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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
20 Aug 1998: Ngubane, Ben
POM Dr Ngubane, let me start by - if you can read the writing there on all the various numbers, I'll be back in Boston at the end of September but I will be here until that time and can come back to Durban again to meet with Danny, but I need somebody in your office, as I said, who actively wants to work. I can't design a programme for KZN, I don't know what your needs are.
The first question is, looking back do you think the constitution somehow is so good, so perfectly written, makes provisions for so many rights and protections that it gets in the way of getting things done?
BN Unfortunately there can never be a constitution that is too good because it's about people, human beings. International politics impinge on it, our own social economic political situation impinges on it and as we operationalise it we start realising some shortfalls or some defects. One of the defects is a very well developed constitution in an environment that is essentially third world where people's perception of democratic principles is not that high and therefore people seek all the time to use loopholes as far as protection is concerned. There has been a pattern, for instance, in most of the hijacking crimes and other things, the perception is that it is young kids who are sent to perform the crime because they are not going to be arrested. Now we must deal with this issue of juveniles who commit serious crimes. We don't seem to have an answer at the moment. They can't be put in jails among criminal adults and the jail base is not enough to create a separate space for them. So the tendency is that they get taken out to social welfare institutions and they escape. They are just not really feeling the pinch or the punishment for the crimes they perform. That to me is something that we will have to refine and legislate about, how to deal with the kids who perform adult crimes under the protection of age.
And the old thing also about tribal leadership, that institution which is very much African and not western. We have a democratic constitution which says everyone is equal, is elected for any office, there are no better rights other than citizenship and the protection of human rights in the constitution. Now these hereditary, lineage based positions in society are untenable, they become untenable. Now that is constitutionally correct for any properly developed, democratic country. But I am afraid here we come up with a problem because a lot of people have depended on these institutions for their social cohesiveness. The Amakosi trying cases and so on, now after the 1994 election all the Amakosi who have been installed have no jurisdiction in terms of trying civil cases. So if someone eats somebody else's mealies, his cattle eat someone's mealie patch, there is no recourse because you can't take that thing to a magistrate's court which is over-loaded with criminal cases and serious crimes and all that. So those things go by the board and you create a culture of impunity in the process. Those are issues that will still have to be refined, but we are talking about them and it's clear that we need to attend to those deficiencies. It's a very good constitution in terms of western democratic -
POM Perfect. For a perfect society.
BN You're right, but here - I'm sorry.
POM How about the situation in Richmond. What's your analysis of what's going on there?
BN Again, there it's to fail to understand the type of politics that operate in our country. Those are politics of power. If there is a strong warlord or strong personality people get cowed by that so people won't come forward with information. That is how I perceive it. Siphiso Nkabinde is just too strong for many people there. Equally so there are also other people on the ANC side who are just as strong but, of course, the ANC does not see this as a political problem. It sees it as a criminal problem, that Siphiso must be arrested. But the police can't arrest him unless people, if it's him who has done it, unless people come out with information, affidavits and all that sort of thing.
POM Do you see any kind of repetition between what's happening in Richmond and what happened between the IFP and the ANC - like the UDM establish a stronghold in Richmond and suddenly rather than it being IFP versus ANC as it was maybe in the mid-eighties now you have UDM versus ANC?
BN No I don't see it that way because that was the old National Party turning a blind eye to violence, political violence. We asked them many times to intervene and stop the killing of our people and arrest anyone who was committing violence and they never did because I presume they didn't have the interest to do so. Here now you have a government that is determined to stop any type of violent crime, particularly if it is politically based so I don't see the situation evolving as in the past. What obviously will need to happen is some effective detection work, get out those people who are causing the crime, whether they are ANC, IFP, and you virtually put an end to this thing. So I am hoping that new moves by the State President will have that effect, will arrest the people causing crime and that's the end of the story and then there's relative peace. If anyone knows that if they rise up to kill other people they will be arrested, we will not have killings, but that means providing effective protection for the witnesses, making sure that the criminal justice system regains its respect among the communities and let the people trust that the system will protect them and actually not let a person out because the whole case has collapsed. I see it essentially as a matter of old hatreds, revenge, anger, but not as in the past.
POM What's changed here in terms of politics since the local elections? At that time the IFP were doing very poorly in urban areas and the vote was mostly confined to rural areas and traditional areas. Have you taken steps to reverse that pattern, to build structures in urban areas as the elections of next year approach?
BN We still have weak leadership in the urban areas. We don't have very high profile people. We are trying very hard to correct the situation by being often enough in the press, TV, espousing causes which relate to the people in terms of rates, in terms of urban renewal and so on, job creation. But I must say we still have that structural defect we had in 1996 of a lot of IFP leaders but not high profile enough and that's going to be our weakness.
POM So how do you see - if I look over the polls of the last two years they indicate that nationally, I just want your reaction to this, that nationally the actual vote for the IFP has dropped considerably, but it's dropped for all parties, that the IFP is no longer perceived as a national party, that it's increasingly identified with KZN and, as I said, more distressingly with a rural base, that it is no longer considered to be a national voice in politics, that the one national voice in politics appears to be, or is perceived to be, just the ANC.
BN Well I think Buthelezi has got a very high profile nationally.
POM Well is Buthelezi seen as distinct from the IFP?
BN Not really. I don't think they see him differently from his party. If people vote they will be voting for him and the party. I would dispute that because at our last general conference we had delegations from all the provinces.
POM And all the parties?
BN No, no, no. The delegates, IFP delegates were from all the provinces which was really for the first time I would say. Even Northern Cape where we had never had representation but we started working in Northern Cape and we have branches now established there. The same as in Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and Northern Province. Gauteng, we always had people there. Western Cape we have been having people for a long time. These are developments which mean that if we work hard enough we have a base and space to grow in the other provinces. Whether the time is enough, sufficient enough for us to really increase our membership and therefore support, that's a different story, but I don't think there will be a province where we will return with a blank slate during the elections. So therefore I tend to dispute the idea that we are only a KwaZulu based party.
POM Now you're part of the government of national unity and yet you will be running against the ANC in a national election. How can you criticise the policies of a government of which you are a part? How do you assert your independence, your own identity?
BN Well even in the cabinet the IFP still states its positions very clearly on any policy. It is true that most of the time we are in agreement with the ANC as far as reconstruction and development and transforming the country and government is concerned. But there are certain emphases where we differ such as, for instance, the Equity Bill. While we support it we have our reservations about it, that it might strengthen - not so much strengthen but solidify the rigidities around the labour market policies in this country, and practices, which once they are not flexible are not likely to attract foreign investment. We are very concerned about that and we also say that the Labour Relations Act while it's very effective in protecting the employer and the employee, there are certain categories where it's not feasible to implement it to the letter. Domestic servants, farm labourers, these are areas where there is a high turnover of people, of employment, people are hired and fired on a regular basis. But these types of Acts, this legislation, both the employment equity, the conditions of service, the whole issue about labour relations, again, makes that process very difficult. Those are suitable for industry where once you have trained people you don't expect to fire them. You have already expended a lot of money training them, time and money, so people are kept. That type of legislation is excellent for that sort of situation. But where it's a question of daily bargaining and fees are fairly low, people are dissatisfied and they go and they come back, it makes it difficult to apply to that level. Now again, very well intentioned but at the practical level not very useful.
POM Is this another case of trying to do things too perfectly so that you end up by things being incapable of being implemented and you end up with a kind of paralysis?
BN That's it.
POM What kind of record do you think the ANC brings to the next election? I would say if you look, crime is rampant and they have not been able to bring it under control, unemployment is increasing, it's not decreasing, growth at least this year has fallen to next to zero, in terms of delivery of housing they have fallen well short, education policies haven't worked out on a national level. What record can they bring to the people that the people should respond to and what should the IFP say in saying a vote for us will be a more effective use of your vote than a vote again for the ANC?
BN When you think of the majority of the voters in this country, it's quite different from western democracies where you would go to the elections and appeal to the record and use that as a basis for predicting the outcome. In this situation you can't because I think people are just thankful that there is a new government. Whatever it's weaknesses the fact that it's a government chosen by the majority of the people, whether it works well or doesn't work well I think becomes secondary as far as I am concerned.
POM Becomes secondary?
BN Yes, as far as the majority of the people are concerned. If there is a prospect that things will improve, they are seeing more water pipes being laid in the areas where there was nothing before, more clinics being built - although those clinics are not working well right now because they are short of medicines, short of nursing staff. Schools are being built all over, although again they are not working well but they are being built nevertheless. Housing is seen springing up. They may be small and defective - you know what I mean? That is the type of situation we are in where people say, OK, it will improve but there is a change. So I don't think the ANC is going to have a problem with its record as far as this majority sector is concerned. Certainly with the white sector, yes, and probably with some classes, the black middle class, but overall they are not going to be troubled by the record. Apathy will be there obviously because it's no longer uhuru elections, like the first election of 1994. And also if we're going to insist on the ID book that has got a barcode a lot of people won't vote because I don't think all the people will bother to get a new ID book.
POM Is that going to create a problem? Is it going to create a problem here?
BN If it's on a large scale yes, if it's on a large scale it will create a problem here so we are working on registering everyone for the new IDs. We are spending quite a lot of money as a government renewing our IDs for pension applications which we need to put on electronic systems, but at the same time extending the chance for anyone who doesn't have the required ID book to apply for one during this process. That's what we are working on because here for stability it's very important that as many people vote as possible so that whoever gets to win has that legitimacy of being elected by the majority of the citizens. But nation-wide I don't think it will have that much significance, I really don't think so. We want to do well, we are not childish. We know that in the rest of the provinces, other than KZN, there isn't much chance of us winning outright but we need to improve our showing there so as to carry a voice in the other legislatures, provincial legislatures, and of course in the national parliament.
POM Now the ANC to this day remains convinced that it won the election here in 1994 but that in the interests of harmony and peace they decided not to take the results to court. But they believe that.
BN It's absolute nonsense.
POM My question is, is there, this is where I go back to Richmond, is there any likelihood that the tensions that were there in 1994 before the election, between ANC and IFP supporters, are still there under the surface and that in an intensely fought election the same kind of tensions may spill over into violence? Or do you think that the problem is effectively under control?
BN No, no I think that would not happen. First of all you don't have that much opportunity of smuggling guns as happened in the past. And by and large I don't think many people still want to die and have their homes burnt up. I don't think so. I think people just don't want that. Anyone who comes with that type of thing will not get support. People are quite tired of violence and they want to get on with their lives. And of course none of us in the ANC and IFP would even dream of encouraging that type of tension and build up of tensions. We are working on a code of conduct for all political parties with the view that whoever starts making inflammatory speeches is brought to account immediately by a parliamentary committee that will be set up to observe the conduct of politicians leading up to the election. So we are determined not to see that happen as parties in this province. So it's definitely not going to happen.
POM So as parties now in the province and the legislature, is there is a good working relationship between the ANC and the IFP?
BN Sure, excellent relationship. We still fight, like all political parties do.
POM Sure, it wouldn't be politics if you didn't.
BN It's very open. On any issue we will confront them, they confront us, we get it in the open.
POM There has been a lot of talk since Chief Buthelezi, the IFP, invited the Deputy President to more or less be the guest of honour at your congress, about some kind of merger or if not a merger a post-election alliance between the parties and talk of the stature of Chief Buthelezi being recognised by making him Deputy President. Now how would that, if he were made Deputy President, how would that change politics of - is there an understanding that the IFP still wants to be in some kind of government of national unity post the election?
BN I think that's dictated by the nature of our society. People don't understand opposition politics. It just doesn't exist for them. So if the IFP really wants to contribute to the improvement in the quality of life of the people it's got to be part of the government, not because we want to be subservient to the ANC, I mean we have never been subservient even now, or to be swallowed up by them but simply because we have a direct stake, a direct interest in seeing that all our people are catered for and you can only effect that if we are in government. That's why we're hoping - and of course also for the sake of stability it will be useful if Buthelezi got a high profile position in government. It will strengthen stability on the ground immensely and that's all you want to get, we want to get beyond the political intolerance that results in deaths. But as far as opposition politics and being in disagreement and saying these things should be done this way or that way, that will continue, that will not disappear. Now I don't know what you term that in political parlance but that's really what we are about.
POM When you look at, say, the other parties, the NP, is it in your view disintegrating, just falling apart?
BN I don't think it will fall apart. They have got so much infrastructure in every part of SA. They've got offices, organisers, money. They have a huge party machinery. That sort of thing cannot fall apart. The present leadership will probably be booted out but someone will come and take over and probably revive it. It's obviously a very insignificant player on the scale of things because although it's attempted to transform itself it's not transformed itself fully. I think there is still a long, long way before you see a President who is black for the NP and I think it's way, way away and most of the senior positions will invariably always be Afrikaner. So on that basis it's not going to suddenly get a huge following from the majority of the people, but it will be there as a force.
POM The Democratic Party?
BN The DP will always be small because they have not even attempted to transform themselves. They are lily white and I don't think there is any intention to change that. They are just like the Freedom Front as far as that issue is concerned, of whiteness. So their chance of getting strong black support is even more remote than for the NP.
POM The Freedom Front, is its belief that some day a volkstaat is going to emerge just one of those pie in the sky dreams?
BN I don't see how you can do that in a democracy, but they believe that. I can't see, I mean the Afrikaners themselves are so different. The Afrikaners in the NP if you say volkstaat is for the best - I don't think so. The only way they can ensure their protection of the language and traditions is by emphasising funding for culture, appropriations aimed at supporting cultural groups particularly in the minority communities. I can't see any other way of ensuring their traditions other than that. But in terms of territory, I mean, really, it's impossible.
POM The UDM?
BN The UDM, well the UDM is going to struggle to grow because it's a new party. I don't think Holomisa has that much appeal. Roelf Meyer, Siphiso Nkabinde, I think they will be a peripheral organisation for some time to come. They are not going to be a mainstream political party, not in a hurry.
POM But do they have potential in terms of that they are at least black and white?
BN Yes sure they have potential. But again I think 10% is just about the maximum. Worse still if Siphiso gets convicted for any criminal offences. That will certainly just write them off.
POM The IFP?
BN The IFP will always be a major player. Agreed, probably with a strong base in KZN and Gauteng but I think it's going to increase its role and size over time, particularly after this election if we get some high profile academic, business and legal minds coming into the IFP which is beginning to happen. Then we're going to become a very serious player. So far the IFP has been led essentially, when you come to the professions, by teachers and traditional leaders, very few strong in organised labour sectors, very poor there, very little professional participation except myself and Mdlalose and others, a few lawyers, magistrates. But we haven't attracted that middle class, that broad stream of upper echelons of the black middle class into the IFP and that is going to change because we are now addressing issues such as economic policies and so on which wasn't a feature in our rhetoric. We were more on constitutional issues in the past, power for the provinces, recognition of traditional leaders, which are bread and butter issues for us but now we are starting to play a much broader national role in terms of national thinking, in policy formulation. We have the biggest cross-section of all groups. We have, other than the white parties, the only black party that's got a significant percentage of whites. I think we have 8% white people, probably 10% Indian and, of course, whereas the ANC is minuscule in terms of white membership -
POM It's really African.
BN Sure. So we have a broader base and if we can throw up policies or utterances, reassure the minorities especially, the middle class communities, that we are a progressive party and so on, it's really up to us. If we don't succeed in that direction we shall have failed but the stage is set for that.
POM If there were, again, to be some kind of post election alliance between the IFP and the ANC, would you make certain demands that would have to be met before you would become part of that alliance?
BN Let's put it this way, that will be then trying to establish coalition politics. We are not about coalition politics. It's just about a pragmatic sharing of power, working together.
BN Sure, rather than coalition. So we wouldn't really, it is not something that would have to be negotiated hard. We would like to see it happen. If it doesn't happen it's no skin off our nose. We will just carry on with our work except we think that the country will have lost opportunities to really pull all the majority to work together, to accept certain things. You see we will have to jointly go to the people and say to them, listen, those schools that don't have toilets probably will not have toilets for another three or four years. Those communities that don't have water will just have to wait, because that's the reality of it. We cannot fast-track social delivery because of the impediments we have. The public debt is a huge problem. The low levels of growth, we had projected 5% and now we're talking about 3% at the most.
POM This year 1% I think, next year 3%.
BN Therefore the government budgets are going to be that much lower. So we can't deliver on a broad social front.
POM Do you think that to this extent the government, and it would be in particular the ANC, are not being honest with the people, are not saying we thought we could achieve a lot in a short space of time and the fact is we don't have the resources, foreign investment is now flowing into the country and change is going to be slow and we all must adjust to the fact that change is going to be slow, that there is no overnight panacea.
BN They can't say this unless they are sure that we also share in projecting that message because if they say that now they will be opening themselves on a huge flank for vicious assault by all the opposition parties. But we need to say that after the election, to say to the people please wait, things are not going to happen so quickly. We see it in that sort of joint venture, that we don't want ructions, somehow we have got to contain this problem.
POM Now are there discussions between yourselves and the ANC on the necessity of doing this after the election?
BN Not so much after the election. We have said we will have to have a joint approach to social problems, we have agreed. That's why we supported the Employment Equity Bill and other pieces of legislation because we share in this problem of social delivery but it's not really a formalised type of discussion about those issues. But essentially we want to have consensus as much as possible on a broad range of issues that are going to be serious problems for this country and so, as I was saying, we are not approaching this as trying to be part of a coalition. Not really, but to try and work together on those issues where we also have a huge stake.
POM I want to talk about a couple of things. One is crime. Now here is a clearly identifiable problem which the government knows is undermining the country from within in terms of social stability. It contributes to a poor international image of SA. It inhibits inward investment and yet the government seems unable to get a proper handle on the problem. Now you can talk to George Fivaz or senior officials and they will pull out statistics and charts and show you that things are improving but you talk to people on the ground and they have an entirely different perception as to what crime is like around them, they experience it. Why hasn't the government been able to target this one problem effectively?
BN The change itself was premised on not obeying the laws of the land, the country had to be made ungovernable to force the NP government to come to its senses. It's very difficult to turn the situation around quickly.
POM So you think there's an ingrained disrespect for law and order, period, built up over the last twenty or thirty years?
BN Absolutely, and because most of the police were from the old set-up there were all these pieces of legislation which constrain the police. They can't just shoot as easily as they used to in the past. They can't just bundle a person into a police van without reading him his charges and all that. There are many, many things that make the police unable to act as they used to in the past and they are used to that type of action. To train them, to retrain them to act like policeman do in the States is I think a time consuming process.
POM But sometimes they don't act too good there either! They beat people up.
BN Yes, well, occasionally. So the police themselves have been demoralised. It's quite easy to see why. They felt their hands tied. And then there was such a huge intake of policemen from the independent countries, the TBVC states, policing figures were huge so they couldn't train new recruits. That again has been a huge set-back for policing because most of those guys are from the rank of Warrant Officer upwards. Too many chiefs and few Indians, very few constables now being left to patrol the streets and to run around.
POM Everybody's in an office.
BN Everybody's in an office. But I think those issues are being addressed so I am fairly confident that in another year or two we should see a huge turn around in the fight against crime.
POM Education. Still too many poor teachers, poor morale, lack of disciple among people, protests from - the matric results, I think, last year, was it 1997, the poorest on record. I know you're a huge advocate of information technology and this is the way to make the leap into the 21st century but can you do that if you don't get some kind of basic educational structure in place on the ground with competent teachers, discipline in the classrooms?
BN I still think that information technology and those advanced methods, we still have to try and do that and it's happening. It's happening in most schools. Unfortunately it's mainly in the urban centres where people are really using distance teaching as a supplement. But the problem is, again, huge. You had to amalgamate the House of Delegates, the House of Representatives, the House of Assembly, that's the old parliamentary set-up, then the self-governing territories, the old KwaZulu and it has been a nightmare. Even now that process is maybe complete on paper but in terms of amalgamation it's not happened. All the House of Representatives' teachers are from Durban almost and that's how they see themselves and the white schools to a large extent see themselves as belonging to that white sector. To bring these together is a mammoth task particularly because now they are losing the benefits they used to have in the past. You want to equalise the funding, they had far more funding than any KwaZulu school in the past and they expect this type of thing to continue. So there is a lot of resentment and demoralisation that's going on in teaching and of course the teachers union, SADTU has been fairly radical and has been capitalising on this dissatisfaction to recruit more teachers.
POM KwaZulu/Natal has one of the lowest expenditures per pupil.
BN Sure. We have about 88:7.
POM Why is it - as I understand it now the budgetary system works that you get an allocation and you allocate -
BN Yes but when you calculate that allocation, there is a formula which gives you allocation per child in the school, per patient, how many times each patient is supposed to attend 3½ times a year. Each patient, sick person, is supposed to attend 3½ times a year at a government hospital, so they work out how many people in the province, they compute how many visits, they allocate you the money. Again with the schoolchildren they look at it and then they allocate you the money. However, when you divide the money in terms of the past you're starting from a very low base, you have got to correct that base. Our base, because there are very few whites in this province, probably that's the crudest way of putting it, the allocations were very low because they were based on the black population according to the old order, because provinces that had a lot of whites, like in the Western Cape, they're starting from a very good base because they always had very high allocations. Now the government cannot let existing infrastructure decay. The government is forced to support whatever infrastructure exists in the province. We had very little infrastructure to start off with anyway. All those are issues that we are discussing right now. It makes us at the end the losers. To jump us up, they all agree that we need to jump up but it will mean pulling down the Western Cape, pulling down Gauteng drastically, in which case then we will be shooting ourselves in the foot to destroy what is there already for the purpose of equalising.
POM How about the problem of corruption? Story after story comes up with regard to KZN, whether it's in education or in health and now the allegations that funds have been siphoned off and given to the IFP.
BN That's really absolute nonsense that. That one was The Weekly Mail - in fact we are suing them. That was The Weekly Mail creating a story, this fellow he's a criminal. We have had here garages entering into pacts with those people who deal with transport in the government. You bring a car here, perfectly normal car, no problem, register that we are fixing the gear box. Now the same thing with ... Now that he's caught, they said he was caught with his hand in the till. He was given the cheques, someone got wind of this in the government that there was this little thing between him and these other guys, two chaps, and immediately the bank was notified. So when he came in to cash the cheque the bank simply phoned the police and the police came there, apprehended him on the spot. That's when he came up with the story of circulating the money for the IFP which is a very nice story and this is what the press has bought, but that guy is a criminal. There are many cases like this which we have uncovered. One little Toyota every day was filling petrol for something like R1400, a ridiculous figure, because there was an arrangement between those drivers, I'm just giving you an example, and some garages where you come in there, you just present the number and fictitious mileage and the money is charged and you split it. It's full of that, but we are uncovering this because we have saved almost - the transport bill has been halved because of these procedures and so in every other department. For instance there was a money lending scam running into millions a month, that's also been uncovered. We are busy with fighting corruption.
POM Do you feel that what President Mandela call the white dominated media are out to in some way undermine the government?
BN No. The media will print anything which is sensational.
POM But do you think they give you a fair shake or that they still look upon KZN as some kind of - there are still the old grudges against Chief Buthelezi and that you weren't a proper part of the liberation struggle, you're somehow more corrupt, more inept, more inefficient, more of everything than any other province and that they never look at the positive things that are happening here?
BN I've sat in numerous meetings with the editors precisely on that issue. It did make a bit of a difference but essentially that's still it. I agree. They still don't think really anything good can come out. They don't. There is always a scepticism however good - we are the ones who took the initiative, we established an anti-fraud and anti-corruption campaign. We gave a toll free number over the radio and through the press to everyone. We have received huge numbers of tip-offs at this toll free number. We have embarked on a good governance programme second to none in the country, even the national government has admitted this. Workshops, 186 workshops have been held already with all departments to really get good governance in the principles. That's why we are uncovering because people feel empowered now to report certain things, although they are still scared that they might be killed if they report because there is this element. But they are, they are reporting things. A huge number of cases have been sent to Judge Heath all the time, to investigate, to recover the money. Prominent citizens in this community have been involved in those scams but we are never given credit for that. It's as if it happens because somebody else has found it and not that we are uncovering it ourselves. So there is still a huge amount of prejudice. Anything that comes up that's sensational the press grabs it and runs with it without really bothering to find out if there is anything behind the story.
POM So do you feel good about the progress that has been made here in the last couple of years?
BN I feel very good but I wish I had been Premier from 1994. I have only had one year of premiership and lots of progress has been made which was started by Dr Mdlalose himself but the time has just not been enough to really push it through. But we certainly have made a huge amount of difference.
POM Are you going to stay in politics?
BN Well that depends.
BN That depends really on the party. I still feel I've got a huge challenge here in this province which I'd like to see through. As far as the time frame is concerned, well I don't know, I don't know whether I want to stay for ever in politics. I will be 57 this October and I don't think I want to be in politics beyond 65, that's for sure. I don't have an intention to do that.
POM There's life outside politics.
BN Sure. I would like to have time to read and reflect and do all sorts of things.
POM One last thing, when the government closed down the police station in Richmond and moved in police from other units throughout the country and brought in the SANDF, were you consulted, kept informed at every stage of the process or were you just told? Was your input looked for?
BN No. The input wasn't looked for because it's a national matter. Policing really is a national competence. We just deal with community policing and that sort of thing.
POM Do you think this is one area where there should be devolution of power to Provincial Commissioners?
POM That the policing would be much more effective if that change were made?
BN Absolutely. I should have that power with my cabinet to instruct the Commissioner to transfer police from one police station to another.
POM And you can't?
BN You can't do that. No, it can only be done by the national level.
POM Now do you think the national government is becoming more aware of this deficiency?
POM Or do you think they're still moving back in towards concentration of power at the centre?
BN Definitely. They are not interested in devolving power. There's no doubt about that. They don't want to devolve power. When the President informed me that he was going to do this at 12 o'clock of that day and at one o'clock Fivaz went on the air with the announcement, but they just informed me so it gave me the reasons. Well I said, "Under those circumstances I agree with you."
POM I spent the weekend down there. The police station was still open.
BN It will be open. It will just be shifting people out and putting new ones in.
POM When I saw the challenges they had to face, I went out on patrol with the police for about five hours on Saturday night looking at the terrain and they had the mounted police on the horses and the motorcycles, I felt at one point that I had never seen so many policemen on back roads in my life. Then on the other hand I began to wonder, was this a show that's being put on for me? You always have that slight suspicion.
BN No, I think they're dead serious about it. There are other areas which will need the same treatment unfortunately.
POM Do you see community courts coming too?
POM And again this is something that the central government will have to give on because they simply can't handle the mass of cases.
BN Sure, they can't. And also we have always had traditional courts, tribal courts. They must just upgrade those by giving them proper prosecutors, proper clerical staff to deal with the cases. As far as I'm concerned most civil cases which don't involve money should be pushed to the traditional courts. It's much easier to deal with a lot of civil issues, much easier.
POM So if you were a betting man, and since my book won't by published until the year 2001, it could even be after you retire from politics the way I have to amass all this material, do you think that Thabo Mbeki will see that it would make good national sense to elevate Chief Buthelezi to a Deputy Presidency, that it will bring more cohesiveness, unity and stability to the country and give Chief Buthelezi the reward that he feels he deserves for the effort and in a way atone for the slurs and the insults and the injustices done to him in the past?
BN Well I think Thabo needs it more than Buthelezi does.
BN If he wants to be a successful President of SA he needs all black leadership to work behind him, he needs all of us to just put him in otherwise he will not be a great success. Mandela had the charisma, the authority from 27 years of struggle. He doesn't have that so he will need a real push from all of us.
POM Do you think he understands that?
BN Oh he does very well, very well. I have spoken to him on a number of occasions.
POM OK, Dr Ngubane, thank you ever so much and I hope your flu gets better quick.