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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

23 Sep 1997: Pahad, Essop

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POM     Dr Pahad, we talked about this a little the last time but since that's a year ago I would like to hear perhaps your further elaboration on it, and that is the question of corruption. There was this international German company, Transparency International, that signified an increase in corruption in the country in the last couple of years and as soon as one scandal seems to get off the front pages another scandal seems to emerge. You now have the ruckus developing about the housing scandal in Mpumalanga. Do you think corruption is a serious problem or that it is played up by the media as a way of perhaps undermining the government or lessening confidence in the government at least?

EP     I can't remember what I said to you last time.

POM     All the better.

EP     Let me just proceed on the basis of the question you've asked. No, of course corruption is a serious problem and whether or not sections of the media are using it to undermine the government does not detract from the fact that that is a problem and a serious problem at that. Incidentally I opened the conference of Transparency International in South Africa, here in this country on behalf of the Deputy President. He was going to speak there but he couldn't so I kicked off Transparency International in this country on behalf of the Deputy President because we think it's absolutely critical that we should find ways and means in which we deal with this issue. But as with so many other things, and it's not an excuse, you see if we say, and the world said, that apartheid is a crime against humanity, and I think we should understand what we meant by that, what the world meant by that.

     Now if you are a crime against humanity inherently you are rotten to the core, totally rotten, everything about the system was rotten. Now you inherit, in my view, probably the most corrupt society in the world. We all know that since the second world war it was the worst form of institutionalised racism. There are places in other parts of the world where racial prejudice exists but institutionalised racism, the order of the day, was in South Africa. So you therefore had this system that was just rotten, as I said, to the core. Now you have an election, you have a democratic election, you have a change of government but a change of government does not translate on 1st or 2nd May into a change of the system. The system remains. And then you take people and you put them into this most rotten of rotten systems and I think it would be naïve to therefore expect that some people may not be dragged into that intricate web of corruption that exists.

     Secondly, you inherited all of the officials who themselves were part of that rotten system. You inherited them as part of the change that took place. So I am saying therefore my approach is that it's a very serious problem, it's a very serious problem that must be tackled and must be tackled in a very severe and a very strict manner. I don't agree that there has been an increase in corruption and the reason I don't agree is because of the reasons I'm stating now, that you inherited the most corrupt society in the world. Secondly, to say an increase means you start from same base but I don't know on what basis, and I'm not sure Transparency International said it in that way, what base you started with because you actually had no information. Apartheid was a totally closed society. There was no accountability to parliament, there was no accountability to civil society, there was no transparency in this system so nobody knew. So when you say something has increased you must start with a base and people didn't have a base and therefore it's not correct to say there has been an increase. I think it's correct to say, as you are putting it, that it's a serious problem and as a serious problem it must be dealt with.

     My own view is that the government is very committed to dealing with this problem. We might not always demonstrate this in the way that perhaps many people think we should but that's the one point I want to make. The second point is that with the existence of a public protector, with an independent Auditor General, those are steps that we deliberately took together with the other parties but obviously the ANC was the leading party with regard to the new constitution. With regard to the interim constitution, all right, it was the National Party and the ANC together. We had no problem in enshrining in the constitution the office of the Public Protector, the Auditor General, these other commissions that we're setting up, because part of the responsibilities of these commissions is to monitor government. Part of the monitoring should be also where if they detect corrupt practices that they must then expose these things because they are independent of government.

POM     Yet the Auditor General has come under severe criticism from Minister Maduna and by his enquiry into the housing situation in Mpumalanga.

EP     Sure, sure. I don't think we should confuse the two. What Minister Maduna has said is that he has posed the question to the Auditor General that when they were auditing the books at the time of the National Party why is it that they did not bring this to the fore. But they also have to answer, because even though you're independent, your Auditor General also has to be above reproach and if there is something in the history which may bring into question the capacity of people to ensure that that office acts in a way that is above reproach then it should be part of the discussion and the debate. It's up to the person concerned to demonstrate that what is said about them was not true. They must demonstrate, it's no use going to the media and saying this minister is fighting me because he's still running away from the substance of the allegations made and I don't believe that anybody, either the Public Protector or the Auditor General, is free of that kind of accountability and transparency that must apply to all of us concerned. That's my view. We will have to wait and see in the end whether or not whether what Minister Maduna says with regard to this whatever it is, R140 or R170 million, is true or not and the Auditor General has to explain why during the time of the National Party he did not make this public. And if they say, my personal view, if somebody says well that was the law, my answer would be, oh if we the ANC pass a law tomorrow denying people access to this information would you still keep the job or would you resign and say under these conditions I can't work because you're circumscribing my right to investigations? So, the question then arises, why did they continue to work in a system which was totally militating against any form of transparency and accountability? What then were you auditing? So I think those questions need still to be answered.

     With regard to Sankie, I thought what Sankie was saying - well in any case the Auditor General's report itself absolves her as it happens. Now you can't write a report absolving an individual and then say go and form a commission of enquiry because you should have then said, well on the basis of the information I have I can't arrive at a conclusion and therefore I am suggesting a commission of enquiry. So what I am saying is that what some people said was that the best way to fast track this thing is to take it to the Public Protector who would investigate this matter and come to a conclusion, because she is not afraid, she is not hiding anything. Mr Phosa has set up his own commission, obviously it can only investigate the provincial, it can't investigate the national thing. But the question which still comes is why did the Auditor General and his office themselves not - they've got lots of powers of investigation. They have as much powers as any other commission that will be set up by the President. In terms of the constitution why did they themselves not carry out that kind of forensic investigation? Why do you then come and say somebody else, after all this time you then come and say somebody else must do it. So I am not so convinced that this is necessary but if Sankie thinks that she is quite happy that the Public Protector should look at it, fine, that helps her and the Public Protector must then look at it.

     One of the problems you're facing, although they will deny it, is that people in the opposition parties privately believe that because the Public Protector is an African what you need is a white person to go and investigate these blackies, because you know these blackies will stick together. But that's undermining the office of the Public Protector. So, anyway, but that's my view. So let me say this very clearly, as far as I am concerned personally we must deal with the issue of corruption. Yes it's a serious problem. I am quite convinced that this is the position of the government.

     Thirdly, my view certainly is very strongly that we must put in place concrete measures to deal with corruption, whether it's in the tendering process, whether it's in the awarding of contracts. I personally, for example, believe that if you go in for contracts, let's take a housing contract for example, personally I believe that if there are three or four companies that have bid and you choose one for whatever reason then at least the other three companies must have the right to be able to come to the people awarding it and say we'd like an explanation as to why you chose A instead of B, C and D, because if A's tender is 50% lower than ours we might be able to demonstrate that in five years time the houses that A is building are going to collapse. So, I think that's a transparent process. If you gave a contract to somebody, which I think is a perfectly legitimate thing to do, because you want to empower black businesses, particularly African businesses, then you must say so also, that in terms of the contract tender C is more expensive than the rest but because we are convinced that this is a purely African company and we want to empower African businesses we are going to give the tender to C even though C is a little bit more expensive than the others. It's an open thing, it's an open transparent thing, you are stating your position. I believe that if one began to do that you would then not get the situation in which people think that a small group of people are beginning to take decisions and all you have to do is bribe two people and you could get a large contract. That's my approach to the tendering procedure.

     I think if we can move in that kind of direction, taking very concrete measures, you're not going to eliminate corruption completely. There is no country in the world that's corruption free. I hope they will show me one day but up to now they haven't, not one. But at least we must demonstrate that we are trying to deal with the issue and that we can manage the level and depth of corruption, which we must do, and we would continue to support, at least speaking for the office of the Deputy President, certainly we would continue to support the work of Transparency International in South Africa.

POM     There was a report that Dr Skweyiya's department issued regarding the state of the public services in the provinces that was very scathing in terms of its state, its competencies, its capacity to deliver, its inefficiencies. It pointed to three or four provinces that it said were on the verge of collapse, that something like 22,000 civil servants would have to be trained at least per year just to keep afloat, not even to improve the situation just to stabilise it. Many people have suggested that part of the reason for this state in the provinces has been a policy of too aggressive affirmative action on the part of the government and that affirmative action should be slowed down so that more skill and expertise can be retained. Do you subscribe to that view or do you think affirmative action must be speeded up?

EP     People will say we haven't been fast enough with affirmative action. A lot of people say we are not moving fast enough on affirmative action. Let me deal with the issue of the competencies first of all. In a sense it's a very good thing that Zola's ministry and department emerged with this report but if you talk to ministers, every single minister was making the same point since 1994, the problem of a lack of capacity at the provincial level and the local level, but at that time we didn't have local government. I know for a fact that Sankie, from the time she became Minister of Housing, kept on saying we have a problem, we have a problem of capacity. I can't take government money, I can't take the people's money and just throw it there, and that's one of the reasons why I'm holding back because we have not yet created and set up the necessary skills to ensure that the money is utilised properly and effectively. She said that from the beginning.

     Now where did we find this? The bulk of it indeed came from those areas that we had to integrate, the former Bantustans, the Eastern Cape, Northern Province, North West. So you inherited a whole set of civil servants including many who promoted themselves, but not all of them because there are some very, very good ones, but a lot of them lacked that necessary skills and competence. But you inherited them at certain positions, you inherited them at a level of a Chief Director or a DPG. Now in terms of civil service regulations you can't demote them. Even if you put them in a low position you must continue to pay them the salary at which they were at the last time. So that's what we inherited. We had agreed in the negotiations in Kempton Park that this will be part of the deal and of course the NP meant the deal to be for whites but it applied equally, we couldn't say it will only apply to whites, it had to apply to everybody. So that is one of the problems you faced with regard to skills and competencies in terms - so it isn't the question of affirmative action necessarily, it's a question of you inherited them.

     Two, with the white civil servants we inherited, I have said to you before in every interview we've done, that we inherited some very, very competent, some very, very good people, some very, very hard working people, people who are quite determined to serve the government of the day. But you inherited quite a lot of others who are also incompetent. They might have university degrees to their names as so many of these others in the Bantustans have but just lack the managerial skill and managerial capacity. Some of it was not their own problem, for example they were trained in the old time route, memos in Afrikaans. Now all of a sudden a minister says I don't want this in Afrikaans, I want this in English, but he can't write English. It's not the language they're used to writing things and nothing to do with some capacity skill it's just that they didn't have the capacity to write in English, it throws them off. So they write in Afrikaans and then they translate in their minds into English and what then emerges is a bit of a garble. But it's also part of this capacity and skills and competencies that was missing.

     So I think all round you had that. It has nothing to do, in my view, or very little to do with affirmative action, but you know that in a typical conversation of whites in South Africa it always revolves around, as soon as there is something that goes wrong in their view you must blame these blackies. You see? What do you expect? It's affirmative action. The reality is that we have made some changes in the composition of the public service but the majority are still whites. That's a fact. The fact also is that if you look even in Mpumalanga in the corruption that took place with the driver's license, the top ones were whites. That's what they were, they still are. Now I'm just using this to say, no I don't think that that is correct, I don't buy that at all.

POM     That there is too much affirmative action?

EP     Not at all, in fact I think we need to do more. If we understand affirmative action correctly we certainly need to do more to put women, in my view specifically African women, in more important decision making processes. As the head of the office on the status of women this is one of my responsibilities. We must do that. Now unless you're going to take deliberate and systematic decisions what will happen is women as a whole, whatever their colour, are going to be kept back. That's clear. You've got to take an affirmative action policy and programme to say we're going to promote more women. That's all. Then within that I would argue, we would say we want to find ways and means of promoting African women because we must be representative of the totality of our population otherwise you are just creating problems for some time in the future, ten, fifteen, twenty years down the line.

     One of the issues is problems that arose not so much from the affirmative action side, is that all of us without exception who came through the ranks of the national liberation movement obviously could not acquire that kind of expertise and skills with regard to management side. We were involved in all kinds of other things. Nobody can challenge our political skills. I say again on record that we will be way, way ahead of anybody in South Africa, certainly way ahead of this overwhelming majority of whites who kept on voting for the most racist system in the world. That tells you something about their political skills and abilities. But sure in terms of management, in terms of running a bureaucracy, because we never ran a bureaucratic organisation, we ran a very transparent organisation and now you must run a rules bound bureaucracy. It's not easy, it requires a different kind of skill. I am arguing that as time goes on our people are getting better and better at it. Sometimes you appoint people because they are very good politically, you interview them, they are brilliant in terms of conceptualisation, in terms of understanding, but you find that when it actually comes to just personnel management there is some serious deficiency but you didn't realise that at the point at which you were appointing them.

     So I don't think that affirmative action is a problem. I certainly personally, talking to you today, would say that we must move even faster with regard to ensuring that as quickly as possible we are able to have in all our institutions in this country, including the private sector, more representation which must be more in accord with the democratic situation in our country.

POM     OK, I've got three major last questions to ask you. One is with regard to GEAR. Practically everybody I've talked to in the last couple of months says that GEAR is not working, that the best this economy can do is achieve a growth rate of about 2.5% and at the most optimistic maybe 3%, that when you discount that in relation to the rate of growth of the population you might have an increase in per capita income of 1% a year and you're not going to get your 5% growth rate, that the prospects for job creation are in fact just about zero, in fact there may be increasing unemployment rather than increasing employment as firms downsize as they enter a global economy, that the mass of the poor will remain for decades to come exactly as poor as they are, there will be no substantial change in their standard of living, that the gap between the haves of the first world and the third world has probably stabilised at a level that it's already at, that it won't decrease very much and that probably the only gainers so to speak since independence have been the emerging black middle class and professional elites. So that to talk about social and economic transformation as being this kind of leap forward where growth and employment are going to be generated on a large scale that will make a real indent into the massive problems you face is really talking about an Emperor with no clothes. It's not going to happen.

EP     Let me first deal with the last point, I'll come back to the broader question. It's quite wrong to say that all you're doing is that you are improving the things for the emerging black middle class. Even if that was true, can that be wrong?

POM     No, I'm saying that they are the gainers, I'm not saying if that's right or wrong.

EP     Is that wrong? I think it's correct. And if it is true that means we've already begun to deal with some fundamental issues in our country. We've already begun to change the apartheid system which was designed precisely to prevent the emergence of this strata. Now if we have succeeded in this then I am very happy and if I would detect this thing we have succeeded, that's wonderful, that means we've actually achieved some things, we have done something good quite clearly. But quite clearly if the changes in South Africa are limited only to enriching and empowering this particular strata then our policy objective of the fundamental transformation of South Africa has not taken place. Transformation has taken place sure by empowering and broadening and widening and bringing many more people into this middle strata, because fundamental transformation as I understand it, must deal with what you talked about earlier which is the masses of the people. Now again it depends on how we're going to approach this. I'll answer GEAR last. When people have been deprived of any access to clean water for centuries, not just generations, and you have now given them access to clean water, I don't think anybody can argue that there hasn't been a tremendous improvement in the quality of life.

POM     I suppose what I'm getting at, I understand that there have been improvements in electrification -

EP     So if you then take electrification, if you then take access to health facilities, if you then take, and we still have problems, but access to education, the amount of new classrooms that have been built, new schools that have been built, I don't think it's correct to say that there has been no improvement in the quality of life of the masses.

POM     I suppose what I'm getting at is that GEAR was predicated on there being a rate of growth of 5%.

EP     No, sure, I said I wanted to come to GEAR last but I must first of all object to - again it comes from those who already have and on what they base their thing is sometimes newspaper reports not the actual reality. The amount of land redistribution, now Derek has passed even more laws to try to ensure security of tenure plus easier access for our people to land ownership. I think that's a tremendous change in South Africa. Coming up to GEAR, it may well be that one of the problems has been, and I speak as somebody who has a responsibility for the South African Communications Service, so I want to take some of the blame myself, that we ourselves have not been able to communicate to that extent as effectively as we should have as to what is really GEAR. GEAR is not the economic policy of this country. It's basically, in my view, the framework which fundamentally seeks to deal with monetary and financial arrangements. That's what GEAR is. It's not designed to be a replacement for an industrial strategy policy, it's not designed to be a replacement for a job creation policy, it's not designed to be that. Of course it impacts on it in the sense if you say that you're going to limit government spending then you might limit government spending in a particular direction. But I think there has been a misunderstanding, in my view, that GEAR itself and by itself will create the jobs. GEAR itself was predicated, as I understood it, a point had been this economic growth. It wasn't that GEAR itself was going to lead to growth but it was then going to be a contributing factor because if you limited certain levels of public expenditure, if you didn't allow your deficit to grow what would happen is that more money would be freed for other things. Now I think that remains true today.

     For those who are opponents of GEAR, from an economic theory point of view and who would prefer a more demand led approach, would still have to answer the question, what do we do with the debt? Now, it's very easy for the government, 1999 is coming, to go and borrow billions. Who will pay? Ten, fifteen years down the line after we are dead somebody must pay. I think we are not getting enough credit for being courageous enough to try to deal with issues now and get the brickbats for people because it would be quite easy for us to borrow money now but the ANC in 15 years time when it's still in power must now, those young chaps and young women who will take over must now bear the cost. I think it's wrong - which is what we're doing now, we're paying for the sins of what the apartheid regime did, it went on this borrowing spree. Now if we don't deal with that deficit, if we don't deal with the debt I think we're in serious problems with it. Even if we have a 4% growth or 5% growth the bulk of your income generated from growth will go to pay somebody else that you borrowed money from. And that's the issue that people who are critics of GEAR have to address and I don't believe they have addressed that issue. I say so with regard to COSATU, I say so with regard to some of the people in the SACP that I have discussed it with. I have said that you have not addressed this issue. The industrial strategy, yes, and people must come with proposals. It may well be that government's industrial strategy is not good enough. Well let's come with more concrete proposals to say what kind of industrial strategy, how do we encourage greater investment in the manufacturing sector as opposed to chasing paper money on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange? But the issue is not resolved by that sort of resolution. They have to be resolved in a concrete way in which you will take concrete positions.

     Thirdly, yes there will be job losses. For example, we talk about an integrated region. Now as we are talking, and I'm sure I mentioned it last time, there are a number of small textile manufacturers and some medium sized ones who are re-locating to Mozambique. Why? Because the trade union movement is weak there.  Two, labour costs are cheaper, and three it doesn't take them all that long to train somebody to be a machinist on a machine. So what happens? It's not saying the trade union movement mustn't fight for higher wages. That's a responsibility of a trade union movement to fight for higher wages and better working conditions. But your very success might price some people out of the production process, so they will take their machines and go somewhere else and as you integrate more and more regionally you will be able to have free movement of capital and goods and services so they will move. Now that's a reality so I think there will be some shedding of labour, certainly in those kinds of industries but it's not new, it's not peculiar to South Africa. Go and look at the history of Britain for example and see what happened to the great textile industries.

POM     All their industries, shipbuilding, coal, the whole lot.

EP     All of them without exception that's what happened, but later on more motor manufacturers came to Britain. The Japanese came to Britain in spite of at one time claims that the British labour cost was higher than anybody else. So I am saying it's not a peculiar situation but it's something that we have to deal with but we have to understand that. I still dispute the figures because South African Central Statistical Services base their figures on inputs they receive from firms and sometimes people at low levels answer these questions, sometimes people just answer these questions, so extrapolations are made and I don't believe necessarily always on the firmest of foundations. What, for example, the Central Statistical Services can't tell us, it's not their fault, what's happening in this country is what happened in Britain that I remember in the seventies in the building industry. If you remember the Construction Workers, the Building Workers Union, a very powerful union in Britain, very powerful, construction companies went for lump labour if you remember. Lump labour, that's what they were called in Britain at that time, non-unionised labour.

POM     OK, that would be mostly Irish people.

EP     Irish and West Indians. Those were the two. The Irish were coming from Ireland, they were prepared to take any job because they had to live, they had to eat, they had to send money to their families. West Indians were prepared to do the job because they were an unskilled labour force. The system militated against them going far in school. They left school early and the only jobs available were lump labour, non-unionised labour. You didn't have to pay for medical things, somebody broke their arm or their leg you just kick them off, they went on to the National Health Service, the government had to pay for them but you never had to worry, you never had to worry about their pensions. That's what happened in Britain. It's happening here because you've got every building site, for every ten people working there they have ten people standing outside the fence looking for a job. So simply supply and demand. Supply is very great, the demand is not as great, therefore the employees are in a far more powerful position with regard to this labour, but this is not reflected in the statistics because the employer is not going to tell you I am employing fifty people at cut rate wages and I am not offering them anything. So the figures you get are from those honest employers who actually register workers, pay UIF, because you must pay all of these benefits.

     The same thing with the service sector. Now there's a simple equation you can make, it is an accepted international norm that for every tourist you get you create so many jobs. That is an accepted norm, I don't know if it's ten or fifty, whatever it is. Even if you took the barest minimum the figures are clear that tourism to South Africa has increased over the last two or three years by maybe 30%, 40%. By any standards that should have lead to an increase in jobs. But again in the hotel industry I am pretty certain they are not employing unionised labour where you have got to pay for all of these things, so it is not reflected in the figures but I think if you look at the economy as a whole - therefore I'm saying it's not true then to say GEAR equals job losses because I think there have been job losses, sure there have, but there have also been job increases which are not actually reflected in the statistics.

     The third element is that I think you're finding, leaving aside the fact that many non-South Africans are hawkers, I think you will find amongst the Africans now they are more and more becoming hawkers, standing on the streets and selling, earning something to eat, but they are earning something and in earning something they are consuming something and so they are making a contribution to the economy.

POM     What was the old, informal economy.

EP     Yes, but again it is quite important, but again we don't know how many people are involved in this and many of them are just fronts for other businesses. They are just put there and say well, if you sell so much I will pay you a little bit. It's exploitation, it's wrong, but nevertheless it's happening, but it does mean that it's not then true to say that there's only been a downward slide, if you see what I mean. I think that what one needs and which we don't have at the moment is a more balanced approach. So coming therefore back to GEAR I think it's too early to say whether GEAR is working or not.

POM     I suppose my major question would be, do you think that to base policy on the assumption that there will be in the medium term, that's in the next ten to fifteen years, 5% growth rate per year is a false assumption, it's not going to happen?

EP     Every country does that. I suppose whoever is planning something makes certain assumptions about growth. You have to do that.

POM     But do you think it's time to revise those assumptions?

EP     Of course I think, as any private company would have to do, for example if you take investments in mining, for a mining company it might take them just five years to do an investigation whether to actually mine. By that time they will have spent millions and millions of rand just investigating geological deposits, the depth of the deposit, the cost of that particular commodity on the world markets. They then make certain projections that in five years time the price of gold will have risen to that much and you come five years down the line and somebody has sold a lot of gold and the price of gold has dropped. So, sure, those kinds of assumptions and projections could at times be wrong but it doesn't apply specifically to GEAR or specifically to us. I think it applies in general to everything but as economists are wont to do they have to operate on that kind of basis of making some assumptions. So what I'm really saying is that the problem with economic theory, I think, is that it's very difficult to tell within a year or two whether that economic theory is correct or not. If you remember Thatcher and her supply-side economics, everybody was praising her to the sky if you remember. Wonderful! Well, seven, eight years down the line they said no, no, no, these things didn't really work, what we need to do in the Conservative Party is we begin to need to change, but it took that long for the policy to work itself through the system.

     Now it may be that at the end of a period you might then have to come and say but GEAR didn't produce what was expected, but I think it's too early to say that and those who are writing it off are being unfair because it's too early to say that. And I'm saying that even if you had a purely demand-side approach to the thing you will not see the results in one or two years time because your main results will come at the end of a four or five year period. So it's very difficult, I think, to sit down now and therefore in my discussions with people who are opposed to GEAR, I say no it's not possible for you to arrive at the conclusions you are arriving at. We can discuss theory, sure, and we can discuss an economic approach and somebody can say let's go back to Keynesian and I say that our industrial strategy policy would be based more on the Keynesian model than a monetarist model. What this is doing is it is restricting government spending and if somebody can prove to me that it will be helpful to the economy for the government just to increase its spending, well I am waiting to be convinced. I am not convinced that this is so and I think what GEAR has done in that sense, and what the Minister of Finance has been doing, is he has been keeping a tight lid of government spending and I don't think that that's a bad thing.

POM     I know you have to run, I have one last question - will I be able to grab half an hour with you before I go on the 15th?

EP     Yes, let me just see if Frank is in because he's the D-G.

POM     I don't know whether you've read it, this is from Patti Waldmeir's book.

EP     I haven't read the book but let's hear.

POM     I'll quote her first, and then there was a statement that she attributes to the Deputy President, and she says: -

     "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 the 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 the quotation from Deputy President Mbeki is: -

     "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 derived 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 of time."

     Do you agree with the Deputy President's analysis?

EP     Yes, not because I work for him.

POM     I'll take note of that.

EP     No, I think that's correct, but I don't know what else he then said to Patti Waldmeir.

POM     Let me give you what my thought would be and then you give me yours. My thought would have been that it was because the sunset clauses were there that enabled the transition to go so smoothly, that if you didn't have those sunset clauses things might have been an awful lot rougher. So to make the assumption that these clauses weren't necessary because the transition went so smoothly is to miss the point that maybe it went so smoothly because they were there.

EP     It misses the point completely. That's why I said that I would have thought that I am sure the Deputy President would have then gone and added this, because what I think he was doing was he's talking about a post facto experience. I would imagine that that's what he meant.

POM     But she says within months senior ANC figures were asking whether these gestures had been necessary.

EP     Maybe they were asking what - they were certainly missing the point if they were asking that question because that's not what the Deputy President is saying. Therefore the quotation that follows that particular statement, in my view, is not necessarily very accurate because it's not that he's posing, he's saying well let's do two things here. One, certainly an approach to the sunset clauses was very necessary. She knows, many of us had spoken to her too. The person that originated with the sunset clauses was the Deputy President and he and Joel Netshitenzhe were the first to raise this.

POM     This has always been one the things I've been trying to find out and you can tell me now because this won't come out till the year 2000, his proposed this before Joe Slovo came out with it?

EP     Oh long before, he and Joel Netshitenzhe were the real originators of this idea. We had a lot of discussions inside the ANC. For some reason or other at some point the discussions stopped because other events came and overtook us and became dominant events in our lives with regard to the negotiating process and the TEC and all of that. Then JS came back at a certain moment in time and went public on it, producing a paper and taking it to the media.

POM     Was Joe used as a kind of a point man?

EP     No, no, Joe decided that he thought the time was right to do it and he did it and I think it was a good thing personally that he did, but he was not the originator of the idea. Whatever people might have said even the day after, the fact is that at that given moment in time when you were looking at South Africa and you were looking at the balance of forces in South Africa, you were looking at what is it that would make the greatest contribution to reducing to the barest minimum the amount of violence that such a fundamental change would occasion in this country. Once you took that approach you then had to come to some conclusion and unless people are saying that that approach was wrong, which I doubt any sane person would say, once you took that correct approach you had to say, now what is it that you have to do because who is it who will exercise power on 2nd May? Us with our majority in parliament? If you reduce the state to those who sit in elected institutions there is something radically wrong with us. Of course power in the state resides in the army, the police, civil servants, of course, that's the core of your power in the state. We had no control over it. We didn't have a Minister of Defence. So the question was that in order to occasion the kind of transformation in each of these institutions you also had to find a way in which you did not take a position where you would occasion tremendous resistance.

     In the case of South Africa, you are Irish, you are not talking about an IRA unit or a Protestant paramilitary unit, you're talking here about people who had the most sophisticated military training, years of it, access to weapons of all kinds including sophisticated weaponry, who may, however appalling you might find it, but nevertheless who could at least unite small groups of people around a common cause which is to defend their right to be racist or whatever else it is, or just a racist prejudice themselves and would drive them into banding together. In that situation I think it was quite correct so I don't believe that you would find anybody who would disagree.

     What I thought the Deputy President was saying, which was important for us, which is what I have been saying for a long time now, was that, and I repeated it earlier today, there were many people in the civil service, in the army, in the police who had genuinely accepted a new government led by the ANC and therefore you did not need the National Party as a balancing force to keep the allegiance of these people. That's what our experience demonstrated and therefore when the NP left the government of national unity they did not take any of these people with them because by this time they had lost the kind of overpowering influence they had exerted over these elements. They had lost it. But at the point at which we were negotiating they had not lost it and that's the difference. So, yes, now, and therefore I would agree with the Deputy President's statement there, but that only experience taught us that it came quicker than most of us I think had imagined that we would arrive at such a situation. I think a lot of us imagined that after three or four years we would be able to demonstrate to all of these people that they have nothing to fear from an ANC led government.

POM     Do you think, just as a matter of interest, that the National Party made a strategic mistake in leaving the government of national unity?

EP     It's difficult to say. I think so but on the other hand I think their reasons for leaving were wrong. They left partly out of pique because they couldn't get some clauses that they wanted in the constitution, even at the last minute on some education things and so on and so forth, so they got piqued and then the right wing managed to get a grip on them and the compromise was that they should leave the government of national unity. Sure they would have had to leave the government of national unity at some point but I always imagined that they would leave at some point in 1998, then they can go and fight the elections in 1999 as an independent force. Anyway they left and they left in a context in which they didn't know what it means to be an opposition party really. I don't think they learnt even how to be an opposition party while they were in government and so this change was something that they had not really, I think, accounted for and this still, in my view, poses a problem for them as to how do they oppose in a way which is not always just purely destructive.

POM     Or reactionary.

EP     Or reactionary. And that's their problem and they are not going to solve this problem and therefore, in my view, this National Party will either go down or remain where it is. It's not going to make the kind of breakthrough. I think they themselves realise it and that's why they keep on talking about forming all kinds of alliances and everything else. So that's the first thing. I would also add that I would have thought, if I was De Klerk, that I would have resigned from the National Party at the point at which the NP left the government of national unity, politically, because he could have then said, well I have taken this country, which is not true but nevertheless he keeps on saying that, through a very difficult period, I am the one that destroyed apartheid, again which is not true but nevertheless he keeps on saying it, led the NP through the most difficult periods of the transition negotiations for the new constitution, transition one, including this one, I have played my role, I think it's time for a new leader to come in. And he would have left on a very high note, but now this chap left on a pretty low note that even his departure from parliament didn't really cause much of a stir, even in this country never mind in the rest of the world. I think De Klerk should have resigned earlier but I suppose what Patti says about the NP is quite true, I'm not sure I like the word 'obsequiousness' but they are quite used to authoritarian leadership, democracy is very foreign to them. Even in their own party structures democratic norms and procedures are quite foreign. They could have started earlier trying to work out the way but I suppose he wanted to stay until they could anoint a new leader and he would have played a role in anointing a new leader. But that's where we are so I always imagined, I happen to have been wrong which is fine, I always imagined the NP would have left about the middle of 1998.

POM     Just two more things and one of them will be a very quick yes or no. This is on Van Zyl Slabbert, a book he wrote called Comrades in Business, he and Heribert Adam. He said : -

     "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."

     And -

     "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 finally : -

     "De Klerk's negotiators were really a part of Mandela's team in facilitating the transition to majority rule. It was a pushover."

EP     No, I must reject that. I'm absolutely astonished at Van, that Van Zyl could write nonsense like this and I don't care whether you put that in the book. It's rubbish because it doesn't want to understand what happened. In the course of the negotiations the balance of forces shifted more and more in favour of the ANC. Obviously when we started the NP were in power, had all the trappings of power and more than the trappings of power. The ANC could claim the support of the majority but it had never been tested in an election, though everybody recognised that it was the leading force nevertheless we hadn't actually been able to demonstrate this in practice. But in the course of the negotiations many things happened including the spat between Mandela and De Klerk at Kempton Park, the shootings in Boipatong, the mass action undertaken by COSATU and the ANC, the reaction of the international community, the reaction of the business community in South Africa, so I'm surprised Van Zyl, who teaches at the Wits Business School, doesn't take this into account that all of these things contributed to a context in which the NP was no longer this main player in the game. The ANC then became the main player in the game. Now I would rather say that instead of saying that they sold out the poor Afrikaners, I would say that at least they had the courage to stand up and say in order to save the Afrikaners this is the direction to move, and I think that's what they did do. Not that they sold out any poor Afrikaners, what poor Afrikaners did they sell out? What did these poor Afrikaners have in the first place that was to sell out? That they had a racist entry into all of the professions and the jobs? How were you going to defend this under any circumstances? It's never been acceptable to the ANC.

     So I really believe that's a nonsensical approach to say that they sold out. If Van Zyl and Adam had the guts to say, which I wish they had because I've said it to the NP leadership, is that they used the Afrikaner working class as cannon fodder to achieve their class objectives, but again that's nothing new in history where the powers and numbers in that of the working class - and then in fact you can go back to Hitler and see how he used it in order to drum up support but he was never really acting in the interests of the working class. He was basically acting in the interests of an aspiring or emerging bourgeois class who didn't want the trappings of power, they wanted real power and that was a stake in the economy and everything else.

     So it's how we understand the transition that I have a problem with the kind of things that you quoted. So the first thing I would say is that I think that these people should give the NP credit for recognising the changes that had taken place in the course of the negotiating process. Two, if the NP had stood stubbornly by its positions I think the transition here would have been totally different and then they wouldn't be sitting and writing that they sold out the poor Afrikaners, they would be saying that, no, their stubbornness led to a blood bath in South Africa. You must think the consequences of what you're saying and I'm saying I don't think either Van Zyl or Heribert Adam actually have thought - but I haven't read the book so I mustn't talk about the book as such but I'm just talking about these ideas now. I haven't read the book. It's quite clear that I think due credit must be given and I certainly would give the NP credit with regard to the interim constitution, that they recognised these things, they then eventually had, at least De Klerk and them had the courage to move in that direction in spite of opposition inside their own party and there was opposition inside their own party from the right wing.

     The third element that issue raises is, what do you mean by defending the interests of poor Afrikaners? It's something that I've said earlier but I think it's critical to emphasise this point. Did you defend the interests of poor Afrikaners by continuing to defend their ill-gotten privileges? It can't be correct, it can't be. So they did defend the interests of Afrikaners, white Afrikaans speaking people who were working in the army, the police, the civil service. Yes they did but at the same time we turned it round and said it must apply to everybody. So people who are beneficiaries then, very large numbers of them were African civil servants who were working in all these Bantustans and Bantu homelands, in the army, the Police, and so it wasn't just a one-sided affair. No, what I would say though with regard to that is that if you want to look at Afrikaner history then that's what happened, that in the end of course as a community the Afrikaners benefited from job reservation policies, sure. They certainly benefited from Anglo American incidentally selling them part of their gold mines at much cheaper prices than they did to both NAIL and JCI. If you actually look at the prices paid by those two, Afrikaners got a much cheaper deal. Three, that the whole policy, whites only policies since the twenties, laid the basis for quite a rapid growth of the Afrikaner middle class, making sure about your Afrikaans speaking institutions and all of these things, it became job creation for them. They set up these tribal colleges and the bulk of the people who were employed in all these tribal colleges -

     It might be a good idea if you went and told Van Zyl what I said about his book and ask him to comment.

POM     I will.

EP     Because I am disappointed. He might have an explanation for it but I am disappointed and surprised that he would argue it in that particular way. Patti also, I think partly from what I read, one of the excerpts in the newspapers was trying to say that De Klerk capitulated. I don't think it was a matter of capitulation.

POM     She called the whole thing 'a study in the psychology of capitulation'.

EP     Is that so? Well again I would not agree with that, I wouldn't agree with that approach because, one, I think it's unfair to the NP as well as its negotiators as well as De Klerk. Two, it still does not then answer the question that if you did not shift positions what would have happened in South Africa. She would not have written the book, she would have written a different kind of a book. And it's not only the NP that shifted, we also shifted on some positions, the ANC, the SACP, and then the other groupings that were at Kempton Park who came and formed a broad alliance with the ANC. We also had to shift from some of our fundamental positions because that's in the nature of our negotiations. If you don't want to shift and you don't want to change, don't negotiate, just go and sit in your corner and fight it. But once you've entered into a process of negotiations I think we all had to understand that we would have to sometimes make some changes and the question for us was how we managed this and how we were able to take back the changes that we were making to our constituency. We didn't always succeed in doing it properly and therefore sometimes a number of people complained that negotiators were taking positions which they themselves as members were not aware that this is our policy and positions and so on and so forth, and we then had to explain that in the course of negotiations this is what happens. You can't sit there and wait and say now I'm going back to the masses of my people to get a mandate. I would never negotiate anything on that basis. So your supporters, your members, had to have enough confidence in you to entrust you with those responsibilities and I think that we carried out our responsibilities fairly well and I say the same thing for the NP. They defended group rights. That's where they started. They could not sustain the argument of group rights because there was no way the ANC was going to entertain the notion of group rights. No way. You certainly would not have had negotiations, we were not as the ANC and the Communist Party going to sit there and negotiate on the basis of group rights. Never. We made that quite clear from the very beginning. The NP could have taken the same position and then you would have had no negotiations. I think the NP understood that this was not an acceptable thing. I don't think the international community would have found the NP's position a viable position. Nobody would have agreed with that position. I don't think South African business would have found it viable and acceptable, including Afrikaner business establishments who have huge investments in this country. I think what one needs is a more balanced understanding and not to just score cheap points against the NP.

     Anyway, I'm finding myself very funny defending the NP but I think one must be fair to them and one must be fair to their negotiators as well as when we negotiated the new constitution under very different circumstances where we were now in the driving seat. But even then there were many times when in the course of discussions we tried to find ways and means to find each other. It may be that somebody will say some of us sold out the poor Africans but they must demonstrate it, that in the end the final constitution was a sell-out of anybody. I don't think the interim constitution sold out anybody. I think it brought in peace and stability in South Africa.

POM     The very last question is a quotation from FW de Klerk and I want to ask you whether you think this still reflects the mindset of the average Afrikaner today and his quote is: -

     "The people who structured apartheid and put it on the books were not evil people. Apartheid was in its idealistic form a plan to make all the people of South Africa free. The Afrikaner fought the first anti-colonial war in modern history in Africa against Great Britain so Afrikaners have a deep understanding of the need of a people to be free. We would lead the rural homelands to independence just as the colonial powers to the north had done, the goal was to bring justice to all by transforming South Africa into something like Europe, national states working together in respect of common interests."

EP     Well it's palpable nonsense, palpable rubbish, and that's why when he says that people didn't believe him when he said he has apologised for apartheid, it's precisely because of those kinds of statements. That's no apology to anybody, that's an apologia for defending the indefensible. It's just so ahistorical as to be unbelievable, to come and say - I mean the development of nation states in Europe took centuries and a movement from slavery to feudalism, from feudalism to mercantile capitalism, to full grown capitalism where borders were drawn and re-drawn. It's not just that somebody sat there and decided, right I don't like Greeks so I'm going to give you a portion of this land, I don't like Italians so I'll give you a portion of that land. I mean, really! So it's nonsensical.

POM     Do you think it's a reflection of their mindset?

EP     It's a reflection of the fact that they never - he, De Klerk, refuses to come to one fundamental decision and that is that apartheid was a crime against humanity.

POM     What about the average Afrikaner today?

EP     I'm coming back to that. But because they couldn't understand Africa, the average Afrikaner couldn't understand it either. I believe that many Afrikaners are still harking back for the old days. We're only three years into a democratic dispensation and when you've been lording it over everybody it's very difficult, like a parent - well my daughter is going to be upset if you publish it in your book, but she's 18 now, she has a boyfriend and it's very difficult for this father to let go. Until you sit down and say, look, now really, she is now an adult and she is going to make up her own mind about things the best thing is to discuss issues and not go on pretending you are going to control this child's life all her life. I am using that as an example to say that it takes time for that kind of change.

     What I think is one of the good things that is happening in South Africa is that more and more of white Afrikaners are coming to that conclusion but a lot of them are still stuck in the old way of thinking, still trying to defend an old way of life. Right now at the moment one of the things that's happening amongst white Afrikaners is that they are pressurising, for example, the Freedom Front to come to a common understanding with the right wing of the NP. Let's get together, we're Afrikaners, we're white Afrikaners, and then we will bring these bruiners, these coloureds, let's get together. Misconception, misunderstanding of South Africa. Those days are gone when you think that if you get together as this small group of Afrikaners that you are going to be able to once more transform South Africa into something else. It's not going to happen. So that feeling does exist amongst Afrikaners and I believe that whatever this NP talks about forming new alliances and new things they will go back to that base, that white Afrikaner base, and that is going to prevent them from having the courage to take really the kind of political positions that are in the interests of this country because they're going to try to defend so many sectional interests, these white Afrikaners and then the coloureds in the Cape. That's what's going to happen.

     So I think De Klerk was wrong and he demonstrates that while he had the courage to move in 1990, and I said he had the courage to move in terms of the interim constitution, it was more a recognition of the political weight and the shifting balance in this political weight than a real internal conversion to arrive at that position. Because you cannot make a comparison, never mind European nation states, with anything, when the fundamental policy was based on depriving the indigenous people of their right to land and property. Now you can't say that 87% of this country is going to be in white hands and that actually what we were doing was we were really working for the freedom of these people in their little Bantustans. It's nonsensical and you know it's not true. That's the first point to make about that. Secondly, if freedom means the super-exploitation and the regimentation of a whole people then it's a kind of freedom I certainly would not want. Thirdly, he must explain why the NP had a policy of reducing the small Indian community to an irreducible minimal. It's to use Malan's phrase. They wanted to kick all of them out, they said they must go back to India. What was that? Now how do you say you were trying to liberate these people? Of course not, they were not liberating anybody and if they were really honest what they should have then done is say, OK we will have our own volkstaat which will come out of 10% of this land and since we are hardy Afrikaners what we will do is we will take the most difficult terrain in the Northern Cape and show that we can make a desert bloom. I mean it would have been sensible, but all these wonderful cities here with their gold mines, they will keep them for themselves, so what freedom were they giving to us? Here in the Free State they had no intention of giving any of those gold mines to the African people, they were going to go and put in some Bantustan in Qwa-Qwa and you keep the rest of the mines. No it can't be. So no I can't accept that but I think it's symptomatic of the weakness in their thinking and this refusal to come to terms with what was quite clearly not only wrong, it was immoral, it was a crime.

POM     Do you think the same thing applies in general to white reaction to the Truth Commission? They are saying, oh we never knew those awful things were going on and if we did know of course we would have condemned them. But they've distanced themselves from it completely.

EP     Because it's very easy, because how do you live with yourself. Here you are, the beneficiaries of this vicious, vile system. In 1964 I suppose the first one was Ngudle who was killed in detention (I'm not sure if I've got the name right, I thought it was Ngudle but I might have got the name wrong, you can check the name). Then Suleiman Salojee, Babla, who was a very close friend of mine, in fact a distant relative. The day he was arrested, the day before, we were at his house although we were both banned but we were together. He gets arrested, a week or two weeks later he is dead. The claim is he jumped out of the old Special Branch building. There was a big picture on the front page of the Rand Daily Mail. Why didn't they ask themselves this question, why is this man killing himself? Later, I'm just talking about the people that I know, Ahmed Timol who was certainly my closest friend, it became quite a celebrated case when they threw him out of the 10th floor of the John Vorster Square building 26 years ago, they said he jumped out, but this is after they made the big publicity about how it would be impossible for anybody to jump out of that new John Vorster Square interrogating room. Why didn't they ask the questions?

POM     When did that killing take place?

EP     1971. Babla was 1964. In that seven year period many others were killed. They were going to court and saying that somebody slipped on a bar of soap. Now I mean really, in all honesty, do you mean to say those whites are so stupid that they believed that some prisoner slipped on a bar of soap and then cracked their head and died? When Biko - why are they pretending now that they are so sorry? When the thing of Biko was exposed why did they not stand up and be counted? They were quite nice and complacent in their suburban homes. They can't say they didn't know. They can't say they didn't know that jobs were reserved for them, including all the professions. They can't say, and this includes the Democratic Party here, that they didn't know that the reason they can buy cheap property and make money for themselves is because there was a Group Areas Act in place. We carried out very systematic struggles here, in the streets, everywhere else. How can they say they didn't know? Of course they knew. They were benefiting and they were quite happy to benefit from this. Now it's impossible to find anybody who was supporting apartheid. I don't know where they've disappeared to. And the so-called Democratic Party with all their liberals, and that's why I like Thami Mzwai's new word 'conservative liberals'.

POM     Who uses that phrase.

EP     Thami Mzwai on the media thing, he's coined a new phrase, 'conservative liberal', I like that phrase. No, these people must be honest, they must be honest and say, look we knew some things but because we were benefiting from the system we refused to exercise our right to know more. That was the truth of the matter. They refused to want to learn more. It's not that they didn't know, not that they didn't, all of them who came to England were also reading British newspapers and what were they saying? That this is just a lot of anti-apartheid propaganda, these foreigners they don't know South Africa, why don't you come to our country and then you will see what our country is like. That is what they used to say to anybody who was opposed to anti-apartheid positions, but you don't know, you don't know our Bantus, you know our natives are not like yours, our natives are like this, they are very backward. That's what they used to say. Why are they pretending otherwise? Yes they knew and if they didn't know then they are culpable but it can't in law be said that I didn't know. They didn't even bother to find out. That's the truth of the matter. That's the first point I'd like to make on that.

     The second point I'd like to make is when whites were arrested who were part of the Congress Movement, why didn't they ask themselves, why indeed were they taking such positions that the children of some of our white comrades suffered grave damage at school because the other school children attacked them for being kaffir lovers and whatnot, where did these children get it from if they didn't get it from their parents? Why didn't they stand up and say these people are fighting?

     The same with this media here, this commission on media that now claims to be all sorts of funny things, when The Guardian New Age was banned, where were they? When our liberation movement newspapers were banned where were they? All this nonsense that they were fighting for press freedom, where was this fight for press freedom when they didn't have the guts to stand up and defend our right to publish, when they didn't have the guts to stand up and defend journalists who have been detailed? After all Brian Bunting was, for example, the editor of Guardian New Age for more than 25 years. Why is it that they didn't stand up and defend Brian's right to continue writing? Even if they thought he was a communist why didn't they stand up and defend his right? So it's nonsensical for these people to say they were courageous fighters against apartheid, this media. They were not. Yes of course they wrote some exposé stories, of course many of them were anti-Afrikaner, but from a very English point of view, not from the point of view of the majority of the population of South Africa. And they were equally, and their owners, were equally the beneficiaries of apartheid, so all of those editors and white journalists were there because there was also no competition for them to get jobs.

     When we were students at Wits after you finish your BA and you wanted to do a law degree by and large what a lot of whites did, quite a number of them who could write reasonably well, they went and found a job in a newspaper as a cub reporter or as a sub because you did your law degree part time in the evening. No black people got those kind of jobs in my day. A lot of my friends who were white who when we graduated at the same time you couldn't even dare think of it. Why is it that those people never came to Wits University and never, I say never, recruited a single black graduate? So when they say we didn't do training, yes, it was a systematic policy and in the seventies they went and employed more and more black journalists because they had no choice, because the news was coming out from the townships.

     Now I'm raising this to say that white South Africans, with the exceptions of those who actually participated in the struggle and were prepared to sacrifice their lives and did sacrifice their life and liberty, were very complacent because they were beneficiaries of this thing. Now I just hope they are able to stand up and say, as some of them do stand up and say, I benefited from this, sure, I utilised the opportunity, I can't do anything about it now, I can't take my degree and throw it into the water, so I can't take my money, nobody is asking to take your house and destroy it because you got it through an ill-gotten system. No, nobody is asking for that but if they don't have that, in my view, they lack that courage by and large to stand up and say this thing.

     What they do is they keep on going, and this is one of the big problems we keep on confronting in this country, white suburbs dinner table conversations, it's all about how we are failing to govern this country. And what does 'to govern' mean? Ask them what does it mean? Oh, crime. Oh you mean there was no crime before? There was a lot of crime, any of us who grew up in the slum areas of this country know what crime is. I was saying to somebody the other day, driver's licences, good God, at the time I was a kid you know that if you want a driver's license you went to the countryside and you could get a driver's license without a test, when I was young, I never wanted to drive so I never got a driver's license. A cousin of mine who is now dead wanted to be a heavy duty truck driver. He went to Vereeniging, saw somebody, that somebody said buy this shirt, he bought the shirt, they went into the Traffic Department, this must have been about 1959, 1960, went in with the shirt and came out with a license to drive a heavy duty truck. He had never sat in one.

POM     He bought a shirt.

EP     Yes, he gave the shirt as a bribe. What nonsense is this? Why are they talking as if this thing has happened yesterday. The point I'm trying to raise is that of course the intensity of something might have increased, sure, but these kind of crimes have been with us for a very, very long time. They might have extended far more into the white suburbs because of certain forms of law and order and the breaking out of the criminals themselves becoming more brazen, but when I was young in the centre of Johannesburg the big gang was the one that was called the Young Americans, they were from Sophiatown, and if you read some of the novels written by black journalists of those times you will see they were the most sophisticated crooks stealing from railway trucks, very sophisticated, not like there wasn't theft going on in the centre of Johannesburg. In our days you could buy almost anything, you could even furnish your whole house, you just went and gave some people an order and they would go and steal it from a furniture shop. It's not that crime wasn't there.

     The point I'm making is really these people talk as if they were living, and they were living, in a different world from us and now when the world has changed they can't come to terms with that changed world, so they still want to hearken back to some so-called paradise, and I suppose for whites in a sense it was a paradise that they had before. And that is the problem that we still face in South Africa but we have got to confront it, we have got to deal with it and that's the reality that we're going to continue to deal with and I'm saying that as the ANC, as the government, we shall not give up. We shall not give up because we fundamentally begin with a position that human beings are good. You are not born bad. You are not born evil, you are born good. No baby that comes out of a mother's womb comes out evil. It's the system, the environment, the situation and we do believe very strongly that the overwhelming majority of our white compatriots will see the light of day. They don't have to keep on coming every five minute and say I'm sorry, I'm sorry. What kind of nonsense is this? Nobody is asking them anyway. Who would be foolish enough to say listen before you can talk to me you must tell me I'm sorry ten times. That's nonsensical. Nobody is going to do that and anybody who does that from our side is wrong. But I think this will happen and I think it's happening more and more amongst Afrikaners.

     And the last statement I want to make before I go is you are going to find more and more Afrikaners, even in the rural areas, going to ANC MPs, to their constituency offices and asking them to deal with their problems and our MPs are dealing with their problems and I can assure you that more and more of them are going to be much more sympathetic to the ANC, if not join the ANC. This is what is going to happen.

POM     Thanks very much.

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.