About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

07 Aug 1997: Sexwale, Tokyo

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POM     Premier, let me begin first with the most obvious question, why you are leaving the premiership, opting to go into business and the whole controversy that has surrounded that?

TS     Well, I thought the controversy has died down. No, it's a well-discussed, well-focused decision together with the President, together with the leadership of the ANC, certain leaders, before we gave it to the National Executive as well as to Thabo Mbeki and my local leaders here. It's nothing new. Five years ago I was deployed by the African National Congress, six years ago, in a company called Thebe. It's one of the leading black companies. My last act was to set up the largest regional ... which is South African, before I became Premier, then I was nominated as Premier. But my decision was to say I will stay on for five years so that was quietly known, five years, one term, not two terms.  However, we have realised that if I am going to go in 1999 we have created a kind of ambience where we've not given a chance to the next person to be identified, to be introduced and to be popularised, so we agreed that I should, well much against my proposals but in the end the ANC agreed, let's give a chance to somebody who should be popularised because you can't just say in 1999 in March or April, gentlemen I have discussed the present 3½ years ago, this is it. It would have been problematic, it would have created more problems. So we agreed that why don't I hold the hand of somebody before I go into this other sector, and I wanted to go into that sector, we agreed let me hold the hand of somebody. I will contribute one year of my term and I will step down before then to allow this person - because in 1998 there must be a leader that lasts past the elections. If we don't allow that person to run the elections in 1998, 1999, early 1999 is electing year, 1998 is electioneering, so we agreed we should do that, that's why the party said so. I am sure you are concerned about that question as well as why the private sector?

POM     Yes. It's as the protégé of Chris Hani and it's kind of saying what would Chris think?

TS     I'm not sure. I'll give you one of the speeches that he made to South African business in South Africa, you would think Chris was a capitalist. Maybe he will understand that within my cabinet right now the Minister of Finance is a communist, seven of my ministers here are communists, but the man who handles finance is a communist but he's running this full scale capitalist economy here in Gauteng which is bulk of the economy of South Africa. The private sector is a terrain of struggle, it is not just the private sector to us. This is where the biggest damage has been done to our people, to my country. Political democracy is there, the road that has led us to where we are in a political democracy is a pretty long one. It's a road that has seen us in exile, in prison and in death cells. I just visited my death cell the other day, two weeks ago. The barricades have changed, the students and so on, so have the flag and the national anthem, parliament, name all these organs and institutions of democracy. We have them. But I kept on saying over and over again, I am sure you have recorded that endlessly, we found changing the white face important to the economy of our country. Without effectively and aggressively tinkering with what is happening on the Stock Exchange where white capital is changing hands and our people are scratching for a living on the pavements as hawkers in their own country, our ambition will be doomed, our struggle might as well be called off.

     So the road continues, from victory to victory, and I have taken this mountain, a huge one of course, many hillocks, but the mountain of state was the most difficult of the mountains to claim, but Everest is facing us. Not Everest, we are on Everest but it's got different peaks. So we are on Everest but there's another peak and this peak is called economic transformation. So where are the Thabo Mbekis, the Chris Hanis, the Nelson Mandelas in that area which requires more transformation, that area? It's easy to get a flag changed, national anthem, to get parliament, to get a constitution, to get ourselves elected, to be there, to have titles like Premier which are not things to hold on for ever, and here I am. I can take a decision very easily but it is not a decision of now and here, it is a decision as long as you are talking to me, it's a decision that once taken it has to be kept. But we thought that if I just announce to the organisation in 1999 I would not have left this province with the alternative of having chosen a leader. That would have thrown the ANC, we believe, into great turmoil.

     So what has been done is to say let me contribute one year to hold the hand of somebody so that we can have continuity and a smooth transition as well as a handle. Let me come to this terrain again, this economy. We have always said in our publications, we have said in our speeches, we have said everywhere, it's held essentially by whites. If our people who are the overwhelming majority in this country wake up with all their expectations to say you have done it all but you have not created the requisite climate for economic change, we will hurt our own victory. So on the peak where we are we will face blizzards. So it was only then that Madiba gave his nod as far as Thabo Mbeki to say OK. But of course it was with heavy hearts for people who didn't know but finally with acceptance because the question had to be asked if that is a terrain of struggle who do you want to serve there? Do you want to send mediocre people or the best? I don't think I'm the best but surely I believe, and I'm quite certain about that, that I will make a difference. But it's a humble joining of people who are already there, black business persons who are trying to make a change. Of course some are there for themselves as business persons, and so what? But some are there as part of our philosophy which is captured in our policy documents and everything to change the content of this economy so that it reflects the people of this country formally. It's not a small thing, it's going to take us many, many years but my going there is to be able to make a difference together with the others at the rock face of economic transformation.

POM     Let me deal rather quickly with all the speculation that surrounded the announcement of your departure, that you were losing out on power struggles with Thabo Mbeki or being blocked from advancing to the Deputy Presidency, you saw no future for yourself within the ANC in a political sense.

TS     I'll deal with that. There have been so many speculations and you will realise that none was Mandela's speculation, none was Thabo's, none was mine, so it was speculation and of course it's quite permissible for the media to try to find out until you say to yourself, what could be the reason? And of course there was this thing, Thabo, Tokyo fighting for positions. I have never held positions in this movement save to be a foot soldier all my life. Barricades of change as a student, I have manned those positions on the barricades. Armed struggles, I have manned my position in the trenches of warfare. Deprivation in exile, I have manned those positions like an ordinary soldier. Standing up tall in the dock faced with the death sentence, I've manned that position. I've never held any positions. I could have stayed in exile instead of coming back soon after leaving. I didn't even stay for more three years in exile so effectively I was not part of exile. I could have collected my PhD and waited to be elected to the ANC. I've never even had the opportunity to attend a single ANC conference in exile because I was concerned about change in our country. But you risked your life all the time. So in the dock, faced with hanging judges in apartheid South Africa, you hold that simple position. They put you in the death cell where I stayed, I was just there two weeks ago to see my own death cell, you hold that position with pride. And so you go to prison for 18 years, all along you put yourself as a soldier of the people.

     So suddenly where does this thing of I want this position or the other? Of course the position of the ANC is quite clear, it's quite open. I can run for any position. They can't stop me. No-one is going to shoot you for doing that. However, as you can see, even this position of the Premier was given to me. I was deployed in this company called Thebe by the African National Congress so I don't need to come here and convince my comrades, and I've been holding these positions for the last six years as chairman of the ANC and unopposed, there has never been an election for my position, not even that of the Premier, there was no election. So I have always enjoyed this unanimity. No problem. It is not correct to reflect Thabo Mbeki as this monster that is supposed to be doing all sorts of things. I have worked with Thabo Mbeki by the way, he sent me into the army. I was working in the army. My Commander in the army was Thabo Mbeki, not Chris Hani. When I met Chris Hani he was Chief of Staff inside South Africa, so that's where it starts. The relationship with Thabo goes a long way and here we are. Of course maybe people might have mistook some of the public differences or differences that emerged in public with Thabo when he had hoodwinked, can I say, or led a particular investigation by De Klerk who later said it was just a joke, he withdraws on drug trafficking. De Klerk came and said, no we're looking for this when you worked for him, he said, "No, but I was saying that in jest." This is the type of people who murdered our people here. Jest? It was not a jest. But at that time there were reports about my disaffection as to how that disinformation was handled. I am sure when they saw that people thought it was a fight between Thabo and myself, but it's over because we were able to find that De Klerk was trying -

POM     So there's no doubt in your mind that Thabo never said to De Klerk, "I want you to investigate allegations of Tokyo's possible links with the drug world."

TS     No. Look, I don't know, I'm sitting with you right now, there could be some disinformation about you somewhere and somebody starts looking into that. I am sure you will be disappointed if these people that you know, that you trust and they have not come to you and said we hear this, what's your side. So what they did, they had this piece of nonsense, they went into it and they dismissed it and it ended there. My contention was that, "Comrades, you should have told me what you dismissed." That's all. So I was particularly unhappy with that style of them because I am in government. Every Prime Minister is going to have to listen to all sorts of things about his cabinet people. Even President Clinton will get reports every day about this minister here, you must investigate that.

POM     He gets reports about himself!

TS     Of course, every day about they are supposed to have had sexual problems with somebody in the past. But those things have got to be looked at. But when I said, "But comrades, why didn't you tell me this?" They said it was nonsense and we dismissed it. But I said you should have told me if you thought the bullet was meant for myself and you were able to parry it, you should have told me what came because it could come again. That was my only thing.

POM     But there was never a question of Thabo asking De Klerk to conduct an investigation?

TS     No there was no question of him saying I want you to conduct an investigation. That's what De Klerk tried to get me to believe, that it was Thabo who did that, but when we looked at all the accumulation of factors we found that when De Klerk started denying what he said to Thabo and then he said it was all in jest, I don't know what he was trying to say. The point is that when that came to the press I am sure people have thought there must be a terrible fight among those people. We stood up with Thabo at the same press conference to clear that issue but I am sure there were other people trying to cash in on that difference. Let me come back to the point. We have worked very, very close with Thabo for many, many years, for 25 years, and we are even, in my move right now I have discussed it fully with Thabo and have enjoyed his wisdom and support and I want to say also the selection of the areas where he felt Tokyo, you will be more effective if you decide on that route and we all understand, and he's the one who is even more concerned about the economic transformation. He is more concerned about black participation in business. He is more eager to see us not just having any black people making a change there or attempt to make a change, but those people who we know are sensitive and warm towards our policies, our strategies as well as our government. They are people that you know and from that point of view I have been working very well with him.

POM     The other area of some controversy was the manner in which the whole succession was handled, the branches nominating one candidate.

TS     I see that.

POM     And feeling that a candidate was being imposed from above and that the will of the people was not being followed in this regard.

TS     Let me explain that because it is easy to explain. It's all quiet now because we have explained that to the press and they fully understood. The ANC branches normally nominate like everybody does throughout the country in any case, but I will explain our process. The decision by the ANC General Council here was to say let's short-circuit a long process so that we finish this thing once and for all. Let there be a task team that is appointed to go and get nominations and that task team must eliminate some of our candidates. That's what was decided and that task team having done that must now forward those names to the executive leadership, that's ourselves, and that executive leadership will itself further remove names and remain with one name. That name is the one that will lose to go to our allies, Communist Party, SANCO, etc., and we will say that this is the person we would like to have as Premier. Our allies also are part of the process, remember, and they would also come with their own names. That's what was decided. What is the opposite to this practice? The opposite is the branches themselves coming with hundreds of names and you put them on the wall and we have ballot boxes and people chose them, the last name, and we count. That's all, that's normally what is done. But it is the branches themselves that said the process must go through a consensus seeking approach and the branches represented themselves in the Provincial General Council and arrived at the conclusion that there must be a task force, it will get names from all branches and the task force will choose those names. So how many names came from branches? In a normal election no name is left behind, they will all be decided at the ballot box but in this process they decided to cut off certain names and try to seek consensus so we ended up with the task team having five names. The task team was empowered to arrive at one name and then come to the Executive. The Executive will use that name to go to the allies and then back to the General Council as recommendation to say we recommend this name. So what happened was that our task team ended up with two names, they could not cut it down to one. They brought those to the Executive and the Executive also said we have a majority, we believe in one name but when we go to our allies to hedge we will take two names for hedging.  So we went to our allies and found COSATU having one name, it was common to ours, Mr Masondo, and we found the Communist Party having two names, they had come to hedge, one of the names was Masondo but also of Jabu Moleketi who is the Communist Party General Secretary in the province. So during the period of negotiating with our allies as to which name do we want to as the alliance recommendation back to the ANC branches which takes the final decision -

POM     The ANC branches take the final decision?

TS     Yes, yes, it's going back, this month. It's not hard and fast. So that name therefore is agreed by the alliance as a recommendation. The alliance cannot decide for the branches of the ANC. The ANC branches had said bring one name so that name is coming. What could be the little sore point about the controversy? I am sure there were other people who wanted one name to have been recommended within this process and they said no, no, no let's take back the two names and not one name. So although the recommendation by the alliance leadership was of one name, we are taking back two but we are saying there is a preference. That's all that has happened. So we take back those two names. This is what the General Council is going to do, it either will accept that recommendation, it's their own decision, that's where the decision is taken, or go for the other name, or, which is quite likely, not even consider either of those two names and bring another one which during the process maybe could be eliminated, even the name that was eliminated that the branches would like to reconsider. So it is their right, but the branches are the ones who said go and seek consensus and why shouldn't we be against that consensus? Madiba has been elected through consensus. I am here as chairperson of the ANC unopposed for the last six years through consensus. It has always been consensus and I am the Premier through consensus. Let me tell you I have never stood an election against anybody because whenever the branches came there was only one consensus name that they had, all of them. That's why I'm here. And of course it's pleasing to myself to realise this. It has been a consensus election all the time, so was Nelson Mandela, so is De Klerk in his party. De Klerk has been elected in the party and nobody stood against him. It was a consensus, people all said - there are times in history where they find everybody feeling we want this person, but there are times when there should be an election. So what about Thabo Mbeki's presidency? There seems to be consensus so far of people nominating him but for the Deputy Presidency there is no consensus, we've got about four candidates, there is no consensus so they have got to set themselves up with the ballot box. That's where the ballot box comes in. But every party does that. Tony Blair, was he elected? I think through consensus as well in his party.

POM     Did you ever get the feeling with both the De Klerk incident and the way the press played up, there were all these headlines about 'Tokyo opts out of power struggle'.   Do you ever figure that either journalists or segments in the media or among opinion makers or whatever consciously don't do their homework, for example, in finding out what are the procedures that the ANC go through from A to Z so they leap to conclusions or talk to disgruntled figures, they're looking for a story?

TS     There is an answer to that, just that.

POM     There is also a campaign of disinformation to show, there is a conscious strategy out there to convey the impression that there is dissension and in-fighting in the leadership of the ANC?

TS     Let me not try to camouflage dissension in the leadership of the ANC, you do find it. The ANC is highly democratic, there is a lot of dissension. One of the angriest people when we suspended the armed struggle was Chris Hani. He really was very angry with the rest of the leadership of the ANC for the manner in which they suspended that armed struggle. One of the people who was very vocal about suspending all negotiations with the National Party is Nelson Mandela. He had to lose that battle. He lost that battle where he wanted to break negotiations.

POM     He wanted to break - ?

TS     Yes. Nelson Mandela.

POM     Wanted to break negotiations?

TS     He was becoming so impatient with the NP tactics and slowing down negotiations whilst on the other side there was increasing violence. You see they were stamping out what they were wanting to have the world believe was black on black violence and slowing down negotiations and Madiba was actually saying we have to break, let's cut any further talks with these people. But then he himself will tell you he had to step down because the party said no, or can I say the ANC. But some of the people on the ground would have gone with him because at that time they were very, very angry with the tactics of the then government of the NP which was heightening tension with deaths in the country, that's how they were trying to play that game. So they were using these deaths to have us quickly upset whatever formulas we were bringing because we are uncomfortable with violence and Madiba had taken that position. I am saying if it was according to Madiba he would have broken contact with the NP at a particular time and he was quite firm about that. Nelson Mandela came with the election proposal that said we must give the vote to 14 year olds. He lost that battle.

     I want to come to the question to the level of journalism in South Africa. It's appalling. It's appalling. Take it from me it's appalling. Look at nearest newspaper today, it's appalling. The degree of lack of intellect is very, very high. The degree of lack of research, simple research, what you are doing here, ten years, 8000 hours before you publish, they do not have that. But where they even do rudimentary research there are no comparative studies that they do. But the worst thing, and this is now the current style, they are in that rut, the worst thing is to receive your pay packet, sit down and deceive your editor. Your deadline is tomorrow and suddenly they cook a story today and attribute it to 'sources'. I see you are carrying Africa Confidential, if it's saying sources you can rest assured that they are very, very close to the bone. If South African journalists say 'sources' invariably it's a tangent because either they create these sources or where the source exists they leave the whole executive of 90 people, don't listen to them, just take what they say with a pinch of salt and then go, I quote, 'and interview some vagrant or drunkard somewhere', and present that as an opposing view to the ANC. Go for the disgruntled element or someone who's a drunkard somewhere, that's what they do. But a lot of it comes out of laziness. Instead of following a story for the whole week because you've got a weekend paper they start that story on Saturday afternoon when the deadline is six p.m. Quickly write that story, it's very quick and then he says at the end 'sources at the ANC tell me this'.

     Another very, very detrimental thing to journalism in South Africa is that they are used by some of the sources. There is a lot of disinformation, many, many types of strange characters in South Africa, anybody comes and says look, I've got this story, they take it without checking it. They start checking after publishing instead of checking and then publishing or killing that because you realise that you are being misused here. They start now making a lot of corrections, there are a lot of corrections - we are sorry about such-and-such a story, it should have been like this, or the biggest cover, and we know that so-and-so was not there or was not available for comment. It's a very malicious thing that is happening: was not available for comment. So it allows them to run the story and then they say, was not available for comment. And then you say, "But I've been here", they know your office, I've got five telephone lines and they can find me through the Internet, you can find me everywhere, you can find me direct on my cell phone, it rings all the time, if it's not ringing with me it's with my security or my PA, 24 hours, 25 hours. So nobody can ever say that Tokyo is not available for comment. I've got two public media people whose phones, and they are former journalists, they are known to everybody, they can be contactable.

     The same happens with Nelson Mandela. A simple thing like the Syrian arms deal, let's not take a local issue where maybe we're opening a tap of water and you are not present at the opening ceremony of that tap of water. They say Tokyo Sexwale did not come to the meeting, let's check out and find out where he was. His mother had passed away.  By the time they made the search around this it's over. It will be, sorry, we understand the Premier was at the funeral of his sister's daughter. Now they would like to play up the story that you were not there to open up this tap. Now there are lots of distortions they do. Is there a journalist amongst them, not everybody amongst them because this is the same media, just like the police, the same media that was vilifying Nelson Mandela, same media that had co-operated in apartheid. They never even, some of them, dared publish and defy.

POM     So they have vested interests in trying to show that you're incompetent or not on the job.

TS     Same people, same ownership. That's it. We can just go and walk in the city of Johannesburg. Clean, the city is becoming clean. That will not be acknowledged but a scrap of paper because some street is very, very dirty, they didn't understand there was a demonstration on that day so they will take a picture of that and say Johannesburg is dirty. On that day there were 15,000 people who had come to demonstrate in front of a certain office and they were all carrying all sorts of - come and watch what we do the following day, but they will wait for that and that's the proof that Johannesburg was dirty. I'm not saying that every street of Johannesburg is clean but certainly you must come and see what the black people are doing. In any case we clean everywhere around this country. For God's sake they should know that. But I'm saying, leave the local things, go to international things, they make serious mistakes about a thing that known and is fully published on CNN, the whole world knows it but you read in South African papers and you wonder if you still talking about the same thing. Yes, the media is still owned by the same people who owned it when apartheid was in charge so let's not be fooled by that. Some of the editors are still the same old people and you don't just change your editorial policy overnight. Some of the senior journalists who are still employed there are people who have an axe to grind against the ANC. However, there are a lot of very good and committed journalists in South Africa who I've never met myself, I merely read the articles. When I wake up I know I must read this person's editorial, I must read it.

     Take a newspaper like The Citizen, it's got an atrocious editorial policy against the ANC and they don't make bones about that but they will never distort what the ANC is in their news section, ever. If Mandela spoke this, he spoke it. And they are not going to try to rubbish him by saying he arrived late for a meeting, those types of things. If you said something they will never distort. I have never myself, and I have never seen my own government ministers being distorted by The Citizen, but their editorial will always hit at the ANC, always, there is no praise for the ANC, and I think it's fair. I think it's very, very fair. Their editorial policy is very, very clear but it doesn't cloud their news reporting. And all we are saying with high level of standard of journalism, report the news, do so that Lady Diana was dead wearing a red dress but don't say that the dress was possibly torn or something like that and you have no proof of that, just because you just wanted to cast an aspersion on it. So there is that type of reporting.

     Now, if you look at the example that you referred to here, they never checked what are the real democratic structures of the ANC. But even if you explain it to them they would rather have some disgruntled person somewhere who can never stand up publicly to give an interview like we do, they would rather print that and that's their source. If you look at all their sources it's faceless people, it's not Watergate.

POM     Just called 'insiders'.

TS     It's not Watergate. You know if you follow the Watergate scandal where the people were going for Nixon, it's investigative journalism. They were not prepared to print, that's why it's topless, they were not prepared to print until Deep Throat had said so and if it's Deep Throat, it's true Deep Throat. Now the upstarts in some of our newsrooms in South Africa think if there is a vagrant in the street, every disgruntled element is Deep Throat and they publish anything that their Deep Throats are telling them and sometimes they are used by these people for their own short term ends and so on. But on the whole they are beginning to retreat from that type of thing. They have to go through transformation. You can't just transform local government, the police, the army and everything and the media doesn't transform. That's why they are wanted there at the TRC to speak the truth of how this thing was used and of course we will just uncover files and a number of these people we found that they are working for us because we have inherited them from the previous regime. There are their files, there are their pay slips, they have been collecting money, they have been working for the National Intelligence. It was so nauseating to find some of the names of people who were masquerading as journalists paid by the previous National Intelligence, so they are on our payroll today.

POM     To just move to something different. Looking back on your years in office first, what did you find most difficult to deal with? What did you least expect about the job that came as a surprise to you? Two, what would you see as your successes and failures? Three, what would you have liked to have accomplished what you were unable to accomplish? Four, how would you like your legacy as the first Premier of Gauteng to be remembered?

TS     Let me start there. The first one, political stability, political stability as part of creating a new nation particularly in this province which is the epicentre of the economy of political and social transformation. That political stability, the peace associated with it, I think is the greatest one single achievement that I have been able to provide leadership on. This is the province of the Boipatong massacre, Soweto massacre, Sharpeville and other illegal massacres that took place, to create out of nothing, there was no such province, to be given the heart of South Africa to create a province out of it was a challenge that I really welcomed with great enthusiasm. We accomplished 100% to set up government where there was none, systems, new bureaucracy, new cabinet, new capital city of Johannesburg, everything is new, To strike the tone of co-operation amongst new political parties that were at daggers drawn, one of the parties is one that was imprisoning us, torturing us and breaking us apart, to be able to work with that party and I was able to appoint three of its members to my first cabinet. It worked without any hitch. We never voted. Until I leave government I have never had my cabinet voting because we have been working in unison which is a very pleasing thing. But on the whole it is to bring a high level of political stability to create the essence of governance here and to position Gauteng not only as a province well known amongst its people but very well known throughout South Africa and to market this province on the African continent and as a province that is known internationally, the province that has headquarters in Pretoria and Johannesburg, but the position is that every head of state that has come to South Africa, save for the Portuguese Prime Minister who was here, which was a different question altogether, last week, has been able to be hosted by myself personally, every one because of the work that we have achieved here. May I say, it is difficult to say - so that's the biggest achievement for me.

     The rest is routine, you will find it in every country, electricity, education, housing, job creating, safety and security, it's routine, and I want to come to crime. It's routine because Tony Blair who was here several months ago before he became Prime Minister and I had the opportunity not only to host him but to take him to Alexandra with me for him to see the high levels of poverty there. He retorted, "We have poverty in my country that has got to be addressed and hopefully with the elections we will be dealing with it." It's routine. Britain is more than 500 years old, America about the same. We are three years in this country. So if those who are still as old as several centuries are still grappling with electricity, provision of housing, education, job creation, it's normal for us after three years to still be struggling with these things and it will be normal, I believe, after 30 years to still be dealing with these things. So I am not going to measure my success in relation to those things because it's an ongoing process. But I think one of the key things for me was to be the first leader to change the budget towards the bias of those who were disadvantaged in money, who were oppressed because we were denied resources, but it was to change that budget so that we can target the poor and not to be a black face and Uncle Tom that continues with the work of apartheid. To me that has given me dignity.

     Thirdly, it has been to change public administration in Gauteng, the bureaucracy. I couldn't be served by a bureaucracy that was beholden to the previous regime. We had to change and to manage that change we had several workshops so that we could appoint people, shift people around but without diminishing the levels of efficiency in this province. So we are not just putting black faces for the sake of blackness, what we did was to affirm our people and to manage that change of our administration, but also to do it in such a way that you are not rejecting other people of different colour who were part of an oppressive system but were not its leaders necessarily, they were its workers. We had to win them and show them that we all belong. It's one of the greatest achievements because it started addressing inside my own government the question of race relations and how we as that bureaucracy as well as top officials could come out as a united nation to address the different needs of the people. So I will never gauge my administration on whether we provided enough resources or education. That's all going, you will have thirty Premiers from me who will still be talking about the same things unless the law of the study of, the science of economists changes. As long as it is a situation of a demand of resources being higher than the ability of those resources, Clinton and our goals will be doing the same thing in Haarlem, Virginia and Seattle and Atlanta, the same Atlanta that had this big show of the Olympics. You will still find people sleeping in the streets of New York and so on. You will find them in London, you will find little white youngsters or prostitutes sleeping in the street doors. That's what you will still find. I'm not saying that's a good thing, I'm saying as long as you have the demand for resources being higher than the available resources the economy as a subject will continue to be there. So that's routine. Ten Premiers from now we will still be looking at this question and we can't ignore them but we must say have they made a difference, each time there must be a difference. They will be judged as to whether they have made a difference because as I said it must be, they have built more houses than Tokyo, they have provided more schools than Tokyo, so the starting point will be that so-and-so and their yardstick is the first government. I'm measured with no-one because my people had nothing, so others will be gauged on the basis of did you build more hospitals, more beds, more classrooms and so on.

     But my greatest achievement really, together with leaders here, has been that one of the political stability. I told you in the past people died at the rate of twenty a day when I came out of jail until a week before my inauguration. We have to maintain that and here the situation was very dangerous, personally dangerous for me, so dangerous we lost Chris here. That's how dangerous the situation was. This is where Chris Hani was assassinated. This is where all types of threats about the assassination of Nelson Mandela were taking place. This is where Shell House occurred. So you understand, this is where hostels people were coming out, this is where Buthelezi, quite apart from Natal, all other provinces didn't matter, this was where the mess was going to happen. You said a number of questions?

POM     What were your failures? What you would have liked to have accomplished?

TS     I think with the failures, genuinely, and I would want to see it as a failure, I genuinely believed naïvely sometimes that because there's a new South Africa that there was going to be a change of heart of a nation standing up, people to build. I didn't realise that it is at that time that some were going to take the short route towards wealth and all sorts of things by committing crimes and doing all sorts of things. It was a misjudgement because there was this belief that we are achieving all sorts of things in South Africa, the economy is growing for the first time positively, in other words as opposed to 25 years of negativity. Mandela was the President, a new South Africa, a new constitution, we have been able to overcome the most difficult obstacle politically by undoing apartheid which was a pariah in the world, we have held elections at various levels, soccer clubs were doing very well and taking us back into the international soccer fraternity. In the same area we were welcoming our white brothers and sisters from rugby and all other sport codes. You know this belief that the whole nation is building, we didn't realise that others would like to do other things, criminality, that it is during such a time of major social transformation that other people try to take advantage of that mood and they do other things and they popularise crime. So I had expected that the crime levels would be lower as a result of this but I think a re-examination shows that, uh uh, hang on, sufficient growth rate should be achieved but even with that you are dealing with in the world, once we open ourselves to say we are now part of the international community of nations you also welcome syndicates of all types, money laundering, drug dealing, car trading, arms, gold smuggling, diamonds, everything. So South Africa is now really open to all types of trade including illicit trade. That has made us wake up, we have to protect our gates. So I did not expect that the crime levels would have shot up to the extent that they have. I would have thought that we would have minimised them but I think it was misjudgement on my part, on the part of many of us especially because you love life, you love people, you thought everybody would be in the same spirit of Mandelaism and you find other people pulling away from Mandela. The right wing itself threw their hat in, Constand Viljoen. De Klerk said, look I'm hanging up my gloves, he accepted to be Deputy President. Mr Buthelezi was supposed to be the true representation of ... in South Africa, he has acted now so many times as President of South Africa. It is that enthusiasm that made us relax, the judicial system relaxed and everything. Now we have to tighten, as cabinet decided yesterday, bail conditions, so we are starting actually a war. We are going to win that war but I think there was mistake, the party mood was so great from what other people are feeling.

POM     But you as a Premier were constrained in a way in that in that war insofar as the national police force and the province had really no power in terms of the allocation -

TS     You are right.

POM     - of resources or even policemen to particular areas.

TS     I said that to you during the last interview. You are right, I have been very vocal, I will continue to be vocal in the private sector. I will point it out to cabinet, give these provinces authority for them to sign. You are right, we have a number of constraints that we are confronted with. That is why the national minister had to - these bail conditions were saying give the Premiers the power in the area of safety and security to be able to make a difference, so I accepted this.

POM     This is just switching, this goes back to the nature of power. I remember the first time I met you you talked about your first trip abroad, it was to France, and you became a student of De Gaulle. I remember seeing on your bookshelves his works. Two questions, do you see redeployment as another phase in the struggle? You're not ruling out a return to politics at some time in the future or are you saying that space in my life is over, or could you see a situation where you would return again? That's one, and two, what did you learn about the nature of power, power in a political sense? What must you do to survive and effectively use power in the political sense?

TS     Let me say yes, you know I am one of the greatest admirers of Lenin, of De Gaulle, these are men of history like Nelson Mandela. When we came into power we started experiencing this thing called power. I have it now, it's called power, power to move resources, to shift populations, to make laws, to scrap laws not meant for them. You just go and talk in parliament and if we are all agreed all of us you do it. It's power. You know in an afternoon you could wake up, we of the ANC and go to parliament and pass a law. Power. And tell people we have done it because the constitution says we are the majority party. But I have learnt that you have to be very, very circumspect with how to use power. Always for the good of other people, so lawyers might say you must make laws but it must add more than lawyers realise, it must be good law. It must be law that is friendly to be used by people, you must be sensitive to the demands and the needs of people. It showed me that power in that sense, as long as it is people focused, is good power. The opposite is the contrary. But it showed that your personal involvement in these power dynamics has got to be well understood, you must be sober all the time in that equation. You must be a sober effect on the old equation of the use of state power because there are times when this power can be turned against us. There are times when you could use that power negatively. That is why parliament, that is why democracies, that is why constitutions, democratic constitutions should be in place with things like rights, fundamental rights that are there as checks so that there must be a balance. That's why you must have an opposition that will holler. Sometimes that is why you must have the press. Not sometimes, often, at all times you must have the press and sometimes maybe a bit of hostile people in that press, but not a hostile press, no. You must have investigative journalism but sometimes a tinge of hostility so we shouldn't be crying all the time about journalists who will keep you on your toes, to play all the time the devil's advocate. I accept that so long as they understand they are playing the devil's advocate and stop believing that they are devils because they will become devils. So sometimes that tinge of the sharpness of sometimes near rude cartoons. Lampoons are good, they keep you on your toes. I wouldn't want to be locked for a day in a country where these things are not there because I am one of the people who speak my mind very freely and with the absence of some of these checks you risk ruining a whole country. So it's important that we should have these things.

     The use of power also showed me that there is a need for us to understand that the power that is given is also controlled by others, you are merely their symbol. But one of the things I learnt is that in politics you always have to be watching your back. You must watch your back all the time. In the liberation movement we were watching our front because you meet the enemy because you are advancing towards them. In politics there was a need to watch your back all the time because you enter the arena of competitiveness, of elections, of nominations for this position or the other and you have to nominate others so you always have to be watching your back and make sure that your friends are your friends and not people who themselves are looking forward to getting a certain position, they are behind you because you can be betrayed in seconds. So you see that and one of the things which I think we have done well in the ANC is to avoid an all-out type of politicking that you normally find - it was bad under the British Labour Party as their primaries were happening and people were just falling, they stab one another in the back. We had to make sure that we tried to avoid that because such a focus would have had our attention away from the real issues which is about empowering the people and delivering to the people and making sure that their lives change, than we concentrate and focus rather on internal battles. So the ANC had to learn in the new circumstances, in the new situation, how to handle this question of power so that we don't end up now being in a power struggle but it must be a struggle for power for the people, not an internal struggle like that.

     These are some of the things that we had to learn but I must say that I am not leaving politics, I will never leave politics. It's government politics. The door is firmly shut. It must be shut because I have to focus very, very thoroughly in the new terrain of struggle where I am going. If that economy doesn't change there is no dignity for our people. And you are not going there because you are the major agent of change but you are just one of the many cogs joining a battle that you find others already at the rock face, joining that battle and you have to make a difference. Certainly I see myself adding value otherwise Mandela would never have allowed me to go the way I have gone. But if you go there you must focus, I can't have one eye looking back into politics, it doesn't work like that. I am not like that. Once you are focused you are focused. If I am in the army I'm there, if I'm here I'm here. But right now the battles, the only thing, the challenge for me is the many battles and the many mountains to climb, but only one peak because it's got little hillocks around it, but that one we must climb. Failure to do so and we will be relegated into just one of the banana republics. I don't believe in the state that says the black man in South Africa is good enough only to have political power, also to be questioned how he exercises it as well as condemned to being a worker in this country. I believe that we must make an intervention and it is in that area of the economy. It's only because we will be there at the proposal of the President, that he could allow me to do this, after a lot of thinking, 18 months of discussions.

POM     You went with an actual proposal to him?

TS     A philosophical one, an ideological one, and then of course the practical things as to whether you go into finance, financial institutions, mining. We had to sit with the President and Thabo Mbeki and say, look it must be mining, it must be financial institutions, so we wanted to find out the areas where we would like to see our people playing a role, not on street corners where we're having fish and chips shops, not where we're selling vegetables and things. So we are saying what are the main areas of our economy where our people are not, in commerce we are there even though very, very low but we are part of commerce. In mining, forget us there. Financial institutions, we don't count. And in manufacturing we are not even looked at. You know we are the buyers of these finished products and of course in agriculture, big time agriculture. So we have got to rectify that from secondary to primary factors of the economy. But you go there you're not a Goliath, I told you, you go there as David and you try to make a difference.

POM     One of the things, this goes back to something you mentioned earlier, is that I've spent quite an amount of time out in Alexandra and Thokoza and places like this. One of the things that many of the community workers there feel is that there is a distance between themselves and the provincial government, that they feel abandoned, they don't feel the presence of government there. Is that an unfair comment?

TS     Maybe it's a fair thing, it's a fair thing because they were very close to provincial government before the elections of local government. Local government was intended for them to cut the long distance. But it was in my head, we are telling some of the leaders that having been elected a number of local government people are not servicing the people. It becomes a problem and now the people are still yelling for that level of government which was servicing them before they elected their own government. We used to say the slogan is: let's make a change where we live, let's elect people where we are so that we are the transferors, we are the ordinary people there. You have that in all parts of the world. The people of London are not worried about the greater London region, they want to hear from the Mayor of London. But here we understand that's how the elections started. It first created a structure for provincial government which was taking care of everything. A year later when people were used to us we had to give them their own elections and some of the councillors are not doing so well. So one understands there will be that sense of being abandoned and after some time people are going to learn, there is a councillor, what did we elect him for? But of course we have to be there from time to time to make sure that people do their work and appear to people and be part of it.

POM     One last quick question. If you could take one moment during your tenure in office that will stick indelibly in your mind for the rest of your life?

TS     Before the aeroplanes flew, before the inauguration of Nelson Mandela.

POM     At the inauguration?

TS     Before the inauguration of Nelson Mandela I was inaugurated here and I was saluted by 34 armoured personnel carriers, with canons, and six helicopters, all white, and I stood saluting them and I half expected one of them to open fire, because as they passed I didn't realise that the saluting method was to turn the turret towards the thing they were saluting, in this case myself. So these Rattels, as we call them here, these are real bad war wagons that were used in Angola, we fought against them and they came, the same colour, the same sandy colour that I was used to see from the other side and each pilot of those Rattels was in the turret and they all passed and the helicopters flew, police helicopters. The same helicopters a month earlier were firing at our men. The day ended and I thought I was in a changed South Africa. Every solider I saw, I looked into the eyes of each one of them, of course as they were marching, the battalions were marching, it was reported in the press that the most notable one there at the inauguration of the President where everybody saw the Air Force doing this, carrying the flag, that told me it had changed.

     It was quite memorable for me but there was another memorable thing. It was when a white prison warder, all the expectations, let me say, of all South Africans thinking that there must be change, the prisons, criminals were also expecting to be released immediately by Nelson Mandela when he became President and they thought, look we are here, we committed a crimes under apartheid, release us now, and we were not going to let out thousands of these people, rapists, murderers and so on, so in 16 prisons throughout South Africa, nine prisons in my province, there were revolts, heavy, huge revolts of people who were saying, "I stole under apartheid, Mandela free me, I'm black. Yes I did what I did but you blame apartheid, we also, we were poverty stricken with this business of apartheid." And there was a countrywide prison revolt. In a prison called Modder B here a white warder was held hostage. They had beaten him up to a pulp but because special police reinforcements, a swat team, was despatched to that area they feared that anything could happen to them. They heavily armed themselves but not with firearms, not at all, weapons, picks, pitchforks, pangas, knives, spears, inside prison, they manufactured these things. So somewhere in this huge prison that holds 8000 people there was this warder in the middle of the night. I was at the radio station during the Premier's interview and a caller came and said, "Are you aware, Mr Premier, that there is a revolt in such a prison and those prisoners are saying that they will kill that warder unless you come." So I went there. There were no lights in this huge dark city, this prison. Everything had fallen apart. It was my task to go somewhere in the belly of this prison in dark mazes of passages escorted by more than 500 prisoners, to go first and foremost and make sure that this man is still alive, then begin negotiations. I found him alive, he was terrified. To cut a long story short I received the only highest award of bravery that is normally given by the forces there in prison for this action, I am the only civilian who is wearing that. I thought South Africa had changed for me to risk my life like that. At the end when I came out after, I met my wife, she thought I was foolish.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.