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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

24 May 1996: Ramaphosa, Cyril

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POM     Cyril, let me ask you first about the constitution. On a scale of one to ten where one would be something that you're not very satisfied with and ten something that you are very satisfied with, how would you rate the constitution?

CR     I would give it an eight and a half, possibly a nine. Let me say I would give it a nine. I am quite satisfied with it. Like I think any document that you prepare, particularly a constitution, I don't think it's flawless, I don't think it is without any mistakes. Given the time that we had to draft and finalise the constitution and be involved in a process of consultation I think we did very, very well. Had we had another six months or another year I think we would have produced something slightly better but maybe the pace would have been slower and would have been rushed as it was rushed towards the end.

POM     When I ask this question of people who were involved in negotiations who were with the ANC and when I ask it of people who were involved in negotiations who were with the NP, ANC negotiators consistently give the constitution a higher rating. Why do you think that is so? What do you think in the end were the dissatisfactions, the lingering dissatisfactions of the National Party with the constitution?

CR     I think the National Party probably did not get everything, I shouldn't say everything, didn't get as much as they would have wanted whereas we got quite a bit of what we wanted.

POM     Were you in a sense in the driver's seat from the beginning. I mean that at Kempton Park the deadlock breaking mechanism was that if agreement wasn't reached that the constitution of the majority party or the draft constitution would be put before the people in a referendum and if it passed by 60% it became the constitution of the country and that at the end of the road in a way the NP had sealed their own fate when they accepted that deadlock breaking mechanism because you were always going to be able to get 60% of the vote?

CR     Indeed.

POM     And that was like Damocles' sword, it was there, you didn't have to spell it out.

CR     We didn't have to spell it out but it helped to remind them towards the end and I kept on saying to them that if they remained intransigent on a few issues and in the end insisted on not even voting for the constitution then they were actually just giving the ANC a blank cheque to write the new constitution of the country. I think when that message sunk in, particularly the other aspects of that message which were we would withdraw all concessions we had made and that you could face a situation where you actually had an ANC constitution and they would lose all the other areas where they had forced us to make concessions, I think that must have terrified them.

POM     Now one thing they dropped rather quickly, and it had been one of the planks of their own constitutional agenda, and that was that there would be some form of power sharing after 1999 and then it's like just one morning they said that's out, we are no longer going to insist on that. Was that because they were receiving from the ANC an absolute no, period, this is not negotiable?

CR     Yes. That they got very clearly. It was not even a matter which we even wanted to start thinking about, even considering because that was not on. And then they threatened during those talks that, well if that was going to be the case then they might be forced to leave the government of national unity. And we then said, well so be it, because we couldn't see our way clear to bind the country to compulsory power sharing whatever way it could have been constructed and just to keep them in a government of national unity, we just couldn't, too much was at stake. It had to do with the honour of the ANC, integrity and what the ANC had said to its own constituency when it agreed to government of national unity and said it would just do it for five years.

POM     So their walking out of the government of national unity was in a sense a direct result of the absolute unwillingness, not just unwillingness, the absolute blanket no to any form of power sharing after 1999?

CR     Precisely.

POM     So it wasn't unexpected when it happened?

CR     It was not unexpected. They had said it to me. They had said it to the President. The two of us were in the end involved in these negotiations on this particular issue.

POM     How about the absence of the involvement of the IFP? When I talk to some of the people, many of the senior people on their side they say they see this as an imposed constitution, they will not accept it, they are very bitter over the fact that international negotiations did not take place. You had Professor, what was his name, Okumu saying recently, I just quote him, you probably heard of it:-

     "I think morally Mangosuthu Buthelezi and the IFP have a point when they feel betrayed. Whether you like it or not that is the issue, once an agreement is signed and it gives certain undertakings surely those undertakings should be adhered to unless all the signatories say that the agreement is no longer valid."

     This was the man who brokered the agreement. My question in that context would be, why not call in a negotiator, he sits down with you, the President, with Dr Buthelezi, whomever, he listens to the various presentations, he looks at his watch and says, there's nothing here to negotiate I've got a plane to catch and I'm out of here. You've honoured your commitment and it was a commitment not that you had to accept what the mediator said but simply that one would be consulted.

CR     I suppose you could have done it that way but those were not the terms of the agreement. The terms of the agreement were the parties had to settle down to negotiations on the outstanding issues and if they could not find each other, if they could not reach agreement then the question of international mediation would then come into play. What did the IFP do? They walked out of the Constitutional Assembly no sooner than we had started and we said, "But let us deal with those issues first, maybe we can reach agreement amongst us without bringing in international assistance. We have a Constitutional Assembly now, democratically elected, where all those people with credentials and legitimacies sit, let them go through the issues, if they fail we call in the international people." No, they didn't want it that way. They wanted international mediation to take place before we even started dealing with the issues that they were most interested in which is provincial governance and we hadn't even reached, in terms of our work programme, the question of provincial governance, and they walked out. We kept asking them to come back but they refused. So it's not as simplistic as all that, as bringing an international person in. You had to debate the issues and find areas of difference. And as it has turned out they have marginalised themselves out of a history making process, that of being part of the drafting of the constitution. Secondly, they lost an opportunity of driving home their demands to the ANC, demands that we finally agreed to without even their insistence, things such as exclusive powers for provinces. That we've agreed to. We could have gone even further if they had been there. I am sure about that. So they lost a golden historic opportunity and only history will judge them.

POM     Why with regard to their own constitution were they in such a rush to have it passed and ready to go to the Constitutional Court before the Constitutional Assembly wound up its proceedings on the national constitution?

CR     They wanted to rush because they wanted to finalise their constitution which would set out the powers that they wanted to have which they wanted to be acknowledged, recognised and accepted by the Constitutional Assembly. In the end there was no agreement there, no agreement whatsoever. They then had to agree on putting some of those provisions in suspense. Initially there was supposed to be a wish list. In the end they agreed to put them in suspension to await another process that they would embark upon in Natal. There will be a Constitutional Commission that will look at what sort of powers they should have. Now had they participated at national level in the constitution making body they would have emerged with a very, fairly reasonable constitution which would have taken on board some of the powers that we've outlined in the national constitution. So the rush was completely a waste of time. It was a futile exercise and from reading that constitution I would be surprised if the Constitutional Court certifies it. It is uncertifiable.

POM     Is it true that, I was talking to one of their ministers yesterday and he was prepared to say that their rush to get the constitution through and their need for the ANC support, to do that meant that in the end the ANC had the upper bargaining hand because they thought it came down to you either want your constitution passed or if you do then you're going to have to whittle away, make concession after concession after concession. He said, and we made them in order - the rationale was that because we wanted an inclusive constitution we wanted the ANC to be part of that. Do you see that as genuine?

CR     It's not. They didn't. If they had their way they would have been a lot better off without the ANC having played a role. But we had done our homework, we knew that they would not get a two thirds majority and in the end they preferred to go the inclusive route because they knew they would not get a two thirds majority and the ANC had to be part of that two thirds majority or the ANC had to agree that some of its allies in that Assembly could be part of that two thirds majority and as it turned out the only agreement that could be struck was an agreement that put a number of clauses in suspension, and it ends up not being a constitution. So it was a real victory for the ANC.

POM     He now says that the ANC is going to oppose the submission of the constitution to the Constitutional Court for certification, you are going to in Natal.

CR     Certain aspects of it, not all of it, but at national level we will be opposing all of it.

POM     When you look at President Mandela, maybe whose biggest legacy to history will be the extraordinary lengths he has gone to bring about reconciliation in the country and the way he has bent over backwards to alleviate the fears of whites often in the face of criticism from people in his own constituency, why when it comes to KwaZulu/Natal is there this total breakdown in the ability to draw the two sides together?

CR     It is a political problem and you must understand what the other side is trying to do and achieve in Natal. They are essentially trying to drag Natal, the whole of KwaZulu-Natal, back into the feudalist era which is completely devoid of democracy, tolerance, any form of understanding or reconciliation. What Buthelezi essentially wants is to have a feudalistic fiefdom and that is irreconcilable with any democratic principles that we uphold as the ANC and you must therefore expect the President of the ANC to find it completely unacceptable that you could even begin to have a reconciliation between a feudal type of order and a democratic order. It's not doable, it's not possible.

POM     So this is a fundamental clash of values?

CR     It is a fundamental clash of values.

POM     Again, they are convinced that when local elections are held there, not just convinced, I mean convinced to the point of where in politics you don't do it, you set expectations at such a high level that when you don't meet them you are perceived as a failure even if you win, but that they will win, that they have the rural areas, they have a stranglehold on the rural areas, they have large support in the townships and the hostels and that as long as, as somebody put it to me, that as long as this conflict continues the IFP will continue to win elections in KwaZulu-Natal.

CR     I don't believe so. They will certainly win the rural areas. I think they do have that sewn up in a way, but the urban areas are a different matter altogether. The ANC has enormous support. The IFP has been losing support amongst the minority groups also. If the elections are fraud free I think we will win, we definitely will win.

POM     Just talking about fraud free, and we may have talked about this before, I know that after the elections in 1994 that Harry Gwala wanted to take the case to the courts to fight the results and for reasons of, again, national unity the NEC said no, let's accept what's happened. But is the ANC to this day still convinced that they won that election, that it was stolen from them?

CR     Yes, we are convinced that we did win the elections. There was massive fraud and in the end I think even the IEC had to juggle all the coins to determine the victor. We definitely did win and this time round if we make sure, which I believe we are going to do, that there's no fraud in the elections, we should see a completely different result.

POM     I would like, since I'm publishing nothing until the year 2000, I would like to talk a little bit about your decision to leave politics, something in which you have been engaged in most of your adult life whether as the head of NUM, whether as a leading figure in the UDF, whether as the head of the welcoming committee that was set up when President Mandela was released. One of the first pictures I saw of you that year was you holding the microphone as you were beamed around, he was reading and you were beamed around the world. To being elected Secretary General of the ANC, being carried shoulder high by the crowds on that day, to receiving the most votes in the election for the National Executive, to spearheading the negotiations on the interim constitution which almost every objective believer believes that you simply out-negotiated the National Party, to bringing to fruition this constitution within the time frame set up, within budget maybe perhaps more remarkably, and again, it's generally accepted that the ANC out-negotiated the National Party. What considerations would allow you to take no position in government? Is it a question of it was Thabo or it was me and the President made his decision and that I've got to move on with my life? If Thabo did become President you could be Deputy President, do what he's doing now and let him run round the world and he can only serve two terms anyway and you're a young man, in fact you would be younger than he would be if he assumes the presidency whenever he assumes it. What were the compelling forces that led to your decision?

CR     We must talk about that in another year. Would you rephrase the question in another year. Let's do that OK. I would like to see how a few things have changed. I mean you've analysed and identified certain crucial things that have happened in the past and maybe in a year I will be to talk a little bit more freely.

POM     That's fair enough.

CR     That's a promise I make.

POM     Let me then talk a little bit about black economic empowerment and the role you will play in that in Johnnic. Some say this is not about black economic empowerment, it's about a black elite getting rich and that there's going to be no trickle down effect and it won't really affect the manner in which the average black person lives his or her life or affects the quality of their lives. I want to leave that on the one side. And then on the other side, since I started this study I've interviewed every Minister of Finance from Barend du Plessis through to Liebenberg, I haven't got Trevor in his new role yet, but it was Derek Keys who said to me when I talked about employment, he said, "We can't create jobs, if we can decrease unemployment by 1% a year between now and the year 2000 we will be very lucky." And every year I've gone back to him and asked him the same question, I said, "Have you modified what you thought?" And he says, "No." I asked Liebenberg what can be done. Nothing. I've asked leading people in all parties what can be done about unemployment. They come over with vast rhetoric but no-one can show or no-one indicates that you can make a significant dent into the unemployment problem between now and into the next century, that is moving it even from say 40%, if it's around that, to 35%, that it is more or less stay the same. Is the country not in danger of becoming where the divisions don't exist so much between blacks and whites as between those who have and those who have not?

CR     There is no doubt about it and if that is the picture they are painting it is and I think in a way it calls for the changing of the guard at the top, at the level of those who drive the economy. How can it be that we continue maximising profits enormously but we don't create jobs and in fact we shed jobs? How can it be? Beginning to touch on your first question which you put aside, I have not come in to the economic or business arena because I in the end became disappointed, much as we will talk about that in another year's time, I have come into it because I believe that there is a contribution that I can make and other people can make. There hasn't been effective black leadership in the economic area, the type that can through a vision, missionary zeal, be able to begin to address some of the things that we have been wanting to achieve economically, or politically rather. The whole notion of black economic empowerment is one that some of us feel very strongly about for both political and economic reasons and the answer is if you do not do anything effective about empowering black people in our country in a comprehensive way you do indeed run the risk of exactly what you have identified, this huge sort of gulf between the haves and the have-nots and that begins to create a very good recipe and good ingredients for dissension and could even lead to widespread upheavals in the country, and if you want to avoid that you have got to start doing something very, very meaningful at the economic level.

     I believe that quite a lot can be done and I don't buy the argument that empowerment of black people would just lead to just empowerment of the elite. I don't buy that. I think it can lead to real empowerment handled properly and it can also lead to the creation of jobs on an ongoing basis. For instance, you look at a number, just as an example, a number of international companies would like to come but they would like to come and get into joint ventures with black companies here. They don't want to get involved in portfolio investment which has been the case in the past two or three years, they want direct investment, direct investments that will lead to the creation of jobs. Now in some cases they find it difficult to come in because the monopolies in this country have a stranglehold on the economy. They find the environment for competition is severely stifled and once you begin to tackle the power that the monopolies have you start the empowerment process through linkages with international companies, linkages that can be beneficial to us in terms of creating more and more jobs. I think it is something that is eminently doable. The unbundling process of companies like Johnnic and JCI will be able to lead to something, to the launching of green field operations where we were able to add value by creating jobs and starting new operations factories and all that.

     For instance, a good example is something that I feel very passionate about, JCI mines are also going to be unbundled. I would like to be involved in that because I see through that the real empowerment of black people. For me that is mining, get involved. Part of the empowerment process will be to change the practises in mines, something that I have fought against for many years. We will be able to exploit some of the resources that we still have that still remain unexploited. It is possible, for instance, in the Free State area to open new mines and you can create a black mining house and if you create a black mining house it will have credibility, it will have legitimacy and I think it will have an added attraction to funding from a number of institutions and it will be able to explore the number of reserves that we still have in our country. Those would be your green field operations and you would be able to begin creating jobs.

     Of course the real motivation is profit, but I have always believed that whatever shade of capitalism you have it should be with a human face and the human face part for me means that you have got to be also looking at what is our national objective, is our national objective not to create jobs in our country, to ensure that the economy grows rather than to go to Brazil when I can open a mine here and if I put the equation or the elements of the equation together and find that I can still make a profit why run off to Brazil where I could reap maximum, super-maximum profits when I could do it here? So I think there are all those synergies that one can put together that can enable black economic empowerment to be real and meaningful and where you can amass a group of people who can help in terms of reducing unemployment and that begins to have a spin-off effect on a whole number of others.

POM     Yet it is a global phenomenon, what they call growth without being able to create jobs. Last year the country had its highest rate of growth in fifteen years and yet the unemployment situation probably got worse. You have the country entering an era of trade liberalisation which means removing tariff barriers. The country by most international studies is regarded as being highly uncompetitive both sectorally and overall. Jobs are going to be lost not created. The textile industry is probably a very good one. You have companies earning, if you look at Business Day it seems that every company is doubling or tripling its profits and you wonder where are the profits going to. Are they being put into property, shopping malls or are they being held, are they being ploughed back, are they being used to replace labour? And where does COSATU fit in this? As you well know the argument is that this is a high wage, low productivity country and that you have a so-called black elite who belong to, i.e. those who are members of unions, 1.6 or 1.8 million, and the rest are shut out, that unless you bring wages and productivity in line in some way you simply can't compete as a developing country in a global economy.

CR     I think there is that that can be said but I still believe that a number of elements of this broad equation can actually be changed, for instance, the question of productivity, low productivity. Yes we do have that but that too can be changed and the problem is largely the legacy of apartheid and, too, what companies continue to do today. What do companies do? Hardly any meaningful and strategic training being given to workers and I can cite quite a number of examples where in the mining industry we were able to treble productivity because of certain things that had to be done and were done properly between the miners, the miners' union as well as management. We can find answers. Of course the global phenomenon, as you correctly say, is to move more and more towards maximising profits without creating jobs. But it cannot stay like that for ever. It cannot. In Europe the rate of unemployment see-saws between five, six, seven, eight percent. I hear France at the most now has twelve percent but they never go beyond the fifteens or the twenties and never even reach into the forties where we are. Much as there will be trade liberalisation I think as our economy grows the economic policy can be structured in such a way that the emphasis is on jobs. The one problem is I don't believe that there has been sufficient sensitivity at government level on the unemployment issue. There hasn't been. If there was each time the President spoke, or the Deputy President and everyone, various economic ministers would just have been talking about jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs. It's a national crisis and I don't think there has been sufficient sensitisation. I don't think we have evolved at government level and at big corporation level strategies that can deal with this problem effectively. I don't think so and we have tended to be a bit slow, very lethargic in dealing with what I would call national crises. Crime is one and the whole question of jobs is another.

POM     Is there more sensitivity to pleasing, again, the international bankers, the IMF, the World Bank to the extent that ...?

CR     Yes.

POM     And maybe this is part of the new world order that most countries have lost some of their economic sovereignty, they don't have it any longer, you can't do what you want to do, there are too many external constraints on them.

CR     That's very true but you still have space, you can still have space because there is not total agreement on everything amongst economists.

POM     I used to be one, I know that.

CR     There isn't total agreement. For instance, the question of the deficit and restricting ourselves; we are being told that we have got to restrict ourselves to below six, and yet others who belong to another school will say, you can quite easily go beyond six and embark on major, major, major projects, infrastructural in nature and create jobs because that has a whole number of other spin-offs. And others say, yes you can allow your inflation to go slightly higher, control it at a particular point because you've got to stimulate your economy, let it go. Now we are trapped in a particular mould I think where we lack courage. I think there is quite a lot of too much caution even on things that I think we can be allowed to do. It's also a question of how we sell it, how we market ourselves. I talk too much.

POM     No. On that, in the business community, like with your talks with businessmen since the fall of the rand or whatever you want to call it, to what do they ascribe the devaluation and what factors do they think were within the control of government and what factors were outside?

CR     Some of them readily admit that a thing like what happens after Mandela is something that would have been outside of us, the concerns about his ill health that affected the devaluation as well. But I think those issues that they think were within our control were clarity on economic policy, clarity on, for instance, a question or issue like privatisation. Admittedly when the political situation seems a little bit unclear, uncertain to the analysts who start spreading all these panic buttons, once it appears like it is not clear or it's uncertain they add that into the boiling pot and it affects the question of the rand. Uncertainty over Trevor, for instance, which is also mentioned at times, is something that we could never have done anything about. Sometimes I think that the markets are really racist, I think so because you appoint a black Finance Minister and people raise their concerns, there's uncertainty in the market and what it essentially means to me is that whites will always be right for a position like that in an economy like ours. So those are some of the things that are raised and in a way it leaves us at the mercy of this animal, the market.

POM     If you were to characterise the government overall would you say this is a pretty timid government that allows itself to be dictated to too much by the external international community and that what we should be doing is developing policies that address our fundamental needs, i.e. the creation of jobs, and if we've got to take on the international establishment and fight them on it and say we can't do it under the rules of the game the way you've got them set up, we've got to make our own rules?

CR     I believe that we should look at the broad parameters, look at the frame that is there structured by the international community, the economic global village, and say within this frame we are going to determine a number of things for ourselves and we have different priorities, different objectives, our objectives are not similar to Switzerland, our needs, our challenges are not. And within this framework, without saying we are going to play outside the frame, within this framework we should be able to say these are our priorities and we are going to proceed to play the game in a particular way because we are a new democracy and all that. I think there could in some quarters be understanding and maybe we have been too cautious, too timid as you say, much too much.

POM     Just three more areas you can address quickly.

CR     Good because I want to go to the bank before they close.

POM     I thought you would have your own bank now! I thought they would be coming to you!

CR     No.

POM     One is on the Truth & Reconciliation Commission. When I talk to whites, ordinary whites, whites in parliament or whatever, their attitude towards it remains dismissive, indifferent. They don't follow it, they plainly have distanced themselves from its proceedings.

CR     They don't even understand what the point of it is.

POM     So that in this sense they are refusing to come to grips with the enormous damage they have done to black people in the past, they simply have no understanding of it. They think it was an incident here or grand apartheid, but they have no understanding of the way you were humiliated, robbed of your self-esteem, robbed of your dignity, treated inhumanely at every level. (i) How will that continue to affect race relations in the country if they cannot come some way to an understanding of the past? (ii) The National Party now sets out to say that they are a non-racial party, they are going to attract black voters in their millions and to me if they think black voters are going to vote for them in the short run or even the medium run it means they have no understanding of blacks and it's kind of condescending to think that people who oppressed you for 300 years that you're going to turn round now and vote for them as though they no historical memory, it's patronising. At the same time you have people like Roelf Meyer who says, well I understand the new direction, that the logical implication if we follow that path is that we will have to become a black party with black leaders and whites essentially play a much more minority role.

CR     Minority role.

POM     Minority role. Do you think if they don't understand the first part they can ever do the second?

CR     No they can't. The NP's project is dead in the water even before it gets off the ground. It will just never work. Just as they were completely wrong in their strategy in terms of misunderstanding the historical imperatives at play with the whole grand plan of apartheid and how they thought that they could out-manoeuvre the ANC and even emerge as a meaningful large party, they are still making the same mistake now. They have no hope in history.

POM     In hell.

CR     In hell, they have just no hope whatsoever of ever becoming a party that can be attractive, not to black people. They are blemished for ever. All they need to do is just to shut down that party and start again.

POM     So how do you develop an effective multi-party system in a situation of where the Conservative Party is wiped off the map, the PAC has practically disintegrated, the IFP is clearly a regional party, the NP and Freedom Front are representing diminishing constituencies?

CR     You can still find that there will be those voices, those groupings in, within, who can break away from the National Party, the Democratic Party, to create a centre party of some sort, and they can include black people. I think they can, and some liberal white people. I see a possibility of something emerging around the centre. I think as we progress, after the 1999 election that void will start emerging. It will be clear that it is a void that needs to be filled because the National Party cannot play the role of the ANC. It's what the PAC tried to do and it has lost and forever, they will never really emerge as a meaningful party. They will always be a minority party that adds weight to the left and on the right you can't count the IFP, you can't count the Freedom Front even because they are essentially racially based parties and the other one is more regional. So on the right what do you have? The Democratic Party will always be a small party, they can argue that it's a centre party or slightly left of centre but the centre is not there and a new grouping that can emerge can be the centre. It could well be even the National Party.

     But with regard to the first question on race relations, bigotry manifests itself in many, many ways and one of the ways that it manifested itself in this country was this well practised and well finessed way of white people just hiding their heads in the sand like an ostrich, completely oblivious to what's happening in this country. They were not aware and some of them did not even want to know. And I think the same is happening again with the Truth & Reconciliation Commission. They don't want to know. Those who do get to know are immensely moved by it all, they are touched, and the pity here, to digress a bit, is that it is not televised live on television. I don't understand why you can on South African television televise the O J Simpson trial and not do this historical process that is going to in some ways determine the future of the country. I just don't understand what type of mistake that is. But it is sad, it is very, very sad that white people are indifferent and this is something that is going to catch up with us as a nation.

POM     Does this inhibit the capacity, if this remains does it inhibit the capacity of the country to develop its potential both in democratic terms and in economic terms?

CR     I think certainly in as far as healing the wounds of the past. In social terms I think it certainly will have an impact, the reconciliation process and obviously that spills into other areas as well, the political life of the country. What type of a political life do we have if we have not come to terms with what happened in the past, all of us collectively and have dealt with it and have truly forgiven? As things are going now I don't see the National Party going to the Truth & Reconciliation Commission and saying collectively, "We accept responsibility and we apologise." That's the forum where they should do it. I don't see them moving in that direction. I see the ANC going there and saying we did what we did and where we violated rights collectively we accept responsibility and we apologise to South Africans. That I see coming from the ANC. But I don't see so much coming from the National Party.

POM     Last question and it relates to the others, and that is the kind of acrimony that has been increasingly apparent between 'white liberals' and part of either the black intelligentsia or part of the black political elite, what's the truth of that?

CR     I think there is a bit of elements of truth in the assertion by black intellectuals that your white liberals, white intellectuals are still essentially influenced by racist type of notions some of which are very subtle and it also, in my view, is based some form of reluctance and refusal by your white intelligentsia to accept that things are going to change and in the end they are going to be more and more in the minority and their voices are going to be less and less heard or vocal. What I find disturbing, and some of which you see in practice, is the subtle racist attitudes from these white liberals, white professions or intellectuals that even lack any form of tolerance. I find that very worrying. One is not saying that they must just accept the credentials of black intellectuals without questioning at a substantive level, but one is saying that all this needs to be seen in historical perspective and if they looked at matters in historical perspective, I cite one good example, for instance, the William Magkoba one. It's the most outstanding one. The behaviour by van Onselen and all the others in my view is something that could have been handled very differently and I think it was a reluctance on their part to accept that there is this outstanding black intellectual, and by the way I am not even suggesting that Magkoba did not do some things wrong. I think he has a particular arrogance but it is a type of arrogance that needs to be seen in historical perspective as well, that people like van Onselen had to tolerate and to understand in order to be able to relate to a person like Magkoba on an equal footing. The things that they then started doing looked at from black eyes, like mine, I would say could never have been done against a white intellectual. They were done against a black intellectual because he represented a particular threat somewhere along the line. This whole chain of attributes that he has, some of them represented a particular threat, maybe it's his arrogance, maybe it's his tardiness in terms of being an administrator and all that. I see that as being underpinned by a form of racism and it is the racism which is so subtle.

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.