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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

13 Dec 1999: Nqakula, Charles

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CN     I have my own problems. I'm leaving town for the Eastern Cape.

POM     You're leaving today?

CN     Yes, late today.

POM     Let me start by congratulating you on what I would assume to be a promotion to a very important position as an adviser to the State President. It's not many people have that honour. What do your duties involve? In what areas do you advise him?

CN     You see the President like quite a number of his cabinet ministers have various kinds of advisers. For starters there is a change, there has been some restructuring in the President's office. That office is no longer called the President's Office, it's The Presidency. What it means is that in The Presidency you have the President, the Deputy President and the Minister in the Office of the President. Those three are the principals in The Presidency. Then there are various kinds of advisers. He has his political advisers who are in his office principally in Pretoria and he has another set of advisers like me who are specialising on certain things. Some of them are in Pretoria and others are in Cape Town. He has his political adviser who advises him on all political questions and interactions politically with other people, that kind of work. That person is in Pretoria. He has someone who is his legal adviser who deals obviously with all matters that relate to law, including whatever announcements, proclamations, bills that the President has to sign and then there is a person who advises him on economic questions and another person who advises him on security and intelligence questions. All of those people are located in Pretoria but then apart from the work he does when he is in his office in Pretoria there is the parliamentary work.

     You see the President in our country is not a member of the legislature, never mind the noises that are being made by a number of people that he is not in parliament and what have you. He can't be in parliament unless he goes there because (i) his schedule wants him to be there. His schedule would involve his Opening of Parliament Address. The President has to be there. It involves his Budget Vote, he participates in that process of the budget. He has to be there. There will be special occasions when heads of states come, he will be in parliament and when he, himself, has to deliver a particular important address he is in the National Assembly. Otherwise when a person, according to our constitution, is elected into the position of President that person must forego his or her seat as a member of parliament. Unlike the British system, for instance, our own President is elected by members of parliament. Firstly you are elected by voters to become an MP and then in parliament itself the parliamentarians sitting there elect the President.

POM     Then you have to resign?

CN     You have to resign your seat as an MP. In Britain and other democracies the head of the party that wins the election is called upon by the monarch or whoever to form a government. In some areas it is the Prime Minister who is the head of government so the leader of the party that wins the election is called upon by the President to form a government, he is not elected.

POM     So the President here is both the Head of State and the head of government?

CN     Yes, that's it, yes, and is elected by MPs. So because he is not an MP apart from his executive that is in parliament, he has to have someone who advises him on parliamentary issues. Parliamentary issues will include questions of the mood of all the people in parliament, what are the ANC MPs saying about processes of government. Are there certain things they want to advise the President on? I was saying it's those issues, the mood of the people. Are they happy with the processes of parliament? Where are the hiccups? How can they be removed?

     Not just the members of the ANC, I interact with the leadership of the opposition because from time to time there are certain things they also want to say to the President, they convey that through me and I then go to the President and say, "There is this letter from that particular leader of the opposition. That particular leader of the opposition would like to speak to you", and so on. I have to give him a résumé of how far we have gone in processing bills that are necessary. I give him a round-up of how many bills in a session we need to enact and where each one stands. I have to advise him on even questions, sensitivities around certain bills. There is a huge sensitivity as we speak around the four constitutional bills we have to pass. During the negotiations there was an agreement that there would be certain constitutional deals that seek to entrench democracy and human rights in our country so we needed to have those bills.

     The fourth one, of course, is a bill that deals with procurement. You see as we transform our country there will be many things that we do, government work, and that government work needs to be done by certain people who are not necessarily government so there will be a lot of tenders from government. Ordinarily those tenders in our situation would all go to well established white structures because every one of them that has been operating in the country have been white capitalist structures and black people found it difficult to enter that economic level of development. Now government, therefore, needs to have some kind of preferential procurement process which means that government must be in a position to say whereas in an open process that everybody can see, government says, OK, we have put out this particular tender and there are the following people who have tendered. The best tenderer in terms of experience, even in terms of resources, will be your traditional white structures but there is a reason here why we should bring in other people, those people who are still developing. It is an opportunity to empower them and therefore government decides that, indeed, it will be those people who have been disadvantaged for many years who would get that particular contract. It is called 'The Preferential Procurement Bill'.

     But there are four all told. One of them is the Open Democracy Bill. There are two others.

POM     The Equality Bill.

CN     The Equality Bill, yes.

POM     Is that going to make it by the 4th February?

CN     They have to. I will tell you why. If we don't pass them on 4th February the biggest problem we are going to have is that then what is in the constitution has to apply and in the constitution all that it says part of your Open Democracy Bill, for instance, is access to information. If you don't have a limitation clause it means that our country will actually be chaotic in the name of democracy because the constitution simply says that anyone will have access to free information. What that will mean is that anyone can come off the street and say to me, I want information about your house and what have you, until you have limitations and those limitations will include protection of privacy. Otherwise people will come and want to know intricate details about your private life. It would be chaotic. So we need to have a bill that therefore imposes limitations on that right to information and other rights that are in the constitution. That is why we have to pass those four bills, including this one because it is a constitutional bill, this procurement thing.

     It is on those issues, therefore, that I advise the President. Some of the bills come, I have a look at them and I see that no, there are problems with formulation, with even the intention of the bill. So I go back to the President and say I have doubts about that particular bill, why don't we sit down together with the Legal Adviser and have a discussion about the matter. And many other things that relate to parliamentary work. But the way that the President works allows for development, allows for creativity. He does not say because my work in the main is parliamentary therefore that is all that I do. He recognises that there are other things I am experiencing so he draws me in on those things. The same with the other advisers. He therefore uses us according to the occasion. So that is what I do generally in The Presidency to help him to fulfil his task as the President, but as I say, I am not the only one. There are other people who advise him. Principally my own task is to advise him on parliamentary issues but it's not the only thing I do. I also help in other areas.

POM     Do you not find it a bit of a contradiction that last year and the year before we discussed GEAR extensively and the opposition of the SACP to GEAR and your complaints about lack of consultation and now as a member of the President's team you have to fully back GEAR and whatever reservations you may have but you also sit on the Central Committee of the SACP so do you not find yourself one day putting on one cap, the President Adviser's cap, then taking off that cap and putting on your SACP cap? The same with regard to privatisation. I was talking to Blade the other day and he was going bananas about all this emphasis on privatisation and you have the President coming out saying we're going to increase the rate of privatisation. Where do you find yourself in those positions?

CN     You see those discussions are not just simple yes or no, do not evoke simple yes or no answers. We were in a meeting recently where we were discussing precisely those matters and it became clear in those meetings that you can't have a yes or a no on many of these matters and indeed the biggest problem in the end when you have sifted through the difficult questions at the end of the day you arrive at a position where the biggest problem becomes the process of consultation more than what is on the table, because many of the things on the table can be explained. As the party in fact we've gone past the point of haggling about GEAR. As the party we have said that discussion has been overtaken by other discussions. There are certain things which as members now of the ANC we've got agreement on like insofar as there is consent we have said we cannot say, for instance, on these issues that where GEAR necessarily must help so much percent, your budget deficit must be so much. You can't say that. Everything depends on your ability to mobilise the resources we need for our people and we do not want to place limitations on ourselves. There is agreement in the ANC that we will no longer be, when we talk about principles, want to go and give detail which at times

POM     So you no longer will be saying we're going to set the budget deficit, the GNP at 3%?

CN     No. We say if it is necessary to deal with those issues we will look at the circumstances and then decide at the time but, OK, this is what we are going to do. That amount of money will look at the following and that amount of money deals with the other matters. When you say your budget deficit must be so much then necessarily you must adhere to that. It does not matter what other circumstances are impacting on that decision. So we've got an understanding that that is not how we are going to be working. But the best understanding we got was that if in the course of our work we discover that any aspect of policy is impeding our ability to provide our people with better lives we will abandon that. Now to us it means that we scored a major point there.

POM     To you? That's to the SACP?

CN     To the SACP. We scored a major point there. There are other things which if it were not for scanty consultation would have been possible. We have raised this. There is now an understanding that we need to have structures, established structures to ensure that there is continuous and consistent consultation between our organisations.

POM     I read a report in the Business Day that one of the results of your meeting over the weekend, the Alliance meeting, the senior people set up a National Policy Unit where there are differences between partners in the Alliance and they would be discussed in this and this will be a formal structure with a Secretariat.

CN     Yes, the Secretariat is going to be in charge of that. We arrived at that decision precisely because after a discussion we felt that it was not necessarily the detail in what is being done that is causing problems but the way in which decisions are arrived at, a question of consultation, all of those things. Now we accept that there are many aspects of this programme of development and advancement that will require support  but when you look at them you will think that it's things that do not help to advance our programme of change in this country, democratic change. Now if you look at this thing of these public/private partnerships, we call them triple-Ps here, now if anyone brought that to you and you did not have information on it you would say it's an aspect of privatisation because what happens is that you look for partnerships and those partnerships will mean that if you are doing work, for instance the first partnerships have related to water, water supply. Some of our local councils do not have the necessary expertise to fulfil that task of ordinary water supply to our people in a way which would make that particular task easy to perform. So what they have done is that they have gone out to invite strategic partners where they sell off certain aspects of the project. Now in that way, for instance, the technical details, let's say if you are dealing with water, the question of your pumps, your purification processes and what have you, because you do not have expertise and because you do not have the resources to be able to do that, that aspect you would then give to a strategic partner who would handle that and you get so much money for it and we would simply be in charge of water supply. We know our people, we know the consumers. You do purification for us because we don't have people who are qualified to do water purification. It's things like that. Ordinarily you would say that's privatisation but you have not sold off that plant, you have only sold off an aspect and in the end you are still the major shareholder there as government. Many governments do this, the Chinese Communist Party and the French Communist Party do it.

POM     So is this what the President has in mind when he talks about the need to accelerate the rate of privatisation? He's not talking about the wholesale scale of state assets but rather he's talking about finding strategic partners?

CN     Not in all cases. In some cases indeed it's the entire enterprise that is sold off because there's a feeling that that enterprise is not, in terms of the SA context in the first instance, delivering the kind of service that we want it to deliver to our people and it is costing government a lot of money. If the service is going to continue it is better for government to sell off. It's things like that. Other questions are partial privatisation, what I've talked about, Transnet for instance. Transnet is going through a process that is an audit that is being done in Transnet and the unions have participated in this process. In the end we will check what aspects of that system are working and bringing in money and government consolidates its position there. Which ones should be sold off, then they get sold off. Which ones should be joint partnerships? There you invite strategic partners, government and strategic partners. In some of these enterprises that is how government is going to be moving. I'm quoting Transnet because that is what is going to be happening in the case of Transnet but not all enterprises are going to be treated in that way. Some of them, as I say, will be sold off. In fact there is a mood in the country that says because government is pushing this stronger than anybody that there are some aspects of the economy that we should not be holding on to, that for instance we should allow to be sited elsewhere. I don't know. We have not made a proper audit. I don't know which ones those will be but one imagines that some of the things that are a problem. Let's assume just for argument's sake that for instance the production of tyres was not making headway in SA, that it will be better for us to forego that and concentrate maybe on the production of steel and steel goods. So we say let this one go, tyre manufacturing can be done elsewhere, it can be done in Zimbabwe or Washington, those workers who are in the tyre industry are absorbed in the steel industry and the steel industry is enlarged. Something like that. I don't know which ones in the end government will be looking at.

     To come back to your original question, indeed there are certain things that the ANC will do even if they are opposed by the Communist Party. There was an understanding of that at this meeting we are coming from. The party is a party of socialism and the ANC is not. There are certain things that the ANC will do that the party would not do. Comrades spoke about what we refer to as multiple mandates. Multiple mandates mean that Mbhazima Shilowa is a member of government because he's Premier in Gauteng. He is a member of the Communist Party, a member of the ANC. He has those mandates from those organisations. When he speaks as the Premier of Gauteng then he cannot speak as if he is a Central Committee member of the SACP. He speaks in terms of the policies that guide the Gauteng administration. If the Communist Party, for instance, opposes GEAR he cannot become a Premier of Gauteng and oppose GEAR. He can't. But he has all the rights to oppose GEAR in party meetings. The way that it was put, which I thought was a beautiful one and in fact related to GEAR, is that when you are in an ANC conference and you are an ANC delegate, like a member of the ANC NEC, and you serve on a commission that deals with economic issues, you cannot use your party views on GEAR to change the position of the ANC on GEAR. You cannot stand in front of the delegates and say, "No, this thing is wrong." But you can discuss if you are not leading that particular discussion, you can stand up as a member of the ANC who understands this particular debate in a particular way and say, "Comrades, have we looked at the following in respect of GEAR." You can do that. But if you have been assigned by the ANC to produce an economic document for the ANC you cannot use your party opposition to any aspect of the economy. That is how it was explained. We accept these multiple mandates. You cannot say as a party person, that party person who is talking in that ANC forum is wrong by advancing ANC positions. You can't.

POM     Is it not difficult?

CN     It is not difficult. When you sit down, which is what was said at this meeting, we agree across the spectrum of our national liberation movement on more things than we disagree, on much, much more things than we disagree. We have the same understanding about an integrated rural development policy, we have the same understanding about the co-operative movement in SA, the same understanding about the key leadership role of the working class in our revolution. Where there is often difficulty, as I say, is when there has not been proper consultation. An example is when we were talking about this question of privatisation and the Minister for Public Enterprises who was present at that meeting started explaining. We accepted his explanations but we were saying this must not come after the fact, we must be brought in early on because there are many things, many positions we have gained in these discussions including what we refer to as the National Framework Agreement. According to that, ministers will not privatise until there has been agreement through proper processes of consultation in terms of the commodities that are being privatised.

POM     That's agreement among the Alliance?

CN     The Alliance partners. If you don't do that it means you are violating not necessarily the Alliance partners but an agreement between that particular ministry and the union that operates in that enterprise. That agreement was hammered in the Alliance. It would be wrong to violate that agreement. If this consultation does not happen then there will clearly be problems. Unions are not going to allow for that situation. So if a particular union reads in the media that a minister who is in charge of an enterprise where they mobilise is privatising, it will have a right to oppose those things by saying that minister did not consult in terms of the National Framework Agreement. People must explain properly, in a meeting, and say we are thinking of restructuring this particular enterprise and this is how we would want to do it. We want to retain 51% of its operations as we know government's responsibility, 20% we would like to have a joint understanding and the rest we sell off. We would then discuss and if indeed we feel that it would be better to go this direction then that's what we do. We have all along been saying in the party that we are not opposed to the restructuring of state assets per se but we can't support a wholesale privatisation programme and a wholesale privatisation programme would not have these elements that I've already spoken about.

POM     No, it just means selling off.

CN     It means selling off and government does not have an interest in that particular enterprise. Government would have to protect strategic enterprises like transport, like water and electricity supply. Those are things that impact directly on the interests of our people. So you wouldn't just willy-nilly privatise wholly those enterprises, you wouldn't.

POM     When it comes then to let's say you sell off a portion, then have you got to negotiate what about if the buyer says well in order to make this portion that I've just bought efficient I am going to lay off 30% of the workforce? What rights do the unions have in that regard? And they go to the union and say, listen we bought X, Y & Z, it's losing money, that's why the government sold it to us and we bought it and we've got to make a profit and part of our restructuring is that we've got to lay off 30% of your membership. What would be the process there or is there any process?

CN     There would be a process. You see in some instances that process has not happened. What you are talking about has been happening in some instances. For instance, the mines: some of the mines in this country are marginal and because they are marginal this situation has arisen where the mine bosses will say look, we are not making a profit at all on these mines. We are thinking of selling them to someone else and that person who is buying says I am not going to need this workforce that you have. I can't take all of them. And there have been problems around this issue because that discussion has not happened with the workers. The ideal position that we are pushing for is that even questions of retrenchment must be negotiated. In fact the Labour Relations Act is framed in that way that you negotiate retrenchments, you can't just retrench people. Negotiate. Those negotiations would therefore include what you are saying but then the other thing that workers won on, which is part of the rights of workers, is that when that situation arises the employers must give plausible reasons for selling off. Disclosure is part and parcel of the rights that workers in our country have won. You must disclose why you say you are not making profits and they must bring their books and unions must look at those books and see if indeed they have been making profit or if they have been losing on the project. In that case the union would have an understanding but the biggest problem is that that process is not strictly adhered to. The unions are not, most of the time, benefiting from this process of full disclosure.

POM     Is there a bigger problem in a sense, like on the employment front you face at least two problems, I'm just making two for simplicity's case, one is to deal with what's called downsizing, to stop people being retrenched or to slow the pace of retrenchment, and on the other hand to create new jobs to absorb new entrants to the labour market plus the unemployed who already exist? Where now is the primary emphasis? Is it on protecting jobs? I mean for a union, the task of a union is to look after the interests of its members and that means primarily that they hold on to their jobs. How do your unions fit into the job creation strategy?

CN     You see there are a number of things in place already. Firstly the unions are not just looking at the retention of jobs. They are also looking at the creation of jobs. That is why COSATU launched the job creation campaign. COSATU have been calling on people to contribute towards the job creating fund. They want to create jobs and they also want to ensure that these jobs are retained so it's not just a question of retaining those jobs. We have to create jobs and ensure that people stay in those jobs.

POM     But they also want to improve the standard of living of their members.

CN     Of course.

POM     And there can be contradictions between the three elements.

CN     Well of course because the question of wages indeed does come into play. I know that there are many people who argue that the SA job or labour market is inflexible. Your question was, how do you then reconcile those two things with wages. There are many people who say that our workers are overpaid. We don't think so. We think that the amount of work they do deserves much higher wages than are given to them. We recognise of course the fact that when you do that it means you must improve production. You have to improve production. And this is not lost to all of us, including workers, that production has to be improved. But government is looking at various things together with the unions and all of us. The question is what do we do, what are the things out there that need to be done that we can do to provide work for the many unemployed people? This integrated rural development strategy for instance is one of those things we want to use to employ people, particularly in the rural areas. What the strategy means is that you cannot go into a rural area and establish a clinic and say you have therefore delivered to the people in the rural areas. That clinic must have water, it means your Ministry of Water Affairs has to participate. That clinic must have power, it means your power supply commission must go in there and provide that power. There must be roads that lead to the clinic. There are many things, therefore, that must happen in order to see a clinic that runs and runs efficiently. You have to provide these other services and when you do that people in that area benefit from the employment opportunities that arise. People who make the roads and the bridges are people who come from that locality. They will be building the clinic themselves, they will be involved in the installation of electricity and other services. There are areas that have already been identified for this project and by next year these things will begin to happen. That's job creation.

     Many of these jobs that will be created are not permanent jobs but they help in the immediate term to provide work for people. There are others. There are new economic ventures that have started. There are at least a couple on the border with Mozambique. Mozambique is going to benefit from this. There are going to be many other projects that government will launch. Unions themselves want to use the money that they are collecting to themselves help in the creation of jobs. They will help government. They will take that money finally to government and say this is our own contribution to the creation of jobs.

POM     Three quick questions. One is a convergence of a lot of what you're talking about is on the civil servants and at the same time the rate at which they are paid. Now my understanding now is that plurality of the members of COSATU belong to the Public Service so rather than representing manufacturing as they did in the past, in the majority it's now the plurality of membership is in the Public Service. How do you deal with that? That's one. Two is a question to which I haven't gotten an answer. As I understand it there's a law on the books that allows people who are tenants in townships to own their houses, ownership can be given to them if they've lived there ten, fifteen, twenty, thirty, forty, how many years, and that law has not been implemented on any large scale basis, that most of the people in Soweto who are still living in rented houses that should be theirs. They're still paying rents to the municipal authority but they shouldn't be paying. This would be revolutionary, suddenly everyone goes from being a tenant to being an owner, they have some equity, it's something they own. It hasn't happened but it's on the books. The third one is what, from being around the President and listening to him and advising him, what do you think he sees as the greatest challenge of his presidency?

CN     Let me start on the last one because it's the simplest. You know, and this he repeated at the summit we are coming from, the President truly believes that what we should do is to ensure that we provide a better life for our people. He says there must be a difference which is palpable insofar as our people's lives are concerned. You might think that that statement is maybe a theoretical statement but he is insisting that his own ministers must do the things that are necessary to bring about that situation. That is why he has decided on this integrated rural development programme, has brought a number of ministers together in clusters so that whenever anything is done a number of ministries will be involved in that project.

POM     Co-ordination.

CN     Yes, co-ordination because he wants these things done and done quickly. At his Opening of Parliament address on 25th June he put on the table a number of things and he said this thing is going to be done in the next two weeks, this one will be done by December, that one will be done by the end of November and so on. He wanted to indicate to the country his sense of urgency in terms of the transformation process in the country. He is very committed to a better life for all our people and he thinks that there are things that can be done, does not understand why it would be difficult for us, for instance, to build houses for people, what makes it difficult for us to do this, what makes it difficult for us to deliver to people who are in the rural areas because it should be possible to do that. There's an amount of money which was budgeted, one billion rand, and that money was purely a means to attack, not full-scale, but at least at the initial stage, poverty in our country, it was called the Poverty Relief Fund. That money was not meant in the main as a donation to people directly but what would happen is that the various government departments would investigate the poverty situation in a given area and say what the people want here is jobs. What work can they do for three years at least so that in three years their conditions of life are improved? That would be things, as I say, like laying out roads, bridges, building schools, providing clinics, basic infrastructure and in three to five years those people would be employed. It would therefore help to defeat poverty during that period. These are the things he wants to do. You should see how the President reacts when he sees poverty. In our country you can actually see poverty, it's almost tangible. You can see it. He goes into an area and he sees that people are poor there, he would ask then and there the question from the platform what needs to be done to at least address the initial problems of people. Then people would stand up and say all we need here is the following. And on coming back he instructs the relevant ministers to begin to do research around how they can provide this kind of delivery to people. He is really concerned about this delivery of a better life.

     The next question on the houses

POM     This is not building them, this is ownership can be given over.

CN     I don't know what is happening in Soweto.  I know that in other places you are not given your house. In Cradock where I come from I was not given that house but I had to buy it. I bought it for R500. R500 is too much if you consider our people who are unemployed and who have been in these houses for donkey's years. I don't know, because I did not check, if everybody needed R500 to buy those houses because my own understanding also is your understanding that a law was enacted for people who have been occupying these houses for a particular period of time to be given those houses.

POM     They've paid for them over and over in terms of rent.

CN     Yes they've been paying rent. I don't know what is happening but I'm going to chase this thing up because I have an interest in what is happening in this area. So I am going to check, I don't have, unfortunately, facts on it but I am going to check it because it would be silly. That's an obvious line of delivery that. You issue a public statement that says all those who have been occupying these houses for this period for instance, those houses are theirs. Not even that period, I mean if there is a house that is in my name, I've been occupying for a year, that is my house, why should I be paying rent for any particular number of years before that house is mine because many people have gone into houses for which payment has been made. I mean if you go into a house where there have been ten occupants before you, each one of those ten occupants was paying rent so they paid for the value of that house. So when I come in and I'm the current occupant of the house when the decision is taken, why shouldn't I be given that house? In any event I'm going to check on it. It's a good point.

POM     If it's genuine all of those people would be eligible for bank loans because they would have collateral.

CN     Of course.

POM     So they could get a little business.

CN     And the collateral would also help them to extend those houses.

POM     That one I don't understand.

CN     No I'm going to chase this one up. I don't know, I must confess I didn't know. I was wondering when I was asked to pay for our house why that was so, but I thought that maybe there was a system where those who can afford should then buy. But what about those who can't afford? They also should be given this option. I will check.

POM     It should be a quick process not that you have to go through this

CN     In fact it's a statement.

POM     Just make a proclamation.

CN     No I'm going to check on it, it's a very good point. I don't know why we have not been thinking about it. It's a very, very good point. No I am going to check what is happening because that is what we should do. If I was again going to meet the President I would say it could be part of his Christmas message. He's already done it. I was going to suggest he makes an announcement regarding this.

POM     Everyone who's in their house tonight owns their house.

CN     It's a big problem. You know there's an interesting thing that is happening in the public sector. For starters you know the salaries, comparably speaking, that people in the public sector are getting are much more than what they used to get. The public sector was never an attraction for people because the wages there were very low. I remember when we were growing up among your lowest paid people would be those in the public sector. People went out and started other things but now the public sector is paying much, much better than it used to. The good thing about the dispute which was there is the fact that there was much more interaction between public servants and the ministry. It brought in the Alliance as well. You see that dispute brought together the particular workers in that particular sector, COSATU as a whole, the party and the ANC, to discuss the way forward and what was good also is that in the end there was an understanding that the question we were facing was not just the question of salaries, it was also the transformation of the public sector as well as a new salary structure for that public sector. This is where the issue is at now. There are discussions about those matters. So that dispute helped us to look forward in terms of what we want to do. The public sector has become very, very important in terms of the transformation that we want to have. One of the things that we need to do in order for us to ensure that there is a better delivery to our people at the public level is to have government departments, government structures and organs of state which are transformed. The public sector in the period before ours was used to dispense favours to people. Those who supported the regime got cushy jobs. It was simply used for that. It was never used for purposes of giving a better delivery service to the people. In fact the public sector in the past dealt with our people as if they were just trash. Now we want to move away from that to a better service for our people.

     There's the obvious question, what do we do about those public servants who do not merit being in the public sector? This question you posed at the beginning, downsizing, retrenchments and what have you. There is an understanding on the part of COSATU and the relevant union that there are people who will necessarily have to get out of the system because they are not providing that kind of service.

POM     But aren't they in a way protected by the labour laws that were passed when Tito was Minister for Labour?

CN     Yes but many of them are people who are old, others are people who can be re-deployed to do other things. It would not be difficult when a personnel audit is done to deal with that kind of situation. But we are saying, there is a revolution. It's not only in the party but in the ANC and COSATU itself. Those matters need meetings where people sit down. And fortunately in terms of the understanding from the meeting at the weekend, we are saying what is going to happen is that at times, and we won't need extra structures for this, at times an issue will arise and the Secretariat would say that matter needs a discussion between that minister and that union. They will have to go and have a discussion. The rest of the leadership will come in if any intervention is necessary. In that way we are going to ensure that even that question of downsizing is done in such a way that your most capable people are retained in the system. Those that the system is not rejecting outright are retrained, others are re-deployed because there are many instances where you find that a particular person is asked to do work they can't do but they are good in other respects. You then re-deploy those people and put them in other functions of state.

     In the end I believe that if you are a COSATU member you have many possibilities to go to a minister in the ANC, draw that minister's attention to problems that are happening. You have the best forum in the Alliance itself to address your problems. You would never have it under any other government. That is why the Alliance, never mind what some people are saying, is going to last for quite a long while. It's going to be as a result of that cohesion in the Alliance that indeed we are going to bring about the transformation in fairly quick time that we are committed to. This was said at the summit that we are coming from. There is that realisation. My personal input at the summit was that the party is a party of socialism, we will all the time advance socialist concepts. The ANC will talk as it does because it is this big church, a nationalist organisation.

POM     What would you call the ANC? If you were to place it on the political spectrum?

CN     The ANC is a national democratic organisation, it's different from us because it deals with nationalist issues. In other words it's a multi-class organisation and we are not a multi-class organisation. We are a working class organisation pure and simple. We don't have bosses in the party because we are a working class establishment, the political party, and we fight against the other class which is the bosses so it's clear. But in the ANC you will have communists, you will have the bosses who are there, you will have the poor, you will have the rich who are members of the ANC. That's the kind of multi-class organisation that the ANC is and therefore there are many things that the ANC will not say even if it supports socialist projects of the party. Other times the ANC will adopt positions that accommodate its multi-class character but we will say we do not support that aspect of ANC policy as the party. There is an understanding that that will happen.

POM     Thank you ever so much.

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.