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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
Consultative Office Meeting - 11 October
11 October 1990
N Mandela, T Nkobi, A Pahad, M Roussos, T Mbeki, H Makgothi, V Khanyile
In the Chair:
The Deputy President opened the meeting and welcomed presence of T Mbeki, who he had overlooked to include in the list of invitees.
I have been reading the Statement of Expenditure up to July and was rather frightened. The statement does not appear to be related to our resources and I thought we would meet a tragedy soon if we don't control situation. I have indicated that our aim should be to raise funds and invest them so as to meet our overheads through income, and not eat into (our) capital. This is how any political party operates. We have agreed this approach and when on holiday I thought about this matter and after studying the expenditure (account), I communicated with the office on how to cut expenditure.
It isn't easy to work out guidelines and implement them, but we need to exchange views constantly. With this in mind I thought we should have this meeting in order to see how to remedy the situation. We accept the integrity of our leadership comrades and nothing I say here should be constituted to reflect on this, but we (do) need to exchange views.
I should think that the Supreme Finance Committee should be involved in expenditures. There must be a representative from the Committee to whom expenditures ought to be referred.
One of the most important departments (for instance) is transport. It consumes a lot (of money). The Head (of transport) tries his best to exercise control, but I do feel that some expenditure incurred should be preceded (by a degree of consultation).
I did recommend that for internal travel we should abolish business class, commercial is just as good. The question of security has been raised but it doesn't seem to make much of a difference to me, people will stream to you when you are in business class. I hope no one will resent this.
I think we should consider night flights, they are a way of ensuring curtailment of our expenditure and the cost I am told is actually less than (that of) train travel. It would be undesirable to be rigid and mechanical in this, but in a general way, let us so plan an engagement that we cut expenditures. Again security has been raised in this regard but we can overcome this.
Then the question of accommodation….I had suggested that hotel accommodation be cancelled from the 1st September. But as far as the organisation is concerned, we can arrange for people to stay in townships. There is the political aspect that many homes that are available are those that have been repossessed. Ayob acts for the First and Standard Banks in this and they ave access to such houses. For meetings of the NEC, it seems we are able to find accommodation in the townships, we can easily arrange this and we ought to consider that.
Then there is the question of purchasing equipment. I thought we should examine (the matter) carefully. It seems we are paying (retail rates) when we could get it at half price, or even without having to pay. I discussed this matter with Gertrude Shope (relates). As far as the Department of Social Welfare is concerned we have been able to get premises free up to the end of the year and we have asked for rent reductions. We would like to give this service to the rest of the departments. There is lots of sympathy from business which we aren't taking advantage of. I think before we order equipment, we should consider an approach to suppliers.
Then there's the question of appointments. This should be related to the question whether we have resources to carry (them). It seems to me that any appointments should be discussed on the basis whether funds are available.
I am giving examples……there's the question of rent, we pay a lot of money here. We need to work at acquiring a building big enough to accommodate our operations – a building which is modern and can be controlled from viewpoint of security and where there is parking. I was told about the Doornfontein property….I haven't inspected it, but I have seen very good buildings which cost less. I would prefer a building in the centre of town. I am concerned that Doornfontein is very dangerous, we require a place in the centre of the city. I spoke to the Americans. If they appreciate our efforts towards a democratic transition, then they ought to feel an obligation. (Pres) Bush said this is reasonable but he made no promises.
I come to our relations with the Coca Cola(Co.) I discussed this with Bishop Tutu and he said there are funds there ready, and I said I would discuss this with the NEC. It seems these people will respond quicker than Bush. We should consider getting our building as soon as possible. Bishop Tutu has pledged to assist us.
There are many examples of problematic areas where we can tap assistance to solve. I mentioned these only by way of illustration. And, in order to bring this to the attention of our Departments, none should just spend money without reference to the Supreme Finance Committee, so people can be encouraged to think in terms of their budgets.
Vusi: May I respond to some of the areas touched upon by the Deputy President, and some problems encountered. When in August you (D/P) instructed that we freeze expenditures, I went to the structures concerned. The decision to centralize purchasing was unpopular. It unleashed severe contradictions. Anybody who has to drive a squeeze will be unpopular. People came to us with a "mandate" that a matter has been cleared with some senior leaders (and we find our hands tied). [He gave an example.]
Secondly, the question of accommodation. Hotel accommodation is a major component of our monthly expenditure. People allege/plead secrecy/security and refuse to discuss with us (when they book into hotels). There is thus no way we can verify or contend and even begin to assess the political value of such expenditure.
Roussos: People tend to see Cde Vusi and me as people who refuse resources. I must say a lot of problems arise because we move too slow. Many ANC people resent not having to use hotels. I have tried to negotiate as hard as possible to get a good price for goods (we purchase). But people tend to look at symbols of the organisation. (And yet) it is difficult for me to keep people "at bay", and most of the time we are crisis managing.
T.Nkobi: It is very important that the Supreme Finance Committee is now taking hand (in matters of expenditure). For many years this responsibility has been with the Treasury alone. Cde D/President, you have listed the expenses we incur. Take rent for instance. We have discussed this item. We have to take a clear decision to purchase a building. As for accommodation in hotels, this is a problem of our own making. We need to purchase guest houses.
We need a written authorization so that we don't rely on a person saying "I have spoken to the Deputy President…." (as the case may be). We need to co-ordinate better. In actual fact, Cde D/President the position is even worse than you see it in all our regions (external) Zambia, Tanzania etc.
We used to receive funds for humanitarian needs (at scheduled periods) but these have been exhausted. Part of the problem is that people coming into these regions in great numbers (a rate of + 200 a month).
I have given instructions that the TGO must work on our expenditure account so we can know the extent of our being "in the red". We ought to tighten up this whole question of the usage of funds, and it is important that the Supreme Finance Committee establishes priorities. [He illustrates with an example drawn from the E. Tvl where the (regional) leadership signed contract without proper study of the lease.]
Thabo: It is necessary that some of us be involved in the Fund Raising plan. In the nature of the work we do, we make useful contacts. Throughout the corporate world, there's goodwill that needs to be tapped…..if we locked into a fundraising scheme we would help. Take the Black business class. They also feel marginalized. They are asking the question "What can be do?" Any yet there are many things that can be done, and some of us who are in touch with these people need to look into a Treasure plan.
I am glad the Deputy President has raised the issue of Coca-Cola. They approached us in the US. It is clear that we have been pushed into an untenable position by the anti-apartheid groups.
Aziz : It appears travel is one of our biggest expenditure (items). We are probably the biggest purchaser of tickets with the MDM. Can't we set up our own travel agency? Our second problem is rent and the concomitant expenditure. Is it not possible in this regard to target the main property merchants e.g. Anglo, Liberty, Sanlam, Old Mutual.
We need advance planning on question of purchases. We are big purchasers and we can speak to people at the top. I am talking here about how we could conserve funds.
NM : I am attracted by this idea of a plan. It should be comprehensive and deal with such matters as to how do we raise funds? How do we use them? I have spoken to H. Suzman to help in fundraising. We are also in contact with NAFCOC.
As Thabo says, the initiative (to do something) presently comes from them. What we want is properly co-ordinated planning inside the country. Treasury should find personnel to work out such a plan. We will need expertise. Someone has suggested a firm of consultants to see how we operate because there's a great deal of complaints about our efficiency. We want a comprehensive plan for (fund) raising and control (of expenditures).
I can appreciate dissatisfactions (in regard to cutting expenditures) because the suggestions made came from above. The question here involves collective responsibility. The plan we are contemplating should draw in heads of Departments who must be convinced of the need to conserve funds.
There is also a mistake we may make thinking that all departments need to be established internally. Other departments seem to be overstaffed.
[D/P recapped their experience in Stanger recently to illustrate that business people will give support if their concerns are addressed.]
For purpose of raising money internally, Thabo should certainly be involved as a matter of priority. How do we take this matter of a plan further?
Thabo: Cde Vusi can convene a couple of us who can go into this matter.
NM : I am sure Cde Vusi appreciates that this is the basis to our continuing as a viable organisation.
[Thabo: (to T.G.) Standard Bank are saying you should move your account to their main branch so their manager can help us overcome some "teething problems".]
NM : (referring to AAC) I felt we shouldn't make a direct request for donations. We need to consider the matter carefully since it involves big personalities. They were happy to hear this approach (on economic policy). And how do we handle the Coke matter? I mean the issue relating to Anti-Apartheid groups?
Thabo: I have a meeting in London and then I will go to the US around mid November. If we have a problem with the Anti-Apartheid we may have to say their campaign is not ANC.
NM : Can we raise this matter at the NEC. This would enable Thabo to go to the Anti-Apartheid groups with an NEC mandate.
Vusi : The matter of streamlining departments has been raised is this also left to the committee?
NM : Yes. This initiative from BMW for young people to tour Germany. I have reported this. There is also an invitation to go to Geneva.
Aziz : Cde Tito has reported that plans are advanced in regard to the BMW venture. The only problem that has been raised is how it will impact on the sanctions?
Meeting terminated at 11h15.