The Presidential Years

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Thabo raised the matter, with Sydney Mufamadi and I, that Madiba had asked him for a DG: who could we put as a DG? Madiba did not know Jakes at that time. We discussed the matter and the three of us came to the conclusion that the best person was Jakes - first of all we were looking for someone who was not white, which was very important from the point of view of what image you would give; but two, we felt you needed somebody who you knew could understand transformation and help Madiba in that area without always putting people’s back against the wall. We had met Jakes for the first time when we were in Dakar, and after that Jakes came and stayed with me in London and we had good contacts. And then prior to us coming back, the University of the Western Cape was beginning to play quite an important role in taking our people and so we had a good idea about Jakes, his commitment and capacity to transform institutions in a way in which you don’t create chaos. It is very easy to transform and create chaos. So we then decided it should be Jakes. Fortunately Jakes at that time had just stepped down as vice chancellor of UWC.

​ Essop Pahad

He did a lot of consultation, he wanted to know everything there was to know about Jakes. He didn’t know enough: he asked Trevor, he consulted Cheryl Carolus before he actually sat down with Jakes and said, if we win would you come to my office. He also spoke to quite a number of activists who were active from the 1980s at UWC to find out, who is this Gerwel chap, who is this man. Well he knew who Jakes was because he had met Madiba on various occasions, but Madiba was going to take the best person that he could find.

Jessie Duarte
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