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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
01 Sep 1997: De Klerk, Willem
POM Let me begin maybe with the most obvious question and that is the resignation of FW. People have talked about it, we have talked about it, in the end why did it come about now as distinct from another period in time? A poll had just been released week, I think, an HSRC poll showing the National Party at 12% down from 19% in 1994. Why this particular moment, and with his departure what, if any, future has the NP got?
WDK I've selected some papers here because I was so busy in the press that I want to give you my specific viewpoint on this, but first of all I don't think one must see in this specific moment anything sinister or anything planned. It was the usual, I think, bi-annual, I'm not sure, meeting of the Federal Council of the NP, so that was the opportunity for him to grab all the leaders together in an official meeting, that yearly or second monthly event. I don't think there was anything specifically now but it was his last opportunity, so to say, to get all the people in an official meeting of the NP structure. There may be another one at the end of the year but he was sure a few months ago that he must think in this direction.
And to be quite honest I can to a certain extent name the date of his final decision in his heart. My Dad was born on 22nd July and so he phoned me that morning and asked me whether I am going to the grave to put some flowers on, that's an old family tradition, and I said yes and he said, well he's also going and can we meet each other there. And we sat there on my father's grave, we sat there in the graveyard for about two hours and he discussed with me very frankly his whole situation, his dilemmas, his conflict, his worries about he NP, his worries about what's going to be the reaction, what's going to follow out of this and everything. I was very outspoken then that he must really, really get out of it now not only for his own sake but for the country's sake, for the sake of new opposition alliances and for the sake of moving into a new role as a kind of a mediator and the first thing that he must do is to go and see Mandela and Mbeki and other high ranking people there and tell them that he wants to serve the country in another way, namely to co-ordinate certain pressure groups and to have discussions behind closed doors representing certain groups and non-political, non-party political now, certain professions, etc., etc. So it was a very intense conversation and immediately afterwards I wrote him a letter that evening just to kind of organise my arguments in a better way and I delivered this letter to him by hand the next morning. So he phoned me and said he must come to a decision within the next two or three days and he will let me know. So I would say, I won't say that, but that was to a certain extent the real turning point after long months of weighing and worrying and self-confrontation and that kind of thing. And I think the meeting was an ordinary official bi-annual meeting of all the provincial leaders and other people. That's one answer.
The second one is that perhaps, I haven't got this out of his own mouth, but I get this kind of feeling, intuition, that perhaps they are now going to take the Truth Commission to court within the next five days or so I think about that impulsive thing that they did, that Boraine must be fired, etc., etc., and it was during FW's second submission to the TRC that this clash became evident. Perhaps, perhaps we will see there may be the expectation that they won't win this court case and that, I don't want to say he reasons like this, but if they win the court case, if they lose the court case when he's out of the NP and then it's not the NP against the TRC but then he, himself, in person, like PW in person, can go on with the next round with the TRC. Perhaps that may also be a factor. So that's really my point of view and it's also my point of view that I think he waited too long before resigning and I argued this in the press, I said he probably waited too long if his own benefit was his main consideration, but according to his judgement, and I'm not sure whether it was the right judgement or the wrong judgement, but according to his judgement he stayed on and on for the following reasons: that if he had retired when the NP was new in the government of national unity it would have been a wrong signal both nationally and internationally so then he carried on; if he had retired before his confrontation and the NP's confrontation with the TRC it would have seemed as if he was dodging responsibility; if he had retired after Roelf Meyer had resigned from the NP he would have let the NP down in a moment of crisis. So in his reasoning, perhaps that's a rationalisation, I'm not sure, he had remained in his position in order to defuse tensions within the NP. That's his direct reasoning in the press but also in very direct terms to me. Perhaps it's a rationalisation but that's his argument, perhaps it was a misjudgement.
You've possibly seen that in the press but I'm just saying this for the record of your machine about his resignation, this wasn't very strong in his announcement, but it was not motivated by despair over the political process in South Africa. He is fully committed to multi-party democracy, he is still really optimistic that the South African government and regroupings of the opposition in South Africa will eventually succeed. So I don't think one must see a kind of a despair over politics in South Africa in his resignation. And then he gave three reasons for his retirement: to promote renewal, new leadership in the NP with a view to a new opposition alliance to handle the 1999 elections and, he didn't spell this out specifically, but I formulated it like this and he phoned me afterwards and thanked me for this formulation because he said he couldn't say that himself, he had achieved five of the six points of his agenda. The first was to end apartheid and initiate the transformation to full democracy, he achieved that. The second was to prepare white voters to accept the transition and he achieved that. The third to head negotiations or to be the mentor and the captain of the negotiations for a new constitution and new structures, he achieved that. Fourthly to help establish and guide the new government after the 1994 elections, and fifthly to cultivate positive expectations internationally for developments in South Africa, that was his fifth agenda point. And then sixthly to broaden the NP's vision to obtain black support and this last agenda point failed. He couldn't cope with that for many reasons, the apartheid baggage, etc., etc., but I think also his personality, I don't think he could manage the different dynamics within his party and he is not the man, not well-equipped for this part of his agenda.
POM Let me take you back to something that's puzzled me and I've asked a number of people, and that is that it seems to me that the TRC has come down with a very heavy hand on FW, almost put on his shoulders all the sins and wrongs of apartheid and they have left PW Botha alone and it would be under his regime both as Minister of Defence and as State President that the worst transgressions took place and yet he's been left alone.
WDK I'll answer you on that. You know I think that FW was targeted because he was and still is to a certain extent and a lesser extent very popular in South Africa and internationally and they knew, and that's typical of strategies of political parties, that they must target him because if you remove him from the NP, if you break him down, if his whole credibility, if that can crumble, then it's a kind of a party political victory. He was made the scapegoat to a certain extent and then all of a sudden it switched over to the new conservatives in the NP, the Giliomee's and even Nasionale Pers, the newspaper Die Burger, and Constand Viljoen became more and more outspoken and absolutely in direct conflict with FW and belittling him to a great extent and then the Roelf Meyer sympathisers also scapegoated him. So I think that broke him to a certain extent.
POM To a certain extent then his political opponents won?
POM One way or another they forced him out.
WDK They forced him out and I've said this, he didn't say this because he doesn't want to look like a martyr or something, but he confessed this to me and I would say one of the main lines of our conversation at our father's grave was this specific thing, that criticism against him even from the Afrikaans press and Afrikaans institutions etc., had lost objectivity and developed into a personal vendetta which, that was his feeling, unfairly and maliciously besmirched his pride, his dignity and his integrity and I think his retirement also says, 'I have had enough of this'. That was a more personal - and to a certain extent I also drilled on this and said, well you were always a party man, you were always altruistic, because he is now power orientated to a certain extent and not hooked to position. He doesn't need money. He's a rich man now, relatively rich, and red carpet treatment and that kind of thing it's not his personality, it's not his life philosophy, but he was very, very loyal, as my late father, to the party, to the party, almost it's bigger than himself and it's bigger than anything else and I told him, "Let's say you started out in 1990 with, let's quantify it, with 100% image and functionality, etc., etc., and you've dropped now to a 40% minus and this whole process of the disintegration of the NP is inevitable and you're going to be drawn into this and for once in your life forget the bloody party and think about yourself. You're still a 61 year old man, you still have a long way to go even in non-party political politics, you must play your cards right now and it's going to be the best for the NP because with or without you they're going to kill each other, they're going to disintegrate." So to a certain extent it was also an egocentric or a selfish decision and not that altruistic, I'm very honest about this. But I think rightfully so to look a little bit at his own interests and his own future.
And that is, if you ask me, and that was the second part of your question: the future of the NP. I do not expect a split or the death of the NP within the next year. I don't think that Meyer and the DP, they will certainly win supporters from the NP but it will not be really a significant number, that's my feeling and the NP will remain an important factor perhaps with a new name and a new structure before the 1999 election and as the people speculate in the newspapers, the NP will have to develop into a federal party, the Cape Province will focus on the coloured/white power base and the Northern NP, Free State, old Transvaal will focus more on black support and that's only for the 1999 election. I also expect even an 8% performance in the 1999 election and let's say Roelf Meyer/Holomisa's thing, unfortunate that Roelf chose Holomisa as a bedfellow, you know he's an unreliable man and he's an arrogant little man, I don't like him, and then going with Lucas Mangope, but let's say that Roelf Meyer's party also with the grouping and the new party will draw another 2% and the DP another 2% but then after 1999, the election results will manifest the total collapse of, let's call it, traditional white opposition.
That's my old story but I want to repeat it, that even Inkatha is even going through this whole thing now and after 1999 a new opposition will gradually emerge but then out of the ANC. We've talked about that on several occasions. And out of the ANC will come a grouping or there will be two black groupings, workerist and populist groupings, and the white parties will be in shambles and will be an appendix to one of these black groupings initially in a kind of an alliance but during 2000 to 2004 they will become part and parcel of that new.
So for me it's an ideal situation that multi-party democracy in South Africa means that there are two black groupings opposing each other. So that's my view. Well, I think it was inevitable that the ANC is also going to go through this realignment and a hell of a lot of stress in their party and they still manage to keep things together, but there will also be a major new profile of the ANC that will emerge after the 1999 election with the socialists, the worker/populist kind of focus will be one party and the more free market orientated traditional democratic value systems party will be the other. That's hopeful thinking but that's going to be the salvation for democracy in South Africa.
POM Have you read Patti Waldmeir's book?
WDK Paged through it. It's on my reading shelf there but I haven't had the time to sit down and read it from A to Z.
POM I did.
WDK What did you think?
POM Well part of it is the question of why the Boers gave it all away, part of it is on the thesis that in the end what FW wanted most of all was, as she put it, that he craved international approval, and that when it came to making his bargain with history in terms of international approval, statesman that he was for having ended apartheid, receiving the Nobel Prize, and getting bogged down in percentages and details he just threw his hand in. She talks about something that no-one can adequately explain to me, that Mandela's released, he is riding on a crest, FW is, and FW then calls for a quick election. They are in disarray, they're very disorganised, they haven't got their feet on the ground, now is the time to move, they are receiving a lot of acclaim even among blacks by releasing Mandela. I know blacks used to refer to FW as 'Comrade de Klerk' for years. Then he moves to CODESA and the collapse of CODESA and he says that, she interviewed him afterwards and said that he was in a buoyant mood, that he felt that time was on his side, that the ANC would make concessions. Then she talks about September when she said the NP and FW were desperate to make a deal, almost to make a deal at any cost regardless of what the content was. Then you have Van Zyl Slabbert, in the book he did with Heribert Adam. She had talked to a colleague of FW's who said, "One of his colleagues told us in confidence that they thought they could keep the ANC negotiating for at least five years while the NP governed the ANC support base away from it."
Maybe I should sum up by putting all that in the context of what van Zyl Slabbert's analysis is: "When the chips were down Afrikaners meekly handed over power without ever seriously attempting to bargain any special group privileges. They even agreed to simple majority rule."
Two: "Affluent Afrikaners sold out the poorer Afrikaners because they felt more confident of their ability to either survive in or leave the new South Africa."
And three, "De Klerk's negotiators were really a part of Mandela's team in facilitating the transition to majority rule. It was a pushover."
WDK Yes. Well OK, that's a viewpoint that may be valid but that's not my reading of the situation. I would say I would read it more or less as follows. I think we must remember that FW was an old conservative. He is a newly converted man to his new political philosophy. He carried this baggage with him and during the negotiations two things happened. His negotiators were much more liberal minded and willing for compromises. Let's say, number one, he thought, and that may be true, he thought, and I've not got proof of that but in chats and so on I picked this up, that power sharing will be a fact and that the ANC will be to a certain extent very willing and eager for power sharing in the light of their lack of experience, etc., etc. So I think he thought that for the five years up to the election and after the election of 1994 we will be accepted as very competent partners and his first disillusionment came when the government of national unity, when he recognised that they are only to a certain extent puppets in the decision making process. That's one dynamic.
The second dynamic is that Roelf Meyer and his negotiators reported to him and he was not over-enthusiastic regarding their kind of deals that they wanted to make, but then he withdrew with the kind of an attitude, he will only admit that to himself, "I'm too conservative to be part and parcel fully of this and I will leave them a little bit, I will check them with my left hand, so to say. I'm not going to interfere too much." So he was not really the main driving force in the negotiating process and maybe that was a mistake, maybe that was a mistake and knowing FW he's not a man that can continue what his hand had begun, he can't see things through to a certain extent. Somewhere in the middle he loses faith or interest in a thing and then he's inclined to let things go a bit. So I don't think that I can fully agree with Slabbert's point of view on this.
And then the third dynamic was that the chemistry between him and Mandela went wrong and when that went wrong he withdrew more and more and more and he realised that all his undertakings with his power base of power sharing and cultural boards and whatever in every municipal area, that that was absolutely not going to come into being. He felt that, that's my reading of the situation, that he didn't have success in his main perspective on negotiations and on the outcome of negotiations, that he's not going to achieve what he told the people he's going to achieve. He under-estimated the strength of black nationalism, the absolute competence of some of the black negotiators. He wasn't strong enough and converted enough and responsible enough, whatever you want to say. All of a sudden he realised that this is not going to work, my model is not going to work. So then he left it to the other people to negotiate the best thing that they can and I still believe that what they reached in the negotiations wasn't that bad. I think from the beginning he didn't spell it out but from the beginning he cancelled Afrikaner power and he knew that. He didn't say that exactly but he once said it and that's what Patti Waldmeir quoted.
WDK Surrender, that's the word I'm looking for. It was the wrong word but I don't think there was another option. What are the options? What other option? I think the constitution, the interim constitution and the final constitution are nothing to be ashamed about. I think it's an achievement, I won't say of FW but an achievement of the group he represents and I think we didn't get that bad a deal because there was no other deal to be hammered out in the negotiations other than the one we've got.
POM I remember a question I used to ask in the early years to people in government: in negotiations which would be important to you, the maintenance of some symbols of political empowerment or the maintenance of economic empowerment in terms of free market, private property and whatever? And invariably the answer came down on the economics side and the economics side maybe not through negotiations but just through the course of world events, globalisation.
WDK Globalisation. That's right, the economics side is most important. So, yes, just to give a summary of this aspect of our conversation, forget the fact that I am very much emotionally, not committed, but emotionally upset about the whole history of FW and apart from the fact that I think that he really did a lot of things right but he also did a lot of things wrong and gradually from after 1990 it was going down, down, down. And what's the reason for that? The realisation that I am not going to achieve what we eventually thought we would achieve and I can't be a factor in this, I'm going to spoil negotiations if I'm going to push too hard on my specific perspective on power sharing and cultural diversity and what have you. He then, subconsciously probably, decided to let the negotiations go through, "I will oversee it to a certain extent, I'll give my input but they are the new generation, I can't achieve my perspective", and so he was a little bit in the background there. And that's the tragedy of FW to a certain extent and he couldn't manage this whole re-positioning of the NP. That's a tragedy of his history, of his profile. But on the other hand what we achieved via the negotiators is really not in my opinion what Slabbert wrote there, a kind of a middle class and the upper class of Afrikaners stab the ordinary Afrikaner in the back. No, I don't think so.
POM This is just one last quote from books, some of your own statements, and this is again from Waldmeir. The first is her quote and then she has a statement from Mbeki, that's the one that interests me. She begins by saying, "Afrikaners, pragmatists as they are, made the peace with the new South Africa with extraordinary rapidity. Theirs is a political culture based on an obedience that borders on obsequiousness so they easily made the transition from obeying the NP to obeying the ANC. Even the Afrikaner dominated civil service and security forces, groups that the ANC had feared would undermine black rule, fell swiftly into line. All of this surprised the ANC which had expected far greater resistance. The sunset clauses were offered because the ANC feared it could not rule without the NP to guarantee civil service and security force co-operation so the ANC had agreed to protect jobs and pensions of white civil servants and having FW as a Deputy President but within months of the election senior ANC figures were asking whether these gestures had been necessary."
And she quotes Mbeki as saying, "The ANC discovered quite late that we had made a mistake. None of us really factored in the dynamism of what was going to happen. We didn't factor in the speed with which the Afrikaners would shift, recognise the fact that here is a majority party, here is a new government and we have to define a relationship with that majority. The notion of a government of national unity derives precisely from the understanding that the NP would be the political representative of the army, the white police, white business, the white civil service, that it would have a hold on very important levers of power. When we came into government we would come in with the numbers, they would come in with the power and we would need to work together for a certain period, instead of saying to those centres of power, you are the opposition."
First of all I'd like your analysis of 'theirs is a political culture based on an obedience that borders on obsequiousness', the whole political culture. And two, on Mbeki's statement which strikes me as being, I would read it the very opposite way, I would say that because of the sunset clauses this new transition was allowed and things fell into place pretty quickly, rather than saying if they hadn't been there, there might have been no smooth transition at all. So he's got it completely wrong.
WDK I think he's got it completely wrong. I don't know, I think her reading of the Afrikaner mentality and culture as obedient to the leader and whatever, the NP and just now the ANC, no. I think the pragmatism, yes, the realisation that we can't ever, never ever again return to white dominance. Number two that we're overwhelmed by numbers, by the majority of black people. Number three that it is in our own interest to be co-operative towards the new government, to win their hearts to a certain extent and to become a factor in a kind of a situation of partnership. I would say that was the motivating force for the ordinary Afrikaner to vote NP and the sunset clauses helped, eased the feeling that these ANC guys are not really autocratic, they need us still, they're willing to co-operate with us, they're inviting us, they're more open-minded and we can do business with them. That was the atmosphere then and the atmosphere during the CODESAs and during the first phase of the government of national unity. Then gradually there came a shock, not only in the Afrikaner community but also English white, in the white community and the coloured community, that via affirmative action, via certain statements of senior persons within the ANC, etc., that they are not going to consider the white interests and they are not cherishing the partnership idea and that we are rejected to a certain extent. That's the mood that's now within the white community and a mood of cynicism about the functionality of the state especially in the public sector. I would say those were the dynamics. First of all, an optimism that it's going to be business as usual to a certain extent and let's join them from a distance and let's give them a chance and the mood now is they're going to push us over in the abyss.
POM Is this what whites associate with the concept of Africanisation?
WDK I think, yes, the concept of Africanisation in my thinking is very threatening for the average white person in South Africa, thinking person. It's a feeling that their culture, their language, their interests, their belonging to the country is threatened by this and that Africanisation means a new black imperialism to a certain extent on all levels of society. I don't necessarily agree with that. I still see this as a phase of transition. I still see affirmative action was necessary, Mbeki's renaissance idea, black renaissance and Africanisation, that's part of African nationalism but I believe, again only my intuition, that after the 1999 election we're going to have a strong one-party state that's not necessarily that evil, it needn't be, and that the 'partnership in opposition' concept from the private sector and professional sector and the educational sector will come back to a normalisation but that the party political structure of opposition in partnership that's forever gone.
POM You touched on some of those themes which somebody was good enough to give me a copy of in Political Review.
WDK Oh yes, about the partnership in opposition.
POM That's right. There are just some statements that I would like to run through with you. One is that, "If the ANC does not succeed with black empowerment revolutionary instability is inevitable. If the ANC does not succeed in making reasonable progress with it's macro-economic policy and management of its GEAR programme we will fall into international isolation and irreparable domestic decline. If the ANC does not succeed with effective public administration standards will decline to a point where good management will never again be possible."
Now I always take as my kind of financial tutor every year Derek Keys.
WDK That's a hell of a tutor.
POM So I go to him every year since he was Minister of Finance and I say, give me an update what's happening. The last time we talked I was saying if the economy is growing at 2½%, this year there is negative growth for the first quarter, there could be negative growth for the second quarter, there has been no movement at all on the employment situation. Perhaps if truly reliable statistics were available you might find a situation worse now than it was four or five years ago, again because of firms having to downsize and become more and more competitive. Then if you table in the rate of growth of population per capita income is increasing by maybe 1% a year, but to talk about a growth rate of 5% a year and the creation of 250,000 jobs a year seems pure fantasy. And he said yes it is. He said the best this economy can do is probably about 2½% a year factoring in population growth and if the census doesn't lose a couple of more million people here and there with per capita income going up by about 1%. He said that's the reality. The reality is that the mass of the people who are poor are going to remain as they were, that the gap between the rich and poor probably has stabilised to a certain extent but it's not going to decline to any appreciable degree, that the 'big winner' out of this whole process will probably be the emerging black middle class of professionals and civil servants and that's it. But 2½% growth, he said, is growth. It's not nothing but we're not going to have this economic - so in a way GEAR is already outdated in terms of its assumptions and the projections it's making and yet we are being told all the time that GEAR is on course. It's not on course.
WDK No it's not, from that point of view. I fully agree, of course Derek Keys is the guru in this but I wrote a new, it just came out today, a new thing in this Political Review, on delivery, the whole question on delivery and my conclusion is:- "That also there is a widening gap between the rich and the poor, and this time the division is not simply between well-off whites and poor blacks. The wealth gap within the black communities is there for everyone to see. Black economic empowerment is working but most of those people are the rich and the middle class, while the majority of blacks who are still very poor remain behind. Already COSATU is demanding that the wealth gap be closed by increased taxes on the wealthy and a larger civil service to create employment while government is desperately trying to shed 300,000 in the bloated civil service. It could be reasoned that this is the price to be paid for a functioning free market economy and growth, that the wealth gap is simply a fact of free market life. But be that as it may in South Africa the gap is still too large and too much wealth is concentrated in too few hands and flaunted so intensively while those in shanty towns continue to suffer and this may lead to a new instability and violence, or at best to a new political opposition left of the ANC."
POM That was in?
WDK That is August.
POM August, Political Review.
WDK I will give you one, I've got two here. I specifically focused on housing and jobs.
POM Relating that to the second point you made which was that if the ANC does not succeed with effective public administration, you underline effective, and last week or the week before we saw the report of the Department of Public Service which is damning on the state of the provinces, never mind the state of the central government. They are almost saying that the situation is irretrievable in some provinces. So that's not likely in the foreseeable future to be - you have the ANC if it doesn't succeed in cutting crime or corruption rates by at least 60% anarchy will take over. In fact it doesn't appear to be -
WDK You mean we're still suffering for it. Yes to a certain extent this paper of mine it's not really pessimistic. My solution there is, well therefore forget political opposition and build partnerships on different levels and so on. But I tried to convince people. I travelled with this document to a lot of companies in Cape Town and in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban in the name of Huyshamer Stals(?) and I tried to convince them that we're in a crisis and the ANC is at this moment in time here with us for the next three, four decades and we must help them, not paternalistic or something. We must help them to achieve something of their goals. We must put our brain-power together, we must convince them that we are really partners, that we want them to succeed instead of just underlining all their failures and things. Because really you've pin-pointed the crisis now, apart from that damning report of the department the experience of people now working with the public service is really, it's a nightmare, especially lower down. The papers that must be signed for decisions even in Thabo's office lie there for six months, seven months, eight months. So I am very, very upset about that because the ANC didn't - they assured me and other people, but personally, they've got a very efficient programme running of training and developing skills and that kind of thing. But the whole public service is in shambles.
POM This brings me back to, this is my final point after always more than my hour with you, that a couple of years ago Nelson Mandela talked at the opening of parliament about the need for new patriotism. So put that on one side. I was talking to Mr Motlanthe who is now being pipped to be the next Secretary General of the ANC, the head of the Mineworkers' Union, and he was saying what we need here is a 48-hour working week, even as his union was going out on strike in support of COSATU he was saying what we need is a 48-hour working week and that one thing you could say for the Afrikaner is that when they took over in 1948 they transformed their society. They may have ridden our backs to do so but they transformed it because there was a spirit of cohesion and determination to change things. What we lack among the masses is we lack that cohesion and determination to change. We believe that we are entitled to a job, we're entitled to a house, we're entitled to this, we're entitled to that. Then I'm talking to Tito and I'm telling Tito what Mr Motlanthe has told me and Tito gets my argument a little bit wrong because he says we have increased overtime from time and a third to time and a half and that we either have or are in the process of changing the minimum annual vacation from two weeks to three weeks. I said, "Tito, in the United States the legal limit on what you're due for holidays is two weeks a year, ten days. You're a developing country." Where is 'we must pull together', the spirit of 'we must sacrifice now if we are to give to our children in the future'?
WDK There's a total lack of that and that's the worrying factory. To be quite honest with you, Padraig, I am very disappointed that this old, it may be a stereotype, but this African kind of culture of entitlement, conception of time and of duty and of performance and of productivity, that's part of Africa's heritage to a certain extent, as you will know better than I, and that this thing is alive and well within the black political environment. There are, of course, exceptions on that with certain politicians but that this thing will overwhelm the ANC and that they will fall back, they can't fall back in the globalised situation that we're all in, but they are going to fall back on the kind of socialism (I want to say another thing about that), a kind of socialism, a kind of handout culture again, a kind of authoritarianism, a kind of just survival crisis management to a certain extent. I think that's a real threat and therefore that's not the solution.
But one of my proposals is that we must get involved and we being then not we and they but the expertise of this country because we have the experience, never mind the brain drain, we still have a lot of brains in the country. We still have a lot of goodwill in the country but that's also disappearing more and more and more. This presentation of mine was mainly with English speaking members of asset management, of companies, of directors and so on, mainly English speaking, and they're the most pessimistic, they're the most - the cynicism. This thing was rejected, if I must be honest, in my going around. Every time I got the feeling that, hell, the people don't like what I say, they don't agree with me, they feel, well we give up, it's hopeless and that's a factor that the ANC is not enough aware about. Mbeki made a speech, you will have the speech, somewhere in parliament about 'we must get new consensus', and it was shot down again by the white political parties, Tony Leon in the front, belittling the ANC, it was a kind of a conspiracy and I don't know whatever. But I've read that speech three times through and really it is, vague as it is, politicians are always vague, but it is a new kind of an attitude of please people we must pull together, we must again have a CODESA, symbolically speaking, and talk things through, we must pool all our resources together because we're in trouble. That was an invitation, a plea to a certain extent, to all South Africans but then specifically aimed at white South Africans to become partners, because there is more and more a kind of a - they withdraw.
WDK Yes, disengagement. But now on the other hand, and I've always pleaded for that, that we must accept that there are going to be more sacrifices if you want to help. Free market alone, capitalism, typical western free market solutions, is not the only answer for South Africa. The backlog is so immense and the sacrifices will be that me, middle class white man with a middle class salary, and big business with their millions of gains each year, I'm not referring to handouts, that we must make the sacrifice via taxation or special taxation or project orientated taxation if we want to survive, and that's of course not popular within the business community. But I believe that if we say as in the old anthem, "We will live and we will die for you South Africa", in the old Die Stem, then to avoid all of us to drown in this country there must be more sacrifices from white middle class upwards in uplifting the masses and the ANC must be more open to this.
The ANC is a little bit, they speak out of two tongues. One day Mandela or Mbeki or whoever will say a few things, make statements that give us the feeling that things are changing and that we are welcome back in the building of South Africa and then all of a sudden the next week they slap us through the face as being non-black South Africans. And that's the crisis at this moment and I think that they are very much aware that they will become more and more aware of the fact that they need us desperately and that there must be a new bridge building not for a vague ideal or ideology of nation building but concrete about housing and job creation and this and that and that. There must be a grand plan of a process that we must reach this and this but it must be realistic and not utopian like the ANC's promises tend to be, kind of utopian, that's typical again of the politicians, we must play politics, we must accept the fact that the ANC mustn't feel threatened. The ANC have a tendency to wave the authority, it's the final word more and more. We must start a new phase in our democracy now of sacrifice, of the haves even to a greater extent, far more than we've done already, to help the government to realise realistic kind of projects like housing, job implementation, etc., etc.
WDK Hopefully. But it's a difficult time now. In the country at parties and social gatherings and more structured gatherings it's so pessimistic. It's very hard on people like me and there are a lot of us who are trying to give a bit of a balanced view on this situation, telling the people this is a phase and this must be our agenda in this phase. I'm also very worried about Mbeki's office, just between you and me. He's going to be the president, he's actually the prime minister now from the beginning, and his office, the efficiency within his office is really terrible and one can't manage a country if your deputy and the deputy of the deputy and the ordinary secretary and all of them they're not functioning. So, yes, it's a hell of a crisis now but I'm still optimistic that we will handle it.
Are you going to be finished with this book after 1999 election?
POM Yes. You must tell FW, I've an appointment with him on 13th October, and I rang his office right away to say is my appointment still on? And they said, well everything is up in the air now because he's re-scheduling. But I've got to remind him, even whisper in his ear that I changed the date of this book because he said "Why should I tell you anything when I will be leading a party into elections in 1999?"