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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

The June/July 1996 HSRC OMNIBUS Survey

Political Trends:

Ø     In May 1994,76 percent of respondents indicated their general satisfaction with political developments; this response had dropped to 45 per cent in July 1996 a drop of more than 30 per cent.

Ø     There was also a decline in general satisfaction with economic developments. In May 1994 51 percent of respondents were positive; in July 1996 this had dropped to 34 percent.. for the first time since the elections in April 1994, more than half of respondents said they were dissatisfied with the general economic situation.

These trends may have been influenced by a variety of factors, among the most important being:

Ø     the euphoria and widespread feeling of optisism that followed the 1994 elections slowly began to dissipate in the face of the enormous problems the country found it was confronted with, with the lack of experience and capacity that bedeviled the early years, by the recognition first on the part of government that transformation would take years if not decades to accomplish, that you simply don't declare that things will change, and change follows, by structural and behavioral residualities that precluded change, by the unwillingness or inability of the people themselves to face up to what change entailed and that change required sacrifices on the part of the oppressed as well a their former oppressors, by the fact that South Africa gained its sovereignty precisely as a point where concepts of national sovereignty were becoming passé, by the fact that in a global society, every country was no longer free to determine its economic and social policies without due regard to the external constraints of the outside, by the failure of fixed foreign investment to materialize on a scale that had almost been taken for granted. The collapse of the GNU also undermined the feeling that all South Africans were working toward the same objectives, the first small pinches of affirmative action convincing whites that there was no future for them in the new South Africa, the lack of tangible progress on any number of economic and social fronts convincing Many blacks that nothing much was going to change in the new South Africa and that their living conditions and economic circumstances we re not about to undergo miraculous turnabouts. The rand had begun its slow inexorable slide contributing to the general malaise that while things were not quite falling apart, things were definitely not coming together. Violence in ZwaZula/ Natal still was occurring with a sufficiently periodic frequency that left a lingering question mark over the future of the province. And of course, the escalation in the level of crime, the public's increasing preoccupation with their own safety became a general barometer of government's effectiveness, begging the question that if the government could not protect its citizenry from what appeared to be brazenly contemptuous acts of both horrendous and petty acts of crime, that the government was failing to carry out the most fundamental act of government: the provision of stability and order.

Ø     But if one were to interpret this overlapping and often contradictory jetsam of the outcome of the multiple and random reactions to the new order as a sign of hopelessness, one would be mistaken. Parallel with the drop in satisfaction in both the political and economic arenas, were the pervasiveness of high hopes for the future. Over 85 per cent of respondents expected their standard of living to improve "noticeably' within the next five years; 62 per cent before the general election in 1999. Given the limitations that the economy faces, these expectations will be very difficult, indeed, given the economic crisis that criss-crossed the globe in 1998/9 and its continuing fallouts, in rality impossible to achieve.

Ø     But there are still other variables, more psychological than concrete that add to the complexities of rationalizing attitudes in South Africa. ( See poll re difference among blacks and whites regarding the future the positive attitudes among blacks) Two nations live according to different hopes, aspirations and norms).

A survey conducted by the Bureau for Economic Research, indicated that consumer confidence in the third quarter of 1998 fell sharply, reversing all gains made to the three weeks to June as a result of the increase in interest rates and continued volatility in the markets.2 The decline in confidence, however, was decidedly asymmetrical. Black consumer confidence remained largely unchanged, while white consumer confidence dropped significantly.White consumer confidence dropped 25 index points, the largest fall since the fourth quarter of 1985, when the prime rate also increased to 25 per cent and the rand depreciated 50 per cent against the dollar in the aftermath of PW's Botha's Rubicon speech. In contrast, black consumer confidence remained unaffected by volatility in the markets and increasing interest rates."Black consumers," according to the report, "expect a continued improvement in the economic performance and their financial position over the next twelve months. The majority also regarded the present as the right time to buy durable goods like household furniture and equipment" Again, in contrast, a sizeable majority of white consumers expect the economy's performance and their own financial position to deteriorate over the next year. The number expecting a deterioration in the economy increased from 37 per cent in the second quarter to 59 per cent in the third.Explaining the divergence in consumer confidence, the BER said it was probably due to "the difference in the impact that high interest rates had on high and low income earnings." The survey results indicated that there was a sharp drop in the confidence of higher income households predominantly white while those of lower income households predominantly black remained stable. Thus, the report concludes:A larger share of the expenditure of high income households goes towards paying monthly mortgage repayments.The hike in the mortgage rate by 3.5 percentage points in July, therefore, severely dented the discretionary disposable income of high income households.The financial market instability since the middle of May might also have heightened uncertainty amongst higher income earners and blacks who have recently moved into the higher income groups will also be similarly affected.In contrast, the increase in interest rates, had no direct effect on low income households, as the majority do not make use of formal financial services.Evidence of the meaningless of the banking system in the lives of most black South Africans was presented by the Alliance for Micro-Enterprise Development Practitioners at the annual conference of the South African National Nongovernmental Organization Coalition (SANNOC) in September 1998. Only 37 per cent of South Africans, the Alliance reported had access to banking and financial services, reinforcing the BER's conclusion that rising interest rates don't have much of a direct impact on most black South Africans. Consider also that 19 million South Africans, representing almost 50 per cent of the population, are "poor" in the sense that their incomes fall below the critical "poverty line" defined in terms of basic consumption needs. In addition, the Gini coefficient, which measures the inequality of income distribution is the second highest in the world.3 Consider also the behavior of the rate of inflation. In August, the rise in interest rates was largely responsible for pushing the rate up to 7.6 per cent from 6.6 per cent in July.4 But while the core rate the indicator the Reserve Bank uses for monetary policy purposes which excludes mortgages rates, certain fresh and frozen foods and value added tax -- also rose to 7.6 per cent in August, the increase was from a 7.2 per cent level in July.From July to August, the overall consumer price index (CPI) rose 1.1 per cent. Housing costs contributed 0.8 per cent, transport contributed 0.2 per cent, due mainly to an increase of 11c/litre in the petrol price.  Food prices, however, helped to keep a lid on the rise in inflation, with a month to month fall of 0.2 per cent. Household consumables also declined in prices. In October, the price of petrol is expected to decrease by at least 10c per litre.What do these data, taken in aggregate, say? On the one hand the obvious: that there are two economies: one for the better-off, and one for the less fortunate. They also strongly suggest that the economy for the more affluent is far more vulnerable to market forces, whether in the form of the impact of higher interest they must pay on their mortgages, the higher prices they must pay for the imported goods they are accustomed to buying, the value of their assets, whether in pension funds or stocks and shares ,in the face of capital flight, currency depreciation, and global volatility. These are considerations which are far from the minds of the 50 per cent below the poverty line and the economy of the informal sector the only part of the economy that is growing. Here, conditions are close to the ground; the basics for survival are the preoccupation of day-to-day living, how to procure them the consuming concern. What they need to survive is least vulnerable to market fluctuations, whether in the and or in interest rates. What they need, above all are jobs, which will not materialize without economic growth, which will not materalize without lower interest rates.

Thus, by lowering interest rates, the Reserve Bank would open the way to job creation, alleviate not only the unacceptable levels of unemployment, but also reducing that component of crime attributable to people's needs to acquire the means for survival one way or another, ease the pressure on homeowners, give a boost to the construction industry, already sinking in the quicksand of increasing uncertainty and lack of confidence about the future.5 Allow the rand to find its own level in the market and make no interventions. Undoubtedly, imports would rise sharply in price, but this would be compensated for by a lower volume of imports and a higher level of exports, thus improving the country's balance of payments and adding to its foreign reserves, and if the price to be paid is higher inflation, even double digit inflation, that may be the inevitable trade-off that has to be made for dealing with the country's overriding problem-unemployment-identified by blacks and whites alike as being the most important issue facing the country.6Even the venerable Milton Friedman, who was awarded a Nobel Prize for his contribution to determining the overriding role monetary policy played in regulating the economy and his emphasis on interest rates and, more importantly, on the money supply as the key variables in policy decisionmaking, comes out on the side of letting the rand find its own level in the market, free of reserve bank interference, and fine-tuning the money supply to bring interest rates down:My view for emerging smaller countries [he argues] is that either of two exchange rate arrangements make sense. They should have either a fixed exchange rate. Or they should have a truly floating exchange rate.I would certainly advise your central bank governor simply to follow monetary policies appropriate to the domestic economy and let the exchange rate go wherever it wants to go.7No country, he concludes, with a truly floating exchange rate, has had an international financial crisis.

Ø     Perhaps the factor that escapes many analysts of politics in South Africa is that is makes no difference how the government performs: No matter how abysmal its performance, come election day, Africans are going to vote for the ANC, and while the Coloured vote may be up for grabs, no white party has much of a chance of expanding its vote beyond its diminishing base. Negative sentiment toward opposition parties far outweighs negative sentiment towards the ANC. Besides Africans have a propriety disposition towards the ANC. Political preferences of ANC supporters run in one direction only, a phenomenon not dissimilar political behavior in other countries in a post-colonization phase. It is "their" party. To a degree it's like family. Family members have a right to criticize each other in a way that "outsiders" don't. When "outsiders" turn on the family, even to express the concerns that family members have been complaining about, family closes ranks. It is, for all intents and purposes, a closed shop. Moreover, as the TRC so vividly illustrated, whites do not remember the past. It is something blacks do not fail to remember.

Ø     A few polls illustrate the point: In the July 1996 HSRC poll, support levels for the political parties, the HSRC compared support levels for the parties in May 1994 and July 1996:

Party
%

May 1994
%

July 1996
%

ANC

NP

IFP

Right-wing

DP

PAC

63

19

4

3

1

1

53

18

7

3

1

2

According to the HSRC analysts, "The support lost by the ANC has not resulted in a gain for other parties and could have shifted to the 'uncertain' or 'refuse to answer' categories. This may be an early indication that dissatisfied ANC supporters may decide not to vote rather than vote against the ANC. Overall, the support for the parties has changed little or not at all since the general election. There is no indication thar criticism of the government has seriously affected the support of the ANC or increased that of opposition parties."

On a related question, whether respondents had considered voting for another party in the next election, 72 per cent said "NO," while only 14 per cent said "YES." In fact, on further analysis, the survey data indicated that whatever voting shift might occur among the 14 per cent, might not benefit the minority parties. On the contrary, the majority party could gain from the minorities.

Finally, the rigidity of support was reflected in a series of questions on how "close" or "distant" respondents felt towards the parties. The most striking aspect of the responses was that in all cases except the ANC, 58 per cent or more of the respondents felt "distant" towards the other parties.

One indicator of the extent of the political malaise that has set in can be found in the results of a comprehensive survey conducted in September'98 on voter attitudes and intentions, and how they have changed since the halcyon days of 1994.

From mid-1994 through mid 1997, surveys regularly showed that between 61 per cent and sixty four per cent of potential voters would vote for the ANC if an election were held today. In September 1998 that figure had dropped to 51 per cent., and only 35 per cent said they identified with the ANC.

The reason for the rather dramatic turnaround is that in 1994 76 per cent of the people believed that the country was headed in the right direction (and given the promises of the new government, who wouldn't?), that optimism had slowly declined in the following years, and became more precipitous since 1996, dropping to 43 per cent in the third quarter of 1998 the first time the optimistic/pessimistic trend lines crossed, while 44 per cent thought the country was going in the wrong direction.8 Other surveys have tracked a steady decrease in the proportion of people saying the national economy has been improving, as well as in the proportion that believes it will improve in the next year. The drop in optimistic expectations has been especially noticeable among blacks. 9 A mere 18 per cent think the government is doing a good job with the economy. And only 12 per cent think the government is doing a good job creating jobs.

But if the people have become more disillusioned about the prospects for a brighter future and their expectations regarding what the ANC will or can deliver on the promises made back in 1994, no other political party can been able to turn that disillusionment into political support. Even while surveys show that there has been real and substantial declines in confirmed ANC support, the intention to vote for any opposition party remains at 28 per cent exactly where it stood in late 1994. And thus the good news for the ANC: while fewer and fewer voters feel a connection to the party, they are not deserting it for other parties ( only 9 per cent of the electorate identify with any opposition party) there is no transfer of allegiance but rather a gathering and increasing pool of undecided voters. More than one voters in five were unable to "identify" with a political party. Over half of the electorate does not feel "close" to any political party.10

Given the deep cleavages that continue to exist across the racial divide, the chances of African voters crossing that divide to vote for the National Party or even the Democratic Party are remote On election day they will either return to the fold or stay at home. The IFP has become for all practical purposes a provincial that may be hard pushed to retain the plurality it commanded in KwaZulu/Natal in 1994. The likelihood is that the ANC and the IFP will form a voluntary coalition after the 1999 elections, thus giving the ANC the free hand it is looking for in exchange for a Deputy Presidency for Chief Buthelezi. In this sense, the ANC has little reason to be apprehensive about the outcome of the next election there is simply no credible alternative in waiting. And perhaps, in the longer run, this vacuum poses the gravest threat to South Africa gradually slipping into the ways of a one party state. Certainly, the Opinion'99 survey should provide the opposition parties with the stimulus for some soul-searching. Or perhaps the explanation for intended voter is simple: non-African parties are a sidebar in the political arena.

The belief among white political parties that they can somehow attract African voters is just further evidence that they still don't get it: don't get the magnitude of the injustice apartheid blacks to; don't grasp the profound impression their being unable or unwilling to get it has on the black psyche; don't get the extent of the damage they inflicted on blacks and the inevitable consequences of that damage; don't get that even their solicitation of black votes is an insult to blacks since it negates the past experiences of blacks, almost brushes aside the oppression the white state ruthlessly imposed in their name, even if not always with their full knowledge, as an insufficient reason not to consider voting for them in the new dispensation; that attempting to lure blacks into supporting white parties is an insult to blacks, especially in the absence of an unqualified apology on the part of whites for apartheid and some gesture of genuine remorse and willingness to pay the price of undoing the legacy of apartheid wrongs.

In the period following the unbanning of the ANC and the opening of all-party negotiations at CODESA, a number of focus group surveys was conducted among blacks to get a more accurate picture of their state of mind regarding the changes that were occurring in their lives, how the abolition of apartheid laws had affected them, if at all; what they thought democracy was all about, and what they expected once "their" government took hold of the reins of power.

What stands out in these focus groups is the extraordinary emphasis people put on education as the route to a better life for their children, the constancy of the hopes they harbored for their children, the constancy of references to education, of the need for better schools, better teachers, and equal education for all races, the preoccupation with saving minds-the path to a better life ran through the school house. Even the fears they had about what might happen in the future focused on education: that they wouldn't get the education they needed to get the jobs they needed to live a better life.11And interestingly, fear that a" culture of violence" would linger long after the "fight" was over, that their children would not be able to overcome their sense of inferiority, that the economy would collapse all fears that proved to be well-founded and which they continue to confront.

(One might have thought that this common consensus on the primacy of education as the determinant of the direction the country's future would take could have been used to harness the people's energies, to drive home the message that the struggle to end apartheid was the easy part of the struggle, that the real struggle lay ahead when the sweat of their bodies would replace the sweat of their blood, that it represented fertile ground on which to build a national cohesiveness among the people, a willingness for shared sacrifice in the short run in order that their children could reap the benefits in the longer run. Yet, even when one looks at what happened in the following years and the slew of demands that workers made on their own behalf, this idea-that we must  all sacrifice, even those with the most meager possessions for there were many who had none-to build the nation in which all can share in its benefits, especially when the global downturn began to take effect-was not a rallying point).

But more than anything else, democracy represented what participants wanted from the political system.

Democracy was widely interpreted as the antonym for apartheid. It encapsulated the opposite of apartheid. The primary reason for democracy's motivating power was the way in which it represented for people the antithesis of apartheid. Participants did not see democracy as a means, but an end; not as a process, but as a set of goals, accomplishments, results. They thought of democracy in terms of the things it created, rather than as a means to bring them about. The concept of democracy not only conveyed to non-white South Africans the powerful imagery it does in other cultures, but it contained a number of specific reference points as the opposite of apartheid. As a result, apartheid had an emotional impact on perceptions of democracy as a cure-all and that went beyond the norm in other parts of the world.

With each association apartheid conjured up in their minds, democracy conjured  up the opposite. Thus, oppression became freedom; discrimination became equality; segregation became unity; humiliation became respect; violence became peace; poverty became opportunity; white minority rule became majority rule. Injustice became the rule of law; inequality became equal rights; domination became the right to choose one's leaders.

What was troubling, however, was the perception that democracy would have a coattail effect, that the attributes people associated with it would become instantaneous realities, immediate replacements for the realities of apartheid. Because the realities of apartheid were so concrete and had been experienced, sometimes at terrible cost, by blacks, they expected the perceived realities of democracy to be as tangible and experiential.

But, besides the obvious, there is one other difference between apartheid and democracy. Apartheid was existed not only as a set of rules and legislative statutes that divided people along racial lines in every aspect of life, and set boundaries to control every action of the individual, it was also a living instrument of dehumanization, a systemic organization of society to bring the maximum amount of human degradation to every person whose skin color was not white. For the vast majority of South Africans, apartheid was

for nearly half a centurythe warp and welft of their experiencedefining their privileges and their disadvantages, their poverty and their wealth, their public and private lives and their very identitythe system itself was evil, inhumane, and degradingamongst its many crimes, perhaps its was the power to humiliate, to denigrate and to remove the confidence and self-esteem and dignity of its millions of victims.12

"The face represented by authority," Justice Pius Langa, currently Deputy President of the Constitutional Court, wrote in a memorable submission to the TRC "was of a war against people, and human dignity was its main casualty."13

Democracy, on the other hand, is a process. It does not confer dignity or self esteem. It does not eliminate disadvantage, abolish or even alleviate, poverty or act in ways that are always humane or non-degrading.

Does the fact that democracy has not brought about the things the majority of South Africans wanted in any significant measure mean that people are becoming disillusioned with democracy rather than with the government? If democracy is associated with ends accomplished, and not the means used to get there, does this mean that people could sanction the use of undemocratic means to achieve what are perceived as desirable, even democratic, ends? Or in the last four years have people gradually been weaned away from the association of democracy with ends met and do they now associate them more with the processes that must be used to achieve desired ends? And in the event of failure to reach those ends, do they blame the processes for holding things up or do they blame those who are charged with implementing the processes?

One profound change has taken place. People no longer regard democracy as being the antithesis of apartheid, but as a means to delivery of jobs, houses, safety and personal security, water and electricity, schools, infrastructure, a higher standard of living.14 Democracy has become a material thing, a quantitatively measurable commodity. Jeremy Cronin, Deputy Secretary General of the SACP once bitterly complained of how the "whiz kids" of the IMF came to Johannesburg: "they came into our offices with laptops, filled in each figure for inflation, foreign exchange controls, all the macro-economic numbers then hit 'F1-Control, and the answer would determine whether the country was acceptable.15 The masses without benefit of the laptops are plugging other numbers into their heads number of new jobs; housing sites and houses built; phone and electricity hook-ups; sewage systems installed; tap water and sanitary facilities available; garbage pick-up; roads tarred, paved and built; police stations in the area, ease of access to; speed of response and visibility of police, community infrastructure, sense of personal security, schools built, capacity, quality of teachers, availability of textbooks, health clinics in the area, accessibility to and quality of staffing; community centres constructed, accessibility to local councillors; efficiency and capacity of local government, and they ,too, hit the F1-Control that is in the recess of their brains, and the answers pop out: more times than not disconcerting answers they have lived to learn with.

As regards their fears of a culture of violence becoming pervasive, they were prescient, as crime quickly filled the vacuum left by the decline in political violence, as the guns stored during struggle days were unpacked and sold to whomever could afford them, which unfortunately, most could. In an almost subconscious way people were seeing glimmers of the future, and they did not like what they were seeing. Most of their incipient fears became realities.

In November/December 1994, six months after that "miracle" elections, a second set of focus groups were carried out.16 A lingering sense of the euphoria the election engendered was still in the air, and blacks were what might best be described as being in a state of "waiting,"-although the sense of anticipation was slowly being eroded by a sense of impatience as to why it was taking so long for "their" government to deliver on the promises it had so effusively made during the election campaign.(Given that "their" government had a lot more familiarity with the cell-blocks of prisons than with the cabinet rooms of government, "their" government could be forgiven for asking for a little more time to learn the ropes, other than the hanging ones).But the ANC itself had planted the seeds of disappointment, and now it was stuck with reaping the harvest of unmet expectations.

Whites were beginning to feel a little more relaxed no great upheavals had shattered their comfortable lives, but they, too, were still apprehensive --- because the government had not gotten around to forever changing the way they lived (in their view the government hadn't gotten around to doing much of anything), it didn't mean the government still didn't intend to. President Mandela's reassurances that whites were an integral part of and germane to the success of the new South Africa were being treated with the usual suspicion, although his appearance at the World Cup Rugby Final between South Africa (the Springboks) and New Zealand (the All-Blacks) wearing the Springbok uniform and the jersey with no.6 emblazoned on the back, his embrace of the team, unconcealed delight and pride when the Springboks(the All-Whites?) won instilled a national "togetherness," a sense of their being one nation perhaps for the first time, despite the fact that rugby was irreparably associated the symbols of the apartheid era, the cornerstone of the Afrikaner's cultural edifice, and the team all-white except for the obligatory inclusion of one black. But in general the mood of whites, too, might also be described as one of "waiting."

But once black responses were disaggregated and considered on the basis of group affiliation, a different picture emerged-one of ambivalence and a selfish competitiveness for the resources that were there to distribute among them. Overall, most groups believed that little or no change had taken place since the election in April, and that what change had occurred was benefiting other groups, not theirs. This was a recurring gripe, with little evocation of the need to either share or sacrifice in order to build the new nation. Coloured and Indian respondents felt that Africans were benefiting from the new order; rural Africans felt that urban Africans were benefiting at their expense. All assessments were made on a zero-sum calculus. Those who had seen change were optimistic about the future; those who hadn't were pessimistic.

(With all the emphasis on voter education and getting people out to vote, no one had, of course, paid any attention to educating people with regard to the realities of democracy and the conditions in which they lived, and how difficult it would be not only to master the sprawling bureaucracies with their 14 departments for everything, but to consolidate them, integrate the former TVBC states and the homelands, to rationale line functions, implement the golden handshakes that had been part of the WTC agreement, bring in the new talent to run departments whose previous experience with running anything was solely confined to running from the authorities. With the unrelenting emphasis on teaching people to walk into a polling booth and do something they had never done before ---cast a vote for one of the parties listed on the ballot sheet, no one had ever addressed them regarding the limits to the changes they might expect. And in this regard, no party was more irresponsible than the ANC. In setting its sights on total power at every level of government, it wilfully misled the electorate, and the leadership who were well acquainted with the true state of things acquiesced in the lie, and in the act of asking the masses for their trust, they betrayed the masses from the very beginning making the primary task of the new government the building of one nation out of its divided fragments-so much more difficult. And all for what?)

If for blacks voting meant getting the things they were denied under apartheid, then clearly there were few signs after six months that they were, then many had already concluded that voting had been a waste of time. Because their leaders had not trusted them to understand that undoing centuries of oppression and its effects on every trajectory of their lives would take some undoing before "the new order" might begin to produce what was within their own restricted capacities to produce, the ANC leadership sold its people "a bill of goods."

One reason for the rather quick onset of some, or in cases, a great deal of disillusionment, was the ANC's own fault: it had made the promises, it had raised expectations to an extraordinary level, and the stories that circulated around the time of the election-how some blacks were already picking out the houses in white urban areas they would move into after the ANC took over -- were often more than merely apocryphal; thus even if one and one made two, voting didn't, contrary to what they had been led to believe, bring jobs and houses).

Other under-the surface resentments also emerged. Government was spending too much time alleviating the fears of whites at the expense of the needs of the African majority who had voted them into power.

Indian and Coloureds were worried about their financial and physical security under a government mostly run by Africans.

But even if blacks were disappointed, they thought things would get better in the future when the government got more experience and got a better grip on the reins of power. Experience would count.

Also, respondents were more realistic than blacks are often given credit for: they were more than prepared to agree that the six month period since the election was to short a period to make assessments of change, that the government had inherited formidable challenges it could not be expected to change overnight, that elements of the "old order" would frustrate innovations to get thins going, and that unlike many of the elites that presumed to speak on their behalf, they drew careful distinctions between what they wanted and what they thought they might reasonably hope to get.

Although people were frustrated about the pace of change, they believed government should be given more time, and they were slowly beginning to see change, limited but change nevertheless, emanate from the new structures. They were still positive about transformation and satisfied with about the government, although in the latter case it was a qualified satisfaction.

These findings were confirmed, in large measure by focus group research conducted in November 1994 among urban and rural Africans by the Centre for Policy Studies.17 In presenting its findings, it emphasised that the fashionable belief among "many politicians, journalists, business people and academics" that the new government would be unable to meet or manage popular aspirations was unfounded.

[The report] challenges the pessimism reining in those quarters: it is not, however, optimism without qualification, for it finds that there are indeed expectations of change which the new democracy will have to meet.. There is definitely disappointment with the pace of change since the aril elections, but this has not produced neither widespread discontent with government. Rather, the findings suggest that the public is considerably more aware of the limits facing the new government, more realistic in its expectations than conventional wisdom holds. The people want to make the system work for them, not bring it down. They are also more disposed towards policies that are incremental, egalitarian, and involve popular contributions, than is often supposed. The results reveal a sense of priorities tat places the concrete and immediate jobs, houses, water--- ahead of the symbolic or ideological issues like land.18

Most respondents had never heard of the RDP, and the RDP, in turn, underfunded, understaffed, and an enigma to most, withered on the vine of great expectations. The ' Masakane' campaign the campaign the government launched to persuade people to pay their arrears for services the liberation movement had instructed to withhold and pay for current services, after three/four years is still encountering difficulties. Is it because of the culture of entitlement? The habit of not even being able to remember when they last paid? Because they can't make ends meet if they paid? Don't have the money? And in some cases, see no delivery? In 1997, over one-third of municipalities were bankrupt, corruption and inefficiency were rife, disillusionment had hardened into cynicism, and many of the newly enfranchised were ready to throw in the towel. Towels, fortunately, were not available an accident on the highway to trade liberalization.

What killed the 'spirit of the revolution' or was there ever a revolution?

One analyst, Businessmap's Jenny Cargill who knows the ANC well argues that the interpretation of the ANC as a fundamentally revolutionary movement is wrong

'During the struggle[ she said during an interview with John Matisonn for his series in the  M&G on the ANC in power] journalists and outsiders saw tended to be the revolutionaries.

"But we forget: the ANC was founded to unify tribal conflict and provide a forum for black intellectuals. It consistently nurtured tolerance and moderation." The "broad church," inclusive of Marxists and non-Marxists alike, became the ANC's preferred way of describing its ideological flexibility, but in essence it was non-ideological pragmatic rather than dogmatic. Thus, if it is in the interests of the ANC are better served by making Buthelezi, whom the ANC had demonized with vitriolic delight as a stooge of apartheid, a collaborator of the first order, Pretoria's pet ally, made Buthelwzi an offer he couldn't refuse the Deputy Presidency in a Mbeki administration: so be it. If it advances the ANC's agenda and smothers the still-smoking embers of IFP/ANC violence in KwaZulu/Natal, it will advance the national interest and do more for reconciliation among supporters of both parties than any confessional forum and acoustical breast-beating. And if 15,000 spirits roam the killing fields of the province they will have to make their own peace. The living have enough on their hands trying to get on with the business of living; the dead will have to take care of themselves.

Many African participants felt entitled to jobs on the basis of promises they feel were made to them during the election campaign. Not that Africans expected them in the first place, but that they were told over and over again to expect them, once "their" government took charge. The ANC's 1994 campaign, was patterned after western, especially US campaign style models i.e. it was poll driven; the "message" was crafted on the basis of what the masses ought to want; they were repeatedly told that they wanted houses etc. until they believed what they were told and reflected these beliefs back in opinion polls that were used to reinforce the message. The medium became in the most classical sense the message. Perhaps, the ANC's campaign with its emphasis on the material gains that would come with the new government inward investment (credulous voters were led to believe that foreign investors were knocking the doors down to get a toe hold in the new South Africa, that the companies that had left the country in response to the liberation movement's insistence on sanctions were poised to return, that there was a world waiting out there that would be just as zealous in the provision of aid to the new South Africa as it had been in withholding it to the old south Africa.

Some of the ANC's key strategists had been the master minds behind Bill Clinton's successful run for the US presidency in 1992.19 Committed liberals and seasoned hard-ball political strategists and marketeers, delivering the coup de grace to the National Party a vicarious re-enactment of Clinton bringing the Reagan/Bush era to an abrupt and inglorious end. In Shell House, they could just as easily hung the sign: "it's the economy, stupid." Can US consultants be faulted for devising a campaign for the ANC that was inherently fraudulent in that the ANC had neither the resources nor the capacity to deliver on the promises so easily made? Did these advisers, in that sense, unwittingly or wittingly, create a climate conducive to a quick loss of faith in democracy as the instrument that would bring to people the things they were led to believe "their" government would bring? Was the drive to maximise the vote done at the price of creating the basis for a quick erosion of confidence in this newfangled thing called 'democracy.'?

And hence the residual "who got what and why?" that lingered as the meager spoils of victory were distributed. "Respondents who did not see visible changes in their areas assumed others were benefiting and became embittered."20

(At this point, crime had not yet raised its vicious head as an issue of major concern. Perhaps because in this period of the transition there was a hiatus of sorts: political violence was way down, criminal violence had not yet filled the void. Perhaps, people so often the victims of political violence, had gotten used to seeing all violence in terms of politics, or that the sheer scale of the political violence had made them 'immune' to the violence that engulfed them at all others. And in white areas, increasing urbanization in the wake of the abolition of all forms of population movement, the proliferation of squatter camps, and the breakdown in social controls, made an increase in crime inevitable a crime increase is a common phenomenon in countries undergoing rapid urbanization in which there are huge disparities between rich and poor).

All the 'disadvantaged groups' were looking for benefits even if it meant benefits at the expense of others. Hence, the underlying resentment that 'others' were benefiting while they were not, and in particular the increasing hostility directed by Africans at Coloureds and Indians. Thus, even with the advent of a government that was "theirs" in the sense that it eas their votes that had put the government in power, there was no sense at all of a national cohesiveness or even a cohesiveness among the disadvantaged no sense that they were all in it together and would need to sacrifice on behalf of one another, that sacrifices now would earn dividends for their children. Spectators for so long at the well of white consumerism, they wanted a well of their own: that's what their leaders had told them was their due, and even if they hadn't quite seen things that way before, they were now newly conditioned to demand what they had been told were their rights.

There were also more nuanced changes. The  focus of what people wanted, and their prioritization of their needs had undergone a metamorphous. Education, which had dominated the agenda in 1992 had slipped indeed in the post election 1994 focus groups it wasn't even mentioned as being among respondents top priorities. And it slipped again in 1997 and 1998.21 Was this because education had become better and hence less of a priority in the sense that it was being adequately dealt with or an increase in 'me-to-ism'?)

However, education no longer loomed as the heirloom to the future. Respondents no linger rhapsodized about the benefits that would accrue to their children as a result of having educational facilities and teachers that would be on par with the education white children were receiving. Opinion was more pragmatic, more concerned with the nuts and bolts of what was happening in their schools rather than with the esoteric vistas that would unfold once their children had an education equivalent to that of white children. Contrary opinions were expressed regarding the . Some felt the system had become desegregated. Others felt whites were trying to frustrate attempts to integrate schools, or that black educational standards were lower than whites, with the result that many African matriculants found themselves unemployable after finishing school while their white counterparts did not.

Research conducted by the Centre for Policy Studies complemented in many respects the focus group research carried out by C A S E.22 On the question of education, for example, the CPS focus groups were no longer "accepting" of the grandiose visions the governing elites had dangled before their eyes -- free education and access to white schools. In their own way they had come to the bottom-line conclusions that education in blacks might have a lot more to do with the behavior of students and teachers than with the more fancy appurtenances white schools were cluttered with and the plethora of extra-curricular activities available to them. And until and unless behaviors changed, little else was of much consequence.

The main preoccupation in the focus groups regarding the school system can be summed up in one word : discipline. After discipline, facilities and teacher qualifications are the most frequently mentioned concerns. Although it is recognized that students made an important contribution to the struggle,. against apartheid, all groups see scholars as being too polarized and out of control. These views were shared by people of all ages, including those under 35 who were personally involved in the anti-apartheid campaigns of the past.. Even the participants in yesterday's struggles think it is time for the schools to calm down.

Teachers are often seen as contributing to the indiscipline., by their own behavior member complain that teachers sleep with students and are drunk at school. Another concern frequently voiced is the poor quality of instruction. Group members say this is due to teachers' limited competence in English, their poor training, and the large class sizes prevalent in African schools.23

Indeed, in the following years as the chaos in the schools increased, education in many parts of the country had come to a virtual standstill, leading Deputy President Mbeki to deliver a tongue-lashing to the members of SADTU at their annual conference in Durban in September 1998, that had it been delivered by a white would have resulted in his lynching:

Among us, it is a matter of common cause that the freedom we enjoy today was brought about by the united struggle of our people,who carried out an offensive on all fronts, including the front of education of which you form an important component part.

Among the black masses of our country, the only people who played no role in freeing our people from the chains of slavery were the puppets and the criminals.

This, of course, is not surprising.

Two features consign the puppet and the criminal to the same camp of enemies of the people. These are the absence of any sense of morality, a condition of amorality, and a complete devotion to the fullfillment of the personal, animal needs of the individual concerned.

These ugly products of our ugly past are always ready to anything at all, however destructive, provided it serves their selfish material needs and interests.

These are the barbarians in our midst, who cast a shadow of shame over a proud native people of Africa whose entire social being and conduct has been informed by a deep-seated ethos of humanism and the intrinsic worth of the individual person.

You may ask why I speak so much of the dirt cast aside by the clean waters of the stream, the outcasts who were and are but a boil on an otherwise healthy body.

I speak of the treacherous puppet and the criminal beast because fear that the values that inform their behaviour have also infected very many in our society.

What was the dirt thrown out by the clean waters of the stream seems to have accumulated in such ample quantity that it has corrupted the clean waters of our stream and turned these healthy waters in the noxious effluent whose corrupting influence they had sought to fight.

As we worked together to elaborate the Reconstruction and Development Programme, we fell victim to the view that such reconstruction and development would consist in meeting the material needs of the people and creating the economy and institutions that would make this possible.

Strangely absent from the work that was done was the fundamental consideration that the better life we sought and continue to struggle for, would come about as a result of the conscious activity of the masses of our people and their democratic organisations.

In the Introduction to the RDP, we find the following undertaking:

"Those organisations within civil society that participated in the development of the RDP will be encouraged by an ANC government to be active in and responsible for the effective implementation of the RDP."

In reality, however, all of us have done very little to ensure that, first and foremost, the organisations of the Democratic movement, those that belong to the Congress tradition, were mobilised to ensure the realisation of the vision contained in the RDP.

I am certain that if you asked the members of SADTU who are gathered here in an important Congress as to what they are, in all likelihood they would answer that they are teachers!

Would they be wrong! Of course, they would be correct. But I would hope that if the President of the ANC asked them what they are, they would answer:

that they are revolutionaries;

that they are the advance guard of our intelligentsia dedicated to the fundamental renewal of our country;

that they are motivated by the same commitment to serve the people of South Africa which inspired the commanders and combatants of Umkhonto we Sizwe to be ready to lay down their lives for no reward except the freedom of the oppressed!

SADTU itself is an organisation of professionals, a trade unions, an affiliate of Cosatu, a trade union federation that is an important and organic component part of our democratic movement. Further, I would not be surprised if the majority of your members are not members of supporters of the ANC. As members of the ANC and of the formations that constitute our Alliance, we should indeed be proud to call ourselves revolutionaries, the vanguard of the forces dedicated to the fundamental renewal of our country, inspired to serve our people with no expectation of a reward except the upliftment of the masses of our people.

Certainly, if there are any members of the ANC who feel that they do not belong among the revolutionary frontline troops we are describing and are more appropriately defined by the evil spirit which drives the traitors and the criminals, then these do not belong among the ranks of our movement.

Because I am speaking amongst my own comrades, it becomes possible to speak frankly and even to demand what to another might appear to be the impossible.

Together, we are agents of change. We are comrades in the transformation process. As such, we are combatants for a new South Africa before we become public sector employees.

Accordingly, our relationship to the state and to our work as professionals is informed, first and foremost, by the fact that we are combatants for fundamental change.

Among other things, the Freedom Charter proclaims the stirring perspective that:

"The doors of learning and culture shall be opened... All the cultural treasures of humankind shall be opened to all, by free exchange of books, ideas and contact with other lands; the aim of education shall be to teach the youth to love their people and their culture, to honour human brotherhood, liberty and peace."

For its part, the RDP says:

"Human resources, unlike other resources, think for themselves! People are, and must remain, the architects of the RDP as it unfolds in the years to come... Human resource development must address the development of human capabilities, abilities, knowledge and know-how to meet the people's ever-growing needs for goods and services, to improve their standard of living and quality of life. It is a process in which the citizens of a nation acquire and develop the knowledge and skill necessary for occupational tasks and for other social, cultural, intellectual and political roles that are part and parcel of a vibrant democratic society."

Put in other words - the fundamental renewal of our society means and requires the education and training of our people to attain the objectives spelt out in both the Freedom Charter and the RDP. The success of the revolution in which we are engaged depends on what happens in our schools, colleges and other institutions and processes of education.

The success of the revolution in which we are engaged depends on what the educators do. What the educators do depends on what you, the revolutionary vanguard among the educators, do, to provide the leadership and example which will mobilise both educator and student to conduct themselves as the cutting edge of the process of the fundamental renewal of our country.

Our first task as revolutionaries is to engage in a sustained offensive of education for liberation! As revolutionaries, we must educate ourselves to understand that we live our lives not for the sake of a pay check at the end of the month.

Rather, we should be determined to earn the recognition of the masses of our people as that section of our country's intelligentsia which has committed its life to the transformation of all our people into the powerful force for change and self-fulfillment which they will become as a result of being educated.

It has correctly been said that teaching is a calling. Many of us can attest to this from our own experiences. In many respects, such positive elements as we may boast of with regard to what we are, we owe to our teachers.

You will agree with me that your profession is a calling. The success or failure of our nation depends on what happens at our schools and colleges.

All of us know this that, in the past, teachers used to be respected and accordingly accorded a special place, particularly in African society. This was so both because of the importance which the masses of our people attached to education and because the conduct of our teachers, both at school and in the community was exemplary.

Teachers were not just responsible for producing in the classroom people who became the pride of the nation.

Additionally, as part of the most advanced strata in society, they played an invaluable role in community and national affairs.

The eminent danger we now face, when, for the first time, education can now assume its rightful place in social development, is that producing the good citizen through education, particularly among Africans, is becoming the exception rather then the rule.

Thanks to a form of behaviour perhaps among a few of our educators, and especially teachers in our schools, the prestige of the profession is fast disappearing, to be replaced by contempt and derision for you, the professionals without whom the new society for which we yearn can never be born.

I must emphasise that here and further in this presentation, I am talking about a few among us whose behaviour tarnishes the image of the majority of dedicated teachers.

We are faced with many problems with regard to the provision of resources to education. This is despite the fact that a disproportionate portion of our national budget is allocated to this sector.

I do not have to inform you about the persistent huge racial and geographic disparities in resource allocation that continue to characterise our situation, the differences in the quality of the infrastructure and the professional quality of our human resources as well as the problems relating to the management of education by the state organs charged with this responsibility.

In some instances, even when your government has intervened to begin the process of addressing these enormous problems, those who live according to the rules of the traitors and the criminals - and I speak here of black people - have not hesitated to steal food from school children, to rob the children of their textbooks and to deny us the capacity to employ teachers who are willing to serve by collecting the salaries of phantom teachers.

There have also been instances of problems arising out of lack of information or because misleading information has been fed to yourselves. In other instances, there have been situations in which problems have emerged that have been difficult to explain.

At such times, it has been difficult not to conclude that a sinister hand, and perhaps the dirty tricks departments of the apartheid regime, are at work!

There is a worrying level of unprofessional behaviour that is bedeviling the teaching profession. This includes those who describe themselves as members of the revolutionary cadre of our country by virtue of their membership of SADTU, the ANC and COSATU.

Drunkenness among some teachers, even if they are few, is unacceptable.

I would like us to agree that this organisation should expel from its ranks any of its members who are found to be drunk during school hours. These we should not defend but should seek to exclude from the education system as enemies of the fundamental social change to which SADTU is and should be committed.

I am sure you will agree with me that it is unacceptable that teachers should persistently come late to school, leave early and otherwise seek to do as little work as possible.

Let us make those who behave in this way aware that they do not belong among us. We should not allow the situation that the misbehaviour of one or more members of SADTU condemns your organisation to be identified with the conduct of the traitors and the criminals.

Accountability to the people is one of the defining elements of our movement. And yet the strange reality is that the most militant opponents to any system of school supervision and inspection are to be found among the members of SADTU.

This organisation of the revolutionary intelligentsia of our country, at whose Congress you have gathered, cannot allow this to continue.

Similarly, many who are your members allow an atmosphere permissive of the collapse of discipline to prevail in their schools and classrooms, enabling them to join in the abuse of children, to betray their responsibilities as people who must act in loco parentis and to violate their basic contracts to convey to the young of our country their prescribed quantum of education and information.

As the most educated in our communities, many of us have made not effort to bring the parents into the system of school governance because we speak of service to the people as a pretence, intended to prepare the conditions for ourselves to advance our personal interests.

In this regard, we can say this without fear of being challenged with facts, that we have done very little to expose the ordinary working people of our country, whose children attend school, to the provisions of the Schools Act which create the possibility for democratic and popular participation in the system of school governance.

If we had the courage to be honest with ourselves, we would admit that many of best run schools in the country and many of the best teachers, are, respectively, managed by and belong to the older teachers and the teachers' organisations which we view as reeactionary, simply because they do not know the revolutionary-sounding phrases which many among us are very competent at shouting out aloud.

As a result of this, and indeed the invaluable contribution of others who are members of SADTU, there are African schools in both rural and urban areas, no better endowed than any other of our schools, which regularly produce excellent results in terms of the pass rates among their students.

Compared to the devoted and competent professionals who manage to produce these results, we the members of SADTU, stand out as competent practitioners of the toyi-toyi.

We come across as militant fighters for a better pay cheque at the end of the month.

We are seen as excellent tacticians as to when to disrupt the school programme sothat we can extort from the Government the greatest material benefit for ourselves and create the space for ourselves to improve our own qualifications.

We behave in a manner which seems to suggest that we are alienated from the revolutionary challenge of the education of our youth and masses and greatly inspired by the value system which motivates the traitor and the criminal.

I know that even as you meet at this Congress, there are some who have come her not to address any of the fundamental questions we have raised.

Rather, their greatest ambition is that they should be elected to senior positions in SADTU on the basis that they are the best executioners of the toyi-toyi.

These want to be seen as the greatest pretenders to the title of representative of the revolutionary agenda and militant opponents of GEAR.

They want to pose as the most steadfast proponents of the spirit of "no compromise" in the promotion of the trade union rights of the members of SADTU, against the positions of the self-same government without which the workers and the masses of our country would not have achieved and will not achieve the advances which have been made.

In this self-serving struggle, which has nothing to do with the revolutionary tasks facing our movement as a whole, little regard is paid to the fact that much that is done in the name of militancy both does not serve the interests of the teachers and the people and is a welcome and perhaps organised gift to the forces of reaction.

By blood and origin, your are all African. Your citizenship is South African. You are teachers drawn from all faiths.

As to your calling, you belong to the children of whom you take charge everyday and the parents and communities to which the young return when the school hours are over.

With regards to your hearts, this is a matter which you, like all of us in the organisations of the democratic movement, can only answer through practice and not simply on the basis of the membership cards you carry in your wallets.

As members of SADTU, an organisation that has positioned itself on the side of the democratic revolution, we have a responsibility,through our conduct, to demonstrate a level of dedication, responsibility and consciousness of our revolutionary tasks, which would define us as part of the principled offensive for the renewal of our country.

Your political representative, the African National Congress, has placed high on its programme of action the task to ensure a radical improvement in the quality of education we deliver to both young and old in our country, including the restoration of the culture of learning, teaching and service.

We know that we will make progress on this front, on the basis, in part, of our cooperation as members of our Liberation Alliance.

Now is the time that we judge whether we genuinely belong to the Alliance, not on the basis of the titles and membership cards we carry, but on the basis of whether what we do as individual professionals and as this Union defines us as revolutionaries not as the mere products of the apartheid society, whose ugly legacy the ordinary working people of our country seek to wipe out as quickly as possible.24

(All matriculants take the same exams. Remember 1997 matric results highest failure rates of all time. Also, some of the best results from the poorest schools. As elsewhere, the degree of parental involvement is the key. The 1998 results?).

(Was it the promises that were made in the election under the banner of the RDP to "meet the basic needs of people jobs, land, housing, water, electricity, telecommunications, transport, a clean and healthy environment, nutrition, health and social welfare.." Its "achievable program" for the first five years would include programs to "redistribute a substantial amount of land to landless people, build over one million houses, provide clean water and sanitation to all, electrify 2.5 million new homes, and provide access to all to affordable health care and telecommunications." In the ANC's campaign manifesto and political advertizing that created the illusion among people that 'instant' change was going to happen. "Instant gratification" who 'sold' the ANC on this idea that the people could be sold anything? Why did the ANC make such extravagant promises when it was not necessary to do so? Did the medium become the message an electorate never having had to deal with election promises, since neither elections or promises existed in the past mistook the promise for the deed, in the belief that promises would not be made by "their party" unless they were going to be kept. Promises and delivery became synonymous for an electorate which had never heard those kinds of promises made before. It would appear that "freedom," "democracy," were seen almost exclusively in material terms of the delivery of goods and services not the adoption of a code of values or a belief system. Didn't western advisers sell the same 'bill of goods to Chileans' not to campaign on the basis of the brutalities/oppression imposed under Pinochet, but to emphasize a better tomorrow jobs, growing economy etc. a happy future. Who put them up to this? Was South Africa merely a repetition of the mantra that under the ANC, "Tomorrow will be a Better Day." A free lunch in the offing. What happened between 1992 and the elections an election campaign structured on the basis of polling, and the polling messages were drummed in, so that people's conception of what the process was all about changed. They were told time and again what their needs were and that they would be fulfilled, once the ANC was in power. No African was going to vote for the ANC because he thought that he was going to get a brand new house and a job. He was told by the ANC that if he voted for the party this was what he could expect. False expectations were created. But who was behind the creation of the false expectations? Who said to the ANC 'this is the way to do it. This is the way to get the largest possible slice of the vote, and if it took a little dissembling, and flew in the face of every reality so what? If Derek Keys had briefed the ANC, which he says he did, on the direction in which the economy was moving and the imminence of collapse, who in the ANC said 'let's deal with reality after we win." Given what ANC knew about the parlous state of the economy, where did it think the resources were coming from to fund these massive expenditures?

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.