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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

26 Aug 1991: Van Der Merwe, Koos

Click here for more information on the Interviewee

Click here for Overview of the year

POM. Koos, starting again. The Koos document?

KVM. OK, I have in front of us the Koos document which I wrote. It is dated October 1990 and as an introduction I say that an evaluation was done. The method which I applied was that firstly I made an evaluation of South Africa's status quo. Secondly, I identified the important reasons why the National Party abandoned the policy of self-determination and, thirdly, I tried to identify ways and means how the Conservative Party could, in view of the fundamentally changed circumstances, still achieve self-determination for white people in a part of South Africa. The conclusion at which I have arrived is firstly that the Conservative Party will have to evaluate its model, in other words its product, it's constitutional model, in order to keep in pace with the fundamentally changed circumstances. And secondly, as far as the marketing of the product is concerned the Conservative Party must take initiative. It must in fact almost hijack the ongoing processes at the moment in order to play an active and a prominent role in ensuring that a new South Africa is established peacefully but a new South Africa in which there will be self-determination for the white people or the Afrikaner people in a part of South Africa.

. Now examples of the fundamentally changed circumstances in South Africa are firstly that the so-called urban black has finally been created, meaning that a large number, many millions of black people now live permanently in the area which has until now been known as white South Africa and that the dilemma in which we find ourselves is that these people will have to get universal suffrage where they live and of course the problem that that renders is that due to their superior numbers they will outvote the white people and we will no doubt be dominated by them. So a new strategy has to be devised in order to secure self-determination for the white people. I also say that we have become now aware of the fact that white people have become dependent on black labour and also black buying power and another example of the fundamentally changed South Africa is the fact that there is no longer a white parliament which we had before 1983. We simply don't have a white parliament any longer. Coloureds and Indians form part of that government. Secondly, on the provincial level we no longer have white provincial levels. What we do have is blacks, Coloureds and Indians together with whites sharing power and actually governing over whites on provincial level. Then as far as the Regional Services Councils are concerned, blacks, Coloureds and Indians are in that sharing power and in this process the principle of self-determination has slowly but surely been phased out. We have to realise then that there will not be self-determination for us in the new South Africa.

. As far as the labour situation is concerned the black unions have become so powerful that there's no way you can simply abolish them. They can ruin South Africa today. On the social level the removal of separation measures has added to the fact that white South Africa has become almost totally integrated. Central business areas are completely integrated. Influx control has been scrapped and in particular squatters have moved into white South Africa and are, through a process of what we call creeping annexation, they have annexed parts of white South Africa. Schools and all other amenities, the Group Areas Act and all that have been removed so that we have socially, economically and politically a completely new ball game in South Africa.

. As far as the ANC is concerned they did not have any success at all military-wise because uMkhonto weSizwe isn't stronger than about 7000 at the most, 7000 badly trained soldiers, whereas the South African Defence Force can simply eat them up before breakfast on the first day of a war. But it is not on that terrain where the ANC has scored its successes but in the outside world where they have effectively isolated South Africa and they have established sanctions against us. But the most important success that they have scored is that in South Africa they have created a revolutionary potential which we cannot ignore. We cannot today argue that we will still ban the ANC or Mandela and all the others because all these organisations have been unbanned by de Klerk which is simply another form of fundamental change in the country. The civil service is completely integrated. Sixty percent of all civil servants are black. The same with the police. Sixty percent of the police are black and I believe fifty one percent of the permanent force of the Defence Force are black.

. Now all these things simply mean that a fundamentally changed South Africa today exists and that we have to identify those changed circumstances, describe them and evaluate them so as to devise a new strategy in terms whereof we must endeavour to still secure self-determination for the Afrikaner people. That's about the gist of it and I also say that the way we should become involved in the processes is to move out dynamically, sell our model to people, but only once we have scaled down the model. If we can scale down our model and rid it of what I call the drag factors, such as racism, domination and so forth, if the Afrikaner people could devise a constitutional model which is pure, which is just and equitable, then we must go out and sell it to all people concerned, even to you and all the others who will then no doubt turn around and say, "Hell, but shouldn't these people be accommodated? Look how they've scaled down. They've become just and reasonable and so forth."

. Now once we have a model which is stripped of the drag factors then we must aggressively market it and become involved in the processes and if the other parties then still deny our self-determination then we must consider, I say in the document, to go out with strong arm tactics which we can if we want to, meaning not necessarily that we will kill people, harm people, maim people, but that we could go out on organised strikes and other ways of forcing the other people to take cognisance of our just and reasonable model. Because at the moment if we move out with the demand that we want 87% of the country, all people living in that area will have no universal suffrage, then we leave the other people very little opportunity to accommodate us and then it will probably escalate into war. But I think if we scale down on the model to a just and equitable one, if it appears clearly that we just want to be a normal other state in the world like the European states and the others, that we acknowledge fundamental human rights, then I'm sure our model will be accepted and we can sell it and we can secure peace. I also in the document evaluate a number of other things: why the National Party abandoned self determination; I look at what I think de Klerk's strategy is.

POM. What do you think de Klerk's strategy is? What is the National Party's defined objective and strategy for getting there?

KVM. I think de Klerk has not surrendered. De Klerk is going to retain power. How much power God alone knows. I don't even think de Klerk himself knows but he has this guideline that he wants to retain power. There will be no other party that will really be in power. I don't know if this could be concretised constitutionally. I don't know whether it's pie in the sky, but that's what he wants. Now what I said in the document is that de Klerk has worked out his strategy very carefully. The important hurdle that he has to cross is the white people. By moving left as far as he did it would have been no problem to get the outside world on his side and I think he has Bush and Mr Major on his side at the moment, they're batting with him, and he has the liberals on his side, he has the Coloureds and Indians on his side and he has a lot of blacks on his side. He will probably keep on making concessions to Mandela in order to remain the good guy. He wants to remain the good guy and he is the good guy at the moment. I think in the outside world, I get the impression, that his shares are higher than Mandela's because he keeps on being the reasonable guy and Mandela still is involved in bloodshed and Mandela is still talking about nationalisation and other swear words so that his real test will be the white referendum. But I think he has a plan for that. What he will do is, the moment he has his new plan he will then go to his outside partners and tell them 'Now my moment of truth has arrived. I have to have a white referendum to have the white people in the majority with me.' They will then assist and you will have the greatest propaganda onslaught on the white people that you've ever seen in the country, millions and millions will be spent. You will have the All Blacks playing rugby here and when their aeroplane departs the Wallabies will be here and when they depart the Lions will be here. And people like myself and others will sit in our safari suits eating biltong and naartjies from Pretoria to Cape Town cheering the Springboks beating the All Blacks and the Lions into the bloody ground. And the cricketers will be here and there will be many athletics, mini Olympic Games, and some money will be pumped in and people will ask themselves, "Hell, but there's nothing wrong with this, why should we go back to all the conflict?" And they will scare people stiff about the Conservative Party alternative. Therefore, I warn my party that unless we do something drastic there is no doubt in my mind that de Klerk could then eventually win the referendum.

POM. Let's talk about that for a moment because I think, as I said to you on the phone, what I got most out of the interview I did most with Dr Treurnicht was that there was no conceptualising, there was no strategy, there was no game plan, there was no taking account of what others' objectives and strategies were. It was like the restatement of a position over and over and over again. We are demanding a white election. We will look for a white election. We go to a negotiating table, we won't articulate our demands in any greater way. We will simply force the white election and of course there's not going to be a general election for whites before 1994 or 1995.

KVM. What he is actually saying is: we are going to enforce a white election, we are going to win it. We will be the government. We will then restore the old Republic and everything will be like it used to be. Now, I don't know what your comment will be but I have worked out this document, we're only half way through it now, but I have in fact tried to evaluate, tried to interpret what we see around us, tried to identify and invent new ways, inventive, creative ways of thinking, coming forth with something which is reasonable but the impression that I have, and you can judge me whether I'm right or wrong, but the Dr Treurnichts don't realise that there is a second phase. He is a philosopher and he only dwells around the basic philosophical position. In other words he will always tell you that the Afrikaner people are entitled to the right of self-determination, the right of self-determination is a God given right, it is acknowledged all over the world, we are entitled to it, blah, blah, blah. And he never moves out of that little ring into the next one of how do you do it in South Africa. If you say to him, but Dr Treurnicht I admit, nobody denies that a nation has a right of self-determination, we agree, we grant you that, but tell us in South Africa in view of the fundamentally changed circumstances, in view of the fact that that it is a scrambled egg, in view of the fact that your people are hopelessly outnumbered, how do you want to do it? Then what he does when you draw him into the practical debate, how do you concretise it, how are you going to do it? All he then answers is exactly the same like a parrot. "We have the right of self-determination. We won't be pushed out of it. It is our right which is a divine right. It is based on international law, it's contained in the documents of the United Nations." He keeps on repeating the philosophical basis and he cannot move out of that into the practical basis and I think that's his problem.

POM. How does the party as a whole come down on this, come down on this whole issue?

KVM. Well talking about the ground level, the grassroots, they talk my language. You go to them and I test them. I ask them, "What do you say about Johannesburg?" Nine out of ten, or eleven out of ten, will tell you, "Johannesburg? It's no longer a white city. You just have to walk into it and see it." But Treurnicht, if you corner him with this, has the habit of sweeping it in under the carpet. "Oh don't worry, that's not so serious, we can talk about it later." And he gets around it. He doesn't discuss those issues.

POM. In the course of what I'm doing I've talked to a number of families and I was up in Zeerust three or four weeks ago now talking to people who are members of the Conservative Party, one of the men sits on the local Zeerust Council and he wouldn't even let blacks into his hotel, yet he's just about holding it, it's white. But what I found from him or I sensed from him was the sense that he was lost. Lost in the sense that he was articulating all these things but he really didn't believe that there was going to be a whites only South Africa composed of X percent of South Africans so I could see him in time switching his support some place else because there's no practical plan.

KVM. There's no real plan.

POM. No plan.

KVM. Can I tell you, you shouldn't quote this, I'll put it on record but you mustn't use it, but Mrs Thatcher saw Treurnicht and one or two others, Hartzenberg and so, and a week or so later or before that Evans was here, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Australia, also saw Treurnicht, asked questions. And both of them have made a judgement. I spoke to the British Ambassador and I asked him, "What does Mrs Thatcher say about Treurnicht and the CP?" He said, "She says he has no plan." She saw him for half an hour. He spoke to Evans. I asked the Australian Ambassador, "What does Foreign Minister Evans say about Treurnicht and the Conservative Party?" He said, "He says you have no plan." It's exactly that thing which I've told you, which I've identified. It's not like in the olden days, there are changed circumstances and these people like the man you refer to repeats like a juke box that you had to throw in your nickel and the juke box just repeats it, but in his eyes you can see that although he says these things, he may not even admit it himself at this stage, but he is seeing around him the fundamentally changed circumstances and he says to himself, but what are we going to do? What is the plan? And there is no plan. And he realises, that man.

. Now we are moving, I am moving into the next ring, out of the ring, there are two rings in which you'll fight, the one is the philosophical one which talks about self-determination, but then you've got to get in the next ring and start fighting them there on how do you wish to do it in a just and equitable manner in South Africa? Practical. And this is the ring into which I'm moving. And most people are saying, yes that's what we should do. What should we do? We are moving into that area. And it was interesting asking you your opinion on Treurnicht. I was wondering whether he simply doesn't understand it at all, the changed circumstances.

POM. You were talking about when you asked me my opinion of Treurnicht.

KVM. Oh yes. There are one or two possibilities. The one is either he doesn't understand it at all, he is what he seems to be. Or secondly, he understands it perfectly well. He is seeing what is going on but he is powerless, he doesn't want to be part of the new thing. He's 70 years old, he wants to end his career on the old basis. He wants to leave the changed circumstances to other people. He wants out. He doesn't want to be part of this. And I think, I'm 60/40% sure that he understands it and is playing a role, he's acting. He doesn't want to be part of the new thing. He wants somebody else to take over the boodle and he wants out. He wants to go to the sea and sit there and as an old man listen to what's happening. What do you think? Which one of the two?

POM. I don't think he gets it in this sense, one of the things I asked him and I think I asked it of you last year was: Why doesn't everybody resign their seats in parliament and use the by-election as a referendum on the government's policies?

KVM. Can I just cut in there and say that this year in May in parliament I got up in the caucus and I said, "We are forty one. Let ten of us resign immediately and force a mini election. Once that's through it will put pressure on the government because we will all increase our majorities. The next day ten others resign and ten others resign every four months", and they were not interested.

POM. I went through much the same thing with him, even going through the case that if the government didn't put a candidate against you, you call on your supporters to come out and if you got 50% of the vote the last time of those eligible to vote, and this time you got 70%, that's a statement. And I explained it, went through it with him three times and he didn't seem to grasp it. I came away saying he doesn't understand the principle of how you build a campaign.

KVM. That he doesn't understand.

POM. Or else he simply wasn't interested.

KVM. Maybe there is also - he's been the leader for ten years. He's been fighting this for ten years. It's not going his way. He's 70, maybe he wants out. I don't know. But normally his family tends to get very old. His Dad had to be knocked over by a London bus when he was about 200 years old. They live long. So I don't think he's tired of all this. I don't know. But I may go for the argument that he really doesn't understand it because of my document he said the first part is very morbid, "It's very morbid", that's what he said. I've told some of my colleagues that I'm prepared to lie to you, I'm prepared to deceive you, but I cannot deceive or lie to the man that I shave in the morning. This cannot work. We cannot turn back the squatters. We can't send back nine million squatters. We cannot abolish the trade unions. We cannot do this. What we've got to do is what they do in war. The Commander, the General and the staff sit and look at the maps and they see that things have changed fundamentally. We didn't want the war to develop in this direction, but we've been beaten there, there and there. We've had some successes but the whole war map is so changed what we've got to do is come up with a new strategy. I mean you have it in bloody tennis and rugby and in football. You go on the field with a particular strategy, I don't know how much you know about rugby, but you go on the field playing rugby and you say you're going to hit them with your backs, we're going to run with the ball. But you go on the field, two of your people's legs are broken, the opponents break their legs, injuries, they are removed. Two weak ones come on the field, the replacements. You now have a bad situation. You're not going to continue running with the ball. You're going to change your strategy in view of the changed circumstances.

POM. Was this document discussed fully in the party?

KVM. No. Not at all. The only chance I had to talk about it was when I was still in the Executive. I talked on it in general for about 10/15 minutes and then one of them said. "Well this is so serious he suggests we take it to the caucus." We said fine. So it was going to be discussed at the caucus and until today it has not been discussed. I've been axed, all that has happened and Treurnicht never discussed it with me. In fact I approached, through Elmarine, Treurnicht formally for an interview when I wrote the document to discuss it with him so that maybe he could say, take this out, put this better so that we can move. He can evaluate it before it went to the Executive Council. He ran away from me. He didn't want to see me. He said there's only three weeks left until the end of the year, he doesn't have an hour to see me. He ran away from me, didn't want to talk to me about it. "It's morbid."

POM. So you and he are really, except for the general discussion of the Executive ...

KVM. No chance. For almost a year I've tried to discuss it with him. He doesn't want to discuss it with me. He runs away and as a result our relationship has become sour. Personally I have lost a lot of faith in him, in his leadership and I don't think he can lead the party in these difficult times because he simply doesn't understand the situation. He doesn't think in terms of the strategy. He doesn't think the way I think. I don't know if I'm right but in terms of what you've said, what he lacks I actually tried to portray. Look for a new strategy, evaluate what's going on around you, try to understand it, read it, identify the phenomena and make deductions from that and then build a new strategy. Move. Be modern. Be with it. That's what I'm trying to do and he is stuck like in quicksand.

POM. The rest of the leadership of the party?

KVM. Well Hartzenberg is with him as much as he is. You probably won't get Hartzenberg into a discussion but if you ever do get him into a discussion it will be the parrot style. We have the right to govern ourselves. We'll send the squatters back. That's no problem. We'll abolish them and so forth. There are a number of strong people, two, three, four of them, but I have a feeling that within a year the CP will be with me.

POM. One disquieting thing that came up in our conversation, I had seen Terre'Blanche just before I saw Treurnicht, Terre'Blanche talked about the overlapping membership of the AWB and the CP and said that he felt that the CP was moving closer to the AWB recognising that they could never get their election, didn't have enough clout to win it.

KVM. Let me address you on that.

POM. Let me quote the other side. I brought this up with Treurnicht. I put this to him.

KVM. In other words let me just see if I understand it. You see the CP leadership, Treurnicht/Hartzenberg says, or Hartzenberg, if there's no election, then it's war. These are the two. That in fact brings us closer to the AWB. But what we say, people like myself, we say, between an election and a war is a whirlwind.

POM. Now let me tell you what the AWB said, what Terre'Blanche said: that the war begins the day an ANC government takes over, not before that, not next week, not because there's no elections, but if an ANC government assumes power then the war starts. And he went over that more than once, I kind of went through it again and again with him. What disturbed me about Dr Treurnicht was that when I put this idea of the AWB saying that a closer alliance between the two might be an effective alliance, and he didn't shy away from it. He didn't say we will have nothing to do with violence.

KVM. There is a movement, as far as you can see the gap between Terre'Blanche and Treurnicht is narrowing.

POM. Just talking about those two individuals, certainly Treurnicht didn't say, "No we must follow the constitutional route to the very end." The constitutional route says that you need not have an election until 1994. It makes really no difference that de Klerk didn't get mandate for what he's doing. The fact is that he's a majority in parliament and according to your constitution he need not call an election until 1994 or 1995, I don't know which it is. I don't know whether you saw the poll that was done in the Sunday Star about ten days after Ventersdorp? They interviewed about 163 families, about one fifth of the families, who supported what. I think about nine percent of the town said they supported the AWB.

KVM. In Ventersdorp? The 163 were in Ventersdorp?

POM. 163 families. 9% said they supported the AWB. When that involved the use of violence that fell to 7%. When Conservative Party members were asked about how did the events at Ventersdorp make them feel, it turned off more Conservative Party members than it turned on. More Conservative Party members disapproved of what went on rather than approved. I've been looking for an explanation of the relationship of paramilitary violence to the Conservative Party movement here and the Protestants in Northern Ireland. In Northern Ireland Protestant paramilitary organisations have never had any success and I wondered why and an explanation I came up with is that the Protestant community in Northern Ireland see themselves as a law and order community. The see the police as 'their' police, 99% of the Protestants. So anything that involves an attack on the police becomes an attack on community values, becomes an attack on the way they perceive themselves. And I've a feeling that the same may be true among Afrikaners, that it's one thing to be out here doing fringe activities but when you start taking on the police or taking on institutions which you value as part of your heritage and culture, that they shy away from it. They see themselves as law abiding.

KVM. Although there is a growing culture of right wing violence there is no doubt that there's a growing culture, and what worries me, Patrick, is that you need only 200 or 300 men to cause big guerrilla problems in South Africa and I am sure that there are more than that here and available and it worries me. But the most important thing that worries me of the right wing situation is the inability of the leadership to think, to talk, to move, that's the problem.

POM. What you have here is a classical pattern. You have paramilitary activity with a potential for violence and you've a political vacuum and the political vacuum is that your party doesn't know how to go about achieving what it wants to achieve without just stating and re-stating a demand. You have the position but not a policy.

KVM. Yes, no plan. That's our problem at the moment. I'm trying to move out of that impasse and for trying to do that my head rolled.

POM. What's your evaluation of the past year, or the 18 months that Mandela has now been out? Has the thing moved quicker than you thought, slower than you thought, a lot more problems than you thought it would have?

KVM. The government is controlling this remarkably well on the surface. It looks as if they are controlling it remarkably well because they keep the initiative, they keep ahead of circumstances and it just shows me that somewhere in the National Party circles (I don't know where) there's thinking, the type of thing that I have here, it's clear to me that either the military or the police or National Intelligence or other people are thinking, are continuously keeping abreast of circumstances, are evaluating, are planning. It's clearly like a fountain, the planning and the dynamism come from the planning from the government side. And they're working in terms of a strategy. Now I don't know whether that is an intentional strategy, that they have a strategy or whether it's an ad hoc thing that they run from day to day and it just happens, but it appears to be a strategy. But they are running into a certain direction. They are doing it well and the problem with the CP is that our surveys show, and even the National Party surveys and others, show that people are no longer voting for the National Party, certain percentages. For instance there was a by-election somewhere, in Bloemfontein, we won our first municipal seat in Bloemfontein City Council. But the point is we retained roughly the same number of votes which we had two years ago, roughly the same, a little more. The National Party lost heavily, let's say 15% or 20% of their people didn't vote for them again, but they didn't vote for us. What does that mean? It means the same man is fed up with his wife, he's in the process of divorcing her but the neighbour, the wife next door who is trying to get him she's simply not good enough for him. He's really not interested, he's not falling for her. So I say she must change her bloody strategy.

POM. It would be foolish for somebody, because quarter of the NP disagree with his policies, to turn over and vote for the Conservative Party when that person knows that what the Conservative Party wants is totally unrealistic.

KVM. They are no doubt attracted to what we stand for because it articulates the inner feeling of nationalism and patriotism. It's what we all want. But they say it can't work. There are fundamentally changed circumstances. We can't do that any longer. We could have done it years ago but today you can't and Treurnicht and the others say, oh these circumstances, it's morbid and so on, but we wouldn't even discuss it, it's not really there, we'll still do it as in the past - finish. Sweep it under the carpet and go on with the job. That's the problem. They don't give it air. You are right, the people won't vote for us because they don't believe in the policy.

POM. You can't deliver what you ... .

KVM. No, they can see through it. So what we have to do is come forth with something which is workable, which can work and then we'll become the government overnight. Because those who want to move away from the National Party because the National Party has brought bloodshed to the country, poverty, uncertainty, confusion, long term economic problems, all that, and the moment we come forth with something that looks like a recipe for success they will swim to us, but we don't even have a policy to bring to them.

POM. What's your evaluation of the ANC?

KVM. The ANC has obviously been caught unawares and I think that they were brought into the ring to fight and they are not fit for this fight. They have been doing shadow boxing for a period of 40, 50, 60 years. Wherever they went there were no opponents. They went all over the world. They had big meetings. The raised funds and they talked to people and never was there an opponent so they have become used to shadow boxing. Now that they've been brought into the ring I think they are not doing well. If you were to enter into debates with them, like I've done, under the auspices that they were not really ANC's, I could sense and I can see in other circumstances that they don't do very well because you can pinpoint them and say what minority protection will there be? Surely, what checks and balances? And if you go to the American audiences they know very well the word checks and balances and they have a feeling for that and they think it's necessary and if you are in front of an American audience and they eventually admit there will be no checks and balances for you, you have the sympathy of the Americans. If you say to them, but you are going to nationalise our assets even on a small scale, at first they deny that and eventually you prove to the audience that in fact they are going to nationalise. Then they're in trouble. And if you talk about the violence and the inability of them to move away from violence, you discredit them. I think they are not very well trained. Maybe they are improving, but they have a weak case.

. One of the biggest problems they have are the unreal expectations which have been created amongst the blacks and there is no way they can satisfy that. And they know it. It's their biggest problem. The youth outside are waiting for them to take over so that everyone the next day can have a Mercedes Benz and a big house and a car and four white women working for them, etc., and money. There's nothing of that sort going to be and they don't know, after they've come to power, if they do come to power, how are they going to sort this out.

. Let me just answer your question, in view of these circumstances I think the ANC is mellowing. The ANC is sensing that it is in trouble. They have got to change strategy and they think here and there they are changing strategy. Maybe they are making concessions. I think they are already prepared to take less than what they wanted in the beginning so there's a process of giving in, giving in. I don't know how much. How do you measure it?

POM. I was going to ask you what your assessment of the strength of the moderates versus the hard-liners would be. My assessment at this time would be that the moderates are in the ascendancy.

KVM. Oh yes.

POM. And that they are willing ultimately to have no problem with sharing power with the Nationalist Party.

KVM. Here's de Klerk's strategy. De Klerk wants a Namibian DTA one man one vote election in which he wants to gather the moderates together. Now if he has on his side the NP, the DP, the Coloureds, the Indians, Inkatha, the homelands, churches ...

POM. That's the conservative churches?

KVM. Yes like that. On the other hand you have the ANC, then he's going to lose, he's going to lose. So what must he do? He must break the ANC, split them in the middle. So the hawks and the doves there, the government is, most probably with National Intelligence, involved there in making sure that there will be a split. Then the Mbekis will come to this side and the others will be there. Then this group has an excellent chance of winning them. If the radicals then decide to go back to the bush and resume the war they will be isolated. Nobody in the world will be on their side. So if he can achieve this he is certain of success. Then, with this type of coalition he simply has to accommodate Mbeki and one or two, Buthelezi and one or two, and he can have a Cabinet of thirty in which ten or twelve would be blacks and he can still have white supremacy. I think that's what he has in mind. That's the way I think.

POM. Along those lines, you know how for the past year the ANC have been saying that the government has had a hand in the violence.

KVM. I believe that.

POM. That it's had a double agenda, the olive branch of negotiations and undermine them in the townships, show that they can't defend their own people. Some people think in terms of law and order and would think that a new South Africa is going to be all kinds of instability, the National Party is in fact a safer route to go. Do you believe the government is involved?

KVM. Yes of course it's involved. I spoke to Vlok the other day, I said everything you say and I said this is what you're doing. And he said, "But I give you my word we are not involved." And I said, "You're lying." And he said, "Why are you saying this? Why are you so sure?" And I said, "Because I'm an Afrikaner, I know how you think and I would have done the same. Therefore you are doing this." I'm sure they're doing it, there's no doubt, but they're doing it very cleverly. It's very much at arm's length and those people who are doing it have sworn that in the event of it coming out they will be prepared to go to jail, etc., and never spill the beans and so forth.

POM. What do you think has been, if any, the political fallout of Inkathagate?

KVM. Nothing, nothing much. It was an opportunity for the ANC to score a few points. It caused a little wave but it's gone and finished.

POM. Where does it leave Buthelezi?

KVM. Slightly weakened, not much. It wasn't such a big thing. Let's say in terms of points Buthelezi came down 2, 3, 4 points, the ANC went up 2, 3, 4 points. But nothing like a big crumbling down and so forth.

POM. So you've come quite a long way in twelve months? But that's progress.

KVM. I don't know what it is but this is why I wrote to you and this is why I waited for you for so long to talk to you to try to give you a look into the transition, how people's attitudes are changing, what is happening in the country. What do you say what's happening? What can you see?

POM. The big danger on the back side, two things, the youth are a time bomb sitting out there and totally unrealistic expectations allied to the fact that an awareness on the part of the ANC that there is no way that they can satisfy those expectations and that therefore a coalition government or a government of national unity might be the route to go in the immediate post-apartheid years. There's an acknowledgement that the ANC or a black government can't govern without the support of whites, white technology.

KVM. Is that what they think?

POM. Technical knowledge, expertise, know-how, experience. You'd be surprised how valued that is. Practical recognition, it's like looking at reality, that's the circumstance. The moderates appear to be certainly to the fore, again in terms of those who would say yes, we know we have to compromise, we can't get everything the way we want it. On your side of the tracks, just what I told you. A position that's repeated and repeated with no policy. A position that becomes hollow because it is so unrealistic that you'll find more occasions on which the voters will behave as they did in Ladybrand where the NP vote will go down but that your support won't actually go up. You're not offering people anything. It's not an alternative. The man in the street knows that it's not a realistic alternative that is being offered to him. On a general level, a remarkable spirit of conciliation among blacks. I would ask them how they can be so vengeful towards each other and not towards the white community.

KVM. Blacks, meaning?

POM. Africans, Coloureds, Indians. And again Indians and Coloureds moving away from having problems with the ANC. The radicals would be conciliatory towards - the radical youth are probably with the PAC. The ANC believes in a process of democratisation that is almost utopian it would involve so much consultation and participation but they feel that one part of doing that is that if you want to lower expectations you have to bring the people with you at every stage. So one way you do that is by reporting back to them and getting their input from them so that they can begin by participation realising that their expectations must be realistic.

KVM. Exposed to the facts, the realities, going back realising that we have to scale down our expectations.

POM. I suppose what surprises me is that after 18 months given the horrendous level of violence last year, given the fact that all black organisations emphatically believe that the government have been behind the violence.

KVM. Are they all emphatic about that?

POM. Take Inkatha out and, I mean Inkatha and the government emphatically and yet the acknowledgement even given that negotiations are the only way forward, there's no going back to the armed struggle.

KVM. Who have you seen in the CP? Treurnicht, myself and?

POM. A man named Clive Derby-Lewis.

KVM. Yes, what about him?

POM. Hard-line, war. I mean he's absolutely hard-line.

KVM. Unrealistic? Can he think, can he interpret, can he evaluate? Does he take cognisance of what's happening around him?

POM. No, no.

KVM. Closed mind, just like Treurnicht.

POM. Not as closed as Treurnicht. I find Treurnicht so closed as to be downright scary. This was not what I would call the leader of a political party. And Terre'Blanche I found a little more mellow than the last time. Maybe it was because I talked to him differently, said I don't want our conversation to be confrontational. I think he tries to bully you, as you probably know. He tries to lean across the table, raise his voice and bully you. But again, really repetition of the same thing. No policy. "There will be war, the day the ANC takes over we will go to war." He's very careful to say that they do not regard themselves as being at war or attempt to justify the use of violence before that point.

KVM. How intelligent is he? How much intelligence has he?

POM. I suppose I would distinguish between - I haven't heard him speak.

KVM. Have not?

POM. I have not heard him speak.

KVM. Have you heard him on a tape? It's like Hitler.

POM. Yes. He's clearly a charismatic speaker and therefore whether he's intelligent or not, his intelligence as distinct from his charisma, two things to ...

KVM. Can he talk, can he evaluate, can he make plans?

POM. I don't think so, not in a political sense.

KVM. And National Party? Do they know where they're heading?

POM. I've been consistently clear on one thing and that is that they will want to exercise power at an executive level no matter what arrangement is arrived at. One other thing that I've noticed is that people don't read each other. I don't think there's anybody in the ANC who reads statements made by de Klerk. There's nobody to evaluate changes in the NP's position over a period of 12 to 18 months. At Buthelezi's end it's the same, it hasn't changed, it's the same.

KVM. Buthelezi.

POM. I'm seeing him this week. I've just talked to a few Inkatha people in Durban But it's the Zulu nationalism ...

KVM. Is that what he espouses?

POM. Well, that the ANC wants to establish a one-party state. An ANC is a Xhosa dominated tribe and their one obstacle in the way of a one-party state is the Zulus, therefore they're out to dominate the Zulus.

KVM. What is going to happen in this country?

POM. I'm more optimistic than I was.

KVM. If I say to you that my feeling, whether I like it or not, is that if I were to look in the crystal ball, to me it looks as if we're moving in the direction of something vaguely similar to the American system. You've got your states, I call them component states, the United States, the big government is the state and the individuals are component states. I think we will come forth with a number of component states, provinces, areas, whatever you call them, and it will move in the direction of a federation where there will be strong autonomy in the component states and a weak central/federal government. I say, if I look far ahead, I'm not sure whether I'm right, but if those component states are devised in such a manner, but some of them, 1, 2, 3 of them out of 10 or 20, will be Afrikaner controlled. Then the challenge before us will be eventually there are going to be 10 or 20 component states. Four of them, which will make up 20% or 30% of the country, will effectively be run by us in which we can perpetuate our value system, have our schools, churches and other institutions, universities and so forth and in which we will have, let's say, 90% of self-determination. Then the question will be in the end do we make war for the extra 10%? I would then say if there are 20 component states and if that one and that one and this one and that one maybe, if they would be Afrikaner controlled with 90% o self-determination, I would probably reason that as a preliminary step to end the impasse, accept that.

. One important reason for that is to get the economy immediately kick-started because if there's a settlement and there's real peace in a climate conducive to prosperity, there will be prosperity and the economy will be kick-started and things will go better. Otherwise if we don't do that, even as an interim stage, we will harm the country's economy to such an extent that we won't be able to recover in 20 or 30 years time and you and I will be dead by then. So I would say, consider seriously to go for 90%, but immediately, the next day in the new post-apartheid situation establish quietly political parties who would be, say, a political party for the advancement of self-determination in certain areas and try to get the 90% up to 95% to 98% and then maybe eventually 100% if necessary. But somewhere on that scale we may find a place where we say OK, this satisfies our needs.

POM. I think I have to go. Thank you.

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.