SA: Peace or Revolution?

The pros and the cons of South Africa’s new Government of National Unity (GNU) are examined in this interview with Neil de Beer, the President of the United Independent Movement (UIM). One of his concerns is that there are people in the African National Congress (ANC) that are “actually not on board and that they’re going to do everything that they can….to derail” this GNU, which would be the “worst thing that this Republic can ever see in its future”. He also warns that the use of State Security and intelligence apparatus to spy on each other in the GNU could lead to its possible demise. As for the likelihood of a revolution bubbling in KZN where former President Jacob Zuma’s MK party is being left out in the cold, De Beer says: “It seems that the building block, the revolutionary volcano, the stirring of the emotion of inequality within instability in this country, always comes from the KZN faction. If I was in the defense structure, if I was in the policing structure, and if I was in the State Security cluster, you’ve got to squash this…Because a country cannot be kept ransom by the precipice of people’s ideology.”  De Beer also lists the critical issues that the GNU has to sort out in its first 100 days of governance.

Sign up for your early morning brew of the BizNews Insider to keep you up to speed with the content that matters. The newsletter will land in your inbox at 5:30am weekdays. Register here.

Watch here

Listen here

Extended transcript of the interview  ___STEADY_PAYWALL___

Chris Steyn (00:01.198)

What are the pros and cons of South Africa’s new Government of National Unity? Those are one of the questions we’ll be asking Neil de Beer, the President of the United Independent Movement, a party that left the Multi-Party Charter because it would not go into a coalition with the African National Congress. Welcome, Neil.

Chris Steyn (01:19.79)

Neil, may we start with the pros of this new Government of National Unity?

Neil De Beer (01:25.475)

Yeah, I think it was amazing what’s happened this week, the pomp and ceremony and undoubtedly I must say that I’ve recognised some idiots being sworn in. They just don’t leave us. And by looking at some of them, even in gumboots, a person would like to say, wow, we need to do a SWOT analysis. And the SWOT analysis on your strength, weakness, opportunity and threats is clear. 

So there are definitely now pros and cons to this Government of National Unity. The pro is that it’s only obvious that when the DA and the rest of the entity that will form the GNU, specifically the IFP, it did create a bit of an upswing, may I call it a positive green tick to the world markets. I mean, this is BizNews. So the influence of the establishment of that word, Government of National Unity,  has had an upswing on the market, a kind of stabiliser within the Rand-Dollar situation for business. I hope. I saw a breath. I must tell you it wasn’t a sigh. It was a breath of wow. Okay, this is a bold step. 

The positive is that we’ve got people in this Government of National Unity, which I call the non-radical fascist and separatist groupings, which we spoke about here, they have totally been separated. So what you’ve got is a moderate, may I call it, leftist liberal entity that is now sitting and going, okay, let’s get around this fire, let’s dig in and let’s create one humongous good braaiing entity. But like any braai, as we know, as it fades into the later of the night, things become a little bit unstable. This is no different.

But the positive side right now is that we’ve got direction.

Neil De Beer (03:27.459)

There is a negative. And we have to spell that negativity out. This is very clear that the radical, I call them the radicals, the radical social, nationalistic, communistic dark cloud that lies within the EFF, MK and cohorts, cohorts, are now totally separated, standing on the right hand and watching on the left hand and wanting to say, We are not going to accept this.

So Chris, the hope at this moment, listening to the talks of talks, is that this Government of National Unity will address factionalism. In other words, that the followers of the ANC, predominantly coming from one segment, one facet, will have the IFP leader, Tlabisa, play a very critical role within the leadership of this Government of National Unity.

Chris, I worked with this gentleman in the Multi-Party Charter for a year. He’s not a politician. Tlabisa is a statesman. There’s a big difference. And if I had a vote, I would have voted Tlabisa, Honourable Tlabisa. And funny enough, in the Multi-Party Charter, he was the only one of all the leaders that was addressed as Honourable. They continued calling him Honourable.

This is something that is huge. So hopefully he will play a vice president or a deputy vice president or a critical role because he is a stabiliser, but it will bring, can I call it the separatists entities within the Zulu faction, the KwaZulu-Natal faction. I’m glad the IFP won there. And he will bring as a leader stabilisation to that. 

And undoubtedly, now I’m going to say it, and now the lightning is going to strike.

Neil De Beer (05:28.995)

I have confidence in John Steenhuisen. Put everything aside. You know, we’ve got to sometimes go back and talk about person, because our politics is very much framed on personality. Take DA away, take everything away. I have also had the privilege and pleasure to work with him. Directly, no lying. And I am saying that if it is Cyril, which we knew would come, but if we have a John Steenhuisen and we have a Tlabisa, I’m talking people here, not party. I’ve got a positive attitude.

The negative is that you are going to get people within this GNU, you’re going to have people in the ANC that are actually not on board and that they’re going to do everything that they can, be it in the legislature, be it in Parliament, be it in politics or in public, to derail this Government of National Unity. And that is the pro and the con that we’ve got and we cannot allow it because a collapse, and we’ve got to talk about that now, is the worst thing that this Republic can ever see in its future.

Chris Steyn (06:45.198)

Now, Neil, meanwhile, I see a third deployment of extra police officers has gone to KZN. With former President Jacob Zuma’s MK Party being marginalised when it was actually expecting to rule his own home provinnce, do you think there is a revolution bubbling that side?

Neil De Beer (07:06.563)

I think just the mere fact that you’ve mentioned what you did, just the mere fact that people are being deployed is evidence that people are very much sensitive. The people within State Security, the people within the intelligence security, the cluster of that which I come from, has to be nervous. 

And this is something that we have to absolutely agree. It seems that the building block, the revolutionary volcano, the stirring of the emotion of inequality within instability in this country always comes from the KZN faction. You know, when you look at KZN and you just look at murder, assassination of politicians, it has the highest count. When you look at where we came from pre-94, where Inkatha was fighting ANC, KZN instability that war that was created it continues that it seems that if Jacob Zuma UMsholozi says the word Umshini, we shudder and we have a reason to because the looting happened. Wars happened there – and I say if I was the Government of National Unity,  If I was in the defense structure, if I was in the policing structure, and if I was in the State Security cluster, you’ve got to squash this. You’ve got to not put out fires. When the bloody thing smokes, you’ve got to annihilate it. Because a country cannot be kept ransom by the precipice of people’s ideology. This is a constitutional republic, no matter our thought.

Chris, I lost in the election by 5%. I have moved on. It is a critical problem for me that I don’t have my voice in Parliament, that I’m not in the Government of National Unity, which I fought for for a year to get to this. But I have moved on. Here I am. I’m giving my opinion. I have a voice with you. I have a voice with the public. I am currently linked into every move. 

And I’m saying, if we are starting to deploy extra police, extra army, extra thoughts, extra sensitivity, there’s a problem there. Then deal with it. And the way that you deal with it is to stick with the law, the order and the Constitution. I must tell you, I am very impressed with the current police commissioner in KZN. I watch his work, I must tell you, no matter other utterings, this man is a person that we are very, very happy to have currently in KZN because he doesn’t take nonsense from anybody. And at certain points, he even attacked certain Cabinet ministers’ utterings at one stage on the public platform and that’s what we need. 

So, yeah, it is a problem and we have to be very sensitive, but this country is not going to allow the ordinary man like me and you are not going to allow this country to go into an abyss because of a marginalised group. No, that’s not going to be allowed.

Read more: De Beer on the power-hungry scramble for SA & the ports of KZN

Chris Steyn (10:21.582)

Neil, as things stand now, where do see South Africa’s political playfield in a hundred days.

Neil De Beer (10:28.963)

This is a critical number. I think Chris, you saw I wrote a small article and I said, 100 days in the forest or out. So here’s the thing I wanted to tell you. A great man told me one day that civil society, and call it modern ethos of evolution, is that man brings concrete to forest. This is the truth. We take our buildings, our infrastructure, as modern men and women, and we build concrete infrastructure in the middle of the forest. What happens, Chris, is that forest will never give up taking back concrete. And concrete will continue fighting forest coming back. So when you see, and this is going to be interesting, when you drive through municipalities, you can judge a great municipality, a functional institution, by just looking if grass is breaking through concrete. So if you walk down a sidewalk and you notice on that sidewalk that grass roots are cracking and sprouting through concrete, because by the way, it takes time for it to do so, it shows you there’s a lack of management in that municipality. They are surrendering to the forest. So that’s why a good municipality cuts its lawns, hedges its wedges, cuts its trees and ensures that infrastructure is maintained. And that’s why 84% of South Africa’s municipalities have given up back to the forest. 

So I take that kind of analogy to say politics in this country is now currently concrete and forest. There are the constructors and there are the deconstructors. So there’s a grouping in this country wat net wil bloody afbreek. They just want to break down and there’s a group of us that go Nay, nay, No, no, we want to build and create. Now there you sit. You have a Government of National Unity where I will put myself out there where you’ve got the DA the IFP and all the other people going up and saying no matter our past – and this is going to be difficult because a leopard and spots. But we pray that that leopard got older, sheds a bit of the spot and becomes a little bit mature. So we mustn’t worry on the continual situation. But it’s there that this leopard is not going to change spots. We’re fighting it. 

But can you imagine sitting in a government where you’ve got people that now want to construct, they want to go ahead, and you are a bunch of people sitting there and are going to continually try and break down. What is built? And that’s the quagmire, the forest and the concrete. 

And if we are going to build and evolve and become again an economic power, which we lost, Chris, hulle kan maar sê wat hulle wil, they can say what they want. South Africa is no longer the biggest economy on this continent. We lost it. People didn’t take it away from us. We surrendered it because of maladministration, currently the looting, State Capture that happened to us. We have an opportunity here with this Government of National Unity to rebuild and regain what we lost. But we’ve got to say to the people like the MKs, like the EFF, that continually want to go en hulle…Here it comes…Hulle wil almekaar terugmoer forest toe. They want to go back to the bloody forest, where they want to nationalise, they want to socialise, they want to become Father Christmas on an economy that can’t even afford a reindeer or a bloody sleigh.

Neil De Beer (14:21.347)

So you know what? We’ve got to defend ourselves now against that Marxist, Socialist, Leninist, Stalin attitude of everybody must own everybody except some of us can eat caviar. Maar dit is mos nou nonsens. In this country instead of caviar they wear Louis Vuitton. Nou hoor gou vir my: Hulle moer. You hear me? We will not allow it because the taxpayer…We’re paying for this. And in Afrikaans, I love my language, there’s a word called gatvol. And I must tell you, seven million people paying the majority bulk of tax for 60 million people…Ons raak nou gatvol. 

And therefore, the hope is that this Government of National Unity will not just look at the fundamental, Chris, points that they have to now argue between the DA and the ANC. They have to argue those points and I hope that the first point that they talk about is the total change of this economy in the approach of this economy. And that’s where we are in South African politics. 

100 days, they have to fix the economy. They have to talk about Black Economic Empowerment. They’ve got to look at our domestic and our international relations. They’ve got to talk about South Africa products first. They’ve got to ensure that we do not get into the problem of faltering into a unionist attitude because, whoa, the ANC is not the only one sitting at the table. We forgot about the Communist Party and Cosatu. Now I am hearing that Cosatu, Sanco are absolutely not recognised in certain of the in-depth critical talks. It was public. They had a meeting. This is dangerous. 

And these are the things that we have to sort out in 100 days. Safety, security, jobs, justice, economy. And in our terms, when I was in uniform, we used to talk about firstly, you stabilize and then you normalize. And that’s where we are.

Chris Steyn (16:28.078)

Maybe this is a good point to talk about policing the truth, Neil.

Neil De Beer (16:33.187)

Yeah, Chrs, because I mean, I’m seeing people running around saying that they want to become ministers of police. Great. But whoa, whoa, whoa. Policing is not a bullet proof and a gun, a radio and a spotlight. This is not policing. This is not State Security.  Policing is something that you get taught at a Police College or academy. Just because you understand crime and because you speak Arabic doesn’t mean that you can be a police officer. This is ridiculous. In policing, there’s forensics. In policing, there’s something called pathology. In policing, there’s something called Crime Intelligence. In policing, there’s something called admin. In policing, there’s something called justice, jurisdiction, the understanding of law. You can’t just say, ta-ta ra, I’m a police officer and I can become a police minister. Maar jy is mos nou mal. That is like a plumber saying that he can do cardiovascular surgery because it’s about the pump and the valve, which is ridiculous. So what I’m saying is, stop it now. We have to look at policing holistically. And in policing, we have to look at policing, we have to look at Department of Justice, we have to look at the Department of Correctional Services, because currently there’s no corrections happening there. And lastly, one of the greatest, where I come from, one of the greatest factors is intelligence, not IQ. So…

Neil De Beer (18:13.859)

One of the greatest fights that a government has is to remain in control of what we call the Security Cluster. 

So let me tell you, coming from that, having worked in it, having been a leader in it, as you know, being a so-called ex-spy. I never got the watch, I never got the Aston Martin and trust me, I never met a blonde Russian lady. It wasn’t given to me, but there’s no James Bond on it. It’s a very specific service. Yeah, I’m sorry. I apologise.  Yeah, the ontploffende Rolex. Intelligence is a very specialised service. And here’s the Chris, here’s the fact. I’m open to debate.

Neil De Beer (19:05.251)

In the past decade, State Security and the departments of justice have been misused. I have evidence where in actual fact, State Security services, defense, police have actually been a tool not just to protect the citizens of this Republic, but to work against them. Now don’t be surprised. This is what happens when you have a government that feels it loses control.

Now you’ve seen it in the news, what I’ve just told you is not news. Have you heard of the word rogue units? Yeah, we’ve heard it, haven’t we? In many news items, there was a rogue unit of the Special Forces of the South African Defense Force. Remember, they exposed them, a rogue unit. Rogue unit in this, rogue unit in that. These are not rogue units, these are units that are either under the police, justice, State Security or defense. 

But coming from there, I’m not surprised and I’m bringing you, the citizen, into this factor that…if you want to keep control of citizens and you want to control and defend the state, you use the State Security apparatus. And I’m saying now, clearly, we are sighing an absolute huge breath of relief seeing Bheki Stoeltjie Cele Hamba Kahle That’s a fact. This is a win-win. I don’t care what presents you put under Christmas tree. This is the biggest gift to me.

Neil De Beer (20:46.179)

So we have an opportunity here to now in this new Government of National Unity, Chris, to get this right. Because the way and the reason I’m spending time on this is because no one in this country can argue that one of the biggest things that are killing us is the state of security of this country. That’s a fact. So we can spend another hour on the economy, on economics, on the rand, the dollar hedging. If we don’t fix Department of Justice, Correctional Services, the police and the State Security apparatus and defense, those five, if we don’t fix them, we’ve lost the war because what’s going to happen now is even in the Government of National Unity, they’re going to spy on each other. Ja Ja They’re going to spy on each other. They’re going to intelligence on each other. They’re going to keep tabs on each other. They’re going to look at each… They’re going to do it if they haven’t started yet. And this is what’s going to cause the demise of a possible Government of National Unity. I call it and have always called it the Aha moment. Aha. So you can ma take it. They will absolutely use the State Security, intelligence, private security grouping, no matter what you want to call it, that apparatus they are going to use. And what I’m asking is that for once in a long time, we get the right ministers in the right positions that are there, not because of their allegiance, their loyalty to, but their duty for. And we must get away from putting people in positions that are not trained, educated and schooled to be in those positions. And that’s my story.

Chris Steyn (22:51.086)

I was speaking to somebody in the services the other day and he told me that there is no control or accountability and that some people are just being handed posts and are allowed to do what they want.

Neil De Beer (23:04.867)

Chris, we were lucky, can I call it in the older days – I’m sorry to sound like my grandad – daai dae – there were not more than a couple of generals. If you became a general 30, 40 years ago, it was a remarkable achievement. I mean, in our times in the policing service, a provincial head of police was not even a general. It was at times a brigadier. We now have more generals in my opinion than colonels. Almal het ’n swaard. And because it’s Oprah, everybody’s getting one. This is ridiculous. You cannot have so many generals and so little warriors. Remember, too many chiefs, too many chefs. So we’ve got to cut them down and, Chris, this goes for cabinet as well. I’m hearing rumours that they’re not going to cut ministers. They might add.

Chris Steyn (24:04.074)

Accommodate everybody.

Neil De Beer (24:05.987)

And as Tlabisa said, Honourable Tlabisa said, he said, people will not mind an increase of cabinet if that cabinet delivers, but it will slaughter you if you add to cabinet and they underperform. So in all matters of this country, you’ve got to tighten the belt, cut it back, look at tax breaks, go back and give the citizens hope, not just in mouth, but in their bloody pocket, because this is where we are dying, Chris. We are not dying just as human beings in our hope for this country. We are dying in our pocket. And I’m worried. And that’s the focus of the Government of National Unity. And that’s why we are not a oil tanker country. We are a speedboat country. Yes. So, so, so I agree. Yes.

Chris Steyn (24:55.438)

I was just going to ask you.

You sent me a cryptic message about the oil tanker versus speedboat approach.

Read more: De Beer: SA – a new radical, separatist State

Neil De Beer (25:04.835)

So I have a mentor. Yeah, he’s a mentor of mine. His name is Michael Louis. He’s a person that served in the provincial cabinet. He is a huge mentor of mine. He’s a great flagpole for justice. And he has never stopped fighting. He’s the man that went to the Constitutional Court, by the way. You’ve interviewed him and spoke about the independent candidates and not only that, but changing the Electoral Act. And he won on many places. He’s still fighting. Michael Louis told me this. So this is not mine. This is credit. You must give credit to Michael Louis. He said, Neil, one of the most fascinating facts about South Africa, its politics and its economy is that it is a speedboat country, not an oil tanker. And I went, excuse me. And he went, yes. Countries like China, countries like India, countries like the United States of America and even the conglomerate of Europe, let’s call it the one billion factor, are oil tanker countries. So if you take a decision here that has to impact the people here, for those countries it is the size of an oil tanker to change their trajectory. You know, on an oil tanker if you turn two degrees north, it takes quite a couple of sea miles for it to start to turn. Whereas if you’re on a speedboat, you do that. You turn immediately. And South Africa is a speedboat country. If we take the right decision, it doesn’t take an oil tanker time period to change. It can change immediately. Because we are a smaller economy. We are a smaller nation with a very much smaller geography. So we are 60 million. To change an economy, to change a law, to change legislation, where we can turn will take shorter than any other country that has got the mega population. And this is the hope, is that the Government of National Unity understands it is at the forefront as a coxswain, as a captain of a speedboat country and this is what we need right now. We better change this thing or we’re going to crash into a lighthouse.

Chris Steyn (27:24.622)

Neil, lastly, what’s the future for the United Independent Movement? What are your plans?

Neil De Beer (27:30.883)

Yeah, a lot of contemplation. I’ve now realized how close we were to putting the voice of Neil de Beers into Parliament. 1,973.

So, I had to go sit down in the past two weeks. As you know, I come from business. I spent 22 years in global business. And I went into politics because I wanted to make a change. It’s been three years of hope and hell. I’ve taken a bit of a battering. I really thought that my next level would be in a government or in a parliament where I can bring 30 years of understanding of global business, the economy, State Security and intelligence, to the table. 

I’ve laughed with you where I’ve said I’ve been the friend and foe of past and present government because I knew them intricately. I’m standing outside. The calls haven’t come. I’ve had to leave the Multi-Party Charter because I made a decision and I gave my word I would not form a coalition with the ANC. Now they chose to steer away from coalition. They brought something that nobody in my opinion knew about except those that were talking of this new thing called a Government of National Unity. I think that surprised many of us. So yeah, I’ve had to reflect. Must this voice die down? And I don’t think I’m a quitter. 

So the UIM will continue. We are reflecting very much hard on ourselves, but we’re also looking at the near 40,000 votes that we got for a new party, we’re also looking that we were top 22 of 52. And we look at some parties that have been around for 20 years that have tripled our budget that didn’t make it. So there were some things like BOSA, yes, Rise Msanzi, even parties like Action SA, who didn’t make the volumes they should have. And they’ve admitted that.

Neil De Beer (29:40.803)

But remember, Chris, all of them had a budget of between 10 to 20 million. Can I tell you what my national budget was? Yes, my national budget. And I came 22nd in the country of 52. I can tell you what my budget was. It was 785,000.

Chris Steyn (30:01.87)

No wonder you couldn’t print enough posters.

Neil De Beer (30:04.963)

785,000 rand for a national campaign, and we got near to 40,000 votes, we missed it by 3-4,000 votes. People voted for us. So when you look at that, 780,000 rand towards a party that spent 18 million and they only got two seats and they got more than, I think, just on 70,000 votes. This is a reason for you to continue. People like our Kool-Aid, they’re drinking our Oros and they want this voice to remain – and I will remain. 

So, come what may, 2026 will come, but we have to work together. I’m still a councillor in the City of Cape Town. I have three other councillors in three metros, and there’s only two things I will remain steady on, the truth, so help me God, and the people first. And that’s it.

Chris Steyn (30:59.406)

That was Neil de Beer speaking to BizNews about the formation of South Africa’s national government of unity. And I am Chris Steyn. Thank you, Neil.

Read also: