liebenberg who said we mustn't borrow externally, because we know what happens if you borrow for consumption, we know what happens and the world is littered. The 1977 election that Fianna Fail fought in Ireland, you remember that, and Martin Donoghue borrowed the money. They won the election but for more than a decade they had the albatross of over-borrowing and the interest they had to pay and now with the extended economic development they are being very cautious about consumption. So we learned lots of lessons. So the debate took place there. The whole question of Martin Woolacott, The Guardian man, called the revolutionary notion of meeting basic needs, RDP, it was a pure gestation of huge debate in our movement which lasted two years, seven editions, seven editions of RDP document, and that became the policy of the government and like virtue, nobody attacks the RDP. In fact is has been adopted by even armaments manufacturers and the National Party.

     So the real debate on a whole range of issues takes place within the ANC and to an extent the government of national unity became both an irrelevance and an ... although I wanted the government of national unity to continue because it created a zone of confidence. If they saw De Klerk as their spokesmen, the civil servants, it was good to have De Klerk inside, but of course there were no rules of behaviour, rules of electioneering in the government. I mean how the IFP and the National Party have behaved in the last two years, the coalitions in Germany and Ireland wouldn't last a day, they will break down, because there were no rules, conventional rules of behaviour. So the short answer to your question is that because the ANC is a vast coalition of interests it's within the ANC that the debates take place. If I have a fear it is a fear not of any either minimalist formal opposition, the fear that we will stop debating. The crystallisation comes through debate. Debate gives rise to accommodation and the day we stop debating in the ANC that's when the danger occurs.

     Then you can have all your opposition. What happens there is the real corrosive influence in many western democracies that gave rise to the student agitation of 1968 and the Maastricht Treaty debates or the low level of participation in elections in the United States, is absolute cynicism that arises from consensus. And the real bane of a democratic system is not the absence of an opposition (I must write on this), it is the consensus between government and opposition parties. Then there is no debate, there is no place for dissidence and you must have in a democratic order a real place for dissidence. So my anxiety would not be about the absence of formal opposition, because you can't artificially create one. This instant nostrum that people have that there will be realignment of forces, well why the hell should there be realignment of forces? The ANC in exile can keep its unitary together in the murderous disruptiveness of the hit squads and Angola and Mozambique when the South Africans sent their forces, could keep their unit together, here it is not office that keeps us together. That's impossible. It is our need to carry out certain transformational functions in our society and that will carry on for the next two or three elections. After three elections I might reconsider whether I should vote for the ANC, myself, after three elections. That's a different matter because we need space, democratic space to carry out policies and I don't think the cynicism that is found in other countries is reflected in what ordinary people feel and desire. And I am not invoking ordinary people as a kind of abstract entity, I have constant contact with them as minister, not only during elections but virtually on a weekly basis. So I don't have anxieties about the absence of a formal opposition. I like in a parliamentary sense opposition there because I love doing a parliamentary debate.

POM     The thrust of debate.

KA     Yes, which we have in our caucus by the way and the caucus is much tougher to confront, 320 people, much tougher because they don't stand for long speeches, they don't tolerate bull-shitting, but once you raise the issue, I mean the National Executive Committee we actually debate of should the President be able to serve more than two terms, should rules, as we had a proposal, that if evidence is obtained in breach of the bill of rights, and nearly all the parties had agreed on that at negotiations. It comes before the National Executive Committee and we say, how can you have evidence obtained in breach of the bill of rights tendered lawfully in a court of law ostensibly to deal with violence? And the NEC, 90 of us, then told our negotiators, go back. Now there you are. There was an opposition. But on a civil liberties matter there was a consensus, it was a very immature consensus I must say, but there was a consensus. The countervailing one came from the most important organ of the ANC, the National Executive Committee. Now that's a very good example. All the parties can agree on what is an anti-libertarian thing and the real pressure comes from outside but within the authentic representatives of the mass movement. So as long as we can continue that tradition of overruling the President for example, so we don't have the Fuhrer principle in the ANC. That's why we have a limitation with the President, he can only serve two terms because it's very easy then to shape the constitution in your own image if you can serve for 15, 20, 25 years. So I am laid back about this.

POM     What role do you see for the National Party? I talked to Roelf Meyer the other day and I said the logical implication of what you're saying to me is that the National Party must become a black party with black leaders and whites playing a subordinate role in it. And he said, yes.

KA     Roelf Meyer said that? Well it won't be the National Party will it?

POM     It won't be the National Party.

KA     The National Party aspires, if you look at their programme called The Values Programme, aspires to be a Christian democratic party, but like all Christian democratic parties it can only be held together if it has the ability to be in power and the Christian democratic parties what holds them together, or the Tory party in Britain, is that they consider themselves the natural party of governance. No Christian democratic party anywhere has been able to be held together if there was not the possibility of office and power and Greece is a classical example. They don't have a semi-theocratic party in opposition, they have a conservative party. Now what the National Party aspires to is the Christian Democratic Party. What they call moral values is really, I challenged Mr de Klerk in parliament and Cyril Ramaphosa did, when he was talking about Christian moral values, his argument was these Christian moral values are of transcendental significance. Well he can tell that to the Marines that transcendental significance, but they actually believe that, but this is really a negotiating ploy. What gives it shape, coherence? It must be the value system of right wing, semi-theocratic approaches. Now I can't see how any black person would feel at home in there really, with a very different cultural tradition.

     So I feel that the National Party is a loser, nothing. If they have black leaders, or significantly I see, since you are talking about contemporary things, but last week Roelf Meyer was appointed leader of the Transvaal National Party. It wasn't Mr John Mavuso appointed. So much for the evolution in that direction, because the real power base is being head of a province, because the National Party in theory is a federal party so they have, well, equivalent to warlords in each province. But very significant there, they had a marvellous opportunity, they appointed this first ever black minister, without any office by the way, General Purposes it's called, but they didn't have enough either insight or enough understanding or they saw through him, but to keep the vote in the Transvaal you had to have a white, liberal, ostensible liberal. Well so much for their movement towards a black party, and particularly because he didn't have to be the leader, he was Secretary General which is his power base. Or are we to believe that the Secretary General effectively has now power? I can't see how the National Party has any credibility if all its leaders are black or African. Basically it remains an ethno-chauvinist party representing certain white interests.

POM     So in a sense it's engaging in a massive delusion to think that it can attract a significant number of black voters. In fact it's almost condescending to believe that people you oppressed for 300 years are going to turn around in the space of ten years and vote for you.

KA     As someone put it, I think myself, the National Party have been the engineers of apartheid, as a collective it has never acknowledged, as Wimpie de Klerk, the brother, the professor brother, that apartheid was evil. It was monstrous but greed was the basis of apartheid. They haven't acknowledged it. And think of the extraordinary sophistication of blacks, people forget that, until the motor of their misery, of our collective misery, until it makes this acknowledgment only time servers and opportunists can feel comfortable. For example, until we came into the Cabinet all the Cabinet meetings were conducted in Afrikaans. The prayer that began effectively was a white man's prayer. Right? We changed that. Our own comfort zones are very important to us. But I think this is a dilemma the National Party faces which it has to provide its own answers for. I think on a long term basis that the white parties don't have enough in common, and I go back to this, what interests do they represent? And the Freedom Front and the DP and the National Party represent divergent white interests.

POM     On the language thing there you threw me for an issue. I still find it surprising that on SAA announcements are made in English and Afrikaans.

KA     I find it very painful. That's the non-reconstruction of SAA. In fact if you want a quaint piece, the other day we passed a big dam. You know I am the only person who has renamed, and the pilot said, On the right is the Gariep Dam, formerly known as the Hendrik Verwoerd Dam. So I asked to see the Chief Steward and I said, Why does the Captain say that? We don't say we have now left Johannesburg International Airport formerly known as the Jan Smuts Airport. So it's a lingering thing there, it lingers there and, of course, Thabo Mbeki is right, we must not treat South Africa as a normal society. The ones who say we want normality are the ones who created the conditions for the great abnormality and to say it's normal is really to obfuscate, to confuse, and that explains, for example, the aggressiveness of some of the white students at the Pretoria Technikon who actually took the offensive and attacked the blacks, regardless of what you thought of the blacks saying, look there must be no dismissals because of non-payment, and they were peacefully demonstrating and the white students attacked them. So in other words, which some of the elders believe, the core value is still racism in South Africa. It's not that we are making a better fist of it in dealing with that core value and the constitution is a very important contribution to that. We mustn't delude ourselves. What you hear on the SAA is the revenge factor, that you can change what you like, we are in charge in the aircraft. So I make my dissent very clear each time that happens, that I don't understand English or Afrikaans.

POM     Where are all the other languages, that's what I was saying to the stewardess yesterday on the way down, Where are the other languages? What's for the Zulus here? What if I was a person who didn't speak English or Afrikaans and I was on the wrong flight?

KA     It's not that, it's the culture that matters. It's the statements you're making of over-lordship. So it doesn't matter. Every passenger of course would be speaking English, they wouldn't be travelling otherwise. Occasionally I have travelled with people, elderly people, who didn't understand English or Afrikaans and significantly in some flights they actually announced that there are people who can speak Zulu, Xhosa and Portuguese and if you feel more at home please talk to us. Now that's the more understanding approach. So you are making headway, particularly the younger ones. But as you know airline pilots are the most autocratic people in the world in their culture and attitudes. They are usually self-made men, they are highly paid and they know they have the lives of between 150 and 300 people in their hands and they virtually have the senior approach, isn't it? They may not be limited only to sexual feelings, but it is their arrogance, but that's a small thing. The response has either been of accommodation, which is a positive thing, you accommodate yourself because it's your job, your locality, your country, you accommodate. Or you resist. Very few people are resisting. Or you make the first signs of enthusiastic approval and support.

     And I have said again and again, since you haven't asked me, but I said after Mr de Klerk's budget speech twice now, Mr de Klerk does not show any, doesn't reflect the generosity of the - he does not make a responding gesture towards the generosity of the Africans. Not once. When Thabo Mbeki made that remarkable speech of I am an African, it was poetic, moving, it had a sonorous - remarkable, really, it was a thing of beauty. And De Klerk spoke immediately after that and he spoilt it by saying, I am an African and my parents contributed to the wealth of South Africa. It would have been better if he had stuck to his own speech. It required Tony Leon with his cosmopolitan background to say, God bless South Africa, Nkosi sikel' iAfrika. That was in a sense a response. But from De Klerk there has never been, it's narrow, introverted, tight, limited in vision and imagination.

     Now it's possible for people by great effort to overcome limitations of vision consciously and deliberately to do that, whereas for Nelson Mandela if you look at all his speeches going back to 1951, 1952, peaceful settlement of disputes, accommodation, reconciliation. In the midst of when he was underground in 1961 he asked for a national convention of the people. So for him it's a thread. Nobody can accuse him that he is betraying any particular interests as some of these Africanists tend to do, and it's a very important thread for him. Of course inherent in that is that remarkable instinct for generosity. I don't think it's tactical. When we stood down on the armed struggle he made this famous speech that we don't want to inherit a wasteland in South Africa. Now that may be an undertone of tactics but it was necessary for uMkhonto weSizwe, necessary to make South Africa ungovernable, that was our tactic. But deep down it's a very profound conviction for him. Now part of the problem has been that Mr de Klerk has not been able to make a similar statement of acknowledging the generosity of Africans. It's always a claim of victory. February 2nd 1990 was 'my' act was 'our' act, that's a claim of victory. That is why, although the new constitution fundamentally doesn't depart from the Kempton Park one, the Kempton Park one was more in the form of a peace treaty and this is much more consensual and this lovely word for constitutionists, much more autochthonous.

POM     What is that word again?

KA     Native hewn, native created, belonging to the soil as it were. It's a South African thing. Like Eamon de Valera tried to say that the 1937 constitution, to break the link with England. So autochthonous, all countries try to have that usually to create their autochthony as far as the process was concerned, to break the link with the British constitution in India in 1949, in Ireland 1937. Here it wasn't the link because the provenance is the same, on the authority of the old constitution we adopt the new constitution. The content and the approach and the style was much more autochthonous. Now we will have to wait till next year to finish.

POM     OK. Thank you. It's lovely talking to you.

KA     There's a lot of material in there that you can take as part of the record and I'll keep supplying you.

POM     Please do. I'll have Judy drop you a line and you can send it directly on to her.

KA     It's Massachusetts isn't it?

POM     Yes, University of - John McCormack Institute of Public Affairs, U. Mass, Boston.

KA     Get Judy to drop me a line.

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.