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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.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 Jul 1993: Delport, Tertius
POM. Let me start with a quotation taken from The Star last year and it is a theme which has been repeated in everything that I've read during the last year and that is that: -
. "The government is discredited and divided, the military may mutiny, Buthelezi wants to wants secession and APLA threatens a race war. De Klerk fiddles while South Africa burns." Most reports throughout the year talk of the National Party 'in disarray', the National Party has lost direction. It is no longer sure of its way forward, of there being a split in the National Party between how to handle negotiations or not. Could you start by commenting on that?
TD. First of all I don't think there is a split. We have a dual role. We have a role to facilitate and to keep the process going. That was our job after the ANC walked out last year, to get them back even to our own detriment in the sense that we lost some support as a result of the Record of Understanding which got the ANC back. At present we are trying to facilitate, doing our utmost to get Inkatha and the KwaZulu government back to the table and whoever in our midst, whoever is concentrating on that part of the job is seen as a dove, as a facilitator. On the other hand we have certain ideals, bottom lines maybe, certain results we want to achieve in the negotiations and we have to go hard in order to achieve that. In addition to that we also have to govern and one of the most difficult issues at present is, of course, the violence and parties taking part in violence like APLA, indirectly the PAC, and we need to take a stance in these matters and whenever we pursue either our own objectives in the negotiations or when we have to take a strong stand, for instance, against violence, whoever does that is seen as a hawk. So it's the dual role that we are playing that gives the impression that there is a split, a difference of opinion.
POM. You're identified in most things I read as being a hawk.
POM. Whereas Roelf Meyer would be identified as being a dove. Could you give me a more precise definition of the differences between the two?
TD. I don't think there is a difference. It's because I was very much involved in assisting to draft, I don't want to say to draft, but assisting to draft our own constitutional principles, our own plan whilst Roelf has been concentrating very much in his position on keeping the process going. I was involved in many of the arguments and debates surrounding constitutional principles and the whole process of constitution making and because I believe in putting your case clearly and putting it with some vigour I was seen as a hawk and I can only refer to my own record as one of the leaders in the 1987 pact of newcomers to parliament who was fighting for reform and I'm still fighting for reform. I want orderly reform, good reform, that's all.
POM. Again, going back to the National Party most surveys show that a dramatic decline in support for the party, I think the most recent HSRC survey said that only 25% of those who had voted the NP into power would now vote for their constitutional proposals. Does this pose a dilemma to know that your electoral basis is continuing to diminish?
TD. Yes it is a problem. Of course it is a problem and that is as a result of our peculiar position. We are seen by our support base as people not coming over strongly for what we believe in. That is why we lose some support also to Inkatha but we simply cannot stand on whatever we believe in. We must be seen to negotiate and we must in fact negotiate and we ourselves have said on so many occasions that to negotiate is to give and take. Because of uncertainty people get there is some fear in our own support base and at the moment that there is fear they are turning towards, they are looking at people who would be willing fight, to make a stand. That is also why originally there was some support and people were looking hopefully to the so-called Generals, Constand Viljoen as the saviour of the day. I think they were disillusioned because of his alignment with AWB and the lunatic fringe in white politics. Be that as it may, that is our dilemma. That is why it is to our advantage that we should get the constitutional issues over and done with and get a new constitution so that the emphasis can shift to policies. You see at present the whole question of a party's policy is overshadowed by the whole question of what is your policy as regards to constitutional reform and how do you shape and are you willing to fight for whatever you want to achieve. We've got to get past that stage and on to the stage where the question is, what's your economic policy, how do you want to address the backlogs, how do you see education, etc., etc.
POM. But yet a year ago or 18 months ago after de Klerk's victory in the referendum, the right was left lying in the gutter in disarray and here 18 months later it seems much more organised, much more coherent and much more of a force than it has been in the last four years perhaps.
TD. The right wing? Yes I agree. That is so.
POM. What are the political implications of this in terms of how the government must conduct it's business?
TD. It makes it all the more difficult to inspire confidence. You see, after all people vote for a party or leaders that inspire confidence and it makes it very difficult for us. I have no doubt about it and I don't try and sidestep the fact that we're in for a very difficult time.
POM. Does the National Party or the government have any kind of strategy in the pipeline that at some time it will start wooing back that support before the election takes place next year?
TD. You can't woo them back otherwise than with the results. So we've got to produce results in the negotiations. We've got to produce in the negotiations an acceptable result. People at this stage, people do not have a clear choice and that is my argument against the right wing. They are putting a choice to the people, negotiations versus what would be (I don't want to use the word) violent opposition, but let's say a drastic opposition and I say that's a false choice they're putting up. We must wait and get the result and then it is between either violent opposition or acceptance. And I have no doubt that South Africa will opt for a reasonable alternative to violent opposition to reform.
POM. Dr Buthelezi has said that there's a fifty/fifty chance of there being a civil war in the country.
TD. There won't be a civil war if we come up with an acceptable constitution that will accommodate the fears of people who feel that they will simply be swept aside after a first election.
POM. Must that constitution in some way accommodate Buthelezi?
TD. Of course. And the constitution must accommodate him by accommodating federalism. That's the long and the short of it. If we don't get assurances and I would go as far as to say better assurances than merely paper. In other words a process coupled to the paper but also a process that will acknowledge the right of regions, in his case the right of the KwaZulu/Natal region to determine its own future within parameters, within the parameters of federalism. Then I think we've got serious problems but the ANC will have to accept this if they want to avoid problems.
POM. He has laid down the gauntlet in a way and enlisted the King and drawn upon all the symbols of the Zulu nation to reinforce his position.
TD. That's right. Well the Zulu nation is a fact. You couldn't argue that they do not exist. They are there and as he has said there has been a Zulu kingdom and a Zulu nation before apartheid, during apartheid, and there will be one after apartheid and you cannot ignore the fact that there is an Afrikaner nation in South Africa.
POM. Again I want to ask you, how within the framework of federalism could you come up with an Afrikaner state?
TD. It's not possible.
POM. Not possible. Now I assume people like in the Conservative Party are not dumb so what do they want? What do you think they would settle for in the absence of there being an Afrikaner state?
TD. You've got quite a big spectrum of opinion and that spectrum of opinion and views are presently accommodated or rather consolidated to a certain extent in opposition to what is happening. The moment you start asking Boshoff and Hartzenberg and Beyers and all the various organisations to come up with an answer, to come up with a proposal, you get so many proposals. The most reasonable one is, and I think we must settle for that, and therefore it's very important what sort of regions the commission come up with when they table their report tomorrow or sometime this week, is to accept the region where Afrikaners are not in the majority but where Afrikaans, the language, is an indication of a particular culture, where Afrikaans is the majority language, either the Western Cape, including the Northern Cape or the Northern Cape as such. So it's either one or two regions where that is the factual position and that is the best. Furthermore of course we are unlike, I don't want to sound patronising, but on the whole I would say the white community is more sophisticated in terms of constitutional knowledge so it is easier to argue in a white community that we have a good constitution, checks and balances, a five year power sharing period, stabilising the country, the need to get a constitution in order to promote economic growth, etc., etc., all the arguments, those simply will not wash. You won't get far with those arguments in a rural town in KwaZulu. There it will be the question of, "What about my King?" and "What about the Zulu culture or state?" So I think we can come up with a solution and I've said that over all the years. There will have to be concessions to accommodate the Zulus, to accommodate the Afrikaners. The Afrikaners cannot get what the more right wing Afrikaners demand. That's out of the question but a reasonable alternative will no doubt prevent Afrikaners from reacting violently.
POM. This takes me to the question of sufficient consensus. In CODESA there were really two parties, the government and its allies on the one side and the ANC and its allies on the other side. Essentially sufficient consensus meant the ANC and the government agreeing. Now you have three power blocs, you have COSAG, the government and its allies and the ANC and its allies. How does that change the question of what is sufficient consensus?
TD. I don't know because the decision was taken by sufficient consensus without KwaZulu and Inkatha and the Conservative Party involved. That is a problem.
POM. The impression I get, I hear them saying, is they are saying the ANC and the government by and large cut a deal and they are going to ram that deal down our throats and just sell it to us and if they are going to sell it to us that's too bad we'll just leave it behind and press ahead.
TD. Well I think the ANC accepted the two phase approach. They wanted a one phase, Inkatha wanted a one phase, we wanted a one phase originally. The difference was Inkatha and the government, National Party, originally wanted a one phase at the negotiating table, final constitution. The ANC wanted a one phase, a constitution after elections for a Constituent Assembly and we came up already at CODESA 1 with the alternative of having a constitution, a transitional constitution or first constitution allowing for elections to take place, and then a final constitution making in those parameters. That is the broad framework of the plan now. What we must do now I think, and I don't think that has been done sufficiently in this draft that's now before us, we must make better accommodation to safeguard, to entrench a federal approach.
POM. If, say, in deliberations going on today the government said, "We oppose this, we will walk out", there would not be sufficient consensus even if the ANC and, say, COSAG agree on something even if there were agreement between the government and COSAG there would be sufficient consensus. Why then aren't COSAG given the same status?
TD. I don't know.
POM. Do you think Buthelezi's demand that that be so can be met?
TD. If we want a peaceful solution it can be, yes. But then I also put limits to the reasonableness of parties around the table. No single party can hold the whole process and the future of South Africa to ransom. Then we must know that there is no solution. But I think if we offer the federalism to Inkatha they will accept it and I don't know why we don't offer it and I don't know why the ANC is not prepared to do so.
POM. This goes back to some of the basic issues we discussed last year.
POM. It's been just about a year since CODESA 2 broke up, what is different in terms of what's on the table and what was on the table a year ago?
TD. I don't know. Do you?
POM. I've been looking for it. I thought you'd be able to tell me!
TD. I don't think there has really been progress on the key issues. Last year we already said that in the first constitution there will be a government of national unity. In fact then we said the powers, duties and functions of regional governments must be determined here.
POM. That's still where it's at?
TD. Yes but it is on a more loose basis because what has now been proposed says that after the election also regional government will be on the table again. So what we did do was to get a more comprehensive principle on regionalism but then if you analyse it, personally I do not think we have taken it far beyond the simple principle that government will be structured at national, regional and local level because I don't think the criteria which has been spelt out now, I suppose you've had a look at it, I don't think the criteria that, I mean to say that when it is in the interest of national unity or when it is in the interest of the country as a whole powers must rest with central government. What does it say? It says nothing. So I don't think we've made progress.
POM. So Buthelezi certainly wouldn't regard that as federalism.
TD. Of course not, but it is not. Federalism is not entrenched. What the constitutional principles say, you can have federalism but it does not entrench federalism as such. It does not say you must have federalism. It says you can have it if you can get a two thirds majority for it.
POM. I'm looking here at this piece in the Weekly Mail (probably not one of your favourite newspapers), it says : - "NP strategists steal the constitution. The NP has effectively sealed the primary ... of the new constitution while it is strengthening its hold on power. Major concessions by the African National Congress this weekend have helped to ensure that the process will continue but also served to be the parameters of the new constitution."
TD. They made no concessions.
POM. It says here : - "The ANC is making concessions by saying that decisions such as determination of constitutional principles before a Constitution Assembly is elected will ensure that the parameters in which an ANC can manoeuvre will effectively be written in stone to quote the Democratic Party negotiator Colin Eglin. In the process the National Party is succeeding in laying down conditions which will prolong its hold on power."
TD. That's part of their strategy to create the impression that they have made concessions, huge concessions and therefore it would be very unreasonable for anybody now not to accept the outcome of what is now offered and that is not true.
POM. So the big issues would be, one, the entrenchment of the powers of the regions to be determined here before an election and secondly, that the boundaries of the regions would be drawn up before matters went to the Constituent Assembly and that the Constituent Assembly could overturn those if it got two thirds of the people in favour.
TD. Yes, but now it's not overturning. That is the big difference that the Record of Understanding made. The ANC deadlocked in CODESA 2 because they said they don't want to get locked into a constitution from which there is no escape, from which they would need a two thirds majority to change it. In the Record of Understanding it was accepted and it is now accepted in this process that the constitution making body will write a new constitution so you will need two thirds to write a new constitution, to get anything into the constitution you need two thirds. It is not that you need two thirds to change the existing one. Also as far as regions, the regional boundaries are concerned, the rule now or the proposal now is that the Constituent Assembly, the constitution making body, will have to finally determine the boundaries, powers, duties, structures.
POM. But this body here will have beforehand laid that out?
TD. For election purposes, for transitional regional government that will function subject to the authority of the central government with the primary object of consolidating the administrations of the existing provinces and the self governing territories, etc.
POM. So whenever you get a letter like, or in the paper, the ANC has really backed down on its demand that an elected Constituent Assembly be the only body to decide on the powers, duties and functions of regions clearing the way for the most significant breakthrough in negotiations in the past two years.
TD. It's not true. I don't think they backed down. In what respect?
POM. It says:- "Inkatha welcomes concession. Senior Inkatha negotiator Walter Felgate ... "
TD. The proposals say that a regional constitution can be drawn up but it must be submitted to the central parliament who must accept it, adopt it with a two thirds majority. So it's merely an advice.
POM. If you look at the last year where the government was and where it is now, can you point to any significant concessions that it has made in the deliberations over the last twelve months?
TD. The fact that we've accepted a new constitutional arrangement, in other words there is a process that if you don't reach consensus or rather if you don't reach the two thirds majority support for this new constitution then there's a deadlock then you don't fall back on the existing transitional constitution. Then there is a deadlock and then there must be deadlock breaking mechanisms and the proposal now before the council is that there must then be some further process of negotiating but then you go with whatever has 50% support, you go to a referendum. If there's a 60% majority then that's the new constitution. If you don't get 60% then there's another election and then the constitution is written by a 50% majority.
POM. That's what they proposed last June and you accept that now?
TD. We haven't accepted it. We've accepted a process which will mean a new constitution to be written.
POM. Where's the concession?
TD. Well there's a huge - then what do you do if you don't get two thirds? Then there must be a deadlock breaking. Also we insisted on 70% and 75%, now it's 66%.
POM. You accepted the 66% threshold, so that's one concession. Anything else?
TD. We are now insisting on permanent power sharing.
POM. Let me ask you on that. I was in London a few weeks ago, I took the Financial Times ...
TD. Power sharing in the sense of in the Cabinet itself. There are various other forms.
POM. Mr de Klerk came out with a very strong statement saying that he wanted power sharing entrenched in the constitution and then a couple of weeks later there was a statement that permanent power sharing was no longer on the agenda of the government.
TD. I was looking at our principles that we published. We made it quite clear that the basis for power sharing is, we call it in this 'participatory democracy' and we say 'an effective say and participation in state power for a number of parties must be brought about.' We say these principles are elucidated by outlining a framework of a model. But when you talk about participatory democracy and parties taking part you're looking at the division of powers both horizontally and the devolution of power. These are all building blocks of the whole concept of power sharing. Now I do agree our original model was very much based on the concept of the Executive, rotating President and all that and that we have made a concession. We have also made a concession as regards the composition of the Senate. We said major political parties must have equal representation in the Senate, not proportional representation also in the Senate from regions.
POM. Can you point to some concessions that the ANC has made?
TD. Not that I know of.
POM. None so far?
TD. Well I would like to, yes, as you point out in the question whether they have indeed made a concession.
POM. They haven't moved away from saying that it's ...?
TD. They did move from the original position that I must say. [but that they could never ... that was an argument to say that.] Their original position was that they wanted an election for a Constituent Assembly, interim government, suspension of the existing constitution, rule by degree after a new constitution is made. That argument, they had to concede that. [it's not a menu for ...]
POM. On the power sharing issue that you would not look for power sharing at the executive level to be entrenched in the constitution, probably this thing would be the same that you have given up. Can you point to anything you have gotten back for giving that up, or why give it up?
TD. I don't know. To get a settlement. Last year we had a government of national unity although it is not spelt out yet what it is going to look like.
POM. It seems that if government are in a partnership.
TD. May I ask, is that your perception? Is that how you see it?
POM. Yes, there has been a shift in emphasis, a tacit understanding that the ANC and the government or the NP need each other and if there is to be a functioning, effective settlement that they would be the two who would be in the driver's seat.
TD. I think you're right.
POM. I read it some place, weakness has always been the cement which binds the reluctant, a fear of the extreme, a more active right wing, a more active left wing, violence in the country, demands at the centre. The centre makes the concessions as quickly as possible to get the show on the road.
TD. That is a factor but from our side, as far as I am concerned and I think most of my colleagues, the pressing issue is our financial/economic position. If it doesn't make progress now then it's not worthwhile going on because then we will be in economic ruin soon.
POM. Chris Hani's assassination, the period following his death, it was suggested that it was a turning point, a symbolic turning point that when Mandela went on television to address the nation that it was as though he was in control of the nation whereas de Klerk might have been in control of the state, that a subtle and symbolic change was that it was not the State President who came on television to reassure the country.
TD. Maybe, but then if one of the Cabinet Ministers had been killed the position would have been very much the opposite maybe. I think it is accepted today that the ANC is the majority party and it's very important what their views are.
POM. What do you think are the political consequences of Hani's death both for the process and for the ability to sell an agreement? He had this charismatic power with the young.
TD. I think it weakened the ANC's position vis-à-vis the left wing in the ANC and also outside of the ANC, it strengthened the more radical elements. It allowed, for instance, Winnie to come back onto the political scene by entering local government now as her domain.
POM. How was the Bisho massacre or killings, whatever you call it, viewed by the government and, again, what were the political consequences that flowed from that?
TD. Well of course we were in a very difficult position. We were very much against the use of force by Gqozo but then at the same time we were in a similar position here at the World Trade Centre. Here we did not use force, we were criticized for that. Gqozo was criticized when he shot at people storming his seat of government, so it is so subjective. But we did everything in our power to prevent the use of force. You must bear in mind that it had to be a quick decision. In fact it was absolutely against what was agreed upon. I can understand when mistakes are made.
POM. There was some suggestion that this was a manoeuvre of the SACP, that they had their own agenda.
TD. I think so, I believe that.
POM. To that extent do you think it encouraged the moderates in the ANC to get the process back on track as quickly as possible or else they were losing out to the hard liners?
TD. You see one would never know what the consequences would have been if Kasrils and his crowd, if they were successful in taking over the Ciskei. One would never know what then. What would the ANC, would they then have proceeded with the march on Ulundi because that was the next stop? One would never know. What I do know is that the whole idea of the mass action or of toppling governments through mass action, that idea was stopped in its tracks by the unfortunate shootings, killings.
POM. To the extent that the moderates in the ANC could reassert themselves.
TD. In terms of my own view you had three distinct and separate reasons for people in the ANC to support. One, people with the agenda of mass action to lead to a political takeover. Two, the group supporting mass action in order to drum up public support and to put pressure thereby on the government. In other words as a pressure instrument to force the government to make concessions. Then three, those who saw it as politically necessary to appease their followers, not so much as to put pressure on, not as an instrument but as a way of appeasing their own followers and the radical element who saw it as an instrument to take over power. The Leipzig option was ruled out by the irresponsible behaviour of a young Brigadier Gqozo. Sometimes irresponsible people do make a contribution to history.
POM. Where does somebody like him fit?
TD. He's a military ruler. Neither him or Holomisa nor Rametshwana(?) from Venda - well let me put it this way, I'll be very much surprised if they play a role in a democratically elected government.
POM. If COSAG stays out of the process, the CP and Buthelezi, can you go ahead and draw up the new constitution, have an election?
TD. It would be, excuse the word, a hell of a risk. Then you would be risking civil war.
POM. So essentially Buthelezi still has ...?
TD. Unless we put something on the table which is so reasonable that you pull the rug from under their feet, in terms of something that is so reasonable that their own followers would say, "But really we are accommodated. We cannot ask for more than this. If you're reasonable you cannot ask for more."
POM. There's kind of irony involved. Again going back to last year, the government spent a lot of time wooing, or seemed to spend a lot of time wooing Buthelezi and the IFP and I know the first couple of years that I spent here people always talked of the natural alliance being the National Party and Buthelezi but it's gone 180 degrees.
TD. They don't trust us.
POM. Does the government trust them?
TD. They have never deviated from their principles. They perceive us as having deviated from our principles. It was a bit of a shock to them to find agreements about Zulu hostels, traditional weapons included in the agreement with the ANC without them being part and parcel of the thing that they were the objects of the thing, not the subjects, not taking part actively. Agreements were reached about them between the ANC and the government.
POM. Their complaint?
TD. No comment.
TD. No comment.
POM. Well the same thing happened in Northern Ireland. The government, the British and Irish governments spent six months trying to put together an international agreement which accommodated nationalists, they knew all about it. The Unionists were left out of the process completely and they have been objecting for seven years, haven't accepted, said, "We were left out, we weren't consulted about what mattered to us and our fate and future." [So to that extent in those terms ...]
TD. You're devious! You want to find out whether I disagree with any of the actions of the government! There is no right or wrong. If only we could find the library in which you could get the book on what to do next we would pay a lot, a very good price to get hold of that book.
POM. What effect did the APLA killings have on world opinion?
TD. On world opinion? I think you would be in a better position to answer that. I can only state once again that it had an influence on our own support base, to deteriorate, because we were not seen as taking decisive steps against it. The arrests of the APLA people I think did a lot but then it was negative again that the Minister of Law and Order was seen to have been summoned to the World Trade Centre to answer.
POM. Those 73 were released without any charges being brought against them?
TD. No, no, quite a number of charges, quite a number.
POM. But they were all released?
TD. They were released but some of them were charged again and quite a number of arrests flowed from the information. There is no question about it. I led a small delegation of the government to talk with PAC leaders here and they stated, "We are still at war". I wanted to know from them, "Is it your policy, is it APLA's policy to attack policemen and civilians?" They said, "Yes".
POM. Did you keep them in the process? Again I find it interesting that in Northern Ireland Sinn Fein, which would be the political wing of the IRA, will not be allowed into the process like any other party until they make a renunciation of violence.
TD. But you see they did so by becoming part of the resolution and then they reneged on it.
POM. Someone said that the killings were part of a power struggle within the PAC itself, the militants trying to assert themselves over the more moderates, or that it was an attempt to increase support for the PAC at the grassroots. The politics of it, the last poll that I looked at said that if an election were held tomorrow that the PAC would emerge as the second largest party.
TD. It's possible.
POM. Do you think that's related to their actions?
TD. I'm afraid so. That spells disaster for South Africa. If that would be true that they are getting more and more support because of their policies, because of their declared position as a state of war between them and the regime, that's not very encouraging for the future if that is indeed so.
POM. Looking at the white population you have a right wing which is becoming more restive and more organised and apparently more willing to take militant action if their interests aren't accommodated. Then you have the black population and you have the townships that are drowning in violence. At one level it would seem that the ANC has lost control of much of what goes on in the townships, that it can no longer send in the secretary of the branch or the manager or whatever and say stop. Which do you see as the larger looming threat, that the right wing will get out of control before the left or that the left will?
TD. I think the total collapse of law and order because that would no doubt lead to reaction from the whites. I don't say the radical whites, it will lead to a reaction from the whites.
POM. In that event do you foresee a circumstance in which the army would step in and simply say enough is enough?
POM. Is that conscious in the mind of the government?
TD. We're trying our utmost to avoid that situation. What I'm talking about is a total collapse of law and order. What is interesting at present is that the instances of violence have come down but the number of killings per month have gone up. In other words the game has become more deadly. That's bad.
POM. So there are fewer incidences of violence but more people are killed?
TD. More people killed, yes. And if this is going to escalate, already people are not safe on their farms, if this should escalate and spill over into your ordinary white suburbs and it is dangerous at present, but if that should totally get out of hand I cannot predict what will happen.
POM. Did the committed Generals, Viljoen in particular, has he given a respectability to the right?
TD. Yes but he soon lost it by his association with Eugene Terre'Blanche. I think he's realised that and I think from his latest call now, "I want peace", I think he is trying to dissociate himself.
POM. In a new dispensation one of the very tough decisions that will have to be made will be in regard to the civil service. Do you see that the government will insist that those presently employed in the civil service keep their jobs?
TD. But of course, keep their jobs or dealt with in terms of normal standard procedure, but if we cannot guarantee a civil service with job security that would also be disastrous.
POM. So you could have a situation of where you get a government of national unity or whatever but you still have essentially a totally white civil service?
TD. That's not correct, a totally white civil service. I don't have the figures but the numbers are against you on that.
TD. Yes because you must also remember that all the KwaZulu people and all the so-called homelands will merge with the existing civil service and even apart from that, after all there are more black teachers than white teachers, there are more black policemen than white policemen and so one could go on. But I do agree that at the top structure of the civil service it is maybe 90% white.
POM. Does the government accept that the ANC cannot be seen to be enshrining power sharing in the constitution before a Constituent Assembly, that it would politically weaken them?
TD. Well I've got no sympathy with that sort of approach because we were not afraid to say that we've got to move away from discrimination at all levels. We were not afraid to say that we will go into an open democracy, a non-racial democracy. Why not? Because that was the right thing to do. If they don't have the guts to acknowledge that we need power sharing to give stability to the country, and we need it for at least a couple of years, and I don't think five years is enough, that period is not really enough to give stability but I will abide by it, then there is nothing I can do about it, then it is because they are still newcomers to the game of politics.
POM. If you went back two years to 1990, you were very pessimistic about the whole situation.
TD. People were then talking about a settlement within a year. Where are we now? Do you think I was a prophet or do you think I dispute my own country and its people?
POM. As you look to the future do you feel more hopeful?
TD. This is still the arrangement and I'm totally off record and you may publish afterwards.
POM. It'll be after 1997 or 1998.
TD. I don't think we will have elections in April. We've got practically nothing here that's acceptable across the board. It's not acceptable to the government. We need to introduce a final legislation on the 15th August, that's it. Just over two weeks if we want to get it through parliament in September, the scheduled September session. We're not going to make it. OK, let's go for October then. Are we going to make it? If you can't have everything in order or legislated for a new constitution by the end of October how can you have an election in April? I don't think so. A pity but I don't think so.
POM. Doesn't it put more pressure on the ANC because it seems to me that when you look at the way their support has diminished it's because it's like three or four years on and after all this talk nothing has happened.
TD. The NP as well!
POM. And now they have set the date for the election and the election can't in fact happen.
TD. Then we may have to look at alternatives. For instance, keeping the existing constitution intact for the time being, introducing a Transitional Executive Council with basically an advisory capacity and have an election for a Constituent Assembly. That could be an alternative. If we want an election it seems to me, at this stage my prediction is that in terms of the process as we saw it, but I was against setting down a date because I said it's totally impractical, we'll never get there. It's raising all sorts of expectations. If you set a date now, if you push through this you will have civil war. If you simply postpone the date I'm not sure that you won't have civil war emanating from different sources.
POM. So essentially you're as gloomy as ever.
TD. Well yes I'm gloomy but then it's in my nature rather to expect the worse and then to be very happy.
POM. There must be a touch of Irish in you some place.
TD. Scottish. My mother.
POM. The same kind of temperament. Thank you, thanks very much for all your time. I know how busy you are.
TD. It would be interesting for me to look at what I said a year or two ago. You did send me the first one I think.
POM. You didn't get the second one?
TD. Oh maybe, but also you know I can't possibly read everything. But it wouldn't have been interesting to me at the time, it would be interesting now to look back on it.
POM. I'll have another copy sent on to you in case you haven't got it.
TD. But then I think in terms of what I said to you, you will categorise me as a hawk.
POM. Do you think the government as a whole is being too soft with the ANC?
TD. Yes I think that is the reason why we are losing support and it's not even in the ANC's interest that we should lose support to the right and the only man in their circles that understands this is Thabo Mbeki. I said one to him in a bilateral, "It's in your best interests that we come out very strong", and Thabo immediately said yes. The others were taken aback but he said, "I understand what you say."
POM. Would Ramaphosa understand a point like that?
TD. After some time but he likes power.
POM. He likes what?
TD. Power. He's a man for power. Once he's in power he will make concessions. All right, thank you.
POM. Is there any way one can get in there to observe what's going on?
TD. To sit inside? You can come in here and watch it on TV, closed circuit TV, a huge screen. Have you got a press card?