THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Johannesburg, South Africa) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release March 28, 1998
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AND THE FIRST LADY IN ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION
R.P. Maphanzela Primary School Johannesburg, South Africa
1:00 P.M. (L)
THE PRESIDENT: Let me first just thank all of you for taking the time to come and meet with Hillary and me. We've had a fascinating trip to Africa and a wonderful three days in South Africa, but I didn't want to leave the country without having the chance to have kind of an informal conversation with young people that are making the future of this country. And I want you to say to us whatever you'd like to say, but I'm especially interested in what you see are the main challenges today, what you think the United States and others could do to be helpful.
The story of the liberation of South Africa is a fabulous story. As I said last night in my toast to Mr. Mandela, one of our most eloquent political leaders in America said that in democracies campaigns are conducted in poetry, but government is conducted in prose. And there is always a lot of hard work that has to be done. And I think it's very important that your generation maintain its optimism and energy, and it's important that the rest of us continue to make a constructive contribution to your efforts.
So I basically just want to listen today and hear what you have to say. And if you have any questions for us, I'll be glad to answer them, but I want to learn more about your take on your country and your future.
Hillary, do you want to say anything?
MRS. CLINTON: No, I would be happy just to start.
MR. TWALA: My name is Friendly Twala. I was born and raised here in Thokoza. I would like to welcome everyone and I would like to thank everyone for honoring this day to come to Thokoza, this small Bethlehem that has become big today.
My job and where I come from -- I started being a teacher here in guidance. Presently I am working with the district. I'm an education specialist in guidance and career orientation. I've been involved in mediation, conflict resolution. My experience with the U.S. was when we had a binational joint venture on a project to look at what type of conflicts schools have and what type of conflict U.S. schools have and what can we bring forth that will be something that can be a remedy to the two countries -- what is it that we can learn, and what is it that you can also learn.
So when I came back from the U.S. and being appointed with the district, I was given a challenge to look into crises in schools, presently managing a school where there is no principal, deputy, and all that, where there is a lot of crisis. And I'm doing that for the district presently. And the challenges that we're facing as a district are challenges of learning and teaching.
MR. SIMPSON: I'm the director of an organization called the Center for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation. We have a fairly broad range of areas of work. We do a lot of work in the schools with children. We do a lot of work with women and children as victims of violence. Quite a lot of policy work around the criminal justice system and the dramatic challenges of transformation of state institutions which we've largely inherited through this negotiated transition intact. We do quite a lot of work related to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
I think one of the concerns which I would like to raise for your consideration is just about -- I really appreciated what you were saying about poetry and prose, that the harsh realities of transition of this sort, with all the romance and all the miracles that are associated with it, leave some I think well-hidden ingredients, which we can't afford to overlook. I think our experience is that it's very hard to talk about South Africa as a post-conflict society; that, in fact, in such a transition what we need to monitor is the changing nature of conflict and burgeoning crime, violent crime, as one dimension, not exclusively of the transition process, but embedded in our past.
It's something which is perhaps the greatest threat to democracy in an embryonic human rights culture in our society, and it's really in all those fields that we try and work with those issues. It's something that I'd appreciate discussion on.
MRS. CLINTON: Why don't we go around and hear from everybody briefly first, and then perhaps have a conversation about some of those issues.
MS. MKHABELA: I appreciate being here, and my name is Bongi Mkhabela. I work in the office of the executive deputy president, and I'm one of the directors. My responsibilities include -- and this is the area that I would like to have an opportunity to explore with you -- is the area of the relationship between state and organs of civil society. It's a responsibility that I've had for the last two and a half years.
I come from a very strong anti-government type of intervention and have now come full circle to say, now we have our own government and how do we partner with that government --the activities that we do on the ground and everywhere else in civil society are activities that are intended to assist government. And so those are the issues that I would like either this opportunity or another opportunity to just explore with the United States and how they've dealt with similar issues. And I think also what I would like to share is what are concerns to the country.
And one of the areas that really concerns us is the area of youth and youth development and integration of youth issues into policy. This for me would be something that takes into account that we are a fairly young country and, therefore, it becomes important that our young people are not only confined to the confines of youth program, but that they are integrated and they begin to carry out responsibilities of any other citizen and they grow up with that responsibility. And it's a challenge that we face and would like to have some lessons from the U.S. in terms of how you have dealt with your own problems.
And I would also like maybe to use this opportunity to say what we need asl the leadership that will step in, we are going to fork over the vision that we have of the reformation. As I was coming to this roundtable, I was saying, I'm hoping that out of the issues that we put on the table today there will be an opportunity to explore them at whatever levels and maybe other people around the U.S.
MR. GOUNDEN: Mr. President, Mrs. Clinton, thank you for the opportunity. My name is Vasu Gounden. I direct an institute called the African Center for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes, which had its genesis in D.C. I share your alma mater, I'm a Georgetown graduate as well. And the institute started out in South Africa to deal with transitional conflicts back in 1991.
We are now actively engaged on several conflict issues on the
continent. And I'd like to explore with you two issues. One is
sustainable aid in the context of the Growth and Opportunity bill, which
has been a source of a lot of discussion over the last few days; and
secondly, the African Crisis Response Initiative, both of which I think
impact on the transition in South Africa, and particularly on the
ongoing transition on the continent. And we certainly do not see -- we
see the nexus between stability in South Africa and stability on the
I must say I was very enlightened by the Entebbe communique. I had three hours with Howard Wolpe yesterday looking at the Entebbe communique, and there were two significant factors which linked in with your own commitment in Parliament to working not for Africa, but with Africa. And one is the concept on democracy, which I thought was a very enlightened concept on democracy; and the second related to civil society and civil society on the continent. I think two of those are crucial factors if we're going to look at transformation on the continent. So I hope we would have the chance to just engage on sustainable aid and then on the ACRI.
MR. LINDA: My name is Bongani Linda. I'm an artist, as you can see -- I'm the only one who is dressed differently. (Laughter.) Born and bred in Soweto. I'm actually working for the Center for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation as arts manager.
We are actually specializing in using the arts to bridge the gap between warring communities, and then recently we have just started working with prisoners, maximum prisoners. As you may have heard, ever since we've just attained our liberation we've had big problems with crime. Now we are taking this opportunity of actually working with perpetrators of crime who are now in prison, been victims of crime, so that they become educated of the would-be clean-ups, particularly the youth who are very much vulnerable, I mean the age group, like for teenagers, basically. So we are encouraging them to come up with educational play in prison, which will be then watched by school-going teenagers in prison, as a way of educating them and teaching them that crime is not the answer.
The kind of partnership that we would like to see the President helping us with is to -- I mean, our youth is very much inspired in many ways by American artists and sports people. We would like to actually get the opportunity of actually being linked up with artists from the USA so that they come up here to the country and not only end up in the affluent suburbs, but go to the communities like Soweto, spend some time working with us underground, teaching the youth through sports and culture, and also helping us to bridge the gap between black and white youth. Because ever since we've just got our freedom, the recent conflict, although it's suppressed, has actually proved abnormally high. So the kind of assistance really would be to have a native artist from your country.
MR. NAIDOO: I'd just like to add my word of welcome. I work for an organization called the South African National NGO Coalition, SANGOCO for short -- sometimes people say it with a click sound. It's an umbrella body for the non-government organizations in South Africa. Our members work in the full range of human endeavor, from health, education, welfare, the aged, vitamins and so on.
The two concerns I wanted to raise is, one is around the investment of particularly U.S. aid, the agency that the non-governmental sector in South Africa engages with. In terms of the longevity of its stay in South Africa, we feel that the definition that many foreign governments have added to what constitutes the transitional period is, in fact, an ill-placed one. If you understand the devastation that apartheid caused, it's completely unrealistic to believe that that legacy can be wiped out in five, 10 or even 15 to 20 years.
So I'd like to use this opportunity on behalf of the NGO community in South Africa to urge for a longer term involvement of U.S. aid in South Africa beyond the 2002 period that is currently being envisioned.
The second plea that I would like to make is that in the relationship between the United States and South Africa we think it's quite critical that an investment needs to be made beyond simply supporting governments. Because we believe that in our country, and globally, the new millennium will bring greater space for citizen participation in governments, citizen participation in relating to and dealing with a range of human challenges that face us. So we would like to urge a continued involvement of U.S. aid support for the non-governmental sector -- to note that there has been significant support, but we think it can be increased and it should actually be maintained.
The one concern that I have in terms of the future for our country is that while there are many, many positive things about all transition I do think that there are some limitations, And far too often we all feel very compelled to focus only on the positive and not to talk about the negative. The one concern is that on reconciliation itself, and the Truth And Reconciliation Commission process, though it has been excellent in many ways, it's unfortunate they only focused on the issue of the perpetrators of gross violations of human rights and the victims -- that is to say crudely, police agents and activists. We have almost forgotten about the large mass of South Africans who are neither activists, nor police agents, but who actually suffered as a result of gross violations of human rights in the way in which various education policies -- health and other benefits -- were systematically withheld from people.
So we have a concern in the NGO community that that needs to be addressed. And on a positive note, tomorrow the NGO community, together with the South African Human Rights Commission and the Commission of Gender Equality, starts a historic process called poverty hearings, which goes to every province in our country to try and give voices to the poor who might not have been activists, but who can speak about the impact of apartheid on them; but more importantly, to focus on what solutions that the poor themselves feel they have and have taken initiatives so that we can build on those localized experience and replicate it at the national level.
MS. GALOMBIK: And thank you for the opportunity. My name is Nicola Galombik. I'm the head of an education department of the SABC, which is the national public broadcaster in South Africa. We have initiated a new project in partnership with government and other stakeholders to provide a new educational television and radio service in support of the challenges of the transition. I think that in our work, the challenges that we face are in many ways emblematic of the moment of the transition.
South Africans won a democracy, but many South Africans lack the information that they need and the skill that they need to participate realistically and actively and meaningfully in that democracy, to exercise their rights as citizens and to find the meanings to improve the quality of their own lives.
I think we see our project as a small contribution to that process, but an important one. I think that we learn very much from the United States the power of media and other communications media in shaping the mind and spirit of a nation. I think in keeping alive some of the poetry that you referred to, I think that there is an important role. I think there's also an important role that the media can play directly in education itself. I think, once again, it's something where the United States has much to share with us and to teach us.
And certainly in the area of reconciliation I think that apartheid was as much about -- I think it's obvious that it was about cultural and interpersonal division as much as about anything else. And I think that we have to bridge those gaps and start to heal wounds that I think, as colleagues said, are far from gone.
I think that as we talk about an African renaissance, information -- and the African renaissance will, of course, take place in the context of an information and knowledge society -- I think that there are enormous challenges facing us in that regard. I think that we seek and welcome the partnerships that we can forge with the United States. There is a great deal with can benefit from the talent and the skill that you have, as well as the innovations occurring in information and technology. And certainly South Africans embrace American culture and will continue to do so.
But I think the concern I would want to raise -- and I think it is vital from our point of view -- is that in order for these technologies and the information society to work for us, to contribute to the renaissance, they need to carry our messages as well as those of others. We need to see our own faces; our children need to be affirmed by those messages. And we need to have a space in which we can share our own stories. I think that if we can find partnerships that will allow us to that, that would take us forward greatly.
MR. LANDSBERG: The South African Ambassador just put me on the spot and asked me in which capacity I am here today. I think I'm wearing too many hats. But let me disclose it and see if I'm wearing two hats today.
I am still spending some time in the private sector, working corporate social responsibility; but as from the end of next month I'll return to my old place of work, a place called the Center for Policy Studies, an independent policy research center in South Africa. And we simply consider our mandate to try and influence the public policy debate and looking for construction solutions to our problems. And I will head up again the foreign policy program of the center.
Let me just also take a minute to say to you that Kumi and I share with you a history passion, that is, we spent some time visiting Tony Blair's country. If you want an update on that later, we'll be glad to provide you with that. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: There are days when I wish we could all go back. (Laughter.)
Q But Mr. President, let me just touch on four points -- and my colleagues put me under pressure to try and say something about the enormity of our private sector and economic challenges in this country, but just to echo some of ideas which came out today, the one is that South Africa's still remains a deeply divided society -- even though we had this remarkable political transition, we remain a poor -- society. And I think two challenges on that score: I think government faces an enormous challenge in trying to grapple with the needs and the aspirations of a majority which we're disenfranchised in the past. But I think we simply can't run away from the fact that we're going to have to deal with the role in trying to incorporate minorities in our society. I think it's a general concern and I think it's a concern that is likely to grow.
And, similarly, Mr. President, I think the question about aid -- just to echo was Vasu Gounden said -- it's not whether this country or African societies need aid, the question is what aid should be doing; how do we do with countries -- and where do we stress the similarities. And particularly from a South African point of view, I don't think this country needs assistance in helping the country to formulate workable polices, I think the skills and the competence are there. I think there's a capacity problem in terms of implementing them.
And I think there's an even greater challenge in trying to avoid a disconnect between elite society and rural society and the poor in our society. I think they're also going to be some of the enormous challenges facing our country and clearly the U.S. can play a role. Just on the score of partnership, Mr. President, you really seem genuine in your desire to want to forge a new partnership with Africa. But we're going to have to ask some hard questions about how the partnership is to work. This whole notion that Africans take charge -- how real and true is that? And just how do we go to different countries and deal with different realities by forming partnerships with state and civil society and also the poor? Should we not forget that civil societies is not always representative of the poor themselves -- we engage your government trying to find solutions.
Just in terms of this country's challenges in Africa, Mr. President, I think that this country grapples with "polygiantism." It's clear that the country wants to play a meaningful role in not only generating economic growth, but also the democracy challenge in Africa. But how we do that, how we navigate our way amid skepticism sometimes -- it's an important one. I think a joint partnership between South Africa and the U.S. we'll not be able to run away from the dilemma.
But let me say something about the private sector role in this country. I don't think it's any secret that government is not always very happy with the role that the private sector in our country plays. My appeal to a player like the U.S. government would be to also impress upon the private sector in this country to play a role beyond the bottom line, to try and find constructive solutions for real and serious social problems.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
Hillary, do you want to say anything?
MRS. CLINTON: Well, I'm impressed by the range of the concerns. But they all are ones that we have struggled with in the United States and ones that I hear echoed throughout the world, because there really is a great challenge to democracy everywhere. Democracy may be at different stages of development, but the issues that you've raised about educating the next generation, preparing people for citizenship participation, dealing with the aspirations and expectations of whatever the majority happens to be in whatever society, and also accommodating and protecting the rights of whatever minorities are in any society -- all of these issues, and particularly the relationship of support and partnership between democracies, and particularly between the United States and South Africa.
I guess my first question would be how do you envision trying to bring the messages of civil society and citizen participation to the broadest possible range of people. I'm very impressed by what you're doing with the poverty hearings that you briefly described, because I think trying to engage people in looking for effective solutions from the local level, to demonstrate to them that they already have capacity and they already are effective in ways that they may not even recognize themselves is a critical part of this.
But it's a very big task and it requires I think a concerted, coordinated effort among the government and the private sector and the existing civil society through the NGOs. Are there any thoughts being given as to how you could construct such a coordinated effort to try to replace the enthusiasm and, if you will, even slogans of liberation and freedom with a new sense of commitment over the long-term toward the steps that are going to be necessary to transform a transition into a stable, functioning democracy with as full participation as you can design? Are there any thoughts going on or discussions at the governmental and private sector and NGO level about how to do it in a more coordinated way?
Q Mrs. Clinton, I'll take -- and my colleagues would add what I miss out -- but there has been structured ways in which we're thinking about this. We are in the process of setting up an agency that government is supporting which will be a national development agency. It will do two things. The first one, it will provide finances, especially to grass-roots organizations, those that are struggling and those that ordinarily do not have access -- as you raise the issue of access.
But the second level of that is that it will also create a platform for government and civil society practitioners, policy-making to come together and exchange views. And that is not just for the sake of exchanging views. We have structured it in such a way that finally this body of the National Development Agency reports to Parliament. So whatever issues they bring on the table are issues that would finally reach Parliament and be taken very seriously at the highest policy-making level in government and in state.
So we're seeing ourselves struggling with it, in that, as you may realize, that there are now a lot of gaps. But we're trying that if we structure this relationship it will help us even to understand, to note the gaps, to understand them and to try and close them as you move forward. What is guiding us here is that for South Africa to move forward, development processes, and principles and values have to be owned by the ordinary people on the ground.
We haven't held very much government and very much civil society organizations, but I must say that we kind of have a missing link in the corporate coming on board in this particular model. It's on board in other models, which maybe someone else -- I don't know, Kumi, we could talk about the NEDLC model, which is another model that makes sure that partnerships are kept in a structured way.
Q If I can just support your suggestion that, in fact, South Africa in the '80s and '70s probably could have claimed to have one of the most vibrant civil societies anywhere in the world under the peculiar conditions of fighting a just struggle for liberation.
Unfortunately, democratization means that lots of people in the thousands withdrew from the public space, for a range of reasons -- fatigue; people wanted to get on with their lives and were just really tired of the tension and loss and so on. Also, people felt that we had a government with very high-level leadership and good leadership and we could rely on them to do everything.
And I think the last three or four years have seen a withdrawal of people from the public space. What we're hoping to do now, through the poverty hearings and through the kinds of work you've heard, is to try and bring people back into the center stage of development. Because the slogan that we're saying now, we're promoting is, we fought the struggle against apartheid, let's join now and fight the struggle against poverty. Because part of the difficulty is we don't have a discourse since the elections, since democratization, to get ordinary people to feel that their contribution can make a difference.
In addition to what was referred to as formal institutions -- and NEDLC I think is probably -- the National Economic Development and Labor Council -- is quite a unique institution by world standards. It's a compact between private sector government and labor and the development community and the development community really refers to NGO and community-based organizations. It's a statutory body supported by government where there's a dialogue about coordination.
Of course, I think we all have learned the hard way that you can't rely on formal institutions at all, and that the informal partnerships are still there and need to be developed.
The comment about business, which I think we all feel strongly about -- and Chris and I, speaking from our different positions have had occasion to discuss this last week -- is that business in our country, as far as development is concerned and supporting NGOs, unfortunately, they've left their contribution mainly to a checkbook contribution. And we are saying to them, you have infrastructure, you have expertise, you have resources, you have distribution mechanisms and so on, in addition to simply making checkbook contributions you need to look at how you can actually throw your weight.
And I think there is receptiveness within the business community, but it's new. It's something they have not given as much thought as we would like and we hope that the next year we'll look at bringing the business community into the greater importance in meeting the development challenges.
THE PRESIDENT: Let me ask a question, a follow-up question that may seem almost simpleminded to you, but I think the answer, whatever answer you give will give me some indication about where the conversation should go. Why has the crime rate gone up so much in the last four years? Anybody can take it.
Q I'd like to, if I may, just kick off on this. I mean, it's a tough question. I think the one thing is that what we need to, as a precursor, recognize is the fact that exactly how much it's gone up is a very difficult thing to establish; that, in fact, precisely because of the extent to which apartheid society hid from view a huge sector of the society from the commercial media, which wasn't really looking for it. I think embedded in our past is a massive undetected crime figure.
I do think, however, this is not to suggest that --what I'm saying is that this is not just a product of transition, it's not just a product of a change in government; that it's deeply rooted and that, in fact, sometimes I think we were failing to detect it previously. I think there's also a convenience with which in our past we describe social conflict in political terms, and so much of the violence in political terms, when, in fact, there is a somewhat more fudged line we like to acknowledge between criminal and political violence. And in some instances I think we are often simply re-labeling trends which are entrenched.
But there is one issue which relates to a discussion around youth which I think is a very important and very powerful one. I think that in understanding the extent and the magnitude of marginalization, the way in which young black South Africans are thrust onto the edges of this society, we need to recognize -- and it does relate to the question that Mrs. Clinton asked earlier -- the extent to which it was as much about educational disempowerment, economic disempowerment and political voicelessness.
That does suggest a coordinated approach is essential. Those kids were incredibly resilient in forging alternative subculture which placed them back at center stage as the shock troops of liberation in this society. The reality is that there is an incredible irony embedded in the fact that in the shift from the politics of confrontation to the politics of negotiation, understandably, little had changed in the schools or in the economy to re-accommodate those kids, to give them a stake in our society. The gang started to offer precisely the same subcultural home as the party did. It had its own uniform. It had its own language. It had an added benefit of the potential of wealth creation through crime. And I think in the continuity in this environment we must see that -- what I'm saying is that embedded in all those changes much more continuity than we like to recognize.
I would worry, though, about substituting the notion of coordination, because what that story tells, it tells that we're not going to win those kids from a fairly affluent existence by providing them with jobs as street sweepers. We've got to recognize that this is about identity, it's about culture, and it's about economics and education.
Coordination is sometimes too easy a substitute for capacity. It doesn't help to coordinate between different sectors where, in fact, there is a grave gap between our ability to generate policy vision and our technical capacity to implement it. And I think that's a real problem which government confronts at the moment.
THE PRESIDENT: I agree with that. Anybody else want to say anything about the causes of crime?
Q I just want to say that when you ask a question about crime is that when you look at the schools as educators, we see a very, very grim picture -- a picture of most of our matriculants who leave school with their humanities, especially at matric level -- when they go out, they don't get employed.
And apart from that, you've got out-of-school youth. Those are affected by the violence and all, and they come out. Then we come up with structures or with assistance where we try to help them -- there's no sustainability -- and at the end of the day, they look at the crime as a quick and an easy alternative to come into and be recognized. They form their own culture that they look into. So at the end of the day, we'll look at the culture that they try to be part of, the culture of young people going to school, ending up as a matriculant with subjects or with courses that cannot make them be chosen for any applications that they make.
We need more career orientation. We need more career guidance in schools. And we find that the very same government that we have, especially in as far as education is concerned, we've got problems in terms of employing more people to come into our government, in promises to come and help.
So we are looking at the NGOs as people who will assist us. At the same time, the very NGOs which were actually helping us, especially during the time in the 1980s, their funds now are drained up. We are no longer getting the assistance that we used to get at the schools.
Q Mr. President, just to make one trite contribution, and one, hopefully, not so trite one. On the trite score, there isn't your openness about reporting crime in our country. There has been some since 1994, and ironically this openness also suggested that reporting crime came to the fore, and it created the impression. So I just want to say that we shouldn't take the point Graeme made very cheaply; namely, that we just do not at this stage even have reliable figures about the real extent of it.
But let me focus on I think an area where there has been probably an escalation, and there is an oft-reported form for crime -- hijacking. And here we're dealing with sophisticated international syndicates. And the spinoffs between domestic crime and international crime, organized crime in South Africa since the transition, during this vulnerable stage in our society, I don't think there is any secret of that. And also perceptions that your police force and your agents of law and order are overstretched and how that just compounds the problem. So the international dimension certainly is an important one.
Q I think there is an additional reality. Lifting the veil on apartheid has exposed the contradictions in our society, and the stark inequity is much more evident now. And people have an opportunity of interacting much more openly in the cities and through our televisions and are able to see different communities. And I think it's just a natural phenomenon that disadvantaged communities have heightened expectations, and that's a reality that we have to deal with.
The existing resources that we have in the country are now spread much more thinly in terms of correcting those inequities. That has resulted in some ways in a shortfall in terms of unemployment is a major problem in the country. The marginalization that Graeme talked about is a serious concern that we have in the country.
And if you put all of that together, there is in a certain sense a rise in crime, and that is a consequence of the heightened expectations, the fact that we don't have the resources to meet some of those expectations. And therein lies, I think, the crux of the problem, the challenge for the United States and other developed countries in the world. If you're going to be looking at the crime situation in South Africa, the rising crime situation, and that begins to negate foreign direct investment in the country -- as you say, it's an unstable society, we can't invest -- then you begin to perpetuate the problem. And it's a quagmire that we can't get out of.
So I think if there is a general acceptance that this is the reality, this is something that we have to deal with, it's a pressing challenge, that foreign direct investment leaving South Africa simply because of an unstable situation sets up a cycle that we can't control.
THE PRESIDENT: Let me just observe. I don't think it is an insurmountable problem, and I think it would be certainly not grounds for withdrawal of foreign investment. But let me tell you a story about a different society. I went to Riga, Latvia -- Hillary and I did -- a few years ago, and the last of the Russian troops, the former Soviet Union, Russian troops withdrew from the Baltics.
And Riga is the largest northernmost port in the world, I think. There are about a million people there. So the Baltic states are finally free of communist domination after decades. And we sit there. And we're having this conversation like you and I are. We're having -- these three Baltic Presidents. And I ask them, what would they like me to do -- is to open an FBI office in Riga. One of the most popular things we did was to open an FBI office in Moscow.
Why? Because they had this totalitarian, control-oriented society. And when they ripped it away and substituted a democracy for it, nature abhors a vacuum, and then besides that there were a lot of unemployed people who had positions in the apparatus. And they were dealing with huge amounts of transnational crime, the kind of thing you talked about earlier.
Same thing happens at the local level -- one of you mentioned this. There is a pretty even distribution of international and energy and ambition in this world, whether it's out there on that play yard or in the wealthiest neighborhood in the United States. And nature abhors a vacuum.
And we found -- I'll never forget, once I was in Los Angeles when the gang problem there was particularly intense several years ago, and there was a three-page interview with a 17-year-old gang leader. And I read this, I said, my God, this guy is a genius. Why did we lose this young man? He's a genius. And when he was asked, well, what are you going to do when you're 25, he said I don't expect to be alive.
I think all this goes back to what you were saying at first, those of you who worked in the NGO community, those of you that are worried about the institutions of civil society. I think that for so long it was obvious what the big problem was here, and you had to deal with the big problem first. I mean, if you hadn't done that, you couldn't go on to other things. And it was easy to organize the emotions and the energies and the gifts of people toward that, whether they were young or older.
But then after that, you're left with a freer government, a more open system, a more open society, but you still don't have all this infrastructure. And there is no simple answer, but I think that basically you have to have both more leaders and more structures.
I think about -- for example, in the United States I just got a report right before I left here attempting to analyze the reasons for the big drop in crime in America in the last five years. And I may miss the numbers, but this is roughly accurate, because I read it in a hurry. Roughly, the people who did this research concluded that about 35 percent of the drop was due to an improving economy, more people had jobs and the gains of property crime and the risk of getting caught were not so important. And a little less than that was due to improved policing -- more police officers and rooting them more closely in the community, so that they worked with children and with families and with block leaders to keep things from happening in the first place. And the rest of it due to a whole amalgam of factors related to keeping mostly young people out of trouble in the first place, giving them other things to do.
The best example of structure I've seen since I got up this morning is all those kids in their uniforms out there singing the song to me when I got out. But in America we have the Boys Clubs, the Girls Clubs, the YMCA, and all of those organizations, the scouting movement.
Those of us in government sometimes tend to be very almost egocentric and we forget what real people do with their time all day every day, from the time they get up in the morning until they go to bed at night. And most real people don't have all that much contact with us. We fund the schools, and the police officers driving around, and other things. So I think that our aid programs and a lot of our partnerships ought to be focused on helping you develop more leaders and more structures.
Hillary took me the first day we were in South Africa -- we got in in the middle of the night, and she made me get up early the next day because she said, you've got to go back to this housing project that I visited that's outside of Cape Town, about, I don't know, 30 kilometers outside of Cape Town, to meet this woman who was in charge of this community-based self-help housing project where poor people were building their own homes. And you have to contribute to the membership of the organization. So there was a remarkable amount of organization in this very poor community, and a lot of leadership. And I didn't ask anybody, but I bet there is lower crime.
So my own view is, I look around here, and I think, if you believe that there is an even distribution of talent, intelligence, and ability in more or less every place, then we have to have more people who have the chance to go to Oxford and Georgetown, or Witwatersrand or wherever, and whatever it takes.
You made some very specific suggestions that I thought were good. I'll see what I can do to help get more American athletes and entertainers to come here and relate to all sectors of the society. We agree that the aid programs should be extended, that it should not be replaced by trade, but instead supplemented for it. I will see what I can do to do some more leadership training initiatives.
And I'll see what I can do with the business community. I'm going to dedicate a Ron Brown Commercial Center here today, and I'll alter my remarks a little bit to reflect the advice you just gave me.
But I just want to make the point that -- I drive down these streets -- I wanted to come to this neighborhood so badly, and I admire you all so much. But I can only say, when you get discouraged, just remember, nature abhors a vacuum. There is an equal distribution of intelligence, energy, leadership, and organizing ability. Bad things will happen when you don't have good leaders, good structures, and a good mission; good things will happen when you do.
And the government -- Mr. Mandela, Mr. Mbeki -- no one can be expected to run a free government of free people and organize every minute of every day. That's why the media is important in a free society. That's why all these NGOs are important. That's why the private sector is important.
And I don't mean to oversimplify this, but I just think that -- we visited one of these microcredit projects in Uganda in a little village. The village is getting organized around village women borrowing small amounts of money, starting their businesses. They, all of a sudden, become leaders, they become role models, people see that life can be different than it is. We're now, with our aid programs, funding over $2 million of those loans a year around the world. If every government giving foreign aid had that kind of priority you could literally revolutionize the economic structure of villages in developing countries on all continents.
So I want to encourage you. I'm just so impressed by what you said, but there is no simple answer. You've got to have more leaders, more structure and the right mission. And we have to organize our aid program, our partnerships, everything else trying to sort of work toward that goal.
I'm sitting here listening to you talk and I just wish that there were -- I don't know, however many it would take -- 200,000 just like you out there with the same background and training. But I hope you'll be encouraged. And I think that the real trick is going to be -- what you said I thought was very important about after the freedom was achieved and after Mr. Mandela was elected and the victory, there must have been a lot of people who said, I'm just tired of it, I just want to go back to my life. You want to quit the public space. But if you do, you create a vacuum before the structures are there that would get people in that are tired.
You know, in our country people get tired of politics. It's not particularly terrible. Twelve people go line up and run for office. You see what I mean? You'll get there. You'll reach a time when people can make -- you'll have the luxuries of making these kind of choices. You don't have that luxury yet because you don't have the critical mass of organized life and a leadership funnel that will take care of all the children that are like those kids that are in the uniforms out there singing.
What were you going to say? I'm sorry.
Q Well, I think that, to follow on from what you've said, I like to think that maybe there are 200,000 of us out there. I mean, I think that one of the things that we find -- I'll give you one example in education. I think that the number of individuals out there in schools in this country, individual teachers and educators who are doing extraordinary things under extremely difficult circumstances, the untold -- numerous untold stories of the housing project that you went to -- I think schools are a very good example, though, because there at the center of every community in many ways. And we have had shocking matric results. We've also had extraordinary stories of schools with very little resources achieving amazing things under those circumstances bec ause of structure, because of leaders, and because people have come together and rebuilt the kind of civil society structures that I think did exist in the period of struggle in this country.
And I just think it is important that we recognize and build on that, and that we don't only focus on articulating the problems, because it is with those people that we will rebuild this country. It is not sort of from somewhere else. I think it's been said, but I think we need to share those stories more and more and learn from people who are doing it.
MRS. CLINTON: Could I add something about that, to go back to my point about coordination. What I'm talking about is coordinating among people to build capacity, not coordinating for the sake of coordinating. And one of the critical issues is taking to scale programs and institutions that work.
You have an extraordinary opportunity to do that now, going to the National Development Agency and some of the work that the government is doing, and you have an opportunity to bring the private sector in on a specific, not a general, commitment to citizen participation or to something of an abstract nature which you're never going to sell them on. But you have an opportunity to take some specific areas, whether it's certain schools that work, certain microenterprises that work, citizen participation institutions that work, even taking a township and investing the kind of effort that is needed in a coordinated way to demonstrate clearly what can be done to build the capacity that is required.
Because that's one of the great challenges that we face as well, that there are many places in the United States that have solved very thorny problems. The issue is how do you replicate that, how do you create the capacity in other communities. And there are already, I know from the work that I've done in my previous visits, there are many people and many institutions that are working extremely well right now in South Africa, but nobody knows about them, there's no concerted effort to try to bring attention to them, to bring them to scale.
Now, I don't know enough about your politics or about your institutions, but if there were a way to replace the energy and the enthusiasm of the past with a new commitment of a longer-term nature that would take the opportunity to spotlight, through the media, for example, and through the new governmental activities, and bring in the private sector and NGOs, to say, this works here, let's make it work even better, and then let's use technical assistance to assist other people. Those schools that work, it's not just magic, there are certain techniques that make them work, that are replicable to some extent.
And this is something that if you could figure out a way to do you'd be the first society to do it in an organized, coordinated way. Because one of the great challenges that the President faces all the time is he sees something that works and he goes and he tells other people, and it's though he's talking a foreign language. So it's not enough just to tell them, you have to have the commitment and some resources, actually to bring people, to educate them, to create new attitudes, to provide leadership training so that they can then try to replicate what is working on a broader scale.
But there are -- in the poverty hearings and what the national agency will do will highlight a lot of what works. But that's not sufficient. You then have to figure out a strategy for taking what works and moving it more to scale and making it replicable. And then you can build on success and everybody can see that success is doable and not something beyond the reach or that will cause great dislocation.
THE PRESIDENT: That may be something that the government could do more of. For example, if you had, let's say, every week there would be on your television station a special on a health program, a housing program, an education program that's really working -- what are the common elements, how were the leaders picked, how is it structured. And then you say, okay, we're going to fund our health, housing, and education programs -- they don't have to be just like this one, because cultures are different, places are different, facts are different, but there are common elements; everyone has to meet that.
What I found, even in the United States -- Hillary was kind about this. It drives me crazy. I consider it to be the major failure of my public life that every problem in our society today is being solved by somebody somewhere, and I can't get it to be replicated. So this is a generic problem of democracy, but it's one I think, since you're trying to catch up and you're trying to move in a hurry, in a funny way you might have less inbred resistance to this than we do.
MRS. CLINTON: Right. I agree with that.
THE PRESIDENT: You could make it like an exciting thing.
Let me ask you the question in a different way, because we may be about to run out of time. Suppose you were the person -- suppose the United States and every other country just sent you the money in our aid program. We just sent it to you. And it was all in one big pile -- every country in the world giving aid to South Africa of any kind -- and it went in your bank. You opened a bank account and you put it in, Chris, and you got to write a check, and the rest of you got to say how you would spend the aid money, all of it, what would you spend it on? How would you do it? Where would you start? If you had that kind of resource to start, how would you go about doing it? You might not want to answer the question now, but it's helpful to think about it in those terms.
Q First, let me say, I was quite moved by what you said when you drove through. I have two young children. I have a seven-year-old daughter who was born at Georgetown Medical School, and a two-and-a-half-year-old. I'm 37 years old. I have a lot vested in this country. I'm a graduate of Georgetown Law School. I can practice in your country. I have an offer to teach at Johns Hopkins, so I can very well move to the United States. I like your country -- cherry blossoms, snow, and all of it -- but I love my country. I love my country and I'm going to stay here.
Sustainable aid -- and if I had a pot of money, I'd do exactly what your government is doing now. And I want to give you a success story for yourselves to take back as well. When we formed this institute -- I told you that it had its genesis in the United States -- we got assistance from two of your colleagues, Don McHenry and Dick Clark, to help set up the Institute in South Africa to deal with the transitional conflicts here. We've developed some very good, solid grass-roots models and we're now taking that into the continent to deal with conflicts of the continent. We're involved with youth in Burundi, women in the Horn of Africa, in Somalia, et cetera.
We presented that vision last year during the BNC, to Brian Atwood. And he spent an hour with us and made a commitment that that's the kind of vision he would support and he would convince your government to sustain such an institution. He then sent out Dick McCall, your chief of staff, USAID, later in the year, in around March, to a function that President Mandela attended of ours. And he then made a verbal commitment that your government would provide some sustainable development assistance. And in November last year, Dick McCall came back and made that commitment at the Africa Peace Awards that we ran before 700 guests and the President -- President Mandela and President Chissano jointly there.
Your government has followed through on that. You've given us $7.5 million U.S. dollars in endowment support to establish a conflict prevention center that will deal not just with conflicts in South Africa, but with conflicts on the continent. Ambassador Joseph is here; he's given us good support on that. Aaron WIlliams, Susan Rice in their Department -- I was in the U.S., in Washington three weeks ago and we've tied up.
If we're talking about sustainable aid -- and that's what I said earlier on the context of the growth and opportunity -- and I know it's your view also, Mr. President, that you can't just cease aid and introduce trade . I think it has to be a phased process. When we presented it to Brian Atwood we said, why are you spending $980,000 U.S. dollars a day in a peace-keeping operation in Angola when you should be looking at prevention, spend $8 million U.S. dollars and build a center for prevention. It makes much more sense from an economic perspective.
And I think -- if you told me, here's a pot of money, I would put that money in sustainable aid, sustainable aid taking Graeme Simpson's institute that deals with violence and reconciliation, taking the institute that deals with education for children, technology is a weighty concern of ours, and setting up and sustaining institutions, endowing institutions so that they have a life beyond a two-year grant or a three-year grant -- that's the most significant contribution.
You've made it to my organizations -- and I'm not plugging for more money, but I'm saying it's something that is very positive for the United States, something that you've done which we think is going to go a long way not just in assisting problems in South Africa, but on the continent, as well. And I want to give you something that's a product of that. It's called "Conflict Resolution: Wisdom from Africa." It's given us the opportunity to produce on this continent indigenous material about our own conflicts. It's something that we can share with the rest of the world in a true partnership. So as we say, we have something to offer you, you have something to offer us, let's share that as genuine partners. That's the kind of sustainable aid I think tha t we would like to see you continuing to support. Thank you.
Q Can I add one very quick ingredient to that? I think that one of the gravest dangers for this vibrant civil society, which is such an important guardian of democracy and vital for entrenching democracy in this society, is that the thrust towards an obligation to self-financing, in social work and education sectors in particular, runs the gravest risk of forcing those of us who have been entrenched at the grass-roots level to focus away from our target constituencies in order to find the people who have the money, because these are the people who don't -- and that in some senses, that it the most important issue. For me in my public life, which I admit is somewhat less public than yours -- (laugher) -- my greatest frustration --
THE PRESIDENT: Lucky you. (Laughter.)
Q -- my greatest frustration has the been the point at which we believe we've got in the 40 schools that we work in in Soweto, a pilot intervention that is unbelievably worthy of duplication. We don't have the means to do it. Outside of a desperate attempt to lobby, beg, plead -- and I'm glad Kumi got some money from the private sector, because I didn't. (Laughter.) And it's the flip side of that coin.
And unless there is some sustainability -- in the areas of victim aid, in the areas of dealing with kids, constituencies that can't pay -- if there isn't something in place which enables us to operate on the basis that we are sustainable and that we are secure, we don't have the creative space to do what you say.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, it may be that what we're trying to do with our aid program and some of the signals we're going to send during and after this trip will help that a little bit. I hope it will.
I know we've got to go -- I've got to ask one more question, though. (Laughter.) For those of you who work with children in conflict resolution -- and you're still dealing with the racial tensions with kids -- do you ever talk to them about similar problems of people who look alike -- the Irish problem, the Bosnian problem, the Middle Eastern problem?
MRS. CLINTON: The Rwanda problem.
THE PRESIDENT: The Rwanda problem. Although the Hutus and the Tutsis don't look alike to those who are sensitive. But still, you see what I'm -- in Bosnia, the Croatians, the Serbs, and the Muslims are biologically indistinct. They are what they are by accident of political history over the centuries. And in the Middle East, the Arabs and the Jews are both Semitic people. And in Ireland, there are religious differences, but otherwise there is no difference, and they still fight over what happened 600 years ago.
So do you use this? I have a reason for asking the question, but tell me.
Q Thanks a million for giving me this opportunity. I have actually started working with young people as from 1991, and it was not just any kind of young people, but working with young people who have been directly affected by violence and who also have been perpetrators of violence as well. We created a play which we wanted to use as a platform, as a stimulus for discussions, going to all the warring communities, using the play as a stimulus for them to start talking to each other, regardless of their political differences and their political affiliations.
The group has been a living example of tolerance, has been a living proof that it is not impossible for young people who come from different historical backgrounds and political backgrounds and racial backgrounds to work together and survive together.
Our work has actually been -- received so much attention. Recently -- I have just come the day before yesterday from Northern Ireland where we were taking the very same group, conducting the same match-ups with Catholic youth as well as the Protestant youth. We have done the same thing in October of last year in Sarajevo, where we've worked with Muslims, the Serbs, the Croats. And we have done the same thing as well in Rwanda.
So we have actually been invited so much because we have proof that if you want to deal with conflict, allow the people who are actually practicing that conflict to leave out of that state and use them as agents that will preach the message of peace.
And don't meet like in a political or in a formal structured way -- allow them to do it in a playing manner as young people. We do it through a play, the young people identify with what we are doing. Then we start talking serious, serious feeling, serious problems that are affecting us as young people. And the strategy has worked very effectively.
I was in Northern Ireland; it was so difficult for us to leave to come back to South Africa because the young kids there said, for the first time, for us to see black, white, together in one production and talking with the same voice, same language, for us it's been like some -- a very great inspiration for us as Catholics and for us as Protestants to do the same.
So we are really doing it.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: That's good.
Q I just wanted to act on that. It's unfortunate that most of our direction here, it's on schools because that's where we get all these young people. And when we look at initiating the peace education in schools as well as looking at the -- in schools -- I try to look at one of the issues or one of the things are different in the world and which is more known -- is the one of the Holocaust. This has prompted us, when we talk about the conflicts in South Africa, that young people must see that not only people of different color can be in conflict with other people of different color, because in their minds when they look at the Jews and the Germans they see that these are the people of the same color -- I went to the director at the Holocaust Museum to give me more publications on that so I can be able when I come back to be able to show that.
So, fortunately, because of the correspondence that we had, when the show came into Johannesburg at the African Museum, we were able to take the young people, and so it was put in such a way that people can see that the conflict between the Jews -- and the conflict between the African people -- the Indians, the coloreds, and the white people in South Africa -- this is what was happening.
This is how it can be -- we can come back into reconciliation. I just wanted also to mention what you have mentioned about the ordinary people and all that -- that we are sitting here today in 1998, in this school, Maphanzela, where you could not even open the door because a bullet from this other end will come in here and a bullet from this end will come in here. We were actually in -- we were just behind this which was a division -- we were saying to them, you people as you come together, you start to talk with the others. We started with the self-defense units and all that.
It doesn't stop there only. It doesn't stop even in at home. That's how you knew you come up to talk about all these things. So I want to say that the more graphically we show our young people how we can come together and be reconciled, the more ways they can actually tell that this is the way people are -- I must tell you, the one of the problems that we had around here was how do young people reconcile the others in a way they will understand it. But young people -- they wanted to do all these things, but now, through this type of education -- and I must say it was a concerted effort for many.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: What you said is really what I was thinking about because when I talk, when I go to Bosnia and I talk to those people, it's like there deal is the only deal in the world, their division. When I deal in the Middle East, and I talk to the Irish and I have to listen to it -- every time I see the main players I deal with, I know I'm going to have to get History 101. (Laughter.) It's like they've got a tape recorder, and I'm going to have to listen for three or four minutes before we can get down to business.
I don't say this in a critical way, but I think it's important for people to understand that everywhere in society, almost -- there is like a battle of human nature that goes on, and there is a strong tendency to divide whatever your world is up between us and them. And you can't -- people should never give up whatever their "us" is, you just want it to be "us" and "we" instead of "us" and "them." So that's why I ask.
Thank you so much. Good luck to you. (Applause.)
END 1:42 P.M. (L)