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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

14 Jul 1990: Camerer, Sheila

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POM     Sheila, to go back to the election last September, the NP manifesto talked about a new dispensation and talked it in terms of group rights, one group not being allowed to dominate another group and also incorporating a promise that no matter what constitutional arrangement would be arrived at it would be submitted to the white electorate for approval. How far have things come from that point?

SC     Well I think we're committed to our five-year action plan which was the party's election manifesto. Group rights, I think there has been an effort by the local DP supporting media to put a colour on it that did not exist in our action plan, in the manifesto, because we made it very clear in that plan that groups should form voluntarily if they form. We felt that there was a need for minority protection because we have such a diverse population in every way whether it's language, religion, culture, colour or whatever and we said very clearly in the action plan that any group forming should be by way of freedom of association so there would be no decreed groups and certainly not on a racial basis, there would be no racial determinant whatsoever. That was the way we saw it. We got a mandate for that and that's still the way we see it. We did commit ourselves, because we said this is a total departure from the past but we say we've got to do this. We say we will achieve it through a process of negotiation. Obviously we can't foretell what will come out of the negotiations. When a plan comes out of the negotiating process – we can tell you our departure point but we can't tell you what's going to come out. When it comes out we will come to you for an endorsement and we've committed ourselves to that.

POM     When you say 'coming to you' you mean?

SC     Our own voters.

POM     To your own voters, so you anticipate that after some plan or proposed settlement emerges that it will be submitted to the white only electorate?

SC     Well we've said that we would do that to our white voters. We've seen a bit of expansion on that in terms of speeches of the State President in parliament during this session. He also says that other members of the tricameral parliament would perhaps like to go back to their electorate and do the same but it wouldn't be a combined count. He then clarifies that and says the whites would be approached as whites because they are a component part of the present constitutional arrangement and they're being asked to change to a new constitutional arrangement so they will have a say. Basically it's been thrown open, any group that wishes to, that's presumably part of the negotiating process, would go back to their particular constituency and do the same.

POM     Would you see – say, for example, if this settlement was rejected by the white constituency, where would that leave it?

SC     Well the answer, before my political bosses get to that, the gentlemen concerned with these negotiations, is that we can't fail. We've got to put something before the white electorate that they'll support, that we'll be pretty sure they will support. But this is quite an interesting disciplinary fact on the whole procedure because – and I think Mandela is very aware of this, because the first major speech – well not his speech on the Parade but the second time he spoke about the new constitutional arrangements, the possibility of participating in negotiations, he did say that whites here would have to be addressed. He made quite a point of that. He realises that this is one of the crux issues I think in the whole procedure.

POM     One of the crux issues is?

SC     Well addressing white fears in relation to a future constitutional arrangement.

POM     A number of people we've talked to particularly in the Democratic Party have said that the government now accepts one man one vote and majority rule in some form. Is that an accurate reflection of where your party is at?

SC     Well you know I think one must stick to the terminology. What our State President and Gerrit Viljoen have said is that we are in favour of universal franchise with a vote for every adult South African irrespective, but what he's also said is that, what the State President said in his major speeches, was that a single common role franchise exercise wouldn't be sufficient as there are minority groups who may wish to distinguish themselves voluntarily as groups that need some sort of constitutional protection and some structure must be made available for them to get that protection and what he foresaw, he said, was a common voter's roll plus a voter's role accommodating these particular groups that would qualify, that would presumably have representation in terms of the envisaged two chamber structure that Gerrit Viljoen had indicated. Of course that hasn't really been fleshed out, he's only mentioned it twice, part of his sort of propaganda – no, I shouldn't say that! I find myself looking for clues.

POM     De Klerk moved with extraordinary rapidity and took everyone by surprise.

SC     I don't think he took the Nats by surprise.

POM     What was the reaction within the party to his move?

SC     If you're talking about the parliamentary caucus I think we've been moving for this for ages, ever since I got into parliament. I would say that my contemporaries who came in in 1987 and that was about a third of our whole caucus at that time, it's now shrunk a bit, but we were 45 newcomers and we all were reformists. We came in to participate in a reform move and nothing happened and there was a very frustrated caucus I think and I think that's one of the reasons why Barend du Plessis did so well in the leadership vote because people voted for him as something totally new. I think there was a tremendous measure of ... so I think we're really catching up with ourselves. [people were really sort of two, three years ago.] Even before, if you just consider, I've been standing as an NP candidate since 1982, as a City Council candidate, I was in the Johannesburg City Council, and then I stood in 1984 as a Provincial Councillor. I've been both those things and every time I stood, I stood on a reformist ticket. I've never stood, I've never had a racist platform, I've never been for group areas, I've always been for reform and change from then. I think we've been ready for this for ages.

POM     Did you stand initially that if elected you would support abolition of the Group Areas Act?

SC     No I didn't say abolition but we were never specific like this. I think Pik Botha always says that any election that's fought on 'shall we get rid of the Group Areas Act or not' is like a recipe for suicide. You just underwrite the point too much but I've always stood on the government's reform moves and reform has been the word that guides my political career really. It's meant different things at different stages obviously. Reform now means a totally new constitution that's fully democratic. Before that it meant getting rid of discrimination and before that it meant including Coloureds and Indians in parliament.

PAT     I take it that de Klerk wasn't a candidate of the reformist, or he wasn't considered to be a reform candidate?

SC     Well you see he wasn't, no he wasn't really then. I'll tell you why. I think he made – if you analyse what he said in 1987 in the election campaign he was already saying things like no constitutional arrangements, because we had been talking about the new constitution and how everybody would be accommodated for ages but he did say that no arrangement would succeed unless the majority of blacks supported it and I quoted him in that campaign in 1987 saying this. But he was too much associated with PW because he was the Leader of the House, he was the boss of our caucus so to speak and there he sat up next to PW and as a newcomer I think he was associated with ...

PAT     So in that respect were the reformists in the NP surprised by the speed of his actions if not by the action?

SC     I never forget that speech he made, his credo speech in February 1989 because there sat all my group and a lot of reformists like Leon Wessels and Piet Marais who are now junior ministers but then they weren't and one said to oneself, one came out of this saying you know – and when he made that speech where he spelt out everything that's really happened he was deluged with notes from the whole of the back row. Everybody was thrilled.

POM     We were here last year and read articles on de Klerk, or assessments of de Klerk. They were done in terms of the conservative, would be slow to change, degree of flexibility not flexible but would be slow to change things, would do it at a very measured pace.

SC     But when was that?

POM     Last August.

SC     Oh really, because he made that speech last February, February 1989. It was his first speech in parliament after being elected leader and he really gave notice then of the changes.

POM     But what compelled him, what motivated him to move do you think with such speed?

SC     Well I think he's a highly intelligent man, he really is. He's very likeable, I know him quite well really and he's been convinced in debate I think, looking at the position, the facts indicate a very clear direction. I think he feels if you look at things there's no other road really. The thing is, I was perhaps new when he was elected, too new to really – I have more to do with the formation of policy, I'm closer to what's happening now perhaps but there's a tradition of strong men and more conservative leaders taking over and perhaps he didn't want to appear to be a leftist within the party. People with a leftist label have never become king so maybe he was keeping his powder dry. I don't know. I've actually had debates with FW two or three years before and I wouldn't have said he was a liberal then or now actually. He's not, in fact he said the other day that this is not a time for liberalism. One has got to be absolutely realistic about things and manage them well.

PAT     Do you think it's pragmatism that ...?

SC     Well he calls himself a practical idealist. Well that's a good combination.

POM     In the NP itself what kind of debate is going on within it? Would you say that at this point in time a majority of the parliamentary members, MPs, would accept that the next State President would be a black?

SC     Yes, but at the same time the next sentence is that of course the nature of the - the positions have changed and one of the first things FW said was that this office is entirely unsatisfactory, that one person has so much power. As he became – in his inaugural speech in fact he said that the Office of the State President must change, must be redefined. It's too much power for one person in a country like this where there are so many different ...

POM     Head of government, would there be an acceptance of a black head of government?

SC     I think so depending on – I don't think there would be acceptance among the white community of a black State President who had the power that this one has now because it would mean one thing. It would mean that a majority party, the ANC I suppose, had taken over and that was it, transfer of power you see and I think that's something that everybody – the NP government wants to avoid that potential because I think it will lead to a great deal of difficulties in terms of getting whites to accept it. What our electorate has agreed to is sharing power, not transferring it.

POM     The threat from the Conservative Party. In the estimate of the NP how real is this threat? How must the rate of reform be measured so that it doesn't invite a very severe white backlash?

SC     I think the rate of reform, the rate has already been determined. I don't think there's going to be any pussy-footing around. We've given notice of what we're going to do, I mean the government's given notice of what it's going to do. I think there's quite a measure of relief actually among conservatives that they're being led at last. We know exactly where we're going and so on. I don't think everybody likes where we're going but it's sort of like a catechism in a constituency like mine, people say, well things have to change, of course one has to change, things are changing. and that's the thing all the time. So I think there's a readiness to change but I don't think it's a readiness to hand over to a black government. About the most unpopular man around right now if you talk to any whites, whether it's at a smart party in the northern suburbs or in my constituency in the south, Mandela is very unpopular. I think people have had him up to here.

POM     Mandela's very unpopular?

SC     As a figure yes. He's been overexposed and nobody likes what he's saying.

POM     That's interesting. Could you expand on that a bit? Has there been a resentment of the way he's been treated abroad as a statesman, a celebrity, accorded all the welcomes of a head of state?

SC     Yes. I think people accept that he's a bit of an edifice, he's been an institution for so long and I don't think anybody is surprised by that. But there's been a bit of overexposure on TV, he's always on TV because of this trip and he's always saying things that nobody wants to hear and nobody likes to hear. I think people scour the papers to find contradictions in what he's saying because everybody tries to put their finger on what the ANC really means by democracy, what they really mean by a mixed economy and all that sort of stuff and nobody really believes anything any more because one week it's nationalisation and the next week maybe it's not, one week it's sanctions, maybe they'll be lifted when he speaks next week. I think people are generally disgruntled, the white people who I speak to.

POM     A number of people, including academics, say that extrapolating from the recent by-elections that if you had an election today the Conservative Party could perhaps win a majority of seats in parliament.

SC     I doubt it. I know one commentator said that, you know these analysts that get in, get busy, but then that was the first commentator. Then after that there were quite a lot of analysts who got in on the act and most of them then said that if you project it countrywide there are so many other factors to take into account that certainly the NP majority would be even more reduced than it is but it wouldn't lead to a change of government. Who knows? I would think it's a very bad time to have a general election and it's not going to happen so I don't think we need to – no, because you can't dish up all these sort of changes.

POM     If you take the by-election in Randburg, a barometer of the temperature of the people at this time, what in your view would be the – the Conservative Party last time got 700 votes altogether – what in your view, how well would they have to do in order to be able to claim a victory?

PAT     Not to win the seat.

SC     Not to win the seat?

POM     What would be a set-back for the government?

SC     Well if they really came a close second again, but I don't know that the DP, in the end I think the DP is going to be wiped out there if the CP [does have a] is there because white South Africans of a certain intelligence level and income level or whatever aren't that stupid and they're going to support the government against the CP. If they did as well as in Umlazi it would really be horrific because that's a high socio-economic group whereas Umlazi is not.

POM     They got 5% of the vote the last time. If they got 15% or 20% of the vote?

SC     I think everybody expects they might even go up to that but only because people are unsure. It would depend, if there was a nasty bomb blast in the middle of Randburg a week before, and there are all sorts of factors that might be interested in getting that going, then of course it would polarise and it would drive people into the CP camp as a protest against the government for not keeping law and order, which happened in Umlazi. I think part of that vote was absolute desperation about the situation in Natal where Police were just not on top of the situation, the fighting that was going on all around. Not that the whites had it in the street but they read about it in the paper every day and all their servants were experiencing it and there was general lack of security. Security is the issue in the country at the moment.

PAT     Why is there not a reaction among middle class people to stamp out bombings that are essentially by the right wing right now?

SC     I think there is.

PAT     Do you?

SC     There's general fear. It's an extraordinary thing, they say me, they see I'm a Nat, 'Hello Sheila, how are you? You must have had an interesting session. Isn't FW wonderful? I'm so pleased about what he's doing, but we're so worried.' There are two sides of it.

POM     If they're worried what are they worried about?

SC     Worried about personal, physical danger.

POM     Where do they see it coming from?

SC     Well they just generally see the radicals. I think they initially saw it as coming from the black radical faction and obviously they see it as coming from the right white radical factions now. If those two get started I think people generally have a thing against the black people.

POM     Doesn't your party take the threat of the CP seriously? I mean that in terms of there being members in your party who say, yes we must reform but we can't move too quickly or if we do we start losing some of our constituency.

SC     I don't know where these people are. In the parliamentary caucus there are very few people, I mean I can't remember anybody who has said that sort of thing to me lately. [I think ... with the changes.]

SC     Just coming back to this one point, you were talking about having the Group Areas Act or the abolition of it as an issue. It's kind of funny, the Johannesburg City Council sent around just before the general election, about two or three months before that they sent, a questionnaire they called it, to every ratepayer saying would they be prepared to have fixed facilities, amenities and the listed buses, swimming pools. I was doing a lot of visiting, going up streets and so on and these chaps were showing me their answers, they said no to every single thing. A large majority of the ratepayers said no, because it's up to the municipality in terms of the enabling Act. Anyway, so a large majority of the ratepayers said no in their questionnaire and a month later the Council opened all the facilities and there's never been a murmur. There's never been a riot on a bus or a fuss about anything so you can't make that an issue because people are used to one way.

POM     What do you see as the next steps forward over the next year, year and a half?

SC     I suppose we're going to try and get the talks going, hopefully. Heunis said that what he sees, this is the last speech he made before he went on holiday, I hope he's up to date, but one would try and get multi-lateral talks going and the first subject on their agenda would be the shape of the negotiating body, what the negotiating structure should look like. He said we would have to get some measure of agreement on that.

POM     It seems to me that what I've heard since I've been here and read before, that the government would favour broadening the negotiating table, bringing in more parties than a settlement reached on consensual lines and a constitution to be drawn up from that and presented to the people.

SC     You mean it's called co-opting the ANC?

POM     Well the other model would be the one favoured by the ANC which is you broaden the table but you have an election for a Constituent Assembly along the lines of the Namibian model.

SC     No, we rejected that.

POM     You've rejected that. Why have the government rejected that?

SC     All sorts of reasons. Firstly we don't think that any doubt should be cast on our ability to govern. We say we're a duly elected government recognised, sovereign, there is no vacuum, government vacuum like there was in Namibia. When the South Africans pulled out there was nobody running the place except somebody we appointed so there was perhaps a vacuum and there's no such thing here. Generally I think it's quite important the point that Gerrit Viljoen makes about polarisation. If you force everybody into election mode you're going to get polarisation where what you're trying to achieve is a measure of consensus and that can only be reached when you all sit around and talk turkey and recognise exactly that the groups that perhaps aren't that big but are certainly quite important aren't wiped out before you ever get their contribution.

PAT     Who on the white side sits at the table in that kind of case?

SC     We've said anybody who can represent a substantial political constituency. We've said that those are pretty clear. This has been brewing for years after all.

PAT     How do you determine that within the black community? Maybe you have in essence then whites at the table, the DP, the CP and the NP but then on the black side the ANC which de Klerk has already invited in as the interlocutors there?

SC     Well he's defined the purpose of those talks which is to get the obstacles out of the way. He keeps saying those aren't negotiations in the way we understand them.

PAT     But if he defines who sits at the table by virtue of those who can demonstrate a constituency how do you do that on the black side? The ANC would say you do that by having elections for a Constituent Assembly.

SC     Gerrit said that his door is open, anybody who wants to show up and say look, I want to talk or be part of this, he's prepared to listen to them and I think he's made no secret of the fact that he's leading these talks. The NP government are the people who have said we're prepared to share power, we leading, we're taking the initiative and if you want to take part come and approach us. That's been the tone of it all hasn't it? Also the government has independent people doing opinion polls all the time, I think every month if necessary, and it's very interesting apparently to see the changes in PAC, Inkatha, ANC support. They've got a monitoring faction going on anyway, they've got an idea, but if single issue parties arrive saying we want to (be part of this) I suppose they would have no reason to participate in those negotiations but I think it's pretty clear who's who and what's what.

POM     Do you think this is a point which the government will be firm on? That there will not be an election?

SC     Yes, absolutely so.

POM     What problems may the government run into that might derail the negotiating process? What must it be looking over its shoulder at?

SC     If the parties that one hopes will participate take certain positions and dig their heels in and say in that case we won't talk, you know de Klerk's reaction has been well, when they decide to come back we'll be sitting there waiting for them. So I think that's basically our position.

POM     But in a sense this question of a Constituent Assembly could be a major stumbling block in itself if the government says ...?

SC     Well it may keep people talking for ages, yes.

POM     If the government says it's one thing, we're not budging on in our negotiating process and we're the legitimate government, the ANC may simply walk away?

SC     Yes and they may come back again later. We can't determine this beforehand but certainly if the ANC raises this point I suppose it will be talked about but we've said that we don't see it as a possibility.

PAT     The ANC said that to some extent it's understandable. The CP says it as well because they want an election, I mean they want it now.

SC     Yes for a different reason.

PAT     But they want elections also with a referendum on this process. Is there any way that the government gets trapped on the right by the CP?

SC     The constitution doesn't demand another election for four years. What could happen? There will be the odd by-election. We've said that we don't agree with that idea and I suppose we have two positions on it and presumably it will be talked about. I can't possibly give you what our hard views are but as far as I gather we are very against it. On the other hand Gerrit has now said that there should be some sort of structured negotiating process and he actually called it a negotiating body. Now he obviously sees this, I've only got his speech in Afrikaans where he says 'a negotiating body'. There is obviously some thought that this would have to be structured and composed in a certain way. We're talking about that and they're talking about a Constituent Assembly which is also a body that thrashes out a new constitution, so how it gets there will be talked about, and who will be in it.

POM     Would you see this table which is representing different sections of the community as having representation from parties other than political parties? Would COSATU – in your view if you were putting a table together along with the political parties who else would you add or would you confine it to parties that are political?

SC     We think people with a political constituency. As far as I recall I presume that would mean political parties and it's interesting that Inkatha which was a national movement is now a political party, the ANC is now calling itself a political party, the SACP is also. I don't know what the PAC is going to do. It's interesting that they're following that line of thought. We talk about a new SA, the ANC uses it as their terminology, we say political groupings, they're all forming themselves into parties. It seems to me that there's going to be party political representation and I can't imagine that COSATU will say they're not part of the ANC, the bosses anyway. On the other hand the expectations of different groups may mean that in the course of talks it will be decided that churches should be represented, the trade union movement. It's difficult to ...

POM     Leaders of the homelands?

SC     You see the homelands have said, it's very difficult to tell that also, but they have, as I understand it, three of the national states have said that they want to come back and reserve the option to return to be part of SA, the other one hasn't. I don't know how they would be regarded as regional governments. There are political parties that were in those regional governments, whether they would have a seat at the national forum or negotiating body, whether they would be there as people who have to be part of second tier government. Because part of what we said, one of our departure points is that we'd like to strengthen all three tiers of government, have quite a large measure of devolution.

POM     1994, the time of the next election. If the problem hasn't worked itself out by then, if the government has not had a proposal put on the table, is there a real danger that the process could get derailed? Does de Klerk have essentially four years?

SC     Well yes, we have four years in terms of the constitution.

POM     If another election comes due and there has been no settlement reached?

SC     Well anything could happen. I mean we could all go off, the three chambers, and have an election or the three chambers could agree to postpone the election. That can also be done if all three chambers agree. It would depend. I can't imagine, it's certainly not what we want as far as our government ministers sayings on the matter are concerned, they've all said that we're in a hurry, we want to get the real talks started next year and our aim is to have this referendum in two/three years time and be ready within the period.

POM     Is there any sense that this process must be completed before the next election? Is the government looking at 1994 and being behind it and it's looming and they must get something done before that otherwise they could be in very real trouble in a subsequent election?

SC     I don't think the election worries them so much as one doesn't want it to drag on and groupings become polarised. I think the idea is really to get alliances forming and consensus and talking as soon as possible. I don't think the government wants to delay anything.

PAT     How much of it is related to the economics of the country and the need to come back into the financial market?

SC     Well that would be very helpful obviously. For a developing country to be exporting capital is ridiculous. The fact that we're still surviving is amazing. There's not a country in the world that's doing that in our sort of category so obviously it would help negotiators also because there would be less polarisation and one would be able to build the housing necessary, or be in a better position to do it, pay the pensions, equalise education, equalise pensions, social services and so on. Obviously it would benefit the possibility of reaching consensus and a peaceful solution. It must do.

PAT     Within the caucuses in the parliament, the NP, one would think that reformers can appeal to non-reformers with that pragmatic argument about why one has to move along this track. There must be divisions at certain times.

SC     There's been no division. No it's been very cheerful.

PAT     To be a reformer is usually to be a minority.

SC     No not at all. Perhaps we were a small minority before but only because we were junior. But everybody is a reformer now as far as I can see.

POM     When you look at the ANC what potential obstacles do you think it faces as it proceeds with this process?

SC     It's quite interesting, we were chatting about this at lunch time. It's the French national day and I went along, I was chatting to this Namibian and he said of course the expectations that have been raised are one of the greatest problems they are facing, to make people realise that housing – you're not going to be able to wave a wand and squatter camps will be transformed into decent townships. The crisis of rising expectations, I think they are facing it, they're going to face it, more in the future even.

POM     How about if the rate of reform is too slow, if Mandela can't show tangible results in a short period of time, is there any concern – do you have any concerns that in that event he might be simply overwhelmed by more radical forces?

SC     I don't think that will be a problem. I think he's become a god-like figure hasn't he? I think it wouldn't be possible for the more radical ranks perhaps within the ANC, short of bumping him off I don't think they could possibly do that in the present circumstances. The Americans would see to that. He's really risen above everything I should think in the black mind but you cannot imagine an alternative to Mandela in the ANC.

POM     On the other hand if you've been raised so high there's only one direction you can go.

SC     Absolutely. Sure. I should think this crisis if it comes will be a few years down the line because at the moment he can do no wrong.

POM     Getting back to the point of – are there time constraints on this process before either it gets bogged down or before the major people involved in it, like Mandela or de Klerk, the people become disillusioned with them and don't think that they can deliver?

SC     It's difficult to foretell this isn't it. I think most whites think that the negotiations will either go fast or slow. I think they're fairly philosophical about it. I think most whites who are not in the CP camp think the negotiations should start and it's going to be a long process because I think we see that we will have to be patient. There are expectations on the other side. Those leaders have particular problems. It may not be easy for them to agree or reach agreement to things that are important to us. It may take a while. We will have to compromise, they will have to compromise and our constituency will have to get used to what's going on as well. I don't think anybody feels that this is going to happen overnight.

POM     When you say long, are you talking about five years, ten years?

SC     We're talking about four years at the moment aren't we? We hope. But a week's a long time in politics. I think what our priority is, is to get the talks started. You can't determine the rate of negotiations really can you? Obviously one has to see how it goes.

POM     How about the economy? You've had COSATU over the years advancing very socialistic ideas about the economy and coming out square for nationalisation in key sectors of the economy. You've had the ANC talk about a mixed economy, you've had Mandela talk about nationalisation but in terms of state participation. How big of an issue will this become?

SC     I think it's a major issue in the white community. I don't know about the other communities. They are promised all sorts of things by their leaders. If they materialise I think the leadership could have a problem and you've got the PAC waiting in the wings. Well that's the conventional wisdom. On the other hand I think COSATU and the trade unions have done pretty well by their members if you look at the way wages have gone up and it's made us very uncompetitive with the East for example and now wages are way above Taiwan and Singapore and Thailand, people who are competing with us.

POM     Do you think structures about the economy would have to be worked out as part of this process too, that in a sense people would be asked not just to vote on the constitution per se but that they also would need to know what kind of economic system ...?

SC     Well we want certain safeguards. As far as we're concerned some of the safeguards we've indicated are that we don't want a punitive taxation system, we've got to have private ownership recognised, things like that.

POM     How about in terms of nationalisation?

SC     A free market economy.

POM     One thing specifically, would you want an undertaking that, say, the mines would not be nationalised?

SC     Yes, we've said we're against nationalisation altogether.

PAT     But you're not against nationalisation of things like railroads and airlines? Are you against nationalisation of the public authorities?

SC     Totally. Yes, we've just been following Maggie Thatcher who can do no wrong.

POM     Would there need to be an undertaking given by again, say, loosely the ANC that the mines would not be nationalised?

SC     I think it would have to be entrenched in the constitution.

POM     You think it would have to be?

SC     I think it would have to be part of it, that's what we said. We'd like to see a constitution that safeguards a free market economy, private property, no appropriation without compensation, no punitive tax system, no robbing the rich to give the poor and all that sort of stuff. We haven't couched it in those terms.

POM     I want to distinguish between no appropriation without compensation and nationalisation. Are you saying that the white community could accept nationalisation as long as there is compensation for it or that no nationalisation should be built in to the constitution?

SC     Well that hasn't been decided but I think the direction we're heading we want safeguards built into the constitution to prevent that sort of thing happening and it may be that those safeguards will be accommodated more by the entrenchment of a multi-party accountable government. If you have a one-party state you can do what you like whereas if you have a multi-party state, if it appears that there are alliances on the capitalist side, alliances on the socialist side, it's a balanced thing that you can't change the economic structure of the country without a very large majority. All these things will depend on what shapes up at the negotiating table because our government also thinks that alliances will develop in the course of negotiations, sort out the sheep from the goats.

POM     Has your party just as a party had any debate about whether the new dispensation should involve a unitary state or a federal state? Are there any debates going on in the party itself?

SC     We've said united, we're not using the word 'unitary'. We're saying a united South Africa but we recognise that there could very well be a strong federal component particularly at second tier government. There could be very strong regional governments in the way that the old Provincial Councils were. I think that would suit South Africa because you have problems with [a pretty well] integrity, you have a different system perhaps for the situation in Natal where you've got KwaZulu-Natal which is very integrated regional government.

POM     The temperature of your party now? Would there be a sentiment more in favour of a federal structure than a unitary state? I'm asking that question because it's a question I'll ask you again next year. In other words I want to try to get a measurement of sentiment at a point in time and then see how that sentiment might change.

SC     I would definitely say yes, definitely.

POM     You mentioned Natal and we hear a lot about the violence there. It's one of the aspects of the situation that has been over-covered in the American media. How is the violence there perceived by your party, by your constituency?

SC     It's very regrettable, it's something that one ...

POM     What do you think has caused it?

SC     I would say that there's a general measure of agreement that it's a territorial fight, that this was Inkatha's territory and that from 1985/6 the ANC really has done its best to get a foothold and become the top dog in the KZN area and that's the reason they're fighting because the Inkatha grouping hasn't given in. They're protecting their territory. I think it's seen very much as a territorial fight.

PAT     Does the government send people in to go in to try to control the situation?

SC     Well they have gone in from time to time in greater numbers. But what people say to each other also is that there has been faction fighting ever since anybody can remember in KwaZulu, there have been different factions, and this seems to be an overlay. The factions' disagreements and vendettas that have gone over generations have been used by the different groups as well as part of their fight. Obviously it's far worse than that but it is a component as I understand it really from talking to journalists, some fine journalists who have been around covering the fight but it's all mixed up. There's the Inkatha and ANC fight, there are different groupings within the KwaZulu area. I'm not a Natal expert at all but certainly I remember when our son was at Michaelhouse at school in the Midlands for five years and we used to go down and meet a lot of the parents there, especially around 1984/85 the perception of the whites in that area was that the troublemakers from Jo'burg, i.e. the ANC, were coming down and causing discord and grief generally but 'our impis', they said, were sorting them out. It's an extraordinary perception that the white Natalians were saying, "And our impis were going out and sorting these chaps out", 'we' all being Zulus together in Natal, white and black. There was that sort of feeling wasn't there, that the ANC was coming in and trying to grab territory from the traditional Zulu political group.

POM     Somebody said it to us in terms of it being a clash of values, that Inkatha is built on a tribal basis for the hierarchy and authority, each being at the top of the hierarchy.

SC     There's no doubt about that.

POM     And it evolved down where the ANC/UDF would be more of a democratic type of ...

SC     It's run by demagogues, party bosses.

POM     - fundamental clashes of values and so on.

SC     Well I think a lot of the supporters of both sides are simple people so obviously I think everybody would recognise that there is a very strong type of structure. I've been to a banquet that we gave here, or at least the Council gave for the King – gosh what a thing! It was very interesting to have to submit to the praise singer every time the King opened his mouth, the praise singer started up after ten minutes. Extraordinary. And we were about 50% whites and 50% blacks in the City Hall and most of them were noted Inkatha members and the crème de la crème of the Zulus in Jo'burg and so on and they were all dolled up in their furs and so on, not in the least bit tribal, and here was this – what do they call him? Sangoma and the praise singer whisking his whisk and yelling this gobbledegook. Of course they knew the responses. It was about five minutes before he started getting responses out of them, we just followed the thing. And they were quite tolerant of it, joined in, but they were 'oh well that's what we have to do when we get tribal'. It was quite an experience.

PAT     I would assume that a little bit of the story, part of the point is that it sounds to us like the ANC and the UDF saying that in many ways in KwaZulu Inkatha is a creation of the SA government but that it's not a total creation – I mean Buthelezi isn't a creation of the SA government, they recognise his personality and where the SA government want to take homeland leaders and so that the government there has more responsibility then it has exercised in the past in resolving this conflict.

SC     Well I think the government would want to bear responsibility for resolving a conflict anywhere but I certainly don't think you can say Inkatha was a creation of the government. Buthelezi set himself up as an opponent of the government from the day that he ever was elected Chief Minister. His story is that the government over the years is bullying him into becoming part of the system and he refused, he always refused to be independent. I think his credentials are pretty good as an opponent of the government. It's been a pretty good system. He's always insisted that before he would talk or participate Mandela would have to be released from jail. Maybe by virtue of the fact that he agreed to be elected at all as a homeland leader but I think to participate in some political structure, administratively it's been quite healthy.

POM     Is there any group action against violence in Natal? How do whites in general see it, do they see it as being some kind of local squabble or do they see it as the harbinger of what would happen if you had black rule?

SC     Well I've heard people say often that if the whites withdrew entirely it would be a blood bath because there are factions that just don't get on and the more primitive the factions are the more they resort to violence. That can be seen anywhere. If you think of the Indian independence when the British withdrew - that is one view of it. I hope that doesn't happen in Natal. I think the whites are, I don't think any political solution is possible in the country without the whites having an important political role. I don't think the whites are about to abrogate their political role as they have in Zimbabwe for instance. I think a political role is important because it's an important component of the population and the history of the country and the tradition of it, we're very much part of the country.

POM     You would see power sharing as a model for a settlement?

SC     That's our model, that's what we've fought for.

POM     That would mean, I'm going to refer it to Northern Ireland where the British government have essentially said that majority rule is not democratic rule and if there ever is to be an internal government within Northern Ireland there will have to be power sharing between the two communities which means that a certain proportion of Cabinet positions would have to be reserved for members of the Catholic community. To use the model developing here where again you would have an Executive that would be composed of both members of the NP and members of the, if they were a political grouping, the ANC ...

SC     We call it minority participation in government.

Mr.C     Wouldn't you think that one can think in terms of the composition of the different parties being totally different down the road?

SC     Well that's possible but I don't think we're thinking of parties we're thinking perhaps of alliances.

Mr.C     But I was thinking of the question more in terms of power sharing, i.e. colour sharing power.

SC     No not at all. We don't see a racial factor in this at all. The fact is if you look, like seeks out like where they live or whether they sit together this way or that way, but I think that's a given, but if you look at elections in Namibia every single political party had an ethnic base to it. Some of them participated in alliances and they were all open but it didn't mean to say that they didn't have those ethnic bases.

PAT     Could you see an alliance which has the NP and the ANC together?

SC     I can't see us entering into an alliance with the ANC if they stick to some of the policies they're sticking to now.

PAT     But there seems to be, I think part of what we're saying is that if the ANC divides at some point, within it are many different ideological voices from communists to ... and, I guess my question is probably inappropriate, but are there elements in the ANC in which the NP might find itself an alliance?

SC     Well we're nationalists and a lot of them are nationalists I suppose. I think there would be a lot of common ground there but then of course there are nationalists in the Inkatha group and the PAC.

PAT     ... Inkatha with the NP is happening in formal discussions of the process.

SC     We are, but even ... are having quite regular discussions with Buthelezi and his Inkatha people.

PAT     To join an alliance similar to what was put together in Namibia under the DTA, something like that?

SC     No I don't think it's going to that at the moment. All we've said is we're open, we're not running around looking for alliances. The State President's attitude is that these will form naturally where we find we all subscribe to common goals and values and so on and mores.

POM     So you would see the NP down the road attracting black voters?

SC     I think there's no doubt about it. I think the latest opinion polls show that 20% of all blacks will support the NP and certainly the Coloureds, I mean what is it, 35%, 40% of Coloureds in the Cape? They did a survey quite recently, and I think the Labour Party got a bit of a shock because I think in the Cape Peninsula the percentages were 5% for the Labour Party, 35% the NP. My own experience bears that out because when I've talked to groups of women or particular issue groups in Cape Town in this last six months and there have been mixed audiences I've always had quite a few Coloureds in the audience come up and say, 'Look, if you open your party we're there tomorrow.' So I think there's a very strong element of that and I think the younger Nationalists are absolutely adamant that the party will be open one day. But you don't want to put the cart before the horse. I think the President is probably quite right in his approach that let's get a bit closer to the table, let's see who's with us and who we're with before – and that will happen naturally then. For instance the Labour Party has always said that they would imagine that we'd be natural allies but they obviously couldn't enter into an alliance without us being an open party.

PAT     I have a question about, it's an Eastern Europe/Central Europe question. What, if any, impact have the events in Central Europe over the last year had here?

SC     Well I think they've been a key factor and I don't think anybody has made a secret out of it. It's freed the President's hands, the fact that communism was totally finished. You know we've had the total onslaught mentality but the onslaught disappeared, the cold war evaporated and we had to get with the new world picture. It's a different place altogether and if this government had clung to outdated ideology when the rest of the world is giving it up we wouldn't have been with it and I think the fact that the State President recognised immediately what this meant for us and the opportunities it held was really a big key reason where we are.

PAT     So do you think people to the right who still claim that are marginalised eventually and people within the black communities who hang on to something which they don't know what it means any more?

SC     Yes absolutely, they are going to be marginalised unless they change pretty quick because there's a tide and you've got to take it haven't you. This is really one of the times - it's really earth-shattering isn't it, the events of November 9th? The fact that we've got on to the tide, the fringe.

PAT     What about what's going on in other parts of Africa? The fact that you are having, even though the opportunity didn't materialise as in Eastern Europe, but you do have these movements for multi-party democracy?

SC     Well you hear sounds about it. Then you get shocked.

PAT     We came from Kenya on our way here and we didn't know much of what was going on, maybe it was because of where we were staying, we actually hear more about it here than we did when we were in Nairobi. There are movements taking place in some of the stranger quarters as well.

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.