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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
21 Nov 1994: Konigkramer, Arthur
AK. Reorganise my life, it was totally disorganised all the time.
POM. It must be very difficult to run the paper here.
AK. Yes, it's not only the paper, the paper is a full time job, it's a very big business, but as you know I'm now a member of parliament, I'm chairman of committees and so on, the committees, Select Committee. I'm basically responsible for running parliament and making sure that it functions properly. That's a full time job and then the Information Centre. I'm now Treasurer General of the IFP.
POM. Does the parliament meet in Ulundi or Maritzburg or between the two?
AK. It switches between the two.
POM. Every other session, or?
AK. Every other session. There's a commission sitting at the moment which is going to decide, but in the interim anyway at the moment it alternates between Maritzburg and tomorrow, for example, we've got a session in Ulundi which will be two or three days. So the new parliaments are different. Ours certainly are being run, we're trying to run our parliament on basically I think more democratic lines. Most of the work is actually done in the committees so that, as I foresee it, we're probably going to meet for two or three days a month basically to formalise things but it doesn't look as if we're going to have, like in Cape Town, these narrow concessions.
POM. To go back to prior to the elections, I recall you saying last year that the Transitional Executive Council would never be legislated.
AK. What I said to you, we differed on that, yes they went ahead with the TEC but what I did say to you, and I was right in that sense, is that they would never implement it. They did of course in areas where they control it but in KwaZulu/Natal for example they failed to and there's no way, if you believe in democracy, there's no way you can go and impose. The IFP which it turns out is the majority in this province was not party to those discussions and there's no way that you can take decisions somewhere else and think you are going to enforce it on people. It doesn't work and it will never work. We're going through similar procedures now where the central government is totally unconstitutionally clinging to powers which are not theirs.
POM. I'll come back to that in a minute. First I want to go back to the week prior to the election when Carrington and Kissinger packed their bags and said there is nothing to mediate here and they've gone home and the conflict between the IFP and the ANC was escalating and it looked as though the country was slowly going to drift into anarchy before the elections. Then Chief Buthelezi said he would contest the elections and overnight you had peace and calm.
AK. I think the picture is a little bit rosy but certainly there was a de-escalation in violence but you must be under no illusions that violence continues. It's not in the headlines any more.
POM. Political violence?
AK. Oh yes. There were five people murdered on Saturday. The leader of the IFP was addressing a rally in Izingolweni and on the way back the buses were ambushed. There's no question about it, the evidence was there, it was a very carefully orchestrated ambush and five people were killed. There's serious violence in Umlazi and KwaMashu, there's violence at Ulundi. It's just not in the headlines any more but it's there.
POM. Do you think it's not in the headlines partly because of the understanding on the part of the media that it's a good thing for South Africa not to project it now particularly to the international community if foreign investment is to come in.
AK. I don't think that's the reason. You know, we've got our own problems with the press. I think they are extremely biased but that's another story all on its own. I don't think that's the reason. Newspapers are very fickle and that's not the line of the day any more, it's other things and they just don't cover it. I don't think there's anything sinister about it, it's just not news. People don't want to hear it and at the end of the day newspapers are businesses and they give people what they want.
POM. So what concession was made to the IFP in the end that made Buthelezi take the decision to enter the electoral process after saying there was no way he would do it?
AK. Well there was a fair degree of compromise on his part but his essential stand and that of the IFP was that first of all we were not party to that constitution, secondly, well there were two further issues. The one was federalism which we still believe in and it will prevail, there's no doubt about that. I'll come back to that if you wish. And then the third thing was the question of the securement of the Zulu kingdom because if you look at the history of this part of the world in its full historical sweep, you had a situation where colonial powers came in, destroyed the Zulu kingdom and ultimately annexed it and then we went through the Union without consultation. So given that history there was a very strong feeling among Zulu speaking residents who are the majority by far that that issue had to be addressed. And so ultimately both the ANC and the government agreed and there were two things that happened. First of all there were additional powers which were given to the provinces and, secondly, it was agreed that immediately after the elections steps would be taken by the KwaZulu/Natal government because, and that's very interesting, that's going to be one of the great debates of the future, where the centre, they didn't want to elevate the King to any position of special significance within the broader South African society and so all of a sudden there were a whole series of Kings that were created all round the country and of course there is only one and that's our King. But interestingly, and I think at that stage it was really to downgrade the problem, they said well that becomes a problem of KwaZulu/Natal and, of course, in the firm belief that they would win KwaZulu/Natal in addition. As it turns out they actually lost the election in KwaZulu/Natal and so the question of settling the rights of the King are now those of our province and as you know in terms of the constitution we have passed a Bill, or an Act of Parliament on the part of traditional leaders. But of course now there is much mischief making around the position of the King by the ANC which is exactly what the old apartheid government did but I don't think that's going to succeed.
POM. If there is a rift between the King and Chief Buthelezi how would you characterise it?
AK. I think that's an artificial rift that's created. The ANC are busy trying to manipulate the King and then immediately after the elections they came up here and gave him 'a palatial residence' of the former white Commissioner General. They supplied him with motor cars, they supplied him with money. They've supplied him with military escorts, with helicopters. But you must remember that in Zulu society the King is not an individual that acts in isolation and one man, it doesn't matter how powerful he is, he cannot act on behalf of the Zulu people. That is the question which has got to be done in consultation with the people and mainly the Amakosi, the Chiefs. So I think that rift, as you call it, is really, if it was between an individual and a section of the IFP, yes, maybe you could portray it as such, but with regard to the people in general we called a conference on the 14 October in Ulundi, as we said we would in terms of the Bill on traditional authority, and there were 260 Amakosi present and that's pretty well 80%, 85%, 90% of the whole lot in Natal and they unanimously accepted the constitution as it was. So one has got to be careful. There may be problems with an individual but not with the monarchy as such, the institution which goes way beyond an individual.
POM. A number of people have said to me that looking at the situation that the assumption made by the ANC was that Buthelezi gained his support from the King, so as long as he bowed to the King he would get the support of Zulus.
AK. That's a serious misconception.
POM. In fact it is the other way round, that Buthelezi had his own powerful base of political support and when it came to push and shove the King lost pretty badly in terms of support.
AK. Oh yes, you see I think the ANC are making a very serious error of judgement. There are still elements within the ANC that believe, particularly since given that we've got just over 50% of the vote, that if they could hive off a section that they could actually tip the balance of power in their favour. They are seriously misreading the signs because in fact the opposite will happen. It will rally support around the IFP. There's no doubt about it in my mind. Secondly, the ANC are busy doing exactly what the white colonialists did, exactly the same. They came in here, they destroyed the monarchy and of course they manipulated the King. Let me take you back a bit. When the British came in here King Cetshwayo was on the throne, Shepstone actually came to crown him, to try and get influence over him. The Afrikaners came, the Boers as they were then, they also manipulated or tried to manipulate the Zulu kingdom and they also crowned the Zulu King although he was a King and in 1993 at Skukuza Nelson Mandela did exactly the same thing. He promised to crown or to have the King crowned. I mean, it's outrageous. The man is the King. He doesn't have to be crowned. He has been a King for twenty years. The same story, it's first division.
POM. On the question of the elections, you had an election in which there was a massive turnout of voters. I was an observer going round the northern part of KwaZulu and saw nothing wrong but everything going according to plan.
AK. Whereabouts were you?
AK. Oh, in the centre.
POM. In the townships around Pietermaritzburg. In fact it's one of the enduring memories of my life, we came around a corner a little after five in the morning on the way to the polling station to make sure that everything was under control.
AK. And the long queues.
POM. And the sun was just coming up and there was a queue for two miles.
AK. And a lot of those people actually waited, well not there, but in many polling booths people waited for three days in the open to vote because there were no polling materials or the polling officer didn't arrive, the booths weren't there. Anyway, it was a remarkable event.
POM. From your point of view, and just talking about here in Natal, was it a free and fair election?
AK. No, no, it certainly wasn't. There was massive rigging. There is lots and lots of evidence to show, for example on the streets of Durban, we took the IEC monitors there, we took the international monitors there, birth certificates were being sold in their thousands and tens of thousands, on the streets, on the pavements, and people were taking them straight from there into the Home Affairs offices to get the temporary voting cards. There was massive fraud. There was tampering with boxes. Large numbers of boxes were not sealed. Secondly, or thirdly, there were tens of thousands of ballots that went out without IFP stickers on them. We repeatedly, we tried to halt the process, Judge Fisher refused. In many areas voting went on for two days without an IFP sticker on it which was blatantly illegal apart from unfair. No, it wasn't fair.
POM. A large number of people who I've talked to - the scenario first, where you have the election, it went off very peacefully, certainly without intimidation, then you had all kinds of delays in the counting, millions of votes got lost, simply disappeared.
AK. The rigging of the computers as well.
POM. And the allegation of rigging of the computers, the ANC allegations against the IFP, IFP made allegations against the ANC, the NP made allegations against the ANC, it was becoming a bit messy, and then this miraculous result. Buthelezi wins KwaZulu/Natal, he gets what he wants, the National Party wins the Western Cape.
AK. Well we never got what we wanted.
POM. But you got KwaZulu/Natal. The National Party got the Western Cape. The ANC got a large majority but not enough to give them monopoly control, not two thirds. A lot of people suggest that the result was brokered in smoke filled rooms, that a stable result that was accepted as legitimate and produced stability whereas if had been called on the issue of free and fair it would have created maybe a lot of turmoil, a renewal of the war here in KwaZulu/Natal. Do you think that it was more important to have a result that produced, or was accepted as being legitimate by all the parties to the election and produced stability rather than it be strictly free and fair in the classical sense of the term?
AK. You see one must look at it again in its full perspective. We as a party, and I think history will show us to be right, we were not prepared to accept a deal which had basically been brokered between the ANC and the government, the Record of Understanding which they signed on the 29th December and which laid the foundation for everything that followed afterwards. But given that, our decision at the end of the day was that although we didn't like the scenario, we didn't think it was democratic, but there was such an enormous area of expectation, there was a sense of happening which had been generated, and a lot of that came from international pressure as well. Now at the end of the day you've got to take a decision in terms of the country's future. Some processes are unstoppable. That was unstoppable. Whether it was fair or not is entirely another matter and we don't accept it was free and fair but one has to take a decision at the end of the day. If the IFP, for example, had not gone into that election there's no doubt in my mind whatsoever that this country would have ended in a really uncontrollable civil war. And it would not have been of our making because we didn't broker those deals, we were specifically excluded. But be that as it may, at the end of the day you've got to take a decision and that's the decision we took. I don't believe there would have been an election without the IFP, I don't think that would have been possible and I think the government came to that conclusion and so did the ANC. There was a lot of loose talk by the ANC and the government before that they would carry on without us wherever possible. So, yes, one takes that decision and in the interests of the country's long term future and stability. The other thing is with regard to the election itself, we were completely unhappy with the results. There's no doubt in our mind whatsoever that we got well in excess of 50% of the vote. We supplied very carefully worded documentation to the IEC which to this day has not been answered. Ultimately they appointed an advocate to investigate but they have not answered the points. There too, you take a decision at the end of the day in the interests of stability. We didn't like it. We don't like particularly governing as we have to with constant harassment from the ANC because they are a real nuisance factor the way they operate. But that's the way it is and you have to live with it.
POM. If somehow the result had come out that had the IFP losing, would that have led to a renewal of conflict?
AK. Well it depends. If it was done on the basis of rigging of the election, sure, there's no way that that would have stuck because, as I said, I think the government and the ANC have fully recognised that the IFP was a major player and you couldn't just side step. It depends on how that would have happened. If you're suggesting that had we lost the election legitimately whether there would have been violence, I would have said no. If the electorate turns against you then you must live with it.
POM. Practices that were in effect during the election were in effect and the result was lost by the IFP.
AK. The point is that at the end of the day - let me go through here; if the IFP had legitimately lost the election it would have had to live with it and I'm sure it would have lived with it. But if it had lost it through rigging it would have been impossible. You cannot impose a government on an unwilling people, it doesn't work. So they would have soon found that they would not have been able to govern.
POM. The IFP had 50.3% of the vote, now for the life of me I can't understand why Harry Gwala didn't demand a recount.
AK. Well he would have lost.
POM. I've never known of a political party in any place in the west where if the opposition got a majority by .3% of a vote wouldn't have gone back and said we demand a recount.
AK. Yes, but hold on, you must remember that the ANC never got 49% of the vote. That was split up between the Nats, the ANC, the PAC, the ACDP and the minority front, there were a whole lot of other parties. So the ANC were not anywhere near getting a majority so one's got to bear that in mind. From the ANC point of view it had been fairly substantially trounced. The bottom line is they sought to have the election declared null and void but of course sense prevailed because if they had pursued the legal course I can assure you that the IFP would have won by a much, much greater margin because the skulduggery that went on in the north where we had between 80% and 90% of the votes in most of the areas north of Tugela, they would have got an even bigger trouncing and wiser counsel prevailed.
POM. When I was going round the country one of the big complaints we found from the provincial Premiers was their resentment of the fact that the central government was not devolving powers to the regions in the manner that the constitution specifies.
POM. Why do you think that is happening?
AK. I think if you go back to what I said to you before, there is fundamentally no difference between the Nats and the ANC, they are birds of a feather, they are both authoritarian, they love total power and it is for that reason that they like to hold power in Pretoria, exactly as the Nats did. If you look at KwaZulu/Natal they simply at a stroke of a pen, immediately the election results were out, they simply took all the power to themselves including silly things like - I'm the current chairman of the KwaZulu Monuments Council, they took our act, for example, to Pretoria and to my knowledge it's still there. It's crazy. Now by no stretch of the imagination can you say that we're incapable of performing, carrying out those acts because we've been doing it for the last twenty years. What is interesting, but entirely predictable as we thought it would happen, is immediately once the regions had the capacity or the ability to actually exercise power they would obviously want to exercise it and what was very revealing was that immediately after the election most of the flak directed against the centre comes from the ANC Premiers. Obviously we've protested. In terms of the constitution once the Premier asks the President to assign certain powers to him in terms of the schedule which he's entitled to do, the constitution is quite clear, it says the State President shall, not may, shall devolve those powers. He hasn't done so which is unconstitutional because particularly in KwaZulu/Natal where there are two administrations, the old Natal Provincial Administration and the KwaZulu government, that were exercising full control over this province, by no stretch of the imagination can you say that we haven't got the capacity to exercise the Act which is the only valid reason that could be used to withhold those powers. I think they were authoritarian but I think in my own judgement I think it's something which the ANC will soon learn. It's got enough on its hands.
POM. One of the things that has come up, people I have been talking to, some of the Premiers, ANC Premiers have said, complain bitterly about the lack of devolution of powers and they couldn't get their job done without the powers to do it. It's kind of ironic to know that some of these had been very strong unitarists only months ago and it would seem that the Premiers ...
AK. Were they? Were they always that? You see that's really party discipline and the party line. I don't think they were unitarists. I've met quite a few of those people subsequently and I've known them, not intimately before, but I certainly knew enough about them to realise that in fact they are not centrists, that was the party line. In our meetings it's been very interesting to note that a lot of those Premiers have embraced our people and said now they understand what it was like, to have to fight this monster in Pretoria on our own, everybody else was against us.
POM. So do you think this will surface again, this and the question of international mediation which, as I recall, this was part of the agreement?
AK. Yes it was. You see again it's very interesting that they are resisting us and it really is very interesting because the agreement which was signed by Nelson Mandela and F W de Klerk and Mangosuthu Buthelezi which enabled the IFP to enter the elections, because remember there had to be a meeting of parliament so it's more than just a working agreement there, there actually had to be statutory provision to alter the entrance date and so on, now in terms of that agreement it made provision for international mediation to secure particularly the issue of the Zulu kingdom, in other words basically federalism, that's what it really means. Now it's very strange that we now have a situation where the ANC in particular, and the Nats, are wanting to put that on the back burner and yet at the same time they claim to have the support of the King. So if they had the support of the King then surely, logically, you should immediately go for international mediation because you presumably are going to get your way, but the reality of course is that they know that that is not the situation, that they may have the support of a man but not of the institution.
POM. Will both of those things loom now, resurface during the Constitutional Assembly debate?
POM. In a much more sharper and focused way than they had in the CODESA negotiations?
AK. Well one doesn't know of course exactly how it's going to develop but you must remember that at CODESA and the subsequent talks, you must remember for example that the delegations of the KwaZulu government and the King were explicitly precluded from attending. Now you've got a different situation where we've got an elected government in KwaZulu/Natal and we've got Senators in the Senate, we've got members in parliament and though they are part of a formal legislative process it's very difficult to ignore that. So whether or not the differences will be sharper I don't know. I think it will be more difficult to circumvent and it's my belief that if that matter is not handled correctly I foresee the IFP could well walk out of the government of national unity and I think that would have serious consequences, but I think that's possible.
POM. One other thing, the regional governments complained about was that because they were not given the necessary resources they weren't really in a position to register voters, delimit boundaries for the local elections in 1995 and there was across the board a belief that the country was not ready for this election in 1995 and that it shouldn't be held in 1995.
AK. There is a very strong feeling which we're aware of among the ANC in the regions, you see from our point of view, let me just first of all tell you, from our point of view we will never again go into an election unless there's a voters' roll, and I think that's an eminently fair demand that, obviously you have to have proper registration procedures and so for that you need a voters' roll. So if the government is incapable of producing a voter's roll then we would certainly side with the ANC, as I understand it, with those Premiers who say no. But I must point out that there is another difference which you should be aware of. South Africa used to have four provinces, now we've got nine and a lot of those ANC provinces in fact don't have the administrative capacity to do anything. In KwaZulu/Natal, for example, as I told you, there was a very efficient administration. In the Western Cape there was a very efficient administration, because that coincided with the old Cape Province. In the Eastern Cape because there was a military dictatorship in place and it was very corrupt, that administration has collapsed, but at least there was a semblance of an administration. But in areas like North West and so on there was simply nothing, they don't have the administrative capacity so that's going to be very difficult. Here in KwaZulu/Natal there is the administrative capacity for example to actually get voters registered, I believe we could do that, but that's an added factor. You must remember that a lot of those provinces didn't exist at all.
POM. Do you think in the run up to the local elections here that it could ignite the conflict between the IFP and the ANC all over again, now that the turf is even smaller and more locally defined?
AK. Not necessarily so because you must remember that the local government is not only urban it goes across the whole region. I don't think that necessarily will follow. It's going to depend on how the players play their cards, but I don't think there's a necessity that that should necessarily happen. The major areas of conflict will, of course, be I think areas like Durban where the ANC will try and marshal even more support than it had before.