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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

11 Aug 1992: Louw, Eugene

Click here for more information on the Interviewee

Click here for Overview of the year

POM. I would like to take you back to the referendum, or before that, I would like to take you back to the National Peace Accord which was signed with great fanfare a little less than a year ago in September 1991 and it had been the result of much negotiation among all the parties.  There was an elaborate ceremonial signing with Mr Buthelezi, Mr de Klerk and Mr Mandela present and yet this has been the single bloodiest year in South Africa's history, at least in its recent history.  What happened to the Peace Accord?  Has it proved to be ineffective or is its structure simply not strong enough?  Has it not taken hold at the grassroots level?

EL. Yes.  What in fact has happened is that eventually we got basically all the parties together at CODESA.  Everybody was most optimistic that we could come to some agreement.  In fact they made very, very favourable and very positive progress.  We were all impressed by it, also by the speed of the progress in this situation.  Then after basically all the vital parties participating, more or less agreeing that we were on the right track, on the right road, then suddenly for a very minute excuse which I may add was not unexpected, the ANC retracted.  My guess is what happened is that within the ANC there is undoubtedly a division between the moderates and between the radicals.  There is no doubt in our mind, in my mind, that the moderates were increasing in numbers and the radicals were not happy with this.  One must bear in mind there's always the pressure from the SACP who is an ally of the ANC, there's also the COSATU element, the trade union element and as a result of this a friction existed there and as a result of that an excuse was designed or devised to withdraw from it and this is undoubtedly due to the fact that there are factions within the ANC, that they were fighting and that as a result thereof the next logical step at CODESA would have been now to come to the grassroots and really to make progress with the constitution, get together to try and write an acceptable thing; to get together and to come to an agreement on the basic content of a new constitution or a transitional constitution and to start implementing this into a draft.  When they came to that critical stage the ANC basically found an excuse to withdraw, which I may add was also inter alia closely connected to an accusation that the government was responsible for all this violence and bloodshed, etc., etc., which is nonsensical.

POM. I want to take you back more carefully through some of those events.  Now the ANC went into CODESA, prepared to offer a veto threshold of 66% for items to be included in a new constitution and the government came in with the threshold of 75% and the ANC ended up by upping the figure to 70% for items in the constitution and 75% for items in the Bill of Rights.  Now many people that I have spoken to, non-aligned to either ANC or to government (if there is such a creature in South Africa), not politically on one side or the other so to speak, thought that the ANC had made a rather generous offer with the 70% threshold.  You say the ANC walked out of CODESA on a flimsy excuse.  They would say they walked out when you refused to move from the 75%.

EL. Then can use this as an excuse, undoubtedly they can do so, but being so close to each other as 70% and 75%, it's a matter of sitting round a table and sorting it out and coming to an agreement.  It's as easy as that.  It's not a tremendous difference.  In fact the government went back and made certain counter proposals.

POM. In fact they went back and offered, said they would accept the 70%?

EL. Yes, they went back and they made certain offers of acceptance but at that particular stage they got no further co-operation from the ANC.  It's no genuine excuse, certainly not.

POM. So you said they used that as a flimsy excuse to get out of CODESA.  So it's your belief that they wanted to get out of CODESA all along?

EL. They wanted to get out because they couldn't face the next logical step and that was, namely, the drafting of a constitution.

POM. Here again, and I'm giving you the feedback of what they say so it can feed into what you're saying, does this not highlight two or three of the basic problems at CODESA that you have had for the last two years of two different languages being used.  You've had the government talk all the time about this being a process about the sharing of power between blacks and whites so that equality is given to everyone.  You have the black liberation movements talking about majority rule or about the transfer of power.  Now the two concepts are very different and lead to very different outcomes.  Did they come into conflict at this point?

EL. Undoubtedly.  I'm not a member of CODESA because I'm connected with - in fact you mentioned the referendum, I was responsible for the referendum.  We organised it, my department did, and since then I've moved across to defence.  So I'm not directly involved with CODESA so I'm speaking not as a member of CODESA, I'm speaking at least as somebody who is closely connected with CODESA and the outcome of it.  Of course there are two different approaches which are quite far apart but sitting round a table we already came so close to each other and I don't think that was any problem at all.  The government has never ever denied the fact that all people and all parties and all groups must participate in a new constitution.  It is merely a matter of how this participation and how this representation should take place.  That was basically what it was about and we had made a lot of progress in this connection.  They agreed on many, many vital points and only a few remaining points were left and before those could be sorted out there was a withdrawal on their side.  OK, they thought they would try and connect it to a good and solid reason but everybody in South Africa knows that they tried to evade the logical consequence now of what would have been almost the highlight of the sessions of CODESA.

POM. I suppose, again, they would say that they saw CODESA, particularly the constitutional Working Group, as a forum in which you draw up the general principles that would be the parameters of your constitution but that the constitution itself would be drawn up and written by an elected Constituent Assembly.  Whereas from their point of view the government wanted the constitution itself written at CODESA and then it would only be subject to amendment by an elected body, whether a parliamentary body or a constitutional making body.  Again, there are two different concepts.

EL. Yes, but they're not very far apart.  I mean we're all talking about the same thing.  We're talking about a constitution and once you've agreed on the principles to incorporate it's a matter of method then to be sorted out.  I would say that would have been the less important, the more important being the sorting out of principles and then the rest is how do you implement it.  So I'm not concerned basically; the two I think are not that far apart.  The government naturally would have liked to, let's say when you had a transitional constitution, at least the first document, it should be well on its way to the final document.  Once you have a temporary document you've got to chop and change that from A to Z, then you've got to re-negotiate the whole thing from A to Z and while busy with a long process of negotiation one must see that your first document, your first draft must at least include the basic guidelines which have to be pulled through to the final document.  So that was a very, very pertinent approach of the government.  We didn't want to repeat a CODESA again, naturally to sort out minor things, but not the basic guidelines, yes.

POM. So I want to take you from when CODESA deadlocked but Mr de Klerk and Mr Mandela both said great progress had been made and the problems weren't insuperable.

EL. Amazing, amazing progress I would say.

POM. Less than a month later you had the ANC announce they were no longer participating in talks, they had made a list of fourteen more demands which the government had to meet, they had moved mass mobilisation from the back burner to the front burner.  Boipatong had happened and Mr Mandela was making very direct and personal attacks on Mr de Klerk holding him personally responsible for the murder of black people.  When the government analysed those events what was its understanding of what was going on in the ANC that moved it from a position of impasse to walking out of the talks altogether?

EL. Let me give you my personal opinion.  My personal opinion is that the ANC, and I want to blame them directly, the ANC has been instigating basically all this violence, been doing it very, very carefully.  They've been getting black people, factionists, to become dissatisfied with whatever may be taking place in a particular township.   Black people have been fighting among and against each other.  If the police do not go in they are being blamed for not going in.  The moment they are there they are being blamed for being there.  What should we do with the police who must go in and one has to try and stop the fighting and bloodshed and they can't act?  It's been ridiculous.  The same applies to the defence force who have always been in support of the police in this connection.  So they are blaming the police and the armed forces for the bloodshed which took place in Boipatong.  Boipatong was blacks fighting blacks, faction fights.

POM. Now when you say the ANC is the agent mostly responsible for the violence, how does violence help the ANC?  How does it further their cause?

EL. It furthers their cause because there's a radical element within the midst of the ANC and the radical element would like to bring a position of instability in South Africa and the best manner to create a position of instability is to get disorder among your people.  If you can get disorderly behaviour among your people, if you can get absolute chaos among your people, if you can bring your townships to rack and ruin and chaos as far as management is concerned, then naturally you do cause a position of uncertainty and a position of uncertainly is normally the forerunner to revolution.

POM. You mentioned this last year when we talked that you felt the ANC was dominated by the SACP and that it was still in a revolutionary mode.  Do you still believe that?

EL. Certainly.  The radicals are very prominent lately.  For a long time we thought that the moderates in fact were coming to their senses.  I think the moderates have assisted them, the CODESA talks progressing and making wonderful progress.  We were very happy with that.  Mr de Klerk, our President, has been constantly inviting the ANC to come back to the CODESA table, come and negotiate, come and let's hear about your problems but there has not been a positive response.

POM. So is your view that the ANC is the main agent responsible for the violence in the townships, a view that is widely held within the government itself?

EL. When I say ANC I must be careful because I would say elements in the ANC.  There are also, I think, the more moderate elements there.  Let's not blame the more moderate ones because they do not want to accept what is now happening in some of their townships.  There are so many people also within the ANC who really want to come to a peaceful solution and I do not want to discredit them.  They are the majority too I think.  My guess is they are the majority by far, but the radicals, if you're radical and if you threaten people with the taking of lives, with bloodshed and with the destroying of property, then naturally the moderates would be careful because it's his life savings.

POM. Would it be a widely held view within the government that a certain element, certain radical elements within the ANC/SACP/COSATU alliance are mainly responsible for the violence?

EL. It's the general view in South Africa, I would say, among many, many people and that is my personal opinion and that is undoubtedly the government's view too of what has been taking place.

POM. That's the government's view too?  Is that the government's view too?

EL. Well the government is naturally aware of this fact, yes.  Absolutely so.

POM. So who would you point to as being leaders of this radical clique?

EL. I wouldn't like to mention names.  It's very clear that there - you would soon find out if you analyse these people.  I've got to deal with people, I don't think I should mention too many names.  What I can do is I can very definitely mention certain names who are involved in addition to those who are prominent members of the Communist Party, people like Hani and other people who have made very, very explicit statements all indicating that revolution is their sole purpose.  You go and read some of their statements.  If I knew you wanted that, I would have gathered the statements together prior to your coming here.

POM. I want to go back to the first question I asked you and maybe you can link the two together.   I asked you, the Peace Accord had been signed with great fanfare by Mr Buthelezi, Mr de Klerk and Mr Mandela and yet it has collapsed.  Well, I don't know, do you think it has collapsed?  Do you think it has been ineffective?

EL. It has very definitely come to a temporary standstill.   I think I can say temporary because I am sure it will re-start again.  If you talk to Mr Buthelezi and find out why they were not prepared to participate they will tell you outright because after the ANC had signed these agreements they just went back and proceeded with the violence, especially also in his own community and among his own people in Natal.  So go and speak to him about that too.   Their actions have caused Mr Buthelezi to become very dissatisfied with the progress made.  You get so many very interesting things which have been happening lately.

. One of the latest examples, the ANC were sitting with Ciskei around the negotiating table, they had entered into agreements that all signed Peace Accords and a week ago the ANC wanted to invade Ciskei.  You were here.  When was this?  Last Wednesday.  They wanted to invade Ciskei!  Now you sit and you sign a peace agreement, how can you move up in thousands and thousands of people to go invade a different people and a different government?  I've got no doubt that their eventual goal was to try and take over there but things didn't go that well for them because Oupa Gqozo, who's the leader of the Ciskeian people, he mobilised his people and we had to mobilise our people on our side of the boundary and we sent in negotiators to see whether we could calm the people down.

. The other very interesting thing is that Mr Mandela was moving up with hundreds, well with thousands and thousands of people, up to the lower terrace of the Union Buildings last Wednesday where he was directing all sorts of challenges to the government.  I mean the door was open.  He could have walked up the steps and come and talked to Mr de Klerk.  How many times have we tried to get him back there but he's been pressurised by elements within his party.  There's no doubt about this.  Now suddenly he makes a statement on Sunday to praise the statesmanship of Mr de Klerk.  I mean the one moment he criticises him for being involved and poor Mr de Klerk is now also being criticised for causing all the bloodshed, and the next thing they try to do they go for the ministers involved.  They haven't tacked me yet but they probably will still do so.  They are tackling the Minister of Police.  They've tackled the previous Minister of Police.  They've tackled the previous Minister of Defence, Mr Magnus Malan. They are now concentrating on individuals in the police force and in the army as well to try and break them down in order to try and break down the system.

POM. Where do you place - you mentioned it seems as though he's schizophrenic, one moment Mr Mandela says Mr de Klerk is personally responsible for the murder of African people and four weeks later he praises his statesmanship.  Where do you place Mr Mandela in this?

EL. I still think that Mr Mandela is somebody we can come  to an agreement with but there's no doubt at all that the radical element were not happy with the direction in which Mr Mandela was moving and they put a sudden halt to this.  There's no doubt about this at all.

POM. Were you surprised, again when I say you, were you and the government surprised when after the talks deadlocked at first that there were a lot of reports written and indeed many members of the ANC that we have talked to will admit that had that agreement gone through of the 70% veto threshold for the constitution and 75% for a Bill of Rights, that the ANC would have had a lot of trouble in selling it to its constituents who would have seen it as a sell out?

EL. I can't see why this should have been the case because if you analyse the drastic steps and changes and concessions made by the government at CODESA, the government would have been probably more hard pressed to sell the new views to the people of South Africa.  We are already divided into, very drastically divided into an extreme left and an extreme right, the whole lot here, but whatever we agree to is something completely new.  I've got to go and sell it to my constituents which is not easy.  So if I've got to accept that responsibility certainly Mr Mandela can also accept a possibly less responsibility to his own people to actually ensure the leaders can convince their people.  He can do so more easily than I can probably persuade my people to accept complete drastically changed views.  We're doing away with the old Westminster system completely, we've already basically done away with half of it already, and we've got to sell a new system which will be a shock to the whites where there will be a new form of government where the majority of people will be blacks as such and we have accepted the challenge.  Certainly he can also make a concession.  Concessions can't come from one side only.

POM. Just on that again, many people that we've talked to say that the offer the government turned down, of the two veto thresholds, is probably the best offer the government will ever have had.  The ANC can't go that far again, that their policy conference now mandated them to go no further than 66% which they argue is the norm in other countries when constitutions are put together so that when they come back into talks they're coming back in not on the basis is, we had made an offer of 70% and you were at 75%, can we negotiate the two figures or in fact the government had said yes to the 70% some weeks after the talks impassed, they're now back down to 66%.  Do you think that when you go back into negotiations that the government is in a stronger or weaker position than it was when the talks deadlocked?

EL. The government has always had a very open mind on every basic point and the government has always been prepared to analyse and look at every proposal made to it.  If it was not in agreement it would have made a counter proposal.  If the counter proposal was far apart from the original one it would be more difficult to come together but if the two proposals are fairly close to each other the purpose of CODESA is in fact to over-bridge those differences there.  And if I see the progress they've made over the short period of existence, amazing progress, of CODESA I think basically each and every problem could be sorted out there.  It had always been the government's approach, a little give a little take, but that must be done on both sides.  It's not a matter of what the husband doesn't give the wife takes, you know.  It's not that sort of situation.

POM. In that connection I'd like you to look at the referendum last March in which the government got an overwhelming mandate, an overwhelming vote of support from the -

EL. Amazing.  We couldn't believe it.

POM. - from the white community.  When whites voted yes, what were they voting yes to?

EL. Basically for the government to proceed along the lines they have been doing at CODESA and proceeding with an eventual agreement on the basic lines spelt out in the referendum and proceeding after CODESA to draft a concept of constitutions for a new dispensation.

POM. I read all of the reports coming out of South Africa on that referendum, listened to all the reports of the foreign news media.  I subscribe to two news clipping services in this country so I get piles of stuff every week.  All of it referred to the referendum being about a process in which whites and blacks would end up sharing power together.  So my question is -

EL. Sharing was very basic, yes.

POM. - were whites saying yes to power sharing but they weren't saying yes to a process that might end up in majority rule?

EL. They said yes to power sharing undoubtedly.  They were prepared to enter into an agreement knowing full well that the majority of people there would naturally be black people.  But also built into the system is and was a system of protection of all minority groups in South Africa and whichever government ever comes into power, if you do not protect your minority groups you'll have constant revolution taking place.  Once again what we talked about last time, once again because the country as such consists of at least eleven ethnic groups and a majority would probably always be a majority of minority groups forming a majority as such, so you must always, if you have four large groups being the majority as against the other seven or six, five, whatever it may be, there must be a built-in protection.  A very typical example is what has been taking place between the KwaZulu people and the ANC.

POM. Let me put it in the simplest terms.  Let's say there was an election tomorrow and it was contested by the ANC, the National Party, the Conservative Party, say all parties that are there in CODESA at the moment plus AZAPO, Conservative Party and the PAC and let us say that the ANC received 52% of the vote and those on proportional representation.  In that case do you foresee this government signing an agreement that would allow the ANC, as the party having received the majority of votes in the country on a proportional basis and become the government of the country?

EL. Yes and no for the simple reason that if you analyse it you must have got the basic guidelines of the government when we had this referendum earlier this year.  You would have seen that the one house, the proposed the system of two houses, the one being a sort of a one man one vote situation where you would have a total overall majority of black people, and the second one was more or less based on regional representation, but there was an inter-connection between the two in regard to certain Acts which would be passed by pure majority and certain Acts where there had to be agreement or consensus between the two houses.   And that was the built-in security to protect minority groups.

POM. So there were certain veto powers?

EL. Yes.  Well, veto powers insofar as it was based on consensus and if consensus was not arrived at there would be no decision taken.  So it wouldn't merely be veto.  Certain things could be interpreted as veto, especially certain clauses with a 70% or 66% or 75% entrenchment.  So those could probably be interpreted as a veto, but that you basically have in each and every country when it affects certain basics of a particular country as such, yes.

POM. So those proposals are still part of what the government has put on the table?

EL. Very much so, very much so.  And once again if there are major differences between - we're basically talking with regard to two parties at the moment, but naturally other parties as well - but if there are two or three groups with basic differences then your task is to sit down at the table to try and sort it out and come to an agreement.  We mustn't omit Inkatha.  We mustn't omit the royal house, we mustn't omit the KwaZulu government.  Mr Buthelezi represents a very large number of people, some six million blacks.  He may not have the support of all the people but he's also a very vital participant in the whole situation and the ANC especially like to cut him out completely, so much so that Mr Buthelezi is sometimes also dissatisfied with the government because he blames the government for cohering with the ANC and not giving him the necessary acknowledgement.  So we've always had that sort of problem there.

POM. I'll get back to him.

EL. He's a very solid man.

POM. I'll get back to him in a couple of minutes.  I want to keep on the line we're on regarding the referendum.   It's been said by many people that at some point the government had to confront the Conservative Party eating away at it on its right wing, by-elections, calling for a general election and while the Conservative Party was there in apparent strength it constrained the degree to which the government could move or not move.  Then you had the referendum.  In the course of that referendum being held the ANC by and large kept their mouths shut.  They made the usual noises about there shouldn't be one more white only election but they kept their mouths shut, they kept out of it, and in fact Mr Mandela urged whites to vote yes.  They urged whites who hadn't voted before to come out and vote for the referendum, that it would move the process forward.  Two things.  The first question is that almost to a person, I would say members of the ANC that we've talked to, members of the PAC, academics, not necessarily aligned with the ANC, and journalists, have all said that after Mr de Klerk got that overwhelming vote of support that he went back to CODESA and he hardened his position, that his negotiating stance at CODESA became a lot less accommodating.  What would be your own view?

EL. That would certainly not be my interpretation.  In fact for the very, very first time Mr de Klerk had overwhelming majority support backing him up to proceed with CODESA because the outcome of the referendum was a green light to proceed with CODESA.  Up to that stage the extreme right had constantly been accusing him of participating at CODESA without a mandate.  Now for the first time he had a mandate and in fact he could now make his voice stronger, not against the ANC as such, but make his voice stronger because he now knew that he was talking on behalf of the majority, by far the majority of whites in South Africa.  And in fact the outcome of that was probably the cause of the start of a collapse or a very serious division within the ranks of the right.  It started right there.

. It's very interesting that you mention this point.  If you analyse the number of by-elections which took place prior to the referendum you would have noticed that the extreme right was making quite rapid progress and this was basically on account of a number of things, quite a number of things, I can mention a few things.  The very bad economic situation, the record drought; nobody knows whenever in the history of South Africa there was such a tremendous drought which has had the outcome on our income as such, and thirdly the violence and the criminal involvement of people murdering especially elderly people on farms.  This has made an impact and has caused fear among whites.  Because people have been suffering economically as a result of this people have been dissatisfied, have been dissatisfied and in by-elections the Conservative Party has made progress.

. The very interesting part is one of the overwhelming progress examples was in Potchefstroom by Mr Andries Beyers who is now the leader of the breakaway group.  Also he's now come to his senses because it's nice to talk emotional politics if you don't have the responsibility to govern the country.  When it came to the referendum, all people, also those who voted against the government in by-elections, they had to sort out a situation affecting the future of South Africa.  They had to work it out for themselves: what do we want to do?  Do we want to enforce apartheid again, re-institute apartheid and cause a revolution or do we want to try and come to an amicable settlement?  They chose the latter.  And many of those on the right hand side, on the extreme right of the political dividing line voted for the government when it came to the referendum.

POM. But again to come back to my question, you would dispute the perception of those who say that Mr de Klerk went back to CODESA after the referendum and hardened his position.

EL. I would very much dispute that assumption if that is to be interpreted to mean that he became more unreasonable.  That is very definitely not so in fact.  I think the record of the government has been one of extreme reasonableness at CODESA.

POM. The second part of my question relates to what did the referendum do to the right?  Is the right essentially a non-factor in the politics of change at the moment?  Has it been dealt with?  Has it been sidelined?

EL. No it has not been sidelined.  They are very much there.  As violence proceeds, as these mass protest movements grow bigger and bigger, fear will remain with people.  And as more people are being murdered and being robbed at gun point as has been taking place lately the fear will remain there and while the fear remains there people will be uncertain when it comes to voting.  That is the one aspect which is very clear, therefore the government is suffering when it comes to by-elections at the moment because the government has got to do hard and difficult and tough things.  It's got to say, look here I am prepared to share government with these people who are now marching.  This does not create a good impression on the television when you see who the people are who are causing the havoc.  So it's been very difficult.  On the other hand it strengthened the government's conviction that we must come to an agreed settlement in South Africa with regard to the constitutional future.  So despite the fact that the government has been and may even lose a few more by-elections, the government is convinced that the basic and point number one is to come to a political settlement in the country.

. The other interesting point is, especially among the coloured people, they have been walking across the floor in parliament from the extreme left, the old ex-Labour Party, across to the new brown NP so much so that they're already in power and at a critical by-election in Kimberley held about two, three months ago we scored an overwhelming victory which is indicative of the following that brown people are now in larger numbers siding now with whites.

POM. Mr Botha at the UN Security Council and in  other speeches has recently talked about the NP becoming the majority party. Do you think that's a  bit of an exaggeration?

EL. I think that is the aim of the party. I think we are rapidly consolidating, we have to a very large degree consolidated a large number of whites behind us and I think we've made tremendous progress in the consolidating of brown support. My guess is that at this stage we may have a majority of Indian support as well. Amongst blacks there are many, many who feel the same. We could extend the party political machine now, try and incorporate black people as well who are very welcome in the party. The only point is that in black townships where hundreds of thousands of people do live there is a large amount of intimidation present which may make it difficult for the parties, the NP, to get  branches going within certain townships as such. But we have individual blacks already joining as individuals. Coloured people originally started joining the party, now it's becoming by far -

POM. If you had to give a very loose and rough estimate of your support in the  black community would it be around 10%, 15%?

EL. No, no, that I can't say.

POM. What might it lie between? A lower and upper boundary, very loosely?

EL. It's  difficult to say what would the support be for the principles of the NP. But I think if you say what would the support be for Mr de Klerk you may find a very interesting figure and if you ask the question what would the support be for the government to proceed in quest of a peaceful solution I think you'll be surprised at the mass support you'll be getting from black people who want peace to be restored. As a party it's going to be difficult because in any party political election at the moment you're going to have a tremendous amount of intimidation. What has now happened during the stayaways in the first few days of last week, I've spoken to black people, is that they've been intimidated, many blacks. But the other important point which contributed to a successful stay-away action was not only intimidation, especially a successful cutting off of all transport. In other words the moment you cut off buses, you cut off taxis, you threaten them, people cannot get to work. And what has also been done, they've dug trenches in roads, they've filled it up with water, they've put barbed wire in there and they've connected the barbed wire with a close electricity point in a domestic home and electrified the situation. This is the radical element.

POM. So in your view, to move in the direction of the stayaway, was it a successful stayaway?

EL. The stayaway was successful. I don't think the protest march was successful. In other words if I say the outcome of the protest was certainly not successful, the stayaway action as such, if you analyse it specifically, it was undoubtedly successful because people did not get to work, businesses were badly affected, businessmen sustained large losses. I see R200 million has been mentioned. It could be more, I don't know.

POM. Would it be your view and the view of, say, the majority of your colleagues in the government, that the stayaway was successful because of intimidation and coercion, not because the majority of the people supported it?

EL. Yes absolutely so.

POM. No doubt in your mind?

EL. No doubt in my mind whatsoever. If it hadn't been for the cutting off of the transport services, if it hadn't been for a large amount of intimidation they'd never ever have had the same support. Let me give you a good comparison, the previous Saturday, just a week prior to that, they also organised the same sort of rally and they did not concentrate to that extent on cutting off of transport and there was much less intimidation. They thought that by appealing to the people they would get a very positive reaction. Take the Pretoria situation, the original estimate, and you can check the newspapers, was 70,000 would attend the rally here at the Union Buildings.

POM. This was the rally before the general strike?

EL. This was now two Saturdays ago and we've had a clear Saturday and we've had the general strike and then we've had this one. The Saturday prior to the general strike, well eight days prior to the general strike, the first estimate, prediction, was 70,000, the second was 50,000. On the day they counted the people there the police counted 500 and the English newspapers counted 650. Those are the people who attended. That would show you that there was no intimidation, that was the outcome. And that I think shocked the ANC and that's why they reverted to a different approach.

POM. So if the ANC are saying we really sent the government a message, we showed the government that the vast majority of the masses in this country support us in our demands and showed it by staying away during the general strike and we have sent the government a real message and they had better take that into account when they come back to the negotiating table, are they misreading the situation?

EL. Of course they are, yes.

POM. And they are misreading the way the government has analysed the situation?

EL. Yes, of course, absolutely. They probably had 90% stayaway. It's difficult for me to say if there was no intimidation what numbers there would have been. That I cannot say. I can only guess it would have been much, much, much less. People have been shedding tears because most of this has now been run on a no work no pay basis. Yesterday's newspaper, the newspapers predicted that there was a R50 million rand loss of wages over the first two days. I cannot say how close this figure is but this has had a drastic effect on the income of people as a sure factor. You can't get away from it. It must affect people. Everybody's suffering in South Africa financially and nobody can afford to lose two or three or even four days' wages. And the strike last week to a large extent lasted for more than three days.

POM. Do you believe that the ANC will resort to mass action again?

EL. Yes.

POM. You do? So you'd see really a series of these events continuing to happen, but a series of events that would be fuelled by intimidation rather than by popular support?

EL. I think they happen at the moment to a certain extent because I think it was a very successful session of the UN meeting you referred to a bit earlier where Mr Pik Botha put the case very clearly and I hope you have a copy of his speech. Thereafter we've had the Vance delegation which visited South Africa and spent about ten days here. We've had certain outcome of that and we have been prepared to allow thirty UN representatives to come here and to monitor the whole situation. We've not been hiding anything at all and this has very definitely had a stabilising effect on what Mr Mandela's party has been doing prior to that. Immediately they had to take into consideration that they were being monitored so this, I think, has had an effect to also try and calm down some of the latest statements by the ANC. That has probably also been the sole cause why they didn't go over to more drastic action when they invaded Ciskei last Wednesday.

POM. What was the outcome of that?

EL. We, through negotiations where we used the Army Chief of that Division, the Police Chief of that Division, members of Foreign Affairs Department and Dr Antonie Gildenhuys who is the Executive Secretary of the National Peace Accord Executive, they acted as negotiators and they did this very successfully.

POM. I want to go back to the white referendum again and make a comparison. The point I was making was that during that referendum the ANC was understanding of Mr de Klerk's dilemma and his need to rein in the right and the need for him to have the right wing under control before he could move the process forward in a substantial way, which is why they said nothing, kept out of it and urged whites to vote yes if they were going to vote. The analogy would be that Mr Mandela faces a problem with his left and that the need for mass action in this particular case was an illustration of his need to accommodate them in order to pull them in in order to be able to say, OK now you've had your mass action, we've done that, let us get back to the negotiating table. It would appear from the actions, more the statements than the actions of the government, that they weren't really very sympathetic to Mr Mandela's particular needs, that he has a hard time controlling his constituency and that sometimes he has to be party to actions that he doesn't necessarily agree with. Is there any analysis of where, as a political leader trying to rein in and balance the competing elements in his own constituency, that he has a tough job?

EL. Yes he has a tough job but he's chosen tough partners. You must bear in mind that the right wing is not a part of the government, certainly not. But who are the partners of Mr Mandela? The SA Communist Party, COSATU, uMkhonto weSizwe. If you choose extreme radicals to partner yourself and you choose people as outspoken as very prominent members of the SACP and also the COSATU members, the majority or a very large percentage of whom belong to the SACP, then naturally you must expect to have so many of the problems in your midst created by yourself. It will be impossible for Mr Mandela to get that lot together. It's just impossible as I see it from the outside.

POM. But if it's impossible for him to bring them together does that not make it very difficult for him ultimately to sell an agreement to his people?

EL. If he can bring those people together, but when you bring the people together it must not be four or five or six loose categories differing in principle with one another, they must come together of their own conviction to follow a particular line of political thought. In other words they must be consolidated by principals then naturally I can, it's something one can only say, good heavens please proceed, if you want to consolidate all these groups and we can talk peace, let's do it immediately, let's do it immediately. We would like to do exactly the same with the extreme right, exactly the same, but they do not want to share. The extreme right does not want to share with the black in South Africa. So we have got such a vast difference in ideology that we cannot get together. Mandela has got such a vast difference in ideology that he and the MK cannot get together and to a very large extent he and the SACP too. If he can succeed then it can only be to the good of South Africa. The more people we can get together to talk peace the better.

POM. If I were to make a neat division between, in the white community, the white political structure and the black political structure, in the white political structure you have the government, the NP, that wants to share power with blacks and you have the Conservative Party and the AWB and other right wing organisations that do not want to share power, and in the black community you have the ANC/SACP/COSATU alliance that can be divided into two groups, one groups prepared to share power with whites, the other group wanting to dominate whites, wanting majority rule, wanting a transfer of power.

EL. Majority rule in a dominating form, yes.

POM. In your view, again, the basic problem?

EL. This is a good division, this is a good summary of the basic problem, except that one must not merely refer to Mr Mandela and his followers, one must not exclude the other black groups to this: Dr Buthelezi, Zulus and the other smaller ones as well.

POM. Let's talk about Dr Buthelezi for a moment. We visited with him about two weeks ago and he appeared to be very bitter and militant.

EL. Against the government or against the ANC?

POM. Against the process that excluded him. Again reiterating a theme he has been iterating lately, his belief that, his instance that the Zulu people will not be a partner to any agreement concluded by a process that does not include a representative of the Zulu nation, i.e. the Zulu King, and he seems very adamant and stuck on this point. Do you think, yourself, from talking to your colleagues, that you can conclude a successful agreement between the parties presently at CODESA and make that stick for the country as a whole if it leaves out KwaZulu and the Zulu King?

EL. No, you can't come to an agreement in this country if we don't include the Zulus. It's as plain as that. The problem of the King has been slightly difficult because naturally many other black peoples can also come along with their Kings and basically CODESA is one where political parties are involved. Once you bring in the Royal House of a particular people you bring in completely new elements which may be less political. My reply to your question is that we must incorporate the Zulus in any negotiations, any final agreement entered into.

POM. But you have all this talk now about the ANC and the government getting back to the table as though if that happens this will kind of somehow solve the whole problem once you two, as the main partners, get talking.

EL. We must get the Zulus there too. The government realises this. We know there are certain vital differences between the ANC and between Mr Buthelezi's people. Perhaps the government could brush up its contact, it has, I think, been trying to do so lately with Dr Buthelezi because he's been feeling sort of pushed upon at the present moment. Unfortunately the ANC has almost gripped all the attention of the government because they are the people who make all these strange announcements each and every minute of the day and the government must at all times react to them as they're the people who ignore the law and organise mass stayaways and mass actions, whereas Dr Buthelezi is a man who more or less, I think, leads a very responsible example, displays a responsible example. But still Dr Buthelezi and his people are vital to any negotiated agreement in regard to the political future of South Africa.

POM. I noticed in today's paper that the government is going to talk to the PAC and talk to people in AZAPO who have said the government has made overtures to them for talking. Without revealing anything again, I'm going to publish nothing for the next five years so it will be, maybe in a couple of weeks it will be old news, but does the government see the future negotiating structure being a continuation of CODESA or a new structure that would be more inclusive, that would try to pull in the PAC, AZAPO, the Zulus, the CP and that only when you have really all of the major and minor constituencies at the table can you truly - ?

EL. I don't think there's much difference between whether you use the present CODESA or you use a completely new structure. The basic requirement will be to get all the people to a negotiating table. Whether you want to call it a CODESA or a new CODESA it will be the same. Basically all the parties have been participating with the exception of about three or four, have  been participating so it should not be that difficult to get the act together again. We must just get willing participants to come and join around the table. So whether it's a new CODESA, or whether it's the same one, it must include all the major, it should include everybody but it must at least include the majority of all the major parties and even the minor parties who care to join. If you have one or two absolutely radical groups who just do not want to come you can't force them to go there. If Dr Treurnicht does not want to go there what do you do? Must you let the process go?

POM. But Dr Buthelezi could be a spoiler in a way that Dr Treurnicht could never be. Dr Buthelezi could actually hamper the implementation of an agreement or make it null and void in his part of the country.

EL. Yes he could do so because Dr Treurnicht at least is probably a section of the white community whereas Dr Buthelezi represents a people, yes.

POM. Do you think the violence must be brought under control before you can have an election?

EL. Yes.

POM. Do you think an election could be held in the foreseeable future? By that I mean within the next six to nine months given the levels of violence that exist in the country.

EL. My guess at this stage is no. We could only have an election provided we can get the violence under control, provided people will agree to cut out the violence, stick to their word, do something to do so, and provided we can get peace and order and we can get rid of intimidation. Then we can get on with the election. People can come to an agreement at CODESA and enforce this. I cannot see why it cannot be done quickly. Whether we can do this within the next six months may not be simple, thinking of where we've got to restart again, but if people have the will to come together and agree we can probably do it within the next year. Then we will have to do hard work on that to start immediately.

POM. But the responsibility for stopping the violence ultimately, you believe, lies in the hands of the ANC?

EL. Of everybody but very definitely ANC. Everybody, because also the government is involved there. I have just taken over the army here, the Defence Force, and I want to assure you that probably any organisation gets bad aches and bad individuals and I cannot say that my 100,000 or however many people I may have involved in the army on a full time or part time basis, that ten or twenty or a hundred could not be criminals. The point is that if we can pinpoint them, hand them over to the police, then law and order must take its course. I will see that the defence force as such toes a straight line and we've got to do the same with the police where we've had bad elements in the past. Why were there such criminal elements involved? There were criminal elements involved because there were criminal attacks by other people on members of the police force and these people have retaliated. But we are cutting out any form of any criminal presence in these forces and they are there to protect the people. We are also involved because we've got to use our armed forces and our police force to try and maintain law and order and we've got to absolutely get rid of any guilty elements affecting the whole process.

POM. This is a last question, and thank you for the time, if you look at the whole plethora of proposals the government has on the table what is the one thing which, to you, should be least negotiable? What's the one bottom line below which you can't go?

EL. I would say that an assurance to all minority parties that they could participate in a form of government without the threat of intimidation and that the people could live peacefully.

POM. There would be minority participation in the government?

EL. Minority participation, protected minority participation. Otherwise the opposite is just once again that probably a majority rule in such a form that it could mean absolute suppression of all other people which basically means it would be following the examples of the majority of African countries of one government, no elections, one dictator.

POM. Thank you very much. I really appreciate the time and your thoroughness.

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.