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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

29 Jun 1998: Motlana, Nthato

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POM     I think 1993 or 1992 was the last occasion when we met in the Protea Gardens Hotel in Johannesburg and many things have changed since then but probably what you are associated with most is as the pioneer in black empowerment, black economic empowerment and how important that was to the true realisation of the dreams of the constitution. Could you first of all maybe talk a bit about the obstacles that stood in your way in 'selling' the idea of black empowerment and getting it off the ground in a real way? Two, many people that I talk to, black and white, will say, well yes, black empowerment, it's black empowerment for the few, you have the elite and it's not trickling down to the masses in any meaningful way; and how you're dealing with that perception and how you're dealing with it in reality? Third, what is the single biggest obstacle that stands in your way, and I'm using 'you' as people involved in black empowerment, in advancing black empowerment?

NM     I get asked that question so many times. When I was installed as Honorary Consul for Luxembourg last week this young journalist from Luxembourg draws me aside and basically he said the questions you asked. I go back a number of years, in fact thirty years ago when I was with the ANC Youth League and I used to tell young men, and the Premier of the Northern Province is one who remembers that meeting so well because I've got a very poor memory, I don't remember these things, and he says, "Nthato", that's what they call me, "Do you recall a meeting at the Orlando DOCC when you spoke to us about power?" I said I don't remember. He says, "Yes, you quoted Pastor Niemoller who said that power, real power, is economic and that political power arises as a consequence of economic power and not the other way round as Nkrumah would have us believe. You told us even then that we must get out there, go into business and make money", because each time there's a conference anywhere, in Durban, the Youth League would come to me and I've got to give them my credit card, give money for petrol, and I would say go to business people, and they would refuse and say, "Nthato you're one of us." It was always blacks in the movement looking for somebody to fund whatever they have to do. And I have always found that such things were demeaning. So I said to the youngsters, you must find ways to raise money for yourselves and one way of doing this is to go into business. I have been saying this long, long ago.

     I am in business today not because of blacks who have just found this new-found term called 'black economic empowerment' which implies several things, that now that we have a democratic government and the ANC government, a black government, they are going to make it happen. I tried to make it happen long, long ago. My first company was called Mpapama Africa Commission Enterprises, it's almost 35 years ago. When I went round nobody would give a black man a loan or even premises to trade. It was difficult. If you wanted to be a business person or do things for yourself the government frowned upon that. It's part of the way that slavers and so on have used this kind of thing to control people. You read the book Roots and you will realise that the slavers and the colonisers could not tolerate three things, a black man who had education who could think for himself, a black man who had access to land, a black man who was in business and therefore had money. The American slavers in Roots, that was the modus operandi. You had to keep them dependent entirely upon white men.

     The National Party in 1956 met in a little Free State town called Springfontein and passed a resolution where they said. "In Suid Afrika elke kaffir moet 'n baas hê." It's a quotation I've never forgotten and I quote it back to Afrikaners to their utmost discomfort. In South Africa every kaffir must have a boss. It's the same kind of reasoning that you find among the slavers in the United States. If you're black you can't be independent, you must have a boss who must write your identity document and sign it. We used to call it trek pas in South Africa. If you wanted to move from one farm to another your boss had to sign a piece of paper to say that native, or kaffir, Nthato Motlana is allowed to move from point A to point B. So it's all those controls and so when I formed by first company Mpapama Africa Commission Enterprises I said to my friends, "Fellow blacks, let's go out there and create businesses, create jobs, create wealth for ourselves. I'm not a businessman, I'm a doctor, but if we pool our resources together we can do it."

     And we established a company, we looked around and said what can we do? One of the things we identified in those early days was school uniforms, non-Africans, Asians, Jews and other people made a fortune from equipping black schoolchildren with uniforms, socks and everything. They go to school, black and white, and they said let's supply them with uniforms, the police, the nurses, let us do it. And so I was thinking of, not what we were criticised for doing today buying shares in companies, we were thinking of doing something, manufacturing, creating jobs, creating wealth. I have been saying that for half my life, for half my life. To that extent I form companies. I don't know how many companies I have formed. Many of them went under because I wouldn't run them, not that I might have done a better job but I would get guys, we would get together, we would raise the money, find premises somewhere because I'm not allowed to trade in Johannesburg, it had to be in a Bantustan or in a township or in Soweto, get somebody to run it. Now blacks lack financial muscle to start businesses, lack business skills, they even lack the market because they are not allowed to go and open offices in town. So the companies have failed. I have told this story before. And when I told it to one girl who wrote for the Independent, she wrote a book about the transition, her name is Patti Waldmeir.

POM     Patti Waldmeir, Financial Times.

NM     She said of Nthato Motlana, "That guy is not a businessman, he's a failure." John Rees, SA Council of Churches, was so outraged he actually wrote an article to her boss and said this woman must be a fool. Patti used to interview me regularly, she has never been back to me since because she was so negative. The attempts that we blacks were making failed for other reasons but she blamed me in a terrible article which I have never forgotten or forgiven. But the truth of the matter is that all those years I tried. I formed the first, I built the first black owned private hospital, it's called the Lesedi Clinic. It's one of my success stories but she wouldn't talk about it because that's successful, it's been going for almost twenty years now, still operating in Soweto. The Lesedi Clinic is a private hospital. I founded a medical aid scheme called Sizwe, it's one of the better medical aid schemes. Medical aid schemes are in trouble today because of costs.

     What I am trying to say is that I have been involved and so when people come and say this is a new elite, you're just enriching yourself, I say go and talk to other people, talk about other people, not Nthato Motlana whose message to my people has been consistent right through. You need to go out there, create jobs, create wealth, if necessary make money. Other people in this country are wealthy. The only people who are really dirt poor and have nothing are blacks. That's the first part.

     The second part is about, you can talk about what has become talk of South Africa, self-enrichment. I repeat, it can't be applied to me. When I built the Lesedi Clinic twenty years ago I went out of my way and said the private hospitals in SA discriminate disgracefully against blacks, we need to build our own facilities therefore in Soweto so my little girl who must have a tonsillectomy does not have to go to a white owned private hospital in town, she can come to our own that her Dad has built and have a tonsillectomy without being discriminated against. And I went round and I found 38 blacks, 38, who were willing to invest a similar amount of money as I did. We put up the clinic finally, a guy called Bob Aldworth who got into trouble with some woman somewhere (you know the story of Bob Aldworth?). Now Bob Aldworth made that happen because at the time when blacks could not raise loans anywhere he agreed to give us a loan to help us build the Lesedi Clinic. We were 38 shareholders, we will remain 38 equal shareholders, and I went out of my way to see when they said, "Nthato you are the founder chairman of this facility and you must have more shares", I said no, no, we are equal here, we are buddies, we formed it together. At Sizwe it's the same, the people who founded Sizwe Medical Aid Fund are the same.

     Let us come to the modern era. In 1993 I am approached by Dr Zach de Beer of Anglo American who says Harry Oppenheimer, before he joins his ancestors up there in heaven, wants to do something for you blacks as he did for the Afrikaners when he created General Mining, Genmin. But you guys know nothing about mining although we were the miners of this country, I think a third mining house might not be appropriate. What might be appropriate would be an insurance company and they offered us African Life, a subsidiary of Southern Life. We negotiated for a number of years to acquire African Life. When it didn't happen I got impatient, I'm naturally a very impatient person and I moved, because a fellow called George Marais, the then Minister of Tourism, (I don't know if you know George Marais), said to me these English speaking people are always crooks you know, they will pat you on the back and say 'my friend' and do nothing for you, come to the Afrikaners, they will do something to help you go into business. And he took me to Marinus Dalling of Sanlam and he started speaking about Sanlam had a subsidiary called Metropolitan which wrote black policies. If you were black you couldn't get a policy from Sanlam, you had to go to Metropolitan. If you were black you couldn't get a Life Policy from Southern, you had to go to African Life. So these big white insurance companies provided little subsidiaries that would cater for the black customer. And I went to Marinus Dalling and I said, "Look, we blacks have always been looking for an insurance company that we can control, write policies that are appropriate for black South Africans." And he said, "Ja, we think we can do a deal at Metropolitan", and indeed we did a deal on business lines. It was not charity, we borrowed and we have paid back the money we borrowed.

     But I tell this story because at that time the shares of Metropolitan were twenty rands and we decided that our people could not afford to buy shares at twenty rands a share. We would interpose another company and called it Methold, between the people and Metropolitan. We would then sell the shares at one rand each. We went on a road show all over the country saying to our people, here is a chance for you to own a piece of the cake. Now our problem has always been that blacks have never been shareholders in anything and when you want to sell them a share they say what is this now? A share? In what? Especially if it's a dream. The first shares I sold were a dream in my head about a clinic to be built in Soweto. It didn't exist, so you are selling people what? Fresh air. We have always had problems selling shares to blacks. It's easy to understand now what is a share and we have run programmes on television, on radio, in The Sowetan, to tell people what a share is. If you own a share you own a piece of that company and we had to convince our people. So we went on a road show to try and get people to buy shares in Methold, in Metropolitan through Methold. We were not very successful but I remember one illiterate Zulu guy who bought 50,000 shares and when I used to parade him as an example of what people could do, in fact when the shares went from one rand to ninety rands that guy became a millionaire. I was saying to everybody, here's a guy, buy shares man, these shares are meant for you. But a lot of our people are very sceptical about buying shares although, I repeat, things are changing now.

     So the answer about the new elite, about people making themselves rich, is absolute nonsense. But if I may take it further, I find it a little disturbing that this should be said of the few black business people who seem a little successful. There's a very, very small number of black people in this country of 40 million who are in business and succeeding. I would hope that there would be a message from our political heavyweights that says to young blacks, as I said thirty years go, go out there, create jobs, create wealth and if in the process you get rich so be it. But to seem to discourage entrepreneurship - when I became Chancellor of the University of the North West (I am also Chancellor of Technikon SA) one of the things I said to them, I asked them, "Have you courses in entrepreneurship?" Black South Africans have been denied entrepreneurship to the extent that they don't know what it is to go out there and sell. In fact a Senegalese immigrant, illegal immigrant, was found in the streets of Johannesburg and the blacks were beating them up, get out of here, and he was saying to everybody, "Black South Africans don't know what it is to sell from the street", because entrepreneurship was one of the things that was destroyed in this country. Now we South Africans who have some influence should be going out there to say to our people that governments, bureaucracies, don't create wealth. It's the entrepreneurs who risk everything to create jobs, who pay their taxes, who make it possible for the politicians to go to parliament and talk nonsense. So when I hear somebody saying the black business people are enriching themselves I get mad, absolutely mad, because anybody who goes into business and says he doesn't want to make money, I say this now, is either a fool or a liar, because you go into business to make money. If you don't you will be out of business the following day. But more important, you must encourage entrepreneurship in this country.

     You know I've been to India, I've been to Bangladesh, I've been to see Yunus Mohammed of the Gramin(?) Bank and I know how he succeeded. I have seen those poor women in Bangladesh who are given little loans by Yunus Mohammed to start their own little businesses so they can make it and that's the kind of thing. You know I am the founder chairman of the Get Ahead Foundation? Have you heard of the Get Ahead Foundation? Now Get Ahead was started twenty years ago by a group of us, I am the founder chairman, and we went out of our way to say there are no jobs out there, don't go out looking for a job because there isn't a job. Create one. When I went out of here I was called by a young woman who just asked me to sign some document for the Get Ahead Foundation. I am passionate about that, about saying to our people there are no jobs. Go to Bangladesh, go to India, along the streets of India the poor are doing something. They don't go looking for jobs. They do knitting or sewing and until we do that in this country we have a kind of situation in which we speak of 50% people unemployed. What the hell! What is unemployment? You don't need to be employed by anybody if there are no jobs. The Americans, this globalisation is destroying the world economy where Nike shoes are now made in Thailand so that they can be sold in South Africa and we can't compete with Thailand. The big boys insist that the wage laws be, what do they say, flexible, flexible so that you can pay your workers anything.

     I hope I have addressed some of your questions. I could go on for ever because this is very close to my heart.

POM     You mentioned the difficulty that you had years ago in selling the concept of a share, so I'm just using that as an example. Right now what is the biggest single obstacle to the advancement of black empowerment? Is it still that there is not a culture, sufficiently large culture among black people in general about business enterprise? Is it any of the things you say like culture is not yet developed to where it's reached a critical mass and becomes part of how people see themselves or are there other obstacles that are far more important and far more inhibiting you from expanding your ideas and giving more of a trickle down effect to black unemployment or black empowerment?

NM     One young man approached me some six, seven years ago, Sam Mofe(?) and asked me to become chairman of his little NGO because SA had more NGOs per square meter than any other country in the world. It was called Centre for Black Economic Empowerment, and I said to him I hate the word 'empowerment', we will call it Centre for Black Economic Development. Empowerment suggests to me, as a doctor, a terminally ill patient who requires oxygen and blood, he is lying there and the doctors are pushing tubes into every orifice. I don't like the term. I like the term 'black economic development'. When you empower, what do you mean empower? I must empower myself. I'm not going to sit there looking for somebody to come and empower me, and I say that to everybody. They don't like it. Even Cyril, I discussed that with Cyril one day, "Cyril, I don't like the term empowerment, it suggests that we blacks are helpless." We are not helpless.

     But to answer your question, there are many obstacles. When we started the Get Ahead Foundation the idea was that we would give loans of between R500 and R5000 to all manner of people. We would first ask them, you are broke, you are unemployed, what do you want to do to help yourself because there's no job out there? One woman in Pretoria came to us and said, "I used to be a seamstress", Mrs Maloka is her name, very famous name, unfortunately she is dead now. Mrs Maloka says, "I used to be a seamstress, I was retrenched. I am now looking for a job." We said to her, "You mean you can sew and knit and do all those things, make, trim and cut?" She says, "I can do all those things." "What do you need? You need a machine?" She says, "To  buy a machine would be heaven." So we bought her a Bernina or one of these machines from Switzerland and she started sewing little things for her neighbours and selling them and making some money and the neighbours got interested and she started teaching them. In no time she had 1000 machines, so from teaching women to knit, sew, cut and trim from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, all over, she built a huge house, bought herself a BMW and Mrs Maloka became our model for black economic development. Not empowerment because nobody empowered her. We gave her a little loan that she used sensibly.

     Now quite a number of women have done that, because women they are the salt of the earth. 90% of our borrowers at the Get Ahead Foundation are women. We give them loans, we ask them what they want to do, we help them draw a  business plan and they go ahead. Now you say what are the obstacles? The obstacles in SA really can be spelled in one word, illiteracy, and lack of skills. Illiteracy, not knowing how to read Shakespeare but be able to think up a plan and carry it out. I find that in other countries where some of the literacy and education is higher it is so much easier. India, for instance, I always give the example of India because I've been there several times, where the standard of literacy is higher than ours here, and people can do things. The skills are passed from generation to generation. We were denied those skills, we haven't got those skills, we never learnt those skills.

     At the Get Ahead Foundation one of the things we emphasised was in fact teaching of skills. We went round the world trying to get the Swiss and they promised to build a skills training centre for us in Pretoria, we drew plans and it came to naught. Like I say when I go to the Technikon SA where I am Chancellor, I am always insisting on knowing what are you teaching people to do. All the things that the Technikon does, when the students qualify at the Technikon I go there to confer the degrees, almost every student has a job to go to. I go to University of the North West where I am Chancellor and I confer degrees on those poor little girls with a BA education and no-one gets a job. So that's one of the biggest obstacles, is finding the wherewithal even with self-employment, what to do.

     What SA needs to do, I would argue, is to find a niche in the world where we can market things that we make. Unfortunately when you lend people a little money to go into business they buy goods to go and sell. The streets of SA are full of people selling Nike shoes in the streets, on the pavements, and I would say to them if you had to make Afro shirts, like in India they make mats and they make carpets which are found only in India and therefore they sell. I went to India and came back with a suitcase full of carpets that my wife forced me to buy. But that's the kind of thing to do. You go to Senegal, I have been to Senegal, and I was thrilled to see two little boys in the central park in Senegal, they could not have been more than ten and twelve, with a Bunsen burner with a few rings and they were making gold rings. My wife still wears them, from Senegal. And when they said to me, "We will make you rings", and I said, "I'm sorry I've got  no money", they said, "But you've got a credit card?" I said yes, they said, "Give me your credit card", and they swiped it through the little machine there, ten, twelve year olds. In Senegal the men go to the bush to cut down trees, the following day that tree is a face mask. They slaughter an ox for a party, the following day that skin is sandals. Now those are skills that in SA we don't have, have not developed and we need to develop.

     Shoemakers, Barbara Masakela who is our Ambassador to Paris, came back from exile, she was Mandela's private secretary, you recall those days, and she came to see me because she had brought with her a Tanzanian who could make shoes, not in the factory but handmade shoes. And she says to me, "Mr Chairman of the Get Ahead Foundation, here is a man. You have been talking a lot about people doing things, fund him to make shoes and teach our people hand skills." One of the things that he had to make for Mr Mandela, by the way, were handmade shoes because - I can't remember what it was, he had a problem with his feet I think. But that's a problem.

     Then of course funding. Funding is a big problem. USAID did a wonderful job, the European Union, AUSAID, several organisations have been involved. Unfortunately the SA government would not do anything. Now we've got a democratic government and one of the things that we hope that Trevor Manuel and the Minister of Trade & Industry, Alec Erwin, they have had several conferences on SMMEs. I attended one two years ago in Durban, huge, wonderful, Mandela spoke, Trevor spoke, they all spoke and we were going to do something about unemployment, about Swiss training, about the informal sector. I don't know, when we started the Get Ahead Foundation we employed one young man called Sizwe Tati, he is now the head of Kula which is a government wholesaler of money for the SMMEs. We are not getting our act right. Those are some of our obstacles.

POM     Just talking about the role of government, some people have said to me that the biggest problem with the government here is that it has problems making tough decisions, or making decisions, that it can produce something, magnificent green paper, magnificent white paper, magnificent yellow paper, you pick any colour you want, red, purple, blue, whatever and it's all beautifully thought out and beautifully presented but when a decision has to be made on how that is implemented and the steps that must be taken to implement it the process somehow falls down.

NM     I couldn't agree with you more. That is absolutely correct. As Mandela's old friend and personal physician over the years I have been asked that same question and my answer has always been that Mr Mandela came into our history as a peace maker to reconcile the people of SA. He is incredible in that. I will go to him angry because the students at my old university, Wits, are trashing the university, turning hose pipes and attacking everybody, men and women. And I go to Mandela who lives in Houghton near the university and say, "Madiba, this cannot be allowed to go on." And he says to me, "Go and tell Tokyo Sexwale and Jessie Duarte", when she was still in Security, "to call the police and pick them up."  He can do that.

     It is true that there are things, we are very good at drawing plans and never carrying them out. And I have said publicly that when Thabo comes in the age of reconciliation and so on will be over, that when tough decisions have to be taken we will take them. In one area, oh I heard Mamphele speak at the Alan Paton Book Award the other night, she was the main speaker there. Christ, that woman has got guts. She answered this question and spoke about corruption and she named names and said when this happened and the government couldn't do so and so, we have no government. When the scandal - you know about the housing scandal? People steal money from the poor, they get dismissed and that's the end of the story. We would argue that the government must pursue, prosecute and persecute and recover all those ill-begotten gains. You are quite right, that criticism is quite true and I am hoping that when Thabo comes in, now Mandela relies on his great aura, his charisma, his history and so on, Thabo hasn't got any of that. Thabo has to deliver and one of the things Thabo must do is to impose discipline on this country. We're talking politics now but one thing -

POM     I want to get back to where it's connected with business ultimately.

NM     One thing that must be imposed on this country, discipline.

POM     Just in that precise context, whither the unions? Again many people would say that here is the real elite, the people who have jobs, who get raises and who are not prepared to say listen, lower your wage demands a bit and we can create more jobs, we're now entering or in a global economy and a global economy means that if you can't compete your economy begins to shrivel up and the example you gave of Nike shoes being made in Thailand exported back here, that that's going to increase not decrease and we're going to find it tougher to do things, to create, you could say, almost formal sector jobs, we have to look for a different way of doing things. Do you think business here yet has absorbed what the long term - sorry, not business, that the unions more than business, or maybe both, have absorbed what the long term implications of globalisation are and that the unions, and when I was young I founded a union myself, but that they are non-disciplined, selfish, narrow in their perspective and that this applies to unions in general but in particular applies to public service unions which almost, it would appear to me sometimes, make a government back down, paralyse the actions of government and somebody must say this can't go on, this can't go on because we're stuck in a vicious cycle?

NM     I don't think the unions accept that kind of reasoning at all. I always give the example of one man in Russia called Gorbachev. If Gorbachev had not come on the world scene and virtually rubbished Marxism/Leninism we would be in trouble here because Joe Slovo and his wife Ruth did a wonderful job in converting all of us, I just missed it because I didn't accept Marxism/Leninism. All our leaders, all the bright guys, black, white, Asian, coloured, joined the Communist Party and they believed in the Marxist/Leninist  nonsense. We in SA are the only country in the world that still uses the words 'Communist Party'. Even in Italy where they had Europe's most powerful party they have changed their name into the Democratic Party of the Left, because nobody accepts that he's a communist, except here.

     Now the unions are being very, very difficult. Let me give you an example. The Lesedi Clinic, my clinic which I built, had problems. You can't charge too much, you can't make too much money, a clinic is health and there is a difficult thing like doctors, they are being attacked everywhere so we can't overcharge, so the clinic is just breaking even and the staff says, "Dr Motlana, you double our salaries." I say, please, NEHAWU, a powerful union in SA, I said, "We can't do it, we are not making a profit. Call your Auditors, not mine, yours, the union auditors to come and look at our books." They came, looked at our books and said this clinic is insolvent, I don't know how Dr Motlana manages to pay you. Be very grateful that you've got jobs in this insolvent clinic. They say. "We don't believe you." They went on a wild cat strike. I called the unions, the guys come and speak to the nurses in my office, we spent the whole day talking. At the end of the day no agreement. I said, "Girls", and these are girls ... they are led by a porter, Alfred, I've never forgotten Alfred with my bad memory, Alfred was the spokesperson and he confronted me. I tried to quote the example of Iacocca of Chrysler who said to the workers, "Chrysler is broke, you either take a cut or we close." The workers took a cut and today Chrysler is a wonderful firm. He says to the workers, "Nthato Motlana is trying to confuse you with Iacocca and all that nonsense. We want money now." I said, "Right, this moment, four o'clock in the afternoon, this clinic is closed." I went to De Vries who operates an emergency ambulance service and I said to De Vries, "There are about 150 patients in this hospital, take them away." I rang all the clinics in town from Park Lane to Mill Park and said, "Have you room for 70 patients?" They said, "Man, we're more than happy." Took them all, shut the clinic, I called the staff, I said, this was the middle of November nineteen something, "We're going to pay you for November, it's a wild cat strike, nothing for December and the clinic is closed." The following day they all came back on their knees begging. I have never had trouble at the Lesedi Clinic ever since because I tell them every time, "You are full of nonsense. I don't depend on this clinic for my livelihood, you do. I have never earned even director's fees from this clinic or interest on my investment. You do, it's your clinic. If you look after it and treat the patients nicely we will have full bed occupancy, which we don't have now, and I'll double your salaries. But not now. You behave like bloody fools, you're arrogant, you treat your own people so bloody rudely." Our nurses in SA are famous for being damn rude and I speak as a doctor who has worked with them for all these years, "We will close this clinic permanently." Now they are behaving.

     But by and large our unions are very difficult and the reason is easy to comprehend, they were part of the liberation struggle at the time when the ANC was banned. It is the unions who -

POM     Held the banner.

NM     The banner. Now of course a lot of them are going into business and their pet hate is Cyril Ramaphosa who is said to be a millionaire because, you know newsmen, writers are so evil. I was in Ireland when Liam, from New Zealand, Healey, he is the international head of Independent Newspapers, brings the Irish Times and the Irish Times had this little column on the left hand side, headlines, that showed that Forbes Magazine has published a list of the world's 200 richest and Cyril Ramaphosa is among those people, and I felt ill.

POM     I'm going to Cyril for a loan to finish my book!

NM     I mean Cyril has just joined us. They make him -

POM     He's a symbol, he's a flash point for resentment.

NM     That's right. I feel very sorry for him because Vavi Zwelinzima and Sam Shilowa are now saying of the guys who have left the party, who have left parliament and gone into business and done well that they are bastards. And Thabo Mbeki, unfortunately, very often tends to reinforce that resentment when he says of black business people, what are they doing? You speak of the trickle down effect, the fact of the matter is that the blacks who went into business in 1993/94/95/98 have no money. They had to borrow to acquire Metropolitan. We borrowed from the IDC R140 million.  Now all these guys who are black and go into business are  borrowing. My daughter, Advocate Moroka, they have just formed a group of women they call themselves Boncho, Boncho means sign or something, and there are many women's groups forming like that. I encouraged them when they asked me for advice that they should start a savings club like a stokvel, put their own money into the bank so that when they go borrowing they can say this is what we have saved and many of our people are doing that but most of them, most of them, if not 100%, depend upon borrowings. But the white press, and I am sorry to be racist here, white journalists have been conducting this campaign about those blacks who are in business, there are just a handful of blacks in business, who seem to be successful, who are said to be enriching themselves and what are you doing for the masses out there?

POM     Do you ever take this up with Independent Newspapers? Do you ever go to O'Reilly and say we know your intentions are good and without interfering with a free press, the press has a role to play in transformation and this kind of story being printed over and over again is not just damaging, it's killing the prospects for black economic development?

NM     Next time you meet Tony tell him what I am telling you now, because the last thing I discussed with Tony before I left to come back to SA was exactly that. His MD in SA is another Irishman called Ivan Fallon. I called them together and I showed him a report that they had done in their Business Report in the Star about our financial results in NAIL. The article was evil, full of malice.

POM     This is the recent one where it said that your second quarter earnings were way below expectations?

NM     That article. And I said, it doesn't matter how you put it, but this article is clearly malicious. Our results were very good, we have done very well, but they don't see that. They are eager to say that our results appear to be good because we were saved by our subsidiaries.  That's a malicious statement because we all know that companies do well because they have acquired subsidiaries for that same reason. Our major subsidiary that is doing extremely well is Metropolitan Life. Even better is our African Merchant Bank which is one of the best banks in SA, the African Merchant Bank. It's as if in being - now we are a holding company, NAIL is a holding company, we hold subsidiaries and all manner of things. If these subsidiaries which we have bought do well, Sowetan is doing very well, it's still the biggest newspaper in SA, if they do well NAIL profits, but they write like there is something wrong in that. Did you see the article? You can read it again. When I left yesterday I said to Tony, "This is why Mandela spoke for five hours in Mafikeng railing against white business journalists. It's as if you want to destroy this young democracy." I am appalled. I have gone to New York to speak to the Managing Editor of the New York Times, he's got a Dutch name but he's Jewish, to tell him that some of things you write about SA are so malicious. We don't know what you have done. We thought this new democracy will have your encouragement. No. They write rubbish, but especially about black business people. They ask of us things that they ask of nobody else, of white  business people, the Asian business people. No, no, no, we must go into business and the following day if you make a profit distribute those profits immediately. We've got 30,000 individual shareholders in NAIL, 30,000! We are the second most widely held share in the country. When we tell them that nobody publishes that fact. They publish about us, the Executive Directors, it's Cyril, it's Dikgang, Sisulu, Motlana, they are making money. The fact that they pay dividends and pay taxes, no, no, no, how is it trickling down to the people?

     I am chairman of MTN. MTN was a green fields operation four years ago. We persuaded the ANC who did not believe in competition, they had one cellular license with Vodacom, Cyril was still in the ANC and Cyril didn't believe in competition, ANC, Marxists don't believe in competition, they wanted one license. But we persuaded him after a lot of debate that the second license would do this country a lot of good so they got a second license for MTN and SA's cellular roll-out has been the fastest, the best, the richest in the world. We created jobs, thousands of jobs. Nobody talks about that. We went to San Antonia, persuaded SBC to come to SA to invest millions. We went to London and persuaded Cable & Wireless to invest. Nobody talks about those things because they're good. Only the bad things are good enough.

     By the way, to conclude that thing about O'Reilly, they wrote in that article in Business Report that we had used Chinese bookkeeping, so I am telling this to Ivan Fallon in front of Tony O'Reilly, I think his wife is called Eva or something, Fallon's wife. She says, "Nthato, say that again, what did they say? Chinese? That means you're cheating." I said to Fallon, "Listen to your wife, you are accusing us, a public listed company in SA, of cheating in the way you presented our figures." It's sickening, absolutely sickening.

POM     What response did you get? Did you get a response of, well we will look into this or send you a nice letter.

NM     It's the response you get. Like the thing that Patti Waldmeir wrote about me. She took me apart. She said Motlana, OK he's a doctor, he knows nothing about business. She was insulting. I have never met her since. When I do meet with her, I don't care even maybe in heaven or somewhere, I must get Patti - what made you write such a thing? What have I done? She is interviewing me while I was still a political activist and we would have a nice time with Patti and I would tell her about this, she wanted to know this and I would answer her questions, any information because the ANC was banned and only a few of us could answer questions as you know. Winnie Mandela and Tutu and I would answer those question. Yes, come to me. But when it comes to business - oh, by the way, I raised this with Kader Asmal one day, now Kader of course is an Irishman, he spent a lot of time in Ireland.

POM     Just 30 years.

NM     And I said, "Kader, why is this?" He says, "Nthato, you ought to know. It's OK for a white man to be rich. For a black to be rich is obscene, unacceptable." Yes. I mustn't say more because I get so mad. But I tell my people don't get mad. I was warned by GT Ferreira, GT Ferreira is the head of Rand Merchant Bank, I think the most successful merchant bank in SA, they just bought up FNB and Southern, they control Momentum which is the best life insurance company in SA.  GT Ferreira is the founder and when I became chairman of Metropolitan and we were listed and we were doing well he called me aside and said, "Nthato, now you're going to be in trouble. You will be held up, you will be pilloried because you are successful and black." But I feel very sorry, even sorrier, if there is such an English word, for Cyril. He is going to be in trouble.

POM     But yet he managed by some means to come out number one in the elections for the NEC.

NM     He was not a millionaire then. Now that he's a millionaire - what do you do?

POM     When you go abroad and you're selling, making SA's case, what do you find the most common perceptions, say, again in business circles, in corporate board rooms or whatever, the most common perceptions you run across regarding SA? For example, again, the media would have you believe that it's crime, that foreign companies won't invest here because the crime level is so high that they're either afraid for their lives of the executives or their employees or because they feel the labour unions are not under control or because they don't yet know whether it's going to turn out to be a stable democracy so they're hedging their bets, because there are better, more profitable opportunities in a global economy where to put your money since you can move it -

NM     Indonesia? Fix them up! Indonesia, that's where they put their money. Now they're in trouble. Yes. But I anticipate your question. I found as I travelled all over the world, when I used to travel even before democratic change, the problem then was that a lot of countries invested in SA, they couldn't care a damn, they loved this nazi type government that controlled the unions and beat them up and locked them up. These are the same governments that supported Mobutu and didn't ask him for an election and when Kabila came to power Madeleine Allbright goes all the way to Kinshasa to go and tell him to hold elections that she had never told Mobutu about. I have no respect for those so-and-sos, the Margaret Thatchers of this world, no respect whatsoever.

POM     Sorry, no respect for the?

NM     Those westerners who say to Kabila hold an election, and have such great admiration for Mandela, even last week he said to Kabila, "Tell them to go to hell. You will hold your election in two years if you can, when you have written your constitution, when you've got your country under control, when you've got the basics for holding an election in place." But these people insist on that kind of thing, it's utter nonsense.

     But let's go back to the investors outside. I remember going to New York , the Stock Exchange, an Italian/American, I forget his name, the outside world was not interested in investing in SA. I went to California to speak to the San Francisco Stock Exchange guys who were very interested in investing in SA. They all say that SA has got all its fundamentals in place (I don't know what they mean by that) but they don't invest in SA. In 1994 there was a conference held in New York at which SA put on a show to present itself, all the majors were there, the Sanlams, Anglo Americans and so on, we also went and I made a presentation about NAIL. That hotel has a green roof, near Central Park, built in the 1900s, what is called? The Plaza, what made you think of it?

PAT     The green roof, I know the green roof.

NM     You know the green roof. I love that hotel but I always forget the name. They all went to The Plaza, I like it because you see you can drop into Central Park, it's just next door. We made a presentation about SA in 1994 and the Americans were just not interested. After the conference I went into New York to speak to some of my friends among whom was a fellow called Al Wilson. Al Wilson was the head of the Teachers' Pension Fund of New York, a huge pension fund, they've got billions of money, and he used to come to SA during the apartheid days and we would talk about what was going to happen once apartheid is gone and how they would help us invest. He's an African American and so I went to see him. I said, man the time has come. We hope you Americans will now begin to support this new democracy. The Americans were just not interested, as you say. They speak about, well crime wasn't as bad as it is now, they speak about currency controls, the difficulty in repatriating profits, which is nonsense. There has never been any problem for foreign companies to repatriate the profits out of this country, but they use this as an excuse because there is still some form of currency control. Even now I think what SA should do is to make all your currencies free, but our government is afraid of doing that. And then they speak about crime, they speak about the inflexible labour unions.

     Now the fact of the matter is that those facts apply to very many countries in the world but SA is being singled out, is being pilloried really, persecuted if you like, for having some of these things. Look at what's happening in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is getting more investment than we did despite all Mugabe does. I don't know, it's just as if Mandela hasn't done enough or all of us are not doing enough. There is this thing in SA and it's promoted sometimes by white South Africans who have lost power. One man employed by Mondi, an English speaking South African employed by Mondi, who regularly sends to his friends all over the world cuttings from SA that refer to crime, death, rapes, everything, and saying to people don't come to this country. He lives here, don't come to this country because it's got these things. Like the woman who emigrated to New Zealand because of crime and addresses meetings about don't go to SA, this is a safe country, New Zealand. She goes on holiday, leaves her house and cars unlocked, she comes back a week later and the house is stripped down to the carpets - in New Zealand! It's a front page story for one day but it's quickly forgotten. When these kinds of things happen, as they happen all over the world, all over the world up until Moscow - two years ago I was in Moscow. I mean crime in Russia is quite something but they don't talk about it whereas South Africa where we have a Crime Watch - I admit, I accept that crime in SA is unacceptable.

     Unfortunately, we have a young minister who was a patient of mine, called Sydney Mufamadi, I think Sydney is an utter failure and ought to have been removed. You put Kader Asmal in charge of the police, that's an activist. That boy, he made Water Affairs the most glamorous portfolio in SA. Put him in the police, he would run around because he doesn't sleep that guy. But Sydney Mufamadi, now Sydney promised that there would road blocks all over the country regularly. We will search, we will isolate a little township with the army and send the police in to search with metal detectors and get the guns out. Beautiful schemes, the one you've just described about the schemes we make, beautiful schemes. And I meet him regularly and I say, "Sydney when are we going to have the police moving into the townships with metal detectors, looking under the beds, taking out all these guns?" He says, "No, I'm going to do it." He's in five years now, he's done nothing. You put it very well, we draw beautiful schemes on blue paper, white paper, yellow paper and we do nothing.

POM     Why, if crime is recognised as being a threat to stability which if it is not brought under control it will become a threat to social stability, why is not a larger proportion of the budget allocated to the police? Why are there not a more comprehensive programmes of police retraining or training? I mean countries from all over the world have offered help in training detectives and in forensic science and things like that. Why is nothing done when elements of the problem at least can be so easily identified?

NM     I went to South America over the June holidays just to see how the Latinos treat their blacks and how they live in those wonderful places. Then before I went to Chile I went to see the Ambassador, a very friendly guy here called Bennie something, and I said, "Bennie I'm going to Chile. What should I look out for?" He says, "Go to Chile, it will be so safe. You love jogging? You can jog in the middle of the night." I said, "Thank you." I go to the land of Pinochet and indeed Chile is so safe I went jogging up the mountain where Baden Powell stayed. Have you been there? Baden Powell used to jog up that mountain? Ah beautiful.

POM     No I didn't jog up.

NM     You walked up.

POM     I walked up. I don't have your energy.

NM     I like jogging, I love jogging. But as soon as I hit Santiago de Chile I saw policemen everywhere, on foot, on horseback, on bicycles, in cars, helicopters. We went to the palace in the centre of Santiago, the palace is surrounded by guys with guns man, not just toys. When I came back I went to see Mandela, I said, "Madiba, I went to Santiago in Chile, I have never seen so many policemen in my life."

     When I give interviews with people like you from all over the world, the first thing they would remark to me is that we have heard when we were outside here that SA is a police state. Tell me, Nthato Motlana, I have been here for two weeks now, I haven't seen one single policeman.  Oh, I must tell you this one. I was chairman of the Population Development Council, I get invited four years ago to a conference in Egypt, five years ago now, and you couldn't fly from SA to Egypt, you had to fly to Paris and then to Egypt. So I go to Paris and I spend a whole day there from de Gaulle Airport waiting for the evening flight to Egypt. As I walk the streets of Paris on a Sunday afternoon every kilometre or 500 metres there is this beautiful woman, slim -

POM     Sorry, you were saying that there were all these -

NM     This woman, petite woman, has a walkie talkie on her left and a submachine gun in her right and you could see she's on guard and she's in contact with another one around the corner, in Paris, on a Sunday afternoon!  And I come back and I say, Christ man, in South Africa, laughing.  The other day Mr Moseneke and I were driving to a board meeting somewhere, I don't know where, and there are no cops anywhere, Traffic or SA Police, and Moseneke who is an advocate says, "You know this country must be one of the most peaceful countries in the world. The traffic flows without any control, the people move without any control. Nothing!" I just came back from London yesterday, I flew in yesterday morning, we flew from Dublin to London, walking the streets of London, the Bobbies are everywhere, everywhere. Here, and it's a question that I've addressed already, and I go to Sydney and I say, "Sydney where are our policemen?" I live in Soweto, in Diepkloof, there is a big bus stop in front of my residence, I have never seen a policeman there. If I want somebody to sign my affidavit I go to the police station and the police station is crawling, and I mean crawling, with policemen and women. What are they doing there? The biggest police station here is Morningside. Have you been there? Morningside police station, it is huge. You go in, there are policemen in the police station, outside not one.

     Now you ask that question, why aren't we doing anything about it? And I really don't understand. South Africans know that they are going to arrest the crime wave once they put policemen on the beat. We have been saying that for the past twenty years. It's not a problem that has arisen as a result of the Mandela government, it's always been a problem. We just couldn't be bothered. The Nats, of course, worried about political criminals, like us, and they were very sharp, they detained you, at the drop of a hat you were in prison. Now our new government - originally we thought, and this Mr Mandela has said, that we don't want to adopt the same kind of police methods that the apartheid regime adopted. It has been suggested for instance that we declare a state of emergency against crime so that the police will find it a little easier to arrest the Nigerians who now control Hillbrow and sell drugs in the streets openly. One young black woman brave enough, dressed herself, she looks very young, in school uniform and went to the streets of Hillbrow and bought drugs, anything, hashish to cocaine, in the streets of Hillbrow, and she went to report the incident to the police and they arrested her. It was a scandal, but no policeman ever accompanied her to say come and show me where you bought the stuff. No, they're not interested. The just arrested her.

     I don't know, I must ask you because you speak to other people besides myself, what kind of response do you get? I have got a very close relationship with the President, in fact I'm going to be seeing him tonight and I tell him all these things. Sometimes I think I just tire him because he just looks tired, "Nthato, go and tell that to Thabo." He's really not interested, and these are not big issues of policy vis-à-vis funds and so on. It's about ordinary people in the street who get beaten up.

POM     Could part of the problem be that going back the police here during the apartheid era were seen by the majority of the population as such instruments of oppression that there is an unwillingness on the part of the movement with its civic and human rights ethic to appear to be taking harsh measures against its own people?

NM     I have a friend, his name is Edwin Cameron, you know Edwin? He was a Rhodes Scholar, brilliant South African, homosexual, leader, he's a judge, a leader of the homos when they go demonstrating he holds a flag up. I would say that SA now, and this is a personal opinion, is really being controlled and ruled by academics from Cape Town and Wits who are upholders, if you like, of the human rights ethic, human rights culture. I have been fighting with him, for instance, over the question of AIDS. I said to him until AIDS becomes a notifiable disease we are all going to die. He won't agree. He thinks to notify AIDS is to make encourage discrimination against sufferers. I said, "Look I speak as a doctor of fifty years, the world was able to control tuberculosis, a pandemic, when we notified, isolated, treated, until TB hospitals all over the world began to close down because we could control it." In Uganda I have met with Museveni twice now, Museveni is a Ugandan, he is one of the few countries together with Thailand where the AIDS epidemic has peaked and the incidence is beginning to fall and Museveni says you South Africans are foolish, are stupid, you're going to die. We in Uganda, we notify, we counsel, we treat, if necessary we isolate. South Africans under this human rights, beautiful human rights culture, refuse to do that but fortunately, fortunately, at last Zuma has agreed that AIDS is going to become a notifiable disease, because unless we do that we will never be able to control it, never.

POM     There are already something like three million people who are HIV infected and one in every five pregnant women, the figures are quite extraordinary.

NM     We've got a country - I've had women, one white employer who comes to me and she says she's taken her domestic to a doctor because she thought she might be HIV positive, the doctor does a test, finds she's HIV positive. By law this doctor is not allowed to tell this woman, who looks after her children, might cut herself, anything can happen. Not only that he can't tell her husband.

POM     This is here?

NM     Here, that's the law now.

POM     So if Patricia were to go to a doctor and said I think I may be HIV infected and he did a test and found that she was, he can't divulge that information?

NM     To you.

POM     To her husband?

NM     No. She may tell you.

POM     He can tell - if she wants to know?

NM     But if you want to know. The doctor will tell her and that's where it ends. The doctor will tell her. And this woman, this white employer who brought this domestic to him may not be told. And the state, and this is where I come in, the state may not be told either. We medics if you've got a notifiable disease like cholera, TB, one of these awful, formidable diseases as you call them, I am obliged by law to fill in a form, we've got a special form, which on a daily basis I will send to the Department of Health to say there is an outbreak. If there is cholera, cholera is a horrible disease, the state must know immediately so that they can take necessary control measures. So I notify. But if I find a case of AIDS I may not notify anybody. It's awful. And the lab who sends the results to you, the patient, and to me the doctor, end of the story. I quote this story because the human rights lawyers, and even Cyril who helped write our constitution, now admits that SA in its constitution went overboard. We've got a Youth Commission, we've got a Human Rights Commission, we've got a Gender Commission, we've got commissions everywhere and the commissioners are paid the same salaries as judges of the Supreme Court, when we can't pay teachers, we can't pay policemen. Cyril, you ask him that question one day when you speak to him. He will admit that we really thought we were a first world country. We had forgotten that we are a sixth world country. Very poor country. Anyway we will learn. I hope Thabo will learn.

     I must tell you one piece of criticism for which I have not become very popular. We were sitting in the home of Mrs Tambo one day and looking at cars, BMW and 4X4s and so on and so on. I said I am sorry that one of the mistakes that the ANC made in coming out of the bush was to think that this country was rich, this country is actually very, very poor. India, the Congress Party of India knew that India was poor. When they took power 50 years ago they decreed that all MPs from the Governor General to the Prime Minister to the lowest official will drive a car called the Ambassador. Now the Ambassador, if you don't know, is based on the British Morris Oxford. I like telling that story. I said in India the Ambassador was a car, the Ambassador was based on the Morris Oxford. Morris is a small little - my first car when I started practice was a second-hand Morris Vauxhall and I said the idea that MPs should have, say, a BMW 7 Series is obscene. I could see everybody was uncomfortable but it's true. I think we tended to think that in fact we could afford things we couldn't afford and when the Youth Commission, one 26 year old girl who didn't even have a license, was offered the salary of a Supreme Court judge there was outrage in this country. Between you and me one of the people who defended that was Thabo Mbeki. I have never been able to get round that one. Then Sam Shilowa will be justified in being as intransigent as he is about negotiating for wages above the inflation rate.

     I think one thing that South Africans must realise is that we're a poor country and that some of the salaries we pay, unfortunately we business people try to pay ourselves a lot more, but we're a poor country really.

POM     Just to finish up, and thank you for the enormous amount of time you have given, I'm probably costing you about a million rand every fifteen minutes.

NM     No, other people do that, I'm just humble as chairman.

POM     It's on Thabo's speech, or the two speeches that he gave in parliament on 4th June where he said (i) there has been no progress towards reconciliation, and (ii) that you are two nations as divided now as you ever were, (iii) that there has been the emergence of a black elite using their positions to enhance entitlement, (iv) that there has been a collapse of moral values and a need for a moral summit, (v) his quote was, "We are a damaged people", and (vi) was that whites enjoy all of the privileges they ever enjoyed before the democratic compensation came into being. Would you agree with some or all of what he said?

NM     Let's go over them again and I'll tell you where I agree and therefore we don't need to discuss them.

POM     One, that there had been no progress towards reconciliation.

NM     I don't entirely agree. I think there has been some movement towards reconciliation especially among Afrikaner universities, for instance. I would argue that RAU and Pretoria Universities, I don't know about Stellenbosch, have done more towards reconciliation than even the traditional English speaking universities. My own alma mater, Wits, has had awful problems in transformation and even trying to get a black academic as Vice Chancellor. They've got problems. You see the English speaking universities think that because they fought apartheid that they were part of the liberation struggle, if you like, they don't see much need to change. The Afrikaners who know they've been on the other side, in fact somebody said some years back that when change does come the Afrikaners who are on the right will leapfrog over everybody in the extreme left and in many case that's been happening. You will find that the Afrikaners, I think, are changing. Of course there is the Afrikaner right wing which is not willing to do anything but even they are beginning to say, hey that guy called Mandela is not so bad after all. I think there is some movement.

     Where it seems as if there has been very little movement is in the corporate world. The corporates, the guys who control SA's wealth and so on are making very little effort in bringing blacks into the mainstream. I know that Sanlam who made my company possible, are accredited with having done much for, if I can use that word I don't like, black empowerment and many other companies. But in the corporate world, if you move around SA, the offices and so on, you would think you are seeing 1954. I went into a bank to pay an account in Pretoria, I went to two banks, Volkskas and FNB. There are as they were fifty years ago. I didn't see a single black teller at Volkskas; at management level I don't know. The teller is the young man or woman who just counts the money as you come in. Nothing! Very little change and then they scream to high heaven when some of the parastatals begin to employ blacks and they say that their white children can't find jobs. And I get mad because I had a son come back from the United States with a Bachelor of Science in Analytical Chemistry who for two years couldn't find a job. He ended up running a lumber mill in Nelspruit. My second son went into exile and spent 14 years in the United States, worked for the NDP. He's got a Masters in Economics and I said come back, found him a job with the Reserve Bank. He was there for three months and he walked out and said this SA, in 1997 is worse than when I left and went into exile in 1976 and I am not coming back to SA. As I speak to you now he lives, he's just got himself a nice apartment in New Jersey, he's with the NDP and he couldn't find a job. I would go around saying he's back - and the story you hear every day about, even this Mulholland, Stephen Mulholland is a racist so-and-so, he wrote about affirmative action, this Sunday. I do not want to tell you about my sons who can't find jobs in this country, one of them had to go back to the USA for a job. So Thabo is right, there has not been much change. There is grudging change in the army, endless problems in changing that army. So I agree with him there. The second one is?

POM     The two nations, it's really an off-shoot of the first, two nations as divided now as they ever were.

NM     We've had since 1652 the notion of two nations. By the way the first school in SA in 1652 was for black children. Did you know that? The first school opened in the Cape under Dutch rule, under Van Riebeeck, was in fact intended for slave children, Hottentots and the slaves from Batavia, and whites were then admitted to what was essentially a black school. It's a very interesting part of our history and with time, when the white women were introduced to SA and they married and had children, they thought no, they needed a school for them. For the most part they went to a black school. But we really have lived as separate nations and SA was very successful in building these townships where the blacks lived over there and white people over here.

     I've just come back from the DRC, Democratic  Republic of Congo, Cyril Ramaphosa and I went over there, it's a very poor country, wonderfully rich in resources. One thing I noticed is the attitude of blacks towards whites. Whereas for SA blacks it's white man boss, those Congolese may be very poor and illiterate but they stand up tall and proud. They know they own the country and their attitude to whites is very different. I drew Cyril's attention to that, I said watch these blacks, watch the way they interact with other races. I don't know what it is, and the same thing in Angola, one of the reasons in Angola I was told was that the Portuguese who colonised them came from the poor areas of Portugal, southern Portugal, many were illiterate, many went native and that is why the Portuguese were the worlds greatest miscegenators, I mean they just went and produced a mixed race in Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, because they would go native, as the phrase goes, and they would eat native stuff and live with them in little houses.

     So the attitude that SA had, in 1927 a fellow called Tielman Roos who was Minister of Railways, said in SA every white man is an aristocrat. And SA went on to create a white aristocracy. If you were white and you were mentally retarded and couldn't hold a job the state subsidised you. You know that? So that white salaries were subsidised at a higher level, same qualifications for blacks. You had to have a white, you've heard that phrase, a white man's standard of living, the house jy kan nie in 'n kaffir se so huis bly nie, please understand Afrikaans. But if you are white you can't eat pap, you can't live over there and if you can't afford better the Dutch Reformed Church, the church was very good at this, would lift your status even if its artificial. So you had two worlds really. If you were black and you drove a big car like I used to do when I was a young doctor, the police would stop me and say "Hey", as if to say you've no right to be in that kind of car. So two nations, yes, that concept is still there. We are moving gradually as blacks into suburbia. Some of the suburbs of Johannesburg, Observatory it's very black, Hillbrow has gone Nigerian of course. All the immigrants from the rest of Africa have taken over Hillbrow. So I think it's going to happen.

     The universities, most SA universities will very soon have a majority of black students, in fact many of them already have. Even Pretoria University is almost fifty/fifty. And as they come out of those universities with some genuine qualifications and can hold down jobs and create jobs and go into business it's going to change but Thabo speaks of now and he's quite right.

POM     That there has been, these two can run together, has been abuse of freedom in the name of entitlement which would tie in with the emergence of a black elite using their positions to enhance entitlement.

NM     No, no, let's not combine those two. Let's talk of entitlement and I would say as Chancellor of two institutions of higher learning, that we see that mostly among the black students. I find black students devastating in their attitude towards paying fees, towards study. I am going to be speaking at the graduation ceremony tomorrow and my theme is going to be productivity and application to duty and discipline among our black students. I was on this council and I found the students really awful, out of control, they're entitled to everything. You hear Mandela speak about this all the time, that spirit of entitlement. Now that's a different issue altogether from the other one and I think the time has come to say to the black students, you're going to pay your way, this country is not rich enough to afford what they afford in Europe, even they are stopping it now where tertiary education was free. We cannot afford free tertiary education, full stop. And those who trash universities must be beaten up. I have said this to Mandela, he refused to listen to me, but you can't have students behaving the way they are doing. We need discipline in this country.  And the other one is?

POM     The emergence, we've addressed this really earlier, the emergence of a black elite using their positions to enhance wealth without - enhancing their own positions rather than contributing any -

NM     I misinterpreted that to mean that Thabo was attacking the black business people. But Thabo forgets that the emerging black elite includes him. The civil servants -

POM     He's the best dresser in the country.

NM     The civil servants, have you seen Mokaba? Peter? Peter Mokaba's clothes come from Saville Row in London. People speak of the emerging elite, they speak of the handful of business people. The black elite that's emerging are the politicians, the members of parliament, those guys. That's the elite that Thabo ought to address. I'm sorry, I interpreted that to refer to the small number of business people but the black elite, many people have referred to the trade unions, for instance, as a new elite. They have created an elite. Every year they demand higher salaries. Productivity is never mentioned. They only succeeded in the mines in mentioning productivity because they said if you don't produce more we're closing down, go to hell. So they combine productivity, I mean the higher wages with production but nowhere else, especially in the civil service are we combining higher salaries with productivity. Did you see that survey of 44 countries worldwide and productivity in SA was dead last? They repeated the test a year later and we were 42 out of 44. They did it for Africa, they took seven African countries and they did a productivity survey and SA  was again dead last, in Africa. Number one was Mauritius, two Botswana, countries like that, but SA last. And nobody speaks to Sam about that because Sam is too powerful. You know Sam?  What's the other thing?

POM     That there's been a collapse of moral values and what he's called for, a moral summit.

NM     I don't know whether they need a moral summit but clearly there's collapse of moral values and that of course dates back.   I have always said the moral values of SA began to collapse when the migratory labour system was enforced, when men were forced to leave their families behind, live in single sex hostels and were serviced by prostitutes around those hostels. That is why in SA AIDS is spreading like it is doing. It's highest in Natal because these Zulu men live in hostels, and they refuse to get out of the hostels by the way. We've always campaigned that the hostel system must be destroyed, stopped and people put in family units where they can bring their children and their families so that men don't have to go out to the prostitutes around the hostels and take it to KwaZulu/Natal where their women get pregnant. Every August the maternity hospitals are full of babies all HIV positive.

     You know what you've inherited from apartheid and the policies of this country, we're going to be paying that price for a long, long time. Moral values? Yes, because the father is not there to chastise little Johnny who has been naughty. Our families have broken down very badly. I don't know whether a summit will help.

POM     Another commission?

NM     That's exactly what I had in mind.

POM     We'll call this the Moral Commission.

NM     That's right. Puts results everybody knows.

POM     Just the phase 'we are a damaged people'.

NM     Well as a doctor that worries me because it implies that the damage may be permanent. I don't know what he had in mind but he is a brilliant speaker that guy, Thabo Mbeki. Some of his speeches are really out of this world, he speaks very well. Now 'damaged people', that worries me. It's like a lost generation. When people refer to the lost generation I say, ah, no generation is lost, they just missed out on a few years of education but they are not lost, we can find them. I would have used some other term. 'Damaged', when the brain is damaged you've lost a few brain cells and brain cells cannot recover. They're not like shark's teeth, they get broken off and they grow again. When you're damaged then you're damaged. I don't like that phrase.

POM     Lastly: whites continue to enjoy all their privileges, They live as well and all the privileges they had prior to 1994 they currently continue to enjoy.

NM     Should we use the word 'privilege'? I think they continue to enjoy. I suppose the word 'privilege' is justified in the sense that the job market is accessible to them despite what they may say. It's only parastatals where there are jobs that may not be given to whites, ESCOM and Telkom will say to white applicants, sorry. But in the private sector - in Zimbabwe many years after accession to black rule you heard stories, you read books about how in fact nothing had changed. The whites still had 25 domestic servants and so on and in SA maybe things will run a little faster here but by and large Thabo is right. White South Africans are still as comfortable as ever.

POM     Is it going to be through the parastatals that the major opportunities for black enhancement will come in the short run, like in places like Telkom?

NM     You should see that advert by Telkom. You know Moseneke is chairman of Telkom? One of the magazines, I don't know which one, has a cover page showing the top man at Telkom now is black, an accountant called Sizwe Nkasana(?) who is our accountant here and of course the CEO is from SBC, but human relations, accountants, and the tough subject in the way you never found any blacks like in accounting, blacks were always employed, as in the USA, in relations, human relations, industrial relations, etc., where you talked. But where you had to add two and two you never found any blacks. By the way I had a young man who was the head of the Lesedi Clinic, an accountant, when he left he said, "I want to join the Auditor General's office", and I have been trying to trace him and find out what he's doing. Auditor General's office. I said, "That's great", that's where you want these people.

POM     Thank you ever so much.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.