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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

22 Sep 1999: Nefolohodwe, Pandelini

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PN     You know as well as anybody does then, people write about it, we are a party which has never enjoyed any substantial support because also of our principle. The whole world is governed by outlooks that are not very near our outlook and therefore it was impossible. And also some of our friends of the past, due to the fact that SA became a country of the nature that we come from 1994, many of the friends who were with us in the kind of struggle we were in also gave in to the momentum of the kind of democracy that is supposed to exist in our country and therefore funding could not come our way. However, we feel very comfortable given the circumstances I've described, that we did relatively well in the sense that we were able to get one seat in parliament. That is not what we expected, obviously, but when it goes to elections it was to win.

POM     What did you expect?

PN     We expected to get even much more than that. We expected at least, if we had failed, we had thought we would get 10% of the total vote, but when we did our assessment, given the circumstances that I described, we felt that indeed in the first place without money, that is money we raised from our own members, we didn't do very badly.

POM     So you have at least a voice in parliament even if it's a lonely voice.

PN     Yes. And in fact parliament, the issues do not really – only when voting occurs that's where it matters, but in terms of the voice, even if you are alone you can actually be a very important factor.

POM     It's more important to be a voice since the ANC has such an overwhelming majority.

PN     Yes, absolutely.

POM     Such an overwhelming majority voting – it's irrelevant.

PN     Voting is actually inconsequential. We don't consider that as part of the struggle that we have to wage in parliament.

POM     What happened in 1997 when the split occurred in AZAPO? Some of the leaders were expelled and SAWPA(?) was formed. (i) Was that a split over fundamental principle, (ii) why did it occur, and (iii) can it be patched up and should not organisations or parties like yourselves, SAWPA and even the PAC who have similar, not exactly the same, views, form a front together that would be a Black Consciousness alternative to the ANC?

PN     What occurred in 1997, we don't consider it as a split per se because what we experienced within the organisation was a matter that needed disciplinary action, just like in any other organisation. Although in politics when a matter needs a simple disciplinary action the public does not normally understand it in the context of the fact that people can go against the standing rules of a particular organisation. This occurs right across political parties in this country. The ANC have had to deal with Holomisa and discipline is discipline in terms of the constitutional principle of a particular organisation. So that is what occurred to us, that the members that are supposed to be regarded as having formed or having caused a split were in fact disciplined by our organisation and then of course after the disciplinary action was taken they did not accept the verdict and as a result, therefore, some chose to stay away from the organisation and only three people were actually expelled. The other members who later formed SAWPA were actually sympathisers of those three people. You must also notice that in any organisation a single individual can have other proportions, that is if I discipline so-and-so it means so-and-so with those that feel so-and-so is an appropriate person for whatever reason. So that is how what is regarded as a split occurred. Now there were no political differences at that stage, the newspapers I think were not correct. All what was there was that in my own context there were certain leadership problems in the sense that I believe that there are those who felt that those that were elected in certain positions were not the ones that should be holding those positions. At that level you are not dealing with principle you are just dealing with ambitions and I do not feel like you are the correct person to be in that position. And that's really what I finally came to conclude is the matter because if you had been watching the utterances of the organisation formed, SAWPA, and there has not been any political or ideological direction distinct from that of AZAPO and therefore after about five years or so you can relatively say to yourself that in fact there has not been any political or ideological difference because the difference would have been seen as the time progresses and none has occurred.

POM     For a party that's a niche party on the fringe it doesn't make sense for there to be two separate organisations representing exactly the same point of view, engaged in a way in internal disputes when their combined efforts should be directed towards building a common constituency in getting their message across.

PN     Absolutely. One would still hope that as time goes on it will gel, that in fact, that which you are saying should not be allowed to occur and one is hopeful that given the time that realisation will finally be the one that will take the day. Now this is because when leaders are differing not only on an ideological basis but on the basis that I should be this and that, one should not be that, they all aim to prove themselves that I am better than so-and-so and the only way of proving that is when elections occur and that in this respect elections have occurred and the mainstream AZAPO has relatively proved better than what is referred to as SAWPA because the mainstream AZAPO has in fact been able to be part and parcel of the parliamentary process and that by itself might act as a good catalyst in the minds of those who thought forming a new organisation means that I can prove that we are on the right track. So relatively speaking the major component, which is AZAPO, which is regarded as a split, has proved that the majority of the Black Consciousness adherents still favour AZAPO as the vehicle and perhaps that will act as a pointer to those that would want to maintain separateness. I am saying to you that my own view is that the likelihood as time goes on is that people are going to come together again. It may not be all of them who have been involved because it depends on why others formed SAWPA and there may be different agendas and I'm not here to speak on behalf of those, but those agendas will be felt when a process of amalgamation is desired.

POM     What about what I mentioned earlier of forming some kind of just broad coalition with the PAC which would also see itself as the legitimate voice of Black Consciousness? How does AZAPO view the PAC? What common ground is between you?

PN     We feel that the PAC, even including certain elements within the ANC, that we are actually more or less saying the same things about the future of our country. So this is not only a matter which relates to the PAC, it relates to all the elements in our country that are in agreement with what AZAPO has been saying. Now, we have always said to people that why we exist the way we exist is that when there is an ideology or a philosophy or a rallying point of view there needs to be those who are committed to the defence of that idea. All of the world in other struggles there have always been those that would shape the direction of those ideas because to leave the idea to be an all embracing amorphous then the ideas will not be able to proceed to the future. So while we exist as the champions of Steve Biko's Black Consciousness is because we do not want that dynamic philosophy to die because it's as relevant as anyone here in this country will tell you.

     So what has happened is that there are many people within the ANC who see eye to eye with us in terms of the direction in which we are saying we should move, save to say they are members of the ANC and therefore what the ANC does, for as long as they still want to be members, they must do. Then you will also find to a large extent more of those kinds of people within the PAC, so the existence of these people differ, or the ANC predominantly has got a certain outlook which is not very much near us and therefore what we are looking at is a body of thinking in the country irrespective of whether you are PAC, AZAPO or an element within the ANC, a body of thinking that would push the direction that we want this country to go to and if we achieve that then we don't need to be in parliament because you see parliamentary processes are only a vehicle to achieve a certain goal, otherwise the mere presence of a person in parliament does not mean anything at all - just like I was telling you that our mere presence there now it only means a voice, it doesn't mean any meaningful power that we hold and therefore power relations in terms of AZAPO are not seen only in terms of parliamentary processes, it is seen as a broader outlook that can permeate the fabric of our society and thereby moving towards a …  To some extent the renaissance espoused by Mbeki, though belatedly and also though not very much defined, I have challenged Mbeki publicly that he hasn't defined to us what he means about the renaissance and what he wants the renaissance to be, so if you want us to come to that later we will come back to it.

POM     The question is right here referring to that.

PN     I'm just saying to some extent that renaissance, it's an embodiment of some of the ideas that are within Black Consciousness. So that broadness I am talking about is what we are looking for. We are looking at our country embracing a certain outlook and direction rather than ourselves literally being in parliament. But we would like to be the government because, as I said to you just now, you've got to be in a position to make sure that that direction is implemented. So to the extent that we would want the direction to be implemented we would like to be a government, but that should not limit us to concentrate on becoming a government and hope that just merely being a government it will therefore resolve the matter of having to move your country toward - where it is more important is if the country was to agree and move towards the direction in which we want even when we are not in parliament. But we would like to be in parliament and be the ruling party because, as I say, all ideas have got to have champions and parliament is one of the vehicles, instruments, to make sure that the ideas are implemented.

POM     Just to go back a step, any party after an election which it contests, if it doesn't do very well, will try to analyse the reasons why it hasn't done as well as it expected to do and those reasons would probably fall into two categories: the reasons or causes that it had no control over, and you've referred to those as the lack of funding, the denial of voter education, you could do nothing about that, but did any kind of internal review take place? Did the leadership of AZAPO get around a table and say - gee, we expected 10% of the vote or even 5% would have been a major breakthrough and we just ended up with one seat. What did we ourselves do wrong? What have we got to correct internally, what kind of new strategies do we have to develop to get our message out?

PN     Yes, we have also done the internal audit if you were to refer to it in that respect. Now our internal audit has come to the following conclusion: (i) that we ourselves were new in a terrain that others understood best because they were in elections before us. We found that the kind of knowledge we had about the nitty-gritty of how to go about getting the electorate, we had underestimated even the question that resources matter. That's internal. We had underestimated, we had gone at the level of the general sympathy that we enjoy, which we still enjoy, and if we had gone by the general sympathy, not by the nitty-gritty of election, we would probably have done far, far better than now. But we have come to the conclusion that elections are a different terrain of practicalities so therefore we are going to get into that in the next election. Secondly, we came to the conclusion that apart from the other factors that our structures were not ready for elections. They were there but they were not themselves schooled enough on the nitty-gritty of that to the extent that in some areas our officers that had to represent parties at the polling stations, they themselves had very little knowledge about what should be done such that even if a problem occurs they would not be able to stand up and challenge what is happening there because they themselves did not have enough knowledge.

POM     So you didn't have the skills to conduct –

PN     But again that also was as a result of the fact that the IEC, it's supposed to be allocated funding by the law in order to skill party representatives.

POM     Where would you obtain the training to acquire the necessary skills that go into conducting a campaign?

PN     That will have to come from ourselves and our own resources or it would have to come from sympathetic organisations that do that. Now in America I was told that there is the national – this body which has been formed of the Democrats and the Republicans, the Republicans have got theirs and the Democrats have got theirs and they have been training parliamentary, National Democratic Institute. I used to deal with that. Now parties of that nature, sympathetic to – because they do that, but when I contacted them during the period towards election they had said that their mandate at that stage was that they should only deal with processes of making parliamentarians to understand how to deal with parliamentary matters and they were doing that and they had not been given a mandate outside parliamentary politics. But if they were, those are definitely the kinds of organisations we would go to.

POM     They conducted workshops for AZAPO people, this is the way you organise, how you do this, this is what you've got to do. You would?

PN     Absolutely. As I say that if I had my chance, and there are letters here which I wrote to them but they replied to say at that stage they didn't have funding for that activity. If they had, because I was aware that our party agents would not have the necessary – if they had then we would have used their services and we would probably have consolidated that knowledge about what was to be done. The other thing that we came to realise is that, which is very crucial, is that sympathy to a political party does not necessarily translate into a vote. So we had not planned a transition between sympathy and actual voting so we had no means to make sure that what we had seen at meetings, when you address the people to say voters - they come to your meeting, we had thought that gives us a latitude to see how far we will go but we have now internally come to the conclusion that that is not so, so there is need to be other activities of actualising the vote, including the day on which people are going to vote.

POM     Getting out the vote?

PN     Yes, yes.

POM     As the key to being successful in elections?

PN     Absolutely. And that also is tied up to resources because you've got to have your party agents and people who can be able to move around to do exactly that and those parties that had resources therefore were capable of doing that. Are you getting the point? We have gone into that and found that that was so. Yes, but there were other points that came out, the structures somewhere they were not ready and this was not – but relatively speaking, you see the arena of campaigning which is not the arena of my speeches that I do every day as and when I want, it's a different arena altogether in terms of the circumstances in which we live and that we have come to the conclusion that come next elections that is the arena we will get into. So we have got to be informed in some form, we have got to be informed, and also we've got to have the tactics and skills and strategy and skills to be able to do that.

POM     Translate potential votes into actual votes.

PN     Yes into that, and if we do that that is the end of the story and, of course, with structures. You see, as I told you, we had decided, because of lack of resources, and rightly so, that we were going to use structures rather than to use resources to run around for us. But when you have resources you don't necessarily have to have many structures because you can run around the country and you can parade your best people and that can bring you a number of votes, but structures are still necessary to consolidate the votes that are there. But because we didn't have the resources, we knew in advance, we had gone on setting up structures and relying on those structures as the consolidators of this vote. But then the structures had no skills which we have now come to analyse and conclude that we should have also gone that route, but as I said, you would need also resources. So, again, as we discussed all the other factors, it keeps on coming back to at least a minimum kind of resources that can be able to do all this. If you want skills you would have to have resources. If you want to consolidate your structures you've got to have the resources to go to these different places, you've got to make sure that they have the necessary information. Where do you get the information from? You've got to produce information in order to arm them appropriately and even if it's during elections you've got to have resources to get your party agents to be able to go to the appropriate station, feed them for the duration of the day, you've got to have some places where you will bring food from or else you hire other people. Again you go back to resources. If you want to have posters in different parts so that your visibility – so we also came to the conclusion that the fact that we didn't have resources, we were running an invisible campaign only championed through the meetings that we ourselves called. That's very, very – in fact it's not a factor at all.

POM     Would people go to the – ?

PN     For different reasons, if you say you are going to slaughter a cow someone comes there in order to eat. So that arena which we had access too, also to a limited extent because it needed resources for, say, our President to touch all the different areas which others had and they were able to into different areas of the country. Road shows they had and we couldn't have a road show because it needs also a bus or something to do that. So we relied on one, just part of the whole election, very minimum, and that is why in the final analysis, given a party which had those limitations and that party still has got a seat in parliament. You may argue in reverse and say if that party had all the other elements that the other parties had, certainly, I am quite convinced, we would have added the number in parliament – it can't be otherwise because without resources, without anything, relying only on the meetings, very few though, we were able to achieve – which means we have a lot of sympathy there and if we can make it tangible by way of planning so that it can occur, come next time we will be talking if not one third, we will probably talk much more than what we got now. So in my view that's what it is.

POM     You wouldn't have – I know especially the NDI quite well and the people in it and the work they've been doing over the years, if you had a copy of the letter, did they send you a letter?

PN     They sent me a letter.

POM     Do you have it?

PN     I don't have it here, I think it must be in our office, but they sent me a letter.

POM     Would you be able to get hold of it? If you gave it to me I will go back to them and more or less confront them and say from the beginning part of your mandate in this country has been to foster multiparty democracy and the only way you can foster multiparty democracy is by helping new parties.

PN     But you must know, let me just give you another – you must know that despite that opinion you are expressing, parties all over the world behave that way. There is no party in the world which does not have its own interest, which doesn't have interests. So the NDI if it is the Democrats they have certain interests in our country and one is not yet sure which interest in our country coincides with political party A or political party B. I am certain in my mind that for all intents and purposes the Democratic Party in your country, their national interest and their global interest –

POM     My country is Ireland. So even though I live in the United States I'm Irish. You must keep that in mind all the time.

PN     Thanks for that correction. They have an interest in respect to which party they can align with. At the moment, generally speaking, they are aligned to the African National Congress, generally speaking. We're not talking about the fact that they love democracy and they can also assist us. They can assist AZAPO to the extent that they do not interfere with their global alignment. If you take the Conservative Party of Britain it has had a conference just recently, I was reading in the newspaper, and who was there? The Nationalist Party of this country, Marthinus van Schalkwyk. Now it shows you that despite the fact that when the Conservative Party comes into power it might find AZAPO here in power but they will always be more favourable to a party that sees eye to eye in terms of their programmes and objectives. So we are satisfied that in America at the moment we have no real friends except the extra-parliamentary organisations around that country. But in terms of those parties that are governing it is not yet in our line and they know it also.

POM     Among the pro-American organisations –

PN     There are a lot of those kind, but what I'm describing is that when countries are ruled by a certain party, these parties also link with each other for purposes of their own global existence. For instance, our country here at one stage or the other they had to forgo Taiwan in favour of mainland China. They just took a decision that they are not worried about Taiwan because also they want to go into the various alignment for other power purposes in the world. So I am quite satisfied with the manner in which they replied. I don't agree with it but I am satisfied with the manner given what they wanted to do. Because when they said to me that their mandate is to deal with parliamentary parties, I couldn't doubt that that was their mandate because they wanted to increase the capacity of how the ruling party they are aligned to should control parliamentary processes which is their major objective. To train AZAPO, an extra-parliamentary political party, in terms of the American government, it wouldn't be a matter which they could concentrate on, though that very matter goes against the grain of promoting democracy. This is what we have been saying to the ruling party here, that you can't say you are a multiparty democracy and go and allocate money only to parties that are in parliament and you are therefore just saying whoever hasn't entered the process the first time we went in must never come. So you are actually in other words closing doors for those parties that still need to come, bearing in mind in 1994 all parties that were in the election were actually funded.

POM     So things have gone backwards.

PN     It's a sort of a punishment in democracy that why did you take a decision not to be with us in 1994 and therefore we punish you for having taken a democratic decision not to participate, because it's a democratic decision not to participate, but they go and pass a law which punishes you for not agreeing. It happens in many instances that -

POM     So you see the ANC in that sense being practitioners of the politics of exclusion rather than the politics of inclusion?

PN     Absolutely, in terms of these democratic processes. They are going against the grain of the very constitution they are operating under.

POM     They have not in the last four or five years taken measures or passed legislation that would make it easier to develop a multiparty democracy which the constitution calls for?

PN     Absolutely. In fact they wouldn't go that route. There are other reasons why they wouldn't go that route. One reason is politics, that they are grappling with the politics of the past that we were oppressed and the politics of the future that they believe they are the only ones who can bring the future. You see this in their way of doing things, their way of appointments, their way of doing this or that. You can see that what they want to do, they want to be in a position to control the affairs because they believe that they have got a duty to usher in something better, but what they forget is that they are not alone in wanting to usher in something better and that they have got to democratise that process so that other players who also want to usher in something better can also participate. So they are preoccupied with having to deny parties of the past, the oppressive parties, a free ride because they believe that it interferes with the process of transformation. Nothing wrong with that but in the process of doing so they then go into a mechanism which then excludes other parties which are not  themselves participating in the process of bringing that very change, which is like AZAPO. Now we are accusing them for that. For instance, they even went further, I forgot to mention this, that the public broadcaster, the SABC, they had even gone further to place their own activists and people, they surrounded it at top level position with members and supporters of the ANC, barring one or two, with the hope that they will also be able to control that. In fact they went to influence the IBA, the Independent Broadcasting Commission, of which the chairperson is an ANC activist. They influence it to come with regulations during the time of the elections. What I was saying is that they even went to the extent of influencing the IBA to come up with regulations that stipulated that the time slots parties will get during elections at the SABC will also be determined by the number of votes they got in 1994, in proportion to the votes. That then meant that the ANC would still have more time on TV. We then argued that what about us whom you cannot measure in terms of the 1994 election because you don't know exactly what AZAPO would have got so how are you going to consider us? They said that will be a decision they can take internally and they finally took a decision and we were allocated certain time and there was nothing we could do about it.

POM     The IBA took that decision?

PN     Yes, and finally they took the decision that they are going to allocate AZAPO so much time and whether we wanted it otherwise it would not work but their operative strategy was that the other parties that were in parliament would get the time slots in relation to the votes they got. So right through, as I said, the ANC had manipulated through its strategy to be able to get more time, more money, more resources. You must also remember that they had more resources anyway, even if we had a situation where it was said that every party was going to receive equal amounts from parliament and equal time slots, let's say we had gone that route, the ANC would still be getting more time, more resources because when you are the incumbent government and you are supposed to travel from A to Z, being a minister of the past government or being the President or the Deputy President, you still use the machinery of the state to do so, you don't all of a sudden throw away the cars and the other vehicles and you go in your party vehicle. You don't all of a sudden throw away the security that is paid for by the state and go in another vehicle. You don't all of a sudden not use the telephones and the other facilities in your office. Now that's the general thing that occurs. So in any event despite the fact that they had allocated themselves these mammoth facilities, they still had facilities of the state just like any party that is getting out of power.

POM     The African renaissance, (i) what do you understand Mbeki to mean by an African renaissance, (ii) what relationship does it have to Black Consciousness, and (iii) and I'm using this as a kind of a barometer, where would William Magkoba fit on the spectrum of African renaissance and Black Consciousness?

PN     We understand the African renaissance as an idea that was propagated by Du Bois, that great thinker, he's the one who more or less came up with the African renaissance and later he was echoed by other leaders of Africa like Patrice Lumumba, Ngwamengu, Julius Nyerere and the others, which idea was meant to consolidate the continent of Africa to bring the people of Africa together, to let them act together and even to the extent of getting one united Africa, the United States of Africa, and one parliament and other things that relate to the unity of the African people. Now when Mbeki came in and talked about the African renaissance he did not define whether this is a new concept or it is the old concept which he wants to practice because if he does so, therefore, he would then have gone backwards to go and agree with the first leader of the Pan Africanist Congress, Mangaliso Sobukwe, because the split between the ANC and the PAC was, amongst others, related to African nationalism and this idea of one continent, one Africa. So if he had defined it we would probably have seen where he does differ with the people that his organisation split with in the first place. We would also have seen where he does differ with Black Consciousness because Black Consciousness as espoused by ourselves embraces the same views as those of Du Bois, Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba and other African leaders that are calling for this kind of African unity. So he would have to define that as an ANC person who for many years had not favoured ideas such as this, where do we place him now? And this is the challenge that we have put time and again to him: please define so that we can understand where you want to go. If we find that you are going in the same direction that we have preached before, we say welcome to the family. Politically, I suppose, he is not wanting to define, that is why in fact he has been overtaken by Gadaffi, Muamar Gadaffi has overtaken him because he has concretised the ideas as they were propagated by Du Bois and others before. It's not a new thing altogether insofar as the Black Consciousness Movement is concerned. We found it there and we just supported it and consolidated it and if indeed he is coming to consolidate those ideas we say, yes, come back, come to the fold because that's what we stand for.

POM     Gadaffi - did AZAPO send any representatives or were able – ?

PN     We were not able to because that meeting was actually a meeting of African states and therefore our government here would have been the ones who were supposed to represent us. But on September 12th I made a statement at the commemoration service of Steven Bantu Biko, I made a statement in support of the efforts of that meeting.

POM     Do you have a copy of that speech?

PN     It was just verbal, it wasn't written down. The SABC had a recording of that so it was just a public meeting where I was speaking where I did say that we support the efforts of Muamar Gadaffi in relation to this concept of one Africa, one parliament and the defence of an African state where all of us can converge and become one, because there are lots of advantages for this. One of the advantages is that we will no longer have people who will deal with us separately.

POM     Would it be modelled more along the lines of the European Union or the Economic Community where you have sovereign states and then you have the European parliament and European commissioners and relationships between what the European Commission does in relation to Europe, so it's more like a federal structure, or would there be a single African parliament? Would Africa have a single African parliament with 56 different countries and so many different parties in each of the countries?

PN     Obviously that is a matter which in the proposal that was made by Muamar Gadaffi, he kept that open. It's a matter which even ourselves from the BCM would not want to pronounce on. Obviously we may have our own views as to how it must be structured. We must take into consideration that so many years of colonialism and so many years of neo-colonialism and so many years of the sufferings of our people and the wars that are on in some of the African states, those circumstances should be taken into consideration in bringing about a united African kind of set up. So we will be open and obviously it will be dictated upon by the material conditions. There will be similarities obviously with other such coming together but one would not want to say we want this kind or that kind because you are uniting many people and once you start saying we want this, I want that, you actually again destroy the very purpose of unity. Unity means that you must accept the diversity of the many other participants that are there, but we are agreed with the concept that something must be worked on, just like the European Union we agreed with the concept that they must have one single currency. Britain is still saying they do not want to be party to that single currency but for all intents and purposes many have now come to embrace that concept. We would also want to go the same way of caucusing this thing so that gradually we end up with the majority of the leaders and the peoples of Africa agreeing – not that we won't have others who may not agree but it's a process which might take more than even ten years to achieve because this is not like – If AZAPO, as SAWPA for instance, what more if you are uniting states which have got leaders with ambitions and other things of their own, others have got dealings with people not of Africa who also have a stake. So you've got so many stakeholders. Even the EU is a stakeholder in the sense that it wanted to be as powerful as it can be in order to have relations with weaker ones for that matter, so as soon as we say we also want – they are also going to play an influencing role to those states that they have had influence on. And not only them, America is also going to come in. For instance America in Africa alone does not deal with everybody. It has got certain states that are – when President Clinton was here you could see which ones are aligned and Americans would want to visit because that visit showed you the kinds of people that America is still happy with. Then you go to France, in France you will find also it has got the kind of people it wants to be happy with. Then you get China also will come in. So those kinds of influences will play a part but the ideas are what AZAPO and the BCM as a whole would support any day.

     But, let me come back to Thabo Mbeki. If he wants the African renaissance to have meaning when he defines it we would want to know what is its immediate meaning to the people of our country. It's one thing to have a global idea but that global idea must be reduced to the well-being of – otherwise what is the use of belonging to an African state if we can't see that flowing to enhance the lives of the South Africans. Now Black Consciousness does that: it starts from the premise that we have to be proud of what we are and be proud of our country and we have to be united to defend the integrity of our country and united in the sense that we have to open up the doors of the democratic process so that everybody can be involved. Thabo Mbeki still has to reduce that to the unity of all of us, including AZAPO which he must first define. Where does he place AZAPO, PAC and the other parties that fought with him in order to bring about democracy? Until such time as he answers that then his African renaissance of just linking up with the rest of Africa cannot have meaning to the rest of us. So he has got spadework to do to make sure that the quality of the unity of the people of this country, of those who want transformation, it's actualised.

     I do not know whether that is his outlook because that is the outlook of the BCM. If we were in power, for instance, we would recognise the fact that there are those that we fought against and we would recognise the fact that amongst those we fought against there are good people, men and women, who would also want to be part of the new society and we will recognise those and pull them into bigger pool of creating a new society and we would not bother whether you come from PAC, ANC or so-and-so provided that you are able to live by the ideas of transformation and creating a new society wherever you come from. But we will also take cognisance of the fact that there are elements which are not prepared to move towards the new society and therefore we would have to deal with those appropriately and we would pass laws that makes racism to be an offence so that we can move these other brothers and sisters who do not want to move so that when we punish them for continuing to practice what they used to enjoy then we would hope that as time goes on they will fall in line. So that is how we would have structured it, we would not necessarily say the ANC must have a foothold all over or AZAPO must have a foothold all over because society in our view is not moved that way.

POM     Just a couple more questions, I don't want to take up your whole morning. One is the PAC had made a request of Lekota that the soldier who killed the white officers at Temba base be given a military funeral and Lekota turned it down. Do you think that that soldier should have been given a military funeral?

PN     No, under the circumstances no, because there is just one reason for that, to kill another person irrespective of what you thought about and there has never been any justification for anybody, irrespective of the politics, to kill another person, to take someone's life. So that general principle should apply and it mustn't be applied because he happened to come from the liberation movement, it must just apply because we are all human beings. So human beings, we are saying, there is a general principle, we don't even need Lekota to agonise with that. Anybody who takes other people's lives, whatever the reason may have been, we are all supposed to have those reasons, sometimes very bitter, unless it is a declared war recognisable within the international community like when we were in war here against apartheid we went to the broader world community to justify why we should engage in certain activity, because of the general rule otherwise we would also have been found to have committed atrocities. Now if you are just there at the army base there is no war, you are just another officer there, there are people who look after you, they may have been out of order, that will be found later by the commission, but even if they were out of order you had no right to decide on your own to correct by killing other people. So insofar as we are concerned that's how the matter should be resolved, not on any political dictum.

POM     Very, very quickly, why has the government been unable to win or get control of the 'war on crime' and what would AZAPO's suggestion be that is a prerequisite for the government gaining the upper hand?

PN     Our suggestions are found in our election manifesto. The suggestion we put is, (i) anybody who has committed serious crimes, amongst others is rape, murder and other such kind of crime, violent crime, would not in AZAPO's government be given bail, but in order to compensate for the bail issue the cases will be speeded up so that it doesn't matter whether you were given bail or you were not given bail, you will still go through a speedy trial so that we can find whether you are guilty or not, you mustn't turn back and say you wasted my time.

POM     You have to have a police force that can prepare –

PN     Yes, you've got to have a team which deals with those kinds of crimes because you are not allowing bail so that their right to bail cannot be infringed too much. You mustn't have a situation where a person stays for five years or two years in jail waiting for his trial and later gets acquitted. So you must have a limitation of time by putting stringent regulations and a team of people when such a crime occurs they sit on it, process quicker, but that person must never be – so the right to bail will be minimised by AZAPO.

     Once you have done that we have suggested that apart from just doing that you must then remove all guns from society. The only people who must carry guns are the law enforcement people. Even them, we are suggesting, that you must also go into them and check which ones are prepared to go the transformation route very carefully so that you can be able to get rid of elements there who would still carry guns and give those guns to hooligans. We have had policemen being found with hooligans at banks. We have had situations when there were bank robberies that part of the contingents are policemen using their official rifles. So those elements must be removed from carrying guns and be chucked out of the law enforcement. Therefore, train your law enforcers so that they can understand the new order and that's a process that must be done and train them properly so that in the long run you have people who understand that they are there to protect every person in society. Now that's what we are proposing: guns must be removed from civilians and this society must just be protected by the law enforcement agencies because why we are saying so is that once guns are in society then what it means is that elements that are against society are themselves armed to the teeth. Now if you remove that there is a consequence which is going to occur, a very big consequence, the gun manufacturers and gun dealers. It's a consequence you have to take that their business is no longer going to be there because the law enforcement people don't buy guns from the dealers, they buy from other governments and we store them. So that whole business in our country would have to disappear.

     The last suggestion we have made was that there are so many violent incidents on TV, films that our children grow up seeing, and we are saying that that also must be controlled. We don't want to go into a question of really censorship, everything must be removed, because that also can tamper with rights of people, but we must be able to make sure that our children are not exposed to things that make them tomorrow the way they behave and therefore also the toy industry, we are suggesting, will also have to get rid of the toy guns. Now that's how far we stand and we think that if that is done then society will relatively be at home.

     But we are also suggesting that when that is done it must not be a responsibility of the SA government. The SA government must also talk to the neighbouring states. We are one in some organisation which has been formed for the Southern African states here, SADEC, so the SADEC component must also be convinced that they do the same which means that you are trying to ward off guns right across your borders. So Mozambique follows, Swaziland follows, so all what we need to do now is to guard those criminals who would want to bring guns into our society and that we can do. We have got men and women who could be trained to get that and they are already there anyway and their job now is just to make sure that no guns must be infiltrated into any of the countries that have signed such an agreement and we believe that that process, if it was done throughout the world, which is a mammoth task, you will end up having a peaceful world. But that's where the problem lies because the gun manufacturers of the world have gone into buying themselves into governments and it will be very difficult to tell them not to do that.

POM     Three last quick things: how would you assess the Mandela presidency?

PN     I would assess Mandela's presidency as a very important one for our country. AZAPO had been critical about Mandela's way of doing things here and there, we have got a democratic right to do so and we have said so from time to time. But if you want now to close up a chapter on a person it is unlike the critical areas that we had, you want to see how the person has performed relatively given the material circumstances which prevailed and I can say that Mandela performed extremely well. One, he was a leader of patience, very patient, who could interact with enemies and friends without showing the distinction that today he is interacting with enemy A and this is a friend. So he kept his integrity in relation to making things happen. Also he was able to balance the anger of those that had been oppressed and those that were oppressors. He balanced the anger in such a manner that we were able to move from A to another point. That's not an easy thing to do. Thirdly, in his era he had no choice but to propagate a situation where the conflicting pockets of power would not consolidate themselves into destructive power, if I were to put it that way, and he succeeded in doing that. There were a lot of pockets of differing powers for various reasons which wanted to find room to do disruptions, to justify, but he was able to keep that quite well. The only thing that he was not able to succeed on, obviously every policy has got consequences, you lose and you win on some of these things, is that he was not able to deliver tangible, material and life building things to the poor communities actually. He was not able to deliver those things that matter because he was preoccupied with this which I told you.

     Now the era which Mbeki is in must now, if he was to be successful, must now be focused on those promises. Mandela had promised but he was never able to get into those because he was trying to balance the many pockets of power that could be disruptive and also introducing our country and the rest of the world so that people can come to know us best. He was very successful in making us to be known. That is why in fact, if you have checked, his image is not disappearing. In fact many people would rather deal with him than with Mbeki. The business community here at the moment it's going around the country delivering schools with Mandela and I have been saying to my colleagues that's unfair to the new incumbent because the business community is supposed to be co-operating with the government of the day but they have decided they are co-operating with the leader called Mandela as an individual and they have been pouring money into his kitty, they even have a Mandela Foundation now to do those kinds of things. Also the delivery now, it's still being done by a past President. That is the extent to which his influence is with us, that will be with us for a long time and if he doesn't disappear or die within the five years Mbeki is in trouble, very deep trouble because he will never be able to build up his own image. It's impossible to break an image with Mandela.

     That is why I told you the last time that even with AZAPO, I told you the last time in my interview, that the only problem we had had was that here is a leader who is respected by everyone and who are you to stand up and start challenging a man of such integrity? Clinton had a problem wanting to challenge Mandela as well, but Clinton is supposed to lead the most powerful states but Mandela overruns that despite the fact that Mandela doesn't have a very powerful country. It is just because his image and his stature, nobody can surpass that. Also you must know that he is a man who came at the time when the world wanted to get rid of one of the most diabolic systems, almost equal to that of Hitler, and any leader who comes to free people out of that system relatively speaking would also be in the same vein as Mandela. If it had been myself I would probably be enjoying the same stature as Mandela, depending on, of course, what I would have done after that. So it is a stature which he himself also got from the material circumstances under which his presidency operated. So that's really the upshot I can give you about Mandela.

POM     The major priority facing the Mbeki government?

PN     The major priority facing him is delivery of the basic necessities, things that make life which are not measured by the GDP. The GDP does not measure the extent to which the country has been able to usher in a new society. You see the new society must be felt, and I am going to describe how it must be felt. It must not be in books. Let me give you an example. There is in our constitution the freedom, everybody is equal in front of the law, now you've got equality to be treated equally by the laws of the country. Now you take just one, and also there are fundamental rights that are in our constitution, one of the fundamental rights is that I have a right to work but that right to work is not practical because I cannot practise it because there are no jobs, but I know that the constitution says I've got a right to work but I would not be able to have that right because there are less jobs and also the government does not create jobs. The people who create jobs are those who are rich, who have the money to create and also they have got a right not to create a job also in terms of our constitution, they are not forced to create the job. I also have a right to a job so there is a conflict in the delivery of what is enshrined in the constitution. The constitution is plausible but if you want to deliver that which the constitution says it's almost impractical. For instance, let me give you another example, I want to go to the Constitutional Court because someone has infringed on my rights by being racial to me, it's my right so that they can say what they say about this action that has infringed on my rights, but I am just an ordinary person who is not working. How do I access the constitution? I've got the Constitutional Court, I can't access it, I can't walk there and say I've brought a matter here. They will say no, you've got to have legal defence, you've got to phrase it in the manner that reaches us. I have no access to that machinery that makes me to defend my rights even at the highest court. So I am just giving you – and I can give you a lot of examples. So a society which is unable to bring those things nearer to its own people, things that must be felt, has not reached the stage where it can be proud.  So, Mbeki's problem is whether he will bring some degree of that which I am talking about, not entirely but some degree of bringing all these deliverables nearer to the ordinary persons.

POM     Now, let me ask you the final question for your final comment: why would you not say that HIV/AIDS is the major problem facing the country? I just came from the conference in Lusaka, the figures are astounding, 22 million people in Africa alone infected, 11 million already killed from the disease. Last year it killed two million people, more than were killed in all the wars in every part of Africa. SA has now the unique distinction of being the country that has the highest rate of growth of infections, 15 new infections on a daily basis. It's going to cut life expectancy by 15 years by the year 2010, young people in whom you make an investment in education are going to be dead in their twenties. Why does that never crop up on anybody's agenda as being the most important challenge the country is facing since it's not just epidemic proportions now, it's almost plague-like proportions?

PN     Let me tell you one thing, we in AZAPO would see that as a threat to the existence of our people. There is no doubt, we will see that as a threat, the AIDS epidemic will be a threat to all of us. But it is not only a threat to SA it's a threat to the whole world.

POM     But most of it's concentrated sub-Sahara.

PN     Because that we now interact with the world so that even if the world was to make it a South African concentration it will not still serve the interest of the world if the world does not take up the challenge of this AIDS epidemic. I am just wanting to make sure that you see where we come from. People are localising the problem. The problem of AIDS cannot be localised because when it started SA was not affected much. It's a world matter, it moves, now its concentration is SA. This concentration might move to another country as the world starts to interact. So the reality here is that people who produce drugs in the world are themselves not controlled. The governments of the world are not able to take steps, particularly powerful governments like America and others, who have influence in the world. They are not able to take a stand, which stand must merely make sure that the resources that are in the world are put together and the scientists that are in the world are put together with an appropriate funding. Human beings are capable of developing cures I am quite convinced. What is happening is that the drug manufacturing companies have had influences in legislation of different countries to such an extent that they are the only ones that are left to develop a cure.

     Now let me tell you something that has really, I'm not a doctor but I've come to learn from doctors, that, for instance, we can develop a cure for high blood pressure. The people who are in the fraternity they believe it can be done but it is left in the hands of the drug manufacturers. They have developed drugs that you are given up until you die and they are satisfied because for you to take those drugs every day brings more money to them so they are not in the habit of deciding to develop a drug that you can be given and in five months you are cured because then where will they make money? So the world which is a capitalist world is there to sit around, to manipulate even, such that they will always gain.

     So I am saying that in fact that problem of SA is huge. For instance, some of our scientists, you must have heard, they were trying to develop certain kinds of drugs but the scientific this, the scientific that, made that whole process to be discontinued. It was done here in Pretoria, there were some scientists, Virodene I think they call it or something, they were developing something here and they wanted it to be tested but the whole machinery of drug producing and things can just embrace all that you have, so that you can't go any further.

     AZAPO does in fact regard the AIDS epidemic as a very threatening matter, just like syphilis. When syphilis hit the world it started this way and many people died, many, many people died, and finally some cure was found. But the world must sit down. For instance if everyone, in my own way, if I were having the power like some of the powerful nations, I would actually go to the extent of putting up scientists. There are scientists whom we can pay very well in order to do just one thing, combine them together, pay them and say we want something to come out so that they can do a number of tests and experiments. In fact the experiments have moved quite nearer a cure. We are not very far but these things are not done as a concerted effort of the world. They are done because in America we have got some interested professors and scientists and in SA we have got someone in Stellenbosch and the government has not even put resources so that Stellenbosch must be able to do those things. They leave Stellenbosch to raise funds wherever. Now we are leaving this epidemic too much in the hands of ordinary scientists who themselves do not have much resources and it's a good thing that we do have men and women who without resources they still want to study to find out how to cure AIDS. Now that's just by mere luck. We need a programme which sets up experiments in order to discover a cure.

POM     One of the complaints in Lusaka where they said 42 African countries were represented because it was only concerned with AIDS in Africa, not a single head of state turned up. Chiluba didn't even attend, he was supposed to open the conference. Now it turned out that his Minister for Local Government died in the Morningside Clinic here in Johannesburg on the day the conference opened and his body was flown back to Lusaka. At the airport there were military ceremonies and Chiluba cut them short and had his body transported to his home, services were private, there was a black out on any kind of information as to what caused his death, with a lot of speculation of course. So when I got back here, because I had suspected along with many others, he had died from AIDS. Now do you not think that if Chiluba had gone to that conference and opened it by saying that I have just come from the airport to receive the body of one of my closest friends, 49 years of age, brilliant man who may have been destined to be my successor, who died of AIDS. AIDS affects us all no matter how powerful we are or how poor we are, he could have had a powerful impact.

PN     That is the extent to which governments of the world, that thing I was talking to you about, are involved in. There is no seriousness from governments of the world. They haven't seen it as part of their duty because most of these guys who are in governments, despite the fact that one or two of them may die of it, are relatively not feeling the pinch because they have facilities and back-up even when they are sick. So the extent to which the epidemic affects all of us in society is not the same degree but again the problem is also that the ordinary poor people are not aware in the same sense that scientists and all of us are aware that there is something which is being transmitted on a daily basis. Why? It's because poor people all over the world are preoccupied on a daily basis with the means for livelihood, they are not preoccupied with seminars, conferences, dissertations and other investigative matters. They are preoccupied with the next meal, the next shelter, next clothing, the next water, next sanitation. They are surrounding and their day to day activities are such that if they do not attend to these things, which to me are minor because I've got a house secured, I travel by car every day to and from my work and if my child gets sick he goes on medical aid, so there is no preoccupation in finding the little money to cater for these basic necessities. Now poor communities are like that and that is why the spread of AIDS is more prevalent in poor communities than ever because they have no time to actually be able to analyse the extent to which they are dying from the disease. Even when a person has died they will talk about it but they will not preoccupy themselves with events that make them curtail the activities that brings AIDS because they have no time, because there is an existence, life, and life is formed out of you having to get the next meal, the things that keep you so that we can see you tomorrow. It is not AIDS that you will be worried about on a daily basis if you are an ordinary person. So that is the problem we have and that is why I'm saying we who are able to see the extent of that, we are responsible for having to bring about a cure because even if a cure is there the ordinary person again, because he's preoccupied with these things that I have told you, will not even be able to afford to get that AZT, he's not able to afford it. So we, the manufacturers and the governments, we have made it impossible even to cure because then we are responsible for bringing the medicine to those people free. It must be free of charge because no-one who is preoccupied with feeding their child and the shelter and things that I have described will be worried about putting aside some little money which can afford R400 a day. It's impossible because the life itself, maintaining life is less than R400 a day, that is the money that a person can collect in order to be seen tomorrow standing. It's actually far less than the money which must be allocated so he can't live alone on the drug, so he says to hell with whatever they are saying, I'm going to live for tomorrow and I'm collecting these little cents at my Spaza here, at my pavement here in order to live. So it is again backwards, government and the rich who must see to it that the world does not become what we see it's becoming.

     Now to convince the governments and the rich it's a very difficult task, that's why Chiluba had no reason to see it the way you are seeing it. Other people will see it that way but he is preoccupied with burying his colleague because that is the nature of a status in society. You know society is a very difficult thing, it is the nature – the activities of that status, that class of people in society also preoccupies them with something that an ordinary person is not preoccupied with. In society the classes that are there have got preoccupations and that's where the cornerstone of this matter lies. It's the preoccupation of the various societal matters. Mbeki when he goes to America, he's preoccupied with matters of state and governing and that will be his right through up until he gets out of that and the matters of AIDS, even when he's sitting with Clinton, it can just come on a speech because it's of public concern. We only bring it in a speech when it's related as of public concern, and what is that public? The public it's our newspaper reporters and the TV people who are also of a central class, so that is what is public, it's not what is happening there down at the – and that is why we are not able, it's increasing because where it is happening it's where the newspapers are not able to go because they are also preoccupied with this class of people who are called reporters and they have come to their sourcing of information in a way that never reaches the ordinary person at a squatter camp.

POM     OK, thank you ever so much for your time. I love talking to you.

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.