This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, 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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
01 Oct 1996: Van Zyl Slabbert, Frederik
POM. Dr van Zyl Slabbert let me first start with the constitution itself. The constitution provides for a system of multiparty democracy, it says so in the preamble. One, how would you define a multiparty democratic system?
VZS. Well I think in our context I suppose the two fundamental principles are the one that's called contingent consent, in other words that the constitution must make provision for the fact that if the party that wins the election doesn't win next time it will give up peacefully and that the new people can win. It certainly does make provision for that. The other one is, of course, certain fundamental rights that are bounded by the constitution, civil liberties and so on. So those two characteristics are part of our constitution. In other words there is nothing in the constitution that prevents the formation of parties, the registration of parties and inter-party competition. This came out very strongly also in the national elections and the local government elections. The fact that you may in most of the nine provinces have the dominance of a particular party you cannot blame on the constitution, the constitution makes provision for multiparty democracy.
POM. Do you think that at the moment there is the element of a multiparty system in place, that there is an effective opposition?
VZS. I would say at the national level up to a point, up to a point in terms of the rules of parliamentary procedure and parliamentary debate. Opposition parties get a look in at portfolio committees, they can debate legislation in select committees, they can participate in debates in parliament itself, they get a very good exposure in the press. So, yes, I would say that the parties have a lot of formal space even though they may be small parties, they have a lot of formal space to articulate their points of view. But I think perhaps most important, what came out recently in the local government election, is that where you had very strong inter-party competition, as in Natal and the Western Cape, it was very interesting that all parties fell back on basic democratic rules to pursue their rights, that that party was behaving undemocratically and therefore we demanded that you investigate, that kind of thing, that came out a great deal. It was not possible for the ANC as the dominant party in all seven other provinces, or as the dominant party at national level, to impose its will at that local level of election. That doesn't mean that you had, for example, in Natal no-go areas where one party prevented other parties from even canvassing, particularly in your traditional areas, but I am talking about the appointment of Returning Officers, I am talking about the rules of proper conduct where they had to come together and bargain with one another, even where you had warlords declaring peace with one another they would reaffirm basic democratic principles as the way in which to proceed from here rather than, say, let's go and kill one another. I mean the fact that they made peace in Natal at the last moment is an indication of that. So I also think certainly in the Western Cape where you have fierce competition between the National Party and the ANC there was a tendency to fall back on democratic procedure and democratic rules and even if they did not honour them themselves they demanded that their opponents should observe them, if you understand what I mean, that kind of thing. Now I suppose that's about as far as I am prepared to go to say, yes we have a basic kind of multiparty competition beginning to develop.
POM. But is there a multiparty system or any prospect of a multiparty system (a) with regard to a change in government in the foreseeable future and (b) with regard to looking at it in terms of it being an effective opposition?
VZS. Yes, I think it's very important to draw a distinction here between what the constitution formally provides for and the way in which politics plays itself out in practice. There is nothing, as I say, that constitutionally prevents an opposition party from getting the majority of votes and getting into parliament and being the government of the day. It's there, it's made provision. Whether that in fact will happen of course depends very largely on the composition and the fortunes of actual political parties in the field and there it seems to me highly unlikely that at the national level the ANC will be removed from office by electoral means, certainly not by 1999. After 1999 maybe internal tensions within the ANC would lead to a process of realignment, but I think generally speaking the pattern at the moment is that your opposition parties are pushing hard for realignment, redefining their roles, seeking new allies and partners, whereas your dominant party, the ANC seeks to consolidate it's support and keep the family together as it were. You can see signs of discontent, the Holomisa case, Winnie Mandela and so on, but generally speaking I would be very surprised if the ANC cracks up before 1999 or there is a significant split that enables a realignment process to consolidate and pose an effective electoral threat to the ANC in the 1999 election, that I certainly don't see.
POM. Are these rows within the ANC more, somebody referred to it as a political puberty, like part of the normal growing up process, of fights between politicians positioning themselves for power and position, is it part of the normalcy of things rather than something else?
VZS. Yes, well, you see if you look at the personalities involved, Holomisa, Winnie Mandela, it's more a personality thing, it's more a matter of hurt pride, of I suppose even delusions of grandeur rather than a highly principled stand on issues that can mobilise enormous political support. Holomisa loves playing the secretive guy who is in charge of vital information that could blow the whole thing apart. He loves that kind of rhetoric and so on, so he uses the Truth Commission as his theatre, as his stage to be dramatic. And of course the thing ran out of control there and then he falls back on rather legalistic arguments and then he suddenly discovers his populist roots and then he's all over the place trying to explain to the rank and file why he's the injured party and he really cares about them and so on. It's a spat, it's a spat, I don't think it's something that at this stage has the capacity to tear the ANC apart. There are analysts who argued that the ANC's economic shift to the centre, and there is no doubt that they did move to the centre, will alienate themselves from their populist grassroots support base and therefore there is a potential for populist mobilisation which could pose a threat to them and so on and so forth. I doubt that very much. I think that the prevalence of traditional politics along the whole of the eastern seaboard, i.e. Chiefs and their power over voters will soak up an enormous amount of popular discontent, so your populist support base is ...
POM. Could you elaborate a little on the power of the Chiefs?
VZS. Yes, the conventional assumption of populist politics is that there are alienated and marginalised masses suffering under conditions of extreme poverty who can be mobilised to pose a threat to elites and to party bosses who are living like fat cats. The poor will get at you, that kind of thing. Now the simple fact of the matter is that most of the poor people in South Africa live in areas controlled by traditional leadership in South Africa, from the Ciskei, Transkei, KwaZulu/Natal, Mpumalanga, across to the North West, in fact it's argued that 60% of the desperately poor live along that belt. They are very docile, conservative people who depend on the patronage of the Chief for stability and order and this came out very clearly in the recent local government elections. So they certainly don't pose a populist thing. If anything they pose a kind of conservative reactionary threat to emerging democracies all over the place. Where then would you find this kind of potential for political mobilisation? And I would argue you would find them in your large squatter settlements in the peri-urban and urban areas. There the people are who are extremely poor and battling but they are actually just beginning to be pulled into the economy of the metropolitan area. They are susceptible to crime, heavily into crime, and crime is also a way that keeps you out of politics, if you know what I mean, so you're not going to sacrifice that by becoming a martyr in the political field. Also the kind of populist support there is very amenable to political manipulation, sport or whatever the case may be.
. So the question that arises in my mind is, where is the potential support base of a populist nature for politicians like Holomisa? He is not an ideologue in the trade union sense of the word. He doesn't have an organised support base like the unions, for example, or a significant party. He cannot fall back on traditionalist support. He can try but it's not going to work. As K D Matanzima said of him, "Usually when I have trouble with a young man I talk to his parents. I don't know who his parents are." I mean that's a killer from a traditional leader because he's simply saying that he doesn't figure in traditional leadership; his nephew does in Contralesa, the other Holomisa.
. So what I'm really getting at is that if you're looking for a split in the ANC I would say logically speaking it would lie there in the tension between business, government and labour, i.e. labour as an ally of the ANC, if the ANC has moved to the centre it makes them vulnerable in this whole drive to becoming more competitive economically. Can they break and take on the ANC? I don't think so. I think what you most likely will find is an emerging cosy relationship between labour and government and business where they will agree how to divide the spoils amongst themselves. They will be under threat from the marginalised poor who will come to the cities but that will be contained largely in their dealings with traditional leadership so you have a kind of corporatist democracy that emerges here where large corporations in the field of politics at the elite level agree amongst themselves what that macro-economic policy must be, etc., etc., and then they move towards consolidating that. That doesn't allow for a great degree of small party formations that can challenge the dominant party and so on and that's really the fundamental dilemma that confronts a party with enormous historical baggage like the National Party. It can now sing with a choir of angels about the virtues of liberal democracy and human rights and justice and so on, the problem is nobody believes them. I think their history is just too heavy on them so they need an infusion of credible black leadership with impressive struggle scars, an impeccable record from the struggle who now say, "I have been in the belly of the whale and I've seen what they are doing to the country, I will leave them and now I will move into opposition, follow me and save the real South Africa", a la Cyril Ramaphosa or somebody like that. It's not going to happen. I don't see that. And certainly Holomisa lacks the credibility and the struggle scars to be the kind of person to lead that.
. So what am I really saying? I am saying that the formal structure of the constitution makes provision for multiparty democracy and the peaceful change of government. The practical interplay of politics makes it highly unlikely that the ANC will be unseated as the dominant party in the foreseeable future. It will be the dominant party but it will most likely be confronted with a strong traditionalist element in the form of the IFP and Contralesa and others who form a traditional support base, with the likelihood of, say, an Afrikaner ethnic party under Viljoen and so on. The rest will be liberals trying to find a niche and competing on a 'me-tooism' basis with the ANC, because the ANC essentially has taken over the rhetoric of liberal democracy.
POM. So the talk about political realignment after the next election which some people believe is an inevitability may be more of a pipe dream than anything else?
VZS. Well let me put it to you this way, it certainly will not happen until after the next election, the way I see it. What you're talking about is between now, which is almost the end of 1996, and the beginning of 1999, you're talking virtually just two years and three months until the elections take place that you can have this big breakaway and a formation and realignment. I don't see that, I don't see that. I think that's a pipe dream. But there is no reason why the ANC will find itself after 1999 also bogged down by its past, it's also an historical party with a kind of liberation history. Now it's got to develop a history of being a governing party. Up until 1999 it can effectively blame the past for the present inadequacies, which it will do, but it's getting a bit thin and my view is that most likely what will happen is that the pressure for delivery will become quite acute in the run up to 1999. If you look at the wish list of the RDP the ANC as a government cannot service them all adequately. They will have to prioritise. I suspect they will prioritise on two, crime and housing, so that by 1999 they can tell people, we have thumped the criminals and we have built you houses, or assisted you in acquiring houses. That's a very powerful vote getting thing. After that, if we do enter into a reasonable increase in prosperity, prosperity always when poor people become wealthier or more affluent they become more dissatisfied, they never become more satisfied. Poor, poor people under conditions of stable poverty never pose a real political threat, they survive, they survive as best they can, but the moment they start moving up the ladder they become increasingly dissatisfied and if by then you have a constitutional structure that has taken, and that is a big if, then I think they will exploit the constitution and you will have independent candidates, which are there already, beginning to show at the local level, and eroding the solidarity of the dominant party. That's possible, but I don't really expect anything really very dramatic.
POM. Would not, despite the divisions within the ANC, would not the realisation that the disparate parts hang together, at least they always hang on to power, whereas if they divide there are going to be some pretty big winners and a lot of losers?
VZS. You're so right, you see I don't think it's a completely fair analogy but it nevertheless makes the point. If you look at the National Party how many analyses did we not have from 1960 until they eventually conceded power of the inevitable split, and there will be breakaways, and the verligtes will leave and they will merge. I was told on the day of my resignation in parliament that there were 25 Nats waiting to join me tomorrow. I've heard those stories so many times, I just laughed because I had heard it so many times, and some of them actually did come to me in the deep of the night and sit round the table and talk, what can we do, what can we do? But in the final analysis the seduction of power was too strong. What you had to lose to go into opposition was simply too much that was asked for, and so they clung to power. You're absolutely right. I am arguing that the wealthy Afrikaner sold out the poor Afrikaner in the negotiations. Why? Because the National Party structure of decision making was such that the leadership could more or less do what it wanted to.
. If you had taken the deal that De Klerk announced on 2nd February 1990 to the rank and file Nationalists and asked for a vote, he would have lost. He would have lost hopelessly. To say "Release Mandela unconditionally, unban the ANC, get rid of all the apartheid", for goodness sake, that's what they won elections for from 1948 until then. Now suddenly he has this remarkable vision. Why does he have that vision? Because he's an affluent Afrikaner, he can afford to take his changes in a liberal democracy. The poor Afrikaners who broke away every time there was reform, they broke, first the HNP under Hertzog broke, when they even allowed blacks to play in sport they broke and said, "Oh this is the end, the thin end of the wedge", and then broke the CP. They broke. And then Viljoen broke and it was mobilising the poor Afrikaner who in the competition for scarce resources were the most vulnerable and they had the strongest ethnic sense of threat so they were trying to pit the wealthy Afrikaners under De Klerk, negotiating the very instruments they needed in order to preserve their position. So in that sense the power thing was very powerful, they hung together, they hung together until of course at the very end they sacrificed power to maintain their traditional economic position. They are living in these nice, fat, wealthy suburbs. It's the farmers who are complaining. It's the poor Afrikaners who are the targets of affirmative action who are complaining but there's not much they can do. They have now become like any depressed, underprivileged minority in any society. That's just a by the way.
. What I'm trying to say is the ANC in power is a house of many mansions, it's not easily going to allow itself to be dislodged from that power and it will use all the tricks of a political party to marginalise potential threats like Holomisa. Holomisa is on the street. From today he no longer draws a salary, he is no longer a member of parliament who draws a salary, so where does he go to? How is he going to survive? How does he pay for a flight? He had free flights. How does he fly from this one to that one? Does he ask the poor and marginalised to pay for his air ticket? They haven't got the money, and even if he wants to take his car and travel, is his car paid for because it's a parliamentary car? Can they claim it back? All those finicky details suddenly fall on you like a ton of bricks when you now really have to take yourself seriously as a politician. You can't float above the battle with a nice little fat infrastructure looking after your daily needs. That's really what it boils down to. And Winnie saw that very quickly by the way. She came back to parliament so quickly you could not say Jack Robinson. She tried that little trick of going to the people but then where do you get the money from if you go to the people? You go to where the money comes from which is in parliament.
POM. When the ANC talk about wanting to develop a strong multiparty democracy are they really talking about developing the veneer of a multiparty system that really doesn't threaten their power and their position, rather than trying to encourage a situation in which you would have the emergence of a multiparty system which would have the possibility of there being an actual change in who governs the country?
VZS. You see I think, again I come back to that distinction, I have no difficulty with the ANC's commitment, formally speaking, to a multiparty constitution. All the elements of a multiparty constitution in the formal constitutional and technical sense they are there. An independent Constitutional Court that has exercised its independence, it does. It has done so, it has confronted the President, it sent back the constitution. That's a very important step and, by the way, not a very common one if you look at Africa and central and eastern Europe where you have such an instrument, a constitution that can as it were confront those who devised the constitution. So there I think they've got it. They've made provision for multiparty and they say, "OK sure", but they are confident, they say, "We want a multiparty democracy."
POM. Do they want it because they are so secure in their power that it really doesn't matter?
VZS. That I think, to use this classical phrase, that's the window of opportunity to consolidate a multiparty democracy. But I don't think you can from that infer that they are actively looking for ways and means to get themselves not elected into power. They can say, OK we agree, these are the rules of the game and because these rules of the game happen to conform to the principles of a liberal democracy we are happy with them but we're not going to say, now let us find out how we can screw ourselves out of power. They are going to fight a hell of a hard fight and they will do so. I am simply saying, like any political party, they cannot control the dynamics of politics which determine the fortunes of parties. They cannot control what happens to the economy indefinitely or how our people become disgruntled and exercise their vote.
. You see, let me give you a simple example, the nub of the dilemma, Adam Pzrewoski, he wrote a book called Sustainable Democracy, he's based I think at the University of Chicago, pointed this out when I was reading his stuff on Poland, two things he said, when a state moves from repression to democracy the state becomes weaker before it becomes stronger. And that certainly is true in the South African case because the institutions that sustained a repressive regime have to be transformed now in order to sustain a democratic one, so you go through massive problems with the criminal justice system, hence the problem with crime, in education, etc., etc., the capacity to deliver in the civil service. The second point he makes is that almost in all cases where such a government goes for strengthening a competitive market economy it has to bring about economic reforms which incur a political cost and you are confronted with a classical dilemma, how do you manage the political strain which inevitably flows from necessary economic reform?
. A typical thing: Mbeki sees the virtue of privatisation of some of the major state houses because that will bring in the money and he can use the money to address the problem of the poor. But the cost of a rapid programme of privatisation must be the retrenchment of labour. The retrenchment of labour means that your organised labour is the first to feel the pinch of that economic reform, organised labour will then invade the available democratic space to articulate their discontent and say you cannot do this. Now Mbeki is confronted with a tough choice. Does he pursue what is intellectually quite clear, the need for economic reform at the cost of political support? So he starts talking, he starts talking to Shilowa and he starts talking to that one and he ends up balancing that ball. The possibility of him losing power, you can argue, would be his lack of ability to balance these odds. Now how is he shaping? I think he's shaping quite well because he's still got the unions with him. The unions are in an extraordinary pinch because they realise that the cost for them of collusion with the regime is loss of bargaining power in the economy. They know it. But on the other hand if they push their luck too much in the political arena the politicians simply start saying, "But where do we have the most votes? From organised labour or from people who are not part of organised labour?" That is a simple matter. In fact there are more people who are not part of organised labour than are part of organised labour. So then the politicians will start saying, "We want to build you houses, we want to give you better provisions. You know who prevents us from doing so? These unions." You can already pick up the argument and this is heavily supported by the private sector. "You are pricing us out of the market", that kind of argument, "And the reason you're pricing us out of the market is because you are selfish, you are greedy and because you are greedy we cannot get the money we need to look after the poor", that kind of convoluted argument.
. So I am simply saying in my discussions with Mbeki and with some of the economists of the ANC, they are very aware of this problem, and in fact they are far more intelligent in appreciating this problem than their predecessors were because their predecessors worked in a much smaller field and that's why they are not going to alienate the support base that Bantu Holomisa wants to feed. They're going to keep them right close up with them. If they look after the youth and they look after the women, very powerful lobbies in the ANC, they look after the unions, they look after traditional leadership, they have brought them in, Mandela traffics between modernity and traditionalism very comfortably, he goes to the Eastern Cape, then to Buthelezi, Saturday the leopard skin is out, Monday the suit is on. Traditionalism and modernity, and there they go. So I think they have the capacity to keep that show on the road. This is the way I see it. But as things mature, because inevitably modernity triumphs over traditionalism and with the current infatuation with modernity, i.e. globalisation of economic life, exporting democracy and so on, traditional structures will come under siege. That will release a lot of confused people into the urban and peri-urban areas and they might post-1999 constitute ... but maybe that could be offset by some form of economic growth. If you read the government's growth strategy, they hope to offset that by having a 6% growth rate by the end of the century. I think it's a bit fanciful but let's assume they do, they can buy up a lot of discontent with that.
POM. That's if they create jobs.
VZS. Absolutely. You can't have jobless growth, no you can't. It has to create those jobs. But you see this is where Psrewoski's interest is, Psrewoski says, OK go for growth a la the competitive markets but then you must realise that the instrument to look after the poor must be the state. It must be the state. And that funnily enough, the ANC in an almost unintended way appreciates. They realise they've got to look after the poor and this does place them under a squeeze because, I don't want to get to philosophic about it but I can with you because you've seen it yourself, the nation-state concept is under siege from two sources, from an external source with globalisation of economic life. In other words, what sovereignty does a democratic government have if international fund managers can rush in with 30 billion dollars tomorrow and take it out the next day? I mean how do you plan on that basis? And they do it. So there you have that. On the other hand you have internally the international, almost, revival of ethno-nationalism. You have it now in Ireland again, a revival and the people developing centrifugal forces away from the centre and that kind of ethno-nationalism is represented in our case by what I call the Inkatha factor, the traditional authority and traditional leadership, but I think it's too weak to really pose a threat. The real threat for the government is the problem faced by Trevor Manuel right now at the IMF conference, "Please help us", and the guys say, "Why must we help you and why must we invest there rather than in China?" That's where he's saying, "I need that kind of growth in order to meet the demands of politics inside." And that brings us back to the old nub of the problem, how do you manage the pain of economic reform in an emerging democratic arena. It's a hellishly difficult problem, there is no simple solution to that.
POM. How important in the scheme of things is the development of a strong multiparty democracy? Is it something that you've given a lot of thought to? Is it something that you think senior people in the ANC have given a lot of thought to?
VZS. Yes I think so, I think it is very important. I also think, by the way, it's one of the most effective means of counteracting the irrational politics of tradition by constantly promoting the idea of democratic tolerance, cultural, of open competition. That eventually was the thing that helped us in Natal with the local elections. So yes, but let's be tolerant, let's go for peace, we don't have to kill one another. Let people vote peacefully and that kind of thing. So the assumptions and political culture of multiparty democracy I think is extremely important in a situation where you have strong divisions amongst people and particularly divisions of the irrational ethnic kind, I think it's extremely important. And that's why formally I remain a convinced liberal democrat. I say push as hard as you can to institutionalise the structures of a multiparty democracy. Why? Well because I think at the root of it lies the assumption that at some critical stage the average citizen begins to depend more on conventions, statues, regulations, law than on political bandits who come and exploit their fears and prejudices. We're not there yet but we've moved a hell of a long way in that direction especially if you take where we were about seven, eight years ago where you were at the whim of some crazy guys who could even contemplate the assassination of Olaf Palme or Dulcie September, just a bunch of bandits and it now comes out that's what we were subjected to, plotting assassinations and bombing people. Why? Because there was no structure. At least now, well let me put it this way, in the old days I always used to say the reason for my opposition was because it was such an insult to my intelligence. Now my intelligence is challenged. At least I can see where these guys want to go, or they say they want to go, and I can follow the road, I can argue how do we prevent irrationality, how do we prevent banditry of that kind? And at least the kind of structures we're trying to put in place assist us to do that and I will drive hard for that without in any way becoming starry-eyed about the fact that we have deep divisions and tough problems in the field of actual party political competition. But does a multiparty democracy and its structures assist us in mediating that kind of conflict? Yes, I do believe that.
POM. What could the government, and in this case you're really talking about the ANC, what could it be doing that it's not doing to encourage the development of a stronger multiparty system?
VZS. Well let's start right from the very beginning. I think it's delaying too long in appointing an Independent Electoral Commission because that Independent Electoral Commission has to actually look at the way in which you have to institutionalise a new electoral system. The new electoral system will flow from the Electoral Act. The Electoral Act has yet to be finalised in parliament. We're two years away from the next general election. I'm not saying they haven't got very serious other problems but if you're saying we're going to have elections in 1999 that will be critical elections, not the founding one, the first one after the founding ones which are far more important, then you need to have the machinery in place in which the world will say, "Hell they have managed it, they have really gone into the second set of elections and from all accounts they were managed efficiently and they took place fair and freely." So let's start from that basic point, I think they haven't appreciated the urgency of setting up the electoral system and setting up the structure to manage elections. Secondly, they are now beginning to feel it, and it's in today's newspaper, they haven't really devoted enough attention to working out the relationship between the different spheres of government. The Constitutional Court sent the constitution back because there wasn't sufficient clarity on the powers of the provinces and it sent the whole chapter back on local government. Now unless you really devote a lot of attention to working out the relationship between local, provincial and central government you will inevitably run into problems of delivery in housing, in education and so on. That's the formal structure hasn't been worked at.
. Secondly, and this compounds the dilemma, you can only look at the problem of inter-governmental transfers of finances and resources if the formal structure is there so, as the newspaper says this morning, there are a vast number of local government structures who are under-funded, who are bankrupt and who are battling. So you just take one of them, a small town in the eastern seaboard that collapses. The sewerage runs through the street,, there's nothing there, they can't pay the wages of the local officials, it collapses. What happens if it collapses? The people move to the next town. There they collapse, they move to the next town. So you can say within two or three years they will be hovering around East London and Port Elizabeth and then they can't accommodate them there so they come to Cape Town. You understand what I mean? So you then overload, overload and then you actually aggravate the problem of that urban growth and those problems always, if they are not properly attended to, manifest themselves in crime, in urban dislocation, in break up of services, provision, all of that. So I am saying the second problem is they haven't devoted enough attention to really integrating the different spheres of government and how they have to be managed. I would say those are fairly important.
. The third one, and this is also critical although they are beginning to devote more attention to it, is how to synchronise the key components of the criminal justice system, courts, prisons and police. In the old regime there was a very hostile relationship between police and courts, they actually worked at cross purposes. Now you've got to get them to coordinate with one another. Take a simple case, if you've got a young hijacker that you arrest and that hijacker is in the court and the court is overloaded and cannot process this hijacker or does not have the institutional infrastructure to deal with him, they let him out on bail and he goes and hijacks again, the cops get the hell in, what's the point? The cops are susceptible to bribery themselves and so on. Or, if he happens to get into prison the prison system is such that it actually teaches him better how to hijack the next time. So you've got to work through that whole process in which the judiciary gains respect in the eyes of the people. I know it's easy to say that but it's an important point. You've got to pay your prosecutors, you've got to have more prosecutors, you've got to have greater accessibility to justice. The prisons have to be changed so that your very serious criminals are really isolated completely in maximum security prisons because prisons are run by gangs. It's not an uncommon phenomenon, it's all over the world, but in this case its pernicious. The Minister of Police tells me that in some prisons there is such a penetration of syndicates into that particular prison system that they release lifers to go and commit a job and then put them back in so when the cops start investigating people say but we think they were these guys, they say it can't be those guys, they've life imprisonment, just to give you an idea. And then you've got to get the police to become accepted. Now there we face major problems. That's the third thing I would say that the government is now waking up to.
POM. But the acceptability of the police as distinct from the efficiency?
VZS. And the one will depend very much on the other. If they become more efficient, better paid and so on, do their job more dispassionately and so on, they will get a higher degree of acceptability. At the moment if you ask a youngster, where do I stand a better chance of making it, in crime or co-operating with the instrument of criminal justice, he says, "Forget about it, this is the route". And I'm not saying it's easy but you have to do it, you have to work on that because there is nothing that establishes the irrelevance of government more strongly in the local community than uncontrolled crime. What does this lot mean in my life? So those would be some of things that I think are important for what I call consolidating a democracy.
POM. Can you have a strong multiparty system without radical political alignment some time after the year 2000?
VZS. Yes, I agree, I see what you say, but you see multiparty competition can take place at different levels. What I mean by different levels, local level, provincial level, national level. What came out very clearly in the local elections is how many independent candidates stood, independent candidates who represented ratepayers' associations, who specifically made themselves non-aligned from the major parties and fought on that basis, and did reasonably well. So the seeds of multiparty competition do lie there at the local level and, I might add, across the spectrum, not just in affluent wealthy suburbs. Certainly in smaller towns you had extraordinary alliances at the civic level. So I would say it's there but the real test obviously will be at the national level. Now at the risk of repeating myself, most of the parties that have competed so far as historical parties, they have been more concerned about the past in order to mobilise support in the future, the National Party, the IFP, the ANC, hurling insults and abuse at one another about what they did in the past. If you listen to what they're talking about for the future they are all more or less saying the same thing: peace, prosperity, happiness and enough to eat. That will wear off, what I call the historical legacy shaping party political competition will wear off.
. As that wears off one must then begin to identify new fault lines. And where will they lie? I don't think one should ignore the underlying racial appeal of politics. It's there, it's possible that you might find a populist party pitching on a purely racial basis. It's now the black person's chance, and that will have a certain degree of appeal. That might be ameliorated through ethnic channels where you can have the same message, the Zulus must look after themselves type of thing. The basic thrust of politics will be moderate, centrist politics for the time being and there I think you could find a realignment if the more radical elements break from the ANC to go into opposition, either of a sort of socialist ideological kind or of this racial variation, this could force a coalition of interests between business and the emerging black elite and the emerging politicians around the centre and that could be a party that could dominate. It might mean in effect that you have a split off of a mass democratic movement a la the Holomisa thing, and when that happens the DP says, "Well now we can join the ANC", and says, "I urge our members to go", because the DP really has a kind of Socratic role, it's the bee on the bum of the donkey, it stings it every now and then but it's not really going to be able to do much. So I think that would be the kind of realignment I think.
POM. How would the realignment leave the ANC?
VZS. Well the rump of the ANC is still in jobs.
POM. In power?
VZS. Yes. It depends, what are you talking about then? Are you still talking about the ANC as the alliance consisting of COSATU, the SACP? That might change. In any case what is the SACP? The SACP has become a rather Hydra-headed animal in terms of ideological conviction, varying from Cronin who is the purest of the pure to Alec Erwin who tries to promote the virtues of a competitive market economy in the area of trade and industry. That's a hell of a traverse there, if you take them where they came from, the commanding heights and democratic centralism and all of that.
POM. I remember going to a lecture Erwin gave at the University of Durban at Westville in 1991, the year that Tito Mboweni came back into the country, 1990, and he was radical.
VZS. Absolutely, hang 'em, ban 'em, go for it.
POM. Then I saw him last week and he was sitting in the first class compartment on the plane back from Durban.
VZS. At least the thing has a little bit of humour because this is what's happening. I would be really at a loss to predict clearly what the fault lines would be but I would be extremely sceptical of any analysis that suggested the ANC will be out of power within the next eight or nine years.
POM. Can you have a functioning democracy without an effective multiparty opposition?
VZS. Yes I think you can, but not for long. Eventually the thing begins eroding because, let me put it to you this way, if you can establish a relatively independent civil service, it's a major problem for us because the top positions in the civil service are now being filled by ANC supporters. In that sense they are doing exactly what the Nats did. The Nats used the civil service as an instrument for upliftment and nepotism and patronage. But the formal argument is yes you can if you have a fairly independent civil service, i.e. the administration of justice, police and so on and so on, if you have an effective Constitutional Court, if you have countervailing sources in the economy, business, civil society and it is possible to use the culture of democracy to call into question the actions of the dominant party. Yes, you can have a functioning democracy in which the formal structure of democracy operates, but as I say it can't go on indefinitely because eventually because of the predominance of a particular party it penetrates those very institutions that you need to maintain a functioning democracy, i.e. tries to capture control of civil society, tries to capture control of the civil service, it becomes a self-perpetuating ruling elite and it marginalises dissent and opposition. It does not necessarily have to attack it or suppress it, it simply just becomes a dominant regime. Then it is very difficult. How vibrant is Britain as a democracy? How vibrant is the United States as a multiparty democracy? Sure it's got two major parties but you can find very, very good analyses to tell you that those two parties almost (connive) with one another to maintain their comfort levels with one another, and there it goes. But the formal structure is such that it allows for an enormous range of dissent and it develops an extraordinary capacity to accommodate and mediate conflict and so on.
. I don't know, I always get a feeling that the test of multiparty democracy is always more severe for third world countries than for first world countries. Are you guys really multiparty democracies in the sense that ...? And then you start saying, well OK let's see how far this goes. And there's a certain level of inertia built into most mature multiparty democracies, people are comfortable with it, but what makes them mature is the degree to which their constitutional structure is taken and is being part of the culture of people and there I must say we are not there, we are a hell of a long way away from it. You can't imagine the same commitment to tolerance and diversity that you will find in, say, Germany, although that's where there are now a lot of guys coming in from the east. You can't expect the same thing there that you will find if you move into Richmond in Natal or Vryheid in Natal, the level of intolerance there is quite staggering, where people simply realise that if you don't belong to the right party you either shut up or die. It's a simple as that, but that might change over time.
POM. Do you think that it's unfair of the west to want to see African countries in general and maybe South Africa in particular import western models of democracy and superimpose them on countries here?
VZS. I don't think it's unfair. Of course it's futile in many cases if it's done in a rather unreflective and simplistic manner. I don't work with Eurocentric/Afrocentric models of the world. I actually believe that knowledge does not respect boundaries and economy doesn't respect boundaries, so where you start drawing the line as to what constitutes a truly African solution as opposed to a western solution is a matter of opinion as far as I am concerned. I think there is a tendency on the west to impose demands on us which they themselves never had to conceive, like for example to democratise and go for economic reform at the same time. There aren't many western countries that did that. If you look at the history of them, there was a process of economic change and development that went over decades if not centuries and then the pressures for political reform hit them and they did it more or less brutally, if you take France compared to England, compared to Germany or whatever the case may be.
. Here there is a conventional wisdom that now prevails and that is in fact that it is possible to have massive transition towards liberal democracy whilst you are in the midst of fundamental economic reform. There isn't a hell of a long queue of countries who have managed to do that. Even if you take the Pacific Rim they went through at least 40, 50 years of sustained economic transformation in the absence of democracy, but now, suddenly now, central and eastern Europe, South Africa, we have to do both. That means that your major G7 institutions and your mechanisms like the IMF, the World Bank, IMF, start developing this kind of mental grid on you. What's your human rights record by the way now that you're applying for this loan? Are you imprisoning your opposition? What is your record of good governance and are you committed to democracy? They start asking those questions. I don't mind that they ask those questions but I sometimes feel it's a bit unfair the way they do it with such bias. Yes, you've got to have a sound respect for human rights as you move towards democracy and economic reform. But I think that's changing, there's a growing awareness that it's not as simple as that and you can't simply export models of democracy without looking at the local circumstances. But I do not believe that there is an African democracy as compared to an East European democracy, compared to a Western democracy. I think you have to argue the case for democracy in terms of its fundamental assumptions that have gone back 500 years and you can adjust them and so on, in the same way that I don't believe that there is an African way of flying a Boeing or a European way of flying a Boeing. You either fly the damn thing properly or you have a crash. So I am not given to this kind of post-modernistic reconstructive approach to life. Maybe that makes me old fashioned, but I am not.
POM. What role, if any, does the public funding of political parties play in trying to cultivate an ethos of multipartyism and democracy? Let me distinguish between public funding of parties at the parliamentary level, i.e. that they have necessary support systems to carry out their jobs efficiently and well, get their message out to their constituencies, support for the party in general so that they can operate as a viable political entity and support for the parties at election time so that the playing field is to some extent levelled.
VZS. Oh this is such a difficult one. I know that in the 1994 elections financial support was given to parties but this immediately led to abuse, particularly in the smaller parties the funds just disappeared and the leaders - In the 1995/96 elections which I was involved in no support was given to parties and this certainly posed a serious dilemma to the smaller ones. In principle I have no objection to state funding of parties provided you can set up a non-partisan body to allocate the funds and to monitor it. The parties have to give an account of how they use the money. Then I think it might work although I must tell you it's a hellishly difficult thing to monitor because it's so open to abuse. On the other hand if you don't have some system of public funding which then precludes the possibility of bribery and getting people coming in and doing deals in the deep of the night, your bigger parties always score at the expense of the smaller parties because they have the power of patronage if they get elected and come in and so on and that's where most of the funds drift towards. It was the dilemma I faced constantly in being leader of a very small opposition in the old racial parliament of yore, is that although we had the image of being the mink and manure party, being liberals, we just battled financially always and most of the money even from people who were essentially identified as being our supporters, most of the money went to the National Party because that's where the contracts were, that's where you could get the deals. So there is something to be said in promoting the idea of multiparty democracy, to have state funding for parties, but then on a very strict non-partisan base in the allocation and also very strong procedures that you implement in monitoring the use of it.
POM. One would be the accountability element, that if funds were provided for any purpose whatsoever there would have to be very strict controls. The constitution talks about funding on a proportional and equitable basis. Now the two can be apposite to each other, proportional may not be equitable. On what basis should there be public funding where each party is allocated a minimum amount that it can use for day to day running of the party, for parliamentary purposes or for elections, that's given to all parties and how they use that lump sum is up to themselves and then they can raise money privately above and beyond that? Or should the raising of private contributions be outlawed completely? Is that feasible or possible?
VZS. I don't think you can outlaw private contributions but I do believe that if you're going to start moving into funding of parties you have to be very clear what you are funding for. I wouldn't go beyond something other than for electoral purposes because if you start funding in terms of infrastructural maintenance, offices, full time office bearers, research personnel in parliament, like the Americans, then you've got to be a very wealthy country to do that. I don't know whether we've got the finances and the resources to do that kind of thing. I know exactly what it feels like to be in a small party in parliament without the resources, you work yourself to a standstill. But if you're going to start guaranteeing jobs and secretaries and so on and so forth I think you will end up with serious difficulties about the capacity to sustain that and then you're going to get a lot of angry people coming in and you'll get a lot of manipulation. So I would say give people money to run an election as hard as they can to get the support base they can and then they've got to sink or swim. Parliament can give a minimum allocation of resources and say we will fund you, for every ten seats we will fund you for one secretary, something like that, and work it out. But it can be done on a reasonably equitable basis. But you see where you really run into difficulties is with this proportional equity is television time, that's the critical one, and there you say proportional, I have 80% of electoral support, I must get 80% of television time, or do you say, well hang on precisely because you're a small party you deserve more time so that your message can carry? I don't know how you solve that one.
POM. Do you allocate a block, give each party irrespective of its size an hour, two hours?
VZS. Yes, then the big parties will start moaning. If you don't, if you say well it's a matter of finance then even a small wealthy party can buy more time than a large big party. I have no solution to that. I think that you have to allow air time to smaller parties and it's a rather lame formula but I guess you will have to find, again, a non-partisan committee that can go into what would be the most equitable way of doing it. And this is something that dominant parties don't like because it's an area where they lose control. They don't mind proposing the formal structures of multiparty democracy but they would like to keep control and this is not all that uncommon. So they are very jealous about relinquishing control over how these kinds of things are administered and I am saying if it's going to be done properly that's precisely what they have to do, they have to relinquish that control, they have to say there will be a non-partisan body that will look at the whole question of allocation of air space or television time and their judgement will be final. Now that's tough for any dominant party or even opposition party to accept because then they can always say it's not fair in the way it's allocated. But I think if you look at the Electoral Commission, the Indian Electoral Commission is autonomous, it's independent and it can tell the Prime Minister, "You are not allowed to use your official car to go and public meetings, you will find your own transport." That's tough but they respect that, they accept it and they go and do that. That's a far cry from PW Botha who commandeers the state's jet to go and have a braaivleis in Upington and talk to the faithful.
POM. So would you see a commission that would determine some formula for allocating television time to the political parties and it won't say what qualifies a political party or what doesn't?
VZS. Although that's part of the Act, the Act stipulates what is a political party.
POM. Then would that be a minimum base, even when it came to television, would then parties be allowed to supplement their minimum allocations with private purchasing?
VZS. They could but then it will depend on - you know you can't tell a private television station it's not allowed to take money. This is the dilemma that faces the whole area of public broadcasting. In ten years time I predict the SABC will be almost non-existent unless it finds a niche in which it remains popular and provides a public service otherwise now you buy a satellite dish and you have exposure to 40 radio stations all over the world and you have 18 television stations and the SABC has to compete with that. If I have to listen to something that I don't like I just flip it across to BBC or Sky News or a movie of the day or the sports channel or switch it on to nice classical music. Now in the same way I imagine political parties will say, "We want prime time when they show the Springboks playing XYZ to get our political message across." It would be very difficult for a government to say, "We ban that", if it's done according to the rules and regulations. I don't know, that's an area that they haven't really worked out yet.
. Let me just give you an example. In 1988 I ran into Don McKenzie in Senegal, in Dakar, and I asked him what was he doing there and he said, "I'm here for National Democratic Institute to observe the elections in Dakar, Senegal to find out if they're fair and free and I'm here on the invitation of ..." So I said, "Well what was your view?" He said, "Look two problems, they have a vigorous and free press but there's an 80% illiteracy rate and there is no freedom of access to radio and television, so (he) was saying you can call him a shit as much as you liked in the newspapers because nobody is going to read about it, but I will control television and radio. Well that has started changing as well." On the other hand he said they also don't have a secret ballot so anybody who votes against the President stands in this queue and anybody who votes for him in that queue. That kind of stuff. That has changed so they have managed to do that. I think we will go through the same thing. We'll have to find a way of giving parties access to the media channels in which they can promote themselves. And I don't think there is anything wrong in saying there is a minimum available from the state to do with as you see fit and anything you can raise above that, provided it's legal.
POM. What about Mbeki's suggestion that the government should be given an hour or half an hour of air time to explain its policies to the people?
VZS. I have no difficulty with that provided he does allow the others to respond and say we think that's nonsense. I don't mind that. In fact it might be very useful to know what the government really has in mind, so come and tell us. There you can have your air time, but where does he do it? Does he do it on public broadcasting, so he's on public broadcasting for an hour and everybody switches to the soapie on M-Net? He's got to compete in the field and I have no difficulty if he says OK you can do that, but you then have proper debate afterwards from the press and opponents saying he's talking bloody nonsense. It might form a very useful function. So I have no difficulty in government having that opportunity to explain their policies, there's nothing wrong with it. It's when government says you will only listen to what I have to say and you will not have the opportunity to cross-question me or to take a different point of view. I don't think that's what he's saying.
POM. What comes to my mind is Mandela's statement, the statement that this is not an issue, this will not be brought before the NEC, this will not be discussed by the ANC, we have taken a position, it's absolute and that's it.
VZS. You know it's a tough one. You can say that smacks of a basic undemocratic attitude and of course there is an element of truth in that. But if you depend on the mass will, whatever that is at a particular moment, to determine the nature of the values that will be protected in society that can become a really messy business. If you ask them should there then be any tolerance for Afrikaans as a language of instruction, we put that to the popular vote, I suppose Afrikaners would object. But the same Afrikaners would insist that you have a referendum on the death penalty because they know that the death penalty could be reinstated. If eventually you are going to say public morals will be determined purely by an expression of the popular will I shudder to think what kind of a society we will have. On the other hand you have to say that the elements of a liberal democracy or a democratic constitution is such that core values which have emerged over centuries need to be protected precisely against the capricious will of same mad majority or even a vengeful minority, how do you determine that? This is where the lie comes in on 'the people wrote the constitution'. The people didn't write the constitution, their leaders wrote the constitution and tried to protect certain key values like, for example, capital punishment, freedom of association, freedom of religion, freedom of movement. And it is precisely in the nature of so-called bureaucratic states like fundamentalist Islam where freedom of religion is not allowed, where you persecute these other guys, but if you dare demand the popular will the popular will would say, screw the bloody Christians and the Jews, we don't want the bastards here. So I sympathise with Mandela's dilemma, but the way you deal with that dilemma is not by saying it will never change under any circumstances, you can all take a running jump, South Africa will never bring back the death penalty. That's an invitation for people to say we will bring it back.
POM. How about the similar situation developing with regard to the abortion issue? Abortion has split the United States down the middle. It is the one issue that does not go away, that arouses intense feelings. Has it the potential to become an issue of that import here?
VZS. I again think if you ask the majority of ANC supporters are they in favour of abortion legislation; no they are not. But you see there again you have to look at the historical role of something like the S A Communist Party whom we have to thank, and I really mean this very sincerely, thanks for the ideology or the philosophy of non-racialism. They pushed it as hard as anybody possible could and it became conventional wisdom within the ranks of the ANC and in the same way they then pulled in a lot of modern values like abortion on demand and feminism and sexual tolerance or gender tolerance and so on. Now those are good things, in a sense they are good things, but it would be an absolute illusion to argue that they reflect the popular will, they certainly don't and it has the capacity of tearing the ANC apart.
. I'll tell you the other one, this whole question of customary law versus common law. Again the ANC confidently says wherever there is a conflict between customary law and common law, common law will prevail. Translate that into practice. You're the third wife of some fat rural Chief that can deliver 50,000 votes by just doing that, do you tell him that his third wife has the right of access to land and is entitled to gender equality in the common law sense of the word? He will say you're absolutely mad. I heard one of these Chiefs on the radio the other day. He says, "You're mad, you don't understand it." So this interviewer said, "But if you can have many wives surely she can have many husbands" and he said "That's the most obscene suggestion I've ever heard in my life. How can a woman have many husbands? What will happen to the children, they will be totally confused?"
POM. Would you agree with the ANC's decision not to allow a free vote?
VZS. No that I don't think is correct, in parliament you can allow a free vote. That means even if there is a free vote it does not necessarily contradict the right of the Constitutional Court in exercising judgement because the Constitutional Court, after all, is what decides and that is the most elitist instrument you can have to promote values in the society. And the Constitutional Court said there will be no capital punishment.
POM. But if it is going before the parliament again, you have the National Party allowing a free vote, you have the IFP allowing a free vote and you have the ANC ...?
VZS. You can turn the principle of a free vote around. You can say, do we allow a free vote on language, mother tongue instruction in education, you will see the National Party run for the youth, it's ridiculous. So it just depends what's the value that you have to be putting on the table. Do you have a free vote on land reform? A free vote? Let's have free land reform and restitution under the Group Areas Act. You will see they will run for the youth. So it's this pious thing, a free vote is not all what it's all about. That's not the point. The point is, who decides that his values have to be entrenched? And there you've given the right to the Constitutional Court to exercise it's judgement in terms of the principles that you've said must guide the final constitution. So they, whoever they are, the twelve wise and wonderful people, say there will be no capital punishment and they have spoken. Now you have to change the Constitutional Court or its powers and functions to dislodge that kind of thing but if you start exploring mechanisms like let's get a reflection of the popular will, why stop at abortion, why stop at capital punishment? Go the whole hog and make it everything like Switzerland. Everything is a matter of a referendum. I am saying that the popular will here in South Africa could be a frightening thing in many cases.
POM. Going back to the funding of political parties, you talked about the resources that would have to be developed or be devoted to maintaining them at a sophisticated level. When it comes down to the use of resources, let's take a case on the margin; if it came to devoting resources to providing political parties with some threshold of expenditure for election purposes or for providing more services for people, where should the priority be?
VZS. It's never as simple as that. Obviously, formally speaking it's better to look after people than parties if you want to take it that way, but it's never a simple thing like that. The principle of allowing expenditure on parties is taken long before you are confronted with the crunch question of giving more money for water to be used at the local level. But where it becomes interesting is where the local people will say to you, you're a bunch of fat cats who get paid to come and talk nonsense to us but you don't give us water. That's really where the thing comes to a head. But the question of prioritising expenditure is really a budgetary process so that runs its own course way before it actually becomes a critical issue on the hustings where the dominant party with it's Finance Minister sit down and say, "How much can we afford to give parties in this election for running the election?" And then suggesting if we have 100 million rand that 100 million rand must then be given to a non-partisan commission or committee and they must allocate it and say that's all that's in the kitty, this is your share of it. Spend it as wisely or as unwisely as you want to, but we want to know how you've spent it because next time round we will say your party abused your money, there's no more money or there is some penalty built into it.
POM. What is the law at the moment regarding what you can raise?
VZS. No, there's no law. That's what became so fascinating with this Sarafina thing. There is no law that says you're not allowed to give money to a political party and there's no law that says you have to divulge whether you've given money to a political party. You can plead privacy as has happened in this case and you can get away with it. So they are now talking about changing the law. By the way it's interesting to talk to a guy like Valli Moosa who feels very strongly that there should be official funding of the party, he's very much in favour of it.
POM. Parties can take money from individuals, from companies, from multinationals and from foreign countries. There is no differentiation between the source?
VZS. There was in the old parliament. In the old parliament you were not allowed to get money from outside the country for party political purposes. You could not go to America and ask the Democratic Institute to give us money for the DP or the PFP.
POM. Could you raise money in foreign countries?
VZS. Not for party political purposes. You had to get it from inside. They structured the thing very well. Of course there were ways and means of people trying to get round this. I mean the UDF and the ANC and COSATU got millions from overseas, but that wasn't in the arena of party political competition. That was just promoting the interests of the struggle, which they did. That was the period of "Let a 1000 flowers bloom for NGOs." There was no accountability, they just travelled first class and some of them, Boesak, he ran into great difficulties because money was just coming in. We just accept your commitment to the struggle without question and that you spend the money wisely to promote the aims of the liberation movement. And of course he did so.
POM. Has there ever been any kind of termination of that case?
VZS. Yes but we don't know what it is. The Attorney General has got the report and he has to decide on whether to prosecute and he has not yet decided. He talks about perhaps getting round to it early next year.
POM. Getting round to divulging what the report says?
VZS. What the report says and whether he will prosecute.
POM. How long has it been sitting with him?
VZS. Seven months.
POM. I see. Just again on accountability, what kind of finance campaign laws should there be?
VZS. I'm talking off the top of my head. As I say, the state can allocate a certain amount and I would suggest a non-partisan committee allocating that and then you can say parties can mobilise funds from the private sector. My own preference is that it should be specified, you have to say I give as this company R30,000 to the ANC to contest the elections in this particular area, and then you must declare it, what the amount is and who gave it, and then the ANC, or whichever party, has to be accountable to that contributor. Although I guess funding from private sources they can determine what they can use it for, whether it's for promoting a particular candidate or whatever, there's nothing you can do about it. I think in America, we can learn a lot from America, where you get your money and what you do with it.
POM. Should there be a cap on the amount that a company could give and an individual could give?
VZS. I have not really thought about that quite honestly. Should it be tax deductible? I don't think so. You obviously hope to benefit from what you give to a particular party in some way. I have no objection if they give as much as they want to, I certainly won't complain. But to give a party as much as you feel you can give. I don't see why there should be a cap to it.
POM. Just separating the two, on a scale of one to ten where one would be relatively important and ten relatively important, how important is it that the government of the day take steps to try to make for a stronger, more viable, effective oppositional multiparty system?
VZS. Oh I think very important, seven out of ten certainly, at least.
POM. In the same way how important is it that the government should understand that one of the components of developing an effective multiparty system is some form of public financing of campaigns? How important is the issue of public financing of campaigns?
VZS. You mean out there or with me?
POM. Take both.
VZS. With me I think it's important, I say six out of ten in the sense that it promotes the idea of multiparty tolerance and multiparty competition. Out there I don't think it's all that urgent. It's urgent among politicians. At the grassroots I think it might even be resisted. I have heard people say, even at the Metropolitan Chamber, we can't compete with the wealthy parties and then the supporters say, "Forget about it, you don't use the money for campaigns, you use the money to buy motor cars and you use the money to have nice parties." So unless you can show that the money is going to spent for the purposes it's allocated for I think you will find a lot of grassroots resistance.
POM. Would people think that if there some kind of public financing system that it would be just one more aspect of the gravy train?
VZS. There's a very strong feeling about that, amongst people that I have spoken to. And you can say but they must control it and then they look at you with a certain degree of scepticism. So the issue of control is very important.