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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

15 Aug 1990: Morobe, Murphy

Click here for more information on the Interviewee

Click here for Overview of the year

POM. We're talking with Murphy Morobe on the 15th of August. Murphy as you cast your mind back to the 2nd of February and de Klerk's speech on that occasion, one, did what he have to say surprise you and, secondly, what do you think motivated him to move so rapidly and so broadly at the same time?

MM. Well I think, there is no doubt that the second of February was a watershed in terms of the extent to which President de Klerk went and the announcements that he made. Of course it caught many people by surprise, I mean the extent that is, and also one can say that it left many other people confused, particularly those who had been resisting change all along. But for our part I think that - personally I wouldn't say that I was surprised as much as many other people would have been, perhaps it has been more because of the kinds of contacts that one has had with the international community through my travels. And also through continuing contact with the international department of the ANC, people like Thabo Mbeki, where I would say that even about a year or so earlier we had actually begun to anticipate that this is going to be the direction the government was going to be moving to, and I think the signs were all there from diplomatic contacts, etc. I think we were already beginning to get a sense that we are going to expect some major movement on the part of the government. And that also can be explained by our moves in fact long before February the second, in moving to what, working on the Harare Declaration which was adopted by the OAU and the Non Aligned Movement subsequently. And that was in fact, amongst other things, in anticipation of what happened on the second of February. So in a sense I would say one was not totally surprised. But also one would say that one was amazed at the extent to which President de Klerk had gone. Although in fact one still contended that be that as it may that still just scratched the surface.

POM. What do you think motivated him to make such sweeping moves simultaneously?

MM. Look I think that, you know, in any organisation, whether it is the government or anybody, there is what one could call the public face which always give a particular presentation of what it wants to present to the public. But there is also the private face or the private factor of anybody that actually is within that hard core of the facts, of the realities, that in fact make up a particular situation, a process. And I think that one could say that with the de Klerk government they had come to realise that there is no other way out, they just have to move in that direction. And I think they have no choice also so to say.

. Now one could attribute that to a number of factors that had come to influence their decision from their interaction, the Namibian experience, the Angolan experience, and in fact the whole destabilisation exercise they went into in Southern Africa and what it subsequently cost them particularly in economic and political terms both internally and internationally. And all those things began to work on in fact the heart of the Nationalist Party policies and they had to respond. And in a way I actually think that my observation of the Nationalist Party at this point was that one began to see a situation where if departments like the Department of Foreign Affairs are actually - my reading of it was that they had a major role to play in the change that you began to see coming form the Nationalist Party. More perhaps afforded by the, one could say, their worldliness in terms of their experiences, their contacts with the international community, with the international financial institutions. I think they were more astutely aware of the extent to which South African can no longer pretend that it can exist on its own but it is part of the, it is a global thing and it had to respond to those global initiatives and pressures. And those things I think went a long way towards affecting and influencing Nationalist Party policy.

POM. What assumptions do you think de Klerk made about the ANC when he tried to negotiate or to open the door to negotiations with them?

MM. I think their assumptions, if one is to speak of assumptions, one would speak of conclusions that de Klerk would have reached on the basis of concrete experience both inside the country and internationally and the major being that the ANC was one of, in fact was the most important player in the liberation struggle in this country and that he had come to terms to accept the fact that a solution to the problem can never be imagined without the involvement of the ANC. And I think that the mass struggles that had been taking place internally inside the country, even at the time when the ANC was banned, where people on the ground began to actually come out defiantly and espouse and actually embrace the African National Congress in spite of the fact that it had been banned since 1960. And I think that if anybody is to be serious about saving the country, that is one phenomenon that could, that that person could never have afforded to overlook.

POM. Do you think that he assumed that in addition to inspiring the people that the ANC could discipline and control the African population as well?

MM. Well I don't think it is as much a matter of discipline and control as it is a matter of wanting to get out of the political impasse that South Africa was beginning to increasingly find itself in. And I think in wanting to get out of this impasse one would have to make an evaluation of who or which particular group or organisation would be in the kind of situation in dealing with this and can begin to assist.

POM. Sorry, let me be maybe more precise. Do you think the government assumed that if it was able to reach an agreement with the ANC that the ANC could, would deliver the black population?

MM. Well I think it is fair to imagine that that could have been one of their assumptions on the government side, that with the ANC into that process then it would be able to deliver people, in fact its supporters. But, and I think that would still hold because I think that the ANC's strength does not lie in the fact that it's got Nelson Mandela as its leader. It lies in the fact that it has got popular support on the ground. And that support is not a passive support, it is not a timid crowd of people waiting to be given direction left, right and centre but actual participants in the struggle, people who experience things on the ground, experience situations imposed on them by the apartheid system on a day to day basis and they respond in certain ways calculated to addressing those problems. So I think that if de Klerk holds to it by actually getting an ANC concession to participate in negotiations that would therefore mean that it will have in its bag a whole of mass of docile people, then he was wrong in that sense. Because their impassiveness is something that can not be imagined in the present situation where in fact apartheid, and in fact various apartheid forces, still exercise their power, still exert themselves in almost all the spheres of our society.

POM. So you see ongoing confrontation between the MDM and the government over one issue after another? That even though there will be no armed struggle the non-violent resistance on the ground, the non-violent mobilisation will keep its foot on the neck of government as much as possible?

MM. Well I actually basically say that there's a situation that will prevail even as the ANC engages in discussions. With our attitude within the UDF, within the various organisations that you have, our attitude has always been that negotiation is fine. In fact we would have always preferred a situation where we never had to actually take up arms in the first place. But negotiations as a process to address people's grievances cannot be conducted in a vacuum. And in fact they are very sensitive about the fact that the government is trying to push the ANC and everybody else to disarm their collective, I mean, disarm themselves and not be active and not challenge things as they have been so that you have negotiations taking place above people's heads. And what we are saying is that the mass struggles and the campaigns and resistance, non-violent resistance, will continue, and should continue. After all the democratic process does not necessarily and in fact cannot imply that people are to do nothing when the leaders sit and talk, in fact it actually says that people should have the right to constantly raise the issues so that those who negotiate are fully sensitised as to what the actual issues on the ground are that people want addressed.

POM. Talking about democracy, do you think from the statements that de Klerk has made since the second of February that he has conceded on the issue of majority rule?

MM. In bits and pieces I would say that he is struggling in coming to accept the full import of democratic participation because he's still trapped think that, I still think he's still trapped in a mould which in fact is born out of apartheid and white domination. I think that he is still having to contend with the discomfort of having to shift and move away from a position which in fact has been held within the white community for decades and decades. And I think that from after February the second, one did begin to notice the shift from a situation where the Nats would always have wanted to put the lid on every little form of democratic opposition to its rule. And I think there has been a opening up, one would acknowledge that. But majority rule therefore still remains, I would say, anathema to the Nationalist Party, it has come out even in written statements from F.W. de Klerk, whilst he is talking about opening up of democracy he still objects to majority rule.

. Now his objection to majority rule is based on what he thinks we say or what he thinks we mean by majority rule, which is in fact not what we mean because his majority rule basically says that blacks are going to dominate whites. And what we have been saying all along in fact, the ANC has been the leading force in that regard, has been to say that we want to approach the question of majority rule, which is an important principle for democracy anyway, that we want to approach it from the point of view of looking at our people as a people as a whole not purely in term of colour or race, etc. So there would therefore be no way in that process in which we'll countenance a situation where blacks will replace the domination of the minority by a majority. What we are saying that we'll be basically locating it within particular political views and political processes that people would have to democratically choose as opposed to any other, of course with the necessary checks and balances that in a fascinating society like ours are going to be absolutely necessary. In that respect we talk of a bill of rights.

POM. They talk of checks and balances too but the impression you get from talking to many Nats is that they envisage, on the one hand everyone will have a vote and every vote will have the same weight, on the other hand there will be some form of power-sharing. That is where perhaps the Nationalist government in some way will share power, perhaps get a couple of Cabinet posts in a new government or whatever. That is not what you envisage by a majority rule?

MM. Yes, I don't think that one, I envisage majority rule in the way in which the Nationalist Party looks at it. Because power-sharing for them I think, for all intents and purposes, is nothing more than an attempt to continue to have a situation where whites have a say in a federal state as a block, as a white constituency. But what we are saying is that South African society has to move, it has not been constant, it is not South Africa of 1948. You've had movement away from that situation where whites will continue to have the first and the last words on things. And that is precisely what they mean by, when they talk of power-sharing. Because they still see a situation where whites will at least have a vetoing right. The right to veto decisions that will be taken popularly. And that to us is actually unacceptable.

POM. How then do you view this promise that he's given to the white electorate that he will take any new proposed constitutional dispensation back to them for their approval? Is that a promise he can't keep? Or how does he get out of it?

MM. I think that, I just have this feeling, just looking at how developments within the white community has been in the past. I mean if the last election is anything to go by and what has been happening subsequently where there's a notable, in fact, increase in support of the Conservative Party. And one senses a situation where the government will be very worried of actually wanting to subject even whatever new constitutional dispensation that will be agreed to with all other groups to a purely white electorate because it runs a real risk of losing in that process. So one could actually foresee a situation where the Nationalist Party is going to try to push and verify towards moving to a situation where what they started on February the 2nd becomes irreversible. Not so much in order to accommodate the ANC but in order to increase the distance between itself and the Conservative Party. So that any new dispensation that comes about the Nats, rather than the Conservative Party, remain the major force in respect of being the views of perspective representation of the white community. So that is where the difficulties lie to the Nats. That explains, I would say, the speed and the direction in which they have been moving. I think that we all say that they have been moving rather fast and we can actually have the sense of a sense of desperation in the way they want to actually to move with the process. Because in five years time, after last year, they shall be due for another white election if nothing concrete and radically different has happened by then. And if when that happens then they have real serious difficulties and then they are going to have to contend with, perhaps they are going to go for a merger with the Democratic Party and so on. If they can help it, they would like to be the ones with the Democratic Party just filling them out and just joining into the Nationalist Party as opposed to an alliance other parties might actually see that .

POM. You described that if you get agreement as quickly as possible, you impose new structures and let people react to them, you are their reality. If you move very quickly and you come up with a new set of arrangements and you implement them as quickly as possible and then you let people adjust to them but they are a fact. In other words that is a route that is preferable than, say, trying to take their constituency with them every step of the way and educate them.

MM. I agree with that scenario. If I was the Nationalist Party that would be the most preferable route to take because they know themselves that they can't afford to have another whites' only election after what they have done last year, they can't afford to have that. Not only in terms of the chances of the loss of the election but also in the main because of the extent to which the issue here has been internationalised and they also have to respond to goals that have been set by the international community, the whole area of sanctions, the economy in this country which in fact they are acutely aware of the fact that if they don't reverse these things, positively and speedily the situation can only get worse.

POM. How serious is the threat from the right wing? Do you see it as kind of a phase that was to be expected and would happen, and as things become less uncertain it will kind of drift away or do you see it as possibly a major destabilising force?

MM. I don't think that the right wing as it is presently constituted is anywhere within reach of seizing power from the Nationalist Party. But as a destabilising and a dangerous force for the democratic process we take them very seriously and I think we are beginning to see that with the bomb blasts and so forth that have been happening, explosions in public places etc. And just from the noises that they have been making beginning to sound even more and more desperate, as the government and in fact the ANC begin to break new ground and make progress in the talks that they have been having. So one sees them, the right wing, more as a dangerous nuisance to public safety in the medium to long term.

POM. Do you see the Conservative Party as the party that voices the aspirations and feelings of the majority of the Afrikaner people?

MM. Well I would say that, I mean just from previous election result and polls, clearly in those areas where traditionally Nationalist Party support has been coming from, in the platteland, in the rural towns, etc., one has begun to see the Conservative Party making more inroads in those areas. That would definitely mean is that embodied within the CP would be the gut feeling of Afrikaners who are still steeped and they are still trapped in what the Nationalist Party has been responsible for feeding them over the years and the Conservative Party is capitalising on that and closing off the Nationalist Party from being able to take those people out of that course, ideological course via displacement. So effectively you do have the CP in fact sounding like the ...

POM. Do you ever see the CP being able to of rally behind it the forces of Afrikaner nationalism where the threat to take up arms becomes not merely rhetoric but actually starts getting translated into reality?

MM. Well I think it is possible. I don't think one could take the chance and say it is not possible. It's possible.

POM. But you don't put a lot of ...?

MM. But, well, one does not. What one notices of the Afrikaners today is that they themselves are seriously divided. I mean today the Afrikaner that constitutes the right wing faction can no longer boast of the great minds, perhaps, or thinkers, that the Afrikaners of the Great Trek era could say they had, or the pioneers of the Afrikaans language, the Afrikaans culture, the intellectuals in the universities and the churches etc. Because those have always formed an important base for the development of Afrikaner nationalism. The divisions are actually even more sharper and more clearly defining those areas so there is no unanimity amongst them. And we have those who are more progressive and more advanced in thinking actually breaking away from the conservative mode. And actually supporting more de Klerk's initiatives and others even moving beyond into the Democratic Party.

POM. If I were, say, de Klerk and you were Mandela and I came to you in seven months from now and I said, 'Listen Nelson I have got to slow down a bit, we're going way too fast, I'm being caught out on a limb, I'm losing my constituency completely', what response would you give to him?

MM. My response to de Klerk in this sense would be to say, would be to get de Klerk to try to understand what change means. That change is an uncomfortable thing, uncomfortable process to go through. It actually brings to the fore a lot of discomfort a lot of uncertainty, fears etc. But if he is convinced about the advantages and the benefits of moving a step ahead rather than a step back, then in fact he has got to face the challenge because when he does that he'll actually find that there are more South Africans who come out in support of that move as opposed to those who want to hold it back. So typical of any process he will have those wanting to hold back and those wanting to march forward. And in this case those who want to move forward are the greater South African society, much greater in numbers than the Conservative Party. They are found in the ANC, they are found the Black Consciousness Movement, they are found in the Democratic Party, they are found within the business community, in the churches, in the universities, etc. So there are more people who want movement forward rather than backwards. So I would say that it would be totally historical for de Klerk to actually succumb to the dictates of the Conservative Party.

POM. How do you think the process itself is going to unfold? You have this one scenario of a Constituent Assembly taking place. Another has a table being broadened to include all relevant political parties and that some kind of consensus is reached in negotiations on the way forward and the third has elements of the first and second. You have the present government evolving more into an interim government, perhaps the ANC members taking ministerial posts and parallel with that a commission of eminent people representing all political groups which would draw up the constitutional principals. Given what appears at this moment to be the government's adamant position not to consider a Constitutional Assembly do you think they have to give way on that? Or do you think some other way forward might be found?

MM. Well I mean, I'm not a constitutional expert but the debates that have been in my mind have been on the question of a Constituent Assembly for example, it's been whether that should come first or should come after a referendum or an election. If you take Namibia, for example, you had before the constitution, you had a Constituent Assembly and then you had the election to present it. I mean you had the Constituent Assembly and then SWAPO voted into power etc. But with Zimbabwe I think it happened slightly differently, the other way around in terms of Lancaster House and then the election. I think they took more or less opposite routes to one another.

. And in terms of South Africa one is still faced with a dilemma of working out exactly as to what should come first. But I would actually say that my scepticism and my reluctance to embrace the de Klerk option, that of having this amorphous table with anybody and anybody who has got a view or the other to come forward. And I actually think that that is a much more dangerous approach to the whole process because what it does is that it lands the process open to abuse and misuse by ambition by people who just want to be there to throw the spoke in the wheel etc. It does not afford, it does not actually attempt to give structure to the process in terms of which direction and what progress can be made and whilst one says that we don't want to say that nobody else has got the right to actually contribute to the process, but there has got to be finality here. Because you are not dealing with an endless situation. You are dealing with something that involves people, that involves people's lives, it involves the future of the country. And therefore there has to be definiteness. And I think if you open it up to an amorphous table, if everybody does come in on the basis of them being a concerned party and having a view, then it basically, I don't think you are looking for a solution other than saying that if you have that approach it is only in short that there is a perpetuation of the Nationalist Party remaining to being the central and powerful as opposed to everybody else who just splinters and so on.

POM. But at the same time you see the government moving ahead very rapidly. What do you see moving ahead rapidly to do at this point?

MM. Well, look, I think at this point in time the government is still struggling with getting other parties to come to the forum, to negotiate with it. And I think that our attitude would be that sign. They are the government in power, if they want the PAC to come to talk to them it shouldn't be the task of the ANC, they must go out and get the PAC to come and talk to them and the PAC would have its own list or whatever, things it wants to talk about, to consider before it does that, then it is between the government and the PAC. But I think beyond this stage what has happened to the situation now is that you are beginning to have a situation where various groups and many parties are trying to find common ground and that would have the effect, force an effect of rationalising the national political situation in terms of parties, in terms of positions that are heard in respect of the process itself, where you find the ANC having meeting after meeting of Bantustan leaders and all other organisations. And you have the Nationalist Party also trying to do the same. At the end of the day, and all this is still happening as we have this process of talks about talks etc., and from what one gathers the last meeting de Klerk had with the Bantustan leaders and some of their representatives there seems to be in disagreement in fact. The majority of them opted not to move along with de Klerk in terms of his idea of how he sees the way forward and they actually seem to be opting rather for the ANC approach of a Constituent Assembly. Now you begin to see positions gelling around certain fixed areas and I mean I'm not sure how the debate will proceed but this is all part of the process that people are finding each other, finding positions of, are beginning to co-ordinate their activities.

POM. We hear a lot about white fears, what are these fears, what do you understand by them? Which ones would you consider to have an element of validity to them and which ones would you consider to be imaginary?

MM. You see that's a gut feeling in terms of what is termed as being white fears, to want to dismiss that as being something that they manufactured over the years and made themselves believe as a reality and now that the situation requires of them to adapt and change, that is being invoked and being used as a stumbling block to actually forestall progress. Now I could tell that attitude and just say to hell with them, but at the same time to the extent that it is a feeling that is embodied within a big part of the white community it then becomes real for me as something that needs to be dealt with in a particular way, in a way in which we will begin to allay those fears and in a way in which we begin to get them to accept that there is a common future, there should be a common future for all of us. And there is no question of us putting them onto ships and shipping them to Europe. That is old style politics and it won't work today. So in a sense one could say those fears are there even though I could actually critically look at them as being purely imaginary but they are there nevertheless and we have to deal with them. And what we are saying is that that is a product of Nationalist Party policies over the years. And as much as every time it is more of the ANC being actually pressurised to allay the fears of whites. And what we are saying is that it is even more so a responsibility of the Nationalist Party which has actually reared and actually brought up these whites to think and believe in the way in which they are doing today. It is the responsibility of Nats when they begin to see the way and want to change direction, they do so without making proper preparations and show that what they planted in the minds and heads of all these Afrikaners is actually changed. And to shift blame away from themselves, it is the ANC now which must satisfy white fears. It must explain nationalisation, it must explain what it is going to do to our land, what it is going to do to our schools, etc. You know when ANC policies on those questions are very clear cut, the Nats know them, I mean when that's up front, etc., it is not a issue. The issue is what the Nationalist Party hasn't accepted is that there needs to be change, what are they doing concretely to actually change their constituency, which in order to be where they are they took it on the particular mental and psychological trip. Now they left them there and decided to change. They have to go there and back onto the track.

POM. When de Klerk gets to real negotiations, what do you think will be the most important thing he will want to protect for his constituency?

MM. Well I think what they have been saying is that their culture is not negotiable, whatever they mean by their culture, but they have been saying it is not negotiable. And de Klerk and the Nationalist Party from time to time rather consistently have been talking about are Christian values, they've been talking about free enterprise, etc. And they have been saying that those things they are going to fight for even on the negotiating table. They stand or fall by those.

POM. Now the key one here might be free enterprise.

MM. Yes, in my view I think at the end of the day the cultural thing and the questions of religion etc., they are not going to be the main issues, the main issue is going to be around the issue of the structure of the economy and the question of the structure of wealth in South Africa. That is going to be the most sticky point. And that, I think that many of the other things can just be overcome.

POM. So in one sense would it be correct to say that de Klerk and the Nats , whomever, will be quite prepared to give a large element of political power as long as their community retains its economic power?

MM. I would say that that I can read that into their statements. That essentially is what they want, the situation where whites still remain the dominant force in terms of the economy and also because, you know, what has tended to happen with their thinking is to actually, there's a nauseating degree of paternalism in the way in which they look at us, in the way in which they look at the rest of Africa. And they could actually come to a point and say fine, you can be the majority politically but we think that for the benefit of the country we have to retain the reins of the economy. Whilst I think that in practical and realistic terms if one makes a proper evaluation of the economic situation in the country and if you look at the whole question of distribution of skills and ability to run an efficient economy etc., sure I would say that whites are actually more advantaged than blacks, even day one and two after liberation you still have a situation where whites will still be playing a dominant part in the economy. But the question is whether they would want to maintain that, to perpetuate that or will they take a progressive approach in saying that that is wrong in the way in which the economy has been structured. The reality of South Africa in terms of projections in twenty, fifteen years time, is that unless there is a progressive degree of inclusion of blacks in the economic structures of the country, this economy is doomed. You know whether we remain in control after liberation, the economy in this country won't survive unless the government of the day begins to take drastic steps to address the imbalance in terms of economic opportunities for all our people in the country.

POM. Do you think that de Klerk would seek to have provisions relating to free enterprise written into the constitution?

MM. I would say that I would expect that that's what they actually will try to do. I mean that will basically be informed by what they perceive as ANC or SACP plans or positions in regard to the economy. So they want to make, to come up with proposals that would want to entrench those principles in the constitution, which in my view in itself will be, I would say, undemocratic of them to want to impose an economic system on the country. I wouldn't know of a precedent at least within the western world of where the constitution specifically entrenches free enterprise and no other form of economic activity as being the main engine of the country. Because I actually think that that's the kind of area which shouldn't even be in the constitution because I think that the economy that develops is relative to the country before. They get us a mechanism that would need to be put in place to actually ensure that you have a healthy economy. Sometimes you may have to apply principles that are not in fact part of the free enterprise economy, like you have social democratic options, etc. And I think it will be a question of political parties, in a democratic process, to come up and come to the constituency and say, we think we have the best thing that could run the country, vote for us. And let the people decide.

POM. When you look at the medium term, two things: one, what difference will majority rule make to the average person who lives in a squatter camp or in a township? What changes can they expect in the quality of their lives in the next five or six years?

MM. I think majority rule status, I mean just like that, is just a mere concept. Perhaps its full import is more likely to be felt at the psychological level rather than at the material level in terms of things like housing.

POM. OK, let's put it, assume the ANC is the government tomorrow morning, what in the next four or five years, what changes in the quality of life could the average person in a township or a squatter camp expect?

MM. Well my view is that it would be, there are things that we are all aware of that need to be dealt with concretely. I mean in term of housing, in terms of education, in terms of jobs, in terms of cultural enhancements, those things in fact would make a change in a way in which it could actually empower ordinary people themselves to begin to understand that in as much as the ANC is in government they themselves have to be part of the process towards renewal and reconstruction of the country. But, as I say, if we have an ANC government, it is all very well for the majority of the people to vote for the ANC but that vote in itself is not going to bring about those material changes to their day-to-day lives unless certain things begin to happen in the name, at the level of the way in which the wealthy of the country perceive certain ways that will begin to address those areas through each real material benefit which can actually be accessed as accruing to the people over the five year period. The policies that the government of the day would make internally.

POM. So would you envisage a significant degree of redistribution of government expenditures? A significant degree of, a mechanism to a significantly redistribute a significant amount of land?

MM. I mean there is not question about the fact that if ANC government takes over today it has got to tell people something about the land. It has got to tell people something about opportunities in respect of economic activity in the country. It has got to tell them how, in fact, people are going to reverse the past imbalances. In real terms no theories are going to work because I actually think that if an ANC government five years down the line is not able to give tangible results in terms of how it is beginning to address those problems I think itself is going to be subjected to the same thing as the Nationalist Party is subjected to. So it is within the nature of the democratic process. I think the ANC also understands and realises that and that is why even apartheid today, one of the most current debates that is there within the liberation movement, the thing in fact almost everybody in the country today, is around questions relating to post-apartheid options in regards to the economy, education and a whole range of other social activities. And we are beginning to address those because we realise that it is not enough purely to say the Nats must get out of power. They must begin to address the question of how we are going to actually redistribute the land. It is not enough to say that land must come back to the people. How is that going to come about? Are we going to confiscate people's property? Are you going to march in and take it and drive people off the land? Are you going to get into the factories and drive the bosses out of there? That's not how I think they envisage it to happen. So we need to have a clear-cut and progressive policy to address this.

POM. Many people say that the particular chemistry that exists between de Klerk and Mandela is helping to facilitate the negotiating process. What do you think are the main obstacles or stumbling blocks that lie in the path of the ANC and Mandela in particular as they try to guide this process through to conclusion within its own community, within its own constituency? And I would like you to address that particularly in what we hear about the youth, there being large numbers of young people, with no education, unemployed, who are part of a generation that knows only protests and are difficult to bring into the process.

MM. I think, there is no doubt that those are some of the real difficulties that the ANC or any organisation must attempt to face in this country anyway. But I would nevertheless not say that is a major obstacle. I would actually see the major obstacles as being the fact that on the ground, on the day-to-day basis we are still actually living and going through the experiences of a society which still essentially discriminates against the black person in this country. And for as long as the situation obtains, at whatever stage, Nelson Mandela can actually assume, whatever the chemistry between himself and de Klerk, those are the real motive forces of movement at the social level and those who want to get and people want to see that addressed. And I think in situations where real attempts have been made to address those questions in ways that actual accept that the people who stay in Soweto are people with feelings who can think and who have also got hopes and aspirations and if the issue is addressed in that way, there have always been positive responses from people and I think there are small pockets of that here and there in the country and what we need is a generalisation of that kind of approach.

. And sure, I mean, you have on the one hand Nelson Mandela and his constituency and then you have F.W. de Klerk and his constituency and so far as the de Klerk constituency is concerned, it is not only the farmer in the farming areas of the Transvaal or whatever, it is also to be found in the structure of apartheid that de Klerk runs, that his government runs, which have been put in place over the years with the specific aim of fighting against the ANC and all those who are challenging white rule in this country. And that their present state of mind is still steeped in their traditional perception of South African society. So that is why you continue to have a situation where CCB (Civil Co-operation Bureau) like activities still prevail, department activities are still prevalent all over. And it is those things that will continue to bedevil the process that has been so delicately woven by Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk.

. On the other hand you have within our community the effect of Nationalist Party policies, the education problem. It has actually become one of the biggest problems that we are going to be faced with in that if I look back to the day when I was at high school myself, I think one can count about how many, about two generations already that we are going to deal with, which have no hope of going back to formal schooling and in terms of job opportunities in fact they are in a totally helpless situation. So we are faced there with a socio-political problem of immense proportions, whether it is the ANC or the Nats but it is our reality today. Well the youth, in any society the youth are always the most active, the most militant of society.

POM. Two very quick last ones. One, when will the process become irreversible? At what point does de Klerk, the government, lose, that the changes made are so fundamental that they are no longer in the driver's seat? And second, when you come back from Princeton next year, where do you think the process will be? What will have happened in the meantime?

MM. I'm not particularly agile when it comes to prediction.

POM. You can do no worse than anybody else.

MM. Especially in this, that generally I think that divides many people, I think, except the guy in front who is the one that more or less predicted the war and predicted the Iraq situation four-hundred years ago. But anyway, as far as the impression of irreversibility I think, as I've indicated, that the Nationalist Party is aware of the fact that if it does not make decisive moves within the next year or two and actually put the negotiation process irreversibly beyond the stage in which it is now within the next year or two, then it runs a real risk of being subjected to another white election. And that, from our point of view, I think we will need to have a situation where in terms of the constitution we should have arrived at the stage of developing a new constitutional option for South Africa and preferably through an acceptance and an understanding that a Constituent Assembly is the most viable mechanism. And I think when we reach that point I would say that in my view that we can only go forward with all the difficulties forward will present to us.

POM. Thank you very much.

PK. When this interim government notion, government of national unity or whatever you are calling it, you started by saying that you didn't know if a Constituent Assembly should come at the front end or the back end. If it comes at the back end do you see the ANC legitimately participating in some kind of interim government process which I guess is sort of talked about in the Harare Declaration, the way National Party people talk about it, that the talk is that we will give ANC and others the ministerial posts, bring them into the partnership of government for this interim period, something I think that was much different than what I understood the Harare Declaration to be about?

MM. Personally I'm not sure how an interim government would need to be constituted. But I think that obviously the ANC having also being an originator of the interim government idea, I would say that what we would really be looking at is the caretaker situation. And it is something that in itself, given the proposals that have started, would need to actually emerge out of this process itself of negotiations. And I would say that it might. Whereas with a Constituent Assembly you are really talking an elected body there of persons as opposed to an interim government so it could be members of the ANC, it could be any other party. People will be able to actually run that with a clear understanding of what their mandate is at that point in time in terms of transition.

PK. What does that do in terms of the UDF? If people in the ANC, leaders in the ANC become ...?

MM. Perhaps now we feel even though the ANC is unbanned etc., we are still are suffering from what one could call the after effects of the many years of deprivation of the political space.

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.