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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
03 Oct 1997: Mdlalose, Frank
POM. Looking back from the perspective of no longer being actively involved in politics, as you would look at the politics of KwaZulu/Natal since the foundation of the IFP in 1975, what do you think are the main turning points in its history, one? Two, during the last turbulent decade are there things you think the IFP should have done that it could have done differently? And three, do you think that even though the level of political violence appears to have diminished considerably that many, if not most, of the tensions that gave rise to the violence in the first place are still there and need to be dealt with?
FM. Yes, your opening gambit, there will be more to come later. The turning points in the history of IFP are numerous. When we started in 1975 we felt quite sure that being a South African political movement that was based on the principles laid for us by the founding fathers in 1912, we felt that we very much would receive world rank with the ANC which was in exile and of course banned in South Africa. We thought we could move on in South Africa in a manner that ANC would generally be not unkind towards us. Certain things occurred which one would say are turning points. The 1979 meeting in London came about because we were finding that there might be some differences between us that could be ironed out. We know that they believed in violence, we didn't. We knew that they believed in sanctions against South Africa and we didn't. Nevertheless we thought that there could be co-existence between us despite those differences. But the 1979 meeting in London was a big turning point because we found that we were really not going to be on the same wavelength.
POM. Did you attend that meeting with Dr Buthelezi?
FM. Yes I attended.
POM. And was the atmosphere cordial, not cordial?
FM. It surely was cordial. We were all right. When I say cordial I mean it was not arm in arm camaraderie and whatnot, be it drinking happily. No, there wasn't time for that but we were able to get on to discuss things together and we found differences among ourselves but we spoke like men and women who were reasonable. One of the things that we found we couldn't quite agree upon and that was very important that point, was the fact that we knew some of the members of the ANC were bent on destroying IFP. We put this on the table in our meeting. It was denied of course but we had examples that we quoted which in fact they obviously accepted as true. You will remember that recently Mr Thabo Mbeki has agreed that there was a time when some of the members of the ANC wanted to destroy IFP. In our London talks that was denied and in our London talks, you will remember, Bishop Arthur Zulu was the chairman requested by Oliver Tambo who was the President of the ANC, and as we discussed over there we raised this point of people wanting to destroy us I had to quote my example in Swaziland when I got into a head-on collision with Mr Orbit Dhlomo of the ANC. It was a head-on collision that I had with him in December 1975 which I quoted at that meeting and Mr Tambo had not known about it but Thabo Mbeki knew about it. In fact Thabo Mbeki had tried to say please don't bring this up, because I had told him at one of the meetings that I am going to bring this up as an example of when the ANC wanted to destroy us. That was when Orbit Dhlomo told me straight that, "You are a sell-out, so is Buthelezi, we are going to eliminate you", and that was in a bar at the George Inn, Manzini. Haven't I told you that one?
FM. Oh dear, that's rather a long one perhaps. But now in answer to the turning points, when we indicated that there have been points where we have known that you want to destroy us as ANC, this must come out, you must not have it - some of them said they did not know but Thabo Mbeki knew about it and it was openly spoken about and Thabo Mbeki indicated that Orbit Dhlomo was rather too heavy on his liquor and so he was talking rubbish and that's why they even removed him from Swaziland and put him into Zambia. We were just saying some of you want to destroy us. Now that was accepted, it was clear that no, no, this ought to stop. But the turning point comes in this, that when we left a number of questions with the ANC that they were supposed to answer when they had a bigger complement among themselves and this was in October 1979, they were to answer these questions by December or January. They never answered those questions.
POM. The questions related to?
FM. The relationship between us, they were related to that. And they never answered them and instead we had from Alfred Nzo in the middle or early in 1980 hitting out at IFP, an open criticism against IFP and then we realised that our questions were not going to be answered and in fact the way of working together was being generally side-lined. That was a turning point in the history of the IFP and its attitude towards ANC. You asked for turning points.
POM. Did Chief Buthelezi at this point feel let down, used, manipulated, threatened?
FM. I think Chief Buthelezi felt disappointed that in fact between us, IFP and ANC, there were the differences that we were finding difficulty to speak openly and honestly about that, that we were therefore finding it difficult to iron out those differences and get into a situation where we could live and let live. If I know you believe in this philosophy, you know I believe in that, and you accept that then that's your attitude and I've also got now my own attitude. You speak English, I speak Zulu. There's nothing wrong with that and so we accept that. But if we don't accept those simple facts that we've got differences and we pretend there are none when we know in fact in our hearts that they are there, that is disappointing and I think Buthelezi felt disappointed that way.
. The second turning point, as I see things, the establishment of UDF, United Democratic Front, was in fact, in my opinion, the establishment of an internal ANC and when you hear that at that their establishment in Cape Town they then said they will accept any political organisation but not Inkatha. So clearly Inkatha, and that was before we even thought we were singled out as people who would not be accepted, and from then on it became clear that it was a counter to doing that.
POM. What do you think was the motivation of both the ANC and the UDF in attempting to isolate you and portray you as the agent of apartheid?
FM. The motivation as I see it was that Inkatha was becoming very popular, it had access to the populace in the country, it had its philosophy that the South African government found difficult to assail and it was growing and therefore the ANC in exile, with less access to people in the country, was feeling it was being sidelined, that here is an organisation that is political, we are not in total agreement with it and in fact we have got differences with it, now they are going ahead, we are outside, we must sabotage them, create an internal organisation that will destroy IFP.
POM. Do you think Mr Mandela at that point, I won't say colluded, but gave his tacit approval to that kind of thing?
FM. Well you know that Mr Mandela was in prison at the time.
POM. But I also know that Chief Buthelezi used to correspond with him.
FM. Yes, but of course there wasn't a regular correspondence like with friends, you are in prison and I write you once a month, you write me once in two months, that was not the issue. There was correspondence between them when certain events came about. It wasn't a regular correspondence as I know it. But you see Mandela being in prison, being in fact unquotable, being in fact not anywhere near - you must remember it was a life imprisonment. Even though we were working hard to get him released we knew that it was a life imprisonment and he wasn't all that young, he would most probably die in jail. So his influence was really not all that great and what he thought about it I feel, myself, was positive towards us. Not positive in the sense of embracing us totally but positive in the sense of working together with us. I think he really was, so was Oliver Tambo, I think these two were very much inclined towards saying, look IFP we understand your philosophy and understand your internal - you couldn't possibly take up arms from within unless you intend to commit suicide, you couldn't possibly ask for sanctions from within because of the reason that you stated, that many people will lose jobs and so on, say that it is an unacceptable philosophy to you to apply for sanctions. I think they understood it. I'm not now saying that's what they said but I think internally they understood that and so they were tolerant towards us. But other people within the ANC could not accept this.
. So that was I think the second turning point, that one of the establishment of UDF which of course was obviously charged with eliminating Inkatha because soon after UDF was established there was the killing which started in the Eastern Cape. You know the issue of Sam Kinekine(?), you have heard about it? I think I referred to it in the past, probably many times, when UDF necklaced and killed the family of Sam Kinekine, the sin being that he was a member of a Town Council which was unacceptable to UDF, unacceptable to ANC. We, IFP, accepted that people could work in the councils. In fact I had been working in the Council of Makathini, I had even been the chairman of the Council of Makathini and I was at that time in fact taking part in KwaZulu government politics. I was then a member of the government, I was a minister in the government of KwaZulu so I was unacceptable to UDF as such. They started killing in the Eastern Cape, Uitenhage near Port Elizabeth, and they spread out their tentacles to Johannesburg and when they tried to put their tentacles into KwaZulu-Natal they first burned their fingers because of Inkatha influence against being marshalled away from taking part in council participation or taking part in so-called homeland governments, that is provincial or second tier governments. So there was a clash and then they withdrew a little from Kwazulu-Natal but then they came there with all the pressure again and then there was an open fight between UDF and IFP in the late eighties. When the fight broke up in Umlazi and places like that in Kwazulu-Natal it was just consolidating differences and hatred between IFP and UDF and UDF being the front of course of the ANC, therefore against the ANC as well. That is one turning point.
. Another turning point I think would be not so much now in terms of IFP versus ANC but in terms of achieving something by way of IFP. I would call it a turning point that in 1986 we conducted a Kwazulu-Natal Indaba and were able to have a substantial number of whites and Indians and coloureds coming together with us as blacks. You know of course that we were not allowed to have an open political party. There was an issue of the Political Interference Act, it was an issue that if you are black your policies can't take up whites and that sort of thing. But when we asked for and did in fact have an eight month Kwazulu-Natal Indaba from April to November 1986 that participation itself I think was very important in bringing about a new approach in South Africa even though the National Party government did not accept it, but it brought about a new orientation in South Africa that in fact blacks and whites can work together which I think was a turning point in terms of our IFP philosophy being acceptable in the country to some people to some extent.
. As a result of that we were able to have the Joint Executive Authority in Kwazulu-Natal where the KwaZulu government was largely IFP directed and the provincial government in Natal, which was largely United Party, NRP orientated, we were able to work together in this Joint Executive Authority and form a 'government' of some sort between the two provincial governments, an in between forum, between the KwaZulu government and the Natal provincial government. That established joint services boards and all sorts of activities which created trust among the people, in Kwazulu-Natal anyway, and which of course was a threat to the ANC who didn't want IFP and therefore called for more antagonism.
. We were able at that time, being spared by that internal sort of get together, toenadering (that's an Afrikaans word), spared by that we were able to have the 1989 Committee established of which I was a member. We were led by Dr Dhlomo to talk with a National Party counterpart for the five major points that we wanted to achieve: release of political prisoners, Mandela being number one in that; unbanning of the political parties in the country, ANC being number one in that; return of people in exile; the state of emergency to be uplifted; and fifthly, apartheid philosophy to be done away with in the country in principle. Those are the five cardinal points that we went for in 1989 and we were getting quite strong and brave to say this must happen. In 1990, as you know, 2nd February there was De Klerk's speech and by then Sisulu had already been out of prison as a test case, so was Ahmed Kathrada and a few others and by the end of February Mandela himself was out. There had been of course an argument by the South African government to say that once Mandela comes out there will be hell let loose in South Africa, there will be people marching in their thousands or millions going to Pretoria and we won't be able to get things under control. That was their talk to us when we negotiated, it was our negotiations.
POM. That was the ANC?
FM. That was the National Party government's approach to our IFP argument. We said release Mandela and they said we won't because if we did this is what would happen and we argued that no it wouldn't, he will be received with acclaim. They released Sisulu and Kathrada and a few others and things were positive, so when they said look Mandela is going to get released we were all too happy, the whole world was happy.
POM. After Sisulu and Govan Mbeki and Kathrada were released were there any meetings between them and the top leadership of the IFP to try to get a handle on some of the problems that had developed, particularly that the violence at that point had become almost endemic in Kwazulu-Natal?
FM. There were contacts, there were contacts between us and Sisulu and Kathrada. I remember I personally, I don't know with whom I was, I can't remember now, I personally met Sisulu and Kathrada at about that time but that was not directly when they were released. I think I met them in 1990, I can't now remember exactly when. But there were tentative points of meeting. But you see the tentative points of meeting were calculated at saying, look you are busy killing us, why don't you stop massacring us? The release or the return of some of the people in exile, Jacob Zuma in particular, brought about another phase of working together between the IFP and ANC. I wouldn't call that a turning point, it was an extentionist move, gradual approach towards our relationship. Of course the big turning point, you could say, was when we were at CODESA, the establishment of CODESA. That brought about an implosion, one could call it, of all parties getting together at the World Trade Centre and the milling together brought about a new chemistry that again was a new approach, it was reality that we are going to work together in South Africa. It was reality that democracy would ultimately come into South Africa. It was reality that the ANC is there, the IFP is there, the Communist Party is there, you can't now say this, that and the other, you can't smell them out or snap them off.
POM. Then you had the breakdown of CODESA and you had Boipatong and then you had the break off of negotiations between the ANC and the NP followed by the Cyril and Roelf show, culminating in the Record of Understanding. Did the IFP regard the Record of Understanding as being a fundamental betrayal of the multiparty nature of the negotiating process?
FM. We regarded it as a betrayal, betrayal of the IFP and what the IFP stood for and what the IFP had been in the country in that there we found the NP government, which was in power then, which had worked with us with our attempting to get them to democracy, for years we had been striving towards that as I've even mentioned to you, those five points of 1989, we found that in the final analysis during CODESA they were won over by the ANC and they became disenchanted with us, not that we're such great lovers, no we're not, but at least we had been on talking terms and we were working towards some democratic situation coming into the country. They abandoned us and they took the ANC into bed with them and they came out with the Record of Understanding in September 1993 which was done and settled behind doors and then came out as a fait accompli and we were not involved. We felt greatly betrayed.
POM. Now the elections themselves?
FM. Yes, that's another turning point in our life, when the elections came on in 1994. The big problem that we faced as IFP was that we felt our philosophy and the issue of traditional leadership, which I suppose to many may not mean anything and I can understand that but to us it meant so much, was being completely ignored and side-stepped and we tried hard to say, look take account of the presence of traditional systems and on that we would not even allow ourselves to take part in the elections if that was not being understood. We were not going to take part in the elections. You know that? And ultimately on 19th April when the elections were coming up a week later we then got into a situation where some agreement was reached and we went into elections and you know the results of the elections. Thereafter we pursued a mirage, the mirage being the agreement, the agreement was just a paper agreement. There was no reality in it. The ANC leader, Nelson Mandela, who has now become the President in the country, had turned his back to that agreement on 19th April 1993.
POM. This was on the question of international mediation?
POM. Now the ANC would say two things: one is that to this day they will almost with vehemence insist that the IFP stole the election in 1994 and that Cyril Ramaphosa for one was almost belligerently intent on wanting to challenge the results in the court and in the end had to be restrained by Mandela saying let it be. That's one question. I want that to relate to this whole idea that is still prevalent in lay analysis of the election that it was a brokered result, that the election counting process broke down at Nazrec, counting came to a stop, ballot boxes were missing and there were no results coming out, there was just confusion and that the solution was that some of the major players in the parties, the ANC, the NP, yourselves came up with an informal brokered solution so that everybody was a winner. The ANC didn't achieve the magical two thirds per cent that it would have required to be able to amend the constitution on its own, the IFP won in Kwazulu-Natal and therefore secured its base, the NP won in the Western Cape and had its base of power so that the result was kind of a miracle. Everybody could come away saying they were a winner of sorts.
FM. You think the ANC would say that that was manipulated? The winning in KwaZulu was manipulated, the winning in the Western Cape was manipulated?
POM. They would say you stole it.
FM. Then what about the rest of the country, they didn't steal it in the rest of the country? Is that what they would be saying? That we were the thieves and they were with a halo around their heads, they were the innocent, they had been robbed? And you would believe that?
POM. Oh I don't believe that, I just try to repeat things I hear.
FM. No I don't think even the relationship between us and the NP government was such that falling upon the disappointment of the Record of Understanding, I don't think our relations were such that we could have even colluded with them for anything. Collusion was between the NP and the ANC and if anybody can't see that he must have his head read. The collusion was there between them. That's why on September 27th 1993 they came up with the Record of Understanding having come together, Cyril Ramaphosa and Roelf Meyer, fishing expeditions and so on, I don't know why people can't see that that was a plan and they were colluding, that they would rather dream that in the elections in the counting at Nazrec suddenly we came together, the IFP and the NP. Of course it was the ANC and the NP that had come together. It was clear, but then it was clear to everybody that the ANC had a majority and what the NP was doing was to beg its way to be comfortably accommodated by the ANC government. We were not begging the ANC to accommodate us, nor were we begging the losing NP to accommodate us. There was no way we were colluding with the NP, it was a loser anyway. We stood on our own and we did not want to go into elections. When we went into elections it was within a week and we were not begging anybody to come our way.
POM. Let me go back to after Mr Mandela was released. Now if one reads his autobiography and indeed follows his actions he comes across as a very powerful, self-confident, self-assured leader who was never afraid to lead. Even if many of his colleagues didn't believe in his course of action I think one of his favourite phrases is that after he discussed the matter with him they invariably came around to his point of view. And he wanted to visit Chief Buthelezi and there were elements in the ANC that didn't want that to happen and there is the famous quotation of his saying that if he went and visited Chief Buthelezi they would strangle him or throttle him. Now what seems to me odd is that he knew what had to be done, he knew that he had to meet to resolve this with the Chief and that only he could do it. Why didn't he take that singular act of leadership at that time when this could have diffused the whole situation?
FM. Other than his answer that 'they almost throttled me', those were his words, other than that I couldn't say. I don't know what his mind went through. You could ask him. I don't think I would be able to answer for him.
POM. I think Jacob Zuma is one of the few people in the ANC who is on the record as saying that the ANC mishandled the IFP and Dr Buthelezi from the beginning. In the years that have evolved since, during the government of national unity in Kwazulu-Natal, have you ever had senior members of the ANC come to you and say, you know Frank we messed it up and we messed it up badly and we are perhaps more responsible for a lot of the violence that has happened in this province than anybody else? Or have they always maintained this facade of IFP equals bad guys, IFP equals Caprivi training, IFP equals hit squads?
FM. No I would say that I would find it difficult to answer that question very fully because some of the things that have been said to me by some of the ANC leaders in our province have been said in confidence and I cannot say anything about that. That's an envelope I'm putting everything in. But in a manner that should not frustrate the question, Mr O'Malley, certain incidents are public knowledge and they do reveal certain answers to your question. When Zuma and I decided after an interview between us, decided that we should see Mpumalanga Township and see whether we cannot pick up the two leaders there who apparently were getting to understand each other, ANC Radebe, IFP Mhlaba, let's identify these people, identify their committees and see whether we cannot put them even more together. Zuma and I agreed on that and Zuma and I went through Mpumalanga Township having called upon the media to see us there and TVs to reveal us and to have us put across the South African screen, this was in 1992, to find out from Kwazulu-Natal and South Africa as a whole what the reaction would be in our holding hands together. There was a reaction to that, you must recall it, and it is one of the most important things that I probably told you about some time ago that made me have some faith in Jacob Zuma. We went through that process and it was Mr Gwala, Harry Gwala, of the Communist Party in Natal who said, "There you are, you see our Jacob Zuma walking cap in hand like Chamberlain going to Munich, he was going hand in hand with Frank Mdlalose and he is like Chamberlain going into Munich to go to the conference and to condone the actions of Hitler. That is what Jacob Zuma is doing." You know that? Now that was obviously an affront from within the top hierarchy of the ANC Communist Party. Zuma did not withdraw. We went on with our process. Again and again we were quoted, again and again we were seen going on a rainy day at one time, holding hands together and slipping around in the rain and having the car getting stuck, we were both in one car, and that again was revealed and we were together. We spoke a lot about a number of things. Criticism from certain members of the ANC came up that that was the wrong action, that that shouldn't happen, and that was long before the elections of 1994.
POM. So senior members of the ANC were opposed to this joint initiative?
FM. Some, some senior members were opposed to that. There was another instance of Harry Gwala, like Siphiso Nkabinde and many others, and Dumisane Mkai(?). Siphiso Nkabinde and Dumisane Mkai were close friends and they were as thick as thieves together with Bennie Kwele(?), now of course it is as if Siphiso Nkabinde is as far away from them, follow, follow me, holding hands with Siphiso Nkabinde, Good Lord, never thought of it, never happened before. That is his attitude. That's how deceitful and dishonest people can be. We just hope that some people can see through that. However, what I'm getting at was that in answer to your question, do you sometimes in your own discussions find that this, that and the other happens? I can only say I quote public reaction to our association between me and Jacob Zuma, then you can glean what has been going on within the ANC and perhaps before I give an impression of partiality I must in fact be quite honest and say not only was that sort of attitude coming out of the ANC but within the IFP too there were people in the IFP that were saying what are you doing, Frank what are you doing? You are mad, you are going around with Jacob Zuma, you are selling us out. There were those people. I've often said that the way to peace is a steep road, slippery and full of holes. I've walked through that. I've been through it, I've slipped here and there, I've had thorns in my flesh from time to time not only from the opposite side but from my own side too. It's more painful when it comes from your own neighbour, your own colleague than when it comes from what you perceive to be your enemy.
POM. Do you think that Jacob Zuma's attempts to work with you towards reconciliation here in Kwazulu-Natal, do you think that has damaged his standing in the ANC as a whole, it will be held against him when it comes to national leadership stakes?
FM. I don't think so really. It has certainly damaged of course his standing with some members, the Harry Gwala type, they would never trust Zuma, there are those in the ANC. But those who want a full ANC and generally everybody there I think the majority today would not castigate Jacob Zuma for his association with me, I don't think so.
POM. A related question, did you find a difference between having to deal with leaders of the ANC who were in exile and came back from exile and leaders of the ANC who came out of the UDF?
FM. Do you mean a difference in - ?
POM. A difference that UDF/ANC people would be more vehement and more anti-Inkatha than members of the leadership who came back from exile.
FM. I think there is a lot of truth in that. The people that came back from exile, the Jacob Zumas, the Thabo Mbekis and so on, I think they are more tolerant than those who have actually been with us in the country. That's an impression and I would find it, of course, very difficult to really fully and scientifically substantiate that. There again you have got different people with different propensities. Let's take for example the people that we have been with in the country, people who were in UDF and so on, I have very high regard for Alec Erwin for example. Alec Erwin came in from the labour movement side and we met with him and we had lots of arguments with him long before elections and we were trying to establish peace in the country. I have no real big difference with Alec Erwin. He was here, he didn't come from exile. There are one or two who were within the country who I could never feel comfortable with and among those who were in exile I have great respect for Thabo Mbeki and quite a few others, well of course the old man Sisulu. I always get a little nostalgic when I look at him and find he's an old man and I remember when I first saw him in the early fifties and I was a university student and he was Secretary of the ANC and he was a much younger man and much, much stronger than he is now, obviously. When I see him I feel so good that he came from prison, as you know. I feel so good and I think he has a little soft spot for me too.
POM. Do you think, as he has said himself, the major goal of his presidency to be a healer, a reconciler, to be a nation builder, do you think he is - ?
FM. You mean Mandela now?
POM. Mandela, yes. Do you think he is succeeding in that regard or do you think that the TRC in particular is acting more as a non-reconciler, is perhaps wrecking or could wreck attempts at nation building and could result in an awful lot more harm than help?
FM. I don't think I understand the question. I was talking about Sisulu.
POM. Yes you were talking about Sisulu but I am talking about Mandela and that goal.
FM. Now that he is president and he is the leader in the government as such?
POM. But that one of the primary orientations of his presidency is to create a nation, a united nation.
FM. I think he is sincerely wanting to have a united nation, not uniform but united, and I think he would die a happy man if there was peace and there was less animosity between the parties that we have in South Africa. He will die a happy man if he could have the sort of relationship that exists between the Conservative Party and the Labour Party in England or in the United States between the Republican and Democratic Parties. They don't kill one another. I think Mandela would rather see that than see what is happening here.
POM. But in that regard do you think that the TRC is an instrument of nation building or that it could in fact become an instrument of nation division, that it might do a lot more harm than good in trying to reconcile the past?
FM. The idea of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission I think it's a good idea, generally I think it is a good idea. But I think it has had problems. When people were selected to be members of that commission I think it was unfortunate that the choice fell upon those actors that are there now. That's one thing. But now as it goes on to, when it comes into the practical application - on Sunday night we go and listen to things that happened during the week and I cannot escape getting an impression that, yes, you may get reconciliation in some cases but in many cases you're going to open up wounds and you're going to make them unstitchable, unhealable. I don't think that the TRC will bring in as much reconciliation as it could have been set out to do. I think there is going to be a lot of harm come out of it than good come out of it. There will be some good no doubt come out of it but I think on the balance of things there will be more harm than good.
POM. Do you think that in many respects it's become an instrument of a witch-hunt against the IFP? That there is still this desire, as it were, to punish the IFP, to continue to demonise the IFP, to if possible marginalise the IFP, to still make them part of the enemy of the liberation movement rather than acknowledging the role that the IFP played and that in a dirty war bad acts are committed on all sides so no-one has a monopoly on righteousness?
FM. You are putting it beautifully. I agree with you entirely.
POM. What was the question again?
FM. No, I agree with you entirely. You have put forward in better words than I could ever describe just what I think is happening.
POM. This leads me to, does this tension still exist between IFP and ANC in Kwazulu-Natal where IFP believes that what the ANC wants to do in the long run is to destroy effectively, if not destroy, to totally undermine and discredit the IFP in some very fundamental way?
FM. Perhaps we shouldn't just restrict that to Kwazulu-Natal but let's go back to the TRC because that's what they are talking about. We think in the TRC there is very little being brought up of what has been done against the IFP by the ANC. It just doesn't come up. We submitted a thick volume that Dr Buthelezi, Dr Ngubane and myself in Cape Town, we submitted a thick volume before Archbishop Tutu, Dr Boraine and Lister and a number of others and we tabled there, there we were quoting many incidents of attacks on IFP, we went back to quote even the things that the NP government has never been able to answer. I tabled before the NP government in 1993, I tabled a long list of things that had not been solved, cases against our people which had not been solved and said, look why don't you do that? And they were going to come back with the answers to me on that. They never did. I re-submitted that in part and parcel, that thick volume that we put before the TRC and nobody has bothered to look into that. We quoted case after case and we indicated that over 400 IFP leaders have been murdered here and there and nobody bothers about that. Instead we hear of attacks on ANC day in day out, we hear about how they have been manhandled, which is true and it is terrible, terrible, but nobody bothers about the terrible things that have happened to IFP. So what should we conclude about that? Say, hey, wonderful, TRC is doing very well? We can't if we're going to be honest with ourselves and the world ought not to if they want to be honest with themselves too.
POM. Taking that one step further, do you think the intent of the ANC is to accept the situation and tolerate political opposition particularly in Kwazulu-Natal where there is strong political opposition, or that its strategy is still built around trying to destroy the IFP and gain a monopoly of political power?
FM. Well of course they are destroying the IFP. But sometimes I think it is taken to a very high degree and I can't say that is the philosophy of the ANC in Natal and not elsewhere to try and destroy the IFP but I can say that in Natal when we won the elections here the ANC did not want to accept those election results and they wanted to say that they had won, which I think came out of your question a little earlier. They wanted to say they had won. We were prepared to say go ahead and go and test it out and whatever investigation you want to take, go ahead, and they didn't do that ultimately, maybe for Mandela or whatever. I can understand their side, they had long taken for granted that they are winning all the way through. They even sent Mr Zuma overseas to Canada to be trained as the future Premier of Kwazulu-Natal and his letterheads were 'Premier Designate', all sorts of things that happened because they were so sure of winning. And of course I can understand why they were so sure. They knew that we didn't want to go and enter into elections.
POM. Sorry, they knew which?
FM. They were sure we were not going to enter into elections so what did they have in front of themselves? There is the Premier designate so don't worry it's all clear, and when we went into elections then it wasn't all that good but they couldn't win by coming to elections within a week of the elections. But then we won, no it can't be true, no it can't be true. I can understand that attitude. Having lived for that day we are winning, oh obviously everything indicated that we are winning, and so when you don't win, no it can't be true, something went wrong somewhere. But that's not what happened, nothing had gone wrong anywhere, the results were just that we had won.
POM. How do you answer those who say that in many respects the dispute between the IFP and the ANC is a dispute about values where the IFP upholds traditional values and has its strongest base in the rural areas whereas the ANC have stronger areas of support in urban areas and among the young people and stand for 'modernity' as distinct from the traditionalism of the IFP? Is there a clash of values involved here too?
FM. Well the issue of values is there too. We do have a clash of values because of different philosophies. For example, the values of treasuring a traditional approach to things and the value of saying away with the old, forget about it, no we are going to win the election, we are stronger, blah, blah, blah, well that's one value. Now we do have different value systems in our approach and there are those among us who chose between the two, there are those among us who are very much attached to this and those among us who are very much attached to that. I mean this difference in values I think it's part and parcel of politics, isn't it?
POM. How do you marry democratic values by one person, one vote, straight up and down, as against traditional structures where the authority lies in the Chief working with advisors and obtaining consensus, in essence a fundamentally different concept of politics than what would be called western political ideology?
FM. I very much sympathise with the west now who have never lived among the traditional people, only read about them and conjecture about it all, and therefore thinks that theirs is a democracy that is obviously good and plain and straightforward who can argue one man one vote and that's that, it's plain democracy. What are you saying, with everything relying on the Chief with maybe some advisors and so forth? I can understand that approach of the westerners who have never seen what African democracy is. I know of African democracy which is different from the western white man's democracy. I know both, I love both and I think both must find a way to the future of accommodating the other. The person on the extreme end of traditional values, if you want to say, would like to call it, and is completely anti one man one vote western type of democracy which is so magnanimous and great, a person who looks at it all like that is terrible and I think he is wrong. Equally wrong is the man who puts on the mantle and a white halo over his head and looks down upon these old heathenistic, uncivilised, undemocratic, unsophisticated Chief Authority and all. When will they ever get civilised these natives? They are not civilised, obviously. And I can sympathise within that but I don't agree with that because I have known that in the African democracy if you have got the Chief, sometimes you have got a very bad Chief. In the western democracy, yes, you have got an elected leader there. (Break in recording)
POM. We can recap on the point which was that I was talking about this propensity for the globalisation.
FM. Do you know I've got a meeting at five o'clock in Ladysmith?
POM. How long does it take to get to Ladysmith?
FM. One hour and ten minutes.
POM. OK, we've got another 15 minutes. So, globalisation and the tendency for -
FM. My answer to that question was that in fact, to put it in a nutshell now, all that is happening by way of globalisation and all that is happening by way of a super-culture, a super scientific achievement of one group of people over the other does not, in my opinion, bring about necessarily a threat. It brings about a wish to achieve and I told you about King Shaka that when he saw that the white men who got here could kill an ox or a bull far away from him by shooting at the bull, oh that's wonderful and he felt he must go and learn this. That's how some of us react to that which is better than ours. We want to get it too. Now the other person might feel I have threatened him, I want to threaten him, I am a better man than him and does he feel that way, that I'm better off? So the threat is felt more by the threatener than by the one that is supposed to be threatened.
POM. Many commentators have said that the essence of the dispute in many regards between the IFP and the ANC is the dispute between the value systems, the IFP having its place in the rural areas, accepts more traditional norms of culture and authority whereas the ANC is more urban based and accepts 'more western forms of modernity'.
FM. Well that again is just a misunderstanding of things, the ANC is more modern, more westernised, more civilised perhaps. That just reveals the questioner's approach to things. We all have different value systems even as individuals and it's not a cut and dried this that and the other. Some people are really more on the traditional side than the western and others really more on the western than the traditional but some of us feel that there is a lot to be learned from both and we ought to encourage the two and bring them together rather than this is right and the other is wrong.
POM. In Kwazulu-Natal the calm that prevails now, or the relative calm, is it a real calm or are all the tensions that ignited this dispute that killed so many thousands of people over so many years, are the symptoms being treated but not the underlying causes of what those tensions are?
FM. Well one of things of course, as I said earlier on, one of things that worried me is that the complaints that I have brought up over a long period of time, I told you about 1993 when I submitted to the government a long list of complaints and they were ignored, and that some of those complaints are embodied in the thick volume that Dr Buthelezi, Dr Ngubane and myself presented to the TRC and nobody is following that up. Those are the things that are being shoved under the carpet which do worry us and they will keep enmity, anger boiling all the time and the TRC, in my opinion, if it ignores that will in fact end up generating more hatred and lack of reconciliation than it would have if it had not been established.
POM. In terms of your own long political career over many turbulent decades and changes, what are you most proud of being your contribution to public life and what remains as one of your biggest disappointments?
FM. Well one disappointment that I will give you just now is that, I would find it difficult just on the spot to say the greatest things in my life were that, the worst things were that, because I haven't got them all so worked out. I am actually busy trying to put together a number of things that are memories of the past and things that I'm going to be working on and things that I myself keep remembering as I move on and say, wasn't that my finest hour or that was one of the worst hours, looking back. So just to answer like it's all set out and there on the board I can't tell you. I have a political perspective guided by my having been in the African National Congress Youth League and having been there for some years and going through a number of episodes there it taught me some things. I have gone through an era where there was a political void in South Africa and with a lot of political experiences, with a lot of experiences. When I say political void and political experiences you might think these two things don't fit. I mean political void in the sense that there were no political parties for the blacks and there was no political action that they could go into, with all that frustration and yet with political power over the blacks, political pressure on the blacks and their reactions.
. I have some of the most disgusting experiences that I have gone through which in the course of time have worked out to be to me my finest hours. I can tell you how bad I felt when I was detained in one town for hours on end, where I was being questioned about where I had stolen the car, and I as doctor being put into a situation where some other doctor, white doctor must come and find out whether I am a doctor or whatnot. Humiliation of the worst order and being kept in a little place with bicycles all around me. I've already told you about that thing because it hurt me so much. But when I look back afterwards and I see I went through that and did not crack and when I look back and I find that in 1994 when I became the Premier of Kwazulu-Natal, about 30 years later, I was invited to this town by people who knew nothing about the frustration that I had had there at one time or another, and there I was glorified and I went to the police station and was given first class tea by young white women policemen who were doing all good things to me, the cakes and the tea and all, and then I related to them the story that had occurred to me 30 years before. Now that was the biggest thrill to me to say, aha, it was in this same police station where this and that happened. Now isn't that a glorious thing and that despite that I've never hated the white man? I just knew he was the prejudiced oppressor, the prejudiced colonialist, the prejudiced threatener who thought he was better off, he had a better culture, that's what he was doing to me and he wondered whether I didn't feel threatened. But when it does come ultimately to 1994 and here I am and I can happily and fully say, good people we have had a long history together. That's just one experience. I have had some of the most terrible experiences which on the spot I was able to turn to my joy, to the point of saying - it's a white girl and I am an adult, I'm married and I am a doctor, over the counter at the Post Office, "Yes boy, what can I do for you?" and collects the paper, doesn't wait for me answer but gives me time to think, there she gets the parcel and she puts it over to me and I have time to say, "Please don't ever call me your boy." She says, "Yes my boy." I said, "I am not your boy, I am a man." "Oh, so you think I should call you my man?" I said, "Hey that's terrible, I'm married you know and if my wife ever hears you call me your man you will be in trouble", and I walk out and when she turns red and white and pink and whatnot, doesn't know what's happened, I walk out. And I remember that incident so very well, it happened in Durban, and today I say Frank you were at your best there when you were worst threatened. So when I have been threatened or an attempt is made to threaten me by a superior I don't buckle at my knees, I say pity you who is trying to threaten me.
POM. Just two last things, and this is a statement from FW de Klerk and it's a quote, he says: -
. "The people who structured apartheid and put it on the books were not evil people. Apartheid was in its idealistic form a plan to make all the people of South Africa free. The Afrikaner fought the first anti-colonial war in modern history in Africa against Great Britain so Afrikaners have a deep understanding of the need of a people to be free. We were hoping to lead the rural homelands to independence just as the colonial powers to the north had done. The goal was to bring justice to all by transforming South Africa into something like Europe, national states working together in respect of common interests.
. Do you think that most Afrikaners, or even most white people today still believe that, that this was a noble experiment that failed rather than seeing it as an evil perpetuated on other people?
FM. I think many even today still think that it's a pity it failed but that was a good thing, I think many do think that. I can't say they do that proportionate to the same extent as it was 20 years ago, I don't think so. I think many of them converted but there are those who still believe that. Again it comes out of the security complex, it comes out of the better cultured western you see, the one that has all the good things that it is known by and these uneducated, uncivilised traditionalists they need to be led through, you want to be good to them, you know what is good for them and so that you do that which you know is good for them and if they don't accept it it's just that they're indolent, they're useless and have short brains and short hair. That attitude still persists with many people today even at a very high level.
POM. And the very, very last question, is that since you've known Dr Buthelezi over many, many years and one sees many different things written about him, about how he's a difficult personality or there are so many variations of who he is or what he is, how would you characterise him and how would you characterise your relationship with him over the years?
FM. Pity it's such a long question and so broad. It would require long and -
POM. That's a politician's answer now, you're no longer a politician!
FM. No. What I can tell you is that Dr Buthelezi is clearly a very intelligent somebody, a very intelligent somebody, a very shrewd politician brought up on the knee of a shrewd politician mother, brought up in Zulu tradition and brought up with all the nuances of Zulu culture and Zulu wisdom which escapes many westerners, brought up in that situation where having travelled all over abroad and having imbibed a lot of the western culture and so on can better see the future for the west and the east and the westerner and the black traditional approach being put together - which is what I tried to put to you. He is in a better position because he has lived through both. People, like Patrick O'Malley, I'm sorry to be personal, who have lived through the western culture and have had very limited experience of the traditional African culture are in a position, unfortunately, not to realise that these two systems with all their defects and all the advantages can in fact be brought together without one threatening the other, with a view of seeing what is better to come to us for the future. I think he is an expert in knowing both sides of the world better than many people do know. I think I can say this also of him that he has been brought up so much steeped in politics and seeing so much that is intriguing in human nature that, my impression, he more often than not doesn't take things at face value. Far more often than he looks at it from the political angle all the time. I am not born an original politician, I am just a country boy who went to school and university and became a science teacher, became a medical doctor, practised that way, and had a flair for sympathy of people, sympathy with the downtrodden and then became a politician, second class politician if you like. Buthelezi on the other side is born a politician, born to be a politician and born in the political situation in the company of a politician, his mother. So you have somebody who would have a different approach to you than I would. When anybody comes to me I assume everything is good, I assume whatever you're going to ask me, whatever you're going to say to me will be well intentioned and it will be all for positive this, that and the other. He doesn't take it that way, he always looks at what is the negative side of this. So that is the man.
POM. As I walk out the door, do you have any fears that in the long run that South Africa might become a one-party state, that it's a real possibility?
FM. Well I think some people would like it to be a one-party state but I don't think that it will happen.
POM. You don't think it's going to happen?
FM. Not just yet.
PAT. You gave a wonderful speech last year in November, you remember that? It was very, very moving and you captured the whole thing, that anybody in this whole continent either before or during the Constitutional Assembly or after -
POM. Where's the copy of that?
FM. I don't know what I said.
PAT. Well I remember how you talked about how this body was going to be an amalgamation of so much disparate parts and to make it work was going to be difficult but that everybody had to participate in making it work and that it was a part of the new government's mechanisms that really -
FM. So some people do listen to the rubbish I speak!
PAT. I need a copy of that speech.
POM. That's what she was really getting around it.