'My Followers Heeded My Call'

AS THE VOTES WERE counted, Nelson Mandela spoke one-on-one with NEWSWEEK'S Joseph Contreras. Excerpts:

I am neither. I have never advocated socialist views. There is a clause in the Freedom Charter which says that the wealth beneath the soil shall be the property of the people. That is the principle which we find in places like Canada and Australia. It is true that we advocated some form of nationalization because we said we'd nationalize the banks, we'd nationalize monopolies. That was ideological. But because of the criticism we got, we shifted our position.

When our country was facing the most ruthless form of racial oppression, children of 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 left the country for military training so they could come back and fight for their country. They have got a better sense of judgment, a better commitment to their country than those who supported a minority regime in 14 different elections. But it is for the people of South Africa to decide.

It is an error to isolate the behavior of the African people from what is happening in the country. What you have today is illiteracy, poverty, hunger, joblessness, homelessness. These are the enemies of stability, both economic and political. It is in that situation that you should examine the response or lack of response on the part of our people to my call that they should allow other political parties to canvass. I believe that a substantial section of my followers heeded my call. When President F. W. de Klerk, for example, was going to Soweto, I appealed to Mr. Sisulu, the deputy president of the ANC, to ensure that his meetings were not interfered with.

We make no distinction among the conservatives who believe in the capitalist system and those who believe in the Communist Party, no distinction whatsoever. They hold a position merely as members of the ANC. They are loyal to its policy, its code of conduct, to its regulations and to its discipline.

I'm not going to target any particular racial group for making sacrifices. I call upon South Africans without exception to make sacrifices in the interest of the development of our country. Everybody must pay a fair tax, and I support a low tax system so as to attract investment. Whites are already playing some role in ensuring that the miserable conditions under which the majority of this population lives are addressed. I am able to go to business, big and small, and stipulate the amount that I want, and the response has been excellent. Those methods of calling upon communities to make a contribution voluntarily are sometimes more effective than legislation.

George Bush was the first head of state to phone me and invite me to the United States when I was released from prison. I met him no less than three times, and every time he has been very sympathetic and supportive of the struggle against apartheid and of the peace process. Bill Clinton has also been upfront in that regard. He has done everything to help facilitate this transformation to a democratic order. The question of resources is something that I have expressly raised with him, and I sincerely hope that he'll be able to put far more resources than he has done before in order to help us to effect this transformation. And as America is the home of democracy, we expect them to help us ensure that democratic principles are fully entrenched in this country.