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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.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

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POM     One of the reasons I like talking to you, Mr Leon, we've only talked once or twice, is that you talk and therefore you are not a person who is given to holding their opinions in their hands inwards but you like to talk and express political ideas. So let me begin with the most fundamental one. All polls would show, all surveys would show, everybody that I've talked to since I last talked to you which was then about the possibilities of multi-party democracy in South Africa, all have said there is more fragmentation in the white little enclave and that that's the way it's going to be, that you're not going to see any kind of break-up of the ANC alliance and yet you see Roelf Meyer, Bantu Holomisa, you see what many people would regard as the disintegration of the National Party with the resignation of FW, you see your own party in surveys done, at least surveys that I've seen, that don't show you much moving beyond 2% or 3%.

TL     Of course we started on a base of 1.7% so that's an improvement.

POM     By that score the PAC moved by 4000.

TL     No that was a wrong figure.

POM     I would like to see how realistically you see the development, you could tell me, I'm publishing nothing until the year 2000 or 2001 so it will all be over, what do you see happening?

TL     Well that's a very broad question but let just deal with some of the elements of the question as you've asked it. I have an Israeli political scientist who gives me advice from time to time, he's very, very well versed in South Africa, he's a specialist in Africa, a man called Mordecai Timaka(?), and he made the point, perhaps trite point, that nobody jumps off a bandwagon, the ANC is a bandwagon, it's more than a bandwagon. It is doing some profoundly immoral things and it is doing some profoundly wrong things but it is doing them from a platform of credibility or morality. Apartheid gave the ANC a moral platform.

POM     OK, now I want you to clarify that point as you go along rather than making the broad statement.

TL     Let me say, far from promising a non-racial democracy or apart from achieving a  non-racial democracy, South African society is probably at this time, at this date that we're meeting here, more racially polarised than it has been in the last ten years. But it has been done in a way that says, well we're actually standing (we being the ANC government) on a moral height because apartheid was so immoral that that which came to replace it through a democratic process is of itself moral and therefore it's very difficult to argue against that, especially if you're sitting in a minority racial or political sense. That allows a lot of stuff which would normally challenge the political hegemony of any institution to simply remain unchallenged however much you might take exception to it and however much that particular movement hasn't delivered that which it promised to do. So by ordinary objective political standards the ANC should be much more vulnerable than it is electorally. By ordinary standards the broad church, to use the cliché of the ANC, should be fragmenting and it isn't because the glue which holds it together is still not yet dried and that is liberation, and to use a lot of other clichés, but I think that explains the concept.

     Now challenging that politically for the various parties, well there are a number of ways you can do it. You speak of the fragmentation of opposition. Instead of the government fragmenting, the opposition has fragmented. I think there are a lot of reasons for that. The first is the NP, which is the dominant opposition party in terms of numbers, and the NP is fragmenting because it cannot come to terms with its own powerlessness. They were not an ideologically driven party, at least not in the last 10 to 15 years of their existence. They were a pragmatic governing party of the whites, a minority.

POM     We can write them off.

TL     Well I wouldn't write them off because in a sense you see the solution to the NP's problem belies the whole question of opposition. Now let's just go through it. There is no transcending cross-racial political party at any level, not in government and not in the opposition. The Nats broadly speaking represent three minorities reasonably well. The Democratic Party, my party, is probably, at least theoretically, the most non-racial in terms of its philosophies, believing in individual liberty. It has not managed to penetrate much beyond the white market except of course we are now getting a growing constituency of disaffected Afrikaners who are coming to us, which is quite significant.

POM     But you also can add to that, which I want you to comment on, is that in a way you are equated with the white liberal and there is this assault on the white liberal values.

TL     Oh absolutely.

POM     I'd like you to address the white liberal factor and the Africanisation of parties as you flow, but I want you to come back to that.

TL     Well I think the most potent critique to this kind of unprincipled Africanisation, it is unprincipled as it's happening, it's a sort of reward system for the liberation aristocracy, that is what you are seeing in South Africa at the moment in terms of government contracts, in terms of a range of things. There was a very interesting letter yesterday in the Cape Times, I don't know if you were in Cape Town yesterday, by a colleague of mine, Hennie Bester, on this Olympic Bid which is this week, on how Mbeki has insisted that the group be Africanised so they are sending four black African councillors to Lausanne from Cape Town, which is incomprehensible because the majority -

POM     Sorry, I've been in Angola until yesterday.

TL     Well four black African councillors were insisted on by Mbeki to be sent to Lausanne to represent the City of Cape Town, which is preposterous because actually the majority of the population of Cape Town is white and coloured, and not even ANC come to think of it, but they were four black ANC councillors sent. I'm giving you a little vignette, a little picture of a much wider trend. Now there is an enormous resentment among what the people I choose to characterise as liberation aristocracy to the liberal critique of that kind of thing, because there is a very penetrating critique. If you believe in a merit based society, if you believe in the individual worth of human beings, if you are trying genuinely to create non-racialism that gives you a very, very specific counterpoint to this kind of untrammelled Africanism which is becoming the pervasive leit motif of the ANC in government.

POM     How do you interpret Africanism as articulated by Mbeki and the African renaissance?

TL     It's all incoherent mumbo-jumbo in Mbeki's mouth, not in his mind, because at one minute it says it embraces everyone, at another level it's a very narrow, a very racially specific thing and within that race group - I mean for example, a point I made before, no-one has suggested empowerment for a coloured organisation in South Africa or for coloured businesses. It's African, and generally it's Africans of the right political and the right sort of family background. So I think it is just a slightly sophisticated form of a power grab and getting your hands in the till as quickly as possible. I'm sorry to be so negative about it but that's how it manifests itself. The thing is that if you insist on, to get back to my point, if you insist on the yardsticks of merit, if you insist on objective standards, if you reject the notion which is put about that you will either rise collectively or you will not rise at all, if you reject all that then you essentially are giving a liberal critique, you're giving a running commentary from the liberalism. It is very difficult on its merits to reject that argument given what the ANC stood for theoretically, non-racial, democratic values. Therefore there is a resorting to playing the race card because that way you marginalise and thereby demonise your opponents or your interlocutors and that's been demonstrated time without number since you and I last had a conversation.

POM     That's increasing?

TL     It's increasing and in fact it increasingly becomes the first resort. Don't deal with an issue on its merits, don't deal with an opposition and if your opponents are white, ipso facto the facts speak for themselves, you don't need to take your argument any further. So that causes a degree of problems and what it does for the ANC, it actually says we don't actually have to deliver on the ground, we don't have to fulfil our election promises really, we'll beat the drum of racial exclusivity and liberation, we will put our opponents into one corner where they are and the moment that they try and break out of their racial kraals, so to speak, as various parties have tried, even the NP, we will make it very, very difficult if not impossible for them. Now that is the objective fact.

     Now you can say in terms of the numerical breakthrough what party can put together the components which can challenge the ANC? If you speak to Roelf Meyer who has gone about it in a particular way, he will tell you as follows, and I can be candid because it's not going to be published next month. He will tell you, as he told us in our various discussions because he's very keen that the DP get closer and involved in his new party, he will tell you that the only way that you will really make a challenge for power in this country is to have an African component in your party. Absolutely correct. He will also tell you that there are only two people in opposition politics who are African, Buthelezi one, and Meyer and Buthelezi have a problem, and Holomisa. And he will also tell you, Meyer, that while you might not be mad about Mr Holomisa you have to deal with the realities on the ground as they are. Nothing concentrates the mind like a lack of alternatives, said one of Meyer's lieutenants to us recently. And what he is saying is you've got to have paradigm shift and the only way to get an opposition movement which can challenge for power, in the numerical sense, is to actually embrace a kind of new politics which doesn't worry too much about principle, policy, philosophy, ideology, the driving forces of parties like the DP which is all those things, ideological, philosophical, policy driven, value oriented, but the cosmetics and, well not even the cosmetics, but the totality of it represents a break with the past. Now I don't know that going into business with a homeland politician who headed a dictatorship -

POM     Let me go back on that because I talked for Roelf for two hours yesterday.

TL     - is the way to do it, but in one sense the proposition they make is unarguable. My point, now I'm just arguing now as the leader of the DP, that's a choice. You want to be in politics and you think, well, if I'm going to get to power that's the way to do it. You've got to ask yourself, because you also trade a lot of things by going that route, well that's one way, or you can say, look I can have an influence on government, from wherever I'm sitting in the Houses of Parliament I can be effective, I can provide equity, I can stand up for a set of values and I can do it on a pretty consistent and on a fairly bold basis. That is another point of view. So I think a party like ours has to ask itself a question. Do we want to be a pretty pure liberal party with all the ideological components which we think are important and to have a voice and representation and some influence because influence isn't necessarily on the basis of challenge to power, or do we say at the end of the day the only way that you're going to get the ANC to respond is when their power is threatened and that is by putting together countervailing power. Can you put countervailing power across the opposition benches? It's not easy. That is a fundamental question. Now there's not a direct answer that one route is right and the other route is wrong. It's choice, it's a balance sheet here.

POM     OK, so let me give you parts of the balance sheet as I would see them. You stand alone in which case your party stands for, which I would never think that I would see perhaps, coming from the west, 'white liberal values' as being something false and obnoxious. One, the disparity between that, or the dichotomy between that and Africanisation on the one hand. Two, that you have Roelf and Bantu, and I've known them both for ten years, I've interviewed them both for ten years and I'm fond of them both, but I will say to Roelf as I said to him yesterday morning, I said "You're going to run on a platform of good governance and you're going to run with a guy at the top level of your ticket who probably ran one of the most corrupt independent states that there was and you're going to call this good governance and offer this as an alternative to the people? Roelf, give me a break!"

TL     How did he respond?

POM     He responded in a peculiar way by an off-set of what you said. It's either you start from a beginning or you don't start at all or you don't almost care about who your partners are but that you create this other party that has blacks and whites in it together and then you kind of sort it out. But he had no answer at all to the first part. The second part was, well the alternative is we've got to start some place or we don't start at all.

TL     I said to my party colleagues, our caucus was just on Roelf, and I like Roelf as an individual just as you do and I think he's a person, as they say in Afrikaans, ordentlikheid, sort of decency, but I said my conclusion about Roelf and Bantu is that they don't believe in anything at all. We won't have an ideological problem with them because it's actually candy floss and cotton wool there.

POM     That's right, good governance, unemployment, poor economic growth.

TL     You know the late Vice President of the United States, Nelson Rockefeller, when he was standing for the presidency against Nixon in 1968, was known as 'bomb fog' because all his speeches ended with the invocation of the brotherhood of man under the fatherhood of God and Roelf and Bantu are bomb fog. It's just nothing. Now we're a party which believes in a great deal, and I asked the question genuinely of my colleagues inside our party caucus, I said can a party which believes in a great deal do business with people who believe in nothing at all? And I don't ask that as a glib question, I ask that in all seriousness. Maybe you can because you're going to find that your points of difference are not going to be initially that your ideology is reprehensible to them because essentially they will take it on board. The question is building the right foundation.

     There's another issue, you see it's too easy in my view to simply say because a party represents whites or indeed whites, Indians and coloureds, that that is in and of itself illegitimate. It isn't at all. White, coloured and Indian people, very powerful minorities in this country, both because of where they're placed geographically and in the economy, are quite entitled and must have political representation but if you represent them by necessity you're going to be excluding yourself from a fair whack of the political market, you're going to be a minority party. Now the ideal is to have a cross-racial situation. It's very, very difficult at this state from where we are now to say is that going to be an impossibility to create a cross-racial alliance? And what do you do if you can't in the short term? Do you say well I carry on as I am now, do I create something new which is going to be very vacuous or do I stand firm in an ideological corner and say I'm going to provide political representation for minorities in the interim until the next big thing happens? And the next big thing could well be this much promised but seldom sighted break up of the ANC which, as you correctly say, in the short to medium term shows no signs of happening.

POM     Let me take you back, since you've put a whole range of concepts and possibilities. One, let's take the National Party. Most people I talk to, from the leadership down, believe that the NP is, and I think we talked about this before but it's now become more accelerated with the resignation of FW, is it becoming more of a spent force without any sense at all of identity or centricity of what it stands for? That's there.

TL     You want me to deal with them?

POM     No, no, that's one bit I want you to deal with.

TL     Well let's deal with them serially because otherwise we might lose the thread.

POM     OK.

TL     You know at the beginning of this year I was approached by De Klerk who was trying to revive yet again, this was prior to appointing Meyer to this task force which De Klerk later disbanded and led to Meyer's exit from the party, that he wanted to create a sort of opposition alignment and this whole thing he'd started in 1996. I listened very politely because I've always believed that FW, like King Lear, was more sinned against than sinning and I think he was seriously diminished as a deliberate policy by the ANC and that he deserved better than that, but as De Klerk himself said this is not a game for sissies, you must take your medicine. And when I commented in public on that, on that then move of the NP to try and create an alliance, I said the NP, and I came across this term in a book related to something else, was in a 'zugzwang' which is a term in chess apparently for when a player is obliged to make a move and it has no good move to make and the next move it has to make will only be to the player's disadvantage, not in checkmate, but your opponents force you to move and you can't make a good a move.

POM     What was the book?

TL     The book is about Zionism. It's by Jeffrey Wheatcroft, it's called The Controversy of Zion. But the term 'zugzwang' where a player in chess is obliged to make a move and he has no good move to make and he's not in checkmate but all he can do is make a move which will lead to a deterioration of his position, to me captured perfectly the position of De Klerk because De Klerk was a very good politician when he was in power and even his resignation which was the last move, he moved with surprise, he moved with stealth, he caught his opponents on the hop. But here all he could do in the event was to leave the stage and that was the move which because the NP, to develop my first point, is not a party of ideology any more. It was in the 1950s and sixties, white domination was an ideology. One might not have enjoyed it very much but it's on 'rent a principle' now, they don't believe very much in anything. They're in opposition to the ANC and they must therefore find a set of principles which puts them into opposition to the ANC. It doesn't provide that kind of burned conviction that it used to have and it hasn't got power or patronage except in the Western Cape. There is very little holding it together. The only thing that they've had in the last years, they were the big opposition to the ANC but they are not any more because they've diminished in the polls, they're losing seats at the local government level, which is the only measure we have, to the DP in their heartland areas. They've lost two bi-elections, but they still have a block of votes probably among coloureds which will be the last redoubt of the NP.

     The white community is very split in this country, it's not too sure where to go. But I think the problem of the NP which is a problem of all parties drawn from that historical enclave of white South Africa, including my own, is that among white people what you're seeing in the NP is also reflected in the white community generally, is that feeling of disempowerment and demobilisation. If you go to the average white person in this country their approach to politics is, "So what? I don't have power any more. There's not much, if anything, I can do about the situation, why bother?" That's those who remain. In many cases the best and the brightest have emigrated anyway, and that trend, I suspect, will continue. So it's a very, very fickle and fragile base to come from, I'm being quite realistic. Right, that's the National Party. Next.

POM     Next is that you have the NP that is fragile and disintegrating still with an inherently white base which it has been unable to expand itself beyond that white base.

TL     Or coloured.

POM     Or coloured, white and coloured base into a black base and we have the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party starkly associated within all it's manifestations, forms, combinations, permutations, with opposition to apartheid which is coming under a greater hammer than the NP from the ANC, this whole thing of being white liberal, the way that thing is put out there, is like put out there some kind of negative value of something that you ought to be ashamed of rather than something you ought to be advancing. So I would like to hear what do you see as the defining feature between what you would call a white liberal and what might be called the African whether it's intellectual or elite conception of Africanisation that puts it in opposition to or in juxtaposition to the white liberal?

TL     Well I think, let me deal with the philosophy rather than the racial context.

POM     I'm interested in the philosophy.

TL     The philosophy actually tells you why there is a racial conflict. The philosophy largely, I mean it's easier to define the liberal philosophy than it is the Africanist philosophy because the one is slightly more specific, the other is vaguer, but let me deal with the liberal philosophy. The paramount defining characteristic of liberalism whether it's white, black, western, eastern, whatever, is essentially the value and primacy of the individual human being. The driving force of Africanism, I would say, is the collective, racist, conscious collectivism which says as well that we have race holding, you hold on to race.

POM     So it's race consciousness?

TL     Race consciousness and that leads to all the other manifestations. Now there is a conflict between those. If you believe in individual rights then you judge people and situations and political choices on that touchstone of value. If you believe in the collective, in this case a racial collective, you say the merits of the individual must be subordinated to the requirements of the group. That essentially was the basis of the division between the Verwoerdian apartheid proponents and the sort of western liberal centric view which was advanced against that. It happened that the race conscious Africanists at the time used the liberal critique to hammer Verwoerd and the NP but that was only an instrument of attack. The difference probably is this, that the DP or its predecessors, or the liberals, actually believe in the worth of individual humanity, if I can use that broad phrase, as a desirable end it itself, not just as a weapon of attack against the previous order. It is almost as though, it reminds me of the legend of Perseus where the slayer of the monster assumes the characteristics of that which he has slain. I think that's what we're seeing in South Africa, but there's a difference in the -

POM     The oppressor and the oppressed, that the liberated oppressed imitate the oppressor.

TL     But for a different purpose obviously. So I would say that is the fundamental tension and I don't think that that tension can be necessarily compromised.

POM     But how can that debate, you see bits of it - it went from Magkoba at Wits, Barney Pityana and Denis Davis, and it's put under the surface, to me it would appear to be one of the prime things that must be pulled to the fore and say let's have it out. But it's being put more and more under the table as far as I can see. It's not being talked about as much as it should be.

TL     I don't put it under the table.

POM     You don't, not you, but I'm talking about as distinct from you.

TL     Well there are a lot of reasons for that. The place you would expect it to be expressed is in places like the media for example, a very good example. I think the media has been bought off by the ANC by and large in this country. People like Tony O'Reilly, the head of Independent Newspapers, has had a terrible and insidious effect on press freedom in this country in my view. He did a deal with the ANC, you're going to have black editors in place, coloured editors, you won't be over critical. Various things were said and done in order for him to get his control.  There is a tremendous hesitancy to attack the government directly and therefore a lot of the philosophy underlying it for a range of reasons. I think a lot of so-called liberals suffer from the white guilt of the past, which is understandable but unhelpful, profoundly. And I think that whereas apartheid was the great moral evil of the latter part of the 20th century, the liberation of South Africa was a moral good. I actually think it was a moral good but, ergo, it follows that that which comes in the slipstream of such a moral force for good is not lightly attacked and therefore you don't see the kind of necessary debate happening in this country that should happen. I think it will come over time. In Zimbabwe 20 years passed just about before Mugabe's entire edifice of government was revealed to be the corrupt complete negation of everything that liberation stood for, but it took a long time for that to come into the public domain. Now you've got the guerrillas, the former guerrillas attacking the government. Well it's going to take time. I think there's a period of grace here which is understandable. We're 3½ years into the democratic experiment.

POM     Let me put you in a role that you may be in or you may not be in. I see you in a role that from listening to you and from reading what you say and from what you play in parliament, is playing a dual role. On the one hand you're playing an intellectual role that is trying to have a say in the intellectual debate of the way the nation develops and the way the nation builds itself. That's one. And two, you're a politician and you've got to play to both. Now it seems to me that at one level you're far better at (a) than at (b) and that you've got to break into - if you can't break into a black constituency what are you?

TL     No, that's true. Let me tell you the dilemma a liberal democratic party faces in South Africa today quite frankly. Theoretically the group which we should have most appeal for in black South Africa would be the upper middle class intelligentsia, just to use a crude labelling device, who as a group are the biggest single beneficiaries of ANC government in South Africa, the black, upper middle class intelligentsia. So we are also caught in a bind. The actual people who have been left out of the rapid enbourgeois of African society are the rural poor of this country. Now our message, which insofar as we can even deliver it there because of resource constraints, is not that appealing to people who don't have the basics of life available to them. But the people who do, small emerging businessmen and so on, even the petty bourgeoisie, are the people who have benefited most directly from 3½ years of ANC largesse because they have been in position to get the contracts, to get the tenders, to get the breaks as it were in the new society. They have the greatest interest in this, as it were, racial transfer, as it has been a racial transfer from a white elite to an expanded black elite, happening as quickly as possible. The liberal critique which intellectually might resonate with them because broadly speaking if they weren't beneficiaries they would agree with it that free enterprise, individual freedom, political de-concentration of power, in terms of their material self-interest is profoundly a threat to what they have achieved.

     So where does a party like the DP draw it's African support? Well it has been said by certain business friends of mine at Anglo American, for example, who are in the know, that there is a difference among black business or people in that thing, between the patronage boys, as they're called, the ones who are actually benefiting, and the genuine empowered small businessmen. I suppose we've got to spend more time developing that niche but it's also a question of how we do it and with what weapons because, I tell you, just simply running the parliamentary opposition here is a pretty consuming job. I've got a hope, and maybe it's a vain hope but we will see in 1999, that somehow our performance here, which is way out of proportion to the numbers that we actually have, will resonate.

POM     You are regarded as the opposition.

TL     And that will draw where the support will come from.

POM     The last HSRC poll didn't show any great benediction to that effect.

TL     Our own polling shows a doubling of support but it's from such a small base. We've got to make choices. We can get an African market if we go into business with Inkatha, we will then get an African thing. Inkatha and us could easily do an electoral alliance but it will exclude us from the rest of the African market if we get the rural Zulu traditionalists and we go into an election alliance with them. We can go into business with Roelf Meyer and Bantu Holomisa. You will get something of a black base in the Eastern Cape.

POM     Let me differentiate between two things. On the one hand you are the custodian of, in a way, western liberal values as developed over centuries and as enshrined in constitutions all over the world and particularly in the west. That's part of you. The other part is that you are part of a broader community that is African and that has a different value system. Now, is your priority to preserve the values of that system or to find a way into integrating yourself into the broader African collective Africanisation? I'm not quite sure, OK?

TL     I understand what you're saying. I don't think those are necessarily contradictions. Ideally you want to marry both of those together because if you only have values without a base then they're not worth very much. If you have a base without any values well then what do you really bring to the table? There are plenty of other contesting politicians who can do something. So I guess it's really a bit of both. Now we've been much more successful.

POM     What do you think?

TL     Well I think what I've just said.

POM     You said you've got to marry both.

TL     Well I think a politician without a base is a contradiction in terms but I think a base without having any ideological content is worthless from my point of view. So I'm pretty conviction driven, yes, if you were to pin me down I would go on the value side but I'm pragmatic enough to realise that values in and of themselves are sterile things if they don't resonate with some kind of communal base. Bear in mind you're talking to a party here which practically got wiped out in the last election. Anything from that is growth of a kind. The party must become more representative. I don't know if it can do it on it's own. I'm being very honest with you. Maybe there is a political sound barrier which a party like ours cannot penetrate, cannot break. Maybe therefore you've got to say partnership politics. Him, Buthelezi, Holomisa. Maybe that's the way you get into the African market, maybe.

POM     What way do you see, and when I had my first interview with you it was about multi-party democracy and the prospects for multi-party democracy and how multi-party democracy would develop here, can it develop outside of there being some kind of schism in the ANC or must that schism and you become appendages to various parts of the schism?

TL     The question is being put in a different way, that essentially white people, let's now get down to specifics as opposed to values because values and race tend to coincide in this country although maybe it's not just a coincidence, that white people will only ever be auxiliaries in a dominant black political society which South Africa is and that could well be so. But I'm pretty flexible about it. To me I think you've got to be pragmatic, you've got to see how best can your values and interests be advanced in what way. I think having got the beachhead that we've established in the DP in this parliament has been a valuable exercise in and of itself. If it could increase significantly in number, well that would be something. You've got to ask yourself well what is the first order of business, let us take your thesis as being correct and it might be that the only ultimate breakthrough is when the ANC itself, which straddles so many different value systems across the African community because it has little resonance outside the African community but it covers the whole African. The point could be made, and it's one that I probably agree with, that when the ANC breaks up or if it does that there will therefore be some kind of ideological cohesion in the parts that break up and then you join with the one faction that you are most compatible with. That might be one way.

     You can equally say minorities, political minorities, racial minorities also need a political home, which is another approach, or you can say I'm going to put something together, which is the Roelf thinking, which eventually, but not immediately, maybe not in the next 10 - 15 years, will become the countervailing force but you need to get the home established before the family moves in. These are all tactical questions. It's very difficult to anticipate exactly how you do it. But it's clear to me that it's going to take a long time before the party of liberation and the party of African emancipation is under electoral threat. So I think you've got to fashion your tactics accordingly. Now either you can do that as a minority, a political minority, or you can do it by building something that eventually will challenge for power. But it's what a colleague of mine, Colin Eglin, calls the politics of the long haul.

POM     OK. Now -

TL     This will have to be the last question.

POM     Let me go back to GEAR. Everybody I've talked to about GEAR from Derek Keys, I take Derek Keys every year, I see him as my kind of tutor on what's happening, everyone says GEAR is not working.

TL     Well it's not being implemented.

POM     This country can't achieve a 5% growth rate because of external and internal constraints, it can grow at about 2½% per year if the level of savings, the level of external investment - it will get to 2½% growth rate per year and that's about it, but there's not going to be this great take off on economic transformation with 250,000 jobs created a year or whatever. Everyone I've talked to says, yes, even ANC people say, yes it's not going to happen.

TL     But it's not going to happen because it's not being implemented. If the tough choices which GEAR requires, and GEAR itself is a compromise from straight-forward market orthodoxies, but it's got enough there, you would have job creation in this country, you would have growth. It's not that you couldn't have it, but the ANC would have to confront the trade unions. Look at Britain today as opposed to what Britain was in 1979, the basket case of Europe to the biggest single repository of foreign direct investment in Europe is the United Kingdom. Well why? Nothing changed in Britain, they didn't discover more coal there and they didn't suddenly import a new work force, but they changed certain fundamentals. That's available to any country. Now I'm told that by saying that I'm being ahistorical, that I underestimate the role of the unions. Well it goes back to Britain. In Britain in the 1970s the trade unions were the dominant force in political society. They were decapitated. Now I'm not saying that these were easy or even pleasant choices and they have a lot of social dislocation but I cannot believe that it couldn't work. It's the political will and rigour to make it work. So that's that.

POM     This is the last question and it was Mr Motlanthe from the Mineworker's Union whose name is being pushed forward as being the next Secretary General of the ANC. He said to me, this was in the middle of the whole schlemozzle about the Labour Bill and Labour Conditions of Employment Act, he said we should be working 48 hours a week. On tape he said, "We should be working 48 hours a week."

TL     I'd like to get that tape.

POM     He said, "You know what? When the Afrikaners got in power in 1948 they may have rode our backs but they transformed their society because they went about it with a vengeance and a determination."

TL     Well any successful society has those characteristics.

POM     But this doesn't have it.

TL     It doesn't. A friend of mine who is left wing, who is now a Supreme Court judge here and he has great credentials as a struggle lawyer, you might call it -

POM     Albie?

TL     No, no, a real judge, but a Supreme Court judge. He said to me, it's not necessary to name him and he is a man of great intellectual rigour, he said the difference between the Afrikaner Nationalist government and the African Nationalist government is that the Afrikaner Nationalists might have been immoral but they had a zeal about governing. There is no zeal about governing. This is the country of short cuts, soft options and easy solutions.

POM     Why?

TL     I don't know the answer to that. I don't know.

POM     What happened to the ANC's great cohesiveness? Why can't Mandela get out there and say, I have one last message.

TL     He's biding his time.

POM     He can't do it?

TL     No.  We will have to leave it there. Nice to see you.

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.