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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

02 Sep 1997: Gordhan, Pravin

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POM     Mr Gordhan, let me begin with the report that was issued on the provinces last week showing the state of provincial administration to be bordering on the catastrophic and if it isn't catastrophic at the provincial level making an assumption, one could almost say, it must be worse at the local level if one peels off in terms of how talent is applied. I want to put that in one corner. The second thing is probably the more important thing, that this time in my series of interviews I've talked to everybody from what one would call hard core capitalists to hard core trade unionists and all say GEAR is dead on its feet, dead in the sense that this economy can manage a growth rate of about 2½% a year, which is a growth rate, and given the population growth that means give and take you might get a 1% increase in per capita income, that the result of that in the absence of any kind of any significant savings rate, the level of government expenditure as distinct from it keeping within its 4% deficit to GDP and the inflow of foreign investment, means that there is not going to be any economic transformation in this country, that you are not going to get the 5% growth rate, you are not going to get the 250,000 jobs a year created. It's not going to be but yet it is projected out there as being a viable aspiration, but it looks like the aspiration again must be like the RDP to GEAR to pulling back. Most of the things seem to say that level of income will go up very slowly, most of the poor will remain adamantly poor, that the gap between the rich and the poor is probably stabilised in a certain way and is not going to move much in one direction and that the only gainers in the short run are the newly empowered so-called black middle class or professionals. It seems to me, if that is true, that you won the battle but you lost the war.

PG     The war is still on and there are a series of battles to be fought and won. We won the 1993 negotiations battle, we won the 1994 elections battle, we won the 1994/95 RDP battle in terms of getting it on the agenda as a government programme, we have in the last three years won any number of policy battles in terms of getting transformatory policies in place, we are now beginning to win a pretty fairly widespread legislative battle.

POM     But against whom?

PG     Against, on the one hand, ideological opponents within the country, against a system that has much of the old in place and which needs to be turned around in a different direction, against perhaps our own inexperience in shaping these policies and pieces of legislation, and that's been a very quick battle won in my view. But at the same time in recognising that I think we've been unfolding more battles, or battlegrounds, and understanding them better, be it the condition of the provinces, the state of the national bureaucracy and what it takes actually to turn them around. Indeed I think we've lost a couple of rounds of the battle on the public service transformation front but they are rounds and not the battle as a whole yet because there's still room to manoeuvre, there's still room to turn the country around and there's still space to conduct further stages of the battle. Even if the provinces are in the state that they are in, and I don't have any reason to doubt that, that is merely a signal to government leadership that a lot more needs to be done to position the provinces in a place where they begin to do their work and to overcome some of the difficulties that they have.

POM     That's a nice phrase saying 'to position the provinces to do'. How do you go about the necessary massive jump start that's required to provide the engine of change?

PG     I think that the national politicians, that's a personal comment, need to go beyond politicking at a national level. I think that we need to put programmes in place which are not there at the moment in an adequate sense which will assist provinces in developing a right kind of political well and developing their local or provincial political programmes and giving them guidance on what it means to turn that bureaucracy around into a delivery machinery and to a coherent one. And if you take your first point about local government the answer there is definitely, no, you can't draw a comparison between local government and provincial government, not in the same breath in this point in time and I will come back to why. But we are in an era where in a sense these three so-called spheres that are operational have drifted a little bit too far from each other and what you require is a level of coherence and a new level of coherence, a tighter management of the ship in a co-operative way. As a result, the little I've read about the summit this weekend of the tripartite alliance, they are saying that the Deputy President would personally take responsibility for the public service and its transformation. Interesting stuff. I think we need more of that.

POM     What does that mean?

PG     What that means is it's a political signal that at the highest level the political leadership in this country is saying that is a matter that can no longer be left merely to a line function. There is something wrong there, we have to get in there and put it right. The essential message I am putting across is that, yes, there are a number of battles that have been fought, I think a number of them have been won, I think within a number of battles a number of rounds have been lost but they are not necessarily irretrievable positions. But then I must confess to you I have always been an optimist.

POM     You've always been an optimist. If you're a revolutionary you have to be. There is no other way to go. Let me put that in a different sense, in the sense that to me one of the aspects of revolution that's most necessary is a sense of will in the people to understand they are in a struggle together and that one generation may have to sacrifice itself a little so that its children and succeeding generations can benefit. I get no sense of that here at all. I see union after union fighting for its share of the pie, for it's 9% increase, 1% above inflation or whatever. There is absolutely no job creation, that in fact unions have become (I'm not union bashing because from 18 I have belonged to a union) but it is that they are becoming an elite in that they represent 1.3 to 1.9 of a working force of 13 million people perhaps and there is no congruence, there's no vision, and I say that, and I'll stop talking after this because I just want to get my ideas out and then you respond away. I was talking to Mr Motlanthe last week and he said, you know what we need is we need to be working 48 hours a week, that the Afrikaner took over in 1948 and they may have rode our backs down but, damn it, they transformed their society. They had a will, they had a vision and we lack that. I had Tito saying we've changed many things, we have now upped the overtime rate from one and a third to one and a half and we have now three weeks for the minimum national vacation. I said Tito, in the United States it's only two weeks. Which country are you talking about?

PG     So what was his response?

POM     How do you pull those strands together?

PG     It's precisely in that period of transition that you, as I understand it, loosen all the forces and everybody tries to position themselves to overpower and out-position the other. Looking merely at the union factor I think is a bit of a misleading exercise because at the same time as the unions might be demanding whatever they are demanding, you've got business demanding whatever they are demanding. Any let up in the current set of tensions, if you like, that holds South African society together, is going to result in one side making more advances than another side. Ultimately I would see it as a tension that's necessary because in an odd way that tension or set of tensions is actually propelling us further. You could argue propelling us towards disaster or into moments where it appears to be disaster and if South Africans can repeat their often found resources to avert disaster as we seem to have been able to do over the last couple of years, then we will be able to configure solutions which try and take society forward. But it's not going to happen, I think, by asking 'one side' to retreat.

POM     Now, leave unions aside, I've heard from the other side, or whatever, that never has white business been more disillusioned, pessimistic, cynical about the future and that rather than a sense of partnership growing, where it was there in some embryonic stage in 1994, that's diminishing not increasing. What's your reading?

PG     I don't move around in those circles so I can't say I can speak with any great authority, but I think that the other side also have many elements to it. There are those amongst the other side who are trying to actively undermine the new government.

POM     Still?

PG     Still, I would think.

POM     You are convinced of that?

PG     Oh yes.

POM     Now why would they want to do it? If you're working out of self interest what would be the gain for them in doing it?

PG     The opposition in South Africa, opposition to us, has very often employed the brinkmanship tactic. Whether you take De Klerk in 1990, 1992, that was a formula of brinkmanship. Push the ANC as far as you can and then we'll see how far we can get. It broke down in September 1992 when the Record of Understanding had to be signed but even in the kind of mini negotiations around various issues there were occasions when we went back to brinkmanship. Interestingly that resulted in forming the government of national unity or the reconciliation clause in the interim constitution and so on and even concessions about pensions being secured for politicians in the future. I think that the brinkmanship formula in South Africa hasn't disappeared from our agenda. It comes partly as a result of the alienation that we suffer in our society between the formerly ruled and the former rulers, or the formerly dispossessed and the formerly in possession. Their agenda is a very simple one, to weaken the governing side in order that it has to concede to that which, for example, free market forces in South Africa would like.

     On the other side though, I think there's an interesting new generation of white business people who have in a sense understood self interest in a very different way, who are prepared to participate on the black terrain, if you want to call it that, and benefit for themselves and their businesses on the one hand but identify with a new, let's call it in glib terms, patriotic project. I think there's a bit of gap between the first category I'm speaking of and the second category. What we require in South Africa is to argue the case for an economic future from the same side, so to speak, so the objective of our difference shouldn't be to identify or emphasise strategic differences, which is the case in some instances, but to identify tactical differences which is about saying is a deficit of 4% right or 5%, is inflation of 9% right or 7%, etc? I don't claim to understand economics all that well.

     The only point I'm making is that there are two ways you can argue this case and in every country you have the pundits of one macro-economic policy versus another. Greenspan in the United States I am sure is not the last word on how the Reserve Bank there should operate. There would be others who believe that if you manage the macro-economy in a different way you can take the American economy in a different direction.

POM     That brings up two, to me, very interesting points.  I want to go back to GEAR, I don't know its details either, I know these are its goals, 5% should create 500,000 jobs, this is the lift-off point, and that's not happening. That's fiscal policy. Then you have monetary policy set by the Reserve Bank which is an independent Reserve Bank which has an interest rate of 17% or 18% and many would say that it is an actual deterrent to growth.  My two questions are, and one, because I'm going to do this study for another three years, (a) is that in your honest opinion would you think that GEAR is working or is stuck in its tracks; (b) that an independent Reserve Bank should not be beyond the control of the government but the Reserve Bank should not have the unilateral power, which Tony Blair in Britain has moved to change, that they should not have the power to set interest rates unilaterally outside, an unelected, secret board of governors sitting in literally a dark room. I want you to deal with the macro-economic side, one, but should consideration be given to bring the Reserve Bank more under the control of the government so that it is the government of the people who set the economic framework rather than we can set it on the fiscal side but we can't set it on the monetary side?

PG     We've actually had quite a lot of debate on this in the drafting of the constitution. We had a number of problems with the Reserve Bank. It still is an institution in transition itself. It still is headed by people who have pretty much the old culture in place. It hasn't transformed itself sufficiently. The notion of independence has different connotations and I think the independence that we were ultimately talking about is one which says that (a) it must work within the broad framework of government economic policy, (b) it must work in consultation with the Minister of Finance. Where the word 'independence' comes in is that it requires operational independence. The British example in recent times is an interesting one where the government says we want an inflation level of X, now you juggle with whatever you want to juggle and give us that inflation level. And that's a new kind of consultative policy framework being set as by government and yet you're being given a role as a central or reserve bank to play out your role. So, yes, there are problems.

     As far as GEAR is concerned I think you need to keep an eye on what might be developing as a new perspective on GEAR, that GEAR was necessary at a particular point in time to provide certain reassurances, certain goal posts which could be identifiable and a kind of fixed reference point if you like. I think that in recent times that that debate around GEAR is giving rise to another set of issues and that is saying that GEAR is not the end of a macro-economic or economic policy in South Africa, that there are a number of other issues which GEAR might address but might not have addressed adequately I believe with things like industrial policy, etc., etc., and that we need to change the focus onto a wider set of issues that need to be discussed. I think that this weekend's summit again within the tripartite alliance laid a basis for saying let's focus on the broader set of issues.

POM     So if I was to say to you that I see GEAR, and I think we talked about this beforehand but I'm saying it more emphatically now, (i) as a strategy that was designed to 'appease' the IMF and the World Bank, the international lenders, to promote the concept of fiscal stability within the country in order to make it more adherent to foreign investment, (ii) neo-Thatcherite in the way it operates, (iii) that you've got a Reserve Bank that is, as you say, under the control of the old guard operating almost autonomously, sitting out there, unelected, saying that our goal is to keep inflation down no matter what and screw everything else, is that you've a real problem coming up. You're not generating an awful lot of growth, you're not generating an awful lot of foreign investment, you're not generating the very goals of the programme that was designed to achieve these things. Do you say to the people we're not going to give you jobs? What do you say to them?

PG     You say to them that we're working on giving you jobs.

POM     There are no jobs. The figures on jobs, by the best figures I would get would say that there might be a net loss in jobs in the last three or four years, they're all down, depending on whose statistics you're using.

PG     That concession has been made. The debate is no longer there about whether GEAR per se is actually delivering jobs. At the same time there is a lot of talk of an employment summit or a job summit, of new trade polices, new industrial policies.

POM     One more summit is not going to -

PG     I know, I know. All I'm telling you is what I hear. I concede that.

POM     What if they go back and took Motlanthe's point and said what we need is people to work 48 hours a week?

PG     It's not the notion, it's not the number 48, but where he's absolutely right is that you require a new national culture of commitment to the country, of commitment to work, of commitment to creativity, of not necessarily only waiting for foreign investment but generating things within the country. I think where some of the notions underpinning GEAR are right is that I think South Africans waste a lot of resources. One of the things that the so-called fiscal discipline that GEAR asked to be introduced is in fact a tightening of the belt around fat, not around muscle, fat that could be dispensed with. There are still large areas where money allocated is not spent, money goes down to the provinces and it sits in the treasury and where money goes to a department and is rolled over. And those are the very amounts that constitute the 5% or 4% deficit and so just a normal attrition, if you want to call it that, of wastage will begin to reduce the government's expenditure, not necessarily a virtue at this point in time. So there is a positive part if you want to register that. I mean there is the Western Cape government which boldly says we are budgeting for a R500 million deficit. That's it. There are certain local governments or municipalities in the country which are living beyond their means at this point in time, or on the other hand not doing enough to make sure that they have the means to live at the standard that they want to live.

POM     But if I were to say to you that the greatest challenge facing South Africa is the creation of jobs, if I would say where the hell are the jobs coming from, what would you say to me?

PG     I would say that I agree that one of the greatest challenges is to create the jobs, probably the premier one. Where are the jobs coming from? I can't tell you unfortunately. That's not my forte but it's a question that needs to be answered and I agree with that.

POM     But does it need to be answered within the context of the global economy since that's the only economy left? Or would you say, well we've got to maybe carve out a regional common market or - do you know what I mean?

PG     I think in the context of everything, because on the one hand there is a global economy in the sense that there is this world which people describe as unipolar,  there is no longer a kind of bipartisan, as Americans would call it, world before us firstly. Secondly, I read the recent World Bank report on the state in a changing society or changing era or whatever, a changing world, and where interesting concessions are made there and in other articles that I've read that globalisation is too glib a concept, that globalisation in fact embraces only half the world, that globalisation marginalises the other half and doesn't even give any cognisance to their existence. So in acknowledging that there is a global society that you have to relate to at the same time you've got to acknowledge that there is a divided global society. It also concedes, and other articles do as well, that globalisation has resulted even in the west, so-called, or north, in a greater gap between the rich and the poor let alone what happens in the south. There is obviously a new climate of competition in which South Africa needs to operate and from what little I know there is, whether it's right or wrong is another issue, but there is a new perspective on where alliances need to be developed and so now you will find that a fair amount of focus is on the Far East on the one hand, Latin America on the other hand and Africa in the third instance, whilst at the same time sustaining relationships and trading relationships with the west. Malaysia and its involvement in our economy has grown a hell of a lot. What their problems at home that have been brewing over the last couple of months will mean for us I don't know because those very south eastern countries that we want to build relationships with seem to be in trouble themselves. I don't necessarily claim to understand all of it.

POM     I came to know South Africa first through its trade unions. They became the stable of the organising power that had the organisation and capacity to mobilise mass action. On the other hand they can be seen as an obstacle to the empowerment of the broad mass of people. Now put that in a context of, say, Cyril, he's a hero of mine OK, I confess it, I won't bother to conceal it, but is what he's doing empowering people in a real significant way or is it an empowerment that's a trickle down to a certain level and beyond that there is no trickle down and if there is no trickle down beyond that do you reach a stage of where the working class, the working class and particularly the unemployed working class, who are saying where are the jobs, start turning back on you, saying you're simply through your economic policies delivering us nothing? You might be pleasing the World Bank, you might be pleasing the International Monetary Fund, you might have your figure down to 4% and God knows who made the magic number of 4%, you may be doing all of these things but where am I better off?

PG     No it's going to be a challenge and I think that's a challenge that everybody is aware of. As far as Cyril's work is concerned I don't think that's the end-all and be-all of economic transformation, that's just one but a very important aspect of it. If all of us fold our arms and says Cyril and company will do the job for us in terms of economic transformation we're in trouble. We can't deny that that is a level at which transformation needs to occur.

POM     That's a good, that's a nice level. I'd like to be up there.

PG     I'm sure. So many people would like to be there, but then for the rest that transformation process needs to continue.

POM     OK, to the second level. I come back to jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs. Who is putting together an economic policy that is primarily oriented to the creation of jobs? What does that mean in terms of the trade-offs that the internal labour force will make to the unemployed labour force?

PG     That isn't really my forte so I must cop out of that one.

POM     But you've got opinions, I want to know opinions.

PG     No, no, opinions need to be founded on a firm understanding of what's going on. From what I know there is work on that. I know, for example, that Alec Erwin's ministry is doing a lot of what I've just spoken about in terms of trading blocs and relationships. I know that that ministry and the Department of Transport amongst others are doing a fair amount of work on corridor developments and so-called special development initiatives and a lot of those plans are not just in place but are actually being implemented to give new meaning to very dead areas in our country, that in the context of developing a new local government policy we are asking ourselves the question, what role can municipalities play in generating economic initiatives? Trade & Industry, again, is looking at small and medium enterprises and have set up new institutions. They have just been set up so I don't know how far they've gone to generate work at another level. Some municipalities, the bigger ones, are creating new initiatives which will get informal trade better organised, new housing settlements and housing areas have commercial areas developing amongst them so you're actually spreading economic opportunities on a wider basis. Some are narrowing it down to old conventional projects as well at the same time. So I think there is a hive of activity out there and it's not as if one is waiting for COSATU to make this move or that move. I don't think that the country is being held hostage. At a certain level, yes, you can't get a deal on a 40-hour week but I'm not sure by now -

POM     It's such a transient thing.

PG     I don't know, much of that is also ideological.

POM     I'm coming back to the point that you were making earlier, is that where is the spirit, where is the determination on the part of the people to say we have to do it ourselves?

PG     I don't think that's lost entirely. If you take at Cyril's level there are a number of new people who have arisen who we have never heard of before. If you take a level below that there are a whole lot of new entrepreneurs that are moving, creating joint ventures with all sorts of people, new companies - I don't understand half of it. If you take even at a third level in existing African townships and smaller towns and so on, new entrepreneurs emerging and seizing business opportunities. So at all levels, even at a very local level, there is a co-operative movement that hasn't died, there is a mutual fund, as they will be known in the different communities, that will survive, community initiatives on various kinds of projects still exist. So it might be a flame that is dimming in intensity from time to time but it's not a flame that's dead. But where I would concede is that what we require is concentrated political leadership and drive to give new fuel to that flame and to give it a new sense of purpose and a new sense of direction. That I will concede.

POM     Now if I were to tie that to, say, the current state of political parties, the ANC is comfortably ahead, not as much as it was in 1994 but every other party is worse off than it ever was in 1994. You're heading towards, and we've talked about it the first time I interviewed you, about a one-party democracy and where the forms of opposition, the real forms of opposition don't come from within parliament but they come from without parliament. Do you see the development of those institutions, because a lot of people tell me they don't, they say we're more pessimistic now than we were a couple of years ago, the ANC is becoming more inbred, authoritarian, less transparency whether you go all the way back to Holomisa, Patrick Lekota, the Northern Province, the row over tying the premiership, you hear all these stories about all this internal dissension within the ANC which is continually denied by the ANC. Now one can read it in two ways: that there is a lot of internal dissension going on, which would be normal, and if so then it should be acknowledged; or two, the other part seems to be that to deny this is going on and to say that it's the white media out there still trying to screw us up?

PG     It's a little of both. There is no doubt that the white media out there is trying to screw us. I don't think we have a very empathetic media. At the same time, depending on who you talk to, you will get different levels of agreement that the ANC does have (a) those incidents, nobody can deny them that they actually happened, and (b) that there is a lively debate quietly or sometimes more openly about our own internal practices. There is also no doubt that when those debates arise. In recent weeks we've had a fairly open hearing of views in the ANC caucus, not that it dramatically changes life or leads to dramatic solutions but the ANC I think has a capacity to examine itself from time to time. I think it also makes mistakes. Whether it admits it publicly or not is another matter. Whether the climate is less transparent, I don't think it's moved categorically in that direction yet but you use the words 'it's normal' and my sense is that the ANC is slowly converting into a normal party, political party operating in parliament. If I go back to my memory of both the Conservative and Labour Parties when we saw them in Westminster a couple of years ago, the ANC must be the most democratic party you can find around by comparison, in terms of the control that the executive has on parliament, the massive power of the Whips and so on. So I don't think that one can paint a gross picture, if one looks at it in relative terms.

POM     When you talk about this power of the white controlled media, the fact is that a lot of the media is now controlled by blacks.

PG     A section of it, not the lot. Well I suppose, yes, The Sunday Times, Business Day. But control is right up there I suppose, it doesn't mean editorial control. Let's be frank, you ask the journalists that sit here in the forum in parliament, one meets them, their mindsets, they don't have to agree with me politically, they don't have to believe in what I believe in, but their mindsets come nowhere near one which is able to objectively assess what's going on, is able to understand the dynamics that are unfolding. If you take 50 journalists in parliament and ask them if they understand local government, if you get one that understands 20% of it you're lucky and yet they will presume to report on it. I suppose that applies to journalists all over the world.

POM     I would think so.

PG     But what we are saying is that we are moving through a very complex period and the least you want is an understanding of the dynamics of the process, not an empathy with it, so that you can critically establish what's going on. This morning on radio, I caught it at about 9.45 when I got out of the airport on Will Bernard's show on SAFM, there was a panel discussion on local government. The guy he was interviewing hasn't seen a basic document, what we call a discussion document brought out three months ago, doesn't even know of its existence, and that document is the starting point of a whole new local government policy. Their focus was on the so-called mega-city debate which the DP is beginning to pick up in Johannesburg and make it a big whipping horse of their policy debate. All I am saying is that we require from existing media, let's call it that, forget about who controls it, if it is to play its democratic role and I believe that it has a vital role to play, it will play it better if it moves away from the paradigm of the old.

POM     Now is part of the paradigm of the old this notion of white liberal values versus African values?

PG     I call them democratic values.

POM     But white liberals would say we are the most, my God, we are the paragons of democracy, We stand up for democracy. We have offered democracy all over the world and here you are trying to put nails in our coffins and strike us down. Why?

PG     I suppose they might have offered an element of democracy but democracy has been nurtured through very different processes in different parts of the world. Nyerere's contribution to democracy or Emir Kabral's contribution to democracy, or Gandhi's contribution to democracy, etc., have all been contributions. They have all added a set of values and ethos to what is today evolving as a democratic spirit and the one thing about South Africa is that it is the meeting place of many of those sets of values. Gandhi's tradition is here, the so-called African tradition is here, African nationalism has a long history in South Africa, Pan Africanism is here in South Africa, Afrikaner nationalism has a history in South Africa as much as so-called liberal democracy has a history in South Africa. But above all I think through the 1980s we created our own culture of democracy which is a rich culture of participation, of openness, of activism and so on which we can't be denied today. There is nothing undemocratic about that tradition.

POM     So how would you differentiate between the democracy created in the eighties here and what would be called liberal democracy?

PG     Well there are a number of elements. The first is that we would base our culture of democracy on popular participation, popular empowerment in terms of information, whereas liberal democracy is not based on popular participation it's based on what leaders do and say. Now you can quite easily move in the direction of claiming, well isn't that some of what the ANC does? I would say yes it does but that doesn't mean it's right, and that's a culture that I would encourage that people move away from if that's where we're going. Liberal democracy encourages individualism. Our own constitution encourages co-operation. Being individualistic is antithetical in my view to developing a co-operative, intergovernmental relationships, but more than that across communities, etc., etc. It's even antithetical to nation building which doesn't mean that you must lose your individuality and draw a distinction between individualism and individuality which is often confused as well. Liberal democracy gives a lot of attention to form and not enough to content whereas a further reaching aspect of democracy is about content, about how do you empower people to change and so on and so on. It's like the provinces, local government, etc. You can say we now have a federal system therefore the provinces will work. That's what the liberal democrats said. The very creation of provinces gives you a richer form of democracy. The very establishment of a so-called federal South Africa, taking government closer to the people, is a panacea to all our ills. We're nowhere near that because what that report that you are talking about and so on shows is that you've got to do a lot more than merely establish the federal system. You've got to change this country around and create a whole new culture of service, of democracy, of participation, of vigilance, of checks and balances in order for our form of unity and federalism to actually work.

POM     So in one sense, if I hear you correctly, you're saying that liberal democracy based on individualism is not part of what Africans, or African tradition, culture, heritage is about, but on the other hand you're saying that at least here in South Africa that those ingredients to pull those elements of that culture together have not been done, are not achieved at all?

PG     No, it's been done but we still need to do more. I think the RDP was an effort to do that.

POM     But the RDP went down the drain.

PG     We're still trying to revive it.

POM     Be honest.

PG     No I'm being honest.

POM     I'm not publishing anything until the year 2001.

PG     It doesn't matter if you publish it, everything is on the record so I don't mind. But there is still space. On the one hand RDP is gone but this week, for example, in parliament we're discussing the Masakhane Campaign. What's Masakhane about? Let us build together, and it's happening. Build what, and who's going to do it? So you're asking for collective action again, you're asking for community involvement again, you're asking for all social forces to participate in building this new South Africa and putting its act together. You're asking for the RDP programmes to begin to take root where they might not have taken root.

POM     But one could give the naïve answer, the obvious, and say, well, in terms of Masakhane, in terms of the pay-back, it hasn't worked for the last two years.

PG     It won't work.

POM     Why?

PG     It won't work if we describe it merely as pay-back. You've got to show people that you're changing their living circumstances. That's why I think that even there if you look at the kind of elements that have had to be put in in order to make local government work just over the last year, a hell of a lot has been done, new financial management systems, new budgeting systems, the requirement in the constitution to re-prioritise, the question of developing integrated development plans, linking them at a provincial level, creating new forums within local government and provinces, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. In other words there is no one smooth movement which is going to take you from place one to place two and I think maybe we all had glib answers a year and a half, two years ago about some of these notions. Now we're understanding the mechanics of each of these little pieces that have to be shifted and it's a much more formidable task.

POM     Can we finish up on this because I know you've got to run and my time is up too, and I got my 15 extra minutes. Do you think there is still a third force operating?

PG     There are still things happening in this country that one can't explain and if third force means that these are non-statutory, organised elements which either act all in collusion with each other or separately, yes it appears that there might be still something but what it's real nature is, it's a much more complex question. In other words there might be organised groups of people who have resources from the past and connections lying in the past who are able to generate forms of activity or interference which can have a disruptive effect. Yes, it seems there is something wrong. I don't have a handle on it.

POM     But you believe it's there and it's still a potent threat?

PG     Put it another way, we haven't dismantled and discovered everything that the past created.

POM     And it may take a long time.

PG     Yes it will.

POM     I'll give you the last word, optimistic word OK.

PG     No, no, for us life has always been a struggle so the struggle must continue and I hope that South Africans have the capacity to say we've made a mistake when they do realise that.

POM     Well I'm going to come back to you in six months and say how's GEAR doing. I'm going to say how is local government doing, how is the training doing, and I want to talk to you about many proposals I've put before on doing tele-conferencing to train people at a local level and in large numbers. I've been at that for seven years now, from before even the government came into being.

PG     There's still a tough job to do.

POM     You burn midnight oil. Thank you ever so much for your time.

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.