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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
10 Nov 1996: Chalmers, Judy
POM Judy, we had just been talking about Louis Botha, the outcome of the Malan trial, his work here in Port Elizabeth as a community policeman and I want to move the question slightly; he passionately believes that the Truth & Reconciliation Commission is a witch-hunt, that only perpetrators of crime on one side are being called to heel, that, for example, he will say he knows dozens of dockets that were outstanding against senior people in the ANC that were put in abeyance during the negotiations and that many of these ANC senior people have told him personally they are never going to go before the Truth Commission. And you're back to this question, and I sense underneath it, Matthews Phosa's thing of there being a just war and they should never stand at the same bar of justice as those who imposed the apartheid regime. And it's given arise to a lot of anger that I sense among white people, that they feel they are being nailed and that they are angry about it and also that they don't feel particularly guilty about all these revelations about Eugene de Kock. I mean they shocked but they don't feel any sense of personal or collective guilt for actions of Eugene de Kock or security forces or whatever. Are my perceptions on the mark, off the mark, where would you come in?
JC Well the ordinary whites who are saying those sort of things, such as why rake up the past and is it helpful towards reconciliation and does it matter now who were the actual perpetrators, and as one who lived through the eighties and to an extent was victimised by what was happening there it doesn't surprise me that they are taking that point of view. It doesn't surprise me that Louis Botha is in fact taking a point of view and feels passionately that it is a witch-hunt. I feel just as passionately that the people who were the perpetrators should be brought, not necessarily to book, but the revelations must go on and must take place and it is about truth. The people that I speak to like Benedicta Godolozi who is mother of one of the Pepco three and Nyami Goniwe and Xalata's widow, they themselves, Nyami and to a lesser extent Mrs. Xalata when the Truth Commission, and it was the first held, was held here in Port Elizabeth, Nyami particularly felt very wary. She felt she had said it so many times before, she felt that although they didn't know exactly who had done the killing she felt that they had gone right up to the point and she didn't ever think we would take that final step. But when she made her appearance and it was in East London, I phoned her that night and she said to me it was absolutely liberating. She said, "I found it so extraordinary to be able to be saying those things and I knew they were being televised and I felt at the end of that day that for the very first time I was freeing myself to an extent of the bitterness and the anger and the hatred and the total resentment that nothing would ever come out." She said, "I found it hugely liberating."
And for me, and I attended, for instance, the hearing of the Langa massacre in Uitenhage which I had been extremely involved in and heard once again the truth of what the people were saying because at the time everybody was saying, "Oh they were an unruly and a wild mob, oh they were throwing stones", and to hear, which I had heard from a contact within the police, that they had put stones into the people's hands, which we knew. First of all they said they were not properly prepared, which we all knew, that the crowd were a wild, barbarous mob and had attacked them, we knew that hadn't happened but it had never been said by the other side. So I have found, myself, again and again as the revelations have come out, a sense of relief. The whites, of course, were never exposed to the sort of things that a few of us whites were exposed to. They were enclosed in their sort of corrals and were very happy to be there and I'll bet they feel put upon now because the truth is coming out.
But I think it's been an extraordinary and a wonderful journey for many, many people and for whites as well, people who had a suspicion of some of the things that were going on and have now said to me, "I feel so ashamed that I lived through that time and I did nothing." And that sort of shame is appropriate now I do feel. I think that a measure of guilt, they should feel that.
POM The thought was whether this is a cathartic experience for whites or whether there is, again, this feeling of it being a witch-hunt in terms of the perpetrators who are being brought to boot. For example, one will hear Matthews Phosa say that the Church Street bombings, people will not apply for amnesty even though civilians were involved, that it was an act committed in a just war. You have Robert McBride given amnesty for an act that involved the wanton bombing of civilians. Can you equate the two? Where does the principle of moral equivalence come in? For example, I talked at length last week to a young man who had been very involved in the townships in the eighties as a young comrade and he went into detail about the way they operated and it was gruesome. You could only call it a kangaroo court, anybody who came under suspicion was just ganged up on and killed. Is there a difference between that and some of the actions that Eugene de Kock would commit?
JC It's a difficult one. I always felt uncomfortable with the soft target strategy because I felt there was an immorality about it that I felt extremely uncomfortable with. I also felt that it was a politically inappropriate strategy to adopt because it just gave fuel to the Nationalist government and to the security forces. But it was always difficult to know whether there was third force involvement there or not. Here in this town we knew that there was a considerable third force involvement. There was the whole AZAPO scenario which we were never sure whether they were truly AZAPO or whether they were being used by people like the Reverend Mcina who was running an anti-UDF whole sideline at the time and in fact subsequently we heard that he was in the pay of the security police so it was difficult to know quite what was what at that time. The necklacing was horrifying and terrible but, of course, the police did necklacing as well. They used it as a strategy to put the comrades and the UDF whole fighting force in a bad light.
But to get back to the Truth Commission, I understand what Desmond Tutu is saying, that the ANC cannot decide for themselves whether they go for amnesty and they can't be their own moral judge and jury when the Truth Commission has been set up with ANC approval to do a job of work and I think there is room for some of the ANC ways of working that happen then to be brought under the spotlight and some of those comrades who were doing the sort of things that you described a few minutes ago, for the truth to come out about that. But nobody who didn't live through that time - I'm outraged that Louis Botha can say it's a witch-hunt when he was part and parcel of a regime that tore this country apart, that leaves us in a situation now where we are trying so desperately to rebuild and remake and build anew, because it never was built in the first place, and that he can say it was the likes of Eugene de Kock and his minions, that that is a witch-hunt.
POM No, I don't think he sees Eugene de Kock as a witch-hunt.
JC But what happened to himself.
POM That him and that only people from one side are being sought. It's not that it's a particular individual per se, it's that it's one-sided.
JC I think what Matthews Phosa said about the just war from the ANC's position it was a just war but there were bad things done by the ANC soldiers and comrades and the Magoo Bar that was an atrocious happening and I can never feel comfortable with random killing of that sort and car bombing and explosives and shooting set to happen just to frighten the general public. I think the ANC had so much moral ground on its side and had such a strong moral position it wasn't necessary to do those sorts of random strategic killings.
POM But my, and correct me, my recollection is that in 1985 official sanction was given to going after, up to that point it had been just hard targets, that at that point sanction was given to going after soft targets. There was a shift in not just the political but in the moral strategy as to what was a legitimate and not a legitimate target.
JC From my personal point of view I always had problems with that decision. It was a decision that I felt would lose us an enormous amount of moral ground and would not really in the long term make a difference to the war because it hardens attitudes, it is so random. You never know whether it will be children, whether it will be women, whether it will be innocent men, it just promotes a climate of fear that is across the board and in any war, as happened in the second world war where there were huge bombings of cities, Dresden and Cologne and those great cities. Look, there are no easy answers to it. Those happened because they were trying to crush Germany into submission and in a way that is what the ANC was trying to do here but didn't really have the wherewithal to carry a strategy like that to where they might have wanted it to go which was a crushing of the major forces against them. It just couldn't work like that. And now we come to the point where the perpetrators of those acts, is it necessary for them to come before the Truth Commission? I don't know. As an ANC member I have a passionate feeling for the need for the Truth Commission to be looking at the crimes perpetrated by the regime, by the apartheid government of the time, and for those of us who were fighting against that I do understand how those incidents came about, but I was never happy with them. I just don't know what the correct ANC position is on this score. It's a hard one for me.
POM One thing I've noticed, leaving in May and coming back in August, was I detected a shift of mood in the country. It was like there had been a giant party and everyone was now beginning to suffer a little bit of hangover or feeling the effects of a hangover. I found whites in particular to have become far harder, more racist in the way they talked about blacks, far more angry with not being able to pinpoint specifically what the anger might be about, just angry, far less optimistic about the future than they had been 18 or even six months beforehand, far more inclined to say the country was in fact beginning to go to pieces, that there were signs of social breakdown all over the place. You had that alongside the fact that at another level the country has had a very successful political transition. Power shifted hands without violence, the institutions of democracy were put in place, the Constitutional Court carried out its prescribed function and the constitution went back to the Constitutional Assembly, got amended, it's gone back to the court for review. So the parliament works, the committees work, maybe sometimes not all that efficiently, but systems are developing and in place. Why is there this dichotomy? We're talking about whites first.
JC The whites were so happy for there to be a peaceful transition. Many had left the country before and those that were hanging in here perhaps couldn't afford to or they had too many ties to this country, but now for the first time it is starting to touch them. The policies of equalising on every score are starting to impact on their lives with health, with welfare, with education, the economy itself. It's starting to take a bit of a toll. For two years we've been looking at what sort of new policies are there going to be that are appropriate to this country where there has been such an extraordinarily unbalanced way of functioning where the whites had the cream of everything and are now starting to realise that they really are going to have to share.
And there have been a lot of hiccups along the way with the health - I think of health particularly because I'm involved in that committee where the whites had so many privileges and the townships and the black communities and coloured communities had so few. And now the policies have been put in place and the national primary health scheme is starting to go out to the people, but it's very costly, it's extremely costly, and it's impacting on the major hospitals, it's impacting on the sort of services that the whites have always considered for themselves. A lot of them go to the private hospitals but they have also been attending the government, the state hospitals and received extremely good care there but now that care is starting to deteriorate. A lot of doctors have left the country. It's been mismanaged in some ways but in general the services that the minister is trying to put in place for everybody in this country are going to take, I would say, three to five years before you will see a general rise in the health of the country. But for the whites it's hard when they see that the big academic hospitals are starting to shrink and have to close down some of their units and it's a great pity that it's happening but there are just not the funds to keep things as they were and make it happen as it needs to happen in the rural areas and in the black communities where there was nothing before, very few services.
Welfare is the same story. We now have equality of pensions right across the country whereas before whites used to get R200 more than blacks for old age pensioners and the disabled.
In the schools, equality, with the new Schools Bill, is going to happen across the board and the whites are freaking out. But in fact the Schools Bill that has been put in place to bring equality across the board to schools is going to be an extremely exciting, creative and effective bit of legislation. Sometimes they don't quite know what is happening. People say, "Oh I don't like reading the newspapers because it's all bad news", "Oh I don't like watching the news", but the result of that is that they are sitting in a dark room, that they are not seeing the light and they are not seeing the flickering signs that are really showing progress that is happening.
We've had the whole business of the falling rand and the economy, it's very scary for people. Inflation, it looks as though will be going up somewhat and I understand the white's feelings of lack of security and will our children receive the sort of education that we did and that we always hoped they would? But I do get irritated with them because, as I said, they don't want to know, they're not interested, they don't want to help and I get a bit fed up.
POM This comes back to the thing that puzzles me. These revelations are coming out one after the other. It's like Pandora's Box has been opened and once opened the process can in fact no longer be managed by anybody, it's just developing a life and momentum of its own. Yet whites generally have, it's like a denial factor, these acts may have happened but it wasn't us, it was them, we didn't ask them to do it, we would never have condoned it, we never knew about it and it's shocking, it's atrocious but it doesn't have anything to do with us trying to get through our daily lives and make ends meet.
JC But of course it did have something to do with them and it still does have something, but they don't accept that.
POM It seems to me they don't. I tell you what I think, I want to hear what you think about something in their minds.
JC It's difficult for me because I don't have an awful lot of contact with them, which I should do more. I have a rural constituency which is up in the Karoo and there once again you have that division, those really structured divisions of society and I'm going to try to spend - I mostly spend time in the black and coloured communities there because that's where the needs lie. But I can see that it's going to be very necessary for me to attempt to become more of a bridge between black and white. You see one of things as the bureaucracy changes from a completely pretty much white bureaucracy to one where there are far more black particularly officials who possibly don't have the skills, I mean a bureaucrat is a bureaucrat is a bureaucrat, but a black unskilled bureaucrat is anathema to the white population whereas before at least they spoke the same language which was usually Afrikaans. Now it's much easier to get a resentment going between a black bureaucrat who doesn't really want to speak Afrikaans and in the rural areas a white Afrikaner who is making no progress with this black bureaucrat. They are saying nothing works any more, the post is deteriorating.
POM You had a report from Zola Skweyiya just two weeks ago that more or less said the same thing.
JC Yes, yes.
POM He said, "Help, help, help me, I'm drowning."
JC That's right, and particularly here in the Eastern Cape where the rationalisation just has not taken place and it's a desperate situation, but we have inherited it and it is now touching the whites, it's impacting on them, it's causing them frustrations and nervousness in their day-to-day lives which they never had before.
POM Again this comes back to some kind of bridging process. Why are they so unable still to associate anything that's happening in the present with what they created and was in fact inherited, they just don't make the connection. They get angry over that too. They say every time we criticise some action by the ANC we're told, well it's the legacy of apartheid, it's all our fault anyway. So you end up by shutting up or by just getting angry and keeping it to yourself.
JC And I think that's a trap that the ANC must be very careful not to fall into, to excuse mal-administration and corruption for that matter by saying, "Well you always did it in the past, what sort of a regime have we come from, so terribly corrupt." I try to say, "But that's exactly why we should not be falling into that trap now." Why the whites do not make that connection is difficult to say. Maybe it's a human failing. When you have not yourself been involved in making pain and deprivation happen and you say, "Well it really had nothing to do with me." But it should have had and it's difficult for me because I was involved and I don't want to be a holier than thou, start putting guilt onto people, but they were so removed from it before, they were so separated out from it, from birth to death they never had any connection with the black community, with black pain, with black fears and hopes for themselves and their children that it almost seems as though they lived in a different land and a different planet and they never wanted to make that connection except on a servant/master basis and I think there is a generation in South Africa who are not going to be able to make that mental connection of why things are now like they are because of, "We enjoyed so much and so we're now going to lose and suffer so much." And if they would just get involved, if every business were to get involved.
I have a bit of a dream that if every affluent white, let's say married couple, were to make themselves responsible for the schooling of a deprived black child, whether they saw them or not, it would maybe be the start of making of a connection where they could take an interest and be responsible even in a financial way for somebody from that deprived community and not do it because of guilt but do it because of building something for the future. I think perhaps the major problem in this country to me is an educational one and the fact that we not only have now to educate huge numbers of South African children but we have a teaching generation who are very ill-equipped to make that happen.
POM So in one sense you have a very good educational bill in place but you don't have the teachers there to implement it and many of the teachers who might have had the skill to implement it have opted out of the system for one reason or another.
JC Taken their packages, yes very much so. It's the same across the board. In Welfare we have a white paper policy document now put on the table which is so exciting and really going to address the needs of the impoverished and deprived South Africans in a way that is very exciting without creating the sort of dependency that there has been in the past, but we don't have the money to make it happen. Our welfare budget, social security which is the pensions and the grants, takes up 88% of the welfare budget which only leaves 12% over for welfare services which is the developmental part of welfare, and how to connect up welfare and the labour market, how do you make those connections, how to have a whole breed of social workers who are developmental and not just bureaucrats? It's all there in that document but how it's going to happen ...
POM Has it been published?
JC Yes it's just come out about a week ago.
POM Can one get it at government publications?
JC Yes you can get it from the department. And in fact it came before our committee last week, two weeks ago, and it's been work-shopped throughout the country with all the NGOs, the bureaucrats, the parliamentarians, for the last 18 months and when it came to us we said we still wanted to have hearings again to see if there is anybody who has something really relevant to say about it and there were a few people who did, so instead of coming out this week which it should have done it will now only come out in February. But there all these exciting policy documents coming into place now which the South African public, and the white public particularly, only those who are involved in that field really know about and the general public possibly not as much as they should, they have not been as involved as they could or should be. But it's how to implement them given the economic restrictions and reservations that are being placed on our budget in Correctional Services, in Justice, in Welfare, in Health, in Education, how are we going to make it happen with an economy that is stumbling along?
POM Well this is the ultimate $64000 question. You have a macro-economic plan which was said to be non-negotiable which (i) turns out to be negotiable, at least that's what COSATU says and that's what the SACP say if you talk to them, they say, "Oh no, that's all been settled, this is not a final document, there are going to be more discussions on this", (b) it calls for deficit reduction for, I think, to 4% this year by one full percentage point which can't be achieved just by lay-offs, which has to cut into social services both in the delivery of the services and in the administration of the services, and yet if these goals are not achieved then the foreign community or whatever you want to call it, such as it is, is going to say, well South Africa once again can set goals but just hasn't got the political will to see them through. So what do you sacrifice in the short run for the long run, particularly since this document to me seems predicated on the assumption that if you do all the right things that somehow foreign investment is going to materialise, which is a huge assumption?
JC I am no economist and it's something I always steer clear of, the whole economic way of thinking and functioning. Well there are a few things I would cut and one is the defence budget.
POM OK, two questions. One, why is it not (i) cut, and (ii) if it's not cut why are the defence forces not re-deployed, there are engineering skills, there are medical skills, there are teaching skills, there are building skills, there are all kinds of skills in there; why are they not put in some massive public works programme since there is no need for a defence force except to interfere in other countries?
JC All I can do is completely agree with you. It has been cut quite hugely but they hang on to it like a baby with a dummy.
POM This is Ronnie Kasrils?
JC Ronnie Kasrils and Tony Yengeni. Military men seem to hang on to their toys in a way that I think I and women in general find absolutely baffling. With their submarines and their Corvettes, well I can see a role for the Corvettes as far as monitoring our coast line is concerned just from a purely fishing point of view. But for the most part it is, as you say, if the defence force were to be re-deployed into the police force in a very strategised and carefully managed way surely they would impact on the whole crime factor in this country hugely. With the Public Works, if in the Transkei which is a devastated part of our land, if there were to be major road works, and Transkei has the worst roads in the country, if there were to be major road building works, major clinics, schools, hospitals, things that the people need, if that could be a priority and the traditional role of the defence force were to just wither away, and I can never see that we are going to have threatened boundaries and borders in a way that was thought to be necessary during the apartheid regime. I think there's such a clear common sense direction for this country from that point of view and it could make a huge difference.
POM Why doesn't it prevail?
JC Why does Joe Modise and ...?
POM I've never been fond of Joe so - I didn't say that, I'm impartial.
JC I think it's a sort of male, macho, ego, "We have to have a defence force, we're not a country if we don't have a defence force", and there are even women in that portfolio committee and they don't seem to be saying the sort of thing. And maybe we need to really, the Ela Gandhis and people like that who are the great peacemakers in this country need to start something going within parliament itself where we say, "Hey, just look at yourselves guys, sending arms to Rwanda, land mines". All right Denel has re-deployed a lot of its former functioning into new ways of working and thinking; Denel, which is the old sort of Armscor, but they are closely linked and were a sort of front for Armscor before. They are doing things now like satellite systems so that the welfare whole computerised way of functioning can operate better and they are moving their highly, most amazing technical skills into other fields. But the budget itself, they say, "But look how we've cut our budgets", and we say, "Yes, but it's still half of housing or half of health and we don't need it." So it's difficult to tell, it's a male thing I think. You're the exception.
POM Coming back to the Transkei about which Delport waxed, I won't say eloquently but he certainly waxed with some great stories, for example, he is still getting his MEC salary.
JC He is still?
POM Yes and he went to parliament and he said, "I am not an MEC any more, please don't pay me the MEC salary, can't you correct that little problem?" But they have been unable to do so.
JC That's amazing. Well the Transkei ...
POM So my question is at two levels. Is there a point at which problems, administrative problems or management problems or problems of ethos, proliferate exponentially at a level where your capacity to really bring them under control diminishes all the time and you end up with a low equilibrium permanent mess?
JC I am sure that that is exactly what's happening there right now. There has been to an extent a lack of leadership and yet there are superb things happening. In health for instance the MEC for health has worked in the rural areas all her life, she is an extraordinary woman.
POM What's her name?
JC Dr. Trudy Thomas, she would be a very good person for you to see. And very difficult to get hold of and she just goes ahead with the things that need to be done but because she has not, in some ways, pleased some of the ANC leadership there she is not regarded as one of the bright lights of the Eastern Cape, where she is, she is in fact one of the very bright lights of the Eastern Cape and within the Transkei itself she is putting all sorts of ways of functioning on the ground there.
In fact it's quite funny because Patrick Cull who is the political correspondent for the Eastern Cape, he writes for the EP Herald and he's an extremely competent journalist, he used to be in parliament, he's now moved himself voluntarily to Bisho because he says that's where the stories are and he knows from the ground up everything that's going on. He's my source of information very often. You will probably get him here now because he will have moved back, he was in parliament last week. He's at the Eastern Province Herald. But he said to me, "I was critical of Trudy till I got to Bisho and I suddenly realised what she was doing there and I said to her, 'Trudy why don't you tell the world what is happening in the Transkei?'" And she said, "Well I just don't have time for that. I'm too busy doing." Now he has taken it on himself almost like a crusade to tell South Africa and in particular the Eastern Cape what is happening in the whole health dominion in this part of the world. We have a fantastic MEC for Education who is also a most remarkable woman but for a year the ANC, because it's SACP and they were the door-keepers for everybody who came into positions of power within the Eastern Cape ...
POM That's because of Mhlaba?
JC Yes he's got this around him, a clique around him. And they had a woman there who was completely inexperienced and ill-equipped to do the job. They kicked her out and got (what's her name, I'll remember it in a minute) and she has done stunning work. They talk of the stolen exam papers in various parts of the country. The Eastern Cape which has really been battling so, administratively has no problem like that because she has put in place an administration that works at the top level and at the medium level. There are some shaky bits in the lower levels but she is getting it right. A woman who was just a teacher before, that's all she was, and yet she's come in, she's got a lot of common sense, she gets on very well with people, she gets out and visits and does what is necessary within the communities. Everybody loves her. I was sitting on a plane coming back a few weeks back next to a huge big Afrikaner. He is the Secretary of the Afrikaans Teachers Union in the Eastern Cape and I said to him, "Well how are you getting on with our MEC?" He said she is the most wonderful woman. This is an Afrikaner who has worked all his life in an Afrikaans school. He said, "But we're still fighting for our language." But as far as he is concerned she is Christmas.
So things are happening here that need to be talked about and that are very exciting, but administratively and in the Transkei the general administration and the Premier, sadly, although he has such a wonderful history in the struggle, he was not equipped to do the job and he put in place people around him who were also not equipped to do the job, but there are some stars who are doing wonderful work in the Eastern Cape and there is real building going on that maybe the rest of South Africa, the white South Africans don't know what is going on. I get so cross with the media and with the newspapers because they focus so explicitly on the bad and not on the good and I think that is criminal at a time like this when confidence is what this country needs and is about if we are to build a future for ourselves and for our children and my grandchildren as well.
POM So the ANC is really governing on its own. Many people I have talked to have said, many people even within the ANC say it's become more autocratic, that decisions are more top down than anything up, that the real power is the NEC of the ANC, that the Bantu Holomisa affair was very poorly handled, that the Patrick Lekota affair was also poorly handled to the point of where it's now assumed crisis proportions, that people in the NEC who used to talk out, like for example Pallo Jordan, got smacked down a little and don't talk out as much at meetings of the NEC as they used to, that there is less discussion and just more imposed, handed down decisions. One that was given to me specifically was that when on the agenda was Ramaphosa's resignation as Secretary General and it got to that item in the agenda and Mandela said, "There will be no debate on this. Next item." And it left people a little bit unsettled.
JC Yes. I can't comment on that one. I think Mandela himself has got elements of the tribal chief in his make up which is probably quite understandable. The Holomisa affair I think probably was - Holomisa, I'm always astounded at the popularity of Holomisa. I mean he's an extremely likeable man. I myself have sat on platforms with him and he's a very charismatic and attractive character. But he was a Magnus Malan boy, he came through the army. Within the Transkei itself after he took over from Stella he did nothing. All those bureaucrats, the police and the army just before he got out were given huge raises and within the Transkei itself there were some flourishing industries that during the time that he was there collapsed because he sent everybody there to get jobs and turned them into little, that were thriving businesses before, like there's a tea business there, tea plantation, and it just eventually collapsed under the weight of Holomisa's care because all the dissidents and the disenchanted, particularly in the Eastern Cape and the Transkei are climbing up behind him and think that he's going to do what he did for them before. So he's a clever politician and a charismatic man but I don't think the ANC could go along with the way he was behaving.
POM Couldn't they have suspended him?
JC Well they tried. Mandela took him aside, Mbeki took him aside, they talked to him and talked to him and talked to him in a comradely way to try to bring him back on board and he just was saying, he has a huge ego ...
POM I noticed.
JC And he just was not going to - I mean the fact that Peter Mokaba is no longer, the whole populist imagery, Peter saying, "I'm not a populist, don't think of me as a populist", and he's another one who is I think politically very sussed out and can see the way the wind is blowing and seems to have distanced himself from Holomisa at this juncture because he is ambitious and he wants to stay within the system and within the ANC. People consider Holomisa to be a free spirit, I think he's been way out of line.
POM This is a question I've asked and I don't know the answer to, but just to collect the answers to questions I don't know the answer to. Do you have the constitutional right to belong to a political party of your choice since political parties receive taxpayers' money?
JC You can't cross the floor.
POM No, but can I ...?
JC Is it correct or incorrect?
POM Can I go down to the local branch in Port Elizabeth and say I want to become a member of the ANC and can I be denied membership?
JC Oh no.
POM Well he's been expelled from the ANC as an organisation, so if he only wants to be a member of the ANC?
JC I'm not quite sure how that works but if you forfeit your right, if you belong to the ANC then there's a certain amount of loyalty and responsibility expected in order to belong to the organisation. For instance, if I were to act in such a way that I was an acute embarrassment to the ANC they would call me before a disciplinary committee. I would then say, "No, I think my way of functioning is appropriate and I'm not abiding by your disciplinary procedure." They would then probably say to me, "Then I'm very sorry but we must ask you to leave the party." And then I would say, "Well I'm not going to leave the party", and they would probably say, "Well then tough, but I'm afraid we're going to have to expel you." But I'm not sure if I could then go round the corner and re-join and pay my dues.
POM And say I've a constitutional right because it's not a private organisation, it's a public institution and it receives taxpayers' money. So the right of free association doesn't apply in the same way as it would ...?
JC I'll have to find out about that.
POM So after 2½ years, midway through ...
JC What public money does it receive?
POM Well for elections, for every election so far, and the constitution provides for the political funding of elections. Does the fact that there is no what would be called this being a one-party dominant state with little sign of real opposition in the foreseeable future despite the attempts of the National Party to re-position itself, which is more fantasy, most people believe, than feasible, does that worry you?
JC I think when it comes to the vote within the house and, well fortunately for me and I was on that Health Committee right through the whole Termination of Pregnancy Bill, and I believe the choice was the right way for it to go, and of course for those like the Muslims and some of the Catholics who felt that they couldn't in all conscience vote for it, an avenue was opened for them whereby they didn't have to vote for it. But such a powerful party if it conducts itself appropriately and puts in place a method of governance that really makes a difference to the country, I don't think there is harm done. But a hugely powerful party should be able, especially after the sort of forty years that we've seen in the past, should be able to rebuild and implement new policies and improve the quality of life for every citizen in its country and if it can do that I would say fine for a period of time. If it cannot do that and if then there is wholesale corruption, one would think that if that were to happen there would be a self-limiting factor and very soon break-away parties would form and a more dynamic opposition would come about in order to bring about change. But the Africa scenario doesn't seem to very often follow that route. I think for now a strong party is still, I would think, a good thing and I am happy to belong to that strong party, but at the end of 1999 if I were to be asked to stand again, which probably in all likelihood won't happen, but if I were to I would then have to consider my options, look very carefully at the five years that we have travelled and see if I felt that such a strong party was the way to go into the next term of office.
POM Why do you say it's unlikely that you would be asked to stand again?
JC Oh well I'm 63, I should think that probably they will be looking for younger people.
POM It's called age discrimination. You can go to the Constitutional Court!
JC Yes. I'm just thinking of fresh blood and all that sort of thing, but I'll think about because I think I'm getting to the point now where I can actually make a difference in terms of being clued up enough about the legislative process.
POM You're saying once you've learnt the learning curve you're going to quit?
JC Well that's what I may not be happy to do.
POM OK, thanks.