The Presidential Years

In March I was asked by Thabo Mbeki if I would kindly assist President Mandela and his government in the first period until people get in their posts. As he put it to me, ‘Remember we’re a freedom movement. We’ve never been in government so please come and teach us the ropes.’ So I said, ‘Of course!’ And then came the process where I had to meet with President Mandela. Mr Mbeki said to me, ‘We trust you.’ I said, ‘Okay, even if I was sitting on the government side?’ He says, ‘No, during this whole process where we negotiated and I was sitting on the other side of the table we realised that this is a true South African that we can work with.’

At that point the inauguration had not yet taken place, I was then asked by him to please come and assist Mr Mandela. And I went over to his office and Mr Mbeki then took me over to Mr Mandela’s house and that was before even he was in the Union Buildings.

I then arranged the aircraft that Pik Botha used for Mr Mandela to go to Cape Town for the session of Parliament that would elect him to be President. From his house we drove with his cavalcade and his escort - he had this big BMW, armour plated and all that. And we left Houghton for Airforce Base Waterkloof and we flew to Cape Town.

Chris Streeter