About this site

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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

04 Dec 1999: Hartzenberg, Ferdi

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POM. Dr Hartzenberg, I just see in front of me a copy of the Volkstaat Council's final report. Perhaps we could start with that, what conclusions the Volkstaat Council came to and what recommendations it has made with regard to the way forward?

FH. Actually I think the Volkstaat Council, the final conclusion that it came to is that it recommended various scenarios: a volkstaat in the Northern Cape, a volkstaat in other areas, and other areas with lesser powers, and then also a situation what with the people outside those areas. I think it made a contribution to the current thinking that is taking place and that is that we must start with minority rights. You have noticed that a lot of people, academics and poets and so on, that they also said –

POM. Breyten Breytenbach?

FH. Breyten Breytenbach, minority rights is the solution for South Africa. I think at this moment the idea of minority rights –

POM. By the way, just off hand since I never did lay my hands on a copy of their actual statement that they issued, the 24 academics and intellectuals, you wouldn't happen to have a copy of that?

FH. No, I haven't got a copy. I've only read in the newspapers. But you see I think that is one, it is a symptom. They say minority rights and that is the idea that is taking root in SA, that we have a constitution and there are individual rights but there is no provision for groups and group rights. There are references in the constitution but nothing in practice.

POM. How would you distinguish between what is an individual right and what is a group right?

FH. Well an individual right is the Bill of Rights that is in the constitution. It is only for an individual.

POM. But the Law Commission, as I recall, said that a Bill of Rights was the best way of protecting group rights.

FH. A Bill of Rights, that is exactly what is not the case. That was also an experience of the United Nations. In 1945 when the UN was formed there was a stipulation in the Charter of the UN that minority rights and even self-determination of peoples must be recognised and then, of course, individual rights. But of minority rights and group rights it was not implemented in practice. It was only individual rights, a Bill of Rights for individuals and human rights. And then it became clear that the most important human right is a minority right and that you cannot exercise individually, you can only exercise it as a group collectively. If I say I want my children to get education in Afrikaans and I am the only person, then it is impractical to expect it, but if all the other Afrikaners say yes, we also want education in the mother tongue and the mother tongue is Afrikaans, then you can exercise that right but as a group.

. Therefore, for that reason in the international world they realise that to prohibit conflict you must grant rights to groups in order to give them the necessary security and it developed into such an extent that you have a situation where they now say that the group can determine their political status and the nation which is a minority must be in a position where it can determine its own political status without discriminating or damaging the rights of other groups. But that is how far things have developed in the international world and I think SA is at the moment at the same stage where the UN was in 1945. We have a Bill of Rights but no rights for minorities and that is taking place, that way of thinking is taking place in SA and I think it's a good thing. That is a good starting point.

POM. Outside of Afrikaners you don't see any, at least I haven't seen any concerted effort by other groups such as Zulus or Vendas or Swazi or whatever to look for mother tongue education, schools of their own, institutions of their own.

FH. But the fact is that a right for minorities doesn't depend on the fact whether other minorities want it or they do not want it. If they want it of course it must be there in the constitution for every group that claims it but if a group doesn't claim it then of course you can't force it to have it but if a group wants minority rights then it must be available.

POM. In this context how would you define group?

FH. Well it can be a religious group, it can be a cultural group and it even can be a nation like the Afrikaner nation or the Zulu nation or the Tswana nation.

POM. So how would you see this working in practice? Say you had a town where 70% of the people were black or African, or say 60% were African and 10% were coloured, 10% were Afrikaans, 10% were Venda, 10% were Swazi, and also within that framework you had of the 100% you had 50% who were Catholic and 50% who were Protestant and they all said we're on one basis, we're African, coloured, Afrikaner, Venda and Swazi, we each want a group right with regard to education and cultural rights and a form of cultural self-determination. And then they re-split again along religious lines and the 50% who were Catholic said we want our own schools and that might be composed of Afrikaners, Swazis, whatever, and another 50% said we want Protestant schools. How would you - ?

FH. Yes but it happens. Take for instance a place like Pretoria. There are Catholic schools in Pretoria, the convents, it is all over the country. Not in every town because you haven't got enough children. In a town like Lichtenburg where I came from there are not enough Catholics but there is a convent in Klerksdorp and in Potchefstroom and there is one in Pretoria. The Catholic people from Lichtenburg they send their children to Klerksdorp or Potchefstroom, the people from Warmbaths send their children to Pretoria. There are Afrikaans medium schools, there were Afrikaans medium schools in Pretoria. There are English medium schools, there are Venda medium schools. That is the right thing to have. There's nothing wrong with it and minority rights – you see the UN, I haven't got the document with me at the moment but there is one of the declarations of the UN, it is the Covenant on Political and Social Rights, on Economic and Cultural Rights, those documents state that a child is entitled to have education in his mother tongue and the state must make the resources available to make it possible for the children. So what it amounts to is that they say, they define a lot of areas in which you can exercise minority rights because in certain areas it is very difficult. But in a mixed population like SA you can have in the same area, in Pretoria, you can have Afrikaans medium schools, you can have Venda medium schools, you can have Jewish schools, you can have German schools. That is one of the things that is practical, applicable, it is education.

. Then they say you are not only entitled to education but media. The Afrikaans speaking people in SA they are entitled to have their own media, their newspapers, television and so on. They are entitled to have their own health services, they can have hospitals, old age people they can take care of them, pensions, welfare, it is one of the areas in which it is practical to have minority rights. They define it, I think it is about 14 or 15 things it is practical to have it in. You have in Pretoria a boy's high school and you have an Afrikaans hoer, two schools a kilometre from each other, Afrikaans and English. You have other schools. So that is practical and that is something that the international community has discovered, that you create tension when you force people to one school with one medium of instruction but it is not the mother tongue of many of the children. So what is happening at the moment, the government's policy is they want English as the medium of instruction because they think they can create a new nation through the melting pot and that is not what is the experience all over the world. In a hundred years time – and the problem is if Afrikaans children are forced to have education not in their mother tongue you are not going to develop their potential to the maximum, and the same thing with the black children. If you force a Venda not to have primary education in his mother tongue perhaps he will not reach secondary education as a result of the fact that he is struggling with another language which is not his mother tongue. So you mustn't use the school to teach the children only one language. You must use his mother tongue to develop the potential of every child to the maximum.

POM. Let's just go back to hospitals. Let's say you have hospitals that cater to Vendas. Now it wouldn't be Vendas only. Like if I came along and said – ?

FH. Of course, if you're there and you're in trouble you must be allowed, but the fact is –

POM. If I was in trouble, as a non-Venda I want to go and be in a Venda hospital, would I be excluded because I wasn't a Venda?

FH. No, no, I don't think so. Of course there would be a practical thing and that is the fees and the finances. If, say, for instance the Venda people are granted the right to run their own hospitals, their own schools and they do it properly and it is a good standard and all the other people who are not contributing because it is also stipulated in the declarations of the UN that a nation and a people have the right to exercise certain minority rights, the state must make provision for the finances either by a grant or by a certain tax that is excluded, it doesn't go to the central fund, it is going for that specific thing. Now if that is the case you will not refuse a Venda, the Vendas will not refuse you if you come there, they will accommodate you but if you utilise their facilities and you don't contribute then there must be a practical agreement. Are the government going to pay for your hospitalisation if it is free or are you going to do it yourself or what will the position be? But it will be available for everybody. You see the UN say a minority is entitled to minority rights and that includes the right to decide who is part of that minority. Otherwise, if the minority haven't the right to decide that the instruction will be Venda, the mother tongue, but a lot of other people arrive at the school and they are the majority and they decide no, it will not be Venda, it will be Sotho of course then there are no minority rights, then it is still the majority who are taking the decision. The minority rights mean that the minority can exercise their minority rights and they can decide who will enjoy that right.

POM. That's in a sense exclusionary, that each group has the right to decide who belongs to the group.

FH. That's right, yes. Say, for instance, it is Venda education then they can decide, well all children, Venda children, are of course welcome and the other children they will have to decide whether they can accommodate and how many they can accommodate otherwise it will not be a Venda school any more.

POM. Say I'm a black person and I have been raised in Afrikaans, I am the offspring of children who went to school in the 1970s when an attempt was made to make Afrikaans the medium of education in all schools, and let's say that I had gone to an Afrikaans school and my wife had gone to an Afrikaans school and we spoke Afrikaans at home and our children spoke Afrikaans and now I come along and I want to go to an Afrikaans school.

FH. Theoretically they are then Afrikaans speaking people. They will then be Afrikaans speaking people but I don't think you will get that in practice.

POM. I know but I'm just saying –

FH. I say theoretically. If their mother tongue is Afrikaans and they want to be educated in their mother tongue then of course if they are Afrikaans speaking, if the mother tongue is Afrikaans then of course but I don't think in practice you will get such a situation because in the seventies let us assume that the statement is correct, that it was tried to force Afrikaans into the black schools (I don't agree with that one but let us accept it for argument's sake), then I say it was wrong to force the people. And for the same reason it is wrong to force Afrikaans speaking people and Venda speaking people now to have education in English. It's the same, it is exactly the same situation. In the seventies mother tongue education was the best thing and in the nineties and in the next millennium it will still be the best medium of instruction.

POM. Just to take one final example, say if I became a citizen here and brought my children (don't have any but if I had children), they came here and I decided that I wanted to have them educated in an Afrikaans speaking school, now obviously I would not be an Afrikaner, I wouldn't be defined as part of that school but as an individual exercising my individual right I want my child to be educated in the language of my choice and my choice is that I want the child to be educated in Afrikaans. Would the Afrikaans school accept them?

FH. If I can take the UN declarations, they say the Afrikaner people are entitled to Afrikaans medium schools and they have the right to decide who will be allowed in and if you come and you say I want my children to become Afrikaners and therefore they must have education in Afrikaans then they will have to decide how many. If it is only one they will most probably say, yes we can afford it, but if you are thousands will they be able to afford it and to maintain the same standard of education and if there is a danger that if they allow more other people then they will again become a minority without a school. So I think in that case practical things will determine whether it is possible or whether it is not possible, but in principle they can allow you if they want to.

POM. Would you see this, because I think this would be an important consideration, as the funding for separate schools?

FH. There are two things, it is the funding and the second thing is to maintain the character of the school. Say for instance Afrikaans in Pretoria, it is an Afrikaans medium high school and it is near Loftus, there are 1000 children there. Boys High is a kilometre away from there. If all the Afrikaans high school boys say we want to go to Boys High but there are only 500 pupils in Boys High we are now becoming one school then there will be 1000 Afrikaans speaking children and 500 English speaking and it will not be an English speaking school any more. That will not be fair to the English speaking people. That is looking for trouble, it is not looking for solutions. So if it is a natural thing of course there will be no problem. If there are, well some of my relatives are in Boys High School for the reason to learn English but it is a small minority and they are not there to change the school, they are there to adapt to the school. But the fact is if people have political motives and they want to change the school, and that is what is happening now with our Afrikaans medium schools. We are a minority and now they say for the black parents, go to those schools, take your children to those schools so that you can be a majority so that you can change the medium of instruction, and that creates tension because that is not an educational objective, it is a political motive.

POM. For example, are Zulus more concerned about learning English than they are about Zulu? I'm just using Zulu as an example. Like looking at the world in which they live in, everything is in English.

FH. I think the black people, and as a matter of fact I've had a discussion with the previous President in this way. Neville Alexander he is a well known educationalist and he is ANC and he gave advice to the ANC in the previous years, but there was a conference on education in SA three or four years ago, Neville Alexander said there is no country in this world where pupils get education in a second language and that country has developed to the highest standard. Everywhere where pupils get education in a second language the country doesn't develop to its potential. That's what Neville Alexander said. Now the black people, I think the black people think they must get education in English and not in their own languages because they think their languages are not scientific, scientifically developed, it is not an academic language and it can't cope with all the scientific things. But the fact is that English is not their first language and for that reason they prohibit their own development. They place themselves in the category that Neville Alexander said. If you get education in a second language you will not develop to the highest standard.

. I said to Mr Mandela that I think what they must do, if they want to develop to the highest potential, they must do what the Afrikaners have done. 100 years ago Afrikaans was not a scientific language, it was not an academic language but certain Afrikaners like the people from Paarl, perhaps you have heard of them, the Language Movement, they started to develop it into a scientific language and into an academic language and our people themselves developed the language so that they can use the language and the people can be taught in Afrikaans and still achieve the highest potential. It was not necessary to be taught in a second language and that is exactly what the black people must do. They must develop their own languages into a scientific language so that the children can get their education in their mother tongue. But if they don't want to do it nobody can force them to do it. But Neville Alexander realises that you must get education in your mother tongue in order to develop to the highest. Then of course we say we agree totally with that one and we think it is not a political matter this, it's an educational matter.

POM. What do you describe as mother tongue?

FH. Mother tongue is your first language.

POM. That is the tongue that is spoken in the home?

FH. In your home, what you speak. You see if you want a child to develop really then the school must be an extension of what is happening in the house, the same culture, the same habits, the same language. If you take a child from a certain home where they have a certain religion, they speak a certain language, they have certain habits and things and you put in a totally different thing when he enters school, it is a total difference, it's too big the gap. But the school must be an extension of what is happening in the home so that he can be at ease, that he can take the education, he can absorb it.

POM. What if I am one of the black middle class and I'm living in a mixed area for ever and as parents we decide that the future lies in our children being raised in English, this is the global language, if you want to access the Internet this is the way you do it. If you go to international conferences this is the language that is spoken. It's kind of the world's language, if any language could be called that. And we decide that at home we will speak English and the child will begin, the child's first language will be English because that's what we will raise the child as. Does that then become the child's mother tongue?

FH. Of course, then it's the language that he is the most familiar with. But let me tell you this, I don't think it is necessary for the people in Poland or the people in Romania or the people in Russia to become English speaking in order to get their children to develop to the highest potential. That is not necessary. Although we cannot read Russian, if they make a discovery in their universities or their scientists taught in Russia, they can only speak the Russian language, and he is making a scientific breakthrough and he discovers something to deal with cancer, that will be translated tonight and you will be able to read it tomorrow. It is not necessary to change your language to become an international expert. You must be taught in the language which will enable you to develop to the highest. Then you will become an internationally recognised scientist on what you have done although it is in a small little language somewhere in the world. That scientific knowledge will be available to the world the next day.

POM. Let me ask you probably the obvious question which you must come up against all the time: what is the difference between defining minority rights in the way I think you have, giving the group the right to decide who is a member of the group and who is not a member of the group, what is the difference between that and what one might call separate development? Is that different from a restructure concept?

FH. Can I be a little bit naughty?

POM. Sure, please do.

FH. Separate development was not as bad as it was made out. It was not only a bad thing, there were also good aspects in separate development and for that reason, as a result of the fact that there were some areas which you can criticise, the whole thing was condemned and that was also not right because there were certain aspects. You see what you do now is you say if this is separate development then of course it is bad, but it is practised in the world and it's a good thing and there are aspects of separate development which were not bad. There were also of course areas which were not good.

POM. What areas would you point to that were good or were bad?

FH. Simply the whole idea was a very good idea. Separate freedom, it was to make everybody free in South Africa. But it was not pursued enough and then they started with negative aspects. Instead of creating opportunities for people they decided to prohibit people to do certain things and that was where things went wrong but in its original theory it was designed to be a good thing to all people and there were certain things that were very good as far as separate development is concerned. I think the universities that were created for the black people, the schools, the teachers' colleges, the fact that they had their own governments and that they could decide on their own affairs without interference, I think it was very good, there was nothing wrong with it, that was good, but not all the people were there under their control and as you have said in the seventies for the people not under control of their authorities the government decided Afrikaans should be the medium of instruction and that was not good. That was not good but I don't think the government decided that at that stage but if it was the case it was not good, it was bad.

POM. It would appear to me that an ANC government which looks like it is going to be in power for some time to come, that once you start talking about group rights, the right of groups to be excluded from either schools or health facilities or whatever, that this is little more than apartheid in a disguised form, or not even in a disguised form.

FH. I think that is not actually the case. Minority rights, well if you say minority rights is about that well then what is happening in Belgium, what is happening in the United Kingdom at the moment where the Scottish people are getting their own parliament while they're still part of the UK? Scottish people get education in their own language and the people of Wales. I think if, and I think that is a danger, I think it is going to happen that this government will not, they will hesitate, they will not be willing to grant minority rights for that reason but also for other reasons, because they want to control everything from the top. Even the judges now, this thing that they want to do, to get a judge and if he handled a case and he gives a sentence to a person he must come and explain it to a secret sort of body. That's absolute nonsense. In the US if the judges take a decision and they must come and explain to a political body appointed by the government why, then of course there's no independence of the judiciary and that is what this government is trying to do. They want to control every person, everything and for that reason they will hesitate. You know in 1945 when the UN was formed there was provision in the Charter for self-determination but it was not exercised in practice but they came to realise that they must give rights to certain groups, minorities, to deal with confrontation and those type of things. This government will have the same problem and I am afraid they are going to learn the hard way.

POM. But if I were the president and I was having a meeting with you and I said, Dr Hartzenberg, what's the difference between what you're proposing and basically a return to apartheid era practices, how would you answer that?

FH. The big difference will be previously this minority rights is there, it is available and if you want to exercise it you can do it. If you don't want to do you can say I refuse it, I want to have education in a second language. With the apartheid system there was no choice. There were Venda schools, or English schools for the Vendas, there were Tswana schools or English schools for the Tswanas and they were more or less in a position where they have little choice. There is the difference. Minority rights mustn't be forced upon people, it must be available and if they want to exercise that right they must be allowed to do that. They mustn't be forced.

POM. Let's look at the elections. You've put out there a lot of ideas and you put these ideas before the Afrikaner population and other like-minded parties like the Freedom Front also put out some like-minded ideas and even the NP with it's Afrikaner base put out some like-minded ideas. Among your own people you all failed miserably.

FH. No, no, I don't think so. If you take the whole, all the people, then of course it was a failure but if you take it amongst Afrikaner people and you put together all those groups which you are referring to then there is a substantial percentage of Afrikaans speaking people who realise the value of minority rights and, as I've said, I think it is still, that idea is still in the beginning stages. It will develop and it will grow and people will go for it.

POM. The performance of your own party and the performance of the Freedom Front?

FH. It was not good, that we realise and we say so but the fact is –

POM. Have you and General Viljoen or other like-minded people gotten together and analysed why?

FH. We are doing it now after the election. Actually the right thing should have been to do it before and that was what we tried to do but you know how politics are. People have their own ideas. But now at this stage we are doing it and the only alternative for what we have at the moment is group rights and if you take the history of the world, the Soviet Union was a union where everything was controlled from the top and it couldn't last. The interests of minorities were responsible for the fact that the union broke up and there are different states now. So there is no unitary state in the world which could last for ever.

POM. How would you explain the poor performance of the CP and of the FF which lost, the NP which lost votes?

FH. I think what is happening now, it is not a position that will remain the same but the fact is that the Democratic Party made good progress, "Fight Back", fight the government, and a lot of our people voted for them.

POM. They took a substantial amount of votes.

FH. They took a substantial amount of our people, they voted for them because they thought somebody will be able to hit the ANC on the nose and they thought that Tony Leon will be the man to do that. So that is how politics develops.

POM. You and General Viljoen on the one hand were presenting them with, "We must assert ourselves, we must make minority rights a reality. This is the way we will survive." And Tony Leon was saying, "Fight back, I'll punch the ANC on the nose", and they chose to vote for him rather than to vote for minority rights. Why?

FH. That is right, because they thought he will stop, he will be able to stop the ANC and then perhaps there will be a different dispensation.

POM. But he wasn't talking about minority rights or anything like that.

FH. No he didn't talk about minority rights. Actually he was very vague in that respect because he didn't reject it as well.

POM. Would you not read – one reading, one possible reading is to say you put your ideas of the direction in which Afrikaners should go before the Afrikaner people and they rejected you wholesale?

FH. Can I give you one example? That doesn't mean that that will remain the situation for ever. There was a stage where the DP, Helen Suzman, was the only member in parliament, they were totally rejected but she advocated a certain thing and ultimately that became the policy in SA and that is the new dispensation and now they are fighting the dispensation. So people change their minds along the way.

POM. What proportion of the vote did the NP have in 1943?

FH. 1959 the predecessor of the DP was formed, the Progressive Party.

POM. I'm talking about the NP.

FH. The NP in 1943 had about 43 seats. The DP in Helen Suzman's time had one member in parliament and now the majority of the white people voted for them. So things change and it will change again.

POM. Do you see yourself – you talked last year, or your hope that before the election there would be some kind of alliance formed among parties who had like-minded ideas.

FH. That's right but it didn't materialise. We went ahead, we formed the Afrikaner Unity Movement and the CP didn't participate in the election but the Afrikaner Unity Movement did because that was our idea. We must bring together all the people and parties who believe in this way of thinking. But of course it was not possible but from grassroots level there were people from all groups and they formed the Afrikaner Unity Movement and we supported it, we said we will stand back in favour of this Unity Movement because that is the right thing. We made a little bit of progress and it was a good start. We think it was a good start, it could have been better but we must now go ahead with it, we must support it and, as I said, the academics now are starting to demand minority rights. So it's a good sign and I think minority rights in future will be the thing that will save the country.

POM. If you were to review the decade, as this is our last formal interview before I get down to actually trying to make sense of ten years of work, the Conservative Party began ten years ago when I came here as a very powerful political force in the country and ten years later, in terms of politics that is, representation in parliament or whatever, it is insignificant. Reviewing the decade what would you attribute that precipitous decline to?

FH. I think the fact is that of course we realise that the dispensation that we have now, we opposed it. In 1982 when the NP changed its policy we realised that it will end up with this dispensation that we have now and that it will not be the final solution for SA, therefore we opposed it. But now it is there and I think all the old parties of the previous dispensation are declining, the NP is declining, the CP is declining and for that reason something new will have to be formed.

POM. Where are those people going? Where have your supporters gone?

FH. Let me tell you, the majority of the Afrikaner people didn't vote in the election, they stayed away.

POM. The majority didn't vote?

FH. The majority didn't vote. That is the single most important thing, they didn't vote. They're waiting for the real new thing based on minority rights and for the fact that we were not successful in getting other parties, because if you get the leaders, of course it is the top down approach, you get the followers. But this thing started from the bottom up, it is the people who started as a result of the fact that we didn't succeed in getting other parties to co-operate. It was formed at grassroots level and therefore the new thing will be in future, there must be something new otherwise people are disillusioned, they realise what is going on at the moment, the country is deteriorating and something new must be formed in order to protect ourselves and to be for the benefit of all the people in SA.

POM. Why is it so difficult to get people who share like-minded ideas to come together under a common roof when they know that if they operate separately they're going to be totally ineffective?

FH. That's right, that is at the moment in our politics and the reason is agendas. Every group, they say we want to co-operate, but they want to get the best out of the deal. You understand? On my terms, then I will co-operate. So that is a phenomenon of politics, it is because the ordinary people at grassroots level they have no agendas, they are objective and they are not influenced by their own secret agenda.

POM. This is just to switch a little. Last year my question was, I was saying the ANC wasn't listening to you or the government wasn't listening to you and you said, "The reason why they didn't listen to us is as a result of the fact that we are divided and they have an interest in the division of Afrikaner people. They want the Afrikaner people to be divided because in the present situation we are powerless as a result of the fact that we are divided and that is why we say the first step is we must unite our people."

FH. That's exactly it.

POM. You've been unable to do that?

FH. Yes, so far, but we're still working on it. So far we haven't been successful but, as I said, at grassroots level people took that idea at grassroots and they formed the Afrikaner Unity Movement but we are still negotiating with the leaders because you need the leaders to get all their followers but the situation is still the same, it is still the same, we are divided, they don't take notice of us as a result of that and we are still working to unite the people.

POM. Then you go on to say, "Our attitude is that we mustn't try to take over the government, we will not be able to do that and if we do that it will be the same situation, you will have the same constitution, you will have the same problems. The system is also such that no government can make a success of it and we don't want to take over this system  because how on earth can you make a success of this system, it is not possible." What do you mean by the system?

FH. The system is a unitary state controlling everything from the centre and that's why we say that the system must be changed, it means you must introduce minority rights.

POM. You said if you organise, or organisation of parties, you're saying from reading what you said last year, if I can just read you something very quickly, "Then it will need different parties that will get the maximum votes from every nation because if you have a party like the NP, it cannot get the maximum votes from the Tswana people against the ANC, but a Tswana party with a Tswana leader they can mobilise the Tswana people to vote against the ANC and then you can co-operate and you can form an alliance and then you can change the constitution if you get enough support." So you're advocating in a sense –

FH. It's still the same.

POM. That ethnic politics must be organised along – ?

FH. You must unite the Afrikaner people and you must form alliances with other nations like the Tswanas and the Zulus and change the constitution to accommodate all of them.

POM. So this is an advocacy of a political –

FH. You must admit that there are various ethnic, there is ethnicity in SA and to ignore it and to act as if it doesn't exist is foolish. You must admit the fact and you must make provision for it and you must satisfy the people. If they want to exercise that right allow them to do that and if they don't want to exercise that right then it is their right not to exercise it.

POM. Mbeki, do you think Mbeki is proving to be more responsive to Afrikaner concerns?

FH. I think Mbeki is playing a game. He's playing a pacifying game. He says, "Don't worry, we will take care of your interests", but in the meantime they make it very difficult for us to have our schools. We haven't got any true Afrikaans medium universities, it doesn't exist any more in SA.

POM. So no Afrikaans medium university?

FH. No, no Afrikaans. The University of Pretoria that's where I was, was solid Afrikaans medium university. At the moment there are I don't know how many other people but not only Afrikaans, it is also an English medium university. So Mbeki's attitude is pacify them but take away gradually certain rights.

POM. What time frames are you talking about?

FH. I think my expectation is that the administration of this country will fall apart in say five years time.

POM. The administration?

FH. The administration.

POM. Why?

FH. Well I think at this moment 70% of local governments are bankrupt, the hospitals, if you go to the hospitals, there is no proper hospitalisation at the moment. It is as a result of poor administration. If you take the police force there is no law and order and it is as a result of the transformation and affirmative action. People haven't got the skills and at the moment there are a lot of skilled people near the government in Pretoria but when they are out and the higher class and the medium class civil servants are replaced the lower ranks will not be able to maintain the administration of the country and for that reason the administration will fall apart in five years time. That's why I say let us get our people together and we can make a contribution at that stage, we can say we can help you to run the country but these are our conditions, we want minority rights, we want certain things. We don't want to be second-hand citizens.

POM. There's one last question I was going to ask you. With what the ANC is doing now with its Redeployment Committee and its policy of trying to place key ANC members in different organs of civil society, in business, in labour, in the media, in wherever –

FH. To control everything.

POM. - and with their turning around the civil service and the public sector to reflect representativity of the population, what are they doing that is different from what the NP did in 1948?

FH. Well very different. The NP didn't fire any single civil servant in 1948.

POM. But there were no –

FH. No, no, there was not a balance. Even in 1948 I think 60% of the population was Afrikaans speaking, 40% of the white population was English speaking, but that was not the situation in the civil service. But they didn't replace civil servants with inexperienced people.

POM. They might have gone about it differently but what's the difference?

FH. No, they started right from the bottom and they allowed them, the previous government discriminated against Afrikaners and all that the NP was doing in 1948 was to remove the discrimination. That was all. And the intake was representative but they remained, the rest of the civil service remained the same and when the people retired gradually from the bottom they were replaced but they went through the ranks, they got their experience and the training and everything. It was experienced people, it was not inexperienced people.

POM. But you set out to reverse discrimination in 1948?

FH. In 1948 that is so.

POM. And the ANC says that's all we're doing.

FH. That is so, same thing, but they didn't start from the bottom, they started at the top. That's why the people haven't got the experience.

POM. Well at the top you had the Broederbond.

FH. No, no, it was totally different. It was a democratic situation and what the ANC now do is exactly the same as what the Soviet Union was doing. The put political commissars everywhere.

POM. Commissars.

FH. And that is what they are doing, they put them everywhere, political commissars to control the whole thing and for that reason it will go the same way as the Soviet Union.

POM. But didn't the NP put key people in different positions?

FH. No the NP followed the same thing as any other government in the world, the promotion of civil servants was on merit and only merit, nothing else. There were still English speaking civil servants but when the NP took over about 90% of the civil servants were English speaking and that was the only thing that changed, it became democratic.

POM. I'm not talking about the civil service specifically, I'm talking about the Broederbond was an organisation of leading lights in the Afrikaner society, drawn from culture.

FH. The Broederbond was not in a position to appoint people in the civil service. They were not in a position to appoint people in the private sector. The only thing that they could do is they could try to create new development like new banks, insurance companies, those type of things, encourage their own people to do it, like the Volkskas Bank. But it was not the Broederbond themselves, they encouraged their people and they encouraged the Afrikaner to support those businesses. That's all they could do but they couldn't form a business of their own and make a success of it, there's no possibility because a private business is based on skill.  But they advocated Afrikaners to enter the economic world and to participate in the economic development of the country.

POM. Would I be incorrect if I said that every prime minister from 1948 through to the end of the NP era was a member of the Broederbond?

FH. Maybe, I'm not sure, but it may be.

POM. And that the Broederbond was encouraging Afrikaner empowerment?

FH. Of course. The Broederbond was there to serve the Afrikaner people because after it was formed, shortly after the Anglo Boer War, and the Afrikaner was the underdog and from their own ranks there came people who said, "Look, we must stand up, we must save ourselves." The Reddingstaatsbond, that was to save our nation. That was the idea of the Broederbond, it was not to take anything away from anybody else, it was to develop a nation which was more or less destroyed in the war and to give it a pride and to participate and to use its talents. It was not to the detriment of anybody else and of course it was the right thing to do. What will you do if your people are down? Will you not give them hope and say, look, stand up, work and fight for yourself.

POM. You sound now like a member of the ANC!

FH. That is exactly what the Afrikaner has done and that is what they are doing but the fact is –

POM. That's what the ANC is doing?

FH. - the NP has done it on a democratic, free market system. They are doing it in a communist way.

POM. There are more free marketers in the government -

FH. I know, I know. Margaret Thatcher.

POM. Would be breathless with the degree to which the government here has embraced market forces and global capitalism.

FH. Of course but there is a contradiction in the minds of the government because COSATU is not satisfied with what the government is doing economically and if you listen carefully to Mbeki you will see that he said, "Look, give us time, we must maintain the free market system, GEAR to a certain extent, otherwise we will destroy the economy immediately, but gradually we will phase in our socialist ideas."

POM. But if they phase in their socialist ideas they're phasing themselves out of the world economy?

FH. That is exactly what they, what COSATU and the Communist Party want them to do. That is exactly what – and now we will see, now it is matter of who will win this battle.

POM. Within the ANC?

FH. Within the ANC, and I don't think –

POM. You think the socialists will win.

FH. I think the socialists and the communists because they control the labour force and the radicals and the day will come – at the moment they say - look this civil servant business earlier this year, they struck, and that will also contribute towards the collapse of the administration.

POM. Mbeki said.

FH. This round he has done very well but he had to go back to design a new thing and we hope he will be able to maintain his position but that I will not bet on. I will not say he will win the race in the long run.

POM. Has he impressed you in any way during his first month in office, that he has toughened stands, that he has - ?

FH. I must say the way he handled the trade unions I think that was not bad but of course that's only one aspect. There are a lot of other things and in the long run I don't think he has got the personality to maintain that position and I am afraid that the radicals will make it very difficult for him and then it will be a bad situation.

POM. Well I want to thank you very much. Next time I see you I hope it will be on a social occasion, we could just have a chat rather than an interview. Do you have an e-mail address where I could send all the transcripts to you of all our interviews so that if I have a question about something – ?

FH. No, unfortunately not.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to theThis resource is hosted by the site.