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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

18 Jul 1990: Akhalwaya, Ameen

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POM     I'm talking with Ameen Akhalwaya, editor of The Indicator on the 18th of July. Ameen, since we were here last year, there has been dramatic change. Has this surprised you and what do you think motivated de Klerk to move so boldly, so quickly?

AA     Okay, it did surprise me. Last year, March, we did write this article, we got a leak from higher sources abroad that this was in the offering, but I think you'll remember I was quite sceptical at the time, I didn't believe my own story. What motivated - from the people now who leaked that story to me, and I've been thinking quite hard about why this came about, the answer seems to be, (a) that the government had brought in a lot of academics from the outside, from the US, from West Germany, Britain and so forth, and I think all of them, I've been told, gave them the same scenario: that the end result is going to be the same. We have to have majority rule. It was a matter of - what consequences are you going to get then? And they accepted that you have to start moving.

     Now, what I have been told is that the key player in all this has been Margaret Thatcher. That Margaret Thatcher and PW Botha, that when Botha, late last year, went on his African safari he also went to see Thatcher. And Thatcher obviously took a political risk. I mean, she's quite good at doing that, so it's not a real problem, but she did expect a lot of flack from the rest of the Commonwealth and parts of the European Community. She apparently persuaded Botha to go ahead with changes because of the new European Economic structure in 1992. That seems to be the key to what may be the seeming haste of FW de Klerk to get negotiations going and the ANC stalling. Now, the message I'm told that was given to Botha and subsequently de Klerk, was that if South Africa loses out on its trade now in terms of imports and exports it's going to take many, many, many years to recover, if at all. You had to corner the market. Now, while sanctions are in place, you are not going to be able to get into those markets. The only thing South Africa could offer in return was its minerals but even that was of no real consequence in terms of industrial development. And I think this message got through to de Klerk. Now, what I've been told also is that de Klerk was going to make the announcement in August or September of this year when the session of parliament restarts. And he took everybody by surprise by announcing in February.

     Now, to back up the de Klerk-Botha-Thatcher link, is that when the ANC leaders and the PAC people were released in October last year, before the announcement was made in South Africa de Klerk phoned Thatcher to inform her of that. And in return also I think that Thatcher had promised that she would do her best, if these guys make the concession, that she would start trying to ease sanctions. And significantly, as soon as Mandela was released, Thatcher's first announcement was that sanctions were going to be lifted. So, it re-enforces that particular notion. So, I think that was the main cause of ... As far as I know, the ANC had no significant say in this matter.

     Now what I have been told last time, in terms of the concessions that were going to be made, was that this was already decided. This was the EPG mission revived and a lot of the Commonwealth people were upset about the fact that Thatcher was now putting her name to what was essentially an Commonwealth initiative, which Botha had clobbered but had still wanted to enforce, and now FW de Klerk had taken it over. What the ANC was going to be presented was a fait accompli, no matter what the rhetoric was, that Mandela would only be freed under certain conditions. I mean, they had no say over that. I mean, if he was going to open the doors to the prison, Mandela had to walk out. And if they were going to unban the ANC, the ANC was unbanned. So, whatever the grandstanding that took place they really had no choice, the public grandstanding, they had no choice. What the Commonwealth people could come up at best with, with the ANC and others, was the Harare Declaration. And although that was accepted, that is what FW de Klerk had also accepted. And what is now going on in terms of negotiating the release of prisoners, lifting the state of emergency and all of that, that was merely his bargaining points more than anything. It has already been agreed. So, that was essentially how it had come to pass.

POM     So, you see that the economic considerations would really be the primary or the dominant factor that compelled de Klerk to move?

AA     I think it was a major component. It was the most significant one, but not the only one, obviously because of the unrest within the country, the whole question of isolation. I think what happens is the ... I mean, if you look back on the arrogance of whites in this country throughout the sixties when all the organisations were banned, I mean, they were at the peak of their racist arrogance. And the whites more than anybody else in this country have to be culturally fed by what is happening in the West. They want to be part of the society. The fact that they've been isolated internationally from sport has been a tremendous blow, especially in rugby which is almost everything to the Afrikaners in particular. I mean, soccer is everything to blacks, but I think especially to the whites, their cultural nourishment comes from the West. And I think also because of the sanctions campaign and what TV and the media generally had done abroad to South Africans generally, if white South Africans went out, they were no longer the type of people who would come along and say, "Well, people understand they've been given the wrong impression', and so forth. I think the arrogance had gone.

     So, it was what we had argued all along about sanctions, that it's not just economic sanctions. But we talked about cultural sanctions, diplomatic sanctions, all of it, it was a whole isolation process. And I think that is, that really, really did something. [When we talk about the league(?) we get told by the locals that we are slipping into Freudian analysis.] But I think you don't have to look into any grand plan. You look at de Klerk, his father was Senator de Klerk who was the guy most responsible for South Africa's sports isolation. And de Klerk is the guy who goes around saying South Africa has now done enough to get back into world sport, and all. I think there is some sort of family guilt going on. I'm not saying, by any means, that sport was a major reason why they made these concessions, but I think all these little, little factors started weighing in.

POM     Many people we have talked to have implied at least that de Klerk's moves took the ANC completely by surprise, or caught them on the wrong foot. Would you agree with that? And if so, how do you think this manifested itself?

AA     I don't think the move itself surprised the ANC. In about March last year, I'd only confirmed it in March, that means that ANC people also knew about it before March last year. And Mandela revealed after the May talks at Groote Schuur that he'd been negotiating with the Government for three years and obviously, the ANC people were aware of it. And the type of leaks that I got at the time, it was already clear that the ANC was aware of it. The timing took the ANC by surprise. I think that is what happened, they were saying it was to be in August or September this year.

POM     Waiting for this September, this August?

PK     What about the breadth of it, the unbanning of the Communist Party, did they anticipate that, as well, do you think?

AA     No. What I had been told at the time - in fact the article that we did said that they were going to unban just about everybody. As far as the Communist Party - they may or may not. But uMkhonto we Sizwe was not going to be unbanned. The whole thing was to sell it to Thatcher, that Thatcher had sort of separated Sinn Fein from the IRA, and this was going to be the same thing. That we are going to recognize the ANC, but not uMkhonto. So, I think that was going to be the rationale. But I think that the breadth surprised everybody, because it was just that everybody was unbanned.

POM     But you think that their surprise at the timing of it took them off-guard? And, what I'm trying to get at is, has this manifested itself in the inefficiencies which they are experiencing in dealing with the multiple of problems they are faced with at the current time?

AA     I think so. You see, I think, also, when they didn't expect such things, this is a logistical part of it for the ANC. Just on the administrative side, you just have to get officers and you have to get people and you have to get people in positions, all of it. So, the logistical side for the ANC was caught totally off-guard. They just do not have that infrastructure in place. And I don't know whether, if the announcement was made in September, whether they would still have had time to put the infrastructure in place. It may also have been that there may have been still a lot of scepticism, that this is what was going to happen.

POM     How would you rate Mandela's performance since he has been released? Has it lived up to your expectations, to people's expectations in general, or are they unhappy with certain aspects of it?

AA     I think it's not lived up to my expectations, but it has lived up to my prediction which was that he was not going to become a party operative, that because of his stature, national and international he was going to sell the ANC abroad and sell the ANC's policies locally and try and get as many opponents of the ANC to come into the ANC fold - which he has done with the homeland leaders, and so forth. Although we don't really know what their agenda is, but certainly they've been more open to the ANC and really much more accessible to the ANC. My one micro criticism is that, obviously, he has spent a little too much time abroad, which is understandable in the sense that he's, because the ANC had gone on an international diplomatic campaign as well, and also the offensive of FW de Klerk to ease sanctions where he had to counter that type of thing, which is what people expected. But I think there has been too much time. The problem, also, is that I think people had elevated him to the type of position which is far beyond what he can really reach, which is what he actually said. That's why we had that quote out of his, that they expect him to wave a magic wand. Just the number of people who want to see him, it is enormous, really. I got very angry because he wanted to see me, and I couldn't get past the ANC office, the ANC front office. But the problem was that we understood that everybody wanted to see him, and he just has to spend five minutes with everybody, or else you are just not going to be able to get everybody involved. But I think in that sense we can understand it. I think the one problem has been that he has not been able to win over or get SABC-TV, which is very, very vital in this whole process, to give him the type of time that he actually deserves and that he actually needs to be able to get across to more and more people. He is just getting the straight type of interview, but to actually be able to spell out what the ANC wants and what the ANC stands for.

POM     Have you heard, within your own community, any criticisms of him?

AA     Not of Mandela specifically. I think here locally you will find a lot of people are looking for an excuse not to support the ANC, or anybody else, for that matter. We've got a very conservative type of pace here, the older people, so they look for any little excuse. Though the big one at the moment is that the Communist Party has got too much say in the ANC and they associate Mandela as a communist. And it is pointed out to them that he is not a communist but the type of thing is that he is going to be manipulated by the communists.

POM     At that meeting last Sunday, at the launching of the ANC branch in Lenasia, as a journalist how would you have assessed that meeting? I mean, obviously there were supposed to be a number of high-ranking ANC officials there. The top platform was really kind of - well, there was no one there other than Sisulu and Kathrada, and in terms of turnout, how would you have assessed it? How would you have taken it? Where on the community's barometer would the temperature have been?

AA     OK. I think in the sense that the advertised speakers didn't turn up is absolutely par for the course. I don't know whether the speakers even knew that they were going to come. [Quite often we've got our political organisation put up] We've been embarrassed quite often because they advertise with us and then we do an article saying so-and-so is scheduled to be the speaker and, of course, that person doesn't even know about it. That we expected. And they didn't have any big names. Though I think in terms of the number of people who were present, obviously it was confined to members mostly, but the number of people who've joined the ANC is much smaller, very much smaller, than we had anticipated. The irony is that until October last year, when these guys were in prison, you would have had a far bigger turn-out for everything. But this was the smallest political UDF/ANC-type rally we've had in fifteen years in this country. Also, OK the one reason may be they just confined it to members. But the point is that not so many people have joined. And if you look at - I think they've got about 800 people and we were expecting by now, I would have thought they would have, the ANC would have had about four or five-thousand registered members in this area. They have only got about 800, and I think about a quarter of them are from the squatter camp. So, from the settled community itself it's mainly confined to the activists. And I think the reason for that is (a) what I said, that there is a lot of apathy and people look for excuses, but I think that this community, like the white community generally, there has been this type of uncertainty about the Communist Party thing. That is a real, real bogey out here. That because of the religious underpinning of this community, however well or badly they practice their religion, the fact is that they see communism as a godless ideology and that it's not going to allow them to practice their religion. The ANC has bent over backwards, Sisulu spoke here as well at a big rally and he went out of his way to reassure them about religious freedom. The CP, the Communist Party, itself has been saying the same thing. But people are not convinced. That is a real problem facing the ANC.

PK     Not knowing anything about the make-up of the group, part of what I came away with as an observer of that event, is that the Communist Party rhetoric was very evident at that meeting. So, does that say that the ANC, like Mandela, is not about divorcing itself in any public perception from the Communist Party, and, if anything, it's almost just the opposite? So that it comes into a community where the concerns are very obvious and they say this is what we are and you have to take us as we are? Or is my perception wrong?

AA     No, I don't think that the rhetoric is communist rhetoric here. I mean, this has become part of our tradition and if you look at the economic thing it has always been the cry that there is economic inequality here, we have to get it out. So, even though that may sound like communist language, I don't think that is exclusive to the communists. I think most people, even business people, accept that we have a gross inequality in our economic distribution. So I think in that sense the Communist Party really isn't a factor. You will also find that if, apart from one speaker going out and saying, Viva SACP, you don't get that type of feedback from the audience. You may get a few - like we had a June 16th rally last month, and COSATU has a heavy trade union representation, and there were a few from the trade union movement who stood up and were giving the SACP line. But you'll find that in most instances, speakers out here very seldom refer to the SACP simply because of the community reaction to the SACP.

POM     Just to follow the economic questions for a moment. Both COSATU and the ANC have had over time a heavy investment in socialist rhetoric and the economic structures of socialism and nationalisation, all of which have been kind of dumped now in the rest of the world or are in the process of being dumped. Do you see a point where organisations like COSATU would find themselves in conflict with the ANC in terms of the type of economic structures that should be implemented in a post-apartheid Government?

AA     I think there may be some conflict, but I don't think any serious conflict. And I seem to see the relationship developing more along the lines of the labour movement in Britain with the Labour Party, sort of one feeding off the other but both are autonomous. And sometimes you do have ideological differences and clashes over economic policies. I think that type of thing is inevitable out here between a trade union movement and government. I think it has been the experience all over the place where the trade union movement may want to give the impression that they are the people running the country and once people get into government they want to make sure that they are running the country, they are not going to be dictated to by anybody else. So, I think we are going to have that kind of relationship.

POM     But a number of, at least, whites that we have talked to, have said that one thing they felt the government would require, in order to alleviate white fears and business fears, is that some form of constitutional guarantees regarding nationalisation and things like that would actually be written into the constitution. Do you see that happening?

AA     I don't think so. I think, you see the question of nationalisation, redistribution of wealth, and so forth, those are economic policies. Those are not political, constitutional guarantees and I don't think that any government can guarantee that. That becomes part of a party's programme. So, I don't think that that is going to become a factor. I think the constitution is going to take less and less significance in our set-up in a negotiating process. I think it's generally agreed by all concerned that there has to be a universal franchise. Now, it's the type of system that will be a question of political lives. But I think the real fight is going to be on the economic front. And that is where a government is either made or broken. There is the question of housing, education, unemployment, I think those are the three crucial, crucial issues in this country. So, ultimately, the person who is going to vote for whatever party, especially black people, are not going to be really concerned about the subtleties of the constitution. [I think they will be more...]

POM     Sure, but these subtleties would be of concern to whites. For example, let's say, de Klerk gave a promise that he would put any new constitutional dispensation before the white electorate. One, do you think he can do that?

AA     Well, I think all he can do is he can give his party policy. I don't think they can guarantee not nationalising anything, because I mean, this government ...

POM     Yes, but do you think that he - he says, 'No matter what I do, I'll go back to the white electorate and submit any proposed constitutional change to them.' Do you think he can keep that promise in the sense that it would give the white electorate what amounts to a veto power?

AA     Well, I think if he just has, if it's a referendum, he probably will go for a referendum because I think he is pretty certain of getting a majority vote.

POM     In the white community?

AA     Yes, because if you look at the experience of the tricameral parliament under Botha, they had a very, very comfortable majority. That was also going further than anything the Nats had done before by getting so-called Coloureds and Indians into Parliament. And they got a very comfortable majority. And I think the same thing happens here. What people tend to forget is that where the National Party had at the last election something like 60% of white support, the DP had something like 20%, we are talking about 80% on that particular - you were talking about Conservatives, about 20%. If you take this on headcount, then obviously even if the CP goes up to about 40% - 45%, I think they've got sufficient leeway to make up for it. And even if it's rejected the type of rejection wouldn't be so overwhelming. The most, they would lose by would be about 5% or 10% which gives them sufficient grounds to say, OK, now we understand your fears. We are going to now fight for certain other things. The referendum itself would really mean nothing because ultimately it's going to come down to a non-racial election where the white headcount will no longer matter.

POM     So, do you think the Government has already conceded the question of majority rule? That de Klerk has moved from the position that was in their campaign manifesto last September when they talked about group rights and there would be a franchise that also clearly wasn't another group franchise or whether there'd be a single register of voters? Do you think that the Government has conceded on the question of majority rule?

AA     Yes.

POM     How do you think this process is going to unfold itself? Again, looking, say, at two scenarios, and there are probably others, (i) where you have the negotiating table broadened and other parties brought in, that among these parties a consensus is formed, even perhaps an interim government of the ANC and the NP is formed, and out of that they draw up a constitution. And the other being where the table is broadened but you move quickly to the point of having an election for a Constituent Assembly and the Constituent Assembly draws up the constitution. What do you think is going to happen in terms of that process?

AA     I think it's probably going to be - I mean my own guess is that they are going to stand firm on the Constituent Assembly thing because the government has already said that it doesn't want a Constituent Assembly. But they are talking about an interim government type of thing. I think initially what they will do is to implement what they've already agreed on, a sort of two-tiered parliament. The one is on a universal franchise and then the Upper House is going to be made up of people of all races and so forth in terms of groups rights. And I think that they may argue that on a proportional basis. And emanating from parliament they will then say, OK, if parliament agrees to a Constituent Assembly we will go ahead with it. Now, I don't know why they are actually doing this two-tier thing because I thought it would be in their own interests, in the National Party's interests, to have a Constituent Assembly as soon as possible because if you are going to have a headcount on a non-racial basis the National Party is going to surprise a lot of people. A lot of black people are going to vote for the National Party. And that is a fact. And I know, especially the black middle classes are going to vote for the National Party.

POM     A lot of Indians are too.

AA     Indians, Coloureds, a lot of them are going to vote for the National Party, or it looks as if that way. But the middle classes, especially, who look at the enemy they know rather than a friend they don't know. I think that is a real, that is a crucial factor. So, the National Party would be better off getting a Constituent Assembly and getting many more people in the ... On the other hand, I think that their thinking may be that if the same applies to a non-racially elected Lower House of Parliament, they will get just as many people as they can. They will probably get up to a third or two-thirds of the number of people.

POM     I'm sorry, they'd probably get up to a third or two-thirds of ...?

AA     Sorry, a third or 40% of the total vote. The National Party could get that much.

POM     So you could conceive ...? Well, let's just pursue that line for a moment. Let's say they did get 40% or whatever and let's say that Inkatha, as a political party, got 15% so that they formed a coalition government?

AA     That is a very real possibility.

POM     Would the ANC shout, 'Not fair!'?

AA     I think so, but I think that is the reason they are holding out for a Constituent Assembly because you can't then form just that type of alliance, I mean, if you are negotiating a constitution before you implement the parliamentary system. So, I presume that that's probably the thinking of the Nats, that they may be able to wrangle a coalition or something.

POM     So, in an odd way, you would say that the government is arguing against its own best interests in standing firm and not having a Constituent Assembly?

AA     Yes I think so. Because, you know, if you look at the percentages and you are going to a Constituent Assembly that's the best way to get your say in. Although I think that what they may be able to argue is that instead of being swallowed up as a party, if you go into parliament and you still have a significant number of MPs there and that that particular group stalls the dominant group from implementing too many policies it will mean more support. So when you then have more elections they can sell the fact that they are not a "sell-out party" and that the others have failed in their policies or whatever, of competing in open territory that way.

PK     Do you think they will do this interim government and establish this other House of Parliament without any constitutional changes? Do they have to amend the constitution to do that? Or they can just do it?

AA     They have to amend the constitution.

PK     And that doesn't take a vote?

AA     Yes, it is a matter of taking out the racial tags.

PK     And they just do that in the parliament itself? They don't have to go to people in a referendum?

POM     Right, it does take a simple majority in parliament.

AA     I think it takes a two-thirds majority of the two chambers in parliament. But if you look at the Coloured and Indian Houses, I mean I don't think there is any one of them who's going to stand against that type of thing. They would immediately be labelled CP. In fact, look at the Democratic Party, National Party and Labour and all the others, I think they'll quite easily get it.

POM     Let's talk about your own community, the Indian community. Are there points of difference between the Indian community as a whole and the black community as whole? Like, where in this whole process would your community be looking to secure its interests and its concerns?

AA     OK. First of all, I don't regard myself as Indian so I'm not part of that community. But I think if you just look at the group area that we have out here [which is also not, it's a Muslim word, because] - there are so many different groups living out here. But I think the fear of those who regard themselves as Indian, there is a different distinction between those of us who regard ourselves as South African and those who still regard themselves as some sort of minority group, that their fear is of being swamped. And it is the same fears that the whites have got. And, again, that fear comes from the wealthier people. The irony, the rise of racism in this place, in this area, has been very discernable in the past few months, let me say after October, especially with these squatter camps that have come up, and the unofficial survey we've done here points to the fact that people who are the biggest racists are those who were the first victims of the Group Areas Act. The people whose houses were bulldozed and who were resettled here are those who feel most uncertain about it because they know that they were knocked out once, they've had to regroup, and it has been a costly exercise for them. They've accumulated all this wealth and affluence and suddenly, they don't know what's going to happen. So, it's this type of fear, they don't know who their neighbours are going to be and all that. So, it's economic but really, it really it's a racist reaction on their part.

     I think in terms of the political organisations that operate here, I think without any doubt, all of them have accepted that we have to have a non-racial country. And I think that the people who remember the areas that we came from in central Johannesburg were racially mixed areas. And, I mean, there was interracial conflict among the black groups certainly. So I think those people remember. And I think the fears about being swamped in school - And I think that once people get to know each other they feel really silly about it.

     For example, here they've been, some of them have been campaigning against these schools being opened to kids from Soweto. And yet, when you point out to them they were the same ones who were making the biggest noise about getting white schools opened, then you get various vibes coming out. So, I think in the long term all of them have accepted that your interests are not going to be solely on the racial basis out here. If you think your interests are going to be protected by one group at the expense of another it's not going to happen because of the realities that the economic wealth is still in white hands. The numerical strength is with black people. So, somewhere down the line, they have to compromise. And I think if they are to compromise, I think those who are going to be pragmatic or opportunistic about it will see their sort of salvation on the side of the majority.

POM     My first question would be what size would this minority be who still regard themselves as being Indian, who see their primary identity as being Indian rather than as South African?

AA     I think about 20-25%. It's mostly older people. Not the youth.

POM     Now, would you see any move here for the development of, not an exclusive Indian Party, but one which would, in fact, be concerned, have most of its concerns, with the welfare of what it would call the Indian community?

AA     Well, you see, if you look at those who serve in the tricameral system, I mean the support they get is minimal. That maybe also because of, (a) their view of the system and (b) the type of candidates that you've got.

POM     What are they called? What party label do they run under?

AA     Well, at the moment here the one that's won all those seats here with an absolute sort of laughable turnout would be - I even forget the name Minority Peoples' Party.

POM     The which?

AA     Minority Peoples' Party.

POM     The Minority Peoples' Party.

AA     Yeah. I mean, it is regarded as a joke. You've then, the sort of the bigger ones, like Solidarity, which is at this moment is the majority in the House of Delegates. It could probably change by tomorrow. And the National Peoples' Party, those are the two national parties under the House of Delegates. And they don't even operate out here. So, I mean, they don't feature at all [and I don't think that...] You see, the people who are trying to preserve their interests now, I think they just realise that if you are looking at group interests, the National Party style, you'll have to do it through your religious organisations because that's the only thing that really sets this community apart from one another. Because if you look at the whole National Party scheme about separating people into their own cultures, own ethnic groups, now you've got Muslim people, Hindus, Tamils, Christians out here, their lifestyles are the same, the type of food they eat is the same, their youngsters are all interested in the same types of things, generally speaking. But what ultimately sets them apart are their religious practices. And I think that is the type of thing, that is why, for example, there are more religious groups have come up, have started to grow in this particular community because that's the only thing that concerns them, that will you be able to practice your religion? I think that's become the fundamental. Also they've seen that you can do that through various parties in any case. And one of the things that has been pointed out here, for example, is that if you support the ANC and you support an organisation like The Call of Islam or the Islam Youth Movement, they are allied to the ANC, in any case. They support the ANC, that rather than a small minority group you can stand out and fight for your rights. It's not going to happen. If you are part of the ANC, you stand a better chance of persuading the ANC, sort of to say, 'We've got certain requirements peculiar to us, and you have to accommodate those.' And it's much easier to do that than to do it as a pressure group in parliament, sort of as one person who ... Once an organisation accepts your policy, it's easier to implement from a political party side rather than as an individual pressure group. That is why I say I don't think that there is much support here for the group rights concept.

POM     The Indian community has, we talked with Rashid about this yesterday evening so I would like to hear what your opinion is on it too, that it's known as a trading community, a community that would be more oriented to free markets. Do you see - again, a point where if you had the ANC policies that are some form of redefined socialism, but still tending for state intervention or nationalisation of some of the major companies, resources, would that, again, drive a section of this community towards the support of more conservative parties, even if they're predominantly white parties that would be free marketers?

AA     Only to an extent, I think. You see what happens, I think there's a fallacy in that people who are classified Indian generally throughout the country are dependent on trade. It's a very small minority. If you look at this community I'd say at absolute maximum it is something like 20% of the entire community of those classified Indian who are actually involved directly in trade. The rest are working class people or professionals. We've got a very high percentage of professionals and so forth, the independents. And sure, there is this antagonism towards the ANC and the fear about nationalisation but the interesting thing that happened is that when it was pointed out to them that the redistribution and nationalisation is actually going to start benefiting people here, I think a lot of business people have come to that realisation that, for example, the vast majority of your customers are black, so-called Coloured, Indian, and African. You have very little white trade out here. And if redistribution and nationalisation means that their salaries are going to increase, that means your trade increases which means you are better off. As long as they get the guarantees that the small trader is not going to be nationalised. They are very clear. And I think since that message got across to them, they suddenly, that antagonism towards nationalisation as an overall concern, it is not as confined to the minds of the financial institutions. I think people are quite comfortable, in fact a lot of them are looking forward to it.

PK     Because they don't think that the regulation will affect them that drastically, that what's being talked about is the larger industrial base?

AA     That's right. That's right. I think that was the point that the ANC was stressing, that it's only the mines and the financial institutions and the monopoly industries. And the small traders are not going to be affected. They are going to form the backbone of our economy.

POM     What is the level of expectation in your community, in the black community? I mean, are people really expecting major changes to take place in the way they live their lives after ...?

AA     I think so. Well, not so much in this community because it's a relatively affluent community.

POM     But say, in places like Soweto?

AA     Yes.

POM     They are?

AA     Yes, I think the expectancy was - I mean, there was great excitement at the time of the October release and Mandela's release, that at last we are going to be free. I think the uncertainty started coming in when people started questioning what does this freedom actually mean? You know, how much more free are we going to be in terms of what is happening? Are we now going to be allowed to purchase our houses where we feel like it, set up businesses, or work where we feel like it? And the realisation started hitting home that if you are going to sell your house in Lenasia, and you are going to move to Houghton or anywhere else, it's still going to cost you the same amount of money. So, that type of excitement has sort of eased off. So, in a relatively affluent community, I don't think that people are that excited about it. I think it's going to be much more of a wait and see to see where we would fit into this thing.

     I think in the black communities, the African communities, obviously the expectations have been raised but, again, the initial euphoria where people were actually going around in groups and saying, 'Look, we are going to pick out that house and that's going to be ours and tomorrow we are going to get that type of job and now we are free', and I think now the economic reality is beginning to hit home. That even if the ANC takes over tomorrow it's not just going to be change overnight. I think what people are looking at is the change of attitude, if they can be treated with much more dignity than they are now. The younger people, obviously, are very impatient. They want economic improvement in their lives. And it's going to probably work to the ANC's disadvantage because the expectancy about housing and education and jobs and all is very high.

POM     They're almost impossible to meet. I mean, the housing was 1.8 million shortage in housing units and enormous discrepancies on expenditure in infrastructure and education and health. Given the narrowness of the tax base where does the money come from to start addressing some of these problems in a serious way? Because it would seem to me that after you have been treated with dignity and the obnoxious pillars are removed and there is no longer random detention or whatever, people get used to it pretty quickly, you know, and zap! that's out of the way, we simply want to move onto something new. And you have a whole new set of complaints or demands. How will the changes in this way happen?

AA     I think in the financial side of it, I'm not an economic expert I'm afraid, obviously first of all if you look at the mining sector I think that is a large percentage that has already been cleaned up by the government in terms of taxes and so forth. There is a large amount that goes out to the foreign investors. I think the South African gold mining houses are listed on the London stock exchange. So overseas - there's a large amount of money going out there. I think, also, there is going to be a huge saving in terms of our defence spending in this country. I mean, it has been enormous with Namibia and Angola and everything else. OK, those savings won't just offset or solve the problem but if there is an acceptable solution in this country obviously the foreign investment is going to reopen. And I think, and it may be just a pipe dream, with Eastern Europe having become an unexpected fact in this equation, but it may just be that there are enough of the wealthy countries who would be well-disposed to what's happening in South Africa. And I think also knowing the fact that if they are going to invest out here, and even if they are going to give any form of aid, they are probably going to get it back, because of South Africa's infrastructure, the economic infrastructure, that they won't all lose their money. So, I think that there is going to be sufficient foreign aid coming to alleviate the problem. It's going to take a couple of generations. I don't think that there is any way that we can solve the housing problem or the educational backlog. And I think people are not listening to what Sisulu has been saying. Sisulu has been warning repeatedly since he came home that this type of backlog is going to take a long, long, long, long time to eliminate. But people don't hear what he says. They think, well, the ANC is going to take over, and fine, and everything is going to happen overnight.

PK     What happens with young people in that situation? I mean, fifteen years of no education, expectations that don't seem to be very well-grounded, seem to be more on a mobilisation factor?

AA     I think that is going to become our major problem. It's the total unknown factor in our politics. When I talked last time to you also about where I feared we'd be reaching for a Lebanese-type situation. And I still believe that that is going to happen. And I think that the youth are going to be disenchanted because it's not going to happen overnight. And I think just on a sort of micro-level, people, employers are beginning to experience this type of attitude among younger people. That they're expecting everything by right. There is no longer the commitment to hard work and things. OK, fine, so we'll learn a little, we've got our employment, we'll put in a bit here and there, while the ANC takes over this fighting that we have ...

POM     In fact, in a way, the only ethic that's been prevalent has been the ethic of protest. That's all they know.

AA     That's right.

POM     To go back to the negotiating process for a moment. What obstacles do you think de Klerk faces? Where do the major threats to him come from and how seriously must the threat from the right be taken? Where, from he representing, say, the white community at large, are the potential points of impasse with the ANC?

AA     I don't think there are that many obstacles between him and the ANC. The whole free market-nationalisation debate is an economic debate, it is not a political, really a political debate at this stage. I think from the right obviously there are going to be people who are going to dig in their heels and it's going to be for some time. But it's not going to be really at the ballot box. I think it's more the type of random violence we are seeing now. I think that's going to carry on. But it's not going to be for - it is going to be a short-term thing. I think that in the long-term, it's going to fade away. You are still going to have, I think, over the years, the next 20 to 30 years, you're still going to have your isolated racist antagonism. You've seen that in the United States and elsewhere. It's still going to happen. You are never going to do away with it. But it is going to level off. I think the one main reason for that is the fact that people who throw bombs have to be committed somewhere and they have to have some place to go to. But these people have got no place to hide, really. I mean, you can only have so many people. And if you have a little group, there are people who will get others to do the bombing. But once, when one gets caught in it, it gets at the entire nest and that type of thing we'll see. So, I don't think that it's such a serious problem. I think his real obstacle that he's facing now is being able to sell his policy across - the same thing that the ANC is facing now - to sell his policy to people on the basis that he is not really selling out, but he is trying to do it for their benefit. And because things have happened so quickly, he has also not been able in the whole confusion to put over his policy as clearly as it should be, really.

POM     I was saying to Patricia, we were discussing this yesterday and we were making the point that in Northern Ireland the Protestant community regards itself as a community that believes very strongly in law and order primarily because the security forces have always been on their side. But one result of that is that they have, as a community, a low tolerance of paramilitary activity because it's against the law and, again, they have learned to obey the law. Would you see maybe a similar mindset among supporters of the Conservative, on the right, that even though they dislike what's happened and object to it, that to move to a point of disobeying the law on it will be, for them, something that is contrary to the way they have just as a community developed and what they have been taught?

AA     I think so. I think so. You know, if you look at what the Conservative Party has also been saying, is that it wants to do it constitutionally. Now, it doesn't specify which constitution. It wants an all-white constitution. But every time there has been a change in the constitution where more and more black people have been allowed to come in, like those classified Coloured and Indian, they've objected very strongly to it but they've participated. It's been the same with the National Party itself when it objected to various things but it used the ballot box to get into power. And I think that is what these guys are going to do. And I think for them the economic factor is going to be the key as well. That once they stop throwing the bombs and fighting and as long as their standard of living hasn't gone down that dramatically, they are not going to be worried that much about who is in power as long as they can carry on, I think, Zimbabwe-style.

     But I think for both, on the law and order thing, it is going to affect black people as much as it does whites. I don't think the political upheaval, when we talk about sort of the Lebanese type of situation, it's not just going to be political or paramilitary, I think. It's because of the culture of crime that has become part of South African society right across the spectrum. And I think it is very difficult now, when people go around and they stop your car, hijack it, and tell you that, I'm doing this in the name of the ANC. Of course, the people will go and say, 'The ANC hijacked my car!' And that sort of political antagonism goes towards the ANC, without people realising that this is a straight criminal behaviour. And this criminal behaviour - I mean, our crime rate is so high that that is going to be a major, major contributing factor to instability in this country.

POM     So, a new government could find itself cracking down on a number of people who have been cracked down on by the security forces, but for different reasons?

AA     That's right. I think they'll have to. I think the big crime in Soweto, also, has been over the last couple of years. And even the churches and the UDF and others are forced to look into the high crime rate. Everybody accepts that the crime has reached this stage because of apartheid policies. But it has reached such a stage that it's become part of life. If somebody steals a car and sells it out in Soweto and the person who is buying it knows it's a stolen car, nobody thinks twice about it. It is all accepted that that is going to happen. So, this whole attitude problem, it's very widespread and we are going to have to change all of that before we can really get it stabilised.

POM     How about the ANC? What problems does Mandela face in putting a package together, and where are the potential sources of conflict within the black community?

AA     In terms of political package?

POM     Yes.

AA     I don't think initially, because he's riding on the crest of a wave at the moment, that because of what he represents, that whatever Mandela gives to the black community, I think the vast majority are going to support. I don't think people, again, are going to be bothered whether this is now part of the Communist Party, or part of the nationalism, or free marketeering, or whatever. It's because of the leadership thing and because the ANC has been seen as historically the organisation of black people. So, I think that the vast majority are going to vote for the ANC. Whereas the left may get up to 40%, but I'm sure that the ANC will get at least 55% of total South African support. You're obviously going to get substantially bigger black support, but 55% of all South Africans have ... So, I think that type of thing, people want to get out of this logjam, out of the whole apartheid sort of prison, as you keep on saying, that the shackles have been loosened, and people want to get out. It's going to take a long time. I think the expectations that are created by that type of thing, I think it is going to be initially, if Mandela does take over, it is, again, going to be euphoric. And they're going to far too high, the expectations. But I think once reality starts setting in, and I think the whole political situation then gets normalised, and that particular base of the argument ...

POM     So, you think, say, for example, if Mandela were to announce that he had reached an agreement with the government that an interim ANC-National Party government would be formed and they would draw up a constitution and submit a constitution to the people in a referendum, do you think that would receive majority support in the black community?

AA     I think the PAC is still a factor. But I think at this stage it's got tremendous potential. I don't think that anybody should underestimate, and I've been warning that for a long, long time, that nobody should underestimate the PAC's potential. The potential is one thing and giving the ANC a chance is a different thing altogether. I think a lot of people, if you look at the intelligentsia who quite obviously have been appalled if any such deal is made for an interim government and so forth, but if they are asked to vote for it, I mean, they are not going to reject it. [If, to have your foot in it.]

POM     But in one sense could this not possibly hurt the ANC because, let's say there was an interim government for two years and people did in fact find that there had been no material differences in their lives, that crime was just as rampant, they were still living in squatters' camps, that no electricity had been installed, the housing shortage hadn't been alleviated in any way, would perhaps the PAC accusation of "sell-out" - I mean, would not discontent move to the only available political alternative which in this case would be the PAC?

AA     That is why I say, you don't underestimate the PAC's potential. Because all the PAC has to do, even if it wants to not be positive about its policies, is to sit on the sideline and be a purer-than-thou party. I mean, obviously, there is a risk in that, too, itself because if the ANC does pull it off, then the PAC is going to lose a lot of support. But obviously if the ANC doesn't pull it off that's what's going to happen. And it's a risk to the National Party as well. I think that becomes the political risk. If they come up with an interim government and say, OK, give us five years - five years is a long time to start getting things moving as we all know in any sort of parliamentary-style democracy or election time. You know, the six months before elections start up, you get all your housing projects and everything else, win a lot of votes. I mean, that's being cynical about it but I think it is a tremendous risk. But I think any party that is going to go into it is taking a risk and those that are going to stay out are taking an equal risk.

POM     On Natal, on the violence there, what would your analysis of it be in terms of its cause and who bears the brunt of responsibility for it? And the ways in which it should be dealt with?

AA     Natal is a very confused and complex thing. You know, I don't think that it's just political upheaval. There are also things going back generations. There have been tribal conflicts, people have forgotten why they were actually fighting, and that's one of the reasons. There also has been crime where again people have taken, they have been carrying on criminal activities in the name of political organisations. But obviously, the conflict between Inkatha and the UDF has been a very significant factor. How they are actually going to tackle this, I don't know. But I think if you look at the situation and what happened about six months ago, up until six months ago Buthelezi did have a lot of support. And I think from all accounts, now his support has dwindled in those areas. I think one of the myths that has been exposed, which has been the white liberal myth within this country and the western myth, is that Buthelezi is a leader of five or six or seven million Zulus. I mean, the Zulu people are fighting Zulu people and he cannot be the leader of people who are fighting. And obviously, this type of myth has been exploded. And the fact that he has been sort of Minister of Police and the fact that troops have been there, ostensibly on the side of Inkatha, that has alienated a lot of people from Buthelezi.

     I think, like one of the ANC people are saying, that the first time Mandela encountered any hostility was when he had been addressing rallies there, is when he talked about throwing away your weapons into the sea and that he was going to talk to Buthelezi. And there was discernable resentment coming from the audience in Durban. And that's when he went out into those areas, into the Zulu areas. [and he found the people ???]

     We don't have anything to do with Buthelezi. I think that's one of the reasons that the ANC now, Mandela is not going to, is not speaking to Buthelezi. Because I think they heard from various quarters that Buthelezi's support isn't what it should be. And I don't think they'd be getting this from sycophants or party operatives. I think it is a fact. And I think The Star is publishing a poll in the next few days, where it is going to be shown that Buthelezi's support has dropped dramatically, although not there in Natal, but in the rest of the country. I mean, he has just fallen by the wayside. And how they are going to stop this violence, I don't know. I think it needs an all-party approach, which you are not going to get at this stage, because Inkatha is being seen as the latest stumbling block. And even if you get an all-party approach, because of the criminal activity that has been taking place as well, it's not just going to be as easy to solve. The resentment has been built - I think it's like Northern Ireland. That's where you get this type of ... just need one crackpot somewhere down the line, acting in the name of an organisation [and wasn't.] What has been beneath the surface suddenly explodes again. So, I think it's going to take a long, long time for that to be solved, as a result.

POM     One last question. Did you have some, Patricia? It's going back to the negotiating process. Before perhaps a power sharing government or transition government between, say, the ANC and the present government is formed, do you see a broadening of the table in terms of the DP and Buthelezi's party and the leaders of other political parties being asked to sit at the table? Or do you think essentially this is a process that is going to work itself out between the, in the short run, anyway, between the government and the ANC?

AA     I think initially what's going to happen is that it's going to be between these two parties as the two major parties in conflict. You see until they get an agreement on whether there is going to be an interim government or the type of parliamentary elections that they are going have where there is going to be a Constituent Assembly, I don't think the others are going to be pulled in. If Inkatha does come in, it will have to be on the side of the National Party. I mean, there are not many others. You've got the CP, they obviously are not going to drag the CP into any negotiations now simply because it would be too obstructive. The PAC is obviously not going to go in. The homelands guys are now saying that they are on the side of the ANC so they are not going to be very welcome out there either. So, you know, ultimately it is going to be, if they are going to get anybody else, it's Inkatha on the side of the National Party, if that. And I don't think that the National Party is going to be too keen at this stage to get Inkatha on its side.

POM     Last question - when I talk to you next year?

AA     Well, the whole thing will have changed completely.

POM     How far along do you see the process?

AA     Within a year? I still think we will be in the middle of constitutional haggling about what type of system we should have.

POM     Will there be an ANC-NP government?

AA     Within a year, I don't think so. I think it's moving too slow. But I think that the process will be well on the way, before you have 1992. Just the bargaining process is going to be in place.

POM     Okay. Thanks a million.

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.