The Presidential Years

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When Thabo raised the matter with me after Jakes was appointed, that Madiba had discussed with him that he wanted somebody to head his communications team, of course there was only one candidate and that was Joel. So I went to the public service commission to say that we wanted to make Joel the chief director. By the way we had to learn about organograms and DGs and deputy DGs and chief directors and all that, all new to us because we just knew about ANC structures. So I went and I said ‘Deputy President Mbeki has sent me, the president wants Joel Netshitenzhe to be the head of his communications team’ - ‘What degree does he have?’ - ‘He doesn’t have a degree.’ They said ‘We can’t appoint him.’ So we had a quarrel. … After the quarrel they still insisted, they would only employ him as a director. …

The reason I’m raising this is because in the beginning it was difficult to employ people at that level. The same thing happened in Thabo’s office - they refused to take Magashe Mafolo on as a chief director when I insisted that he should be a chief director otherwise it was going to be difficult for him in the bureaucratic structure to deal with others - in this bureaucratic structure if you’re a director then chief directors and DDGs never mind DG’s don’t want to deal with you.

But Mandela under those circumstances, as well as Thabo Mbeki as deputy president, when I reflect upon it, were very calm about it. I guess they could have used their power to insist but they didn’t. They said ‘Fine, we will do this.’

​ Essop Pahad -
Return to 2.3 A small office