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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.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 Sep 2000: De Lille, Patricia

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POM     I was saying, Patricia, my questions today will be mostly concerned with your reflections over the last ten years of where the country has come from, where it is and where it is going. I think I would particularly like to put that in the context of AIDS. It seems to be AIDS is devastating the country and yet it is not the overwhelming national priority. I am confused as to why it's not.

PDL     In terms of time we are about ten years behind getting ready to fight that, this pandemic, because as you known in 1990 already AIDS was a world issue around the world especially in the States and all those other countries where governments were positioning themselves and they were then effectively curbing and dealing with the disease. At that time very little was known about it in SA and I am sure some people died at that stage already of the disease without knowing it. Then of course from 1990 up to 1994 we were so busy fighting and getting rid of apartheid that that became the priority and not AIDS. Then also after 1994 we had still not made it a priority and that has caused this silent, invisible disease to spread like wildfire, undetected, no serious attempts to stop it.

     The very first advocacy prevention campaigns started really in 1996. So that's why I say we are ten years behind the rest of the world in fighting it. It started with a condom campaign, not much education about it the disease, what is the disease, how to prevent it. It's now only when people are dying in great numbers that the effect of the pandemic is really found especially amongst the poor.

     Unfortunately again it's the poor who are suffering like in anything else, always the poor get off the worst. Also there's a complete lack of leadership on how to deal with the pandemic. I don't think that the leadership in the country do fully grasp the extent of the pandemic, and then the whole country is in a denial stage. The government is in a denial stage because they refuse to provide anti-retroviral drugs, treatment for opportunistic diseases. Business is in a denial stage because they are not planning accordingly how to deal with the pandemic and then the communities are under denial stage. In most of the communities there's a stigma around the disease, so many people die and people are kept busy going to funerals all the time and nobody will admit the person has died of AIDS. We've now come to know that when people say he's died after a short illness, long illness, it's when actually the person has died of HIV and AIDS and also where people did have the guts and the courage to declare their status publicly they are being attacked and ostracised by the community. So the whole community, citizens, are also in a denial stage. We are only at that level of the stages of the disease. We are still at the denial stage.

POM     Reports indicate that one in every … 15 year old will die of AIDS. It's already the fastest growing rate of increase in the world. It's going to reduce life expectancy into the late 40s, early 50s in ten years. I would think that the entire government and opposition parties would be galvanised, saying we won't have a country in ten to fifteen years if we don't make education a priority, housing a priority, eliminating poverty, but there's one over-riding priority.

PDL     What's the use of having all these programmes if in ten years time you won't even have the people to implement the programmes? I feel exactly the way you feel and I must say I went in 1997, I attended a launch at then Deputy President Thabo Mbeki's house in Pretoria where they launched the Partnership Against AIDS and everybody, the who's who of the country was there, business, churches, everybody, and this partnership was launched, NGO, civil society. And I remember I stood up at that time and I said we can't always just say it's the responsibility of government, what are we doing as leaders of this country? I said, "I challenge all political leaders, business leaders, just to sponsor and look after one HIV orphan baby in this country, just one." And I explained to them I'm doing it currently, and I'm not trying to make a political football out of it, but if we can make our own contribution we will be helping those orphan children because they've five, six years to live. Some of them don't even reach that before they die. Make it at least as comfortable and loveable for them as possible. Nobody took it up.

     Now again I try to say, "Everybody go for a test, let's lead by example". Let us show the people of this country what to do instead of just telling them what to do. The point I really wanted to make at that stage was that the only people in this country who can save us, can save the whole country, they are the HIV positive people themselves. How do you know whether you're HIV positive or not? To start a campaign it is best to know your status because if you know your status you will then not in ignorance infect more people around you. And how do you determine your status? You have to go for a test and that's why I said let's go as leaders of this country, all of us, let's go for a test and then show our people, have the counselling done before the test, have the test and thereafter announce our results, because there's also this stigma that it's a black disease, it's a poor disease but if you look at the United States what happened, when key personalities, high profile personalities came out and they announced their status it de-stigmatised the disease because it showed that this disease knows no boundaries, it's a democratic disease, it can take on anybody.

     I had that kind of thing in mind but you won't believe the response. I can show you a file of how they responded and how they were trying to dodge the issue, how they invented responses. I think I had two leaders come up and do the test publicly with myself. If you can get the HIV positive people mobilised as a force in this country, all four million people, but you must know that half of them don't know their status, or even more than that don't know their status, mobilise them to be the advocacy to lead the fight against this disease, to de-stigmatise the disease; get MPs who are HIV positive to come out and announce their status, get that co-ordinated but focused attack on this disease.

     Now you're sitting with a leader who still doubts whether it exists and you know, you can't believe it, the amount of confusion and the anger this has caused amongst the community. Every week people are burying a person. It's like in the old days when they were fighting against apartheid, we didn't even have as many funerals as we have now. Every week, Padraig, every week. You know, it's coming closer to home. I think within the next five to ten years every one of us will have lost a person close to us with the disease.

POM     What do you think the stigma that attaches to the disease arises from? One has heard cases of someone declaring their status and being burnt out of their home or forced to leave the community.

PDL     You see it's a cultural thing in SA too whereby to talk about sex or anything linked to sex is taboo and the belief and the perception that AIDS is a disease which people get through sexual partners, being promiscuous, being gay, it's that bad, bad link towards the people who are HIV positive. The way to shake that off is to show that it's not only gay people, promiscuous people, in SA in fact it's more women dying than men and the reason why women are dying is because they are the recipients of the disease from their partners. The partners are the carriers. Also the way we determine our HIV figures in this country, it's also flawed because we only get our figures from ante-natal clinics and it's only pregnant women that attend there. There's no place where men are tested, where the youth are tested at school or university. Even at the universities youngsters are dying which shows to me that we've not yet even acknowledged that AIDS exists, let's fight it together. This is what I always say, AIDS exists, let's fight it together.

POM     What accounts for Mbeki's unwillingness to acknowledge the pervasiveness of the disease, to continue with these almost intellectual debates about whether HIV causes AIDS or whether it doesn't, when what you need is action, action and action?

PDL     It's his ego.

POM     His ego?

PDL     His ego. I think with the Durban International AIDS Conference, he missed a golden opportunity to turn that thing around. I was sitting there, I walked out. I was just going to be subjected to that rhetoric again and just the insult, because amongst the 10,000 people there about 90% were HIV positive. He was basically insulting them, insulting the world. He just blew it. I couldn't describe it any better, he blew it because there was an opportunity to tell the world what we as South Africans have done, where we have succeeded, where we have failed and what we are attempting to do. Also this whole rhetoric by him to say that we need an African solution to an African problem, what the hell is that supposed to mean when just up the road here there's Uganda that is a success story? In Botswana there are 30% of the people who are HIV positive, they also have some success stories there. Mozambique, all over, just in southern Africa there are a number of success stories. What do you want? But you're looking for an African solution but still you bring dissidents from Europe and from the United States to come and advise you. It's all this double talk and forked tongue talk of his that is not helping.

POM     What happened with his presidency? It began with such high expectations of there is going to be more efficient delivery, he's going to jump start economic growth, things are going to be done, the learning process was over with.

PDL     I think the major problem is he is obsessed with control, he wants to be in control and he's got these people around him, these spin doctors around him that do things not for the interests of the country but do things and plan to please him, an individual, rather than looking at the bigger picture. I think that is his major problem. If you look at how he's trying to centralise and bring everything close to him, how he appoints his lackeys into positions where he can manipulate them, pull the strings, he needs to break out of that mould, he needs to begin to accept that there are 40 million people in this country and each and every one of them matters. Even if you are from an opposition party, from a different church, from whatever race or creed, everybody matters. He's not come up to make us feel to say that he is ours, he belongs to us. He is more seen to be just a leader of the ANC rather than the leader of the country.

POM     Do you think the fact that he spent most of his life in exile, was educated in Britain, moved around in a lot of European circles and US circles, then came back to the country and within four years was Deputy President, that having left at such an early age that he doesn't really know SA all that well. He hasn't travelled from township to township, he doesn't know township life, the way township life works, the way rural communities work.

PDL     To me he just comes over as a very insecure person, an individual. All his major addresses, national addresses, when he comes and opens parliament or whatever, he always has these more quotations from certain intellectuals. If he's going to say something he will first quote from whichever writer or book, completely out of context most of the time, and then he will say what he wants to say as if he wants to use that example to reinforce what he is going to say, to say that somebody before me did this and they succeeded or this happened. This has actually spilt over to all the ministers, they now all go around quoting this one and quoting that one, poetic style of things, and in the meantime they're saying bloody well nothing. I think on his side it is a sense of insecurity that I notice there. Maybe I'm different, I don't like, even if I do write speeches, there's no need to quote if you know what you are saying, you don't need to quote to reinforce what you are saying.

     Then he's got this hell of a battle against black intellectuals. Again that insecurity, he's attacking them because he doesn't want them to stand up against him. Who are they as black intellectuals? Because he never talks about intellectuals, he always attacks the black intellectuals, whilst he as the President has actually failed to say to the black intellectuals, "Here is a programme, do this." If they had failed, if he had given them something to do and they failed then he can say, "But you are useless", but don't ignore them and then you say people are useless without getting them involved in the mainstream.  I don't know what his problem is with intellectuals. He's got a serious problem with them.

POM     Where does the country stand in terms of – like with AIDS and its continuing presence, this country is not going to get a rate of growth above 3% for years to come. The masses of the poor are going to remain poor.

PDL     He says that poverty causes AIDS. You must turn it around, AIDS also causes poverty because where you take away the breadwinner, the person who is bringing the income into the house, what is happening to a family where the father dies and the mother dies? They get more impoverished. That's the other side of the coin. There are things that we can do immediately like the issue of the mother to child transmission. Over 100 countries in the world are using the anti-retroviral drugs to stop the mother to child transmission. No, he wants to play God, he wants to decide who must die and not die, because if those kids are going to live they're going to be a burden for the state as orphans. Now how can you think like that? I am saying that we should start with those programmes immediately, give treatment to the pregnant mothers because if you ask any pregnant mother whether she would like to have an HIV negative baby she will say yes. So make anti-retroviral drugs available to the pregnant mothers with a view that you can extend the treatment to all because they're also saying it's not fair just to give treatment to the baby and not to the mother. I am saying that start with the baby and then look at how you can later on extend the programme to provide – because the ultimate solution is to provide treatment to all. Right now the anti-retroviral drugs have been offered to this country free of charge for five years so it doesn't hold water any more to say that we can't afford it. The drug companies have said there are the drugs.

POM     Now who supplied free of charge?

PDL     The drug companies.

POM     They do already supply? Would?

PDL     They've made the offer to supply free of charge for five years. They've not taken up the offer.

POM     The government is - ?

PDL     They're still dilly-dallying.  Where are we now? On the anti-retroviral drugs.

POM     We were talking about the drug companies had made an offer to –

PDL     To provide a drug free of charge. They first made an offer during the Durban conference of three years and the minister's response was, "What are we going to do after the three years?"  I said, "My God! You can't look a gift horse in the mouth." You're getting things free. So then they made a second offer of five years and now Nevirapine, AZT, now she is saying that they must now study the research, the feeding pattern or whatever, but every time they invent a new excuse. I agree with the private sector that government cannot take on this pandemic alone. You need a partnership between the private sector and the public sector. At the moment the private sector has gone out of their way, most of the drug companies, and most of the drug companies are leaving SA. They've really tried their best but because of the minister, even though she's a doctor and she's got some ethical considerations to make, she does not, she's making political considerations because she's trying to please the top guy and by trying to please him on a political level her ethics have gone out of the window too. So it's just sad, just sad.

POM     Do you often think that in the face of this catastrophe where so little is being done that the years spent fighting for freedom, that the freedom is being misused in a way?

PDL     The arrogance, huh! The arrogance that has come about by being a majority and they have a monopoly and they know what's right for all of us. That is finally going to be the downfall, the arrogance.

POM     Do you see any – there's more talk now I've noticed, there always has been talk of cracks within the alliance or whatever, are those cracks now becoming more open or is this just a wish on the part of other people, other parties that the alliance will fall apart?

PDL     I don't think so. There are cracks yes but they are not going to break up soon.

POM     Because?

PDL     Because there's too much self-interest. The leadership, I mean like the leadership of COSATU has been misleading the workers of COSATU for how many years now? The top leadership of COSATU really knew that GEAR, the economic policies, are responsible for the job losses and they've kept it away from the ordinary workers on the shop floor. Those workers are now beginning to learn more about GEAR and they know who is responsible because COSATU kept quiet about the impact of GEAR on workers but at the same time they also asked the same workers to vote for the ANC. If those workers had known in 1999 what is still to come for them even thereafter I am sure they would have started reconsidering in their minds as to who to vote for. What's happening now is that the leadership in the SACP, the leadership – if you look at the SACP leadership who are in cabinet, who are in the executive, Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, Jeff Radebe and all of those people, supposed to be Communist Party members, they will never give up their minister's jobs or whatever. The same with people like Sam Shilowa, co-squatter worker background. Thabo was very smart, he has neutralised all those big mouths, all the people who were complaining. Yes, they've got this other one also in parliament now, also a communist, Charles Nqakula, he is a political adviser to – they all get these cosy jobs and then they keep quiet. Jeremy Cronin, they made him the chairperson of the Transport Committee, quiet. So all those loudmouths they're slowly being silenced. So I don't think there will be a break up of the alliance. These people love their money more than their principles.

POM     And the people? Is there going to be a backlash at some point from the people?

PDL     The people don't really care about GEAR. They don't know it's GEAR that's responsible for them losing their jobs, they just want jobs. If COSATU had done their duty like they had to do as good trade unionists and educate their shop floor workers, their shop stewards, about GEAR and the impact of GEAR on the workers there would have been a much bigger outcry than what we have now. They kept it away from them. You always just heard COSATU leadership attacking GEAR, you never really heard at one factory, "Yes, everybody's being retrenched or they've lost their jobs. Well, we'll blame GEAR". So it's just at that level.

POM     So where is the country going?

PDL     I still have hope, Padraig. I'm for ever optimistic that if we can get rid of the arrogance, if we can begin to find loyalty to this country, all of us, be proud to say we are South Africans, what you see now which is quite worrying to me is that the unity that seemed to have emerged after 1994 is going. People are more than ever before more divided. Maybe that unity was just artificial and we now have to deal with the real questions because more than ever before people are now saying, "I'm coloured", "I'm Indian", "I'm black", "I'm white", and they still lack that loyalty to one country. We need to also find identity. I think if we can find identity and acknowledge and accept it that we are all South Africans, that we are pushed in this mess together, people must begin to understand what's the meaning of democracy. It doesn't just mean that you go to the polls once every five years and things like that. Then I think we can make progress but the leadership is – the vacuum, the gap between the leadership and the people at  the grassroots is growing, really growing. We should either slow down the pace and move everybody together, rather than what's happening now. The leadership is just moving on and moving on. They're more concerned about the role of SA in the global world than they are concerned here at home. That is an illustration of how they are moving and they are moving on and they think that people are still coming and in the meantime people are waiting there, they lack leadership, they need a vision, they want to know where they are taking this country.

POM     What happened to, all the talk about 18 months ago was on the African Renaissance, everything that was being said was being couched in the terminology of the African Renaissance and now it simply seems to have disappeared off the map.

PDL     I think the African Renaissance was just – Thabo Mbeki had to find something to be different from Mandela and he came up with this idea of African Renaissance and promoting African Renaissance, not so much as an ideology, any different ideology, but as something that he could claim to be his. I think he succeeded to a fair amount to do that. When you say African Renaissance you think about Thabo. It started with his 1996 speech 'I am an African'.

     (Conversation continues to include Terry)

PDL     Let me introduce you by the way, this is Padraig O'Malley. He's been writing a book on SA. He started in 1989 and he's coming back to SA once a year, you come back and then you interview all the same people, and he started interviewing in 1989. I was one of the people that he started interviewing in 1989. And he's deeply involved in the Northern Ireland crisis.

     TER     I was born there but fortunately my parents took me out of there when I was three years old.

PDL     That's why I phoned Art and I said to Art, can you think of something, what can we do – I mean I'm now looking at my own capacity. I don't have control over the police force or the defence force but I can speak and suggest something and let them reject it, let them say that we can't do it.

TER     The police are so demoralised. They're badly paid to begin with. The whole traditional police thing was you took Standard 6 poor whites and you made them into policemen and the only reason they went was that it was an opportunity to …  but that whole mentality has still continued. You just beat the hell out of any suspect and then you get a confession out of them, whatever. So it's got to be completely transformed as a professional police service. My daughter trains policemen in human rights issues and she's just horrified at how demoralised they are. My daughter is at the Trauma Centre, she trains counsellors and amongst the things she's doing at the moment is trying to train police in practising some sense of human rights in dealing with suspects. She is becoming sympathetic to the police because of the baggage they bring with them. They are so demoralised and they've been so badly trained. I believe that what we need is a professional respected police service to take the place of the military so you put those resources, instead of putting them into all this rubbish –

PDL     Arms, yes.

TER     We put them into a proper police service that actually has the respect of the local communities, that deal with the local communities instead of intimidating local communities so that they get information because the people at the moment won't tell. If there is any problem the people just clam up, they won't deal with the police, they don't trust them for a variety of reasons. But until we get a respected police service that gets information from people, that the people trust, I think we're –

PDL     What I also see with all of these murders they are so brutal. They are so brutal. I mean it's like stabbing 50 times, 40 times, slicing up the body. It is so brutal. It shows whoever's doing that must be very angry.

TER     This is the tragedy we've reaped from the past, the whole apartheid brutality and the violence of the state, the violence of the death penalty. It creates so much violence within society, cultural violence, it's going to take generations to undo it. But when the state sends the signal that it uses violence to deal with violence you just get a bigger gun. So these kids get the message from the state that they are spending R48 billion on weapons, well we'll just get a larger gun.

PDL     I was trying to talk to somebody last night to get me in contact with … and I was told even if I do get hold of her these murders and killings are not taking place within her area of constituency so she needs to go through the Mayor. And I said, "But why do you need permission? Bullshit! How can you need permission even just to go and sympathise with the families."

TER     It's not Khayelitsha, it's Tygerberg. But Bantam would be the overall Mayor for the metropolitan area but Guguletu falls in her territory and Athlone, but Kuils River I'm not sure. No, Kuils River is Tygerberg.

PDL     And they seem to be targeting defenceless young girls, rape them and then butcher them.

TER     What kind of mentality would rape?

PDL     It's more a societal problem now. It's much, much bigger than I think we can manage.

POM     Which is a bigger societal problem now?

PDL     It's a societal problem in that you look at the type of children that we bring up, our youth who are so angry because the kinds of murders that they commit are so brutal. I'm saying that it's growing, they grow up with this brutality and vengeance and anger.

TER     But there are no jobs. The only way out of poverty is either by stealing cars or by drugs and they get hauled into the gangs and the gangs terrorise the communities. I would hate to be a parent trying to bring kids up in those conditions. It's horrendous.

PDL     And just the peer pressure. The parents must go and work, they can't sit there and watch the kids the whole day and that's when they're getting off on all these kinds of things. Most parents don't even know that their kids are in gangs. They start at primary school level, they start running gangs because you need that protection.

TER     Gangs run the schools.

POM     Why are there more gangs concentrated in the Cape area than say in Gauteng or the Vaal Triangle? Gangs seem to be a particular form of social organisation here far more than in other parts of the country.

PDL     You're right.

TER     I don't know if you would agree with me on this but my understanding is that the apartheid government used the gangs in the so-called coloured community to gather information against the ANC or any opponents of the government. So they cast a blind eye to the drug dealing within the coloured community and particularly within the Muslim community who are supposedly not drinking alcohol, drugs are a major problem. So the drug trade got established and in fact was encouraged by the apartheid government and we're now reaping the whirlwind, the harvest of that. For instance Pagad is essentially, but not entirely, a Muslim backlash against the drug dealers who tended to be Muslim, but they then also have their impact in the broader so-called coloured community. Of course we didn't have a sizeable African community here in the apartheid days because it was a coloured preference area and those who were here were really on contract labour, threatened with eviction at short notice. That's why there isn't a Soweto here and why Khayelitsha is so impoverished. It was only with the abolition of the pass laws in 1986 and we had this massive influx of people from Ciskei and Transkei. But the coloured community I think have a major drug problem because  the previous government allowed it to flourish. They mix the so-called mandrax with dagga, marijuana.

PDL     Yes, it's the only place where they're doing it.

TER     Apparently it's unique in the world. Mandrax is a sleeping pill from India and they combine mandrax with the marijuana and supposedly our marijuana is the best in the world, supposedly. So the combination of dagga and mandrax is pretty horrendous.

PDL     I've got a message also to phone the old man tonight after seven. I hope he's got news for us. The Eastern Cape one.

TER     Good.

PDL     He's under tremendous pressure. He speaks Afrikaans very well, so I left a message for him yesterday. I must phone him at seven tonight. We need to meet and look at that angle. How are we going to deal with this? Maybe sometime next week. I don't know.

TER     Other than Monday.

PDL     Oh I see we've got quite a few debates. We've got a debate on bombings in the Western Cape. I've got two minutes to speak. How can you say anything in two minutes? Then Tuesday and Wednesday – Monday morning I'm going to take some quotations on these schools that they want to sell but I think on Thursday – oh Thursday I'm going to the High Court. We must fit in one evening Terry, maybe. Monday evening?

TER     Monday evening I will be dead after moving house.

PDL     Yes, but Tuesday evening I have to go to the University of Cape Town, the Biko Lecture. Wednesday or Thursday night for me is fine. I must phone you on Monday to confirm it.

TER     Monday I will be back and forth, either one.

PDL     So can I put something down for Wednesday evening, about six, seven?

TER     Make it seven.

PDL     And then I'll phone you about the venue. I'm working with Ivor on the other project on the poverty issue. In fact I gave him the reports to read in the meeting because I don't have time to read them because now he's identified those areas but he's all ready to go together with Debra.

TER     From E-TV.

PDL     And I've spoken to the Arch and he said he's prepared to come in. So we're going to identify one or two for him to go so that we don't completely politicise the issue, just bring him in.

TER     I've just seen that.

PDL     OK, you gave him a copy. Let's meet on Wednesday but I will phone you tonight after I've spoken to the old man.

TER     I'm trying to get New York to look into the connection with BCCI and … and see if they can find that.

PDL     Who's BCCI?

TER     Bank Credit & Commercial International, that whole scandal in 1991, it was involved in money laundering and drug dealing and the arms trade and whatever.  They've got a branch here.

PDL     I was wondering whether they are making business or not.

TER     I am told that amongst the Muslim community they have a lousy reputation, a lot of people lost a lot of money in some of their schemes.

PDL     I was wondering how they are surviving as an independent bank among the other commercial banks. They clean you out or they work you out if they can't clean you out. I'll give you a call on Monday. Thanks Terry. Enjoy your moving.

TER     Good luck with your book. I'll have half the space.

POM     Just to pick up on something you were talking about there, it would seem that since 1994, or in the last ten years, that progressively the social fabric of large parts of the country is beginning to collapse. It's gone from deterioration to non-existence. When you talked there about the level of anger, a person isn't simply –

PDL     He's a good yardstick for me too at home, how angry he is for being in the country and you can't find work. Then he's gone on the Internet and the Job Navigator and he can find jobs in London or the States, all overseas, but he can't find a job in his own country. I don't want him to go because he's – I don't think he's ever travelled out of the country and to go and live and work there is going to be much more difficult.

POM     Do you think the social disintegration is increasing? The violence, it's not just that somebody is stabbed once.

PDL     The irony of our history is that it's increasing against the background of such a good constitution, we have got some of the best provisions in the world in our constitution. You begin to say to yourself, what is the use of having a constitution when in fact child abuse has increased, rape has increased, murder has increased? Where did we go wrong? When I say 'we' I mean all of us because are we bringing up a bunch of kids that's going to destroy what is left of the country even further? It comes back and you can do whatever you want but at the end of the day you have to come back to the political structure, the people who are the leaders in the country of the day. I think also as leaders we need to sit down and take stock and say how far have we come, have we moved, let's go back to the drawing board, let's pool ideas and resources and let's begin to develop that this is our country, that mentality. But the ANC seem not to be accepting that. They just feel they've been elected by almost two thirds of the country and therefore they've got a mandate. Whether in fact they even adhere to the mandate on which they got the votes is also another question.

     But you are right, there is a breakdown of the social fabric. There are many, many causes for that. Just the one is the bad influence of the bad television, the violence that you see on television, joblessless, homelessness. I must also say that doesn't mean that the government did not do something. There are many more people now who have got access to running water. There are many more people now who have got access to electricity, people who have got homes, even if it's just a box, four by four, not decent homes. So it's not that they've not attempted altogether, they did, but I think we wasted a lot of time on policy development and then also developing the wrong policies and now we're sitting with the wrong results and that's why I say let's go back to the drawing board.

POM     Do you think the ANC has any respect for opposition parties?

PDL     No. That's why I rely on the courts. It's costly. The courts have shown that they can intervene where they must intervene and they will rule against them. They've lost many court cases. It's costly but it's effective. I mean I'm before the court now for them to get juveniles, children out of prison and I'm going to win that one too. It's good in any country if you've got a strong judiciary system, it can keep the politicians and government in check. I think as far as that is concerned our Constitutional Court, Appellate Division, the High Court, they've made some major, major rulings against the government. If you look at the classical example of the lopsided thinking of government, if you can put it that way, there's a case before the Constitutional Court, it came before the High Court in Cape Town first, where squatters went to the court and said that they've got the right to access to housing but they used the children in the squatter camp because they were placed somewhere else. The High Court ruled in their favour and then the government appealed to the Constitutional Court, it's now before the Constitutional Court. Now it's the same people who wrote the constitution, who provided those rights in the constitution, who are now arguing against it. Then the normal excuse is that government cannot afford it. I mean people don't buy that any longer. I think we've got enough resources in this country, we just don't spend it wisely, we just don't use it effectively. So, yes, in short the social fabric of society is definitely going down and down all the time.

POM     But you still maintain your optimism or is your optimism more qualified now than it might have been?

PDL     My optimism has always been qualified. It's always been qualified. I think, some people tell me I'm very individualistic, I hate to be – everybody, they take all of us over the same comb, type of thing. I really want to be different and I do think differently and in my own small little way I do make impact on some of the things that I do. Maybe that's where my optimism stems from because my commitment is sometimes stretched to the level and I tend to look through those eyes, look at what's going on around me and what my government is doing. But also what I've shown in my own work is that it is possible to make that difference. Government can make that difference in a much more meaningful way than an individual, but it can be done, Padraig, it can be done. Change our attitudes, change our style of doing things, lead by example, don't tell people always what's right and what they should do. Show them what to do. It can be done.

POM     OK, I will leave it there.

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.