About this site

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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

20 Aug 1998: Ramaphosa, Cyril

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POM     Just a couple of questions on last year, the last time we talked which was 18 months ago, 27th March.  At that time you had said that you had been vastly more hopeful about the performance of the government. The year before you had given it a 4½ and you said it had lacked courage and now you said it had taken some initiatives and you would give it a 7½. Well in view of the fact that the economy is not growing and per capita income is falling, the rand, not due to internal forces but more to external forces, has been falling off the market, of an endemic crime problem that no-one seems to be able to get their hands on properly, of the growing poor rather than getting better, of GEAR simply not working (there is no-one I talk to who says that GEAR is in fact working), of corruption becoming more systemic and this is kind of home-grown corruption, not apartheid era corruption. What else? Investment is a trickle rather than the flow that was expected. Where would you put the performance of the government now?

CR     It's quite a question. I think maybe before one even gives them a rating, the government is trying to succeed in a very difficult environment but they are a government that is -

POM     When you say difficult environment you mean?

CR     Broadly economic, social. On the political side the government is managing the politics of the country very well. At the social level budgetary constraints make it difficult for delivery to flow or to happen as quickly as people had expected, but there is delivery. It's obviously a pity that there were those expectations, that people thought and expected that everything will change overnight and it never happens like that. On many fronts good policies have been put in place and delivery in a number of areas is demonstrable, you can see it. Houses are being built, water is being given to people. Policy-wise health is being restructured, there are budgetary problems and constraints. Economically, as everything revolves around the economy in the end, in terms of the macro-economic policies, including GEAR, those have been put properly in place and as you correctly say one cannot see immediately the benefits that GEAR promised such as the creation of jobs, the redistribution effect of it all.

POM     Do you not think that at least rather than like President Mandela saying GEAR is government policy and it will be government policy over my dead body, that the time has come when there should at least be a re-examination of some of the assumptions that went into formulating GEAR, to question the continuing validity of those assumptions or to see whether macro-economic policy should be adjusted in the light of an increasing global economy where you have less and less influence over what happens, you just don't have the power to make policies and carry them out if you exist in a global economy?

CR     Yes. I think certain elements of GEAR need to be reviewed and I have not gained the impression that government has said that certain elements are not reviewable. The problem is the government has been caught up in a situation where its allies have just been harping on opposing GEAR without giving much room for a climate to be created for a review process to take place and they have been put in a position, in a corner really, where they have actually just had to come out and say we will stick to GEAR. I happened to talk to some of the alliance partners and said their approach was - it can be correct in terms of questioning some of the assumptions of GEAR, wanting some of the elements of GEAR to be reviewed, their approach has been incorrect to say scrap GEAR because no government, no government would be able to survive both internally and internationally if it were just to say we are abandoning our policy in the light of the opposition that we are getting from our allies. What needed to happen from the alliance partners, in my view, was to say we recognise the responsibilities that you have in terms of governing the country, we will accept the broad policies that you have set in place, however, we would like to discuss, add to or subtract some of the elements that you have put in place. That would have been a softer approach, an approach that I would have preferred which is much more diplomatic, which should not be seen to be ideologically driven or inspired. Now that in my view would have achieved a lot more good than the stand-off type of approach that has evolved. I am still hopeful that that will and can come about. Initiatives such as the Job Summit that is coming, the business initiative, may well be contributing initiatives to get all the parties to realise that we are all in this boat together. We have got to create a proper balance of the boat lest it sinks from the one side only.

POM     Just taking that analogy, when the South Korean economy fell apart you saw pictures on television of South Koreans queuing up to hand in their wedding rings and their jewellery or their trinkets or whatever to help restore the economy of the country. You get no sense here of either the country being in a severe economic crisis, which has all kinds of ramifications, or no sense of social cohesiveness that in fact we are all in it together and unless we all sacrifice together today there will be no tomorrow for our children.

CR     That is beginning to build up and hence I cited the Job Summit. That is beginning to build up and you need to look at the various social forces within the country where this consciousness is beginning to germinate. On the business side you've got a whole group of new business leaders who have not been particularly pleased with the way the old guard of established white business has been running things and they get together and say because the country is in this type of situation we need to demonstrate a commitment to this country and the only way to demonstrate a commitment is to try and address some of the social problems on a collective basis by mobilising business to lend a hand of support and assistance to the problems that the country is going through. And you begin to see that schism between established old guard in business and the young Turks, as we would call them. The younger ones who want to stay in this country, continue conducting business and make their money here, say we want many more of us to stand up and be counted for the country so therefore we are going to come up with this business initiative and mobilise money across the business sector, both listed and private companies, to give a portion either of their market capitalisation or their net profits. Now it could obviously never happen in the same way as it happened in Korea where individual people were giving rings and trinkets and stuff like that. Now that is an initiative that should not be dismissed. It is an important initiative of the business community that will put some money, it may not be seen as a lot of money, but if some of the projects begin to work it can begin to build up into something quite massive and we're talking about billions of rands. What is happening on the labour side, labour has said we are prepared to give up one day of our wages for this effort. It may not raise a lot of money in the end but symbolically it's important. What now needs to happen is political leadership needs to be there to try and pull all these, to harness this new energy, this new enthusiasm, this new commitment that is beginning to appear, to harness it and spread it amongst the populace and demonstrate in a much clearer way what actual problems the country is facing and also cite some of these examples that are coming up.

POM     You know there is a perception out there that NAIL and companies like NAIL have created 170 or 180 millionaires and that there has been no trickle down effect in terms of the creation of wealth and that it is kind of the enrichment of the few while the many are still left behind. How have you been dealing with that, besides what you said, this initiative?

CR     This goes to the heart of the whole question of black economic empowerment. If one looks at the black economic empowerment project in a parochial sense and say that in the end it is really just about the companies that are listing on the Stock Exchange, the purchase of shares and all that, one is bound to arrive at this misinformed conclusion that in the end it is just about creating a few rich people but black economic empowerment in itself is much broader than that, much, much broader.

     But let me deal first with this whole question of the NAILs, the RAILs the WAILs and all these companies. If you were to look at, for instance, the shareholder base of many of these emerging companies you would find that they have a fairly strong and inclusive shareholder base. NAIL, for instance, has up to 30,000 individual shareholders who are black. NAIL by its very nature as a holding company could never have the capacity, the ability to empower the entire black population. It would never be able to do so, nor has Anglo American ever been able to do so, which is the largest industrial company in the country, it's never had that capacity but through the various companies that it has either created or bought over it has created jobs and given that we are no longer in an era where companies create hundreds of thousands of jobs, in relative terms NAIL has created quite a number of jobs and has a number of shareholders and those shareholders are involved in a wealth creation process themselves. Many of them will never be millionaires. It never happens in any country. But it is in the end not a company's task, and may I add, maybe not a company's task alone, to empower the entire population. It's not doable. It is the task of the government, the business sector and various others to help in the process of empowering many more people. It is as a result of government policies what the private sector can do, and it is a combination of all these initiatives that can begin to create wealth for many, many more people.

     I always argue that empowerment in the end cannot be looked at parochially. If a person, for instance, who does not have a job gets a job, that is empowerment. A person who does not have a skill, if that person gets a skill that too is empowerment. When a person - that woman in the Northern Province who has to walk ten kilometres every day to draw water, if she gets water near her home she has been empowered and, I hasten to add, economically empowered as well, and a person who does not have a house gets a house, that too is empowerment in many, many ways. So empowerment has to be seen in a much broader sense than just what, say, a NAIL could be doing to its 30,000 shareholders. You've got to look at the totality of the impact of how empowerment is being spread around the country to people generally and on that score I would say that - I mean many strides are being made to help empower people.

POM     Let's turn to the old days. How do you think history will judge De Klerk?

CR     That's a good one. I think history will assess whether the NP would have been able to withstand the upsurge and the quest for freedom by the oppressed people and at what stage that would have happened. De Klerk came at a time when the movement for democracy had heightened. What he did, for history, was to make it happen quicker by unbanning the ANC when we would have expected that it could have been unbanned much later. In that sense I think history will be a bit kind on him. In another sense by behaving in the way that he has, refusing to acknowledge what they did in the past, I think history will judge him harshly. It will judge him harshly because it was also during his times that quite a number of these horrible and dastardly deeds were being committed against the oppressed people in this country. So on balance I think in the end he will be judged very negatively. On the lighter side for the courage that he demonstrated by taking his NP along with him I think there will be a small positive there, but only a small positive.

POM     And how will history judge Roelf?

CR     Roelf has been very, very clever. He has been a very forward looking politician. He is, to an observer who just looks at issues at face value, he is not seen as being tarnished, but an observer who will be a little bit more introspective and look at his history and the role that he played, there is a little bit of discolouring there but he acted very cleverly when he realised that changes had to be effected in this country by going all the way, co-operating and not being a stumbling block. If you compare Roelf and De Klerk, De Klerk was more of a stumbling block than Roelf was. So I think in the end as a facilitator of getting his party, the Afrikaners, to move along this very difficult and hazardous route that they took, I think Roelf will be judged much more positively than De Klerk.

POM     Patti Waldmeir, I don't know whether you ever got around to reading her book or going through it, made the point that from a very early point Roelf was for majority rule, he knew that majority rule was inevitable and was for it, whereas De Klerk resisted it up to the very last moment and thought he could put together some kind of mechanism that even though you would have majority rule, there would be majority rule constraint by a number of things. In a sense then did De Klerk not choose the wrong man to be his chief negotiator since he had already conceded the game, like a chess player - if I'm playing you in chess and I've already conceded defeat before we make our opening moves?

CR     Yes, I think De Klerk may well have chosen a wrong person, very much so. But in the end he was the right person.

POM     I know, but I'm talking from De Klerk's point of view of saying I'm giving you a mandate and this is your mandate and the person you're giving the mandate to really says well I really don't believe in that mandate, I really believe in something else, I believe in fact in what my opponent wants which is going to be majority rule. You have a psychological advantage.

CR     No, I think you've got a point there. From the NP's point of view he was not the right person but from the national, country's point of view he was because he saw the light much, much earlier than many of his other colleagues. The problem is that he was a prisoner of his own history, his own background and they kept trying to hold him back all the time but in the end he co-operated well with us.

POM     Just on that she mentions an incident where she says one day you decided to put Roelf down.

CR     In what way?

POM     Did you? Put him down? There was a confrontation that took place where -

CR     Yes there were moments like those and there was one and I think that's why I am saying in a way he was a prisoner of his own history.

POM     Was it done consciously on your part in terms of gaining, again, a psychological advantage?

CR     No it wasn't. I think it was a situation where acting as a captive of where he came from, what he represented was trying to see if he could gain some advantage. You see Roelf also, as we negotiated with him, had to be - how can I put it? Rewarded? He had to be seen as somebody who was not really selling out his own constituency completely. He also had to come back with certain things that we would ordinarily never have wanted to agree to. It was one of those occasions where he was trying to be especially difficult so that he can gain some Brownie points from his own constituency and when seeing this we had to come down very, very hard and firmly because giving in would have frustrated our own strategic objective.

POM     She concludes that from that point you had gained a psychological ascendancy over him. Do you believe that? Do you believe that that was a turning point in some way?

CR     Yes it was, it was a critical moment. It was a critical moment and we had this spat and I stood the risk of wrecking the talks and I know that some of my colleagues thought I had overstepped the mark and at one stage I actually thought that that would bring the talks to a halt so I took things to the precipice because it was important that we should win that battle and once and for all gain the upper hand. So it was important.

POM     In the same way she relates the incident at the bosperaad for the Record of Understanding where Mandela talking of De Klerk said, "I've had enough of this chap, I'm going to put him in his place", and made a list of demands including the release of Robert McBride, that unless McBride was released within 24 hours he would walk out and say the whole meeting had been a failure. He called De Klerk on that and in that sense again changed the psychological relationship between the two.

CR     Yes, yes that too.

POM     I think McBride might like that demand to be made again!

CR     I think the important issue here to note is that it was important, and this happened on many occasions not only relating to me and Roelf and Mandela and De Klerk, but also a number of other people in various other small centres of negotiations. We were dealing here with a party that is an Afrikaner party and their own approach and mentality had always been that they are superior to black people and at critical moments it was important to set the record straight and make it clear to them that we are black and we represent a more just cause than they do and therefore we have to have the upper hand.

POM     But that in a way worked to your advantage insofar as the NP underestimated you from the beginning, underestimated your negotiating capacity, underestimated the talent at your disposal which in a sense all worked to your advantage because in fact you simply out-negotiated them. I have a phrase here from Van Zyl Slabbert and Heribut Adam who wrote a book, you might have seen it, it can out about 18 months ago, but they said they believed that in the end De Klerk simply threw in the towel and that he could have secured a better deal for Afrikaners, indeed they go as far as to say that: "The best negotiators the ANC had going for them were Roelf Meyer and FW de Klerk. Put simply, they were taken to the cleaners."

CR     I wouldn't be so big headed as to admit that. But that in a way has some truth elements in it. I recall from my own trade union experience, negotiating with the bosses, representing miners led by a person who didn't know anything about mining, miners were completely uneducated, negotiated in their own terrain, in their offices. They are managers, they had been, all of them, to university, they are organised and all that and they underestimated the unions and we outwitted them, and we were black, because they had that condescending type of approach and attitude and we were able to pull the carpet from underneath their feet because they let their guard down. Similarly in political negotiations too, they were better organised than we were, they had intelligence reports on each one of us at their disposal, they were able to bug the rooms where we negotiated. They had everything going for them and we were black and we were therefore the underdogs and underestimated, even despised and viewed in suspicious terms, and I think that could have proved to be their undoing.

POM     The fatal errors made by De Klerk, some people have said, are that he had agreed to a date for an election prior to settlement, that he agreed to an elected Constitutional Assembly, that he rejected the deal that was on offer at CODESA which would have been a better deal, that he underestimated the negotiating talent of the ANC and that he believed that he could manage the whole process. Now just running through them, agreeing to a date for an election prior to a settlement, was that your initiative or at their initiative?

CR     Agreeing to a date was definitely our initiative.

POM     Because I've a quote here from Fanie van der Merwe who says that it was the NP.

CR     No ways. They kept on resisting the setting of a date for elections and it was soon after Chris Hani died, remember?

POM     He said, "Can I tell you how that election date was arrived at? The government already in 1992, I think it was October 1992, published and made public the time scales that it had set for itself in this process. I can give you the document because I drafted it and I proposed that we should set ourselves to these time scales and it was accepted that we would do that. We said in October by this date CODESA must resume, by this date we must do that, by this date we must have an agreement for multiparty negotiations about the constitution, the interim constitution, by this date we must have an election."

CR     In the end the negotiations broke down and Chris Hani was killed, no date had been set. They had broad frameworks or time frames, very broad time frames. The time frames, yes, were important but what was crucial for us was the date for elections.

POM     The actual date?

CR     The actual date had to be set because once the date was set we were then able to work backwards and see how quickly we had to go because we wanted that date to be cast in stone and in a way that date was important for us because we had this sense that our people were dying in the townships, Chris Hani had been killed and the country was getting into an upheaval type of situation and unless a date was set we knew that we could lose control of the process. We also didn't have confidence in the broad time frames that they were talking about unless a date was set and even when it came to setting a date they huckled and hustled and so forth and we had to extract a date out of them and the date itself was ours. They wanted to control the whole process, they thought that they could string us along with the hope that we would see tremendous progress and hope and everything else out of these broad time frames.

POM     So once the date was set in iron, cast in stone, they lost control of the process effectively from that date on?

CR     From that date on.

POM     So power shifted to you?

CR     For me the real victory in this negotiation process was not even the signing of the constitution or anything, it was setting the date. I remember I was with Roelf Meyer we were travelling to Europe.

POM     You were travelling to the University of Massachusetts.

CR     Of course we were! We had to go and address a meeting, indeed, you had so much to do with all of this as well! Roelf and I were in a hurry to go to a dinner at which President Mandela was going to be present and thereafter we were going to catch a flight and we had been trying for days and days to set a date and it was not settable and so because we were under this time pressure cooker we had to set a date and that for me, when we agreed on 27th April 1994, was the real victory because I knew that if we didn't set that date the whole process could have gone on for ever. And remember that in our own constituency the people felt that these negotiations had been going on for far too long and indeed they had been going on for much too long.

POM     So can I got back to my Chancellor and say that because of her invitation to you and Roelf she was instrumental in pushing the time - ?

CR     Not only instrumental but precipitated it.

POM     So can I look for a raise?

CR     Please, get a raise, get a raise from her.

POM     OK. De Klerk agreeing to an elected Constituent Assembly, at that point didn't he really concede again, that the majority would draw up the constitution and that the majority would vote for majority rule? What was in the back of his head, do you think, when he agreed to do that?

CR     In the end as we laid everything out he realised that -

POM     But he agreed to this at CODESA 1, right?

CR     He realised that there was no other better way of drafting a constitution other than by getting an elected body of people to do so. The only concession that we made was that the Constitutional Assembly, or the people elected to parliament would also act as a Constitutional Assembly. Originally we had just wanted a Constitutional Assembly which would sit separately and an interim government which would govern separately, but in the end we realised that you actually had to merge the two, much as the Constitutional Assembly would have its own existence but existence out of the same people who would have been elected. He arrived at that position as a result of our own strategic positions that we had set out, that as it happened in Namibia it had to happen in SA, you could not get a committee of people to draft a constitution.

POM     I remember at our first interview asking you what was the one bottom line thing on which the ANC would not budge from and you said it was that the constitution had to be written by -

CR     An elected body.

POM     Is this a case again of, like you going into negotiations with a very clear idea in your head of what your bottom lines are and what you want, whereas the NP went in with no clear idea of exactly what they wanted to come out of it or what was to emerge so they could never think strategically in the same way that you could?

CR     They couldn't because we had our bottom lines clearly written out in the Harare Declaration, in our own constitutional principles they were spelt out and everything else could have been negotiable but what was not was the Constitutional Assembly concept, so we could never, as negotiators, have been able to go back to our constituencies and say that we have failed to attain this one strategic objective that we have set out for ourselves.

POM     Now both you and Roelf in Belfast when you talked, and I think I gave you a copy of the remarks you made at that time, said that sometimes the harder struggles were within your own parties than between your parties and in her book, again, Waldmeir refers to what she called the 'diplomats' and the 'strugglers', those who wanted to continue insurrection and those who wanted to propagate diplomacy. Yet she says : -

     "By the mid 1980s the MK had scarcely scratched the surface of the Afrikaner monolith. In the decade following the Soweto uprising the MK carried out over 400 attacks in SA but most were minor, none threatened the authority of the state and the price paid by the guerrillas was high, roughly two were killed or captured for every three attacks. In the late 1980s, according to one MK commander, the casualty rate for guerrillas entering from Zimbabwe was 100% within 48 hours."

     Then she refers to Alfred Nzo's remarks in a report that -

CR     That we never had capacity.

POM     You didn't have the capacity yet.

     "We must admit that we have not had the capacity within our country to intensify the armed struggle in any meaningful way."

     Now, if in fact that capacity didn't exist what hand did the 'strugglers' have to argue against the 'diplomats', when you could say, well the armed struggle has not proven to be successful, it has been a symbolic success but not a military success, we don't have the capacity according to our own intelligence reports to increase our resistance in any meaningful way. What hand did they have to play?

CR     I think one needs to look at what people in the ANC were saying. You need to remember that people, the ANC really, the whole struggle was really pivoted on four pillars, the armed struggle and the underground movement which had to be strengthened, international isolation as well as mass mobilisation. So those were the four pillars and the hesitancy to get into negotiations by many people was not largely only based on the armed struggle being able to succeed, it was based on the four-pronged thrust which was based on all these pillars and people kept thinking that a reliance on one obviously was a weakness but the reliance on four of these pillars could in the end yield better results. But once the decision had been taken to suspend the armed struggle, armed action rather, we didn't have as many strugglers against negotiations as we had support for, say, the armed struggle. People in the end reluctantly, few no doubt, finally came around to agreeing that yes we had to engage the enemy on new terrain and people then became more and more sensitised to the fact that negotiations were a new terrain of struggle.

POM     Sorry, Cyril, you were saying? The four-pronged? So she kind of over -

CR     She overplays that within the ANC, once the ANC had been unbanned. Before unbanning, yes, there would have been such conflicts within the ANC but after the ANC was unbanned, even slightly before the ANC was unbanned, when the Harare Declaration was adopted, once that Declaration was adopted a majority in the movement knew that negotiations could yield a positive outcome and we had to engage the enemy on that terrain. There wasn't much of a tussle within the ANC on issues of whether we should negotiate or continue the armed struggle. Whatever tussle there could have been was with the pace of the negotiations, that it was too slow. People were dying. Remember people were dying continuously and that naturally would have created doubts in the minds of people in the country.

POM     Now, again, this is after the violence broke out in August, shortly after you suspended the armed struggle and then this random violence began. She said: -

     "Mandela could never understand how a head of state with all the appurtenances of government could not do something openly and meaningfully to stop the violence."

     I just put that in juxtaposition to what's happening in Richmond right now where you've had a situation of 96 people killed in a short space of time and no-one seems to be able to arrest it and the government seems powerless to stop it from happening even though it's closed police stations and moved in new police, no-one has been arrested. Would Mandela be slightly more appreciative that sometimes a President does not know everything, does not control everything?

CR     Mandela's views on this matter were based on his knowledge, instinctive knowledge that these were inspired from within government itself. The Richmond situation is slightly different, slightly different in the sense that there hasn't been any decision within government to perpetrate these types of acts. There isn't, to the government's knowledge, an organised wing within the military, known wing within the military that is doing this. In De Klerk's case it was known. What Mandela was essentially saying was that these are your people who are doing this, carrying on with a particular agenda, so why don't you stop them? Inkatha was essentially supported by the government, the CCB, the Askaris and all those people were essentially sponsored in many ways by government and that is what made Mandela say what he said. But right now, I mean you've seen - much as the violence has carried on but the government, even in the eyes of the people, is seen as taking steps, taking demonstrable steps to try and stop this.

POM     Now you're a negotiator, among many other brilliant talents of course, do you think that since it could do no harm that the ANC should sit down with the UDM and that everyone in Richmond acknowledges there is some conflict between the two organisations no matter how you define conflict and that the act of them sitting down together and saying let us both work together to eliminate or to try to facilitate the authorities in their -

CR     I agree. In the end the only way of solving problems is by sitting down and talking, even with your enemies.

POM     Why during the negotiations it appeared again, and I'm rushing but you're being kind and I know that. You hope, you think, I will never bother you again! One, the remark that you set out to destroy Delport.

CR     No comment.

POM     Would in the end Delport have been a far more effective negotiator for what was De Klerk's mandate to his negotiating team than Roelf?

CR     No comment.

POM     Oh come on! He at least thinks that you had a strategy.

CR     Yes, he was right.

POM     In terms of the position that he had to play, are people unkind to him? He was a junior minister but he also took the hard line because that was what he was mandated to do and he wanted to drive a much tougher deal.

CR     The problem is that he was a junior minister and he was not the chief negotiator, he took a much harder line and we didn't take him seriously. We just didn't and he was just a nuisance so we had to -

POM     Did you make it clear to him that you didn't take him seriously?

CR     Oh yes.

POM     So this drove him crazy.

CR     Absolutely.

POM     I see. Don't let me get on the bad side of you. Just one or two other things on the negotiations. She is talking about the volkstaat talks were going on between Mbeki and Viljoen and that you more or less scuttled those talks because you were much more concerned with getting Buthelezi, not in any physical way, but nailing Buthelezi and that when you saw the terms that had been drawn up when the international negotiators came, Lord Carrington and Kissinger, that you exploded and just threw them out. True?

CR     I was very worried, I was very, very worried that the whole process, the election date would be shifted if they ever got to sit down to try and mediate the process.

POM     That's Kissinger and - OK. So you had one thing in your head all the time?

CR     I have deep respect for them and they have later conceded that they didn't see what value they could have added themselves and I didn't too. They have conceded to me that in the end we had to solve this ourselves and I saw serious dangers in that.

POM     She also has you on record as wanting to contest the results of the elections in KwaZulu/Natal.

CR     There was a suggestion that they should be contested but in the end wisdom collectively prevailed that we shouldn't.

POM     Were you in favour of contesting?

CR     I was not in favour of contesting it.

POM     You were not in favour of it?

CR     No I was not in favour.

POM     So that's an outright - that I can correct.

CR     Yes that you can correct. Now last question.

POM     Just one or two things, OK, one last question. Many people that I've talked to, all strains of political parties, say that part of the problem facing the country is that the constitution is too good, that it's a near perfect constitution for a near perfect society, not for a society that faces the turmoil and tribulations of a developing society and an emerging economy.

CR     I would agree.

POM     And as a result of all the protections built in that it paralyses the ability of government to get many things done.

CR     I agree. In hindsight I do agree. The last question I want to address is the question of corruption which you raised. I am not alarmed by reports of corruption and in fact I think it's good that we are reading continuously in the newspaper about corruption. In many countries you don't read about corruption and when you don't read about it it has gone underground and it is much more systemic, it becomes a cancer. I think this government, and all of us can be grateful for small mercies that much as we're reading about it and it disturbs us, at least it is surfacing and many measures, attempts and systems, mechanisms are in place to deal with it. I would be worried if I lived in a country, particularly a young country like ours, if I did not hear about some of these lapses in good governance, corruption being ventilated publicly. So I don't look at it negatively, I rather look at it more positively. I obviously bemoan the fact that there seems to be rife corruption but I am also taking a positive outlook that it is being exposed, it's being written about and various commissions, Heath and many others, are doing something about it.

POM     Just on the constitution, if the constitution is 'too good' what do you think should be done or should anything be done to adjust it to allowing government to be more effective where on every occasion people can't run to the courts, where the courts in fact become the final arbiters of what policy is not government?

CR     I think in the end the constitution has an in-built mechanism of a review of the constitution on an ongoing basis and that should be relied upon in the light of current experiences to see whether certain provisions are still working as they did. A constitution can never be a static document. The American constitution has been amended millions of times and similarly our constitution needs to be reviewed in terms of those guidelines that we've got in the constitution to see how best it can be made more effective particularly for governance to be much stronger and more effective.

POM     My very last question, and this is the very last question. It goes back to a question I asked you three years ago. I asked you why did you leave politics, and you laughed and you said, "Come back and I will answer that in a year's time", and I came back in a year's time, in fact in March of last year I came back -

CR     I will answer that question before you publish your book.

POM     OK, you can read it in my book in 1999.

CR     Before you publish your book you will have the answer.

POM     I'll have the answer. Does that mean your book will be finished first?

CR     Yes. I've got to rush.

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.