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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

17 Jul 1990: Klaaste, Aggrey

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POM     I'm talking with Aggrey Klaaste, editor of The Sowetan, on the 17th of July. Mr. Klaaste, you were just taking about the nature of the violence that was taking place in Soweto today.

AK     As I said, it is not - although it is very painful now because it is turning into, almost forced into, a tribal thing. It is all, in a way, inevitable, because Inkatha is totally Zulu. A lot of Zulu people are rather upset about what is happening. I mean, I've just been getting calls from guys who are Zulus, saying that everybody is despising the Zulu, and blah, blah, and they are going to fight to the death, and all that kind of nonsense. Now, I don't know, you see, because it seems to me putting out the fire will be dealing with the symptoms and some things will not be much not different. And I've been, even from the beginning of the violence in Natal, I've tried to do a number of things which haven't worked. I've tried to get the political organisations involved, and by the very nature of their being, they are all trying to fight for turf and it didn't work. Then I tried to get the church, I started in the church actually three years ago and the church had problems which I just realised now were also kind of political. And I actually tried to make the situation in Natal, an impossible situation involving a sort of OAU or something, I mean I was just getting rather desperate now, and I just gave it up.

     I can't give up now, because it is getting to a situation where I believe it is getting to be almost part of the culture of the people. This time, I do the same thing. I try to get the political organisations involved. I tried to get the church involved, the church has been creeping under the wings of theological solutions for so long they don't know what do. Then I thought of Ireland quite strangely. I thought of the women, what the women did there. I got the women involved initially two weeks ago and it didn't work out too well because they also seem to have divisions which are very unhappy. Now, just yesterday, a number of women came to see me and said they were aware that I had tried to get in touch with them. I was looking for some drama, you need a lot drama and theatre, getting all of the women together to say, 'Stop killing our children', or something like that.

     It's not working out yet because, as you might notice, the situation has just gone from bad to worse, even in Soweto right now, as we speak. And the women want to - in fact some of the women are at the police stations today in Soweto, others want to see Mr. Mandela to force a meeting between him and Buthelezi. And what they ought to do is to get the women in Natal to do the same thing, to get together and force Buthelezi to see Mandela. I mean, it will be a symbolic kind of situation, really, which should - in fact, I should call Mr. Mandela and tell him to do it, I mean he has to do it. I think it is the only saving grace.

POM     What do you think has been his reluctance to do it so far?

AK     Well, I don't think he's been reluctant, it's just that he's a puppet. The ANC itself, they've had a bad kind of run with Inkatha for some time and there are still wounds which have been leaked from the trouble in Natal. And I think that he has a higher of level of leadership, that if Mr. Buthelezi goes to see - I mean, if Mr. Mandela sees Buthelezi it will giving him a kind of level he does not deserve. But it seems to me it is worth it now. It doesn't matter what happens, it's worth it for him to go there.

POM     Is Inkatha the bad guy, as everyone seems to make him out to be, or is it more complex?

AK     It is more complex than that. It is the whole socio-economic thing, too. The Inkatha Zulu thing has been very unfortunate and one needs to explain what has been happening to so-called migrant labour, manual forces, married men forced into hostels, it's a terrible situation. I mean, it really degrades and intimidates these guys and they feel they are always in a situation of hostility one way or the other. I mean, you must know that the Zulu guys are not pushovers. I mean, they are fighting guys. And it upsets them to be in a situation of such severe threats, you know, because even under normal conditions, living amongst married people in a little hostel which is ... this has been going on for many years, many years. From the time when I was a little boy I remember mine compounds, and I used to see them called "mine boys" from out of South Africa being treated even by us residents, urban residents, as some, not even country bumpkins, somewhat low people. Obviously, it was just proving the other border and the whole cycle continues up to now. One of the things that must happen, obviously, is for these hostels to be removed, and these men and must be housed with their families and so on. What we are faced with now, the whole problem in my eyes, the apartheid situation has developed - I mean, all these elements are because of the apartheid situation which at some stage also sharpened the tribal division and then created the hostels and the little compounds of single married men. You know, it is just a situation which was asking for lots of trouble, which is bearing fruit now. And it's important, I think, that these hostels should disappear and men be given homes with their families, because otherwise - that's a long term solution I'm talking. Short term solutions, I really don't know what the heck should happen. I just think that they ought to symbolically, not that it's going to work too much, Mr. Mandela ought to go and see Mr. Buthelezi.

POM     Do you think that as long as this violence lasts that it makes real negotiations impossible and that if some resolution doesn't resolve the situation in Natal will make progress really difficult?

AK     Yes, absolutely. Because also, now, I mean, violence has got this thing of creating other courses all around it. There are fears that some other people, not necessarily the parties, the Zulus, Inkatha, and the ANC are involved in an endeavour to stop all the talks. Now, you would have believed the evidence whether these are right wingers or left wingers. Now, what is also pretty upsetting is that the white South Africans, including some very good white friends of mine, are saying, 'OK, look at how savage black people are', and blah, blah, which is very dangerous thinking because it is reinforcing still the tribal preconceptions people have about blacks and obviously making this situation very difficult for de Klerk in whatever he is doing. But they are missing the boat, because this is not just a question of black people being savage, it is a result of the whole system. For many years, they have caused all these unhappy social problems, many of them are really social. People are living awful lives.

POM     To take you back for a moment to Mr. de Klerk's speech on the second of February, did it come as a surprise to you, and what do you think motivated him to move so broadly and so sweepingly at the same time?

AK     Well, it was a total surprise, quite frankly, because it was unexpected, but I believe what probably caused it was what was happening in the history of the world. Starting with what Mr. Gorbachev did out there. What I would tell you is that before de Klerk, there was PW Botha, who had himself done a number of interesting reforms, you know, taking away the Pass Laws and so forth, but he didn't have the historic space to take the gap that de Klerk took. De Klerk obviously had the space because it seems like the threat of communism was diminishing, seems like the ANC wouldn't have as much support as it had before from the east. And then there was the revolution, as it seemed, of the province in Angola, and there was Namibia getting sorted out. So historically, Mr. de Klerk was given a lot of space to act as courageously as he did. I mean, he was actually the man of his time, because he took the gap, he took the chance. I think he is not very different from many other Afrikaner politicians who really accept that that space was created. And I would imagine most Afrikaners, most of their leaders, have been waiting for something like this, really, because the country is at kind of a stalemate, really. The armed struggle was not being successful and the repressive system not being very helpful in terms of the country's economy and just sheer ability. So, something was definitely needed to push, and this happened because of what happened in the world which made that situation.

POM     What assumptions do you think Mr. de Klerk made about the ANC when he decided to initiate negotiations with them? Did he, for example, believe that not only did the ANC more or less inspire the people, but it also could deliver the black community with it?

AK     Well, you must realise that one of the important matters about the ANC was Mr. Mandela. And I mean, the government, they also, all the government had been frightened that he might die in prison and they were all looking for a way in which to get rid of this man. And I don't believe de Klerk had any more different view of the ANC than he did Inkatha, he just had the Mandela problem and everybody was saying, I mean the ANC had a popular kind of image, everybody was saying Mandela and ANC, unban the ANC, and things would sort themselves out. And he probably thought that this would be a way out, and quite realising the Inkatha was pretty strong, but the Inkatha egg was in the bag as far as he was concerned because they were talking to Buthelezi anyway. So, it was important to get the ANC, which obviously was a much more strong organisation than any of the other black political organisations, the PAC and the BC.

POM     Do you think that de Klerk has conceded on the issue of majority rule?

AK     Well, I don't know, I really don't know. I don't think tactically he could concede, he wouldn't do it. Because of the problems he's having with his own people too, he would probably move towards that concession when the talks begin and it seems to him that there are many more actors in the deal.

POM     What's your understanding of what his position is on it? He's for one-man, one-vote, one-woman, one-vote.

AK     De Klerk?

POM     Yes.

AK     Well, he's not. He's obviously worried about protection of the minority rights. But I mean, he might say it if he realises that one-man, one-vote is perhaps the right thing to do and that if he has one-man, one-vote it will not frighten the minority. That's what he needs. He needs a reassurance that the universal franchise will not threaten the Afrikaners or the whites because of the number of blacks who would vote in a black government or something.

POM     So, as far as you're concerned, you don't understand him explicitly to say, I'm for a universal franchise, I'm for majority rule?

AK     Yes, no he's not saying that. he wouldn't say that now. He'll probably wait. He still talks of minority rights and protecting of minority rights which is tactically the right thing to say, to get his people, to reassure them. But as soon as the process starts, hopefully, and he sees there are many more actors, like more white people, including the Afrikaner to the right, talking to the other parties and so on, then the fear, the one-man, one-vote thing is just an irrational fear because it doesn't mean that while the blacks are in the majority, it will just vote in black governments necessarily. I think people are much more intelligent than that. People would actually vote in white people, too, if they have to, that they'd really think about it.

POM     Does de Klerk have, in your view, a grand design, a strategy? Is he aiming for something or is he unleashing a process that at some point will ...?

AK     Well, I don't think anybody could possibly have that grand design in this country because the complexity of the situation doesn't make for that kind of thinking. The grand design, even the much more simpler one, a simple solution like the design that the writing of apartheid, apartheid was a grand design because it was a simple kind of process, but now you have to deal with so many political actors and feelings and problems at the same time. I think it would be rather ridiculous to try and figure out a grand design. I'm sure he doesn't know himself what's going to happen in the future.

POM     How do you think the process is going to unfold? You now have a situation where the obstacles to negotiations are almost out of the way.

AK     Well, I really don't know. I think at the end, despite all these problems, now I think black groups, the black political organisations, are going to talk. I don't see any option, you know, the armed struggle is just a slogan. There is no struggle, there is no armed struggle, really. And they are going to become more ridiculous if de Klerk removes all the obstacles.

POM     But there are some, there are three general scenarios that I think that we have run across. One is the path of the Constituent Assembly and the other is the broad negotiation table with all of the parties represented that reaches some consensus on the way forward, and the third is a kind of an interim government or a government with a representation from the black political parties alongside some kind of a convention of eminent people from the country who would draw up the principles of a constitution.

AK     Who has got this idea?

POM     That's a scenario. These are just different things we have heard. Which do you think?

AK     I really don't think I can give you the right one. As I say, you can draw up a scenario and hope it will fit, but it is just too complex. I mean, the Constituent Assembly thing has been kicked out by the government, they might agree, they might not. And the ANC is kind of - didn't want it at the beginning. I mean, it was the PAC that asked for the Constituent Assembly, I think. But now they are kind of saying it's perhaps necessary. I think the whole thing will just muddle itself through.

POM     Just muddle itself through?

AK     It will just have to muddle itself through. What will have to happen, firstly, after the initial talks, I mean, the tragic situation now is just to have to force people to come to the table, and Inkatha and the ANC and the other political organisations, they will have to come and talk, and then decide amongst themselves what is the next step. You know, I mean, while it is useful, I suppose, to draw up scenarios, I'm not the one to do that, quite frankly.

POM     So what you're saying is that before any real negotiations can take place with the government, all the black parties should get together and hammer out some kind of common strategy?

AK     No, what I think is going to happen - I don't think it will happen that way at all. I think the government is going to make sure that the black parties don't just on their own come together. I mean part of that is seen by what is happening now. Because if there is any sinister thing going on now, it's trying to divide the black parties from coming together. So it would be easier, it would seem to me, for Mr. de Klerk and his party to have different actors from the black political organisations come separately to the table. In the meantime, the ANC has got other ideas. The ANC has been speaking to lots of homeland leaders, trying to create a constituency, a black thing. But it itself has got problems, because the PAC and the Black Consciousness people do not want to come and climb that bandwagon.

POM     How serious a problem is that?

AK     Well, it is pretty serious because everybody is fighting for turf now, but if the process does work, if de Klerk says, OK, fine, we are going talk and I am inviting anybody to come, it will be interesting to see what will happen because the ANC will go and a lot of homeland leaders will probably go there. Some will probably go because the ANC will go, and talk to them. That process will go on but the important thing will be Buthelezi and Mandela. That has got to be resolved immediately and my feeling is that it can only be resolved if they have peace talks about this, the crisis now, as it were, and then talk about other things.

POM     Last year you were very concerned about young people, the generations that had gone without education, who were unemployable and unemployed and they still appear to be a problem insofar as they aren't submitting to any discipline. Does that make a volatile explosive problem waiting to erupt out there or is it already erupting in the form of some of this violence?

AK     Yes, it is already erupting in the form of some of this violence. Because right now, some of the kids are busy amassing themselves to fight the so-called Inkatha or Zulu people. It's a hell of problem we're faced with there that the leadership doesn't seem to have - well, obviously the ANC hasn't got an organisational situation in place yet to be able to, nor, I suspect, does Inkatha or anybody else, for that matter. So that is also another worrisome problem.

POM     Is there any possibility of deflection of support among young people to the PAC?

AK     Yes.

POM     They regard the ANC more and more as a sell-out?

AK     Yes, there is, except for the person of Mandela. He's rather powerful as an image. And the kids are in a way kind of rather worried. They don't know what exactly to do. I mean, you can't possibly believe that Mandela is selling out because of who he is and what he's done. But they are not very happy about this business about the armed struggle being halted, and some of them will probably think of moving to the PAC.

POM     Like, does the PAC become the alternative which could attract anybody who is disillusioned or dissatisfied with the ANC?

AK     Yes, yes, that would be a possibility, although, of course, there are others, it's very complex. I mean, there's the Black Consciousness people, too, who are also fighting to position themselves, and also there is Inkatha. We can't just forget Inkatha, they've got a lot of strong youth organisations, particularly now that these chaps are saying to me that it's no longer an Inkatha thing, it's a Zulu thing. I mean, some guy was just phoning me now to say that we are all out to kill the Zulus. So it is an awfully difficult thing. I'm afraid I can't be particularly useful now because I'm so - it's difficult for me to look out for an immediate or emergency solution. I'm trying to find one. I should just call Mr. Mandela and tell him to go up and see Buthelezi because I think that he is vitally important. I don't care what happens. Now these kids have just come back - oh, the whole thing is a mess because the police also seem to be, still seem to be taking a rather cruel position defending the Inkatha groups, which is not unusual because they are used to that kind of using the vigilante situation to fight the other people. So they are still doing that. Whether it's just out of habit, I think it's just habit, because I'm sure the policeman at the top who must be listening to what de Klerk says would know that the violence is also not in the interest of the National Party itself. It's creating serious problems for the government.

POM     A couple of people have said to us in the last twenty-four hours that there were individuals within Inkatha and individuals within the security forces, some of them pretty highly-ranked, not at the top but at the mid-level, and that there was some orchestration of what was going on.

AK     I'm sorry, I really don't know.

POM     But your reporters don't come back with any suggestions of that?

AK     I have been rather surprised by the attack the other day, yesterday, of men going around, it used to be Inkatha men, and immediately going to the schools, which is just deliberately trying to stir up nonsense from the kids, and they have succeeded. Because this truck went from school to school beating up the kids and scaring them, and I didn't exactly know what they doing. Heck, but now that you mention that, it seems to me possibly that situation.

POM     Just taking your present mood, when you look over the next couple of years and even the rest of this year, what obstacles do you see lying in the path of Mr. Mandela as he tries to rally his community behind him as he drives this process towards conclusion?

AK     Well, the more you think about it, the more it is a socio-economic thing, because the people are just being primed to be instable. Now, if he talks about the armed struggle must stop to people who are so threatened, he is just asking for trouble. Maybe that is why they offered this violence. He should be able to, and I don't think he can deliver that, to try and halt some of the violence. His not being able to is going to be a problem for him politically. But if he can do it, it will be a good thing for him. And then he will be expected to deliver more, because people who live in hostels and shacks expect more than just the negotiations, the talks at the high level. They expect to see through their eyes that things are beginning to improve. That's another problem. I don't know if he will be able to deliver that. [I think they need ??? ??? obviously is the violence.]

POM     But even if there were a majority government tomorrow morning, what difference would it make in the life of the average black person?

AK     Very little. I think it probably will be much more difficult because the majority black government will inherit this whole social-economic mess.

POM     What difference would it make in the lives of the average person who lives in a township or squatters' camp?

AK     It won't make any physical difference at all. It will probably get worse, because the black government will have to start learning the ropes from scratch as to how to improve the lives of those people. I mean, they talk about sharing of the wealth and we have to think about the economic difficulties and then they will have to get to developmental processes, like helping the squatters and hostels and stuff like that. And I'm afraid a black government wouldn't have a track record to administer that kind of thing.

POM     Isn't there a question of the resources, too, of where the resources would come from to do all of these things, to tackle these massive problems?

AK     Yes. I mean, if you say "all-black government" you are assuming the whites are going to say it's OK to have an all-black government.

POM     And you doubt that.

AK     I doubt that.

POM     You doubt whether whites will agree to an all-black government?

AK     No, they won't agree to that at all. I don't even think that Mandela - I don't even think that most intelligent black people would allow that to happen, because they certainly do realise that the whites skills are needed in this process. That's why Mandela is speaking to the white government.

POM     So would you see a government emerging in which perhaps members of the, say, just for the shorthand say, an ANC government or predominantly ANC government, in which members of the National Party might hold a number of portfolios?

AK     Yes, I see that.

POM     So it would be more like a power-sharing government?

AK     That's right. That seems to be the most sensible thing that could happen, taking in all the problems.

POM     Would it be your understanding that that would be acceptable to Mandela?

AK     Yes.

POM     That when he talks about compromising, that's really what he's talking about?

AK     Yes, of course, he wants to see that happen. I mean, I think Mandela is pretty - the irony of the matter is that I think Mandela, as many intelligent practical others are aware of, if blacks are going to do it alone, it will just mess it up so that the whites, ironically, are a necessary component of whatever thing you want to do here. Even at the level of the ... of power.

POM     What about the economic structures? Are economics going to play a big part in these negotiations?

AK     Yes, yes, of course.

POM     Will the government be trying to protect white economic power as much as possible?

AK     I'm sure they will. But, I mean, on the other hand, they have got to organise their demands that will be made from the under-privileged. Some of that power, that economic power, ought to be shared. How are they going to do that? I really don't know.

POM     Do you see them trying to get a guarantee in the constitution that the economic structure will be one of free enterprise? Are they more concerned about the preservation of their economic power than giving away some political power?

AK     Well, I don't know. If you want to say their economic power, I mean, if their economic power is taken to mean the wealth of the country, I think the most sensible thing that they would want to do is to see that there is economic growth. However that is realised I think most businessmen would have that enlightened self-interest even if it means sharing some of the spoils. If people are made, if there is a possibility to make as many people contributing towards the growth economically of the country, then the better for them. I don't think that they just selfishly want to hang on to their privilege.

POM     But they would be looking for an economic structure that would be market-oriented.

AK     Yes, I'm sure they would. I'm sure the ANC itself and their people, socialist or even nationalists, are men of the world. I'm sure they know what works economically, and the evidence is there, what countries have been successful in the world and what structures have worked and which ones haven't worked. But even if Mandela would even speak of compromise even at that level.

POM     Do you see, perhaps ultimately, not at this point, but ultimately in this regard, the ANC and, say, COSATU, would be on a collision course? That COSATU is much more invested in the rhetoric of socialism?

AK     Well, I don't know, quite frankly. I mean, I don't know. The problem is that COSATU has rather painted itself with ANC colours, and to add to their problems, the other enormous one, is a very strong federation. I mean, it seems to me the leader of that federation is rather part of the ANC thinking.

POM     Who's that?

AK     Cyril Ramaphosa. And, you know, I mean, this kind of thing, I don't know what happens in other countries where the trade unions have to either distance themselves from the political organisation and become worker things, or still retain their political kind of influence. I don't know, I really don't know how it is going to work out here.

POM     White fears, particularly in the context of how you were talking earlier, are there whites fears that are valid and are there white fears that are imaginary, and how should they be addressed?

AK     Most fears are pretty valid because, you know, the evidence is, there is violence. Why is there violence like now amongst black people? White people would have fears, invalid fears that black people are, by nature, violent. And that is what they fear and that is the invalidity of the whole thing. It's the fact that people are just living in pure hell. That's why they become like that. Because we add to a situation and become violent, not that people are just necessarily, the fears are that - and there's still a type so that black people are by nature as the Zulus. Well, there are obviously lots of old hang-ups about blacks in general. Look at the continent, what these guys have done. I mean, how can you possibly expect them to be ruling? And these fears are being reinforced by what is happening right now. But other people are missing the boat. I mean, people are missing the realisation that some of this violence is symptoms of other things, other things that happen to black people to cause them to act, I suppose, in the way they are doing now.

POM     What role does the South African Communist Party play in all of this?

AK     I don't know. The South African Communist Party has had a very long relationship with the ANC. And the South African Communist Party is rather confused right now. They, after communism has been somewhat discredited worldwide, I mean, people like Joe Slovo don't exactly know what to say, I think.

POM     How would you distinguish between a member of the ANC and a member of the SACP? What does one believe that the other doesn't?

AK     Well, some members of the ANC were communistically inclined. But many members of the ANC were just purely nationalists. They were, people like Mandela, I think even Sisulu, were people who thought like nationalists really and who wouldn't have had a Marxist kind of orientation, or at least inclination. But there are guys in the ANC who are obviously Marxists and would favour that.

POM     But is Marx a presence any more?

AK     Well, I'm sorry to say that some people still believe he is in this country, although all these things have happened. There is a lot of confusion, really, as to what is socialism. I mean, I'm afraid you will find all sorts of different definitions, if at all, as to what the meaning of socialism and communism means in this country, in our context. Even Joe Slovo, I think, has got difficulties to express where the SACP will be driving at economically, what is their process for the future.

POM     At what point - does this process have to be over by 1994?

AK     Why 1994?

POM     The year in which the next tri-cameral election discusses the term of ...

AK     Yes, I guess it has to be. I guess it has to be because 1994 is the next general election, isn't it? Yes, I guess it would have to be. [??? the present ???] is bad for de Klerk, for him to consolidate his position.

POM     Is the threat on the right a real threat?

AK     Sometimes it's a threat and sometimes it's not, it's caused by the way the wind blows. I mean, with all this violence, many white people get frightened and go to the right. Then when things are getting better, then the right wing gets desperate themselves and becomes violent and then they drive away support from themselves.

POM     But do you think if an election were held today that the Conservative Party would command a majority of the white voters?

AK     I don't think so. But they would be pretty strong.

POM     So you don't foresee any point between now and 1994 where the strength of the Conservative Party could be such as to pose a very real threat to de Klerk?

AK     Well, like I said, it depends on what happens on the ground. All this violence in the townships is just bad news for de Klerk. And drives a lot of white people who are not even right wingers, who are liberal white people, into the arms of the CP and think that maybe de Klerk overdid the whole thing, he should have given more time to develop, or whatever.[ And they would probably] It may well swing again to the right, they would probably do it purely out of surviving.

POM     We saw some polls that showed that de Klerk's standing in the black community was far higher than Mandela's standing in the white community. Would that surprise you?

AK     Not really because there were lots of people who have been rather, in the black community, who have been rather impressed by what de Klerk did in February. I'm afraid on the white side there are too many people, firstly, in the white community who see Mandela first as a terrorist. And then after he came out of prison, he also frightened many of them away by talking the way he did about nationalising the mines and so on. So he wouldn't be that popular. But de Klerk, because of what he did of releasing all the leaders and unbanning the organisations, became pretty popular amongst black people.

POM     Some people have said to us that in an open election that the National Party could perhaps get as high as 20% of the black vote. Is that pure fantasy?

AK     I don't know if you can put figures to it, quite frankly, but I don't know, I think it is a bit fantasy. I think they could get quite a number of black votes but not 20%. And you must also remember that the black vote would be split amongst various black groups. It won't just be straight ANC versus the Nats.

POM     How would you see it breaking down?

AK     ANC on top, and then perhaps PAC, I'm talking about the blacks, and they'll have some votes, and then Inkatha and the Black Consciousness. I mean, they will all have some point of support. And then, it is difficult even for now to say what is, although we know the ANC would probably slip - you can't put a figure as to how many blacks they would have.

POM     Finally, how would you assess the performance of Mandela since he came out?

AK     I think he did a very good job, really. And he's been a rather, almost, he has almost been too old-fashioned, moderate. Because I have spoken to, I've seen him at various places trying to tell even the whites that they shouldn't look at this problem as black versus white. Trying to calm the fears of white people, even to the extent of saying that they must speak to the Conservative Party. He's been rather a very decent man in [More than you need ??? ??? and I don't know about. ??? ???] handling those people. I mean, he's like that, he's an old-style politician who is probably full of amenable reason, in listening to reason. I think he's carried off some of the mistakes he has made, which is very good, because too many people thought that he was like a messiah. It was good for him to make certain blunders.

POM     What would you call blunders that he made?

AK     Well, from the various talks about nationalisation and the armed struggle, and then going abroad and saying things about the IRA and Gaddafi. It's good for him to say such things because it will make him probably wiser than he is. But anyhow, he's come out of them quite well, I think.

POM     Some people, again blacks, have expressed to us a fear that when negotiations start, serious negotiations between the government and what might be predominantly an ANC team at this point, that the ANC team contains too many people who are over 60 who have been in jail for a long time or have been out of the country for a long time and they lack, do not have the negotiating skills that will be available but the government brings these skills to it.

AK     [Well, I don't expect ??? ??? not 60] They don't have too many commendable negotiating skills. I mean, what they are trying to say is that the elderly guys will probably be much more accommodating because the feeling is that what the ANC and its negotiators did this time was a bit of a sell-out position: To renounce the armed struggle. And many people are saying, what did the ANC get back out of this last thing? I mean, they believe many of the obstacles had not been removed, but then the ANC traded one of its most important cards and that's probably because of these elderly guys. I think the ANC has got a lot of young men, too, who are just not pushovers. I don't think Thabo Mbeki would allow Mr. Mandela to ... I think he'd probably argue quite adamantly about the position. And one shouldn't forget, too, that there are other, I don't know what Mr. Mbeki would do. ... speak to him too, he's not, he's a communist. And he would try to be much, he would caution, he would tell them to be much more aggressive, and they probably would be. So I think they are quite evenly, because [on behalf of the...] they have to be pretty realistic about the situation as it is. I mean, if the other organisations like the PAC and BC are playing tough to get simply to set up positions for themselves, because if you are to ask them, OK, no negotiations, as the PAC said, [what ???, what is] the armed struggle must go on and all. What is the armed struggle? The armed struggle is rather confused, particularly because the armed struggle seems to be what is happening in the township now, that part of the armed struggle. It might be very unhappy for the confidence in economy and the confidence in general. But that is not the kind of armed struggle I think the revolutionaries are talking about, where the men come out and destabilise the situation from outside. And how will they profit? Now, that is the kind of arrogant red herring that some people like to see come into the ANC. But I'm sure the ANC realises that it's just messing around trying to sustain that kind of thinking. It didn't work in the past, it's not going to work now. It is collapsing right in front of our eyes now, with no united kind of black situation getting out.

POM     A year from now, when we come back here next year, where will the process be?

AK     I mean, I would be dumb to say that to you. Last year, I wouldn't have told you that this year Mandela would be out or whatever. I think the process would probably get kind of - there would be all this, all the difficulties as they are happening now, but because the process is irreversible, not only because of South Africa but because the world has changed. The world won't allow the old kind of rigid positions to be held. The world just doesn't, even if the CP came into power, they would probably become much more flexible than they presume to be right now. So the process will just go on. I mean, one country, if Mandela will still be alive, or de Klerk, I mean that could be very important. So I mean I wouldn't be able to say, really, what the position would be like. I think it would be rather dangerous to predict what could happen.

POM     Thank you very much.

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.