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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

11 Aug 1989: Akhalwaya, Ameen

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POM     Ameen, first of all, how do you judge the political situation here pre-election compared to what it was at the beginning of the emergency?

AA     I think that in terms of black politics, the organisers, there is no change into a much more formal and much more sophisticated type of resistance. I think pre-emergency what happened - if you actually go back to 1984 when the bicameral system was instituted, you had the UDF had just come up and there was a lot of emotion that went into the entire campaign, but what has happened? The state of emergency started cracking down on these organisations. The organisations had to survive and in a survival atmosphere they had become much more sophisticated in not only countering the type of legislation that the government tried to silence them. In fact, they have come up with new campaigns that have made the government react. It's no longer a reactive type of campaign that we've got. We've now got a new agenda that is also making the government react to what is going on in parliamentary politics. So, the whole ball game has changed.

POM     So, the new agenda being?

AA     Well, the new agenda being - I think it's not just- it's no longer just a resistance phase. I think now it's what happened to black consciousness in the 1970s after Biko was that people started becoming conscious, they knew what the problem was. The question was what the solution was going to be. And, I think when the UDF came, they really had to react again to the political system and they weren't talking about solutions because of the resistance phase. And, now what people are looking at, I think, would be the significant emergence of the state union movement in that they have sensed their power that they have and also, with the ANC guidelines coming up, people are now looking at a post-apartheid society not just as some sort of pipe-dream, but really, I think people are looking at how they are going to react and the important thing that has happened is the state of emergency which for all purposes has broken down.

     Just look, for example, at our newspaper. We have just ignored the emergency regulations completely. We have still been quoting people within reason. We are not openly quoting Oliver Tambo and saying, "Oliver Tambo said such and such a thing", but we are still quoting the ANC despite the fact that you cannot improve the image of the ANC. We don't have the entire constitutional guidelines, for example. COSATU is not supposed to take part in political activities yet it is going ahead and taking part in political activities. The UDF - and yet the UDF is carrying on as if it is not restricted. So, the emergency has broken down.

     People are now looking at these guidelines and I think the most significant thing that has happened internationally which has not translated into this country, is the fact that when the ANC started embarking on this diplomatic initiative, sort of trying to push the military aspect into the background, and, with all the violence in the country, outsiders started looking at what has happened in South Africa more seriously, the ANC concentrated, quite likely, on the diplomatic initiative, but it is no longer just going up to say, "Well, you want a change in South Africa." The ANC was being forced by various governments, it could be western governments, even the Soviet Union, whoever, but the fact is that they have been pushed into a situation where they have been asked, "Well, what are you going to do about it when you become the government? Is it going to be another communist regime? Is it going to be a dictatorship? What is the whole thing?" As a result, the ANC itself has had to broaden its base and you will find that things that we would not imagine would happen a couple of years ago, for example, the ANC really looking at economic policies, looking at race relations, we are looking at group rights, individual rights, bills of rights. All of which previously sort of vaguely encompassed a freedom charter, has now been more specifically spelled out.

     As a result, organisations within the country have had to do something similar and that is where the UDF at the moment, for example what they call the mass democratic movement, is looking very seriously at this violence. We had a huge meeting a couple of weeks ago. The whole question was raised about the constitutional guidelines. Despite the fact that you cannot push ANC policy on - okay the constitutional guidelines are not ANC policy - the ANC is merely asking for input on the direction. But the important thing is this has happened and to me that represents a most exciting challenge in terms of extra-parliamentary politics in this country. We are no longer looking at this situation just in terms of resistance. I think a lot of this self-pity has gone out of resistance politics and has been replaced by a sort of genuine, positive desire to show that we can do it and this is how we intend to do it.

POM     Do you think that this evolving situation has now made the state respond pro-actively or reactively?

AA     I think reactively. At the same time the state doesn't know what (when I say state, I mean National Party) its own program is. You see, its had a vague programme previously and now it is going to have this tricameral system for so-called Coloureds and Indians which the so-called Coloureds and Indians have largely rejected. They've had these vague plans of the Bantustans developing the black urban councils. All those have been ignored by the communities that they are aimed at. They now have to react to this what they call this trek to Lusaka that whites, increasing numbers of whites (okay, it's not a huge number) but the fact is that white people are beginning to question whether or not they support the ANC. They are going to Lusaka to find out what the ANC is doing and the government has had to respond to this, the question of Mandela, what are you going to do with Mandela and the others. It is a question that has bothered them all the time. So, they really don't know where they are and previously they didn't set a time table. They talked vaguely about this particular plan. Now they haven't announced any plan. They've neither got a plan nor a timetable. They've come up with this five-year plan of action that is so vague - at least the tricameral system spelled something out. But this doesn't spell anything out. It could mean anything to anybody. It's a lot of words.

POM     When the National Party or the state talks about power-sharing, what do you understand that to mean in their terms?

AA     Straight white economic and political domination. If not domination, at least control of the purse strings and control the political development. I think power sharing is a bluff It's a type of sophisticated argument they used in the 60s about there being black nations in this country and one white nation and the so-called Coloured nation and the Indian nation, which I think they themselves realize is no longer tenable, but when they talk about power-sharing and you suddenly put an entire white block - the fact that the whites are subdivided into various ethnic communities in terms of their definition: Afrikaners, Jews, huge Portuguese communities, I think it numbers 600,000, all of those are ethnic minorities. Greeks, you name it and they've got it here and they don't subdivide them. But, black people have to be subdivided. If you are going to a place like Soweto, you couldn't tell one ethnic person from another - you know they regard themselves as black people as de-ethicised You can go into this area which is supposedly - and you look at the number of mixed families that are out here, the number from the outside who are working here - it's just a cosmopolitan community. So, you know, this type of thing is the sort of political social scene for want of anything better.

     I think the people in government, some of them sophisticated people in government know that they can no longer continue with this life. I mean, nobody has bought this line anyway from anybody except the voters which is the most important thing. But, the voters themselves are now beginning to question this type of argument. Whether they are going to accept this argument is a different matter but I think finding the whole law and order concept, sell to the white community, the vestiges of the communists - nobody really bothers about the communists or anything else, especially black people. Black people really don't care about whether you've got a communist government or you've got a socialist government or anything else. Anything would be better than apartheid and white domination so I think you're not throwing the communist ballgame anymore at the white electorate. What we are now throwing is the ANC ballgame but even there we are not on certain ground because now they increasingly read that the Soviet Union is putting pressure on the ANC to come to some sort of agreement, so suddenly they cannot sell a communist ballgame, Gorbachev has become the pin-up of the west, they themselves are trying to do a sort of Gorbachev without any sophistication or any of the charisma. It is this type of problem that we are sort of looking at in this country.

POM     What do you think is going to happen in this election - and let me give you three scenarios and tell me what you think would be government policy. First would be, say if the National Party is returned to power with a majority, loses some seats to the Conservative Party, but the Conservative Party doesn't do as well as - it itself has set its expectations so high, its going to be hard for them to live up to it. That will be the first thing. The second situation is one in which the Conservative Party really does well - not enough to have a hung parliament but it does well. The third one being a hung parliament. What do you see in each of those three situations? What sort of government policy do you see emerging?

AA     First of all there is no danger at all of either a hung parliament or a substantially reduced National Party majority. I think they are going to win very comfortably. Okay, assuming that they are returned to power with a slightly reduced majority, question one and question two, assuming the National Party win the election it is actually going to have no long-term effect for the simple reason that we have our re delimitation of constituency boundaries. This was supposed to have been done this year or last year. But, it was set back because PW Botha had his stroke. Now what happens is at the moment he's got loaded constituencies. There are the two rural seats - two rural votes to one city vote for whites - in other words in what they call the platteland.

     Now, if I just go back a little and you see what happens is that this actually was used by the National Party when they came to power in 1948 when they loaded the rural areas in order to increase the supporting parliament. Now, what has happened is that the Conservative Party has taken over the platteland certainly in the Transvaal. All they need to do now is redraw the boundaries or take the loading off and swing back the equilibrium and what is going to happen is some of the platteland seats are going to be knocked out in terms of this equality so where the Nationalist power bases switch from the rural areas to urban areas, they are going to either retain all those seats or win more. That is effectively what they are going to do. They are in power so they can manipulate the entire process. So because of the inherent, the voting power that they can call on, they will continue with their policies. I don't think that their policies are going to change drastically.

     I think that true apartheid has died in the past two years. That is now permanent whether or not the CP takes over. They are going to have increasingly more grey areas as they call the mixed areas. I think that in the major cities it is easier for them to go ahead and start desegregating some schools as we started desegregating some areas officially - what I'm talking about, they are not actually desegregating the process, they are merely legalizing it. The process is being forced onto them. So they are going to probably desegregate some of the schools officially, some of the residential areas. Those are the two most important things. So, what has been happening is that the desegregation that has already taken place in the major cities is going to become permanent. How this extends down into the more rural areas, I think they are going to leave this more to Regional Service Councils and come up with some other little schemes. So we essentially keep those whites happy in those little areas.

     The second scenario also I think is more to do with the first one. I don't think there is going to be much of a difference. In the case of a hung parliament, I think the only way they are going to is left. Again because the important thing is the delimitation of constituencies because they will be able to pick up - because they know that if there is a hung parliament and they redraw all the boundaries they are going to pick up more. If they don't pick up from the right wing, their force now comes from their left and parliamentary politics is the Democratic Party, so they are going to be fighting for seats with the DP in a central city area which means they will increasingly have to take on more of the DP policies. They won't go the whole hog, but obviously this is going to be part of it. I think whether you are going to have a hung parliament or whether you're going to have a narrow NP majority or a comfortable NP majority, I don't think it is going to have much effect overall in terms of what they are going to do.

POM     Would you expect the government to formally get rid of the Group Areas Act?

AA     I think no. I don't think they will formally get rid of it. What they will do is they will keep it on the statute books and increasingly leave it on a local option level. It is another way of saying that they've got no control over the blackening of the city areas. If they leave it on the statute books, they can always say the law is there and if someone in the platteland, the rural areas, wants to keep the community segregated you've still got it on the statute books. In the city areas what they are doing now is sort of shrugging their shoulders and say, "Yes, we are going to prosecute or we are going to look at more grey areas", and leave it at that. So, it is going to be a modification of existing policy. See, they have done it previously in areas such as sport because of the international sports isolation, they decided, OK, we are going to have some sort of mixed sport and the only way we can have mixed sport is that there are no Group Areas. So they modified the Group Areas Act to say that when the people play organised sport the Group Areas Act does not apply. They are allowed to play wherever they want to. So, this is the type of thing you are going to do in schools I think, or some of the schools in some of the residential areas.

POM     How successful has the government been particularly, say, in Natal and using Africans, blacks, against Indians in terms of resettlement and relocation, building up the antagonisms between the two in order - like a divided opposition is one that is not real opposition?

AA     I think we have succeeded to a small extent. I think the last riots in, what was it '85 or '8, where the African people were imported from other areas, 'konstabels' and police-type of people. I think people finally saw through what had happened out there. I think there is sort of a real fear among the politically aware people both the Africans and the Indians, especially in Natal, that they are going to be used for this type of thing. And, I think to the credit to both sides that they haven't sort of gone into this relation of antagonism but that doesn't mean that there isn't this underlying tension and certainly amongst them is (I wouldn't say there is a huge chunk) but sort of a significant chunk of Indians in Natal who are fearful that some of the forces that are unleashed will be aimed at them. I think there is an education process that has been going on among the extra-parliamentary organisations.

POM     If you had to contrast the interests of the Indians and the interests of the Africans, what points would they have in common and where would they diverge? At what point would there actually be a difference in the interests of each group?

AA     I think that - well the Indian fear, obviously, in the economic sense, especially from the business classes in terms of - looking at strictly defined ethnic groups in terms of the government's laws - there is a bigger percentage of Indians who are involved directly in commerce and also increasingly moving now into middle management of the clerical scene in jobs. [I think the fear is that they may lose out on the Tabo(?) thing.]

     The other thing of course is in terms of education which is more or less the same, those two fields are the same as white fears - that they might start losing out in terms of education and so forth. They don't want to see their own standard of Indian education, which is really pathetic, but in relative terms is better than Bantu education. So there is this fear that if they are going to open up the schools and start mixing up the schools, that their standards are going to drop. I think those are the real fears. I don't think there are fears in terms of physical safety and so forth. There have been attempts to sort of say look what's been happening to Indians all over Africa. We have been looking all over Africa and have been wondering what's been happening to Indians all over Africa except for Uganda. And those countries where people refuse to become citizens of those countries - I mean the Indians are doing far better than they were doing in pre-independence times. So, I think people tended to look at that particular aspect and sort of say that there is no physical platform from black people as such. I think that this type of fear is to cling on to what they work for. I think the driving force in the Indian communities, well there are two, one is religion which plays a very important part whether it is the Muslims or the Hindus. The other one is, like any settled immigrant community, your biggest insurance and your escape route is education. So education is very, very significant and that - I think in terms of religion they are not really concerned that if there is a majority rule or even a black government that their religion is going to be harmed. They can continue with their religious practices. It is really the education and sort of the clinging to the jobs that they really fear.

POM     One of the people that we talked to described the situation in terms of - on the one hand you have the ANC who realised that there is not going to be a revolutionary war of liberation, that they can't in fact destroy the state and on the other hand you have this implicit recognition by the government that the kind of reformers trying to impose from above won't work. Do you think that they are accurate observations?

AA     I think they are, yes. Because - I don't think that this is just talking about the Indian grouping. I think, you know the 1985/86/87 arm wrestles has brought forcefully home to people that revolution is not around the comer. It's not going to happen because the whites haven't unleashed all their forces and that is - when I said we were talking about constitutional solutions and so forth - that is what people are looking at. I think there is an acceptance that there is not going to be this revolution, that the ANC is going to march in overnight and also that even the reform that the National Party is trying to push through is not acceptable so people are trying to find this balance between the two. So I think that is what is really happening. I think there is this recognition that you have to find this balance.

POM     Like the word "negotiations" we've been running into all over the place. Do you think the government genuinely wants to get involved in a negotiation process or do you think that they want to get involved in a process where they dictate both the nature, the pace of the process, and kind of even who participates in the process?

AA     Well, to answer your last question first, I think they are not in a position any longer to determine who are the participants in the process because all the purports they've created have no standing anyway, not in the community. They themselves have realised they either have got to deal with the ANC, perhaps with Inkatha, perhaps with the PAC. They have recognized that this was going to happen because if I can go just a little back in March, we had a story, we had discussions all around the place, over here, over there and we came up with this story that there are all these behind-the-scenes activities going on towards the negotiating process and I was told very, very clearly - it was spelled out for me by various individuals who I am not at the liberty to name - but we were told that this was the EPG mission was being divided in a different guise.

     The person who was going to be heading this whole thing was going to be Margaret Thatcher and they said she would acceptable through the National Party in this country now that Reagan has gone. I think there is an understanding among the Nationalists that Reagan was sort of the best hope they had. They blew it with Reagan. Bush, even though he is a Republican, is no Reagan. I think this realization has hit all. Now the only other escape valve is really either Kohl or Thatcher but Kohl, the German involvement in South African politics is not taken significantly by anybody. They are seen as business people first and foremost. Thatcher too because of the old commonwealth links. So Thatcher is a person who is sort of seen as a best bet for white South Africans although they are, the right wingers quite rightly point out, Thatcher was the same person who gave independence to Zimbabwe but it is easier to sell Thatcher to the white people out here as this woman who is on our side. At the same time, it is difficult to sell her to black people because she is seen to be on the side of the Nationalist government. Yet, at the same time, people like Mugabe embrace Thatcher obviously because of Zimbabwe's independence and I think behind the scenes a lot of influential black leaders also realized that Thatcher could be the person who could deliver.

     So this whole EPG thing has sort of been everybody doing their particular thing. So what you see happening now with all these talks about negotiations and all that, they've been going on behind the scenes.

     In fact, even though there have been more direct official talks between the National Party and the ANC, it is very significant that both sides have not modified their policies. The government was talking about it at one stage, about not talking to terrorists, non-violence, we then turn to denouncing of violence, we then turn to suspension of violence which is now turned into a commitment of peace. So with all these direct talks, the National Party has modified its stance. I think the ANC, what its perception inside this, the ANC was sort of manipulated by the communists. The ANC has been at pains now to point out that it believes in a mixed economy. So whether that in itself represents an actual modification of its policy is debatable because we don't get much feedback on the ANC's policies. The perception is that the ANC has certainly modified its stance which is what the government is now saying, which is what the white press is saying. So that perception of negotiations, not direct negotiations, but both sides sort of actually take a step down from their previous positions.

POM     Do you see that process continuing in the next four or five years?

AA     I think it has to continue. The National Party, more than anybody has realised that and with this new era of people we cannot carry on this way so I think it comes back to the original question of whether they are going to manipulate us. I think it is naturally in the negotiating process for both sides to take as extreme a position as they can and actually come face to face with certain non-negotiables and as the process continues hopefully they sort of start coming to some sort of compromises.

POM     What would be the Indian community's attitude toward power-sharing, I mean if they had the direct choice between majority rule and - or some kind or system that would be dominated by the black majority, but in which power would be shared? And, I'm asking this question because, the British government in Northern Ireland have made it clear to the Protestant majority that there is no chance of ever going back to a majority rule, that if they want a government within Northern Ireland they must be prepared to share power with Catholics. So, the Indians are a minority community, what would be their ... at this point if they had to say what they would opt for.

AA     I think it depends on what you mean by power sharing. You know if you are going to talk about, sort of saying that, okay, you've got these clearly defined groups what the government has classified as Indian, Coloured, white, and African and so forth and each group is represented according to their ethnic races, I don't think that many people are going to accept that. I think your realisation here is that your classification is so artificial, you look at the group that is defined as Indian - I mean the only thing that they have in common, which is becoming less common is their skin colour. Look at the people who are classified as Indian. You have a large number of Muslims, Hindus, you've got a fair number of Christians. So religion-wise, you've got nothing in common. It comes to that. If it comes to your education, you are merely sharing education. Yet each group - the Muslims have their own religious schools and so have the Hindus. Same with the Jewish community. So I think this type of thing - sharing on that type of artificial ethnic races, I don't think anybody is going to fall for that. I think he'll feel here what is coming about in the Transvaal Indian Congress talks that they've had with the ANC is a question of what is going to happen to their religion. Are they going to be guaranteed religious freedom? I think that is the most significant thing.

     So, if there is going to be some sort of power sharing, not power-sharing but input into the power mechanism by various groups with this type of guarantee I think people will go for that type of thing. I think most of the Indian people perhaps are prejudiced in that sense but I think most of the people have seen through this artificial ethnic division. If you look at the so-called Coloured people you've got exactly the same thing, a large number of Christians, a large number of people who are classified as Muslim as well. If they get certain guarantees that's it but there are very few people who say, "I'm a Coloured person. I want to have Coloured protection." This happened very crudely about twenty years ago when one guy split off in election year to one of the local committees in Coloured ... to keep the Coloured race pure. I mean everybody laughed at him. That thing has never come up again. Nobody has ever talked about keeping the Coloureds as pure again.

     Some people talk about the Indian race being pure out here and people point out to them that many of those who came over from India are not racially pure by any means because they are mixtures of Indian Untouchables, Arab sailors, British sailors, Portuguese merchants, and all this type of thing. So you accept it but this ethnic thing really doesn't matter anyway down the line. Now it has sort of really come down into what you call the minority groups would be from the older people's viewpoint where the religious protection comes in. From the younger people's perspective - I mean if you look at this so-called culture that we are looking at - okay the Indian people are basically carrying that, but even that is no longer the views that they are carrying. If you look at younger people who listen to Michael Jackson and Madonna and all of that and it is right across the board. So, I think it goes on and on and you forget that element. I don't people are really worried about that.

POM     Turning for a second to the economy. Have sanctions been effective? Have they made a significant difference, a slight difference or no difference at all?

AA     I think directly on the economy itself, I don't think there is that significant impact yet. But, I think that has never been the important thing. For those of us who have been fighting for sanctions of all kinds, not just economic but sports, cultural, the whole bit, what we've argued all along is that of the psychological impact. And, that has been devastating. You know, if we talk about this new climate that has been coming up among a lot of whites who are now talking about negotiations and all of that, that is directly the result of all this talk about economic sanctions. You see, if you look at what has been happening here, through the sixties, where there was this white arrogance spreading amongst the Afrikaners, they were sort of virtually infallible, they were invincible. That began to change in the 1970s when the sports boycott and so forth and we would get on TV and radio all the time in the early 80s that the whole - you see, South Africa, people destroy South Africa when we go out there and we talk to them and people understand what Africa is all about and we are no longer saying much of that. Occasionally we will get somebody on TV to say, 'Everybody is misunderstanding South Africa!'.

     But I think what happens here is the white people especially, those who are classified as white, as European ancestry, their culture has to be linked to the outside. They cannot survive in a vacuum here. Of all the other communities that we talk about, they've got their own little survival thing but the whites especially have to go to Europe or America or somewhere, revive their culture, reinforce it, what they think is their culture and they have to keep those lines open. And, now when they go outside and they see the white South Africans, especially after all the TV pictures the last five years, they no longer get a welcome anyway. And, people look at white South Africa with some sort of distance and I think that has begun to hit home. In fact, the increased sanctions or even the threat of sanctions has had that impact. The sports thing has just sort of taken off. Even if people come here and they have to go through some sort of back door routes to come and play in this country, nobody wants to do it that openly these days.

     The same with the cultural boycott that's been threatened - if they pull the plug on even soap operas like Dallas which is now regarded as part of white culture, that has an effect. Interesting thing about two or three years ago when Lorimer Productions or whoever decided they weren't going to show Dallas here that was the front page leading all the Sunday newspapers. It was just a sort of shock. A culture shock in sort of a perverse way. But, I think that is where the question of sanctions, not as economic sanctions but sort of the whole psychological impact where sanctions or the threat of sanctions has devastated the whites in this country and I think if they pull out the cultural plug like all the soap operas that is really going to finish them up. You know, whites actually survive, if you look at international sport where we are not allowed to take part, black or white anyway, overseas soccer, golf tournaments, Wimbledon, tennis championships, you name it, we have massive, massive audiences here simply because we have to keep alive some sort of contact with the outside world and if that is all taken away, that is going to shatter the whites even more in this country.

POM     If you had to look at the last five years, I'm using that in an arbitrary sense, just around the start of the second emergency or the first emergency in 85, do any three or four or five things stand out in your mind, significant changes made by whites that have led to some amelioration of the plight of the black, Indian and ...?

AA     No, I don't there has been any significant change on the side of whites. I think they've been pushed into certain positions. People seem to sort of set store on things like this [cutting of the parcels]. That has been significant to me but it was inevitable as well simply because they could not cope with the numbers of people who were coming to urban areas and the fact that the numbers were increasing and it was becoming horrendously expensive to monitor those things. The scrapping of the Mixed Marriages and Morality Acts was already being pushed in the 1970s with the Theron Commission, that is the gist of it as well, all these little changes that come about, these official policies have been forced on them and I don't think there has been any sort of significant change. I think the significant change in thinking also has been from a realization from people like Pik Botha. I don't know him that well but I think Pik has been out of the country often enough to know how people think abroad about this country. He also has this view about trying to defend the defendable and I think that has had some sort of impact. So the younger generation of Nats who are in power now - I think it has had an impact on their thinking somewhere down the line. But, whether they are sort of prepared to play completely with it, I think that is what we would question - that is what de Klerk will be faced with.

POM     What do you think would be the greatest obstacles to meeting for negotiations in the next five years?

AA     I think the whole process of selling the concept of a majority government to whites, I don't think it is that difficult to sell for the simple reason I think that Afrikaners and whites traditionally in this country look up to strong leadership. They don't like wimps. If they are looking to strong leadership, the National Party has always been able to lead rather than be lead by its followers although they are looking over their right shoulder now. But, if you look at all the concessions they have made in sports, Group Areas Act, all of that has not really significantly damaged the National Party. You have the breakaway to the right but that is okay; you expect that. But, nothing has really shaken the government when it has moved forward. If you look at strictly economic terms, consumer prices, inflation, all of that, in any other country a government with a parliamentary system, a government with such a record would have been thrown out years ago simply because they throw the law and order thing, saying, "We are going to defend you from the red man. No, the ANC man, so God shall be there." But to show their strength that is why they come up with this very strong law and order side and this is exactly what they are going to do. If they say, like the South, we are prepared to negotiate with the ANC, all right you are going to get a noise from the Conservative Party. I think the rank and file want them to do something about it and they are telling their leaders to go ahead.

     So, they may lose some support, one way or another, but they have been creating some sort of climate. Now, over the past year or two, they really don't know what is going on with ... or Lusaka. They don't know how to stop people. And, then PW meets Mandela, they don't know how to really handle that. Again, the people are confused. To create this climate they have to come out and specify clearly that we are working towards some particular thing, they are not specified.

PAT     Isn't there an element of the government that is commonly referred to as the securocrats, in securing people, and are sort of taking a back seat right now to watch this or do you think that part of the strategizing that is going on - are they part and parcel or are they letting the foreign affairs people run it right now?

AA     I think, my own feeling is that up to till now its been rather the securocrats, but with PW sort of playing a strong role. I think that the securocrats themselves have realised when I talk about the younger Nationals coming, and I think that is part of this, they recognized that they have to move away from this and it is just how soon while they are creating the climate and they can carry most of the whites with them and they surely will, I think, follow. One of the most significant things that has happened when PW made his Rubicon speech, that was a time when Foreign Affairs had gone around the world telling everybody about the great changes that were going to come and according to the army and the securocrats, that is going to happen, there is going to be a coup out here. The reason why when PW made the speech he was flanked by the Minister of Law and Order on one side and the Defence Minister on the other side sort of warned that something is going to come along. Well, I think now that that has sort of cleared out of the way. Since that Rubicon was such a disaster for them, that the securocrats, have realised that you no longer can tolerate this type of thing because the blacks, the American Congress and everybody else is stepping in.

AA     There is a common perception, at least with the people we've talked to, whether black or white, that Nelson Mandela will be released probably in the near future.

POM     Do you share that perception?

AA     I share the perception. I think PW is going to leave it to FW de Klerk. It is difficult in history, you know a person's illness can change all the plans. What I had gathered was that PW was going to retire this year and he was going to become a great statesman which is why he went on his African safari late last year and this was going to be the thing that he was going to carry on - the grand statesman image with Thatcher playing a role on their side. All of this was part of one plan. PW gets his stroke and everything which puts tensions between him and de Klerk and what his party has done to him - obviously he is not going to play any influential role behind the scenes. I think Mandela will be released and, let me just divert, the Americans absolutely were convinced around 1983 or 1984 that the carrot and stick approach had secured the release of Mandela and the others and the plan back-fired because of violence of 1984. The government was courting the new rural situation and that is the reason why they went back on their word. What we had been told, in fact, was that the carrot and stick approach meant, everybody kept on saying, 'Well, you've got plenty of carrot but where is the stick and where are the result?". What happened is that the government told us that they are going to be releasing more people from detention and then they are going to lead up to the release of Mandela and, lo and behold, they did release a whole lot of people in 1983 and early 1984 and I think, if you see, round about middle of 1984, if you look at our local press, just about everybody was convinced Mandela was going to be released.

AA     Louis le Grange was Minister of Law and Order, then he made a statement that Sisulu may be released because of his health and then came the 1984 elections and immediately after there was all this unrest throughout the country that actually put them in a different position altogether. They did not know how to react to that. They don't want to be seen as a sign of weakness. So I think Mandela's release is very much still on the agenda and I'm pretty convinced that it is going to happen soon.

POM     Are there any other perceptions like that that would be shared by both blacks and whites?

AA     I don't think so. I think what happens - this is not to underestimate what we sort of loosely call the "masses" - there isn't much analysis of what goes on in the country in terms of the total population. The blacks were looking to the ANC for some sort of change, the whites were looking to the National Party to sort of lead them somewhere down the line and people are just waiting for something to happen. Just hope something happens out there. But, if you sort of look at the intelligence, sort of look at the actual activists in those organisations where all the thinking is taking place, I'm sure those perceptions are very much alive. [The solution was going to ...]

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.