About this site

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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

14 Aug 1991: Jones, Colin

Click here for more information on the Interviewee

Click here for Overview of the year

POM. I would like to begin by looking at two things. One, it seems to be that the government, the National Party and the ANC as being the two major forces in this process, have fundamentally different perspectives of what the problem is that they are going to negotiate about. How do they establish common ground to get some meeting point else their two perspectives wouldn't be crossing.

CJ. Well I think that brings the question as to what those perspectives are and I think if you boil it down to the simplest and then its simplistic form, my perspective says that the Nationalist government's problem is that it sees the issue as being a white problem. In other words if you look at the whole Ventersdorp debacle they are saying that's the problem in South Africa as far as their ability towards negotiations, they have to bring whites along. They have to protect white interests in other words. Whether it be the far right or whether it be those who support the Nationalist Party, their concern is how much white people are able to take and at what pace they are able to take it. As far as the ANC is concerned it seems to me that the ANC is concerned about how everyone who has been a victim of apartheid over the last 40 years, how every disadvantaged and disempowered person, and that makes up the majority of black people in this country, for hundreds of years, how quickly those people's interests can be taken care of.

. Now I think that the question then becomes, where is the common ground in this because I still think that we are still operating on fairly racial analyses as to what is right and what is wrong and where do we go. And I don't know how we can avoid that and I don't think we should avoid it. Obviously it is politic to look at one's constituency and bring one's constituency along. But one has to also, it seems to me, make some strategic decisions about which is the more urgent, which is the one which is in fact the most necessary to deal with. Now I would say that the one which is really most urgent, which has brought us to this point anyway, is the black pressure. It's not because of white pressure to hold on or to change that has caused the situation around us. It has been black pressure constantly, internally and externally through ordinary people on the streets, through the ANC, through the PAC, through other political extra-parliamentary political agencies, through international pressure. And that issue has got to be addressed by the state. And when the state shows some commitment to actually acknowledging that black needs are an important ingredient here and stop coming across, even if that's not what they intended, they come across very strongly as being dictated to by white needs and white pressures and what whites can take and want and are not prepared to take and don't want. That's the message that's coming across in this country and that's what I think creates a sense of a lack of sympathy and a real lack of commitment on the part of the government to make change, to bring about change.

POM. But this is a considerable variant of what would have been the more popular opinion at this time last year?

CJ. How do you mean?

POM. That de Klerk was seen more as somebody who really wanted to bring about a lot of change very quickly.

CJ. By some people, yes, that was so. And I think that he did create a sense, I mean what he did at the time was to suggest that here was a leader of the Nationalist Party, here was a government that actually was prepared to listen to black interests. What's happening subsequently to that is that we've seen somebody who's really, rather than bending over blackwards, has been bending forward whitewards and still seems to be putting white agenda items first.

POM. In that context, when these people, when the negotiators sit down at the negotiating table and they hold a different range of views, some of them hold that the problem is one of racial domination of blacks by whites and that must redressed and imbalances reduced and eliminated. Others will see it in terms of two nationalisms, white nationalism and black nationalism. Others will say, yes indeed there has been racial domination but that within each racial group there are important ethnic differences to the point of where South Africa can be looked upon as a divided society in the classical way they look upon divided societies and therefore will need special government arrangements to avoid the possibility of conflict in the future. If you were to address the negotiators and say: Ladies and Gentlemen this is the problem we are here to discuss, negotiate a settlement to, how would you describe the problem to them?

CJ. Could I just add a little prefix to what I want to say here. I think that in terms of the analysis of the problem we need to acknowledge certain phenomena. For instance you talk about this country being a divided society as such. It is divided, but what are the bases of our divisions? And it becomes increasingly confusing sometimes when you recognise the fact that the Nationalist Party has managed to woo a certain portion of the so-called Coloured community, for instance, in the rural areas and even in some of our townships. So to put it on a purely racial divide footing, I'm not saying that's what you're saying.

POM. But even within the people I'm talking about I'm not talking about the purely racial divide, I'm talking more about the ethnic divides rather than the racial ones. Like, for example, there has been a book come out recently by an American scholar named Donald Horowitz who is supposed to be one of the world's authorities on groups in conflict and he's done a lot of work in Africa and Malaysia and Cyprus and Sri Lanka and all over the place, and he makes a case by drawing on studies done in South Africa and in other African countries that there are real ethnic divisions here, that it's not addressed in the formulation of governance structures, and they would in fact bubble to the top within years and could pose great problems.

CJ. There is very little difference it seems to me in that kind of analysis than from what the Nationalist government has been saying all along and what the present right wing is saying, that you will have to really acknowledge these differences and deal with them. But that denies the other reality that I'm making that the Nationalist Party has people of colour in the party now, card carrying members, that the ANC is made up of Xhosa, Zulu, white Afrikaner, white English-speaking, so-called Coloured and Indian people. It seems to me that to do that is really to over-simplify what is the reality. There are ethnic conflicts within this country. There's no denying that. But the question is whether those pre-date or whether they are the creation of a system, an ideology such as apartheid which recognises the fact that people are different, exacerbated by difference and turns into conflict, made a conflictual difference rather than, saying, yes we are different, nobody denies that, nobody denies that we have different ethnic backgrounds or cultural backgrounds and we come from different parts of the world and some of us have been here for a longer time than others. Nobody denies that.

. How do we use this tremendous hodgepodge, this great melting pot, how do we become a melting pot and how do we manage to tap the incredible resources of all of these groups? What is the common commitment here? And it seems to me that one thing that's coming through is that we're talking about a society which is non-racial, which doesn't mean that the people suddenly all become one hue, but it does mean that race as a category is not a pre-determinant about people's work and value and the kind of roles they are going to play in society, where they will live, what they may do, or anything that race is not a determinant. Neither is sex. I think it's very interesting that this society has held up now for, as long as we talk about this issue that we're talking about a non-sexist society, that we want to address the issues that we who have known so much of divisiveness recognise that there is much harm and evil in the divisions between people of different sexes as there is between race and that we want our society to be democratic. And it seems to be that you can't have a democratic society unless there is a real acceptance of equal worth and value of each human being in that society, whether they be white, black, brown, pink or yellow, whether they be male, female or indeterminate gender, that those things don't make a difference. I think that's the kind of common ground we're talking about. How do we make our society a democratic, non-racial, non-sexist, just society. That's what's on the agenda.

POM. So rather than defining the problem for the negotiators, what you would do would be to set a number of objectives that their conversations and negotiations could strive to meet.

CJ. I think so. I'm not a problem-oriented person. I'm told I think laterally and I think that if we can agree on where we want to be then how we get there we work out. But we don't even agree about what the problem is in South Africa. This is the problem.

POM. That's what I'm getting to.

CJ. Because we don't agree what the problem is so why worry about what the problem is. Let's try and agree about where we want to be and really hammer out that. And if people mean different things by democracy, at least you've got something to negotiate about. You can then say, but my understanding of democracy is this. The problem is not communism or capitalism. The problem is that we don't have something which actually challenges us to break out of the confines of both those economic philosophies and which challenges us to discover something which is African. Maybe there's such a thing as African capitalism, maybe there's such a thing as African communism. We need to ask some of these questions, we need to hold up some possibilities rather than to keep trying to agree about what the nature of the problem is.

POM. Again, I'd like you to look at, take that answer again, put it in the context of the violence of the past year in the Transvaal. That violence has increasingly been portrayed in the international press as ethnic violence, as Xhosa versus Zulu to the extent that The Economist about a month ago ran an editorial which said that the violence between Xhosa and Zulu was in essence not really different from the violence between Serbs and Croatians, would appear to be the same. I would take it that you would fundamentally disagree with that analysis.

CJ. I think I would because I think what we've seen in terms of the Inkathagate revelations is that here we have had conflict inspired by - and I would go so far as to say that it's not just a matter of providing money for certain purposes to Inkatha. What we're talking about here I think is actually using somebody like Mangosuthu Buthelezi who has some very real designs about being a kingpin in the South African arena, and I don't want to spend the afternoon talking about him, but I do think that what is becoming increasingly clear is what has been said for many years in this country by people inside and outside, by his opponents and by his supporters, by those documented conversations between the previous State President, PW Botha and Van Zyl Slabbert who was the Leader of the Opposition in this country before he left politics, about what Buthelezi's agenda is. And his agenda is to be a dominant character in the political scene. But he has used his constituency and ethnic base, while claiming to be working against apartheid, he has never once explained why if he is anti-apartheid he has always publicly said "I represent 6 million Zulus". He does not even contest his figures here. But no-one says, well if you're representing 6 million Zulus, then how can you say you're anti-discrimination and anti-racism when you're actually using an ethnic basis to justify your status here. I don't understand that argument. But no-one ever did that because Buthelezi also said other things which they liked to hear. He was talking about being pro-capitalist and pro-western, anti-sanctions, everything else that the West wanted to hear. And what has come out in the wash now with the Inkatha revelations is that there have been, there's not only money supplied to Inkatha's movement for its political agenda, but there has been training of Zulus and training of hit squads and the killings of not just Xhosas because, people talk about the Transvaal, but the killing fields of Natal continue. Just a few weeks ago in Richmond there was an attack by Inkatha, not by the Zulus. Because I think there are very many Zulus who would say, we are not Inkatha and we don't go about killing people. We're talking about a political group called Inkatha with its Chief Buthelezi where the political agenda, which is being supported by and used by those in power against other people, and then it seems to me to be - I just lose confidence in academics and I lose confidence in The Economist when they so easily call that ethnic violence, because they must know, or else they are terribly uninformed that, it isn't that.

POM. OK, that brings up an interesting question because I've found in our conversations that it's white academics who will subscribe more to there being a very strong ethnic component and as you move across the colour spectrum that proportion of people who believe that, of intellectuals, gets significantly lower, so I began to wonder about the role of race, They would not see themselves in any manner, shape or form as racists, they would be progressives. Do you think that there is that element of even unconscious racism, that white scholars are predisposed to interpret in a certain way?

CJ. Absolutely.

POM. That do not come immediately to mind to black scholars.

CJ. Yes. I think absolutely. My experience, not just scholars. I think it's of white western people generally. I travel to the United States quite often, I have some very good friends and some very nice people, many of them good Christian people, but the first question is, 'What is your name?' The second question, 'What is your race?' Because I'm a confusing creature to them you see. I'm black. I'm mixed race, I look Asian, so they say, when did your people come from India? When I look at a person I don't ask you, what's your name and what's your background? But white people always get into this thing where you come from. And I think, certainly in America, it's part of their own need for roots and they want to know where they come from. But that's their problem. But then don't go about looking at the rest of the world as if that's our problem. We don't go around wanting to know, 'God I wish I knew where I came from.' So I've got some Welsh coal miner's blood and lots of African blood and some Dutch blood, I don't care. I'm me, now. But really I think white people are hung up by race and they can't help but to see the world like this. It's a very odd thing and I think race is really a, seems to be to have been a construct of the white mind.

PAT. Is that race as opposed to ethnic identity? I mean American westerners not only look at it racially, they look at it in terms of European nationalism, whether you are German, Irish, whatever, and is it westerners also imposing that kind of ethnicity on Africans or is there an African orientation?

CJ. I'm not saying that it doesn't exist. I am saying that you make an issue of it and I think there's a western propensity to making an issue of it. It's like, if you look at the women's liberation struggle for instance, I'm not saying that black women are liberated, but I am saying that white women tend to be more concerned about the whole feminist issue. And let me give you a small example of this: when I look at women in the church, black women see it as a struggle about vocation and they see it also as a male/female thing. White women see it first and foremost as a feminist issue and very often a justice issue and they have to get into the church because they were excluded as women from it. Black women in my experience here, in this country, we have a vocation, we start from that point, and I think it's a subtle but very crucial difference. But I think that whites tend to be very obsessed with race and for some of us that is not the issue. It's the very peg to hand a lot of things on, like exploitation, and why has the western world exploited the third world and why has the first world exploited the third world in the way it has. Is it because of race, was it economics? Race always becomes an issue. I can't quite, I don't really know enough about it, I just see it as a problem which always comes up.

POM. You mentioned what has been loosely referred to as Inkathagate. At least since the beginning of this year Mr Mandela has increasingly been saying that the government had a double agenda, that the government was behind the violence, that it was a force in the orchestration of the violence and he was not really listened to by the de Klerk government or even listened to internationally to a great extent. Now you have Inkathagate and a lot of people will take that as the icing on the pudding. This is the proof that if they were involved in helping Inkatha financially, it's only one step to saying they were behind a lot of other things as well. In your mind do you feel that yes indeed this government has been pursuing a double agenda, the olive branch on the one hand and on the other working in conjunction with Inkatha, or hit squads or whatever, to undermine the ANC by having hundreds of people slaughtered?

CJ. Yes. Yes, it wouldn't surprise me in the least. And I don't even know why that should be such an untenable situation when we actually know that when the South African government had actually committed to the independence of Namibia, it still continued to push millions of rands funding people in Namibia to oppose SWAPO when it was very clear, obviously very clear, that SWAPO was the most popular party. And then push our money into that country to destabilise and undermine the democratic process there. They should have said, get on and sort yourselves out, choose your own government, if that's what you choose that's fine. But it actually tried to force the issue and create what it wanted. Why, if it was prepared to do that in Namibia, why should it surprise us that they are doing it here? If I was in their shoes and if I was a politician I would probably do the same thing. I wouldn't give up power just like that, it's crazy. I think we should expect this kind of thing to happen.

POM. Well I suppose I would draw a distinction between dirty tricks and subterfuge and a campaign that's very cynically based on the promotion of violence to undermine adversity, simply doesn't in any way gel with de Klerk's speech of 2nd February 1990 with the kind of aura that was being created last year of openness, of searching for common ground, of willingness to make compromises. Do you think that de Klerk would have been aware of this?

CJ. You know I don't know whether it's just me, whether I'm just a cynic or whether it's because I've lived in this country all my life, or whether it shows up theologians for what we really are, that we don't trust anybody because we know evil and we know our own evil, and at least as a priest I have to confront that first before I can confront another person's sin, I have to know how bad I can be. But I just find it amazing, I really do, that the world community could listen to de Klerk and say, gosh, where did he come from? We're not talking about an angel who dropped from heaven. We're talking about a man who's been a Nat all his life, who's been a proponent of apartheid all his days, but as a politician looks at a worsening situation, an economy which is running into bankruptcy, growing isolation by the world community, growing unrest in his own country from people who had previously been subjugated by force of arms, people had no more respect for bullets and teargas and guns and absorbing it as fast as they could shoot, a rapidly democratising Southern Africa around us here. What could he do? He will have to find the upper hand. You either die or you adapt politically and what he was doing is to say, we need to survive. He has gone out of his way to survive politically and some of it is accepted political practice. You look at what's happened in the tricameral system. He's just taken over the so-called Coloured House and turned them all into Nats to ensure that he's going to be as strong as he can. People say, ah, terrible. I say, that's politics. That's what politicians are supposed to do. Mr de Klerk was supposed to make that speech. He had to do it or else he would have brought his government down.

POM. What I'm getting at again, the mention of evil, I mean here is a difference between sitting around in a Cabinet room and saying how can we undermine the ANC and say well, if we fund Inkatha or we do this or we do that or we do the other, that is saying, how do we do it if we have their supporters slaughtered in large numbers. We undermine support for them, we show they can't protect their own people.

CJ. You remember who he's sitting down with. He's sitting down with security moguls, he's sitting down with people who have a massive security apparatus designed for torture, the apparatus that killed Biko, the apparatus that shot the kids at Sharpeville, the apparatus that killed people two years ago in this city. It's the same people who are sitting down. What happened, a Pauline conversion? I don't remember that. I didn't see a big light over parliament, glow with any light. He's sitting down with the same people. Let's not be stupid. I think it's absolutely stupid, absolutely stupid and incredibly politically naïve, that's the politest I can be about it, politically naïve to expect that one day it's this and the next day they're saying something else. Nobody operates like that. Mr de Klerk is a very astute politician. He's got an apparatus there, he's got people like Malan and Vlok and Generals and security policemen and all these folk here who are mean killing machines. They've been trained to do that. That system has not been dismantled yet.

POM. You would say de Klerk has at least knowledge of the outlines of what was going on or refused to confront evidence that it was going on?

CJ. I think at the very best he doesn't want to know. De Klerk, just like President Reagan, what didn't he know, when didn't he know? I mean that's the way politicians work. That's the way they work. And I think that unless we acknowledge that that's the way it's going to be and strategise accordingly, we're never ever going to get to a place.

POM. Last year there was the oft-repeated phrase that Mr Mandela is calling de Klerk a man of integrity. I think most people we interviewed emphasised how crucial de Klerk and Mandela and the seeming personal chemistry that existed between them was to the process. And 18 months later that's all in tatters.

CJ. The word integrity has been bandied about, I've probably used it too. But one other word I've used was that Mr de Klerk is a realist. And I think that we need more realists and lay off this integrity stuff, leave that for the religious people, let the politicians be realistic and let them get on with their political stuff and let's be out in the open and let's at least acknowledge that whatever does happen undercover that it is happening and not pretend it's not happening. We all know that the CIA is involved in killings and assassinations. This is a country which is the bastion, we're talking about the USA now, is the bastion of democracy in the world and yet we know that they have a wing of government, an agency which goes about killing, creating unrest. We know that. But why do we have to pretend it isn't going on in the world? Why do we have to imagine that when Mr de Klerk goes to bed at night two guardian angels put away his booties or something? Why? We don't have to believe that in order to get this country right. We don't have to believe that Mr de Klerk is a goodie-goodie or that Mandela is absolutely right. What we do have to acknowledge is that we have people who are politicians, who have constituencies and who have designs and who have to try and hear what they are saying and have to try and meet their aspirations in a way in which everybody is at least going to be unhappy, everybody's unhappy rather than have some happy and some not.

POM. In terms of the objectives that you outlined, that the negotiators should try to meet that whoever governs, the constitution may come up with, it seems to me the successful achievement of those objectives require a measure of trust and goodwill and faith between the adversaries or the protagonists, and can you develop that minimum level of trust that might be required if I believe that you are out to, while I'm talking to you, that you're out to destroy me.

CJ. I'm not a great one on all this trust stuff. You know what I would prefer, I would prefer that you knew you had to watch your back and that there's a healthy respect in terms of political movement. I don't think you must get bogged down in all this integrity stuff and goodwill stuff because that just causes major disappointments. Let's rather say, we have people who are in a dirty game and as long as the rest of the society is prepared to abdicate responsibilities of decision making to politicians, then let's at least understand that the way politicians play the game is that they watch their backs, that they lie to each other, they try to outmanoeuvre each other and they wheel and deal. Let's agree that that's the rules of the game that politics is played world-wide and that's the way so-called democracy operates too. Which democracy operates on trust and goodwill? Where? I don't know of one. People know to watch each other. You go into Capitol Hill and you watch people watching each other's backs all the time, watching their own backs all the time. That's the way it has to be. Then so be it. Let's not expect inter-Africa helping which doesn't exist anywhere else in the free world. The politicians don't love each other, they don't have a fight and go and have a drink tonight in the House of Commons bar afterwards. They go away and they go and plot. The Labour Government and the Conservative Government don't have a good crash bang in the House of Commons and then go and have a picnic party in the Queen's Garden afterwards. They're trying to overthrow each other. They're trying to be the government in power. That's politics. Why try and make it anything else? Am I being too cynical?

POM. You're certainly being realistic. What I find interesting are the variations in the replies I get to this. Again when one looks at the people who work in divided societies, they would talk out reconciliation and the need to bring sides together and the need to establish some common bond of minimum trust because the division between people is so deep. So response has varied from trust is necessary to just what you said, trust is not necessary. People would not be negotiating if they were not enemies.

CJ. What I'm saying is another thing and I think I need to say this, that there are rules, some basic ground rules of common decency. There are certain things, let's have an open society in which we agree, we know that these things happen but let's know about it and let's at least adhere to some basic ground rules. Rugby is a killer game. People who decide to play it, decide to play it, but it's not a free for all, there are some basic rules. If you're going to scrum down together you're still going to get your ears knocked off but at least you know the other guy is also getting his ears knocked off. There are some basic ground rules. Let's stick to the ground rules of politics and then let's leave all the other high ground, morality stuff, that will happen. Good sportsmanship comes when you know that your opponent is a good player, then you can respect him or her. But you don't start with good sportsmanship first and then say, now what game shall we play?

POM. Certainly in the context of what you've said, do you think the National Party, do you think they have a clearly set out objective and have developed a strategy for getting to that point?

CJ. I think they probably have and it's a far better one than anyone else has got at the moment in the country. I think the ANC, and this is the African way maybe, that we do expect people to be nice and reconciliation and I think this is the kind of religious input which we have here which has not necessarily been helpful. I think if we're going to go for western style government you have to play western style rules. But, yes I do think the Nationalist Party probably more than any other group here, and maybe Inkatha, Inkatha knows what it wants and it's going to go ahead and get it by any means. But you know what's missing? It's not trust and it's not reconciliation, it's respect, which is a different thing. It's respect for one's adversaries as being somebody who will stand up against you and give as good as they get. We haven't learnt respect for each other in South African politics yet. And if there's a difference which needs to come into this, I think that what Mandela and de Klerk showed for each other was maybe a respect for each other's intelligence, for each other's commitment to whatever cause they were fighting, their willingness to be hard-nosed negotiators and go away and say it again. We meet at dawn tomorrow, your choice of weapons and get on and fight, have a good fight. But the fight hasn't been clean this is the problem. And I think that's what I'm objecting to. And I think that the South African thing is going to have to be worked, I think hard-nosed negotiations and some real, maybe some more conflict. That's going to happen inevitably in this country. But everybody is in indecent haste to see this thing going away in the cleanest possible fashion that will whitewash everybody now. Suddenly the Nationalist Party has to be good. Everybody needs to be angels. We get told by the United States whose War of Independence preceded the constitution by a good many years I'm told, that suddenly we have to have a constitution straight off. And I think there's an indecent haste to get things right here, which is other people's agenda and denying us the right to really hammer things out. And maybe the Ventersdorp thing was necessary. As ugly as it was, it was necessary because now people know each other's strength and the society knows what can happen. We have seen something of that side and people are actually saying we don't like that too much.

POM. Let's go back to the Nationalist Party for a moment, or the government. What do you think their objective is and what do you think is the outline of their strategy to achieve it?

CJ. The best scenario would be to stay in power, to be the ruling party. But that's everybody's deadline to be the ruling party. And they are trying to achieve it in a number of ways. One, we see through the political process with political movements in the tricameral government, like winning over people to their side. They're doing it, Inkathagate, with some very good PR of being seen to be those who are now really raring to go and being held up by ANC and being held up by the PAC and everybody else and they're the people who really want to change. That PR has worked. They're doing it by having a person like de Klerk who is charismatic, articulate and who is sensible and unlike his predecessors. So the PR stuff is big. Part of that is they're doing it by stabilising politically other organisations, using the apparatus which has not really been broken down entirely, security apparatus. Those are some of the ways they're doing it. They're getting their campaign going.

POM. Do they have a dual strategy? That's one. At the same time the other would be to put the ANC in a situation where the ANC would have to govern in a coalition with the National Party.

CJ. I think that's the worst scenario. Yes, and I think that they are hedging their votes. That's politic to do that.

POM. When Viljoen or de Klerk says we want to negotiate a power sharing, constitutional government for South Africa, what does the word 'power sharing' mean to you? What do you think the government means by that.

CJ. I suspect that they mean a form of government in which they will have a significant say and I wouldn't be surprised if, certainly at the start of those negotiations, we're going to see some inordinate demands made in terms of white interests on the National Party agenda to guarantee the kind of things that whites have been used to, without necessarily calling it discrimination, without having discriminatory legislation. But they're going to try and build into some kind of constitution rights which guarantee that particular privilege.

POM. When we have asked them we've got very different answers in that they would regard that as having an executive role in government, a number of ministerial portfolios and that they would have that as an interim arrangement or as part of a final arrangement certainly for a considerable period of time. Do you think that a settlement like that would pass muster with the blacks?

CJ. I don't really know. I think that the ANC may well be prepared to have something like that happen. But if we're talking about a normal democratic process where there is one person one vote then you have to really be prepared to leave that to the people to decide who is to govern them. Now obviously even that form of democracy that we're talking about now, it might be necessary for a time to do that for two reasons. One, to allay white concerns, two, to prove to blacks in this country that whites are actually going to be fair and just when given that. For instance if we have a white person with a portfolio of Minister of Housing, if that white person is really not going to ensure that black housing needs are met and his chief concern is going to be protecting white sensitivities, then I can tell you that that's not going to be on. But if you do have a white minister who is concerned about black housing and is able to convince white people, even go against the flow of white opinion, that black housing is THE major priority and it's going to have to be over and above white housing for instance, then that might well send out a very different message and people are going to say, ah but we cannot actually have these people there.

POM. Do you think that ability to govern might be a consideration in the context that a first post new constitution government would be faced with the enormous expectations of the population with limited resources and huge demands and that since that one level couldn't possibly meet those demands as a government, therefore risk total alienation of their constituency, so they won't be any better off under an ANC government than under the National government other than they have certain rights they didn't have before, that it would be politic to govern giving a role to the National Party, making it more of a coalition government so that you don't lose your constituency?

CJ. If you ask me what I thought, I would have thought that that would be the realistic thing to do. It would be sensible to do that. I think any government that takes over and seeks to meet the needs of South Africa is setting itself up for some heavy flak, any government. And even if the National Party were to walk it, if they were able to get everything going its way, I don't really think that the Nationalists want to be the only party in power. They don't want that. Their dilemma is how as Nationalists they ensure their participation in it without having to take the flak and responsibility and the blame for a failed new experiment here. I think the ANC probably also realises that and I would think that the result of both those two major forces recognising that they must be in the hot seat at this time in our history might just force the issue. That they won't have to negotiate that. They never come in anyway and it's the one thing they're not going to talk about, but they won't have to talk about.

POM. But I'm getting at what may be a distinction here between the National Party demanding at the negotiating table an executive level government which the ANC concedes and which becomes part of the final arrangement put to the public that there is indeed power sharing as distinct from the ANC holding out for one man one vote majority rule, proportional representation, and then after they win a majority turning around to the National Party and saying, we invite you to join the government because we think the country as a whole, to show unity between us all, we should govern together and in that sense the National Party would share power. It would be, in fact the ANC could form a government of its own but it would, just for all the reasons that you've had I think, say, no we want to be part of the government too. We will share power with you. But we're doing it voluntarily, we're not doing it as part of - it's not pre-agreed to. Am I making sense?

CJ. I hear that and I'm just trying to put myself in the ANC's shoes here. I think that some of that might well happen behind the scenes. That's not going to be put on the table, that's not going to be talked about. But that's going to call for some kind of trust. It's going to call for a hell of a lot of trust and I don't think that we've got that because what the Nationalist Party might say, well if you want to sail the ship you sail it, and wait for the ANC to come down and then people here in this country will say, well it wasn't so bad with the Nationalist Government. That might also happen and there might be some people willing to take that chance and wait it out.

POM. I suppose if I go back to the question of trust, you drew analogies with Britain or America or whatever, that the difference there and the hard ball of politics is that there is a fair level of trust between adversaries, commitments that are made by individuals behind closed doors or whatever, or generally kept as the process wouldn't work the way it works. Whereas the problem here, given what the government has done with its double agenda, the ANC can never trust anything, anything this government will ever say again. So how can it talk about them entering into commitments that they would execute after ...

CJ. I think that's why I'm not convinced that that scenario is actually going to work. That's why I think ...

POM. Which one?

CJ. The one about inviting the Nationalist Party. I don't think that'll work because of the fact that no-one's going to trust anyone. But I think with respect for each other that in the bargaining at the negotiation table we might well come up with some kind of form of coalition. But then you have to take into account other factors also, you're going to have to take into account the PAC, you're going to have to take into account the right wing and that it makes it a very different cake being baked there. I don't want to pre-judge what's going to happen.

POM. How would you - you mention the PAC and the right, how would you assess the threat of each? A year ago, for example, we heard a lot about the Conservative Party and how possibly there would be over 50% in a whites only election again. We hear much less of that this time, so they have become more marginalised, staying out there on the periphery and that the game is now really that there are two major actors, the ANC and the government.

CJ. I would suspect that we will probably have in this country a long history of neo-Nazi activity on the one hand and the Black Consciousness thing on the other, for a long time in this country. I don't think it's going to go away. I don't think it can happily be absorbed into a democratic process.

POM. But do you think that de Klerk has to look over his shoulder at the Conservative Party or that really their support is dwindling, and realistic whites are adjusting to the prospect that there is going to major change?

CJ. Well I think Ventersdorp is going to be, and how it eventually works out is going to be a very key indicator in that as to whether de Klerk has a real problem there. And not just him, whether the country has a real problem, or whether it's going to shut its bolt now. I'm very interested to see how quickly the right wingers have actually capitulated on this. And last night on television, or the night before, Terre'Blanche actually publicly committed to non violence at meetings if there were allowed to participate democratically in the goings on there. That seems to be, it's a very interesting reaction that because I think they may well have realised - I don't think that they're bright enough and that might be the worst mistake I'm making here, to actually turn up ... the Nats on this one. I think they realise that they antagonised everybody on this score. As far as the PAC is concerned, I don't think they've done anything yet, and they may not do anything, but I suspect that the whole PAC/black consciousness/AZAPO thing is just waiting to see what happens before it tests its support again amongst blacks in South Africa. And maybe it's not a conscious decision, but maybe it's waiting to see how the ANC/Nationalist coalition actually does and if the ANC comes short then you can be sure that black people are either going to say, well let's go back to white government or they're going to say, well the ANC sold us down the river and now we're really going to fight for this and we'll see all hell break loose in this country still. My scenario is not very a pleasant one but I think that one must be prepared for all those contingencies.

POM. One of the things that came up at the ANC conference was their disappointment at their level of membership in the Coloured, Indian and white communities. Do you think there are particular reasons for this, particularly with regard to the Indian and Coloured community in the sense that the non-racial party is becoming a racial party?

CJ. I think that there are lots of reasons for that. I don't think the ANC has really gone out of its way to advertise itself and do real group PR work. It's not been very strong in the PR department and the ANC has to remember that it's working against a history, a legacy, of being tarred and feathered by this government and made to be seen to be monsters. Not that people are generally skittish about an organisation which has operated in terms here as its so-called terrorist operations, people are scared of that. People are concerned about the lack of control that the ANC has been able to exercise over young people in the townships. And so the older people become very nervous about that and see the ANC as a kind of de-stabilising force or at least creating the possibility for destabilisation in homes and families and so on and the parents don't like being called Comrades by their children.

. It's not, and I think there's that element of the ANC's just not been very good about its own image and the promotional side of things. And then I think we have just been so poorly serviced in this country by the media. And I am appalled in the South African papers, at this point in our history, are being so awfully irresponsible. They're terribly irresponsible. For instance, a few weeks ago with the Inkathagate thing Mandela said, this is what our newspapers carried, 'Talks are off, negotiations are off now', when in fact he didn't say that at all overseas but that's the way it was reported here and people here read the dailies and they think, ah, and I think that the media has played a very unhelpful role in the ANC, and that's deliberate. I think it's absolutely deliberate. None of the newspapers are sympathetic, certainly none of the white English speaking newspapers in this city are sympathetic to the ANC. And so subtly and sometimes not so subtly and they make the ANC out to be a very unappetising prospect and a lot of people read newspapers here, surprisingly, certainly the Coloured and Indian communities and the whites obviously, and it doesn't surprise me at all that the ANC hasn't attracted the kind of support that it wants to.

POM. Just a couple of final questions. Since 1967 I think, with one or two exceptions, there have been no countries in Africa in which power has been transferred from one freely elected government to another freely elected government. They either become one-party states or one party enjoyed such a monopoly of power that elections were a formality and hardly democracy. What do you think might make South Africa different?

CJ. I don't think South Africa is going to be different. I would hope it would be different but I think that, and I don't know Africa well enough to say this, but I would think that South Africa has had a most incredible experience of a kind of cosmopolitan experience in a way, that we've had people, it's such a diverse country this, we're not just talking about the diversity between black and white or even the diversity amongst blacks, we're talking about diversity a cross the board, that communities here are diverse and that we've had the injection of other cultures from Europe, from the United States, from anywhere. I have a friend from America with me now and he says being in Cape Town you could be in any home city in the United States. There are very few places in Africa where people actually feel I could be in Europe or I could be in America.

POM. When I come here every time I feel this is not very different from another ...

CJ. That's right, it's not. It has that, we've somehow managed to enjoy that experience and I think that that may well be a very important element in the way in which we are going to determine our political future. Because we've all had the experience, certainly in the big cities here we've had the experience of diversity. I mean some cities more than others. I don't know if you can compare Cape Town to Pretoria for instance, but certainly in a city like Cape Town, you know I travel around the world, I don't feel uncomfortable in any city, and I think that that may well hold up the kind of incentive for us to be a bit more diverse in our political expression. One hopes so. That's maybe a minor element but I think maybe another element is that maybe the world won't let us also because I don't know of another situation in Africa in which there has been so much interest generated and so much concern for the future outcome of our country. And I think, again speaking realistically and being an amateur politician, there are plenty of people around willing to put their spoon in and make sure that that doesn't happen here.

POM. What about the ANC and SACP alliance? Is this causing problems, real problems for the ANC or are they more in their real constituencies or is it just a liberal white hang-up?

CJ. I think again it's a media thing, it's a problem of image with them because the Communist Party, communism generally in this country has had a very, very bad press and even people who don't know the first thing and if you mention Marx they start looking at their shirt to see whether they've spilled their lunch on it. People like that even when they don't know the first thing about Marxist philosophy or anything about communism will say communist Russia, Russia, salt mines or whatever. That's the kind of mentality a lot of people are prone to. That's the problem that the ANC have. Not only did they have a bad image as a so-called terrorist organisation now trying to be respectable with some people, which has been created by the government and the press and the media here but they've got the added albatross of the communist perception which makes it difficult for them to win friends. And I think again we see a political decision being made on the part of - I think that visibly the ANC is beginning to put some distance, and maybe that's part of its PR, between itself and the SACP and then work out some kind of arrangement.

POM. Lastly, an interim government. Can you see any circumstances under which this government would resign to become part of a broad-based multi-party government?

CJ. Only extreme international pressure and advice to do so with some guarantees thrown in. I don't see it giving in to ANC pressure for an interim government, I really don't unless it is very clear that not only have negotiations broken down irrevocably but that the consequences of the breakdown would be, as often quoted, too ghastly to contemplate.

POM. Too ghastly to contemplate?

CJ. But I think only if it was politically astute to do so would it do so. But again, what's in it for the Nationalists? And I think that's the question that they always ask: what's in it for us? At the moment I think that maybe everyone's being so political no-one's asking what's in it for this country. And until such time as we put the country before party political aspirations and before partisan agendas that is not going to be a reality. It might be the best thing to happen for South Africa.

POM. Looking at the other end of the spectrum, can the ANC really afford to accept de Klerk's offer and maybe assume some Cabinet portfolios or be in joint management or whatever of departments? That smacks too much of co-option. It's just a more refined form of what was going on in 1983. They can't put themselves in that position either.

CJ. No, I think the ANC's caught between a rock and a hard place actually. My sympathies are there but I think that politically I don't know what the strategy is going to be. The only way you can do that is if you ensure that you have some clout somewhere, some pressure that you can either call up in reserve or that you can exert constantly to keep the process moving along and ensure more just and democratic arrangements. But I would hope that they would not go that far. I think that what we have to ask now that you have, I think the best way in which one can describe the scenario presently and the way in which it differs from the previous one is that you might have the possibility of more equality in terms of the competition. All that the NP has done is to say we don't have apartheid legislation any longer, we don't have any other advantages here except that we're the party in power. And for whatever negotiations need to take place, for those negotiations to be ones in which not only does the ANC come, having given up the armed struggle, having been now denied the support of sanctions and so on, but the Nationalist government also had pressure from international communities who kept on the government in one form or another, it kept on this government in one form or another in order to ensure that a more just form of representation be sought. You see I would suggest, my best scenario is that the time frame be established by the international community. I think that some pressure has been put on everybody here, the Nationalists included. I think that the pressures all collapsed to do anything and everybody seems to think that that is as much as is needed. Now the pressure has been put on, all they've done is to clear the playing field of extraneous obstructions like legislation and so on. Now let's get out of the game of negotiations, of give and take politics.

POM. Sorry, I didn't get your point or I don't hear it properly. No, the one before when you said that it was in terms of the interim measures you were suggesting might be taken. You were specifying some relationship between the government and the NP.

CJ. Well the government is the NP.

POM. So what kind of interim - you don't see the government resigning, you don't see the ANC being co-opted, so you're talking about maybe some workable arrangement in between?

CJ. I don't know what that is myself. I think that the options which have been presented have been either interim government, which I think is desirable, but I don't know whether it's politically possible. I don't see the ANC being co-opted into the NP because I think the political risk is immense, potentially immense for Mandela. I don't have a solution, I really don't. That's why I'm not a politician, I'm not party to the negotiations. All I can try and do is suggest that people need to respect each other's political progress here, they need to watch their backs that they be realistic and not idealistic and not emotional and sentimental about this, go into it prepared for a good hard slog and that in that process maybe something will come up in which, out of mutual respect for each other's abilities, they find a process or some kind of mechanism which can move things along another step. But I don't think that given the complexity and given the history of distrust in this country and given the very varying agendas that people have that we're going to move from point A in negotiations to the final solution. I think that we're going to, over many years, we're going to have to experiment with different forms and we actually have to try and see what works and what doesn't work. That's what I think we should commit ourselves to and this is what we need to educate the people of this country in, that there is no quick solution but there is a process and we need to engage each other in mutual respect in that process even if we don't quite trust each other.

POM. OK, thanks very much.

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.