The Presidential Years

Q: We witness South Africa moving on from apartheid to democracy and alongside that the ANC is having to change: it’s moving from liberation movement to government. As things stand the ANC does not have the skills and it doesn’t have the experience in government. Does that worry you?

M: Indeed, that does worry us. Not because we are potentially, we are inherently incapable of government but because government today has become a matter of skill and expertise. We are however taking steps to have our people trained. A number of countries are training our people, all over the world and I think that we will be in the fortunate position, unlike other liberation movements, to be able to have people with the skills to carry on government.

Q: But not in sufficient numbers. You will be in government perhaps in five months’ time, you will need people in key government departments, if only to watch your back. And you will be weakened in that sense, won’t you? You will not be in a position of strength. It must worry you.

M: No, when we win an election we hold office, we don’t gain control of political power. To gain political power means that we have to get control of the civil service, of the security forces that is the police and the army, we have to have our people in telecommunications and so on. That is going to take some time to organise. For the first months or year we are going to lean very heavily on the present services. But the process of reorganisation will immediately start. To put our qualified people on the policy structures that take decisions. And we must expect that it is going to take some time as we train more people.

Q: But do you have time because the argument is that you have to put new policies in place quickly, you have to implement them quickly to satisfy your supporters. There is no second chance

M: We are not the first liberation movement to take power without experience. There are numerous liberation movements in many parts of the world. Some of which have been in a worse position than ourselves but who have made a success of government. And we are taking precautions to ensure that we are able to meet the expectations of our people as long as they are not exaggerated. And that is one thing we are doing; we are telling our people that they must have no exaggerated expectations because we have to mobilise resources, we have to train people, put them in key positions before we can actually address their needs in the sense of our experience and resources trickling down to grassroots. We are already saying that.