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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

27 Aug 1998: Van Zyl Slabbert, Frederik

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POM     I want to go back to some of the observations you made in your book with Heribert Adam and Miss Kogila Moodley, Comrades in Business, when you said: -

     "When the chips were down Afrikaner negotiators meekly handed over power without even seriously attempting to bargain any group privileges."

     Now on what basis do you conclude this and what could have the National Party have gotten out of negotiations that it didn't get out of negotiations and how would you distinguish between group rights and group privileges?

VZS     It's a difficult one but if you take the history of the NP and the emphasis they put on group rights and for that matter the way in which they structured group privilege, one example would be the way they monopolised the civil service that it became almost an employment agency for Afrikaners. Then one would have expected, given their declared commitment to protecting themselves, that when the hard bargaining was on they would have argued, for example, that the top jobs in the civil service remain intact for five years. Something like that. That's not uncommon, if you take the Chilean case what Pinochet did when he negotiated the transition from military rule to civilian rule, he negotiated what they called 'authoritarian enclaves' where he said I will remain in charge of the military and I will look after the elections and then you can have your transition.

POM     But he still had - the situations aren't exactly comparable insofar as he had the backing of the military all the way. They were solidly behind him.

VZS     If you look at our situation the people who feel sold out most are the military. There's no question. The military were the people who propped up the previous regime. The military were the people who did all the dirty work for the politicians and when the crunch was on they were sold out. That's what they tell you. Look, I'm not saying they should have that, I'm not saying that I was in favour of them doing that. I am saying I am surprised that when the chips were down they didn't do it. Now the question is why didn't they do it? And I am suggesting that they were simply out-manoeuvred. You talk to ANC negotiators and they say they couldn't stop laughing at the ease with which these guys made fundamental concessions. Take the whole issue of education, they could have bargained a much, much tougher deal on education and the other side would have been prepared to concede, would have said yes, sure, we think you've got a point, you're entitled to your schools and so on and so on. They never did it. The issue of minority veto which the ANC, if you talk to Cyril, certainly expected, they thought that there would be a minority veto built in for maybe five, six years. It was conceded.

POM     He expected them to bargain it but he didn't.

VZS     And they would have made concessions on it. The ANC would have made substantial concessions.

POM     The ANC would have moved from majority - ?

VZS     Yes, for a limited period of time they would have said OK, let's - because as I understood it there was an assumption on both sides prior to negotiations, (a) that the white minority would never give up, that was the basic assumption of the national democratic revolution. Similarly there was an assumption on the minority that should the black majority become the government there would be retribution and vengeance and so on and that was why you needed a total strategy to fight the total onslaught. Now you find yourself in a negotiating situation and you would say, well this is going to be damn tough. There was no question, when I saw Cyril the other night and he was telling me that Roelf was just the easiest guy to out-manoeuvre that he had ever come across. Now this is a guy who I ... on many an occasion with the captains of industry when he was leading the National Union of Mineworkers and here suddenly he's negotiating for the transition of power in the country and he runs rings around his opponents because he basically said that they just expected a much tougher kind of response from him. So that's really my - when the chips were down the poor Afrikaners quite frankly will tell you now they were sold out and they were sold out in terms of the promises that those guys had made to them. They promised they would never sell out, they promised that their jobs would be secured. Even in the white referendum De Klerk still promised that. I had an interview with De Klerk on television in which he actually thought before the white referendum that he could constitutionalise consociational democracy or he could constitutionalise power sharing, and I said but you can't, you can negotiate temporary agreements but you can't do that.

POM     It has struck me apropos that, you read that up until the very end that De Klerk didn't believe in the inevitability of majority rule and yet it says that Roelf was an early convert to majority rule. Did De Klerk send in the wrong negotiating team? This is like you and I playing a game of chess and I've already conceded the game before I make my opening move. You have psychologically lost, it's only a matter of time until I say I give up since I expect you're going to win anyway.

VZS     What I tried to say there of course is that De Klerk not only sent in from their particular point of view the wrong negotiating team, he chopped and changed his negotiating team, number two, and thirdly he was at arms length. He did not come in on the negotiations himself. He sat back and said well go ahead, whereas Mandela, and you ask Mac Maharaj, you ask these guys, every day at the end of the day they reported to Mandela this is what we were doing, that's what we were doing. Mandela said you're not going to back down on this, you push hard for that. It never happened. You can ask someone like Tertius Delport who was eventually then kicked out of the negotiating team about what exactly happened there? De Klerk was above the battle, he wasn't involved. He was confronted with concessions and he never questioned those concessions.

POM     Why?

VZS     I don't know, I don't know. You see my point is I think De Klerk really never understood what he was unleashing and it's difficult to find reasons for that. Number one, I remember going to see him about two or three weeks after he had made that speech.

POM     His 2nd February speech?

VZS     2nd February speech, and I said why have you done this? And he said two things, one I think I have mentioned before, the one is a kind of spiritual leap a geestelike sprong. And the other one he said was that the collapse of Eastern Europe gave him his opportunity and he really thought that the collapse of organised communism would weaken the ANC to such an extent that they would be on their knees. I've mentioned to you before that some of his close lieutenants that I spoke to said to me that they, even at that late stage, were convinced that the whole process of transition would take about ten years with De Klerk still in charge and then gradually bring the people in and accommodate them and so on. I'm now talking late into 1993. I was sitting on the Metropolitan Chamber and it was before, of course, the negotiations had been concluded. I know it was before the break-up the second time because I remember having lunch. CODESA 2 broke up and then you had Boipatong and -

POM     That was May of 1992.

VZS     Round about there. I was still chairman of the Metropolitan Chamber and I went and had lunch with Tjol Lategan who is now an MEC in the Northern Province. He was a very close confidante of De Klerk. I said to him, what do you guys really think you're going to achieve? He said we're going to pull them into negotiations and then we're just going to take it calmly for the next ten years. So I said you can't be serious. He said yes, that's what we're going to do. So the only answer I can give you to that question is that there was an assumption that they could keep control over the process and De Klerk really, I thought, was living in a world of unreality as far as that was concerned.

POM     Now you had two other statements that referred to this. One you have covered:-

     "That with the collapse of communism the ANC had lost a very important resource base and patronage. De Klerk thought he could bring them into negotiations in a much weaker position. He certainly developed a vision once he had made his speech on February 2nd."

     I want to ask you what that vision was.  Two:

     "But he seriously miscalculated his own and his government's capacity to control the pursuit of this vision."

     That's number two, how did he lose control?

     "He and his colleagues never dreamt at the onset that everything would be over by 27th April 1994. One of his colleagues told us in confidence that they thought they could keep the ANC negotiating for five years with the NP government while the NP governed away the NP base. However, once the Nationalists had agreed to Slovo's proposal of an election date, before having settled most contentious issues, they handed the initiative to their opponents and they had to go along with their proposals."

     Now the other day I was talking to Fanie van der Merwe and he said that he and you had this out on television or in some panel discussion and that afterwards he said to you that it wasn't Slovo who set the election date or the ANC who set the election date, it was the NP who set the election date: "In fact I drew up a document in November of 1992 that set out the schedule of when we envisaged each stage of the process unfolding." And you said, as he recalls it, that you had never seen such a paper and he said it was in the public domain, so I have a copy of it, a statement by President FW de Klerk on the timetable for further constitutional reform issued on 26 November 1992 and it says among its points, and you can have a look, I'll make a copy if you wish. It says: -

     "Playing field to be levelled, free political organisation participation to be ensured, violence to be contained, party political campaigns to be organised and concluded, logistical preparations to be made and voter information campaigns to be conducted for elections to be held not later than March/April 1994."

VZS     I had said to Fanie that it doesn't fundamentally contradict the point that I'm making that there was an acceptance in principle that there would be elections and that those elections would lead to the transfer of power to the majority. That was the concession that was made. Once that concession was made it became a matter of technical detail when it was going to take place so for me the prior agreement, because there was very clearly a stage in De Klerk's own thinking and that was his vision. You can go back to that television interview I had with him. De Klerk's vision was that there would be power sharing for a long period of time, number one. Number two, De Klerk's vision was that elections would simply be a way of bringing about that kind of power sharing. Now somewhere along the line he was out-manoeuvred and out-negotiated, I believe, by the ANC negotiators. So the technicality of the election does not undermine the fact that there was an assumption on his part that the outcome of the election and the kind of constitutional arrangement that it would lead to would be substantially different to what happened. Otherwise why the hell did the guy leave the government of national unity? He actually thought he was going to play a very prominent role in the government of national unity. He thought that they would not really govern without him and he became progressively disillusioned. You can ask Thabo. Thabo said eventually he said to De Klerk, "If you leave the government of national unity you will destroy your own party so if you want to keep your party going stay in the government of national unity." All I can say is if everything is so good why is everything so bad for the NP? Do you really think seriously that De Klerk would negotiate a situation that would have led to the situation that we have now? The obvious answer to me is no. So why did he did it then? What happened? Did he a geestelike sprong again towards the end?

POM     But why did he not balk at the end and say when Roelf Meyer and Van der Merwe came back and said government by consensus isn't practical, the rotating presidency is really out of the question and what we suggest you accept is this kind of decisions by majority rule where there will be a prior understanding that the NP will have an input into that decision making process and in that way we will in fact exercise more influence and not less.

VZS     De facto we will be there. I remember that's the word that Roelf used, de facto we will have a role which they cannot ignore and deny.

POM     But they did ignore and they did deny from the very beginning.

VZS     Of course.

POM     So how would you put that again in the context of the addendum to De Klerk's statement in November of 1992 where he says: -

     "To us power sharing is a constitutional arrangement ensuring that all parties with a significant support will have meaningful participation in all areas of government at all levels."

VZS     I asked him that question, exactly that question. I said what do you mean by this? I said a power sharing arrangement arises out of the current balance of forces of political movements where the one has the power to frustrate the intentions of the other. He then, at that stage, still argued that this could be constitutionally guaranteed and arranged. I said but you can't. I said you can do it maybe for a period of two or three years but do you really think you can write a constitution like the Cyprus case where they just say, that brief period in Cyprus, they said irrespective of the distribution of population there will be this arrangement. Or the Lebanon case where you had a Sunni Muslim here and a Druse there and a Christian Marranite there and you never counted because the conflict was so great, you just came to an arrangement. The Speaker was a Sunni Muslim, the President was a Druse. I mention those examples to you. I said that arrangement came about because in fact the guys looked at one another and said if we don't get some kind of arrangement of this nature there are going to be problems. I said to De Klerk, not on the air, I said the only way I can see you achieving this is if you keep control of the armed forces because if you look at a similar kind of situation what muscle have you got to back up, and I was thinking specifically of Pinochet's case. And he came back to the formal question there and he said, no, you can have a constitutional arrangement of power sharing. I said you can have a political pact but you can't have a constitutional arrangement because if there's a shift in the balance of forces the constitutional arrangement becomes a contradiction of political reality and I don't see how you can do it. And he, to my way of thinking, never grasped that point, he never grasped it. He really thought you could constitutionalise power sharing. That's the only explanation I've got. That accompanied his statement and that's what I asked him. I remember I asked him what do you mean by guaranteeing power sharing? I said I don't understand what you're talking about. I mean, can you think of a situation where you can constitutionalise power sharing outside of an agreement that has to do with the prevailing political forces? I can't see it.

POM     Let me just run through his points, like giving all parties with significant support participation in the legislature and all those with major support participation in the Executive. Well they got participation in the Executive even though they weren't particularly listened to. Even though they weren't listened to they got participation in the Executive so in a literal way he got what he wanted in terms of being there.

VZS     OK he's there. It's like having a grandstand ticket at the Wimbledon final, you're watching the game but you're not actually part of the game.

POM     The constitution gave him further checks and balances such as increased majorities to entrenched clauses, cooling off period and dispute resolution mechanisms to prevent simple majorities from riding roughshod over minorities.

VZS     And so? And so what has happened?

POM     Well he's no longer in the government.

VZS     Exactly!

POM     A framework for safeguarding economic freedom, private ownership and a market economy and allowing the maximum scope for individual initiative in private enterprise.

VZS     Globalisation had far more to do with that than any promise on a piece of paper.

POM     Addressing socio-economic needs and backlogs in the most effective and constructive way.

VZS     No problem. That's part of the ANC's own agenda.

POM     If anything they're resisting that in terms of their opposition to every Bill that comes to parliament. So would De Klerk have been better off if he had left Tertius Delport or somebody of a similar incline as head of his negotiation team who was prepared to bargain down to the last detail?

VZS     Let me put it to you this way, if I was in De Klerk's position - let me put it this way, if Constand Viljoen was the guy bargaining, Constand Viljoen would have said you leave the civil service intact for five years, no change, and we will then work ourselves to a standstill, all the promises that they make in any case, we will work ourselves to a standstill to see that there's employment and that there's an upgrading of education. Leave our schools alone for five years, but we will build more schools, etc., etc. You can make all those promises and you can then say, then you can enter into a formal power sharing agreement in which you say no majority decision making in the cabinet. Play hard ball. I'm not saying you're going to get everything you want but you're playing hard ball and you're saying I'm protecting my people. But if you look at this pathetic performance of the Nat politicians at the TRC it's unbelievable in the absolute sense of the word because if you talk to people like Constand Viljoen and others they will tell you the Afrikaner, as they saw, it was sold out. By who? By De Klerk. And that's why I referred to the wealthy Afrikaner selling out the poor Afrikaner. That's really what I mean by it. So all I am saying is that if you're really talking about tough bargaining, tough negotiations, this was a walkover, it was a walkover. The last time I saw you I was on my way to this trip to Dublin and Belfast, I think I gave you a copy of that paper.

POM     You didn't, no.

VZS     Well Jenny can give it to you, in which I said well what was it that was so extraordinary? And I said the most important starting point for me was a mutual acceptance of deadlock. De Klerk and Mandela accepted the situation was deadlocked, number one. Number two -

POM     Sorry, what do you mean by that? They accepted a situation that?

VZS     That our situation was deadlocked.

POM     In that sense, in a political sense, they began as equals.

VZS     They began as equals, exactly. There was a deadlock so they began as equals in a bargaining situation. Now once you've accepted that, and by the way I wrote 25 years ago with David Welsh that we had a deadlock situation, that doesn't matter. You can have all the bloody academics talking about an objective condition of deadlock and so on, they couldn't care a stuff. As long as the two parties think they can out-manoeuvre the other they're not going to negotiate. So there De Klerk for the first time said we can't and Mandela agreed with him. And the point is those two guys agreed without the consent of their movements. There's no question. Mandela did not have the support of the ANC to say well let's go and bargain now because at that stage there was a deep rift within the ANC.

POM     Now you're talking prior to - this was after he was released?

VZS     Well during that release period if you read Patti Waldmeir he was sort of manoeuvring and talking much against the wishes of many of the guys in Lusaka and there was a rift in the ANC between those who wanted to negotiate and those who did not want to negotiate. I know from our experience, I was regarded with deep suspicion by the communists and by some of the more militant guys because of that Dakar exercise. We were undermining the national democratic revolution, all of that. Equally on De Klerk's side if De Klerk had to caucus his party on the contents of that speech he would have been shot at dawn, he would never have been allowed to make that speech. You can ask any of the guys in the NP caucus. So that was the second thing. Political leadership, agreeing on deadlock, number two, the political leadership then going against the wishes of some powerful forces in their own movement and setting the process in motion and when that process started picking up momentum it was a kind of telescopic logic in which De Klerk was going to lose and Mandela was going to win and all that you had to argue was the conditions of victory. That's all. I am saying in that bargaining the conditions of victory, for goodness sake, the outcome must surely have been the relinquishing of white power. Otherwise what's the whole damn thing about? So the moment he says I want to negotiate he's going to negotiate what? The abdication of white power. Now it's no longer the principle of abdication, it's the conditions of abdication, what are you going to bargain for? And I am saying in that bargaining process he gave it away in terms of his own promises, in terms of his own assumption and certainly in terms of the expectations of the majority of people who supported him, he gave it away. In that sense I am saying - it's all in that paper.

POM     Going back to Patti Waldmeir who's book I've kind of dissected sentence by sentence. I've got more pages of notes on her book than there are pages in her book. Two things, and I asked this of Cyril the other day too whom I saw, she makes reference to the fact that by the late 1980s the MK had become in a sense a joke, that its campaign was totally ineffective, that from the military point of view it was kind of symbolic so that when people, what she called 'the strugglers' when they argued for continued resistance and a continuation of the armed struggle, what armed struggle were they talking about since there was no armed struggle there to begin with? Were they living in a world of delusion that they somehow thought they could overthrow the government and march on Pretoria and was this a kind of delusion that had set in from sitting too many years in Lusaka?

VZS     No, no. I think you can't evaluate the armed struggle independent of Soviet patronage. I don't think you can. Without that backing it would have been virtually impossible for them to -

POM     But by 1989 that patronage was gone.

VZS     Of course. It started going in the second period of Reagan's presidency when Gorbachev went for glasnost and perestroika there was an agreement that they would no longer support revolutionary struggles.

POM     What case were those who were resisting negotiations making? What were the merits of the case they had to make?

VZS     They still had not come to terms with the fact that they were going to lose, but they were losing that kind of patronage.

POM     So they were out of touch with reality?

VZS     Well there's no question. If you look at the fall of the Berlin wall, I mean there were guys walking there when I was at Oxford, strong ANC cadre support, the supportist people who were in the movement. They simply refused to accept that the wall had fallen. They really did not believe it was going to happen. I just said but it's crazy, there it's happening.

POM     It's coming down brick by brick.

VZS     It's coming down brick by brick. They said it's nonsense and so on. I was giving a lecture at Terry Ranger's thing at Oxford. You know Terry Ranger? He's sort of Africanist. There were two guys, one Twala, Twala wrote a book on Buthelezi, he died later, shortly after that. In any case that was about, I would say, October 1989, just before, in that period, and I was saying I couldn't see there being any other route for De Klerk but to release Mandela and unban the ANC and negotiate and so on. I said it there. Those two guys came to me at the tea break and they said, you know one of the advantages of being in exile is we are far closer in touch with what's going to happen than you are. They said there's not the slightest chance of negotiations, not the slightest chance. And then of course De Klerk made the speech and I saw them later on and I said, "What do you say now?" "Oh I don't know, I don't know." I said, "Can I tell you something else? The NP is going to become a non-racial party before the end of the year." They said, "No, we can take a lot of things but to tell us that they will become a non-racial party by allowing blacks to become NP, you must be crazy." And I said how prevalent was this? They said extremely prevalent.

     I asked Zanele, Thabo's wife, "Don't you think Thabo took a lot of flack for promoting negotiations?" You know, the Dakar stuff and we met about four or five times after that all over the place. She said, "You have no idea the degree of vilification he experienced within the ANC for pushing these negotiations." Ours weren't negotiations, that was simple dialogue, there was no negotiation. She said you have no idea how they went for him. And Slovo even wrote a paper, you know the date, mid-eighties, "There is no middle road." Remember that paper? I think it was mid-eighties, actually saying negotiations were ridiculous, you can't negotiate the transition of power, these guys are never going to do it. And he was a critical figure in the whole process of negotiation. Without Slovo's sunset clauses it was unlikely that things would have moved after the Bisho massacre.

POM     Again, Patti Waldmeir recalls an incident and she is really talking about, I guess, journalists from the Financial Times who visited De Klerk after the collapse of CODESA 2, and they visited him, she says, in his office and they found him in a buoyant mood, that he believed that the forces of negotiations were on his side, that the ANC would be forced back to the table and that the way opinion polls were moving at the time he thought he could put together a coalition that would at least give them a good run if not actually overtake the ANC. But he was in a buoyant mood as though he had won at CODESA 2 rather than lost. Then from that point on his fortunes went right downhill. Did he make a miscalculation at CODESA 2? Should he have gone for what was on offer at that point if he was so sure about that in a deadlock breaking mechanism the ANC wouldn't get the required numbers in a popular referendum?

VZS     One of the more complex figures in this whole bargaining process is Kobie Coetsee because what was on offer from the ANC was a general amnesty, a general amnesty for everybody. Kobie Coetsee said no, don't let's accept the general amnesty, let's use the issue of amnesty to push these guys into a corner. That general amnesty would have pulled the carpet from under 80% of the guys who had to give evidence at the TRC. Now each one has to come - even the ANC wanted a general amnesty. Now what am I saying? A guy like Kobie Coetsee genuinely persuaded De Klerk that they were winning the negotiations, that they were on top of this game, that they could pull it off and even if there were elections - I mean as early as three weeks, two weeks before the elections I spoke to some NP organisers, they thought they would get a minimum of 30%, a minimum of 30% support. Then they start making calculations, we get 30%, the DP get this, the PAC - they all argued that the PAC was going to get about 15%. There was no way for the Nats to make all these figures and of course they scraped - and of course they also thought that the IFP was going to do much better than they did. So there was an assumption on a significant part of the NP leadership that you would have a kind of a hung situation and that hung situation would automatically force power sharing. That's what I call power sharing that flows from the prevailing political forces rather than a formally negotiated constitution arrangement.

POM     It's like power sharing is in fact what we have in Ireland where there are invariably coalition governments that are arrived at after the elections.

VZS     Yes, they look at one another and -

POM     - bargain and say who do I line up with, do I go with Fianna Fail, do I go with Fianna Gael, trade off in terms of policy, what do I get here, what do I get there?

VZS     Well there's an interesting speculation going on right now about what's going to happen on the provincial level in SA. Number one, they argue in the Cape there can be no outright majority for the Nats. If they are the largest party they seek alliance partners. Who are going to cede? The DP? Well it looks like it. They even argue that in Gauteng you won't have an outright majority but the ANC will be the largest party. So who is it going to look for as an alliance partner? They say in KwaZulu/Natal there's not going to be an outright majority because Inkatha's going to lose control. Who is the alliance partner? So you could end up with an ANC/Inkatha coalition in Natal and an ANC/DP coalition in Gauteng and a Nat/DP coalition - you understand what I mean? Now why is that so? That is so because of the political reality. It's not so because you have some formal agreement in which the constitution prescribes that you must have power sharing. It's because you can't govern unless you strike a deal. He thought that was what was going to happen but not only did he think that was what was going to happen, he thought you could constitutionalise that, genuinely. I just said I don't think it's possible.

POM     I talked to Ben Ngubane last week and he was, what would I say, not enthusiastic, but he took it as for granted that the IFP would be part of the next government. As far as he was concerned it was a matter of black parties would have to form a coalition between them if real transformation were to occur and that the ANC needed the IFP more than the IFP needed the ANC.

VZS     Well there's an element of truth in that. As far as I can see Buthelezi will be the Deputy President, or the Prime Minister or whatever you want to call him. Now why? Because the ANC is in a contradiction. I think I referred to it in the book as well, I say they embraced a political system that promises equality of outcome and they're promoting an economic system that generates inequality of outcome. So now all their economic reforms incur a political cost. When you go for privatisation Sam is on his hind legs saying you're going to retrench workers. When you go for getting rid of exchange control the Boers say you are assisting capital flight. When you go for a flexible labour policy the unions say you're undermining us and so on. And so you can take the whole damn thing. So what do you have to do? I argue all this Equity & Wage Bill and that kind of stuff is a trade off, it's a trade off for GEAR. You've got to placate the guys inside and in fact there is nothing that sounds sweeter on the ear of Thabo Mbeki than the business community going for him because of those trade offs because now he can say, look if I've sold you out to capital why are these guys making all this noise? But it's not going to help him. It's not going to help him because - you must read Thami Mzwai's article this morning - he's a sort of a maverick.

POM     I haven't seen the papers this morning. This is Business Day on 27th August.

VZS     Listen to this:

     "The ANC is right to stymie populism. The African National Congress will be doing the correct and logical thing when it hand picks Premiers for the provinces it wins in next year's elections. This should be extended to other key positions in the provinces and town councils to stymie the political careers who might choose to call unscrupulous opportunists who use populism to sway restless and gullible masses. The time has come for us to admit that while we talk of the right of the people to choose there are serious problems on the ability of the masses to grasp crucial national issues."

     Now my argument is Thabo will have to find a way of stabilising the politics of consolidation, if that's what we're moving into now. Now how does he do that? You can't depend on populist demands to create democratic stability. In fact populist demands usually create conditions of democratic instability. So you have to stabilise the situation. Now how do you stabilise it? You bring in Buthelezi. You stabilise Natal, you bring in Contralesa, all the sort of the traditionalists, to give him political stability. But when you bring them in you don't directly confront the unions and the SACP but they know Buthelezi cannot stand the communists and he cannot stand organised labour, so by bringing him in you're sending a signal to those alliance partners. Those alliance partners go bazookers, they go crazy. Look at what you're doing, this Gatsha, this snake, you're not embracing us and you bring him in. That's exactly what he's going to do.

     Then, if you go back to the Mafikeng speech of Mandela, which Thabo effectively wrote, Mandela at the end says of his speech, says the time will come when the SACP will have to test its strength outside of the alliance, number one. It's the first time I came across it that it was actually said by ANC leadership. Secondly, he said the unions must understand they no longer represent the unemployed and the poor, they represent their workers. Before, the unions were sort of vanguard of the struggle, the poor and all of that. Suddenly the ANC leadership cuts that away from them and says we are looking after the poor. How do you look after the poor? How do you get wealth generated? According to the legend you get wealth generated by promoting a competitive market economy. How do you promote a competitive market economy? Flexible labour policy, deficit before borrowing at 4%, get rid of exchange control. Each one of those things flies directly in the face of what is orthodox ideology of the unions and of the SACP. Then you're into that kind of dilemma. You know that if you're not careful you either head for what they call undemocratic stability or democratic instability.

POM     But do you see, you mentioned before and I think I may have asked you this question in the past, part of what allowed De Klerk to do what he did was the structure and the decision making process within the NP itself, that once he went through the process of electing the leader then all things became leadership decisions that didn't percolate back to the grassroots and you compare the structure of the ANC to the structure of an eastern European communist party. One, to a certain extent both parties in their decision making processes are mirror images of each other insofar as the NEC is the senior, like a small leadership clique within the ANC who make the decisions and the decisions go to cabinet and cabinet takes them down to parliament and portfolio committees but essentially they are rubber stamps of a sort. The real decisions are made behind closed doors.

VZS     The NEC, yes.

POM     Now with their decision to appoint the Premiers in the provinces, (i) are they not further flying in the face of liberal democracy, i.e. people will be voting but they will not know exactly who they are voting for, who is going to be their leader, and (ii) is it not setting up a situation that is perhaps more fraught with the possibility of internal fighting than the one that exists? That you will now have two poles of power within a province, you'll have the provincial leadership exerting its authority and you'll have the Premier divorced from the provincial leadership exerting his source or her source of authority and the two would inevitably - you've got two rival sets of ambitions right in place.

VZS     You're hitting it right on the nail. That's exactly what I think is going to happen. Let me give you a nice simplistic view. Let's assume there's a radical ANC and there's a moderate ANC. Let's assume for the purpose of argument after 1999 the radicals are kicked out by the moderates. Now if that happens and the radicals form an African Socialist Workers Party and promise the chicken in the pot before sundown, whip up the masses and so on, all the current opposition parties, and I will even include Viljoen, will jump over the fence and join forces with the moderate ANC. That's the dynamic I'm talking about here. So if you say this tension is playing it out between parties it's also playing itself out within parties, particularly within the governing alliance because the simple matter of fact is the ideological distance between Tony Leon and Trevor Manuel on economic policy is non-existent, whereas the ideological distance between Trevor Manuel and Jeremy Cronin is as big as the Grand Canyon. So where is the real political debate playing itself out? Within the ANC. One way of controlling the process is by controlling the Premiers because if you can then select - Thabo goes for GEAR, he has no option he must go for GEAR, so he goes for GEAR. He knows if he goes for GEAR there must be a political trade off somewhere down the line. He has to. So how does he trade off the pain of GEAR? The political pain of GEAR is traded off by keeping control over the so-called democratic process and there is the irony. In order to save democracy you begin to ignore democracy, you start putting your Premiers there. Why? To save the constitution because if you allow these foaming at the mouth radicals to take over the whole damn show they will destroy the constitution. But what do you do? As Thami Mzwai says, democracy is all very well but you can't trust it. He says it in so many words.

POM     Is there not another element to this and that is that with globalisation and the disillusion of many aspects of the nation state and national sovereignty what individual countries can do to a considerable extent is no longer within their control so that if you even had a situation where, say, the radicals in the ANC took over they would either find themselves ostracised in a global market -

VZS     In exactly the same position that Thabo finds himself. They will find themselves in exactly that same position. From a position of opposition you can promise the chicken in the pot. When you're in power you have one of two possibilities. Either you go for a period of brief festive socialism and fall off the cliff or you then start standing in the queue with the World Bank and the IMF.

POM     The World Bank and the IMF would come with their little briefcases to the new radicals and say listen, this is the reality of the world.

VZS     This is the reality. Why should it be different? You see my point is - I sat in on a global debate the other day, you sit here in a little panel and then there's a panel in New York and a panel in Washington and a panel all over the place, and they're talking globalisation. What is so blindly obvious is that your mature so-called economies and democracies all talk about the advantages of globalisation and your poor countries talk about the problems of globalisation. You come from a mature democracy and a mature economy. You start talking about a European unity, get rid of passports, not necessary, we all have transferable skills and wealth and we can move around. Now in a poor country the one thing that is trapped, but completely trapped, is unskilled and unemployed people. They cannot move. But what do you give them? You give them democracy. You say you can vote. So what are they going to vote for? They're going to vote for a government that tells all those globalisation guys to go to hell. But then there sits a government that realises you can't say to these people go to hell. So now you're into this game. Yes I'm going for globalisation and I'm becoming part of that world but I've got to keep the barbarians at the gate. See? So what do you do? You start choosing your Premiers, number one. Eventually you end up suspending the constitution - for a brief period - martial law maybe, state of emergency in Natal or whatever or in Gauteng. Why? Because this is the structural paradox in which you are caught up. It's not because you're stupid or bad or incapable of governing, it's because you are the subject of global forces over which you have no control. Stals sits here as Governor of the Reserve Bank and 33 year old fund managers in the USA decide to pump in $15 billion into SA and suddenly you're awash and you start making plans and you lower interest rates and then Japan catches a cold there and $20 billion goes out of the country and there old Stals sits like a beached whale. What does he do? How does he cope with this kind of thing?

POM     He sends for Tito.

VZS     He sends for Tito and says you take the job, I don't want it!

POM     Do you think that Thabo Mbeki's speech, his 'Two Nations' speech, was, I won't say a warning signal to whites, but rather letting them know that in the last four years very few of their privileges have been taken away from them, that they still live the privileged life. In fact I think one of the poverty or inequality reports show that the gap is increasing and not decreasing and it laid it at the door of GEAR, but that he's saying that this time is coming to an end and under my government you can expect harsher or more stringent measures in terms of redistribution; or is he stuck with the fact that the only skilled base there is still lies primarily in the white community and that anything he does to 'upset' them in significant numbers will again have repercussions in international markets and come back to rebound on the rand or in capital flights or one thing or the other so that he's trapped, his options aren't unlimited. I read in the paper today that the economy is going into recession.

VZS     Maybe you're right. I agree. It's both a political and an economic argument. It makes political sense for Thabo to come out and tell these fat cat whites that their days are numbered because that's what his basic support wants to hear, but economically he's trapped. If he goes for GEAR unfortunately he needs the whites because they have had the historical advantage of exploitation, of stabilising themselves, so you have to consort with them to get the economy going but you have to warn them that if they don't watch out politically they're going to be in trouble. So it's part of the same dilemma. My point is, I say it to the business community when I talk to them, I say you guys don't understand the sacrifices that Mbeki has had to make by going for GEAR. GEAR suits you down the line but you sit there bitching and moaning and moaning and bitching instead of saying to the guy, I see what you have to take politically, the pain you've got to take, we're going to help you, we're going to try and do something. Because in the long run it is in the private sector's own interest that Mbeki should succeed because, as you correctly point out, if he goes the populist route he destroys the economy and the country falls off the cliff. What's happening in Russia at the moment it's unbelievable. There's nothing. There's no currency, there's no banking system, there's nothing.

POM     No President.

VZS     There's no President, there's nothing. And the Ukraine is the same thing. We're not there. I think we're doing remarkably well under the circumstances. Our currency is holding up. Financial institutions are still more or less surviving and so on. So the fundamentals are OK, but don't kid yourself, those fundamentals can go wrong very, very quickly.

POM     Do you not think that COSATU - most people, and we've gone through this before, most people agree that GEAR has been a failure in terms of objective targets it set itself like a 5% rate of growth, creation of 250,000 jobs a year. This year we may even have negative growth. You certainly will have per capita income declining. The country may be entering into a recession. You have joblessness in the formal sector increasing so one can't look to GEAR and say wow! We've got the economic fundamentals right but we've got no growth and we've no jobs. Beyond that I would think it's hunky dory. Do you not think that at least instead of the government or particularly Mandela and Mbeki adopting the line that GEAR is written in stone and that it's government policy, I think Mandela said 'over my dead body', rather than taking that approach to COSATU and the SACP which is a very confrontational approach, may be invited by the confrontational approach by COSATU and the SACP, they should in fact be saying that there are certain aspects of GEAR that can be re-examined, there are certain assumptions we made about the world two and a half to three years ago that are no longer valid and we can re-examine those assumptions and see how the programme should be modified in the light of the changing circumstances of the world.

VZS     Yes I think so, the problem of course is that in the current debate the one view is, yes, formally you're committed to GEAR but you really haven't - that's why GEAR is not working, you're not serious about GEAR. If you were really serious about GEAR, if you were really serious about a flexible labour policy, for example, you wouldn't go for that Equity Act or the Labour Relations Act and so on, so you're not serious. If you really were serious in attracting foreign investment why don't you do something about crime? But you're not really serious. That's the one argument. The counter-argument to that is these are just sops you're giving us, this Equity Act and so on. That you are simply using in order to still persist with GEAR, so you lose both sides. Now politically it could make sense to say I abandon GEAR or some of the assumptions of GEAR and then sneak them in through the back door again. The simple matter is that if you're going to argue for a flexible labour policy, the world's not stupid, they can see when you come with an Equity Act, and I have no problems with the values behind it, they will say but it's not a flexible labour policy. You're bringing down certain quotas into the market and government is intervening into the private sector.

POM     If I had a million dollars and I want to invest it some place in a fixed plant and equipment and I look around the world at the various sites I wouldn't say I'm going to go to South Africa.

VZS     We're pretty far down the queue.

POM     I would find myself up to my eyeballs in -

VZS     Disputes.

POM     I want to get back to that because this is something that struck me as marvellously ironic, and maybe we'll switch and get to it because I know your time is valuable. The question I've been asking people is that is the constitution too perfect? Was it a perfect constitution written for a perfect society that has in many respects not a lot to do with the realities of a third world country and that in a sense it paralyses government from doing things rather than acts as a propulsion?

VZS     I heard a wonderful expression this weekend, I think it was Jakes Gerwel who said it was a constitution written in heaven but being implemented in hell. What was he really saying? Sure, he's making the point, and I won't mention the other fellow's name but he's in Mandela's office and there was a key person, he said to me, and he and Cyril more or less wrote the damn constitution, he said to me we were hopelessly utopian, hopelessly over-optimistic about how this constitution could work. This is basically what Thami Mzwai also says.

POM     I asked Cyril this the other day and before I had finished the question he said, "Yes, yes, yes." I didn't have to get to the end of the sentence.

VZS     I love this phrase that the constitution was written in heaven but implemented in hell. But on the balance of probabilities if you ask me my personal view I would rather have that constitution than not have that constitution because that constitution at least creates some kind of space in which we can push for certain values that I prefer to values that were operating before we had the constitution. As I argue, I would rather the ANC stumbled along trying to avoid democratic instability on the one side and going for undemocratic stability on the other side and sort of keep the values alive and let's see what we can do. It may be at the cost of more rapid economic change, it may be at the cost of not getting the economy going as fast as we would like to but what do you want? Do you want to have a military regime here? Do you want to repeat Nigeria? It's not for me. Do you want to have what I would call festive populism which will last for about three months and then you really are into a period of attrition, capital flight, people with skills will bugger off all over the world, they will do their best. And what do you have? I prefer to have that constitution. It gives us some scope and some -

POM     Do you think, like when I say it paralyses government, that you are in a sense rapidly following the course that it took the United States nearly 200 years to get to and that is that everything gets deferred to the courts and the courts become the real policy makers and policy is no longer made in the legislature but it will be made in the courts and that's unhealthy, that everything can't get continually referred to the courts? I say that because yesterday in The Citizen there was an item where the Black Lawyers' Association were going to the Human Rights Commission to lodge a complaint against The Mail and Guardian and The Sunday Times that they were both papers that practised overt and subtle and subliminal racism, particularly against black intellectuals.

VZS     I think that could be a fascinating debate. I don't mind that at all. I don't know how they're going to resolve that dispute but this is actually a minor problem for the Constitutional Court as far as I can see.

POM     But are we getting to a point that, say, I as a white person and, say, you as a black intellectual and we get into a dispute about some aspect of public policy and my objections to what you might advocate are reduced to the level of somehow implying that you are either racially inferior or not as intelligent or can't think as quick on your feet as I can?

VZS     Well, Thami and Jon Quelane, I know John very well, the moment you disagree with Jon and you're white you're a racist. It's as simple as that, he just calls you a bloody racist. So he can talk the absolute nonsense and you can say, but Jon that's nonsense. "Well I know where you're coming from, racist", and then he's into your motivations and so on. I think it's inevitable we will go through a period of that. Let him try his luck at the Constitutional Court. But I'll tell you where you really are in trouble in the Constitutional Court, if you're the third wife of some rural Chief who wants to assert her gender equality rights, then you are in deep trouble. The third wife of a rural Chief who says, "I insist on my civil liberties." Huh! Thank you! You get that fixed up.

POM     I just want to run through some of the conclusions that you and Heribert and Kogila reached to see if you revisited them now, because I assume you wrote the book in the latter part of 1996 because it came out last year, so there would be a lag and now at least -

VZS     All the good parts I wrote and all the bad parts they wrote!

POM     It says: -

          

     "To be sure the ANC faces little pressure to reach out to non-African voters given the high level of partisan loyalty that the party under Mandela enjoys among black voters. 75% of black voters identified with the ANC in 1997. Since black voters constitute about 69% of the electorate this accords the ruling party a seemingly unassailable built-in majority. The spectre of long-term one-party predominance therefore cannot be dismissed out of hand."

VZS     I wouldn't put it as strongly as that now. I think there has been this disaffection. I think there has been alienation, there has been more apathy. So I wouldn't put - that's more Heribert. We argued that what do you want under these circumstances? Vicious multiparty conflict or a fairly strong stable big government that can pull us through the thing. I think it's become much more complex. In fact I had it out with him the other day, he was here.

POM     Would you qualify that by saying the ANC as a party is becoming more, in its internal governance, is becoming more undemocratic?

VZS     Inevitably it's going to run into the difficulties that arise out of its own internal debate, the different factions.

POM     The different factions where you also talked about you will have two poles of power within each province. You will have the provincial -

VZS     The elected and the appointed.

POM     And the appointed.

VZS     There may be a correspondence. The Nats always sort of managed to have the person they wanted to have appointed elected, if you know what I mean.

POM     Yes! We know what you mean. OK.

     "Is SA a liberal democracy? Will there be a liberal democracy? It's clear that judgement has to be reserved but it has to be reserved not because of the undemocratic intentions of the new government or the leadership of the ANC as some analysts would have it. If anything the bulk of the ANC leadership and the representatives in parliament have become more liberal democratic although in some cases very reluctantly and those who remained unrepentant democratic centralists many 'assembly democrats' by inclination have become more and more embroiled in the constraints and imperatives of 'representative democracy'. What we have tried to show is that even if the new government consisted of dedicated, convinced and highly competent liberal democrats they would have been confronted with formidable problems in making SA a functioning liberal democracy in the space of a few years. We will investigate some more of these problems later on but one thing should by now be clear. Moving from repression to democracy is not just a gear shift from a farm road to a four-lane highway."

VZS     I would substantially agree with that still. I think a thing that one cannot ignore is Mandela's commitment to the constitution. During the local government elections the NP charged him with being unconstitutional. It was referred to the Constitutional Court. The ruling was against Mandela and he called parliament together and changed and said, "I was unconstitutional." His commitment to the constitution again now with the Louis Luyt court case. I think the way in which Mbeki has argued formally against the idea that they would change the constitution if they should get a two thirds majority. There are sort of formal commitments from the leadership. Again, I would say I don't question that they may be sincere but what they're running up against are the implications of that. How do you manage that? And that I'm afraid could force them to become more undemocratic or not as committed liberal democrats. But that's not because they engineered a situation like that. You see, to give an example, I've no big problem about this two thirds majority thing. Constitutions are very seldom changed into undemocratic structures by using a two thirds majority. It's usually when people can't get their way, like excluded minorities or the military or a coup or things like that, that's how constitutions change. In fact I think Hitler was one of the few people who used a two thirds majority to change the constitution democratically to an undemocratic constitution but that's usually the exception rather than the rule because if a government has a two thirds majority why would it change the situation. It's governing, it's comfortable.

POM     Three: -

     "We are not sanguine about transcending loyalties developing in SA to help forge a multi-cultural nation in which unity seeks its strength out of diversity but we do argue that there is convincing evidence that a South African nation is not only possible but a distinct probability."

VZS     I must tell you I'm becoming a little bit more cautious about that and it revolves around the concept of African. Mandela always talks about whites, coloureds, Asians and Africans. Thabo talks about an African renaissance and he says that whites are part of it. So one moment I'm an African and the next moment I'm a white.

POM     Now the PAC say if you're a white you're an African.

VZS     The PAC says I'm an African if I identify with the continent. Now what does that signify? It signifies a debate around transcending values, it signifies debate round about how do I identify with this country and the values of this country. Now I may say I identify with it, and as a matter of fact I do, I see myself as African in that sense. But if a significant number of people in the country say, listen Boetie, you are not an African, you're just a white who comes from a white racist past, I find myself in a position of a permanently excluded minority that has to fight for survival, I've got to try and survive. So how do I survive? I could leave or you cluster around your little interests here and look after yourself. So there is a growing, and for an understandable reason, there's growing intolerance of a racial kind. And I must tell you I think Quelane and Thami Mzwai play an important role there, 'you fat cat whites' and this and that. There's an element of truth in it but if you experience this kind of economic polarisation that we experience and the white remain top of the pile it's not very difficult for a youngster in a squatter community - look what Thabo's doing, he's looking after this minority. And Thabo is very sensitive to it. I don't think he's got one white in his office. He doesn't appoint them because he wants to send a signal that we can govern, we're OK. And again I understand that. But if you're really talking about values of inclusive tolerance you're going to have to work a bit harder than now. You can't depend on winning the World Cup in rugby or Bafana Bafana knocking the hell out of opponents and so on. You think that's going to be enough? It's not enough. We need more.

POM     I thought Bafana Bafana's performance in France was a perfect example of the state of the country. First of all it went with massive expectations of how it was going to perform, then it falls on its knees. You point to the coach first and you say, well he was a French coach so obviously he was on the side of the French in some way, he was kind the third force out there to undermine us.

VZS     True. I picked it up. You heard people say 'this bloody Frenchman'.

POM     Then you say who is playing for the team? The people who were playing for the team are not really Africans. They all play for European clubs so they're not real Africans. They should have been real Africans who should have been South Africans, not those guys who have left the country. Then you go to the undisciplined part of staying out all night and breaking curfews and not thinking there's anything wrong with that. Hey! What the hell is there to do? Or I've been put on the bench and I'm not allowed to play, I want to go home. And then there is, oh we've been away at camp for a month, six weeks, that's a long time.

VZS     And we refuse to run on unless you pay us a bonus.

POM     Six weeks away is a long time. Gee. Forgetting that some countries spent two years preparing for the World Cup. My last question, serious one, is, is it possible to have democracy with reform or reform without democracy, reform and democracy, no reform and no democracy?

VZS     This is economic reform?

POM     Yes. Then you have Siworsky(?) : -

     "We still know too little about markets and democracies and the little we do know does not support any ideological blue prints. However, what is recognised is that to pursue democracy and reform at the same time in emerging or developing countries generates extraordinary challenges. This is known as the problem of simultaneity. Those who govern SA at the moment believe it is possible to pursue four overarching goals successfully and concurrently. To complete the process of democratisation by 1999, to stimulate economic growth through a competitive market, to develop a strong human rights culture and to satisfy the socio-economic needs of the citizens."

     In terms of each one on a scale of one to ten where one is non achievement and ten is almost highest achievement, looking at the first 'to complete the process of democratisation by 1999'?

VZS     I would give them six and a half. Formal democracy certainly. Why I say six and a half, we haven't really managed it at the local government level.

POM     'To stimulate economic growth through a competitive market'?

VZS     Three.

POM     'To develop a strong human rights culture'?

VZS     Five and a half.

POM     Why, since they put such a premium on it being a human rights oriented constitution, why would you rate it at five and a half rather than - ?

VZS     Because it's at a very formal level. I mean a culture is a living thing, it's not a formal commitment alone. Sure they've got a Human Rights Commission, a Commission on Gender Equality, the Land Restitution Commission, Truth & Security - those are indications of the sincerity of those who govern, but if you ask me is there a vibrant human rights culture alive down here, I don't see it. I wish it was. Right through from planting bombs to shooting people and hijacking and carrying on, that doesn't speak - crime is a contradiction of a strong human rights culture but I still say it's a commitment and I give them five and a half for it.

POM     And 'to satisfy the socio-economic needs of the citizens'?

VZS     Well that you can work out for yourself. I would say about three. If you have low economic growth it's going to be damn difficult to satisfy those needs.

POM     Just little follow-ups. How will history judge De Klerk?

VZS     Harshly. I think history will judge him quite harshly. I think he will be commended for making that speech and setting a process in motion but I think he never came to terms with the past. That was the most pathetic performance I ever saw in front of the TRC. He tried to absolve himself and his government from obvious atrocities saying that, "I personally never really condoned." He sat in on those cabinets, he should have accepted collective responsibility and said sorry, we made a mess of it, I may not have been involved in those decisions but I was part of that government, I was part of it for 30 years of my adult life, I accept responsibility. He never did that. He weaselled out of it. History, well I certainly judge him very harshly on that one. And then he abandoned the process, went and married his girl friend, left the whole damn thing to Marthinus van Schalkwyk! Come on! So from the 2nd February 1990 to the 2nd February 1998 we move from De Klerk to Marthinus van Schalkwyk.

POM     How will it judge Roelf Meyer?

VZS     I think kinder than De Klerk but I don't think, I may be wrong, I personally get on well with Roelf but I think that he is not a political heavyweight. I don't think so. I think the one guy that will be quite interesting will be Constand Viljoen. There is a certain level of integrity there which I think the ANC find impressive. They take him far more seriously than these other guys, far more seriously, because of Constand's capacity to make waves in the rural areas and his revival of commando structures, all these paramilitary kind of initiatives. You might end up with a kind of Boere Pagad if you're not careful.

POM     Translate that for me.

VZS     Well Pagad is this -

POM     Oh sorry, yes, Pagad. Reconciliation, Thabo Mbeki says there has been no progress towards reconciliation. The TRC seems to have polarised race relations more than it has reconciled them, or is polarisation a pre-condition for reconciliation?

VZS     Look, the question of reconciliation is a very, very multi-faceted and complex thing. I, from the outset, never thought that the TRC would guarantee or bring about reconciliation. There are examples of reconciliation certainly and they are very moving and wonderful to observe but generally speaking I see the role of the TRC not so much as bringing about reconciliation as exposing all of us to our past and saying you take a view on that now, you can't escape it. If it becomes clear that Wouter Basson was into chemical warfare what do you think of that? Is it good? Is it bad? And then you've got to take a view on that. In that sense I think it's performed a very useful role. But the very fact that this is exposed may induce extraordinary anger, a sense of retribution, deep guilt, whatever the case may be, and none of that is necessarily conducive to reconciliation. Reconciliation is to say we messed up, I'm sorry, let's carry on and see if we can avoid the mistakes of the past. I think we're still a pretty long way away from reconciliation.

POM     Do whites have any understanding of what the concept of reparation is?

VZS     No, no. Mind you when I say no I mean generally speaking, certainly if reparation is seen as a kind of one-off tax or seen as some kind of a gesture then they talk about it. It was mentioned, it was raised at the TRC by the private sector. But if you're talking about reparation, a kind of deep commitment to get rid of the inequalities of the past and try and create a more equitable situation I would say most whites feel themselves under threat rather than having a deep commitment to redressing inequalities.

POM     Now just before my tape runs out, and you run out of patience, why since crime stands out as something with which this country is becoming internationally symbolised by, why has the government such great difficulty in getting a handle on crime?

VZS     A number of reasons. The first is that they've inherited a rather fragile, incompetent, criminal justice system. The police force, 22% of them are illiterate. How can they perform? There is no integration between Justice, Police and Prisons. In fact I don't think the ministers can tolerate one another so how do you expect some collective action there? So that's the one problem. You have an incompetent sort of policing system.

     Poverty. The government may be committed to eradicating crime but under conditions of growing unemployment it's extremely difficult. But thirdly, I think one of the reasons, important reasons, is that the government so far has not prioritised. It pursues too many laudable objectives at the same time. I always say the dilemma of consolidation is not the choice between good and bad, it's the choice between good and good, democracy and growth, human rights and law and order, and so on. So you've got to keep them all in the air but at some or other stage you're going to be forced to prioritise. My feeling is that in the run up to the 1999 elections crime will be one of the priorities. They're going to spend more money on it because it's a good vote getter. But apart from being a good vote getter it just makes common sense if you want to get this country functioning you've got to start combating crime far more efficiently. So I can see that becoming a priority.

     Now maybe education. Mandela said every child will have a book in its hand by next year. A good election ploy but that means you prioritise. You've got to spend money, you've got to put it there and if you put money there you've got to keep it away from somewhere else, so don't expect a great deal of money to go into tourism or forestry or things like that. Rural clinics, primary health care, it's a good vote getter. Whites don't understand the popularity of Zuma or the popularity of Kader Asmal. Kader Asmal has made more people accessible to water than ever in the history of this country. If you live in some rural area and you've got to walk ten kms every day for a bucket of water and suddenly there's a tap, who are you going to vote for? I'll vote for Kader every day of my life there. No question about it.

POM     So, your prediction, you taking a poll today on where the parties would stand next April?

VZS     I always love this because you look such a Charlie when next April comes. In any case I would say ANC 58%, DP 12%, Nats about 7%, IFP about 9%, PAC about 3%. UDM is the one that's it's difficult to get your hand around but I would put them round about 6½% - 7%. IFP I don't think I mentioned, 9%, somewhere around there.

POM     Freedom Front?

VZS     2% - 3%. And then you'll have maybe a sort of apathy factor. But the one thing that's the unknown here is the administrative competence to run that election because if you don't have a high registration all bets are off because then I can't really tell you anything. Let's say you can only register 60% of the voters then it's a question where will the highest registration be which will have the greatest impact on the performance of parties. If you have a high registration but you have unreliable documents you increase the possibility of fraud, so what kind of ID documents are you going to have? If you have reliable documents and a high registration but you have incompetent election personnel there's a hell of a fight on the day of the elections and some people can vote and some can't. So the administrative management of the election is a factor which I think will play a far more prominent role. The first time round everybody was starry-eyed. The politicians declared the elections fair and free long before anybody else because they had cut some deals, particularly in Natal. Read Schlemmer and Johnson on the elections. The second time round the world is going to be far more critical, far more critical. They are going to say, can you guys run elections properly? And they're not going to be as forgiving as the first time. The first time there was such a relief, all those women who bought bully beef and barricaded their houses for fear of what was going to happen, the relief was so great.

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.