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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

30 Jul 1991: Kathrada, Ahmed

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POM. Mr. Kathrada, the first question is more in the form of a statement that I would like you to react to; what it is about is what is the nature of the problem that the negotiators will be sitting down at the negotiating table to settle? I will read the statement, it is from a book recently published on SA by a very imminent American scholar on the field of divided societies and he says:

. "There is disagreement over the extent to which the conflict is about race as opposed to being about oppression merely in the guise of race; or among nationalisms demarcated by race; or about contending claims to the same land. There is disagreement over the identification and even the names of the racial categories, and there is disagreement over the extent to which the conflict also involves ethnic differences within each of the racial categories. There is no consensus on whether the future of SA might also be divided along racial and ethnic lines and if so, how severe such divisions might become. And there is discord over what measures might be required to reduce future conflicts. There is the lack of a common perceptual framework; there is conflict about the nature of the conflict."

. In your view, with that background statement, what is the nature of the problem that must be settled at the negotiating table?

AK. Well these conflicts that have been mentioned are certainly there; not within us, but as against the government. We of course believe in, as you know, a non-racial society. The government is now trying to disguise what its actual aim is, and that is to preserve the status quo as much as possible. They are no longer crude, as the previous administrations. They talk of a non-racial society too. One of the problems these days is particularly with regard to overseas visitors: they find us and the government using the same language, but we mean two different things. We believe in a non-racial society. We believe that we are aiming at the Constituent Assembly, at which all South Africans will be represented, right across the political spectrum, provided they have a proven support. We do not know yet what the point of departure will be. For instance if it is 5%, as happened in Germany, and, I think, in Namibia they had that; but it is a detail we will work out.

POM. Do you think that the government still wants to formulate the problem in terms of there being a number of different ethnic nations in SA and that the new framework, whatever it is, must accommodate in some way the different minorities or ethnic groups or whatever, while the ANC is saying the problem is that blacks have been dominated racially, economically, politically and socially by whites and the task of the negotiations is to end that state of affairs and bring about a democracy?

AK. That is what we would say. White domination must end. But we do not for a moment say that it should be replaced by a black majority government. The ANC has never said that we believe in a black majority government. We believe in a majority government. Naturally, because of the demographic situation, the blacks will be in the majority, but at the same time, there will be considerable numbers of non-Africans who would be in such a government.

. You just take an example: today I can speak confidently that if Chief Buthelezi has to stand in an election, or Inkatha for that matter, against Joe Slovo or Beyers Naude, who are white, I can say confidently that the black people of SA will choose Slovo and Naude as against Buthelezi. Already they lost opinion polls which are apparently about the most authoritative in SA, which has said that more whites support the NP than they support Inkatha, I mean more blacks, sorry, more blacks support the NP.

. We say that our people are advanced enough not to approach the elections on racial grounds. The most recent evidence has been our national conference; the ANC national conference. If you look at the elections there, it was colour blind. Just take my own example for instance. I have not had much media coverage in the recent months, yet I got the 6th highest vote and I can point to various to the 3rd or 4th highest votes. One can say, alright, Joe Slovo had a lot of media coverage, but I did not have any and there are quite a number I can point to who had absolutely no media coverage but the people, who were overwhelmingly African, voted for us.

POM. Which brings me back to something that you said at the beginning and that is that when foreigners come in, they hear the government and they hear the ANC using the same language, and what they don't appreciate is that their use of the same language means different things.

. From people in the government that I have talked to so far, I get the impression they still see the problem in terms of it being an ethnic problem, more than one that is racial. That within the racial groups, there are ethnic groups; they talk about one minority being able to dominate another. So that in one sense it is like a formulated version of apartheid. You are talking about a non-racial democracy. If you are both defining the problem in such very different ways, does that make it not very hard for you to negotiate?

AK. Well, it is going to be a very, very bumpy process. We say, for instance, that the ethnic position as it exists, has been exacerbated by this very government, and the recent revelations just go to show how much they are involved in this. But we are confident. I must make it clear, we are not for a moment, saying at this stage there are no ethnic difference. They have been exacerbated by the 40 years of apartheid, where the government has gone out of its way to give more prominence to the ethnic divisions than there really were. So we have to live a long time fighting that. I must also say that, again, very much as a result of apartheid, there is the Indian minority, there are the Coloured and white minorities who have not yet, as groups, got rid of this ethnic thinking. It has been very much more frosted and to a certain extent entrenched by the apartheid policies. For almost two generations, people have been living in completely separate sections with perceptions of the other groups. So I am not for a moment saying there are no such differences but we believe they are not so great that we cannot overcome them. We will, but not by granting political group rights. We are very conscious of minority anxieties, minority fears, they are there, they are being very much more frosted by the media, which is controlled by the government, especially the electronic media. We have to take account of that and we are going out of our way to take account of that.

POM. For example in the last year with the violence in the townships, certainly in the media in the US there has been an increasing tendency to describe it in terms of it being Xhosa versus Zulu violence. About two weeks ago, The Economist, which is a very influential periodical in Europe and the US, said that the violence between Xhosas and the Zulus is really no different from the current violence between Serbs and Croatians. Do you find that analogy or that characterisation of the violence being true or false?

AK. It is completely incorrect. For instance, the violence started more or less in 1985/86 in Natal. The majority of the people who were dying and suffered casualties have been in Natal, where it has been Zulus against Zulus, there are no Xhosas there or Sothos there. So it is wrong to say, even in SA, I mean in the Transvaal, in this PWV region, where there has been violence since last year, there has been the odd occasion where it has taken this turn of Xhosa versus Zulu. But on the whole when these train massacres take place the assassins don't look for Xhosas or Sothos, the victims have been including Zulus, and we have got ample evidence of that, and more and more revelations are coming.

. What has happened of course, is that the assailants have unfortunately been allied to Inkatha, which is a Zulu organisation, but their victims are indiscriminate, they have not chosen their victims, they have been indiscriminate. When they attack a squatter camp, there are no squatter camps, or hardly any which are ethnically based; there may be one or two in the East Rand, but they are across the ethnic spectrum, the squatter camps, and these people attack the ethnic camps indiscriminately.

POM. Is there any doubt at this point that for the last year the ANC has continually made the case that the government has been pursuing a double agenda of the olive branch of negotiations on the one hand and on the other a campaign to destabilise and undermine the ANC. Given the revelations of the past couple of weeks, is it the absolute conviction of the ANC that the government as the government had orchestrated a campaign to undermine and destabilise the ANC?

AK. We have been saying that, and we have been vindicated by the recent revelations. It has been our belief that the government was incapable or unwilling to stop this violence. But as it went on, we have come more and more to the conclusion that they have been unwilling to do so, for good reasons of their own. On the one hand they want the ANC as a negotiating partner because there is no other viable organisation in the country; but on the other hand they want a weakened ANC as a negotiating partner in the hope of getting across their agenda at the negotiating table. That is why the revelations are so significant; there has already been an unwritten alliance between Inkatha and the government, it just had not been formalised into an open alliance, but it has now been revealed. It is nothing else but an alliance against the ANC. I

. In the perception of a lot of people, because of our party illegality, the media has been persistently spreading the view that the ANC sanctions terrorism, murder, rape, etc. People have not forgotten all that, unfortunately, so that whenever there is an incident of violence the immediate reaction is 'it is the ANC'; people don't always examine the details. It is only now with the revelations a little bit that people have started questioning that.

POM. Does the ANC make a distinction between the government and Mr. De Klerk? Would it now say that Mr. De Klerk had sufficient evidence to know what was going on, was up to this point unwilling to take action?

AK. At one stage, in the earlier months of our talks with them, Mr. Mandela was asked at a press conference about the individual Mr. De Klerk, and he said that Mr. De Klerk is a man of integrity. But he made it clear that Mr. De Klerk, we are not dealing with an individual we are dealing with a political party, he is a leader of a political party. At that stage we were hesitant to pick him up with the rest. But as time went on, the conclusion is inescapable that he has been as guilty as the rest of his party.

POM. Does this mean that there is an erosion of that initial trust that existed between Mr. Mandela and Mr. De Klerk?

AK. Well, I don't want to speak on behalf of Mr. Mandela but I am quite certain that there is that erosion of trust.

POM. A year ago, coming up to the Pretoria Minute, it seemed that there was a lot more trust existing between the ANC and the government, than there would be today.

AK. Undoubtedly.

POM. What does that do to the process of negotiations?

AK. It makes it difficult but it does not cancel it out. What it does do, as some of us have been saying, I mean I have been saying it numerous times, which Mr. Mandela would not say or some of the ANC leaders would not say, but I have been saying that it is not the first time that the liberation movement would be talking to its enemy. I have regarded these people as enemies and I still regard them enemies.

. The Vietnamese and Americans talked but they were fighting; the Zimbabweans and the British talked but they were fighting, so that I still believe that these are enemies and I am sure that a number of my colleagues would use the same language, Mr. Mandela in his own style of talking, he may not use the same language, but I am quite convinced now that that initial trust is no longer there.

POM. What is the minimum, in your view, that the government would have to do to show that it wants to negotiate in good faith?

AK. Well, at this stage there are still the obstructions, the obstacles: There are still political prisoners in prison.

POM. Yes, but in addition to those.

AK. The exiles, violence. If the government takes significant steps towards ending the violence.

POM. What would you regard as being significant steps?

AK. Well, I mean violence is still going on. Last week we had three massacres. Let us put it this way, you read the daily papers, if one white baby was kidnapped in Pretoria by a white woman, they send a whole police force to look for that baby and the Commanding officer, or the Chief of the police in that area, said they had never ever embarked on such a huge police invasion as they did to find that white baby. You have other incidences of ordinary crime, where blacks kill whites, or rather murder. Within no time, you will have helicopters out, you will have the police force out and you will even have the army out to look for the culprit and they find them.

. Here violence has been going on for years. There are trained assassinations at bus stops and very few arrests take place. Arrests take place and they let people out on bail in no time, others they will withdraw charges. So they are not serious about it. We are saying that if they are serious, they can put an end to this violence, but they are not. As these revelations shows, they are egging on the violence by commission or by omission, they are doing it.

POM. I don't want to jump the gun here: The ANC has been seeking the removal of Malan and Vlok from the Cabinet and both have been demoted and both will be back in the Cabinet within 3 months. Does it regard that as a sufficient gesture or it will have to be accompanied by a lot of other measures as well?

AK. Well you see, they have done nothing to meet our demands. Shifting these people into different positions, even removing them would not satisfy many of us. But that was a demand made by the NEC of the ANC, that they should be removed altogether from the Cabinet. Not that all the other Cabinet ministers are lily white, innocent people, but that would have been a significant gesture on the part of the government. They have not done so, they have not even scratched the surface of the complaints that we are making, of the demands that we are making. I do not know, we are meeting tomorrow to discuss this situation, I do not know at this stage, I do not want to pre-empt what the NEC will say, but from some of people that I have spoken to, we are not satisfied with what has happened. As to what our next move will be of course it will be decided at the NEC. What we are saying is that we are still very much committed to the negotiations process.

POM. That brings me to my next question which is that in the conversations we have had since we have been here with a lot of people in the ANC, two messages seem to come across. On the one hand that there would not be negotiations until the basic conditions are met, and on the other hand the acknowledgement that negotiations are the only game in town so we are going to negotiate anyway. So the suggestion is that even if some of these conditions that have been laid down are not met, we want to get on with negotiations, that the sooner they get underway seriously, the better for us.

AK. Well, we have not said that we will go into negotiations at any price. We want the obstacles removed, we want the government to attend to the question of violence. But what the latest situation has done is it has strengthened our demand for an interim transitional government, call it a transitional government, call it an interim Government, it has strengthened it very much because the credibility of this government has been destroyed. The little credibility that President enjoyed, in our minds, is now destroyed and this government is certainly not the government that can lead the country through this transition process. So it does strengthen our demand and fortunately, I believe, for us, more and more people are coming to our view, even the Democratic Party (DP), which previously did not support this. They are not using different terms.

POM. Is it your view that in that regard the present government wants to remain both a player and a referee at the same time and supervisor? So that you would insist, categorically, that there must be a difference made between the two?

AK. We insist that this government cannot be player, referee and supervisor during this transition period. We demand an interim mechanism, an interim Government, we call it an interim Government, to supervise this whole process.

POM. I just have one further question on what is being called, at least loosely, Inkathagate: Who do you think are the main political winners, who are the losers and in particular, what do you think this does to Buthelezi?

AK. Well you see, to us there has been no new revelation except that we have not got details. I would not like to talk about the individual Buthelezi, but he has moved, and his trade union, it has received a very powerful blow in my mind. If you listen in to the Radio 702 programmes, you will be able to gauge what it has done to them. The opinion polls have said that they are marginal in the context of South African politics. They do have support in the rural areas of Natal that you cannot take away from them. But among more and more thinking South Africans they have been politically destroyed as a result of this.

POM. After the meeting between Mr. Mandela and Mr. Buthelezi, again a lot of foreign periodicals kind of played up the triumvirate, that there were these three major players, De Klerk, Mandela and Buthelezi. Do you think that his credibility and stature has been sufficiently diminished that one can't really talk any more about there being three major players?

AK. Well you see we never accepted that there were three major players. But what this has now done, is that Mr. Buthelezi at the negotiation table, or Inkatha, I can see that they will have to sit on the side of de Klerk at the negotiating table. We are working on a Patriotic Front of liberation forces, and we hope that when we reach the negotiation table we will go as one united force together with Transkei and other homelands who are prepared to come in with us. Sitting on the other side will be Inkatha and the NP. That alliance will now have been crystallised.

POM. Was Inkatha asked to join the Patriotic Front, did it refuse to do so?

AK. We had said that we would try to persuade them. With a view to persuading them there was a planned meeting between the PAC and Inkatha, the PAC is already part of the alliance. The ANC and the PAC are jointly promoting the Patriotic Front, and in our division of labours the PAC was supposed to approach Inkatha while we are approaching the homelands and others, but they have now excluded themselves from the Patriot Front.

POM. By their actions or what?

AK. By their actions.

POM. So the process, as you see it unfolding would be: 1. a multi-party conference and; 2. which would draw up the arrangements for an interim government and make arrangements for a Constituent Assembly?

AK. Just a small correction, we call it an all party government, the government calls it multi party. We differ significantly on what we hope to achieve. We are saying that the all party conference should discuss the principles for a new constitution. The government's viewpoint is that the multi party conference, as they call it, will be the mechanism for drawing up the new constitution for SA, we are opposing that, we are saying that that is not democratic. So we are saying that that an all party conference should initiate an interim government which will lead to a Constituent Assembly.

POM. So, is a Constituent Assembly one of those points of principle from which the ANC cannot back away?

AK. I would not describe it as that, but it is at present our bottom line, unless they can show us another democratic method which I do not believe they are going to be able to find. A forum where all the people of SA can feel that we have had a say in this thing and in our viewpoint, the only method is a Constituent Assembly. We ourselves say our strength has not been tested, the ANC's strength. We are confident of our strength, but we ourselves would like the people to decide; just as we would like the people to decide Inkatha or Labour Party or anything, any political organisation that goes into this process, their support must be tested, that is the only democratic method of testing it.

POM. One of the points made to us by government officials is that the ANC wants a Constituent Assembly which would be elected by simply 'first past the post', Westminster style. Is that correct, or would you envisage that this action could be carried out by proportional representation?

AK. We say there should be proportional representation at the Constituent Assembly. In other words the Conservative Party contest, their representation at the Constituent Assembly should be proportionate to the vote they hold, similarly Inkatha, similarly Labour Party or any other organisation, similarly ANC. The representation of all parties should be proportionate to the votes that they are able to garner.

POM. Just taking 1967 as a starting point; if one looks at the history of Africa since 1967, with one exception there has never been a country where power has passed from one elected government to another elected government. There have either been the formation of one party states or one party has been so dominant that in fact it has been one party rule. What do you think will make SA different?

AK. I think we are committed to a multi party democracy, we have said so over and over again. I cannot envisage, as confident as I am of the strength of the ANC, a situation where the ANC will have the majority of white support in this country, not for some years to come. I do not know exactly what the outcome of a Constituent Assembly would be. If the ANC fails to get an outright majority, I can see a coalition; I don't know with whom, we don't know who may be represented there, but I think we have also learnt from the experiences of not only of Africa, or Eastern Europe, we have learnt from the Soviet Union, we have learned from their experiences. We have learnt of the disadvantages of a one party system and I don't think we will commit the same mistake here.

POM. Looking at the government and the NP, what do you understand to have been the evolution of their thinking on the government's arrangements over the last year? Has there been any evolution at all?

AK. I think in their public pronouncements, yes. But basically in my view, they are still trying to preserve the status quo, namely white domination in one way or another; white privilege. Even in the very process that we are going into, they are committed to a referendum among whites. They have not said what will happen in the whites reject whatever new dispensation they are going to put forward.

POM. The way I understand it at this point, the government's position is that they would see a Government, returning to transition, which would be comprised of themselves and members drawn from the ANC and PAC, but it is still their government, followed by a first government of national transition or reconciliation in which there would be power sharing and in which the NP would still exercise power at the executive level, in the form of Cabinet posts even though it would be the junior partner in such a coalition, and that it sees that when in talks about power sharing that is what it means; whites actually having executive authority in the Cabinet. That is not what the ANC means.

AK. No. We do not want to be co-opted into a government. They have just this morning announced that they have co-opted so-called Coloured Deputy Minister as a Deputy Minister. We don't want that. We do not want tokenism.

POM. There would be an election, the ANC would emerge as the largest party, but that it would share power with the NP, let us say, for example, where there would be a coalition government in which whites would exercise executive authority.

AK. We would not accept such an arrangement. That is what our struggle has been all about. We have been able to do nothing without a white veto, and we cannot, after all the years of struggle, then have a situation where we are going to perpetuate white veto. That we cannot accept. If the people of SA have decided that the ANC or whatever, should form the new government, we are prepared to accept, if we are in the minority, we will accept the majority view.

POM. So you do not believe that at the end of the day the NP and the government accept the inevitability of black majority rule, and let me tell you what I mean by that. I mean a government by the ANC in which you would have a Cabinet composed of Africans, Coloureds, Indians, whites, but one in which the majority would be Africans. You don't believe that they accept that do you?

AK. I don't think they are going to accept that, not at this stage certainly. What the ANC envisages for instance, you take the Groote Schuur talks and you see the composition of the two sides. On our side, we had whites, we had Afrikaners, we had Jews, we had Africans, Xhosas, Zulus, Sothos, we had Indians, we had Coloureds, we had females. On the other side, they had all male, all Afrikaners. That is who the NP is and I can't see them changing. They may co-opt some symbolic token Coloureds, Indians or whites. . You know for 43 years that they have been in power, they started off as an all Afrikaner party, they then started opening up to non-Afrikaner whites. In 43 years of power, they have had four Cabinet ministers who are English, in 43 years of power. So they have not even been able to represent the English speaking SA. So what can the blacks expect from the NP?

POM. At your own conference there was some attention paid to the fact that the ANC was having trouble recruiting Indians and Coloureds; they were in danger of becoming an urban African party. Could you just talk about that for a moment?

AK. Yes. Let us look at it this way; the ANC has always been an African organisation as you know. I was not a member of the ANC until I was 26 years, because the ANC did not accept Indians, or whites or Coloureds into its membership. We had what we called the Congress Alliance, but we were never allowed to join the ANC. It was only in 1969 that they made a move away from that where they allowed non-Africans to join as members but not to occupy official positions. It was in 1985 at the Kabwe conference where they opened up altogether for the first time and non-Africans started occupying official positions. All I am saying is that it has been an African organisation, focusing on African grievances and so forth, because apartheid applied not uniformly. When the Africans were concerned with pass laws, the Indians, who did not suffer from pass laws, were engaged in the struggle in the group areas and so forth. So we had these separate organisations where we were focusing on immediate issues.

. Now we have been unbanned, within 15 months, it is not easy to transform everything into a non-racial organisation. So naturally the focus has still been on African issues. It is a legacy from the past, that the focus has still be on African issues, and we have not been able to react or reach out sufficiently, and we are the first to admit that.

. Coupled with that, as I have previously mentioned, in the 30 years of illegality, the media has gone all out to demonise the ANC. Even now, Pik Botha the other day spoke of the ANC and necklacing. But he has never said that not one single member of the ANC has ever been found guilty of necklacing. He never mentions that the ANC condemns necklacing. But what I am saying is that these perceptions exist. So it has made it difficult to reach out to the non-African groups. We have that problem, the perception of violence, that the ANC is a violent organisation. Among Indians in the Transvaal, for instance, who are basically a middle class community, there is also the anxiety about nationalisation. We have to make it clear to them even if and when the ANC implements this nationalisation policy, not one Indian, not one African or Coloured and not even the majority of whites are not going be affected. It is the monopolists that will be affected. But we have to reach out to them.

. Then there has been the question of religion and the alliance with the Communist Party (SACP). I would not say it has been a problem, but it has been raised among whites, even among Indians, because of religion they have raised this question. So it is not easy in such a short space of time to reach out explain or first of all to de-educate the people to what they have learnt over the years and to put forward our policies.

POM. Another criticism that was levelled at the ANC up to this conference at least, was that it was perceived as being primarily a Xhosa organisation and critiques would point to the composition of the NEC, and say that there is just one Zulu in the NEC and that members of the Xhosa tribe occupy the majority of the positions. What is the composition of the new NEC?

AK. We have been aware of this, and unfortunately it is a thing that could not be ignored. But after the new elections, the three top people are still Xhosas; the President is Xhosa, the Deputy President is Xhosa, the National Chairman is a Xhosa. So in the thinking of ANC members it has not been an issue. The people, the delegates elected people who they thought are fit for that position.

POM. I mean it is not a problem in the eyes of members of the ANC, but it is pointed to by either opponents of the ANC or people who would be in opposition to the ANC or even sometimes impartial commentators who would say, most of the top positions are occupied by members of the Xhosa tribe, so it is that it has its orientation towards that.

AK. As I say, we are aware of it, but at the same time, we are not going to be guided by these considerations. We cannot ignore them. Just yesterday somebody brought to my attention something I had never thought of. Somebody from Pietermaritzburg I was talking to on the phone; he said, "Look, you Indians only constitute, I think, 3% of the population, yet on the NEC of 50, you have 8% or 10%". I am not sure what he said, but the percentage is higher than your population. I never thought of that. But that could be a reply of our delegates to such criticisms.

AK. The ANC delegates elected into the leadership people who they thought were best suited to lead the ANC at this stage, and they did not allow themselves to be guided by Xhosa, Zulu, Indian or white considerations. They elected the people that they thought the best fit. But as I have emphasised, we cannot ignore this, but at the same time, we are not going to go out of our way to make special representation for it. It is something that we have to educate our people about.

POM. Again as one looks at the last year, the perceptions from abroad are that the ANC's performance was a very uneven one. That it seems to follow a zigzag course; the conditions for the return of exiles and the release of political prisoners by the 30th of April, and that deadline going by and nothing happening; laid down a first deadline for the removal of Vlok and Malan from the government, that one going by and nothing happening. There was the perception that the government was occupying the high ground, that the government was managing to hold the initiative. Why do you think this state of affairs existed?

AK. I would be the first one to admit that, for want of a better word, things have been a bit messy. But there are reasons for that. We cannot justify it, but we found ourselves unbanned, and suddenly thrust into a whole series of problems. We were trying to put something right and suddenly you have assassinations here, massacres there, so that we have always been diverted and we have not been able to set up coherent structures and so forth, even after 1½ years of legality we still face those problems and that partially accounts for this, our inability to meet regularly, consider things properly because of various diversions that come unexpectedly. I have explained it that way, but hopefully there again in this situation we will be able to win more of a constituent.

POM. If you had to look at the right, the Conservative Party and the AWB, do you think that the Conservative Party has peaked and if it continues to stay out of the process that it would become irrelevant? Do you think the right wing is still a potent and powerful threat?

AK. I would not ignore the danger of the right wing. But there again I would put the blame on the door of the de Klerk regime. As long as they think in terms of 5 million whites when talking about SA, the right wing is going to pose a major threat. When de Klerk and company start thinking of 30 million South Africans, or 35 million, or whatever it is, the right wing will be minimised; I am not saying that their danger will be removed, but their importance will be minimised. They can still be a nuisance value and they can be dangerous, but I do not think that they can change the course.

POM. What I am getting at I suppose is that when this process began first, a lot of fears were articulated that there would be a severe right wing backlash, which has not materialised. So, to that extent it has been less of threat. I know in the US when they tried to integrate education, schools, for example in Boston in the mid 1970s there was, for a period of time, a situation of almost war which you have not seen here yet, perhaps because the integration of schools has not yet been achieved and you are not at that level. Have you been personally surprised by the lack of severe right wing backlash?

AK. I am not surprised by it. It always have the view that when de Klerk and Co. entered this process, they are shrewd politicians and no politician would just hand over power, I always believe that they must have considered everything, the right wing included, before they entered into this process. They did not go into this blindly, and having gone into it, I was persuaded that the right wing backlash would not be as strong as they themselves try to make it out to be.

POM. Do you think that the government used the threat of a right wing backlash as a way of saying, we have got to go slowly because if we don't there will be chaos?

AK. No doubt they do use that. But on the other hand they have to also reckon with our constituency. That is if they do not go fast enough they are going to face a worse situation in this country in the years to come.

POM. Just a couple of last questions and thank you for all your time. A year ago, in late July, before the violence started, a lot of importance was attached to the relationship between Mr. Mandela and Mr. de Klerk. [and how they were ... they had achieved the process themselves.] Do you think now that is really not the case any more? That is has become more of two different movements locking horns in a process that will just continue?

AK. I would say that these were two individuals that were representing organisations, as important as they are in their respective organisations, they were just two individuals, no doubt holding very important positions in the political field. But they do represent two organisations, and I still think they are the two vital players, that is the two organisations. They may be represented by Mandela and de Klerk or Sisulu or Mbeki, but it is the organisation that is important.

POM. Coming up to the suspension of the armed struggle: If the conditions that exist today existed a year ago, would the armed struggle have been called off?

AK. It is difficult to say now, it is very difficult to say. I have not given it any thought at all. But my immediate reaction would be they would have thought twice before suspending the armed struggle.

POM. The two last things are: 1. One notices that within the last year, the initial emphasis that the ANC had put on nationalisation has dwindled to the point of where the word is rarely used today. What accounts for this?

AK. You know, in the middle of last year, two months or just a little bit more after Mr. Mandela's release, when he spoke to the white businessmen at the Carlton, there were about 400 of them, he had said what we say today; we are still committed to the Freedom Charter, which for whites means nationalisation. We said to them that this very regime and previous white regimes had used nationalisation to get rid of poor problems, to uplift the quality of life of the whites. We would use nationalisation for the same purpose, to uplift the quality of life. If you have got an alternative, suggest it to us, we are prepared to consider it. We do not regard nationalisation as our only course. But suggest an alternative to us. They did not come up with one. Up till now, they have not come up with one. So we are still committed to the Freedom Charter, some of us may have used the term 'state intervention' a bit, but there has been no departure from our policy of nationalisation. But what we still say is if the economists or business people are prepared to come out with something, we will consider it, but we cannot allow or accept a situation where there is this imbalance perpetuated in the new SA, we just cannot do that.

POM. Where would the resources come from? I mean, these imbalances are so great that huge amounts of resources would be required to redress them. Where would those resources come from?

AK. Those are matters unfortunately I am not really qualified to speak on, we have the economics people who are formulating policies on that question. But what I must say is that we are not for a moment saying that we must take away from the whites and give to the have-nots. On the other hand, the work that is being done is showing that there are ways out, it won't solve the problem. Naturally we will have to have massive investment from abroad and as you know, when Mr. Mandela went to America last year, we already had meetings with very big business to prepare for the new SA, because we want that investment. We know that as things are it won't work.

POM. Do you think that foreign investment will play a key role in providing the resources to restructuring the economy?

AK. Again, I cannot speak as an economist, but I believe that they will play a very, very important role in the new economy of SA.

POM. Lastly. Do you think the process is now irreversible?

AK. The process of change is irreversible, but we cannot say that the move away from apartheid is irreversible. We have not reached that stage yet. Apartheid is still very much there, very, very much there, only the laws are gone.

POM. When will you regard the era of apartheid being over?

AK. I think when we have reached the stage of a Constituent Assembly we will be able to confidently say apartheid is over, the era of apartheid is gone. It does not mean that of course things will change overnight but at least we will be in a position where the majority of the people of this country will have a say in deciding their own future, as against the present period where the whites are deciding every forum and they are controlling the resources of the country, they are controlling the politics of the country. And as long as this situation is perpetuated, we cannot see a righting of the wrong.

POM. The very last question. Is the process at this point this year further advanced than you might have thought 15 months ago, less further advanced, or just about where you would have anticipated?

AK. I think it has received a very severe set-back, a very severe set-back. Already it was meeting the bumps when they did not carry out their commitment to release political prisoners and the return of exiles. They hedged quite a lot, they told lies, even their President and their ministers contradicted him.

POM. I will leave it at that. Thank you very much for the time.

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.