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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

14 Feb 2000: Leon, Tony

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POM     Just to pick up on what we had started on, the question of AIDS in SA and the region in general: from everything that I've been able to glean, comprehensive information put before the government as far back as 1994 regarding the possible extent and implications of the pandemic – we had just been talking about AIDS and as I said for everything we can glean, comprehensive information was available to the government regarding the extent and possible implications of the pandemic as far back as 1994, it's taken at least five years to respond. A couple of questions: (i) why do you think the government has been so negligent in handling the disease, (ii) do you think it is the biggest challenge facing SA in the next 10 – 15 years, (iii) do you think it may be only possible to deal with it by declaring some form of national emergency, that it's past the stage of crisis which may mean some constraints on individual rights as defined in the constitution?

TL     Oh a lot of questions there. The first question I cannot answer with any accuracy, I can only speculate. My own view is their response has been extraordinary. There must be some other agenda going on, whether they were desperately keen to get their own cure for AIDS and in this made pursuit they went for something called Virodene which they still are involved in. To what extent the ANC is involved in that as an organisation I have no idea, I can only speculate. The previous Minister of Health disgraced herself over this whole Sarafina play which is where 60% of the AIDS budget went to and produced nothing in return in terms of any kind of response. Their whole attitude on everything, from the beginning of the campaign for proper use of prophylactics, almost the impression given by the government was that it was a subject too ghastly to contemplate and they couldn't bear the idea that in fact they would have to discuss such things in public almost. That was the impression I got. Or that the consequence of it was to face up to widespread promiscuity which went against the grain of what traditional life was about, or (iii) – who knows what (iii) was, any number of things. It's just absolutely extraordinary and negligence is an understatement.

     Having finally got into gear we've had this amazing to-do with Mbeki refusing to look at the virtues of AZT as an inhibitor of AIDS transmission between pregnant mothers and their progency. We met, my party, in December last year with the manufacturers Glaxo Wellcome who advise us that they are prepared to give a discounted price to the government, which would amount in gross terms to the treatment of every woman who is estimated to be HIV positive at the moment who's pregnant, of R27 million which is actually very little. I mean they spent R20 million on giving the cabinet new motor cars and R47 million on the President's Inauguration. There's no rational explanation for any of this but whatever, whatever the motive might be I think the consequence is being terrible. They're pushing more money into medical research but frankly the cure for AIDS is not going to be found in SA, it's going to be found in America or wherever so I regard that as a completely fruitless investment.

POM     Just to follow up on the AIDS –

TL     I can't give you a proper explanation because I simply don't know. There are a lot of people, I will tell you though that the way they're dealing with it is whatever your worst expectations are will probably be realised. It continues to this day. The other thing is they have deliberately gone out of their way to keep the NGO sector, the non-governmental organisations, out of the control of AIDS policy and practice in this country which is another inexplicable aspect. All I can draw your attention to is that which they haven't done or they've done wrong. Some greater explanation – I was talking about their inability or unwillingness to confront issues that go against the grain of African tradition. I think that might be an explanation. There might be some terribly and ghastly and unacceptable explanations to say, well, this is a way that you're going to actually be able to deal with population growth. I would think that that wouldn't be the case, not because they are so humane and democratic our government, although I would like to think they are, I just simply think that no rational person could take that view because of the devastation it's going to do to the country anyway. It's not an answer, it's not an alternative.

     I don't know that there was, it's difficult to speculate into the future, whether they would have to start suspending basic civil liberties in order to deal with the scourge and consequence of AIDS. I think that's simply too speculative, I wouldn't comment on that now. We would have to see exactly what was required and what the current situation or framework of the constitution or law inhibited –

POM     To what extent in your party is it on the list of priorities facing the country?

TL     Oh top, we've got a dedicated AIDS spokesperson. It doesn't sound like much but that's really her full time, major time job to deal with HIV AIDS, be on top of the issues. I've described it as the Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse in SA in a speech last week in parliament because I said we can talk about jobs, we can talk about crime, we can talk about this and that and a few other matters of major concern but this just looms over everything. So I would put it pretty near the top.

POM     Do you know, for example, whether the Department of Finance when it prepares its budget estimates or does its projections for economic growth in the future, whether or not it factors in AIDS as a variable?

TL     I can't answer that question, I don't know.

POM     No-one has ever asked Trevor Manuel as far as you know?

TL     They might have, I just simply don't know.

POM     But it doesn't appear to me to loom in parliament as –

TL     Well it doesn't but we deal with it in the sort of South African way of symbols and gestures rather than substantive things. They all go around wearing ribbons and so on. I think it's a lot of nonsense, wearing a pink ribbon and you don't do the minimum required to deal with it either at the level of prevention or treatment. There's enough awareness about prevention now and what you've got to worry about is the treatment side. I'm not sure that we've really done either properly or at all.

POM     That depends on this assumption that if there's awareness, awareness translates into change in behaviour which hasn't proved true in any country. To move a bit backwards, I will read you statements and ask you to react to the statement. One is that, where I picked up where I left off the last time was, South Africa's economic well-being is well beyond it's own ability to control, globalisation creates inequalities between countries just as market driven economies create greater inequalities within the better off countries. To what degree, just on the economic future of this country, is it largely beyond it's own ability to control?

TL     I don't think that at all. I think the disciplines are imposed from outside in terms of there's a certain way you've got to behave in terms of your economic, political behaviour and if you don't do that you'll be out of the ball park. But within that there's a lot you can to either improve the investment flows into a country characterised as South Africa's with a very low savings base and a low investment base and therefore the critical element in this country, the critical variable our government can control through its behaviour, through its policies is the amounts and the levels of FDI. So I think there's a lot that can be done and I'm not sure that all that could have been done has been done.

POM     But if you were a foreign investor and you looked at the level of HIV/AIDS would you invest here rather than, say, in Scotland?

TL     I'd rather invest in Scotland but I would never be first considering an investment in SA compared to Scotland unless of course the savings here were so significant and the start-up costs so little compared to Scotland that I would say that that's a decision that I would make notwithstanding some problem with HIV. Peter Hain, who is the Minister in the Foreign Office responsible for Africa who was out here recently, told me at a meeting we had that the cost of starting a software company in SA, software manufacturing one or another aspect of it, was £6 billion, British pounds. The equivalent start up cost in Britain would be £30 billion for a range of reasons. So now you can say well the saving of that, and I don't know how many such cases you would come across, of £24 billion, is something, a premium – makes any aid premium one worth taking. So I think there is going to be that. But I think typically you will be comparing SA to other emerging markets, destinations, rather than to Edinburgh or Glasgow.

POM     Why, despite the continuous use of the phrase 'the economic fundamentals are sound', why does there continue to be such a lack of significant foreign investment in SA?

TL     Well some of the fundamentals are sound, some of them are not. The tax rate is not particularly attractive here, it's quite high by comparative standards. The inflation rate is high certainly in terms of our trading partner situations. It's much higher than core inflation in most first world countries. Exchange control is no problem for foreign investors, just for domestic investors. The labour laws are far too rigid, that's one deterrent. The hassle factor, as it were, of starting a business here has not been properly addressed or at all by the government who have now set up an Investor Council to cut through all this stuff. So some of the infrastructural issues are quite good here, some of the advantages are reasonable but a lot of them aren't so it's a very mixed bag SA as an investment.

POM     Will there continue to be two South Africas for a very long time, that this hope that within ten years or so that the imbalances in income distribution will be eliminated?

TL     No not at all, on the contrary. But the two South Africas are changing in their complexion, the two South Africas increasingly were of income maldistributions which were really on class rather than racial lines, there's been a rapid growth of black earning and middle class relative to what it was. A decline of white incomes overall but the biggest gap is between the upper income levels and the lowest income levels and there tends to be a multi-racial level on both sides. So I don't see that closing nor do I see a lot of government policy directed towards the rapid individual … of blacks as a sort of national project rather than to poverty alleviation.

POM     But this again is something like AIDS, something that's not spoken about?

TL     Oh it's spoken about a lot in political debate but the government. Look, I think what Mbeki is trying to do is to use race solidarity as a base.  You were saying, Padraig?

POM     We were talking about the fact that the inequalities are now more based on –

TL     I said I felt that Mbeki was involved in invoking kind of politics of racial solidarity in order to do a whole range of things among which is to create a black middle class and the black middle class is a conscious choice being made ahead of rapid and immediate poverty alleviation. For example, it's one of many, that when it comes to the so-called restructuring of state assets, which is a coda for privatisation which we have very little of in this country but it's an obvious income generator for government, it's the best way you can bring down your debt burden to sell these things which are not very productive, not the sort of activities government should be involved in. Instead of saying, look, what we first want to do is actually get rid of this stuff to the highest bidder on a most competitive base as possible, a lot of it is saying, no, we want to actually bring in equity partners who are going to first of all be involved in the restructuring of the asset and we're going to have local black investment partners getting a slice of the asset as of right. Now that's a choice but when you exercise that choice the consequence is you don't get the highest price, if you don't get the highest price you haven't got the resources to go and do what has to be done. I'm putting it in simplistic forms but much of that permeates government policy and practice across the board.

     Housing, what is the imperative of our housing policy? Is it to rapidly create houses or as many homes for people as possible or is it to ensure that we get black housing contractors and jobs from the housing contracts? Now nothing in life has one simple or mono cause of explanation. I accept that. It's how you tilt these policies that critically depend what sort of outcomes you get and increasingly I find that they're tilted towards the objective of black empowerment rather than black poverty alleviation.

POM     You have this committee known as the Redeployment Committee headed by Jacob Zuma. Do you think that the ANC of 1999 resembles in many fashions the National Party of 1948 insofar as that it is trying to extend its tentacles into every realm of society outside of the public realm, into the private realm, into private business, into wherever the power centres of society are?

TL     I think they're more extreme than the NP in that sense. The NP was determined to dominate the state sector and to create a state ideology in its own image and to get the right people in the public service positions. They were much more hands off in terms of the private sector. They recognised some division between the public and private sector. Frankly if you look at the expansion of the SA economy in the 1950s and 1960s, which was truly impressive, there was very little state involvement in the personnel decisions in the private sector. A lot of state interference in policy making because the of political ideology, who you might employ and so on. But they didn't regard them as interchangeable commodities and the NP wanted to dominate the public and the state sector. They would rather leave the private sector to the English until the 1960s. There was a change then but that largely grew out of individual efforts and the attitude of some of the English capitalists in this country. So I would say the ANC has a much more over-reaching idea of power. Ironically, of course, the very moment that state power itself is on a retreat throughout the world, it means much less today. It's very difficult to control things in this global age of information, it's just almost impossible. So I think that they do but I think there is less of it in practical terms. But I would describe them in some ways as more extreme.

POM     Are they trying to legislate behaviour, political correctness? I find this whole – the Race and Inequality Bill at some level it's almost laughable. Whether if I called you a Boer would depend upon whether I was saying it in a joking way or a not joking way, or whether you were in a receptive mood or not a receptive mood. If I said it in a certain tone it would mean one thing and if I said it in another it would mean something else. I know the saying if I called myself one, would that be kind of self-imposed, beating myself?

TL     I think a lot of this was taken out of the final stage of that legislation. We voted against it for other reasons. It's an appalling piece of legislation but that's precisely the point. They have enacted a lot of things that are really aimed at a grievance lobby, you might call them, the people who have made a huge fetish out of issues like this. I think that they think that legislation is a cure-all for it, it isn't at all. Enforcement of the current laws is what's sadly lacking in this country. But, yes, I think that there's a desire to legislate behaviour.

POM     What do you think this grows out of?

TL     It grows out of a massive sense of psychological inferiority which is the real damage of apartheid, the psychic damage it did to people. It's either that or it's just an extremely cynical exercise. It's probably some combination of the two. I think there's a lot of anger about the history, but I think that's the problem of SA. As a very eminent German, a German liberal who is very close to my party, wrote me a letter which I was reading last night. He said the problem with SA unfortunately, he said after meeting everyone from Mbeki downwards, is that it's burdened with too much ideology and too much history and that's what this is the outgrowth of. Very difficult to take your place in the modern world with all that stuff.

POM     Given what's called the legacy of the past and given the state of the state that the ANC took over, 14 different departments of this, 14 different departments of that, subsidised homelands, corrupt 'independent' states, have they done a bad job?

TL     I think they will tell you that the apartheid regime messed up the country, they wouldn't use the word 'messed' though, so badly that whatever they've done since then has been better than that and whities like me or whoever should be much more grateful than they are. Well I suppose at that low level of analysis and comparison they might be correct. It's less worse than it might have been. I think one's disappointed, one really thought that the change from apartheid would not be the perpetuation of it in other means. The truth is there were 14 departments of health and so on, I'm not sure we're better off with the way we've done it with one national department and nine different provincial organisations. It's all very repetitive of some of the worst practices that they inherited in different guise and with a different ideology and with a different basis but essentially much the same.

     Understandably things are better, the national mood is much lighter than it was and there's much less oppression. There's no oppression in this country of the kind that we had. We've got other issues to deal with and other problems but people are not being oppressed because of personal affiliation or skin colour. That's a big advance. But some of the basic incompetencies have continued as before and worsened in some areas.

POM     Well, say on a scale of one to ten if one looked at just the history of Africa, I'm saying Africa specifically this century –

TL     Last century.

POM     Last century, sorry. And look at what has happened in other African countries, the atrocities, the conflicts, the barbarism, the genocide, the video that was on the other night on Sierra Leone, devastating in what it showed. Where would you place apartheid?

TL     Well it depends. I think there were different components of it and to it. As a basis of ideology I would score it incredibly low. In terms of its devastating consequences on a continental basis it's obviously much less worse than much that you see to the north of us where it's a brutal form of the competition over very scarce resources. But everything is relative. The problem here was that the resources were always much greater and there was a national kind of enterprise going which apartheid took over and in some ways comprehensively destroyed. So I don't know that you can compare us to other parts of Africa. The make-up of this country at every level was completely different to anywhere to the north of us. The imposition of an ideology like apartheid, well it did a lot of things, very good things for the infrastructure of this country. You wouldn't have an iron and steel industry, you wouldn't have an oil from coal industry. Those things were born out of it and they had the technology and the know-how and the will to do it. You wouldn't have had the white emigration to this country if you hadn't had an apartheid government in operation, presumably, that made this a haven for whites coming from England in 1950 that improved the skills base. If you look at it entirely rationally and without any feelings of human emotion involvement - but that wasn't very good news for the indigenous population of this country except now that they've inherited a serious going concern, better than anywhere else in Africa on many levels. The question is – what now? Keep it going? Improve on what we have or run it down?

POM     Which direction do you see it going?

TL     A bit of both really. It's unclear. The signs are mixed.

POM     If one were to say, as I sometimes come to the conclusion, that SA will remain more or less as it is, that there will be a richer class and a poorer class and the rich by and large will remain richer and the poor by and large will remain poor, the unemployed by and large will remain unemployed and you will have a little bit of movement hither and thither but not very much.

TL     Of course that's very mediocre and that's possible. That's the Brazilian option really, the most, as it were, indicative. I fear that it just won't be good enough because when I say it won't be good enough it will not help anyone who is unemployed at the moment. It will just mean you will have people coming onto the job market. None of this will be at all progressive in the sense that you will not be lifting people out of poverty. The status quo in SA is it's rather a depressing place to be for most people but it's better than being in Sierra Leone, yes.

POM     Derek Keys said to me once that if you want to be poor SA is not a bad place to be poor in. Is that the future for the masses?

TL     Well if we don't have really high levels of growth, 7%, 8%, 10% for several years, that is the future.

POM     And the possibilities of that are?

TL     At this stage? Remote because Mbeki's economic reforms are simply too mild and timid but that might change.

POM     Might change, in what way?

TL     Well they might accentuate – I don't know, it's very difficult. The signals are once again very mixed and I'm not omniscient unfortunately. I don't know. You must speak to them. Who do you speak to from the ANC in these interviews?

POM     Just about everybody.

TL     Really. Well find out from them – if they know.

POM     Well they talk more in terms of hopes and aspirations rather than in terms of realities. I think the job situation is a very good example of that. There have been how many job summits? Jobs this, jobs that, jobs the other and yet the unemployment rate just continues to inexorably increase.

TL     It's not really very difficult to create jobs or to create an environment for jobs. You've just got to do a few things well and they don't do them at all. I don't want to sound over-simplistic, I think it's true. Look at America. It's got a very big skills base but they created 160,000 new jobs last month. One month. 19 million new jobs. Look at Ireland! That used to be a basket case economically. Why is it so successful now? They started to invest in education I think in a very meaningful way. Anyway maybe we'll get the plot one of these days.

POM     In terms of investments in, how, again, should priorities be chosen? Does education come first, does health come first?

TL     It's not money, it's management more than anything else. The education system is so dysfunctional in SA because of the way it's being managed. Here I blame the ANC almost entirely. In gross terms more blacks passed matric under Botha and De Klerk than under Mandela and Mbeki. Another legacy that - imagine that, imagine it being the apartheid government that had more black matriculants than the ANC government. There was a figure quoted -

POM     You were talking about there were 3000 –

TL     Black matriculants with maths and science passes, university admission, in the last proper exams that were written. That's the supply side. Now what you will have in SA typically is a huge pumping up of the demand side so there will be Equality Bills, affirmative action demands, but really where is the supply …  Your question to me, you say where should investment be? Should it be in education, should it be in health or whatever? The investment should really be in creating a properly managed infrastructure, a governmental infrastructure so that your education system works, so that intense debate that more people are matriculated out of it. We spend a lot of money on education, R45 billion that goes nowhere. The whole thing, speak to my colleague Helen Zille in Cape Town, she will tell you what has to be done and how you can get results out of the system, a whole number of things. They're functional steps, they're not huge extravaganzas.

     The biggest, I'm told, the most successful software designers, architects, whatever, in the world apparently as a national group come from India! Not from the US. In fact the Indian government has three or four super, incredibly competitive, top class higher technikons which specialise, I don't have the details, obviously have just been told about this yesterday, where it's fiercely taught, where it's very, very elitist, where it's fiercely competitive. Here what are we doing? We're flattening everything down. We're saying to people don't worry about raising the standards, we'll lower the standard to meet you. Hopeless. So I think at that level we've got to really pull ourselves up.

POM     Do you see Kader Asmal trying to tackle this problem head on?

TL     I think he is trying to but there are some major communists in his department who have an ideological approach to this which is completely mad in my opinion, inappropriate. Whether he can take them on, and he's one man and he talks a good game card, Asmal, he's very intelligent, whether he will manage to make a big difference I don't know. He's also got to undo all the ruin of his predecessor without saying that that's what he's doing. Quite a difficult job.

POM     When you talk about communism do you think that the communism or the behavioural attributes that come with communism continue to play a large part in government policy making?

TL     Well I'm not sure in the policy making, I certainly think government - we see a lot of what you might call rather strange forms of Stalinism, control at all levels, no questions asked, no public dissent. That to me has elements of Stalinistic practice. Part of the formulation, I think in education there's been an ideological approach. Where else would we see its manifestation? I think transport. I mean this idea of having a government designed vehicle for the taxi industry is redolent of a degree of central control though for quite a good purpose, which is strange indeed. I think you see it round and about but I would see it mostly in behaviour more than in policy development, mainly because at an economic level they have gone in the opposite direction. Economically government has accepted the tenets of market liberalism, market capitalism. Not happily and behind hidden hand and shuffled foot, as I would say, but they have. But that's how the world works and that's how they've got to behave.

POM     But you do see it in what I would call behavioural legislation?

TL     Yes.

POM     The way people work things, the way people will behave, the way they will act?

TL     I'd rather, I'm sure you haven't seen communism in respect of our police force. We had an effective constabulary which had a grip on what was going on in the streets of SA. I am sure people would feel much safer but we don't have that which causes you to question their ability to control very much. If you can't take care of basic law and order how are you going to control people's behaviour? You can't.

POM     What is the problem there? Why after four or five years of transforming or retraining or redeployment, why does the level of policing remain so abysmally poor?

TL     I think you've just given the answer with the way you've phrased the question. It's all those things, throwing out the old guard almost on an indiscriminate basis, not making proper management choices with policing, bringing in diplomats as Police Commissioners. It's pathetic, and it's also the idea to have control. They want their own people in the police force which I suppose is understandable but the consequences are that you have a lot of people who aren't policemen in charge of the police force. That brings its own issues. They haven't properly dealt with the issue of retrenchments in the Police Service because allowing unions in the police force is a disaster. They've done a lot of other things which have been …  and they can't decide what they want. They spent the first half of their term of office deciding criminals were really just frustrated blacks who want to get even because of the way that they were treated. Then that changed very fundamentally in the latter half of the Mandela years but it's taken time to get the message out. I think they are more serious about it, as I said to you in our last interview about the problem now, about crime, than they were but I'm not sure that they've left a police force intact to deal with it.

POM     What do you see as your role as an opposition party given the fact that unless there's some implosion within the ANC itself you're going to have a one-party dominated democracy for many years to come? In that situation where you are the official opposition, what do you see your role as?

TL     I think our role, just to sum it up, there are many aspects to it, is actually to increase the size and strength of the opposition component in a one-party dominant state. In other words I think we have a very clear idea of where we stand as a party. Some of the other opposition parties are not too clear on it. Basically as a party that stands for individual freedom and which wants to alleviate poverty by trying different methods to those that are currently on offer, the belief that human dignity is part of the sum of human freedom. But because of that we are there to make us more powerful and that means doing arrangements, deals, co-operation with other opposition parties, that we become the pole of the other party or the other movement in SA, which will put us on a fairly heavy collision course at times with the ANC. But I think it's important that we keep down that power and that we build up the enforcing mechanisms in the society which prevent the one-party dominant system from becoming a one-party state. That is very important.

POM     Where would your dalliance with Lucas Mangope fit into this?

TL     It's a minor issue. That's just one opposition party. There are two opposition parties in this country who have a black constituency, the one is his and the other is the UDM. I don't think Inkatha is an opposition party, it's certainly black. I think you've got to enter into limited co-operative arrangements with them so that you extend your reach. We can absorb most white voters, we will get the majority of the Indian vote in the next election I think, we will get a lot of coloured votes as soon as the NP collapses. At the moment our reach into the African community is not that great so we must go into co-operative arrangements with other African parties who are prepared to be in opposition. I didn't choose Mangope as the leader of the opposition in the North West, the people there did, black people. So they'll make a bit of a song and dance about it. I could say the same about their dalliance with Mr Rajbansi who's a court certified man untrustworthy of public office. That's who the ANC tried to get a two thirds majority from. That's politics.

POM     And the UDM? Has it …  ?

TL     I guess it has. We can talk to the core, what's left, which we will and we are doing. When the co-founder of it walked out that was really sending a signal that …

POM     Roelf formed it.

TL     Yes. You can't take them altogether seriously now. They have made no impact in parliament either, none at all. Occasionally something revelationary dribbles out but they have a lot of supporters in the Transkei and so on. But Mandela is getting stuck into them there. He phoned me yesterday, Mandela, about something else and he strongly indicated to me that his speech was really aimed at Holomisa.

POM     Which speech?

TL     Oh he made some critical speech about people who go around praising him and excoriating his party. He said, "It wasn't aimed at you Tony, it was aimed at Holomisa." He made a speech last week at some museum they were opening on his behalf. So they'll get the old man to finish him off.

POM     The future, looking at the next ten to fifteen years, are you optimistic about the prospects of the country? What are the greatest challenges facing it that it has not addressed yet or refuses to acknowledge? Is Mbeki a more effective President than Mandela or will you always need a charismatic Mandela-like type character to hold the masses in line?

TL     I can't answer what the future's going to be like in the next ten to fifteen years. It really depends on decisions that are taken in the next ten to fifteen months. I think that never has the government or Mbeki had more opportunity to effect some fairly radical economic changes. The political issue is settled in this country, blacks govern, whites basically accept that fact. There are some lunatics in cyber space who don't but there are in every country. It has been a peaceful transition so the political issue at that level is settled. The critical issue is the economic terrain where they have not made the transcending, bold changes that have been made on the political level and will they or won't they? I don't know. If we proceed cautiously, edging our way along, I don't think this country will attract the levels of investment and therefore generate the growth and jobs that we need and then we could really face huge social disruption down the line which, to use Mr Mbeki's words, he fears that the poor will rise and oppress us all. Well they will but that will be largely his doing so it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy unless, as I say and to go back to what I said earlier in today's interview, we get the levels of growth by generating the investment in the interests of this country - a point of view that has so far been lacking, those of choices and there are going to be consequences to them. So I can't possibly say, the indications are mixed at the moment. They're not altogether good but they could have been worse. So I'm sorry to give you such an evasive answer but it's very difficult to know.

     I thought that Mbeki would manage the country better than Mandela did, the management issue. Maybe he does, I'm not sure of the results though, I haven't noticed a huge difference. The public relations has improved, they've got their act together in terms of information flows and controls. It was chaotic in the Mandela years in terms of that but the democratic deficits are really showing because Mandela was not just charismatic and appealing, he was a very open and very expansive person and a very inclusive person. Mbeki's style is exclusive which is very closed, it verges on the secretive. He does not regard himself accountable to anyone, he does not share his thoughts with anyone outside his inner circle. He doesn't give any compelling national vision to the country. We can carry on with all this stuff about the African Renaissance but what does it really mean? What's its content? What does it require? All those issues to me remain and it's not that the country or the masses need a charismatic figure, I think that they need someone who speaks frankly to them and takes them along for whatever changes he is going to introduce. Mbeki's like a stealth bomber.

POM     Just two last questions. One comes back to the first question on AIDS. Why in parliament when Trevor Manuel would present his budget or his assessment of the economy or what probable rates of growth are going to be or whatever, why does nobody stand up and say, "Minister, to what degree have you taken into account the impact of AIDS in the next two years, three years? Have you taken that into account?"

TL     I don't know why but I can make sure it's done from this budget onwards. A very good idea.

POM     I'd like to know. I'd like to know do they factor it in?

TL     I'll raise that with our people. I don't have an answer to that.

POM     Will you get someone to ask the question?

TL     Yes I will.

POM     The last one is on the African Renaissance about which I've read much and talked to many people who were in on the ground floor and still don't really follow it much better than I did at the beginning. One of the questions I have is what are the differences between 'Eurocentric' values and 'African' values?

TL     I've absolutely no idea. It's something to do with individualism versus communism I guess, I would say, this thing of 'ubuntu'. But I don't understand what's the difference between the African Renaissance and … , it's all the same, it's a kind of psychological thing of well-being I think.

POM     But for whom?

TL     Dr Feelgood. I think for the people presumably, I don't know, maybe for the political masters. I really don't know. I've listened to all this stuff but it's really unclear to me as well.

POM     If one went into a squatter camp and mentioned the word 'renaissance' they probably would think it's a soccer player.

TL     Well I ask the question, can you have a renaissance when you close your National Symphony Orchestra and you don't have any book provision in your budget with the City of Johannesburg for new library books? It won't be much of a renaissance and we don't have computer training for children. Where is the renaissance, what is it? It's all nonsense really, public relations hype. In content it sounds – psychologically it might play a very important role. There's a lot of psychic damage in this country largely from apartheid I suppose and from being in exile all these years.

POM     So will real change have to wait until the exiled generation has had its run and it steps down and a new generation takes over?

TL     God knows!  That will be in about ten years time. What will it be like by then? I don't know.

     So this is the end of the book?

POM     I hope so.

TL     A million, ten million words or something. How many have you got?

POM     I've got 16,000 hours of interview material.

TL     It's frightening. Is all this being transcribed?

POM     It's all been transcribed.

TL     Do you sit and listen to these?

POM     I make a point of listening or reading. I'm working on different models, using notes and general impressions but now I have to go through the entire lot and I think what I will end up doing is picking maybe 20 – 25 people, the most interesting people, not the most important, and use them as –

TL     So I've just gone out of the project now!

POM     No, you may just come in.

TL     Zach de Beer, did you used to interview him?

POM     Yes, yes.

TL     He died just before the election.

POM     Yes. Denis Worrall. I might go back and do him again. I did him the last time I think about four years ago when he was over in Dunkley Square in Cape Town. We still keep in touch.

TL     Whereabouts are you based?

POM     Here or in Cape Town.

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.