About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

14 Jul 1990: Vogl, Jurgen

Click here for more information on the Interviewee

Click here for Overview of the year

POM. You said just a couple of minutes ago that blacks had no bargaining chips left. Could you explain that?

JV. What I base this assertion on is that since the release of Mandela and most of the political prisoners the only issues that remained are those of a structural kind in which the ANC has any role to play; it was part of the state of emergency which took place in Natal. There are still a couple of hundred political prisoners that they have to work on but there's no perception anywhere in the world that those demands can be acceded to. It's a question of logistics, finding a solution to the situation in Natal and for that matter finding a way to deal with some of the politically inspired violence that exists there. A further thing is that the only other issue is the behaviour of the government forces and government agencies which happen to be part of the process rather than something that is there right up front. These are being steadfastly pulled into the rhetoric of the ANC as they prepare for another round of negotiations but there's nothing there that they can say we give you this in return for that kind of thing, there's nothing there.  And the armed struggle is something – that's why it's like SA largely is ignoring the issue, that it's not really interested and nobody expects the ANC to come up with a couple of bomb explosions in shopping centres in the next couple of weeks. They are just not in the place to do that and if you would talk to them about it they will probably admit it, when it's late and they've had a couple of Remy's. So given that, the ANC guys have got very little to bargain with, except in the international press.

POM. When you say there are  no bargaining chips do you mean there are no bargaining chips to preclude them from getting involved in serious negotiations or no bargaining chips in the negotiating process itself?

JV. I think they will be included given the sheer force of what people perceive their popularity will be and the stature of leadership. What I am saying is that I don't think they have anything to bring to the negotiating menu in which there is a one for me, one for you possibility. The only thing is really the sanctions debate which is something, the whole sanctions issue, that's very, very complex to deal with. I can give you some different angles but certainly they will not be precluded from negotiations, they will be part of it but once they are there what are they going to talk about? And if it's going to be talked about, if they're saying, "Well we need a national forum or an election", or things like that, then the answer would be, "But what are you going to bring in return? On what basis would you participate in a national forum or an election to elect people for a national forum?" And there are some doubts that they will be able to do anything, deliver on anything.

POM. 'Deliver on anything'? What do you mean?

JV. That they will deliver in terms of saying that the voting and the voters' mobilisation will not be violent, they cannot say that. That the political process is not going to be devoid of any need for police to intervene or security forces to intervene, they cannot guarantee that. They cannot, if that's an argument from government saying in this process labour action should be stopped because we're doing something differently, they cannot guarantee that because to some extent they are not in control of that leadership any longer.

POM. Of the COSATU leadership?

JV. Yes the COSATU leadership is trying to establish a separate identity and very much so. Two reasons: one is that the statesmanship of Mandela and the fact that he accidentally, more than by design, has turned this organisation from being supported by an Eastern European power base into a completely American one is a difficult one ideologically. The second thing is coming back from a visit, regardless of how successful it is for the old in our world, calling Margaret Thatcher an enemy of apartheid is not something that's going to wash with the labour unions, and there's a lot of that give and take. Thirdly, that's something that I've picked up in the last six months, that the National Reception Committee consisting of the young lions of the ANC like Cyril  Ramaphosa, like COSATU leadership, like the Delmas trialists, people of that stature have now swayed themselves away from the ideological framework which was always understood to be an ANC one, a socialistic one. To some extent there are Stalinistic tendencies in the SACP, influences in that leadership, whereas the older generation, the Sisulus, the Kathradas, the Slovos and the Mandelas are the ones who are into compromise, to making a deal where these are really not that interested in a deal, just for making a deal. Let's push a little bit further, let's see if we can't make it really, the policy of making the country ungovernable comes out of the SACP, whereas Mandela says let's work together. The policy of nationalisation comes out of the NEC, well let's review it.

. In addition to that I find Mandela trying to get out of the urban areas into the rural areas. He's been travelling the Eastern Cape a lot, he's staying very much clear of Natal, he's doing a lot of Free State and a little bit of the Western Cape but, certainly in my view and situation, menus of everybody are being restructured and for whatever purpose people perceive they should be there; there are menus for negotiations for what? It's just this negotiation – let me put a bottom line to it. I think the white power group knows exactly what it wants to discuss the next time around.

POM. Which is?

JV. Which is shifting of responsibility of the violence, the community action, to the ANC and saying, "You solve it. If you don't want the police and the army in there you go and solve it", and if you can't we just have to call in that bluff that they can actually include that. The second thing is that they say, "We've already talked to you about mechanisms, forums and ways of getting there."

POM. Ways of getting to?

JV. To a new national contract or social contract, dispensation. Are you ready to – they are nowhere ready to change. The third thing is that we'd like to have some quid pro quos, we've been coming up with all our concessions, we have the right wing which is really picking up in terms of sentiment, what do we get? We need some rewards because if we don't get some rewards we're going to be off, we cannot negotiate with you guys any longer, or we're not going to any longer be able to negotiate, so we need something on the sanctions debate. In all of these cases it's going to be very difficult for the ANC or the PAC or anybody there to come up with things. They just can't. While they pretend they could or there's this implication that they could have foreseen that they may have to come up with something.

POM. Why couldn't they, for example, do something on sanctions?

JV. Well you know I think there is a move in the older echelon again to have this reward idea.

POM. Carrot and stick?

JV. Yes, but the younger generation says we still haven't got the vote, what has really changed? Our minimum wage in Soweto is R600 a month for a family of six. We're getting only R480 or something like that so what is there that we're really getting? And the police still shoot at us. And if the right wing is such a problem let the police look at that as well but they don't want to. That is the kind of argument that the older leadership is confronted with which you cannot argue against. The point is that what does that deliver to a negotiating table where these things are going to be very difficult to be forced into some quid pro quo. That's actually a scenario which is very, very likely. If the economic pressures, especially the financial sanctions remain, i.e. that they don't have access to foreign loans and they still don't have even short term bridging loans, they don't have them yet, if they don't get that it's going to be very difficult to come up with the short term money that they require given the recession that we're in, or small recession, to finance more police or more this or more that or be more effective in all those things. While the older generation appreciate that the younger ones say, well they've had it good enough, let them come up with things. You know it's the management argument, these guys declare profits and profit curves of 30%, they could pay us another R50 a month more. That's the frame of mind, the only frame of mind that they know. They can show experience on that basis, they know that they were successful against big companies on that score and they may want to translate it into the public arena.

POM. Do you see any significance to the fact, or does anyone see any significance to the fact that in the first negotiating team, the team that are now negotiating with the government on getting rid of these pre-conditions, that there's no senior labour person on that team?

JV. I find that very interesting for two reasons. One is that it emphasises that there's the old guard which has the popular view of support and then there's the power grouping controlling the access to the flow of information and staying behind in the battle lines, seeing how, trying to understand how they want to move from this one.

POM. Cyril Ramaphosa?

JV. Cyril Ramaphosa's speech, Jay Naidoo's. Who else was at the Alexandra Civic? Mayekiso, the Delmas trialists, all those kind of people. Mayekiso is the Chairman of the Alexandra Civic Committee.

POM. Would one be able to get a number for the Alexandra Civic Association?

JV. Yes, yes. What you should do, you can get them all at the ANC office. And Delmas trialists, people who were community based. They're the guys who had people's courts, people's education, people's power, people's transport. That's the kind of guy who doesn't know what to do here.

PAT. Is it an organisational thing? What's it called?

JV. The Alexandra Civic Association.

PAT. No, I've got that. Oh, OK.

JV. And the Delmas trialists were people who had community based power bases all over the country.

POM. You said much earlier on that it was good that Mandela did so well abroad in terms of his reception because he needed to, that he had been making some mistakes here. What kind of mistakes?

JV. Two things, two mistakes really. One was that he tackled issues which were viewed by his young lions organisation as being non-kosher, i.e. appearing with Buthelezi and Inkatha on the same platform to solve the violence problem in Natal. His inclination is to solve things.

POM. That didn't happen though did it?

JV. It didn't happen.

POM. But he wanted to do it?

JV. He wanted to do it and he was called back, to quote him, "I've nearly been throttled." So what it means is that even if he wants to move on things that are essentially humanitarian, if they become politically unacceptable to people in his part of the organisation they're not going to happen. That became very apparent that there is this difference of opinion and it's really on an issue to issue basis, you never know really when it comes up.

. The second thing that he's done is that he's been very adamant, very strong on economic issues with not really having looked at the facts. The nationalisation issue is one, and the same would go for the privatisation issue and it's very apparent that he never expected a reaction from the African community internally in such an exerted way. The big guns came out and said, look if you nationalise, given the history of this country this and this is going to happen, what answers will you have on those things? Do you know that the mines pay 70% of the tax? If you want to nationalise the breweries then you're going to nationalise about R3.2 billion worth of tax each year? What do you want? Do you want the income and if you nationalise it how are you going to pay for it because you always have to balance nationalisation with compensation? On what basis? And, if not, do you think people will come and invest?

. Now those were the two big issues and both of them are crucial because, as you and I know, and I experienced it again in May the weekend after they had the negotiations in Cape Town I was in Zurich and the first picture on Zurich television was Joe Slovo and there was not one Swiss banker who didn't ask me about that. And I come back to Slovo because he's becoming an increasingly important figure. The point is that given mega trends in the rest of the world nobody is going to look at this country or, for that matter, southern Africa if there's not an appreciation that money is going to cost you something, either political stability, keep your trade unions in line, whatever it's going to cost, but if you need money from somebody else it's going to cost you something and it's not going to be a socialistic cost, it's going to be hard capital, first world banking stuff.

. What is interesting is that the Stalinists, the young lions of the ANC in the National Reception Committee, and there are Stalinistic tendencies, you could see it with the Masekela announcement, the woman on culture, where she says that there has to be accountability in terms of cultural activities, there has to be accountability of news coverage. All these things are coming through now.

POM. Her name is?

JV. Masekela.

PAT. I know who she is.

JV. Judith Masekela. She is the Cultural Officer. I'm now talking ANC which is middle of the road. I haven't even touched on the PAC which is something we will have to come to. Joe Slovo is the only one in the older echelon who still has the influence. He's a prisoner of his own success. He's been the one who's been articulating the Marxist/Leninist position of the problem and positions of the solution. He's created these very clever, highly educated cadres in that echelon and they say, hey, but now suddenly the guy calls Gorbachev, multi-party, and there's free market, what's going on  here? Is this white stuff again? We've seen that before. So there's this very big uneasiness around.

. Let me tell you, try to see if you pick up the trend. Van Zyl Slabbert and Wimpie de Klerk have been given the powers to go ahead and see you guys keep Joe Slovo in place and on track. The reason for that is that there is a lack of flow of information into the older echelons, it's being screened, and the only way to get it through in the proper way now, this way and that way, to the young lions and to the old ones, is through these two personalities.

POM. Van Zyl Slabbert?

JV. And Wimpie de Klerk.

PAT. Why is Van Zyl Slabbert there?

JV. We're talking about a little game where we're talking really of national coalition, ANC/Nat coalition towards the end of this year. That's de facto. There's this Kissinger way of doing things, use Pakistan to get into Red China kind of stuff. See if you can pick it up. I know these things because I happen to have privileged things and working with Van Zyl Slabbert on the other project so we're briefing each other on the whole thing. The point here is that it's not that the government waits and sees what happens, it has recognised the weakness within the structure and they are trying to have political leadership refashioned on a popular basis rather than a labour union basis, which was an historical development, and they're going to try everything to do that. They're going to try everything to do that. Slabbert's an Afrikaner, he's good looking, he's still a housewife's Prime Minister. The old leadership, Joe Slovo is the young lion.

POM. Joe Slovo is?

JV. The young lion person. He and Van Zyl Slabbert have got an excellent relationship.

PAT. Oh, OK, that makes sense.

JV. That's the whole thing. And Slovo doesn't know how to do that. Now you should get hold of – a week ago, Wednesday a week ago, was an article in the Business Day in which Joe Slovo wrote an open letter to business, big business, small business, white business really. You should get the reasoning behind that. I have a feeling what he's trying to do in order to keep his constituency but start getting the white business to somehow or other be a little more amenable, look for money. The SACP has got no cash, the ANC has got cash. So the SACP will remain in the ANC just for that reason alone and what has come through as an ideological thing, which is something that you may want to pick up and discuss especially with the labour people, the common good. What is the common good and how to accommodate that in a new thing? The profit motive in a mixed economy, because we're going to be moving everything to mixed economies now, the whole debate, the concession is mixed economy not just capitalism. Anglo American go on record that they're looking for joint ventures with government, Ogilvie-Thompson Thursday last week. One should see that and see how far Slovo has come when he talks with the COSATU/NUM people, how far he's gotten to feeding those slogans into the analytical framework of these guys.

POM. But you think he might have trouble doing that?

JV. Yes I really think so because he's a stickler for the book, completely. Look, Joe Slovo has been one of the most articulate African communists for two decades. Now he's into a mixed economy. There is a place for profit, that kind of thing, especially given that all these guys have been very well educated at Sussex and Warwick in the UK in this new Marxist groove which was until the middle of the eighties really the most proliferate and most successful and most vitalised socio-economic, analytical school in the country, until really Gorbachev. The liberals lost that debate. The new Marxists have it, they really cornered it. It's tough when you have generated an elite in this entrenched Marxism especially since that elite knows a platinum credit card, now I'm cynical, but a platinum credit card is going to come their way in any case and the capitalism side is going to be a tough one to do, regardless of how you fashion it, to be in business in SA is going to be tough.

POM. Two things, first, how do you see this process unfolding? Do you see more extended negotiations over the next year to 18 months where parties like the DP, even the CP, are brought in, sit around the table, and that out of these multi-party negotiations some kind of consensus develops over a settlement and that, you could say almost a power-sharing government is formed for an interim period while a new constitution is drawn up? Or do you see the emphasis being put on setting the ground rules for a Constituent Assembly along the Namibian style and going the Namibian route?

JV. There are two problems that I foresee regardless of which one you're going to look at if you define it like that and bring in the Namibian constitution or Namibian route, this is that there is no arbitrator. There may be something like - in terms of what the commonwealth had - the Eminent Persons, NDI, who knows, something like that coming. The way I think the South Africans would want to handle that is to say the fact that we've been talking means that you recognise our legitimacy as a government, or as an administration, but you have to accept our bona fides in a genuine attempt to come to a new constitutional framework. The way I see that is that FW is going to be using his office with Gerrit Viljoen and all these other people to generate ideas in informal and formal discussions and trying to pick up the common denominators and say, OK, let's see if we can't get together to a consultative body that is going to, for the next year or two, talk about provisions, formulate provisions for the new constitution and everybody's in that. Then once those guidelines for a new constitution have been formulated by consensus within a year, two years, put in the technicians and get the constitution as a legal document and into shape and present it. I don't see it as being such a process in the way – I think they are very much intrigued by the American experience where the forefathers kept themselves going on wine and beer, things like that, as they discussed things while they continued to stay in control and keep the country going because if anything the vacuum that has developed in 'wait and see' can become a very vicious impediment to having a successful solution to this problem, which is what is happening in Namibia. It's been a very rushed process, it worked very well until – and suddenly the administration falls apart. It's been too rushed. There's an uncertainty, because of the uncertainty in government, business or investors don't want to do things and that reinforces it so I don't think they want to have this happen.

. The final thing in this respect is the stakes here and the people involved here are much bigger than in Namibia, both money and ego. There are real reputations on the line here and it's important to see that that is maybe the joker that will make this a very, very difficult process in which a lot of things still have to happen before we get into a consensus. My understanding of the personalities involved so far is that provided that the NEC is kept properly informed and feel that they are part of the game then we are going to have a solution earlier and sooner.

. The PAC is something that we should talk about just now, but I'm not taking them pessimistically. I'm taking the optimistic view that the common purpose in consideration of such a process is going to get closer to solutions rather faster than having impasses develop and then have a crisis, getting us out of impasses again.

POM. How would you identify the main possible impasses?

JV. Federalism. Federalism is certainly a consideration in white communities. It's certainly a consideration for maybe even the older generation of the ANC and Inkatha;  it is ideological anathema for everybody else. That's the first thing. The second thing that I would say is that group rights is really a derivative of that so I'm not putting too much emphasis on the group rights thing.

POM. We've got mixed feedback on this. Is it your understanding that De Klerk has, for all practical purposes, given up on the concept of group rights on a racial basis and has in fact accepted the principle of majority rule?

JV. Yes. I think it's a one man one vote bill of human rights. But you see there he has problems by the right wing getting out of control. I think there are a lot of things. One of the things is that he can do something on the group rights issues. What are you going to give me if we come to that? And the right wing is something that is a very scary thing for many black people still.

POM. We'll talk about that in a minute, just go through the impasses first.

JV. The next impasse is that the way the land is going to be handled, the land question. I don't think we're going to have a massive restructuring there except in the legal terms that people will be entitled to buy land wherever. I don't think there will be a retributive effect in that, from alienation towards repossession and things of that kind. But the land question is something that is going to be part of the federalism thing and it's going to be part of the solution. Let me argue this, most of the Conservative Party is in the north of the Transvaal. There's a move afoot to try to persuade them to accept that as their federalist homeland and a bigger dispensation. So the land question in Northern Transvaal will be something handled in that way where Natal or the homelands or the Cape will probably be approached in a different way. So that's the second impasse.

. The third impasse is control in the interim of the security forces because the intelligence security apparatus is still intact. When you were last here and you heard all about the scenarios, assassination squads and things, all these guys are still there. They still have their offices, their privileges, and they will continue to have them. That's one thing that FW de Klerk will not succeed in getting any control over those guys and the military too. You will probably pick up a lot of military coup scenarios there, I discount them. The top leadership of the military as I know them, because most of those officers were in Namibia, are very much into the pragmatic political game as it is being played by the government.

PAT. Do you mobilise everything?

JV. No, you can't.

PAT. So he keeps them together under his control?

JV. Look Meiring was in Namibia, but he enforced integration in the security forces, jackboot way. I was there and I saw it. He's considered the … of Generals. There's a lot of talk about Magnus Malan. Magnus Malan in my view is going to be used to deal with those things on the writing of the scenario and the negotiating thing. He's not in trouble as a General, I guess he's not. He's no longer that influential but he's not in trouble politically so when the ANC doesn't come up with part of its side on the Groote Schuur Accord, which is the May 2nd agreement, then they'll send out Magnus to complain. "You've committed yourself to the cessation of violence and we now have had the highest month of unrest. What are you doing?" And he's going to be used for that. It keeps the right wing in line. Here's a guy who's been around, who's been a hawk, he's going to keep everybody on edge in the international sense because if Magnus Malan comes they have all the horror stories.

. So those are the three impasses. All the others will be solved.

POM. The PAC. What are the main obstacles the ANC faces in the process?

JV. The PAC has taken the ground which the military wing of the ANC always had. There's no compromise hand-over of government, that's what we're fighting for. No transition and fear of hand-over of government. What the PAC has done is something that goes back in its relationship to ANC right into the early fifties, it has picked up on the black and white historical development of settler as opposed to indigenous people and resuscitated that idea very effectively given that Mandela was into compromises and back-tracking on nationalisation and saying that we have to sit with the devil to negotiate and actually seeing him having a good time with them and being recognised for being a solution to the problem. All those things.

. The PAC has taken that and said our military wing says, "One settler one bullet", we don't disagree with that. That's our military wing. The second thing is that they are only settlers. We are only interested in the hand-over and return of the resources to the indigenous people and in the interim we may consider an arrangement. The third thing is that we don't take any of this … of Eastern Europe, we are socialists. We're going to push it, we're going to nationalise our compensation because these are the resources of the country and of the people and the people have been killed generating them.

. The fourth thing is that we don't believe that there's any ground of compromise on the land issue. It's our land and it has taken those who have been fighting against the government here, given them another framework, another political support because remember that generation without schooling, liberation before education, liberation before work, liberation before food, that generation has had a very, very tough time. The PAC plays on the fact that they may be sold out. They're still going to have a white militia, whites will still be part of government. What was the fight all about? They're still going to have, for the time being, their houses where they live now but no work, no education because it's going to be compromises. Everything is going to be solved on a longer term basis. We are still out of it. So there's a lot of that.

. Now in addition to that some of the labour unions have moved into that ideology again, the Black Consciousness.

POM. Which in particular?

JV. There's a listing of the COSATU, then the National Association of Trade Unions, NACTU, certainly there. The other groupings on the left side, AZAPO. It's difficult to understand but AZAPO, the Black Consciousness, is all moving in that direction. They are not that militant on the one settler one bullet thing but they are certainly not there on the compromise, they are certainly on the hand-over situation.

PAT. Does the PAC have an active military wing?

JV. They claim to have one. I disregard it.

PAT. Is it your view that the PAC will not take part in the negotiations?

JV. It's going to be very difficult in the sense that what is there that will appeal to them as a benefit of being involved in it, except really just a broad movement, major trend in the negotiations where everybody is in there doing something and they're left behind and they haven't got an input into the process? Where they suddenly say, hey, but we should rather be in there, let's compromise on this and this and this? They have this tactical, on ideological terms, motivation, we have the tactical retreat and regrouping, getting back. But I don't know what that is going to do outside that movement in terms of negotiations, I don't know what else is going to get them in. I think it's opportunistic, really opportunistic. I think they are very opportunistic. But, you see, if they're going to end up with 20% of the vote, which some people are giving them, that's like –

POM. Just to balance them off with the conservatives. Obviously the conservatives must be part of the solution too. How do you go about doing that?

JV. They want to be part of it because their view is that unless we have an input and the time to negotiate a settlement for our interests we're going to be overpowered.

POM. Then do you see – every Conservative Party spokesman we've spoken to so far has insisted that before they will sit at a negotiating table there must be an election because the government does not represent the majority of whites and is misrepresenting their position to speak on behalf of the majority of white people. If there were an election held today where would the CP come out? They claim they would get a majority of the vote.

JV. My view is that the Nats will have the same amount of seats that they have now. They will lose about 20 seats to the right but gain those 20 seats from the DP and the DP may end up with four or five people who would be much more inclined to be on the Nat side in any case. I don't agree that they will take over the country. I know they do say those things but the way I understand them and the way I've been able to talk to them on that is that we have to talk, we know we have to talk, we know we're not going to have another election. There won't be another white election in this country for whatever reason. It would send the wrong signals to the ANC and would send the wrong signals – it may jeopardise the guys who call the election, the government. They're not going to take the chance.  Why have an election if you're busy with the process in which you will end up with maybe a referendum for a constitution.

. To come back to the conservatives, just around this whole thing, the conservatives have yet to find a concept to bring to the talks. They have been caught, very much like the left, completely with their pants down on February 2nd and all this politicking that they're doing now is not on substance, not an ideal, just on the mechanism. They try to find issues, they try to find processes. They may want to dominate but they're not as successful as they claim. They're not.

POM. Do you think they speak for the majority of Afrikaners?

JV. Difficult to say. I think they certainly speak for 50% of them at the moment.

POM. In a new election would they command significantly more than 50% of the Afrikaner vote? Do they have special legitimacy as the voice of the Afrikaner?

JV. Let me say this, and I find it always intriguing, the monolith that it sees the Afrikaner to be part of Afrikanerdom is really based on a bureaucracy. If you have Afrikaners outside the bureaucracy they are as divided in terms of families as you will find anywhere in the world. It's little fiefdoms. Now the bureaucracy is in two minds, it's got a nice pay increase, they have to implement all the changes but they don't know what to do and I am not too sure whether the bureaucracy is going to vote as they used to vote in this monolithic fashion. And the same would go for the farmers, which is another view that people say is a monolith. If they talk about the uncertainty and people don't know what is going to happen for the Afrikaners then they talk for anybody, not only the Afrikaners. When they talk about solutions, there are no solutions from that side. They talk basically for their own and nobody in their own leadership or in their own supporters is going to think about a Verwoerdian solution, which is still their official policy. They know it's not going to work, they have tried it. They've been part of it. So they don't know how to do it and they're busy formulating it and that's maybe where a role of a new kind … Don't you want to take the Northern Transvaal, federalistic? Have your North Carolina there?

POM. What are the main threats to the government as this process unfolds? What must they be looking over their shoulder at?

JV. I think the political forces of the conservatives are a much bigger threat to them than the violent one. I think the AWB forces, I think we will be able to cap that. People will get hurt and they will continue to get hurt in the new dispensation as well based on these things. That's how this part of the world works and it will come from both sides. I think the main thrust will come from them on the white side. The way I understand FW to look at this and I have had informal feedback on that, my mother-in-law was there for lunch, he's persuaded himself and he's convinced that this was the right thing to do. If there's a temporary popularity setback because of that, which is at this stage very difficult to really measure, I think there is as much a simile in our generation, the euphoria about the way he handled things which can offset it. I would have never voted Nat but if I had to do it today, would you be a fool not to if that's the alternative? There is a lot of that happening and I think the political side, that's really the thrust, but he's decided he's lost them in any case and even if they become 40% or 50% of the whites, I'm going to look for voters somewhere else and that's where the grand scenario comes in.

. What I also want to tell you is that, and I've seen that in many, many black people and leaders, is that there was a credible leadership of a guy saying I'm going to walk into that fire. FW saying there are fears out there, now I'm going to go in there. There are big animals, I'm going to go in on my own. That made a big impression and it's going to be very difficult for the ANC and its younger generation to turn that sentiment around in the less sophisticated voter. He's going to pick up support there and he's behaving in that way as well. He invites everybody to come and talk. It's like Nujoma when he came back, he took everything and he brought them back. All the Hereros, everything. This guy does exactly the same thing.

. What he has not succeeded in doing, because it's not really his history and his heritage, he has not been able to introduce to Mandela and Buthelezi the fact that there has to be leadership on the ethnic issue. The ethnic issue is coming out of political conflict now. There's the Zulu/Xhosa thing that's coming out of the common people.

POM. The Zulu being Buthelezi? Somebody said to us that the main leadership of the ANC comes from the Xhosa, that there's a tribal element, so there would be a tribal element to the conflict in Natal where the older Zulus would see the intrusion of UDF/ANC maybe in terms of it being tribal.

JV. There's a lot of that. Remember the Pondos, which are more related to the Xhosa and have always been traditional enemies of the Zulus, have never been really productive as tribes. And I'm now getting into the typical South African thing, which I hate to do, but there's an element of that this is an acquisition, alienation mentality in that fight in Natal, to conquer rather than do it economically, that kind of thing. There's a lot of that. I don't want you to get into that trap, the conflict is a lot more complex but there is that element and where this country has gone backwards, in my view, as opposed to Namibia, is that Namibia through leadership diffused the ethnicity thing completely. We had meals with all the Chiefs, white, black, Afrikaners. This hasn't happened here as a central thing and I think Mandela is inclined to be told to get back, get back. He has to follow the line.

POM. So who is really in control of the ANC?

JV. Nobody. Now it's this one, then it's that one. In terms of stature and leadership it's Mandela. There's no doubt about that. But in terms of when it comes to the nitty-gritty and how to do things internally it's a give and take. Sisulu is out of it. Van Zyl Slabbert thinks that that leadership, Kathrada, Sisulu, Mandela, is transition. If we want to stay here and make this work our target is … and that's going to be tough but we have to do it and we have to give it a try. I fear that the man, his high blood pressure and things like that –

POM. Sisulu is in his eighties? 78 or 79?

JV. 78. You know these guys are getting on.

PAT. Look at Ronald Reagan.

POM. He was 72.

JV. There are many racist jokes coming on that.  The important issue here is that in terms of what the country needs, and to push it through this transitional thing initially, the Mandela factor is going to be very, very crucial but when you get down to making the country work afterwards, after independence so to speak, it's no longer going to be the Mandelas who are going to be there. It will be the Thabo Mbekis and that crowd, those are the ones who will be calling the shots.

POM. Just finally, does this thing have to be completed by 1994, by the time an election comes forth again?

JV. I think that's most probably everybody's expectation because that's the legal requirement of a new election. My view is this, that this government has given itself a year to 18 months to finalise a concept which means end of next year, and that's 1991.

POM. De Klerk also said that he would submit any outline of a new dispensation to the white electorate. Will he keep that promise?

JV. No. He can't. He would be a fool to do it. That was one of the few mistakes he's made. I think what he's really working towards is to say, all right, he will do that, but  hopefully come up with a constitution that's going to be so good in terms of human rights and Constitutional Court checks and balances that he doesn't need to do it.

PAT. What's going to be the reaction to what this commission is doing, coming up with the idea of taking everything into consideration in terms of individual rights? And when they come in and put this constitution on the table is it again one of those, "We're in control, here is the constitution, it's perfect, you can't  do anything with it." There's no third party arbitrator as you were talking about in the case of the UN or Lancaster House. It's the government dictating, the minority government dictating to the majority what is the perfect constitution.  What's going to be the reaction?

JV. I think what they're trying to do, Pat, is to say while we're in control we would want to have a consensus on the piece of paper. We still govern and we still think that these are the best provisions for the constitution but let's talk about it. I don't think it's going to be a handing down of the constitution, because they can't afford to.

PAT. You think they see that?

JV. They see that. They haven't got the money. Since when I last spoke to you, and then in that restaurant on 2nd February till the nationalisation date, R2.5 billion came into the country. Now that's opened up …  in informal investments. From the Nationalisation Sunday, the release of Mandela, it's known as Nationalisation Sunday, 11th February to the next week, America alone sold R750 million worth of securities in this country on the nationalisation …   There's no money coming into this country in any form whatsoever unless political compromise. Nobody is going to do it. I can give you this in writing, thousands of people are going to wait and see, wait and see. Now that's the handle on the government on the other side, the international one, and that's where the sanctions debate is going to be and you're going to see a lot of emphasis being put by government spokesmen on trying to get that released which won't happen. The debt repayments are doing all right.

POM. The debt repayments are doing all right?

JV. Yes, they're doing all right. The accounts of the country are in a much better shape than they were a year ago when we last had this conversation, but not enough if you want to create the kind of infrastructure that you require. The government to give to the ANC and say, "All right, we'll just compromise, we're going to give you four billion rand to build your own houses. That's what we're going to invest in it." That kind of compromise as well, and initiative, which I'm not going to rule out, and then the backstop to all of this is to say that I certainly, and that generation, the 1976 generation, black and white, are not going to take this for another four or five years. I think they're going to vote with their feet or do something else.

. It's not that there's a government that's very potent and out of control and out of influence, it's  not. It's a much, much weakened situation because of the financial sanctions, not in the economic sense, it's the financial sanctions and what one may want to say is this: let's reward the economic side, let's list the exports of foods or whatever, but keep the moratorium on bank loans in place. If you talk to Stephen Solarz he would say to you that Mandela was impressive when they met him, FW was very impressive and they're shifting that, they're looking at that kind of shift. The  Germans are looking at joint ventures. The Swiss, nothing. The French opportunistic, profit motives, opportunities. The English remain as it is and the whole emphasis, in my view, is if you want to do anything here that's going to be significant it's housing because unless something is done now no government, regardless of its persuasion would be able to catch up if it's left.  The backlogs are stunning, like 10,000 a day.

POM. Thanks a million.

JV. Only a pleasure.

. Selling off companies and that's where we're going to come in, see what we can do there. I can't be more specific. I don't know what we can do but there's enough money available for generating that kind of stuff and the economic empowerment ideas from your pick-up which you will probably hear as many views on what the contents of that is as you will hear of the people that you talk to about that. So try to pursue that, follow that line, there may be results from it.

POM. OK. Wonderful.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to theThis resource is hosted by the site.