The Presidential Years

And then there were issues like Sarafina which you mentioned.

I briefed the two of them – president and deputy president – what we were trying to do and what process we had followed and I told him, ‘If you think I was wrong I’m ready to resign, because I don’t want to put you into trouble.’ He said, ‘No, if you didn’t steal any money and this is what you are trying to do, I don’t see why you should resign.’ That was a tough one because, you will recall, it was made a big issue.

I remember that I hadn’t realised how worried my mother was about this issue. One weekend I came back home to see her because she had been somehow withdrawn, not the normal bubbly person that she was, but I couldn’t put a finger on what the problem was, she wasn’t ill. Until one afternoon I came from Cape Town and I found her very happy. And she said, ‘Well, that’s because Madiba has clarified this matter.’ I asked, ‘How?’ She said, ‘I heard on the radio.’ He was speaking in Pietermaritzburg. I think it was at a meeting with some business people and they asked him about this issue and what was happening – some people were thinking maybe I should have been sacked. But he clarified to them that as far as he was concerned there was nothing wrong that I did and so he’s not going to do anything against me on that matter. I hadn’t heard it but my mother heard it on the radio and told me.

His leadership was that if he believed in something he stood by it.

TT Regarding the difference with the portfolio committee over Sarafina, there was a media report saying he intervened with the committee and told them to stop the investigation – it was refuted the next day in a joint statement by the president and deputy president. These tensions arose from time to time between portfolio committees and ministers, and he would try to help resolve them. Did he try to smooth things between Manto as the chair of the committee and yourself?

I don’t know, he might have done that, he didn’t tell me that, so I wouldn’t know. I don’t know whether Madiba intervened or not, but if he did I think Manto didn’t listen because the matter continued in the portfolio committee. But he never told me that he was going to intervene on my behalf. But knowing him, he probably did. So I wouldn’t say definitely not. But he didn’t show that he had intervened.

What I do know is that the portfolio committee dealt with the matter, the public protector dealt with the matter, there was another team that was put together that dealt with it within government; eventually it went to Judge Heath

Heath did his investigations including interrogating me and then for a long time never concluded the matter, but it kept popping up and at that time he was investigating thieves so the impression was that I must have stolen money because the matter was with Heath. But he wasn’t completing it and I took him to court and applied for a court interdict for him to conclude the matter one way or the other, not to stop it, but to conclude it one way or another, whether I was guilty or not guilty. The court ruled in my favour and said, yes this matter had been going on for too long and he must conclude it and gave him timeframes. But he didn’t start and instead asked my lawyer, can I guarantee that I’m not going to sue him because he had no case. So I said I would not sue him’ only because if I sued I would have to get the money from the government because he was working on behalf of the government.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma