The Presidential Years

In the period around the elections some of us, while we were waiting for results, had to talk about the shape of the Government of National Unity. It wasn’t a completely blank slate but I think Madiba had allowed his mind to be made up by these interactions and his set of observations and probably his likes and dislikes. He also demonstrated, I think, a strong strategic sense about certain choices. In that period, I think that may be even have been before De Klerk conceded, there was a discussion in which he said, ‘There are certain positions we will not fight for now because the country may not be ready for it.’ One of those positions was clearly finance. I had a sense that he may have engaged Derek Keys about continuity either directly or through De Klerk, because he understood that Derek wasn’t a narrowly party person.

As government was shaping, we were already in May. On Friday 6 May an NWC meeting had been convened. One had a sense that there was no shape or form that’s firm yet. In that NWC he said that he had consulted the officials. He then announced formally, ‘Look there are some positions we can’t fight for. There are some positions where we have to reward those who helped us get to this point. There are some positions that Mr. De Klerk and I have discussed and we can confirm these now.’

​ Trevor Manuel