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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

12 Nov 1992: Cooper, Saths

Click here for more information on the Interviewee

Click here for Overview of the year

POM. Let me get right into it. Could you give me maybe just a run down on where you think things are, on how things have developed say since last August, since after the mass action?

SC. I think that there is beginning to develop a recognition that the biggest threat to democratisation in this country is the violence that's been ravaging many parts of the country, but there is also the inability to meaningfully intervene to put a stop to that violence. I think that we're not going to hear from any of the key political figures that they have no serious plans to put an end to the violence. I think that from elsewhere will come the solutions. The extent to which people have been electioneering in the last few weeks has diminished. I think up to the last couple of months you had a crescendo in electioneering from the different political parties and their leaders using the violence to further create mileage for themselves, that has diminished somewhat in the last two months. Thankfully I would say, because we don't need any electioneering right now when major destabilising events are taking place. I think there is beginning to also develop among certain responsible sectors a recognition that the economy is in a graver situation than people imagined, that the simple rhetoric of expectation that South Africa has always had certain things it could rely on, that view has come under severe scrutiny and I think people are recognising that they are unable to just say, "Well this is South Africa", like Bush did, "Well this is America, we shall prevail." That mentality I think is beginning to be sobered up somewhat. I'm dealing with fairly mainstream views. I think we're not talking about the extreme fringes which at the end of the day hardly amount to much more than 5% on either side I would imagine.

POM. Let me go back to a couple of things you said, first concerning the violence. I subscribe to the SA Institute of Race Relations and I got this letter, a 'Dear Member' letter to all members from Helen Suzman concerning the controversy surrounding the recent publication of a report on disinformation about violence in South Africa.

SC. Right. Anthea Jeffery's' report.

POM. Are you familiar with the report?

SC. Yes I am.

POM. She says that it has been attacked because it has tried to tell the truth, challenged the conventional wisdom that only the state and Inkatha are to blame for the violence. She says, "If the Institute does not challenge this one-sided view it has shown that while the state and Inkatha are responsible for much of the violence so too are the African National Congress and its allies, a fact which has been covered up or excused in many instances." Do you subscribe to that view?

SC. I think there are very serious problems associated with that report. The problems fundamentally have to do with the author or authors, Anthea Jeffery being the principal author, complaining of the type of cover up which they themselves are perpetuating in that report. I don't think there is the necessary degree of distance and objectivity that's essential. I think that Anthea Jeffery and Race Relations have lent themselves to the belief, fairly widespread in most left of centre circles in this country and elsewhere, that over a period of time the Race Relations has tended to become apologetic for some positions, particularly the position that Inkatha holds. Now the report essentially attacks certain agencies, international agencies, International Commission of Jurors, Amnesty amongst them, and local monitoring groups for completely relying on information from one side. To some extent perhaps it's true but I wouldn't say that those agencies, if they valued their own impact and valued their own integrity would just rely on one side and completely ignore the others. The definition, for instance, I would not like to end up being an apologist for one of the internal agencies, the Human Rights Commission which has been very clearly close to the ANC but nowhere does the Human Rights Commission attempt to ignore certain facts. They mention those facts, they may downplay them to some extent but they do mention them. Now the Race Relations report actually comes unstuck when it accuses others and then precisely it's entire methodology falls foul of what it accuses others of. In a sense many people are saying its interpretation and conclusion is that the ANC and its allies are as guilty as Inkatha and Inkatha shouldn't be attacked for certain things.

. And that I think is a completely wrong premise on which to elevate the discussion to a serious discussion of the true state of affairs. I think what we're faced with is, we're faced with (i) this society is exceedingly violent, it has always been a violent society, its entire history smacks of violence from conquest. Its significant socialisations in different sectors and in different places has been that violence works; force has been something that we have been enamoured of on all sides. All of us have grown up in this culture where there have been added exacerbations like tensions, race conflicts and so on and to expect that there will be overnight the falling away of certain scales from people's eyes to recognise each other as fellow citizens is simply too much. The expectation that the negotiation process will be smooth is also simply too much. In one way you can look at the expression of violence as participation in making a push for your own political position to show that you have clout in certain areas.

. Now Inkatha is increasingly being viewed by social scientists as in an area where it's too weak to make a play for support by creating pushes for membership and support and so on. Now equally that can be levelled at the ANC's door. I mean the ANC I think will be foolish not to acknowledge that it's own members are guilty of violence, which it has done. Inkatha on the other hand completely dis-acknowledges that its members are guilty of violence in any way. It puts all the blame on the ANC. It puts all the blame on post-2nd February 1990. Now we know that's not true. We know that the levels of violence were there in the mid to late eighties and it simply wasn't reported on because the laws of the land were such that it couldn't be reported on. So I think we're not looking at the situation doing justice to ourselves as observers when we make those comments and I think it's not useful to say it's either Inkatha or ANC that's involved, I think both of them are implicated. But equally I think the society is implicated.

. I think the government is implicated and we discussed this the last time. I think government is implicated because to expect that on the 2nd February its security forces will wake up and believe it was good news for the rest of the future is too much to expect. They've been propagandised into looking at people as enemies and their destabilisation activities have continued. Recent revelations about the CCB where the Managing Director of the CCB refused to come to court and was abroad tying up business well over a year after they were supposed to become defunct shows you that these operations are still afoot. The surprising hurry in which De Klerk tried to push through, and succeeded in pushing through, his Indemnity Bill shows you that there are some things that are going on in government which are not healthy at all. So I think there's nobody with clean hands here and just to accuse ends up being a cycle of recrimination and we're not going to find ourselves looking for meaningful solutions then. I think it's important to understand why it's happening, but I think it's important also to rise above that and recognise that right now the single biggest factor militating against new investment, hope, faith in the negotiation process and beyond is the destabilisation wrought by violence.

POM. You know the ANC in every conversation I've had with them since 1990 has insisted that its the government and Inkatha that has been behind the violence and they've never really deviated from that point of view to any great extent. Do you think they have made sufficient acknowledgement of their own role in the violence?

SC. No I think publicly they haven't, but I think that there have been commissions that they've held, that there have been researchers who have come up from within their own ranks with certain findings. For instance in the Boipatong area no less a person than Tokyo Sexwale, the Chairman of the most powerful region of the ANC, the PWV region, and Chris Hani who is the Secretary General of the Communist Party and the former head of uMkhonto weSizwe, found that their members were simply ill disciplined and simply had taken the law into their own hands. Now that's a public acknowledgement and they went public on that immediately. Also the acknowledgement that certain of their members were engaged in certain atrocities in the camps, that's going public on it; probably not sufficiently in terms of publicly ensuring that certain actions were taken, that names were revealed, that those people are not excused, that we don't see a Herman Goering mentioned publicly and find him in the new Cabinet in the future because then we'd be perpetuating what the apartheid rulers have taught us very well, that scandals don't matter. You can squander a couple of billion, it doesn't matter. You can be engaged in all sorts of dangerous national activities and international intrigues and it doesn't matter.

. So I think that the ANC would do well to move away from that defensive position. I think that they should also wizen up to the fact that their members in previous guises, like in the United Democratic Front and so on, were involved in conflict situations. That's part of the history of the conflict in Natal, for instance, when in April 1986 the UDF declared Gatsha Buthelezi public enemy number one. You can trace responses to that and how conflict was engendered more and more and more. I'm not saying Inkatha wasn't responsible, I think they were in areas like Hammarsdale and other places to stop the UDF doing what it should be doing, organising people in a democratic open fashion. But that created some of the tensions that we find played out now in places in Natal.

. I think also you have the problem, say in Natal, that people were very close, everybody speaks Zulu in the areas of conflict, that people belonged to the same things but now with more choice available to them they've moved elsewhere and family conflict is often the most difficult to deal with and if you come from the same place there's much more angst that you have to deal with and that's part of what you're dealing with there. But I think all the players can do very well, they can do this country a great deal of good, they can restore some certainty to it, they can restore overseas confidence in this country. They acknowledge, look things have not gone the way they should have gone, that some of our people have been guilty of doing certain things, but we are going to ensure that those things don't plague us in the future by taking the following steps to make sure that those people are brought to book. That's minimal, I think, that's required and that means from the government side, that means from the ANC, that means from Inkatha.

POM. Are Mandela, De Klerk and Buthelezi, just to take them as the three main actors, in control of their constituencies? Are there elements within each constituency that are not easily brought under control, that even if the three wanted to stop the violence that they don't have the capacity to do so any longer?

SC. I don't think any of them has that capacity.

POM. Has that capacity to stop the violence?

SC. No. I think that it needs collective wisdom. It needs collective rehabilitation in a sense. I think that none of them has the ability or power to bring not only their own followers into line but also to make an impact nationally where this issue is concerned. You see Patrick, the irresistible simplicity of violence, it's ability to consume people and become a way of life is very high and that is what we're facing now. When people have seen violence work for them they are not going to look for peaceful ways. Peaceful ways you have to think through. It requires a great degree of intellectual and other effort and it means time, it means process, whereas violence is simple. It's an act. You can engage in it almost mindlessly and you can overlook certain aspects of what you're dealing with and who you're dealing with.

. So the evidence as well is overwhelming that this triumvirate have tried to speak to followers but their followers have done precisely the opposite. Now of course there has been doublespeak in some instances. For instance, the recent outburst by Chief Buthelezi that the ANC must be 'buggered up'; buggering up means you deal with people with a certain physical threat to it. It was justified that he said 'politically'. Can we do with that language in the climate that we're in? Would Chief Buthelezi have tolerated that coming from Mandela? After all he complained of Mandela saying he is a surrogate of the National Party at the UN and that was at an international civilised level of aloof discussion, whereas here you are dealing with a certain closeness because violence has impacted on people on the ground and when you're addressing people in that frame of mind and you use inflammatory language it's sinking to the same levels that he complains the Terror Lekotas and the Steve Tshwetes have called him 'a running dog' and so on. It's the same sort of thing.

. So I think we need a greater statesmanship than is being revealed by all three right now. I think Mandela has attempted to do that recently with his olive branch approach, saying that the King can play a very constructive role in ensuring that peace is restored to Natal. De Klerk has attempted to do some of that but I think increasingly De Klerk's similarity with Gorbachev becomes very resistible. De Klerk is showing all the incapacities that Gorbachev showed at his best, like he's not taking the message very seriously. He's been playing more and more to the blackmailing, the right wing elements that he's got to deal with and he's losing out on the capacity to influence a larger section of the community right now.

POM. Why is that happening?

SC. I think his advice has been that he's losing his support base amongst white Afrikaners, within the volk, and De Klerk's been caught by that miasmic way of looking at things. I think that even in his statement at the beginning of October about apartheid, he ended up with certain effects which were not intended. He does not really say apartheid was wrong. He in fact says it was a vision that was unimplementable. That's the effect of what he's saying. It was a vision that was not capable of implementation, that in its implementation it went wrong but that wasn't the intention. So you're still left with a key harbinger of change maintaining that apartheid was not wrong, it just went awry in its implementation. So you can understand that he still is fixed to a white Afrikaner political base. I don't think he's fully apprehended that he had the capacity in the last, well certainly not this year, but in almost the two years 1990 and 1991, to significantly reach across and increase his political support base dramatically from amongst black people. I don't think he realised that and that's the type of dilemma you're faced with in an otherwise fairly enlightened person.

POM. Where along the line did he lose his political touch? It seems that for the first couple of years he moved with a considerable degree of deftness.

SC. I think that's only in the effect. I think if you look at the period of the first half of 1990 there was a significant dithering within government. Government did not know how it was going to implement his February 2nd 1990 speech and one department didn't know what the other was doing. Within the departments you'd get conflicting statements, people would say one thing and do something else until they began to get their act together when De Klerk began to move people within his Cabinet. But if you consider the fact that he's had so many Cabinet shifts in under three years, he's moved people from one end to the other. That is not a consolidation. I agree, of course, you need to shift the old wood out of the way, but he hasn't been able to do that. Magnus Malan, somebody implicated in covert activities, implicated in destabilisation in Mozambique in Angola, notorious for the security operations in this country, is still there albeit as Minister of Forestries and Fisheries. Vlok is still there. The terrible minister of the emergency, the one who saw through all the terrible stuff that happened, the atrocities during the emergency, was the terror - literally. He's still there as Correctional Services minister and is making a hash of even that. I mean the mistakes made when wrong people get released and so on, it's legendary. So I think that De Klerk has not shown, if you seriously scrutinise what he's done in government very well, he hasn't shown a cohesiveness internally. He hasn't led in government what he's done at the public level, restoring international confidence in himself, the current government. He has been unable to do it to his own bureaucracy and he's also, I seem to increasingly believe, fall prey to the forces that will blackmail him, would say that, "You knew about some of the scandals, you knew about some of the covert operations and now you are pretending that that isn't so." So De Klerk needs to come clean and say, "Look this happened, this was during a certain period where certain mentalities prevailed. However, we're cutting that ship adrift." But he's not, they're keeping them close. In fact right now they're hammering out a very nice package thank you to all these guys who when the CCB was exposed they deftly removed through a stroke of the pen the CCB from the SADF, so it became a private company. Now they're giving them a fantastic package and so on. So you see everybody has huge skeletons and here we're talking about little ones in their cupboard and that probably explains also some of his inability to move.

POM. Is there any way in which De Klerk is hostage to elements in the security forces?

SC. That's what I've been alluding to by saying he's been allowing himself to be blackmailed. Let me give you one very individual example; the guy who is the Director General in his office is from the Prisons' Department, Jannie Roux. Now Roux was the Head of security prisoners in the Prisons' Administration and a member of the Broederbond roped into PW Botha's office as Head of Protocol, Secretary, Head of Protocol and so on when PW Botha created this palace around the presidency. Jannie Roux is still controlling the President's office. OK. A hand-picked, groomed person from the security establishment who was PW Botha's man. He is running De Klerk's office right now. You look at some of the other key people, the people who have been head of National Intelligence, the people who have been heads of different other wings and some fairly innocuous positions but necessarily security oriented. They are still there. They are the people who managed the process of oppression during the emergency period. These were the people who really did everything to bludgeon resistance to apartheid. Now just to expect that they've seen the light, there's been a new vision that they've all seen, that they're all born again, democratic type of thing, stretches the imagination, it's beyond the bounds of credibility. So I think he is in that situation and he needs to come clean. Actually De Klerk doesn't realise if he stands up and he says, "Look this is my position. I am thrust into a situation where we've inherited certain things. I was not the leader then but I was a junior minister", but he was a very senior minister indeed, Leader of the Transvaal National Party, "Certain things happened but it was a particular period where all these key people who have been there and right now I need to make a major shift. I need to say we're moving forward as South Africans." De Klerk needs to do that. If he doesn't he is going to be increasingly the one who does the bidding of those dark secret forces.

POM. Is the government becoming just weaker as time goes by? You've had this series of resignations for personal reasons or reasons going from Barend du Plessis last year to Stoffel van der Merwe this week.

SC. I think that each of those key people who have resigned have had major skeletons in their cupboards. They've been heading departments that have been corrupt and they also have been at the forefront of the negotiation process and they actually have been the hit men. There have been the bad guys and the good guys in the negotiating team and these three have actually been the baddies. Du Plessis was your hit man, he went out and did hatchet jobs when it was necessary especially in the internal negotiation process in CODESA. Gerrit Viljoen was clearly that even though he masterminded a significant part of the negotiation process. Now the chief negotiator during that period was Stoffel van der Merwe but he also was your hard-line man and these guys, I think the toll has clearly been taken at a personal level probably but also they have been faced with major scandals in their departments. Also they have been ironically the ones to make some acknowledgement of certain problems and so on, so there's been that dichotomy. But I think that internally they've been part of the group that have felt that De Klerk is giving too much, that they wanted a firmer approach, they wanted a no nonsense approach. The ANC must be told what this process is about and what to accede to and therefore it's become untenable for them to continue.

POM. On the one hand you seem to be saying that De Klerk is kind of a hostage of right wing security elements and on the other you are saying that some of the more senior people in the party, his own hand picked people, believed he was giving too much away. How was he doing both simultaneously?

SC. Well you see he's faced with those thrusts within his party right now and we've not been made privy to all the details regarding these three key people but I think that they have been involved in making certain challenges to where De Klerk has been, particularly Du Plessis and Stoffel van der Merwe. I think those two have been key in opposing certain positions of De Klerk. Viljoen has felt that the ANC should accept certain things and we need to tell them what they should do, we shouldn't be dictated to by them. And this is purely in the negotiation, it's got nothing to do with the progress made externally, the progress made in terms of taking this country further. It's a negotiation process which results in nothing concrete for the country. So at a public policy level, at a public pronouncement level De Klerk has had to go easy in making certain things happen because there are those people who are holding him ransom in a sense to his past which he has had a serious philosophical difficulty in distancing himself from. That's the dichotomy he faces. Where he's going to fall in this equation I have no idea.

POM. How would you encapsulate where the government stands at the present moment. Is it increasingly recognising the inevitable or is it intent on taking a hard stand on some issues such as power sharing or federalism or it's own internal ...?

SC. I don't think there are many in government right now who are not inclined to take a hard line. I think most of them are trying to take a hard line to retain themselves in power to whatever mechanism and there are very few who are prepared to give in to the types of necessities that this country requires right now. So that is plainly - all of them want to retain power. There's nobody there who's talking about giving up any power and that's why the bottom line is power sharing, their position. And I think that you have some ministers who drag their feet to the point of actually sabotaging certain positive agreements.

POM. Like for example?

SC. Well agreeing to doing something about housing, hostels and so on and then months, months, months later just completely reneging on those. I mean a significant part of the September Accord with the ANC has been repudiated, hardly a month later. So you agree to something in a negotiation and publicly you go ahead and you do something opposite or you don't bother about it.

POM. What parts have been repudiated?

SC. Well the part about the hostels. That's been a tetchy one. That's not been attended to effectively and also the prisoners' issue. The prisoners' issue still continues to dog us.

POM. Still?

SC. Still, it's still there. Some people have been released but there are still some people who haven't been released and right now the Department of Correctional Services is talking about releasing a few thousand people who have been convicted of very serious criminal offences. And that's to make way probably for those few thousand they released a couple of years ago who have got back into the criminal justice system. You need to make place for newer criminals.

POM. So do you see the government slowly imploding or do you see a bedrock core of support for hard positions emerging which won't change very much?

SC. As I recall eight hundred thousand white voters voted no in the March referendum and now if De Klerk were to ask the same question he'd probably get a different response. And that's how the climate has been viewed by white voters, white fear has been heightened and the bumbling from government has increased uncertainty. Now that's happened on the white side. Amongst blacks I think De Klerk has lost out tremendously. I think there was an expectation that De Klerk would be somebody that was more acceptable but he's lost out. After the events that have unfurled in Boipatong and other places De Klerk has lost more support in his inability to cut out apartheid, he's lost out more support. There is also the question that many people ask and that is, after De Klerk, who? After Mandela we do have some eminent candidates, but after De Klerk, who? And that's one worrying factor as well. So government hasn't been able to show a cohesiveness. They haven't been able to show a vision to take the country further. They haven't been able to show an effectiveness in managing the transition right now. In fact there is the belief that everything is being done to alienate assets and to create good packages for former apartheid bureaucrats and so on, while the key departments or key ministers are simply of the view that they've done enough, now the ANC needs to do stuff and that would take the position further but they've done what they needed to do.

POM. Looking at the ANC, Saths, I was in South Africa during the winter and COSATU appears to be emerging almost as a separate political entity unto itself. It seemed to be centre stage either as the organiser of the mass action or defining the uses under which mass action would be used. You would hear talk about insurrectionists, those who believe that a little more mass action and you could push the government out of power, the Leipzig option was being talked about. Is the ANC itself becoming increasingly fractured or does it have a cohesive vision of the future or where to take South Africa? What's going on there?

SC. The ANC was fairly beholden to those interests that you were talking about that which resulted in major parts of the formulation of mass action coming from that quarter, but mass action has gone to a large extent and it has resulted in no shifts. The Leipzig option simply discounts state power in this country, it discounts the content, the form of state power in this country and the Leipzig option is not on. It is simply not on. Some theorists have come to realise that. I mean there are so many reasons, you're not dealing with an homogenous society, you're dealing with a deeply fractured society, you're dealing with a racism in society, you're dealing with a security apparatus in the hands almost exclusively of white power control, you're dealing with government being in the hands, very clearly, of white power control, you're dealing with economic might in this country being in the hands of almost overwhelmingly white power control. So what mass action - unless you're talking about a Gandhi option. If you're talking about a Gandhi option it means wave after wave of people will go and subject themselves to harassment and if not beating, if not killing and then there would be such a conscience that's arisen in the national psyche and the international pressure that De Klerk would then say, "Well Mr Gandhi, you come into State House." Now that's not on, it's simply not on.

POM. Are there increasing disagreements within the ANC as to the way forward, as to the tactics?

SC. Right now I think you're dealing with two major theoretical thrusts; one represented by Joe Slovo and secondarily by Thabo Mbeki and the other a more hard-line, if you like, position represented by Pallo Jordan about what should happen. The talk now is about creating certain assurances for continued minority investment in the process and retention of white bureaucracy, sunset clauses for people who have been involved in maintaining apartheid and the Pallo Jordans who disagree very vehemently and on certain clearly enunciated principles saying that there's a danger post in that because it will mean retention of white control through not merely transition but beyond - and that's a fairly public debate. The papers have been made publicly available and that's happening within the ANC. In a sense the ANC has the advantage of government because many of their positions are public. Now Stoffel van der Merwe's reasons for resignation are woolly. He blames the ANC, now where do you hear of somebody resigning because of the other party?

POM. He blames the ANC for what?

SC. Because of the ANC's inability to give during negotiation, he's resigned, he's just resigned in disappointment and then it's taken its toll, the high stress. Now that's bull. You don't resign because your opponents are giving you a hard time. Very few politicians do that. So that's the type of reasoning he's given so more questions are raised by that than anything.

POM. Again in the summer many people said that when the government turned down the ANC's offer of veto thresholds of 70% for the inclusion of items in a constitution and 75% for the inclusion of items in a Bill of Rights, that the government turned down the best deal it could get and that it let the ANC off the hook, that the ANC might have had a hard time selling that deal to its followers. Do you believe the government did turn down the best deal that it would have been offered?

SC. Yes. In the refusal the government allowed mass action to take place, it allowed Bisho, Boipatong, the other massacres to take place, it allowed increasing uncertainty, it allowed investor confidence going down, it allowed internal confidence from the population going down, it weakened its own position. It just messed up. It just totally messed up so perhaps Stoffel was the architect of that position, perhaps. And perhaps Stoffel was the architect of De Klerk being humiliated when he went into one of the Reef townships and had to flee in a hurry. Perhaps those type of things caused him to find increasingly that his position was untenable.

POM. Yet people say that the ANC might have had a lot of trouble in selling that deal to its own membership, that there would have been a great deal of objections to it at the activist level at the grassroots.

SC. Yes. I think the ANC could have done it but it would have been an uneasy acceptance. Now I think it's almost impossible for the ANC to go around and sell that.

POM. So what I'm hearing from you in a way is that both the government and the ANC are going to have increasingly difficulties in selling any deal to their respective constituencies.

SC. Yes, yes. I think there would be a difficulty but I think if there is a certain consensus that they agree on which they are able to put out nationally it will be easier for them to make that deal stick. And, let's face it, these are the two most important parties; the ANC and then, a poor second, the National Party.

POM. If they reached some kind of consensus and it leaves Buthelezi out, does Buthelezi retain the capacity to be a spoiler?

SC. I think Buthelezi does retain that capacity because anybody with support of a couple of hundred thousand people, very clear, very committed support, I'm almost tempted to say fanatic support, has the propensity to create disaster. So like Lyndon Johnson I think you may as well have the SOB pissing out than pissing in.

POM. So if you had to look at a scenario for the next year, how do you see it breaking?

SC. I think that the catalogue of recrimination will continue. I think that external pressure will act as a modulator and reluctantly these parties will agree to some rapprochement and get on with stabilising the country because all of them are in danger of inheriting chaos.

POM. Don't you think that the three of them, Mandela, Buthelezi and De Klerk, can't stop the violence? If they can't stop it who can?

SC. They can make a significant dent in the violence if they stand together and agree on certain things, agree on ceasing attacks against each other, agree on no politicking, no electioneering, agree on certain national priorities and agree that this will be put out to all sectors of leadership primarily and second level leadership and lower level leadership and monitor that process. Then you're going to make a significant dent but on their own and in appealing to their followers, left on their own resources, they are not. And a significant corollary to that is that triumvirate must have a moderator that is external otherwise you'll have Mandela interpreting it his way, Buthelezi his and De Klerk his.

POM. So do you see the UN beginning to play a larger role?

SC. The UN has a more significant role. I think all the parties are beginning to recognise that and I think the UN presence under Angela King has come to appraise the situation fairly quickly and understand some of the dynamics involved. They understand the immensity of the problems. I think if given an increased mandate they could play a bigger role. Right now they are suffering from a limited mandate.

POM. Is there any way that in the foreseeable future, given the way things are now, that you could have free and fair elections?

SC. With supervision, yes.

POM. Even with the level of violence?

SC. Well I think that the violence - you see the other part to impacting on the violence, for instance, is a new peacekeeping force. I think you can create a new peacekeeping force with significant external involvement and that that should extend to the elections as well. If that's not done obviously the fear will be there. However much it's said your vote is free, it's safe, it's secure, it's secret, when you see the familiar symbol that has inspired your fear, all this while it's simply not a comfort zone that a new vote can deal with.

POM. So do you see formal negotiations being resumed in the near future? A transitional executive council coming into being? A date being set for an election in the near future?

SC. Well I can't see that being seriously agreed to this year at all. I think that the individual ego hurts are too great in the different quarters and that's because each of them has been politicking you see, they have been electioneering at the other's expense and when they get in return they take exception to it. So there's ego hurt that you have to deal with and there's not enough recognition of national priority. As soon as we get the recognition of national priority, a national agenda that goes beyond the immediate interests of the leader, the party, then we're likely to get something going. I think it's a bit tatty right now.

POM. So do you see elections taking place next year?

SC. Right now I can't. I can't see elections taking place with the types of assurances one would like. But in the new year, maybe with the season of goodwill impacting on some of these guys and with greater international mediation and involvement, maybe there could be a timetable that's agreed to. Nevertheless I think it will be a transitional authority rather than elections. I can't see elections taking place next year. 1994 I can see it taking place.

POM. OK Saths, thank you very much. I hope I see you. What are you doing? Who are you working with these days?

SC. I'm working in the area of violence and doing a lot of violence intervention and doing some stuff for different structures right now, trying to help people who have been afflicted by violence and doing some work in stabilising communities. So it's a wide sort of area, a very brutal one but it's also, you know every day you get a new beacon of hope that ordinary folk give you. So it's meaningful stuff.

POM. Well I hope I will see you. I will be over in January. I hope I'll just get to see you again. In the meantime thank you very much.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to theThis resource is hosted by the site.