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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

29 Jan 1999: Skhosana, Mahlmola

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POM     Mr Skhosana, it's nice to see you again and you're looking so well. It's 18 months since we last saw each other, which is the largest gap I think in the last ten years. First, tell me, how is NACTU doing? One reads the media, one hears COSATU this, COSATU that, COSATU the other, but NACTU never appears to make the front pages or the headlines. Is this a deliberate strategy? Is the union growing or the federation growing? Is it thriving? Where does it stand?

MS     We are growing in certain sectors and like all other trade unions in other sectors we are losing members because of retrenchments. As far as the media is concerned we do not control both print and electronic media so whatever they publish it doesn't mean that we did not send them information about our activities. If they don't choose to publish it there is very little we can do. It doesn't mean that we are dormant, we are quite active. For example we had a six-week strike in the chemical industry and that strike was led by our affiliate, South African Chemical Union, but if you looked at the write-ups and television news they were not even mentioned but they were actually the ones who were leading that strike.

POM     They're an affiliate of?

MS     It's an affiliate of NACTU.

POM     I didn't know that and I followed that strike.

MS     That strike, the SACU, that's the union, last September. It's our affiliate that was leading that strike because they have got more members in that sector than the COSATU affiliate.

POM     Let me ask you just a question about that in relation to strikes in general at this time. Here you had the country going through a financial and economic crisis, caught up in the whirl, the backlash of the Asian financial crisis, currency depreciation, increasing unemployment, you had the country heading to, which it achieved, negative growth, per capita income actually falling, nothing really working on the economic side and yet the response of part of the trade union is to call some strikes. Many people would see that as a kind of contradiction when the economy is going through a particularly bad period, a very rocky period, and capital is fleeing the country, that what outside investors or whatever see are more strikes, not less strikes.

MS     On the other hand yesterday we were meeting an American Labour Attaché, unfortunately the report he said he was going to send me has not yet reached us. From what he gave us it is the opposite that is happening. There are more American investors that have invested in this country than any other country, so there is investment coming into the country but the problem is that the investment is more capital intensive than labour intensive but we hope that through the spin-offs -  Also what has to be taken into account is that in the past you had a large pool of workers excluded from industrial relations, particularly the civil service. Now those workers are included and they are also beginning to exercise the rights that they didn't have in the past. If you look at that you would think that there is a growing number of strikes whereas it is because now the system is accommodating more people and if you go according to what you have said you would expect that in the country nothing is working in SA, everybody wakes up in the morning to go on strike which is not the case. So the system has just opened up for more people.

POM     Could municipal workers go on strike before?

MS     In the past they were not allowed to, they wouldn't.

POM     They couldn't?

MS     They couldn't, the system did not allow them. That is the reason why I am saying now the system is accommodating them and when they begin to exercise that right you then think that there are strikes all over the country, they are going up. In fact it's not that they are going up, it is that more people now

POM     The base is expanding.

MS     It's expanding, that's what has to be taken into account.

POM     Given the number of retrenchments in the last number of years, the trade unions as a whole are they growing in numbers, or about the same, or are they falling?

MS     In certain sectors, if you take the metal industry, NUMSA, what will happen there is that you will find there is decline because the companies are coming together and in the process of coming together they are retrenching and at times it's not because of the economy downturn that there are retrenchments but those who run the companies think that if they could save some costs they will maximise profit. In their own thinking they find that if they can get rid of labour they will maximise profit. At times it's profit motivated more than any economic downturn.

POM     Do you think that there is a better or less adversarial relationship between labour and business than there was before the present government came into power or is that adversarial relationship still there?

MS     I think in the past we had an adversarial relationship with the government, more with government than the employers in the past. That relationship that we have always had with business I don't think it has changed much. It also only depends on the issues where we don't agree on issues, we differ, but if you take the processes at NEDLAC where we sit as social partners with business, there is no acrimonious relationship. That relationship has not changed much.

POM     In the 18 months since we last talked, I am going to list a number of things and then you can take them one by one or go through them as you want, but in the last 18 months you would seem to have signs of serious deterioration in the economy on several fronts. You have now a situation of there was really no economic growth last year which means per capita income was falling, the number of poor increasing. You're not going to have much economic growth, if any economic growth at all this year. There was a survey of CEOs I think that was published yesterday or the day before, 100 CEOs of the largest companies and their outlook for 1999 was almost universally pessimistic, they forecast a further slowdown in production, no economic growth, certainly no increase in jobs. You have continuing currency depreciation which is not over yet. You have an increasing trade deficit which is eating up the small reserve of foreign exchange that the country has. You have perhaps more importantly continuing reliance on high interest rates to either stem capital outflows or to attract capital inflows but one way or another it's killing off economic growth and making economic growth possible. There is, I think, an increasing realisation that SA is part of a global economy and, as was last year indicated, what happened in Asia has an impact on somebody who is working in Johannesburg, so that even with the best economic policies you don't have the independence of the country any longer. No country has to implement them because they're at the mercy of other market forces in the rest of the economy. You have, what hasn't happened yet but is brewing on the scene, the Brazilian financial crisis which would also have an impact here if it blows up. It would certainly have a huge impact in the US. You have a world economic slowdown and you've increasing poverty.

     Just looking at the large picture, what is the large picture here? GEAR seems dropped from the vocabulary of the ANC, last year it was GEAR, I haven't heard the word GEAR mentioned since I came back this year. Has the government let it slide by and large? Is there an increasing knowledge that as long as interest rates stay at the level that they're at, even if you drop them a couple of points, that they are simply too high to stimulate economic growth?

MS     One reality that has dawned on the government is that GEAR will not meet the targets that they set themselves. I think there is an acceptance in the government, an acknowledgement, that they need to revisit some of the targets they set in GEAR. Certainly it's not going to take us out of the economic slump that we are in.

     However, you have pointed out that we are now part of the global economy and that has consequences for South African industry in the sense that we have now to compete. Now if you take textile and clothing for example, how are we going to compete with the Taiwanese, the Chinese, the Singaporeans' products because these are products that are made very cheap, cheap labour under horrendous conditions and there is just no way we are going to compete with them. So these have an impact. Some of these problems, or most of these problems, are not of our own making. The Asian problem for example, the Brazilian problem, Mexico a couple of years ago, they have an impact on us particularly if you look at the financial markets. These are issues that we need to look at, how the world is responding and be part of them. You must remember SA is no longer in a vacuum, we must act in unison with other economies. It is a problem for all of us and also once again I want to remind you that what I said before is that we are also carrying the responsibility of the region because the countries around us are expecting us to help them to kick-start their economies and the reality we have realised is that if you have poor neighbours you can't be successful economically.

POM     You can't be successful?

MS     And part of what DTI, Department of Trade & Industry, Minister Alec Erwin, what he said was that one of the suggestions he put forward to agriculture was that SA farmers should not farm cotton, should not plant cotton, but leave that to Zimbabweans and Mozambicans because they plant cotton there and we give them the opportunity to export to SA and that brings in trade. Those are some of the things that we need to be looking at. However, what we did when he realised that we have a problem, we had a Presidential Summit last year in October where we looked at how government can kick-start the economy and create jobs. There is a declaration, there is a commitment from government to kick-start jobs. Part of the programme there will be housing, housing programmes that will begin to kick-start. We hope in the next two months or so some of those projects and programmes agreed at the Job Summit will start to kick in. Business has committed something like one billion rand in terms of those projects to help to kick-start the economy and create jobs. Labour, on our part, all trade union federations, NACTU, COSATU and FEDUSA and we hope others will join us, we decided that on 3rd March all of us we are going to contribute one day's salary towards a fund which is aimed at creating jobs, all of us on that day.

POM     Where will this money go?

MS     We are setting up a trust where we will use the money to help to kick-start the economy in fact in terms of creating jobs. We are also targeting the youth, those who are coming into the labour market that they should find something. The money can be used for training them where they can get a head start in the labour market. So there are a few things that are put in place.

POM     Some people have said to me in the past that the prospects of creating more jobs in the formal sector at the moment are poor, in fact that you're losing jobs due to consolidations, mergers, downsizing by companies. In fact more jobs have been lost in the formal sector than created in the formal sector in the last four or five years and that where job creation efforts should be aimed at should be at the informal sector, that this is where you have your small entrepreneur, people who are trying to build a little business up and that what they need is training and help to make those businesses flourish and there might be a greater probability of creating jobs in that sector than in the formal sector.

MS     I would say it's one of the options but with a problem as huge as we have you cannot just take your eggs and put them in one basket, it's one option that we are looking at and that is why we want to kick-start the training part of it. But, we would also like, for example, if you say, if you look at public works in the form of housing, infrastructure development, tourism, eco-tourism, those can also create jobs; some are in the formal sector, because once you put infrastructure, for example once you put cables, electrical cables, people are going to need electrical domestic utensils and there will be a number of other activities that start from there. So that is one thing we are also looking at but it's not the only one that we should be looking at.

POM     So when you look at the view over the next four or five years what do you see on the economic side, on the employment side, on the growth side?

MS     That is the challenge that we are faced with. The problem is that I've always said that if we make this short-term focused, three to four years, you might not have an impact within that period. We have to have a longer view of, say, what's going to happen in the next ten to fifteen years. To me that's reasonable, you can pace yourself and you can see and evaluate how far you're going but if you confine yourself to four years it means you are just doing what happened in the past, you confine yourself to the next election and I think we should move away from that. When you look at the economic growth I think it takes more than four years to have the economy growing. At the moment what we are starting to do is to put the foundation, put the pillars and hope that it will grow. But like I said, we cannot hope to grow if the neighbouring countries are not growing because we are inter-related with them so they also have to grow and where you have tensions in other countries, Zimbabwe for example is one of our major trading partners in the region, if there is no stability in Zimbabwe then it affects us, it has an impact on us economically. So it's very important for us to help and find stability in a country like Zimbabwe.

POM     All these, like the war in the DRC, if you take all the way down from Sudan with an arrow almost across the country, down to Namibia, one country or another seems to be engaged in a war and you wonder why a country with the resources like Namibia what the hell it's doing in the Congo spending scarce resources on military operations that it can't afford. Must that whole situation stabilise itself somehow as well?

MS     It's very important but if you look at Namibia, they are just south of Angola, and being south of Angola the destabilisation of Angola affects Namibia. Now recently you have people who have crossed to Botswana from Namibia. Our understanding is that those people

POM     Crossed to Botswana?

MS     They have gone to Botswana, they ran away from Namibia. Our understanding is that, from talking to some colleagues in Namibia, they say about 300 of those people were trained by Savimbi militarily and now there is insurrection against the Namibian government because they say they want some form of independent state of theirs in the north.

POM     This is in the Caprivi?

MS     Caprivi, around that area. Now all those things, they fall like dominoes, they impact on countries. Angola is in a worse situation, so is the DRC. We may want to say as SA we are not going to get involved but in the final analysis somewhere down the line we are going to get involved because what it means is that you have people from Angola who are all going to Zambia as refugees, from Zambia they come down to this country. We have people from the former Zaire, Congo, they come down to this country. We have to deal with that and we don't have the resources and when they come into the country here they are going to begin to fight for little jobs that are there with the nationals, whatever little resources that are there, so it has an impact on us.

POM     I've seen this in Alexandra where there is a Mozambican group of people and the native population

MS     So we are affected and when we have all these kinds of conflicts, and we have a stupid one between Eritrea and Ethiopia over a little piece of land, now all those have an impact now. There is no real economic growth that we can talk about. If you take a country like Uganda, if Uganda was stable you could have - one of the trading partners in East Africa Uganda for me will be a country that we would trade with but with the problems they have it's a big problem and SA gets sucked into these things and this obviously has an impact on our economy.

POM     Now SADC is not quite working out the way maybe it's just going through growing pains - that it was envisaged. It's not working smoothly and the war situation hasn't helped.

MS     It's not working smoothly because I think part of the problem is that governments went in there with different agendas. For example, there are trade negotiations between these countries with SA and all of them are looking for a better deal with SA and among them there will be that competition amongst them. Also there will be a problem again, caused by SA, that we export more than we import from these countries and with the war situation what else can they export? We need to find a balance there. Before we could even begin to find a balance then when you have a war situation, then it becomes more of a problem. Now we are going to continue having this problem in Zimbabwe. Eventually we don't know what's going to happen and the more problems they have the more their currency declines, the more it doesn't pay us to have some trade links with them. It doesn't pay, that the trade links don't pay so we have to look at far markets and then we have major problems there again of our own in terms of hard currency and looking at the structural state of our economy we still import more than we export to the European Union, whether it's America, whether it's -

POM     But your trade surplus is with African countries. With everybody else you have a trade deficit.

MS     Deficit with everybody else and that is the deficiency in our economy and that weakness has an impact. We would have fared better if we had less wars in this region.

POM     The other question I want to bring up which seems to me maybe the major one, and I was looking at your sign outside for a condom, is the question of AIDS. AIDS is consuming SA, it's the fastest growing rate of AIDS of any country in the world. By the year 2005 it's estimated that one in five people in the work force will have it and the average life expectancy is going to drop into the mid-forties. Training people in these circumstances where AIDS is so prevalent is like throwing money away. You're training somebody with the probability that they're not going to be alive to do their job.

MS     I don't think so. AIDS is a problem in our country now, the statistics are scary and particularly to that age group that needs training. That worries us. But on the other hand there is continuous research that is being done and maybe in the next ten years or so, or even less than that, one hopes less than that, some scientist will find a breakthrough and this thing can be contained. We cannot say we are not going to train these people because in the next five or ten years they will all be dead.

POM     I know that, this is an extreme example. But if you had say one dollar and you had to put it into training somebody or put it into trying to reduce AIDS, which would be the greater priority, where would you put the dollar?

MS     I think putting money into AIDS programmes, educating people is very important, but how do you say this is more important than this one? It's not easy, the choices are not easy because these things have to be done simultaneously. However, I do take the point that at the moment there is a commitment from all of us, government, churches, everybody in the country, to take the message of AIDS to every corner of the country, that has been operating, and that is being done. That is why you see all these posters about AIDS everywhere. We've been to rallies ourselves to go and talk about it. We are addressing it, it's a problem that we are beginning to wake up to, it's a problem that needs to be addressed and it is being addressed. At the same time we also have to say those at the moment who are not infected with the virus should be given training and with the hope that once they have got the education they will stay clean.

POM     But do you think, for example, the health budget should be increased with more resources being devoted to AIDS?

MS     Undoubtedly the health budget has to be because what you need is the campaigns.

POM     But at what other department's expense do you do that? The pool is limited. If you give more to one department you're giving less to another department.

MS     For example, SA Defence Force, do they need all the money for the frigates they want? They don't need that. So we have more a problem of AIDS now than you need fighter planes. Those guys can wait for the next two years before they can think about their fighter planes, we can get that money because we have a problem now. You are going to have pilots who are going to be infected so they will not even fly those planes, so you'd better use that money to make sure that everybody is healthy. You can steal from there and there and also other organisations, the churches, can throw in their resources into this thing, trade unions throw in their resources into this thing. It doesn't mean that all the budget must go from the Health Department but there are other institutions that can also help. International organisations, World Health Organisation also, from the UN agencies they can also help, the ILO can also help its own problems so it's not that you are confining strictly to the Health Department.

POM     So in terms of I think there was a poll, Opinion 99 released a poll yesterday I think and it named, it said what were people's two biggest concerns, or what were their biggest concerns. And the biggest concerns were unemployment, crime, education and housing. AIDS didn't even figure on the list.

MS     Yes but that shows - who do you talk to when they conduct the survey? But it also reflects the level of consciousness we haven't done. It means we haven't reached the people, we have not reached the conscience of people about this massive problem and that needs to be addressed. We need to do that. It's a reflection of that. And it doesn't mean because people didn't list it that it's not a problem. It is a problem.

POM     It's not on their minds.

MS     It's not on their minds but in fact, in my own opinion, I was going to put it as number one problem that we need to address.

POM     Given the level now, it's like one in seven civil servants are HIV infected which means that productivity in the civil service is low, absenteeism must be high, medical costs and benefits must be soaring. Just the add-on expenditure of somebody being sick

MS     You see the sad thing about it is that if you look at the rural areas, in the villages there where it is rife you seldom have people giving statistics about what's happening there. The mining houses, the mining counts because of the migratory labour system of the hostels, it's rife in all those areas. That's why I say if it was me I would give it as number one. Also there is this denial where people think that it won't happen with me. You know when you walk the street and someone is knocked by a car it always comes in your mind that it won't happen to you. You always tell yourself I'm more careful, it won't happen, and I think that is a self-delusion that we must get people out of.

POM     So if you were giving a message to labour, to your members coming up to this election and you were giving them a state of the nation address like: OK we've had a government for four years, here's where we are. Where would you say, how far has the country come in terms of basic transformation, in terms of dealing with the multiple problems that were left over by apartheid?

MS     We have to understand that apartheid did not start in 1948, it started long before that. Now four years or five years is not enough time that we can wipe off all that. Apartheid backlog is still a lot. Let's start with education. Two days ago I was talking to my son, he's at the Vaal Technikon, a teacher there, he sees almost 4000 to 5000 students. They come from homes where their parents can't afford, it's not that they don't want to pay, they simply cannot afford to pay the fees. That legacy we are still dealing with up to now. The issue now for parties, and it's going to change, it's no longer going to be pigmentation, the issues that we've been talking about, the economy, education and training, jobs, housing, and it's not going to be the question of politicians standing up there and saying if you vote for me I will get you a house, I'll get you a job. People are going to ask how are you going to do it, people want to know the how part of it now. It's going to get more and more difficult for political parties, like now there is a whole lot of lethargy in terms of people just going in to register to vote. They had it in November, it was not a success. This weekend it's another second round. If it's not a success they will have to go to a third round. You can see it's lethargy, just to get people to come out there and register. Now to get people to vote for you will be another matter. So it is a big challenge.

POM     But the ANC really has no opposition does it?

MS     They don't have an opposition.  They don't have viable opposition but where lots of people are not coming to register, what are they telling the ANC?

POM     They're going to stay at home, they're registering a protest by staying away.

MS     They are protesting against the ANC. The problem is the other opposition parties are not as organised as the ANC so therefore we don't have an alternative, an immediate alternative that people can go to. But ANC cannot say because we don't see a viable alternative party therefore everybody agrees with us. If the greatest majority of people don't even go and vote for ANC they don't have the majority vote, they don't have the mandate of the majority of the people, you have a mandate of the few. Now it means you have to double your efforts so that even the majority that did not come to vote for you can begin to see what you are doing.

POM     Now they have set their eyes on getting a two thirds majority. Why do you think they would publicly say we want two thirds since it is so identified in the minds of other people with their being able to change the constitution unilaterally?

MS     I think it was a mistake for ANC. Someone who first came with that at a press conference did not have the mandate, it was not intelligent. It must have been a mistake.

POM     Mandela came out and said it.

MS     It was a mistake even if it's Mandela. Mandela is a normal human being. He shows his weaknesses. It was a mistake for them to come out in that way, but it looks like it's quite clear now, they might not say it, but it looks like they will not get a two thirds majority.

POM     But it could happen that people could stay at home and they could still get their vote out.

MS     But I don't think it will be two thirds, they will still get the majority votes but I don't think it will reach two thirds. I don't think so.

POM     You look around and the IFP has more or less it's KZN.

MS     It has remained the same.

POM     But in terms of polls it's down to 3%. The NNP or old NP, or whatever it wants to call itself, is simply disintegrating.

MS     It is, it's true it is.

POM     The DP?

MS     Picking up one or two votes there.

POM     Might get 6%.

MS     But it's not going to be very much. I think ANC will still win comfortably. Whether they will want now to jettison the concept of government of unity if they get the two thirds, we will wait and see what eventually happens there. But as I said earlier on, you can get that majority, the issue is not the number of seats you have, the issue is the economy, how do you begin to drive the economy. That is the challenge.

POM     Sorry, the issue is?

MS     To drive the economy. You can have two thirds majority, how is it going to help you to drive the economy, because the challenge of the economy, whether you have two thirds majority you still have to come and negotiate with those who have money to invest and they might also put their own terms. With a two thirds majority you need their investment, you need their money, they are going to call the shots. So as I say the issue now is the economy.

POM     So what would you tell your members? I'm one of your members and you're addressing it and you're saying?

MS     We are telling our members that we are not married to a particular political party, we look at the realistic policies of the parties and you vote according to your convictions. If you think these guys are more realistic in what they are saying you vote for them. If you don't think they are realistic you don't.

POM     But do you say the country is in for a hard grind for the next ten to fifteen years and we should remind ourselves of that, it's not going to be easy?

MS     Well we tell our guys every day that once we went into elections of 1994 the honeymoon was over, we are just like any other country in Africa today. So any party that tells you that they are going to bring this or that, some other political parties, for example these new parties, they might be talking out of ignorance. For example, you hear people saying that this government should not have paid what they call 'apartheid debt'. That's out of ignorance of course, they don't even understand how that debt was incurred in the first place because the large part of that debt is from pension funds. Now if a party stands up and says we will not pay that debt, you are telling our members that we should vote for you so that you must not pay our money. So we don't vote with these guys who are not going to pay our money.

POM     It's like vote for me and I'll take away your pension.

MS     Yes. Now either those guys are doing it out of ignorance or simply trying to play to the gallery, but it's dangerous and we are warning our members that if people that don't vote for them because they don't know what they're doing.

POM     Do you think the ANC, SACP and COSATU are sitting on their differences until after the election or that they have somehow reached an accommodation of sorts?

MS     I think they have and they will continue to reach those accommodations because as long as SACP does not have the capacity to be on its own, what alternative do they have? Well COSATU is a trade union movement, there are limitations what a trade union can do and how far it can go. You are unlike a political party that can move, trade unions can't. Trade unions by their nature are simply reformist organisations basically. So I think there's going to be a tolerance of each other within that party. Maybe their relationship might be strained but they will continue to tolerate each other for some time to come.

POM     In terms of what existed when the new government took over and in terms of what SA is today, where it was in 1994, let's put it as zero, and the best it could be if everything had gone well would be ten, where on the scale would you place where the country is?

MS     In terms of basic human rights I think we have gone far, we enjoy most of the freedoms that we didn't in the past. Our only problem now is crime and economic growth and we have got pockets of violence of course, in KZN, I think you have read about it, which is a disappointment, and the Western Cape. Except that if we had, for example, the economy right, jobs were there, we had less crime because there is no country that can say it can wipe off crime, less crime than at the level it is, I would have said we are home and dry except those, a bit of violence here and there in KZN, political tensions, crime as well as economic stagnation. In other basic freedoms we have enjoyed freedoms that we have never enjoyed before. For example, the newspapers, even SABC, I had an occasion to be in a meeting where a government minister was complaining that the SABC issued a bulletin when SA was in Lesotho, the SANDF was in Lesotho, and the government was not happy with that and they wanted the SABC to toe the line but not saying so, but to say verify your facts, these are the facts, they gave them, say these are the facts, and SABC guy said, "Fine, you've given us this but we want to verify these facts on our own", and they took all those facts, what they believed was the facts. Even those who work for the system, like SABC, they still have that independence. We don't have the Zimbabwe situation here where journalists can be held and beaten up by soldiers or the police, we don't have that. Somehow we have succeeded in that.

POM     If you were to look at the legacy of Mandela, how will he be judged?

MS     I think it depends on which side of the chair will you judge him. Different people will judge him differently. Others will judge him as a man who makes lots of compromises to white people, accommodated white people at the expense of African people. Others will judge him as a man who succeeded politically in bringing the country together, not succeeding but at least he has made his office to be accessible. He has made himself to be accessible to everybody to try to bring the country together. Also the sacrifices he made because he had to satisfy, you can't satisfy everybody all the time, but he succeeded in defusing tension in this country which could have maybe gone into civil war of some sort. He managed to defuse that situation. There is still a lot of frustration, there is still a lot of anger in a number of people. The TRC, he set up the TRC to try to deal with those things. The TRC, I am not sure whether they have succeeded in dealing with those things successfully but at least you have people who now know what happened to their relations, what happened to their beloved ones. You then have people who have come out to say it was wrong what I did and quite elderly people who took advantage of our age as youngsters, indoctrinated us to do wrong things. The sad part of it is that you have very few people, those who gave instructions, who came out to say that what we did was wrong. Those are the issues.

POM     What's happened with the TRC? You had this big brouhaha when De Klerk went to court and then the ANC went to court, disputed some of the findings of the TRC and there were 200 people I think who were named, who were told they could be liable for prosecution because they hadn't applied for amnesty. Then the whole thing the report was handed over and Mandela said we accept it with all its imperfections and then the book was closed.

MS     It's not closed because the amnesty hearings are still continuing, I don't know for how long. People are still applying for amnesty. Once that comes to an end then it means it will be up to the government of the day to decide what they want to do. If it's going to make more money for lawyers, some lawyers might start instigating people who might have a claim to make some claims.

POM     Do you realistically see the next government, because it will be the next government, a Mbeki government, saying OK I want to go ahead and prosecute Mangosuthu Buthelezi?

MS     I don't think they will want to do that because what they will want to do is to say let's find a suitable settlement rather than go back and bring the country back to strife. It would be stupid for anyone to try to say prosecute Mangosuthu Buthelezi, De Klerk or Botha or whoever.

POM     Do you see some kind of amnesty?

MS     I think there will be because they themselves, Mbeki and them, will need amnesty themselves.

POM     OK! Yes.

MS     He himself he needs amnesty so the best thing is to declare national amnesty so that everybody should not be prosecuted.

POM     Do you think that would be the best thing for the country rather than going on and on?

MS     I think for now that will be the best thing to do, is for these guys to give themselves amnesty and then they will come to reparation and try to find some suitable reparation for the people who have been affected.

     Like I said I need to leave at three, I'm sorry.

POM     Give me five more minutes.

MS     I need to rush to hospital.

POM     How will a Mbeki government differ from a Mandela government?

MS     The first difference I think is that Mbeki has to tackle head on the economic problems of the country, the niceties of bringing people together, Mandela dealt with that. So Mbeki has to tackle that there must be delivery in his government and I think he must make that apparent.

POM     Do you think, I suppose this is one of my core questions, that whites still haven't got it? In other words there's been no real acknowledgement of the wrongs done, injuries done, damage done to blacks in the past and they haven't realised that there is going to be a more drastic redistribution of income.

MS     The problem with whites, I think it's cultural, white culture is more individualistic and you see this on television, you see this in letters to the editors. Whites are looking and saying -I as an individual did not do this. Now they don't realise that the problem is not you as an individual, it is you as a community. These things were done in your name. Now as long as they perpetuate this individualistic culture they have a problem amongst themselves because if someone is going to kill a person there using state might to protect me in my name, I am benefiting out of that. If they went to schools where no-one else was allowed, they benefited, but this individualistic culture of white people to say that 'I as an individual' and as long as they look at this thing in those terms we are going to have a problem. There will continuously be a problem. If they look at this thing holistically and say these things were done in our name and they were wrong and we have to begin to correct them and as an individual I can't correct it but as a group we can correct it and find ways and means of correcting it. I think that will help but if you have to have the Tony Leons of this world who are rubbishing anything and think they know what is best for the African, that's the old Afrikaner mentality which DP is talking right now, it's not going to help us and if more of them go and vote DP they are moving into that laager, they are not getting anywhere, they are not stretching out.

POM     But they haven't made that leap yet?

MS     They haven't because they rubbish everything. If you look at the politics of Tony Leon who still believes that we must keep what we have I think whites in this country under the Mandela government are more protected and more comfortable. They haven't lost anything. They still have their schools, they still have their wealth, they still have their homes, they have their churches. What have they lost? They have lost nothing. A couple of years back I asked one guy, a friend, it was in Zimbabwe, I said, "How is Smith, how is he doing?" Ian Smith the former Prime Minister. And the guy said, "He's doing well man. He's got a second farm now. When he was Prime Minister he had one, now he's got two."

POM     Just before you walk out the door, what do you understand Mbeki's concept of the African renaissance to be?

MS     African renaissance the way I understand it, it is nothing else but a resurrection of Africa, pan-Africanism in a form where we are saying let all those who are in Africa begin to do the right things. In one speech he made he said in Africa we must revolt against dictatorship, we must revolt against people using public office to enrich themselves and we have to say in Africa that if one of us is doing wrong, Mugabe has detained his journalists, we can't say it's OK because it's Mugabe, because he's an African, we've got to point it out that it is wrong. African people must begin to say these things openly. Now it's easy for him to say that, it's easy for me to say that. In SA I can say anything. I can look at Mandela in his face and say I don't agree with you, I won't get arrested. Now in Africa people can't speak because in this day where people are still being tortured it's nonsense. That fear, we've got to get rid of it and what Mbeki's African renaissance, I agree with it, is that we begin to criticise ourselves in Africa, we begin to tell these Excellencies that you've got this overhanging belly at the expense of the poor. If money comes into the country from UN for a project, a water project, don't take money to Switzerland. You take part of your pay to Switzerland but don't take money. We must begin to criticise ourselves and we must begin to say no to wrong things that happen and we can't continuously say it's the Americans, it's the French, it's the Belgians, when it's us. In that fashion I agree with Mbeki. I think we begin to correct ourselves and acknowledge our own weaknesses as African people.

POM     We must start taking responsibility rather than blaming the past all the time.

MS     Or even the present. We must begin to say that, acknowledge our own weaknesses and our own mistakes and take measures to correct that before you blame others.

POM     OK. I'll come back.

MS     When you come back maybe we'll find time. It's only that I had this problem now. I'm sorry.

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.