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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
07 Aug 1997: Holomisa, Bantu
POM General, it's been just about six months since I interviewed you and at that time you had just set out on this process of forming a consultative movement. I think you were also in the process of suing the ANC. Since then you have joined forces with Roelf Meyer in launching a new political party. Could you give me a brief summary of the events of the year and whether or not, in particular, the ANC has gone out of its way in any respect to impede your efforts to form a new political party?
BH The last time you were here, what month was it?
POM It would have been March.
BH Well a lot has happened ever since we made it public that we were intending to form a party. The interest has been great. A lot of people are joining this exercise. The ANC, of course, tried to counter that by embarking on a campaign to denigrate and vilify me and issuing pamphlets, even to such an extent of printing a booklet entitled The Rise and Fall of Holomisa where they are trying to justify the reasons for their expelling me. I have since reacted, of course, to that booklet. My booklet is called The Comrades in Corruption. So last time you were here I was still insisting that the National Party if they want to work with us they would have to disband and I conveyed the message to Roelf Meyer who was in charge of the Task Team to transform or form a new movement within the NP and, of course, as you know, he could not endear himself to his leadership about that idea and he ended up falling out of favour within the leadership and he resigned. He is heading a new process movement so we met and asked ourselves a question: you are white, I'm black, I'm heading a process which is going towards the formation of a new party, you are also doing that. You are saying you are not forming a party for the whites only. Also I am not saying I am forming a party for the blacks only but for all South Africans. What's the difference? We could find that there wasn't much difference.
Of course we asked ourselves what would be the priority of this party and surprisingly Roelf said, "The way I see it we should in this party look into the future, do something for our children because our children today in terms of our constitutional change are schooling together and that in doing so we must not forget that disparities are still there, that there is still a huge gap between the haves and have-nots, so we will have to come up with some practical policies which are intended to integrate our society, not only integrating them of being neighbours to each other in terms of where they live, but in education, economy and so on." But this party has to have its priorities correct. So we debated that and then we said Roelf has nothing to differ on and let's work together and we formed a joint working committee and that joint working committee has been meeting. Some of the issues we have discussed you will see them here inside this document and we agreed that on 27th September let us launch a new political party.
So that's the situation as we stand now. In terms of policy developments we feel that after the 27th the commissions must be ready to develop our policies on economics, education, housing, health and welfare, environment, civil order and constitution. And between now and September we are busy hammering throughout our consultation process the vision, the core values and the mission and then introduction to what would we like to see South Africa prospering towards in a new millennium.
POM From a policy point of view how do you see this new party being different from the ANC? The ANC says it stands for redistribution of income, for uplifting the masses, for evening out the disparities.
BH I think here almost all the parties in South Africa, any party in fact, any political party in the world, item number one would be to improve the quality of life of the people. That's what they always aim for and we are not different from that. The policies of the ANC, you may find that they are not different from other policies of the parties, PAC for instance also is saying we are a dispossessed nation, once we are government we will narrow the gaps. All that is practical, how do you do that? The ANC, I am happy that you mentioned that, they are in government now and the present policies of government have been endorsed by almost all South Africans and all political parties after the process of green and white paper consultation processes. Those policies are not for ANC per se, all South Africans own them from the apartheid policies but where they are failing is on the implementation. They are not able to implement them. The ANC policies I know have now won the day even at World Trade Centre as you know. They had to compromise. So I am not sure when you are talking about their policies, which ones? Which ones have they implemented in the last three years which are workable? Can you remind me of any? I'm asking.
BH So, what policies do they have? It's nice when it's printed. Look at the RDP document, a well researched document. Can they show us projects which they have implemented on that? They have been given seven billion by the foreign countries, what have they done? Where is a pilot scheme which they can show us? Nothing. So in terms of our policies I am not worried even if the policies were the same. The difference would be on the implementation.
POM But would you not inherit the same civil service? If you were in government would you not inherit the same civil service that the ANC inherited? The people that have to do the implementation are the bureaucrats.
BH No, no, no. I would have done so, inherited it, but the mistake the ANC has done is to produce an RDP document or you produce a white paper, a bill, but you don't come up on rules and regulations as to how to implement that policy. Civil servants will say, all right, it's good, here is a principled Act but how do you implement it? The ANC's experience has been lacking on that and if you notice you will find that they have been using ministers to act as executive members in that particular department. That's why these scandals immediately they come up you will find that the minister was involved, personally involved in saying business must be awarded to so-and-so. Now you say they have inherited a civil service. Almost all the DGs who are there, they are Directors General, the key question is have they appointed people who know? They are paying over R50,000 for consultants and one minister will have about three consultants. Senior consultants get about R28,000 a month and they term them as 'advisers'. Have they run a civil service before, those so-called advisers? It's chaos there. You don't know who is in charge. A DG, an adviser of the minister, or the minister. They are creating this chaos themselves.
If you say they have inherited a civil service, where are their rules? Take for instance the police. The police have been operating under the apartheid laws and they had their own system of gathering information to apprehend criminals, to do whatever. The new laws which have got bill of rights, obviously the police had to be given a new doctrine now of how to operate. It's not that. Then you are told this community policing, where are the rules, where is the booklet which governs that? What happens if policemen go to Soweto and find that the chairman of the policing community he is a criminal they have been looking for? How do you deal with that? Or he goes to the rural areas, it has happened, it is happening almost daily. So what I would suggest, therefore, is that we will inherit their civil servants now because the old bureaucrats in the homelands, in the central government have been given packages so they can no longer point fingers to those DGs at national level, at provincial level. From the level of Director, Deputy Director to DG, those people have been removed. A classical example is in Pretoria and also in Transkei and other former homelands. You are not going to say there is a mess in Northern Province today, you say you attribute that to the old system. It's them. Take for instance the question of Prime Minister Popo Molefe in North West. According to the Auditor General three million rand he could not account for, not one receipt in his office and yet that office is manned by his people only. There are no Mangope people there. So when you talk about inheritance you have to understand it.
POM Do you think that the ANC still is going to use the excuse of the legacy of apartheid?
BH Yes they will to cushion themselves.
BH Everything. They will continue pointing fingers. But if you read this book Comrades in Corruption, I am changing that mindset of the people. I am saying when you look at a minister, if a minister in Pretoria is an Indian he will appoint a DG and the top echelon all are Indians. If he is a Xhosa minister he will appoint a DG who is a Xhosa and Xhosas will occupy high echelons. You go to a coloured minister and so on, or Zulu minister for that minister, I've said so here. You go to Department of Sport, go to Mac Maharaj, go to Zuma, you will see what I am talking about. So that is not affirmative action, instead you are promoting ethnicity in reverse. So they are going to pay dearly for that because you are not using competent methods in appointing people but you appoint people who are your friends and your pals. That is why there is the fiasco and chaos now in tender procedures. The tender committees are ANC appointed people, this new board throughout provinces and at national level, but people are complaining about the tender system.
POM What are their complaints?
BH For instance, recently one tender was given to a friend of the Minister of Housing in Pretoria, they were together in exile, to the tune of about R200 million to build homes, and that company was not registered at the time she was awarded the tender. How do you reconcile such things? You cannot blame the old apartheid forces or the apartheid bureaucrats for the Sarafina 2 scandal for instance. You cannot do that.
POM You mentioned the North West and Popo Molefe and I know that one of the people with whom you have talked is Lucas Mangope. Do you see a role for him even though he is considered to be one of the most discredited leaders of the former homelands, that he has enriched himself while he was in office?
BH No I don't think we see any role now. He is old, but we are not looking to Mangope as an individual, we are looking at the small parties, at where possible they should disband and swell the ranks of the new movement. So Mangope is old and he is facing charges and so on. I read last Saturday that he is about to resign and he is recommending that his party should be disbanded. So credit will go to us at the end of the day, we will get the individual people who have got loyalties to him. There are many in North West. We can't undermine his popularity amongst the people of North West. The ANC, because of the lack of implementing policies, suddenly the people like Mangopes and Holomisas and other former homeland leaders are being credited that they have done far better because they created jobs at least during their time. Under the ANC people are getting poorer and poorer. Look at GEAR, the economic plan policy. When it was launched last year it targeted to create jobs to a level of 3.2%. After a year the statistics show that it has been -3.2% which means there has not been any improvement. Instead people are being retrenched daily. The ranks of unemployed are swelling.
POM So if the present government, or to pinpoint one of its major failings, the major failing is it's failure to create jobs?
BH No, no, they have failed dismally and I don't see them in the next two years coming out of that.
POM Would you have a strategy to specifically create jobs?
BH Yes, the first plan is to create jobs to bring stability to the country. That's point number one, you stabilise the country and then you can go out and talk about creating a climate conducive for investment. But you cannot go out and invest and call for investments whilst people are being killed or shot at or chief executives of companies are being maimed, as and when people like it, in their homes. It's a big no. People are taking their money out. The professionals are emigrating and you will find that the factories are on the receiving end because people are closing down, others are relocating and then in the streets of Johannesburg, even here, you will find that there are commodities which are coming from outside. In a nutshell, whilst the ANC is claiming that it creates jobs but for their policies to allow South Africa to be a dumping zone, in a nutshell you are actually creating jobs for the foreign countries at the expense of your people. For instance, where the textile industry should be manufacturing clothes in South Africa now we are importing almost everything. Look at the decline, South Africa is declining right now. Take for instance Mozambique, Mozambique at one stage was exporting sugar, it was one of the largest sugar exporters, but today they are importing sugar. So there are indications also that here as a result of lack of stability under the present government the confidence of investors from outside is declining.
POM When you say lack of stability you're talking about the crime situation?
BH Yes, yes, in a nutshell. I'm talking about that.
POM Do you ever dwell on the fact that everybody who finished very close to the top in the ANC congress elections have somehow been got rid of or sidelined or marginalised in one way or another? You had Ramaphosa, you had yourself, Winnie, Sexwale.
BH The list is long.
POM And now you have what looks like a campaign of some sort beginning to emerge against Matthews Phosa. He seems to be next on the list.
BH They have been trying to discredit him to say he raped women in exile and so on. I think he's the next target. I think it's possible that there is a clique or cabal within the ANC which wants to make sure that they will control the ANC for the next generation and those who are showing some political independent streak might not suit the new mould. But I am thankful that I am out of that, I am happy.
POM Who would be the key members of that clique?
BH I think the ANC is divided into many camps. There are people who were inside who feel that they are being marginalised, Terror Lekota, Cyril, Sexwale.
POM Yes Terror is another one.
BH Popo Molefe and all of those, the UDF elements. Then you have those who were inside jail who have no influence whatsoever.
POM People who were in jail?
BH No, they don't have influence. It's only President Mandela. After him that lot is forgotten. Then you have the people who were in Lusaka in Africa and they don't have any influence either. Then you have an influential group who were in London, Thabo Mbeki, the Pahad brothers, Gill Marcus, Frene Ginwala, Kader Asmal, Mac Maharaj, so that's the ANC.
POM So it's the London based people who are emerging or have emerged as the most influential?
BH Tito Mboweni. All those guys who were in Europe come with their Euro-centric things here and it's not working.
POM In working with Roelf do you find that your stands on the issues are the same, that you share the same priorities with regard to the future?
BH I think in a nutshell they want an answer. The people are worried as to whether we are not going to end up following a Rwandan option or Congo option or many other countries. South Africa is in a muddling through process or scenario and we are coming up with RDP documents or ... this is not going to work, we come up with GEAR and after a year it has not shown any signs to help a black person.
POM Most people I talk to say it's dead.
BH It's dead, it's dead.
POM And the country is simply not going to achieve a 5% growth rate.
BH No it's out, it's out. This is a muddling through scenario. People are asking questions: I am a South African, I don't want to emigrate, I accept that I am going to live with a black person but do our children have a future? That's the key. And I think we have proved that we have no differences whatsoever even in terms of priorities. He is not representing a certain tiny section. If, for instance, you say you are protecting, let's say you are a party or a person which wants to protect only the rich people in your party and you say no you don't want to associate yourself with the poor people, once these don't have anything they are going to move across and rob those who have. But if you take all our resources and you put them down and say, all right how are they utilised today and what priorities should we come up with, then you will be able to interpret. So we don't have differences now.
POM Two questions. One relates to the future viability of the party, one, its capacity to raise money. With no money it goes no place. And two will be the leadership of the party, who will be the leader? Both you and Roelf are the agents of change but are you both looking to finding a black person, because it will have to be a black person, an African, of stature who will make you immediately credible in the eyes of the media, in the eyes of the opinion makers in the country who say these people have got to be taken seriously in terms of the stature of the people they are attracting and in relation to their capacity to raise money?
BH My response there would be the question of fund raising. We are going to fundraise locally, local business people. We will also fundraise -
POM When you say local business people?
BH South Africans. We will fundraise in terms of how the other parties are surviving and if they are funding from abroad, which is afforded to other players, it's working. If they are funding from abroad for other parties we will also go and look for funding.
POM So you would look for funding from foreign sources?
BH Foreign sources, we will look into that after September but we need a mandate in our forthcoming conference. Our framework discussion document is going to have exactly the paragraph on funding or a clause on funding as to how do we go forward for funding. Secondly, I know that there is legislation in parliament which deals with funding and that legislation is likely to propose that the state must fund -
POM Well the constitution provides for that.
BH - political parties so that parties must not be held ransom by business. So we will wait but we will do funding. The question of leadership, Roelf and I have been saying this, and publicly saying, we are pioneers in this exercise. At some stage it might be possible that the leaders are still coming for this exercise. The question of credibility and other things - Roelf and I have sort of past baggage, we cannot avoid that. I was in the homeland, he was in the apartheid and to some extent even the ANC leaders you will find that they have got their own baggage but baggages differ and in the politics of South Africa therefore whoever we are going to choose he or she will have to be firstly, he or she must be a devil who is known by the people. What I am trying to say, you know the saying that I'd better deal with the devil I know than the devil I don't, so in that context he will have to be known. How do you describe a man of stature in the politics of South Africa, because the majority of us in one way or another we participated in a conflict, unless we will have to look for a church leader, maybe they succeed in that line. But those who were in politics either you were aligning yourself with ANC, SACP, PAC, NP, if you were a black in those you struggled and you might have been part of decisions which in today's constitution would see you as having violated the Bill of Human Rights. So it's a lot of debate as to who is clean in South Africa. It's a question mark. But we have left room for any future leaders. Then after September to prove that we are leaving room we are going to have a period of about six months before a leader can be elected, during the time of the policy development and commissions, from September to March next year, and then March next year we want to come and unveil our plans for elections, our manifesto, policies.
POM So you see yourself as an active participant in the 1999 elections?
BH Yes our party will participate. We might be late but at least we started earlier than, for instance, the ACDP which is in parliament. It started only about a month before the April 1994 elections but they managed to go to Cape Town, to parliament, they are represented in provincial legislatures and local government.
POM Now when you go around to rallies and things what kind of reception - like you and Roelf appeared together? Do you try and appear together on as many occasions as possible?
BH Yes we are getting a good reception and black and white flock to meetings we are addressing. Yes, I am satisfied with the progress we are making and Roelf is no newcomer to sharing platforms with black people - remember in the negotiations. It's not a big deal for him to appear in public with a black person. Maybe five years ago yes, but now he's been accepted as one of the few, if not the person who has brought the constitution single-handedly against De Klerk's intransigence.
POM This may be a funny question but the two of you share a political platform, the two of you share the same political views or at least a common purpose, do you ever socialise together? Do you ever go to his house, he comes to your house and you sit around and just have a beer or whatever?
BH Yes we do that, we do that. We discuss a number of work issues, strategies we discuss, when we visit each other, so we do socialise a little bit but there's not much time, not to the extent of going to fish with him.
POM You're not into the fly-fishing route?
BH Not as yet. But I was trying to introduce him - I said I notice that he has got a love for nature and I said to him, well we seem to be having common areas here because I also enjoy the environment. That's why in one of the commissions I insisted that let us have a separate commission on environment, but that environmental commission we want it to work closely with the economics commission, that we integrate it from the word go. That would help our budget and priorities in future, that each department must have in their preamble a line talking about the environment and we will be able to easily co-ordinate our activities and see development and progress, not like as if we are running on a highway, six lane highway.
POM So if I were to ask you, what do you see as the biggest failure of the ANC government after three years, if you could identify that, and if you could identify what you as a political party would do to correct that failure, what would the two be?
BH I think the biggest failure of the ANC has been to guarantee stability to the population in terms of the constitution.
POM Has been to?
BH Their failure to guarantee stability or security or right to life of our people in terms of the constitution and that will be our biggest challenge, our task number one.
BH Crime, yes. They have failed dismally there. And where we see it indicated, intelligence are pointing fingers at them that some people were dissatisfied with the integration of armed forces, their own members. Some of their members who were not integrated in the army had taken a vow to say they would destabilise the government. Mandela in 1994, when they were problems of integration, went there and instead of addressing the problem he said they were rapists, they were criminals and that he hasn't got a place for people like those, they must leave the army. They left but some of them now are involved in these car hijackings, bank robberies. The highest bank robbery, R70 million last week, the finger in today's paper is pointing to former MK members. One asks some questions, is this a spiteful crime, a crime to spite government? One will have to do homework on that because seemingly ANC is afraid to admit that this crime is as a result of their failure to listen to their former guerrillas. That's it. Their former guerrillas whom they ill-treated or mistreated or whatever because these guys were in the forefront, they fought, but when the leaders won the battle they forget them. You don't do that in the military. You eat last, the people must eat first, the troops. You know the gravy train saga? Those people who were fighting for them have been left in the street. They did not even embark on a campaign of demilitarising our society. I am sure the arms caches are still there. I don't remember the government saying, MK can you identify your arms caches? APLA commanders, can you identify your arms caches? Inkatha commandos, can you identify your arms caches? And so on. Citizen Force of De Klerk, have you returned the weapons, government weapons? Everybody is armed today. They have failed there and the rest of the socio-economic problems will never be addressed until you address that problem of stability.
POM What kinds of measures do you see your party advocating?
BH I would recommend that we form a round table on sustainable development, investment and crime or a Presidential Council on sustainable development, investment and crime. Why? Sustainable development, you have to know how big is your cake and is this cake of yours shared evenly to look into infrastructure, to look into beefing up your security forces, police, army. A lot of money is channelled to the army. Maybe some of the money which is channelled there should have been channelled to the police because we don't expect the army to come and do the job of the police which they are not trained for. Then you look at the resources, look at the priorities. After doing this, look at investment, look at crime holistically. Crime might not only be the crime which you take someone's car or you kill, but what about white collar crime? Then this council should be guided by perhaps one of the few values like moral economics. The little budget we have, are we utilising it in the interest of the population or is it us first and our families?
OK? That's my dream. That's how I would approach it. Who would be in this council? Key state departments, ministers and then you go outside government, it must not be the responsibility of the government, then you can take the communities, youth and so on, business, labour, and sit down. For instance you look at the people complaining that the investors would never come to South Africa because of labour, your labour is highly politicised. I would say, all right, what are the labour international trends saying? Are we the partners now of the global village? Yes. What are the rules there? Why can't we be the same? If we have a problem we must identify and correct it but we can't just keep on saying the labour is highly politicised, the labour is highly politicised. So what? We have to address that. If it is highly politicised how can we de-politicise it in order to improve the productivity? It's a challenge to us. Some of the crisis things they might appear to be difficult but it's for us to change them, turn them to our advantage. Ask Shilowa, say the international labour law, you are a member, when you are protesting do you think it's worth protesting with your members carrying dangerous weapons? What signal are you sending? So all sorts of small things which are negative, without interfering with their right to protest or air their grievances but the style.
POM So what do you see as the biggest obstacle in the way to your becoming a potent political force?
BH Well people don't know us as yet in terms of what we stand for, policies and so on. And number two, the ANC and NP which are in the majority in this country, they have got their traditional support so one would have to get some big cake from those two then you can be a formidable party. There's no way that you can go somewhere and collect small pockets but you will have to make inroads there.
POM Then I come back to the question of money. The biggest backer of political parties here, somebody said to me if you want to see how successful the ANC has been as political party all you have to do is look to where business is putting its money and it's right behind the ANC whereas before it was behind the NP and the same people who contributed heavily to the NP are contributing just as heavily to the ANC.
BH It's equally so, we are new. Here are crowds, here are crowds, there is business also. We want the cake from the crowds, we want the cake from the business. So everywhere, if we look at labour we are going to say we need people there also without forming our own labour movement because that would be an expensive exercise. I don't think that's our priority.
POM Have you talked to people in the labour movement?
BH To individuals, yes. We have also requested COSATU, they said they would give us a date. They have not come back to us. We have spoken to the business chamber, SACOB. I guess that immediately perhaps we come up on the 27th and unveil our intentions there might be a lot of enquiries to say I think you seem to be offering a better thing.
POM So you think those people in the ANC who thought that you had simply disappeared off the political horizon - ?
BH No, no, they knew, they were living in fool's paradise. How on earth having topped their list and having not committed any scandal in the ANC but having occupied the high moral ground from day one and not them occupying a high moral ground, say I was finished? They were living in fool's paradise because the exercise or the manner in which they expelled me out of the organisation I think they are still on trial on that. They are still on trial, Holomisa is not on trial and I have never been on trial.
POM You have moved a long way from the point where you said the only thing you wanted was to -
BH Ask for the compensation of the Transkei Defence Force members.
POM Or to regain your membership in the ANC?
BH Oh yes, yes.
POM To the point of where you are saying I'm glad to be out of the ANC.
BH Yes I say so now. I am happy.
POM What has brought about such a conversion in your thinking?
BH It's the people on the ground who say we have been looking for a person like you to start this process because there is a need for an alternative and it's the people who have given me some confidence that really I'm not in a political wilderness and there's no need therefore to regret having been expelled by the ANC. So it's the people.
POM Well I will be back here on September 27th.
POM I'll be at the launching of your movement.
BH At the World Trade Centre.
POM A symbolic place.