'Too many Pahads on the ANC list'
As one of the African National Congress’s chief strategists, what do you see as the party’s priorities in the 2004 general election?
The ANC is determined to win the majority in KwaZulu-Natal and in the Western Cape, and win an overall majority by increasing our support in all provinces. It means more work in the coloured areas, the Indian areas, increasing our support in the white communities and, above everything else, consolidating our support among the African communities.
The ANC will win — in part because of the work we do in government, in part ...
because of the work we do with our alliance partners and in part because of the work we do with various other organisations.
Considering that less than a million of around an estimated 9,5-million unregistered voters turned up for the recent registration drive, do you think there is a lot of apathy, particularly in the urban areas?
You cannot speak of apathy unless we have already had an election. That is the only measure you have for apathy. People in my observation are actually keen to vote in the coming election.
What about apathy in minority groups like Indians, coloureds and whites?
A few weeks ago we had a meeting in the Sandton/Randburg area. Half the hall consisted of white people, who engaged us on all issues. I think very few countries in the world today have comparable participation in political issues with South Africa. It may not be 1994, but the public in general are keenly engaging on political issues. They may differ from the ANC, but they are participating.
There have been rumblings in KwaZulu-Natal about those who defected to the ANC from opposition parties being placed high on its lists of candidates for the coming election, seemingly at the expense of the organisation’s stalwarts and Indians?
At one level, some people are asking why it is that people who have crossed the floor and joined the ANC are not found in the lists. On the race question, while people say they do not see the stalwarts, others say they are too many Pahads on the ANC list.
The entire list process is managed in such a way that after the people have voted a strategic political intervention is made that is not just aimed at ensuring the Indians are on the list or the whites are on the list, but to ensure there is a gender balance because you need to have as a matter of principle at least 30% representation of women on the list. So, some of the people who are on the top there will have to come down.
Then you have the issue of race balance — we have to ensure there are Indians, coloureds and whites on the list. It may seem as if we are imposing this, but this is the criterion agreed to by ANC members. We will also have to ensure the geographical spread is represented. All the provincial lists will be studied to ensure all the criteria are met.
Where do you see Johannesburg in another 10 years?
In 10 years’ time you are more likely to see Johannesburg much more advanced, with an economy that is stronger and delivers jobs, and a government that significantly improves the quality of life of our people.
Soweto, for instance, by the year 2005 will have all its streets tarred. We are also initiating a programme to build soccer stadiums in Soweto, which will then spread to other areas. The government is already spending R1,3-billion on the renewal of Alexandra township. In that process jobs will be created and the infrastructure will get better.
How are you dealing with challenges such as crime, faulty billing, lack of housing ...?
Broadly, if you look at the question of addressing crime in the inner city and the efforts to rejuvenate the city — it has already worked. Look at the projects — the Mary Fitzgerald square, the Gandhi square, the Constitutional Hill and the Nelson Mandela bridge.
In relation to the inner city, you will find occupancy rates are high, the provincial government is buying buildings and consolidating its presence in a particular way, banks such as Standard Bank are acquiring new buildings in the CBD [central business district] and many governmental and private sector companies are very keen to consolidate their presence in the inner city.
Crime in the inner city has dropped by up to 80% — it is not us saying so, but according to scientific studies conducted by Business Against Crime.
The Metro Police, which came into existence two years ago, have become a visible presence in the city — you cannot miss them. They have done fairly good work. The Metro Police are there to supplement the work being done by the South African Police Service, sometimes even the military, in relation to dealing with the drug problem in Hillbrow.
The population of Johannesburg has increased from 2,8-million people to 3,2-million, so the pressure on service delivery is going to increase. We are grappling with these issues and feel we are already on track in dealing with them.