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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

01 Feb 1999: Camerer, Sheila

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SC     So how have you been?

POM     Actually I've been quite ill this trip, a very bad stomach bug. I've been out for two weeks. I intend to come back at the end of March and stay through April.

SC     Through the election campaign?

POM     Or tie people down before the election campaign gets into full swing and then come back for the elections and then stay till September.

SC     When do you think the election is going to be? What do they tell you?

POM     Well you're the first politician that I've seen but it would seem that that depends to a degree on what happens with the court case.

SC     It's a matter of whether they let all the IDs or not.

POM     If you lose the case you'll appeal it, so that will delay things.

SC     Yes. But they're in trouble I think with this bar-code stuff because people aren't registered. The ones who are not are the young because they don't have their bar-coded IDs yet; the older ones do. Nobody wants to go and queue, older black people.

POM     Didn't the HSRC survey indicate that one group that was under-represented in terms of having bar-codes were whites?

SC     Well it's whites and coloureds, adults, older people in the Northern and Western Cape.

POM     Why whites? Why would they not have them?

SC     Why? Because they have their old IDs and black people all got their IDs after 1986 when they introduced the bar-codes.

POM     So I'm an older white person, if I listen to the radio, I read the newspapers, I see it says you've got to have a bar-coded ID?

SC     But I won't go and queue because Home Affairs is so blimming inefficient to go and get your certificate, to apply for a bar-coded ID is a hassle, so the hassle factor basically is a lot of them have opted out and said why worry at all, why vote, it's useless, the ANC is going to get in. That's what we're up against.

POM     So you're up against you're fighting for the right, in a way, in part, for your own constituency which is too apathetic to go out and get a bar-coded ID but you then hope that if you get over that hurdle, if that's dropped, then their apathy will drop and they will come out and vote.

SC     They will go and register but to have a two-phased approach that you've first got to go and get the right ID and then go and register is a bit much for some people. Endlessly one sits at dinner parties and people say the hassle factor, they tried, they hung around in the queue for ages, they've actually applied, they never received their ID, they wonder if it will ever come to them in time to register, endless tales of woe. But I understand that a lot of the younger black people haven't bothered, (a) it's apathy or they're not interested in adult pastimes and stuff, but (b) they haven't got the bar-coded ID either so they haven't gone and applied and got it and they certainly don't want to go and stand in a queue and fiddle around with Home Affairs and documentation, not to mention finger printing. I think it might cut both ways in the end.

POM     So to get it you have to go to Home Affairs and they take your fingerprints and they put you through a process and you fill out the forms.

SC     Have your fingerprints taken and then you wait. You get a certificate and that enables you to go and register in the meantime, and then you hope for the best that you will eventually have your ID.

POM     If on election day you have your certificate but you do not have your bar-coded ID?

SC     You'll probably be admitted to vote I think, provided you've got that sticker or some sort of a sticker from them which I presume they put on the certificate then to say that you have registered. I have the right ID and you get a sticker in your book to say you've registered so you can prove you have, so you probably need a combination I should think. In other words you can manufacture certificates.

POM     Have you a bar-coded ID?

SC     Yes.

POM     You stood in a queue?

SC     No. In those days it was all very easy, I did it ages ago, years ago.

POM     What's happening with the NNP?

SC     Well we got a new name. Anyway, look, you talked about 'our' constituency being apathetic and not registering, I think it's mainly the DP's constituency because I don't think we've got many white supporters left up here anyway, they've all gone to the DP.

POM     So who is your constituency?

SC     Well it's across the board. According to the polls have you seen the latest polls about who supports us? I think it's 47% white still and it's 15% black, it's 11% Indian and the rest are coloured, 30 something percent. We have quite a spread.

POM     It's a spread but on a diminishing base.

SC     Yes. Well, no. It's a little bit unclear, it's difficult to know what to believe poll-wise because there are a few givens; we have a leader who doesn't seem to appeal to the public according to those polls. I think you've seen those statistics but I'll recite them anyway, so we don't have Mr de Klerk around who is very popular still among certain people. Last November when we hit rock bottom, 9% I think they were giving us, we were between 9% and 11% depending on the poll in November 1993, and at this stage before the election we are about the same as we were then. Basically these polls don't get into the rural areas, they're all urban based because it's easier and where they claim they are rurally based as well in fact I think the rural percentage of the people that are questioned is lower than they let on. We got up to 20% in the election, 20.2% and they were giving us more or less the same percentage as we have now, then.

POM     De Klerk in the week before the election was projecting that the NP would get 30%.

SC     35% yes and we got 20.2%. But in November 1993 and in fact to January, that period, we were given 11.5% or something. It was even down at 9% at one stage which is clearly our core support that can be found in an urban orientated poll. So there's hope in a sense that we may get more than what they're giving us now, 11.5%. Laurie Schlemmer gives us 13.5%.

POM     I suppose what strikes me is that you speak with an optimistic attitude that, well, we were at 11% in 1994

SC     Don't put words in my mouth!

POM     - and we bounced up to 20%.

SC     Well I said there are grounds for hope.

POM     The same bounce probably, may, might occur again?

SC     Well I doubt the same bounce will occur but it might be better than it appears now.

POM     But what grounds are there for believing that? Every day there are defections. You pick up the newspaper, any newspaper, and in the Western Cape you seem on the verge of just disintegrating in terms of the way people are crossing over, joining both the ANC and the DP.

SC     Well they haven't yet. The ones that are meant to join, I mean Peter Marais and Patrick McKenzie haven't actually left yet. Well one doesn't know. I suppose they're nibbling on the base maybe. That's what seems to be happening. Can I just get to my notes because I was given a briefing the other day?

     (Tape switched off)

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.