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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

24 Sep 1993: Khoza, Themba

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POM. Themba, could you just give me a brief overview of what to you appears to be the situation now and how you see the situation in terms of the increasing violence on the East Rand?

TK. I think there is no mistake on the situation in the East Rand in that it is deliberate and well calculated by the African National Congress and the South African Communist Party alliance intending to prepare for an election situation where opposition is no longer there.  They are fully aware that the strong opposition in our black communities will come from the IFP for this country.  So of those people who are Zulus, I believe that is why they are doing what they are doing.  I am saying this, taking it from the fact that at the beginning of the era of violence a few months ago on the East Rand it started when the ANC were the only African Zulu-speaking people, not just IFP members, but Zulu speaking people.  It was an ethnic cleansing exercise.  And now those blacks that were known to be IFP, Zulus or not Zulus, of course did not escape, they are grouped in the townships.  The fact is that the leadership of the ANC on the ground has been arrested, some of them are in detention because they have been colluding with the police in some attacks on Zulu speaking people or IFP members.

POM. Do you see the police as being actively on the side of the ANC?

TK. So there are police members who are now arrested on this issue, so that again emphasises my point that it is not true.  It is well calculated.

POM. How do you explain the situation, like what happened the other day, when a gunman sprayed a taxi killing six people, not knowing whether they were Zulu speaking people or not Zulu speaking people, or ANC supporters or IFP supporters?

TK. I would just like to believe that the government knew who those people were.  I personally believe it.  In a sense you now know which community belongs to which organisation.  We know that it is not a valid truth because people might be said to be an ANC community and yet not belong to the ANC, or a community said to be IFP and yet they themselves as individuals are not belonging to the IFP.  But with the short minded approach, I believe it is along those lines that they operate because we understand what happened, we have had this situation in the past where our people, or our IFP communities, like Zhongi Zizwe in Crossroads in the East Rand, where the ANC just come in at night and slay many people simply because that community mistrust the ANC and it is alleged to be an IFP stronghold. We have this type of situation.  I accept the fact that killers are sent in, so basically I am saying that we must not bluff ourselves and start saying that we do not know who is committing this violence and that we do not know why it is being committed. This is the real world. I mean when the ANC was able to say people must stay without jobs for years until there is freedom, what would stop them from saying you must die so that we get into power?  We don't need to pretend as if the ANC cares about people, it cares about power and, of course, we must also say that there is a poor situation in terms of the government policing.  Police were not much effective and personally, if I were to be given an authoritative position to be in charge of the police force, I think the chances are very optimal to watch or to curtail or to decrease violence dramatically or significantly.  I think so.  And the other problems that are there are the relationship between the police and the communities.  That also counts because these people do not fight for protection.  They grow negative attitudes or even perceptions that maybe the police like what is happening to them and therefore the police have no objections to violence.  People have no place to run to for security for protection purposes.  So it is about this security problem on the ground.

POM. How about the Goldstone Commission investigation into the violence in Thokoza?  Is that a good example?

TK. No, not that I remember.  I am not sure that I understand any more.  What does it do?  Investigates and so what and do what?  Can't institute, can't prosecute, so what is the point of the exercise?  I am not saying that the people notice they are there but what I am saying is what is it there for if it cannot implement and prosecute?  You see?

POM. If we talk in terms of ethnic cleansing Thokoza is split up into separate little communities, some supporting the IFP, some supporting the ANC.

TK. Yes, you see it is tragically hard, almost impossible that the ANC try it, but the ANC is trying, trying to achieve this.  But anyway they are trying to achieve this.  It is not effective now in a situation where you have got one ethnic community here and one ethnic community there.  We have got a mixture of ANC, IFP in the same vicinity.  But depending who is said to be strong in the area the minority will shut up.  And again, regarding the ethnic cleansing, on the IFP side there are many kinds of people, all ethnic groupings, but in the ANC strongholds those that are Zulus have to be too active to secure their own lives against the IFP or they are out.

POM. So what you are actually saying is?

TK. I am saying that in the ANC controlled communities those that are Zulus have the right to maintain their staying in the area and prolong their lives.  They definitely have to be extremely active against the IFP so that they are seen to be more ANC than the ANC itself and by so doing they can buy their lives.

POM. In the larger picture, do you see any possibility that the level of violence in these townships is going to decrease or do you think it is going to increase over the next year up to the elections?

TK. After?

POM. Do you think that the level of violence is going to go up between now and when the elections are held next year?

TK. This is going to depend on how far the ANC is willing to go to eliminate opposition in order to create its own terms, that will count, and again it will depend on how other organisations fiercely respond to what they are doing.  It does look like it can go further.

POM. Gertrude Mzizi, I talked to her and Abraham, and she says that even if there were settlement tomorrow, the violence will still continue and is becoming so engrained in the community.

TK. What do you want me to do? What do you want me to say?

POM. Well, do you think she's right.

TK. That the violence is going to increase?

POM. Yes.

TK. These people, they think that as long as they attack or they are attacked, there will be violence going on.  Am I answering your question right or am I being racist?

POM. No you are not being racist.

POM. Are elections set for 27 April?  Is that right?  Is this date still right?  Do you think elections will take place?

TK. Well if they have marked it.  Elections must take place at some stage but I don't think the government is ready yet, because even those that were so keen to have it on that date, they don't talk about it anymore.

POM. So you think it will be maybe later in the year?

TK. Well, from our side we were thinking that maybe by September next year we can have elections, or maybe earlier.  But later will be better, anyway developments with that date in mind

POM. Will the IFP take part in those elections for a constituent assembly?

TK. No not for the constituent assembly but for the new government

POM. But not to draw up a constitution?

TK. No, there is no chance that we can take part in the constituent assembly elections. Of course I cannot right now say that yes, we are or no, no, no, we are not.  The IFP council must decide that.  I must say that, I am not saying that, the entire national structures might come together and make a decision.

POM. That would have to be done pretty soon.

TK. It appears that the central committee of the IFP must form quickly the special general conditions to determine the decision on the elections.

POM. If the elections for a constituent assembly go ahead and if the IFP does not participate in them, where does that leave the whole situation?

TK. It will leave it in a situation where they will have taken a decision based on violence.

POM. How will that affect you as an organisation next year?

TK. No, as I said, we will have to find another means of getting on top of things.  We will try to get support for our position and we will have to look elsewhere, there is plenty that we can do, we can go to other organisations that feel it was wrong and negotiation forums is another option.  What we do will depend on what they do to us.  That will bring us to the brink of a civil war, it will be in a civil war situation, maybe with that war action it will be a question of who pulls the trigger first. Terrible isn't it?  I dislike the violence.

POM. Do you know many people in the IFP who have been killed?

TK. Yes.  When I look at the photos, my photos, maybe where the photo was taken of a group, very often I pick them up and some of the people there have been prouder of me than my parents, some who might even have formed my leadership, some I thought the party would never be a party without them, some I have a direct link with their families, some of whom are painfully sick, but I cannot maintain their families, some who left very young children who are at the ages of nine, five, two, and who will have to face the future without their father.

POM. You seem to me to be more pessimistic this year than at any other time in the past, you seem so tired and you don't seem to care too much about what is going on.

TK. Yes, it is terrible, it is bad that it happened to us, because when you go to a rally and when you speak you are sure, you are convinced that not all of the people you are talking to there will still be alive that evening, because the ambush will take place on the way back.  If you don't have a husband to be strong, the family they are easy targets and if you decide to give up you leave them in danger, like when a mother eagle leaves the chick alone.  But again in South African political life it has become a situation where you cannot help people, you can only help yourself and your members and I don't think that is the way of good leadership where you do not have an access to help people, where you isolate people, you cannot protect people, those you do not have access to.  It is terrible that we do not have access in the so-called ANC hostels, it is terrible that they do not have an access in the IFP hostels, because my leadership qualities are not the leadership qualities that you will find in the ANC leaders, and the ANC leadership qualities are not the same qualities that you can find in me, so for a good achievement you need all those ingredients, to put them together and marshal them together and have a good mix, but the people on the ground will not allow this.

POM. Has the Peace Accord had anything to do with it?

TK. I think, though it did something else, but it failed before it got off in the sense that it lacked a Goldstone, it was ghost-writing a good memo but you just follow it if you want to.  You see according to the Peace Accord MK is not supposed to be there but it is there, and if you go to IFP constituencies they don't  say to you they are killed by Xhosas, they are killed by the MK.  Of course there are over 3000 MK cadres involved in violence in Maritzburg, in and out.

POM. So 3000 MK members have been involved?

TK. Involved in violence and other situations.  Keep them out.  I am not talking about the situation of convictions, nor am I talking about a situation of all the others, I am saying that when they are going through police stations on these charges, there are over 3000 of them.

POM. And they are promptly released?

TK. Well look, this is not what I am saying. What I am saying is that there have been indicators some proved guilty, some not, so it is a situation of military wings against civilians.

POM. Do you instruct your people to arm themselves, to be ready to fight back, to be in a position to strike back, to protect themselves from such attacks?

TK. No.  I did not tell you to wear light clothes today, you have to take it by the weather don't you?  Some of the people don't need to be instructed, they just do it on their own, like when our people are engaging against the MK, you don't tell them how to proceed, they just do it.

POM. Dr Buthelezi said late last year, or early this year, that there was a fifty/fifty chance of civil war in this country.

TK. That is not what I am saying, what I am saying to you now is of the threat of violence.

POM. Why do you think it is that the IFP side of the story is never reported in the detail that the ANC's side of the story is?

TK. That's not true.  It is true that our side of the story has not been given such attention and there can be many reasons.  The most justifiable one to all of us is that the IFP is not well organised in terms of propaganda nationally.  Two, it might be that many black people are anti IFP.

POM. The Human Sciences Research Council survey showed that 48% of the people thought that the IFP were responsible for the violence as against 16%.

TK. Because that is how it is presented.

POM. Looking at the larger picture, do you see any way that the IFP would return to the negotiating table?

TK. There are chances, but they are not being followed because if the issue of establishing a compromise is worked out finally, we know exactly what we need to do.  The rift between the ANC is because they have got another interpretation from what was originally meant.

POM. Would you see sufficient consensus?

TK. You know what? It doesn't need to be.

POM. What does it mean to you?

TK. It means that you don't beat one on numbers, you convince him by persuasion.  That is to say that even if 99 people think yes and there is just one that says no, you will not have been successful if you do not persuade that one.  That is what it meant to me but the ANC and the government are using it deliberately for conversion.

POM. Do you believe that from talks with ministers within the government and subdivisions within the government or the policy that the government is pursuing, that certain ministers believe that the government should be aligning itself with the IFP and not the ANC? Do you get any feedback from people that you know in government as to the kind of divisions that are there because of the government's alliance with the ANC?

TK. Well, I am aware that there is a division within the government, I am aware that De Klerk is becoming unpopular because of his communist approach.  I am aware that even within the National Party caucus there is a division, I am aware too that National Party constituents are disillusioned.

POM. Do you think that this will lead to a kind of break in the party?

TK. Yes.  You know of course this is now theory, but when it comes to personal issues at elections.

POM. Do you think that because of the list system, some Nationalist MP's might figure out that they might have a better chance of getting elected on an IFP ticket than on an NP ticket?

TK. Well, I don't know how do they think of that.  The National Party has eroded on the ground but what they have is power in terms of a strong SADF, but power in terms of the constituencies, I don't think they still have that.

POM. Do you think that it will be won by the PAC or the IFP or the ANC?

TK. No, the IFP is the only organisation in the country that enjoys support across racial lines.

POM. You have the figures for the support the IFP commands nationally, it usually comes in at about 5% or so.  That is what the surveys show.

TK. Who are they?  These surveys, what did they give Mugabe, what did they give Nkomo before they went to elections, the same problems?  Who says that journalists are right, who says that surveys are always right, who says that?  Do you believe they are right all of the time?

POM. No.

TK. Nor do I.  Do you think that all politicians are bright people? No, some are likely to be pulled in, some worked hard for it, some are bright, same with journalists, some journalists are just like a joke, let us not look at what the journalists are saying, let's look at it differently.  In Johannesburg alone who do you think will support a socialist government, I am talking about business people, sizeable business people, they will go for a practical approach.   Who are these property destructors?  Do you think that they will have forgotten that they were forced to drink raw fish oil, eat raw meat in the townships, do you think that they have forgotten that?  Beyond that do you think that if you approached them and asked them if they support IFP or ANC, will they say that they support IFP and still continue alive?  No they will tell you what the network thinks but when their conscience has to decide, it is another issue altogether.  Now all I am saying to you is that I do consider and take into account that they are good, I mean they tell us what is happening and I mean the track record of the government and the ANC is good in terms of their own administrative authority, full of brute action against its own members, in spite of human rights, both of them.  Look, these people get too over-excited and they burn their fingers, so anyway we will be there if we don't win the election, we will be there with the percentage of the population that supported us and guide the government of the day to a right place.

POM. So, if you do contest the elections?  You are saying that you won't contest the elections?

TK. No, I am saying that we might not.

POM. You might not if it is for a constituent assembly?

TK. Yes.

POM. Do you think that if the ANC were to say, as a way of inducing you back into talks, accede to your demands, do you think that the ANC leadership in Natal could have been treated like Harry Gwala except that - ?

TK. But you must understand one thing, for me to drink water is not a question of option, it is a way of living, it is like freedom, it is like empowerment, you cannot say I am free if I am not empowered and you cannot say I am empowered if you hold all the power over me.  The question is how we do it, not a question of whether or not. I mean the ANC and the government are getting over-excited about development and there is nothing exciting about it, so they will have to realise themselves some time in the future that you cannot have a socialist government running this country.  You and I sitting up here in Johannesburg, what is a person down there to do, do we know? I don't know, I am a member of Inkatha and Inkatha controls that area  but I don't really know what people want.  Let the people in that area decide.  Do we know what is happening? Some people like Peter Mokaba and Harry Gwala are hard liners, call it hot headed, and that makes them remarkable but it is a bad thing and if they want to be remarkable and always seen, talked of, fine let them.

POM. What is the PAC's attitude toward all this?

TK. I am not a member of the PAC and I do not know much about them, but they will have find a voice to put up their policies clearly and if people feel that that is the right thing to do we will support them.

POM. But some people have said that it is unnatural to have two leaders recruiting PAC support among youth?

TK. I agree, but they doing or going about it in the wrong way.

POM. Do you think that it is a matter of bad organisation?

TK. How many people, black people, have been killed by the ANC? Thousands. The ANC are basically killing black people, they are not killing whites.

POM. I am interested in how you see the future.  How do you see the future unfold, give me what might be your worst case scenario and your best case scenario?

TK. The worst case scenario to start with would be ambushing to the constituent assembly and the winner takes all after the outcome of the elections, and that can happen I am afraid.  There would be no winners only losers.  The other side is positive negotiations, if we have a constitution that is agreed upon, we need to curb violence as soon and as much as possible and then go to elections.  If the IFP wins then we become the government, if any other party wins we would like to secure power for people on the ground, whether we are the losing party we will be able to direct the effects.

POM. Are you married?

TK. Yes, I am in the African tradition.

POM. Do you take any extra security measures yourself?

TK. I am treated as a Christian, I do nothing, I rely on prayer, I don't just walk to death, I avoid it but I don't take precautionary measures.  What I am trying to say is that while we always avoid dangerous areas, that does not mean that one has taken fully precautionary measures.  Take the issue of Chris Hani, he organised bodyguards but he died.  Personally I am not worried, let me put it this way, I don't want to die but if the day comes I am not scared.

POM. What about the Conservative Party?

TK. I think that they are a strong organisation, one that can cause a military upset.  They are not being quite realistic as long as they demand a 'boerestaat', but if they demand a federal state eventually there are going to be military issues. The effective ones are the National Party and the AWB.

POM. They have the skills.

TK. At the moment in the commandos they actually hold key positions, they are really technically well equipped, like the National Party.  I mean planes cannot fly, they control the movement of trains, transport, they are dangerous.

POM. So it would be a severe disruption.

TK. They are all military trained.

POM. So would you see them as kicking out the government to pursue a new government or a constituent assembly or whatever?

TK. Please say that again.

POM. Would they kind of resort to - ?

TK. Who?

POM. The CP.

TK. Would they stage a military coup?

POM. To try to stage a coup or to disrupt things just as you said.

TK. I am not sure about the coup, but they could cause a lot of disruption.

POM. So any future government -

TK. They would face a difficult time. So if they are aware of the road ahead they must plan how they will travel that road ahead even if it a rough road, but as long as they know it is rough they can prepare themselves.  It is the only way you can do it.

POM. Let me ask you, in Natal you have the situation of Zulu killing Zulu.  I was told that the Zulu-speaking people who belong to the ANC come from a secondary tribe mostly the Askaris.  The point that is being made is that the Zulus who belong to the ANC do not have a traditional Zulu background, that they are an outgrowth of another tribe.

TK. I don't know but I would not be surprised.

POM. What would you say to that?

TK. I mean the ANC have been constantly upsetting the Zulu king, the ANC in general.  Are you nearly finished?

POM. Yes, just one or two more questions.  Do you still believe that the ultimate aim of the ANC is to establish a one party communist state?

TK. Yes.

POM. Do you still see the ANC as predominantly Xhosa?

TK. It is a Xhosa organisation, I mean look at who is the leader now: Nelson Mandela - Transkei, Thabo Mbeki - Transkei, many of them, the ANC is mainly Xhosa.  I am not accusing them of that, that is how they like it.

POM. Do you think that the COSATU alliance will last?

TK. I am not sure if the SACP/COSATU/ANC alliance will last long. We need to wait and see.

POM. It would be hard for you to be aligned with the CP which is effectively calling for a return to a form of apartheid?

TK. We are not aligned to the CP, they have got their problems and we have got our problems but some problems we share. We were talking to the government trying to negotiate the future of the country.  This is what we did and we were lambasted.

POM. So, I hope to see you again next year.

TK. I am not sure, I gave you two versions of the future so depending on which one unfolds.

POM. So will you be involved the elections as a candidate?

TK. I am a bit worried that party leaders are not promising leaders, I want to be in a position to help people, not only the IFP.

POM. So will you be out of your - ?

TK. I want to work with people not only IFP, but Xhosas, community, hostels, I like to work with people to get them organised, empowered, because to me freedom is not about voting it is about empowerment, being able to do things for yourself.

POM. OK Themba, thank you.

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