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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

30 Sep 1997: Molefe, Popo

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POM     That was a very good speech. It encapsulated the message that you needed to get across, don't forget your roots and where the people who started all this what they went through and what they had to learn. I think that story about Govan Mbeki taking in a class of people who couldn't write or couldn't read and by the end of their term they could write letters, that's wonderful.

     But what I was going to ask you about, Popo, was first you made a number of references today about counter-revolutionary tendencies, about ethnic and tribal divisions - in the North West I assume? Could you just elucidate on that, what are the nature of the counter-revolutionary tendencies, what are the nature of the tribal, even more than the ethnic, divisions that are being exploited by people?

PM     Padraig, let's start off by saying that you would recall that in the earlier interviews you had with me I had always argued that what was called black on black violence was in fact the orchestration of the apartheid government of South Africa, that the National Party was responsible for that low intensity warfare that it was waging against the liberation movement and against communities and what was called the ethnic conflict between the Zulus and the Xhosas was in fact a figment of the imagination of people who did not know that in reality it was the campaign of vigilante groups created by the government but given the cover of this ethnic conflict to perpetuate the divisions between different ethnic groups. In the new situation we are seeing a new phenomenon, clearly adjusting to the new conditions of a democratic South Africa. That phenomenon is more taking the form of some tribes really trying to become very rigid and close-knit communities that have nothing to do with the rest of the South African society or South African nation. It is especially so with regard to those tribes that seem to be endowed with a lot of natural resources and therefore are very wealthy but I think we in the province are doing pretty well in really fostering co-operation between the ANC as a party and the government although these divisions and problems are there as a legacy of the past but the sensitive approach that the ANC adopts and the recognition that these differences are there and they are real and that they need to be managed in a very sensitive matter is assisting the ANC to continue to command the respect of these communities.

     When we move to the other level of what I call really counter-revolution, because I can't call the differences between ethnic groups and tribes counter-revolution at this stage, so Padraig, we cannot regard ethnic and tribal differences as tendencies reflecting potential counter-revolution. It is not. But we have observed a phenomenon that quite clearly suggests that there is a drive by certain forces to create conditions of counter-revolution. The methods applied are similar to the methods which were applied before the 1994 elections, from around 1978 intensifying in the mid-1980s, around 1984 with attempts to smash the UDF and therefore creating conditions in which when Nelson Mandela was released from jail he was not going to be able to manage the political situation in the country.

     We are beginning to see the formation of august trade unions, the so-called workers' mouthpiece, which is being created now here around the platinum mines. It started on the platinum mines, it's beginning to spread in industries where COSATU is strongest. The methods used by this grouping is one of eliminating key organisers of the union, like shop stewards, to ensure that the union becomes weaker and weaker. They are using vigilante tactics of violence. They are eliminating shop stewards. They are taking over some of the informal settlement areas in the proximity of the mines. They, for example, have imposed curfews in about five areas, one is called Enkaneni and Zakhele, Sifikile and Holomisa Park, the other one is called Smasher Block. So these vigilante groupings have declared curfews there, harassing visitors to the area, motorists, monitoring movements of the National Union of Mineworkers. They have eliminated a number of shop stewards to date. In some places I'm told that they have intimidated the police also, but we are dealing with that situation very seriously.

POM     Who's behind it?

PM     Those vigilante groups, unconfirmed reports suggest that they have links with the new party that is being formed by Mr Roelf Meyer and Bantu Holomisa and these groupings have been the ones that have been organising meetings for them when they visited this area. They don't seem to be interested in negotiating solutions to problems. They are raising problems which existed before 1994 which were resolved at that time. These were problems relating to benefits of the workers such as provident funds, Unemployment Insurance Fund, funeral schemes which the companies had introduced. They are demanding all those moneys back. Now moneys of pensions and provident funds - well provident funds can be paid back, but money for pensions is not paid back until a person reaches the age for retirement because that's how the laws of this country operate. But they are making those demands and they are using those things to perpetuate conflict. The second aspect of this, what we think is counter-revolution, is the creation of a number of so-called crisis committees or concerned residents' committees, small groupings which are very focused, attacking local government structures.

POM     Are these mostly white, black, mixed?

PM     Well with regard to this organisation called the Workers' Mouthpiece it was effectively established by white people, some of them are officials there.

POM     This is on the mines?

PM     Yes on the mines. Those fellows are running an insurance company around there, they are part of that. But in the townships it's black people, concerned residents, very small people who are linked to, again, the Holomisa group, Roelf Meyer and Malebane-Metsing, my former MEC for Agriculture, the chap we fired from government and from the ANC. They are very rowdy, very outspoken, they demand the resignation of councillors, they try to disrupt meetings generally trying to create conditions of disorder and so forth. The second phenomenon which worries us, which also seems to take advantage of real grievances, because all of them use grievances where they exist, is this organisation, that group of people who suddenly call themselves The Motor Vehicle Owners of South Africa who recently blockaded the road and are demanding that the President should deal with crime, they think that he is not dealing sufficiently with crime. The fourth category is the category of criminal syndicates, professionally organised syndicates that penetrate government departments, operate throughout the country, penetrate the banks, stealing moneys, stashing these moneys, sending these moneys outside the country, clearly working in such a manner that they should deplete the budget of the state so that the state is not able to carry out its programmes and in the process they are corrupting public servants.

     All these things when you combine them, and the professional and merciless manner in which vehicle owners are being eliminated, the way in which people hijack vehicles and hijack cars and they don't only hijack cars, they kill people, all those things when one looks at them and combined also with the reluctance of some members of the judicial system in South Africa, magistrates and prosecutors, to deal with criminals when they have got them, suggest that there seems to be an orchestrated strategy that seems to be trying to create conditions of lawlessness in the country, the breaking of the morale of the security forces and the public, undermining confidence in government, weakening government by taking away its resources so that it is not able to deliver. In all that you see as a project rooted in counter-revolutionary tendencies to reverse the process, the achievements that we have made. We are worried about the situation. It might be too soon for us to characterise -

POM     Does the ANC at a national level, not just in the North West - ?

PM     It's the ANC at national level. It's easier in the North West because the North West is a traditionally repressed area, very rural, where the level of political consciousness is very low so it's easy for them to do some of these things. But I think, as I indicated to you previously, we have achieved a great deal of success here engendering a sense of unity, provincialism and making people feel that they are part of the new nation that we are busy building. Just today I received calls from the farmers in the North West congratulating me about the firm position I'm taking about respect for cultural rights and languages of communities. It made a tremendous impact on them. So overall I think we are on top of the situation but we can't be lulled into lethargy. We've got to be observant of what is developing and vigilant.

POM     In a sense there are elements of a third force, or maybe at this point a fourth force, still operating out there, still who haven't, so to speak, thrown in the towel and adjusted to the fact that there is a new order of things and a new order is going to prevail?

PM     Certainly the impression we have is that the elements of the third force are still there, low intensity warfare waged against the ANC is continuing. They are now being joined by a fourth force. The fourth force is characterised by a realignment of new forces which are led by politicians who left the ANC and left the NP. But all of them have a history of association with apartheid. They are now regrouping and central to their agenda is the need to make sure that the ANC does not govern this country long enough, the need to weaken the strength of the ANC, the need to reverse the revolutionary gain and therefore make it difficult for us to implement our project of transformation and reconstructing our country. So that's the problem that we are dealing with at the moment. We don't think they are going to succeed because their history is a dubious one and they don't have policies that can appeal to South Africans. At this stage they have got no vision, they are politically bankrupt but we cannot be complacent. We have to really be serious about them. The advantage we are enjoying at the moment is that two key individuals who are supposed to be part of this new movement, Chief Lucas Mangope, the former President of Bophuthatswana, who is currently facing over 200 charges of corruption, stealing moneys of the state, the second one is Siphiso Nkabinde who was expelled by the ANC recently in Natal, in Pietermaritzburg. He too is now associated with several cases of assassination, murder and so on. Therefore right from the outset the new party has got an image problem. It's being associated with a dubious element. It is trying to extricate itself from that situation by disowning these individuals but it's unfortunate because they are doing it too late. They had already embraced them, now they suddenly feel because of these charges that they have become a hot iron and they are dumping them. It seems to me that they're going to have a bit of a difficulty in building a serious political movement, at least in the next five years.

POM     But in terms of the view of, say, the NEC they are increasingly looking at these not just sporadic - but whether it's concerned citizens' groups, criminal syndicates, organisations against crime, new bogus unions rising up to challenge COSATU or establish unions, that this is all part of a pattern, that they are not just isolated, unrelated incidences?

PM     They are clearly part of a pattern that is evolving and we suggest that there is a central co-ordination somewhere. We are observing them very closely. But you see what complicates issues for us is the fact that we are a democratic state with a constitution that guarantees freedom of speech and association so individuals are free to join any organisation, so in the guise of freedom of association and speech they will set up these kinds of organs to promote instability and violence. But I don't think that they will be able to command support on the ground because I think government has done a lot in terms of delivery at the moment, people can see visible delivery. We are still having problems in terms of accelerating economic growth and job creation and we're not able to create enough jobs but as far as giving services to the historically disadvantaged communities like the rural people, giving them education, water, building the roads, increasing welfare grants, child support services, I think we're doing pretty well in terms also of education, it's expanding all the time.

POM     Let me ask you on what you touched on today in your speech and I gather some other workers touched on, not just touched on but was a major theme of the COSATU conference last week, and that is where GEAR is. Now among the things I do every year I go back and I talk to people like Derek Keys, who was your first Minister of Finance, and Chris Liebenberg and Trevor Manuel and everyone who was head of finance and the economists, and I'm putting to them this year that GEAR isn't working, that the growth rate for the economy for this year is now projected at about 2.2%, that because of external forces and internal constraints there is no way the economy is going to grow by 5% before the year 2000 and it's not going to create 250,000 new jobs a year. So that what's been called the engine of transformation isn't going to take off, that for the foreseeable future the economy will probably grow at about 2½% a year, when you factor in the rate of growth of the population you get maybe 1% per capita income. Definitely it's an increase but it's nothing like generating that surplus that you need to make the big push. Where is GEAR? Do its targets have to be re-evaluated? Is a second look really in order again? Has there been an over-expectation of what can be delivered?

PM     I think GEAR with all its problems is proceeding well. We might well have to re-evaluate its targets but not all of them. There are those targets which depend on the fiscus, which depend on state budget, which relate to social services and with regard to those ones we will continue implementing to reach them from the budget that we get which arises out of our own GDP. But there are other aspects of GEAR whose attainment depends on external factors. That's where we have a difficulty. Quite clearly if we are to create jobs it means we must have increased investment and those increased investments should not be simply in the financial markets, like on the Stock Exchange and so forth. They would have to be in capital projects, capital investments which are really critical, which really create property structures, wealth in the country and therefore generate jobs. In the area of tourism if we get more investment in that regard we would be able to increase our possibility, potential to reach our target. If the economic strategy of developing spatial development initiatives, like your Maputo Corridor, which also is going to stretch into the North West as the N4 Corridor to Botswana, the strategic transport network that we are developing between the North West Province, Northern Province and the Northern Cape linking up with Botswana right up to Alexandra Bay, opening up a new port in the Atlantic Ocean. That network is going to be a rail network. If we succeed in developing that we should stimulate a lot of growth around the rich natural resource areas like Rustenburg, Thabazimbi, Northern Province, Vryburg in the Northern Cape and the diamond fields who are beginning to export those goods, the raw materials and processed goods, even those that come from Botswana into the Atlantic Ocean reducing the time that cargo spends on the ship by 15 days and that should attract more investment in the province. But certainly I think some of the targets we would have to review. I don't think we have to review our targets on human resource development. We don't have to. We will have to mobilise our institutions in the country and the international support programmes as well as the private sector through the levy imposed by the Labour Department to ensure that we collectively can deal with the issue of the low level of human resource development.

POM     Employment.

PM     But I do need to say that, as you can see, the GEAR policy does not enjoy support of organised labour. It's still a problem because it's posing a threat to them. But elements of GEAR, such as restructuring of the state assets, you can see it's proceeding very well. I think we created only a little over 50,000 jobs in the last year which is a real problem.

POM     Given the number of people entering the labour market there would actually be an increase in the total number of unemployed rather than a decrease?

PM     Padraig, what is critical for us and what is important for South Africa is that South Africa is leading the continent in reforming the budget, in restructuring the economy, in promoting things like transparency and accountability in government. So we are leading the continent and the GEAR policy is a plan that we are employing to realise the vision that we have set out in our Reconstruction & Development Programme. Now even if we may not reach all our targets what is critical is that there is a goal towards which we are working which has been carefully planned, which given the objective conditions in our country we believe is realistic. I think we have already achieved elements of that here. If you look at the kind of budget we presented to the country we were able to present a balanced budget. We are the first government to do so. The NP government has never been able to do so. You know that.

POM     Most European countries can't.

PM     They can't. The French were having a problem very recently. So we are doing very well. So I think we need to be very optimistic. Understand that it is not going to be a smooth sail but certainly it is correct to have set targets towards which we are working. That is how every business organisation operates.

POM     Do you think that part of, that there's an unfair expectation of South Africa that when the elections took place in 1994 that unrealistic expectations of the rate of change were not laid down within the country but were also almost imposed by the outside world who didn't appreciate the sheer scope and magnitude of the problems that you had inherited and that, as you said, change is a very slow and tedious thing. Change isn't something that happens overnight. Are you getting what's called a bad knock by the international communities not being sensitive enough to the enormity of the problems that you inherited and are dealing with?

PM     I think some countries have an understanding and are sympathetic towards South Africa given the enormous backlogs that it has to deal with, but others are very unrealistic and we think that they are doing it deliberately because they have had to deal with change themselves, they know how difficult it is. Some of the things that countries like Britain, the United States, Germany are demanding from us are the things that they were not able to do in 60 years, in 80 years, they started to do after 100 years or even 300 years of democracy, some of them. So it's very unrealistic. But as far as South Africans are concerned I think South Africans are right to expect change. When freedom comes they must expect that change should happen and we as a government are satisfied that what we have achieved to date is very good, it's a record success by any standards. If you think of the amount of people who now have water who did not have water before 1994, it's unbelievable. We were able to give water to a million people in the rural areas, so we reduced that backlog of 12 million by one million. It's a backlog of 12 million so we've got to deal with the other 11 million people in the rural areas. But that's remarkable. Although we set ourselves a target of building one million houses by the year 1999 the fact that by now we have already built more than 200,000, it's a record success in itself. Nowhere in the history of South Africa was that achieved in that short time. We are hoping that in the remaining 18 months we should be able to move very much closer to our target of one million, mobilising international resources and capacity that exist as well as domestic capacity. We should move closer to that target.

     But as I say, yes, I think the international community is expecting too much from us. We also suspect that their attitude is influenced by the condescending approach towards the African governments, or governments led by black people, the paternalistic characteristic of imperialism. They want to make these demands so that if we are not able to meet the targets that they set for us they should then say, you know, you see, what can we expect out of Africa? They can't do anything.

POM     It's kind of funny you use the word 'paternalistic' because I've heard that used in a different context and that is South Africa as being seen as paternalistic in the context of Africa. For example, that all the African votes at the IOC didn't go on the first round to - all Africans didn't vote for South Africa. There are reports of meetings are missed, that South Africans don't go to, that involve other African nations. Reports out of the Department of Foreign Affairs are that Africans don't want posting to African countries, they want them to Europe or to Australia or to America. Is there a resentment on the continent, a generalised resentment about the fact that you're so big and so powerful and account for so much of the gross domestic product of the entire continent, or at least certainly of the sub-Saharan region?

PM     Well I think that there is scepticism and some kind of fear and restlessness about South Africa by a number of African countries and I think this derives out of the nature of our history. It derives out of the history of South Africa. South Africa has historically been seen as the bully-boy of Africa, has been seen as the policeman of Africa, has been seen as the bulwark of reaction, has been seen as a bastion of capitalist exploitation and colonialism in Africa. Many of our African countries have suffered as a result of wars exported by South Africa. You think of Seychelles, you think of Zimbabwe, you think of Botswana, Angola, Zaire, you think of Mozambique, Lesotho, most of these countries have suffered as result of the bully-boy and jackboot tactics of Pretoria and I think our African brothers and sisters are still finding it difficult to come to terms with the new situation. They are very cautious of this very powerful country which also has a nuclear capability, that it should not dominate them.

     But what is happening in Africa is not so fundamentally different from the suspicions in which European countries themselves viewed one another. Naturally it is like that, each country is always very cautious to see what the neighbour is doing. I am sure you have a similar situation between the United States and Canada. You have similar problems between the European Union and what the Americans are doing. So it is in the nature of foreign relations. I think what South Africa really is challenged to do is to begin to do a critical assessment of the foreign policy environment and to begin to look at itself, situate South Africa in the context of Africa and say how should we as South Africa relate to Africa, what are the concerns and fears of Africa? But it is also important that South Africa as a Johnny-come-lately to town should not enter the regional and continental institutions as if we know the answers to every question. We must be very humble also. It is our humility as South Africa that will earn us the respect of Africa.

     At the same time I think South Africa must also be aggressive in addressing certain problems such as problems of regional security, problems of economic development on a regional basis. We are now chairing the Southern African Development Community, we've got to use this opportunity to strategically position SADEC countries such that they are able to really stimulate growth of the economy and propel the African continent as it moves into the new millennium, into a position where it can make tremendous impact in the affairs of the world. We should take advantage of developing economic blocs, the north/south relations, south/south relations, we need to look at those things and see how as South Africa we could impact and take advantage of these multilateral relations to begin to assist Africa to strengthen its position without being arrogant of course, we have got to be very humble.

POM     The fact that in the SADEC countries you account for such a disproportionately large slice of its GDP, it's very difficult not to be arrogant.

PM     Well it's also very difficult for people not to be suspicious of us, resentful, because we also dominate trade certainly in the southern African region and we have to negotiate and find ways which are mutually beneficial to the African countries and ourselves and these are very complex issues. They are not very easy but I think we're making tremendous progress in this connection.

POM     When Deputy President Mbeki talks about Africanisation, or an African renaissance, what message do you think that sends to white people? This is a three part question so you can address all three together. That's one. Two, do you think that the average white person has really learned a lot from the Truth & Reconciliation Commission? And I don't mean in terms of atrocities carried out but learned that in some way that they too are responsible, that they kept their eyes closed, that they didn't question things, that there was a denial factor going on, that they in a certain way resent this continual revelation of one atrocity after another committed by one policeman after another, where they say very sanctimoniously almost, of course if we knew those things were going on we would never, never have condoned them. But it's kind of a lie, they're not facing the truth, there's a denial factor still going on.

PM     Let's start at the beginning. What most South Africans scan or read are of the statement of the Deputy President on the African renaissance, or you say Africanisation. I have deliberately gone out of my way to talk to a few white South Africans to say how do you understand this message of the Deputy President? And most of those, in fact all of them, those that I spoke to, said to me, we understand fully well, we agree with him. We are in Africa, we are Africans. We've got to move away from the definition or descriptions of white and black and begin to define ourselves as an African nation because we in the south of Africa we're part of that Africa. So the task of building a nation must also include the question of redefinition of our identity within the context of the emerging new Africa, new Africa in the sense that a number of countries are adapting to the new challenges of greater transparency, good government, democratisation, multi-partyism and so on, and therefore we are really beginning to join democratic countries of the world and therefore what the Deputy President is calling for is a reawakening of this giant. First the giant to understand that it is operating within the context of a world that is increasingly globalising, fast growing technological advancement, the narrowing of the distance as a result of this high technology, the information highway and the effective communication that is occurring, the creation of these economic blocs and global trade that is occurring, we need to adjust to that but also the challenge of placing our human resources on a competitive plain in order to be able to compete at that level, managing the prices on the international markets in a manner that makes us competitive. So he is asking for that and he is saying let's begin to work as a collective, let's work together and share all these experiences so that we too may begin to organise ourselves to negotiate from a position of strength as we interact with the other blocs that are forming elsewhere in the globe.

     That's how it has been understood, but there are a few of course who would want to interpret that to mean, oh, he means he doesn't want whites, he wants only Africans. But those are narrow people who have not opened up their minds to understanding the philosophical approach to these questions. It's largely people who are conservative and who are looking for ways to avoid any movement towards new visions, new understanding. But others are doing so because they have been influenced by the negative reportage given by the media about our Deputy President in the past. So the challenge for us is really to find a way of explaining this new African renaissance in a manner that would change those perceptions because when perceptions have formed it doesn't help to simply say, to hell, and criticisms of people and label them this or that. We have to work hard to remove those perceptions. It's a strategy that we would have to develop as the ANC especially when he becomes the President of the ANC.

POM     But last year you had mentioned how the media were still operating by and large as an agent of opposition, constantly criticising the government and trying to undermine people's confidence in it and I think the phrase he used is that the media in a sense were still out to undermine the ANC. Nine or ten months later, in fact I was saying this to Bulelani down in Franschhoek the other night because he mentioned the media, and I said now that since Cyril owns most of the media in this country is Cyril the bogeyman here? Do the ANC still see the media as being anti-transformation, picky?

PM     Well some of the media organisations continue to be anti-transformation and anti the ANC, they are still adopting a condescending attitude towards us and a paternalistic view that we will fail, we can't succeed. But it is so because the media is controlled by very powerful monopolies which previously have never supported the democratisation process, especially thoroughgoing transformation that we advocate as the ANC. We still have that difficulty. In some ways they probably caused us to lose the Olympics, they continually reported negatively about South Africa suggesting that South Africa was bribing some members of the International Olympics Committee by buying their wives gifts and so on, which was just negative. The manner in which they have dealt with crime is not a manner that reflects a media that sees its role as one of being part of the transformation and reconstruction process. It's still a problem so clearly we still have to unbundle the media and begin to create more and more independent media owned by people with a history of South Africa, history of dispossession and disadvantage, the problem that we need to deal with. But I want to return to the question that you had raised: do South Africans learn anything about the Truth & Reconciliation Commission.

POM     White South Africans.

PM     White South Africans, yes. I must say you now know that the media too is appearing before the TRC. More than 20 journalists have confessed that they were used by the apartheid government, they were employed as agents to work against us, to work against our liberation, so they wouldn't have changed overnight but the TRC has forced them to make that confession. There are many South Africans who have come forward to make confessions. Look at some of the elements who were involved in the worst kind of atrocities, including even Eugene Terre'Blanche who is beginning to realise that he has got to make confessions and apply for amnesty. Of course he is scared that he might be charged for those actions. I think in a large measure South Africans of white origin are learning a lot from the TRC. The lack of direction, vision and disarray, internal contradictions that are taking place within the NP, the sudden resignation of FW de Klerk suggests that he is finding it difficult to hold whites together behind the NP. He can actually see the carpet being moved away, pulled from under his feet and that suggests that white South Africans are increasingly becoming wiser than they were before the TRC and I think it is laying the foundation that would ensure that white South Africans become more and more committed to our national project of building a nation. We must just carry on from where Madiba leaves in order to make sure that we create this vibrant and dynamic rainbow society.

POM     Let me take the other side of that for a moment. Do you know a man named Joe Seremane?

PM     Yes, yes, I worked with Joe Seremane in the past.

POM     I've been interviewing him for years and the story of his brother who was murdered in the Quatro camps is one that he raised very passionately at the TRC. His feeling is that the whole issue is being sidelined, that even the two young men who gave signed affidavits, that the investigators of the TRC never bothered even to get in contact with them or to follow up on what was in their affidavits. But more importantly he was suggesting yesterday or the day before is that an awful lot went on in the townships with the time of ungovernability, of street committees, of kangaroo courts, and that the TRC has not been successful in bringing this aspect of the conflict to the fore which might explain in part the contempt for life that exists, why the murder rate is so high, that there is a kind of contempt for life in South Africa, it's cheap, life is cheap, and that the two may be connected. Do you think there has been any genuine exposure of what it was like in communities which were run by young people who held, in many cases, older people in terror?

PM     Let me first proceed from the premise that certainly the situation during the struggle for freedom, like any situation where a struggle had to assume a violent character, where people had to pursue the goals of revolution by armed means and other methods, certainly it creates the level of violence which in some instances dehumanises people and it has dehumanised a lot of our young people in the townships and the chickens are coming home to roost, we are reaping the whirlwinds of those times of ungovernability. But let's return to the statement by Mr Seremane, which you ascribe to Mr Seremane. I think he is making a mistake. The TRC has had evidence from a lot of people, they have heard evidence about kangaroo courts, about the 30 million gangs, about all sorts of groups which intimidated, harassed and grossly violated the human rights of others. It has heard evidence about those things. It has heard evidence about how Mikies Khosana(?) was necklaced, it heard evidence about that. But the TRC can't hear evidence about everything. These cases are many. The TRC would listen to what people bring to it, it can't go out and search for things that it does not know. If it is given evidence it then follows up some of these things, and the TRC has not yet finished its work. I think it is too soon also to judge it. I think we should appreciate that without the TRC many of these things that are said we would not have known about because nobody would have come out clean to confess about these things. Certainly there are some limitations to the extent to which the TRC can go, firstly because of the limited resources made available by the state, secondly the magnitude of the problem is such that it can't be done with the time limit that we have given the TRC, so naturally there will be people who would be left behind. I know I met with the Reparations and Reconciliation Committee last week and we have agreed that they are going to reopen again in the North West Province the opportunities for people to make further submissions, including those who were killed by Mangope's police and the right wingers. They now have the opportunity to make further submissions to the TRC.

     I think the integrity of the TRC should not be brought into question. It has done an excellent job, it has got the most wonderful people that we could ever have assembled together coming from all these groupings, but we would obviously not be able to satisfy everybody. I, myself, have suffered. I have not gone to the TRC because I don't think it's something I should worry about. I didn't expect to get involved in the struggle against a tyrannical system and expect that they would treat me with kid gloves. One of the commissioners there, Thomas Mantada(?), is one of those who suffered extremely under this same apartheid system. He has not told his story to the TRC. So there are very many people who are quiet who have suffered extremely.

     So I am saying we are sorry and empathetic towards Mr Seremane and his family about what happened to his younger brother and we hope that one day the full truth will be told about him. We as the ANC have already accepted the responsibility for violation of human rights and we have apologised for that, we have applied for amnesty, we have tried all that we could do to make a clean break with the past and to build a new South Africa on the firm foundations of reconciliation.

POM     Just a couple more things and as soon as the tape runs out I'll run out. The Ncholo Commission that painted such a damning picture of administration in the provinces, is the picture as bad as the report painted? What can be done in the short run? He talked about that even the training of 22,000 civil servants a year at provincial level would really just be treading water, it wouldn't really improve the situation, that the problems were systemic and endemic.

PM     Well we must agree that the problems identified by the task team are as indicated. We will return to do our own critique of that report but we need to say that what really the findings of the task team reflect is the inefficiencies of the apartheid system and its surrogate Bantustans, or so-called national states or independent states, in the sense that the vast bulk of the public servants we have are the servants we took over from the old order.

POM     So the vast number of people that you employ were previously employed by the Mangope government?

PM     The Mangope government and others. But I must hasten to say, by the way, our province has emerged as the best of all the provinces that had to deal with homelands. The North West Province is the best in that regard, but secondly, even now we have been asked to release our own people to go and assist those provinces that are having problems. The problem we are dealing with is the problem of systems which were not designed for efficient government, for transparent government, for accountable government, they were not designed to provide public service in a manner that is oriented towards or biased in favour of the people. They were designed to serve only white people who didn't need those services in any event because they had enough resources on their own. So now that we have to deal with a wider society these problems are beginning to go out. But we must also admit that these are problems akin to any developing country and any country that is becoming democratic for the first time. You get people some of whom have never been in public service who are learning for the first time. Others have studied in universities but are not practitioners so you can expect all these backlogs but you also run into a system which has to introduce new regulations, legislative framework and programmes for transformation of the country. You can expect that people would take a bit of time to adapt and to orient themselves towards the implementation of those policies. So it is understandable. What can be done?

     If you read the Ncholo Report it will say to you that in fact in some provinces by the time they came there, if you talk about the North West, their report is basically the report that we had done ourselves, our own critical assessment of our own government and we had already begun putting in place programmes such as the performance management system which reorients, trains and evaluates performance by managers. We are already dealing with those things. We had already put in place cost containment measures to deal with management of finances. We had already begun establishing the Transformation Steering Committee consisting of politicians and managers to bridge the gap between politicians and managers to begin to build this team of politicians and managers. So we had already begun harnessing resources of the USAID, CIDA of Canada, we started working with the Commonwealth Secretariat establishing strategic co-operation with the Kennedy School of Government. We send a lot of our people there and we have brought those people to train us. So we had already begun addressing these questions, beginning to harness the private sector skills in resolving some of these problems. We are using banks and companies. The major Afrikaner mining company called Gencor is assisting us. We have Nedbank, Absa Bank, Amalgamated Banks of South Africa, all of them working with us, so we are building this public/private partnership in attacking the problems of administration, financial accountability and management. We have started doing so.

     At the broader level, at national level these matters are being dealt with by the ANC's Governance & Legislatures Committee and as a matter of fact we will be meeting this coming Monday, on 6th October, with President Mandela and the other officials of the ANC to look at what sort of political guidance we give to various provinces on how to deal with the provincial review or report, of the Provincial Auditors Report of Dr Ncholo. So we are dealing with that question. It's not a problem that is going to be resolved overnight. It's a process. But what is crucial is that we acknowledge our weaknesses and are beginning to address those problems.

POM     You can answer these questions yes or no. The various groups within the ANC will remain in alliance with one another through compromise negotiations and other mechanisms of pressure for the foreseeable future. That people who foresee a crack in the alliance immediately post-1999 are really off the mark.

PM     Yes they are off the mark. This alliance is going to be here for a very reasonable time to come.

POM     Second, that the powers of the provinces will not be able to undermine the central control of the ANC.

PM     We don't see that. We don't see the powers of the provinces undermining the central control of the ANC. The issue is really not central control of the ANC. The issue is finding harmony between the central government and provinces and the whole concept of co-operative governance which has been introduced and accentuated by the creation of the National Council of Provinces. It's very critical in ensuring that there is this dynamic interaction between the central government and the provinces and also ensuring that the provinces can make input on national policy to influence national policy. But it also gives us the opportunity for effective co-ordination and improved inter-governmental relations. It's very important. We are now beginning to cascade it down to local government to address that question at that level.

POM     The next would be that traditional political opposition parties such as the National Party, the Democratic Party will never again have any real significant impact.

PM     Well I think they are going to have to struggle hard to make any impact greater than the impact that they made in 1994. They have been degenerating both in terms of vision and in terms of direction. They don't seem to know where they want to take the country to.

POM     The next one is that if the ANC does not succeed with nation building, that is with the development of communal co-operating South Africanism, it will be destroyed by racism and ethnic conflict.

PM     It's correct that the ANC's mission has been to liberate South Africa and build on the ruins of apartheid a democratic state, non-racial in character and non-sexist, removing regionalistic tendencies but also removing once and for all racialism, and that task requires that we build participatory democracy and we are now talking in the context of the new situation of building a popular movement for transformation. That popular movement for transformation obviously requires that civil society be strengthened, ordinary people and communities participate in democracy. If we fail to do so we will not be able to reverse the effects of racism and apartheid, it can only be entrenched.

POM     Does the main opposition to the ANC come from the ANC, from within itself? Has it become that the best debates are carried out not between the NP and the ANC or between the DP and the ANC but between various elements in the ANC who thrash issues out whether in parliament or elsewhere?

PM     We are increasingly experiencing problems within our own ranks and these are healthy differences in the sense that, remember, the ANC had people in jail, it had people operating internally underground, it had people in exile, others were trained as soldiers. It had to come together with a number of other new organisations in the country, welding all those people into a new movement and all of them had to make a transition from liberation or protest politics to politics of governance, beginning to understand how political parties operate yet at the same time trying to maintain healthy relations between the institutions of governance and the constitutional structures of the party as well as the alliance. The alliance partners who are pursuing, for example, a programme that believes that socialism is the future and the ANC that says the deepest aspirations of our people are as expressed in the Freedom Charter. Naturally there has to be some debate within the ANC.

     But there are other problems. The other problems that are arising are that many of us have lived for many years without jobs, we saw the liberation as an opportunity for us to access resources that otherwise we would not have accessed, beginning to see deployment and participation in politics as an opportunity for us to amass resources, so there is a lot of opportunism that is also going to arise within our own ranks. So the challenge that all of us have to meet is obviously one of striking a balance between the unity of the party, the collective interests and the individual interests, which is a very difficult one because there is a very fine line between the two but we have to find a way in which we must find a balance to ensure that we deploy people in a manner that benefits both the collective and the individual, that takes into account personal interests. But quite clearly the ANC is not able to maintain adequate discipline of its own members. It doesn't ensure that they can sing from the same hymn, that they share a perspective about the future and organisational or party discipline that is commensurate with its participation in government or in a multiparty system. Clearly that is going to weaken us and can create opportunities for the opposition forces to take advantage of that and create problems for us. It's a problem that we are addressing. We have made mistakes along the line but we are correcting those mistakes.

POM     Just on that, the very last question, the lessons to be learned from the whole brouhaha over the election of the chairman of the Provincial Council and Premier-Elect in Gauteng where the popular candidate in a way -

PM     I don't know why the media is making a big deal out of that issue. This liberal media always tells us that we have to be democratic, there has to be a multiparty system. What that conference of Gauteng suggests is that it has been the most democratic process because anyone who wanted to avail themselves as candidates were allowed that opportunity. They stood as candidates. They lost. One candidate had to win as is normal in western democracies.

POM     Why do they put this spin on it?

PM     The media clearly pursues the agenda of creating tensions within the ANC and causing divisions within the ANC to create a rift between the national leadership of the ANC and the provincial leadership and between the provincial leadership of the ANC and the regions and the branches of the ANC by suggesting that the national leadership might be favouring one or other candidate, which is wrong. But we are pleased that this ghost has been laid to rest. The conference has taken place, there is one person elected chairperson. Next year they will decide on who becomes their Premier and that's it.

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.