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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
22 Jul 1990: Holomisa, Bantu
POM I'm talking with General Bantu Holomisa. General, this has been an extraordinary year in terms of politics in South Africa what with de Klerk's speech on the second of February and the rapidity and the scope of change since then. First, I'd like to ask you, how these changes affect you as the head of an independent state within the South Africa framework?
BH Well, Transkei was once part of South Africa and in 1976 it became independent. And during this period, between 1976 to date, all sorts of discriminatory laws were removed. In other words, we didn't have apartheid. So, in terms of our living standard, we are not learning much from what de Klerk has announced, that is, removing the discriminatory laws because we had already removed them. But the positive side of his reform is that our people, when they go to South Africa, they will not be subjected to discriminatory laws. It is like a man from Switzerland, from USA, let's say from Africa, if he comes to South Africa, obviously, he will be subjected to certain things which he is not used to. So this is what our people have been experiencing, like pass laws, etc., but those things now have been removed and we will learn something from these changes. Or we will gain something, in that whatever is designed or is destined for a black man in South Africa in the field of improving the socio-economic social order there, obviously, as we still have poverty-stricken certain areas, we stand to benefit as well on this side. But it is going to be very difficult for us in that constitutionally or technically we are still an independent country and whatever we wish to do in the future in this region, even in the negotiations, we solely depend on South Africa to invite us to those negotiations or with the other key players.
POM When you think of yourself first, and think of people here, do you first of all think of yourself as being somebody from Transkei and secondarily a person from South Africa? What kind of identity do you have?
BH The people identify themselves first as South Africans. They regard the Transkei as either a region or a province. They perceive themselves as being the victims of the system, that is the apartheid system, in that when they were given independence in 1976, many feel that they were not consulted properly, like a national referendum, to ask them. Because if you even look at the people who are in the vanguard of the national struggle, you will find that those people are from this area.
POM From the Transkei.
BH From Transkei, and there was no talk of this area to become independent at one period during the early stages when they grew up in these areas. They aligned themselves for years with the other black masses who have been oppressed. So, they say a number of people went to work in South Africa for years. In fact, the economy of South Africa, what it is today, is because of the pioneers from this area. No other tribe or nation wanted to dig or go underground and dig gold and so on, and coal. And out of that, if you look at the Sisulus, the Mandelas who were working in the mines, they felt that they could no longer tolerate this, to be used as mine people and so on. And they spearheaded this, and said, 'Let's negotiate this and that.' That's as far back as 1912, that is the ANC's history.
Now when you look at Transkei therefore today, you look at Transkei with many faces, different faces. There are those who are pro-independence because they know that they have gained something. And then there are those who are against, those who are against include the following: the working class, that is, both in South Africa and here, because they feel that their privileges are not there. And then they argue that we have been digging this wealth and we cannot at the last minute abandon the wealth we have been digging. And then there are the PAC followers, and there are ANC followers and other extra-parliamentary groups. So this is Transkei I'm leading today and all of them still identify themselves as South Africans, because I still have my old reference book or identity book which I took as a South African via 1976.
POM Your pass book?
BH Yeah, that's an identity book, a reference book. It will not be easily taken out from us that we are not South African.
POM But you still see Transkei as occupying a special place in the negotiations? How do you think that process will work? Do you think, for example, that the ANC and the government will get together and maybe expand the negotiating table a little, have reached some kind of settlement and that out of the settlement that's reached, you'd have to negotiate with that settlement your re-entry into a new South African state? Or do you see a point being reached where there is an election for a Constituent Assembly, and the Constituent Assembly is elected all over? Well, it couldn't be elected in the Transkei unless some arrangement is already made to reincorporate the Transkei into South Africa. So what chain or sequence of events do you see taking place?
BH Well, as a man who is doing research, possibly you will agree with me that the South African situation is a complex situation, now, is a complex one, the homelands, there are other groups, and in these homelands ...
POM You were saying the South African situation is complex.
BH The South African situation is a very complex one in that whether we like it or not these apartheid structures which were created are there and we cannot dismantle them overnight. A solution would have to be found to address the method of dismantling them. I'm referring to things like, areas like these homelands, there are so many governments, so many presidents, so many ministers of defence, ministers of health. Now that is another part. And then there's ANC, there's the PAC demanding their - and amongst their demands is that the homelands system must be dismantled and if we want to see it, it will make an economic sense in a way, if there could be a solution found to reduce the burden of some kind where now we say, 'We do away with the duplication of services but let's go now to the negotiations.'
South Africa went to the negotiations, that's the instance, let's admit, that's the instance of the extra-parliament groupings. The homeland governments have been addressing this, making noise about the apartheid in a peaceful way, but South Africa had had to go and listen to what the ANC is offering and what the government is offering. So in these negotiations, therefore, there are three main key players: it's South Africa, it's ANC, it's PAC. I say they are the three main actors because in a revolutionary situation all those who command, or who use arms in resolving their conflicts, when you go and sit down and want things like addressing the hostility or cease-fire, those who are carrying arms are the ones who must meet first. That is why I say they are the key players because South Africa were carrying arms, ANC, the PAC.
Now, in the process of negotiations, therefore, the other two groups are demanding a Constituent Assembly. And we as poor homeland leaders, there's little that we can say from a position of strength because we have been here for years, decided to choose a system, a system which, in another way or when looked at from different angles is being seen as an oppressive method. Now the PAC and the ANC are saying, 'We don't want stipulation of services, this and that, we want this and such thing, and before we have a non-racial South Africa, would demand that those people who must draw a constitution must go to a Constituent Assembly.' So in other words, if PAC and ANC decide to go to the negotiations with South Africa, I think, by virtue of being backed by the UN, that is, United Nations, the OAU, the European Parliament, and EEC, I don't think the other parties have, stand a chance of influencing this process of negotiations. And when I'm talking about the process of negotiations, I'm addressing the pre-conditions which are put by the ANC, pre-conditions which are put by PAC. There is only one person who can say no to that. That is the South African government. Forget about her satellites like ourselves and other homelands. We have no clout. The UN and OAU only knows, only recognises the South African government.
That is why I say, therefore, the future of this region and other homelands would solely depend on what is being agreed upon by those in the forefront in the negotiation table. Now, if we are invited, or all the homeland leaders are invited, we will definitely participate. But the method which is being demanded by ANC and PAC, I don't think we would go there in our capacity as homeland leaders, to this Constituent Assembly. We would go there either by being voted in by the masses locally, and that is how I see it. But let me address now the issue of Transkei being an independent state.
POM You're an independent state so how could you participate in a Constituent Assembly if you are an independent state, not part of ...?
BH Yes, I'm going there now. Now the reason why the ANC is demanding and the PAC is demanding that the homelands must be scrapped or even before, it is simple because the homelands, as I've said, are not recognised and amongst the people in the homelands there are followers of the ANC and PAC. When they divide their constituencies to go to the polls for parliament, the ANC will be duty-bound to have their representatives in Transkei, in Bophuthatswana, in Venda, and Ciskei. That is why they are demanding that these homelands must be scrapped and then you start afresh. But let us say, for argument's sake, one of the pre-conditions is not met by South Africa, that is, that of dismantling homelands system, which would include Transkei in that process.
POM Is that a precondition for negotiations?
BH Yes, that is the PAC's demand.
POM PAC's demand. It's not the ANC's demand?
BH No, it's not.
POM Well, could we deal first with the situation of the ANC and the government.
BH If the ANC is not strong on that, because the ANC, I think, wants to negotiate, that issue must be negotiated. Now, if they say let's negotiate it, we are making a provision for our people here in that we said to them let us have a referendum from the entire Transkei and simply ask them, 'Where do you want to be in a new South Africa?' That referendum issue has already been published, the draft decree, where the people now have been asked to comment about this draft decree of a referendum. The way we have structured it, how to conduct it, who should qualify and why and there are certain questions which have been posed on them to consider. And so that we will at the end of the day make one question, like, for instance, 'Do you want to go to South Africa now or do you want to go to South Africa in the future? Or, would you want to retain the present situation?' So that is what we are doing in Transkei in anticipation for a negotiated settlement in South Africa. So that is part of it. As I've said earlier on, if we are invited now, we would definitely consider and participate in those negotiations.
POM So the way you see it is, am I correct in saying, maybe three ways. One, is that before there is an election for a Constituent Assembly, there is a referendum in the Transkei and the other homelands and each homeland decides what it wants to do. And if the majority of the people in the Transkei said that we want to go back into South Africa, then they should be part of the larger referendum on the Constituent Assembly. Let's say, for the matter of argument, what if Bophuthatswana had a referendum along the same lines and the majority of its people voted to stay independent? Then it's your belief that they should be allowed to stay independent?
BH Yes, if the people vote and it's a fair election. Of course, once they vote "No", people are going to, even if they vote "Yes", people are going to start asking what method was used to monitor it, the election. Now, if they vote "No" and in a fair system I think the international community should review their intent because it's being done now for the first time in a professional way. But again, it would depend on what do they want. Do they want to retain their status quo and after a new South Africa, what do they want? Do they want a federal system, a confederation, or do they just want to be on their own? And if they just don't want to be on their own, then that could pose some problems. And depending on the attitude of the government in the future in South Africa because if they don't want them they can squeeze them economically. [What we'll see in this African state and ...]
POM What do you think right now the majority of the people in the Transkei want? Would they want to become part of, would they want to be independent? Would they want to be part of a unitary South African state? Or would they want to become part of a South African state where they still had some autonomy, some kind of local government of their own?
BH I would be telling you lies if I tell you what people of Transkei want other then to say economically and politically in the last 15 years the homelands system, or this independence, didn't produce much. The passport, for instance, we have, to us is a document of no consequence because you can't go to that country, USA, with that passport. If you want to go to London, for instance, you must use a South African passport. That's the political fact of it. And politically, we cannot get any international aid, whatsoever like, for instance, addressing the health needs, education. Yes, it's true that from non-governmental organisational structures, we do get a little but it's very, very little. Now, economically we cannot get through to the International Monetary Fund, or World Bank, and it's very difficult even to attract the industrialists from overseas because there are embargoes targeted against South Africa, including ourselves. That equally goes for military training, military embargoes targeted against South Africa, we are also affected. So from that, now, it means we depend solely on South Africa to get funds. And sometimes South Africa says they don't have money and we are being faced right now by the past imbalances in the field of the infrastructure like roads, hospitals, schools, clinics, as well as in the field of education. Right now the black South Africans, you will find that they are better housed. I'm talking about the blacks in the townships and in other homelands, it depends on what politics do you preach in that homeland. If you please de Klerk and his lords, you get more. But I've got certain principles, in fact, as Transkeians we would rather remain poor rather than being seen as the oppressors to our fellow black brothers.
POM Rather than being seen as?
BH As the real oppressor of fellow black brothers. Now, what I am trying to say and put across is that a Transkeian can stand up in the open and at least complain that this independence is not viable because I don't have a shelter, I don't have roads, the poverty is still there. I don't have capital to back me, to have shops, to have businesses, or for farming. So if, for me to return back to South Africa and have a say in the distribution of the wealth of South Africa, a Transkeian who is reasonable would choose to go back to South Africa under those circumstances. But I can't say on behalf of a Ciskeian or a Bophuthatswanian, because I think South Africa has had some soft gloves, or some soft spots towards those areas. Because if you look at their white elephants which are there and you ask yourself, 'here was this money coming from?' you'd find that it was coming from South Africa, but now their white elephant's turning on them.
POM How much of your total budget per year will come from, what proportion would come from South Africa?
BH I would think, I would say 1.3 billion.
POM 1.3 billion rand out of a total budget of? How much of that ...?
BH Of 3.2.
POM 3.2. Do you raise the rest by local taxation? Do you have an income tax?
BH Yes, we have taxes, that's all.
POM How does it make you feel that you are head of state, head of, at least within this region it's called an independent state, and you travel abroad and you're not treated like that at all, in fact you might be treated as some kind of puppet of the South African government. How do you reconcile these things to yourself? Like, how did you end up in the military part of this and what has brought your thought around to the point where it is now?
BH First of all the issue of the protocol. I would like to address it that way. I think that's part of the thing I've mentioned, that it has been a failure politically. But personally, I don't believe, or I don't think that for one to be successful one must be given a red carpet treatment. I've been to the United States. I've been to Britain, Italy, Germany. I like the way the people received me there, lower down, the man in the streets. Deal with them first. Because if you want to put your case, I believe you must go to those people on the ground. They will listen to you. Who knows? Perhaps some of them might become a minister of state or a president. Now for you to go to President Bush and then people in the Administration and say, 'So what?' [After that you know.] But if you have an opportunity to invite him to have a dinner at one of the hotels or you have an informal meeting, and you share ideas, you advise them, perhaps it's because of my background, military, that you don't like to do things openly. So, personally, I don't feel annoyed on that because I feel that I get enough advice, I also advise, and Transkei as well is on the map without being announced in the UN. That is, we are formally-recognised in so and so. If now my students can travel to USA and study as well, I'm happy. If the known government, our organisations, can get funds, I'm happy. In other words, I'm utilising all these anti-apartheid, the comprehensive anti-apartheid acts to the fullest.
So let's now equate that with the view that we must go back home in South Africa. It's not because I'm not giving it thought. But I know deep, deep in my conscious that I'm the only one perhaps who can travel, and having travelled, there is little that I can bring back home. Why can't I make a broader approach - this thing on a broader scope? And let the people participate. What do you actually want? Do you want one parliament in South Africa in the future? Do you want all these small parliaments? But what is important is they must have the say in the issue of this case because not one homeland would ever be economically independent without the South African support. Not one. Even if we would increase our debt space. If South Africa is not co-operative on that side, beyond our borders, we don't have - one would have to study carefully the history and the relationship. And bear in mind, I want to emphasise the people who are in the vanguard, in the struggle, unfortunately, are from this area. And make no mistake, when we divide the constituency, their constituencies, they are not going divide Soweto amongst themselves and say, Sisulu, Mandela, this and that and so on, Hani, they will divide the entire South Africa. And another point which you must also recognise is that the majority of the blacks are not in the townships. The majority of the blacks are in rural areas, in these homelands. Now when you talk of majority rule, one-man, one-vote, those organisations are basing their support, their argument that ultimately at the end they will get votes from the rural areas.
POM This is the ANC and the PAC?
BH ANC and PAC. Now, if you are going to address the issue of South Africa, even if you talk of poverty, which they have been fighting for, they have been citing these homelands and they were talking the truth because the poverty is there. Now, we are not interested to be enticed about it, political status, or else economically and otherwise there is nothing. So in other words, the status of us as leaders of the homelands, no matter how good, no matter what benefits and perks, limousines, and so on, and escorts and that, what we must be careful of as leaders is not to frustrate the masses we are leading because we are nesting our positions.
POM Three things. You've talked a lot about the right of the people, whether it's in the Transkei, to decide where they want to be in the future, and yet now you've been head of government here for two years and there have been no elections to an assembly, how do you reconcile the two of those? On the one hand wanting them and on the other hand saying, I won't hold them?
BH There have not been elections in Transkei. All right. Let me address that one. In 1987, December, we took over the power here and we stated our objectives clearly and our objective was to promote cleaner administration, clean administration, those found with their hands in the till, or in the pocket, then we are just doing that. But when we took over, little did we know that there will be political developments like what is taking place in South Africa because they tended to have influence or to spill over to our area. And the economy and the political situation of this, we also made a noise, even before that, that this thing is not viable, the homelands. We made it very known after we took over. Since we analysed everything, we felt that, let's be honest to ourselves. The little money we are getting from South Africa is being followed by top businessmen and they take it out of here in wrong ways. So we are still committed to our objectives. And I think we are doing well.
POM And the objectives are to?
BH Clean administration, etc., etc. Now we are still committed to those objectives, but when we are confronted by political demands from our people for the first time, because under the previous government there were oppressive laws and they were arrested. Now people said, we want freedom of speech, we want freedom of this, we want a release of political prisoners. We did that in 1988-89 completely. ANC and then PAC were unbanned this year. But de facto, they were unbanned as early as 1988 and 1989.
BH Here. Their activities, funerals, there were no restrictions, no states of emergency. We removed them in 1989, we unbanned in 1989. Black miners paid the organisations. And then this year we unbanned ANC to make it 35 organisations. So, in other words, if I may come now back to your question, the question of elections, we said to our people, we will go back to the ballot and call for elections and we are still committed to that. We are not amending that objective, that commitment. Number two, that we want to conduct a referendum for our people. When we say we want the government of the day can conduct that referendum. If, for instance, we go back to the ballot, let's say next year, that referendum would still be conducted by that government, because there is a need, there is a desire from the people that people must be asked exactly what do they want.
Now, for instance, the complex situation where you will understand the dilemma which we are in. As a result of the unbanning of ANC and PAC, a number of members of parliament whom we ousted have now joined either PAC or ANC. Now, but that does not mean that there is no base for others to be asked to go to elections. Now the ANC and the PAC are not participating in homeland politics. They are followers. Even before this they never wanted to go and vote. The voting polls, the percentage, have been lost. From 1976 it slid down which means, if we are going to return power to the civilian in Transkei, when that hour arrives we must sell a policy to them which will be accepted to ANC, PAC, that they must participate in the elections locally. If we don't do that, you are going to experience the same problems you have in Natal, in KwaZulu, in all these homelands, where in Transkei I think it has been the most stable homeland.
POM So you're saying that if there are new elections for the Transkei, that the new government which emerges from that must allow the ANC and the PAC to organise as political parties to participate in the government itself?
BH In the elections here in Transkei. But I have doubts on that because in the Harare Declaration and the Harare Communiqué, which has been endorsed by UN, they don't want the Balkanisation of South Africa. If, in other words, if they do participate in the future, the reason why we would like to see them is we don't want to fear the failure of the process here. We don't want to see another anarchy being developed as a result of a politically ideological, an ideological party which has got a special ideology being in control of the ANC, PAC, and others. Otherwise, there is going to be a conflict. Right now, things might look quiet because it's a military. We don't have political ideology. If the ANC wants to have rally they come and report to us. OK, we arrange security, we arrange transport. If the PAC comes we do the same thing. If the local political parties which were here before were running the country want to have a rally, we organise for them. We are not taking parts or sides. Now, I don't have a guarantee, if one of those parties, therefore, would win the elections, like the party which was running this homeland, for instance, will not have clashes ideologically with ANC and PAC, which would led into black deaths like in KwaZulu and in other homelands. Our prayer really is that when that hour arrives of returning power to the civilians all the political parties here will participate, either with the aim of forestalling the other party, not to practice all those dreaded things which they used to do, detention, killing of people, unnecessarily.
POM But all the local political parties have a vested interested in keeping the ANC and the PAC out. Right?
BH Yes. As far as I know, unless they will change their attitude because they banned all those organisations, churches, then we took over, and then we unbanned and we encouraged democracy, freedom of speech. And everybody, even the local Radio Transkei, if there is a rally in Johannesburg addressed by ANC or by PAC, they record, we don't censor it. It must go direct to the people and they must decide what do they want. That equally goes for them if they speak. But before that you wouldn't get it.
POM Two things. One, on the question of the abuses, the abuses that occurred here. One of the arguments made by white people, why they are so afraid of a government in South Africa that would be dominated by blacks, is that South Africa is going to go the way of other states and there's going to be rampant corruption, etc. Now when you look at the homeland system here, to a considerable degree that's what, in fact, what you are looking at: governments which feather their own nests and where a small clique of people get extraordinarily wealthy and have great power. What would your answer be to white people who have those fears?
BH Well, the fears will always be there but those fears from the white people must not be to our detriment. We are talking now of removing all the destruction of apartheid. There are inhuman things which have been there as a result of the apartheid. That one must go, it is not negotiated. And then we would address those fears. But they mustn't use the apartheid to protect their fears. Now, let's leave that part and actually now take it myself as a white man, or as an observer, or as a man to actually answer your question. Let's say the apartheid is going. In South Africa one has got to be careful in that this is not a colonial rule. We want a South Africa where everybody is going to participate. The whites, for instance, are not going to be chased out of South Africa, off-shore, once the blacks have taken over here. It is not like what was in Mozambique and Zimbabwe and so on. The question here is that if power is in the minority, the question is of transferring it or mixing it. The ANC and other organisations say a president can be a white man. Now, this simply means this majority rule is not based on colour. If the Nationalist Party and ANC merge and form a coalition government and in the caucus they elect, for instance, President de Klerk to lead that party, so he can be a leader of that so that this majority rule, according to their argument, is not a black man's. It says, The party which wins most votes must rule, which means, therefore, you can still have the Minister of Defence, a Minister Finance being a white man. You can have the Generals being white men. So, I don't think in South Africa per se we will have such fears as we normally see in African countries where the whites now are saying, 'You are independent, we are taking our airplanes and we are going to Europe', but we are going to stay with them.
POM Why do you think such a pervasive system of corruption came in the homelands? Was it the way they were set up initially, that they were kind of ...?
BH Well, the corruption in the homelands, I think, first of all, not all homelands are corrupt or purportedly corrupt. I think this thing depends on one's conscience as a leader. Right now, well, we'd never say we are wiping it out, but there are no such things as - how can I put it? It's quiet now in Transkei because we are addressing these things. We gradually are, we are retaining our pride as a Xhosa nation and all these immoral things. We are being here a Xhosa nation.
POM Xhosa nation?
BH Yes. So, it depends on that government, really. If they use these millions effectively, and so they would have addressed all these backlogs and imbalances now. But it is also not clear to many minds of the people as to why some of the business people, top business people, well-respected business people in South Africa wanted to exploit the situation as well. Whether they say, 'Our people seemingly were tempted by many outsiders in the business community', say, "I want this? Can I have ten of them? If you do it, I will make sure", and so on, and so on, that you get this. So, it depends to that leadership. What do you want? I can't help in a straight answer. But that does not mean all the homelands and all the people and all the leaders who will emerge from the homelands are corrupt kinds of black people or reflecting or that he should have fears that if ANC and PAC takes over what is happening in the homelands will also take place. You must address it two-pronged. Second, top people, even in the South Africa government and in the business, as have been evidenced in the Commission of Inquiry, did have directions, no, pin-pointing and directing people to have to do things. There have been certain ministers who have resigned in South Africa, Department of Education, [pretenders(?),] issuing of books to homelands and to South Africa. So those people were not blacks.
POM Have you talked with the ANC?
BH On many occasions. In fact, almost all of them.
POM What's the understanding between you?
BH In Transkei?
BH We don't have any quarrels.
BH We don't have any quarrels.
POM So, they would essentially see you as sitting on their side of the table like, say Buthelezi, for example.
BH Well, even Buthelezi. I think many people misunderstood. It's not a question that I would sit on the side of the ANC. But let us understand this, that all the victims of the apartheid or of the system, they have areas of common interest, whether you are in the homeland, you are in the ANC, all of them have got areas of common interest. Like, we say, the Group Areas must go.
POM There is no Group Areas here, right?
BH Yes, but our people when they go to South Africa they suffer. So we say, let's have one South Africa. That's what the other homelands are saying. I'm talking now broadly as a victim of apartheid. So when we go to the negotiation table, it is obvious that President de Klerk, everyone will be firing at him. But we as victims of apartheid, if we were to meet before the main negotiations and identify areas of common interest without sacrificing our ideology, we would be even making the job easy for President de Klerk. Imagine what size of a table would be designed for, to accommodate all the leaders, if we go to those negotiation tables in one day.
POM How do you see this negotiating table developing? At the moment, you have the ANC and the government. And you have the PAC saying they are not going to participate at all.
BH No. ANC is. PAC, that's another misunderstanding. PAC says, 'We are not going to participate, provided you do the following.' They have got their five pre-conditions.
POM The ANC?
POM The PAC, sorry.
BH They've got their own five pre-conditions. In other words, they want to negotiate but before they negotiate, they say, 'Address the following.' ANC said their pre-conditions are these, which they tabled in the UN and accepted. And South Africa now is addressing those pre-conditions. So, in other words, it's a wrong thing to say they don't want to negotiate. Let's get that one very clear. Now, if they eventually go and negotiate, if they agree on this Constituent Assembly, then that concept then is going to be sold to all the leaders in South Africa.
POM But the government will oppose it.
BH At the present moment the government is opposing it. But you cannot have a guarantee, if they are sincere in their minds when they talk of negotiation, negotiations can develop into another thing.
POM Yes, they would say, like, if you had an election for a Constituent Assembly by universal franchise, one-man, one-vote, the party who gets the most votes is the winner. In other words, they would be conceding the very question they want to negotiate because they want some more complicated form of power sharing or not simple majority rule. So many of the people that we've spoken to say that would be one thing, the government may bargain anything away, but they won't bargain away ...
BH Then there is no sincerity on their part, therefore.
POM Well, what the government said was, 'What we must do first before we get to that point, what we must do is we must broaden the negotiation table, bring in other people who represent constituencies.'
BH As I say, my friend, whether they bring those, from the black man's point of view, take my advice and word, all the victims of apartheid are speaking one language but using different tactics. Gatsha Buthelezi, don't think that he is going to be next to President de Klerk in the negotiation table, it's out.
BH He will not be next to President de Klerk in a negotiation table. It's completely out. But as I say, Chief Gatsha will stand up and say, 'Mr. Speaker, Honourable members, I raise this point,' no one is going to answer. Is President de Klerk? Mandela will stand up, no one will answer him, Mathopeng, Holomisa, Mabuza, and so on. But the question of these negotiations, the way I see it, at some stage a sort of an interim government will have to be introduced so as to accommodate the fear. But maybe ANC and Nationalist Party or PAC are doing their own things, as well as that the white South Africans in that interim government will be able to put their case. For them to attend negotiation table as a player, as well as a referee is not a fair deal. So, at some stage they would have to have that interim period. Whether it's monitored by UN, whether they agreed to be monitored, perhaps by judicial, like judges, internal, but the Nationalist Party per se would have to withdraw and go to the negotiating table on equal power with other political organisations. [So then we will...] These fears now by white South Africa that the party with the majority will do this, otherwise we are not going to trust de Klerk, whether he still wants to rule us without our mandate but build a constitution where he knows that he will always stay, be on top. Then he is promoting conflict, unfortunately.
POM The ANC had said that they would, or have in the past, been opposed to homeland leaders being at the negotiation table because they regard the homeland as being totally illegitimate and just a puppet of government. Do you think they will bend on that? I mean, they have people like yourself who are in fact on their side, so it's an asset having you sitting at that table rather than not having you sit at that table. Do you see them bending on that as they line up more support among the homeland leaders?
BH Well, well, well, well, well, if ANC were to change their stance, that of wanting not to go, let's say they don't, South Africa don't agree with this Constituent Assembly, and ANC say, 'Let's compromise.' All right, President de Klerk, we agree, invite all the leaders. Then I think the homelands automatically will be invited. Because ANC would have changed their original demand, that of a Constituent Assembly. So, already ANC, I think, is consulting with the homelands because I think, while they are deep in their planning on their strategies, they know that maybe they made a mistake by ignoring the homelands at the beginning. They should have included them in the struggle. Because if you notice this struggle in South Africa, they have been using the townships, mostly. But now they've got a problem, as well, in that the people who are in their political desks and so on and in the military have been born in these areas. They suddenly realised that, uh-um, we need to look into the issue of the homeland. Possibly, if the Constituent Assembly doesn't pass, then homelands will be there in the negotiation table. And I don't think they will say, you, that homeland leader, you are not going to go to the negotiation table because they don't like us. It will not depend on that.
POM If tomorrow morning the government invited you to the negotiating table but the ANC said, we don't want him there, he is an illegitimate leader, it's a puppet state, what would you do?
BH If South Africa had invited me to the negotiation table, I would have to analyse and evaluate on what terms are they inviting me? What do they want? Because as I have said earlier to you, I don't think I would participate in the negotiation table where South Africa is chairman. That would not be a fair thing, unfortunately. We would just be wasting our time. What would happen if we say something which annoyed the chairman and he decides to take all his legal books and marches off?
POM Who would you require to be the arbiter?
BH There must be a period in South Africa where it is agreed upon by those who are preparing for the negotiations that whilst the negotiations start, Mr. de Klerk, you'll come in your capacity as leader of your party and the government will be run by X. Whether it is UN, whether it's frontline states or OAU or whatever.
POM Sorry. You were saying during the talks about talks?
BH I said during the talks about talks they will have to identify and agree who should chair the meeting and who should run the government. But coming to your question again of - you were asking about?
POM You were saying that before you would participate in negotiations that there would have to be an interim government and that is a government composed of members of the UN or some outside party, mutual party, monitoring it, and Mr. de Klerk would attend the party, the negotiations, not as President or the head of the government but he would attend as leader of his party. And with you, this is pre-negotiation. And then I asked you whether you thought, when the ANC and the government began their second round of talks in early August, whether the first thing that the ANC would want to negotiate would be this form of an interim government?
BH Yes, I was saying that it is necessary because if you notice now they are accusing each other: that it is the South African police who is doing this, that it is the ANC. Now this mud-slinging is developing and even if they address the issue of cessation of hostilities, someone will still be needed to monitor that everybody is adhering to that. The government will be operating from a disadvantaged point of view because the masses will always say, 'No, these people are still suppressing us, they are still doing this', and then the government will say, 'Yes, listen to him now, he is not sticking to the agreement,' and so on. Somehow along the line they will have to look into this.
Let me just make one example for instance. In KwaZulu, the ANC's argument, you can listen to them when they say the South African police or the South African government is siding with Buthelezi. Constitutionally or otherwise, KwaZulu is under the direct control of President de Klerk. It's unlike Transkei. The security police, I repeat, the security police are under the direct control of Mr. Vlok. I'm not talking about uniformed police. In other words, Vlok can go to KwaZulu and arrest a man in a rural area and go and try him in Durban. But he can't do it here in Transkei because I'm independent. So, when you listen to that argument, we know it from the security way, we know these things are said, there's a danger here. That part is part of South Africa and de Klerk has got a responsibility to see to it that there is peace there. For de Klerk to say, 'No, Mandela and Buthelezi, go and talk over it', and yet perhaps his men are not in favour of what they are talking about because the divide and rule system is still there. So, in other words, the Natal issue when it is resolved, de Klerk, Mangope, and possibly ANC and other people would have to one day sit there.
POM That includes you, too.
BH I may not necessarily be there.
POM But you still insist on the interim government.
BH No, no, I'm talking about the violence now, just addressing that part, that part of the violence. To prove that this thing, South Africa, cannot escape the accusation even in the interim, during these negotiations if there is no interim it's because they've got the power in those areas.
POM And they don't exercise it.
BH Yes, and they don't exercise it. So, now they are going to be accused of perhaps promoting people whom they think will be on their side in the negotiation table. They are protecting them or they are being seen as conniving with them. But if they go and say, 'All right, Mr. Mandela, Mr. Buthelezi, Mr. de Klerk, I'm calling a meeting. Gentlemen, I've decided to tell you that your differences politically or political ideologies have led to this. I'm telling you now, go and talk to your people, it must stop.' But not to say, no, they must talk there, they must call them. He is still a leader of South Africa. So this is why, therefore, that an interim government - so that we remove the mistrust. I repeat, if I'm invited to negotiation table, one of the things which I will have problems with is to go and negotiate whilst de Klerk is the chairman because I don't think that's fair play. It's a waste of time.
POM Let me take you back to a point you touched on. As well as being Head of State you are also the Commander in Chief of the army. Why does the Transkei need an army?
BH Well, let me say, it's a concept all over, accepted world over, even by super-powers, that an independent state must have their own army to defend itself against a foreign aggression.
POM Who would be your foreign aggressors? Your only foreign aggressor would be a country you want to become part of.
BH Foreign aggression could - for instance, we are bordering with Lesotho. What would happen if Lesotho, for instance, wanted something from us? You know these common borders.
POM I'm talking like, really, if you look at, again the poverty and the scarceness of resources, it would seem that one way to begin to redress the imbalance internally would be to cut down on services that seem to be least-needed. And in your situation, maintaining an army ...
BH That could be done after a negotiated settlement has been reached. If South Africa is not scaling down her military why must I do it? So it is a tit-for-tat exercise. That would be a high-risk exercise to do it now. So if we agree to that, right, in a new South Africa we have one army, because whether it's confederation or federation, we will have one Minister of Defence, it's acceptable. But before that, we cannot abandon our army and leave the people who have been oppressing us having this strong army, no.
POM What do you think is going to happen when you look at the next three or four years? Is this process going to go on? Do you take the threat of the Conservatives, the threat of a right wing backlash, do you take that seriously? Do you see a unitary state emerging? Do you see a power-sharing government between blacks and whites? Do you see a federation? I mean what do you see?
BH I think we solely depend on the attitude of the people who want to find a solution.
POM Well, you'd be one of those.
BH Yes, like the ANC and other organisations. And President de Klerk. If we have the present team for the next four years, Mandela, de Klerk, and pray that there won't be internal power positions among the leadership, squabbles in these organisations, I think within four years, we can easily be talking of a nearly one, unitary, or a principle be reached, whether that unitary system is going to be done in phases. But looking at the progress made so far and the commitment by President de Klerk, I think as well he wants a solution to be reached as soon as possible, or within four years.
POM You see him as being sincere?
BH Yes, yes, yes. No, I don't doubt that. But the fears will always be there, more especially from us as victims. We must make sure that we know what we are doing and we know where we are leading our people. South Africa has been known to be dominated by the securocrats. Now they have shifted from that to technocrats. Now one has got to analyse what is contained in the technocrats? Possibly one of their, the strategy of the technocrats, is to win the black masses, politically, in the political battlefield. So we've got to look into that. That's why I say, we will always be sceptical even if it is a genuine thing. We will always question it. Like when I say "winning the black masses in the battle field". It might change.
POM Well, some people said to us that if the National Party could get up to 20% of the black vote in an election, that's ...
BH Well, that's nice.
POM Would that surprise you?
BH That would promote, in fact, race relations.
POM Would it surprise you if it happened?
BH I wouldn't be surprised because it's a question of the education, one selling his policies, and the confidence and so on. You know these revolutionary tactics sometimes can scare some people and say, Ah, I think this one is better. But once they are established as political organisations, these organisations, then you can be assured maybe that percentage will shift or will grow. But as I was saying, that if the people return from exile and they are inside the country, all of them, and all of a sudden South Africa decides to pull out of the negotiations, then that's a severe political defeat to those people who wanted to negotiate in the first instance and say, 'Yes, why did you want to lead us into this?' Now they must start afresh now to go and organise and say, 'Please give us some shelter again, land and this and that'.
POM Let me go one step further. Say, if the government walked out of negotiations or said, 'No, we'll go this far and no further', and the whole liberation movement was faced with the task of kind of reforming itself in a more militant way, would you throw the support of your army behind the liberation movement and say, 'This is a government that has broken faith'?
POM Even if your people ...?
BH No, even if they were to do that, we need to look into these things and balance it with our geographical situation and area. For the ANC and other organisations, that would be suicidal for them to put military bases in Southern Africa. Otherwise, they will be inviting the same disaster they got into when they were raided in Lesotho, Mozambique, and so on. But, apartheid, we have no sympathy with that. And if you can follow my speeches, I don't, I'm not interested to mask it, it has got to go. But Transkei, if South Africa were to go back to the laager or go back to their original view and started to look like South Africa of old, Transkei will be used as a launching pad to accommodate the political organisations which have been in exile. We will not ban them here, come what may. As long as I'm still in charge.
POM So, in fact, it would be better for them to have Transkei still as an independent state in which they can operate?
BH They will still be talking from here. No one will harass them. Peacefully. I will give them this political platform, but not military.
POM While the ANC was banned inside South Africa, was it unbanned here?
BH No, it was banned here.
POM Why was it, well, if you were an independent state, why was it banned?
BH It was banned all over. As I said to you, when we took over in 1987, de facto, ANC and PAC were unbanned. We only unbanned it in the statute, it was scrapped in the statute, I think in February. We wanted to unban it last year. We made a statement in 1989, F.W. de Klerk and his team, Pik Botha, flew down on the 11th January this year and they threatened us with all sorts of things and said they are not pleased that we are considering to unban ANC, that we want to have a referendum, and that we have already unbanned the organisations like UDF which have been banned in South Africa. And we said, 'With due respect, Mr. President, we are an independent state but we take your advice and fears in a spirit of non-interference.' At that time, he was forcing us that we must return back to the civilian government and I told him that we are still in the midstream of our exercise, here are the documents, and we fed him most of the documents of the court cases, the investigation in the foreign exchange, the cases in the international arbitration in Zurich. And then I said to him, 'I've got my own objectives, you follow yours. I don't have a timetable, you don't have a timetable, Mr. President, on the reforms. In a spirit of non-interference, everyone must carry on, we'll meet where we meet.' And that was it.
Then he went to the media, called for a press conference, and he started to talk about these things. I repeated what I told him in the meeting. And that's it. And so we understand each other because we talked straight to each other. So, I think it was the longest meeting we had ever had, it was four-and-a-half hours meeting with us. But on 2nd February, [funny enough, it was 11th January,] I was in Washington attending a prayer breakfast, listening to his speech in the morning, four o'clock, CNN channel. There President de Klerk is unbanning the ANC, he is doing this and he is doing that and he's saying if the homelands, independent homelands, want to come back he is prepared to reincorporate them, and so and so on. Exactly saying what I've been saying in the last two years. And then I was the head man, I said, 'Oh, well, it's nice but the four hours we spent with him, he realised that there is no coming or going backwards in the process.'
POM What do you see as the greatest obstacle that he faces in trying to push the white electorate in the direction of accepting enormous change?
BH The white electorate, I think, is impatient in the first instance. That's what I see. They want a change, a complete change because they see that the economical clout is with the liberation movement. Even if sanctions were to be removed, the way I see it from the white man's point of view, the people from Europe would be hesitant to come and invest here because of fearing bombings, boycotts, traps, burning of houses, homes. They don't have guarantees that one day this liberation movement can't go to town and march and just light all the shops. So there is that fear which President de Klerk, his white electorate, they say, 'Man, you are slow. Why are you waiting? What are you waiting for? We have given you a mandate. Just change.' The white electorate wants that in South Africa. Right wing, there isn't much fear from me about the right wing, it's just a passing phase, is going to die down. Because a reasonable white South African knows very well that if the white right wing were to take over tomorrow, then that's the end of the economy of South Africa. And then that's a civil war. So, I think President de Klerk doesn't have much fear on the right. And I don't think he will lose much.
But I'm a little bit worried when he says, 'I'm going to negotiate a constitution and go and take it to the white electorate to pass or not pass this constitution.' Then I differ with him there, completely, because, if he has been given a mandate last year to change South Africa, in September, and he commits himself to such an extent of saying, 'Exiles, please come back home', and they come, now we are talking change. And then let's say, for argument's sake, those people vote against his referendum, against that constitution, then there's a problem because he is compelled to go to the election and then in those elections, if he loses them, the right wing gets in and there's problems. Now, in other words, if he wants to go and sell that constitution, if I were in his boots, I would say, 'All the nationals in South Africa, black and white, Coloured', so that the vetoing powers will not only be left with the white minority. And if he doesn't want to see it that way, then that's another thing which will make Holomisa to participate in the negotiations.
POM Mandela's obstacles, as he cuts his way through the ...?
BH I see people talking about, the hard-liners within the ANC, the youth, the military being compared to the old guard. There is sense of argument, we must accommodate that. We need to accommodate that because, we, when I say "we", we belong to the youth category, we are worried about our future, and our children. We would rather see things happening here today, unfortunately. That equally goes for the Mandelas. We feel for them in that they've been languishing in jail for a number of years for a thing which they wanted to negotiate as early as 1912. Now they have been freed and we don't see much progress towards the actual addressing, the shifting of power, or sharing it, practically. No purists. Now you are going to get that fear from the youth. And the fact that in the minds of the people, in the struggle, in the revolutionary situation and period, they were told that release Mandela, release Mandela, [release Quanu(?),] release so and so, thinking that the day he's released, perhaps he might be the leader of South Africa, immediately. They don't, many people are asking, what is this delay now? Because they have seen it in the revolution in Africa, once the top man is released from being a prisoner, in six months and then he's in power.
Now, it's the homework now which we need to read as leaders. It is not this situation like that gentleman. You've got to understand here are the stages. Now, that is the thing which Mr. Mandela and others are still going to find it now, that the masses don't actually understand what is this delay because they thought now, if the political prisoners are released, why wait and create another trap position now, to re-arrest them? because there is that possibility. That a man can be a re-arrested because he said, 'I will continue with the armed struggle, I will do this', because in the statute books they are still there. So this period is a very sensitive and a difficult period both for ANC and South Africa. Now for Mandela, internally, I think he might get that resistance or those fears and asking, what's these negotiations now, when, and so on.
And another threat to Mandela is PAC. PAC says, We are not going to talk. We want transfer of power, finished. If South Africa wants us to talk, it must remove the following. PAC are pressing the very cornerstones of the apartheid, Group Areas, homelands, Bantu Education Act, the land, and so on and so on. Immediately those things are removed then we will be satisfied, that is, the entire blacks, the majority. Now ANC, I'm sure, is also worried about that, not necessarily within. Because the youth from PAC will say, Yes, you are negotiating, what are you getting? And then the youth from this side will be difficult to defend from themselves. So for the old guard, they will have to move at a faster pace. So those are the fears.
I also see that they are going to launch the Communist Party now. I don't have the picture of how are they going to operate. Because some of them have been working together in exile. For a confused man in the street, really, how is it going to work? I'm not a political scientist or a student of the political science but it's worth watching it as to how are they going to work by putting as PAC, as ANC, as SACP, are they still going to continue addressing rallies together? And so on. It's a tricky situation. Now, it would depend now on the beliefs of the leadership of the ANC. How are they going to accommodate? But they've been accommodating each other for years. But what I'm saying is, it's going to be interesting in that who is going to be voted in the Executive of the ANC and in the Executive of the SACP?
POM Would you find it more difficult to support the ANC that was in an alliance with the South African Communist Party?
BH No, no, no, no, I don't have any problems with that. The SACP is unbanned in Transkei. The Communist Party, the ANC is unbanned. I don't have any quarrels. Whether there is a communist government who is in power, voted in power by people, I would serve them as a soldier. I don't have problems with that. But I was addressing the issue, where you were asking, what are the traps? So, Mandela has got to accommodate the youth who ask, change yesterday. He has also got to lead the alliances within himself, if the homelands, the SACP, and other white liberals want to rally around him, he will have to net those fears, because SACP, I assume, it has got her own ideology, the ANC has got its own. That equally goes for the youth of the ANC who want a quicker thing to be done. And then the military, the military wing as well, wants to see action, so as not to lose their face or their recruiting base. He is in a difficult period now.
POM How would you rate his performance so far?
BH For a man who has been jailed for 27 years, the way he handled the media, press conferences, the way he handled George Bush, I think he is excellent. Not knowing a man, what is he going to say, on that lawn? Bush read his prepared speech, this man was telling the truth like this. Just as he said, I think Mr. de Klerk, with due respect, you have not been thoroughly briefed but I will use the opportunity to brief you. I mean, so that must have been an irritating address for a man like Bush to be sort of, you know, when you have been built up by the media that you are so and so and that somebody from a terrorist organisation is addressing you. That must have, that was an interesting, that's where I respected him, that he is mentally alert for him to have listened to that 15 minute, 10 minute, speech by Bush there. And in well-calculated, selected words, he watered it down and after they came out from talks he said, 'Well, we have identified or we have closed or narrowed the gaps.' I mean, he has never attended diplomatic corps training schools, he has been in jail. So, I think he is handling the situation well under the circumstances. And as I said, the ANC is dominated by the youth and he seems to have the leverage of controlling them. And they are still listening to him and they respect him.
POM But how long will he have that leverage?
BH It will depend. If de Klerk is sincere, he's not just sitting, he's having some tactics under the technocrat's method or system, and if de Klerk doesn't want further black bloodshed, Mandela, he will succeed. In other words, his success, the road he has chosen, that negotiation, depends on de Klerk and his party. So, either two, no one can go it alone, either. So this war is simple.
POM This time next year, if we're talking, where will we be?
BH You mean in this political ...?
POM Process. Where do you think it will be?
BH If they agree to talk Constituent Assembly, I think we will be preparing for it. I give it an 18-month period. If they delay it more than 18 months ...
POM For a Constituent Assembly?
BH Yes, whatever policies will be accepted it must be within 18 months. Within 18 months they must produce a programme which will be followed and accepted by everyone. Whether it is Constituent Assembly or whatever, if it is not there, I live with these people, they are going to get impatient. And it is going to be difficult to control the situation.
POM Thank you very, very much.