This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
20 Feb 1997: Mokaba, Peter
POM. Minister, I was reading through our transcript and it struck me the incredible number of assassination attempts that you had been exposed to during your period in the struggle and you made some mention as to Chris Hani. When these revelations that broke recently about possible ANC involvement in Hani's murder, were you surprised or do you dismiss them entirely, or do you think that there should be an investigation of some sort as to establish the validity if there is validity to any of the allegations being made?
PM. No, no, I don't think that the allegations that the ANC could have been involved in the assassination of Comrade Chris Hani are correct. They are not correct, let me not even say I don't think. That assassination was actually intended to divide the ANC, to try and locate it's origin from within the organisation. They did not achieve that objective when Waluz was arrested because then it indicated clearly that this was the work of the third force through the right wing in the country. It cannot be true, it's lies, so I don't even think that it warrants any investigation within the organisation. That of course is not to say that the organisation was not infiltrated and that it is not infiltrated. Before the assassination of Comrade Chris Hani - and when the ANC was unbanned one of the strategies that was uncovered by the road on the Military Intelligence headquarters by the Goldstone Commission was the fact that there was a campaign to vilify some of us, to criminalize some of us, that is to paint us with a brush, a brush that says that we are criminals or something of the sort. They carried out a campaign that sought to discredit me within the ANC and with my people, a campaign in which they were claiming that I was a spy. That is prior to all of these things but the campaign was carried out by their agents, both within the ANC and outside and that is what Ferdi Barnard is able now to affirm, to say that indeed we ran a campaign like that and it's in the files that were captured by the Goldstone Commission. Now this campaign had myself, Comrade Chris Hani and all the so-called radicals as their targets. That is why I wasn't surprised that even with the murder of Chris Hani the plot that was uncovered later then showed that I was also their target that could have been eliminated around that time.
. Now to address your question I'm saying that the ANC could never have been involved. We treasured Comrade Hani like we treasure any of our leaders but it is true that we were infiltrated. We suffered a lot from enemy infiltration which was able to carry out campaigns within and outside our organisation. And maybe the investigation, if we ever launch it, would be to determine who at the time masqueraded as a member of the ANC and then working for the enemy provided vital information on the movements of Comrade Chris Hani so that he could be killed. But that is not the ANC, it's the enemy within.
POM. Do you think that today there are still elements of the third force active and that they pose a threat to either the stability of the country or are still working actively to undermine the legitimate government of the day?
PM. I have always said that the third force is not the third force, it is the National Party, it is De Klerk operating through other forces. The Truth Commission seems to be proving that particular observation to be true. I don't believe that they could have developed within the country structures of destabilisation that were independent of the government that existed then and the Truth Commission does show that it was part of the destabilisation, that his hands are dripping with the blood of the innocent people of our country, that he was in the centre of the plot to murder, to kill, and that is why even when the international community gave him that medal I regretted it.
POM. The Nobel Prize?
PM. The Nobel Prize. I regretted it because that was a distortion of our experience but maybe it was a token of encouragement. I don't know under what guise it was given but I am saying that I don't believe in the third force concept. It is the old regime organised in a variety of ways to destabilise current democracy through acts of organised crime, through destabilisation and attempts to slow down the government through the bureaucracy which they secured in the constitutional negotiations, that the present government is not able to take out dead wood and people are not working within the bureaucracy because they are protected by those constitutional arrangements left behind by the NP. Now we are aware that these particular bureaucrats have got a mission to slow down government delivery, to frustrate government delivery and to ensure that democratic institutions are actually discredited.
. Now the third force also would be, I mean not the third force but these forces would also be in the media, journalists, and I am very clear about that. Craig Kotze who was a Star journalist ended up as spokesperson for the police because he has always worked for the police. And there are many. It has been exposed that the NP paid certain journalists in order to use them to propagate certain things against the ANC and certain leaders of this movement, to discredit them and to discredit the democratic process in the country. It includes also businessmen, bankers, people who have got capital to invest and are now refusing to invest it here and using the crime organised by the same forces that they know exist and want to destabilise this country and yet go and invest in countries outside, in Latin America, which are worse in terms of crime.
. You see, I am saying that it is a white racist backlash that today people refer to as third force. It's not third force and they are not in the majority. The ordinary white person in South Africa would like to be part of a democratic transformation. There are many of them in government also, in the middle structure in particular of the bureaucracy who believe that this government and this dispensation have got something very good and very fundamental for them and they would like to help to ensure that this democracy is entrenched. But in all of these other areas, the financial institutions, the journalists in the press, in the judiciary, so you see for the first time hardened criminals being released and they are being released without any proper reason even legal or otherwise. Others are being released because of stupid mistakes that these same police could not commit with regard to guerrillas in the past. Suddenly today they don't have information systems that work in order to give them proper information, but they had all the information they needed against the guerrillas, people who were trained to hide information, they could get that information. Criminals are not even trained.
. I am saying that you have these pockets of resistance, these pockets of destabilisation which are not third force but which are broadly linked to the NP's programme of not believing in democracy that involves blacks. They don't believe in democracy at all, they want to indicate to the world, they want to actually show that no country in Africa can ever sustain democratic institutions and that is their plot in our country. They are planning for the return of their government. It is an illusion of course.
POM. Do you find this whole idea of them trying to restructure the party or found a new political movement that will absorb the middle and be an electoral threat to the ANC either in 1999 or in 2004, do you find that pure fantasy or part of a more designed strategy on their part to again find a way of undermining you?
PM. It is quite a fantasy in the first place but it's an activity that is aimed at destabilising because what is it that they are opposing? I'm for multi-party democracy, but what is it that the NP is opposing? It opposes affirmative action, it opposes the RDP, opposes transformation, it opposes the fact that we are in a new democracy. It is beginning to reverse, beginning to try and raise the fear of the Afrikaner and try to separate them from the rest of the community. It is actually an action that is going to define them as an anachronism and I don't think they will survive that. There are, of course, certain people in the NP who can see that continued resistance of the fundamentals of democratisation of this country is going to isolate them and destroy their party. Now they realise that in order to assist this democracy is to have loyal opposition, not just opposition, loyal opposition. Not loyal to the ANC but loyal to the constitution, loyal to the RDP, loyal to the kind of dispensation that we are trying to institute. We would like them to compete with us on how best to improve lives in South Africa, people's lives here and how best to develop our country and not how best to destroy it. So they are based on the wrong programmes and because they are based on the wrong programme there is no way in which they can dent the ANC, there is no way in which they can win any election. They have got no vision because the people they are trying to recruit are the people whose blood is on their hands, the hands of the National Party, they are the people that they hated for many, many years and actually educated generations of whites to hate them. And these are people who are experiencing for the first time freedoms as a result of the sacrifices made by the ANC and its cadre-ship, people who fought. And to think that they have forgotten that, that they can suddenly see in their enemy new leaders is to assume a level of stupidity on the part of the people never seen anywhere in the world.
POM. I'm going to ask you a funny question. Let's say something happened to you and you were dying and the President came to see you and he was like the last person that you saw before you died, what would you say to him?
PM. Well I would say to him that what remains to be done by generations to come, not even by ourselves only, is to guarantee and to ensure that this democratisation deepens, that non-racial democracy survives in South Africa to a point where we know it's no longer a relevant point to talk about because all of us will be considering ourselves as just South African and not black South African or white South African but just South African, that I would wish him well in his reconciliation and nation-building efforts and actually say to him that it would be crucial for us to ensure that many multiply among our ranks to do what he is doing because that is a great job. That is an act not just for South Africa but for the rest of Africa, for the rest of human kind because if we succeed in this part of the world to return the dignity of people of colour, I am sure that that will have an impact throughout the whole world, that we can educate the world on race relations. And this is what I believe his own course is doing and I would encourage him on my death bed to continue with that type of work.
POM. One criticism that I have picked up in a number of quarters and this is from talking to ordinary people in the townships, is that on the one hand they are being asked to be patient, that change takes time and they accept that. But on the other hand they say they never see the leaders of the ANC any longer. ANC leaders don't come into their constituencies, don't talk to them. It's that you're an absent presence. Do you think that has validity?
PM. On the first part of your question, it is not so much the case of us asking them to be patient, it is the difficulties that we are faced with in an attempt to deliver, that we want them to understand and in fact to participate in, not to wait and be spectators in the process of delivery to themselves. The difficulties I have just mentioned here, sabotage within the bureaucracy, the fact that we don't have foreign reserves, the fact that our rand is very weak and has been weakened over the years by difficult policies, the fact that our economy is badly structured, is closed, is not yet open to be able to take in new entrants whether as entrepreneurs or as job seekers and that this is the type of thing that we would like to resolve as a government and that we want assistance from them. You see the journalistic world that is misinforming and not informing them properly so that they are empowered to participate, that particular press that belongs to the people who actually are opposed and have been opposed to the democratisation of the country, it is those obstacles - the banking systems, the banking institutions that refuse to lend them money even after agreeing with the democratic government that they will be able to lend money to them.
. But also I am saying they too must look into themselves and say why don't we pay our services? Where will the government get money to implement speedy reform and speedy transformation if we draw money that is due to government in terms of services delivered? I'm talking about electricity bills, I'm talking about TV licences, I'm talking about all of the services that are being received and not being paid for by our people. The question is, the point is our people must be taught that you can only spend what you have got. If you don't have it there is no way in which you can spend. Money that we have got that has to repay the debt that we have inherited is not money that is available to build clinics, to build all the types of things that they are waiting for. We need a rededication on their part, not sacrifice, we are not asking for patience, we are asking for rededication, for them to take responsibility for their own actions, for them to say that we have got a duty to deliver to ourselves, that this government is mainly an instrument of the people. It is not the alpha and omega of the delivery services. We as people must use government to deliver. That's what we would like them to do and that is why then I will agree with them that indeed it is a problem, a very big problem, a serious deficiency, that we as leaders are no longer there in the communities to discuss with them, to share with them these points of view and that if maybe we were there they would be able to identify their role and act accordingly. So that is valid. That I agree with.
. We have been overwhelmed by the work of government and I think whilst that is not an excuse it is something that is a reason big enough for them to help us contend with. We should have broadened a development, a cadre-ship that we could leave in the townships, in the white areas, everywhere, to be able to take down policies of government and bring back opinions of the people and ensure that delivery takes place. We can't rely on the bureaucracy, it's too infested, it's too inept, too unresponsive. It's more of an administration mechanism than a management mechanism. It is not mission driven, it is role driven. We have inherited from the past a very difficult bureaucracy and now we want to rely on organised communities. It is the level of their organisation, the level of their communication and contact with the leadership that is going to ensure that we deliver together as a nation and I must say I agree with them. We are failing in our duties in the African National Congress when we fail to see people, when a day can pass, when a minute can pass, when a month can pass without us the leaders and cadres going down to the people and discussing with them and trying to ensure that these concerns are directly addressed, both their concerns and our concerns and together we work out a joint programme of action. That's what we grew up doing. That's what actually made the ANC a democratic movement and I think we need to correct it.
POM. Another thing that I heard a lot of mutterings about was the manner in which Patrick Lekota was removed from being Premier of the Free State, that many people believed that it was done autocratically, that it wasn't democratic and that in an odd way the response of the organisation to the appointment of Dr Matsepi-Casaburri and in electing someone else to be in the position of chairperson is a rebuke to the central organisation by saying you can't impose things on our head, it's not democratic.
PM. It's unfortunate that they understand the actions that were taken in the Free State to be undemocratic. It's because of course, again, our communication strategy has not been effective. Their own participation has not been effective because the problem of the Free State has been going on for two years and more and it has been referred to them many a time. Solutions have been worked out in every NEC and it was the failure of the leadership in that province that caused the national leadership to intervene and that history, if they are saying of course we should not have involved ourselves in the first place to try to resolve these issues for two years, sending top leaders to go and discuss with both factions, if they can say that we should not have done that, or maybe we do not do that and we are just coming at the end, then I would understand them, but we were there from the beginning trying to get these two factions to work together because they belong to the same organisation, trying to give them programmes and solutions that we wanted them to implement and it was only when they were not implementing and when there was no active governance now because of these squabbles within the same organisation that we have had to intervene. The people who are complaining about any autocracy must be the people who really do not want to see the ANC healthy because it's not democracy to leave the wrong things to perpetrate themselves within the organisation. If a leader of the ANC is not performing, if a leader of the ANC is not delivering as the organisation has mandated, then the organisation must have a right, the NEC has got a right in between conferences to take decisions and implement those decisions and this is what has happened.
. Now why do they say it is undemocratic? I don't understand, unless they don't recognise their own constitution that in between national conferences the NEC is the main, the highest decision making body. And that is our democratic structure. If they can say the decision was not one of the NEC, then indeed we have been autocratic, maybe somebody else has acted, but it was a decision, unanimous for that matter, of the NEC, a decision unanimous for that matter of the very same provincial executive committee in the Free State. Now where is the evidence of autocracy? We did not remove Terror or Pat Matosa because we don't regard them as comrades. We removed them because they could not resolve their personal problems and those problems were now affecting the work of the organisation in the area and that is why we said let us bring somebody who is untainted by these factions that have developed in the area so that we can have active governance whilst we work on the ground to resolve the issues within the organisation. I have never seen, anyway here is the National Party today, they have just dropped Roelf Meyer from being a Secretary. Who complains? All parties agree that only the ANC is not allowed to act even in terms of its own constitution, in terms of ensuring that there is delivery, because no-one should believe that when we have appointed you in a position and you are not doing the work for the communities, that we should on the basis of your popularity then say that we can't remove you, then we are not governing, then we will regret that very same decision. We are not also building the comrade involved. I am saying those who say so they really don't know what autocracy is. They either don't like the ANC's constitution or they don't know the ANC's constitution or do not understand the very concept of democracy itself.
POM. In terms of the decision making, maybe you could help me a bit. You have the National Congress of the ANC held every three years?
POM. Then you have the NEC elected?
POM. And between congresses it is the highest decision making body. What's the relationship between the NEC and the cabinet? Is the cabinet there to carry out policies that are broadly laid down by the NEC?
PM. Yes that is so. The ANC is primary. Government must carry out - an ANC government must carry out policies evolved and developed within the African National Congress structures. The slogan of the ANC is 'The people shall govern'. All the policies on housing are evolved by the ANC, on education, on health, on water, on environment and tourism, on policing, on the military and even finances, economy, industrial policy, we all evolve these things within the ANC and ministers responsible are required to implement that policy and the NEC in between judges whether the policy, and monitors whether the policy, has been properly implemented.
POM. I've just five minutes left because I told Muriel that she wouldn't have to knock on the door and say my time was up, so I'll keep the bargain. And maybe I'll get a chance to come back and talk to you again before I leave, for another half an hour or whatever.
. I was going to ask, this goes to the key of something that you've touched on and that is that the person, the institution that seems to have control over the direction of the economy is the Reserve Bank which is outside of government and in that way not responsible to government. Should there be a redefined relationship between the federal Reserve Bank and government or should it be left up to one individual like Chris Stals to decide whether or not exchange controls should be lifted or whether or not interest rates should go up?
PM. It's true that that is a problem but you see we have created a system within the country that introduced checks and balances. The one thing that we have not yet done, and which we should do, I agree with you, is to ensure that the Reserve Bank is part of the general economic organisation of the country and is also influenced by the priorities of our government. You see at the moment that is not so. I think it is wrong and we need not to depend on one individual but to depend on a proper structured relationship among government structures that are supposed to deliver economic policy and implement economic policy to our people in this country. I don't agree with the way the Reserve Bank is certainly operating now. I know that in the Freedom Charter we said that we could have nationalised that one which indicated our intention to ensure that all the elements of economic policy and implementation would have to be brought together to ensure effectiveness and not squandering over-duplication of tasks.
POM. One last question, very quick one, coming into the latter stages of the Mandela years, the second stage of this government, if you had to pick one word to describe the mood of the country what word would you pick?
PM. Well I think people are generally optimistic, generally optimistic. They remain engaged in government processes and in democratic processes. Their focus has not been shaken away from government and what it should do because they regard it as their government. The criticisms that we receive are an indication that the people are watching and our people are working to secure governance in our country. So that is why I am not worried about criticism as such from our communities. I know it is an indication of high political consciousness, of this optimism that they have got that relates to this government and what it should do.
POM. OK. Ten past. I'll keep my word but I would love to come back and talk to you again. I know you have to be in parliament.
PM. Oh fine, any time before you leave.