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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

20 Sep 2000: Viljoen, Constand

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POM     How are you?

CV     Fine thank you.

POM     This is a funny way to conduct an interview.

CV     Very, very impersonal.

POM     I know. Last year as I think I said to you I thought I had completed my rounds of interviews but it looks as though I'm addicted to adding on one more year and one more year. But I read that you had decided to step down from politics or that you were considering it.

CV     I am considering it. What I said is that there are some reasons why I believe that I will not go through to 2004 and I will therefore have to retire in time for my successor to be able to do something about the party before 2004 because he will carry the responsibility for the election in 2004.

POM     So you would anticipate having a successor in place for the elections in 2004.

CV     In time for preparation for the elections and for the election itself.

POM     Just in a kind of retrospective, even though it might be a bit premature, if you look back at the six years you have spent in parliament can you point to any concrete achievements that have advanced the cause the Freedom Front stands for?

CV     Let us start right at the beginning in 1994, I would say that the conclusion of the accord with the ANC, the peaceful transition, I think was some achievement of the Freedom Front. It certainly succeeded in taking the major part of the Afrikaners through a very difficult transition into at least a peaceful one instead of a violent one. The second one, I would say, is that I think 1993/94 had been for the Afrikaner very traumatic and in a way we had reached a low tide, I would say, just before the election and a low tide of division within the Afrikaner people and also a low tide regarding self esteem and a feeling of being useful, the sense of having a useful task to carry out. I think in 1994 when the Freedom Front came in they did succeed in representing this and I want to demonstrate this by saying that notwithstanding the low percentage that we got in the recent election in 1999 it must be remembered that in 1994 the Freedom Front drew about 37% of the Afrikaner registered voters on the poll for the provinces - and remember it was agreed before the election between us and the ANC and also the then National Party that the Freedom Front provincial vote would be counted as a referendum in favour of the situation of all these proposals for the Freedom Front regarding self determination.

     So I think we did succeed in 1994 from our position of low tide to at least, even if it's only for a few years, to inspire some Afrikaners to say it's not all lost in SA. And then especially by previous supporters, the more right wing orientated people, I think we succeeded in at least taking part of them through the election towards a new SA and towards new hope of creating a position of negotiated settlement for the future of the Afrikaner. This was followed up, I think, with the next achievement which was the 1996 constitution. We had one big aim between 1994 and 1996 and that was to get into that constitution what is required for the issue of self determination. Naturally we had hoped that in the 1996 constitution we would be able to negotiate and include in the constitution the idea of territorial self determination with a volkstaat but it became clear very soon that the issue of implementation, the issue of constitutionalisation were two different subjects. We then went all out for the constitutionalising of the idea of self determination and I think in that we succeeded by having the unanimous support of all the parties participating in the constitution making process. I think that was a great achievement.

     Then I must say that the bad news for the Freedom Front came after 1996 when mainly the ANC had not honoured their accord of 1994 and they had tried

POM     That's the one of 23rd April?

CV     Yes. They, in my opinion, had tried another route and they probably were hoping that the Afrikaner would forget about the idea of self-determination and that the Afrikaner would very soon adapt and find himself completely at ease in the new SA and completely happy and they would therefore not come with any claims regarding self determination. I think they were stalling the implementation of the principle of self determination for the constitution and the stalling process was actually meant in order to gain time for them to achieve but in doing so they had, of course, dealt us a heavy blow because the 37% of Afrikaners that voted for us in the 1994 election had all expected something of delivery at least round about 1996 and if not 1996 then as soon as possible thereafter but the complete refusal of the ANC and the complete stalling tactics had put the Freedom Front in a position where we were faced with a non-delivery record and this had then taken it's toll in the election in 1999.

POM     In a way the stalling tactics of the ANC were successful insofar as they were instrumental in being able to reduce your results of the poll?

CV     Yes, but you know I think the ANC miscalculated the effect of their stalling tactics on the Freedom Front. I don't think it was ever the idea of the ANC to deal us a heavy blow as has been done. I think it was in the favour of the ANC to keep the Freedom Front as a party because of our moderate stance and also because of the potential that we had for the idea of reconciliation because it very soon became clear that the Democratic Party was a hit back, fight back type of party and the National Party, well it very soon became clear that it was on its way out. So for the Freedom Front if I was in the ANC's position I would have said the Freedom Front is a party that has proved that it could take the Afrikaners along, for example in 1994, and don't destroy the Freedom Front because what is then left over? They then, I think unexpectedly, arrived at the position in 1999, the reason why I say so is that many of them in discussing the result of the election with me appeared to be completely surprised, including the Deputy President and also the wife of the President one day made remarks which gave me the indication that within the ANC this was a complete surprise.

     So what the ANC has lost in this process is a party that would be able to positively interact with other parties in the country based on the idea of a common SA but a common SA where the identities of the parties would be acknowledged and where the idea of self determination would be applied. But I think the ANC then had lost a way of preventing white polarisation and the way they went about this, and especially with the election in 1995, it became clear that the non-delivery of the Freedom Front had let to a wide polarisation within South African politics under the banner of 'fight back' of Tony Leon of the DP and this was followed up by the recent merging of the NP and the DP and the fact that at the moment there are about 55% of Afrikaners who are already in the Democratic Alliance. That means that the Afrikaners themselves have actually opted for the more aggressive approach of Tony Leon and not the more reconciliatory tone of the Freedom Front.

POM     Has the ANC gone in any way to recognise this, to make amends, to redress the situation or do you think it's quite oblivious or it doesn't care?

CV     It's very difficult to say what the ANC is doing. You must bear in mind that Mbeki is in his first year and we all know that Mbeki at the moment has one thing in mind and that is transition. He has to deliver and I don't think the delivery of the Afrikaners at this stage will really concern him much because at the moment the Freedom Front is virtually non-existent, there are three people in parliament. We cannot be, I would say, a trouble-making party. The Afrikaners themselves have now polarised together with the other whites. This is a very bad development in South African politics.

POM     Would you think that the degree of polarisation between blacks and whites has increased considerably since 1994 or 1996?

CV     Yes very much so because even within parties such as the IFP you find that there is a sort of black consciousness situation. In the ruling party, the ANC, there was a very clear move towards the appointment of pure black people as ministers and deputy ministers and so on. White people and even Indians fell by the wayside. There is no doubt there is a polarisation within the country of all political parties, white/black. This is bad news for SA because it sort of relives the past. In the past the division was racial, black/white/brown, and with the present situation today it is again black/white/brown and the brown people are in the very unhappy situation of not being black enough on the one hand and previously they were not white enough.

POM     Why do you think a man, and I've probably asked you this a number of times in different contexts, why do you think a man as bright as Mbeki (and most people have said he's a bright man) would allow a situation like this to arise when he knows that in the longer run (i) it's not in the interests of reconciliation, (ii) it's not in the interests of the country, and (iii) potential foreign investors are less likely to invest in countries where they see incipient signs of ethnic or racial polarisation?

CV     You see, remember there is no sign at the moment of ethnic polarisation. There is a very clear sign of racial polarisation which I maintain is worse than ethnic polarisation because we relive a repetition of the past. The question, what is the question you've asked now?

POM     Why would a man he's a bright man, he wants to attract foreign investment.

CV     Oh yes, why would he. I think the answer is the fact that Mbeki has in mind or realised that if he himself, without the charisma of Mandela, without the position within the world leaders of Mandela, Mbeki probably realised that if he doesn't deliver, and you must also bear in mind that there was a great degree of impatience within the black people because they have the impression that the Mandela government hadn't really delivered to them. So after the power revolution the ANC and also Joe Slovo had said very clearly that this is but one revolution dealt with now, we don't need to go for power any more, we have the power but now we have to go for the economic revolution. I think they tackled the economic revolution as well as the psychological revolution and part of the psychological revolution, I think, was to break down the past and to break down the pillars of the past of which the Afrikaner people had been a very important part and the Afrikaans churches etc., and from this objective came, for example, the TRC because there is no doubt in my mind that the TRC has not acted in accordance with the negotiated settlement especially with the codicil of the 1993 constitution. The 1993 constitution had put very clearly that the SA of the future will strive to move away from a divided past and towards a united future and it was actually using words such as we must go for ubuntu and not for victimisation, no such thing as revenge and so on, rather reconciliation and so on. The TRC has not achieved this. As a matter of fact the TRC, as far as I'm concerned, has successfully succeeded in the aims of psychological warfare and that is holding the image of a liberation and breaking down the image of the old order.

POM     Could you just elaborate a little on that?

CV     You must bear in mind that with the unexpected, I wouldn't call it surrender, I can call it abdication of FW de Klerk, this was not a revolution in the true sense of the word. As a matter of fact you can hardly recall one historical success of negotiated revolution and I think revolution, you must bear in mind, that these emotions are set up and it became clear that the power revolution, gaining power, would not be enough. After the power has been gained the people that carried on with this revolution surely would have expected delivery, economic delivery, a quick instant equity and no gaps with low income, high income people etc., and it was the government's view that the past was bad and that it had to be proved and that was done by mass psychology and the TRC as far as I'm concerned was one big mass psychology exercise about belittling the old order and building the revolution or the liberation. This has not been good for reconciliation and this has been, in my opinion, the major contribution towards the white polarisation in the country. People all of a sudden feared the whole situation and said, look here there's no reconciliation. You know the naïve expectations of the 1992 referendum followed by the 1993/94 campaigns for the election, etc., a lot of naïve expectations were created, people thought that there's a sort of instant reconciliation and complete happiness within the country in a matter of months. It didn't happen.

POM     Now it didn't happen because?

CV     I would say because of the road that Mbeki has taken. I think there is no doubt in my mind that the priority of the transition, the priority of black empowerment, the priority of putting blacks in government positions, the priority of breaking down the old defence force and not considering merit and the problems that we now have within the defence force of black junior ranks shooting senior officers, killing senior officers, all that is the result of this very thing.

POM     So where does that leave the FF in the next couple of years?

CV     We did a complete survey. We asked Markdata, Professor Schlemmer, to do a survey for us, what has caused the big drop in support for the FF, and from that it became very clear that the issue of self determination was not a priority for the normal voter. The normal voter perceived

POM     This is the normal Afrikaner voter?

CV     Afrikaner voter, the Afrikaner voter perceived the ANC to be a fake. Very soon after taking over they realised that our people will not get work any more, we're not going to get any government contracts, they will all be given to black people and affirmative action will be applied. All the experiences went as I said, came the reliving of the past with the TRC. Then the Afrikaner soon realised that the dream of having really solved the South African situation is a pipe dream and there would be trouble in the future. That is the reason why the Afrikaner at that stage considered his normal interests of a higher priority than his identity politics and that the identity politics was the main line of the FF. It was proved by Schlemmer in his survey that it is not the case there that self determination is not regarded as important by the Afrikaner any more, it is not even so that Afrikaners no longer wish to have a party for Afrikaners, an ethnic based party. That is also not true because the findings were that 65% of Afrikaners still reckon that greater powers for the Afrikaner in their own affairs inside SA would be a very good idea. The effect perceived to be, and that is that of interests, let me call crime the very first one, the second one is work for our children because they have to leave the country and go to Australia or all sorts of places all over the world in order to find occupation. Think about the universities, the standard of schooling and the total failure of the first five years of Bengu as Minister of Education. All these things were suddenly realised or came to the Afrikaner to realise that what the FF is advocating might be important but it's not at the moment a priority.

POM     In a sense the aspiration is there but it's an aspiration, it's not something that you expect to happen today or tomorrow or the next day.

CV     It's an aspiration which everybody must be very happy about but it would serve no purpose to achieve that aspiration if you fail on crime and

POM     If you have no jobs.

CV     - economy and the jobs for people and educational standards and so on. So this is the reason why the Afrikaner voter then in 1999 moved away from the FF and I also have to say that in 1994 the Afrikaner voter really thought that this was a line that we should take and because of self determination not being completely strange to the idea of separate development, the Afrikaner probably stuck to this for some time and then soon when it became clear that the ANC will not move on the implementation, the Afrikaner then said look here, we're not going to support a party any more that is doubtful however much they are advocating this idea the ANC will never do this. That's another reason why I think they voted

POM     It's kind of 'we're wasting our vote'.

CV     Yes that's it, it's a kind of wasting the vote. That's right.

POM     So how do you re-orient yourself?

CV     You asked the question: where does this take the FF? The FF, therefore, must realise that the ideas that we were advocating in 1999 on which we fell badly in the election results, those ideas were good but out of time. The situation wasn't right for the ideas of self-determination. Furthermore, we must also bear in mind that it was virtually only the Afrikaner through the FF who really at that stage had thoughts for the idea of self determination. In the meantime we've had a lively interest from the Indians working towards the idea of protecting their culture. Further we have a very lively debate within the Afrikaner academics on the issue, for example, of language and the protection of language rights and the general interest of the Afrikaans speaking people.

POM     Is this the group of 63?

CV     It started off with a group of 24 academics who tackled Mbeki in an open letter saying to him that we need to have in the Bill of Rights some protection for community rights or collective rights which they called at that stage minority rights. Then the group of 24 hadn't received any answer from Mbeki. Then came the group of 63. Now the group of 63 was even more, I would say, pronounced or more important in that it included quite a number of heavyweights in the cultural world. So the signs are there that there is a change taking place that would favour the ideas of the FF and therefore we feel in the FF that we must survive this one and we must endeavour through alliances to move in the direction of something bigger that will assist us to address the issue of normal Afrikaner interests in a better way than what we've done in the past whilst we are maintaining our stance on the issue of identity politics so that when the Afrikaner, we have now gone to the Democratic Alliance, we will have a look at the Democratic Alliance and say, look here, in liberal democracy there's also no hope or no solution for the Afrikaner. Then we will come back towards an ethnic based party and we think that that will be the FF and that can probably be round about 2004.

POM     Has the Democratic Alliance made any overtures to you?

CV     Yes, especially Louis Luyt. At the stage when they were really negotiating they tried to twist my arm but I said to him that unless there is a very clear indication from the Democratic Alliance or the Democratic Party that they would be prepared to extend their idea of liberal democracy based on individual rights to also include, they must also include the idea of collective rights and identity politics for groups, we cannot be part of that. This is where we are at the moment. The FF will not easily move towards the DA because of this, unless of course some form of alliance would be possible and we can come to some sort of agreement to say that they are the champions of individual rights and we are the champions of collective rights and in a way we form an alliance based on human rights and we acknowledge their idea of human individual rights, and they acknowledge our idea of human collective rights.

POM     It would be a kind of a coalition where each

CV     That would be possible but there is no indication that this is the direction. I'll tell you why, the Democratic Alliance now would go maximum for black support and there is unfortunately no clear indication within the black communities of SA that the idea of group rights or collective rights is to them of great priority, except of course recently when the demarcation of the local government done by the ANC was attacked by the traditional leaders, except of course Buthelezi who has recently said that we should make SA a country of communities. So there is a very slow reawakening of nationalism within the black people and they have for the sake of liberation, they have abandoned the idea of ethnic or national divisions within the black people. They have fostered the idea of black unity and we today still sit with black unity and until such time as the black unity ideal is strong we are going to find it very difficult to make inroads into the government because this is the problem of our position of self determination. If you claim self determination only for the Afrikaners then everybody says this is another way of white privilege. If you succeed in getting the Indians, getting the Khoisan people and so on, and maybe the Venda people, to say this is a damn good idea, we'd also like to join in, we'd also like to have more say in our cultural and own affairs as a people, then I think that we will succeed, the Afrikaners, but so long as we, and this was unfortunately the case in 1999, we were virtually the only party really going for the issue of self determination.

POM     So in a way are you moving from leaving the ideal there of territorial self determination.

CV     No, we're not leaving it, we are keeping it in mind.

POM     OK. Is that still the aspiration?

CV     Still the aspiration.

POM     Within the constraints of, the realities of the politics of ?

CV     There's no way you can do it otherwise unless you want to go for the violent way. We don't think that a violent way will serve our own purpose because we have remained in power in a violent way for too long. For us now to choose the path of violent confrontation again in SA, we don't think that's on and we don't think it will be very much acceptable in the international world. Unfortunately in the business of self determination everybody regards the western world, or the world, as the referee of the issue of self determination. The point I'm making is whatever you frame for the Afrikaner will have to be so reasonable that the western world will have to be able to say this is a very reasonable case and they should be able to apply pressure on the ANC in order to cede to the demand.

POM     What you're saying is that in the meantime you're looking for the Afrikaner to have more say in Afrikaner affairs?

CV     To put it in tactical terms, there is no doubt in my mind that the issue of cultural self determination and maybe the issue of territorial autonomy as regarding own affairs and so on will take a higher priority at the moment. But it is also true that the FF has always seen the volkstaat idea, which is territorial self determination, as a long term objective but unfortunately the way we advocated this and created the impression of what this is about and this is what we would like to have, and because it was so unattainable in the perception of the voter they said, no, this party will end up in the same situation as the NP and they will not achieve what they have in mind.

POM     In a way you have more in common with the IFP than with any other party.

CV     Yes, very much so. The only problem is, as I said before, that even the IFP is battling because of the idea of black consolidation. There is no black based party such as the IFP that dares to move in the direction of a white ethnic party such as the Afrikaner without losing heavily and remember they have a very strong competition between themselves and the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal. Although you're right in saying we are very much closer to the IFP but the reality of the situation at the moment is that there is not a strong enough awakening within the Zulu people to really foster the idea of claiming self determination for the Zulu people.

POM     If I were to put a question like this to you, and it might sound like a funny question, but I want to get a sense of where you are. If you were an objective outsider and you had to, like an Olympic judge, and you had to judge the contribution the FF has made to parliament in the last six years in terms of influencing legislation or advancing in some tangible way the causes the FF stands for or making a difference in the direction the new SA has taken or its impact on the life of Afrikaners, how would you judge its contribution where one would represent the FF having made very little contribution and ten would represent the FF having made a very significant contribution? At what point in the scale would you place yourself?

CV     If I can divide it into two, up to 1996 the FF I would say you could give it about seven and after 1996 probably four or five.

POM     So up until the new constitution was adopted

CV     I would say seven, thereafter it dropped considerably.

POM     Let me just in the context of issues that I would think are important to Afrikaners, where was the FF with regard to the Zimbabwe situation and the government's handling of that situation?

CV     We were very strong, as a matter of fact I myself cornered Mbeki one day in parliament and I eventually got Mbeki to say that if in SA the same kind of occupation of farms would take place it would be regarded as illegal and he would be prepared to use the defence force or the police in order to evict the people occupying farms.

POM     He said that in parliament?

CV     Yes and that was based on my question. We were very strong against the idea.

POM     So you believe that there are sufficient constitutional and legal protections in this country that land grabs of the nature that took place in Zimbabwe will not take place in this country?

CV     Yes I think we have sufficient but Africa is always unpredictable.

POM     On the issue of farm killings, they are still on the rise.

CV     This is a very troublesome factor. I have recently suggested to the government that we have a new summit. You will recall that, I think it was on 10th October 1998, Mandela called for a summit at which certain plans were discussed, etc., and it was clear after the summit that there had been an improvement for some time and then it started climbing again, the graphs climbed again. I then said we need another summit because the first set of plans did not work out properly. I think it is an embarrassment to the government but in a way I'm very worried that what happens on farm killings and intimidation on the farms and intimidation against the farmers, accusing us of bad relationships with labourers, etc., I think this is all part of what is taking place in Zimbabwe just in a different way. So in Zimbabwe intimidation is the physical occupation of farms. In SA it could be that the killing of farmers and the intimidation against farmers is a way of intimidating the Afrikaners towards surrendering land so that land reform can be quicker. There are so many farms available, on sale and ready for the government to buy that this is really not the case, it's untrue that the government cannot move on the land issue. The only problem is that, of course, of money. They waste such a lot of money, R36.5 million on the Racism Conference the other day, if they used their money more wisely then surely they will be able to buy enough land. The big problem they have is they don't have any blacks that can really farm and that will take some time to really teach them because if the government would give land to the black people they would make a complete mess of it, they will have red faces.

POM     How about the issue of AIDS?

CV     The FF is very much aware of the issue of AIDS. Many people will think that the situation of AIDS might be bring about a balance between black and white again in the workplaces of SA. We, the FF, are very much concerned about the economic implications of AIDS, not even to mention the suffering of the people you know and the many orphans and so on in the AIDS situation, but we are concerned about what will take place in the economic field and we think that SA is already battling in order to achieve some form of economic growth and if you consider the effect that AIDS will have on the manpower element of our country it is very worrying.

POM     Do you believe that HIV causes AIDS?

CV     There's no doubt about it.

POM     There's a slow breaking of ranks occurring though. Two ministers have now said they believe that it does.

CV     Yes, for sure.

POM     And COSATU have come out very strongly.

CV     Mbeki again this afternoon he came with all sorts of philosophical arguments about HIV/AIDS cannot bring about the syndrome and you need the syndrome to really cause the

POM     Where was he saying this? He was saying this this afternoon?

CV     He said this this afternoon in parliament. It was question day today.

POM     So he's still sticking to the same thing?

CV     He's sticking to he's making such a mess of it. You know it's highly technical, not even me and I'm not completely ill-informed, not even me will really dare to go into the technicalities of things such as AIDS. I would make use of advisors and I would try not to make a fool of myself.

POM     Since he's become President have you met with him one on one?

CV     I've met with him one on one once only and that was at my request to discuss the issue of the DRC and the Angolan situation. That was at my request and I made certain suggestions then which nothing came from in the meantime but Mbeki doesn't have time for us, he's all around the world, he's very seldom in the country and we very seldom see him in parliament the way we have seen him this afternoon.

POM     Have you made other requests to see him?

CV     Yes, we've written to him, we've written letters asking for the accord to be honoured and using the issue of negotiations between the FF and the ANC and we received an answer from him saying that, "Please take this up with my Deputy President, I delegated these tasks to him." It is a pity, in the Mandela time it was possible for me to call Mandela's office and say I would like to see the President and usually within two or three days I would be able to see him whereas in Mbeki's period he immediately sent a message to say if I would like to contact him, please contact his parliamentary contact person, Charlie, who is a representative of the ANC within parliament. So I don't even have I was actually told not to phone directly to his office.

POM     You're joking! I've asked this question of other people: what has happened to Mbeki in the last 18 months? The expectation was that he's a bright man, he's a travelled man, he's a sophisticated man, that he would come into power, shake things up, get things moving and instead of that he has been the cause of SA losing a lot of credibility around the world.

CV     Mbeki is a philosopher and he is bright, etc., but the main problem with Mbeki is he has the wrong advisors. He has surrounded himself with people, in my opinion, that cannot really advise Mbeki the way a President should be advised. I think one of the weak points about Mbeki is his inability to get things done. Because he is a philosopher he tends to argue and argue and argue and never gets to the stage where he will say, look here, better to implement a bad plan than to keep on nibbling at no plan at all.

POM     So rather than being this super-duper performance achiever, he's the very opposite.

CV     He's not really a performance achiever. I think this is one of his weak points. He has a very good brain and he can really think things out and he can theorise about all sorts of things, including HIV and AIDS as well, but when you deal with countries such as SA and you are an Executive President, it means that you must get things done, there's no doubt about it. Generally speaking, even at the beginning when he was elected, I saw one of his advisors and I said to him, "Look here, you must tell the President that his success will depend on who he appoints to advise him." If he has a strong office, because a strong office can still make good the shortcomings of his managerial inefficiencies, but then you must appoint an office of managers, people to really guide things and follow up and say why is this not being done, etc., the sort of Chief of Staff function in the military. Unfortunately this is not the case. I think he has around him a lot of these philosophers.

POM     Do you think, just going back to AIDS for a moment, at the moment as part of my life in the university I edit a public policy journal and I'm doing a special issue devoted entirely to the economic and social impact of AIDS in South Africa. First of all the amount of work done on what the impact will be is minimal. I would like somebody to stand up in parliament one day and ask Trevor Manuel: when you have made revenue estimates for the next four or five years, what variables did you use to take into account the impact of AIDS? I'd like to hear him answer that question because I don't think he has ever taken it into account.

CV     Sure, sure, no, I will.

POM     Which means that all the figures

CV     I will be only too happy to do that. If you put that question on a paper and give me more technical background on what your findings and your research at the moment is then I will certainly posit the question.

POM     OK, I will do that. The second question is related, given the impact it will have on population, given the impact it will have on just the social structure of society itself, on family life, on health care, on productivity, on levels of absenteeism, on the willingness of foreign investors to invest in this country, the chances of this country getting beyond a 3% growth rate in the next ten years are about one in a hundred.

CV     Yes, I am afraid you're right.

POM     If that is true there is going to be no economic upliftment at all.

CV     The sooner we realise this the better. You have now taking this from the AIDS point of view, I want to take it from the position of entrepreneurs. The mistake which Mbeki is doing is he and his government are trying to uplift the whole of the population at once in the same effort. I say he must pay attention to the entrepreneurs, black as well as white, empower the entrepreneurs, give them the money as necessary, make loans to them and so on and give them some incentive so that the entrepreneurs can start with activities that would cause employment. At the moment there is a sort of endeavour by the government to pull everybody up by their hair and this will not work, there are just too many people. So what's going to happen now is we can make the white people poor and that will affect their entrepreneurial efficiency and the other entrepreneurs, and there are some damn good black and brown entrepreneurs, they are suffering because they will not have the capital available.

POM     So if you were to look now in the year 2000, what is the single biggest problem facing the country?

CV     At the moment?

POM     Yes.

CV     Crime.

POM     So you would put crime as a bigger problem?

CV     There's no doubt it's the biggest one and I would say economic development and jobs for people as the second.

POM     I want to thank you for your time. I wish I could see you in person. I will have to do one more interview with you and that will be about yourself.

CV     Sure. That will be very difficult for me.

POM     The arrangement I've reached now with my various publishers is that I'm doing one book for my commercial publisher of about 700 pages and there is no way that I can compress 18,000 hours of interviews over ten years into 700 pages. However, separate from that a university press, like the Oxford University Press or even my own, the University of Massachusetts Press, would publish all the materials in a series of volumes spread out over five years so I would do two volumes a year for five years covering the ten years. But in the first book I am choosing ten people to use as my "storytellers" and you're one of the ten. That's why I need some background information on you. That's why I will be annoying you in the next year about all the transcripts we have done so that we go over them, so that I make sure that everything is clear, that what you said is what you said because there are always ambiguities and always follow up questions and things like that. So I hope you will bear with me.

CV     Sure, Patrick, we will do that.

POM     Well thanks ever so much and the next time I will see you in Cape Town. God bless.

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.