About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, 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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

09 Aug 1989: De Swardt, Salie

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POM     We are talking with Salie de Swardt.

SS     It's actually Salimon, they used to call me Sali-money money, money. Nowadays people call me Solly or Salie.

POM     If you're looking at the situation today, just before the elections and you were to compare it with the situation when the unrest began in 1984, how would you compare and contrast the two situations?

SS     Well I think, you know in general there has really been improvement in the sense that the economy is much better, especially than it was a bit later 186 or 187. If I could talk about that firstly. There is definitely a more positive approach from overseas investors on our stock exchange, our stocked exchange has proved it's at all time highs at the moment. There is definitely a foreign factor in that which was unthinkable in say 186 or so. I think we've proven that we can handle that sort of trade sanctions to a large extent. The capital sanctions is a real problem. It's, because it really put a ceiling on our growth possibilities. But from my point of view, a fundamental mistake is being made about the sanctions, economic sanctions. And that is that if I say there is a ceiling on the growth rate, that means a ceiling for everybody. Because we have an integrated economy. And that's a very basic fact. That people don't seem to realize. We have an integrated economy in the sense that all the people, all races are involved in our economy and dependent on it. It's not a good economy, not well balanced in the sense that there are too many white professionals and managers and too little colored of categories, but everybody is involved. And the other fundamental thing that I always miss in the debates about this is that in any organization anywhere in the world be it small or big or a country or a small organization, whatever happens when the economy of that organization gets under pressure, the people from below are the first to feel it. And that is exactly what is happening with the sanctions. Is that, of course you fire the tea man or the messenger or the motor car driver first.

     And so we are

     Do you think sanctions, particularly capital sanctions that limit the rate of growth have resulted in increased unemployment among the black and coloured population?

SS     Yes, definitely and disinvestments, American disinvestment has made a difference.

POM     Why do you think than that, say, COSATU for example still comes out so strongly in favour of sanctions, such as the rank and file who would be feeling the effects?

SS     You know that is one of the most difficult things to understand. But I think the problem is that because we don't have the political channels for the black aspirations to be channelled the trade unions are useful and COSATU is playing both a political and an economic game. If it was another country, I think COSATU might have had another point of view. But on the one hand they want to pressure these whites, which I can understand. On the other hand they've got to try and get jobs for their people and everything is so politicised in our country, that unfortunately I think COSATU is actually doing things that levels against what it's real mission should be.

PAT     As a trade union?

SS     Yes, as a trade union, to protect its people and to provide jobs for them. And that is one of the tragedies maybe of the South African situation. Because we don't have the right political structure, constitutional structure, other structures are used for jobs that they shouldn't be doing.

POM     A number of people have mentioned the rescheduling of the loans, the 3.1 billion dollars that are due in March 1990. If indeed the government is going to have trouble repaying or rescheduling the loans, do you think conditions will be laid down, and what conditions do you think might be laid down?

SS     You, see that is one of the fundamental mistakes made again. Of the total foreign debt definitely less than half, but it might be even a much lower percentage, is owned by government. It's the private sector that has a problem. Now, what has happened is that the central bank, what you call the Federal Reserve Bank, our Reserve Bank, is acting on behalf of everybody because we were pushed into the situation. But what is really the problem is that the private sector has a problem to repay this and that is another fundamental shortcoming of the international debate about South Africa. There have been several - kick the bastards, push the South African government, don't give them loans, but it is the private sector that has been affected. Now, right, they might say that if you penalise the South African private sector you penalise their whole system. But actually the truth is that if you penalise the private sector, you penalise everybody because blacks and whites and greens and coloureds and the lot are involved in economy. And I think that is another fundamental mistake, it's as much a private sector problem as it is a government problem.

POM     Either way do you think there's going to be pressure from the international community that a rescheduling of the loans only take place if, for example, only if Nelson Mandela is released or something like that?

SS     I think that could be possible but I'm guessing. You know, I really don't have any hard information about that. What I think would be difficult to understand is that if the banks were to agree or to want a rescheduling programme that would be impossible for us to reach, which is basically what is being asked for. They would be working against their own interests because as Mexico and Argentina and everybody has shown, if you can't do it then you simply can't do it. And you know there are pressures in our country from the Conservative Party for instance for the government to say you can go to wherever, we are not going to pay you the way you want to do it, we want to pay you back the way we can do it, we want to do it. And I think that if you start thinking on those lines then you don't take a long term view, that is why the government said no, let's play the game according to what the international banking wants to play. We will pay back as far as we can so that maybe one day we will get loans again. But if you force us into a situation that we can't handle it wouldn't be to the benefit of the banks themselves. Now the question is then, with the banks and our politics to be interfered with to such an extent that the South Africans, and not only the government, the South African private sector too has got to pay back the loans, they would be forcing them to do something that they simply can't. Because now no country in the world, least of all the United States can pay back its loans immediately.

PAT     There's something that I don't understand about that, because bankers think they are the only great social conscience of the world. Their interests, their primary interest is in making money. Why do you think that all of a sudden they have become a viable vehicle for asserting social pressures, international social pressures?

SS     Well, I think the pressure on the banks has made a difference overseas. There are European banks who tell us that the South African loans make up perhaps two or three percent of their total portfolio of fallen bad loans or perhaps their total portfolio. And they've got to spend 50% of their time on that arming that, arming people who are protesting out against it. So it's become not worth it. But from a truly simply clinical financial point of view I believe that it's a wonderful investment at the moment because the South African situation is much more stable than people seem to realise overseas. So purely from a financial point of view you can almost make no mistake to invest in here because I think we've proven over the past few years that we can handle a foreign war in Namibia, we can handle capital sanctions, we can handle trade sanctions, we can handle civil unrest within the country and still keep going. It almost can't get worse than it was.

POM     So if you were to compare, say, politically 1984 with the end of the PW Botha era, how do you compare it, contrast the two situations?

SS     Yes, well you see, is there a special reason why you refer to 1984?

POM     Just the initiation of unrest in 1984.

SS     Yes, because I think the main unrest was started in 1985.

POM     Yes, say 1985.

PAT     The state of the emergency was 1985.

SS     I think economically the real watershed was in 1985. It was August 1985 when President Botha made his so-called Rubicon speech in Durban, I think it was the 15th of August. And the whole world was expecting him to announce a lot of reforms. I don't know if you know that, but everybody was waiting, millions and millions of people all over the world were watching their televisions. And then he didn't announce that and it had an enormous effect on our economy in the sense that our exchange rate worsened. Then within weeks Chase Manhattan Bank announced that it was withdrawing and that started a run by the banks, not on the banks, by the banks, and the fate was that we had announced this standstill in our repayment of our foreign loans at the end of August 1985 and that changed the whole ball game of economics in our country because from then on we didn't have a foreign banker any more.

     Now the interesting thing, of course, is that a developing country such as ours would always need a banker but if you've played that card of capital sanctions and the lot has stayed alive and if you played the card of trade sanctions and if you've played the card of terrorism or guerrilla warfare, whatever you want, what else is left except a real war and that's unthinkable. So if you carry on with this approach for too long the South Africans might come out, even the South African government might come out even stronger than it is now in these six years time. And it is surely stronger now than it was three years ago. Now the people are complaining, the National Party's in trouble at the polls, more so than it has been for decades, it has had an effect but they'll probably still win the election. And you know within five to six years they might be stronger than they are now economically, they don't have a war any more to fight on the Namibian border. So that card of sanctions might get weaker.

POM     But politically what has been the change in the government's attitude to reform now compared to 1985?

SS     I think there's a stronger commitment to change.

POM     And is there an acceptance among Afrikaner intellectuals, say, people who count, in the sense of the dismantling of the existing apparatus of the state rather than just the end of discriminatory laws is going to come sometime and they should start looking at ways to share power?

SS     Yes, I think so. More so than they are being given credit for. Now if you asked other South Africans they wouldn't agree with that. But from my point of view there have been, again, some fundamental changes that have really made a big difference.

POM     Like?

SS     The one thing, you know we had a man call Mr. Chris Heunis who was our Minister of Constitutional Development and he played a role in the efforts to bring about reform. And when he retired the other day he said something that I thought was rather important. Now I don't want to go back too far, but he said the biggest change that came about in government thinking was when they acknowledged that all South Africans were sharing the same country. That was a few years ago. But you know as an Afrikaner we had this sort of fundamental point of view that we don't share the same country, we will be dividing this country which is the Conservative Party's point of view now. Once we realised that that wasn't possible, the whole ball game changed because now we've got to share in all ways possible politically.

POM     Does it mean abandoning the homelands policy?

SS     Well maybe in the sense of the orthodox thinking about it but not in the sense of perhaps the failure of state that you could have certain areas because those areas wouldn't vanish from the face of the earth. But as you have American states, those countries could come in as part of the federation if they wished to. And you must remember their leaders have been democratically elected.

PAT     But your experience could also envision mixed race provincial governments?

SS     Yes, well we have mixed race provincial governments now. Our chief executives of the provincial governments are people of mixed race. So the executive committees, remember we call them NECs of the provinces.

PAT     Like a one man one vote provincial government.

SS     Yes, you know the way they are elected is a bit involved but we could have a federal state with - I don't want to get into constitutional laws now.

POM     No it's a question of fundamental reforms. One the recognition, the acknowledgement that all Africans are sharing.

SS     Sharing this same country. That is a fundamental thing. If you start thinking about giving people civil rights or political rights in their own countries and connecting Soweto with the black states as was thought about, and which is still the policy of the Conservative Party, it is something completely different from seeing these people as fellow South Africans with which we've got to share somehow or other. And that is I think an important thing that is driving the whole political point of view of the government at the moment, is how to share the same country with everybody. I think in the years to come that will have an even more important effect. But the way it could, it might turn out in many years time to be a transitional phase, but the way to get this across and to evolve, maybe it will change one day, maybe it will never, is to emphasise group rights. Now group rights has become equal to apartheid in our country now by the people opposing the point of view of group rights. And that is something that we as South African have to do something about just to get the debate whether you agree with that or not on a high level. Because even in your constitution Mississippi has as many senators as California in your Senate. In other words Mississippi's group rights are protected. Your bussing system is based on group rights. Your approach to force municipalities to, you've got another name for municipalities I think, to force them to employ a certain number of black people or a certain percentage. That's group rights. Now unfortunately, because of this thing of apartheid, the shadow that's always over us. Why should you have group rights in Belgium and in India and in Mauritius in their constitutions and in Switzerland and in a way in the United States and no-one even talks about it? The moment you even talk about rights in South Africa everybody says, but that's group apartheid.

POM     Why do you think it is that the black community in general simply says that the government's plans or suggestions about sharing South Africa, why do you think it is that's met with such dismissal?

SS     That they dismiss it?

POM     Yes.

SS     Well I think it's their history. They don't trust the buggers. You know they don't believe that the whites are honest and they have good reason for that. Their whole history tends to prove to them that the whites have a plan in mind to sort of discriminate against them. And that is why they are very sceptical of groups rights as such. They want one man one vote, equality in every sense of the word.

POM     Is there still resistance in the National Party to the idea of one man one vote?

SS     Not in the sense that you might think; you could have one man one vote in a sort of a federal system. But the idea, if I read it correctly now, is that every group will have one man one vote, but eventually you won't be counting heads, you would be counting groups and the moral that is sometime being used by the Nationalist Party is that the security council of the United Nations, where you have people with who deal with rights, and it's not a question of which country has the biggest population but we have group representation in those rights and you could work out something through that sort of system. And you also have that in some of the other countries, even in a country such as Belgium as far as I know, that you have group representation in the sense of government. And in Russia.

PAT     Do you think this gets framed as a reform by the National Party government and is designed so it can posed or do you think it is the basis for what you call negotiations between - do you think it is possible for a National Party government under Mr de Klerk to have negotiations with the ANC as well as other political entities within the opposition?

SS     Yes, I think so, I think that would be his biggest challenge, to get real negotiations going, and I think he is genuine when he is asking for five years. He really wants to try and make a difference in the next five years. And the biggest thing in South Africa now is negotiations. Everybody's talking about it. When Mr. Cohen was here, Herman Cohen, I don't know if you read about it when you got back to the United States? He said that if he had ten dollars for every time he heard the word 'negotiation', whether it was with Afrikaners or blacks or the ANC he would be a rich man. That is really what it is all about now. It is to get to the negotiation phase now, how do you read it and how many preconditions should there be and how many there shouldn't be, which is, I suppose, what you are really interested in. But that's our future music at the moment, negotiations; how to get to the table and how to talk and how to find common goals.

POM     Would you say that there is a general acceptance in the Afrikaner community now or the white community in general that Nelson Mandela will be released sometime in the not too distant future?

SS     I think everybody is expecting it yes. You know that on the right the conservatives are strongly against it according to their messages in their campaign now. But all the National Party and the Democratic Party are expecting that. There have been a lot of rumours around it but I think what is really important is that Mr. Mandela said in his own announcement after his discussions with the State President that his release isn't an issue at the moment. And I think one should read, one should take really take that to heart because you know Mr. Sam Nujoma hasn't returned to Namibia. For someone to be in the position that Mr. Mandela is in now, timing is important. And it might really be a question of when, if he wants to leave jail, when he wants to leave, for his timing. And he's not in jail in the normal sense of the word, you know. I really think that has been missed by many people, because, surely those discussions between him and the State President didn't come about overnight. And only last week one of our alternative newspaper, the Weekly Mail, published a story in which they said there have been discussions with Mr. Mandela under the chairmanship of our Minister of Justice Mr. Coetsee for years. Now I don't know if that is true. It is only a newspaper that reported that. But, you know, there is probably much more planning in this whole thing. And what I definitely don't believe is that Mr. Mandela really wants to get out of jail and the government is saying no, no, no. It is not as simple as that. I am absolutely convinced of that.

POM     What position is the Conservative Party occupying, what ground are they taking? Let me give you maybe two scenarios, (i) let's assume there is a hung parliament after the elections; (ii) let us assume that the Conservative Party does better than expected, takes away a considerable chunk of the Nationalist Party vote so it is not improbable to think that in the next election they would in fact have a majority. How do you think either of those situations might affect government policy?

SS     Well you see from our point of view that is a pity that in some cases if it had been a straight fight among the National Party and the Conservative Party the National Party would have won. The Democratic Party is going around parliament and that is why they put up people which will make the difference so that the Conservative Party would be in an even stronger opposition in parliament after the election. That is definitely so. The big debate is over how much stronger they will be.

     Now what I think is that it is only human that once you get back in parliament and you look at the score board and these people have doubled or more then doubled their representation even maybe three times what they used to be, I think it is only human for a politician to take that in mind and to allow that to affect him in his policy. But I think if the Conservative Party doubles their representation, to say they have 24 seats in parliament, now if they get, say, 44 or 45, I think that is being discounted. That will have no real effect. I think the debate as far as they're concerned will get stronger, and it is already growing, whether they have reached their limit, and whether they are stabilising, if they really have more growth potential from that level because they actually should have been better represented in government already.

     So yes, a doubling of their representation, which will probably be analysed by everybody overseas and people will be saying, look it is a terrible thing that has happened, the conservatives, the right, in South Africa have doubled their representation. We've discounted that actually almost in 1987 at the previous election because we realised they were much stronger than was reflected in our parliamentary system. So if it is more than 45 it might have an affect, if it's 45 I think the government will say, look, we've got a strong mandate for what we have been saying that we want to do and then that wouldn't really affect it. But if their representation goes to over 50 or 60 it might inhibit government with reforms because then it really becomes a possibility that they might lose the next election.

     And you know, you might know better about this, but the interesting thing for me is everybody is talking about negotiations but if you get into the negotiation process then you're really getting back to the fundamental values, you've really got to put down what is the bottom line. And then people might become more conservative. They might say, look, we are willing to do this but really not more than this and if their political representative might tend to go further than that they might swing to a more rightist political party. So if we get into that phase it will be quite interesting to see how people react. You know they might be willing to be liberal as long as there are no real negotiations and the possibility of a real change isn't there. But the moment you get to the table and you realise if you support this it is going to make a difference, then you've really got to believe in what you are doing and that will be a very interesting stage in our history.

PAT     We've heard from a couple of people we've spoken to that on the one hand you have a situation where the government recognises that reform imposed from above, which is reform in its form and at its own pace, will not work and that on the other hand you have a situation where the ANC understands that there is not going to be a revolutionary war and the regime is not going to be toppled. Do you think they are both accurate reflections of the situation?

SS     Yes, I think the one thing that has really come through in this political campaign of the National Party now is that you've got to have a legitimate constitution. It's useless to have something that the people, the majority of the moderates at least, don't support. Otherwise you might as well carry on with orthodox apartheid because it will get you nowhere to force down some constitution that the people don't want. And that is why negotiation is absolutely necessary, to get to some agreement on what sort of country you want. And I think on the government side they are committed to this, they realise that the constitution is as strong as people believe in it.

POM     What kind of process would that take? Would there be some kind of Constitutional Assembly established and how do you see the steps that would lead to a new constitution being enacted?

SS     Well you see I suppose that if you could meet some of the preconditions such as Mr. Mandela's release, of course that would improve the possibility of getting to the negotiating table. But you know, people, key figures such as Buthelezi said he wouldn't be going there unless Mandela is released. Another precondition was the lifting of the emergency regulations. Now, if some of those are met, then the possibilities are better. And I suppose that there is a chance of some of those changes being brought about so that there would actually be negotiations about negotiations, talks about talks. If I lifted emergency regulations and if I released Mandela, would you be willing to come to the negotiating table? No, we wouldn't because you've got to scrap discriminatory laws. And people might say, the government might say, no we can't do that, we can't, it's an enormous thing that we got to do. We've got to talk first then we can start. I think the talks about talks would surely be the first thing. And there has been a shift from a government side. They have said thus far that unless the ANC stops violence they wouldn't talk to them. Now what they are saying is that if you are willing to work towards a peaceful settlement then we will talk to you. That was in the Mandela announcement of course, that he agreed with the State President that they should work towards a peaceful settlement. And that was a change, that was a shift from the government point of view. But you see the government is in this difficult situation that last year with bombs exploding and people being killed and so forth and it is very difficult to say that politically that you will be willing to be friends, almost, or at least negotiate with these people. You know the Israelis say they won't negotiate with terrorists. You know that sort of thing. And surely that is important for their interior politics to say things such as that. And so it's a very difficult thing what the government has shifted on.

PAT     What about Namibia. Has Namibia offered any kind of model for South Africa or is that something that was for Namibia whereby certain segments of the international community and settlement of Namibia was more to address economic and internal political issues?

SS     Well at this stage Namibia hasn't become what we thought could become part of our election campaign and the conservatives wanted to try to pull it in because they were saying that the National Party government is simply handing over power to the blacks as they are effectively doing in Namibia. Fortunately that hasn't really become an election issue. But I think in our newspaper, for instance, it has been debated whether you should go for group rights or whether you should, as the Democratic Turnhalle alliance, the DTA in Namibia, has said, that the minority should rather become part of the mainstream otherwise you might have the Zimbabwean situation where you had minority rights which you scrapped and now you have no rights as a group, and you don't really effect things. If you would rather become part of the mainstream you can in the long run protect things. The other important thing about Namibia is the way whoever governs the country, especially if it is SWAPO. The way they handle the economy would really have an influence in South Africa because I think that is something that is often missed by other people and that is that one of the biggest problems for Afrikaners and for South Africans in general is that black governments has been equalised to economic disaster in Africa. And that is why you'll never force them with sanctions and such to change their ways because it's still a better alternative than a Zambia or even a Kenya or Mozambique or Angola or whatever. It is still a better option. And even if you have economically been influenced in a way by sanctions and Namibia, if its a successful economy, it might improve the point of view of the whites in South Africa.

PAT     So if the whites in South Africa see that a SWAPO government is earnest about working on an economic power sharing of the whites in Namibia it could have an affect.

SS     Yes, that's right. But you see what we are thinking is that the further Uhuru (independence) came down, freedom came down in Africa, the more realistic people became about economic issues. It was from our point of view, it was important that the Frelimo government in Mozambique only the other day denounced Marxism and Leninism because that has been made equal to independence and freedom and we believe that is one of the biggest mistakes in our history is that we've made the mistake to make free enterprise equal to apartheid. And that was a fundamental mistake. And I don't know whether you are socialist or whatever but I believe that socialism isn't a success to the extent people expected it to be, definitely not in Russia and China.

PAT     The Soviets are saying that.

SS     Yes, and the bigger success story of our century are the Far Eastern economies which weren't really socialistic countries. And that truth is getting into Africa at last. We're only hoping it is getting into the heads of the ANC leaders too.

POM     You said De Klerk said, Give me five years. Just with your knowledge of the country and your background, what do you see happening in the next five years?

SS     If I really knew I suppose I could become rather rich. Firstly, I believe in his integrity. He's a fundamentally conservative person and analytical person. But I think he's committed to the change. You only have two options. Its either partition, the Pakistani or whatever sort of option, or you've got to share power. And he has committed in at least that sense to sharing power. And I also think that he realises that it's hopeless to try and create a South Africa according to your insights without getting the support of everybody or at least the majority of the people. I think he'll, in honesty, be working towards that. Whether you people would agree with these points of view, definitely not, everybody wouldn't. And he'll definitely not do as well as people are expecting from him to do in the United States.

POM     He won't?

SS     No he won't be doing as well. They're expecting hopelessly too much. You know it's an unrealistic expectation and that's for our country a very dangerous sort of situation. Because everybody thinks Mandela would be released and there would be incredible changes in the country. I think there will be gradual well-controlled changes and maybe even more drastic then even many South Africans expect. But it wouldn't come out to the expectations overseas, I am almost completely certain.

POM     In once sense you are saying that the government still will dictate the rate of change?

SS     I think yes. They will have the power in their hands and they will be negotiating from a basis of power. Because I think this state can carry on for the next 20 or 30 years, if they want, in this way. They will still survive. It will become difficult. It will become even more of a polecat of the world. We don't like it but we will survive. And they won't, definitely won't be pushed into anything that could be expected to create just another African state. I mean what can we do? At least we've got something now.

POM     So, the bottom line you're suggesting is a situation which one man one vote results in the turning over of power to the majority which perhaps could lead to a wrecking of the economy that has been built up, is simply unacceptable.

SS     It's unacceptable yes. It's a risk that is not worth it. We want to become part of the international community. We want to create a growing economy. We want to have our black fellow South Africans to share more of the country's wealth. And we need them. I mean although the economy is growing slowly, getting people from the small white pool of people is wrong. We've got to get more from the black pool and it's improving. The education is quite a story on its own. But if we get to the negotiating table and we realise that this is going to simply push us over the precipice into another African disaster, why on earth would we do that? And you see we're different from Rhodesia and other African states. We're here to stay. We have a military and energy and power energy. We have enough capital resources. We could do much, much better. But we'll carry on. We can supply what we need to. It's quite an interesting ball game because technologically we're quite advanced. Maybe better than we should be, with a certain section of the population and the economy, the first well developed sector of the economy. So that thing could carry on but we will eventually lose steam as we have lost steam in the past three years economically.

     The countries are at the moment are Britain and Germany and they are very important trading partners. Japan is really putting pressure on us. If I want to go to Japan it is just about impossible. Some of my colleagues have been invited, they weren't allowed there. So, in some ways the Far East has become difficult. But we have these ties with Taiwan and there are much more positive things happening in Africa than is being made known or South Africa is given credit for. Because there is much more realism in Africa now. Twenty years ago in 1960s the Greek cry was for the political kingdom then everything else would fall into place. There is a realisation that you can't confiscate wealth. You've go to keep on servicing it otherwise it dies. And poetical power doesn't mean a successful country. You've got to run it. And those sort of things are slow, its almost a generation, in some countries it's a new generation of people since Uhuru started. I mean they've had the opportunities after colonialism to change and unfortunately, I wish it was different, but unfortunately it's been a sad history. And slowly there is a realisation that maybe South Africa isn't as bad as people say. At least it is feeding its people. And we've got a problem with Southern African people from all over, Southern African borders into the apartheid state, coming to work here. We've got to put up electrified fences to keep them out.

PAT     I assume that would be another fallout of Namibia if the experiment works. But a SWAPO government that needs for its own economic purposes to work with a South African government would I would assume in many ways pose problems with some liberation movements within South Africa.

SS     I don't think they will run the risk of really getting involved with the ANC, with guerrillas being allowed there and so forth. Because even Zimbabwe isn't trying that, one on a very small scale if at all. Mozambique has moved them out. They are being chased out of Angola now. They are even being chased out of Zambia and it seems they're moving to Tanzania. For SWAPO to do that it would be a stupid thing to do.

PAT     Because they need South Africa.

SS     That's right. And because of that the whole situation with the ANC is changing, with their ability for guerrilla operations being weakened because they don't have bases so close to us any more, it's a bit further now.

POM     Just in conclusion. I want you to go back on something because I switched over the tape. We were talking about a lack of understanding, particularly abroad of the bottom line of the state's negotiating position which is that it had to chose between an economy run down by disinvestment and sanctions that is still preferable to an economy under a majority rule which results in economic disarray.

SS     Yes, look it's not impossible that we will have a majority rule some day. And majority rule needn't be bad in the sense that it might have had on economic policy. But if majority rule means the South African Communist Party, which is part of the Politburo of the ANC, has an influence and that it will be confiscating property in the country and nationalising industries and doing that sort of thing that has been said by them, if majority rule means being equal to that, then the other option of the economy run down by disinvestment and sanctions is a better option for us.

     Still, and we've proven it in the past few years. We can't have it more difficult than within an exchange rate falling from the rand equal to the dollar to the rand equal to 35 American cents. We can't have it more difficult than an emergency situation in our country and the whole world attacking us for, amongst other things, regulations in the press. We can't have it more difficult than fighting a war against 50,000 Cubans in Angola, which is something quite completely different than anything that we've had to cope with as far as the ANC is concerned. And capital sanctions. Now it almost can't get worse, at least internationally. Maybe within the country the resistance could become stronger. It might be better organised. It might create more chaos within the country. I don't know. We've proven at least that we can handle the situation and we've opened the door, we've said, or at least the government has said, everybody is welcome, please come and talk, we don't want war and the options are different. The ANC says they went for the military alternative because they had no other option. It has changed.

     But it's a strange situation to be in the country now. But if you could come back that would be really interesting because at the moment the political campaign running, the government is saying things that they might change their minds on even in the next few months, their fear of saying look we will negotiate with the ANC. They're not saying it but I think they will be willing to negotiate with some people in the ANC and they have proven it to some extent. Some of them believe that negotiations between the State President and Mr. Mandela have cost them thousands of votes so it's a very, very sensitive issue. But if you could come back in a year or 18 months time it might be quite interesting to compare what is going on now.

POM     Thank you.

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