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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

01 Aug 1991: Buchner, Jac

Click here for more information on the Interviewee

Click here for Overview of the year

POM. We're talking with General Buchner on the 1st August 1991. First, General, just if you could perhaps give us an overview, how has the character of the violence changed, if it has changed, in KwaZulu and Natal in the course of the last year and is there any indication now that one faction had gained more or less the upper hand over the other?

JB. First of all I think just to look at the character of the violence, I feel that last year, I can't remember this, but I feel that I spoke, that is at the beginning we had large groups opposing each other, going around the sites and causing mayhem. This has definitely changed. We do not have large groups gathering together. The violence in my opinion in that case is that it is more of a vendetta type of violence, people being attacked at night, homes being attacked, isolated incidents and not on a grand scale. I'm speaking now mostly of the areas where there is violence in Natal, but not necessarily within KwaZulu-Zulu because the area patrolled and policed by KwaZulu-Zulu has been stable and has been violence free or unrest free since October last year for which we are very thankful. But we have burning points in Natal at the moment which I would say would be the Port Shepstone area and the Richmond area and since last week around Mooi River, Brandfort there have been quite a few incidents. But it is not the violence of the past, it is definitely pre-meditated violence, pre-meditated attacks on certain individuals within the community.

POM. So would you say this is more of a vendetta type of violence than what you characterised last year as some of the violence as been an assassination type of violence for people who were targeted for assassination?

JB. That's right, this could add on to it because it's also a form of intimidation and it's also a form of establishing group authority in certain areas, shall I say political authority in certain areas.

POM. Is that, trying to establish that kind of political authority still going on?

JB. It is still definitely going on, yes.

POM. Is it going on as ferociously as it was or is either Inkatha or what would be called the UDF/ANC/COSATU alliance gaining the upper hand?

JB. I don't think anybody's really gaining the upper hand but it is definitely still this trying to dominate certain areas because if I look at the Richmond area, now this is policed by the South African Police and we are not really involved except that there are Zulus living there, but in that area a large group of ANCs have left the area and been resettled in the Pietermaritzburg area. They have now been moving back into the Richmond area and now the fighting has started all over again. There are attacks on both sides, on Inkatha people, on the Chief of the area. There have been quite a few hand grenade attacks and rifle fire and things like that and at the same time there have been attacks on some of these ANC houses too. So I think it is trying, it hasn't escalated if I look at Natal in a whole, the violence has decreased a little, but not in these isolated areas as I said in Richmond and Port Shepstone and now in Mooi River.

POM. So overall would you say it is less of a problem than it was last year even though it remains a very significant problem? I'm just trying to get at the sense of degree.

JB. No, I think it is still a problem and why I say this is because in the past when large groups were going round at night it was quite easy to stop this and although we were accused of partisanship and things like that we still able to stop a lot of the violence but when it came down to this sort of thing where, and this is pre-meditated attacks on certain individuals within certain communities, the police are not powerless to stop this but it's more difficult. So our task hasn't become any easier and it is very worrying because of a small police force we cannot stop the violence.

POM. When traditional weapons were banned in areas of unrest did this cause any kind of backlash within the Zulu community?

JB. No there was no backlash. Then again I have no strong feelings about traditional weapons because it's very seldom that a traditional weapon is used in the violence that we are experiencing here. Most of the people are shot and killed, shots are fired at night, hand grenades are thrown and then in certain cases, a few odd exceptions, people are hacked to death and burnt.

POM. Why do you think the ANC put such a premium on demanding the banning of weapons?

JB. Well personally I think it will allow them free access to the area. There will be no retaliation because hardly any of the black people around here have weapons and the only weapons they do have are the traditional, cultural weapons as they are called: the knob stick and sharpened spear. If you ban that and you take that away you will leave the people defenceless and it will be easier to overrun an area and take, may I say, political control of the areas.

POM. Last year you outlined an intriguing kind of political scenario. You took the 30 million people in the country and you talked about the 10 million who belong to the independent homelands and then the number of whites, Coloureds, Indians and threw in that if the Zulus supported that coalition it would amount to about 13 of the 20 million people left in South Africa and, do you still think that way especially in light of the fact that a number of the independent states and the homelands, the non-independent homeland states, seem to be lining up behind the ANC or at least their leaders do?

JB. No, I still see it that way and actually I extrapolate this thing still a bit further because we are heading to a future of alliance politics and there is no such thing as one particular party ruling in South Africa in the future. I don't know if I said that last year, but there is no one party or one racial group that is going to lead. We are going to have alliance politics and it will be a sort of a union of 4 or 5 or possibly more parties. And looking at what I said last year about so many people in the self-governing states and so many people from the National Party and possibly also from the Democratic Party and other parties and also from Inkatha joining hands, they could form the majority. I think it's going to be a bit wider than I actually saw the thing because if you look at what is going to happen within the very near future when we go to the polls, for argument's sake let's say we will have 10 000 polling booths and 10 000 constituencies, you're going to have I would say between 30 and 40 different parties and independents standing. Not all in one area but throughout the country because I again do not see the National Party contesting every seat. I do not see the Democratic Party contesting seats or the IFP. I mean it will be pretty senseless for the IFP to go and contest areas of, let's say, the far Northern Transvaal at Messina. They wouldn't gain anything there and that's why I say so far it's alliance politics because certain of the parties will have to get together and say 'We will not oppose each other at the polls'. So if the National Party is strong in Messina then the IFP does not stand there and certain other parties that will be in the alliance will not stand there, so there will be a straight fight between, say for argument's sake, the ANC and the IFP at Ulundi. Over here it will be a straight fight, ANC/IFP. At Eshowe there might be a straight fight between the IFP and the Democratic Party and so on. That's why I feel that the people who are going to go into an alliance will have to come to some sort of agreement. I don't know if I'm making myself very clear.

POM. Yes. That makes you absolutely convinced that one party won't have mass support?

JB. There is no one party with a mass support. The ANC have declared, I would say last November, that they had since 1st February last year, since they have been operating in South Africa, they had recruited 155000 members, or 155000 members had joined. Then in February this year they came and they said they are now at 880000, and then just before the National Conference ...

POM. OK, yes you were telling me about the ANC's statistics coming from 150000 to 880000 in less than a year.

JB. Now on 1 February this year a nation-wide march was organised by the African National Congress and I got all the figures from all over the country from where they had marched and the total number of people that had marched in South Africa was 137000, to me it was a clear indication that their figure of 155000 last November was fairly accurate. But then to say that from February until June they suddenly escalated to 880000, I just cannot believe those figures and as I said previously, that they've already been trying in certain areas, and trying very hard where we thought they would really have a good support but it's just not being proved. I personally do not believe that they've got 888000.

. Now opposed to that I do not know how many members the National Party has or the Democratic Party has, I haven't looked at the figures, but I know that the IFP claims to have 1,8 million paid up members, now whether they're all supporters or not I wouldn't know but they say that according to their books they can prove that they've got 1,8 million. Now if you add all these figures together there is no one single party that can elicit so many votes that they will be the absolute majority. The ANC's already had problems, you know what happened when I spoke about the UDF, that was the internal wing of the ANC, with it's own leadership. When the ANC came in these leaders were asked to stand down and the ANC resumed their role as representing the masses of South Africa, and a lot of people within the ranks of the UDF were unhappy, they went to Bloemfontein and they have now formed their own organisation.

POM. Oh they have? Called?

JB. Oh yes. I'm not so sure but they claim at this stage to have 10000 members. It's another democratic movement, but mostly ex-members of the UDF. Then again you must also understand that the liaison between the South African Communist Party and the ANC is causing quite a bit of problems for the ANC because they can't really explain this. Why do they continue, now that the Communist Party is a legal organisation why is it still necessary to have dual ...?

POM. Is this a problem among the African population?

JB. Very definitely yes.

POM. Why do you think that is?

JB. A large number of the black population are anti-Communist. Although some of them are socialist inclined they do not readily accept Communism.

POM. For any particular religious reason?

JB. No, it's just - I don't know for what reason. They are, of course, very religious, most of the people of South Africa are very religious and that could be one of the reasons. But that was originally the reason why the Pan Africanist Congress was formed, the influence of the Communists within the African National Congress that even founder members of the African National Congress broke away because of the influence of the Communist, the influx of whites and the influx of Indians into the ANC, so they split.

POM. I want to ask you, it's a broad question but I've been asking it of everyone because I want to see what is the diversity of opinion on it and that is regarding the nature of the problem in South Africa. It seems to me that when the negotiators get around the table that many of them might in fact be talking about their perception of the problem they're supposed to negotiate being entirely different, yet on the other hand there are those who would say that the problem is really one in which the white minority has dominated the black majority and the object of the negotiations is to redress that balance. And then you have those that say it's really between two nationalisms, black nationalism and broadly white nationalism and these two must find a way of working together. And then you have those who say, well it's broader than that, that within the racial groups you also have ethnic groups and ethnic groups in Africa as a whole have proved to be a particular kind of a problem, so that one must look for a set of arrangements that can nullify these ethnic differences as well as bring about equality between the races. You, having been an astute observer of life in South Africa and with your experience what do you see as the central problem that the negotiators will sit down to negotiate a settlement to?

JB. First of all let us just say that I'm a follower of the last train of thought, that we, I say we, that we in South Africa must try and satisfy all the different ethnic groups and make sure that the ethnic groups do not lose their identity. I know a lot is said about preservation of identities of minorities but the negotiators' first problem is to see that each person at the table and each person in South Africa has got the same or equal access to everything in South Africa. By that I mean access to the job market, access to accommodation, access to everything. In other words there should be no differentiation and that is the crux of the matter. I just want to add on about the negotiators and the negotiating table, it is very obvious that everybody in South Africa is in gear, is going forward, is going to the negotiating table to sit down, everybody's accepted except the African National Congress. They're the only stumbling block and on the one hand I cannot blame them because they haven't yet developed their mass support at ground level, they haven't actually really got a mandate to sit around the negotiating table in the strict sense of the word. I mean Dr. Buthelezi has proof of how many people he has, he's been operating legally, the National Party has, the Democratic Party has, even the independent states, Ciskei, Transkei and the self-governing states. They all had some sort of elections, they've had some sort of selection of their members, but the ANC has not. Now in June they come along and they have a National Convention where their people have now been selected, but we still don't know how many people selected them. They haven't got voters' rolls and stuff like that that said 'We the following people of the Pretoria district have elected this person to be the spokesman for the ANC' and the ANC is still not a political party. So I know the media throughout the years has accepted the ANC as a spokesperson, spokes-organisation for the masses of South Africa.

POM. So would you see the ANC as trying to throw obstacles in the way of the negotiating process.

JB. Oh definitely.

POM. It's in their interest to do so?

JB. It is in their interest to do so. Because if they go to the negotiating table tomorrow morning and we sit down and we have a Bill of Rights, which is nearly completed, we have a Bill of Rights and it is then announced that we will go to the polls say in June next year, the ANC is not ready yet. It needs a longer period of time for that. And that is still there, and it is very definitely so because it seemed at one stage as if the government was speaking to the ANC every day, but they were speaking about getting it to the negotiating table.

POM. Two things arising out of that; one is that the ANC for a year now since last August when the violence first started in the Transvaal, have insisted that the government have a hand in the violence, that the government have a double agenda, in the one hand the olive branch and the other hand to undermine the ANC. And then you had these revelations which loosely one can call 'Inkathagate'. One, do you think that the ANC has, is there any credibility to their assertion of government intrusion and two, that the whole thing of Inkathagate lends, appears to substantiate these allegations?

JB. OK. Just on that Inkathagate ...

POM. Actually the two bits together, first of all we've had these accusations they've made more insistently as the year has gone by of the double agenda by the government and then you have these revelations of government funding going to Inkatha and do you think putting the two together lends more substance to the allegations of what impact it will have on the political process, that's the first question?

JB. OK, well that's really a bit of a political question about what impact it will have on the political process and I'm just speaking from my own point of view. I'm standing on the side just looking in. First of all as far as government involvement in the violence is concerned, I think you'll have to delve very deeply to find an answer to that because I cannot see a government, especially not the South African government, being involved in that type of violence. Because to get people to commit that type of violence you leave yourself wide open to other forms of extortion. Some of the incidents that happened on the trains where people were thrown off and were killed, it was rumoured that 20 to 30 to 40 people at a time were involved in this sort of thing and I think on the one morning in Soweto on the trains they said a group of about 150 moved on to the trains and were doing this. Now for the government to organise such large numbers of people it's impossible because somebody's bound to turn round and say 'Look we were ordered by the government to do the following'. If one person does it, yes. If there's an assassination attempt by one person on somebody else ...

POM. So in a way you're saying that as a professional policeman you would never mount an operation where you left yourself so open to being blackmailed or extortion?

JB. No way, never.

POM. Or just somebody talking their head off in a shebeen one night or something like that?

JB. No. And these people are definitely shebeen types. So I cannot for one minute support that thing that the government had any hand in that. The Inkathagate thing, I wasn't aware of the funding of the march and so on and I know this Major Botha quite well. I wasn't aware of that. I think it has damaged the credibility. I think it has damaged, it has definitely damaged it.

POM. Damaged the credibility of?

JB. It could have damaged the credibility of the government, also of Inkatha itself, of accepting it. I know the Chief Minister very well, or at least I think I know him very well. He, to me, in my mind, he's an honourable gentleman, he's a true Christian, he's a true believer and this is one of the things that I've always admired in him is his Christianity, and if he says 'Before God I swear', he's not a man that swears like that, then I must accept what he says.

POM. In fact here are those very same words from entirely different source and made with reference to those remarks.

JB. Well you know I've been in his office and I've come into his presence without him really expecting me to walk through the doors because I have access, and I find him sitting and he does this, his Bible and stuff like that. I've never heard him before say 'I swear to God' and a man that now sits there and says, 'I swear to God I didn't know' I must accept it unreservedly and I must try and explain this to other people too. I know his Personal Assistant or his previous Personal Assistant, Zakela Khumalo. He's also an honourable man and if he says he did this and he didn't do it with the knowledge of the Chief Minister, that's fine. You've all seen Major Botha's statement so I saw that the whole thing was damaging but I say that the Chief Minister did not know about it.

POM. I remember you saying last year that the violence in the Transvaal really didn't have much of an impact purely because people are far away from it and they're concerned with the things around them in their daily lives. Do you think kind of the same framework, what was the reaction here among local people to the revelations of government funding of marches and things?

JB. Well I think that the normal man in the street, there wasn't much reaction. There was hardly any reaction. I think the only reaction was here within the Cabinet and within the political atmosphere here. There was some reaction and all the people were talking about it. But to the man in the street I'm sure they're not really concerned about this.

POM. You said last year that the ANC were out to break the power of Dr Buthelezi and the way to do that was through Inkatha, the only way they could get at him.

JB. That is something that did come across and I would say so and that was historical, I said 1984, 1985, 1986 you know.

POM. During that period.

JB. That's how it started off but it's not like that any more.

POM. Looking at that violence on the Reef which has lasted for a year and The Economist in London, which is a very well respected periodical in Europe and the States, said that the violence between Xhosa and Zulus was really no different in nature than the violence between Serbs and Croatians. Do you think that would be an accurate analogy?

JB. I'm not so au fait with the violence between the Serbs and the Croatians but I think if you tell me that the violence between the Serbs and Croatians is historical ...

POM. Historical and deep-rooted.

JB. Ethnic. Well then this is exactly what this is. It is historical, it is ethnic and it's deep-rooted. Just to give you an example; my neighbour is married to a Xhosa woman. Now she doesn't go around telling everybody that she's Xhosa because that could cause problems especially when tempers are heated. But in the normal day to day there's no problem at all, they live side by side for years and years and suddenly you have the Transvaal violence and then it's like a flash flood and runs right through. People who have been sitting side by side suddenly find themselves in different enemy camps.

POM. What historically are the reasons for this rivalry, hostility between Xhosas and Zulus?

JB. I do not know. I'm just going to tell you what I think, you know they've always been living side by side both in the Transkei and in Natal here and especially under King Shaka and Dingaan and those people, Cetawayo, there have been many forays into certain areas and constant attacks, stealing of the women and stealing their cattle and getting the stuff back. So I think if you really go and study the history of the Xhosa and the Zulu it can go back to the 1600s, 1700s and so on.

POM. Some people have said and I think Mr de Klerk has said it in a different form, that one in a way can compare the collapse of totalitarian communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union with the erosion of apartheid, that with the collapse of communism long suppressed ethnic rivalries and nationalisms began to rise to the fore and that apartheid was the one factor that made for solidarity among our blacks and now apartheid is being lifted the ethnic differences between different black and African groups are coming more to the fore.

JB. No, I don't go with that and there maybe the ANC is right to a certain extent because whenever we speak of the ethnic differences and so on the ANC say they don't support ethnicity and there is no more ethnicity in South Africa. Now that's a bit too easy.

POM. You were talking about the, to a certain extent on ?

JB. The ethnicity.

POM. The ANC may be correct?

JB. But to a very limited degree. The thing is that we are westernising very slowly and surely in South Africa. Ethnicity is still important to all the people of South Africa but it is not so prominent as it was many years ago. I mean we've got the people, the urbanisation of the rural populations especially around Soweto and so on. There are people there now, second and third generation that have been born and bred there that have never been to rural areas, but have been to rural areas but it doesn't affect them, also through intermarriage. So even though apartheid, which was a very strong combining factor, to bind black people together as one opposing force to the white supremacy, with the lifting of apartheid I think enough people in South Africa have accepted that we can live side by side and we can respect each other's customs and they are not necessarily enemies although he hasn't got the same customs.

POM. And yet, this might be a misrepresentation on my part of one of the things that you suggested last year that what the ANC wanted to do was undermine the Zulu nation because you said, I quote you "The person who controls the Zulu controls the destiny of South Africa."

JB. Oh yes. I still stand by that and the Zulu is still very strong ethnically or culturally, but it's not the be-all and end-all of the nation, it is so strong in itself that to undermine it, it's true what I said, that to undermine it the first place you do undermine it is by attacking its cultural organisation which is Inkatha and that is what the ANC was doing at the time.

POM. Again, looking at Africa as a whole if you go back to 1967 with one exception there hasn't been a single incident of power passing from one elected government to another elected government either the parties in power became one party states or there were so belonging to one group that they were elected again and again. There were in fact no opposition politics and no alternative government. What do you think makes South Africa different?

JB. First of all that we've got such a diverse population group. Again we come back to word 'ethnicity' in that we've got the 14 tribes or whatever and there is no ways that a one party state will be successful in South Africa. If you have a one party state I think immediately you will create about 5 or 6 terrorist organisations or subversive organisations that are going to react against it. It's not only from the whites or Caucasians, it will be from diverse groups.

POM. Do you think, just your personal observation, that there is a far greater degree of far less trust this year among the protagonists in this conflict than there was a year ago?

JB. Less trust, yes.

POM. A year ago at the time of the Pretoria Minute there was a degree of trust between the ANC and the government that few would suggest, I think, is there today, that the ANC have become in their public pronouncements more anti-Inkatha, not wanting them to be part of the Patriotic Front, none of them having a climate which has fostered the development of trust.

JB. A bit of a long way still to develop a climate of complete trust or even enough trust, but I don't agree that there was trust between the ANC and the government last year.

POM. Trust?

JB. Yes, trust of convenience or convenience of trust, yes. No I think what has been eroded and once again the ANC with its public statements clearly stated, Mandela has said again in Mexico and a few other places now that he entirely rejects FW's statement on Inkathagate although it doesn't close the door to negotiations, but it suits him very well, fine for him because it will extend the actual arrival at the negotiating table. It suits him fine. Again it goes about building up a mass base in South Africa in the meantime. The trust has been, I think, it's decreased.

POM. This time last year we all talked about the necessity of a meeting between Mr. Mandela and Dr. Buthelezi, that perhaps if they jointly appeared for peace that it would have an impact and they met in January and they made a joint appeal and it hasn't had much of an impact. Why do you think that was so?

JB. Well it shows you that the government, we set off right from the start, it said first of all it wasn't, shall I say, a leadership inspired unrest situation because time and time again Dr. Buthelezi has said he has not urged his people to commit acts of violence or to cause unrest. And at the same time I think Dr. Mandela has also said that he was not responsible and he has not urged his people to commit acts of violence or cause unrest and that it was at a lower echelon. And we did feel that if they got together that all people would see them standing together and it would then stop the violence. But once they were together it still didn't change it because the violence that had been committed had so many effects on the people themselves because, as I said, the nature of the violence has changed, the nature of the attacks have changed. It's more vendettas. It is in retaliation for things that have happened.

POM. Is that true outside of Natal?

JB. If I say yes then I'm speaking without any inside knowledge. I have tried to follow what was happening on the Reef but people were shocked and stunned and dumbfounded because of the violence that had happened. They didn't know, they said they were innocent people travelling on trains and stuff like this and only the fact that they were attacked because they were either Zulu or they were Xhosa. I don't really know if that effect is still, if that has had any effect on the violence. I would say, yes.

POM. The case of Winnie Mandela, did that have an eroding effect on the influence of the ANC?

JB. Well I would say that it will have an influence on their recruiting campaign because certain people feel that while she's there she's an impediment, but it can't be noticeable because as many people will be against her so many people will be for her notwithstanding the consequences.

. Where were we now? I'm sorry I'm trying to keep track now.

POM. With the ANC.

JB. Winnie Mandela. Winnie Mandela has always been a very outspoken person and she's been also a very publicity conscious person and we all thought that when Dr. Mandela came out of prison sparks would fly because she was so used to being in the forefront publicity-wise, and she had to take a second tier and then again she also lost her position to Gertrude Shope or whoever, in the Women's League. And then there were complaints about her involvement in the community projects or she got the position of Welfare or something like that, Social Welfare within the ANC and there were people that complained about her role there and her influence there. So she's not a very well-liked person in many places but then the ANC seem to take her. I really don't know how things are going to be.

POM. I know one of the things that came across abroad was that there was a suggestion that there were elements within the ANC that had taken the two witnesses out of the country. Is that a popular belief?

JB. Well it's not only a popular belief. I mean it was stated from Zambia by President Kaunda, among others, that the two people are in Zambia and they are with the ANC there. So then I believe that the ANC took them out and not anybody else.

POM. Last year you talked about Mandela coming out of prison and reading a statement that was handed to him.

JB. That's right.

POM. And the microphone?

JB. Cyril Ramaphosa was actually the man holding the microphone.

POM. How would you, first of all, assess the performance by Mandela over the last year and how do you assess the performance of the ANC.

JB. First of all Dr. Mandela is first, let's say his first year, let's take the first 10 months: I was very disappointed because he has been internationally known and he's been not only idolised but publicised, a lot of things have been done to this man. And everybody, I think I said this last year, expected the Messiah was coming and it fell a bit flat and to me the whole thing was a bit flat and it was a bit flat right up until the end of last year. His statements were prepared. In most cases he was reading. It was very seldom that he made an ad lib statement. Maybe he tries to answer a question but the rest of it was all prepared, I don't know by whom, but the statements were all prepared. But from the beginning of this year he started coming into his own, speaking off the cuff and actually speaking more eloquently than he did before so I think he's increasing in stature as a person himself and his health seems to be improving a bit too.

POM. Do you see him improving in stature as the leader?

JB. Well I'd say as a person and he is the leader of the ANC, there's no doubt about that. They have accepted him as the leader so as a leader of the ANC, yes. He's improving as a leader.

POM. This time last year too there was a lot of speculation about the right wing, about the Conservative Party that perhaps in the election it could gain more seats than the government and then about the militant right and the threat that it could pose. Yet they seem somehow to have just kind of, I wouldn't say withered, but to have become less of a factor, less of a player.

JB. Oh very definitely. I do not think that the right wing stands much chance of ousting the National Party and I'm not speaking now as a politician, please I don't like politics most of the time. But you see, let us take the politics of the left and the revolution on the left: these young chappies that went up to Angola and those places to be trained, to be trained to come back to overthrow the government and so on, he had nothing to lose. He had no income in most cases, he had no fixed abode, he had nothing that belonged to him. I mean I did a very in-depth study about them, well an in-depth study of at least 250 terrorists of what they owned, of what their social upbringing was, what they had and what they had at their disposal and so on. They had nothing to lose. He battled to get a job here, if he did have one at all. He battled to get food, he battled to get everything and he had no prospects, so it's easy to move to another country. He's still getting fed, he's seeing the world at the organisation's expense. He comes back. If he gets caught, if he gets incarcerated, prison to a black man in South Africa, the Boers had apartheid laws when they were detained for petty offences in prisons with hardened criminals, didn't mean anything to them. Now you take a Caucasian, and I won't say 90% but most of them have jobs, they've got fixed property, not to take a man like that to ask him to go and commit sabotage and things like that, he's got everything to lose. And the stigma of prison is bad. So he will speak for a day or two and support all these rightist ideas and so on but when it comes to actual action he will withdraw because he's got too much to lose. That's on the extreme right now. Now as far as the politics of the CP. and a few other right wing organisations are concerned, I think it's negated by the fact that the National Party could form an alliance with other groups such as Inkatha and so on and immediately counter any threat from outside.

POM. What about the armed struggle? Do you believe that the armed struggle is in fact fully suspended?

JB. Oh no. It never will, not in the near future either will it be suspended. The ANC is still recruiting people and sending them out of the country for training and they admit that they are still doing that. Chris Hani is quite proud of the fact and a short while ago he made another statement, 'We are still recruiting, we're still sending them out and we will not stop until this government is out.'

POM. Do you think that the return to the armed struggle is in any manner a viable option that the ANC has or do they simply not have the capacity to mount a serious threat to the government in that way?

JB. They've never yet had the capacity because even now, and I want to come back to the people that are coming back into the country now, the ANC at no stage had more than about 4000 people under training at any one stage and first of all you must look at the supply of arms and there are entrance routes or the entry routes to South Africa that couldn't make it because they come from Angola and Tanzania. Now to get a trained man from there you've got to bring him in by train or by plane and that was just not on. The countries around them wouldn't allow it, all around South Africa. They couldn't come in by boat. They could come in singly or in groups of 2 or 3, illegally across the fences and that means the ANC had to trust them utterly and completely that they would go to the target areas and do what they were told. Most of these guys had been spending 2, 3 years in camps far from home with no money, no income, and now that they were given a thousand or two thousand rand and given a target idea they went home and visited their parents and their girlfriends and loved ones first and then eventually some of them got around to going to the target areas. With the exception of the true political types who were going in and did their job and went on and did 3, 4, 5, 6 jobs. But just to give you an example, about a week or two weeks ago, three weeks ago, about 250 of them came back, trained, militarily trained, the ANC's ignoring them. They meet them at the airport, we do identifications on them, they are returned to the homes of certain accommodation places and then the ANC says 'Well, report every month' and they give them an allowance of R40 or something like that to exist on, so they're in exactly the same position as they were up in Angola. These people are sick and tired and all they want to do is take their normal place in society, take their place in a normal society. So there's quite a bit of a backlash.

POM. A backlash now, disaffection developing?

JB. Oh yes.

POM. So do you think that when elements in the ANC talk about a renewal of the armed struggle that it's really political posturing, that the more pragmatic elements in the organisation know that the only way forward, bumpy as the road may be and few as the bridges may be, is through negotiations?

JB. Well they do accept that and most of them accept it, the people who think. But again in every society I think you get 5% or something like that that are radical either left or right or it doesn't matter which way, but they are radical. And as long as the ANC says we will send people for military training there will be takers to go. Every little cell say we're going to recruit 4 or 5 people. You know what young people are like, they'd love to go and see the Soviet Union and places like that. The only problem is of course that Angola and those places are dismantling their training facilities.

POM. If I were to ask you, can you tell me in a sentence or two what are the differences between what the ANC wants for South Africa or what Inkatha wants for South Africa and what the National Party wants for South Africa? What distinctions would you make?

JB. Right. That's very difficult to do that in one or two sentences.

POM. Take a paragraph or two.

JB. I think that the government realises it now, Inkatha accepts that, that they should try and make sure that each and every person in South Africa has a right to everything, as I said just now. They should ensure that the government is by the people for the people, if I may use that old phrase, that everybody has access to who should govern this country and also that it should be governed to the best of the people's ability of South Africa. As far as the ANC is concerned I see that the ANC would like to govern South Africa, the ANC would like to govern South Africa as an organisation and in this organisation, political organisation, they will have all groups represented within the ANC. Even at the moment certain groups are more representative than others, some are more equal than others. The Xhosa influence is very strong.

. Another thing is that the Communist Party is strong and remains strong within the ANC and, if I can just cut out a little piece out of that last paragraph to just come on our side, Bartholomew Hlopane who was my mentor, I would call, as far as the Communist Party was concerned, he grew up in the Communist Party, he was a member of the Central Committee, well he was a very senior member at one stage and he is still, at least in the Transvaal area, and he said to me their instructions were very clear from the top that you only need one communist in every organisation and that was their goal or their aim was every organisation in the Johannesburg area they had to get a communist onto the committee because then they could influence all the organisations in Johannesburg. And he says you only need one to really make use of this organisation.

PAT. How do you spell it?

JB. H L O P A N E, Bartholomew. He said he only needed one. Now here we have, I'm not going to start counting Communist heads within the ANC, but self-confessed ANC members in the hierarchy, there are not only one or two so they can have an influence, a dominating influence on the history of South Africa should the ANC come to power.

POM. Do you still believe that what they are ultimately after is the establishment of a one party state?

JB. I would say that the ANC would not allow, would brook no opposition whatsoever in South Africa. It wouldn't. Whereas an alliance government, I would say, you would have opposition and you would have opposition parties.

POM. This last question is really a mood question. When we talked to you this time last year you had a certain set of expectations and hopes.

JB. I was very excited and very optimistic.

POM. You were optimistic. A year has gone by, are you less optimistic?

JB. No I'm not less optimistic. I'm still very optimistic and I'm still very excited. The only thing is I think it's going a bit too slow. We speak that apartheid is dead. Apartheid law is dead, apartheid in the minds of people is still there in many people black or white. You can't get rid of that. That we will do through association, through living together for the next 30 - 100 years. We'll still have the odd little incident on the way, I think, as America is still encountering. But I'm still very excited, but we say apartheid is dead, we say you can live anywhere you want to, you can buy anywhere you want to, but a person still has no say in the government. The black person still has no say in the government. And I would like to see that we go to the polling booths. Let's go to the polls and see and then people can come and say that we have mass support or we have so much support in South Africa and a free and open voting system. And then once we get the results of that, then I will see that we have progressed fantastically, but until we get there I'm impatient. But I'm still very optimistic.

POM. Thank you very much for your time.

PAT. I have a question. I want to take you back to the Inkatha issue. How do you look at it as a professional policeman having the police, the department agency or whatever used for political purposes?

JB. I don't agree with that on the one hand, but on the other hand what the chappie did, it's difficult to differentiate between politics and good policing I think on the other hand. But if you're working in an intelligence gathering system, which is what this chappie was doing and he saw problems there and he saw problems here and he saw problems there, all he did, he had his vision that this was happening and he would counter the effect of what would happen and he would counter the effect of that. He speaks to these people and I said, 'But we haven't got money even to organise this.' He says, 'All right I'll see if I can get you any.' He submits a report to his headquarters. Fortunately I think for the South African Police, from there it went to the politicians and the police were only used as a conduit to get the money through. But there was nothing wrong in this man's approach. He saw it, all what should have happened is his chief should have written there, 'Listen rather not get involved in things like this. Concentrate on your job. I will take this thing up with the Ministers concerned or through an agency concerned and then they can handle it.' And they should never have used the police. That was completely wrong. But because they saw him as being a very, well as a channel or a conduit to Inkatha because he had close relations with Zak Khumalo. But I'm not for it because just now he might have some other organisations that are also going to be affected somehow.

PAT. Sure. Even as you say the people not involved in the violence, because they're involved in politics, the perception ...

JB. I'm just surprised and I wouldn't like to say this on record, but I'm just surprised that the government didn't come out and say whether they had supported ANC financially and also the PAC, because there are certain projects that I've heard of where that happened. Yes. And it would have been ideal to say here are the receipts and this is what we have been doing.

PAT. It sounds ...

JB. Yes. Well, we know publicly what they've been getting from them and from others.

PAT. Sure. That's very public property.

JB. And it's debated every year. I am surprised.

POM. Thank you. And in the meantime the transcript will come and you will review them at your leisure. There's no rush.

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.