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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
28 Feb 1995: De Tolly, Jenny
POM You said it was a particularly dramatic moment in the history of Black Sash. Perhaps you could put that in some context for us?
JDT We have just had a weekend long, a three day workshop which was part of some strategic planning. Well we've been doing it on an ongoing basis for an incredibly long time but we've brought in consultants at the beginning of January who initially read a whole lot of information that we'd supplied them, then went and interviewed 150 people around the country, prepared a report which we got on Tuesday of last week and we held the workshop this weekend. What that workshop has recommended, there were forty people there representing Advice Offices and voluntary membership in the eight regions of the Black Sash and what that workshop has recommended is that the Black Sash retain the Black Sash Advice Offices but that we close down the volunteer side of the organisation. So, yes, it's quite a dramatic moment in our history and we will take that to a national conference because we have to. We have a constitution which very much guides how we operate and we have a national conference on the, something like the 13th and 14th May, and we have a fortieth birthday on the 19th May, so we'll have one hell of a party.
POM It's some time since I spoke you last, in fact before the elections, and perhaps you could give me an overview of how ...
JDT Of the election period?
POM - and the post-election period and the new government and its performance?
JDT I can give you those perspectives up until say the end of July because I took off August, September, October and returned here in mid-November and I can only continue then, and that three month hiatus is like one of those sort of periods in my life, a turning one. Well not entirely a turning one but when you break away from a place for three months and go somewhere where not even your own language is spoken and you don't have televisions and you don't ...
POM Where did you go to?
JDT We went to the Pyrenees. We went to a place near Perpignan and sat in a hillside village for nearly two months. So, it was a good reflective period. What I am saying that as a before-holiday and an after-holiday me, anyway. When did I see you before the election? It was quite soon before because I remember Pat saying, "I don't think there's going to be one, or that this thing is going to go off the rails." And certainly until the last second it was pretty scary. We had quite a lot of confidence that certainly people on the ground were going to vote because we were doing a lot of work in terms of voter education. Now I find it quite amusing because post-election everybody who has been involved is putting out that the elections wouldn't have happened if they hadn't been involved, including the IEC which, of course, we find vastly amusing because their performance was chaotic to put it very gently.
POM That's how Kriegler described it himself. He didn't wait for other people to say it.
JDT Look, I think that they handled it, given the circumstances, I'm not as hard on them as other people, but I think that we had started to pick up through these workshops an incredible desire on the ground for that vote, a real hunger for that vote and it was what kept us going. We like to think that between ourselves and some of those organisations that were involved in voter education and not the IEC were some of the reasons for the vast turnout. We had a very minimal budget, but we wrote two little booklets. One was called You and the Vote, then You, the Vote and the Elections, and a million of those were distributed and when the Independent Forum for Electoral Education did an evaluation they said that ours was by far the most successful in terms of - I'm just doing my PR bit now, like everyone else did. I'm sure you've heard it, the same from them.
POM All the literature that was ...
JDT Yes, absolutely. So I'm just doing my number for you, substantiating it with the comments that we've had. Anyway, we put out a million booklets. We did 490 workshops or something like that with I think it was 26,000 people. We trained 500 and something workers and this was all done with a handful of people. So in fact certainly it is recognised by people like, for instance, some of the German funders that ours was the most cost effective because there was a lot of money spent by some organisations and not very effectively. Anyway, all of this collective effort I think pulled off something that was extraordinary.
POM Let me hold you there for a moment because I think I see where you are going. A number of people have suggested to me, and these come across party political organisations, that here you had a situation where ten days before the election Lord Carrington and Henry Kissinger packed their bags, moved out of the Carlton Hotel and said there was nothing to negotiate and things were sliding downhill, there was a dramatic escalation of violence along the Reef and in KwaZulu/Natal. Then ten days before the election Buthelezi says, "I'm in." The election is held, it's immediately heralded as being free and fair by the international observers and by monitoring teams. And then the counting days go by and things kind of get stuck and in essence the IEC afterwards said, "We lost complete control of the process. We can't account for several million votes." Then they said, "OK we'll stop counting", and stop counting produced a miracle result. Suddenly everyone was a winner. ANC won nationally as widely expected but not more than two thirds, the National Party got the Western Cape, Buthelezi gets KwaZulu/Natal despite all predictions beforehand that he had no support whatsoever. So everyone is happy and everyone is satisfied and everyone is a winner and it was suggested to me, or I've been suggesting to people, was it more important that you had an election that could be perceived as being legitimate by the people than that it be free and fair in the normal usage of those words?
JDT I couldn't agree more because certainly our people that were working in Natal were beside themselves. I think that from what seems to have been skimmed over there were substantial irregularities in the Transkei and that was being floated around and then it disappeared. Oh I think a deal was done. But I think that you're absolutely right that people had to feel that what happened was a legitimate process and I think that there are huge bitternesses in places like Natal where people say that that wasn't an election for us.
POM Harry Gwala was going to court to contest the election and essentially the national leadership said forget it.
JDT Look, I think a deal was done at several levels. I don't know and I would question whether there was any substantial irregularity in terms of the Western Cape in that result. I was the Counting Officer for Stellenbosch and, yes, there were bizarre things happening. The Electoral Officer who had to give to me the ballot boxes with all the books, with the stubs, and I had to tally the numbers and the whole gedunt, had been told on the last day of the election that he was to take out of all of the bags the untouched books and put them into boxes to send them to the Transkei. Now I mean how can I tally those things? What we did do was I tried to find those things in order to tally them and we did find some boxes and we did find some numbers on them but I did not see those numbers. What I certainly could tally was that I could tally the stubs that were in my bags with the numbers of votes. Yes, I could tally those two and I could see that within that electoral district there were 53,000 votes, because the other Counting Officer dropped out the day before the counting started so I had to do this thing on my own. And certainly the stubs relative to the ballot papers were within I think it was point five percent or something like that. He had actually run it very tightly this guy. They were told to put these things into bags for the Transkei and then they never got picked up so God knows where those things eventually were floating around. So I don't know what happened to all of that stuff. I'm just saying that in terms of the stuff that happened around Cape Town, just because I happen to know quite a lot of the people who were doing the counting, it grieves my soul desperately to say that the Nationalists won, and I think they won fairly and squarely. I've been thinking about it and I don't know if there was a fiddle here how the fiddle was done because when we counted those votes the Nationalist Party had 60%. They had 30,000, in fact they had more, they had 30,000 of the 53,000 votes.
POM For the last couple of years when I've been coming here, and I've got one family that I interview extensively, and you could not find a family that were more wholeheartedly bitter and angry about apartheid, but were also not going to vote for the ANC, they were going to vote for the Nationalists. One factor that cropped up spontaneously was the Allan Boesak factor, that they were seeing him as a rich man living in Constantia purporting to talk on behalf of poor people, this dichotomy between the lifestyle and his rhetoric.
JDT I think that Boesak was a factor, but I personally think that people are ignoring the past fifteen years in the Western Cape if Boesak is blamed for the ANC - because we must recognise that over the past fifteen years there has been a strategic and systematic building of a coloured middle class by the Nationalist Party. Mitchells Plain was built on that basis and Mitchells Plain and a lot of those new coloured housing areas in Cape Town were housed by people who were part of the bureaucracy, who got housing loans as part of their jobs. And I think that when confronted with an ANC government that they could not easily identify with, as much as they hated the Nats for what they had done, they also recognised what the Nats had done for them in terms of - they forgot about the fact that they had stripped them and moved them. What they tended to remember was the past fifteen years and their own vested interest in the now. So I think the coloured vote was the swing vote here. But I'm just saying I am less inclined as the ANC is here to say it was all Boesak's fault. I think you're ignoring history. Because I think when a human being who is now sitting in a little house somewhere sees a government making the kind of policies that the ANC needs to make, sees their vested interests threatened, and I think one must be realistic about politics. So I think it was a combination of the two. I think the Nats, they most likely strategically went for the Western Cape knowing those things and I think ran a very skilful campaign, nauseating beyond speech. I mean this holier than thou stuff made you want to vomit constantly. And the irony of seeing coloured people who you know had been chucked out of God knows where, with these new look Nationalist Party head scarves and waving flags for these people who have had this kind of Saatchi and Saatchi number done on them and they are suddenly such good guys. Oh come on! It was, ugh.
POM This I brought up yesterday with Mac Maharaj, the question of how did Saatchi and Saatchi end up with the entire account for marketing and education, 43 million rand or something, when in the past ...
JDT For the voter education?
POM Yes, for the local elections, when in the past they worked for the National Party? He washed his hands, "I don't know why." Maybe from feeling these guys know the country.
JDT Maybe a recognition that Saatchi and Saatchi had done a brilliant number for the Nats so they may as well be pulled on board to do the same number for the local elections which, given my optimism last time, I don't share an optimism for the local government elections at all.
POM Would you talk about that a little? You see figures that less than 5% of the voters are registered. Focus groups show people's resistance to registration, they don't know why they must vote again. Mac Maharaj gave me a couple of cases where he said he was going to rural areas to do voter education and people would look at him and say, "Are we voting Mandela out of office now?" They have no conception about what local government is at all.
JDT Well, in the rural areas that's understandable because there has been no equivalent of local government there. I think that last time getting the vote was so easy. I think this time the whole notion of belonging to a specific place, having an influence over that local area, is still not a concept that has been sold. There's an interesting point that Sheena was making in the work that she's doing up in the Transvaal on local elections and that is that apparently there is a huge amount of resistance because people don't want to be that pinned down in case Ellerines come to dispossess them of their furniture because of outstanding accounts. So I'm talking about that whole outstanding accounts issue and being pinned to a spot. Apparently people just don't want to give all of that information. Before, that ID booklet was something, or even the voter card was something that allowed you a kind of a migrancy all over the place. I just think that's an interesting factor to think about because people are just very, very resistant to saying I live at X place and this is where I am going to vote for this particular constituency.
POM Do you think they might associate it in any way with pass books?
JDT No. Or at least I'm saying no very glibly, I don't think so because I think if anything were like the pass book it would be much more the ID booklet. You're referring to the fact that it's identifying them with a specific area? I hadn't thought about that but I suspect it's not that, I really do.
POM So what happens in October? Some people say the elections will be postponed because the country simply won't be ready for them. Others say that we will go ahead in the areas that are ready for them and as each area gains the competence we'll have an election.
JDT Well, I think that in terms of local government that is possible. It wasn't possible, I believe, at a national level to have elections at different times, national and provincial level because after all one was restructuring provinces. I think that had to happen at one stage. That might be the most realistic thing because it does seem as if local authorities and metropolitan authorities are at very different stages. Certainly in terms of the rural areas my understanding is that the legislation and the structures are still being formulated. Now I mean, for heaven's sake, what's it? Six months down the line? I am finding this whole interim local government thing quite exasperating and infuriating. I find these interim local governments, which I don't believe are representative at all, are a bit of a mockery. I think that the fact that some of them are coming into play ten months before an actual election quite wasteful and ridiculous. But then I suppose if you only get a 5% return that's hardly legitimising the process, is it? It does seem to be a question of how well organised local authorities are. Areas like Port Elizabeth have been very organised for a long time.
POM I wonder about this since the national government puts so much emphasis on the fact that it's a local government that will deliver services and be the processors of the RDP. You've got all this emphasis on the RDP on the one hand but what will happen when it's being administered, and on the other hand you have the set of structures that are supposed to deliver these services that are totally inadequate or totally ill-prepared.
JDT It's chaos. My husband works for the City Council.
POM It hasn't worked.
JDT There is still a lot of dysfunction as to where authority lies. There is still, well I mean they are still walking in and out of committees at the moment with this lot leaving and then deciding, oh well what's the point of coming back, so that things like the standing - well there are now, there used to be four committees here, I think there are now six of them. Just getting them to function in the political sense still hasn't - I don't know that any of them are functioning properly yet. And that's just one local authority, let alone the metropolitan authority. So I think it's still pretty chaotic and I suppose what one has to accept is rule by bureaucracy. I guess that's what's happening.
JDT Again, again. Yes, but without direction and finding it really quite difficult with no direction so I guess they will just take the gap. They'll have to take the gap because I don't know how long it will take for these committees to actually start becoming the political body they are meant to be.
POM If you had to look at the last nine months since the elections and on a scale rate the performance of the government where one would be very unsatisfactory performance and ten would be very satisfactory, where would you put the national government?
JDT It's hard in an overall sense because I think that some of the departments seem to have got on top of their issues. I think that Justice have tried and in some cases are succeeding, though I found Dullah Omar's comment quite interesting when I said to him, "You seem to be making some progress", and he said, "Well I'm glad it looks like that from the outside because", he said, "breaking into this old boy's club and getting them to move with you and accept that you are now the leaders has not been easy and one is not sure to what extent one is succeeding." So I think that they are having a hard time with not only bureaucrats but I would assume when he talks about old boy's club, people like the judges, etc., I think that some of the other ministries like Water Affairs, which might seem like an incredibly minor ministry, but in a country which is so water deficient as a resource I think it's one of our most critical resources, Kader Asmal seems to be doing a stunning job. Some of them seem to be dysfunctional and not happening at all but I suppose in an overall, because you always have to talk about perceptions too don't you and not actual performance, four or five.
POM And the provincial government?
JDT You ask me such hard questions. It's so difficult.
POM Leaving aside your bias against the National Party.
JDT I was going to say, it's so difficult to separate out my - it is very difficult for me because, who was it, I think it was Peter who went into the provincial building for something or other and these bureaucrats just smiled and said, "It's business as usual but now we're legitimate." And their style hasn't changed, they are as autocratic as they ever were. I think that the Nationalists are dancing rings around the rest. I mean they are such pros at this stuff. They are autocratic, they are being very skilful and I think that they are using a lot of the skills and resources that they have gained over the forty years that they were in power.
POM When your members go out into rural areas or even work you conduct in urban areas do you find that the people have any conception what the RDP is or is it a phrase that really has no impact on them at all?
JDT I would really have to sit down and speak to them because I haven't spoken to them about this specifically. I would think that it is something that they hope might deliver but are somewhat sceptical. We don't deal in the rural areas very much any more. Campaigns and the reach of our Advice Offices tends to be urban. It's really only a bit in the Eastern Cape where there is contact between the different Advice Offices that are rural that there's more contact with the rural areas. Yes, I think that people see it as a phrase that's meant to say you're going to get something soon, but kind of wonder. Some are very patient about it. They realise that this thing is going to take a long time to turn around but as you can see the kids aren't.
POM They're only doing exactly what they've been taught to do.
JDT Absolutely. Absolutely. I think that's the incredible challenge for this government. How when you have sown the seeds of non-payment, of ungovernability, do you reverse those processes? It's quite a trick.
POM It's like the benefits of freedom are that your standard of living goes down and you have to pay for things you never paid for before.
JDT Yes. Not a good deal.
POM Do you see the Constituent Assembly making major changes to the existing interim constitution or more or less tinkering on the edges?
JDT I would need to ask Alison about that because they are doing some submissions to that process. I wonder if there will be substantial changes. I have a feeling that at this stage there might not be. One of the very real questions that we've been asking, because we've been doing submissions on things like Gender Commissions and there's quite a split in thought between whether you make a constitution as simple as possible with very basic principles or whether you add various charters for women and for children and for whatever, all the various different constituencies. And I think the thing where we start to debate the issues, in Sash anyway, is that there are those who believe that the constitution should be as simple as possible so that it is not touched and there are those others who say unless there is something absolutely explicit about us, I mean the women's lobby is for that, at least a lot of them, some of our members like Sheena and Mary don't believe so, they say unless there's something very explicit that we will be sidelined. So I think the debates hinge for us quite a lot around that but also around is this a constitution that is going to be explicit about the fact that it is a constitution that's going to transform the country. And I suppose what they're going to do is they are going to have to find the balance between a constitution that is absolutely explicit about that.
POM But already I detect tendencies, certainly within the ANC, they are saying a government of national unity is fine, sufficient, but the majority is the majority and they are just going to have to learn we are the majority, that the experience of goodwill that existed nine months ago when the government of national unity was first formed doesn't seem to be there in the same kind of cohesive manner. It looks like three parties bickering among themselves but the ANC ultimately laying down the ground rules.
JDT I suppose it depends upon which bit of the ANC wins doesn't it? The pragmatists or those who want a more revolutionary type constitution.
POM Would you see those, the revolutionaries as having 'won' at the ANC's NEC where a lot of militants, you had Bantu Holomisa coming out number one in the country which is certainly almost an unimaginable leap?
JDT Wow. We have gone through such mind twists haven't we? When you think of where he was five years ago and how he was perceived and similar ironies like the Saatchi and Saatchi number. Politics is such a principle-less game isn't it?
POM Yes, they're learning very quick.
JDT If ever one saw something of the art of the possible, one is seeing it happening more and sod the bottom line that one thought had been fought for.
POM I was talking to Moses Mayekiso yesterday, all along for the last four years, five years I've been interviewing him, I think since 1989, hard-line, socialist, communist, nationalisation, take over everything, and now he's sitting there in his office promoting free market economics. The workers must also be prepared to do, sacrifice. It's like a complete turnaround.
JDT It's actually at the moment one of the things that's making me feel very sad, but also one needs to be a bit realistic about it, is seeing the way in which people who you thought were fighting for certain principles, as you say, have just taken on this mantle with such ease. The levels of actually plain old corruption around people moving into posts and learning, maybe they are the tricks of the game universally, but certainly not knowing the difference between a gift and bribery. And you see the problem is that for so long that's what happened in this country so that now the big companies who as far as I am concerned are plain bloody corrupt to their core in a lot of cases, are just offering the free cars and the shares in this and the directorships in that, just switched their allegiance and they are offering it to new MPs at the provincial and national level instead. A friend of mine in Johannesburg went to visit someone, they went off to lunch together and they climbed into this huge, wonderful new four-wheel drive Landrover and he said, "Wow! Your salary must have gone up a lot." He said, "Oh no, this is a present from Landrover", and he didn't even blanch. And let's not play games, that's been happening for ever. I believe that in Namibia - to what extent have you been keeping in touch there, because Patricia was quite involved there at one time?
POM We still are.
JDT Well I believe that you just add 15% when you're bidding for a contract because that 15% goes to politicians and bureaucrats. It's just the name of the game. That's how, if you're bidding for any engineering contract or supplying resources or whatever, you just add on.
POM Do you think in that regard, looking at the spate of cases which all more or less happened around the same period, whether it was Winnie Mandela and the cheque for R50,000-00 from Benazir Bhutto, whether it was Rocky whatever his name is out in the North West, and the way he processed, he just gave away 15 million rand over the phone, there was no paper work involved at all, where you look at Holomisa and the billions of dollars that are missing, all coming together almost in a critical mass at the same time, that the ANC has been slow to react, that they don't recognise the importance that swift action is needed to eliminate any public perception of there being a sleaze factor at work in the government?
JDT I don't know how to judge whether they have been slow or not. I would just say that their task is enormous and they need to be very, very rigorous about it because I would think that it's fairly rampant. The Boesak thing, I've been feeling quite, not specifically angry with him, certainly glad that it was all coming out into the open and he was certainly a high profile person whom the public loved to see fall, but his transgressions are quite minor compared with some of the others and I think the ANC absolutely has to root it out. It just has to root it out. I think for a lot of people they don't understand the principles. Are those principles maybe foreign? Do they belong to the west? That's certainly the way Latin America operates isn't it? Maybe that's the way Africa operates. Certainly most of the rest of Africa operates that way. I just have such a strong sense that we have a tiny window and I think that window, I don't know if we talked about this last time because I couldn't find the document, I think that window is five years and I think that window is while Mandela is around because I think he has the moral authority to make sure that these things happen and I don't know who else has that kind of moral authority but also that support from such a wide sector as he has. So my feeling is that in terms of ways of governing, standards of governing, principles of governing, that he has to stamp that fairly and squarely on the system. So I think they have got to be absolutely ruthless.
POM There doesn't seem to be any sense that the appearance of impropriety is almost as bad as the impropriety itself in the sense that how it reflects on the government, in most other countries, western countries, all these people - I mean Winnie would have been fired, not the third time round but the first time round.
JDT Absolutely. And you see the problem is that that is perpetuating the same revolting pattern we had before. When the Nationalist Party was in power, when their departments were proven to have fraudulently, well someone in the department had fraudulently done away with millions of dollars, in some cases billions of dollars, they simply never resigned. So it's the same damn pattern. So I suppose what I think is confronting us is are we going to allow that pattern to perpetuate or are there certain standards of government that we are going to pretend to adhere to?
POM In the same context, looking at so many events crammed into a small space of time, what struck me coming back four or five weeks ago was the fact that you had headlines about ex-MK members taking hostages, ... in the unions, threatening to take white civil servants as hostage, using violence, political violence again in Natal. A host of events all that showed a certain instability or indicated a certain inability on the part of the government to move quickly and effectively. My question would be do you think everything must be done by consultation, that in a way the process is taking precedence over the outcome?
JDT I can't specifically comment on that because I'm not sure whether that is what is holding them up from action. I think that one of the things that does seem to be a constant is the need in the ANC for a cohesion and a perceived cohesion from the outside that seems to take precedence over principle, like the issue of these eleven women who walked out of the ANC Women's League who are in essence being reprimanded for having dared to do that. Well I think that's totally outrageous. I haven't got to the bottom of what it was all about and I'm sure one will get all kinds of stuff along the grapevine but my understanding is that it was about this woman who is just totally autocratic and totally out of line and I think the fact that they had the guts to stand up against her when the government itself doesn't have the guts to stand up against her, they should be being applauded, not being reprimanded. But party cohesion, I suppose this is an inheritance of being in exile or underground for such a long time, that that coherence and that loyalty takes precedence over everything. And that's the price you pay, we as a country pay.
POM I was quite shocked last month when Popo Molefe fired his Minister of Agriculture and the ANC more or less ordered him to reinstall him in some position which to me seemed to me clearly to be unconstitutional, that the constitution says the Premier or President has the right to fire and to hire and that in essence it looked like the ANC superstructure was the governing body, not the structures in place at the provincial level. Does that worry you that it's very easy, that without more opposition to kind of move slowly but ineluctably in the direction of a one party democracy?
JDT Yes, and I find it extremely scary, I find it very scary. We have a problem sitting down here in the Western Cape, because as you know we're parochial to start off with, and we tend to see South Africa from our perspective which is of a provincial government which is quite different from a national government, under very differing problems that that brings with it, but certainly from some of our regions where - I mean the poor people in the Eastern Cape, that one was a disaster beyond belief. Some people, of our members who are ANC members, are just saying that if you're sixty years old, were in exile and are chums of a particular little group you get a job with the minimum ten thou salary and it doesn't matter what your competence is at all. I've been hearing very negative things about Mhlaba and his total lack of grip on what government is and incompetence.
POM Raymond Mhlaba?
JDT Yes. It's a very complex province to deal with. It's trying to collapse Transkei, Ciskei and part of the Cape into one government. Apparently conditions in the Transkei are such that the telephones are not working. If you want to get a message to someone you get in your car and you drive. This is what I was being told over the weekend by people from East London who say that their work in the Transkei has become extremely difficult because of this, because there's a total breakdown of what was the Transkei before.
POM If I were a foreign businessman visiting you, what kind of case could you make for me why I should invest now? Perhaps you could make a very good case for me not doing so?
JDT Well I would tell you not to invest in the Eastern Cape. I mean the terrifying thing is that the levels of provision of government in the Western Cape, I would opine, are some of the higher in the country at the moment.
POM Some of the higher?
JDT Yes, which is kind of depressing isn't it. I think in Johannesburg, I'm just talking about in the greater metropolitan areas and actually it's unfair of me to even make those kinds of judgements. Opportunity, do business only invest when there's political stability? I suppose so. I'd encourage them to invest in the Western Cape, the tourism industry, all that kind of thing. I don't know about the rest of the country, I really don't.
POM There's still a level of instability that would make a business person think twice?
JDT I don't perceive as great a level of instability as clearly you are. To me the various things that have been happening, like the stuff around the kids in Cape Town in the schools, is the most appalling handling of explosive situations. I mean what gross incompetence. It just is mind boggling how badly it's been handled and the reaction of the kids I would have thought could have been predicted. So I think that I don't see it as unstable as maybe you're seeing it because I think that especially when you are away from the country you're not hearing about the good things that are happening. Do you? You're only hearing about the bad things that are happening and I think that certainly gives a perception of instability which of course is what businessmen are reading when they are out there. I don't know, I still see a lot happening on the ground that just seems to be carrying on anywhere.
My other perspective comes from the fact that my family owns a wine farm. Now in terms of life on that plane it's never been better. International markets have opened up, this country is delivering it seems, certainly in our case business is so good. So I'm just saying that one is operating on a number of different levels. I think you can sometimes have a relatively politically unstable situation but you can still have working on the ground quite good investment opportunities. I suppose that's what I'm trying to say to you.
POM What at the moment do you think are the biggest obstacles in the way of the implementation of the RDP? I ask that question in the context of estimates of what it will cost which range from 11 billion rand to nearly 40 billion and no-one seems to have the slightest idea of where the money is going to come from?
JDT I was going to say to you that I think that one of the biggest obstacles is the money to do it. I would have thought that the second obstacle is trying to ensure that your object is delivery as opposed to bureaucracies that are going to oversee the delivery system. And then I would think that one of the most serious things is the actual delivery systems themselves, because the fact that one of the things that happened when we were so isolated and so little was going on, I'm talking in the sense of housing, a lot of our construction industry just shrunk, so it's building up the skills to deliver those things on the kind of scale that we're talking about.
I think one of the other obstacles would be clear lines of authority, because I think if they are talking about the local level delivering the RDP, the local level in my terms is in no way ready to deliver, or at least I don't think it is in many instances and especially not when its lines of authority are not very clear. Cape Town, in the metropolitan sense, was looking at how it dealt with 65 different municipalities they had to collapse into, I think they have excised some of them and those have gone into other areas, but they were initially dealing with, I believe, 65 municipalities. Now I think one of the more serious parts of the RDP delivery is going to be how do you break down those old fiefdoms in order to create a more streamlined delivery system? Because in every one of those little fiefdoms there are vested interests and they are not letting go with any grace at all.
I'll just give you a tiny little example. In terms of primary health care in Cape Town there are sitting, quite often right next to one another, a City Council clinic and then there will be a provincial clinic, it might have been an RSC clinic. They have traditionally been run by totally different people, by totally different structures, if they were combined, I'm getting this from a guy who is trying to design a new system for Cape Town, if they combine the two they have enough resources to give a far more efficient, far more comprehensive primary health care to that particular community, but apparently the real problem is getting those bureaucrats to let go. So you know we built up labyrinthine structures and trying to streamline and collapse them into different and ostensibly more efficient ones is not going all that smoothly I would say, in some instances.
POM Do you think the ANC in the election campaign over-promised what they could deliver and that there has been a backlash to this and that the backlash is that on the ground Africans perceive an ANC led government as having spent the better part of the last nine months appeasing the fears of whites or pandering to whites and not paying enough attention to African concerns and needs?
JDT There certainly does seem to be that perception, yes. People seem to be growing impatient at the lack of delivery and, yes, at the fact, exactly what you've said, that they are acceding more to whites. One certainly hears that phrase fairly often. I've been to parliament for a couple of the debates and that is what is mentioned, that people say we are making too many compromises in order to bring whites along. And of course Winnie plays that one to the hilt doesn't she?
POM That's what I was going to ask you, is it more important to keep her in the government no matter what her transgressions are than to let her outside on her own where she could become a total loose canon and in fact be a very divisive force in the ANC?
JDT That is the reason, well not just in my terms, but that is the reason why she is being kept there. We had a meeting just before the elections. It was organised by the Sash, it was a public meeting and we invited five parties to come and give us their position on seven issues that we had pre-determined and there was question time, somebody asked of the ANC representative who was there, who was Willie Hofmeyer, "Why is Winnie Mandela still in the ANC? Why, given the things that she has done and has been found guilty of is she still kept in the ANC when you talk about principles and the things that you stand for?" And he said exactly what you said. He said that it has been a strategic decision to retain her in the party. She represents and brings with her the youth and it has been considered, well he put it in quite an interesting way, he said the ANC realised that it would lose in credibility but in this case it believed that keeping that constituency that she brings along with her under the discipline of the ANC was a sacrifice it would have to make to its reputation for the good of the country. The art of politics! I think Willie is absolutely sincere in some wonderful way.
POM Do you see the IFP walking out of parliament as being an event with potentially disastrous consequences or just kind of brinkmanship on Buthelezi's part again?
JDT It sounds to me like brinkmanship again. I suppose the IFP and the Nats have to threaten to walk out every now and then in order to make their points, or in order to gain a bit of an upper hand in this frail government of national unity. I still don't understand all the mediation stuff. It's kind of beyond me in a way because as you know we were all pretty impatient with them at that stage.
POM Do you think if they contest local elections in October that there will be in the months to come an increase in violence again in KwaZulu/Natal and along the Reef particularly now that the ground they are fighting over will be actually a specifically defined area?
JDT They seem to be playing a fairly similar game to the one that they were before because in Natal very little seems to have happened according to our members anyway in terms of voter education or telling people about the elections, making sure they register, etc. Very little seems to have got off the ground. So it seems to be a very similar pattern as before and in fact in some of the rural areas, again, almost quite dangerous to suggest that local elections were viable because, of course, at a local level is really where the traditional Chiefs hold their power. So I don't think they want this contested particularly at all.
POM It means there is a direct contest of values.
JDT Well it's a direct contest over a specific piece of turf now, a very specific piece of turf. I don't know what the strategy is but I would certainly think that some of those Chiefs would even question why anybody should be voting over that piece of land. It's land in their control anyway. How dare anybody come and even question that it's not theirs?
POM Finally, are you comfortable with the new role of the Sash or are you optimistic about the future, or at what point in the next five years does South Africa have to reach in order for a lot of these problems to resolve themselves?
JDT Well the role of the Sash in the next few years, because of the decision that we took on the weekend, will lie most specifically in our Advice Offices and the role our Advice Offices play which will be centred around that whole progression which I'm sure I've spoken to you about before of case work which gives rise to analysis, which spots trends, which looks at legislation and administration that is starting to give rise to problems in the case of our clients. So I think in its own way it will be looking at good governance, it will be looking at how certain legislation impacts people on the ground and it will be lobbying around improvement of that legislation and that administrative practice which is traditionally what our Advice Offices have done anyway. Last year we saw 43,500 cases which I think is a pretty fair sampling nationally. You certainly can pick up trends with 43,000 case histories. So I think its role in those terms becomes more limited than the role that the organisation has tended to take on in the historical sense because we have tended to take on a much broader role in terms of good governance. So I think the narrow vision will allow it to be more focused. I think that there will still be a yawning gap and that's something that some of our members are going to address. They are going to start to meet with other women to try and set up an organisation that is more representative racially, because that's one of the reasons why we feel that a lobbying organisation needs to be much more representative given South Africa's racial composition and our racist history as a nation, and that they will look more specifically at the government's promises in terms of women and they will monitor legislation at the national, or at least this is what they are hoping to do, at the national, regional and local level around women and promises made to women and make sure that those promises are fulfilled. I think that they also see the focus as getting women into different levels of government. So I'm saying what's happening now is that we are going two different ways with a much more tight focus. Whereas it was an organisation that crossed both lines before it will now be much more specifically focused on the Advice Offices.
POM Lastly, I think years ago when I was talking to you and we talked about your friends and people you mix with socially were feeling about the situation and you talked about the guilt feeling as they decided whether to leave the country or stay in the country despite their liberal credentials. Do you find a lot of that has abated or that it's still in the balance?
JDT The one magic thing about the elections was that it liberated everyone. The burden and the guilt was no longer so specifically a white one. OK, the whole issue of where the economic and skills resources in this country remain is still very strongly in the hands of whites but the fact that everybody had the vote, everybody was now equal, I think has - yes, it liberated white South Africans I think more than it liberated black South Africans.
JDT It's the most extraordinary thing, everybody said, "Now we can behave like normal people, do hedonistic, wonderful, normal things." I think that what happened in the initiation ceremony up in Pretoria was extraordinary when those dreadful damn jets went overhead with the streaming colours, even friends of mine who are ardent anti-militarists said they wept because suddenly these symbols of aggression and oppression were claimed by all. So I think on that day the people of South Africa claimed the government, some of the old habits, as we discussed, die very hard and non-governability, but anyway ...
POM And some of the bad habits are being learnt very quickly.
JDT And I think that, thirdly, what has been very extraordinary for us is for the first time in our lives to feel proud of being a South African. I mean that stupid old flag has been emotionally grabbed by us as something we can identify with. My daughter, who has been away now nearly a year, and they couldn't leave without having a South African flag on their back-packs, and for us that's a profound liberation. I mean we have just had such a sense of being skunks that it had been hideous, so I think the whole thing of claiming citizenship, claiming the government and pride in being South African were fundamentally liberating things that happened to us over that election. We just have to address the realities now which we knew were always there. But I really do think that one cannot underestimate what a profoundly cathartic emotional thing has happened to South Africans, because it really has been extraordinary. When I was Counting Officer in Stellenbosch I had insisted, my co-Counting Officer had been a Professor or the Rector at the university, he's now retired, and he was doing the hiring in Stellenbosch and I said to him, "Listen, there's no way we can have just a bunch of white students running this thing. Please will you ensure that you hire right across the colour spectrum because we're talking about building a new place." So he managed to do that. And this was extraordinary because, as you know, we worked under ridiculous conditions. We were given instructions one minute, got a phone call the next to withdraw, to use a totally different kind of recording system, then we would get visits from some magic people who had come from Johannesburg who would come and say, "I've got a new form for you, would you please fill this in." We had to tell them to just bloody get lost. We were told to stop counting because not everything was in, so I laid off all my people and said come back tomorrow. I was told four hours later, "I hope you've started counting", so we had to rehire all of them in the space of four hours. I mean we were working under the most ridiculous circumstances. But what was incredible was to watch this hall of people, across the social divides in Stellenbosch, which are quite stark. You know Stellenbosch is a very traditional little town so you have the white princesses who are invariably some professor's wife or something like that, or who certainly have been grand dames of the local community who were in on this act as well, the conservative coloureds and then the young people from Kayamandi, and to see them working at those counting tables, trying to devise means of doing it more quickly because the initial counts were going incredibly slowly. You've got to hold up each of these things and you've got 19 bloody parties on it, you can just imagine. But to see them as a team, accepting their equalness, because they certainly were, but trying to work together to make it work and not just them but we had at every one of our counting stations, and I think we had eight of them, we also had party reps and these party reps hung in with us till three in the morning. They wanted to quit. We had to do the tallying the first day and then the second day we did the actual counting and the first day at about two in the morning they came to me and they just said, "We've got to stop now, we actually cannot go on." Actually it was about midnight. I said, "You've got to find a way of doing it quicker, don't short circuit any of the key processes but you've got to go quicker because I'm not letting anybody out of this hall until you're finished." So we did about a 16-hour shift I think. It was very fascinating to see what built up in that process of these people working together, I think for the first time in that Stellenbosch community ever. The party officials obviously in the counting stage hung in with us every step of the way, thank God, because they were the monitors, apart from the official monitors they were the monitors. They were the ones who could validate our process. And I said at the end of it, it was one of the most moving experiences of my life because having come from this racially divided country to see every single one of you committed to a process which makes sure that what we've just gone through isn't a farce, is just so incredibly moving and important thing for me. So I can't talk about the election without accepting my own involvement and my own catharsis. So, for all the rest that's got to happen, and it's not going to be smooth, something fundamental has happened to us. There's no question about it.
POM Thanks a million.