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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
14 Oct 1996: Alexander, Benny (!Khoisan X)
POM I always come with a prepared list of questions and then I end up by never using the questions and we have a free association conversation. My obvious starting point is, and the last time I talked to you I think was at the celebrations for the passage of the constitution at President Mandela's dinner when we were all having a good time. You were there weren't you?
KX No I was not there. I spoke to you just prior to that.
POM Just prior to that. Yes. What's happened to the PAC? This time last year when I was here it was going through rethinking, restructuring. It has since done miserably in the local government elections. It had a conference/convention to try to form a new direction, to try to define its niche for its place in politics in South Africa, yet the old leadership seems to continue to occupy the foreground and on the face of it nothing much has changed. Am I mistaken or what is happening?
KX Well in our previous conversation I pointed out that there are three areas which the PAC would have to concentrate on in order to restructure the party and make it viable and I said one of those areas is its resource mobilisation. In this respect I have in mind financial resources because it is very clear that you can have the best ideas in the world but without resources they will remain just that, namely ideas. And I said that another area that we will have to look at would be programmes to make the party truly mass based, interactive programmes. It is not just good enough to hope that the masses will see through the weaknesses of the current system and the ruling party and consequently come to the PAC by its own volition. It doesn't happen that way in politics. You've got to go to the people. The third area I mentioned is that the PAC would have to have a leadership in place which on a person to person basis can match and better that which is in place in the current government. I am happy to tell you now, just a few months later, that the PAC had a convention and that it looked specifically at these areas and that we are now two months away from the elections a leadership pool has been put in place. It is widely reported in the media that the most significant outcome of the convention was the objective, honest and self-criticising manner in which that convention took place and the maturity of views which put the party above personalities, I mean party interests above personalities. And that is very good because it shows that the PAC is a serious outfit now, a serious player. The only way the PAC can now fail to become a significant force is if it shoots itself in the foot. It cannot be defeated any more by outside forces.
POM Well let's begin with the finances. You are obviously a very small party. Money goes to parties with power yet the constitution provides that there shall be public funding of political parties and that it shall be a multi-party democratic system. My first question is, do you think that the government in order to foster a multi-party democracy should aid financially political parties?
KX Yes. This is a debate that's been waging in the United States as you know from the 1930s onwards, whether the Mafia at the time controlled some members of parliament and then later on whether big business are controlling members of parliament and they felt that there should be independent resources made available to political parties so that they can truly be the voice of the people and not the voice of the moneyed classes. In the US, for example, you have the National Republican Institute financed by the state, you have the Democratic Institute financed by the state. You have the same thing in Germany, you have the Fredreich Ebert Foundation and you have another one, both of which are financed by the state. The second one, of course, is the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. And that is to allow parties to work on democracy, building of democracy all the time. If a stable democracy like Germany and a stable democracy like the US put money into institutes of their parties to allow the party to develop foreign policy by having offices overseas even, to allow the party to have offices all over the country and employ people to do social research because social research is very important to democracy, and to be able to build capacity all the time on the ground, because without that continuous capacity building and social research and interaction there cannot be any democracy. The biggest most stable democracies, the US and Germany, understand that and so for a third world country which does not have that ongoing democracy building and people buying into the system, if that's not in place then it's a matter of time before you have again violence and coups and counter-coups and that type of thing.
So I certainly support that the state should finance the political parties because then also you can demand transparency, you can demand to see how the money is being used because it's state money. The Auditor General has access to the party's books and can see what's happening and the party is not subject to manipulation by outside forces. For example, right now even we are now in the month of October, within two weeks there will be elections in the US, in two or three weeks time, and there are a host of smaller parties. Some of them are on 30 ballots, some of them on 40 ballots in the US, some of them on 50 ballots in the US, but they will not achieve anything because the state is financing them and the state is not prepared to finance institutes of them. There is the Green Party, there's the Libertarian Party in the US and many other parties and they will not amount to anything, they just do not have the financial capacity.
POM So what form do you think this financing should take, and I'll loosely break it into three forms? One, you would have the financing of the parliamentary arm of the party. Two, you would have perhaps financing for its day-to-day operations so that it can run and function as a political party. The third would be financial assistance during elections. Should government support be for all three? Should it be just for elections, just for day-to-day running of operations, for just parliamentary purposes and should it be a lump sum to each party, a minimum amount, or should it be weighted in favour of the smaller parties or should it be weighted in favour of the larger parties?
KX That's a very difficult question with numerous sub-questions. I would think that the objective of the funding is to allow capacity building so that the system can continue to run because if the system breaks down then all hell will break loose and that's the objective.
POM What do you call the system breaking down?
KX The system breaking down? Parties unable to function day-to-day, parties being unable to establish regions and empower their human resources. Once that happens the system breaks down and I think that that is what should be done. As far as the parliamentary side is concerned, yes, I support finances directed to the parliamentary operations. That's the most easy thing to do. Then I think that the major part is parties that make a threshold of at least 5% in the elections should be allowed to have a foundation of the party where they can do continuous research and through which they can do their general capacity building. As far as the party offices are concerned they should be assisted to have offices but you don't have to pay various staff, I think parties should be able to raise funds through their own membership to pay for their staff. As long as the offices are opened and there are training processes continuing I think that should be sufficient. And then of course you have the whole area of the elections. For the elections parties should be required to have a certain number of voters that indicates that they would be able to support that party. If the party can come up with 2% of the electorate saying that they will vote for that party ...
POM That's in terms of signatures?
KX In terms of signatures, then such parties should be assisted on an equal basis in the electoral processes because if you say the bigger party must get more money then you are creating a self-fulfilled prophecy. By virtue of giving them more money they will become the bigger party.
POM And just the final element, that would be access to media; should each party be given a block amount of time free for the use on public media and should that be it or should there be free access to public media plus paid media if you can afford it?
KX I think as far as the public media is concerned, and this is one area that is easier to handle, during election times they should be given party broadcast times on an equal basis. When a certain party is being attacked at prime time, at 8 pm at night, the other parties should not be given the chance to respond at 4 am in the morning when nobody watches. They should be given the same treatment to respond with the same amount of time and at the same prime time that the attack was broadcast. That's fair and that is what was supposed to have been done in the first democratic elections. Then as far as the private media is concerned I think it will be more difficult to enforce anything on them because they are driven by the profit motive and they are privately owned, unless the state prescribes a minimum number of advertisements and the sizes of those advertisements and the state finances those adverts. That should be fair and then the party on its own, if it's able to go beyond that, can certainly do so.
POM Do you think the ANC would favour a public financing system that helps other political parties?
KX Well before a party becomes a ruling party it will favour it. That's the trend in Africa and the moment a party becomes a ruling party it doesn't favour giving money to anybody else but themselves. So the ANC is not likely to favour giving money to other parties.
POM From your interaction, do you ever discuss issues like this, like the need to develop a viable multi-party - are they interested in developing a multi-party system in which there will be effective opposition or are they interested merely in there being the appearance of it?
KX No, the ANC is not interested in having a viable multi-party system but in fairness to them the same is true for all the political parties in the country and I'll tell you why there is such a great concern with what's going to happen when Mr Mandela goes because the question that you ask is related to the issue of Mr Mandela going. A stable democracy is one in which you have a strong centre left party which believes in the free market system and capitalism with a human face, and then you should have a right wing, conservative party that believes in cut-throat competition, the market determining everything, less governing is good government, and I think you should have a left socialist party and these parties should be stable, you should know the premises from which they operate and when an issue comes up you should know what they will say based on their premises.
If I can give you an example that I hope will suffice, if you bring cash relief for the middle classes in order to grow the size of the middle class you know exactly what the three parties' responses will be before they make it. The right wing party, the conservative free marketeers, will immediately applaud the move as a good thing. The socialists will say the cut should have gone to the workers and they will attack it. The centre party will say that it's a good thing that should be done but care should be taken that the masses should not suffer too much, at least the human face element will be brought in. So it's predictable how they will behave and then you have stable democracy. It doesn't matter if the government changes from the one to the other and so on, it's stable, it's predictable, totally predictable.
I can tell you in the American system it's predictable what each party will say. In the British system it's predictable how they will behave. In the German system it's predictable how the parties will behave and that is why even when the government changes the investors don't get scared because there is no element of surprise; even if the parties change the government they know exactly what the new guy is going to say. In this country at the moment the parties haven't gelled their position so the ANC one day will say we're against the death penalty, the next day they will say maybe we're for it, the next day they will say maybe we shouldn't be for that again. So there is not stability in the party as to what its position is, there's no predictability. Because there is no predictability there is no stable democracy and because of that investors are looking at the personality in the party rather than the party and so they say, OK, if Mr Mandela goes who is going to take over now because I can't look at the party since the party is not predictable and so I'll have to look at the personality and so they are concerned and preoccupied with which is the personality that will take over from Mr Mandela. The same is true for the right opposition and the left opposition, they are not very stable in their positions and so it's not predictable what they will do or what they will say, as at the moment. So people are looking at the personalities rather than that.
So we still have to go a long way I feel before we have the scenario that I painted of predictable centre left and right parties and it's only when that is in place that there will be stability. Therefore, the western governments should continue to support the drive towards democracy in the country, we should not be so overwhelmed by the so-called moral standing of Mr Mandela. We should understand that these are real issues and continue to support the building of democracy in the country. We are far from completing the task of the building of democracy.
POM So if the ANC were to make noises about legislation to fund political parties, (i) do you think they will ever put it on their agenda, and (ii) do you think that if they were to do so it's only for show or that the law would be so weak as to really make no difference?
KX No the ANC will be interested in money for the ANC and if the PAC was the ruling party it would be more interested in money for the PAC. That is why you need to constitutionalise these issues so that it doesn't become an issue of the whims and fancies of the ruling party of the day.
POM Do you think there should be, again because it relates to the question of finances, that first of all you should be able to raise money from whatever source you can raise it from, whether it's individuals, corporations, multi-nationals or foreign governments? Two, do you think there should be a cap on the amount that an individual or a corporation can give? And three, do you think there should be disclosure, i.e. that a party should have to publish the list of where it gets its money from and how much it gets from each source?
KX This question is easy to answer and difficult to implement. Yes, there should be a cap and that cap should be determined by the fact that you don't want a donation to be so great as to fundamentally influence party policy. It should be enough to be significant but insufficient to be influential.
POM That's nicely put.
KX But then again you will have a problem like you have in the United States which is a very good example. They put a cap on how much you can give. If the cap is, for example, $100,000 and somebody wants to give you $1 million, that person will make sure that his wife gives you $99,000, he gives you $99,000, his son gives you $99,000, his cat gives you $99,000, his dog gives you $99,000 and at the end of the day you have $1 million and nobody has given you more than R100,000, so there are ways and means of overcoming that. The other thing that's also happened in the United States is where a corporation or a very rich millionaire would put an advert supporting you and pay a few million dollars for those adverts and then they will say that he never gave us the money, it's his own individual choice, but we know that those adverts were devised with the campaign strategists of the party behind the scenes but you cannot prove it, so the party would say that we're not involved in those adverts. So there are ways and means of getting around any law that is passed in this regard. There is no country on earth that will be able to put a cap there and make sure that parties do not circumvent it. We will be the first to succeed if we do. But the idea is very important because it shows the intent, it sends a message to the parties and it makes sure that the parties realise that there are certain morals inherent in the legislation which contains the capping of donations. Then of course parties must be allowed to disclose. They should be required to disclose any amount that they receive above a certain meaningful amount and up to the amount of the capping, they should be disclosed there. And where we could maybe differ from other countries is we could say whether that was done by the party or in its interests.
POM How about foreign money coming from foreign governments or organisations or the party being able to do fund raising in foreign countries?
KX Yes, when it comes from foreign governments I think foreign governments would be reluctant to give political parties money because it will maybe seen to be interfering in the domestic affairs of a particular country, particularly when they give that money to the opposition. It will give the impression that a government is in favour of the overthrow of a particular government or the takeover of a particular state. But we do see power blocs coming up now in the world. For example in the European Union there is a socialist bloc and they do put programmes together and they do have conferences on their own. There is a conservative caucus in Brussels where all the conservative parties in Europe come together and they strategise together and they assist each other and you even see when they vote on European matters how they take similar positions depending on where they stand. So I believe that that's going to be a trend starting from Europe and going throughout the world that later on you will find in other world bodies like the Commonwealth and so on that parties will come together according to their particular philosophical and ideological perspectives. It's not anything new to know that socialists, for example, come together from different parts of the world from time to time in much publicised meetings. So you will have that type of thing but that is more on a party basis rather than on a government basis. So I think in that respect you will also find South African parties will link up with parties of similar persuasions in different parts of the world and they will get support from those parties. Those parties themselves are again linked to business persons in that country and if the socialist party in France has some business supporting people then you can expect a socialist party in South Africa to be supported by the socialist party in France and the business persons who support the socialist party. And so you can go on and on. I think that type of thing is not unthinkable.
POM On a scale of one to ten how important is this whole question of the public financing of political parties compared to other issues that the country faces?
KX It's very important in the sense that he who pays the piper calls the tune and there is a competition for prioritisation of issues and if there is undue influence by big business on the government of the day it will impact on the prioritisation of the agenda of the government and therefore it can sideline other social issues of the poor and the weak and so it becomes very important in that sense because it's critical to the way the government prioritises its agenda.
POM Does South Africa have a multi-party system? Is there an effective opposition? Is there at the moment any prospect of there being an alternative government?
KX South Africa is a different type of country from the first world countries and when you look at third world countries through the spectacles of a first world country it makes no sense, you've got to look at it through it's own spectacles. I've said to you on a previous occasion that third world countries whether in South America or in Africa or in other parts of the world maintain their Presidents for a very long time until they are violently overthrown, some of them, and that is so because even if they fail to deliver on social issues, even if they have three digit or four digit inflation they still get re-elected which is a phenomena in terms of which in western thinking is unthinkable and the western mind can never understand how a President can take a country into three digit inflation and still get re-elected. I've said that that is so because these people have got some histories of struggle and legitimacy and the only other party other than the ANC in this country which has that legitimacy and standing is the PAC and that's why I've said that if you want to have stable democracy in this country then the PAC must be built more than any other party in this country.
POM Can any other party be built? The National Party has this dream of becoming multi-racial and suddenly getting votes from the people it oppressed so thoroughly for 40 years, for 300 years for that matter, which seems to me like a pipe dream. The IFP seems to be a regional party at best with limited potential to grow. The PAC at the moment is, if I put it crudely, it's teetering on the brink of extinction. Where does this viability come from? How long do you see the ANC being able to be elected to power until other parties begin to develop or do you think that a break-up, as some people think, in the ANC partnership is inevitable, that there will be a kind of a workers' party element and a more pragmatist - it will start breaking into the elements that you talked about, social democracy, Christian democracy, whatever?
KX I think that the viability of the PAC comes from the fact that it has legitimacy as freedom fighters and heroes for the bulk of the population, especially they are regarded as heroes. I've said to you on a previous occasion that the reason why, if you look at the voting patterns in the country, is that it's abnormal; black people are voting in the main for a black president and it doesn't matter whether those black people are communist, conservatives or liberals which is abnormal. White people are voting for ...
POM Sorry, which is abnormal or normal?
KX Abnormal. It's abnormal for people to vote for one candidate whether they are communist, conservatives or liberals. The same thing is true for white people. In the main they would vote for a white candidate and it doesn't matter whether those white people are communists, conservatives or liberals, but this is strategic voting. I am saying that that strategic voting on the part of black people is an anti De Klerk vote rather than an anti PAC vote. So the PAC is a casualty of strategic voting and not a casualty of anti PAC voting. As far as the ANC is concerned itself this situation will have to normalise itself and I've said to you on a previous occasion it will take about the next two elections before we have a normal democracy where people come together around values rather than around colour, and where conservatives, black and white, will be in one conservative party and social democrats black and white will be in one party and socialists or workerists black and white will be in one party. That would be normal for them to come around but that itself will be the result of a realignment of forces irrespective of party. I don't see that primarily as a result only of a break-up within the ANC, but it will be a realignment around values irrespective of colour but I think the biggest casualty will be the ANC.
POM So De Klerk's vision, which he likes to call it, of the NP being a multi-racial party built around values, the core values of conservatism, family, whatever you want to call it, you see that as being an eminently achievable ambition on his part?
KX No because the NP is under the same constraints as the ANC and other political parties. You've got all the tendencies in them. You have liberal ...
POM It would need to split up. I mean part of it's constituency might go to the ANC, part to ...
KX That's what I'm saying, that you have got conservatives, you've got liberals there. I don't think you have a socialist in the NP but you have got these two tendencies. At the moment the tendency that has won, and this is to the disadvantage of the NP, they think it's to their advantage but it's to their disadvantage, is the liberals with the appointment of Roelf Meyer and De Klerk and all these guys and the side-lining of the more hard liners. You see that the liberals have come to the eminent position which means that the liberals are not people who position themselves to the right of the ANC but who try to compete for the same social democratic spot as the ANC and they will never defeat the ANC as the main contender for social democracy. Because the social democrats have won in the NP that is also the defeat of the NP.
POM So the logical thing would be for the social democrats in the NP to become part of the ANC?
KX That's right. The logical thing would be and the normal thing would be for all social democrats to come together. We have a number of them in the PAC, in the DP, in the ANC and in the NP, they should come together. The conservatives should come together and the socialists should come together. Usually what happens in every country is that you have a conservative party, a big one, and then you've got a lot of smaller conservative guys up to ultra right wingers surrounding that party but they are all small but there's only one viable one. You have a lot of social democratic organisations and NGOs and parties, a lot of small ones but there's one big one and there are a lot of small socialist groups other than just study groups that mobilise around the newspaper, but there's one big viable one. And that's what's going to happen when this society normalises. We're not yet in a normal society here and when that happens it will be a realignment that will affect all the political parties as you see them today. There's no question in my mind that that's what's going to happen. The only question is how will this happen? Will this happen in a violent way or in a non-violent way within the political parties? We see that in the ANC itself they know the result will mean the loss - you lose some and you win some and they are more preoccupied with not losing anything, hence they have taken a very hard line now, a very hard line against dissent within their party because the moment you take a clear policy decision then you cannot satisfy all the tendencies that you have within you if you have an omnibus party. The only way that you can still (quell) dissent in your party is by coming with harsh organisational discipline against any dissent and that's what's happening in the ANC right now, and that is what's going to happen in the other parties too but it's a futile attempt because the dissent will be there in spite of that. Disciplinary measures will not be strong enough.
POM How do you think the ANC handled the Holomisa affair? Do you think it could have been handled better, that it wasn't necessary to take the extreme measure of expelling him from the party? And what message do you think the ANC was sending to its constituency with such a harsh measure?
KX All political commentators without exception are agreed that the measure taken by the ANC on the Bantu Holomisa thing was too harsh and was uncalled for. The fact that Bantu Holomisa spoke against Stella Sigcau and he disclosed again what was already public knowledge was not even an ANC matter because at the time neither Holomisa nor Stella Sigcau were members of the ANC; that is when she took the alleged bribe from Sol Kerzner, so it wasn't an ANC matter. Bantu Holomisa was talking in the context of the Transkei politics, the so-called homeland of the time, and the ANC had nothing to do with the homeland system so it had nothing to defend. That's how the whole Holomisa issue started. At the centre of that row even today is the alleged bribery by Sol Kerzner and the fact that politicians are not pressing with charges against Mr Kerzner. It seems that he was able to worm his way into the hearts of the previous government as well as into the hearts of the current government and so that is the heart of the problem.
Linked to this is the whole thrust of your interview, namely whether we should know who gives money to the government. How does Mr Mandela justify taking money from a fugitive from justice when you know there's a warrant for his arrest out, when you know somebody is a prima facie criminal? How do you take money from him? That is the issue. There would be have been a big public outcry had the public known that Mr Mandela had taken money from a fugitive from justice. The message to the membership of the ANC by the leadership is very clear. They say that they will not tolerate dissent, they will take a specific perspective and everybody must abide by it. Their view is that the result of their action will be the fact that dissent will quieten down, the members will be intimidated but I think that they are miscalculating what the result of their action will be, that people will take more hard line attitudes within their organisation against the leadership and that will lead to a consolidation of particular blocs initially, opinion blocs within the organisation. What the result of that will be in the long run I do not know but that will be the short run effect and we've seen that right now. People are just coming behind Holomisa within the organisation irrespective of the fact that they say he's been dismissed from the organisation and irrespective of circulars and pleas by the leadership not to meet with Holomisa. People feel that we share the same opinion with him, we are in his camp.
POM Who runs the country? Is it parliament, the government or the NEC of the ANC?
KX It's neither of those. The persons who are running the country are the advisors to the ministers.
POM Who are in the main?
KX They are in the main white Anglo-Saxon academics who are being paid over a billion rand per annum to advise the government and it's their documentation and their strategic documents and their views that are being aped by the ministers and that is what runs the country and it doesn't work. You can see that for the output of a billion rand in the production of these documents and strategies the government has very little to show.
POM Would these advisers regard themselves as liberals, as people who had fought against apartheid, been anti-apartheid during their career, been active in one way or another in an anti-apartheid movement?
KX Some of them would, people like Professor Tom Lodge, Professor Dennis Davis, a lot of them would be. Others would not, like Katz of the Tax Reform Commission, and others would certainly not, they would just be academics. Yet you have another group who are just business leaders and then you have yet another group of persons who were senior public servants of the old order and who resigned in order to become consultants to the new government. It's amazing when the new government accuses the old government of incompetence that they will go and hire the very incompetent people who have resigned, as consultants. Most of the billion rand goes to the consultants of the old order and there is also great confusion in the country at the moment on the difference between skills and certification. You have people with certification and no skills. We had for example Dr Rina Venter, the former Minister of Health in the old order, she had a PhD but we all know that the health department was a mess. We have people in Telkom, in ESCOM, in the South African Airways and in Transnet, for example, who have a lot of educational qualifications behind their names but they are not running those state corporations efficiently. The skills are not just what qualifications you have, it is the organisation of input factors in such a way that you have efficiency, efficiencies of scale and efficiencies of the production mechanisms that lead you to levels of profitability and international competitiveness and it's that organisational, or rather business organisational structuring that is what is regarded as skills. Skills is linked to efficiency. And a lot of the people who are leaving the country at the moment were so inefficient in the businesses they were running, so uncompetitive, that I do not know how people can say there is an outflow of skills. In fact even if they had stayed most of them should be fired. But I think that there is a need for skilful and efficient management of the South African business environment by everybody both black and white because all of us are not skilful. We organise our businesses in an obese, uncompetitive manner that needs serious reorganisation and some of these guys who were so inefficient are now advisers to the government and there is no question, no question, that when they were at the head of these state corporations and departments there was the most gross inefficiency. There is no question about that. And they resign and become advisers and they get paid most of the billion rand that is paid to advisers at the moment. And they are running the country amazingly enough.
POM So coming to the second element of the three things you said the PAC must address, interactive programmes that the community can relate to and come to, how at this point would you differentiate the PAC from the ANC in relation to its main programmatic thrust, i.e. the ANC would say that it would gear its current macro-economic policy, the goals are to eliminate or reduce the unemployment, to improve the delivery of services, to attract foreign investment and increase fixed capital investment within the country, to improve housing, sanitation, where do you differ?
KX It would be easy to say where you differ with the ANC if they had a coherent macro-economic strategy, but they have a contradictory macro-economic strategy and once that is the situation it's easy to be opportunistic and just take the part that you think is bad and say you differ with that and leave the other contradictory part. So we first have to point out, if you're intellectually honest, that the ANC has a contradictory policy.
POM What's contradictory about GEAR?
KX Well Trevor Manuel, for example, favours a Keynesian economic recovery programme which means that you spend your way out of a recession. You spend your way out of your problems, fiscal policy leads the economic recovery, the government kick starts the economy by investing in major public programmes, building dams, roads and other infrastructures and that has a ripple effect throughout the economy stimulating other parts of the economy. The emphasis is not in fiscal constraint or restraint, the emphasis is on spending, spending your way out of the unemployment situation such as you had during the great depression in the late 1920s and 1930s in the United States when you had Hoover programmes, dams and other type of things being built and so on and that itself was fundamental in curbing that depression.
Then of course you've got the Reserve Bank and other members in the ANC who favour a monetary policy recovery programme which means a fiscal restraint, a serious fiscal restraint and the two are just contradictory, a sort of a Thatcherite type of approach that the monetarists favour, and they are also in the ANC. You can have a combination of monetarist and fiscal approaches; I'm not saying that the two must be exclusive but I say that the way that it is perceived within the ANC are mutually exclusive.
And so as time goes on we will have to see what will happen. You have still a policy of very high interest rates. Mr Mandela apes what the Governor of the Reserve Bank tells me after a meeting. He says there is going to be no intervention by the government to help the rand out of its depreciated levels vis-à-vis the pound and the dollar and we're just going to let the market forces solve the problem. After Mr Mandela has a meeting with Mr Manuel he comes and says exactly the opposite again, that there will have to be government spending and intervention. And so I am not sure if the President doesn't understand all the subtleties of the fact that the two positions are coated in niceties but they are fundamentally contradictory. So where does the PAC stand vis-à-vis the ANC? It depends on which day of the week the ANC makes a statement.
POM How is your vision of the country fundamentally different from theirs? How is your vision of what South Africa is and where it is going and how it will get there different from theirs in broad outline?
KX Our view on the state is that the definition of the state is that it's an African state and as a result everybody in the country must pledge their allegiance to Africa and become an African irrespective of the colour of their skins.
POM What does being African mean?
KX Being African means that you serve the interests of Africa in every respect. So the opposite of that is that you regard this country as a rainbow nation, which is not an African thing, and the strongest colour dominating the weaker colours, that's what's happening at the moment where you find that everything is Eurocentric in the country and black people must aspire to be Eurocentric because Eurocentricism represents progress. That's the alternative to that and we're totally opposed to that, we're a very Afro-centric party and of course it makes sense in Africa. It makes sense if you're in Germany to be very much pro-German. It makes sense if you're in China to be very much pro-China and it makes sense if you're in Africa to be very much Afro-centric. So that is the position that we hold. As far as the economic strategy is concerned we define our policy as a serious redistributive policy and we have divided the African people into three categories in order to benefit from the approaches from the PAC. The one is the workers, the second one would be the managers and the third category is the entrepreneurs.
As far as the workers are concerned we believe in the answer that we put to the question, namely at what point must wealth be redistributed from who to whom? And the answer to that against the ANC's answer, the ANC's point of view was that wealth would have to be distributed from the white few to the black people as a whole through a new black elite who will hold the wealth in trust on behalf of black people in the short and in the long run. We disagreed with that. We said that wealth must be redistributed at the point of production from the white minority to primarily the African workers, the masses as a whole. In that sense we say that the workers must be empowered to have a model that is a combination of what happened in some Eastern bloc countries, Germany and the Scandinavian countries where workers sit on the boards of companies, where they have meaningful ordinary share participation in the company, they discuss everything, not just wages, dividend policies, relocation of the company, foreign expansion, all those matters they discuss that even before the management get it. But when it is discussed on the board level the workers must be involved in that. From there it is handed down to the management. We believe that such a regime will lead to a situation where the workers are very much empowered and they would refer to the economy as 'our' economy, they would not be destructive to that economy. We believe that that programme itself must be linked to socio-economic issues and we will reward the company through tax incentives to be involved in such social programmes. Once at the shop floor level there is that involvement in health and education, in other socio-economic related issues we won't have those pressures on the state treasury, it will be reduced and so you can carry that reduction over to the population generally in the form of tax reductions too. But it's not just that you want people to pay less tax, it is because of your understanding of development. There's a difference between development and modernisation and we stand for an incentive to development central to the idea of development is development of the people, involvement of the people.
You cannot have international competitiveness when the country against which you compete has a skilled labour force and you have an unskilled labour force. With more than 50% of the people of the country illiterate you can already see that in order to have a sustained economic growth and development we need to have a national 'back to school' campaign where even after hours the school facilities are used by the elderly, by the workers to upgrade their skills, normal reading, writing and arithmetic skills, the three Rs and as well as particular skills of the work that they are involved in. And it should be a massive campaign if you really want to have sustained economic growth. This government is not serious about sustained economic growth because it doesn't have the programmes I mentioned in place and they have no intention of having them in place. Then there is a question of sacrifice.
POM When you say they have no intention of having them in place, it's not deliberate malfeasance on their part?
KX No, no, I don't think that anybody in the government gets up in the morning and says, "Today I want to fail."
POM Yes, they want to succeed.
KX That's right.
POM So what's ...?
KX They want to succeed but they want to succeed without rocking the boat. And if you want to succeed without rocking the boat then you won't succeed because the inequalities will just remain. So that is where the Pan Africanist Congress differs. We would call on serious sacrifice on the part of the workers, on the part of the employers and the difference between the new order in the country and the apartheid regime is that in the apartheid regime they called upon people to sacrifice without reward. We would have to call for sacrifice with reward and then I think the partnership between the state, the employers and the workers will work.
POM Do you think that too much attention has been paid to what's called alleviating the fears of whites, of bending over backwards to show them that change can almost be costless, that their position is just going to be as secure as it was, that their standards of living are not going to fall, that they are going to be isolated from any radical transformation in the country?
KX You're absolutely correct and we did discuss this point in one of the previous interviews where I said to you that this is a time bomb for whites. It's not in their interests to go along with that type of thinking inherent in your question because the more black people are dissatisfied and becoming more and more dissatisfied and as long as they do not see the fruit of freedom when they rise up again they will destroy everything and they will take everything from the white man and therefore it is not in the interests of the white man to see himself being well off and the black man suffering. So my view is that if white people are far thinking then they would agree with my contention that they need to share the wealth and bring stability based on progress.
POM In this sense has too much emphasis been put on 'reconciliation' at the expense of saying what we've got to get on with here is radical transformation and unfortunately radical transformation and reconciliation are not compatible in the short run and in fact may not be compatible in the long run?
KX You see we should talk about justice because when you talk about reconciliation you're talking about something that was conciliated before and then became de-conciliated and it's now becoming re-conciliated. There was never a situation of justice between white and black in the country and now we are trying to work towards a just situation. The fact of the matter is that the gains of the big corporations in this country are not because of white expertise and work ethic as against black laziness; it is ill-gotten gains that makes the corporations what they are today. And we are not talking about revenge, we are talking about revolutionising the South African society so that everybody can have an equal chance and in order to have an equal chance you cannot get one person to stand ten metres from the starting line and the rest of the population on the starting line and then say, on your marks, get ready, go, because the premises on which you start already are unjust. The big white corporations are already having a lead even before we start and we've got to bring black people up to the same levels where they are so that you can have an equal chance for everybody and that itself is not an injustice, that itself is inherent in bringing about a just society. I think that if this is explained properly to white people in the country they may or may not agree with this position, but if you bear in mind that only about eight families control most of the stocks on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange you will realise that the bulk of white people are sidelined too and there should be no reason why most white people do not accept the need for an equitable society. You know that white business persons, especially medium sized and smaller businesses, agree with me that they do not have a fair chance against the big white corporations so they are natural allies of the black business, of the government, and they are happy with programmes that will level the playing field because they are also disadvantaged by the fact that the big guys dominate the playing field.
POM But for the moment it would appear to me that whites simply don't get it. Even though there has been at one level a very smooth political change in terms of the constitution, it being referred back to the court, that being gone through again the constitutional processes in terms of how parliament is beginning to function, to work, and the structures whether in Gauteng or wherever else are put in place, for at least to sow the seeds of democracy, transformation in the civil service has been slow. Power, as you said, still lies in white hands, they are getting more sceptical, they are complaining more, they are talking about things getting worse, they are talking about all the usual things that blacks simply can't do it and we knew they couldn't do it and here's the evidence in front of us, and they don't get it that they haven't yet had to bear any part of the real sacrifice that has to come if there's to be transformation in the country.
The point of 'whites don't get it', they continue to complain, they continue to think their standards of living are going down. Can you just re-address that one? At what point do whites have to get it that the old days are over and there's going to be a lot of sacrifice they're going to have to make and if that makes them sceptical and want to leave the country then that's what they have to do? Can you address that within the context of there being very little domestic investment by business within the country and hence no reason why foreign businessmen should invest?
KX Yes. In the rest of Africa during the de-colonisation processes white people had feared that black people would act the same way towards them as they had acted towards black people during their colonial rule and the mere thought of that possibility was frightening. But black people have a philosophy, what we call ubuntu, a strong human kindness, a humanism, a combination of a humanism and a humanitarianism but the greater emphasis on humanism. The proof of the pudding was in the eating in the rest of Africa, they never came after whites with the exception of one or two or three incidents in every country, which was condemned by the African people as a whole in those countries. People don't want revenge, people want revolution, they want fundamental social change and they want people to work towards that fundamental social change. The only way that you can really show white people that there can be a common dignity, humanity, patriotism and economic welfare is by pushing everybody in the country into the process of restructuring the unjust society. Our responsibility is not to try and argue with white sceptics but to prove to them through practice that we can create a beautiful society where everybody is everyone's neighbour and the colour of a person's skin is as irrelevant as the shape of his ears.
There is this scepticism which manifests itself in various ways, one of which would be the reluctance by domestic big white business to invest in manufacturing and in production. They are investing primarily in speculative financial instruments, like on the Stock Exchange, where they can put their money in today and take it out tomorrow and foreign investors see this and they wonder why they should invest in the country. Most foreign investment at the moment is of a speculative nature in our country and they take their cue from the white South African business.
But the government should take a bold step and make clear what it's programme of empowerment is and take it from there. The government had put forward a very lukewarm programme which was devised by COSATU, called the RDP, which they had watered down, watered down about three or four times after which they eventually abandoned it. I supported the aims and objectives of the programme but I never supported the means because the RDP was what people in the US in the late sixties and early seventies called the comprehensive anti-poverty programmes and we know that the comprehensive anti-poverty programmes in the US never did away with a single ghetto. Food stamp programmes never did away with a ghetto. Now I'm not saying that there is not a need for food stamps in the US, there is a need for it. If you have got no food to eat food stamps are good but it doesn't change your social conditions, it makes it liveable. Here the RDP was a programme meant to make black people survive, it was an anti-poverty programme, it wasn't an empowerment programme. It had nothing to say about the commanding heights of the economy, it had nothing to say about mineral mines that we have in the country and how those would go towards blacks themselves. It had nothing to say about the restructuring of the economy itself. It saw a little role for black people within the economy as it exists. So it was not an empowerment and a restructuring endeavour whatsoever, it was a survival, poverty relief programme and there is a great distinction between poverty relief programmes and empowerment programmes as we have seen from the examples. And why they took the example of the US comprehensive anti-poverty programmes and when they know it didn't work to do away with ghettos and slums in the US, why they thought it would achieve that here heaven alone knows.
POM I know you must be pressed for time and you've given me, as always, a lot. I can do a whole book on you. A PAC in government: what would be the nine or ten things, if say tomorrow morning you are in government, you are a minister, Patricia de Lille is a minister, you're sitting around in Cabinet, what would be the first nine or ten major decisions you would take or seek to take and have implemented into law that would start bringing about the transformation you are talking about?
KX The first thing that I will do, and this must be for every country in the world, is to fight corruption in government. The tender board processes, other procurement processes should be totally free of corruption.
POM Everybody says they are anti-corruption, so this is your first decision and you say you're against corruption and everybody would say, "They sound like everybody else, they're against corruption." What specific - if you don't have the machinery, the capacity to overcome corruption, how are you going to overcome it?
KX If you have corruption in your government then all your programmes will be subject to that corruption. So the number one thing you have got to do, I don't care where you are, at which age you are, which epoch or stage of your development you are, you must fight corruption. Number two, you must promote the idea of efficiency within your government and put steps and programmes into upgrade people's skills and so on because without the correct platform from which you are going to do the things that you want me to say I'm going to do, without the correct platform and a clean slate you are going to set in place the seeds for the programmes coming later on to collapse. As far as the economic restructuring is concerned, put in place the programme I mentioned to you for the workers, research and development and programmes on an industry-wide basis for the empowerment and training of management as well as having programmes on the side of the state for black entrepreneurs to be empowered and also making concessions for white companies to contract and sub-contract a lot of work to black companies as well. We would also give concessions to foreign investors who will invest in not only the selling of final products but in manufacturing of those products as the Philippines are doing with their pharmaceuticals. They are saying that you can see your pharmaceuticals in the Philippines only if you have a manufacturing plant where you manufacture them and then you have a transfer of skills and you have the diversification of the economy taking place at the same time.
In South Africa we have it with the motor industry, we say a certain percentage of the motor parts must be manufactured locally for you to qualify for special concessions. Those are some of the programmes on the economic scales that can take place. Massive educational programmes, massive public works programmes as well to kick start the economy. Housing as well, job creation, education and economic growth, those are the three pillars on which you would build your economy. Of course the other issues are very important, the issue of health is a very important issue too.
On the issue of health, there your approach would not be the conventional Eurocentric approach which is an approach that says you must have X number of doctors for X number in the population and then they just look to see how many doctors there are per how many of the population, and we've seen the American health system which is a mess at the moment. The British health system is in a mess. They have got those scales in many respects but it's not just the existence of the scale, it's how you combat a disease and not only how you combat disease but how you address issues of health. In fact those western countries don't make a distinction between matters of health and matters of disease, they look at them as the same thing and it's not the same thing. Matters of health pertain to issues like clean water, the system to get water to people, sanitation, houses built with good ventilation and all those things. Those are health matters. Disease matters are what happens to you when you get sick, when you get to a doctor and you drink water that comes from pipes that are rusty and you live in a house that is not properly ventilated; he is going to give you tablets to deal with the course of the disease, he will never give you a prescription calling for you to get a better house and better water pipes to your township. He will not deal with those broad health issues. He will merely deal with the combating of the disease and then send you back into the same health hazardous conditions under which you live. So we must make that distinction between matters of disease and matters of health and attend to matters of health primarily and bring in the engineers to work on that.
Also to make sure that we have on the educational field directing our trainees in those areas where the country has a competitive edge over other countries, those industries that lend themselves to both local consumption and international competitiveness and guide the economy in that direction. With the apartheid situation that we had we took a decision as liberation movements that the country should be isolated and because of the isolation the country went into manufacturing of everything, even that on which they are not competitive, because that's the only way they could have survived, that the apartheid situation could have survived. Now that you've a new order you don't have to manufacture everything. Even the big motor corporations in the US don't manufacture every part, they manufacture only half of the parts that they put in that vehicle. So we don't have to manufacture everything like under apartheid we were forced to do. We've got to correct all of those economic inefficiencies and you do that through carrot and stick policies.
POM OK. Thank you.
KX And then the other issue is the issue of violence. Very briefly on the issue of violence we have got to get an answer from the Minister of Safety & Security to explain to us why we are spending such a lot of money having a crime intelligence unit which we pay to infiltrate crime syndicates and we don't act upon the reports that they give us. We put up a road-block in the middle of a street hoping that a criminal would accidentally come past there driving a car that looks like it could be a car of a criminal and having a look on his face that looks like a criminal and having some stolen goods or something on him at the time that looks like it hasn't been bought, and therefore in a hit and miss manner maybe catch him. That cannot be a serious comprehensive government approach to the question of crime.
So as you come with economic development, giving people legitimate opportunities to feed their families and to have a roof over their heads, at the same time you do that so that people don't have to go into illegal means you also need to have a strategy to combat crime. The first thing you must do in combating crime is that you must have a definition of the problem. If your definition of the problem, whether it's crime or anything else, is wrong then your solution will 90% be wrong and we are saying here that, for example, the motor car hijacking, you must define it as a shadow economy with wholesalers, retailers, customers, orders and a financial sector and that it is a shadow economy that you must crush. So when you pass a law to stop you from buying stolen goods that law should reflect your understanding and you make that person who receives the goods, make him, put an onus on him to prove that he is not guilty of the crime to get the goods. He is guilty until he proves his own innocence. Do that because that law or that clause will show your understanding of the issue as a crime economy.
We're not impressed when you say to me I found a criminal standing on a street corner, I arrested that one isolated soul. I won't be impressed by that. I want to see you crushing a crime economy, working with neighbouring countries where stolen goods are going to and fro, working with Interpol, putting more people, spies, police spies into crime syndicates and crushing a crime economy and then, of course, your financial sectors will have to also be brought in so you can be able to see what happens to that money which has to be brought into the formal economy. You know in the US at the moment you cannot move R10,000 without people raising their eyebrows about the movement of that R10,000. In South Africa you can move millions of dollars and nobody will ask you any question as to the movement of that millions of dollars; where does it come from, why is it moved and things like that.
These are some of the measures that have to be taken and I must say this, that criminals are like children. When there is a problem between, a difference of opinion between Mum and Dad even if they are five years old they are perceptive, if they know Mum is going to say no they wait until she's out of the house and then ask Dad if they can do that and he will say yes. Or if Dad is going to say no they wait until he's out of the house and then they ask Mum if they can do that. They are very perceptive. Criminals internationally are perceptive like children. If there is one government that differs with another government and is weak, within no time the word spreads throughout the world that there is one government that is weak on prime bank instrument fraud, fraudulent instruments, within no time that country becomes the laundry capital of the world, within no time it becomes a drug haven, within no time it becomes a haven of all sorts of activities.
That's what's happening in the country at the moment. From the beginning we have said to the government of Gauteng that the first wrong signal that you gave that you're weak is when just after the 1994 elections we decided when the taxi drivers had action in the city of Johannesburg, decided that we will not tolerate that, we will clamp down on the 300 taxi drivers, clamp down on the 300 vehicles, confiscated 300 micro buses belonging to the taxi owners and decided to see how many of them are stolen and found out 30% of them were stolen. Ninety of these micro buses were stolen. The taxi drivers decided to write to us and tell us not only must we not charge them, bring legal charges against them for stealing the vehicles, but we must also return the vehicles to them. Stolen property. Nowhere in the world can such a preposterous notion be entertained. It was entertained here. No charges were brought against them and they were given the stolen vehicles back and it was publicised in the newspapers. The moment that happened everybody said that there is a sign of weakness.
You have in the Western Cape drug lords calling a press conference saying that I am Mr so-and-so, I am a drug lord. Nowhere in the world, in the United States, in Colombia, anywhere else, drug lords deny they are drug lords. In South Africa they call a press conference to announce, "I'm a drug lord", and he says I'm going to march on the police station tomorrow with all my drug sellers and dealers and my distributors and I'm going to march. And they marched! And instead of the police arresting them the police said that they must just go away, "I don't want to talk to them, they must just go away". That's what the national leader of the police force, George Fivaz, says and the guys turned around and walked. When the drug lords march in this country, drug lords, they call the police, they tell the police I'm so-and-so, I'm the leader of the drug lords in this area and the leader of the drug lords so-and-so, we're going to march on such a day into this area, can you bring police to escort us so that Muslims don't shoot at us. And the police come and protect the drug lords and escort them to where they're going. One of the leaders of the drug lords, Staggie, was shot dead by some Muslim extremist in Cape Town and the Minister of Police issue a press statement, instead of saying he wants to know from the police why the drug dealer was not behind bars, he didn't say that, he said, "I want to know from the police why he was not protected."
Now if you issue such press statements and if you send these signals around and then you come up tomorrow and say to me I do not understand why my country is so targeted by drug lords, when the drug lords anywhere in the world read that you can call a press conference as a drug lord, you can appear on television with your face shown clearly and nothing happens to you, then of course every drug lord in the world says this is a haven. They read that you steal vehicles and then you ask them to return them to you and they do. It's madness. So these are the type of things that I think we would do fundamentally different to the ANC, our definition of the programme, how we would crush it, how we understand the violence issues and the need to send the right signals. These are some of the programmes that we would put in place that would be fundamentally different from the ANC.
POM Thanks again.