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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
05 Sep 1998: Coetsee, Kobie
Tape No. 1
POM. Mr Coetsee, let me begin first with a review of our last interview in Bloemfontein on 26th September 1997 and these are just some corrections that I want to make to the text or my non-understanding of exactly who was saying what to whom and then I have some questions on extrapolation of responses to some questions. I will begin with an odd question: if John Vorster had lived how different would the course of events (I know this is speculative) but how different would the course of events in South Africa have been?
KC. You're an historian, you look at the history from different perspectives, so I assume that you ask this question because you have a very particular perspective of John Vorster in mind that could have brought about a different outcome and I think I would like to throw the question back to you. What feature of John Vorster, what characteristic of John Vorster do you have in mind that has prompted you to ask this question? Is it the fact that he was perhaps one of our greatest orators, the fact that he was leaning or relying rather heavily on the police as the ultimate security establishing, or is it because you consider him internationally a man of greater influence? I think I want to throw the question back to you because all these factors I mention to you could have influenced the ultimate course. Put it this way, I think he would have been faced with the same dilemma as PW Botha and that is in the way of availability at the time of constitutional models which the world has discovered or rediscovered or almost invented, he would have been faced with the same dilemma, namely the unavailability of such proven models. It is much later in the eighties that the Commission of Venice (am I correct?) started to come forward very strongly with the constitutional thinking emphasising the importance or the concept of federalism, for instance, and under what circumstances it could be successful. It was much later that people started to think in terms of a European conglomerate with the intention of individual entities. But this became available much later and then, secondly, what became available much later was constitutional thinking in terms of the importance of a bill of rights. Previously it wasn't regarded as the backbone of a country's constitution or the backbone of a country's well-being.
POM. Was this the Westminster influence that - ?
KC. That frightened John Vorster. It was the Westminster influence of winner takes all that - I won't say frightened John Vorster, but that was the one in his mind available and in that sense if you go back to Verwoerd's earlier pronouncements, that also prompted him to find a way of giving freedoms and yet at the same time securing the South African situation.
POM. So in an odd way would you say that the Afrikaner's predicament in a way led them to think in terms of the protection of minorities and how you protect minorities way before it became the fashionable thing to do? In the nineties everything you read is about the protection of minorities.
KC. Correct, correct, and that's why we had to do some very innovative thinking and that's why Vorster became famous for his pronouncement that the people will still come to SA to study the solutions that we have embarked upon. What I want to convey to you is the way people were thinking at the time. There was so much positivism in it, if that's the correct word.
POM. Which years are you looking at now? You're looking at - ?
KC. I'm looking at Verwoerd, I'm looking at Vorster. I'm not defending apartheid, I'm not saying it should have been favoured as a way of life, I'm not saying that. I'm saying to you that even a man like Verwoerd said, here Africa is awakening after the second world war, people are clamouring for freedom, we must be ahead of this. And that prompted his thinking. If you study Verwoerd, if you put the apartheid pronouncement and other pronouncements that are attributed to him aside and you look at his thinking, that was what he was thinking and the same applied to Vorster. That's why Vorster made this famous pronouncement, "They will come here to study our solutions", because these solutions weren't available in the world as yet. Then if you look at the Human Rights Declaration of the United Nations they studied, they came forward with a declaration on minorities, they came forward with a declaration on linguistic rights. Yes. So the point I'm making is - personally I said when I embarked upon my little programme, that when the world turns around we must be ahead of it and that was the case. We did it in such a way that when the world turned around and got wise to the fact that we are busy finding solutions, we were ahead but, as yet, we were using their models, we were using their wisdom. I was using their approach to the central role of a bill of rights, the role of the courts, the courts becoming predominant in any conflict. I'm sorry, this is what happened. So I always thought myself to be a good Nationalist and understanding and interpreting the dilemmas of the previous leaders from Verwoerd, from Vorster, including PW Botha, including a brilliant thinker like Chris Heunis. The point was that his advisers did not understand what was happening in Europe and elsewhere and it was only in the eighties that we started from the Department of Justice point of view to make a thorough study of what was happening elsewhere in the world.
POM. So when De Klerk says, this is a quote:-
. "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."
. Would you agree?
KC. I not only agree, I've given you another version in different language, I not only agree but I have given you my interpretation of the line of history. That's a very nice and a very well formulated synopsis of what I've been saying to you. What I've been saying to you is where it came from and I've given you the more detailed approach.
POM. So again he says: -
. "We would 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."
KC. Yes, with this difference that that was the idealistic motivation up to the point where we created homelands and eventually independent states. I'd take it from there and I say that that was the kind of thinking that was available to Verwoerd and Vorster. What I'm saying to you is that Vorster, you asked me about his role, I said he was faced with the same dilemma as, and you must understand this, as Botha because the kind of constitutional thinking that we embarked upon as a basis for the solution in this country I say was not yet available, namely where you could have protection of rights without complete independence. You understand this or will I have to be more explicit?
POM. When you say the 'dilemma', by the dilemma do you mean that the question was if we have a universal franchise then we become a minority within a single sovereign state.
KC. Winner takes all.
POM. Winner takes all.
KC. Winner takes all. You asked a very good question whether the Westminster model was impinging negatively on the thinking here.
POM. And it was.
KC. I said yes. As a matter of fact even now Britain is not sure whether she should have a bill of rights or not.
POM. Well Pandora's Box has been opened in Britain as regards their whole 'constitutional' or 'non-constitutional' system. In fact I was just talking to Patricia this morning and she was saying when NDI were talking to some of the Northern Ireland leaders some of them kept referring to the British constitution and she said "But there is no British constitution, parliament is supreme."
POM. They said, "Oh well, OK" but somehow in their mind they still believe they have a constitution through the body of law built up over the centuries.
KC. Yes, now the spook of British constitutionalism because they have an unwritten constitution, they have a constitution but it's unwritten, and that makes manoeuvrability, that makes for manoeuvrability, it makes for movement, it makes for stratagems and strategy without conflicting with the constitution. So at this present day people would still argue, especially now, let's revert to the British situation where winner takes all, which is majority rule in its -
POM. Where parliament is supreme.
KC. Absolutely. Whereas the model that we opted for and which we got through, law is supreme and ministers and their actions, even the State President, can be tested against the constitution and at law. I wouldn't say that was connecting to the summons to Mr Mandela to appear in court in this case, I say it was wrong, there was no proper reason to have summonsed Mr Mandela to appear, that is just by the way. That damaged the whole concept of the supremacy of the law because it also pre-supposes that the law is always wise in its broadest application and that was not wise.
POM. We can't always depend upon that assumption. I suppose what interests me in a way about it, there's a theory which I think was developed to analyse the industrial revolution and it was called a 'theory of the early starter' is that the innovator essentially loses out on innovation because other people, like the railroad system, Britain developed narrow track systems, the first railroad system, and they installed all these narrow tracks all over the world in all their colonies and everything and then Germans and French came along and they built on that and developed broader tracks and faster trains and better networks and Britain was confronted with, well do we tear up all our tracks and start from scratch again or do we live with what we have which gets more obsolescent and older? And in the same way as the oldest democracy they developed the first model of democracy but then found themselves incapable or unable to incorporate new thinking as thinking about democracy developed, so they are still kind of back where they were in the 17th or 18th century regarding the basic structures of their governance system falling back on 'we are the oldest democracy in the world', but oldest doesn't mean the best, the difference between the two.
KC. You're understanding, I can see that, what I am not trying but I'm getting across to you. But John Vorster would have been faced with the same dilemma given the same circumstances and then he was, in a sense, a politician reverting to indirect strategies and I wonder whether he would have released Mr Mandela. PW Botha considered the release of Mr Mandela as a given situation but he wanted him released to have him safely deposited where he couldn't cause any more trouble, so to speak. He wanted him to go to the Transkei. A great benevolence towards him, great understanding, but I said it elsewhere, I said it to you, I don't think he saw Mr Mandela as a part of the solution, a constitutional solution. He saw him as a part of a solution of a problem. That's also the difference between him and Mr de Klerk. Mr de Klerk was perhaps more alert to the wide range of constitutional solutions that world thinking had started to offer. I must really send you a copy of a speech I made at the first Federal Congress, I did the opening speech and I will tell you later why I did it because people weren't clear in their minds where they were going and that's where I predicted that Mr de Klerk will be invited to the International Congress for Minorities in 1992. I think I used the phrase there that if the world turns around now we will be leading the world, in 1992. Shall I take the liberty? I must look for that speech, National Party Federal Congress.
POM. But the International Congress for Minorities was held where?
KC. 1992 I think was the year of the minorities and there was an international congress held somewhere. That can easily be checked.
POM. If you read Van Zyl Slabbert's book Comrades in Business he makes two points there: "Rather too subtly perhaps, too much watered down, that what happened was really that the ANC accepted the new SA along the lines of the economy that was and the legal system that was."
KC. Abide by the economic principles and the legal system that were.
POM. My question on that is this, in this regard the NP got the better of the ANC?
KC. Undoubtedly. But I wouldn't claim it as an NP strategic win or that they scored. I would rather share this credit with the economic dispensation and the legal dispensation in the country as being one that was internationally recognised, viable and completely acceptable and legitimate.
POM. Then Van Zyl Slabbert goes on to say in his book, and this is where I see a contradiction, he argues: -
. "Mandela never wavered in what he wanted. He wanted simple majority rule. De Klerk on the other hand lost it early on. It became increasingly difficult to understand what De Klerk thought he would pull off. Right to the end he refused to recognise the inevitability of majority rule. De Klerk's negotiators were clearly part of Mandela's team in facilitating the transition to majority rule. In the end it was a pushover."
. He says that. One of Patti Waldmeir's chapters is entitled 'Why the Boers Gave it All Away', suggesting that in the final analysis there was a cave-in. Yet what you're saying here, or what they're saying here, or your interpretation is that on two major issues, two really important major issues facing an organisation that had throughout its history emphasised nationalisation, socialisation, end of private property rights -
KC. Those were all there, those were tenets of their political outlook.
POM. Yes and on those issues which were crucial to the NP?
KC. We succeeded.
POM. You succeeded, because I asked this question a long time ago.
KC. But you agree with my interpretation?
POM. Well I asked Gerrit Viljoen, this was before negotiations were actually taking place, that if you had to trade off the maintenance of economic rights and the economic system as is as against political power, which would you opt for? And unhesitatingly he said we would opt for the maintenance of economic rights and in fact you ended up with the system that you wanted still not only in place, but people who a couple of years ago were talking about nationalisation are now talking about privatisation. So in that sense you would disagree with the conclusion that (a) the Boers gave it all away and (b) that you were totally out-negotiated at the negotiating table and (c) that it was a push-over for the ANC?
KC. What I do say is that we were pushed over in respect of certain areas, in respect of certain issues. We would have been in a much better situation if we weren't pushed over in those areas, but there were areas, strictly constitutional in respect of institutions that we scored, using what we knew were causing the tension in the ANC, what factors were causing the tension in the ANC.
POM. So the issues that you were pushed over on were?
KC. Were limited.
POM. But identify them.
KC. Let me make a special note because I think we are opening up a new chapter for a new text if I may say so.
POM. We're moving along in different directions. We're having a conversation where one thing leads to another.
KC. We now really enter the preserves of what I still have in mind and I have to negotiate with you what we do about this because what I know, that my thesis, that my analysis is not the general conclusion amongst historians, analysts. Look at the people here in Cape Town, look at Die Burger, look at Rapport, look at this professor, this colleague of yours, Giliomee, consider most of them, Van Zyl Slabbert, etc., Patti Waldmeir, they wanted to destroy the achievements of, shall we say, FW de Klerk and his team. Why was that? In other words why did they overlook this? Why did they divorce us? What do they think happened inside the stable of Anglo-American and De Beers for instance? Do they think that they operated on their own and their seduction of certain ANC leaders was done in isolation or was it a part of the general climate? Were they operating in a tight compartment? The same applies to the law. What do these people think? How did it happen that the ANC moved away from a very wide charter to a narrowly defined bill of rights? What swayed them away from an approach where you should have the rarest of words in order to allow maximum operation and movement within those words, moved away from that towards a situation where they couldn't move on the smallest of coins?
POM. Let me then just put it, so that we understand each other, any time that you can say to me this is off the record until we reach an agreement on -
KC. This is off the record. I would like you to record this but it's off the record.
POM. It's off the record and I will never use it without your express permission. I've told you I've only lasted this long in both Northern Ireland and here because I keep my word. If I don't keep my word -
KC. By now I know.
POM. This leads me, and somebody who said it to me half laughingly, they said in the old, old days it was the NP who were opposed to a bill of rights that included group rights until the Law Commission came along and said that a bill of rights that protected individual rights was the best way of protecting group rights. But then he said, the funny thing was that when they came to writing the bill of rights the NP was comprehensive in its list of the rights that had to be - and very detailed - in terms of the rights it wanted to include and the ANC wanted to make it as narrow as possible. So you had the perceived opponents of a bill of rights, the NP in the popular mind, who were in fact the people pushing most strongly for it.
KC. But I told you that I had to make a paradigm shift myself and I had to acknowledge it publicly. I delivered a lecture at the University of the Orange Free State in 1982/83, I told you about it, where I took up the position that vis-à-vis the British situation where the rule of law prevails we don't need a bill of rights because it's to be found on the shelves of every lawyer and you have procedural law protecting the rights of people in courts. That was the position I took up then and that was at my University. I was heavily criticised by several eminent jurists for this. I don't like criticism especially if I'm doing my best and I thought that I was doing my best, and it was when I started to think of a constitutional solution in this country, a year or two later, when I realised that especially when I got in touch with ANC thinking and so forth and I was perhaps then preparing for interaction with Mr Mandela, I realised that a bill of rights is the way to go. The rule of law is in Britain under pressure from another concept and that is the supremacy of the law as embodied in the bill of rights and as embodied in the powers of courts in Europe, the United States, etc., and in federalism. I had to acknowledge publicly that I was wrong, but in my instruction to the Law Commission, and by then you must remember I was a lonely voice in the NP if not in the political world, I gave instructions after a well-considered session with Pierre Olivier and Mr Justice Viljoen, we drew up the instruction to consider a bill of rights for SA and the bill of rights including group rights in SA and the role of the courts. I went out of my way to say there that the group rights which I referred to are not the group rights in terms of apartheid's laws. I was referring there to group rights as I perceived them to be, to gain recognition in the world.
POM. We covered some of that the last time.
KC. As I said I had to make a paradigm shift in my mind. I had almost publicly to apologise and to explain myself, but that's where it all started. There it was then a part of the plan, the grand plan already developing in my mind, and that sentence 'and the role of the courts' -
POM. The point I wanted to get at is I'm taking to task this revisionist theory that the Boers gave it all away, that it was a pushover, that the ANC simply walked all over them. I'm trying to say, no -
KC. But now you correctly point out that these are the areas where you clearly see no pushover.
POM. That's right. Not only no pushover but where you maintained -
KC. But there are other areas as well so I said to you let's have a different exercise on that one because I would rather say let's look at the areas where we succeeded. These are two. When it comes to institutions or the provinces, and this is off the record, but Ramaphosa and Roelf had a deal that there would be no provinces but they may consider provinces afterwards, and there were stalwarts in the NP that went to FW and said to him, listen we walk if you don't now dig in your heels. He was ambivalent about it before, but then he agreed and they insisted. We got our provinces. But we succeeded also because we read the ANC its innards, is that the correct word, we read the innards of the ANC correctly, that there were more people that would feel safe within the provincial structure than there are people that would feel safe outside.
POM. How did you come to that conclusion?
KC. That is a different story, my friend, that is a different story and I'll tell it to you one day, but I was a spokesperson on this one and by then I was fairly aggravated by the way I could perceive certain things being lost by the wayside through deals. I was certain that inside the ANC there would be an agreement to provinces even at a time when Ramaphosa and Roelf accepted that they have a deal put together by Fanie van der Merwe and others and there wouldn't be provinces but get them to believe that there may be provinces afterwards. We pushed and I pushed knowing that there would be forces inside the ANC that would accept it.
POM. How did you know there were forces within the ANC that would accept?
KC. I'm just saying to you that I knew. But I don't think it's necessary for us to record this at this point of time. But I knew. And we pushed and we succeeded.
POM. Economy, law.
KC. This flew actually in the face of economic realities, that we should have provinces, that we would have provinces, because none of these provinces are financially viable but that was one way of ensuring Buthelezi participating in the election otherwise he wouldn't have participated. He wouldn't have. That they also knew. The same applies to the Western Province for instance, and I don't say that they wouldn't have participated, all I'm saying to you is that it was patently in the interests of the NP to have a provincial legislature in its place simultaneously with parliament and that is a point generally missed by most newspapers, especially Afrikaans newspapers, because this was an issue on which some of them attacked myself and the pro-provincialists as 'antis'.
POM. As being anti?
KC. Anti everything.
POM. So when you say it was patently in the interests of the NP to have provinces, why?
KC. Because that's one way they could ensure continued existence in the Western Province, or even perhaps the Northern Cape and possibly a fair share in Gauteng. In the Free State I had no doubt that the ANC would command a large majority and I was challenged by no lesser person than Niel Barnard, saying to me do I realise that the ANC will get more than 70% of the votes in the Free State, do I still favour provinces? I said, yes, I would rather be governed by the ANC in the Free State than the communists from Pretoria. That is on record.
POM. One criticism made of the NP is that it didn't push hard enough for federalism, so where did you draw the line between provinces and the powers that provinces should have?
KC. That is another area where there was really a pushover because our negotiators didn't understand what they had to negotiate for, and the areas that they lost on - can I enumerate that? Firstly, a larger autonomy on the budget for provinces; more powers for the police or, rather, meaningful powers for the police; thirdly, local government. Local government, now you have the anomaly, making that possible that local authorities could have their own police forces, but the province also has a Minister of Police. If you ever want confusion you will have it now.
POM. But the Minister of Police, this is like the final irony, the Minister of Safety & Security in the province under the constitution doesn't have the power to re-deploy a single policeman in the province.
KC. Exactly, it's ridiculous. Our negotiators were a pushover through a lack of knowledge, lack of understanding what were the bottom lines for federalism. When we entered the fray the best we could do was to fight for provinces as a concept, as a principle, and then almost have a silent partner in the IFP, which we had. We could rely on the IFP to understand federalism better than the NP. I'm talking now of myself and a few others, we relied heavily on Inkatha to support principles that we knew our negotiators didn't understand. I'm saying harsh thing to you but this is the truth. In that sense I do agree with Patti Waldmeir and I do agree with Van Zyl Slabbert, but what they missed is that we did succeed through pressure inside the NP, heavy pressure, heavy, extreme pressure, even to the point of second and third time threatening to resign and to go unless this, that and the following happened. They missed that we did succeed in pushing through the supremacy of the law, the bill of rights in its broadest possible form, the retention of the judiciary, the retention of the Appeal Court parallel to the Constitutional Court. Yes, yes, there were deals, doing away with the Appeal Court. They're not aware of the major role played by the Law Societies and I have, I originally had an idea that the all white virtually dominated Law Societies had the silent support of the black societies in respect of the retention of the system, retention of the total system.
POM. You said it has the support of the black?
KC. Not have, had, in their resistance to any inroad into the legal system as it was. What really then happened is that the Constitutional Court was introduced next to the Appeal Court, but there was a deal and I knew about it and I went to overthrow it and I did.
POM. The deal being?
KC. The deal being the Constitutional Court to be the supreme court in the country, absolute supreme, and the Appeal Court to be a lower court, below the Constitutional Court, and as it now was, and I negotiated this with Omar and with Chaskelson over a period. If we go into the detail of everyday events and what happened and what prompted what, I want to tell you there was such a battle inside the NP at the time that it still amazes me that FW succeeded in keeping us together.
POM. The battle being over?
KC. Over the deals and the negotiation process. I've mentioned to you in a bit more detail the battle over the creation of the provinces.
POM. Was there any other person in the NP who could have held the NP together other than FW de Klerk?
POM. Why was that? I'm asking that for two reasons, one is that until his elevation to leader of the party and then State President he was never one of PW Botha's inside circle people, he was relatively unknown to the outside world in terms of not being considered an NP heavyweight and then he emerges and becomes the glue for holding the party together. What did he have that enabled him to have the glue to hold the party together?
KC. Let me put it again to you as it was. Those of us who decided that it would be FW and the ultimate decision that we would be pushing for FW, came from Stoffel Botha, now deceased, leader of Natal and myself and the qualities that we perceived to be of value, or rather to be of a conclusive nature, these qualities, attributes around FW were the fact that he was not a part of PW's retinue, counted heavily in his favour as far as the two of us were concerned. Secondly, he was a lawyer and for that matter not just a lawyer, because you find many lawyers, but he was a good lawyer, he had an understanding of the law. Thirdly, he was, and I want to put it gently, he was a leader of considerable qualities not then noticed but you must remember he became leader of the Transvaal after virtually ousting Andries Treurnicht on a very important principle and that is the principle of reform in general, which showed to me two things: he was hungry for personal achievement but if FW had to make a choice he would choose for reform. You follow? And there were other friends and supporters of his, a very quiet man but a very able man, Awie Venter, he shared our view. Amongst the three of us we started to push for FW. There were also other operators but we commanded influence within our provinces and we made a little calculation and realised that with the other people running, and it wasn't all that clear who was running, that the Free State and Natal will make the difference, so we joined forces and there was no miscalculation, that is the point. I went to FW and I said to him, "I will support you, I have been keeping you informed on Mr Mandela, broadly informed, but I will support you. I am busy with the following reform processes in the law and I see our way forward like this, do you share it?" He said "Yes."
POM. And the way forward you presented to him at that meeting was?
KC. At that meeting was a reform process in which the law becomes the dominant factor, broadly stated, in the country. At that stage you must just bear in mind that they knew that I was seeing Mr Mandela, they knew that Mr Mandela has been removed from Pollsmoor and from the Clinic.
POM. Did you make Mr Mandela's release a condition?
KC. No. What was implied was that what we are engaged in will not be stopped and this is the way forward. Stoffel Botha was a trusted friend of mine, he knew exactly what my thinking was. You must bear in mind that at that point of time I may say I was charting the way carefully because much of it wasn't all that clear, much of it depended on personalities and there were also my own shortcomings. I wasn't a orator that could persuade large gatherings towards my thinking. I needed people that could do that. I could persuade a small gathering, I could persuade one on one. I could do that, I could take a team with me as no-one else could, but I couldn't do that. And the same applied to Stoffel - a good administrator, we were both lawyers and we preferred a lawyer that would understand our language.
POM. Was any consideration given to, in the back of your mind or maybe the front of your mind, and this I might call the Nixon paradigm of going to China, that only a Nixon, a staunch anti-communist all his life could open the door to China whereas if a liberal democrat had done so he would have been so criticised he could never have done it, that what you needed was a leader with, in a way, staunch conservative principles so that he could take -
KC. I know exactly what you're driving at and that is that FW up to then carried an image of a verkrampte, conservative, and that was part of our strategy that we should send in a conservative. No, somehow, and Dawie de Villiers and myself talked about it, as a matter of fact Stoffel and myself went to see Dawie de Villiers to say to him that we want you to come out in support of FW and this is history. He said, "No, he's too conservative", and I said to him, "But listen, when the three of us were in Britain in 1974/75, Dawie, FW and myself, FW was anything but conservative." He said, "Yes, but look at the history now." I said, "Listen, cometh the moment, cometh the man." No, Dawie was very, very concerned about the fact that he could be seen as too conservative. I said, "No, he is in the throes of history", my exact words I don't know, but in the end we persuaded him. He came on to the FW ticket, not ticket, but out in his support a bit later.
POM. This was before the election?
KC. Yes, yes, but not very strongly but at least we knew -
POM. How he was voting.
KC. - how he was voting and that he would persuade people, that the people who canvassed for him, Stoffel, myself, Awie Venter, Adriaan Vlok and such like. But with us that's what I, took my hand to my heart, though we were friends I considered FW to be the best to hold us together eventually.
POM. But who were friends? You and?
KC. FW, acquaintances, friends. Not intimate friends but friends and that is the case even today. So although he's a friend I still consider he was the best to hold us together. He could be enigmatic. He was hungry also for achievement.
POM. FW was?
KC. Yes. And I say it in the nicest possible way, which is very important for a politician to succeed. It's like a boxer without a killer instinct if you're not hungry for achievement.
POM. Just moving down the page, we had, "(4) Your role in the negotiation process, both prior to CODESA and after CODESA. (5) Whether or not you think the NP in the end could have gotten a better deal and what went wrong if anything did go wrong with its own negotiation process?" And you replied, "Prior to the constitution or post-interim constitution?" And I said, "Both", and you said, "Because that's important I think." Why is that important and why do you make the differentiation between the two?
KC. Prior to the interim constitution I was a minister of cabinet. Post-interim constitution I was in the very needful position as President of the Senate.
POM. Again, the last question which we never did get round to answering the last time, whether or not you think the NP could have gotten a better deal and what went wrong with its own negotiating process?
KC. I think I've elaborated on these now.
POM. You've said, for example, how was it possible with the talent at your disposal that you had people negotiating on federalism who were ignorant of what federalism meant.
KC. Are you asking me now?
KC. How was it possible?
POM. Yes, were they ill-prepared. The ANC had been sending people all over the world looking at every bloody model in every country, examining everything from Australia to the United States to Germany.
KC. No, but they got it from the Law Commission.
POM. If they got it from the Law Commission why didn't your negotiators get it from the Law Commission?
KC. Exactly, exactly.
POM. Were they inept?
KC. No. I told you that there were considerable internal difficulties and one of those was that the Department of Constitutional Development showed a total disregard for what had been done by the Law Commission, at my behest, a total disregard. I think there was considerable jealousy. And the second thing that happened was that when that department appointed lawyers and academics to assist them they drew only men from one university, namely Potchefstroom, which university I wouldn't say is, not capable of producing people that could handle and negotiation, but there was a host of people - as a matter of fact we proposed that we should have academics and lawyers from all walks of life, from all institutions, lists were drawn up and submitted and nothing happened. Up to this day I have a theory about it, I think it stems from jealousy, it stems from the fact that they thought the Minister of Justice, the Department of Justice were taking too much -
POM. Usurping their territory?
KC. Yes, but we were so far ahead of them. When I saw that there was no progress on preparation in respect of constitutional models I got a very vague agreement to task Olivier to produce documentation on constitutional models, but I got the green light because I needed the financial backing. In the end I remember I took it to CODESA, the publication on constitutional models, with what eagerness the ANC took these and with what reluctance it went to the other department. As a matter of fact it became a question asked by lawyers, mostly by lawyers, very little by politicians, why don't we use Olivier, why don't we use his teams of knowledgeable people? You understand? So there was a lot of bitterness.
POM. So you, when at CODESA 1 -
KC. This is now off the record, this part.
POM. At CODESA 1 there were constitutional models put forward by the Department of Constitutional Development and there was a constitutional model put forward by you and your department?
KC. No, they weren't anywhere with any constitutional models.
POM. They didn't have any?
KC. We were ahead of them, light years ahead of them.
POM. So you had constitutional models and they had - ?
KC. We made a study of all the possible constitutional models in the world, possible combinations. First there was a report on a bill of rights, or the detailed bill of rights which eventually formed the basis of the draft published by my department which was as instructed by cabinet after briefing it, we published, and I was taken to task by Ken Owen. Why? Because he thought a verkrampte Free Stater should not encroach on the liberal world. Now we're off track again. The fact is that that department had no people, had no structure. They thought that if they get Fanie van der Merwe from my department, they thought that Fanie van der Merwe was the guiding force in my department. They missed out on that point, so they drew him and when he had left me we really made headway and even more headway and there sprung up a number of people, knowledgeable law advisers, leaders in their field, which eventually became the backbone of the constitutional writing. The man who eventually wrote the constitution as proposed, interim, and the other one came directly from Justice.
POM. Sorry, who?
KC. He came from Justice, Gerrit Grové. Now we subsequently developed our differences, especially from his side, for other reasons, for completely other misunderstood reasons, but I will always regard him as the man who provided the brains for constitution writing from the NP side, from government side, and he became trusted by all parties. He had many a stand-up fight with the people that Constitutional Development drew from Potchefstroom and won his fights one after the other until they conceded to his superior knowledge.
POM. Did FW play an active role in this or did he kind of just allow factions to fight it out among themselves?
KC. Well he didn't assist me at all. I thought he thought I could look after myself, which I did. But he was in the middle of the world because there was a raging jealousy then. Mr Mandela was praising me and I was getting on with the ANC and other parties like a house on fire and with Kader Asmal at Group No. 1 at CODESA and we were making progress. We had 18 jobs to be done and the last incidentally, the last on the agenda was general amnesty, or amnesty, and we finalised 16 of our jobs, of our tasks and they were fighting like cats and dogs elsewhere at all other groups and at No. 1 we had our little differences but we just got on. As a matter of fact we got on so well that the ANC got worried, that's why they aborted CODESA 2, because, yes, not so much coming from I think people like Kader Asmal, but Essop Pahad I think time and again would say, "No, no, we're getting too close here."
POM. Now was Essop on?
KC. He was with us on that committee. And Sam Shilowa as well.
POM. What an interesting bunch.
KC. Fascinating bunch, a fascinating bunch. We dealt virtually with everything outside the constitution, 16, 17, 18 topics, and we concluded agreements and started to draft legislation for the whole lot. But that, you're asking me where did we cave in, where did we give in, where did we collapse. I've mentioned to you in respect of what areas we did not collapse and the promises by way of salvaging as an institution, but then the powers of provinces. The powers of provinces was a very interesting area of negotiation and some of us believe that our negotiators didn't carry out their instructions. They did not, especially in respect of powers to provinces. Mr Meyer would go to Mr de Klerk and Mr de Klerk would give him a decision and they would just inform us that a decision had to be taken.
POM. Sorry, Mr Meyer would go to?
KC. Mr de Klerk, that he arrived at such-and-such a conclusion with the ANC and Mr de Klerk would rule in his favour and we would be informed later on that that was the decision. This was in respect of particular areas of importance for the concept of federalism where we lost out after tight negotiation between Roelf and Ramaphosa we were told. But if you look at the whole process the way you're looking at it and you forget the internal conflict, if you forget the fact that I'm saying to you that one of Mr de Klerk's great achievements is to have held us together, I think it's a major achievement. If I look back, if he had come out on my side or Hernus's side, on that side, that would have been disastrous. He did not. So looking back I would say that he did extremely well. Now if you look beyond those then I would say that Roelf as a negotiator also succeeded. You must acknowledge that he succeeded in the sense of arriving at an ultimate point of finality. Those within the system working for a very specific model, such as myself, the judicial model, the basics of a federation, allowing enough room for the individual participants such as Buthelezi to make the best of what they have in their hand, you couldn't spoon-feed them, fighting for more powers, they should have more powers.
. Buthelezi if he's clever would negotiate for more powers at a price for his province. Now unfortunately they've embarked on this idea of a Premier, they should have asked for more powers, they should have asked for a solution of the conflict between local government and provincial government, the lack of powers for policing and who is meant to control local units, etc. If I were Buthelezi, if I were Ambrosini I would tell Buthelezi go for this in support of other things the ANC may want. I don't know whether it's going to come to that. But the matter of fact is that our model provided for individual manoeuvring in respect of powers, more powers and so on.
. So in the end I still say that we succeeded in respect of the major issues, we lack clarity on local government, police powers, budgeting. There could be other areas but these are the major areas, these are the bothering areas. At least you look at 51% success from the NP point of view. You look at 51% success on the part of ANC, so you look at 102% put together and that made for the miracle. You may criticise myself, Roelf, for individual achievement.
POM. It was a win-win.
KC. Exactly. And the point is this, what we have available for us is a starting point every day. What we still have available is a fresh starting point every day for individual thinking, for clever brinkmanship and so on.
POM. Just to go back to one of the items you said your Group 1 dealt with in CODESA 1, amnesty. Now the prevailing wisdom that is out there is that the ANC, SACP or whatever proposed a blanket amnesty, amnesty for everyone on all sides and that you opposed that, that you wanted each case to be taken on its merits and judged as to the illegality of the acts involved and that in that you were supported by FW de Klerk and that it was because of that that the TRC emerged in place of blanket amnesty so that there would have been no TRC had you not opposed blanket amnesty in the first place, on all sides.
KC. I think this wisdom has been developed inside the ANC too now that they are being harassed by the fact that there are so many of themselves still requiring amnesty. So it's a matter of them being caught in their own little stratagems and that's why Valli Moosa has come forward with an article that there was a time when they proposed a blanket amnesty for all. Will you be so kind as to bring to me a document embodying that proposal? I am still looking for that blanket amnesty proposal for all. I'm still looking for it because I was never confronted with such a proposal. I was confronted with a proposal, yes, amnesty for the ANC but no government can give amnesty to himself. You go and check all the clippings. No government can give amnesty to himself. That's what they continue to say. If you give amnesty to yourselves we will undo it. Those are the public statements of the ANC on this issue. And as far as I'm concerned, and I'm very glad you're raising it because I think we should decide whether I should publish earlier or whether we should wait for you, but waiting for you it will be perhaps too late to salvage my reputation.
POM. Well we'll do something about that.
KC. All right. Now the point is, when at Groote Schuur the first time discussion took place on a form of amnesty, yes, the first time. Prior to that discussions took place between advisers on temporary amnesty to allow negotiators to come into the country, so at Groote Schuur this was the situation, that there was temporary amnesty for a limited number of people to allow them to come into the country and negotiate. I wasn't informed of any proposal by them, there were no other proposals except for temporary amnesty when we entered Groote Schuur. So now we need to level the playing ground, we need to have more people coming into the country to level the playing grounds. In order to bring that about we had to widen the gap for those getting amnesty. Who dictated the rules? Thabo Mbeki proposed the application of the Norgarb Principles. If your thesis is correct you would have expected Mr Mbeki at that stage to promote just this. He did not. And you would know that the Norgarb Principles apply only to clearly defined political acts motivated by political people but not in respect of the worst of acts, not the worst of acts, not the indiscriminate killing of civilians. Norgarb Principles only take it as far as that. You would have expected that Mbeki should have, at that stage, proposed a general amnesty as you have mentioned the people say. He did not. Norgarb Principles. I was then put on a working group to work out -
POM. Were the Norgarb Principles just to apply to ANC?
KC. No. We then said, but then what we lay down now is that it should apply to all operators, it should apply to everyone, all political parties across the line, even-handedness, words of FW de Klerk, absolute even-handedness and so forth, and that is how the first laws were framed, namely that it would be applied even-handedly. But the ANC continued to be non-committal on this and said, you do it, we don't agree to amnesty for you people. Nowhere, nowhere, as a matter of fact there are public pronouncements by lesser people saying that they will undo the amnesty. So this was a situation and the situation was further that this process was to be completed by the end of April 1991. The Beeld said that this is the one process that would be on date, on target. I made it my business to make it on target for another reason as well, because at the time - it was just after FW had been to the USA and he reported to us that if we comply with a few conditions one of them, the major one being the release of all political prisoners in the political sense, political prisoners, the USA would revoke the Triple A anti-apartheid legislation. So in order to make sure that the Americans knew exactly what was going on here I got a team attached to my office in Pretoria to work with me, from day to day with me, and when we released the last political prisoner, and they vetted the lists, they vetted the files -
POM. 'They' being the?
KC. The Americans. They despatched a cable for despatch by the Embassy from my office, showed it to me, and two days later Bush revoked, all prisoners released. They were primarily interested in the liberation movement prisoners but at that time there were a number of police, there were a number of right wing operators, they were all released or benefited one way or the other, who were not released.
POM. So some police were released then too?
KC. Yes, police, and prosecutions were withdrawn, people whom according to our definition should be beneficiaries of this. Yes. Now this brings us to the second phase of CODESA, CODESA 1 having concluded its business there were some items still left. Amongst them amnesty, the release of political prisoners, but at that time we were strong in the position that we have completed this on all sides, you understand, on all sides, and if anything further is to happen that would have been in terms of a general amnesty because this is the exercise which I was responsible for which I have completed. As I say, there was this slight praise in Die Beeld that this is the one process, and the Americans wouldn't have signed that bill, George Bush, unless this process was complete.
POM. So what you had, what you completed in CODESA 1 was a process of amnesty which allowed for the release of political prisoners as defined on all sides of the political divide?
KC. Correct, on all sides of the political divide, and accepted by them.
POM. And that was accepted by the ANC.
KC. No, I'll tell you in a minute, that was accepted by the Americans and it was accepted by the Chief Negotiator at that time, my friend Jacob Zuma, and we signed a document to that effect and I will show you that document. More or less the document which Jacob Zuma and myself signed that the whole process has been complete, all political prisoners as defined by Norgarb had been released and the prosecutions otherwise stopped against those falling within the ambit of these published rules, because we published those rules. No objection, no counter-proposal from the ANC, let's have rather a general amnesty. Nowhere on record. Then emerged something else. There was a committee or two active in Pretoria, in Johannesburg, I think it was Professor Cohen whose son was active in respect of human rights. They said, oh no, and especially a few other operators, all political prisoners have not been released.
POM. Professor Cohen worked for?
KC. I'm not sure but it was for two human rights societies, they said, no you're not finished yet, there is Robert McBride, we want Robert McBride. All the emphasis was then on Robert McBride.
Tape No. 2
POM. You were talking about in Pretoria it surfaced, a couple of human rights -
KC. The Human Rights Commission, signed an agreement that we have now finalised. You've got it on record that the USA were satisfied that all political prisoners would be released. They were primarily interested in the liberation movement prisoners. As a result George Bush signed. Human Rights emerged and said, what about these people? Individuals within the ANC said, and they spoke to the press, Jacob Zuma only negotiated, he was then Secretary General of the ANC but he under-negotiated because there are these people still there and then they give the numbers, a couple of hundred they would say are still there. Our response was, no, these people are not political prisoners in that sense. They fall outside that and the government, cabinet, adopted the position that these can only be released upon a general amnesty for all. That was the publicly announced position. Amnesty for all and these can be released, which is absolutely logical.
. At the time I argued that we don't know what we have in our cupboards. We didn't know. Both FW and myself argued that we're not going to use this situation as a pretext for those who in the name of whatever have committed atrocities not falling within the definition of a political prisoner or a political activist or a politically inspired crime, we are not going to allow this. I was very strong on this position for the simple reason that I was then planning the road towards a constitutional state where the law would be predominant. How would I look if I put people out of the reach of the law who later proved to be mere criminals. I had to retain my own credibility in my plan and in my design. I had to retain the support of the courts, of the Attorneys General who advised me, the minister, we will support this but we can only do so at a very clear law. I'll tell you in a minute why this was important.
. So I was motivated also by the fact that somewhere in the end we have to come to general amnesty for all people if these others are to be beneficiaries. That will also cover people on our side operating within, not our side, but operating within the framework of the forces of whatever. So I was very strong on this, that this can only happen if it's a general amnesty, and that was adopted by cabinet.
. But these human rights organisations kept on pushing, kept on pushing, and they got the support, I believe, also of the press through De Beers and Anglo-American because Paula McBride then got married to McBride and inside the prison, I allowed it.
POM. Who is she now? Paula was her first name?
KC. Paula, well she's married to McBride.
POM. But who was she?
KC. Who was she? I've forgotten her maiden name. Her father served on the Board of Directors of Anglo-American.
POM. OK, that's the important point.
KC. And the pressure that got to bear on myself, on the system, was a very heavy pressure, everyone clamouring for his release and for release of the balance of the political prisoners. I said, no, and that a general amnesty alone and this was already my position at the end of 1991.
POM. You said no under - ?
KC. I said, no unless there is a general amnesty. Yes. Because that was the position of the government, because if I would use my office or whatever to bring this about, covering then also people, I was concerned for both sides, but covering people on our side who were mere criminals. At that point of time people were looking for points. Are we credible? Are we reliable? What? Are we genuine? The lawyers, the judges, everyone was concerned that we were pushing this too far, putting people out of the reach of the law. So it had to be done very, very carefully.
POM. But was it pushing ANC people out of reach of the law or pushing - ?
POM. Criminals, OK.
KC. Criminals, not ANC, criminals. Somewhere I have read that I wanted to get at the entrails of the ANC. What shit! Be that as it may, what then also became clear to me is that Jacob Zuma started it because he was the one that had negotiated with me. And I have every reason today and I will continue to believe that Jacob Zuma was then ousted by Cyril Ramaphosa on the grounds of under-negotiation.
POM. Ousted from?
KC. The position as Secretary General.
POM. Well Cyril was Secretary General.
KC. My friend, he was Secretary General.
POM. Cyril was?
KC. No, no, Jacob.
POM. Of the ANC?
KC. Yes, and as a result of this Cyril took over from him. He was ousted from that position, he has returned to that position now. This is on the record unless I tell you.
POM. Now there's some confusion here. This all took place before the ANC had its first elections for President of the ANC where Mr Mandela became President because he had not been President before that, where Walter Sisulu became Deputy President, where Cyril became Secretary General. Jacob Zuma was elected Deputy Secretary General.
KC. Jacob Zuma was Cyril's senior.
POM. What year are we talking about?
KC. We're talking about 1991.
POM. What time in 1991?
KC. And Cyril Ramaphosa came forward, surged forward on the grounds of the so-called failure on the part of Jacob Zuma. As I said, that's my theory, that's my theory and I will continue to believe that. You've got it here.
POM. What I'm interested in is in the facts. You're saying that Jacob Zuma was Secretary General of the ANC?
KC. He was senior to Cyril Ramaphosa.
POM. Of course he would have been because he was in the organisation -
KC. He was senior but he was then pushed aside.
POM. Yes, OK.
KC. You'll check. Perhaps they were both running and he lost to Cyril, but whom did they replace? But he was senior, he was acting or something. We will just have to check. What I am very certain of is that he was pushed aside in favour of Cyril according to my perception as a result of his so-called failure on the Robert McBride case. And Cyril, coming from the Anglo-American/De Beers camp and with the threat of old man McBride handing back his ANC membership card, the pressure on the release of Robert McBride and company mounted and there I was, saying yes but only under general amnesty. So the thing that you're telling me now, how is it possible? In 1992 I say general amnesty but the ANC now in 1992 says no, no general amnesty. At what stage did they propose general amnesty for all?
. So the second phase was, they abort CODESA 2, May 1992, and now they start to push for the release of political prisoners. They had fourteen points, eleven on constitution issues, they were never resolved, but then arrived at the last three and Roelf and Ramaphosa manipulated in such a way that the two ministers, three ministers whom they targeted as uncooperative were the people dealing with these issues. The traditional weapons of the Zulu, the fencing of the hostels and release of political prisoners. You can check. So that in discussing the fourteen points the cabinet reiterated its position that there could only be release of these people under general amnesty.
POM. That was repeated in September 1992.
KC. No, no, before then, much before then, because that was the position I put to the public. So I met with them - put it this way, I was invited to go to the airport where they had a meeting.
POM. Who had?
KC. Roelf, Ramaphosa, Fanie van der Merwe, Mac Maharaj, Myburgh the Deputy Minister of Police, Niel Barnard, myself and I think - no Matthews wasn't there. I said, "But I just have a feeling you have a deal on this, as a matter of fact I believe you have a deal." All this was preceded -
POM. And the purpose of the meeting was?
KC. Well to discuss the situation of political prisoners. Now this was all preceded by meetings between Cyrus Vance, myself and Thabo Mbeki on different occasions where Cyrus put forward the question of a general amnesty. It was agreed upon and then I was called upon in the office by -
POM. It was agreed upon by you?
KC. No, no, not an agreement, it was accepted that the general amnesty is the answer to this problem. So my position was that it must be agreed here and now, the general amnesty, and let's do it this way then. I got it, then Cyril left. I got a call from Thabo's office and he and Winnie and I think it was Matthews came to see me in my office.
POM. Matthews Phosa?
KC. Phosa. They came to see me in Pretoria and Thabo said, "Listen, vis-à-vis our discussion with you and with Cyrus, we want you to release these people as a kick start and then we'll talk about general amnesty." I said, "No. We agree on general amnesty and release those people." So that was in August.
POM. Was this McBride they were referring to? They had other people too?
KC. No, no, but McBride was very important for them. I have my theories why, but they were pushed by Cyril Ramaphosa and by Anglo-American, that's my theory. So the next thing was, this was in August, now in September there was a lot of hot air around myself being so strong on general amnesty. I was taken apart by various press people for being so stubborn, sticking to general amnesty. Yes. Now if that was the solution why didn't the ANC accept it there? If you were right in what you got from Die Burger and from Niel Barnard and whosoever, why didn't they? So in September these fourteen points which the ANC posed as a pre-condition for them returning to the negotiating table had been solved except for the political prisoners.
POM. Didn't that become the Record of Understanding?
KC. No, no, just prior to this. Now I was asked to go to the airport three days before the Record, a week before the Record of Understanding, and that's where I reiterated the government position. But you have seen The Sunday Times, you've got that report. You haven't? Oh no. I will have to fax it to you, I will have to fax to you The Sunday Times giving a detailed account of a meeting between and amongst myself and the others, and I will fax it to you with other clippings. I'm sure I gave it to you last time.
POM. How did they get hold of the story?
KC. They had it taped and they gave it to Edith Bulbring(?).
POM. Who had a tape? All the participants?
KC. Whosoever. My people, everyone. And there I was taken apart. The world was told about the fight between - stand-up fight between Roelf Meyer and myself on this issue of general amnesty. My stand-up fight with Fanie van der Merwe and Niel Barnard and Cyril and Mac Maharaj on the issue of amnesty. If they had seen the light then, already, why didn't they say all right let's have general amnesty. You understand? This is a fabrication, unfortunately, of NP advisers, government advisers, trying to save their own skins. That's it, Niel Barnard and Fanie van der Merwe and Roelf. Knowing of what crucial importance it is now, which they didn't understand at the time, they thought they were just getting the negotiations back on the road, but they didn't understand the significance.
. So, let me complete, I thought I persuaded them. They went to formulate. They came back and they said this is what we propose in agreement. After two and a half or three hours I said no and I formulated a counter-proposal. Fortunately for me Edith Bulbring thought at the behest of Mac or Cyril, whosoever, that they were destroying they did me a tremendous favour because that stands as a record against them and against Fanie van der Merwe and against Roelf and against Niel Barnard.
POM. Do you have that document?
KC. I'll send it to you, I'll send it to you. That Monday I spoke to FW and I said to him, "What are you going to do about this? Here they're taking me publicly apart", and I said to him I no longer feel comfortable in government if this is what's happening because there is a lack of understanding, a lack of insight, a lack of foresight, no futuristic vision, none. So I didn't want to go to the Record of Understanding. FW almost pleaded with me to go. When we got there there was a draft Record of Understanding and on the question of the fencing in of the hostels and carrying of traditional weapons there was some kind of compromise. On the question of political prisoners it was already cut and dried that they would be released because that Monday evening, coming from a meeting, I was phoned by Adriaan Vlok to tell me that he had got instructions to release these people. He was then Minister of Correctional Services and he said he is going to resign. I said also I am going to resign. That's when I said to FW that's what I'm going to do. He said to me, "No come", but I said I can't participate any longer in front line negotiation. He said, "Well, I'll get you to join me in overseeing the negotiations." I allowed myself to be persuaded to stay. I also asked Vlok, "Are you going to resign?" because he didn't approve of the release either unless there was general amnesty. So by Friday we calmed down, by Thursday. Friday and Saturday the Record of Understanding. At that stage when we discussed the question of general amnesty I took up the position, I said that the ANC is much more in need of amnesty than the NP. We should have a general amnesty, just throwing it in. Either Kriel of General van der Merwe said, "Yes there are 3000 open files on ANC members of a serious nature." We almost came to a standstill. They were furious because they had thought that there was a deal. That I realised afterwards. They were furious.
POM. Who was furious?
KC. The ANC. They asked for an adjournment and to my surprise Mr Kriel spoke to Mr de Klerk and vice versa and they came and they said they are closing their files. I said to them, like this, "How can you do that? This is the preserve of the Attorneys General. You can't do that." Because you can't just do that. It would have destroyed all our credibility. I wouldn't have been able to sit here today and say to you I brought about a constitutional state in SA, or at least the major share. This is not playing parties, this was a matter of putting people outside the law but that could only be done by a major agreement and by the highest authority, that is the presidency, not by a Minister of Justice or a Minister of Police who had a system and all of us were subject to that system even then. So I objected to that. But that was an aside here, it was already done. Afterwards I said to them, and that's why Hernus I suppose - because he realised I was right - we could never have done that, you have conceded, you have made a concession of a nature that we will never be able to handle in the future but it's beyond our powers as well unless we agree on a much wider amnesty and embody that in the law. Nevertheless after that agreement that these people be released and that that process be embarked upon immediately, meanwhile they've already agreed on that. Adriaan Vlok has already received instructions and they were getting ready that this be done immediately.
POM. Instructions from?
KC. From - well they were all in the Constitutional Development's office and Adriaan says he got instructions from FW. Adriaan said he got instructions from FW de Klerk.
POM. Adriaan Vlok?
KC. Now in her book Patti says that Mandela phoned -
POM. But hadn't Vlok resigned by then? Am I getting confused here?
KC. You are confused. Vlok was still minister then. I was a minister. He was Minister of Correctional Services then.
POM. OK, he had been changed from -
KC. From Police to Correctional Services. Patti Waldmeir says in her book that according to Mac Maharaj, yes I know exactly what's there my friend, she says that Mac Maharaj says that in Mr Mandela's office they were insisting on the release of political prisoners and Mr Mandela, he said to him, let me show you how I deal with that man, or that little man or whatever, very derogatory, and he said, "You're taking it too far." He said, "Well let me show you", and he phoned Mr de Klerk and he more or less, I think, said to him, "I will not return to the negotiation table unless you release those people", and Mr de Klerk conceded. I challenged Mr de Klerk on this.
POM. Had he already conceded - had a decision been taken?
KC. That was before, this was now before the Record of Understanding. In other words it was a formality a few days later, leaving me in a cleft stick. For this one I'm fucked, because I'll acknowledge many other faults and shortcomings and omissions and commissions, but this one definitely not. Let me just now complete. I said we can't just agree on this, we need a law of parliament to make an inroad into the process of justice. The executive couldn't just do that. You needed a law of parliament. So I brought a law to parliament appointing a committee under Judge Steyn to decide who is a good criminal and who is a bad political criminal, or no political criminal, on application but without divulging the details to the public. That's the difference, and it was open for all and sundry. I was accused of engineering a general amnesty by the Democratic Party. I got hell. I failed with one house in parliament, the Indians. I was confident that they would also vote in favour of the bill and at the last moment they left me in the lurch. The coloured house voted for it, the white house voted for it but the Indians did not. To this day I think it was a clever, clever move on the part of certain politicians that were looking for my demise, that was in 1992. So I took it to the then President's Council because according to the constitution at the time this kind of thing could be solved by taking it to the President's Council. I think this was the second time. Towards the beginning of December I took it to the President's Council and I really had a very difficult time getting it through because most of them thought that I was trying to get amnesty for whom? For the defence force and for the police and for all kinds of criminals on our side, so-called, and I was accused of smuggling in by the back door what I dare not bring in the open, namely a general amnesty. So what the hell are these people trying to prove?
. The first best would have been a general amnesty for all. I did the second best by providing a procedure for all. Now this is where Mr de Klerk said to cabinet, "I don't know whether any of you are going to apply for amnesty to this new institution, I'm not going to. You only need to apply for amnesty if you have really contravened the law but I leave it to yourself." No-one came forward and said I need amnesty. And what is more it would have been a very easy process for all the Generals and for Khotso House to have appeared before Mr Justice Steyn, they would have had it. It was there. They did not. And they were protected from civil prosecution, from all kinds of prosecution. I provided in that law for the creation of a fund to compensate all civilian claims. You weren't aware of that? So Steyn was active with this committee or rather with this commission.
POM. Judge Steyn?
KC. Mr Justice Steyn, now deceased. Many an ANC operator got amnesty.
POM. They applied?
KC. Yes, right wing people got amnesty, Inkatha people got amnesty, so why the hell - how can they reproach me for not providing for them?
POM. Nobody came from your side?
KC. Virtually none, but knowing human nature that's why I still said, I said in parliament, the best is a general amnesty. This is still my position. This is second best. You understand? The people who really stand accused were the people that entered into a deal with Cyril Ramaphosa on that day in September 1992, prior to the Record of Understanding. They are the people who stand accused, a golden opportunity to be slipped and I said to them that day, I don't know whether Edith Bulbring still has the tape, but I said to them the ANC needs it more than we do.
POM. Who has the tape?
KC. I don't know, forget it, I still have access. Why do you think I am so knowledgeable? Have you seen any preparatory work here?
KC. You haven't?
POM. What I want to get is, just to get it clear in my head, you said an awful lot. One, there was the amnesty that was provided for the ANC negotiators, ANC people, who were brought into the country for the purposes of negotiations. Two, in group 1 at CODESA amnesty was -
KC. Was agreed, according to the law.
POM. Let me get it in my words. Amnesty was agreed according to the law which would define a political prisoner in terms of the Norgarb Principles. Three, a document was signed to that effect between yourself and Jacob Zuma.
KC. No, that was much later after completing the process.
POM. OK, so three, that was agreed upon and then you adjourned but nothing happened, no-one was released at that time after CODESA 1?
KC. After CODESA 1 the process went on but - oh I see, I understand what you're saying. We reached agreement, the process is complete.
POM. This is at CODESA 2 in fact.
KC. No, no, this was in June 1991, the process is complete.
POM. At CODESA 1?
KC. Yes, although CODESA 1 was not a participant really. The amnesty process ran parallel and prior to CODESA 1.
POM. OK, so you were negotiating with - ?
KC. Jacob Zuma and his team.
POM. Jacob Zuma and his team. So you guys have reached agreement by June?
KC. The process on paper, if I remember correctly, the process was to be complete by the end of April which was done, which was finalised, so much so that the Americans then revoked, they just had to chair the day. And I will tell you now, there were a number of Pan Africanists who clearly fell outside the scope.
POM. Of the Norgarb Principles?
KC. The Norgarb Principles. And in order to assist them we added a definition, those who had done considerable time even if they fall outside the Norgarb Principles, if they had done a considerable time -
POM. In jail?
KC. In jail, would be released. So in terms of this broader principle to help the Pan African Congress we also looked at certain ANC members falling outside Norgarb but who had done a considerable time. You can check, there were roughly thirteen of them, and Jacob Zuma's candidacy was under pressure. He was my friend, I didn't even know Cyril properly although I had heard very good reports of this man's abilities, but he was under pressure and the national conference of the ANC was in Durban, you can check me, so in order to bolster his chances as the chief negotiator of this major issue we released, I decreed that those prisoners, the last thirteen, whatever, be released in Durban and I flew them in style to Durban from Robben Island in order to bolster his chances. Not as much as against Jacob Zuma, I don't think I even realised that it's either him or Jacob Zuma, but what I did realise was that this man was in need of recognition of the great job he had done. You would know the Irish situation, you will understand if I say to you, we were poles apart and we brought the people together.
POM. So you had reached an agreement on amnesty.
KC. That now it's finalised.
POM. Signed off on.
KC. I and Jacob, signed.
POM. Look at it and say it meets all our requirements.
KC. Yes exactly. A month or two later we were set and we had it by agreement and it was done in considerable time. By definition this included the PAC people and it also included the last of the ANC long-timers and they were released.
POM. Where does this surface in group 1 in CODESA 2?
KC. What happened was in CODESA 1 we identified our tasks, our jobs. We were a self-generating entity but also got instructions.
POM. Eighteen tasks.
KC. And Kader and myself added amnesty. We added amnesty. We would have arrived there had it not been for the pressure of these NGOs, these human rights groups outside that were pestering the ANC and myself and the government saying that we have agreed on a job done and it's not complete, there are still 476 people.
POM. So you and Kader agreed?
KC. That once we have solved our problem with these people we will bring it here for finality, which was obviously a kind of general amnesty. Once we have solved these interim releases we would bring it to - which was obviously a general amnesty which was obviously coupled and connected with the constitution.
POM. So you and Kader were talking about a general, an implied general amnesty?
KC. He's a good lawyer and I am a lawyer and we knew exactly what we were talking about. We weren't talking about, we weren't negotiating large style for a general amnesty and I refused and you agreed. We were agreed that they were pressing because they weren't very informed. They got the figures through Phosa that once we've dealt with these NGOs (I'll let you know the names of the two organisations) we will talk at CODESA 1, group 1, on the way forward. It was a very famous expression there 'the way forward' on these issues. Before we got there CODESA 2 was aborted. I will just have to check and see whether it was visibly on our agenda. CODESA 2 was aborted. The government supporters at CODESA, the self-governing states, the Ciskei, Bophuthatswana, fell in disarray. Cyril's strategy succeeded in getting a situation where it was only the government and the ANC.
POM. You have amnesty on the CODESA agenda. Parallel with that you have your committee, including Jacob Zuma and yourself, dealing with the issue of amnesty. Both processes are working.
KC. No, no, you've got it wrong. CODESA, we will just have to check the dates, but CODESA 1 started to work after the completion of a process of the release of political prisoners, levelling the political field.
POM. OK, so before CODESA 1 started you and Zuma had signed off and prisoners had been released.
KC. Yes. Now the negotiations started.
POM. And then CODESA 1 starts.
KC. With an agenda.
POM. With an agenda and these NGOs had brought up the question of -
KC. Another list.
POM. Another list, so you and Kader added amnesty for these people on to, added the question of amnesty on to -
KC. The question of amnesty. But it was also agreed and understood that it's not pressing, it's not pressing, because they were satisfied, there was a pre-condition for them that their people must be released to level the playing fields. They weren't really pressing for it except the NGOs, unless of course they were using the NGOs realising that if they do it now it would be going back on their previous point of view. I think to a certain extent that was the case, that they realised that they would be backtracking and would be going back on what has already been agreed, namely this is where our agreement ... No lesser person than Kader realised that the next stage of discussion would be general amnesty.
POM. So you were in agreement of a general amnesty but you wanted -
KC. How do you mean we were in agreement?
POM. You wanted amnesty where everybody would have to anonymously kind of submit a dossier of -
KC. No, by general amnesty was to cover the broadest possible, if not complete - Let's go for lunch.
POM. Let's just finish this one.
KC. I said these worst cases fall outside our agreements and you can only cure that with a general amnesty, touch my heart, I don't want these criminals to escape but, touch my heart, this is the last out. So we can only do this if we have a parallel, if we have even-handedness between the worst of the ANC and the worst of whatever which were unknown to us, but I knew human nature and I didn't know what was in our cupboard. I used that expression fairly often. So you understand, for me it was the ultimate solution but then it must have been by agreement so that we could never be reproached for saying you are now professing that you are on your way to the constitutional state, you are the guardian of the law, of the legal institutions of this country, the Attorneys General, the courts and whatever, and here you have -
POM. You have unilaterally granted yourself amnesty.
KC. Yes, no, this had to be done exactly as an ultimate constitutional act. That was so clear. Now people say, but you should have spoken. One of my colleagues said to me the other day, here in Cape Town, he said to me, "But you should have approached me and explained to me what you have in mind." I said, "Damn it, you were in parliament so many years before you were appointed deputy minister and then a minister and you want to tell me that I had to spell out to you the meaning and the significance of amnesty pushing people outside the law and what effect this would have had on the country if it had been done one-sidedly?" He said, "But yes, but then you should have spelt out your plan to us." I said, "I did so time and again and when the cabinet accepted, not only as a doctrine but as a firm decision, that these people will only be released if there's general amnesty, it did not mean a general amnesty by Kobie Coetsee, it meant general amnesty by all parties concerned and by the constitution."
POM. By everybody on every side.
KC. These people talking to you, you can lip read explanations that I have allowed an opportunity to slip through my hands when the ANC was in favour of general amnesty, they're talking shit.
. (Break in recording)
POM. So the Navy were claiming had they been able to develop the Navy substantially they would have been able to attack Angola from the sea, Luanda, and keep it and they would have been able then to provide the supply lines to Angola via Luanda, they would be able to start a two-pronged attack. I was aware that this was going back to the early eighties. So what you're saying now is correct, the Air Force wasn't capable of giving the necessary protection to the supply lines, a very elongated line of attack wasn't supported, couldn't be supported by the aircraft. My question would be, why would the Navy bring this up in 1993? You've answered that, you were having a discussion. It sounds to me like the Navy brass were saying to you that if you had followed its advice in the 1980s it would have won the war in Angola and hence all this nonsense with the ANC would never have been necessary because they would have taken Angola and you would have established a presence there, you would have won the war in Angola and that would have changed the whole domestic situation.
KC. There was no political motivation for this discussion. This purely concerned the budget of the defence force.
POM. OK, that's fine. Next, two questions down. In Namibia, "By contrast the Angolans succeeded" (and you must check the name), "in building an airport much closer to a border which enabled them to fly across the border, make strikes and come back." And I said that's not the Cuito Cuanavale airport.
KC. Correction, 'much closer to our border' should read 'much closer to the Namibian border'.
POM. You don't know the name of it?
KC. I haven't checked.
POM. Much closer to the Namibian border.
KC. So you will do that. Namibian border, that makes it clearer.
POM. OK. Down to, "We had to stabilise the country to enable - ." This is the query, what are you going to do? And the second question he asked Mr Botha was, "Sir, how long do you want this war to last?" And he said "But how long could it last?" He said, "Sir, that was the question" or should that be 'that was the answer I expected from you?' "That was the response that I expected, how long could it last? Our fuel supplies, factories and so forth will determine that." And at that time this emerges in -
KC. That's correct. "Sir, how long do you want this war to last?" And he, Mr Botha, said, "But how long could it last?" He said "Sir that was the question I expected from you and that was the kind of response I expected from you, how long could it last?" And then limiting factors, our fuel supply, factories and so forth will determine that. And at that time -
POM. Now you have - OK, then you mentioned a book and this emerges in - you must write down the name of that book for me afterwards.
KC. Did I?
KC. Like a professor!
POM. Next it says, "We could only last for a very short time bearing in mind that our supply line wasn't from Grootfontein to Luanda but it was from South Africa." From where in South Africa?
KC. Our bases, from the heartland, that is primarily what is known today as the Gauteng province. That was where most of our factories were and we had fuel supply tanks over there, all spread over the country, even here. But if you consider that fuel could have been supplied from here then you're thinking of a sea route, that makes it much longer. Then we're talking of almost 3000 kms.
POM. Now Cabinda - there was no point in controlling Luanda if you didn't control Cabinda. Cabinda is?
KC. The oil rich.
POM. The oil rich region that was under the control of?
KC. That's a small piece of land between the Republic of Congo and Angola.
POM. That was controlled by the government?
KC. Yes. If I'm correct this was very much a precious piece of land first controlled by one of the liberation movements. It's changed hands and I think for some time Savimbi also exerted influence there and then they shared control with some oil company. But Cabinda is a highly priced piece of land with oil fields in its area of control. They have wells in the sea and on land there.
POM. The question I asked was, so just back to basics, the MIG was superior to the planes, the MIGs being flown were technologically superior to planes being flown -
KC. They were of a later generation than our Mirages. We did acquire new Mirages but -
POM. Did the arms embargo not - ?
KC. We were more limited. We did acquire Mirages and we upgraded the Mirages ourselves but nevertheless the airport being nearer to our border enabled them to strike first and return whereas ours had to return to Grootfontein and whereas their targets were much deeper, ours were closer to the border, those two arguments. In other words they could strike at Oshakati, they could strike at Grootfontein, they could strike at the Golden Highway, they could make traffic impossible. Whereas theirs was much deeper.
POM. Were the Angolan planes flown by Cubans?
KC. And Russians.
POM. And Russians.
KC. But you must remember here that I speak from some knowledge, personal knowledge, but I think a much better authority would be reading everything that's been written about it.
POM. Yes, I've been collecting stuff on that too.
KC. For the simple reason that Mr or General X would be on the defensive and another one would be condemning the war, but somewhere in between you have the truth. I've given you what I know, why did PW pull out and why did he opt for the political solution.
POM. He says "He converted the political situation." My question in addition to that was, why do you say that since many observers say the SADF realised that it could not win in Angola that the war was fruitless and that you were forced into negotiations where you lost Namibia and opened one more door to the ANC, which is one of the reasons why Castro was so feted in parliament just yesterday as a hero of the struggle, instrumental in South Africa's liberation.
KC. It's a correct observation that from the point of view of the ANC he played a major role in softening up South Africa, that could be the interpretation, but it's an interpretation very close to the truth. Why I lauded PW Botha is that recognising this and having created the impression of invincibility in Angola he had to get out of this situation, he had to save the Namibia situation and I said he did so with some aplomb.
POM. The names down here, I can't give you the reference - the reference to this is probably also in PW's biography and Jannie Geldenhuys. Who is Jannie Geldenhuys?
KC. The then Chief of the Defence Force. Geldenhuys was the officer in charge military operations, Chief of the Army, in charge of military operations in Angola, in Namibia and he subsequently succeeded Constand Viljoen as Chief of the Defence Force.
POM. Is he still alive?
KC. Yes very much so.
POM. Around? How would go about looking for him?
KC. He produced a book as well.
POM. He did, he has a book? It's in Afrikaans is it?
KC. I think it's been translated. I don't know whether he entertains the same kind of respect I have for him, he is a very able diplomat, militarist, and he understood how the political mind worked.
POM. How would one go about locating him?
KC. He would probably be in the telephone directory in Pretoria. If you want to locate him I am sure that -
POM. I also want to locate General Meiring.
KC. You want to locate him? I think he has changed his telephone number. I can try and get the numbers for you.
POM. That would be really good. You have a sentence that begins, "So any causes on the grounds of empowering them" - we're down to 'she'. "She had succeeded in that, if she had succeeded (that's the USA) as the world's policeman then she would have been expected to become involved in the Middle East and involved in the Far East and in South Africa. She had the sentiments at the time, the sentiments being at the time more towards any forces that opposed communists so any causes on the grounds of forces empowering them." Is that the communists?
KC. More positive, I think at the time more positive towards any force that opposed communists, communism. So any causes on the ground - I think we could go much shorter there. So any -
POM. (This is page 6, Padraig).
KC. So any policy opposing communism, direct or indirect, would get its support.
POM. OK. Now we're talking about "To get back to your point as far as Angola is concerned they pursued an open policy of support but then they got notice from Congress to stop that. They still continued with their support but indirectly by way of allowing us to purchase whatever armaments we wanted." Now we're talking about somewhat earlier, G5s, when you say somewhat earlier, how much earlier?
KC. Are you exactly where now?
POM. Just after that sentence, the following sentence, "But back to your point as far as Angola is concerned they pursued an open policy (that's the USA) of support but then they got notice from Congress to stop that. They still continued with their support but indirectly by way of allowing us -
KC. That paragraph starts with "Well", is that it? How does it start.
POM. Yes, "Well".
KC. Well I suppose -
POM. If you had the power, yes. Then we've gone down past the sentence with the one we just went through, so any policy -
KC. Back to your point as far as Angola is concerned they pursued an open policy of support.
POM. For Savimbi.
KC. Open policy of support for Savimbi but then they got notice from Congress to stop that. Is that correct?
POM. Yes. It was an open policy of support for South Africa. It must be an open policy of support for South Africa.
KC. I think for South Africa would be also correct, for Savimbi also correct.
POM. But they still continued with their support but indirectly by way of allowing us to purchase whatever armaments we wanted. Now we're talking about somewhat earlier G5s.
KC. I think that what we should say here, by way of allowing us to purchase - and I think we should add the words there - albeit covertly, because that's what happened. They allowed us covertly to purchase whatever armaments we wanted. Now we're talking about somewhat earlier, the G5s. They wittingly allowed us to purchase some very important parts of the G5.
POM. Is this somewhat earlier models of the G5?
KC. Now we're talking about an earlier stage, that is before we pulled out of Angola because we were already using the G5 in Angola. Now we're talking about an earlier stage.
POM. They wittingly allowed us to purchase very important parts of the G5.
KC. I use the G5s as an example but this was before we pulled out. We developed the G5 and they wittingly allowed us to purchase some very important part of the G5. They allowed us - that's why I say 'covertly', albeit covertly.
POM. They allowed us to smuggle it out of - out of where?
KC. And then prosecuted us afterwards. I'm talking of a time span of almost six, seven, eight years.
POM. But you're saying they allowed us to smuggle it out, smuggle it out of?
KC. The United States.
POM. Of the USA and then prosecuted us afterwards.
KC. Or from Canada. Then, I think you can add, it was at a later stage they started prosecuting. What happened was, it was after we had established an armaments industry and it was after the debacle with the Coventry Five, that they themselves came in for some monitoring because no-one would accept that they couldn't catch us. Then in the early nineties, very early nineties, towards the close of the eighties, some Americans were caught out by Customs and/or tax people, I have to get my facts straight, and then they got on to the spoor of South Africans and because it was then in the open they had to issue warrants for our arrest, people from Armscor especially. I'm talking about 1991/92/93, and this whole issue was eventually settled with a very heavy penalty by Thabo Mbeki in his present capacity, but it was on account of contraventions then trading with forbidden material. You must be aware of that case. We paid billions, millions of dollars penalty.
POM. When General Roberts closed those - our joint armaments?
KC. I jumped from one stage to another. I jump periods and I go back to illustrate my argument and my point of the duplicity on the part of the USA.
POM. So when you're saying 'our joint armaments', you're referring to the armaments of?
KC. Of Israel and South Africa. Perhaps armaments is not the right word. I would say, our mutual military related objects, not objects, projects, and to go and compare, as guests of Mossad, to go and compare our armaments. No, no, I'm right. What I had then in mind, now the Mossad as you know is a secret organisation. I was then also Minister of Intelligence and of Defence so the Mossad, General X, came to me and he said, "Listen, come and have a look at the industry the Americans have assisted us to build."
POM. Was that armaments industry?
KC. It's really armaments. At the back of my mind I also had an idea that we were jointly developing a nuclear capacity. Is that a shock to you?
KC. So that word is the right word.
POM. So you were developing a nuclear capacity?
KC. Yes of course we were.
POM. Jointly? With the knowledge of the Americans?
KC. Looking back I would say yes. And it was part of a global policy, dividing up their territory to police amongst also those with whom they didn't want to be seen to be associated but knowing that those such as Taiwan and South Africa and Israel would also operate against the forces of communism and suchlike forces. In other words, almost contracting out covertly their responsibility to police. Am I complicated or do you understand?
POM. No, I understand that perfectly. Too perfectly.
KC. This is why perhaps you like it, this is an interpretation, an analysis, I haven't come across it like this.
POM. I have my own comments on that. But General Roberts - his first name?
KC. What are your comments? You must first now - don't inhibit me.
POM. Well I have my own kind of comments on the way America conducts its foreign policy, and that in two words would be -
KC. You don't approve of duplicity.
POM. No, I was just going to say it's with utmost duplicity, I'm not making a judgement on it, I'm just saying. General Roberts first name? When General Roberts posed these two questions - can you remember his first name?
KC. Roberts? He was an MP on the DP side eventually. General Roberts, he became an MP when he retired on the side of the Democratic Party.
POM. Is he still in parliament?
KC. No, no, he retired, I don't think he's still alive.
POM. What was his first name? He said, "The analogy getting trapped down in Vietnam, yes, that kind of argument was the order of the day." I'm saying had Roberts himself calculated all the costs, so to speak, and decided that he was getting entrapped in a no-win situation? Or had PW himself calculated all the costs and decided that he was getting entrapped in a no-win situation?
KC. I think embodied in this question, how long could it last, previous page, how long could it last? Really translated to financial terms would be, how long could we afford it? How long could we afford it to last? I can't recall that at that time that it was necessary to bring forward how costly that war was because we were really fairly au fait with the budget. I can't recall that we were also listening to a cold-blooded calculation of the cost of the war. For us it was enough that PW thought it necessary to convey Roberts' words and I said he almost with relief reported what Roberts had asked. I use the word gleefully there, a better word.
KC. He was pleased, not enthusing about it. Gleefully is not being morose about it. It is almost with relief.
POM. With relief?
KC. Yes. As I say, it's my observation again. PW possibly crucified him for giving this well-considered observation.
POM. You say he wanted them to remain a viable option for the internal political situation but at the same time he didn't exercise it. He exercised it. What did he exercise?
KC. Where are we now.
POM. Well it's my page 8. Why did he not want SWAPO declared an illegal organisation? Couldn't he have declared them an illegal organisation itself? Didn't he have the power and the authority? He didn't want to do so.
KC. I've read this. What I've said here I think is correct. I think what should be added is whatever else people may think of PW I think he had a healthy respect for at least our friends in the western world and in other countries, he at least had a healthy respect. I think he realised that by banning SWAPO he would go further than John Vorster would have done. First he thought South Africa would really come in for flak because our position all the time in Namibia was that political freedom is a given situation there, freedom of political association was acknowledged there as important for Namibian development and so that is perhaps another reason why he didn't even consider, at least not verbally, he didn't tell us about it, of banning SWAPO. So that was it and we didn't argue because for us it was a foregone conclusion that he could elicit a lot of criticism and SWAPO were being watched internally, we'd been watching with hawkish eyes to see whether it is also involved in violence and that wasn't the case.
POM. That SWAPO wasn't - ?
KC. SWAPO internal.
POM. Internally SWAPO wasn't involved in - ?
KC. No, they kept a real clear distance. The Ovambos as such now and again would harbour infiltrators but it was not regarded as SWAPO internal assisting. You understand? And it was never proffered as such.
POM. In a way it was treated like Sinn Fein was treated. Sinn Fein was never declared an illegal organisation even though everyone knew it was the political wing of the IRA. Would that be a fair analogy?
KC. I think it's a fair analogy.
POM. Sinn Fein at the time was listed in the public telephone directory.
KC. If you speak to Jannie Geldenhuys just repeat this question. He was absolutely an authority on the development of the internal political development of Namibia, an absolute authority, Jannie Geldenhuys.
POM. OK, I don't know whether this is a - I suppose it's important, but why did he not think the same way about the ANC as he did about SWAPO?
KC. Yes, I'm reading through the material here. I realised that you have latched onto this as almost an anomaly and first of all he inherited a situation from John Vorster whose primary interest was the ANC and the communists, rather liberation movements and the communists. He inherited that situation. So in a sense if he wanted to change it he will have to change policy from his predecessor. That is always a consideration if within the same party you change you must have a good motivation. Now secondly, and I don't say that this is the one and only, I'm just surmising that that must have deterred him to change policy, apart from that the SA situation was always regarded as different from Namibia in the sense that - now I'm saying to you what the situation was in those years, that is was considered as different from Namibia in the sense that we had a government, duly elected, with a constitution, a member of the United Nations, we weren't involved in a war, not even a low key war, and the people who operated against us were plain and simple terrorists. There wasn't a war, a declared war, or an undeclared war, they were terrorists and they had ample opportunity to participate through the homeland policy which didn't then prevail in Namibia, but they had plenty of opportunity. So it was not that they were stifled, they had the Transkei, they had Bophuthatswana, they had Venda, so in a sense - you must remember that in PW's time he got Venda off the road, he got them off. They went and accepted independence and shortly after that the Ciskei. That was, not probably, that must have been our point of departure that the black people for the time being weren't stifled, they had ample opportunity to participate in politics on an equal footing, etc., etc. There is no point in criticising that position because then you have to be critical of the original decision to have the separate independences and you will have to start there which you are entitled to do, to say that that policy was wrong. But I'm just saying to you that that policy was in place and therefore that attitude.
POM. Did it ever become a consideration in setting up the independent states or the homelands that the homelands occupied just 13% of the land mass of SA, to which you were saying that 87% of the people of SA belonged?
KC. Well it bothered John Vorster, yes, that they had too little land. He instructed the Black Affairs Commission, the Bantu Affairs Commission, the Commission for Co-operation and Development on which I served, to make calculations and to give to the blacks what was decided in 1935 to give to them and in that process thousands and thousands of hectares were identified and transferred to black people. That was in John Vorster's time. Then PW went a step further and he ordered, even going beyond the 1936 allocation where it was necessary, for instance for the Transkei or any of those states, defining them correctly. Then before PW Botha they even got to the Free State to say, well the Free State hasn't sacrificed enough, the Free State must give more. So they juggled and they transferred some of their quota to the Free State.
POM. Which was to belong to whom?
KC. And in that process more and more land for urban development was identified and thus came into being the second largest black city in South Africa, Botshabelo. It's only Soweto that's larger and Botshabelo is about 50 kms from Bloemfontein.
POM. That I didn't know.
KC. Yes. At one stage it was the fastest growing city in Africa.
POM. What independent state or homeland did it belong to?
Tape No. 3
POM. Sorry, you were saying? You were talking about the redistribution of land.
KC. It was an issue that received attention from time to time and all kinds of arguments were developed and they were explored to counter what you've said and black people, although they were almost 80% of the population, only had 13% of the land. All kinds of arguments were being developed to counter that because it was the truth, such as, for instance, that a very large percentage of the land then owned by white people was desert or semi-desert, very arid, that the black people had the most viable land and so on. So those were arguments.
POM. Was that a red herring?
KC. It was not just a red herring, there was so much truth in it, it bothered many people, the imbalance, and that's why we tried to soothe our consciences with arguments such as I've just advanced to you but it was never really convincing, it was never really convincing. So as a further phase even in Vorster's time, in the person of Connie Mulder, urbanisation was softly drawn into the line of options that could be followed and urbanisation became an accepted thing.
POM. But urbanisation in exclusively black cities and towns or urbanisation - ?
KC. Yes, and it was done in the belief that through development upliftment we could do away with imbalance. That's where Connie Mulder's famous words come from, "I'll make Soweto the most beautiful city in Africa if not in the world." Remember those words? You must have come across them. It was an expression of accepting urbanisation as a foregone fact, we're not going to change the direction of the immigration, accept urbanisation as a fact.
POM. Where were the people who lived in those places supposed to work?
KC. Yes, remember previously it was said that they would turn the movement back to the homelands and in Connie Mulder's time it became accepted as impossible and then, he didn't say all right we will hold then to our original policy, they adapted and said, all right, we accept urbanisation and then he uttered these famous words, "I'll make Soweto the most beautiful city in Africa if not in the world." Remember those words?
POM. Was everyone living a kind of an unreality?
KC. I'm just giving you facts, don't challenge me.
POM. No, I'm not challenging you.
KC. Of course but it changed some naïve way of thinking on the one hand but on the other hand also some bona fides in the sense that millions were pumped into black development, black housing. The houses that we built in Botshabelo, the first couple of thousand, all middle class, the best.
POM. And where did the people who lived there work?
KC. The first couple of thousand, or thousands, did have work. We brought factories there in terms of the incentives that we created. Many of them have closed down and especially under the new regime nothing is going on.
POM. So now what is this city?
KC. It's almost in a sense a large percent, let me put it this way, a percentage of it lies on the subsistence economy but also a self-generating economy, a considerable percentage. But then I believe also that unemployment is on the increase there and those factories, and there are some very beautiful buildings, are all standing empty or closed down.
POM. The unemployment rate would be about?
KC. The employment rate is very low.
POM. Very low? If the factories aren't working is it because people are - when you say self-generating, subsistence economy, what does that mean?
KC. Well people have started to trade, to practise crafts, more and more you have building contractors amongst them, you have plumbers, electricians, all of them, but it's not enough. There was a time when it was a very active, affluent city, but at the moment, and I pass there often, it looks like a shell and there are almost a million people. They have never, never succeeded in establishing final statistics on Botshabelo. Some people say there are more than a million, other people say it's under 500,000.
POM. Going back to the Rubicon speech for a moment, when the speech was presented to PW, I mentioned that Financial Week said that while it was being drafted in parliament it said that FW had objected to its performance.
KC. You mean in cabinet.
POM. Yes in cabinet, and it had been toned down.
KC. That's not true.
POM. Now did he object to the content of it?
KC. He did not object at cabinet level, he did not object at cabinet level. I don't know whether he saw PW privately, whether PW called him in because he said to us, "Since speaking to you I have also spoken to Pen Kotze and Pen Kotze tells me that during that weekend preceding the Rubicon - "
POM. Sorry Pen Kotze is who?
KC. He was a minister then, Minister of Public Works. He was serving on the same church council as Piet Koornhof and PW is a member of that congregation so after church PW invited the two of them to come and see him and he said to them, "Colleagues I have a very serious problem. They want to force me into a speech which I don't approve of", etc., etc. And that Monday then he called us together, that was the first time the entire cabinet was called together on this, and he said, "I have prepared a speech for tonight for Durban", and he distributed the speech, and he said, "Is there anyone that differs from me?"
POM. Did he circulate the speech?
KC. Yes. "Is there anyone that differs from me?" And we were all quiet. This is what I told Patti Waldmeir, this is the truth. Now since then, since speaking to you, I have also spoken to Piet and to Pen and I accept what they say that they were called in over the weekend, but FW wasn't there. The next day he did say that, "I have consulted with a few colleagues", and it now appears that those two colleagues, you can check with them, those two colleagues were Pen Kotze and Piet Koornhof. So I really want to come out strongly in defence of FW. If PW had consulted him then - he couldn't have gone to PW and said I object to the speech, unless it was in the news and he said well what are you going to say? But not to my knowledge. It now appears to me that the colleagues to whom he referred as having been consulted, Piet Koornhof and Pen Kotze over the weekend, why don't you check with them?
POM. Did they object to it?
KC. I wouldn't know, I don't know what they said. But one thing is certain, that every colleague around that table supported PW in his anger that this draft speech prepared by the committee of Chris Heunis was leaked to the international world. Everyone felt anger at the fact that he was put here in the race.
POM. He was what?
KC. Put into a race, press. I use the word race there as well. A race is something which you use with cattle.
POM. OK. A kind of a - ?
KC. Press, you're put into a very narrow gully.
POM. Yes, yes.
KC. I think you call it a race, I use the word there.
POM. We're now on page 10. So when he said, "Does anyone object?" was it a matter of - ?
KC. This is now his toned down speech.
POM. Not the one he was going to give?
KC. Only a few of us had the original enlightened, far reaching speech in front of us. As far as I remember by then, the previous weekend, he cancelled the appointment with Chris Heunis who was supposed to have handed him this enlightened speech. Chris phoned us and said, "I don't know what's wrong, the appointment has been cancelled." It was only much later that it emerged, it appeared, that Foreign Affairs had leaked the enlightened speech which they collected from the committee of Chris Heunis, that they've leaked it to foreign missions, to Saatchi & Saatchi, and Saatchi & Saatchi started to market it. If you want to have more information on this the man to enlighten you on this, who was then an Ambassador elsewhere and who had to quell fires, is Herbert Beukes. I'm going too far with you, you know. I'm mentioning names to you contrary to my traditional reticence.
POM. But I won't use the names if you say don't use the names.
KC. Yes but don't use the names unless you contact them again.
POM. Oh sure.
KC. Herbert Beukes was Director General in the Western Province before he retired and Herbert Beukes is a brother-in-law of Dawie de Villiers. They are married to two sisters. As I say, usually I would first contact the people and say, listen I'm going to mention your names in this and that context. Do I have your word you're not going to publish this unless you speak to them, but I would prefer to get in touch with them and tell them, listen, some bloke now appears to be reliable enough to be informed of this, meaning you.
POM. He said in his new speech, in the speech he actually gave, he said, "My party and I are committed to the principle of a united South Africa, one citizenship and universal franchise." Doesn't that mean, my party and I are committed to the principle of one person one vote?
POM. So wasn't he saying in effect in his fiery speech, not the toned down speech -
KC. Are you quoting now from his speech delivered in fact at Durban?
POM. I think so. Page 54 of our friend here, because I took a note. It said, "In the end, yet ironically, it was Botha's own attempt to appease the west that provoked the biggest crisis of his presidency. In August 1985 he gave notice that he would soon take major steps away from apartheid, he would deliver a speech later dubbed the Rubicon speech, to outline South Africa's path across the Rubicon of apartheid to the new South Africa. The international hype was unprecedented. Pik Botha, the veteran Foreign Affairs minister, was despatched to western capitals to carry the glad tidings. Top US officials were summoned on short notice to Vienna to hear Botha promise a major leap across the Rubicon. In the end PW Botha did not leap and, thanks to Pik, his failure to do so was broadcast live to much of the western world. The old President's twisted hectoring - "
KC. Why does she say 'thanks to Pik'?
POM. I don't know.
KC. Well I'll tell you, because they marketed it.
POM. It was broadcast live and it was broadcast live because Pik arranged it.
KC. There were hundreds of media people, television cameras as I've never seen before. Saatchi & Saatchi went mad. That's why I say you must speak to Herbert Beukes, he was very much at the receiving end of the embarrassment.
POM. Where would I find him?
KC. I think he lives somewhere in Cape Town.
KOM. She said, "The old President's twisted hectoring visage dominated TV screens making it difficult to listen to what he said. It was a spectacular failing of packaging. Stripped of the body language the speech was ironically one of the most important Botha ever delivered. Those who could decipher his paranoiac code knew that it marked a ground-shift in the land of apartheid. In it Botha promised some kind of power sharing with blacks, 'The government is prepared to share it's power of decision making with other communities'. He acknowledged that blacks would live permanently in white South Africa. There was public renunciation of apartheid up to then and said they must be granted political rights outside the homeland. He even hinted at an offer of South African citizenship for all fully a year before the NP adopted that party. 'My party and I are committed to the principle of a united South Africa, one citizenship and universal franchise.' He suggested that he was reconsidering the hated pass laws, they were repealed the following year. What he did not say, he did not offer what Pik Botha had promised, a formula that would have amounted to the unconditional release of Nelson Mandela. Mandela would no longer have been obliged to renounce violence to be freed."
KC. That is not true.
POM. " Other black leaders would give this commitment for him."
KC. "He didn't offer what Pik Botha had promised, a formula that would have amounted to the unconditional release of Nelson Mandela." You see Pik was instrumental in PW at a later stage making a speech about the release of Mr Mandela which was immediately rejected by his daughter.
POM. Immediately rejected by?
KC. Zenzi, that offer of his that if you renounce violence then you will be released. The Rubicon speech did not deal with that formula, it dealt with the recognition that no deal could be reached without the ANC.
POM. That was his response?
KC. That was part of the speech that got buried, that got thrown out of the window by PW but that was the speech that was leaked to the outside world which PW later on said I'm not going to deliver that speech, I'm going to deliver the speech which she now says was a paranoiac code and then she points out a number of gems.
POM. You sound confused.
KC. Are you confused?
POM. What did he say?
KC. You remember I think somewhere in the text we said we must try and get hold of the speech delivered, which is available, the real speech he delivered. So instead of trying to get me to remember exactly what he said -
POM. So find the speech.
KC. But secondly we must really see whether we can't get that speech -
POM. Prepared for him initially.
KC. Prepared for him initially. I haven't, and I said that to Patti Waldmeir as well, I haven't made it my task to go and search for it because it contained so much embarrassing for all of us that at the time when I could put my hand on it and say I am going to use this as evidence in the future or I'm going to hand this to Patrick O'Malley or Patti for that matter.
POM. Why do you say it contained material that was embarrassing?
KC. No, no, I say the situation was embarrassing. The situation was so embarrassing for us, not the speech, we prepared the speech, but the situation that developed afterwards was embarrassing, the leak of it, the marketing of it without PW's approval, the jumping the gun, whoever did that, but the pointers are towards Pik.
POM. In your opinion, if the original speech had not been leaked, just your opinion, if the original speech had been put before each member of the cabinet, each of you would have walked in and said -
KC. This is my speech. That would have been it.
POM. So he gave a different speech not so much because he unreservedly disagreed with the content of the speech but because the speech had been leaked to the international media and he felt that -
POM. - and he felt he was being forced into a corner.
KC. Pressurised. Not his own. He had his advisers but every time when he delivered a speech he had to approve of it. I sat on all the committees that prepared the presidential speeches from the beginning of 1980 and every time he wanted to make sure for ten years that this is his speech and if you raised a new issue you had to come and defend it before he made it his own. I'm talking now in general. But I've given you names now of two people to understand what his reaction was, what his emotion was that Sunday. And I'm not justifying, I'm not condemning him, but I've always admired PW for not just being a rubber stamp, he was never a rubber stamp.
POM. A good example of that may be, the one that comes to my mind is that his ordering of the bombing of Lusaka when the Eminent Persons' Group was in the country, which he did without consulting the cabinet, without consulting -
KC. Pik, myself.
POM. He told you he was going to do it?
KC. No, I told you.
POM. He told nobody?
POM. So why did he bother ever to consult cabinet? Was it a formality?
KC. Listen, you're not fair now, we're going to waste time on this.
POM. OK, let's drop the whole damn thing, let's drop it.
KC. You must make a list of issues which you want criticised.
POM. "He said in the normal way he might have agreed. He had asked each of us for our point of view for his speech. He had picked us by person for our point of view and being a very proud man and being the person that he is he could not accept that situation as a whole thing - "
KC. That's what I said.
POM. "It was rather not accepting the situation and not accepting the speech. You must remember that just shortly after this he delivered that speech at Upington, 'Adapt or Die'. When he virtually clung to me, clung was the wrong word because he never really clung to any person, it would be wrong to say that, but he held my arm."
. OK page 10, now we're on page 11. "He said something about the international mood being against him and that he won't be subjugated, he won't bend, but he did realise the impact. If I would say today this and that, even if he did realise what impact it would have, he wouldn't have changed his speech. He might have followed another route avoiding perhaps the impact of the speech but he wouldn't have accepted being pressurised into a speech which he didn't feel that he could - " That he could what? That he could deliver? My page 10. So this is his kind of, in Shakespearean terms - after Adapt or Die, after 'arm', same paragraph. "But he did realise the impact, he wouldn't have changed his speech, he might have followed another route avoiding perhaps the impact of the speech but he wouldn't have accepted being pressurised into a speech which he didn't feel that he could - " there's a word missing.
KC. Call his own.
POM. "Personally I believe that it was contrary to the cause that he had adopted, namely of reforming South Africa in a disciplined way." Now was he not able to see the contradictions between - ?
KC. "Personally I believe it was contrary to the cause that he had adopted." Now that 'cause' it's rather course, the course that he had adopted. I repeated that.
POM. "Namely of reforming SA in a disciplined manner."
KC. In other words what he did here was to create havoc. The financial markets turned against us, to mention one, and this gave momentum to the UDF and so forth.
POM. But could he not see it, he was an astute intelligent person, could he not foresee the consequences of his own actions?
KC. I can't argue with you. I'm telling you it was contrary to the course he had adopted, namely of reforming in a disciplined manner, in other words an orderly manner, a planned manner, and here we go off the rails. You must make a list where we could argue whether it was good or it was bad. Just in this case I say, a personal opinion, that it was contrary to the course that he had adopted. The course, that's the way we do it. A disciplined, orderly manner and, voop, here is something disorderly.
POM. Now continued on tape 2, the end of the first paragraph. "We can't continue with a policy based on separate - " Development? What?
KC. My favourite expression was we can't make progress with a policy based on separate entrances and separate benches. That illustrates exactly what -
POM. OK, this is a little bit further on.
KC. I just want to say to you, if ever you want to write about me, I say it in all humility, you must give me an opportunity together with you to revisit my background because this is only a very small part of this. I have been thinking about it because some other interlocutors have been asking me the same question, "But what prompted you? How did it come about?" I'm giving you my background in a Jewish firm, but this is only a small piece of the puzzle, this is only a small piece of the puzzle. Elsewhere you are also questioning others but this is a small piece and I would really like to take you through my forming years.
POM. Upbringing, I will do that. That's the context for who you are. When you were in court, you answered this in a way, but it's something that fascinates me, you were in court and you said most of your clients were blacks who had been accused of violating the apartheid laws.
KC. I talked about criminal law in general but I said many of them were also - and I didn't like it, influx control, we're talking about that. I said they were also accused of contravening apartheid laws, primarily the influx control. In other words a sub-heading of apartheid laws, primarily influx control.
POM. So what argument would you make on their behalf if you're defending them, what argument would you make on their behalf in defence?
KC. I know what would have been a very nice answer, but I would mostly get them off on technical points.
POM. OK, that was the way in which they were - ?
KC. The charge sheet was framed, identification, you could confuse the prosecuting officer, the municipal policemen, it was quite easy. Mostly on technical points, I'm talking about this category. The black people thought I was just great because I was very much involved with the law there and there were many decisions favouring or helping, so it went very smoothly. But I know what you're looking for, you're looking for a great speech with a moral side to it.
POM. No, no.
KC. But my friend, here is a sausage process, fifty people on Mondays picked up over the weekend and the commissioner, and they were sent to both courts. Later on I ventured to change that position, I used my experience. When I sat down with the officials and I said to them, that is the position in the Magistrate's Court and that is the situation in the Commissioner Court, they were baffled because in the Justice Department they didn't know what was going on in the other one and I brought them together. And later on the Commissioner Courts were abolished but, as I said, the point I'm trying to make to you is that I think you must visualise a Monday morning with fifty people arraigned for contravening influx control, people who have been visiting over the weekend, children visiting their parents, parents visiting their children, parents bringing their youngsters to grandparents to be cared for. And they were all standing ready with their pound or their two rand or five rand to pay as a penalty. You understand? Then they would go, they would leave and then in a month's time it would be repeated. But as a part of their budget there was always provision for this kind of thing.
POM. So part of their budget they would put aside the two rand or the five rand to pay for being fined for violating the influx control law?
KC. Building contractors, as in the USA in California, there are culprits and villains all over the world not only here, in California you know for a fact that it's a part of the budgetary process to provide for the arrest of Mexicans. Yes, yes, I saw it myself how they provide for safe houses for these people. Yes. They come across the border, they work and the immigration officials would carry out a raid now here now there. So now and again as a regular feature of every town and city there were such raids, a cleaning up process they called it. In the building industry the best workers were those that worked with the sword above their head. Will they be protected by the boss if there is a raid? Yes the boss will protect them because they are the best, they were the better workers with the sword hanging above their head that can be ex-fluxed at a moment's notice. So cometh the Inspector the boss saw to it that they vanished for that time. Yes, that's what happened. So there would be penalties if the Inspector wasn't paid a little, there would be penalties. In every building operation there was item X being fines and penalties for influx workers contrary to the law.
POM. Did you come out of this with your expressed love of justice, this is really unjust, this has to go?
KC. The point is that people would argue why didn't Coetsee, why didn't, for that matter Louis Nel, for that matter Pik Botha, if we had seen the light why didn't we join another party, why did we allow ourselves to be drawn into this and stay there knowing all this? But then my friend nothing would have happened in this country. If we had left this situation to the right wingers we would have still been there, perhaps we would have had a bloody revolution.
POM. Is that why when, that was the very first question I asked you, when De Klerk said: - "The people who structured apartheid and put it on the books were not evil. Apartheid was in its idealistic form a plan to make all the people of South Africa free." Many people I've talked to have made a differentiation between grand apartheid and said petty apartheid, separate entrances and separate benches, influx control, things like that were wrong, forced removals wrong, but that the idea to design independent -
KC. What happened was, and you were not here during the formation years, is that you had a grand plan but in its application it wasn't, as with all grand plans, not thought through to the very, very smallest detail. So how was that carried out? And in the name of that grand apartheid, forced removals, it becomes then permissible, not even permissible, it becomes a must. You understand? So at the executive level people were justified but you can't arrive at the grand ideal unless you have mean and small measures and I think this is what happened and I approved, with only Helen Suzman as a lonely voice at times, of the removal of people from here to there. I did that at the committee, it's there for the record. I believed it was in their interests. Now and again we would be faced with the dismal picture of not improving their situation but actually a deteriorating situation, there may be pain in between, that is the case. I am aware of decisions on forced removals that went wrong, at least the execution of the decision went wrong and decisions were withdrawn eventually. A man who was very sensitive about the fairness of it was MC Botha, he is no longer alive. But that was the situation and to arrive there, yes, yes, yes, let's do that at the following. Petty apartheid I would say was more the entrances, the separate benches, than the pass laws. I told you before that Louis le Grangé and myself ventured to change the law forbidding a family to be joined. You remember, let's not go into detail, just accept there were provisions making it impossible for -
POM. For a wife to join her husband, OK.
KC. And children especially. And Louis le Grangé and myself came with a motion wanting to put an end to that and we argued that we're going to pay a very high price, very dearly for this and so forth. Connie was then already minister, or was he still the MC? And we were shot down, we were flattened, but I can recall many of our colleagues in the NP who became vociferous supporters afterwards for reform, kept very quiet then but it's all in the game that people look after their own skins. But I can recall that evidence. But we were flattened on account of that. Now if I look at myself I could have come with, and I should have perhaps come with a public outcry. Then I wouldn't have been able to achieve anything.
POM. You would have been marginalised within your own party.
KC. Yes. I never conceded really on one thing and that is unfairness and injustice. Now this is relative. You can define that as something in my own mind, justify in my position. Very well, it's up to you.
POM. You said, "One day I will talk to you about my exposure to the theory of the total onslaught and what goes on with that." What was your exposure to it and what was the theory you were exposed to? My page 13 just after you've gone by the Supreme Court, you were a member of the Side Bar of the Supreme Court.
KC. Here you say, "This must have been an awful moral - here you are, you're four things, you're a member of parliament, you're an aspiring political figure, you were defending black people", and, "You ask yourself how can this continue? And you say no it can't." "But did you ever say it's wrong?" That's why I say I'm aware of what you may call my moral dilemma but this was, I believe a dilemma in which John Vorster found himself and he had to make a choice, every one of us, most of us, put it that way. Some of us believed that, well most of us believed that we were doing the right thing at the right time under given circumstances. You were on the other side of the thinking process at that time, I know you were. What you perhaps did not realise, which you perhaps judged, was just it was immoral to stay there, get away, come out, pronounce. I didn't stay there as a spy or a mole. John Vorster didn't stay there as a spy and a mole in Verwoerd's cabinet although the moment he was in position he changed the sports policy to make it more representative. That doesn't make you a spy or a mole.
POM. But that's why I asked you at the beginning, if you recall my first question, it was if he had lived would the direction of reform in SA have been accelerated?
KC. Yes, I said to you he would have been in the same dilemma as PW, a lack of availability of constitutional models, constitutional thinking and then his make up was slightly different from PW's.
POM. He wasn't as dictatorial - well it was a different system, it was also a prime ministerial -
KC. A different system.
POM. The system was now a presidential system.
KC. And he relied very heavily on his oratory to persuade people, John Vorster, with success. He could persuade people, he could persuade a large audience. Small audiences, large audiences, any size. The larger the audience the more effective he was.
POM. So he was the best Afrikaner orator that you - ?
KC. That I ever listened to? John Vorster.
POM. Funny, Van Zyl Slabbert says the best he's ever listened to is Eugene Terre'Blanche. He said that he has a gift for the Afrikaans language, that he is actually poetic-like when he speaks in Afrikaans.
KC. This is something different. He's talking of this man's command of the Afrikaans language and how - of course yes, look the influence he had on people, what made them commit certain things. I'm talking of arguing without notes, without invoking the emotional stratagem. I'm talking about John Vorster addressing the emotion, addressing the logic, addressing the two combined. John Vorster.
POM. The total onslaught, can you talk a little bit about that?
KC. You're still looking for those reports on the Christian Institute?
KC. You haven't got hold of them yet?
KC. I'm not evading your question but I notice you've skipped that one.
POM. No this was just before that.
KC. Oh is this before this?
POM. You were talking about being an officer in the defence force. "That's where my knowledge comes from, the defence force. I went on several courses. I will have to talk to you about my exposure to the theory of the total onslaught and what goes with that."
KC. I want to take you back to the seventies. There was Taiwan, Israel, South Africa, Chile and the United States and Russia. Communist Russia was becoming more and more expansionist in its thinking. Russia started to gather economic influence in Africa, it was the dam in Egypt, it started to spread - wasn't that in the time of the Kennedys then? We're talking the time of the Kennedys, and the communists as seen then stopped at nothing in their expansionism. Communist China also to a certain extent and the smaller non-aligned countries with policies that would be more comfortable with the west and their economic policies I think feared the expansionism of the communists, Russians/communists. In that process they developed military theories taken from the experience of the old Chinese commanders and taken from the experience of the Germans, taken from the experience of the second world war and they came up with the philosophy and the belief that you could counter the communists who were pulling out all the stops, using all disciplines, propaganda, economic measures, everything, to bring down a country. In other words the response would be then to pull out all stops and use every possible discipline, every possible capability as an answer. So that then gave rise to the total onslaught policy but it was not PW Botha who developed it, it was not the SA Defence Force. South African officers were sent on courses to Israel, Taiwan and Chile where they got exposed to the total onslaught, total response theory using all possible capabilities. Our defence force accepted that this would be then the solution but responding then also with all your capabilities included politics, included politics. In other words you also have to come up with political solutions, also have to come up with economic upliftment, economic programmes if the communists were to exploit your lack of economic upliftment, socio-economic upliftment, you must respond in that area. That's what it meant.
. Professor Louw, a very liberal thinker, lectured at Pretoria, Wits, several universities, and I've brought along one of his publications (it is in Afrikaans or it could be in English I'm not sure), Charlie Louw. I was a young parliamentarian in my second year when a few of us got invited to listen to him and he said, I remember, "Yes, the total onslaught, the total strategy may be well, may be good, but do you realise that this includes the art of negotiation? Because if you want to bring about political solutions you must bring this about through negotiation." I'm giving you very early thinking which was encouraged by the defence force at the time and it's from this then that they developed the pronouncement which PW often used, and Magnus Malan afterwards, that SA's survival depends on an 80% political solution and only 20% military. You're aware of that? It's in that context that you must understand it, but it's in that context also that a man like Charlie Louw addressed audiences on the question of what then is 80% political solution, what does it mean? Come and tell me. Challenge. Then his political models, he always explained almost in a mathematical manner and Charlie at least impressed upon me that that 80% is to be achieved through negotiation. That's what I meant that I must tell you about the exposure which I had. Then when I became Deputy Minister of Defence after some time we had refined the total strategy which meant that we must first convince the defence force to start thinking in that mould, 80%/20%, that they must exert influence to get people to accept 80%/20%. Remember we were then safely ensconced. We were safely ensconced in government in 1978, 1977/78 when I became deputy minister. We were safely ensconced and yet we talked of change. Change from what? If we say 80% political solution what did that mean? You understand what I'm trying to convey to you, that people's minds were then very active thinking about change. Now if we talk about 80% change what did it entail? Only the coloureds? Or what? PW was the first to say no definitely not, we can't stop there, if we say the coloureds we have to go on to the black people.
POM. Did he say that in a positive way or a negative way?
KC. Positive. He was a believer in Herzog and I must give you - of course that is another very important part of our history in this country, how did it come about that UDM got a kick start through our acceptance of the Erica Theron Report introducing the coloureds into parliament, leaving out the black people. So I was deputy minister and we were searching, we were just working with concepts.
POM. Just because I'm confused with your narrative - if PW said, no that means blacks and he said it in a positive way then why did he bring in the tricameral parliament which excluded blacks when he could have expected there would have been a massive backlash, or excluded Africans when he could have expected there would have been a massive backlash from the Americans?
KC. He was told that by no other people than - I was already in cabinet, that was 1983 - he was told that by ... van der Merwe and myself and we considered voting, asking for a vote in cabinet, the two of us, Free Staters, because we said there would be a backlash. We said it's going to fail, we're going to come under undue pressure. The people in the Western Cape said, no we can't wait for that, we must have the coloureds and Indians now, we can't wait. The Erica Theron Commission only dealt with coloured people and the Indians, indirectly with the Indians, directly with the coloured people. And the people of the Western Province were pressing for bringing back the coloured people into parliament. That's what happened.
POM. Where was PW?
KC. PW accepted that. He conceded to the pressure of bringing the blacks now and immediately proceeded with efforts to bring in black people. That's where Chris Heunis's committee comes in, where certain draft legislation comes in and so forth. That's why I say let's come back to this one. Make a note, we'll come back to this.
KC. Now in 1978, then we were asking ourselves within the defence force, what does it all mean? What does it all entail? We worked out, and I must now confess, as the military can only do we worked out in broad terms, broad principles of a total commitment on the part of the defence force and activating every capability in this country to bring about stability and so forth. And here in Cape Town at the Nico Malan, my impression was the Nico Malan not the Good Hope Centre, we had a meeting with a large contingent of officers and in the course, and I was then deputy minister and Magnus was head of the defence force, and in our submissions and in our lectures that we delivered we touched on the various authorities in the country and one of them got up and he said, "Well, if the defence force or whatever is used on a mission to carry out any instruction and in that process they contravene the laws or act contrary to an authority, what is the position?" And I went to the podium and I said, "Everyone is subject to the law. This does not mean that any defence force activity, any other departmental activity could put itself above the law." I was speaking as Deputy Minister of Defence. It was an Air Force officer who asked me that. I didn't ask him whether he was satisfied or if he accepted it or whatever, I was so certain of this. The result was a lot of tension between Magnus and myself, a lot, a lot of tension. We never really came to finalise this between us, there was a lot of tension on that tour of the country and for some time afterwards. It then disappeared but it's something that I couldn't forget, I couldn't forget.
. Subsequently it just seemed to me in some military quarters they developed a belief that the rest of the state apparatus, government departments, cannot be trusted with the 80% political solution, that they also have to supervise that and also have to manage the 80% solution. You understand what I'm saying? So in a sense that belief had to be - in a sense they were correct. Some of the departments moved too slowly, didn't understand, clung to their positions, but it's not for the military to oversee them because that could give rise to an unacceptable situation and in some quarters it did. I think that was at the basis of some of the police actions to believing that they could place themselves above the law. I want to say to you today I never conceded on this, I never conceded on this. I was never challenged on this either, not by PW nor by anyone. That accounts for the reason why all these activities were conducted underground, they never dared to surface. You accept that? Now you know me better. I know that didn't increase my popularity. I didn't care. I knew I was right. I stuck to my guns. It came from the days when I was Deputy Minister of Defence, everything must be done within the ambit of the law.
POM. Do you want to hold it there?
KC. I was given to understand by PW Botha, and I wasn't aspiring there, I wasn't after that, during my first year of being the deputy minister and well into the second year he talked to me once or twice during small cabinet shuffles and he said to me "You must now prepare yourself to take over from me as Minister of Defence." And then the last six months there was a change.
POM. Was that after you gave that speech?
KC. I think there was a stage -
POM. In the last six months -
KC. I will have to check but in the last six months there was a change of attitude from PW.
POM. Towards? That's the last six months, while he was there?
KC. As Minister of Defence.
POM. Oh, OK.
KC. And he was Prime Minister, we had another President, Marais Viljoen. It was Marais and before him it was Diederichs wasn't it? Yes. There was a slight change and it worried me but not unduly. Then after two years there was a cabinet reshuffle, I was then almost the senior deputy minister and by normal standards I would have ranked, if I became a minister, number seven in cabinet. PW introduced from the outside Gerrit Viljoen, Magnus Malan, I think Dawie, who else? And junior deputy ministers, he made ministers of Pietie du Plessis and Magnus, Gerrit Viljoen and someone else he introduced as minister and he shoved me down to the penultimate junior position in cabinet.
POM. Which was?
KC. I became Minister of Justice but I was now number 13. I went to see him and he said, "You must just accept this". So there I was with a senior portfolio, Justice being a very senior portfolio, and I was a junior minister.
POM. When you say junior minister?
KC. In the sense that I was down the line, I was number 13.
POM. How would you be ranked?
KC. I was number 16 or 17.
POM. But how, this is just because I don't know, how were ministers ranked in terms of their importance?
KC. No, no, you attain a position as a senior deputy minister, which is really senior, you understand? I was a senior deputy minister, we were six and I was the senior of them.
POM. How do you get a number designated to you?
KC. No, no, that's just seniority. In terms of protocol it's used, you're senior or you're not a senior and you're a senior to Ambassadors, you're senior to Administrators, you're senior to outsiders. You understand? We're through that principle, and he punished me for my sins but he did me a hell of a favour. PW did me a hell of a favour because I said to myself, I am going to become the Minister of Justice in this country. I'm giving you a bit of my own background. I promised myself I am going to become the Minister of Justice. Alwyn Schlebusch was then the leader of the Free State, speaking from the Free State, and he was going on to become the President of the President's Council or something which was then comparable to the Senate. He was Minister of Justice for a very short while and I was told by Chris Heunis, I'm giving you now, this is not for publication, it's off the record, one day you clear it with me, Chris Heunis, we were rather friends at the time, he said to me, "Listen, I was present when they discussed the new cabinet and PW said what to do with him? And Alwyn Schlebusch said - "
POM. What to do with him? Referring to you?
KC. Yes. And Alwyn Schlebusch said, "Give him Justice, the judges will demolish him in six months time." I was there for 14 years, the longest ever. I wonder how many people regretted this day. I promised myself I would be the Minister of Justice so he did me a hell of a favour pushing me down in seniority to that position. It was very personal. We're talking about the things that -
POM. What I don't understand is the ranking, again, seniority. You, with the length of service you had put in as deputy minister, if you came in as a full minister you would normally come in seventh in terms of seniority, that is number of years in a ministerial position.
KC. Seniority in parliament, deputy ministry, protocol. I would have been more or less seventh.
POM. But then when he brought you in he said, "I'm bringing you in as - I'm reducing your seniority."
KC. If I remember correctly he brought in six above me, six, so it could have been, say, number eight or ten or nine, but he brought in six people above me.
POM. So did he name them in terms of like, I name -
KC. Yes, yes.
POM. That's the way it worked. I name my Minister of Finance and if I name him first then he ranks first.
KC. Then my Minister of Defence.
POM. If I rank him second then he's number two and if I get down the line -
KC. The way you're announced, because he announced the appointments and then he said, "The cabinet will be", and then he announced to you place in the cabinet which is of awful importance because that silences you or not in cabinet. You understand?
POM. So he said number one in my cabinet is, number two, number three, number four, number five, number six, and everyone is sitting there waiting for their placing.
KC. Yes but no-one was pulled outside their place except me. As I say, he did me a hell of a favour.
POM. I know you're running late.
KC. You're sure we should work tomorrow?
POM. Oh yes. I'm the task master.
KC. Now I'm starting to talk about myself and that was wrong.
POM. Well that's OK, now we'll go back tomorrow to Patti.
KC. I did say on purpose, not by inclination, on purpose because you were asking me about my background.
POM. That's all right. I need to get that.
KC. What made me tick.
POM. I've got to get into your head. Tomorrow we will concentrate completely on our friend.
KC. How many hours?
POM. As long as it takes.
KC. No, no, we can't do that because I have to fly out, my flight is 17.45 and I have to leave here one and a half hours before then because it takes me about half an hour to the airport from here if the road is open. So till four fifteen.
POM. OK we'll do from ten to four.
KC. I'll have to pack.
POM. Ten to three.
KC. Perfect. That gives us about five hours. I don't like it when you're so focused!
POM. I haven't even been getting really focused yet. You have her notes right? It might help you if I left mine with you, only just things that are marked.
KC. You give me an awful strain by wanting me to go through her notes again and I've done so before. The point I'm trying to make is that I would like this issue to perhaps end - the package in such a way that there is no come-back and I know it's possible to have it that way. On the other hand I'm making it up myself. If I could add weight to the thinking, the current thinking now that general amnesty is the only answer, I would like to do that. But at the same time I don't want to come out as the man who put out general amnesty and now I'm all of a sudden supporting these other people. No, they phoned to support me, all of them, at the right time.
POM. They being?
KC. The NP as well as the ANC advisors eventually. Those who saw in this an opportunity to catch flies of the NP did very well, they succeeded and they planned it very carefully. Who are they? Who are they that wanted to wreck this government of national unity and saw an opportunity? Politically they've scored but they are bringing this country to the brink of standstill and anarchy and perhaps something worse and that's what I want to avoid. That's what I want to avoid. So a timeous intervention from the State President, the government, could bring this to a halt but that would mean intervening at the right time, that is after the Truth Commission has filed its report and after they are faced with the magnitude of unsolved cases, the atmosphere, etc. This morning's newspapers carry material saying that -
POM. 200 people.
KC. Yes but they are taking it further now. The Act says people should be put on their guard and given an opportunity to reply. I don't know whether there's a letter waiting for me as well. The point is that they're doing now what stands in the Act but they now construe it as though another effort to move closer to Nuremberg, that might have ... and exactly they're creating, and I want to tell you, very few jurists, lawyers, are going to see through this thing. They're going to be guided by the front page of the report and I know exactly what kind of heat this is going to generate. This is going from bad to worse.
POM. I would see an outline of the task being the history of the amnesty process, a factual compilation of conversations, of agreements, of the implementation of those agreements, of the documentation of those agreements; of how subsequent developments developed; of what those developments were; of what were the reactions to those developments; of what conversations and bilaterals or unilaterals or whatever took place as a result of that; again, of documentation, not one person's opinion, but documentation of each point made and nothing is asserted as a fact unless it can be backed up by actual documentation or by at least a couple of sources, not one source, at least a couple; how the process fell apart and why; how the TRC emerged; how the TRC has operated; what have been the consequences for the country in terms of the TRC; what has been left undone in terms of the pursuit of either justice, truth or reconciliation; what legacy is being left to the country in the wake of the operation of the TRC; what are the policy options available to the President to deal with the situation and start the kind of reconciliation that he had initially embarked upon; what must he do if it falls back into his hands to either put it like general amnesty for everybody and say enough has been done; and how that should be done and handled.