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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

27 Feb 1995: Maharaj, Mac

POM     Let me start first with last month. There appeared to be considerable elements of disarray in the government, whether it was in terms of allegations of corruption, the introduction of what people called the sleaze factor, mutinies within the police, within the army, uprisings in Umtata and a lot of Mr Mandela's time being spent on sorting out the kind of problems you would think would be taken care of at a lower level.So I found people more unsettled now than they were six months ago.

MM     In a certain sense you are correct, but we are talking today for the future so I can speak reasonably frankly. I don't feel that the problem is unexpected because we need to understand what the origins of this problem are.The changes that we are going through have built into it certain problems which we have to tackle.What I am saying is that there are certain legitimate grievances. Now when the legitimate grievances are translated purely in terms of finance then the capacity of the government today to address them in those terms is extremely limited.

POM     When you're talking about grievances you mean the grievances of the people, like housing, lack of housing?

MM     Even when you're talking about the police and the army, the integration process, the whole structure. Let me give you an example of the civil service because I'm intimately involved with that on the Transport side. We have something like 83 posts and gradings in the civil service and at the bottom of the rung there are people, I have a white secretary, this was a shock for me, a white records clerk, a single unmarried mother, competent in her job, seven years in the department, her salary is R1200-00 a month. The only way she was surviving in the system was in terms of the two capitals whereby travelling up and down she would get extra allowances for the periods that she is away from Pretoria and then those allowances and privileges are of such an order that it gave her the space. It was a shock for me to realise that seven years in the service, a competent worker whose loyalty and commitment I cannot question, I believe she has changed with the times. She had applied for a transfer just after I came in, almost at the same time, and applied for a job in another department in the government service but by the time she was offered that job at an immediate increase of R200/R300 a month, she came to me to say she doesn't want to leave and I told her, "But you are getting more", and she said, "But, Minister, I don't want to leave you", and she wept and I said, "But I don't have the space to increase your salary and now that your child is about two years old you must understand that you cannot, you yourself do not want to move up and down."And the person's response was, "Correct, but I want to stay with you. I have never worked for somebody where I feel I am myself."

     But the problem remains. The salary structure within those 83 grades is a very steep gradient from the bottom to the top. At the bottom the salary is really not a living wage and at the top a salary and privileges that are simply not affordable. And I'm raising this matter because I have just read recently the experience of the Chrysler Corporation in the United States where with almost a similar problem they cut down the number of posts to about six so that the career path was there, very open. They brought in more involvement of the staff in the planning and, as I remember the article, the new model small Chrysler is now fighting on the market and gaining a foothold.

POM     Have you found, you talk about 83 postings, mustn't the question of entrenchment of jobs for people already in the civil service make it very difficult to make any kind of meaningful affirmative action programme work, at least in the short term?

MM     Yes it does make it difficult. Again we have to be clear. We found a model for the transition. We had to give assurances to all sides. What is a bit alarming is that the assurances that were meant for people who were in the system were given already practical form by the previous government and the assurances for people who were not in the system were not provided for and now in having to provide for it we are grappling with a major problem; a civil service which on paper clearly looks bloated, a rationalisation process to take education where I think there were eleven to fourteen separate departments each with a Director General. You have to create one ministry and one Department of Education now. There can only be one Director General. All the previous fourteen expect to be taken on that job, probably none of them are attuned to the transformation and when you want to bring in somebody from outside the existing system who is capable of thinking laterally there is a resistance to bringing him in. The guarantee is that their jobs are guaranteed but not the post. But on the other hand they are not prepared to even see it that way. There's a formidable problem of transformation. You have to rationalise, you have to trim it and you have to implement affirmative action. But why I gave the example of this young lady is that I think at the same time we are inspiring, with varying degrees of success depending on the minister and the staff that he/she is bringing in, we are inspiring people with a sense that they have a role to play. Even if you are a records clerk you have some role to play that gives you a space to feel that you are involved in a decision making process, and that's very liberating.

     So what I have done in my department is that I took the management level first and I have looked at the vacancies and I've given people options to leave, not on major retrenchment packages, and I have promoted some from within the system but I have very selectively brought in people from outside the system only exercising one check on the selection process, that the affirmative action posts are given to people that I believe have displayed the strong potential that they will be able to cope with the job. It's a difficult thing to do. There is no objective criteria that you can use, but so far the changes, touch wood, in my department have gone well and the new appointments have helped in the same inspirational level and are showing an extreme competence.

POM     So if you were to look at the performance of the government of national unity over the last nine months and give it some kind of rating where one would be very unsatisfactory performance and ten would be very satisfactory performance, where would you place it?

MM     On an overall rating I would say we're just above five, fifty percent, because I think we have to take into account other problems. The other problems are, and why I was saying that the finance one is an objective one, but we will still stick to the finance.When we advertised 11,000 posts that were frozen in the transition period and we wanted to fill them in through affirmative action, we received more than a million applications. To simply process those applications was impossible within the staff structure and it took months. We had to then reduce idealistic programmes of processing into crash programmes of processing. I tell you, that not only is the problem within the present structure and affirmative action appointments, but it tells you what a large segment exists in society who are either unemployed or are in jobs which gave them no career path and now they are hoping that they can at last get into a system that gives them some security and career path.

     But I am saying that my rating is based on the fact that there is beneath that a larger problem which the government of national unity is only now beginning to talk about openly in itself, which other partners in the process don't want to recognise because they are still in a defensive posture because in the process of this transformation what you are discovering are the huge inefficiencies of the system and the corruption in the system because this privileged system that I talked about in allowances is completely open to abuse. If I send for somebody to come from my department to help me for tomorrow's session in parliament that person won't travel in off duty hours. That person will travel during working hours. That's a two hour flight with all the time to the airports, etc., it's four hours working time gone for coming and a similar four hours of working time gone for going back with immeasurable privileges from hotel to meals to transport and taxi or hired car, to all sorts of things. None of these things can be regulated properly without another bureaucracy being set up.

     I say the problem is larger because we have so far only now begun to address openly amongst ourselves in government the factor of racism. In the workplace in the private sector, in your ordinary social life, in your education, in your health services, in the public service, the factor of racism. People from the National Party, from the white sector, didn't want to talk about it. They operate on the paradigm, we have made the change therefore it's not there. People from the old Bantustan structures are a bit inhibited to discuss it even though they are black because they feel it's an indictment of them that they occupy those structures and didn't make those transformations no matter how much they said, like the IFP, "I am opposed to independence for KwaZulu", but they made no change in the racial paradigm in the fifteen, twenty years they occupied those structures, and they are black. In the ANC there has been an inhibition to talk about it because you did not want to open this matter, many didn't want to open this matter because they feared it may become an uncontrollable process. But the matter has been surfacing in the integration of the armed forces, in the police services, in the private sector, in the workplace and we have begun to open the issue because as I argued the other day in parliament, what I have said to Deputy President de Klerk over and over in Cabinet, why is it that you are leaving ministers who come from the ANC to make appointments in their departments which are based on quality and yet are representative? Myself, they all know I have promoted more whites from within the system than blacks that I have brought in from outside the system at management level but I have promoted very, very carefully and I have brought in carefully and they all believe that the department is moving very stably. But I say, why do you leave it only to us because if you do the perception outside is that you support representativity, you are against racism, you want a non-racial system but you are not prepared to do anything, and the result is it looks like a partisan effort to make this transformation? The reason is your paradigm, you believe that by saying South Africa shall be a non-racial democracy, you believe it has made you non-racial. And I say no, we need a perspective of de-racialising our society.

     Our people again have a generosity on the ground when you raise the problems that have arisen. I have found that when we discuss whether it's finances or this problem of deracialisation openly with people who are extremely dissatisfied with the progress, they are prepared to listen to the facts and still show the patience and generosity that they showed in the struggle. The only danger is we need the partners in the government of national unity to equally be committed to this process and to be seen to be committed on the ground because if they are not and it is perceived as just an ANC effort then it falls into the wrong paradigm for the transformation we want. Now I think this is a large source of grievance and it's not a question of legislation, it's not a question of administrative orders, it's a question of hands on management of the transition.

POM     That would bring me to the bit I want to get back to, the corruption question again, but to the RDP. I spent the last nearly five or six weeks going around the country just visiting people and asking them about the RDP, most of them in government, some not in government and for the most part their eyes get glazed. Department heads in some of the departments even have the facts wrong. It's as though there is a miracle that will happen but what it is no-one quite knows, nor how it's going to happen. It's three questions I suppose; one would be, when you look at the sums of money involved there are huge sums of money and money that it would appear to me you can never make up from domestic savings and cuts in the budget, there has to be some other large source of funding. And again it's like a wish list.

MM     That would be, if it is seen like that it is our fault at the moment, but it's a fault that would have to be understood in terms of a process. Yes, when you look at the magnitude of the problems the amount of funds required are of such an order that they cannot be by domestic savings, but that's in one dimension. I approach matters differently. I say here is a process of transformation. The first thing is that we need to transmit a message down the line with the government steadily showing the way.What is the way? One, the process of transparency. Even we who believe in it, myself, don't know the implications of it.We are working through it. I want freedom of information. I've got Helderberg right now on my table with the papers carrying out investigative reports suggesting that there was some nuclear fuel on that flight.The newspapers say they want facts, they want information.I told them, "The files are open to you." But when they then start bombarding me with a set of fifty questions in the middle of this transformation I have to put aside two or three staff to work on answering those questions. In the order of things it's important to the 159 people who lost their relatives, the 159 who died, their relatives, but in the other order of things when I'm carrying out this transformation, can I afford to have three staff members sitting for a week preparing the answers for the newspapers? I am learning. That's transparency.

     The second problem is, what do we inherit? I have said the other day in parliament we inherited a conception of law where law became divorced from morality and secondly law that became divorced from legitimacy, law was law irrespective of whether it's moral or whether it's legitimate. In the oppressed community we therefore just challenged the law. I, myself, because I was criminalized by the system, never respected any law including whether I should follow road safety rules on the road. That was my mindset. If you asked me did I pay tax, I didn't pay tax. I never paid in my life. I'm only now paying. If you ask me whether I wanted to buy a fridge, I would look for a fridge on the black market because it would be cheaper.Now I have to live within a system of law, but how do I do that except by beginning to restore a relationship between law and morality and law and legitimacy? That means consultation, that means putting facts before the people when you consult them, not going and telling them what you are going to do but going there and putting all the salient facts in a digestible way and then discussing with interest groups. It's a new thing for them too. They get baffled. Either you have not presented the facts in a way that they can digest it and therefore you remain the privileged one who knows certain secret facts which when they in the consultation are suggesting answer A, you say, no answer A is not on because here is a new set of facts that makes A impossible. So you would like to do that to manipulate the people to agree but you can't do that over and over. You will not be building the legitimacy of law so you've got to master the technique of putting the facts and then consulting but while you are doing that you cannot have a situation that just becomes chaotic and anarchic so we've had to engage in that consultation and show that patience and yet steadily now begin to show a firmness of resolve and a decisiveness when taking a decision otherwise the consultation process will just become so amorphous that you will never arrive at a decision.

POM     In what context then would you put what appears to be a great reluctance on the part of people who register for the October elections, I think the figure in Gauteng is something like 5%?

MM     Did you see last night's programme on Agenda on the RDP? You should please contact the SABC and see last night's Agenda programme, the second half on the RDP and Project Masakhane, where a woman is interviewed in the Northern Transvaal in the Lebowa region dealing with the problem of women in the rural areas and water supply and what they have in one project done on their own and in another have failed to do anything because of the rural structure of the Chiefs, and the difference between one Chief who allowed the space for the women to help themselves and who therefore built the water pipeline themselves, and the other Chief who monopolises the dam and does not even allow the taps to be switched on unless they give him service. But this woman who is interviewed there has got - she's a gem - about how RDP grows from the ground. Now in the existing services, if you look at yesterday's article by Japie Jacobs, Deputy President F W's adviser who was a Director General in the Finance, he is arguing that the RDP will be better executed if it was given to the old public service. He is wrong. It is true that it's execution must depend on the people and the governmental service but it is wrong in that it does not understand the mindset change needed to make the RDP people driven and without it being people driven it won't succeed.

     To come to your question on the registration, there is a major problem.People have never been involved in local government structures in any way that they felt that it was something that was worthwhile being in it. We have had our April elections and when you go to register people out in the rural areas the best example he is a person in the rural area saying to you, saying to me as ANC, "What are you coming here for?I voted for Mandela. Are you people now opposing Mandela? Do you want to get rid of him?I don't want to get rid of him. I've had my say and I say I want Mandela.Now you say to me vote again. For what?"And you say, "No, no, no, it's local government."And he says, "Are you trying to get rid of Mandela?"Very, very basic, inadequate public education programme of the different levels of government and why the people need to take their own destiny in their hands and how they take it.It's a major problem.You say you want me to register, isn't this registration where you want information about me so that you're going to make me pay my house rent and my site and service and my water bill?

POM     Do they make any association between registration in that form and the old pass book system, that somehow there's already in position something that they had to do fifteen years ago?

MM     It could be because as we are going now to register for people for the local government elections and are facing this resistance, we are now realising in the ANC what an enormous job that it is because in the run up to the elections for April 27th we were systematically from a year before studying, doing surveys, what's the reaction of the people, how do they see it, what are the problems that they are facing so that your election campaign is geared to what they feel, and monitoring and getting feedback from these perceptions. Here we realise that we have not approached local government in the same way and therefore the resources that we need to deploy now very quickly to do those surveys, get feed-backs from the ground, have a group analysing those feed-backs, pushing it back into your decision making, pushing it back into what your propaganda must be what you need to address when you're trying to persuade a person to register.

POM     An interesting irony was, one of the things I thought very funny, was that Saatchi & Saatchi got the account, the full account to run all the marketing and advertising.Saatchi & Saatchi were closely associated with the old National Party.

MM     They have no conception.

POM     How did they get picked?

MM     I don't even know how that happened.I don't want to blame ministers and all that but it shows that we were not asking ourselves the questions that made us spend time; who should we select? Are they going to be tuned to picking up the responses from the ground? Are they going to analyse those responses with the correct mindset? Now there's our problem. So it's not a problem of just the people out there not being responsive, it's a problem that we, post the April election, seized with the problem of governance, closed our minds to this problem assuming that people are so interested in taking destiny into their hands that they understand why at the different levels of government they have to act in a certain way. And therefore we created structures, we handed to Saatchi & Saatchi without asking why is it that we ourselves would have refused to employ Saatchi & Saatchi in the main election?Why is it that we got in people from the United States, from Clinton's team to come here for months, sit down and discuss with us and merge those two experiences to say how you run an election campaign? But also in the April election we didn't have the problem of registration. So it's a new ball game for all of us, for the people, for the ANC leading this transformation process.

POM     They have to go through it three times, not twice.

MM     All these things have got to be explained, and explained not the way you and I would understand. You and I, you would give me a two page document, we would read through it and we would be able to distil it. The arguments have got to be presented in terms of the poor person in the rural area who still hasn't got water, the poor person in the rural area who still has a Chief who is saying you can collect the water from the spring, walk four hours a day to collect a bucket of water and still come and put it in this drum and you can't use it without my permission and I will only give you permission if you work so many days a week in my land as a Chief. This is an immense transformation process and there are good and bad sides to it. The good side of it is we had a system such as apartheid, it was in Verwoerd's model a conscious social engineering exercise, we could have been tempted now to engage in a similar, of course, more moral, well meaning, etc., social engineering exercise, bludgeoning people into a solution. We can't do it that way because we know what apartheid did. That temptation to resort to the same mechanism is out.

     Look around the world, whether it's Tunisian economics, the United States, the FDR programme, I now have to look at those things and say, wait a minute, forget the results, was it also done the right way or does it constitute a social engineering exercise? And if it is then the later consequences are going to be wrong in this country. I've had to ask the question in transport; I know that there must be a shift in the pattern of the transportation system. Am I going to manipulate that or am I going to open spaces for choices to be made? Now I believe that I have to struggle and keep making choices wider and then hope that the choices would conform to the transformation that you need, but I must not straightaway start manipulating, raising the cost of running a private car in such a way that it forces you out of your private car into public transport. I've got to find a balance but it cannot be by means of a Verwoerdian type of social engineering, albeit the one was apartheid, this one is supposed to be non-racial, non-sexist, etc., etc. So I think it's a benefit to us, but it makes our job far more difficult, but the next benefit it that we just have to be creative and innovative.

POM     Do you see the new constitution, or the final constitution that will come out of the Constitutional Assembly as being one which will involve minor modifications of the interim constitution or one that will strike some very different balances, some issues?

MM     No, it cannot be minor modifications. You are aware that - what is clear is that in terms of the current constitution this Constitutional Assembly does not have to look at the present constitution but it can address the problems of it. But if we took the present constitution and if we listened to hard evidence, if we got out of ideological mode, there are serious defects in it even in the way we created the provincial dispensation.The practicalities of rationalisation and overcoming what apartheid did are of such an order that I believe honest minded people looking at facts outside of ideological blinkers would not have this system. I have a province telling me that these assets belong to my province, and yet it was a key performer in part of a former TBVC state where the funds for that were paid by taxpayers throughout South Africa although the transfer of the funds was disguised via the Development Bank and the payments of the interest were made by the central government of South Africa, but those assets are now seen as the asset of that province.And when I then say to them, "You, for each of your MECs, have got two cars and there's another province there where the Premier hasn't got a car, please give over the one car", they say, "No, it's our property, you can take it and give it to the other province but you pay me first.It's my province's property." You realise that they are doing this not because they are evil minded or mischievous, but they have a real problem in the context of the scarce resources and the poverty of particular regions, they want to hold on to what they can claim as their assets and yet they are the assets of the nation and should be distributed rationally.

POM     Do you see resulting from this that there will be a stronger lobby in the ANC for a more federal-like structure rather than a centralised structure; that those who have power will now want to accumulate more power?

MM     No. That's why I have to keep saying, outside of labels, because I think once you use a label like federal you start talking about devolution of power and original powers, I personally would prefer to talk pragmatically of what powers need to be distributed because you want government to be closest to the people. The RDP cannot be delivered without the structures at local and rural level so that there's direct involvement of the people and planning and execution takes place there. But on the other hand, to immediately prescribe that this is an original power or a delegated power is a trap. We have to be pragmatic, guided by the need to say where does delivery take place? Empowerment means at that point the people must have a way of directly engaging. At the same time this country has got to be held together, again, not held together by some edict from above. So I am convinced that we will need a system with three tiers of government with adequate powers and resources at each level, but a built-in mechanism that the people are constantly given the space to become engaged. Whether it's federal later on I'll leave it to the academics but at this stage I say let's not argue it that way. Let's argue it on the basis that this is a common territory, the assets are the common property of all the people however they contributed unevenly to that wealth and let's understand that we need to go forward in a sustainable growth economy. We need to lift the depressed regions. So, a rich province, historically and otherwise endowed in a certain way, must not see itself as giving a handout otherwise we're back into the relationship between the Group of Seven and the under-developed world, they are doing us a favour. We know they are not doing us a favour. So a rich province here would be saying, "I'm doing a favour", and it would be the wrong paradigm. It does not realise how a generation of economic development in Northern Transvaal in the end becomes of benefit to the entire country, including the rich province, because through the Fiscal and Financial Commission you will be looking at how you draw benefits from it. So I am saying I don't understand from the ANC side that push would be there. I think it is a misreading of what is there visible at the superficial level when grappling with the immediate transition but once it's located within the context of the transformation which we are needing, the same ANC comrades will come out of such a process in the ANC with a different solution and a different mindset and I believe the mindset will be to hold this country together.

POM     Two things on that, the obvious one is the IFP which again is raising the head of not participating in elections in October. They walked out of parliament, I don't know whether their ministers –

MM     No, the ministers are still on the -

POM     Is this just more brinkmanship on Buthelezi's part or does it represent a very serious problem? That's one, and two, if the ANC did put its signature to a document which said, "We will submit certain things to international mediators", why would it not simply have international mediators who might sit down and say, "There's nothing here to discuss, we're going home."You could say you've consulted them.

MM     No, we are back at a very unfortunate situation.The IFP under its present leadership is completely stuck in its mould of brinkmanship and it is stuck - you know Chief Buthelezi started off in the negotiation process with the aspiration that he was a national leader of equal stature to Mandela. His problem was that he retreated to being a regional leader and he has now retreated to being the leader of the most conservative section of the traditional structures. His weddedness to his conception of himself is a major problem in the transformation and I am afraid that history will look back to acknowledge that he now represents the most conservative section in South African society and he has no scruples about how he mobilises them on ethnic lines.

POM     If this continues, if the walkout continues do you see a situation arising where the level of violence in first of all KwaZulu/Natal would not only increase but maybe would become more ferocious because now you're talking over -

MM     Standing with your back to the wall.

POM     - and also defined bits of territory where local councillors would be running and one constituency would become a no-go area for the other. Is the potential for conflict still alive and well? I saw the figures for January which surprised me, it said 131 people had died in political violence. Now eighteen months ago that would have been big news, now it's not news.

MM     I think that the potential for violence is substantial, but I think there is a whole change in the fundamentals of the equation, which I don't think is taken into account. Somebody has raised the question; is this South Africa's little Angola? It's a good question. I thought that the journalist who raised this matter had raised a good question. I personally don't believe it is South Africa's little Angola. I may be superficial on this matter because always I am a born bloody optimist. In the negotiation process I used to be asked by everybody, "How do you see this thing falling together?" I think that, yes, transformation needs a scientific base but also there is an art to it and part of that art is tactical manoeuvrability and to recognise that when a particular moment arrives that you have to grasp that moment, but that you cannot predict that moment. That happened with Bophuthatswana, Ciskei, the white right, it happened with KwaZulu. I think a similar thing is now here, that in the strategic terrain there has been a complete shift in the relationship which I think Gatsha Buthelezi is not taking into account. I think he has been driven back to the wall, retreated into the most conservative hole, sector.But that conservative sector is sitting on an explosion which he doesn't recognise. He thinks that because a Chief in a particular rural area in Natal can say, "This is no-go", it remains no-go, that the people will obey. He is not looking at how the people are also waiting for an opportunity to get out of that conservative, autocratic system. That's why I refer you still to the Agenda programme of last night. So I think that the people on the ground in that rural area are waiting to see the power relationship demonstrably change.

     We have just launched a project called Masakhane, Let's Build Together. That project has been launched both for ensuring that our people become actively involved in the reconstruction and development programme and take ownership of it as well as to address the culture of non-payment, non-involvement in the processes of transition and transformation. I believe it sees that there is a communication gap that has opened up in this phase of the changes and it wants to repair that. My own problems that I've encountered in my department do mirror that as well. It's the only way we can change the culture but I believe more strongly that we have to be conscious of what I've outlined as the breakdown between law morality and law and legitimacy.The legitimacy basis has been laid by the elections but I don't think that simply because we are legitimate we ought to make the assumption that the public perceive that legitimacy.

     So Masakhane is critical to that process. I am not pessimistic about whether we will achieve those changes. I think they have arisen in many countries before. In India Gandhi led a campaign as part of the struggle of village industry, refusing to buy anything produced in England and abroad, produce your own salt, don't even buy salt. The necessity for depriving the previous system of any perception in the mass of the oppressed people that the previous system was legitimate was absolute.Without that the changes wouldn't have come about but I think we need to be aware of the implications of that and the deep rootedness in the South African system of that breakdown. That's what we are trying at the moment. At the same time it is clear that with democracy people have to become involved in distinguishing between democratic forms of advancing their grievances and unlawful forms. The time for the use of violence, the taking of hostages, the destruction of property is now over and the government has the need to become more accessible to receive those grievances and to be responsive to those grievances. But in being responsive we should not become populists in making promises, we should be able to have the courage to explain the facts and realities of the situation.

POM     Do you think it's - ?

MM     I think that problem arises.There is a gap, there is that disjuncture in any election including the United States and in Britain. I mean none better than Bush's "Read my lips." I think there is a tendency. But in the South African situation there were consistent statements also made by President Mandela to say these changes would take time. I think none of us knew what a bankrupt state we were inheriting because the previous state had hidden all those facts, even the state of the finances of this country were not readily available.I am not here whining about the problems but I think that those are realities and we ought to put it before our people.

POM     So if you had to say what are the greatest obstacles to the implementation of the RDP?

MM     The greatest obstacle is to turn the mindset of all role players, including government structures and the public, that the RDP can only succeed if people take ownership of it.That's the biggest obstacle.

POM     In terms of elections, that the militant wing of the ANC - ?

MM     I don't think it's a question of militant and non-militant.I don't know where I fit into this paradigm. I have been described in all forms that way, militant, moderate, orthodox, communist, non-orthodox, Muscovite, Asian, youth leader and the worn out generation. No, I don't think that is the problem. I think that dichotomy is based on the gap that arises between knowledge of the facts and the way in which you present the facts. There is a tendency to be populist, populist doesn't mean militant, but there is a tendency to present the facts in an oversimplified way. It's ungenerous to the people. I have found that when you present the facts accurately but in a manner that demystifies facts then you've got people on board. I was given the fourth or fifth highest vote. What's that supposed to mean? I don't know. I don't know what it means because for the last four years I've been perceived as a moderate, or certainly for the last three years I've been perceived as a moderate. I think it's a misnomer but I think that the mood of conference was, don't lose your contact with the ground.

POM     OK, so don't spend too much time appeasing.

MM     Then there's a perception problem.The matter was raised here with President Mandela in Cape Town in one of the townships.They said to him, "You are spending too much time with whites, reconciliation etc." and he went and met the branch and he said, "I believe you are whispering these complaints. I am here with you. Please, let's just sit down and look at how many times I came to this township." And he went over the dates. "Now let me give you the dates on which I've met business etc. in Cape Town. I'm only singling out just your township. If you as ANC branch leaders do not understand that you need to put those facts before the public, because when you put those facts you will find that I visited you more often."Now that doesn't get into the newspapers when he visits those townships except if there are certain major problems but he has routinely been visiting and meeting, but yet in the papers meeting big business, met that one in Cape Town, met that one, etc., and then somebody pops up and has this perception that he hasn't been to our township."You as branch leaders, instead of standing up and putting the facts, you accept it and now say well, because you are faced with problems", so I think there's a perception problem.

POM     I know you said you were an optimist, do you sometimes ... as in population ?

MM     To give housing as an example, I think the late Comrade Slovo in the nine months has virtually ironed out all the basic foundations of the policy to move into full implementation. There are a few problems here and there. For example, the warranty, guarantee from the builders, which was agreed to in principle before he died. Now there are snags so we need to iron that out. It's about the last element in getting the housing programme moving with speed. He could have opted the other way, built shoddy houses, 10,000, big publicity and then the programme -I think his approach was absolutely right, the turn-around time is on us, 1995 is the turn-around time when delivery begins to take place and is perceived to be taking place, and again our approach is that when delivery starts it goes systematically right. I think that applies to firmness also and discipline. We shouldn't have a knee jerk reaction and just come down heavy. We should be firming up, incrementing, so that it seeps through society.I think the legitimacy and morality question doesn't arrive overnight.It's a systematic one.

     In transport I have approached the problems because of its nature and the problems similarly with slight peculiarities. I am supposed to devolve so many powers to the provinces. I have spent months sitting with all the MECs together documenting the model for how power gets distributed and the process and the time frames till we have agreed. To give you one example, roads, it is described in Schedule Six as a provincial matter. I could have just said, right roads are your problem, you take it. I didn't do that. I sat down with them and worked through it until we made a distinction between national roads, provincial roads, secondary roads, worked through the problem. Do national roads get devolved? What are the implications, practicalities? Are we then going to have as you drive past one border to the other road signs in different colours, routes now changing numbers or, to take the extreme example that my little girl gave me, that in one town leading into another you could have the rules for the traffic lights one says green is go and red is stop, and the other side saying no, green is stop and red is go, and what are the implications of that? We will work through it till we agree. National roads will remain a central government function but in devolving the other roads I agreed to a co-responsibility devising the funding mechanism. So we agreed. Nothing has happened on the surface but I think we set the model how smoothly we devolve with wherewithal. We have done that in area after area.

     On the RDP on roads we have developed a joint plan with the provinces unanimously, a business plan. What we have achieved is that Cabinet has agreed that of the five major issues that should be primary focus in the RDP is urban and rural development, job creation, human resource development, health and transport. These are the five. Now nothing has yet happened there but what has happened is that our strategic profile of transport has shifted, it's made a leap from the previous system. We are now able to address it from the delivery point within a business plan.When I was asked in Cabinet about two months ago, "Why don't you have a passenger transport policy and uphold it?" None of you have it around this table, I have to develop it anew. So that's their approach and as I say the turn-around time, we are now on the brink of the turn-around on problem after problem. I believe housing has made the biggest advance there. Different ones are coming on line that everything has been placed. The RDP has made significant progress and it has had to battle to say to each province, I'm not giving you a penny until your business plan is on the table, has been worked through with the RDP's ministry to the satisfaction of both sides. That's what they did to me with roads. This morning my DG had to be here to discuss the same issue. They have now given us the allocation but we are asking for the allocation be slightly shifted in a way in which they prioritise it in the RDP office, between category A and category B is not completely satisfactory. But it means a decision was taken. Our RDP business plan has satisfied the RDP office and the RDP office's judgement has slightly had to be modified by what we are saying.We are interacting with the RDP and the other ministries.

POM     One thing has struck me, when this dispute arose between Popo and Rocky Malebane-Metsing and he fired him from his Cabinet position, does that mean that the final say is in a regional administration?

MM     No, no. Popo was part of the process of finding the solution, even in the ANC. I think there is a tension between, say, what the constitution says and the policy position of the party and party members have to together resolve that problem without making it into a constitutional crisis. I think in terms of the constitution it's clear, as Premier he has that right.

POM     He has?

MM     He has that right.He assembles his Cabinet and he can dismiss his Cabinet; so can the President of the Republic. But in exercising that right as a member of the ANC, the ANC also has a say in helping him to resolve the problems. What we are witnessing in tightening up against all malpractice is the need not only for firmness but for fairness and justice and due process.

POM     That's very difficult to achieve because the legal system, or British legal system did it, you are guilty or not guilty. If you're let go people hold you just as accountable as if you had done something wrong.

MM     Yes, but I think it's correct when we're addressing this question of law and morality in law and legitimacy, there's a transformation that the ANC should hold itself together, stand by due process and encourage all its members in government to understand that changes don't come by just chopping and changing but always inculcating a sense of due process. Because the dimensions of the problem change.The facts that you knew change.Who knew what has come out in the Danchurch investigation on Allan Boesak? I'm still not making a judgement on that. But their report as it went on began to bring out, in their view, new dimensions. Had we acted on one dimension would it have closed the book? I don't think we are interested in closing the books and just removing a source of embarrassment. I think we must be conscious that we are more interested that due process combined with firmness will establish a correct morality.

POM     In the context of Allan Boesak, Peter Mokaba, it gives the impression of that the ANC have introduced a sleaze factor.

MM     I don't know. I don't know whether that judgement is made in the context of a wrong paradigm. In Britain at the moment in what became the privatised structures which are still where the state is the stakeholder, the chief directors and chairmen of the boards have just been finding themselves enormous increases in salary and perks. The fact it is done by the board by agreement and a legitimate resolution taken does not make it moral. Let me give an example of a problem that I have.The other day for the first time I went to a meeting of businessmen and they gave me a cheque of R3000, here it is, R3000. I didn't know there was a cheque for R3000. They gave me an envelope and they gave me a small parcel in which there was a tie. It's only this morning that I opened the envelope on my desk and I find a cheque for R3000. My honorarium? Do I pocket it and use it for myself and put it in my pocket and say nothing? I went to check with other ANC ministers, "Did you get an honorarium and what do you do with it?" I know I can declare it, that I have to do, but having declared it what do I do with it? Do I take it and donate it to a charity? Who will know that I donated it to a charity? I report to the President that I received this cheque for R3000 and I have donated it to this charity and tomorrow when it appears in parliament some journalist jumps up and says, "Prove it that you donated it to charity." Or do I take it and put it into a fund? When I opened this cheque this morning in my study at home, maybe I should open a fund in my ministry and put that money there and say it's part of all those cheques that come to me in that form and will go into an RDP fund. Then I said, "Good God, but if I administer that fund somebody will say I'm misusing it." What happens in the United States with those honoraria? Does any Secretary of State or congressman ever declare it or do they pocket it? Or if I gave it to the ANC now for the local government election would that be perceived as the misuse of the fund? I'm just giving an example of the whole change in scenario. But the worst problem in South Africa is that these things are being seen partly out of context.

     I have not made any noise of the degree of corruption that I sense in Transport.What I have done is to understand it and ask myself how do I eliminate it on a continuing basis, but at the same time it has surprised me that when the other parties react to us and want to stoke these allegations made against the ANC, they are trying to deflect us to the extent to which we are digging away and finding the basis of the corruption. That's what we've got to eliminate, both the immediate problem, but in doing so we must eliminate the roots of that basic problem. Now the roots of it have been shocking for me. I grew up in a political environment which never, never believed that there is a system of patronage that underpins the political system even in the best democracies. I am now aware of it. I have not yet worked out a personal answer for myself whether a political system can exist without patronage. Now against these new spectacles that I am wearing, I am aware of the problem when I look at Britain, United States, France, you name it, Sweden. When I read in the newspaper of some problem in Britain I am able to put my hand on it and say this sleaze factor comes from the patronage system. It is not in any legislation, not in any regulations, it's totally the informal sector of enrichment which the big guys can make for themselves. It's not like the taxi industry. So here are the problems.

POM     The last question, the Truth Commission, problems arising as to, one, who should be, two, whether let us say it is shown quite clearly that some of the ministers... I hear you saying that we have to go through ...to achieve a new South Africa.

MM     I'm non-racial now because I've committed myself to anon-racial South Africa, and non-sexist also.

POM     How far does the commission do you think have to go in terms of - ?

MM     This is a thing that will have to be managed very, very sensitively. I'm not saying it because I am worried about whether I am going to retain my post or lose the post. I have no problem, I think I can answer for myself, but what I want to know is whether I'm answering for myself in a way in which enables this country to restore a sense of morality. I make a distinction between what happened on the regime's side and what happened on the liberation movement side without whitewashing the thing, because I think it's one thing to make a law and then break that law yourself and another thing to have a law made for you. But when it comes to morals, morality, there's a difficult ... I only know that we have to find a mechanism that stops South Africans saying, "I did not know." We need to be able to say, "I know." And the victims of the system need to be able to say, "I know what happened now."

     This morning at five I made enquiries, I got up and phoned because in the De Kock file, at last two of the Vula operatives who were the first to be detained, which we knew, now we know their fate. And I got up phoning around to enquire from the relatives of the two who were killed whether they want to come to the trial on the day when the evidence about their beloved ones comes up. The answer was yes, but then they made a very interesting remark to me, one of them, she said to me, "Comrade Mac, I want to come to the trial but will you enable me to speak to the Prosecutor?" The Prosecutor? Not De Kock. And I said, "Why?" And she said, "Because I will hear one witness. I haven't got time to come every day, but I want to speak to the Prosecutor to find out is he satisfied about what happened to my son?I want to know whether there's a prospect of finding his grave or finding his skeleton so that I can continue to complete the rites." And people misunderstand, many people feel so bitter that they will want also revenge, but I think if we manage it sensitively to focus that mind on the fact of knowledge, we have to address questions of some compensation because many of them are destitute and I think we then have to address it in the context of reconciliation.

POM     (How has your life changed?)

MM     My life has changed for the worse at one level. I see even less of my children and my wife now than I saw when I was in Lusaka. My little girl phoned me, I spoke to them on the phone last night, and she said, "When are we going to be together?" And that's a painful thing. On the other hand my life has also changed in a very richer way, for the first time I'm not sitting and planning and executing plans to destroy a system, I am not sitting down to plan how to do it. That's a very great privilege. It's made me younger, though I work even harder. I don't know what it means to work harder, I don't know what a weekend is. Perks and privileges, I now wear a suit. I can afford a good quality suit. That has no relationship to the quality of my life.

POM     Do you have residences in Cape Town and Pretoria?

MM     I have to have a house in Cape Town. It's empty. The only time it's occupied is when my children and wife for three or four days say that we are coming down, my children are on school holiday, they are coming down to stay with me in Cape Town. Yes it is nice to be able to say to my children, I can take you for a holiday but I can't find a fit in our diary without worrying about whether I can afford to take them to Sodwana Bay. I can say to my son and daughter, "You're doing so well at school, you want to go to a better school but the fees are R12,000, don't worry about the fees, are you sure that that school is going to be right for you? You want to be there, give me your reasons and I say OK you can go." That's one thing. But quality in my life, there's a good quality that I've got challenges, but quality for my family I think it's got a bit worse. I feel that my wife and children go on paying a heavier price and the disguise of the material changes only makes the problem larger. Previously I could say we've got no money so you can't go to Sodwana Bay and they could understand why. Now they say, "You've got the money but we still don't understand why you've got even less time."I don't know what the answer to that is.

     In 1952 we had a President General of the ANC who was the head of the ANC.He made a critical mistake, he stood out against the movement and at that time if anybody said is there a Moroka factor, the answer would have been yes. He was removed from office a year later, replaced by Chief Luthuli and nobody noticed that there was a Moroka factor. In that sense, yes, we have to ask ourselves questions when a person does something that appears to be wrong, (a) due process, but (b) in the context of due process what are the implications of that. I'm not afraid of the implications. I believe the factor changes in its dimension if you handle things the right way. I believe that it will be handled as it should.

POM     Interviews fall into two categories. There are those who when you ask them a question say, "What are you trying to get at?" and the answer is yes, no, and there are those that take a question and just swing at it.

MM     No, I've found these interviews with you Mr O'Malley, and a few others, interesting, and I've spoken to you the way I have spoken because I find them forcing me to think. Well you've left me with questions to ask myself, so I'll have a few more sleepless nights.

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.