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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

17 Jun 1998: Schlemmer, Lawrence

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POM     Let me start by asking you about the state of the nation, whither after four years entering the final round of the Mandela years, how would you describe the state of the nation?

LS     At the moment it's very difficult to disentangle the state of the nation from the state of the emerging markets of the world. I feel quite sorry for the nation because really so much was predicated on growth and by now we should have been well clear of 4% per annum and we would have stabilised unemployment at least and previous indications are that even at 3% growth there was some uptake of new employment in manufacturing, limited but nevertheless promising. I think that most of the policy makers in the country were really quite understandably assuming that we would be entering an upswing now which given the macro-economic policy could be expected to last until the year 2000 so there would be in a sense a rising tide in the economy which would have lifted a whole lot of ships and improved the mood. But since August with the problems in the east of course our forecasts have been scaled down and now most people are forecasting even for next year perhaps less than 2% growth.

POM     In fact there would be a decline in per capita income.

LS     A decline in per capita income, growing inequality, rising formal sector unemployment (we can talk about that presently), and of course our budget was based on the assumption of an upturn with the result that we would have less fiscal revenue coming in and by and large I think the impressions are generally gloomy and the government are hard pressed to try and in a sense mollify or quieten down a sense that we may just be losing it.

POM     One of the ironies, if you like, of globalisation is that individual sovereignty of a country means less and less and a country like SA and many other countries are at the mercy of global forces over which they have limited or absolutely no control whatsoever.

LS     Absolutely, except that of course it's a new arena, it's a bigger arena to play in and the reality of the global economy is that you've got to compete and we are theoretically in a very good position to compete. Our rand is under-valued by at least 25%. We should be able to be increasing our exports but now even that is really looking very, very uncertain because the one thing that the eastern economies have got to do to dig themselves out of their hole is to try and flood the world with their own exports. Quite frankly the window of opportunity with our under-valued rand is there but it's very small. We are succeeding in some areas, we are actually exporting more motor cars, we're exporting more chemicals, there are a number of areas where we are showing once again the signs of the potential but these things are simply not large enough in scope to compensate for the other effects. But there is no alternative to the global economy. The inward looking economy, the protected economy is a short term fix, it ends up with high inflation and stagnation in this world and that would in any event increase poverty in the longer run. It's only a matter of timing. In other words whatever economic strategy we choose an increase in poverty at this stage is inevitable unless we can compete on the global market.

POM     This brings one inevitably to the question of the trade unions again. I wasn't surprised to read when I came back that it is estimated that the average wage increase for 1998 will be any place between 10% and 18% and that's accepted, the government is not going to contest that level of wage increase.

LS     I don't think it will be as high as that. Those are the wage demands but the thing is I would estimate it, if you take from now on over the next 12 months, I would estimate the actual settlement to be round about 9% on average. But that's still, you can say 4% above our inflation rate, it's a real increase in the unionised component of 4%, which is high. Quite frankly at this stage what we need is the kind of national growth pact which would peg wage increases to inflation.

POM     When one looks at the nation, the new SA, the new patriotism that Mandela used to talk about, I don't know whether he talks about it any more, and look at the actions of people, say, compared to the South Koreans who line up and hand in their jewellery and bits and pieces of their family fortunes to try to rescue the nation, there's a very huge difference in attitude.

LS     Yes there's a huge difference. As a matter of fact we're probably shipping out as much of our jewellery and capital that we possibly can afford. No, there's a huge difference. It doesn't even bear comparison. Thabo Mbeki recently has been talking a lot about the need to overcome the greediness, but I am afraid words don't count very much, it's a very deep-seated attitude.

POM     Talking of Mbeki, he made what I thought was this extraordinary statement in parliament where he admitted that the government did not know how to handle the education crisis, corruption or the backlash against the TRC. There seems to be an acknowledgement now that corruption -

LS     That's interesting, I must have missed that. When was that?

POM     It was in the Southern African Review on 15th May of this year. Is government slowly imploding? If one looks at the provinces whether it's Gauteng, Northern Province, the Eastern Cape, it just seems to be the collapse of one service after the other.

LS     Yes. You know if it was imploding in the sense of something really dramatic happening from week to week or from month to month it may not even be quite as bad as it is because then there would be a clear need, and it would probably be accepted by government, that we need various kind of emergency measures. Now by that I don't mean state of emergency but that they would have to sub-contract, for example, a whole lot of services to the private sector and not try and do it themselves, that they would have to retrench on a much larger scale and that they would actually have to pass some sort of enabling legislation to put pressure on the unions to come into line on retrenchments and things like that. But you know things are not happening all that suddenly with the result that everybody's desks are full, we still have a lot of plans, we have a sense that if only we do something new or go in for some kind of restructuring we will rescue the situation. Now this is perhaps the most dangerous kind of a situation of all in our case because as long as people's desks are full and they feel that there is this chance, that we can do something, you don't respond accordingly and that's the problem. So, yes, I think that there is some kind of, shall we say, a process of fragmentation going on. I wouldn't use the word 'implosion'. There has been talk of SA being a partly suspended state, this concept of the suspended state where the state just ceases to be viable, but we're certainly not there yet. We're a partly suspended state. It's a very difficult situation to be in.

     You take municipalities, now about a third of the municipalities in the country are in deep financial crisis and there appears to be no way in which they can get themselves out of it. Given the level of need, the need for rendering of normal services one simply can't see any way in which they can actually restore their fiscal health because they're simply not getting in revenue either because of the non-payment - but even the non-payment is not something you can do something about, you can't crack down on people and say pay because most of them that aren't paying actually can't afford to pay. They cannot afford to pay at the level anywhere remotely near the level of costs.

POM     Never mind arrears.

LS     Never mind arrears, no, never mind arrears. The provinces, there is a lot of uneasiness about whether the banks are really covered against the enormous exposure they've got in loans to the provinces. Now you see this begins to look like an Indonesian, Malaysian kind of a situation. Banks, the banking sector hugely over-exposed in a sector which may just not be able to pay but at the moment it's not so bad that the government feels that it is entitled to or justified in going to the IMF and saying, look chaps we're in real trouble, we need a bail out, we need a favourable long term loan so that we can make sure that the banks are covered. Because if our banking sector collapses, you know it's one of our leading sectors in terms of our competitiveness. We've got a fairly, not very, but a fairly good and well developed modern electronically based banking system. God knows what would happen if a big bank goes for a 'Burton' because of some over-exposure of the province which can't pay. But at the moment it's just balanced on a knife edge. The bankers are worried but there's no need for panic and that more or less sums up the state and the whole country.

     I would say that one could be quite unambiguous and say to the government - or the government could say to itself, look chaps we've now got to really take some pretty stern medicine here, take some very bitter medicine, much, much more bitter than we've taken up to now. But the thing is can you expect it of them when they're going to fight an election in April of 1999? Things have come at an awfully, awfully bad time. How can one expect them to retrench more civil servants now? Can one? Internationally would a country do that?  I mean, for goodness sake, France and Germany haven't got the guts with their enormous cushions, they haven't got the guts to do what they know they've got to do to get their economies competitive again. Can we expect this government to? It's very difficult.

POM     When are the results of these difficulties going to make themselves felt in the townships, among the vast number of poor who have seen perhaps their meagre standard of living decline in the last four years rather than increase?

LS     Our equivalent to rebellion is crime. For a long time I used to argue that you had to see crime as somehow separate from political dynamics but the more that one looks at the nature of crimes, the type of people who are committing the crimes, I've come to the conclusion that this is in fact in a sense our emerging revolutionary situation. Most people, ordinary people, whites and blacks, tend to see it as political as well. They very definitely see the link.

POM     Political in the sense that - like former members of the MK who came back to this country?

LS     That's the more specific thing, but the more general thing is a kind of, shall we say, a low level resentment and bitterness, anti-system bitterness which makes people say what the hell, I've got nothing to lose, there's no hope in this situation, I may as well turn to crime, I may as well seek out the nearest syndicate. So I don't think one should necessarily look for a rebellion but nevertheless it is with us at the moment, there is this civil disobedience, if you can call it that, widespread civil disobedience that is partly due to political alienation, at least partly due to it at any rate.

POM     Where does the ANC fit into this as a political organisation, a political party? Has it by and large lost touch with its grassroots?

LS     Oh yes I think it has, but even by their own admission. A couple of months ago there were a lot of statements by the ANC itself pointing to the fact that they've lost members, that they are out of touch. They have taken special measures to try and coerce MPs to get back to their constituencies. They are fully aware of it. But the thing is these constituencies are so vast that I don't really think that they're going to be able to achieve much by way of communication.

POM     If you were translating that into some kind of forecast of what the election results might look like next year?

LS     Personally I don't think the ANC is going to lose all that much. They may come down by one or two percentage points, maybe we will see them at 60%, say 58% to 60%. The main reason is that the ANC is two things simultaneously, it's a party of immense symbolism and to some extent it captures the politics of feeling good. It still has that liberation aura. So if you make the assumption that people will have a day off for the elections and that there is just about bugger all else to do in most of the areas anyway, they're going to go along and they're going to stand around in the queues, it's something different and they will vote ANC because there's nobody else they're going to vote for. The opposition parties who are in a market which is busier, the middle class people, for them it's not a bit of a gas to go and stand all day in a voting queue, it's just a bloody irritation. So the percentage poll is going to come down generally and because of this, despite its loss of support, the ANC reckon that they've lost 7%, 7% of the people that voted for them will not vote for them again but there will be a general decline in the percentage poll. They'll come out roughly just below where they were so after the election it will be back to the current situation and what to do about it. But thank goodness for the election behind you.

POM     But would there be any incentive? What has happened to opposition politics? They generally appear to be just withering on the vine. The NP support is half, the DP picks up 8%, the PAC is not there, the UDM is 4% or 5% and that's it.

LS     The UDM has got potential to grow. I estimate that round about the time of the elections they will be about 8%. The DP is growing and they will be about 6%. Now let's assume that the NP is half of what it was, it got just over 20%, so 10%.

POM     Inkatha will poll about 5%?

LS     Probably a bit more, 8%. So the big change will be the NP will be smaller, Inkatha will be a bit smaller but otherwise no real difference.

POM     Do you think there's a real possibility of the UDM becoming the official opposition after the election?

LS     Not quite because the coloured voters are still fairly loyal to the NP. I think it's going to be quite close but I think the NP will still be marginally, just by the skin of its teeth, the biggest single opposition.

POM     Is there a movement in terms of voting preferences of whites moving to the DP and coloureds consolidating more control as it were, or playing a bigger role in the NP?

LS     Yes.

POM     And the rest then is strictly ANC, strictly really ANC.

LS     I predict that after the elections we will still be talking about the hazards of a one-party dominant state.

POM     Let's look at the IFP for a moment, there were suggestions of some form of coalition between themselves and the ANC that would compensate for the lack of the ANC's vote and give them, between the two parties, more than two thirds which means that they could override the constitution in any number of ways they might think preferable, desirable, at this point given the state of the nation and the way things are and what you call being a partly suspended state. Is there a real possibility of that?

LS     Not fifty/fifty. Ben Ngubane who is the second most important person in the IFP doesn't like the idea, doesn't think it's a real prospect, sees the gulf between the two parties as too large. Buthelezi is keeping his own counsel on this, he's not saying anything because his basic commitment is to traditional leadership and I think he's watching the government very carefully in order to see what it will do, what the ANC will do about traditional leadership. When I say it's fifty/fifty there is a chance that out of sheer fear of the UDM making huge inroads among the traditional leaders, because Bantu Holomisa is a Chief, that they will actually make large concessions to traditional leaders and as part of that package be able to give Buthelezi the reassurances he wants in which case he'll come in. That to some extent has split the IFP but it will split off its middle class, its modern sector and they will probably go to the DP, but it's not large you see, it's at most 10% of the IFP. So, yes, you could end up with a two thirds majority with an ANC/IFP coalition, then it will emerge as a very, very typical post-colonial government as one has seen before in Africa.

POM     Do you not think that given the fact that the ANC is assured of re-election, that it will be the government one way or another even with a coalition or on its own for perhaps decades to come, or at least the foreseeable future, that ultimately it has no real need on its part to institute the kind of basic harsh measures it needs to undertake to keep control of the state. Why take harsh measures when you don't have to?

LS     I don't think they're going to take harsh measures of the kind that we saw earlier in Africa for two reasons. Firstly they don't have to, you're quite right. Secondly, they can't, they haven't got the capacity. Our police force is far too weak to crack down on anything. Our army is busy being thinned down to a shadow of its former self and most of the new recruits haven't got the kind of discipline which will enable them to be used in cracking down. We've in fact got rather weak security functions now.

POM     Is that kind of an irony for a country that was regarded as being one the best security forces in the world, that in a space of four or five years - ?

LS     Tenth most powerful army we had in the whole world in the mid eighties, early eighties, tenth most powerful army. It is a bit of an irony.

POM     Why are there so many problems with restructuring the police, strengthening the police, when government must recognise that crime or the incapacity of the police or the corruption of the police is so damaging to the country as a whole?

LS     I don't think there's anything mysterious about it. It's one of those situations that we know so well from ordinary life where the scales tip and once they tip they bump over quite quickly. The police was destabilised, if you like, by restructuring. A lot of their senior people left. The security industry has drawn a large number of people. There are now more or less about two and half times the number of private security personnel, guards and other personnel as the number of police, so two to one. A lot of the more experienced policemen left to go to the private security industry for higher salaries. Most countries facing huge crime problems tend to boost the status of their police forces, Police forces tend to become a kind of an elite. There's the natural sociological response to a security threat and that is you tend to almost make heroes of your law and order personnel. That didn't happen here because all this coincided with a government coming in with a very, very new and for them very understandable reaction to the old order where you had to democratise the police, demilitarise it, and the Commissioner for Police has said time and again, he said that people misunderstood what demilitarising the police meant. They thought that since you no longer had to salute and you no longer had to call somebody a Captain or a Sergeant but a Superintendent the discipline has gone out of the window, but in fact that's what happened. It was misunderstood.

POM     Discipline has gone?

LS     Oh yes, yes. The rates of absenteeism on a daily basis in the police force are massive, it's something close to 20%, just daily absenteeism. So the police force are actually more likely to be involved in crime in relation to their numbers than ordinary citizens at the moment. Now given that and given this huge welling up of threats to personal security, this spread of unemployment, the spread of opportunism, of white collar crimes, the scales tip quickly like that. Now, how can they recover? Crack down? How? We would have to do something like what Mugabe did in the early eighties. You remember he got a North Korean special battalion to come in literally as state sanctified terror to train what remained of the police force in methods of terror. Now the world wouldn't allow this, the ANC wouldn't do it, they wouldn't even dream of it. You would have to have a far more fragmented state with possibly some sort of coup within the government before that would be possible in SA.

POM     Looking at just one other side of the coin, you have Mbeki's speech on 4th June where he talks about the lack of progress or no progress towards reconciliation. He talked about two nations, whites continuing to maintain all their privileges. You had Mandela's speech to the 50th Congress in December in which he lashed out at everyone. Is this a harbinger of what kind of government a Mbeki government will be?

LS     Surely in this situation it's predictable that if a government in a racially divided society can't deliver it's going to start scapegoating and I think that's going to happen from now on, we're going to scapegoat. Just as unsuccessful Labour government, socialist governments in Europe all scapegoated the toffs, the wealthy, and you get a kind of them and us mentality being encouraged. That is going to happen, there's simply no doubt about it. You can see it, you can feel it. I went to go and give evidence to a parliamentary committee a couple of weeks ago and I tried to make a very measured case for looking after the interests of the investor classes including their own quality of life in SA because our loss of skills through emigration is at twice the official rate, at least twice the official rate, and it's a very, very serious loss of skills. We're actually running into production bottlenecks because of this and it's because of crime and it's because of a feeling that you can't go for a walk in a park any more, all these things.

     Now I did my level best, I really said now look I know it's difficult and you do represent the majority and why should you like whites, all that sort of thing, but in a sense we need a class coalition in this country and the legislation you propose, this was new local government legislation, is going to be counter-productive. Now after I had given evidence I was just standing talking to an ANC MP who is a friend of mine and a couple of the other MPs came over and one of them actually said to me, "What we must do with whites like you is take you outside and kick the shit out of you." So I said, "Well I noticed as we came in there was a large parking lot, shall we go now?" And then of course (grunt, grunt), but the incredible bitterness and after a while and more interaction, I actually got to talking to some other MPs and I said, "Listen you guys, it strikes me that you are feeling very, very bitter. Do you feel bitter? Are you feeling bitter about the way life is treating you? Do you feel that you've won the elections but that you're disempowered? But what is at the root of this, why do you feel this?" One of them said, "Debt, we're all in debt." Debt, debt? They're being pushed hard.

POM     They're being pushed hard?

LS     By hire purchase companies, banks, building societies. This dream they had. I'm talking now of ordinary rank and file MPs, this dream they had of somehow joining the new SA, it's turned into this terrible situation where you're not sure that you can keep your BMW. Hell, that makes a guy bitter you see, very, very bitter. Much more bitter than a peasant out in the sticks in the Eastern Cape or Transkei carrying water on her head, life has never been very good for her and she has not really expected it to get much better. But this guy has actually been able to buy his BMW and now the damn company wants to take it back because he can't keep up his payments. We have an incredibly high rate of default of debt and it's mainly the new middle class, not the old middle class, not the whites because they have developed cushions simply over a length of time. If I'm really in trouble and somebody wants to repossess my car and I don't want to lose it then I'd let them repossess the bloody thing without thinking twice about it, but nevertheless I could, if necessary, sell a policy. But the new middle class has got nothing to fall back on, they can't sell a policy. They haven't got a track record at the bank so there is this bitterness which is very often a material bitterness, it's not really a racial bitterness but it's turning into a racial bitterness. I know people, new bureaucrats and civil servants, because I am involved in a couple of official jobs in the government sector, whose earnings are higher than mine on a monthly basis but who still regard me as a fat cat guy and they're struggling, and in a sense they're right because they are struggling more than me. I wouldn't buy a new car, I wouldn't even dream of buying a new car. I think a new car is a total waste of money, but they go and they spend enormous amounts of money on a new bloody piece of tin, then get bitter and feel deprived and in that sense they're right. So there is a lot of, shall we say, material frustration in the new middle class which is aggravating our racial problems.

POM     Whither the Communist Party in all of this? First of all you had the speech by Jeremy Cronin talking about the emergence of authoritarian tendencies within the ANC, there is talk of the old guard being replaced at the next congress by a tougher, younger, more radical group.

LS     I think that the SA Communist Party is in a very, very threatened and vulnerable position and they don't like some of the things that are happening that they associate with the Communist Party. For example, at the moment there's a Poverty Commission, a National Poverty Commission. The government's reaction to its initial reports have been very sharp, very critical of the report, yes, because it's the usual thing, the government's becoming defensive and I think that to the extent that the SACP is perceived to be standing up for underdogs that the government can't help but would like to help, they're going to become more critical of the SACP. Now this is bad because the SACP has supplied the ANC with a lot of its top intellectual depths and it will be a net loss for the ANC if they were to leave. There is very little that the SACP can do these days in terms of the old threats of communism, after the democratic revolution we'll come to the second phase, the social revolution, all that sort of thing. That's now passé, and the SACP realises this. So in a sense the SACP is the social intelligentsia of the ANC, or the socialist intelligentsia shall we say. But I can see the strains, it's palpable, it's very easily felt. Labour is different. Labour is in a distinctly different position because they have leverage, the communists have got no leverage, not to speak of, except those who happen to be in the labour movement, of which there are quite a few, but then they operate as labour -

POM     Just your comment on what Cronin said, he said: -

     "You can already smell authoritarian tendencies in the air in SA. The ANC will win the next election by default because the opposition is so unfocused. There is a lot of jargon and not much thoughtfulness coming from the government.  We implement austerity but when we encounter resistance we give up after a few months. There are swings between demagoguery and managerialism. It holds terrible perils for democracy."

LS     Is that what Cronin said? No, I would agree with him. He's right. But once again I would like to say that it's not going to be an implosion of democracy with jackboots coming in, with some sort of secret police visiting people in the night and beating them up. I'm not excluding a couple of planned assassinations, I think that's always possible with any government, but I don't think we will see that because it won't happen as rapidly as all that. It will rather just fray at the edges here and, secondly, the government is getting its way most of the time by using its moral authority or its moral leverage and it doesn't have to foreclose on constitutional rights, the best example being the campaign against Louis Luyt. Now there they simply used a combination of a very dubious Commission of Enquiry, I mean that Commission of Enquiry was legally on very shaky ground, and for the rest a mixture of threat and bluster and cajoling to get Louis Luyt out of the position he was in. Now I'm not saying Louis Luyt should have been in that position, he's a terrible fellow, most people would regard that as an improvement. But it illustrated the particular capacity on the part of the government, in other words to use its aura and its image of being the sole repository of majority based credibility to lean heavily and intimidate people to get its way, and it's going to do that more and more, I've got no doubt about it.

     As a matter of fact a banker that I was talking to this morning, we were talking about the bank's social investment programme, so he said, "Well we had to give R1,6 million to", and he mentioned a particular programme run by the Department of Trade & Industry. I said, "But why did you have to? There's no reason for you to have to." He said, "Listen, there are certain things which big companies just have to do and we had to fund that. And there are many other things that we simply - we know that we will have to do it." Now this is the difference between us and the democracy you might have in Denmark or some place, although I am sure that even in Denmark this kind of things happens to an extent but it's very difficult to imagine a cabinet minister being able to calculate on frightening a very large company into giving money to one of his projects. Now that's the case here.

POM     So this money is not being given out of any sense of social responsibility?

LS     No, this chap said to me, "I know that that money is being wasted on overseas trips for government officials which have no effect - we would have far preferred to spend that money on training but we had to give it to that." Those were his words. He said it with blue-eyed innocence as if this was the way the world worked. I said, "Have you thought about it? Do you think that that would have happened to you had you been a banker in London?" He said, "No, I suppose come to think of it that it wouldn't." I said, "Well, it's worth thinking about"' But this is the way, there's a lot of leverage. Most of this rapid black empowerment that is happening is similar kinds of leverage.

POM     Is it a black empowerment of an elite or is it a black empowerment that's actually creating trickle down effects?

LS     No, it's an elite that's being empowered in those sectors of the economy which have almost zero employment capacity, or increased employment capacity. It's the empowerment of the elite. It's a remarkable achievement if you think over the past three years, from something like less than 1% control of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange to 11%. Those are results, that's delivery.

POM     But delivery to a very select few.

LS     I made a rough calculation, I was just sitting and working out - I don't know how I came to it, but I think we've probably through this kind of leverage created about 170 new millionaires very quickly. This is some going. But that's what politics are about isn't it, all over the world. It's servicing your elites. Surely that's the way the system works from China to Washington.

POM     So the future you paint at this point in time and maybe a picture that will last for quite a period of time is a country that's in a way hostage to the economic forces of globalisation, unable to get its competitive edge together, where the government is in a suspended state of animation.

LS     Semi-suspended.

POM     Where banks are perhaps putting themselves in dire peril by the huge amounts of money they are loaning to the provinces and where, we haven't talked about it, where corruption is on the increase, new corruption is on the increase where now you even have Mandela saying in parliament, no longer blaming corruption on the legacy of apartheid but by saying some of our chaps couldn't wait to get their hands into the till and they seem to be doing so increasingly and more flagrantly. So in that sense SA is in a way going the African way?

LS     I suppose one could say that. I wouldn't like to say 'the African way' though. I'd say it's going the way of the economically unsuccessful third world because I think most third world or developing countries which have not developed a focus on growth are prone to all these problems. These problems are not unfamiliar in Latin America and they're not unfamiliar in, say, the Philippines. I think it's a tough world and if you don't make it economically and you haven't got a tough and disciplined and fairly benign dictatorship you're going to have a messy system with a lot of corruption. I think it's audible.

POM     OK.

LS     I don't think Mandela was a hands-on President. I don't think Mandela had the time or the inclination, nor did the world allow him the privilege of supervising his cabinet because he's an international figure and the poor man, or simply not - he needn't be in any position to supervise a cabinet and in any case can you imagine any of us coming out of jail for the length that he spent, having the hands-on knowledge of the mechanics of things to be able to supervise a cabinet? Impossible. I think he did remarkably well given his absence from society.

     An Mbeki government will be an improvement in the sense that at least Mbeki has got no damned excuses. He has to supervise his cabinet as I can't see actresses and pop stars lining up to come and see him. You see what I mean? Michael Jackson is not going to go through with his plans to buy an estate in SA unless he's already bought one which is possible. But on the other hand I can only hope that Mbeki does tougher supervision of the cabinet than he's done up to now in his Deputy President's role because he's really been the back-up to Mandela there. I don't think he's supervised it very well. There hasn't been enough coherence in our policy. I've got lots of quibbles about government policy one way or another. I suppose you may call me an ideological opponent of government, but aside from that whether or not I agree or disagree with policies, the policies are simply not consistent.

     The new Labour Party in Britain, Tony Blair, they have a phrase that all their cabinet ministers have got to be, what do they say? 'On message' is it? Don't they use that phrase? On message. And Blair insists, "Come on, cut that crap. You've got to get on message." Our message is, now that we never had it, every cabinet minister, deputy minister, MP, MEC, city councillor feels that they have the luxury of flying off the handle on some issue whenever they want to. Now you can't run a country like that. I'm not saying that we will emulate Tony Blair's efficiency which is probably superlative but at least we could improve on this situation. Some of the people make the most alarming statements. This Premier of Gauteng, Motshekga, on three different occasions he gets up and he makes prominent speeches where he undermines the whole concept of the rule of law, and it's not because he's intent on undermining the government, he just doesn't think. Now that's not the kind of 'on message' we need in SA. I'm not sure that Mbeki has proved to be very energetic. I know he wants it but he hasn't proved himself to be very energetic so far - but anyway. Now what I'm hoping is that when he takes over, people usually rise to fill their roles, that he will in fact start taking this more seriously.

POM     OK, I think we can leave it there for the moment.

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.