The Presidential Years

Essop Pahad - There was a debate in the NEC when Joel raised the matter about the national anthem, whether or not we shouldn’t go back to Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika and take away Die Stem. Some of us were not in favour of the proposal that Joel was making. But the way that Madiba intervened was such that he never criticised Joel or anybody else in the NEC who had that view.

Joel Netshitenzhe - I remember now, my argument was you can add English and Afrikaans versions of Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika, rather than adding Die Stem.

EP - Madiba intervened in such a way that you found it very difficult to say, ‘No’, not because it was coming from a senior leader, but because of the way he argued the point about why it was not time for us to shift from the position we had taken on the national anthem during CODESA. He never said, no, we’ll never go back to this position

JN - In fact my recollection at the NEC was that he said that this was not the time and that if you wanted, come back to it.

EP - The reason I’m raising this is because there is a fallacy that Madiba was so concerned only with the process of reconciliation, that everything else that went on inside the ANC as well as in the government was not something that he was involved in - I think it is a great fallacy. But also because I think, and quite clearly, Madiba’s own views of how we should deal with the complex post-apartheid situation that we were confronting, resonated by and large with the thinking within the ANC itself. So he was not reflecting a view which was generally different or opposed to the majority of people, certainly in the leadership of the ANC, because sometimes the impression is given that he was out on his own.