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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

08 Dec 1999: Mokaba, Peter

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POM     As we start this interview let me make the first correction. We're in Wendywood which belongs to the Sandton sub-structure.

PM     The metropolitan sub-structure.

POM     Well this has been my seventh or eighth year interviewing you and I hope this is the last one, at least in connection with this book, and the next time it's a social occasion on which we meet. Could you review maybe those years, the tumultuous changes that have taken place both in your own career, in the country, and what's your assessment of where the country has come from in pre-liberation days to where it is today and what kind of challenges face it in the future?

PM     Well I think what I can say about the period and the review, eight years since just before we came into power, when we came into power under Mandela, until now, I could say that the country as a whole has moved in a general positive direction. The normal thing is that people talk about and are experiencing issues like the fact that we no longer have formal apartheid although we have the legacy of the apartheid, dealing with issues of poverty and unemployment and trying to grapple with whether or not we can establish a strategy to actually resolve these issues because we don't have the strategies yet of resolving unemployment, resolving the issues of poverty as yet, but we are trying every day as a government and as a people to try and address these basic concerns of our nation. We have achieved a situation of increasing peace in Natal, KwaZulu-Natal, we have normalised quite a number of areas which were in upheaval during the apartheid days but it will be an exaggeration to say that everything now is really normalised and we have a normal situation, a normal society. We don't.  The divide between white and black is still very, very huge. As I've already pointed out it is not as a result of any law, it is the result of culture, tradition, as a result of the way things happened in history where now you have the poor being black and the rich being white and where the government is supported mostly by the poor  and the whole society. The whites are still bickering as to whether or not they should put their vote to support the current government which is a black government.

POM     You said two things, just to get more than one question in, because I know how you can talk. You said, one, that the government has not as yet developed strategies to deal with unemployment and poverty. After five and a half years isn't that a fairly decent interval to give a government to come up with a strategy, particularly to alleviate joblessness? The second part is that you have the emergence of a quite affluent black middle class which is necessary for the development of any economy, but you also have this phenomenon of a growing gap between what the top 20% of black wage earners are making and what's at the bottom of the pile, which are the unemployed and the masses. So it's like there are two elements of disparity because now you've got the disparity between black and white and you've got the disparity between those who are making it in the new dispensation, either in entrepreneurial positions or in government or whatever, and those who are still left in the squatter camps and the informal settlements.

PM     No, on the issue of the strategy what maybe I should highlight properly here is that there are ideas, there are programmes that we tried to put in place but we have not solved the problem. We have brought in massive housing and water schemes and so on. They have created temporary jobs. They have not resolved the unemployment problem. That is why the question is always what is the best strategy to resolve it? And once you resolve unemployment then you've attended to the issues of poverty. I know, personally I would say that as long as property rights are still divided between black and white, that you have the majority and these rights controlled by the whites who do not support the government generally, there's no way in which blacks, even if they support the government, and they do, are going to be able to create these jobs.

POM     As long as the property rights - ?

PM     Yes, it has concentrated a lot of capital in the hands of whites so if the whites do not invest that money there will be no jobs and they are not moved by what the government is saying because they don't support it yet. They are not out there to fight but they don't support it. They are still, as I am saying, bickering, voting for their old parties and therefore not moved by government appeals to invest, to create jobs, to invest in particular areas, rural areas, in the townships and so on. They are not moved by that but there is capital that they own. There are skills that they own and control which are not yet being shared. That is the biggest problem that we are aware of. So what I am saying, and I have raised this recently in the NEC of the ANC, whether we believe as ANC that we can ever win whites over to the ANC on our own or do we need the National Party to bring them over. We need a leadership with vision on the side of the NP and we need vision on our side because that says if they believe in that party and we need them to co-operate with blacks, if they want to use that vehicle it's useless for us to go and fight it, can we not come together? This is a conflict of two nationalisms, broad African nationalism represented by the ANC and narrow Afrikanerdom represented by the NP. That is how I see it and I think that there will be no lasting solution in SA until these two nationalisms find accommodation and in the broad nationalism of SA, broad South Africanism. I am saying we have spent the first five years, we have done everything, the fears of the whites have been addressed but they still do not come over to the ANC.

POM     I have talked to Marthinus van Schalkwyk and I asked him if an approach was made to him by the government for their party to become in some way part of the government, which includes the ANC and the IFP, would his party turn it down? And he said, "No, not out of hand. We would take it under serious consideration." You are suggesting that kind of inclusivity in government?

PM     I'm not talking about another form of government of national unity.

POM     No, no, this would be a voluntary coalition.

PM     I am talking about a situation where a party, whether or not they come over to the ANC, as the NP they are disintegrating. The NP is disintegrating whether or not they are with the ANC. The issue here, and I raised it with Marthinus myself, the issue is: do you want the whites who have not yet found a new house, a new home to then run around without a home or do you want to lead them into a home where you as a NP leader can identify their survival, their future which is coming into the ANC, working together with the blacks? That is the basic thing, it's not just the organisation. It's to find co-operation between black and white in a way that will do away with distinctions of black and white. So ANC and the NP should just be vehicles but the main content of what we're trying to do is to build this non-racialism through empowerment of the African people which should come over with the whites accepting that, look, years of apartheid and colonialism have actually disadvantaged these people. We have accumulated all of these resources in our hands and skills. In order for SA to move forward these people need to be empowered and we are the first, as whites, who should then show that we develop together with government the programmes of empowering these people so that they have a stake in the dispensation, in the new dispensation so that we move away from issues of black and white. It will not impoverish the whites, it will make them even more better, give them a better quality of life.

     I am saying that is the kind of vision it will have, you don't have in the NP, the New NP, which is what I'm trying to promote with the ANC to say, look, maybe we try in the Western Cape, we don't have to fight for premiership there. Now we should go into an alliance with the NP even if the NP remains in control in terms of I mean they remain premiers, that should not be a problem. What should be the main concern is that we should be able to draw those people, coloured and white to work together with the Africans, to build a new SA. It takes a lot of sacrifice but the sacrifice that I'm talking about most of the time is more that it's personal, whether you want to be a premier or not, and that should not be the overriding concern really. That is what I think needs to happen. It needs to happen in the time of Mandela, it needs to happen now. If Mandela goes and it has not happened it will have no framework within which it can happen.

POM     He's still the glue that holds the pieces together.

PM     The Africans will think, whichever leader comes in and says we need to do this thing, is actually moving away from what Mandela's view was and it's important to do it when he's still alive, he's still with us and he can say yes that is what reconciliation means, that is what nation building means, so everybody knows that we are on the -  If we delay it will be possible but it will be more difficult.

POM     How would you see the practical steps of going about doing this? That you actually approach the NP and say let's work together, let's find a way?

PM     I think we should do it in the Western Cape.

POM     In the Western Cape first?

PM     We should do it there but we should do it on the basis of other programmes too. We need to speak to the Afrikaner business people about investing in poor areas, about transferring skills and actually extending the hand take the hand that is already extended of the Africans to work together to build one country that is ours. Those programmes, if they deal with issues of poverty, for instance, unemployment, if we all invest in order to employ people for whatever amount of money so that more people are employed than outside employment, we are now beginning this particular thing. It cannot happen alone, it has to happen with economic emancipation, economic development, otherwise it will be just a sham, it will not achieve the objective.

POM     Now black empowerment seems to have fallen on a sword, so to speak, that the percentage of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange controlled by black empowerment groups has fallen in the last year, not increased. There have been the not too edifying lessons at NAIL where directors tried to pay themselves nice lump sums of money and among at least the blacks that I talk to in townships, Africans I suppose really, they shrug their shoulders at black empowerment and see it in terms of it's there for a few of the boys to get rich and we're not seeing much of it.

PM     That is true. Black empowerment is facing one of the most difficult periods but it was supposed to face this kind of problem that we are seeing now because there are various elements: one, black economic empowerment as it is unfolding now was not developed by the blacks themselves. It was a strategy for survival by white companies that realised that they need blacks who have now won political power and they thought that if they have blacks in the front there they will actually survive. So they worked out ways of survival that brought in blacks to present their faces to their political masters in order to continue to do business. There was no strategy on the table that says this is how blacks were going to be empowered coming from government or the political organisation that I belong to, the ANC, or from the whites themselves. There wasn't. So even as you judge them today you can't say they have deviated or they are still on line because there was no such a line. You can't identify this one.

     Secondly, a lot of black people who have got a national consciousness went into government, into the bureaucracy and so on, and business was left with very few blacks who came from the tradition of struggling for the masses, who would do things in a way that always asked the question whether is this that I am doing benefiting our people. The blacks that came into the black economic empowerment are not people with that kind of consciousness, you see. They don't come from that tradition most of them. So you didn't have a cadreship. One, you didn't have a correct theory, secondly you didn't have correct leadership and correct cadreship of black economic empowerment. You didn't, you still don't have. So no social force moves by itself, it needs social forces to move it forward. We didn't have that, we didn't have the correct strategies I am saying. Now that is a certain point.

     Now thirdly the fact is that in terms of the existing property rights, as I pointed out already, the wealth is with the whites, the skills are with the whites. We came in with some arrogance sometimes with these blacks, our black people who thought that they could do things for themselves and others who thought now they can go in and take over, some kind of some takeover of some nature of some sort. If you look at the debacle trying to take over the JCI and so on, you have those extremes, you have those who went in just to collaborate in order to enrich themselves also. So you didn't have a common strategy that could also win over the whites who control the means of production, who control the resources of this country, who control the skills, who if they do not dispense with these skills in a way that is empowering, there is not going to be any empowerment. Now you have that situation where wealth is still in the hands of the whites and these whites are not convinced that they must share it, you then have a stalemate of some sort. So that is the third element.

     Now the international situation is also a factor here, globalisation has come in. As we're trying to bring in people who were outside into the economy, the economy is also opening up for international competition and international participation so this black person who was outside the national economy comes in and already competes internationally without any skills. So you find that the changes that are taking place are not even understood by the whites who have been in economic power all this time internationally and nationally, and the black people come into that situation. Some companies go up, others go down as a result of globalisation.

     Now also we're operating again in a context like in Africa where there is no peace, there are wars, there is anger, there is no real leadership that can create a framework for mobilisation of resources for development. We don't have that. So this black economic empowerment in SA is suffering also because of internal and external factors.

POM     When Cyril Ramaphosa gave up his post as Secretary General, Mandela said he had been redeployed into business to begin the process of economic empowerment. Business was seen as another terrain of struggle.

PM     It is true that it is a terrain of struggle.

POM     Does the ANC itself have a thought-through policy on what the components of a comprehensive black empowerment policy should be?

PM     That is why it is not correct that Comrade Cyril was actually deployed. By whom? In terms of what strategy? He wanted to go into business, he went into business according to the way he saw opportunities and how he weighed his opportunities in politics compared with the opportunities in business, indeed took a decision. There was no deployment. The use of the word 'deployment' there as usual has always been a political strategy by us to try and say look, everybody who leaves us actually they are sent by us. It is not true, there is no truth to that. You can't send them unless there is a strategy. You can't send them unless you've been able how was he picked up? What forces? So there was no such thing. Himself did not have a strategy of empowerment of anybody except to go in and do business himself. There was no such thing.

POM     He sits on the NEC.

PM     He knows very well that nobody sat down and said - you go to business. The ANC knows there is no strategy. If I want to be deployed like Cyril, who is going to deploy me? It's not true, because I would also go and want to be deployed but will the ANC be able to deploy us in the same way they have deployed Cyril. They can't. The whites have identified Comrade Cyril and they wanted to work with him and there was an opportunity when he looked into the issues of politics and issues of business and then he took the business opportunity. If that was not existing, if those white people who wanted to carry him did not exist, whatever the ANC could have taken as a resolution to send him anywhere would never have worked.

POM     What about this committee that now exists within the ANC, the Redeployment Committee headed by Jacob Zuma? From my reading of ANC documents and resolutions passed, particularly at the 50th Congress, there is more of a strategic effort to place key members of the ANC who are not in politics into key areas of civil society so they have an influence there and can help bring about transformation in those areas, whether it's the SABC or a parastatal or even the private sector itself.

PM     We have to get that decision, a very good decision that we should do that, send our own people into these areas. The weakness of that strategy, as I see it, is that because of lack of any strategy for transformation those people go there, they don't have a framework of action, what is it that they can do that constitutes transformation, but it is good for us to take people to occupy those positions. The fact of the matter is that we don't have a theory of South African development according to which we can then judge whether they are succeeding or not.

POM     What in a sense, and I know this might sound like an odious comparison and I don't mean it to be, the Afrikaners came to power in 1948, most of the economy at that point was controlled by English speaking whites or whatever, and in a couple of years they had placed people in all the key sectors of the economy. You had the Broederbond that operated as kind of a guiding brotherhood that said these should be our priorities and this is what we should be doing about them. It was like a government existing beside a government. Is the ANC not in a sense embarking on a similar course with deploying people in key sectors of the economy and civil society, pushing programmes for affirmative action to ensure that at management levels in particular there is adequate representativity of blacks? What's different in theory? The Afrikaners did it for themselves, now you're doing it for blacks because you didn't have the opportunity, because you were denied the opportunity in the past by the Afrikaner. But what's conceptually different between the two?

PM     There is quite a wide difference. The Afrikaner, as you are saying correctly, they did it for themselves and for racist reasons. The ANC is not doing it for just blacks, it is doing it for everyone to build a non-racial society in which white and black will live together as brothers, will live together as a people, will be equal. That is why we are doing it. So there is a wide gap between the goals. The methods might look the same but the goals are quite different. There is a need that blacks must occupy commanding heights in terms of the running of this country. They are in the majority and also whites need to be taught that they can be led by blacks and that is the first thing that they must understand. They can be led by blacks. There is nothing in the colour of skin. Colour of skin does not give you any skill, does not give you any special intelligence and then there's a need for them to be re-educated against the education of apartheid in colonialism that said they should rather simply because they're white. So this programme is important. That is why I'm saying it needs to be geared up with a programme of a process and a strategy for transformation that is clear to everybody, even to the whites: where are we going, why are we doing some of these things, can they read each one of the actions that we're taking into the strategy and understand and interpret it and even assist it? That's what we need but we're far from working like the Broederbond for racist reasons, for selecting from a specific race.

     Affirmative action, yes, we select from the Africans but it is an open strategy and that says look at your human resources, look at people who are in management, how many black managers do you have today? Very little, very few in a country where they are actually a majority and they are not that because they don't have skills, they are not few because they don't have skills, they've got skills. They were prevented by the system of apartheid, by government, by the way society operated from occupying those positions. So they need to be affirmed. We are not taking anybody who has got no skill to be there. We identify people with skills among the blacks and we put them there where they are supposed to be.

     So you look at all areas, the economy, in white hands. You can't de-racialise this society until you have de-racialised the processes of distribution of the produce and the way the produce itself is being produced. You have to de-racialise those things so that we all have equal access irrespective of our colour, our language, our culture, to public resources. That is a fact of life that the resources are in the hands of whites.

POM     In your view, despite the best efforts of Mandela during his term as President and his continuing efforts, by and large whites remain as racist as they were in the past but they don't show it as overtly as they did in the past?

PM     I think the programmes of President Mandela have been most successful but indeed the majority here of whites have not moved. Their mistake is that yes, they appreciate President Mandela but they try to separate him from the rest of black people. They try to say he's a different African, he's not like other Africans, so they can relate with him without relating to his people. That is the mistake that they are making. So towards him there is no racism but if you ask the domestic worker, if you go into the mines, if you go into the farms, if you go into the streets, if you go into some of the shops you will find that racism, you will find the blacks not being accepted. If a black man starts walking in Wendywood here then they expect crime. If it's a white person who is walking around they say, no, he is training, he is trying to improve his health. That is the attitude that you have. When you see a black man it's a crime about to happen. When you see a white person something good is coming. That is what is happening here.

POM     What's your experience in the neighbourhood? This must be a mostly white neighbourhood?

PM     I think I've had a good reception from the neighbours over there on my left but the others have not yet accepted that we are here. I only see others over there when there's a crime committed and they come and call on me to assist but we don't mix socially, we never visit.

POM     They've never invited you, said you're a new neighbour moved next door, let's invite him over for a drink?

PM     It's only this other family over here who did that.

POM     These barriers, the booms at the gate, on whose authority are they erected?

PM     They are on their own authority. They are doing them as suburban people. Government does not agree that we should live behind these kinds of things, that there should be a better way of fighting crime than these booms. But they feel safe behind these booms.

POM     But where is the legal authority for erecting them?

PM     Well they go to the authorities and the authorities say we don't want them.

POM     They go where?

PM     To the authorities that they want to erect these things. Well because there is no real strategy of how you can say don't do it and then when crime occurs, so they say, well put them up temporarily but this is not the policy, this is not what we would encourage.

POM     On the way out the last time I asked the guard on whose authority are these booms here. He had no idea. He was just employed by a private security firm.

PM     These ones are put by them. Private security is not by government but they do report.

POM     And who pays for them?

PM     The residents, yes.

POM     So they've got to pay for the guards, for the booms, for everything. If I were a black person and I walked down the main street leading to St Francis Drive and a guard said - who are you going to visit? and I said it's none of your business, and he said, well you can't enter, he would have no right to do that.

PM     That's true.

POM     That's a violation of your rights, it's based on, again, colour, the perception that you may be going to commit crime and the roads are paved by the taxpayers, the roads are public, they're not private roads. So in the end what authority do they have to stop somebody, if they were challenged what authority do they have from somebody saying - I'm going to drive down this street because it's a public street?

PM     Yes but it's true what you're saying but at the same time there are problems of crime and the community, the Neighbourhood Watch is an accepted phenomenon.

POM     If I insisted on doing that and they called the police and I said I want to go down this street because it's a public street, I'm taking a walk and I walk around neighbourhoods all the time and I decided today I'm going to walk down this street now?

PM     But they will treat you with suspicion. It doesn't matter if you're black or white, they will treat you with suspicion, watch you very closely. They may not be able to prevent you from coming in but they will have to watch you very, very closely, where you're going, what you're doing. It won't be a nice walk.

POM     Well then I will say I'm going to take an action against the police because they're harassing me for walking down a public road.

PM     No, no. The community here will be the ones who actually check what you do, where you're going, because it is their property.

POM     But the road isn't.

PM     No the road is not.

POM     The road is paid for by the taxpayer.

PM     But they've got a Neighbourhood Watch here for collective security. You see we're not saying they must do that. The problem here is not that, the problem is crime and we need people to focus on crime and defeat crime then all of these things will not happen.

POM     Is this a high crime area?

PM     No not really, but people are very scared. Crime occurs. When I came here there were occurrences of criminal activity, people having their houses broken into, one housewife there raped and so on.

POM     So on that basis alone they had sufficient grounds to go to the Sandton authorities?

PM     There's a lot of crime and the people would like to participate in the crime prevention and this is how they want to do it. They want to set up the booms temporarily.

POM     So it's not really a problem getting a permit to erect a temporary boom?

PM     That is why it is said to be temporary until policy is clarified.

POM     Is this ever discussed in the NEC? That you're building a society where people are living behind walls?

PM     We have discussed it but it's difficult to say to somebody who has been attacked, a community that is harassed, that they cannot take measures to defend themselves. You can't say that. That is why I'm saying the focus should be on crime, we need to deal with the criminals so that the community does not have to feel this way. They don't like living behind these huge walls and having restricted movement. They don't like it, nobody likes such a kind of a life. They are forced to live under these conditions because of crime. They really don't like it, whether they are black or white they don't like it but they have to do something about the fact that crime is occurring.

POM     Just to move backwards for a minute, well I'll ask it first. What do you think is in the next ten to fifteen years, trying to take a broad picture of the future but not going too far into it, so using a frame of ten to fifteen years, what's the biggest challenge facing SA and the development of SA, South African democracy?

PM     The biggest one really remains the issue of poverty, the issue of unemployment and the issue of dealing with racism.

POM     And the issue of?

PM     Defeating racism and actually building a non-racial society. Those are the three biggest challenges. Whatever we do should concentrate on empowering people against all of these things and that is what we are going to be concentrating on as a people in order for us to survive and succeed. It will mean that when issues of crime, we must fight them, they are very serious issues. We need to be able to attract investments. We need to be able to be the people that others envy and would like to come and live with.

POM     Why do you think that after, again, five and a half years where the country has followed almost perfect monetary policies, perfect monetary and economic discipline, in some respects Margaret Thatcher would be breathless at the degree to which to you've cut the budget and got your percentages down, and yet foreign investors are not coming in?

PM     That is because that has never been the recipe for investment to come, it has never been. The Washington Consensus has never, I mean SA is a great model of implementing the Washington Consensus but still we haven't received anything and countries that have not, have received lots of investments. There are times when I tend to think that there must be international racism, what is this thing that we're trying everything but still people who have capital, because even internationally this capital is still in the hands of whites, they are not coming to a country like this one which is one of the countries that you can say is a model of a free country where we are trying to build black and white together. But still they are not coming. I don't think that the Washington Consensus is the basis for developing countries to enter the new world. I don't think that the figures, the targets that are being put are realistic. We have done everything, we still have not solved the unemployment and poverty issues, we have not attracted investment in the amounts that we wanted.

POM     Will President Mbeki be judged on what he does to alleviate poverty and unemployment and if he fails to do so do you think voters, especially poor voters, would vote against the ANC in an election? Or do you think the model for the future, what I would call the Namibian model, they're going to vote SWAPO come what may, there is no alternative, it's loyalty to the party. They came in their third term with 76% of the vote. They have mounting economic problems and the level of poverty has not diminished and yet the poor people will come out and vote them back into power. They won't vote for anybody else because they're loyal to SWAPO.

PM     Yes it will happen like that in SA.

POM     So you see the ANC alliance sticking together for a long time?

PM     The alliance might break but the ANC will remain in power for a long time to come. The ANC has built itself among the masses for more than 80 years.

POM     I had this peculiar conversation the other day. Over the years I've been back from Joe Slovo and Chris Hani and then Charles Nqakula and now Blade Nzimande, I've been interviewing Secretary Generals of the Community Party. When Charles was Secretary General he would rail against GEAR and he would say why privatisation was moving too quickly and why they didn't think it was in the best interests of the working class and the poorer classes for this macro economic approach to be the approach, that it was a faulty approach, that it wasn't achieving its goals and reducing poverty and creating jobs. Now I interview him and he's an Advisor to the President. By God! Overnight he's a convert. Speed up privatisation, GEAR is on track, and I'm saying, "Charles!"

PM     No it has always been a problem of information, people who were very far from power could not see what those who were close could see and so the argument was influenced mainly by that cap. So when Charles was very far from power, now he works in the President's Office he can see that there is no secret agenda, everything is being done in order to achieve everything that we say is good. You can't afford to go back and say you don't agree when actually you see the efforts, that these are genuine efforts.

POM     But I found it kind of funny.

PM     Yes. We received a lot of flak from the left, what is called the left.

POM     Is there a left left?

PM     Yes, I think he's more left than the ANC. Actually I think there are people who wanted to fashion themselves as more left than the ANC.

POM     Where would you place the ANC on the political spectrum?

PM     A left organisation.

POM     Left of centre or?

PM     Left of centre, left, left, left. There is nothing more left than the ANC. The others actually come around to be right, to be on the right.

POM     Like COSATU and the SACP?

PM     For instance, yes. If you oppose the policies of the ANC too much to the left you certainly come back and agree with the right. That's what happens. So there's no left position, more left position than the one adopted by the ANC. The ANC is the only party that was based

POM     Do you think many whites still associate the ANC in the deepest recesses of their minds with communism?

PM     Not most but some still do and the political parties of the white continue to harp on that.

POM     It's like flogging why do they continue to flog a dead horse?

PM     That is why I was saying at the beginning that they need leadership with vision to take them to cross the real Rubicon, to begin to accept the truth about their opponents.

POM     Can you establish, I wouldn't say working committees but almost study groups with some members saying - would you like to join, participate in one of our study groups to see why we see the world the way we see it so you'll understand?

PM     I think that would be a good idea. We have done it with the Volksraad, establish yourself into a committee and do the studies, study the world and see whether what you are proposing was -

POM     Well poor Constand would look back and say - I used to have

PM     Well now he knows it's not possible. I think the idea of study groups that bring together black and white to look into their attitudes and so on instead of just sitting on the fence or away from each other and shouting at each other across the river about who is more racist and who is not and who is communist and who is not communist, we are all South Africans, let us find a way wherever two South Africans meet let us discuss the problem of the country from whatever perspective and with the object of finding resolution because if that is not what we're going to do there is no way we can progress.

POM     Now I want to come back to the emerging black middle class and maybe every other weekend or whatever I'll go over to, not to Sandton so much as Hyde Park or Rosebank to get breakfast, go to the bookstores or whatever and just take note of who I see there. I see an incredible number of black people, well off, shopping in expensive stores and they are consumers. They are first rate consumers. What obligation, if any, does a rising black middle class have to the poor? What obligation does a person who made it out of a squatter camp or one of the poorest parts of Soweto and lives in Wendywood, what obligation, if any, do they have to the community they left behind? And good for them, they got out, they made it, they broke out of the bounds, the chains preventing them from achieving.

PM     That obligation has to be there but has to be defined in terms of the strategy for development.

POM     In terms of the strategy for deployment?

PM     For development, which we don't have. So there are some who take initiatives to try and go back and do something in the townships but they're doing it without this framework.

POM     When you raise these questions in the NEC what kind of response do you get? Would everyone agree, well there isn't

PM     They agree.

POM     And then what happens?

PM     The problem is, yes, of course what happens? Who then develops that strategy?

POM     Are there any kind of sub-committees set up that are tasked specifically?

PM     No we don't have that.

POM     You don't have this kind of development plan in operation?

PM     I am not satisfied with the efforts that are sometimes shown up as efforts to do just that. I am not satisfied with that because even with the African renaissance I've said most of the time that there is no content in it, we don't know what this thing is.

POM     No content in the?

PM     In the African renaissance.

POM     Yes, I was going to ask you about that. I was going to ask you what does it mean?

PM     There is no content there.

POM     Well I've gone to conferences now and I've talked to William Makgoba two or three times and I want to tell you that I still don't know what it is.

PM     Yes, because people have taken poetry, tried to make philosophy, they want to make it reality but it's like the theory of development, we don't have it. The question of affirmative action is one element, the question of black economic empowerment is another element but how do they link, where is the framework for linkages? When can we say we've done things right? We don't know, we don't have the lamppost so we just do things. We throw slogans and we don't put in content in them. Slogans are very good in the sense that they sometimes and help mobilise people's efforts but soon those efforts dissipate because there is nothing to apply them on. The African Renaissance will actually struggle to succeed because the country that has raised the issue has itself no strategy for development.

POM     What is your understanding of what the African renaissance is? If I had arrived here from Mars and said I've been wandering my way through South Africa and I've been hearing about this thing called the African renaissance, perhaps you could help me, what is it?

PM     For me I think it's just a call to renewal of Africa, for Africa to begin to do things right so that it is able to join other developed nations, for Africa to come out of marginalisation, to come out of this scourge of poverty, scourge of wars, for Africa to do something really for its own people, for the people of Africa to also benefit. It's unlike the European renaissance, I mean the renaissance that took place in Europe in the sense that we write about ours before it takes place, those wrote about it after it had taken place. It's a big difference.

POM     It's like an academic industry, there are more papers about what it is and the theory of it. Was it last week when the Premier of the Northern Cape got married, one of the newspapers said, "Many of the women were dressed in African renaissance dresses."

PM     That's because people don't know what it is.

POM     Yes. So now I'm going round the stores saying, "Excuse me, do you have an African renaissance dress?" They look at me and say, "What?"

PM     The idea has been raised, its content has not been developed. No institutions for it, no processes.

POM     Let me go back to one area you never touched on when I asked about challenges, and this is an area that I've got particularly interested in, and that is AIDS. You know the data, the demographic base of this country is being transformed, the whole social fabric is being transformed which means in turn that the socio-economic base of the whole country is going to change in the next 15 years. I mean life expectancy, even if you stopped it in its tracks right now, there is enough AIDS among people that life expectancy by the year 2005 is going to have dropped 15 years, it's going to have dropped from the sixties into the late forties which will be the average life expectancy of a South African. You hear all this talk about it again and yet the health budget for this year has been cut, not increased. I've talked to directors of TB hospitals who say they're dumping all the terminally ill AIDS patients on us, we can do nothing for them. So staff and resources are being taken up by taking care of people you can't cure whereas the TB patients whom we could do something for, there is no room for them at the hospital. Why is it not faced as almost a declaration of national emergency?

PM     No it is, it is regarded as that.

POM     And legislation taken that this will be a notifiable disease, we have to know the extent of it, we have to pass legislation that will allow us to do the job and sometimes that may even infringe on individual rights but there are some times when the national interest supersedes the right of an individual.

PM     Well that is true but you see there is a tendency not to focus on the disease itself. We should focus on that. When a problem becomes big then you shouldn't exaggerate the methods of dealing with it because there are too many things, for instance, that have been suggested. Go around, force people to say we have AIDS, we don't have it, that will actually aggravate those people. You should treat it as a disease very seriously but treat it as a disease. Look at the issues of how you are going to resolve the issue, how you can then advise people if somebody goes to a doctor and finds that they've got this thing they need to be properly advised and they need to be helped to handle it. You see we are living in say in the African community, people fear this thing, they really literally put people out.

POM     Why is it so feared?

PM     Because of the way it has been promoted, the way it has been dealt with. Awareness campaigns have actually created more fear than empathy for people with this problem. People have raised the issue, firstly they said it was a homosexual thing and secondly because you are promiscuous. Most things that they have said have not said to people that this disease is a disease that we need to all attend to. They have actually scared people in a manner that people would not say when they've got it, that I've got it, because they are immediately a social outcast.

POM     I know personally about a dozen people who have it and we talk about it and they talk to me about it but they say, "Don't ever tell any of my friends or anybody in my family or whatever." I say, "One day you're going to need help." They say, "No, no, no, don't ever - "

PM     But they know the fact of the matter is if you announce them now they lose many opportunities in life, they lose friends. So they say, "I've got a friend who's got it", and I see that because he has not been able, he has lost friends, his family, they are just alone. So where is the value of him saying, announcing like he has announced when actually he has alienated everyone? Now he is suffering alone. This is why I am saying people are just getting paranoid and in the process they are hurting those that are actually victims and sufferers. They really are hurting them instead of saying, no, you go to a doctor, if a doctor finds out you've got this thing, agree the government is to be notified. But the procedures must be put so that we are able to look into this for health purposes, not for social purposes. We need to be able to say for health purposes, yes, in this particular township, in this particular area there are people who have got AIDS who are so many, and then if you bring back the practice of looking after patients at home this thing will be dealt with at that level, become part of the family problem, they all rally around and the home nurse comes, the doctor comes and they look into these things. They help others how to handle this person, it's a family thing. You can't if you look at if you remember, you read in the Bible and see leprosy how it was actually dealt with and see how inhumanly they treated those people, locking them up, this is what people want to do with the AIDS people because of fear. If we want to know how many have got it there is another method we can use. Everybody sometime gets ill and goes to a doctor so what you need to do, the doctors must advise them we're going to check on the blood count and everything in order to determine whether we can resolve the problem that we see and then advise them accordingly. If they get to know that they are HIV positive they tell them about it, go to the family with him or her and let the matter be discussed in the family, let them handle it. Don't make somebody feel, gee whiz, I got it from somewhere, I'm going to have to spread it. I don't agree with the AIDS Awareness campaigns the way they are doing them, they are actually wasting a lot of money, a lot of goodwill in dealing with this issue.

POM     A lot of Ad Agencies making a lot of money.

PM     Yes. Now somebody comes and says, I mean there is Judge Cameron who has announced who cares about it today? Who cares? There are many people with TB, hepatitis and so on. They are not required to announce, you see, and he has done that. There are many who have done that. The question is - what then happens? He becomes a legend in the community, so-and-so has got that and then they isolate the person, he is not invited to social functions.

POM     You become a leper.

PM     Yes. When somebody has taken food in they throw the plate away.

POM     I saw in Singapore they just passed a law that you have to be buried, you have to be cremated and done within 24 hours if you die of AIDS. Total just here, there's no scientific evidence that a person who dies of AIDS spreads AIDS.

PM     But you see those are the things. It's going to spread because people are going to run away from good advice because of the way we are treating it and go to methods that they think will help them quietly and they will never get help there and they will never help others. I have discussed this matter but sometimes when people want money, an AIDS group who wants money to tell people about AIDS, we have just discovered somebody who has got AIDS and then they parade that poor person around, you really don't know what you are doing to these people. It's as if they went out and asked for AIDS, it's just as if they are criminals. The way we have turned it is very bad.

POM     Just two other questions, and as usual I always run over time with you, I could spend three hours rather than an hour. One, if you wouldn't mind talking about it, concerns yourself. That is that you weren't re-appointed a deputy minister and that must have hurt, it would be normal just to feel hurt.

PM     Yes, sure.

POM     Why? Were you given any explanation as to why you weren't, and as I recall you were one of the first very enthusiastic Mbeki loyalists, pushers, years ago. When I saw the list of appointments I said, "Where's Peter? What's going on here?"

PM     Let me say true, I was very, very thoroughly disappointed but secondly also there was no reason, I was not given any reason. You see the President said , "We will come and talk to you later", they will come back to all of us who have not been appointed. So there was no explanation.

POM     But nobody ever got back to you?

PM     No, we haven't had this team. We are told that we will get a word, but I have learnt to say to myself that I am not in the ANC for position and also I supported the President, I still support him and I have supported the decision, actually promote the decision that says the President has got the prerogative to appoint his own cabinet and if they don't appoint you there can be no questions. When I was working to strengthen him also, and I think it was a correct decision, I still believe in it, and I think he has made his choice. I was the choice of Mandela so I was with Mandela in Mandela's cabinet. If he feels we cannot be in his cabinet for whatever reason, I don't know, so there is no explanation that I can give because I have received no explanation. I think I've settled in this ordinary position, I am doing work, I will remain in parliament . For whatever problems of resources that I've got in terms of my current salary I am trying to do projects to maintain my life, because all my life has been politics, I've never been in business so I don't have a different source. So because I need to do certain things, build a house for my mother who was also in detention because of political involvement and so on.

POM     Your mother was?

PM     Yes, she was there and her house was bombed, destroyed. She stays in a shack now.

POM     She's in a shack?

PM     Yes.

POM     Where?

PM     In Pietersburg. No she was bombed, her whole house, and she was taken in there was nothing but they kept her there and my sister had to go into exile. So I am still in the process of putting together my family. So I am saying I have settled and I am confronting these issues as challenges to me and trying to address them. I can only address them within my own powers so that's why I've decided let me remain in politics, support the government, because I believe Comrade Mbeki is the right President. There was not going to be anybody else so I still believe in that. It's true that I worked very hard, it's true that I got the youth to support him and we pushed everybody aside, not that there was any competition, and we ensured that he's installed. I don't think it would be right for me to say that he must reward me, I don't think so. We did not go to war expecting that we will be rewarded in terms of positions. Most of us thought that by the time SA is liberated we would be killed and dead and the only thing that we wanted then was to be buried properly by our people who would remember us as their soldiers. So that is why I said I'm not going to be asking questions about why I'm not appointed because I am also very easy with the masses, with the people, with other positions still. Whether I've got a position or another position I still work very closely with the masses, with the people. So, yes, I was disappointed, I didn't have reasons, nobody explained to me except that they said they would come back to us and I have settled in this position. I'm not going to be waiting and say I'll be appointed. I think it is the prerogative of the President to appoint those he wants to work with.

POM     Are you in a number of portfolio committees?

PM     At the moment I'm in Environment, in Minerals and Energy, Environment and Tourism and also in Foreign Affairs. But what I'm going to be doing now is to resign from the Committee on Environment and Tourism so as to give the new minister and his deputy the chance to develop their own line of march.  If I'm in the committee there maybe they will be that is my decision, I want to give them an opportunity to develop their own line of march. So I've said to parliament that I want to resign from that one. I will also resign from the Minerals & Energy and be left with Foreign Affairs simply because in looking for business, I'm looking for business in all areas so I don't want conflict of interest. I'm trying to do business so that I can survive so I've been looking into mining and I'm doing that so I don't want to be in a committee that's taking decisions. I have said that I want to resign from that, I want to resign from Environment & Tourism for those reasons and remain with Foreign Affairs that looks outward. That's when one will develop the ideas around Africa and be academic but not have any conflict of interest.

POM     Do you think now that the major legislation that's framing the transformation that was passed in the last four years and on the question of implementation, that the role of parliament has been reduced?

PM     No it hasn't. The role of parliament cannot and it hasn't been reduced. The framework legislation has been passed, that is true, but society still needs to implement that legislation and the implementation needs to be monitored and where the gaps are in fact parliament must still sit and redo the laws, revamp them, improve them.  In fact it has increased the role of parliament rather than decreased it.

POM     Just finally, how would you interpret the results of the election? I'll give you this framework, maybe I have the wrong framework and that's the answer. You have a party, the ANC, going into the second election, new democracy. On every major issue that affects people across all race boundaries, that's African, Indian, coloured and white, all, a majority all agree that it's done an unsatisfactory job in controlling crime, an unsatisfactory job in creating jobs, that it's overall handling of the economy is unsatisfactory, that its performance in the reform of education has been a mess and that government goes into an election and it comes out with a greater proportion of the vote than it had before it went in and every other party, the NP, practically disappears. The Freedom Front practically disappears, the PAC practically disappears and the only gainers are the Democratic Party. How would you interpret it if you were a political analyst and you had to sit down and make sense of the results?

PM     I think the people know that a framework for future development and for a peaceful, prosperous SA is in place and the people who are responsible for doing that are those that are following Mandela, the ANC. They know that. Their life has improved tremendously with the coming in of an ANC government. They also know that there are problems of crime, there are problems in the economy, unemployment and so on, there are various problems but they know that they share with this government the concern that these problems must be resolved. They know that these problems are also recognised as problems by this government and that this government would like to resolve them. They also trust the ANC because of its long tradition for fighting for their rights, standing up when nobody could stand up for them, standing between life and death.

POM     The loyalty factor as in Namibia.

PM     They trust the ANC because of that long history which is correct and because of the policies that the ANC have passed, putting tensions that were spelt out we may have a problem at the level of implementation and we do have problems there but they know we have spelt out our intentions and they agree with our intentions. Each time we go back to them we go with a manifesto that spells out what our intentions are. It's not a manifesto that we developed in enclosed, secret rooms, it's a manifesto we developed with them. So they like the way we interact with them, they like the way we respect them, they like the way we bring them into the decision making processes. They like what they see in terms of the opportunities that we've opened up. There might not be enough because we have not resolved all the problems but they know there is a programme. Those who do not have houses today do know that their houses will come. Those who do not have water, electricity, they do know that it is coming, there is a programme to give us those things. There isn't any other government in their whole lives that has ever done that, there isn't any other party that promises to do and can do what the ANC is doing.

     With regard to the white population they now see that what happened in Mozambique has not happened here. What happened elsewhere, the fears that they've heard about people coming and taking your property has not happened. They have seen their leaders abandoning them, abandoning the cause. Terre'Blanche saying to them that he never sent anybody to shoot and then those people who followed him and knew that they had received orders from him are very crushed. In fact I met with some of them who said to me, "We couldn't believe that this man can lie like this." There is no leadership material as Mandela. Mandela stands his ground. So they like the leadership of the ANC because of that. But as I was saying to them, Terre'Blanche has to realise and has realised that the cause that he was following is wrong so his mistake is that he's not come back to his followers and said we were wrong, he just abandoned them. That is why you don't have a leader of integrity, a political movement of integrity like the ANC. That is what counts, you see, but the whites do not definitely agree with us on some of the issues but they don't agree with anybody who wants to remove us from power because we have created a framework under which they survive, they make more money than they ever made under apartheid.

POM     What accounts for their shift, what accounts for the rise of the DP which has now got far more Afrikaner votes than did the Freedom Front and the NP combined?

PM     I think it's a natural process. You know before the elections we could see that whites were moving up and down. They were not crossing over, their support remained the same but among the opposition parties you would see that the UDM was going up and then going down and people were moving up and down because a wrong focus was placed before them that we need to find the best way of opposing the ANC without spelling out why. So then the DP won the white vote on that basis that now we have the formula to oppose the ANC, to fight back, but they didn't spell out to them, 'And then what?' So the NP which wanted to, which realised the futility of wanting to fight the ANC and wanting to move, was not bold enough to put its vision before the people to say we cannot move forward by wanting to fight, we have to move forward by co-operation. So there was no bold leadership on their side, no vision that they placed before and that is why they lost. But the whites who voted DP are soon going to realise now, in the next five years, that it was a useless vote because the ANC is not going to be listening to the DP at all. We don't think they are representing anything fundamental, anything important in SA. They represent no nationalism that needs to be resolved at all. They are more of a British remnant than anything else and we don't think that any counter should be left for them. That is why they are going to be buried. The only problem that they might have created for us is that they have succeeded in removing the Afrikaner from the NP but they have not provided hope for them. They haven't. You know when ants move along a line and then you put a line you are able to scatter them, they go in every direction. You've achieved that but you have not given them a correct path. That's what has happened.

POM     I will let you go. I've run over my time.

PM     That's fine. I'm sorry about the other appointment. It's just that I no longer have a secretary, so even this one I nearly forgot it. I did tell the family here that you must remind me I shouldn't leave the house because there is this appointment. And they did well because I was about to leave when they said, "No, Patrick is coming." I said, "Fine."

POM     That's today?

PM     Today.

POM     You were nearly gone again!

PM     Don't say about it.

POM     That's good.

PM     No, when I had Miriam I didn't miss a single appointment.

POM     Well when I come back again maybe we can just get together and have a drink or something, no tape recorders, no nothing, just talk.

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.