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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

31 Oct 1996: Nqakula, Charles

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POM     Let me start first with I suppose the most critical question and that is when the government announced it's macro-economic plan and said that this is non-negotiable and put it on the table, to most observers it appeared as a document whose orientation was very much towards the emphasis on the private sector, private sector investment in the sense of saying we've got to cut the budget deficit down to 3% but cut it over a period of years and saying it was non-negotiable was in a sense anti-democratic. It didn't say there are different interest groups here with which this must be thrashed out. I know that the SACP opposed it but could you tell me what kind of fissures has it opened up in this whole debate about the role of the state in the economy and what's important with regard to social spending and other forms of spending?

CN     Firstly, maybe to just set the record straight around the tabling of the macro-economic strategy, that before it was tabled and government's intention was that it needed to be tabled quite soon, no less a person than the President, Nelson Mandela, invited some comrades into a meeting, comrades from the alliance. The party was represented there and so was COSATU together of course with representatives of the ANC, and the intervention that President Mandela made in that meeting, and this was before the tabling of this document to parliament, was that it could not be the last word on the economic debate in this country, further debates were necessary and because he had taken that position there was a subsequent meeting which happened at Shell House and at that meeting government was represented by Alec Erwin, the Minister of Trade & Industry, together with the Deputy Minister of Finance Gill Marcus. Now at that meeting both COSATU and the party asked the pertinent question of how soon further details were going to be placed before the alliance around this economic issue. We were supposed therefore to have meetings either immediately before or immediately after the tabling of the document before parliament. That meeting unfortunately did not happen as had been planned but the Minister of Finance ...

POM     That's the meeting at Shell House?

CN     Yes, there was no follow up of the meeting at Shell House. Unfortunately the Minister of Finance when he tabled his macro-economic plan said the document was non-negotiable. We know what he was talking about. He was talking about the framework and not necessarily the contents of the document but he could not come out in that way and say, Well it's only the framework that will be non-negotiable otherwise everything else in regard to the contents would be open to further negotiations because the way that government, therefore, understood the issue was that it would mean opening up the document to discussion by all sorts of people and government could not afford that. Therefore what came across at the public level was that it was a shut and closed case. The fact that it was not a shut and closed case was borne out by the meeting of the ANC's National Executive Committee which happened in August, August 15th, 16th and 17th, and at that meeting whereas the NEC adopted the macro-economic strategy of government it was still emphasised that there would be further discussions relating to the question so that whereas at the public level the minister was saying it's non-negotiable, within our structures it was common cause that the debate was not closed on the matter and to date there are continuous discussions that are happening.

     The other interesting point is the fact that last week when the Minister of Finance spoke on the macro-economic question the Deputy President, Thabo Mbeki, made an intervention later and if you were to look and compare the inputs made by both people coming from the same government to the same platform there is a difference because Thabo was approaching the whole matter from the point of view of consultations and therefore what he was saying there he said quite clearly was as a result of consultation in the main with COSATU so that our sense is that the matter is going to move in the direction of the original intervention by the President that it couldn't be the final word on the matter. The party is going to have a central committee meeting which will be the last one of the year from the 29th November to 1st December and among others we are going to be getting an input relating to the macro-economic framework which means even in the party discussions, debates are continuing on this question.

     We come from the position in the party that says economic growth has to be driven in the main by the public sector. We come from the position that says that macro-economic growth has to be in terms of the stipulations of the Reconstruction and Development Programme and what we are seeing, the present macro-economic framework by government, as you correctly said, has so many elements that are accommodating the stipulations of the IMF to a point where on his recent visit (the IMF person) actually praised the macro-economic framework. We are aware that when it was being evolved a number of experiences were taken on board but those experiences were not our experiences which would be informed by the Reconstruction & Development Programme. They were experiences of the Development Bank in South Africa, they were experiences of the World Bank, experiences of the IMF and other private sector elements and do not relate to what we are trying to do in terms of our own programme of transformation. That is the basis on which we were saying, and we continue to say that we cannot move towards a direction where social spending by government is going to be reduced because we need at this point to transform the lives of people who have been disadvantaged for many years and we are saying therefore there should be more government spending for social amenities and a big social spending programme relating to the transformation of our country. We cannot therefore allow for a situation where the IMF, totally concerned with bringing down inflation, will therefore say you have to reduce your social spending, you have to increase your rates, you have to reduce the salaries and wages of people to ensure that you bring down inflation because that is not how we wanted to bring about this transformation.

POM     This year there's a call for reducing the budget deficit by 1%. Now on the face of it there's no way that can be achieved by just the laying off of personnel, that there has to be almost by definition a cut in services whether it's health, education. In fact all around the country you see in the Western Cape or KwaZulu/Natal or Gauteng you see them closing hospitals, consolidating this, doing that, and it's kind of exactly on the kind of services that you would think this government should be most concerned with, health, education, job creation, and yet these seem to be the ones somehow that, I won't say are targeted for reduction, but are coming under severe strain at the same time where you are trying to redistribute income, eliminate imbalances and it creates an impossible situation.

CN     That is what is worrying us. You see South Africa, as is the case throughout the continent and other third world countries, are paying back huge sums running into billions relating to South Africa's balance of payments, the huge debts that were incurred with the active coercion of the IMF among others. And because South Africa is expected to pay back that money, insofar as the IMF is concerned it does not matter where we have to reduce in order for us to bring down the deficit and we are saying we cannot move in that direction, we cannot. We cannot allow for services, I mean many essential services, and when you transform as we intend to do you cannot, in fact you have to increase your spending on your health programme. You have to increase your spending on your education because we are coming from a situation where the majority of our people are ignorant and when you have that kind of high rate of illiteracy it is going to affect the people's health. It is going to affect our people in many ways. There will be no creativity that is connected to productivity, all of those things because people are illiterate.

     Now if you are going to be reducing spending in terms of your education it creates a very vicious cycle and as the party and COSATU for that matter we are saying you cannot move in that direction because your starting point would be completely fallacious if you move in that direction. That is why we believe there have to be continuous discussions and as I say we are happy at what we are seeing now. We are seeing among others the interventions by Thabo Mbeki who understands economic questions but he has been arguing from the point of view that says we can't start by saying we have a huge debt, how do we ensure that we reduce spending in order for us to pay that debt, how do we bring down our levels of inflation. He says we cannot start there, we must start by understanding the conditions at play which give rise to what is happening in this country because when we address and when we have a better understanding of those conditions we shall know how to redistribute our wealth to address, among others, the imbalances of the past which is good because it opens up further avenues for discussion.

POM     Why then is there such - like Trevor Manuel goes to Washington, meets with the World Bank, meet with IMF officials and there are reports in the papers that he created a very good impression, everybody took South Africa seriously, South Africa is a player, it's almost as though at one level the government wants to ingratiate itself with these institutions and on the other hand it wants to say step back, but you can't have it both ways?

CN     You see there is some kind of panic which has set in in our ranks generally but particularly so within the ranks of government, a panic among our own people who are in government that is connected to the mandate they have been given which ends in 1999, a panic that arises because within the stipulations of that mandate comrades who occupy government positions have to be seen to have delivered during their term of office. With respect to economic growth in the country there is panic because the rand, our currency, continues to plummet and in particular the Minister of Finance is trying to arrest that situation and even influence a turnabout which will further boost the status of our ailing rand.

     Now the third point which is a major weakness at this point, and of course we are discussing to see how we put in place a strategy that is going to address this particular issue, is the fact that our structures have almost ceded power to parliament which is a tremendous weakness because in that way it will be, in fact I am even not entirely correct if I say the balance of power has shifted into parliament, it has actually shifted into government, in other words the executive because our structures have been weakened among others because some of our leading activists are deployed in parliament. Policy formulation is happening at the level of the cabinet whereas it ought to be coming from our structures right up to parliament and then the cabinet for execution or implementation. And because those comrades in cabinet are feeling that they have to be taking decisions on their feet they do not come back for consultation within the ranks and structures of the movement and therefore are not getting guidance by the movement with respect to long-standing policy positions of the movement in order for them to go forward in a particular way.

     Even the President himself has fallen into that unfortunate trap because when he was in Germany some people came to him and said it is going to be necessary for you to give a clear signal to German investors which would indicate a conducive climate in South Africa for investment, and they said therefore it is going to be necessary for you to begin to talk about privatisation because there are German firms that have an interest in some of the assets available in South Africa, particularly those that are owned by the state. Therefore one of the things you have to say here is that there is a full blown programme of privatisation in South Africa and that is happening within the context of the ANC's policy. Of course that was wrong because the ANC has no policy on privatisation, full blown privatisation. We are talking about the reconstruction of state assets. People can even say it is privatisation but still it is not full blown privatisation. Government sits and discusses very exhaustively which areas of state assets can be sold off to strategic partnerships and there should be a full blown discussion with respect to those, but the other side of the coin, because you can't do only that and not look at the other side of the coin which is the consolidation of the public interest in terms of those assets. In other words whatever happens they can't be given to the private sector in their entirety. They are only given to the public sector insofar as it relates to specific areas and where we are inviting strategic partnerships.

POM     Two questions: one is, are you fearful of there being (it kind of follows on what you said) an undue concentration of power within the government, within cabinet or whatever which cuts out or cuts back or eliminates to large degree the kind of consultative process that has been a hallmark of the development of democracy in South Africa. That's one, that things are getting concentrated among a small number of people at the top with not enough feed-back and not enough input.

     And the second is that since I came back I have spent quite an amount of time out in the townships just talking to people and I find a disconcerting level of discontentment. People are very upset at local council structures, they don't know their ward councillors, they never hear from them, they believe they're lining their own pockets, they see absolutely no improvement, in fact they see no services at all and whereas last year there was a kind of a passiveness, we've got to give the government more time, it's only been a year or a year and a half. That's going and there's a discontent that you have the fat cats out there in their BMWs wearing their Rolex watches and they are now living in Sandton and here we are just where we were four or five years ago.

     On that thing, do you pick that up? Do your members pick that up and feed it back in and how is it received? Does it go up or does it get stuck at some level? I'll give you a very small example. I've been coming here for nine years, I'd never been to Sandton City so about three weeks ago I said, I've never been to Sandton City, I just want to go out there and have a look and see what it is this Sandton City they talk about. I went out there on a Sunday morning, in 20 minutes I bumped into three government ministers. I said, Gee I know where to go to make my appointments, I ought to come out to Sandton City every Sunday. It's not that they shouldn't be there, it was that there were three, it made me think.

CN     You see there is a lot of concern all round. In the ANC led tripartite alliance we have over many years used slogans relevant to the struggle for freedom we were pursuing and we have prided ourselves in the fact that whenever we used those slogans they were connected to reality and what we wanted to achieve as part of our freedom. And among others we were all the time talking about a government of the people but when we used that term we said, The people shall govern. By that we meant that at every level there would be full participation in governance by the masses of our country and before the elections in 1994 we initiated a programme which showed in no uncertain way the importance of interfacing with the people because we started a programme of People's Forums. We went to people, interacted with them and just as was done before 1955 when the Congress of the People was held, we went to people and checked what their demands would be in terms of the new dispensation. Unfortunately we have not continued in the same vein which has resulted in a very big gap, a void between the leadership and the masses on the ground.

     And with respect to power it indeed has shifted from the structures to parliament and government. But we have started a discussion in the party, a discussion we are going to get the ANC involved in, COSATU involved in and already we have conveyed it to the officials of the ANC in a bilateral meeting between the ANC and SACP officials the other day where from time to time we shall be inviting ANC leaders to address major party meetings like the Central Committee meeting I was talking about at the end of the year, it is going to be addressed by Thabo Mbeki himself and there will be interaction between our comrades and Thabo after he makes his input to ensure therefore that there is an understanding, he understands the attitude and feelings of party members at that level and the party will also understand fully where he comes from and why the things that are happening are happening. And the party is also going to be given an opportunity by the ANC to explain to the ANC leadership and ANC structures the party's own programme and where we are headed to.

     The second thing that is starting is discussing how we move forward in the next 2½ years, analysing properly the last 2½ years and how we move forward to ensure that our delivery and performance in the second half of the present mandate is improved. And in terms of that discussion we are posing the following question: what kind of outcome can we expect from the present dispensation? Is it going to be a positive or negative outcome?

POM     When you say 'outcome', outcome in what terms?

CN     Outcome of the present situation. You see what happens usually is that there will be revolutionary movements that fight for national liberation and when that programme triumphs you can move in any direction. You can move down the path of liberal democracy which a number of years down the line even becomes reaction. You can move down the path of totalitarianism. You can move down the path of revolutionary democracy where the people right down the line participate in governance, where their lot has improved all round. Now we want to ensure that in South Africa the outcome does not become a negative outcome, it must be a positive outcome. Now if that is our desire what forces and means do we deploy to ensure that we move in the direction of a positive outcome?

POM     A positive outcome would be revolutionary democracy?

CN     Revolutionary democracy which would mean that all the people would be involved in governance. I will explain what I mean by that later on. And we are saying in South Africa at this time therefore we need to form a much broader forum or front of patriotic democratic people which will go beyond our traditional tripartite alliance. It means that everybody who is progressive and democratically inclined should become part of this patriotic movement for transformation so that together we consult, we interface and as a group we ensure that the outcome we want becomes a positive outcome. Now if we take this to the level of your local councils we want people, everybody at that level, to participate in governance. Among others we are saying whenever budgets are discussed all the people must participate in that discussion and they must participate to a point where they will say this money that is allocated for A, B, C and D is too much because our priority is the following, and because our priority is the following the budget that we need must be sub-divided in the following way. Because when you begin to involve people in that way they support all the programmes that are therefore on the agenda and they get involved in all elements of governance but particularly so in developmental issues.

     We are saying you can do that only if your direction is towards a positive outcome and we have to do this. So we have started that discussion in the party. We are influencing our partners in the tripartite alliance to finally come together and have this discussion because at the end of the day when there is agreement on where we are marching to we will have a common programme and will be able to convince the other democratic forces in the country to march together with us in terms of that particular path. This is what we are working on as the party at this time. By the beginning of next year we want to have in place a programme that seeks to enhance the positions that we are taking and by February next year there is going to be a summit of the alliance where many of these things are going to be discussed.

POM     One complaint that I've heard over and over again is that members of parliament rarely come out here, MECs never come out here, there is one community activist who is now a councillor who I have known for ten years and he has built a community centre brick by brick with no government help. He made the bricks, he had people, they made the bricks, they built it, the put up the roofing, they did everything themselves, they wanted somebody from Gauteng parliament to come out to be there at the opening. Nobody came, nobody responded. This person has been ANC all his life and you can see right now that he is torn. On the one hand he's really disappointed. He doesn't see his elected representatives, they don't even acknowledge the letters. On the other hand he's loyal. He won't criticise. He wants to say something but he probably will go into a corner and scream at a wall. Why are MPs not told you've got to get out among your people, you were elected to serve the people. Get out there.

CN     You see there are two weaknesses which we should try and quickly get out of. The first one unfortunately has now gone into the constitution. Whereas we had wanted the next election to be a constituency based election unfortunately the majority view in our own organisation was it shouldn't be, it should be done on the same basis as last year, via party lists.

POM     Sorry, the SACP wanted a constituency or then the alliance overall wanted a party list?

CN     The view of the SACP was constituency basis but the view of the majority of the alliance was party lists and that is what has gone into the constitution. But we have it on good authority that this is going to change, but for the elections it shall not have changed. Our belief is that when it is constituency based then necessarily the people's public representatives are forced to interact on a very regular and consistent basis with the people that they represent. The second weakness has to do with the way that parliament is structured. This is very unfortunate because we had felt that we needed to change parliament. There are discussions, there is a committee that is looking into how parliament can be transformed and we are sure that that committee is going to make presentations that seek to introduce a totally different parliament than what exists now. For instance, you take an individual MP, some of them are serving in more than three parliamentary sub-committees. Now that person is obviously so over-extended that there's nothing they will be able to do and yet if people were serving in one or two of these committees they would have a direct link with people on the ground who are involved in those issues.

     The other day we had a meeting with POPCRU which is a union representing police and prison warders and those comrades in that union have not been in contact with the sub-committee in parliament that deals with those questions. There are two sub-committees. One is Safety & Security and you cannot therefore not be making contact with POPCRU. The other one is Correctional Services which deals with prisons in this country. Now you cannot ignore a structure like POPCRU if you are in that kind of a committee but there are problems that relate to those particular issues.

     I am saying if parliament was changed and was acting in a particular way to bring about real transformation you would have a situation where everybody who is a public representative would have to account to the public as public representatives. Many of the people who have gone to those structures, parliament, the Senate, the provincial legislatures, have not gone back to hold one report-back meeting since their election which is going to cause major problems for us. The only person who is regular in terms of that contact at the level of the leadership with our people is the President himself. He goes right round the country on a regular basis and is reporting back to people. We see these weaknesses and that is why we are saying, as the ANC is going to be doing in its own last NEC for the year on 9th and 10th, the ANC is going to do a full blown analysis of what has happened to try to improve the ANC's programme of delivery.

POM     This is on the 9th and 10th of November?

CN     Yes of November. Because we can see these weaknesses. Now what is required is a programme of action to address them all.

POM     If Chris Hani were alive today and he looked around him and saw the new South Africa of today what do you think he would think and feel?

CN     You know Chris Hani believed in thoroughgoing democracy, thoroughgoing democracy which would have to do in the main with total freedom for our people, the raising of living standards all round of our people, fighting against poverty, against homelessness, against disease, against ignorance, all of those things, and if he were to see some of the lethargy that has set in he would be among those who in meetings of the organisations from which he came would constantly raise those issues. He would be very unhappy because he was totally committed to the ideals of thoroughgoing freedom and would have been unhappy at what he would be seeing, would be very unhappy because I think apart from Nelson Mandela he is the only other leader who on a very regular basis was going into the rural areas to see how our people were living there, to try to bring about changes in their lives and what have you to a point where in some of these very backward areas he was able to assist some of the young people to go to school because he was convinced that it would be through education that many of them would be able to contribute positively to our programme of transformation.

     Generally therefore he would be very unhappy about some elements of our programme of transformation. He would be unhappy also about what has happened to the armed forces because the armed forces are largely in the hands of the old soldiers who were part of the old South African Defence Force and the police in the main, that sector, is also headed by people who served the past dispensation. That is why there continue to be problems. There were problems even beyond 1994 as a result of this, so there has not been any proper integration of our forces to construct a new defence force in this country, a new police service, and he would be unhappy about those things. He would be unhappy about the civil service because even that has not been converted into a civil service that would be at the ready to implement policy decisions and policy positions of the majority party in government, the African National Congress. So there would be a lot that he would very outspokenly talk about.

POM     You mentioned one thing there and I've a half a theory about it and I just test it out, one thing that I've thought about is that one always heard over the years how thorough and ruthless and professional the South African police were and that if they went after you they got you and they could root activists out and infiltrate organisations and do all kinds of things and for the main part these are the very same police who can't catch a crook at the corner of Sauer and Bree Streets and they're inefficient and morale is low and there's this excuse and that excuse. How can a police force that was supposedly so efficient at ferreting out people, so inefficient that part of me says well maybe they're not really making an effort, it's part of still third force activity to show that under blacks things tend to go to hell so let's just take it easy and let things slide. Am I being too cynical?

CN     Not at all, not at all. You see the police force of the past, including the entire armed forces which included the army, were put in place in terms of a specific programme, political programme, and that programme was apartheid designed to serve the interests of white people only in this country. You can, therefore, not expect people who for many years were indoctrinated to follow to the spirit and letter of that programme to suddenly change and serve the interests of a democracy like our democracy led by a movement that they have opposed and that their forefathers have opposed since 1912. You can't expect them to change and serve the better interests of that democracy. There are a few of them who are professionals who serve the government of the day but the majority are not like that. There are many who are in service now who were born after 1948 when the National Party assumed power and those people have not known anything else except apartheid which dictated to them to put down black people and raise white people. That has been their programme. They are unhappy about what has happened and it has nothing to do with the salaries they get. They were getting worse salaries under apartheid. They were working under worse conditions of service under apartheid but because they were committed to the political programme of the day they were prepared to sacrifice. They are not prepared to sacrifice under this government, hence the easiness with which they mount demonstrations, they launch work to rule programmes and so on. There is no commitment at all on the part of the majority of these people to the present dispensation.

     So what they want to see in the end is a slide in terms of the civil set up in this country. There must be unrest, they don't care. There must be the type of criminal action that is happening in the country so that investment is affected and all of those things. They don't care because their heart is not biased towards the present dispensation. Now how do you change all of that? The problem that we have is that many of these people who are occupying these positions and what have you come from the previous administration. One thing you can easily do is to fire them all and construct completely new armed forces in South Africa, but at what expense would you do that? Because it means that there would be very serious rumblings in the forces which can easily lead to problems like the civil war that is happening in KwaZulu/Natal and we do not want to countenance that kind of thing. But the time has come for government to begin to seriously address the question of deployment of the human sources and resources that it has to ensure that at the end of the day all of these people or the majority at least are implementing the policy positions of the current democratic dispensation.

POM     You touched on something that I've been thinking about recently there, and that was the rumblings, the undercurrent. As the Truth & Reconciliation Commission proceeds and it now kind of has a life of its own, it's not a matter that somebody is in control of it any more, things are just coming out and they're going to come out, and if it emerges, if increasing evidence emerges that not only senior ministers in the last government but senior army officers currently in the armed forces and senior police offices currently in the armed forces, were all party to crimes and they have either two choices, to apply for amnesty (and they've only got two weeks to do that at this point), or face prosecution, do you think they are going to say at some point, We've had enough of this; that if you went to serve a warrant of arrest on a General in the defence force that his colleagues would say, like in Chile, We've had enough, we're going to step in here and tell the government to keep out of certain things and we have the power and we have the force and we have the resources. Could there be a backlash? Must things be managed or must the truth be out and action taken no matter what heads topple, even if it means the whole system topples?

CN     You see the TRC was not meant as some kind of McCarthy-type witch-hunt. We believe that the truth must be told about our past in this country in the main as part of the healing processes of the wounds of the past as well as reconciliation of our people but there will be those cases that cannot be eligible for amnesty and those people will have to be prosecuted. Our experience is that whereas a number of people may be prosecuted this is not going to lead to the type of disgruntlement in the armed forces that can lead to a coup. It's going to be very difficult in South Africa to stage a coup because the necessary elements that would make a coup successful do not exist in South Africa and it's possible that some people may go underground and cause problems for us at that level. It's very easy to organise that kind of a thing and if it were to happen in the present conditions in South Africa it would take time before we can put in place police units that can deal with that kind of thing because of the facts that I've already given you about the state of play within the armed forces and for a while we could have the type of situation that exists in KwaZulu/Natal although that violence has been brought down to quite a low level. But disgruntlement may exist but it will not lead to the kind of upheaval that can lead to the collapse of our fledgling democracy. It can't although if some of these subversive elements were to start a programme of clandestine activity it would cause quite some destabilisation but it would not lead to the collapse of our programme. We do not want this to happen because once more South Africa would lose quite a lot of its people many of whom are quite crucial in this programme of transformation, both black and white, and we do not want to countenance such an eventuality. But conditions for a full blown coup do not exist in South Africa.

POM     I'd like to turn for a minute to talk about two things. One is the development of a multi-party democracy in South Africa and the public funding of political parties, whether that's a good thing or a bad thing or if it's a good thing then how much of it should be done. The first is that the constitution provides that there will be a multi-party democratic system. Now to most people in other countries at least, or maybe western countries to be more accurate, a multi-party system means you have at least two or three parties that compete with each other where there is the possibility of a change in government. Most people here agree that there's no alternative to the ANC at the moment, that Africans are not going to turn out and start voting for the National Party or the DP, it's just simply not going to happen and even if they are disappointed with the ANC they are going to either vote for the ANC or stay at home: -

     (i)     What would you call a viable multi-party democracy?

     (ii)     How important in terms of the country's priorities is the development of one?

     (iii)     Must there be some form of political realignments in order to bring this about and must those alliances be primarily African-driven?

CN     It is very important for our fledgling democracy to accommodate a multi-party system. It is important as part of that multi-party system to have regular general elections and elections at the local level so that people are represented by those that they have elected as their public representatives. We have always called for this. That is why the ANC even in 1955 together with its allies were calling for governance by the people. It meant people, therefore, could establish their own organisations and ask those organisations to represent them. We said at that point that everyone in South Africa needed to be able to vote for whomever they liked and as individuals also to be voted into positions of power. It presupposed, therefore, a multi-party system. It is a good thing to have that where as I say there would be regular elections for the people to put in place those that they would feel would better represent their interests.

     And of course with respect to assistance by government to political formations we believe it is important to have that because if you are saying that people should govern it means people should have the right to put into place their own political formations and those political formations may not necessarily have resources at their beck and call but government, depending on the level of support that those organisations have, ought to be able to subsidise their activities to encourage this multi-party system, to encourage representation of people by whoever they feel can best bring out those things that they stand for. If, for instance, environmentalists want to establish a Green Party they must be able to do so and that party should not be prevented from emerging simply because they do not have the resources to be able to do this. Democracy, therefore, demands of the government to make available resources for such a party to exist.

     Now, thirdly, you see all of this would in the end create a climate conducive to development because when you involve all people in decision making processes then you are creating a situation where those people, together with everybody else, would want to be able to point the government in the correct direction where everybody gets involved in decision making processes. We said, as a signal of what I'm saying, the direction we were going to take, we said initially people who should be in parliament should at least be supported by no less than 5% of voters in this country but we thought that was too much and it would therefore affect a number of political parties and we brought that down to 1%. Even if you have 1% support you ought to be able to have representatives in parliament and it was only for government, in other words at the level of the executive, that we said the threshold should be 5%. We did this because we wanted to accommodate every kind of interest. Now if you don't have 1% support of the voting public then it means you aren't a political formation, you have no right to exist. So we support that kind of forward movement in terms of establishing our democracy.

POM     I just want to go back to, again, a multi-party system. Some people would say that what you have in South Africa is a de facto one party state. Although it's democratically elected one party is going to be elected and re-elected and that in order to develop a more vibrant democracy what you need is some kind of political realignment within the alliance itself at some point. You talked about the revolutionary democracy where a large segment of the ANC may subscribe to that. There may be another segment that subscribes to the road of liberal democracy. Would it be better if there were more than one party competing for votes or is it in the interests of the country now that there be this single ANC alliance? Do you think that should continue indefinitely or for the indefinite future anyway because it is better for transformational politics at this point?

CN     It is important for the democratic masses in this country to build as many alliances as possible into one single patriotic front in order for us to bring about the positive outcome that I've spoken about. There cannot be an alternative to an outcome that finally ensures that our people benefit completely from the new process of democratisation. The other alternative would be some kind of liberal approach to the matter or a totalitarian approach and both of those aren't going to be good for South Africa. What would be good for South Africa is thoroughgoing freedom for all of the people. It does not mean only people who have been disadvantaged for many years, for everybody there has to be thoroughgoing freedom and all our people have to enjoy the fruits of that democracy. That's the outcome we are moving to and we want to mobilise the great majority of our people behind that programme of transformation, hence the desire for the establishment of a patriotic movement for transformation.

     But we are saying people who want to follow other programmes have a right to do so and we should not be criticised for having a big solid movement for transformation. It can't be our fault, it is what our people need not just at this point in time but our people will need for a very long time to come, that kind of an approach to the transformation in South Africa. But if realignment has to happen then it must happen in the main among those parties that think there should be an alternative to what we are talking about. It is not a bad thing to have a one-party state when the great majority of the people want that. It's not a problem. It becomes a problem when this is imposed on people. If through their own free will they want that kind of situation that is what they must get. It is fallacious to argue from the point of view that says when there is no opposition this democracy will go awry. It cannot go awry if your own programme is steeped in the greatest tenets of freedom. It cannot go astray in that way.

     When a realignment of forces happens in this country it is going to be the ANC and its allies that will benefit from such a programme because the percentage of people who will leave the tripartite alliance is going to be very, very small indeed than the percentage of people who will leave the National Party and come into the ANC, who will leave the Democratic Party and come into the ANC, even leave the PAC to come into the ANC. That percentage is going to be greater. In fact down the line I want to predict that there is going to be more interaction between the ANC and the PAC, between the ANC and AZAPO and who knows at the end of the day it is possible that there will be some kind of front that is built to accommodate all of those organisations on one side because in any event they were fighting a national liberation struggle together to defeat apartheid as has happened.

     But with respect, because this question also relates to the tripartite alliance itself, even there it is not possible that anyone who is a member of the South African Communist Party, who is a member of COSATU, will willy-nilly want to resign their membership of the ANC. I am not saying that everybody, at least who is in COSATU, is a member of the ANC. Some of them are members of other political formations in the country particularly from the ranks of the national liberation movement. There are COSATU members who are members of Inkatha but certainly in the South African Communist Party the great majority of those people are members of the African National Congress. It is not possible at this time because it is the party among others that is behind the formation of this patriotic movement for transformation to want to break the alliance with the ANC and the ANC itself does not want to do that just like that because the great majority of the members of the party are members of the ANC and we believe that as we consolidate our national democratic revolution we have to do that as the alliance, be at the core to lead all these other democratic formations towards this positive outcome I've referred to.

POM     Do you think any division in the alliance or splitting in the alliance would make that transformation more difficult to achieve?

CN     It would certainly make that transformation difficult to achieve because in the first instance it would mean that our people who have supported us as both the ANC and the party, as both the ANC, the party and COSATU, would be confused, they would not know what to do and in that confusion all sorts of attacks would be launched against our democratic programme.

POM     Do you think when particularly the people in the media speculate about divisions in the alliance that it's a kind of a wishful thinking rather than based on hard analysis and understanding of what the alliance is trying to achieve?

CN     Yes it is wishful thinking. There are people who have come to realise that the strength of this current programme of transformation in South Africa is from the cooperation and collaboration of the forces that are involved in the tripartite alliance. In order therefore to put a spoke to the transformation programme unfolding at this time it is better to cause destabilisation within the alliance. We are resisting that because we know that it is important to keep the alliance intact and use it as a vehicle for proper transformation in South Africa.

POM     Two last questions. One is on the financing of political parties. Should individuals, corporations, foreigners, foreign governments all be allowed to contribute to political parties? Should they be allowed to contribute as long as there is full disclosure by law of where your funds come from or should there be a prohibition on political funding coming from certain sources?

CN     That question is going to need a lot of discussion because it can't have a yes or a no answer to it. It needs to be discussed because when some people make donations, as they have done to the ANC for many years, many of those people want to retain their anonymity so that they are not published. But there are others who have contributed to other causes but not in the name of democracy. What I want to say, therefore, is that it is going to be important to fine-tune laws that relate to this. Who is contributing towards democratisation and who is contributing towards a programme designed to detrimentally affect that democratisation programme?

     I am saying this because whereas the ANC was getting funding for the advancement of the cause of democracy in this country, the National Party certainly was getting support to suppress the interests of the majority of the people. Inkatha Freedom Party was getting support to also suppress the programmes of the ANC for democratisation. Now do we continue to allow for this to happen and we leave it to those organisations and people to indicate or not indicate what the sources of their resources are or we have a law that will have stipulations that ensure that whatever support given is support that ultimately benefits the programme of democratisation in this country? We can't have a situation where people get resources from people whose main aim is to undermine our fledgling democracy.

     We have in the constitution a stipulation which is against hate speech, for instance. You would be committing a crime if you indulged in hate speech, if you indulge in programmes designed to exhort people into defiance, civil defiance and what have you. You can't do that in terms of the present constitution. My belief, therefore, is that we would have to allow people to continue to get assistance from governments and other organisations for as long as that funding serves to enhance the interests of democracy in South Africa.

POM     If you were a betting person, in 1999 will the alliance increase its share of the vote? Will it stay about the same or will it go down a bit?

CN     Of course the alliance is going to increase its share of the vote. You see what happens to people, and some of the analysts have not understood this ...

POM     There was one thing that people didn't understand?

CN     Oh yes. You see what happens in a revolution it does not matter what conditions people are living under. I know that surveys have been done and in terms of those surveys supposedly we have lost something like 10% from the 63% that we had for the 1994 election. The surveys now indicate that we have gone down to 53% but the fact of the matter is that by 1999 there are so many people who shall have changed their positions but they will not change their positions away from the ANC to anyone else and it is not true that many of our own people will stay away from the polls. They won't. And I want to predict that for that election the ANC will get more than 63% as we did last time. Many of these parties are going to be wiped out and the PAC has 1% support, they will be wiped out because at that level, unlike last time, it is not going to be on a proportional basis. It is going to be but it's going to be different. It's not going to be a government of national unity. Organisations like that are going to wiped out completely as the PAC, for instance, was wiped out in the local government elections, and that trend is going to continue. You should remember that for the local government elections many analysts were saying the ANC has not delivered, there is a lot of hostility towards the ANC and the ANC is not going to win these elections or the ANC's majority is going to be slashed down. But we went and took quite a number of areas in the Western Cape, we almost defeated the IFP right in KwaZulu/Natal and that trend is going to continue. So I am predicting a comfortable victory for the ANC and its allies in 1999.

POM     OK. Thank you ever so much.

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.