About this site

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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

04 Oct 1996: Ngubane, Ben

Click here for more information on the Interviewee

Click here for Overview of the year

POM     Dr Ngubane, for a number of years the IFP said that it would not go back into negotiations until there was international mediation, now it has gone back into negotiations, or has gone back into the Constituent Assembly and there has been no international mediation. Suddenly international mediation has fallen off the screen. What happened to bring about the change in circumstances and decision making?

BN     First of all I must correct you, international mediation has not disappeared from our radar screen, it's still very much lurking out there as an unresolved issue which will have to be resolved at some stage or other. Our party believes that a commitment made has to be kept. That is a matter of principle, we demand that it happens. It will also open a way to a lot of cooperation and a common bonding of all parties in the new South African dispensation. What happened is we went to the Constitutional Court during the certification process and we argued that the draft constitution had abrogated the fundamental principles underpinning the interim constitution. Those principles were going to bind any subsequent constitution. The present draft reduced the powers substantially as far as we are concerned than they were in the interim constitution for the provinces and that was our challenge, and the Constitutional Court, of course, in its wisdom found also that the provincial powers were reduced in fact, especially the overrides were harsher and more comprehensive than they were under the interim constitution so they sent it back. So as far as we were concerned this was a victory for the IFP because we have really fought for provincial autonomy and provincial exclusive powers and so on and so on, so it would have been ridiculous to win this victory in the Constitutional Court and then not go to the process of finalising the draft constitution. This why we are there. We are dealing with the issues that were referred back in terms of what we already had petitioned to try and give substance to what we firmly believe the constitution of South Africa should accommodate for future peace and stability.

POM     Yet the first issue that was raised in the Assembly was the issue of the King and the King's position in the new constitution which was not one of the matters referred to by the court.

BN     That issue gained prominence because of the very argument that we were outside the points of reference from the Constitutional Court. We have raised all the other issues of provincial autonomy and overrides, but you see if you remember well, before the passing of the 1993 Act, the interim constitution, parliament had actually to sit, if you remember, to amend the then draft constitution to include the protection of the Zulu monarchy and the King and also to create a possibility for this province of KwaZulu-Natal to provide for such powers and authority. So this was totally missing in the draft constitution and of course we were not in the CA to argue that so we felt that it was an important adjunct to whatever we said on provincial powers, to also refer to constitutional principle No. 13 and constitutional principle No. 18 which gave us room to handle this issue.

POM     Do you feel now, and again I'm talking from the point of view of something that's not going to see the light of day until the year 2000 so it will in a sense all be ancient history by then, but at this point how optimistic are you that matters on which you have had profound disagreement with the ANC in particular before will now be satisfactorily settled, and if they will be or if you think they will be is there any indication forthcoming at this point that the ANC is willing to honour its commitment to international mediation on some of the outstanding issues if there are outstanding issues?

BN     Well I don't think the ANC is going to give us a response on international mediation right now because it itself is embattled, it's got a lot of problems. Nevertheless, we are not raising international mediation in this course of negotiations directly. We will deal with that because there are many, many myriad of issues that need mediation. There is the issue of the border dispute for instance between ourselves and the Eastern Cape over the Umzimkulu district, we met with the delegation, the Cabinet from Eastern Cape over it, many other issues. There is the border in the north, Piet Retief area, Pongola which has also got to be resolved, so there are many issues but here we are just focusing on getting that bit of improvement to provincial powers that will make us at least co-exist reasonably with the new constitution. Otherwise it will mean that the IFP is not accepting the new constitution and therefore it will be an incomplete settlement. So I think the ANC is serious about getting an all-inclusive settlement because new dynamics are taking shape. There was this recent meeting of Contralesa with the KwaZulu Amakosi. There are many other Amakosi in other areas, the Chiefs who feel threatened by the new dispensation, so there is a coming together of formations that never used to speak to one another before. So I think the ANC is aware that the African side of this country has got far more deep-seated problems with the new constitution and if they accommodated the minimal things that we are asking for they should actually deal in turn with a broader concern and a broader anxiety among the whole traditional component of our society.

POM     Do you see this in any way as some people have as, I won't say a battle, but certainly a conflict between modernity and traditionalism and typically modernity triumphs over traditionalism and that is the way progress is defined. Is there an element of that there?

BN     There is. In fact I was just writing a legal article for the Sunday Tribune in response to some editor who said the IFP is facing its Rubicon, it's going to choose between a traditionalist approach or a modernist approach. In my response I am saying in this part of the world it would be dangerous to speak of these two forces as mutually exclusive because then you immediately bring in the clash of western Christianity in conflict with the African traditionalist approach. We don't want that either/or. We need to bring in the two components together to mutually strengthen one another, to create strengths for this democratic transition which so far, although troubled, has been reasonably smooth. We don't want to start threatening deep-seated interests, historical interests like traditional customs, the role of Amakosi in local government and in social settlement of disputes. We want to accommodate that at the same time bringing in democratic processes and allowing evolutionary change to shape the further progress. There are no two ways that a traditional system cannot compete with a modern industrial system, the structures of industrialised society demand that traditional society changes. There is the technological change, the social change, there is everything taking place, but somehow it's got to be managed and I think what Buthelezi has done, which many people have not recognised him for, is that in struggling with these two societies he actually bridges the chasm and he becomes a point in which modernity can start transforming the rural countryside in all sorts of ways, economically, infrastructurewise, human resource development, bringing in of finance structures and institutions and so on. He must be assisted in this instead of being looked upon and denigrated as he has been. This was the point I am trying to make. And so I think we cannot see it as a win/lose situation, it must be a win/win.

POM     So if I'm reading you correctly what you're saying is that while there has to be change, the change shouldn't be imposed but rather structures should be put in place that would allow the change to evolve in a kind of natural, non-conflictual way?

BN     Absolutely, otherwise we revive the whole issue of Zulu hegemony in this part of the world vis-à-vis the Natal English colonial government structures. We don't want those emotions revived, so the management is absolutely important.

POM     Why do you think the ANC has been so insensitive to the African side of the equation?

BN     Because essentially, let's go back to history. The ANC was formed by Seme who was from the Zulu Royal Family and John Dube and many Zulu people who realised that Zuluness, important as it was, could not stand up to the forces of colonialism. We were being excluded from white civilisation when the British parliament enacted the Act of Union which brought independence, if you can call it that, to South Africa, uniting all the Boer Republics with the English colonists. They excluded the Africans and so it was not an issue that each group of Africans in the different parts of the country could handle on its own and they formed the ANC, that is the short and brief history. But pre-1960s when they turned to the armed struggle they were very sensitive to the role of traditional leaders. Nkosi Luthuli, Chief Luthuli was the leader, he was very much in close contact in King Cyprian in Zululand, he used to brief the Chiefs in Transkei. Everyone was being taken along. Then came the armed struggle and then there came also with that the Bantustan system, the homeland system where apartheid used the traditional system of Chiefs to bolster it's own policy of separate development, and then the whole thing fell into disrepute so fighting apartheid also included fighting the structures that were then seen to be propping up apartheid. This is where the problem started for all of us because then the ANC went along in the direction of really distancing itself from traditional politics and seeing them as a threat rather than as an additional source of energy and power. So I think it wasn't deliberate, they were just carried by the tide, the tide of circumstances. Now, of course, they have put their structures in such a way that there is no accommodation really for that type of politics. They are doing a very quick rethink, one can see them doing it. I don't know how far it's going to go in accommodating the whole concept of hereditary leadership and how it can be accommodated in our special situation, but I think they will be forced into it otherwise a huge constituency that they have now will be alienated.

POM     Do you think part of it might have to do with the fact that so many of the leadership spent so much time in exile and in western society, in London or in New York, or in Paris or wherever and got used to a European way of thinking about things and thought about advancement always in terms of western culture and values rather than in terms of their own culture and values?

BN     Well that would imply that they have totally acculturated into western forms of culture. I don't think they have done that. I don't think they have totally imbibed the best of the west. I would agree with the communist dimension, the socialist dimension that that progress had more influence than just value systems. They have seen society as essentially controlled with no room for diversity and this is essentially their problem.

POM     Is that resurfacing now within the organisation itself? You refer to the fact that they have a multitude of problems on their hands like with the crack-down on Bantu Holomisa and statements like that no individual is above the party, sounds suspiciously like statements that used to come from certain regimes in the East.

BN     Well I think it's time they meet the problem, this time it comes to the surface, they wish to actually regiment and control even their senior members. The whole issue of Holomisa was totally blown out of context, it could have been handled differently. So I think this is just a knee-jerk reaction to any major problem they confront, then they want to bring in control and all that and this is the problem. I would agree that it is essentially the lack of ability to deal with diversity. I think their political education by and large has not provided for that.

POM     Now the constitution provides for a multi-party system. Do you think the ANC believes in a strong viable multi-party system or that they just give lip service to it?

BN     Well the top echelons do. We work very well here with the ANC in Cabinet but that ends in Cabinet. When you go to their grassroots followers there is no such concept. You are either ANC or you are the enemy so there is still going to be a lot of re-education they must do to take away the idea that they are the sole representative of the people.

POM     How did you find that when you were in the national government?

BN     As I say, the top echelons, there is no problem at all. They are sophisticated people, they understand western democracy. They understand the imperative of multipartyism. There is no problem. But the message before elections at the grassroots level was intolerant of multipartyism. Obviously that's what they need to change.

POM     What should the government, in this sense the national government to start with, be doing to encourage strong multipartyism for South Africa?

BN     Well there are things they can do at the institutional level, like in parliamentary parties. I think there must be far more assistance to developing viable party structures, party functioning in parliament, analysis ability, develop that type of capacity, ability to benchmark with the best in the world, with the United States, with Europe, in terms of how parties function and the role of the political parties in a democracy, expressing the will of the people but at the same time providing leadership into economic liberalisation, proper conflict resolution mechanisms in wage disputes and socio-political conflicts. That needs an investment by the fiscus, through the fiscus, in capacity building within parties. That would stretch across all levels of government of course, right down to local government. Then there is, of course, the social dimension where you bring in the concept of multiculturalism, cultural diversity, tolerance for this diversity and valuing not so much the ethnic difference or the party difference but individual rights, underpinning individual choice. That is a huge campaign which will underlie our peace process in the province here in KwaZulu-Natal. It's not yet going on, it's not yet being done. In a way it was pity that John Hall and all the people who were involved in the Peace Committee stopped their work because they had started a movement towards this type of tolerance and acceptance of diversity and pluralism which, of course, stopped halfway.

POM     On a scale of one to ten when you look at the future, where one is relatively unimportant and ten is very important, where would you put the development of a strong, viable, multiparty system? Where would it rank in terms of importance?

BN     Well I would just put it just slightly more than midway, five point five, I think that's where we are. Things can still go wrong here particularly if we start getting into economic difficulties, there is further erosion of jobs, there is further downgrading of the currency, inflation starts getting out of hand and there is that type of breakdown in terms of stability. One doesn't know how much of Zuluness will start emerging in the IFP or even in the ANC in terms of Xhosaness and therefore trying to the best for your group of people, your ethnic grouping, and how much the AWB and those formations would have a pull on National Party membership, for instance, towards extreme rightwing policies. So that's a Doomsday scenario of course. I don't think it will happen. I think we have enough solidity in our foundation which Mandela essentially is responsible for, and Buthelezi as well, and De Klerk. Together they have created that base and so I hope we will not go that way but we will increase the capacity in terms of political parties supporting democratic government, but we still have a long way to go. I wouldn't say we are at 60%.

BN     I would give it ten out of ten. That's the basis for any sustainable consolidation of democracy in this country. We must have multipartyism as the strongest force in our political institutional life. It must revolve around party choices and also respect by government of minority views. You can't just discard parties because they are small and call then ten percenters, you have got to listen because they express the will of a good portion of our voting public. No, no, no, that is absolutely critical.

POM     Now in terms of the development of a strong multiparty system many people are putting all their chips on the belief that the ANC is going to split after the 1999 elections, that there are going to be new political realignments after Mandela goes and the next elections are over. Do you see a split in the ANC in the foreseeable future, and I'm talking about the next 15 to 20 years, happening or is the ethos of the movement sufficient to handle all their differences internally?

BN     I think the ANC is such a monolithic organisation and it's got tentacles right through the country. I cannot see, for instance, say take Northern Province, I cannot see any other party rising from within ANC ranks, splitting from it because there is such a bind there and such a hold. So also in the North West Province, so also in Mpumalanga, so also in Free State. Those provinces will have no room to create new parties unless probably this generation of youth activists become old men who mature and become more tolerant. But as long as these guys are the vanguard of the ANC in these provinces they are not going to tolerate anyone creating a new party. Both in COSATU, SACP and ANC there is that brand of youth leadership that is absolutely fired with holding everything together in the ANC and not really looking for alternatives. So to talk of a split I think it's expecting too much.

POM     It's fanciful.

BN     Yes absolutely, it's fanciful because of the nature of this beast. It just doesn't allow for offspring that does not resemble itself in toto.

POM     Is it also fanciful for the NP to believe that it somehow can start organising in the townships and start attracting significant numbers of African voters?

BN     That is the worst type of fancy. It's actually delusional. The NP forget what they did to African families in this country. We have a Truth Commission now but that's not addressing the total down-treading of African family life, individual dignity and so on. They perpetrated a monstrosity so they are never going to be accepted by the majority of people in black society unless you get our kids who are now at school and probably are going through multiracial schools and where they don't know the meaning of colour, the meaning of being black, how we suffered for being black, probably that generation will be objective but the present lot is very much aware and still remembers very clearly the pass raids at three o'clock in the morning, the doors being kicked in, you being kicked around, your pass being demanded, if you had a visitor, the visitor being taken away. This is still all too vivid. So I think at times they are too delusional, the NP. They make get a few professional people who probably will see betterment for themselves as individuals through joining the NP but there will be no mass movement to them.

POM     That puzzles me because I, like you, say this is crazy, but then if they actually believe that they can do this, does that suggest that they still have no real comprehension of what they did?

BN     I think it's a defensive mechanism really, I think they don't want to face themselves in the mirror and see who they are. There may be good people in the National Party, you mustn't get me wrong, but the whole legacy of apartheid which they created in this country works against them. They may throw money at communities, probably hoping to take youth on trips and providing bursaries for them, but they will only get that much, a very marginal group. It is a real fancy on their part. The NP can never be a significant player, at least is can never beat the ANC, like it can never beat us here, the IFP in this province. It doesn't matter what they did, they just will not get enough people to make significant inroads into our constituency.

POM     I want to go back for a minute to this whole idea of multiparty democracy. Now some people have said to me, well in the long run yes we should have a strong multiparty democracy but you don't want one to develop too quickly because the kind of politics you will get will be election driven politics not transformation politics and what the country needs at the moment is transformation, not parties that are scoring political points off each other with their eyes always trained on the next election and how to gain whatever advantage even if it's at the expense of the long term good of the country. Do you think people who say that have a point or is that a risk that just might be taken?

BN     No I think they are missing the whole point about multipartyism. Multipartyism is predicated on the conditions. America has solved most of its major problems so they can politic for the sake of electioneering. Here it's a question of satisfying your constituents and meeting their basic needs and all parties who want to be a major factor in 1999 are very concerned about delivery, so the transformation agenda is part and parcel of the 1999 election. We are all going crazy trying to make sure that we do provide for the basic needs, we do create infrastructure, we do improve the quality of life in the rural countryside, and every party is talking about this and planning this. So already it is a point, it is part of the platform for 1999. So I cannot see how multipartyism can just focus on elective politics as opposed to actual transformation agendas and development, quality of life issues.

POM     Is there any real difference now between the IFP and the ANC in the sense that the ANC now not just accepts but almost enthusiastically embraces the free market, privatisation, the implications of the globalisation of the economy, the need for international competitiveness, even the need for wage restraint, the fact that the macroeconomic plan depends more upon the private sector than the public sector. Where are the philosophical or ideological differences between you now?

BN     Well it's a matter of degree really. Where the ANC will talk of the macroeconomic redistribution strategy we talk about a free market which obviously has got a major role in social welfare safety nets. One could say probably we are speaking the same language but the emphasis is quite different. We believe that central bargaining militates against economic growth in this country because the different sizes of enterprises, the different capitalisation of those enterprises, the different capacities in terms of management and success stories means that there can be no basic wage that can be agreed up front, it can only depend on how much is produced and how much can be shared between the employer and the employees and we must let that negotiation take place at that level in terms of the particularities of each situation. Whereas they still insist on NEDLAC as a central negotiating forum, for us NEDLAC should be a sounding board for government, not deterministic in terms of what government legislation is going to be as far as the labour market and the wage structure and so on is concerned.

     So as far as we are concerned they are still very socialist in actual practice, trying again to have government intervene too far in the market place. We believe that there are dangers in that because, again, depending on the pressures that are exerted on them there will be this knee-jerk response to favour trade unions in any situation over and above the private sector. So there are still rifts. I am very happy they are making the shift, obviously. We would want this because this is what is going to bring investment into this country. It will also enable them to take a stronger stance on lawlessness because then they will be over the populist politics which actually prevents them right now to crack down very heavily on law-breaking and so on. But we go further in our differences. We believe that we must protect equally the old and the new. The business guys who have run their corporations and have created a lot of wealth are not a bogey, they have got to be seen as empowering and engage them as partners, as agents of change in developing the rural countryside, in improving the quality of life of people. It must not be posited as they being opposed to black empowerment so long as their affirmative action does not meet, say, what the trade union movement wants. So there are those differences which I presume are very fundamental in the final analysis. And also our approach to local government authorities, to provincial authorities, the whole issue of affirmative action, we are away from legislated affirmative action. We want it to be an agreement that is obviously mutually beneficial to everyone. So I would certainly deny that we are now ad idem and we can be almost easily mistaken for each other, there are still vast fundamental concerns.

POM     Again what I hear you saying is that in other things the ANC's approach towards things, or towards change in general, is impositional, you impose it and then deal with the reaction to it, whereas the IFP approach is more that you bargain it and reach an accommodation whether it's with an employer on an individual level or about hiring practices or whatever and that in the long run that's a more productive and successful way of doing things.

BN     Precisely, and we believe that you must consolidate your assets rather than dissipate them. I will just give you an example. If you gave R100,000 to a private Catholic school which produced excellent Mathematics and Physics results in matric, then you took that money, as the ANC wants to do, and say, "No, no, no, you are elitist, you are already privileged, we want to take the resources to those impoverished in the township." What you are doing you are taking an asset and dividing it into sub-optimal portions. If they then took that R100,000 and divided it among ten schools it will R30,000 per school. That will go nowhere to improving anything for those black schools. Now if it were us we would leave that R100,000 with the Catholic school, private school, and hope that by generating that excellent output we will stimulate human resources for industry faster than if we had spread it in sub-optimal quantities and actually produced very inferior output. Those are the nuances in our different perspectives.

POM     On the question of developing a strong multiparty system, in the absence of there being any split in the ANC and given just the fact that it is the largest party in the country and probably will continue to be the largest for the foreseeable future, how in those circumstances do you define an effective multiparty system?

BN     Obviously in this country you are going to need to allow peace to prevail as a basis to reaching strong multipartyism. In the absence of peace you are not going to do it because you will need to have a value type of divide. As I said to you, there is a movement now of traditional leaders, irrespective of whether they are Xhosa or Venda or Sotho, coming together with the Zulu traditional leaders. Now it's a system of interest groups protecting their interests. It's going to be limited, that type of growth is going to be limited, it's going to be probably Christian parties coming to the fore, people who are against abortion coming to the fore, coming together, getting organised. It's not going to be so much a political divide. But the IFP already presents that opportunity vis-à-vis the ANC because it's again based very much on different sets of values than the ANC is and they see this, if peace is there, coming to the fore so that ultimately, like in the US, probably it will be the ANC and the IFP who are the major two parties in this country with different alignments around each one of them. I can see with the NP to a large extent going out to join either of these two parties, including the Democratic Party. That's why I say it's possible to have strong multipartyism but it will be led by essentially these two sectors, IFP and ANC.

POM     Many people would say that if you look at the IFP performance in the local elections outside of KwaZulu-Natal where it did very poorly and if you look at the results within Natal where it lost all the major metropolitan areas, in fact it's vote was almost confined to the rural areas, they would say this is not a national party, this is a regional party but as long as it's base remains or appears to be confined to a rural base it has (a) a diminishing constituency because that base is going to grow smaller with urbanisation and development, and (b) it's just not going to make it nationally.

BN     Well, look, probably I will have to go back to history. We lost more than 400 of our top leaders in the struggles between ourselves and the ANC. We lost people like Sabelo in Umlazi and many, many others who were actually key people who anchored our party in the urban areas and so on, in the industrial sector. They were killed. We have now a group of young people relatively inexperienced who led the election campaign in these areas and that was the response to lack of capacity on our part. If we seriously can engage white business, some academics, teachers, lawyers and accountants, into the ranks of leadership of the IFP there will be a dramatic change I can assure you. It's already starting to happen. We are already having a huge influx of teachers, some lawyers. It's changing and that's one reason why I was brought back here as well, to try and catalyse that type of recruitment. But I can say really the problem at the moment is one of capacity so we must go out and target people who we want to stand for us as candidates in the coming elections. I can predict if we succeed with the strategy the outcome will be very much different from what it has been. We will certainly show not our victories but show a strong position in all the provinces, if of course the party can sustain what we are trying to do. So I wouldn't say these local elections reflected rejection. It was a question of who the candidates that you put up in the wards are, who they are vis-à-vis who the ANC puts up in the wards, more than ideological and party splits.

POM     I know Dr Buthelezi was very disappointed in the results of the election and promised a post-mortem. Has that post-mortem been carried out?

BN     It has been carried out so we are trying new strategies now.

POM     What were identified as the major problems?

BN     Well it was the poor performance by our own head office here in Durban. The people who were given the task to organise the elections just didn't do it. They tried to do it as far as their capacity went but it wasn't enough so we are now having a presidential review which is looking at the restructuring of the party, our voter registration campaigns in future and recruitment as well as fund raising, of course, trying to get support of big business. But obviously we will be starting from a very weak position having lost so much. I wouldn't say, therefore, people can write us off as a major party in the future. We will certainly retain this province, we will not lose it, but I can assure you we will certainly show a better performance in the Free State, Gauteng and Mpumalanga. Also in the Western Cape we now have probably about 20 branches, from nowhere, in Khayelitsha, in Langa, in Mitchells Plain, we have branches, you can actually go and meet them. If you are in Cape Town you must phone my sister Harriet.

POM     Oh yes, I've talked to Harriet.

BN     And talk to her about her work in the townships. It's tremendous, it's going well. So it's a question of capacity.

POM     Your ability to create organisational structures and to build the party around the country depends upon, in a sense, the availability of financial resources and it's a well known rule of thumb that a party's capacity to raise money is directly related to it's position in the electorate, and that a party that is the most powerful party will raise the most money and the party that's the least powerful would raise the least money and that tends to perpetuate the system because smaller parties can't raise money. In this regard, should there be some form of public funding of political parties to encourage the growth of smaller parties and to allow parties like yourself to build around the country?

BN     Well I think that's a question which is still exercising the minds of a lot of people because there is certainly discussion around this in parliament, within government itself, the need to put our money where our mouth is. If we say we support multiparty democracy there must be support for political parties, but there has been no conclusion other than supporting those who are represented in parliament in terms of constituency work. There is an allowance of R3000 per MP to support constituency offices.

POM     What would you like to see?

BN     Well I would like to see actual direct subsidisation of parties, I mean creating foundations to work with parties. If there was a Democratic Foundation or Free Market Foundation or something that would tie in with certain parties and teach them skills and fundraising, about running a good economy, about effective accounting, that will in itself create capacity because then you will have office bearers and organisers for youth, for women, who actually know how to keep books, how to organise and to hold meetings and to communicate with people. Then you would have a true reflection of people's choices and what they favour rather than what we have now. At the moment it's more based on the whole historic liberation movements coming back to bring freedom. There is a lot of emotional support for the ANC, but to create branches in townships you don't need so much money. You need an organiser who has got a car who can meet a lot of people in the townships, talk to them, have a branch established, then more and more and more branches. This is how the IFP grew and we need to repeat that same process. But it's been difficult in Soweto and other Gauteng townships because the images of violence are still too fresh. People are not open to listening to IFP because it is associated with the hostels and the violence that took place with the traditional weapons that were being carried by people. It still raises pictures of horror when you talk about IFP, but as we become more civilianised, if you can call it that, and our images are that of a political party concerned with the welfare of the people, with providing services, with creating infrastructure and institutions, then we will probably have a better chance, but we can still go on into the townships and organise branches. To do that we need people who can communicate the message and that does not cost too much money. It's unlike when you want to have big TV campaigns, advertisements, hiring big halls in cities, we are not talking of that type of operation just now.

POM     Would you like to see maybe some kind of arrangement where there would be an independent commission set up that would receive a lump sum from the government and would distribute that money to political parties on some kind of egalitarian basis and say, here's a lump sum for you and a lump sum for you, and use it how you want to, but you have to account for how you spend it and you have to spend it according to strict criteria? Do you think something like that would be a good idea?

BN     Well that happened with the Independent Elections Commission, where parties were given money simply because they had registered as parties. We had hoped that would move in that direction but then some people had reservations about this. I think this is part of the current discussion anyway, about support to political parties. Certainly that mechanism has been operative and it supported all the parties that had registered and I think it will be the solution in future.

POM     Again on a scale of one to ten where one would be that public finance, some form of public financing is not very important to advance the development of democracy and ten being that it's absolutely important, where would you put it?

BN     I'd put it at seven.

POM     About seven.

BN     That is important because that's how you create capacity. You take your people overseas, they learn what is happening and you train your real top class functionaries in your offices to run your business along the proper principles. I would say 70%, but the rest of it is the message. But, of course, with that sort of support you can develop a real effective platform, a whole principle analysis. It is true, a lot of other actions depend on that but it's not an absolute in terms of universe, in terms of being the most important. You still have to have a message, you must have a clear stand as opposed to the other parties, you must have your own identity as a party, you must be able to underpin the basic democratic order in the country. So all those I would say form the 30%.

POM     Do you think that at the moment this is a problem for the IFP that it's perceived identity nationally is of a party that represents (a) it's mostly regional, and (b) that represents mostly traditional people and that you have to develop a new, broader in a way more inclusive identity so to speak.

BN     No doubt. In terms of racial breakdown in party structures we have more Indians and whites than the ANC, who are registered members in terms of ratios. But this is not being conveyed sufficiently because the people who have been spokesmen for the IFP, for instance, in Gauteng have not been ... Who is the provincial leader there, this man who is an Austrian, German? He never comes through to the press. It's Themba Khoza, Humphrey Ndlovu who unfortunately are tainted with being associated with violence and all that, so we need to make that type of turn around, to bring in respectable people, well respectable in terms of public perceptions. I'm not trying to pre-judge Themba Khoza and Ndlovu whether they were guilty or not, but we need to do that and I think our Presidential Review Commission which is working right now is going to bring that to the fore.

POM     The other thing is you talked about getting the message out or developing a message and then the second part is getting the message out. When it comes to assistance should there be some form of public financing of elections campaigns so that all parties get enough assistance to get their message out?

BN     Well that we have had again.

POM     In 1994.

BN     In 1994.

POM     But would you like to see it institutionalised in law?

BN     Absolutely. But even if it's not in law we should have the Independent Electoral Commission doing exactly what it did in 1994, being voted a sum of money to be able to distribute. In fact it's a must otherwise the smaller parties will be totally - we will prejudiced as IFP, we will not have the resources that the ANC has. So that we will fight for.

POM     At the moment there is no Electoral Commission?

BN     No there is none but I presume there will be an amendment to the Electoral Act as we proceed towards 1999 to look at all the requirements and also we as a provincial government will have our own inputs into whatever is going to be the process.

POM     How about disclosure? Do you think parties should have to disclose where they get their money from, the individuals, the amounts, the companies?

BN     The ANC is going to oppose that because it's been a beneficiary, a much bigger beneficiary out of that type of funding. You saw what happened with the play, the AIDS play, what a struggle it was to get who the donor was. I don't the ANC will agree to that easily. To me I don't think we're at a stage of perfection where it is a practical proposition but to offset the huge donors that the ANC can marshal there must be money from the fiscus to the parties. I don't think we will get them, they have the majority in parliament anyway, ever to vote for public disclosure of donations.

POM     Should there be a ceiling on donations as there are in some other countries?

BN     We have not even thought of that because we see that as a very remote prospect, we just don't see the ruling party agreeing to that sort of thing.

POM     So coming to your, I won't call it reassignment, but your move from the national Cabinet to the provincial, what is your mandate, what task have you been given?

BN     Essentially to help with reorganising the party in the province, to help the Premier, to get our government to deliver services and to create a high profile of this type of work in terms of people seeing that we are concerned with them, we are doing work to improve their lives and so forth. But essentially it is to strengthen also the party organisation, our head office here. I haven't had time to do much in that direction at the moment but that's certainly one of my tasks.

POM     Just a couple more things, and as always thank you for taking the hour or two hours a year. On the government of national unity, why would the IFP stay in it now? If you are running against the ANC in 1999 but you are part of their government, therefore you bear part of the responsibility for the track record of that government like any coalition government, why stay in rather than trying to establish ...?

BN     Well we originally realised that at some stage before 1999 we will leave the government because we will either have served the full purpose that we went in there for or it will just be untenable. So we were not going to run out just because the NP ran out, so we are just staying full course in terms of our own agenda and we realise that it's not going to be that long anyway before we go, and this was one of the reasons why I had to come up here to try and do something that would be more sustainable rather than something that's just temporary.

POM     With your experience in Cabinet, can you say there was a genuine attempt to reach decisions by consensus or was it really a matter of the ANC would listen to everybody else but in the end they would do what they wanted to do?

BN     I think actually there it was very strange because they really listened. In fact when De Klerk said he was fed up and all that it wasn't true because he used to be listened to. When Buthelezi spoke about the dangers of a weak policy on control of aliens he was given room to strengthen the policy and the regulatory framework. I had a free hand in shaping our Science & Technology system and formulating a national cultural policy. I proposed as the cornerstone of culture policy acceptance of cultural diversity, the acceptance of multilingualism as an absolute essential and for investments to be made in developing multilingualism, translation, interpreters and full recognition of the clause in the constitution and giving it expression. Those things were opposed by some people in the ANC but I was allowed to implement this as policy and the Cabinet accepted it. So I would say on the contrary, we made a very real contribution, it wasn't just a window dressing.

POM     Now when you look at the government's macroeconomic plan, is the IFP broadly supportive of it or does it think it has serious deficiencies in some regards and what will be it's impact on the potential development of this province?

BN     We are substantially in agreement with the macroeconomic policies and in fact we are surprised that the ANC could state its case so clearly in terms of accepting the broad principles of trade liberalisation, fiscal discipline, monetary policy that is to a very large extent restrictive, their agreement to actually tackle the issue of privatisation however slowly, but the fact that there is a total commitment in the teeth of COSATU resistance. We support that but of course we believe that it's not just enough to have that macroeconomic policy. You have got to go into your labour legislation, into your Schools Bill and that type of legislation and practise that free market spirit there, put it in there so that it all unifies in the sense of each individual being responsible for his or her life with generous support from the state for those weak members of society, but taking away this idea of a collective and everything having to be predicated on what the consultation process has been in terms of control moving from the recognised leaders to the collective. We think in other areas of ANC governance there is still a lot of that in place. There isn't real optimal use of resources depending on free choice, depending on market forces given room to play. A lot of it is still imposed. So while the Trevor Manuels GEAR document, growth, employment and a redistribution document, it fits in with a lot of things we believe in, it tends to be seen in isolation from the rest of the governance.

POM     From their ethos of government?

BN     From the ethos of real market driven type of economy.

POM     Now there was a survey done before the elections in KwaZulu-Natal and one of what appeared to be the surprising results was that the main concern of people was unemployment not violence. I think 39% said unemployment and 19% said violence. Now in view of the impression in the rest of the country of the continuous low intensity war in KwaZulu-Natal why do you think that violence has, I won't say such a low priority, but lower than unemployment?

BN     Most people have lived with it, from 1984 we've had violence here, but then there were jobs, there were lots of factories before your country started disinvesting and the whole of Europe started pulling out.

POM     I'm Irish.

BN     Oh, sorry. But there were jobs here until say 1989, 1988/1989 when things really started looking down. So although people were walking this whole terrain of upheaval to work and back they still could earn money, they could still support their families, so I am not surprised that the majority say it is unemployment that is worrying them because with that they can't live, but with violence they survived anyway.

POM     Is there anything, I know I'll probably phrase this wrong, but is there anything like Zulu in it that the culture has a particular attitude to death?

BN     I hadn't thought of that actually. I think you are quite right, I think you are quite right because actually violence has now come to the forefront but we have always had clan wars, faction fights, so society has come to live with that as well, always subliminal violence in the society.

POM     Part of the culture.

BN     Part of the culture, so you are right. That even extends my argument that it is in a way, so the death from violence is probably less painful than the death from sickness. Maybe, I'm just positing this as a thought that it might be already like that, I am not sure because people are no longer devastated by political faction violence. They suffer, they groan but it doesn't pull them apart. You know what I mean? Whereas to see people lingering death and being sick it has got a far more depressing, from what I have seen of my own patients when I was a medical practitioner, it's far more depressing than the question of someone being buried and that going on. I think it's a much deeper problem, it really needs probing. I am not qualified to look at it sufficiently but it's also sociological and anthropological and religious and philosophical, it's a lot of things.

POM     Just one or two last things. One is jobs. Now one of the people I check with every year, because he's an iconoclast and he's very straightforward and blunt, is Derek Keys and from the time he was Minister of Finance he said the one thing we won't be able to do is to reduce unemployment by any significant amount between now and at least the end of the century and maybe for the next ten or fifteen years after that. And I go back to him every year and it's become a bit of a joke, every year I ask him the same question. I say, "Mr Keys have you changed your mind about the capacity for job creation?" And he always says "No." And now you have the phenomenon in Europe and other places of jobless growth, your economy can actually grow but your unemployment rises. In KwaZulu-Natal which has a very high poverty level, what are the real prospects of being able to create jobs?

BN     Well we have been busy with a reprioritisation process for our budget precisely because we have realised that there is no chance of formal job creation because all the new multinational factories that are going up are automated, robotics, computers, there is no chance. So we are turning to the informal sector and saying if we can create a little bit of vocational training you can actually get guys who can weld very beautiful gates, very beautiful windows, repair cars and panel-beating, that is the direction we must put government's expenditure, to stimulate that type of growth without increasing the civil service but by partnerships. I was talking to FNB (First National Bank) yesterday precisely on this issue. FNB is willing to come in with us on those types of job creating investments because they see that there is a lot of potential because of our population size to actually create informal sector jobs which will generate income and employ a lot of people. So that's going to be the direction. In the countryside our rural development strategy must be to create subsistence farming that produces high quality goods. A little gardener who produces wonderful roses can make a living even if it's small scale, and all these for niche markets, you produce garlic that can be exported, chillies that can be exported, you start making a living. So that is the direction we are moving in in agriculture and in terms of government expenditure overall because there is no chance of creating formal jobs on a big scale.

POM     The very last question, and this refers to the revelations made by Colonel de Kock at his cross-examination in mitigation of sentencing or whatever. Just personally, do you think that there's a lot of truth in what he's saying or do you think he's got a very fertile imagination or are you shocked by what he is saying or does it come as no surprise to you?

BN     Well it's a mixture of reactions. First of all one gets shocked by the depravity, that white Christian police could descend to real depravity. You not only shoot a guy dead, you blow him into smithereens, you carry out gross inhuman acts that are nauseating. You burn people and you get immune to the smell of burning flesh, you just kill people on suspicion because they may be furthering the aims of the ANC. I mean that is absolutely shocking, and of course shocking also to know that some of my own party members are implicated in some of those things. But at the same time not shocking because we knew that it was a very, very bitter struggle in this country, that the white regime would do anything, would use any mechanism to keep itself in power even for one year longer. So that's not surprising from that point of view. And of course cynical as well because there are also violations that the ANC perpetrated in the black community, very serious violations, but those have paled into insignificance. There is no MK De Klerk who says how I strung up this one and how we necklaced this one and how I shot down a whole family and burnt their kraal. We don't have that, so in a way it is very much one-sided and therefore it tends to be whitewashing on one side and damning on the other. But De Kock himself as a phenomenon, as a person, just shows how degenerate National Party rule was.

POM     But when he says that people like very senior officers in the security forces knew and approved of what was going on, that ministers knew and approved of what was going on?

BN     I believe him. There are no two ways about that. They will be just denying it. These things couldn't have happened in a highly developed state like ours with first class intelligence sources and surveillance and informer system. There is no way they didn't know what was happening.

POM     How is it that a police force or a security force that was perceived worldwide to be so efficient, ruthless, always getting its man or its woman, has turned out when it comes to fighting crime to be inept, sloppy?

BN     Because they think there is a hidden agenda. I don't think it's because police can't trace who killed who, or who hijacked whose car. They don't want to do it.

POM     They don't want to do it because?

BN     It doesn't serve some of their interests to have stable government at this stage. I presume they are hoping that things will fray not just at the edges but at the centre so it gives them a bargaining chip.

POM     So there is still kind of a process of destabilisation that's being pursued at a different level?

BN     Precisely. Absolutely. It's a nasty thought but this is our thought of it.

POM     That's one I'll pursue. I'll ask other people that question and see what they think. Thank you every so much for the time.

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.