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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

08 Oct 1997: Mokaba, Peter

Click here for more information on the Interviewee

POM     An historic, what at least was reported as a controversial document that you submitted, a compilation of papers that you submitted for the ANC conference in December where it seems you suggested that the time might have come for the SACP and for the ANC to part ways. First, is that an accurate reflection of what in fact you said in the paper? Two, what did you say and, three, what is your reason or what are ramifications of such a move?

PM     No, no, the document that is being referred to in the media is a document that deals with a broader and very central question that the ANC is grappling with and that is the question of the national question. The second document that I wrote after that one is called 'On Leadership' which discusses issues of how we should deal with issues of leadership within the ANC. Now what I am saying in the document on the national question, and the national question is with questions of ethnicity, race relations  - (break in recording)

     ... Secretary General of the Communist Party. The other day I was discussing with the chairman of the party to indicate to him the real problems. Members of the Central Committee of the party called me and we discussed and they agreed these are problems. This we attended to. Tony Yengeni is my friend, he is a member of the Central Committee and the presidency and so on. They all talk to me and say, look, the question is how do we sensibly manage the relationship? And I agree, that is the question. But I am saying it is presented as a problem because these are its main components. How do you want to proceed to socialism? In the context where we in the ANC want to remain where we are in terms of the markets, in terms of where we have now come to, in terms of the market, state and communities, in terms of all the classes existing, and that question must be responded to, it must be answered.

POM     Let me just turn for a moment to a second thing and this is the race for the provincial chairmanship in Gauteng which has been an on-going 'story' for the last couple of months. Now the way it's been presented in the media, I mean media across the board from The Sowetan to The Independent and The Star, black commentators and white commentators and whatever, was that this was a victory for the grassroots, that it was a defeat for the entrenched provincial leadership, that there was an attempt to gang up on Mr Motshekga, that many reporters, black and white, talk about an attempt to smear him. Matthews Phosa, I think, even spoke out once about it. The establishing, i.e. people who were in the leadership structures of the ANC like yourself and Jabu Moleketi and Jessie Duarte and Murphy Morobe all signed on then dropped out and through your support we had Frank Chikane who was roundly defeated and that this has implications for what will happen in December in the way that positions will be fought over in the December conference.

PM     No, the leadership race that was there in Gauteng was a very unfortunate process. I must just correct that, the press will have reported clearly that I withdrew and I never supported any - I never withdrew on him because I supported one candidate against the other. Most comrades have got high regard for both of them. That's what I said in my statement and I also said I am not available for that position and that's all. I thought that we should have left, the statement that I released to the media said: leave the branches to implement the process as stipulated in the constitution and don't interfere with that process. If it is not giving us the results that we would want then it is not that process that should be - it is not at the time of an election that one should now start tinkering with the process. Now the problem was when the media says the leadership was defeated, that was not a united position when the newspapers are saying the leadership has been defeated. In the first place there was no decision by a leadership structure in the ANC that there will be no competition. It's not true. Motshekga is Vice Chairperson of the ANC, he is part of the leadership of the ANC. That must clearly indicate that there was no such an argument anywhere, that the ANC leadership agrees on who should stand and who not to stand. It was those individuals, they may be occupying positions in the ANC but it was not an ANC leadership position. You see those were individuals and nothing else. Motshekga is one of the leaders of the ANC. It was the victory of democracy in the ANC. It was not a victory of the masses against the leadership but a victory of democracy in the ANC that threw out attempts to change the process of elections against what the constitution sets out.

POM     So why would, this is from one Southern Africa Report and the comment it has on the election is: "Motshekga's election was remarkable because most of the provincial cabinet were ranged against him at one stage but they withdrew when Chikane was brought into the picture."  Chikane was supposed to be the one that people threw their support behind.

PM     No, it was Chikane's decision, it was the decision of those who lobbied him, it was not a decision of the ANC leadership either at national level or at provincial level or anywhere else. Each candidate would be supported by a particular branch or a particular region of the ANC. That does not make you the ANC's choice. The mistake that the press made, and I am happy The Star corrected itself in an article yesterday, that they listened to one side in the lobby, if you lobby for one person you are bound to exaggerate the kind of support that that person has and you are bound to use some of the things that are not actually in place to say the leadership wants us to support so-and-so. There was no such decision, neither from the Deputy President who was claimed to have supported Chikane, nor ourselves here in the NEC, nor anybody in the provincial leadership. There was no decision by the ANC in any formal meeting to say this is our leader.

POM     Or this is our candidate?

PM     Yes. The press has got a particular campaign that they are actually pursuing. One is that of trying to separate the ANC national leadership from the provincial leadership. When this campaign started they said this time the ANC leadership should not interfere. How can an organisation's leadership possibly interfere in their own affairs? Who is supposed to guard the integrity and the character of the ANC and the direction that the ANC is supposed to take? Is the national leadership not charged with that? So they promote that. And Gauteng fell into that trap. We don't want the national leadership to interfere. But they found themselves at variance with the branch leadership and the branch leadership was saying we don't want the provincial leadership to interfere. And that is not the way to run an organisation. The problem, as I pointed out elsewhere in one of the documents that they will actually be publishing I am sure, is that you have a very bad recruiting system. Any hundred people can sit down and form a branch of the ANC and give you a new leader you don't know. That leader does not have to be initiated in terms of your own politics. There is no question of vouching for him or something like that and that is opening the ANC to loss of control of its own character and integrity. That is the question I am raising.

POM     You mean I could go out, stand on the corner, collect a hundred signatures and twelve rands and form the Padraig O'Malley branch or Plein Street or whatever?

PM     You have a branch. That's what the constitution says, that's the problem of the constitution. That's what the constitution says and that is the question I am challenging, that you don't come and challenge things when they've reached this level. The ANC should decide its character and we should balance between democratic participation and the need to safeguard your own organisation. We must then say, and I'm raising the issue, whether at the national level we should be able to say so-and-so you are our representative in a particular area. Anybody who wants to join the ANC should do that through you and you will be the face of the ANC in that area. Should we do that or should we just, say, talk to a township, you can meet in any circumstances and as long as you are a hundred and pay the twelve rands you are ANC?

POM     It seems to me that you are raising some very, very important issues but that the key to some of these issues is that in this post-apartheid era the ANC is undergoing some kind of an identity crisis. It knew what it was, it knew what it had to do, it has accomplished part of what it had to do but now it has to take on a different identity to achieve and implement the rest of its task.

PM     The ANC has always had an identity. The problem has been with new members and people from outside who never - the ANC was an underground organisation, no information was ever given to people as to exactly what the ANC stands for. It was only some of its members and when it opened itself to broader membership there was no process of political education, of initiation, of bring these people in to socialise them in terms of ANC policy. So that is why you would find members of the ANC speaking different languages, moving from various points of view. They are not agreed on the basis. They haven't even had the chance to learn what the ANC's character and role is so people with various expectations just come in and want the ANC to fulfil their expectations.

POM     Well if the glue that held everybody together was to get rid of apartheid now that you have got rid of it there's a loosening.

PM     Yes the loosening is natural. The question is now of course we fought apartheid as various classes, workers, we have people who are small land owners and so on. Now what we should gain from this dispensation, we again have social groupings that compete against each other and in my document what I'm saying is that the role of the ANC, as I pointed out, should be to manage all this competition, identify points of co-operation where all the social groups must co-operate in order to build a national consensus and develop. And I'm saying both the working people, the small landowners, the unemployed and so on (break in recording)

POM      Five percent or 250,000 jobs.

PM     No. You see I think looking at the evidence as they are looking at the evidence, this is all true. We are missing the targets that we have set. What they are not able to say is what is the cause, why are we missing these targets. One thing is the investor. We need a new, massive injection of resources. That's one policy we should be able to achieve. We need to create the climate for new - let me just say, what we need is new money to come into the economy, the resources, and for that you need good investments, you need sweat and you also don't only need that. In order to deal with unemployment and in order to deal with the issue of poverty reduction therefore, the quality of that investment is important, where people are investing. That's critical. Now the other issue is once it is here together with capital that is already within the country the issue of circulation of that capital is critical to deal with these things. Now people saying that GEAR is unable, GEAR the way it is structured as a policy - I will give the reasons why GEAR is unable, for instance, to ensure that we gain this quality investment that we need.

POM     The answer is? Why aren't you getting the investment?

PM     What is the reason?

POM     I don't know. In the euphoria after liberation everybody thought that a massive amount of capital would pour into South Africa because South Africa was the favourite of the world and the competition for capital is so great across the world that you've got to fight tooth and nail to get just a bit. How do you get the amount, why isn't it coming in here?

PM     That is the question that we are also raising. We know some of the factors, labour productivity, the crime situation, the operations of our banks, the way the banks are operating is not fine, what labour calls the strike by investors, people don't want to invest in South Africa, the question of the confidence that still needs to be built to gain investment in South Africa and also confidence by those who are here to be sure that their investment will be safeguarded, they are not investing. GEAR is an attempt to create conditions for that confidence to be built. It is true that it will miss this target, it is missing the target, it is not natural of course that it should do that but it is missing them for a reason because these critical things like confidence, investor confidence, has not been won. The resources that we can get from tourism, the tourism investor is growing but tourists still fear crime in South Africa. So that is a social issue we have to deal with. Some kind of a vicious cycle that says crime needs jobs to be resolved. In order to get jobs we need investment, we need tourism to come. Tourists and investors fear crime so you can't have your jobs to deal with crime and if you can't have that, I mean it's because you can't have your investment. It is that cycle that we need to be able to deal with. So GEAR is not the Holy Bible. What we are saying is if GEAR is failing in what way should it be improved? In what way should it be improved to achieve the kinds of goals that we have set? The argument that we should operate on a massive deficit is not sustainable in a situation where we will then go deeper and deeper into international and domestic debt. We are already servicing our debt at about four billion rands a year.

POM     21% of the entire budget goes to just servicing the debt.

PM     Yes. And we are trying to keep the inflation down so as to give people the real benefit of the money they earn. That's what we are trying to do. And those things, to balance those things is not the only thing that we need to do. We need to also get this confidence I'm talking about and I would say GEAR might be missing its goals, but doesn't GEAR need everyone to work for it first? From the beginning it was opposed.  When did people sit back and work for GEAR, for them to be able to sit back and say we have tried to work on this thing and now it is failing? Labour has never supported GEAR properly. The other players have never really supported GEAR and those who have not supported GEAR have actually caused doubts in those who do support it on the side of the investors.

POM     A couple of years ago President Mandela called for a new patriotism. Where is the national cohesion? Where is the people understanding that unless in this generation they stand shoulder to shoulder there won't be an awful lot better next generation for their children, that one generation must sacrifice for the next? This is the first post-apartheid generation and it must do the sacrificing to ensure that their children will benefit.

PM     That should be the task. The task is, yes, that this generation should identify as its major task the sacrifice -

POM     But they don't.

PM     And they don't do that, that is the truth, they don't do that but that is critical. That doesn't mean it is not a task, it is a challenge and it is the task of my organisation, the ANC, to ensure that that is actually done. I am organising a workshop to sit down with people so that we can create a better vision, a vision for South Africa that we can all buy into, labour, the capitalist class, the other classes, everybody should be able to buy into that. I think that is what we need, a national consensus of some sort, what the President calls 'new patriotism'.

POM     I'm just looking for a figure. There was a survey carried out by the HSRC that says only 43% of the people are satisfied with the way the economy is going. In fact there is a lot of dissatisfaction out there among ordinary people. This is it, the Human Sciences Research Council headed by Vincent Maphai who is a very well respected African. Among the findings: 73% of the respondents suspect the civil service of corruption; 64% think the government is wasting taxpayers money; satisfaction with the way in which the country is being governed is down to 43%.

PM     What does this mean?

POM     Only 43% are satisfied with the way the country is being governed and only a third are satisfied with the economy. This came out in August of this year. They are in Pretoria.

PM     43% is satisfied? Only 43%?

POM     Only 43% are satisfied with the way in which the country is being governed and only a third are satisfied with the economy.

PM     But what are they saying about the political parties?

POM     The political parties, ANC support is down, every other party is down as well. So your support would have fallen from - ANC support was at a high of 63% at the general election in 1994 and it has steadily fallen to 56% in 1995, 55% in 1996 and so far this year it's down to 53%. However, at the same time support for the National Party which was at 19% in 1994 has now shrunk to 12%. So it's not as though - you know what I mean?

PM     It was 20% in 1994?

POM     It was 20% in 1994 and now it's about 12%. I think you put your finger on it, it is that what people don't have is a vision where you can say it in a sentence so they can say, I understand you, where you can write it on a postage stamp and you can say I don't need that amount of documentation to spread the vision out, I need it so I can directly, the man in the street, the woman in the street, gets it as soon as you say it. It's poverty reduction.

PM     It's what I need. That's what I want to work on, for tourism to promotion and for the things that should bind South Africans together and that is why I will use sports tourism, to use sports to promote good feeling and to promote a better image of South Africa, because in sport and in tourism you have very few things that we can actually feel bad about. It's people at leisure, people feeling good. So I want to use that, to actually galvanise and get people around particular ethics and ethos about it.

POM     When you travel abroad what are foreigners' biggest concerns about South Africa? Do they say, I'd love to invest in South Africa but - ?

PM     Well their biggest concern has always been initially our exchange rates and the exchange controls. That has been a problem before. There are those who are saying they are concerned about crime but there are others who say that crime doesn't matter as long as there are good returns for investment. The German Chamber of Commerce has had a survey, South African/German Chamber of Commerce, and a lot of their companies are concerned, the biggest demands that they are making to government is that we should deal with crime and as a result of that 1% of their companies have decided to leave and another 85% has decided not to increase, to grow in terms of their investment because of crime. They get their MDs and other employees affected by crime every day, every two and a half years, one and a half years, they say at least one is affected by a crime incident or situation. Then of course they also complain about the fact that the expatriates, the people who have skills are unable to come here because of fear of crime and that affects the replenishment and training and internationalisation of our own human resource capabilities. Those are the factors that they are raising. Crime has had a major impact on our development strategy, on our development objectives and situation. It is really an economic sabotage and that is why I would prefer the toughest kind of way of dealing with crime.

     I don't believe that in the situation as in a country in transition like ours we should be talking about, we should be emphasising more rehabilitation of criminals than punishment. They have to be punished. That is one of the things that I think we are missing. Punished and punished severely, crime should never pay, crime should never be a good thing to live with. It has to be condemned by the whole of society and the punishment must be appropriate, to the point where really I would say I have never been against the death sentence for people who rape, people who murder, and I do believe that if people have taken a view that they will never be as human beings within society, society should not tolerate such people. This is my point of view. My party believes that we shouldn't have the death sentence. That is where, again, I take a very different view, but publicly of course I will support my party, but personally I feel we should not tolerate criminals. In fact the whole system about rehabilitation, nobody can show us the results of that rehabilitation where it has worked. What you have got is a huge increase in recidivism, people going back to prison time and time again. Nobody has actually shown us the result of rehabilitation. But I know that punishment, punishment worked, it really worked.

     People don't want to admit it but during the liberation struggle also people were convinced of the cause of their own struggle. There were people who turned back, who wouldn't want to come inside to fight because of fear of the death sentence. If it wasn't a deterrent what was that? And in the SADF, for instance, there are soldiers who refused to go into situations for fear of being killed, who refused to go to war not because of the cause but simply because they were scared to go and fight. Fear of death, it deters people from doing things. That it doesn't deter is a total lie, a complete lie.

POM     OK, my hour is up. Thank you ever so much. I always enjoy talking to you, as you know. I'll have one book just on you alone.

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.