About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

08 Aug 1990: Hendrickse, Allan

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POM     I'm talking with Allan Hendrickse, leader of the Labour Party, in Cape Town on the 8th of August. Mr. Hendrickse, February 2nd, de Klerk's speech, did it surprise you and what do you think motivated him to act so quickly and so broadly?

AH     Well, I was aware of the fact that something was going to be said, because ever since he took over as State President, there has been a very useful liaison between him and myself. And he kept me informed about events and about decisions and even the day before 2nd February, although we didn't know content, there was an unprecedented invitation and acceptance of the State President to address my party caucus the day before Congress opened, the sitting opened. Certainly, we didn't expect him to go as far as he went and I think most people in opposition groups particularly, inside and outside the country, were surprised at the fact that they went so far. We thought he was going to say something important but not go as far as he did, particularly in the light of the elections and the light of movement towards the right.

     If I can just explain that movement to the right, I think it is more a question of him having moved to the left and left behind those who are now regarded as being the right. Two things, I think. One, very strongly, whether I as a party accept it or not, the fact is that sanctions were important. Because that led to the economic decline and they were faced and the country was faced with an economic situation which could not defuse the growing atmosphere for conflict in terms of schooling, housing, and other things. Two, I also think he realised that now is the time, instead of dividing those who were pro-change in South Africa and the indication of a growing rightist conservative movement, that now was the time actually to consolidate all the democratic forces or those who were thinking in terms of democratic change. I say it came as a surprise because three years ago, he was fairly conservative and we in the Labour Party questioned the rightness, for instance, of his caucus of choosing him above Pik Botha or others whom we saw as the enlightened ones and Barend du Plessis, the Minister of Finance.

POM     If you had to point to a factor or a couple of factors that made him make that great leap from conservative, pragmatist to innovator, daring ...?

AH     I think it's the question of realisation and, you know, with respect to him, the family has a political background. And his elder brother Dr. Willem de Klerk was one that had moved far beyond the National Party and actually out of the National Party, so much so that he was "dismissed" as editor of one of their chief newspapers, Rapport, and I think he has an influence over his brother as well. I had a chat with him just after his brother's election and that gave me some sort of indication. But I've got no doubt that he is a realist and I think that realism and, you know he's mentally alert and analytical as well, and I think that led him to a decision that it is now or never. You know, that the break, the fault within the National Party was always that PW Botha was looking over his shoulder. You know, it was a tremendous risk for him as a matter of fact, to have started this tricameral structure in spite of all its inadequacies and what have you. But he couldn't go further because he was continuously looking back. And I think that de Klerk's decision was, fine, I will take this risk.

POM     When he made this decision, what assumptions do you think he made about the ANC in terms of what the ANC could deliver?

AH     I've got no doubt in my mind that he saw the ANC as the most important factor in terms of change and, you see, the situation within South Africa was becoming more volatile and more violent. As a matter of fact, we haven't defused that violence at all. I'm disturbed at the fact that in Port Elizabeth, in the so-called coloured areas, we've got problems yesterday and today and so on, burning the schools and what have you, which has never happened before. But I think it's the increasing violence, the economic situation, and then his realism that there was no sense in now looking back at the break with the Conservative Party.

POM     I suppose I'm asking in terms of specifically the ANC. Did he think that the ANC not only was the inspiration of the masses but also could control them?

AH     It could be. I mean, I can't speak for him, really, but I just felt that he certainly was looking at, I mean they've been having a series, particularly through Minister Kobie Coetsee, the Minister of Justice, of contacts with Nelson Mandela and I suppose the impression that they had of the man and his ability to assist in the diffusion and the solution of conflict must have been such a one that they took this decision.

POM     Do you think the government has conceded on the issue of majority rule?

AH     Well, you see, the interpretation of majority rule, we're looking from the Labour Party side, for instance, at the new South Africa where race is not going to be important, and colour. So that it is going to be merit and that sort of thing that is going to be more important. So I think they accept it, we all accept majority rule. There is still a problem about what is called majority black rule. Well, I don't think he is afraid of that situation because of various factors, you see. My own analysis of the situation is that given the present circumstances, the majority of South Africans would still chose him above Nelson Mandela as President, for instance. Because not only of the right white situation, you know, conservative and growing conservative, but also because of the division amongst blacks. It's real and I think it is not a sort of overall black majority per se. And what we see happening between Buthelezi and the ANC could possibly happen with the other smaller ethnic groups as well.

POM     So, just to clarify the point, you think the National Party or the government accepts majority rule but that there still would be a question behind whether or not they accepted black majority rule?

AH     That's right. You see, we, for instance, in the Labour Party have taken cognisance of those differences and therefore to diffuse the whole question of white fears, because these are real. We're looking at a federal structure for South Africa as the solution. Because in your federal structure numbers don't count. Almost like the American Senate where biggest and smallest have equal representation or proportional representation, and so on. But not a federal structure based on ethnicity. It is a non-racial geographic federation that we are looking at.

POM     There has been a lot of talk, or you see a lot of talk, in government speeches about partnership and the sharing of power. Do you think that what de Klerk is aiming for is some kind of an arrangement in which the National Party would share power with the ANC?

AH     I think so, as the two major players. The one thing that de Klerk has made clear to us is that every participant within the "system" would be part of the negotiation process. And I think, hence the approach, whether it should be tactic or strategy, I'm not really certain of it, is the approach of Mandela and the ANC towards the other homeland leaders. They are talking to all the others except for Buthelezi. And he is talking to me. I've had three meetings with Nelson Mandela already. And for many years there was condemnation from the ANC about our participation in the tricameral structure. And yet we are talking now. So it does seem that he wants to build up a healthy alliance outside the ambit of the National Party.

POM     De Klerk's promise that he will take any proposed new constitutional dispensation back to the white electorate, is that a promise he can keep in the manner in which it was first promised, or will he let it go or abandon it all together?

AH     It all depends when it's going to happen. You know, I believe that there has been this movement which can be interpreted as rightist with a threat of violence from the resistance movement and all kinds of things. I think timing is going to be important. At the moment he's winning through, if one looks at the Democratic Party and their decline in Natal. They see, the supporters in the Democratic Party and the voters of the Democratic Party see de Klerk as having taken over their policy and he is in a more powerful position to implement those particular ideas and he's got time, depending upon what happens.

POM     But would it be acceptable to the other parties in this process that the white community go to exercise a veto over it?

AH     No, not a veto right. Certainly not. I don't think so. You know, the question of a referendum is already a forgone conclusion, we are all included in terms of a new constitution. But whether it is going to be necessary for him to go to the white electorate ...

POM     It is a promise that he has made.

AH     It is made. But I still think that he would win such a referendum. When PW Botha was faced with the same situation, I've got no problem suspecting that he would lose a referendum particularly amongst the Afrikaners and the younger Afrikaners. If you take Stellenbosch as an example, that's where all the Verwoerdian ideas came from. Verwoerd himself was there, Vorster was there, PW didn't have a university education but at least he was there for one year, I think. But the nucleus of apartheid thinking came from there. And you can see a complete metamorphosis in Stellenbosch. And if you were to have said to me ten years ago that Allan Hendrickse would be acceptable talking to Stellenbosch students about the need for the Group Areas Act to be repealed and to get an applause from 800 students, I would have said you must have your head read. But it's happened and it's encouraging when one looks at every university that started as Afrikaner, you know, retaining that character of being Afrikaner, every one of them have become an open university. Rand University (RAU), which was started in opposition to Wits University, is completely open with the black and white all there and Tukkies, Pretoria University. And then the character of all these universities have become more acceptable as universities and I think as these younger guys come out that you are going to have a greater support. And therefore, I don't think he need fear the referendum.

POM     The process, how will it now unfold? We have heard a couple of scenarios from people and I'll just put them to you. One is the scenario in which at some point along the line there is an election for a Constituent Assembly and the Constituent Assembly draws up the new constitution. The second is one in which the negotiating table is broadened to take into account all the diversity of the political structures and/or parties in the country and a consensus is reached on the way forward. And the third is a combination of the first and the third, some form of interim government, and parallel with that perhaps a commission of eminent people, again representing all political views, that would work on drawing up a constitution. Which way do you see as most likely forward?

AH     I don't think the Constituent Assembly is a feasible idea in terms of the present South African situation. It was feasible in Namibia in the sense that parliament still existed to approve the necessary legislation and approve what is happening there. But to form a Constituent Assembly in a sort of vacuum is not going to be feasible. This parliament, in terms of the present constitution, has to approve whatever changes must take place, so that I don't think that a Constituent Assembly is going to be feasible and acceptable. I can understand the ANC putting that as the ultimate. And this certainly is a bottom line for them, but you see, we've already got legislation, although it hasn't been implemented, which provides for the Constitutional Council. One will have to look at that as a possibility because provision there is also made for participation of people outside the present parliamentary system.

POM     Do you think that the ANC would ever participate formally in a structure of this government, in a constitutional structure of this government, since it has always held that the government is illegitimate because there has not been ...?

AH     I think for force of circumstances they would have to participate. I mean, the fact is that they are talking to the government now already as the, what do you call it? in non-legitimacy, in terms of the government. The fact is that they have accepted that this is the government. So the process will continue.

POM     The ANC has been pretty insistent up to this point that there has to be a Constituent Assembly. If it becomes an impasse, what kind of leverage do you think the ANC has in terms of the cards it has to play?

AH     I think, you see, they must also be aware of two things. One, that they are at the moment losing support towards their left. The PAC movement is growing at the moment. This is a result of various factors, but particularly the question of expectations that were raised that did not materialise. And the younger group, I mean, if what I'm told is true, I was in Bloemfontein just two weeks ago and they tell me that when Nelson called upon the kids to go back to school they walked out of the stadium because that is not going to satisfy their expectations. It is a question of taking over and no compromise. And within the structures of opposition, that is still a problem, no question of negotiation. These guys and the younger guys are saying, 'Fine, we are not interested in negotiation. Enough.' On the other hand, they must also be, they are also in a way threatened by the fact that they can't go too far in terms of losing support at grassroots level. The forty years and onwards are the people who would place doubts if they were not to negotiate. So that circumstance, I think, will force them into a situation and I can't see that there will be impasse because then they will certainly lose the support of what I regard as the majority of blacks.

POM     That would be the people over 40 years of age?

AH     Yes, pro-40.

POM     So, in a sense you are saying the ANC has really very little room in which to manoeuvre?

AH     And therefore, the only way they can go is the middle of the road. Where the extremists are and the others, I wouldn't say - well, let me use the word again, conservative blacks, are the ones who are looking for solutions. And they can't afford to lose them.

POM     So how do you see this thing unfolding? If you were to sketch out the outline of what you see happening in the next couple of years, what do you think will happen?

AH     Well, it's got to happen within the next four years. I don't think we've got time for another election. De Klerk has also said that there will not be another election from the tricameral structure.

POM     He has said that to you?

AH     No, publicly. And we have said that, as a matter of fact, we as a party would like to see the dissolution now already. But he has asked that we don't push this thing. We've got a nice expression in Afrikaans that you mustn't press the fruit ripe. It's got to ripen on its own. And this has been his message, don't push it now. But, you know what is happening, if I can just divert a little bit, is that you find that although we have three chambers, we've met almost 75% of our time, or 80% of our time, this year as a single chamber. So it is evolving rather than separating. And we have said to him in our initial speeches this year, 'Now is the time to break down the walls of partition.' And he says, 'Well just hold it. Instead of changing constitution now and changing again, you know, if we were to break down the walls of partition now in terms of the tricameral structure, we'd need a constitutional change.' And he says, 'But let's rather wait for the constitutional change then to chip it off bit by bit.'

POM     So you see the process being broadened to bring in other parties?

AH     Yeah, there's no doubt about it.

POM     Who do you expect to be invited into the process?

AH     Well, you see the, one thing in my mind is the question of talks between Gatsha Buthelezi and ANC. Because Buthelezi cannot be written off. I mean, the fact, as much as we regret the violence, the fact that they go into the Sebokeng stronghold of the ANC and have a meeting right there, shows that he's got an organisation, he's got a constituency, and he's got a following. And you can't write him off. So, I think all those homeland leaders will have to be included some way or other because they have their legislative assemblies. And you've always got a problem, I don't know what the expression is, power tasted. But they are not just going to relinquish power within that situation. What the system has done, I mean, I take it from my own party structure, I've also got little problems. Guys have been given opportunities, political opportunities, economic opportunities, and they've developed leadership and you can't just wish that away.

POM     Do you see it as, you cannot see these negotiations taking place without Buthelezi being at the table?

AH     Yes, certainly.

POM     Does that mean that the situation in Natal must be brought under control before Buthelezi and Mandela, can, for example ...?

AH     I think that if the two of them can get together. You see, I think the government made one mistake in keeping in Nelson there too long. Nelson said then in that big crowd, You must throw your pangas and your whatever into the sea. They haven't done it. He hasn't got that authoritarian approach. It is more a gentlemanly approach to people, appealing to the better nature of people. And for instance, I've got to send him a fax just now because we've never had a violent situation in Port Elizabeth, amongst the Coloured community as we now have since information of ANC branches in the Coloured areas.

POM     Do you associate, I think many people we talk to have suggested a kind of pattern here that there has been a tendency for violence to break out in places where the ANC begins to organise on a fairly large scale. Many people, some of the people we have talked to, their conclusion from this is that the ANC won't brook opposition. And that essentially what they are interested in, what people fear is a one-party state. Do you find that fear out there among your constituency, of people that you talk to?

AH     Yes, yes, it's definitely there. For two reasons or three reasons, let's say one, two, and three. One, we've had forty years of separation and therefore people who don't know each other don't trust each other. I take my own case in Uitenhage where the Coloured and the African people live together, they were separated, and they are now almost 10 kilometres away from each other. So, the old generation who knew each other had an understanding. The new generation did not have that understanding. The same thing is also true with regard to relationships with our folks and whites. At one time, the so-call Coloured people regarded themselves as being an appendage to the whites, you know? We always light-heartedly said that the white grandfather's picture was on the wall, black grandmother was in the drawer. Typical of the so-called Coloured group, you see. That meant this whole question, that the suspicion and fear is real, that these people are going to take over, they are going to deny us every opportunity. There is also, black people by nature - well, at least in my own experience in South Africa - are religious by nature. And fine, communism is a factor that is going to influence them. And as long as this close association of the ANC/SACP continues to exist, there is going to be this element of doubt. There was a third factor I was thinking of, but I'm talking so much.

PK     How do you think the point that you were just making, the religious nature, orientation, of black people, mixes with the communist? I mean, it doesn't, does it? But are you saying that black people as they look at the ANC are suspicious because of traditional communist atheism?

AH     Yes, atheism and with black people it has been more a commune milieu. You know, in terms of the tribe and the elders of the tribe making the decisions, making the decisions and so on. And all the land belonged to the community. But the whole question now of losing that tradition and then, of course, the atheistic thing is very important because besides Christian, the ancestral worship is still very strong amongst them, very strong.

POM     So, you would see many people being concerned about the ANC's agenda as being one of a one-party state and incidents of violence, with other parties tending to reinforce this?

AH     You see, if you take now, as I said I'm sending this fax to him, you take the Eastern Cape, the Labour Party was the strongest amongst the Coloured community in the Eastern Cape. As a matter of fact, everyone saw us as filling that gap. Since 1961, the treason trial up to the time of the institution of the Coloured Persons Representative Council, there was a vacuum in terms of leadership and political activity. And then when the government created the Coloured Business Representative Council, the Labour Party was formed and the strategy was to participate and it was anti-apartheid. And there was tremendous support for this factor that was anti-apartheid, that we were going to use the system to oppose the government and expose the whole situation and eventually to dispose of the situation which, as we did, we got rid of the, by our participation, we were able to close down the old Coloured Council.

     Now, even if you look at the last election where we had a lot of intimidation and violence in the Cape and in ... and hence a low percentage ... in the Eastern Cape, it wasn't true. Now, since the formation of the ANC branches we've got this growing anti-Labour Party within the system. We use the system. For instance, we've done more for education than we were able to do under whites, using the system again. Initially our strategy and purpose was the old question of upliftment of the community that has been left behind. And we concentrated on schooling. But this now is having almost a boomerang effect. They are now using the schools that we created as the base for resistance. At the one school, for instance in a Port Elizabeth [Chaty(?)] senior secondary school, a high school, we seconded a principal there who is a member of the South African Council of Sport. But the school, the high school, had decided to become an affiliate of the National Sports Council, NSC, and there's a violent rejection of the principal. And there's another primary school, Greenville, which is playing normal sport with whites. And these kids here from that high school went and intimidated the school here, police were in, all kinds of things. We can't save those kids, but that night, that was Monday night, the administrative block and the computer section was burned down. And it originated here. This whole question of differences. And SACOS is more PAC-oriented. That was the old Non-European Unitary Movement, it's now called the New Unitary Movement, NUM. And they're more PAC-orientated and, of course, the pupils and students in the NSC are the ones who are ANC-orientated.

PK     Is there a violent reaction among the Coloured community? I mean, we know about the violence, the vigilantes in the white community, we know about the violence in Natal. Is there a string of violent element within the coloured community?

AH     No, no, no. I don't think the nature of the so-called Coloured people, having received from both, is not that same sort of nature within the total African group. Where within the African section of the community, like the Zulus and the Xhosas, their history and culture includes the question of violence.

POM     There has been a culture of violence there.

AH     That's right, there has been a culture. With us not. You see, we were, I think if one looks historically the fact that our forefathers were slaves is one of the factors that leads to this almost conditioning towards non-violence.

POM     So, just to summarise some things you've said to make sure that we are getting it right, first of all, you think that the black vote is not monolithic.

AH     No, definitely not.

POM     That in an election, that the National Party, for example, could pull a share of that Nationalist vote and that Buthelezi's party could also pull a share.

AH     Very much so.

POM     Second, that there are emerging divisions within the black community itself with support for the ANC being most likely to come from people who are over 40 but a growing support for the PAC, particularly among young people who believe that Nelson Mandela has sold out. And third, that there is this whole question of where the ANC starts to organise and compete against other political entities, violence seems to follow, which leads many people to fear that what the ANC is out to do is to destroy opposition and emerge and lead the country into some form of one-party state. Just to move to the other side and get back to some of those in a minute. On the right, in the white electorate, we hear about this growing support for the Conservative Party and, again, many people suggest that if an election were held today that the Conservative Party might command a majority of the seats. What's your view?

AH     I don't think so. You see, my one criticism, we are very close to the Democratic Party within the white socket, but the one mistake that the Democratic Party made, really, was to oppose the National Party in all those seats that they did. And in many cases, the Conservative Party won because part of the national vote went to the Democratic Party. I mean, this is true in the Free State where, let me give you one example of a farmer, in our own experience, in 1969 when we went to the Free State, we were chased off the farms, literally, and threatened with shooting and the whole lot. And we didn't gain a single seat in the Free State. Now, I'm invited onto the farms. Just last year our Congress in the Free State, we had this big barbecue and this Afrikaner who could say to me, 'Man, look, you sit by me, we've got something in common, not those guys who resemble what is their face?' He says, 'Well, you know, Jan Smuts put me in jail', that's he, the farmer, during the war years, and he said, 'John Vorster put you in jail, so we're two jail birds, we're together.' But there has been, you know, almost a clear swing towards Democratic Party in Afrikanerdom but that swing enabled the Conservative Party to get majorities, particularly where they won with small majorities. So that, given the fact that, if it's a clear election between National Party and Conservative Party, I think the National Party can win back some of these votes.

POM     So, do you think De Klerk has to fear an electoral threat from the right?

AH     At the moment. I think, you see, it would be a mistake to call a referendum now or to have an election now. He's got four years and in that four years he's got to build up a position of confidence amongst white people, and I think in terms of the rightist response that the pendulum has swung to its utmost. It's just having been in power for so long and one has to look at the history of the Afrikaners who came out of British colonialism in 1910 and the denial of opportunity, their own serfdom in the 1930s, poor Afrikaners. And now, just to relinquish all that, and be dominated by people who were, in fact, their inferiors and whom they've ruled is a fear which is so real to them. And therefore, I think if you can build up confidence, he needs this four years, then they'll be a decreasing.

POM     Has he been doing a good job of that so far?

AH     Yes, very much.

POM     Among the white people?

AH     Yes, very much so. According to a survey that was done by some marketing corps, there is increasing support for de Klerk in this juncture.

POM     To turn to, we hear a lot about white fears. What are Coloured fears?

AH     I think, you see, as I've said, we've had, if I take my own experience, I was a student at Fort Hare University, which was really an African university in the sense that the whole of African was there ... and others from Uganda, a roommate of mine became Minister of Interior in Kenya, and so that was the focus of education in Africa, where people from all over. Another friend of mine,[ Orkin Sherwer(?),] has been sentenced to death in Malawi, but he's sitting in jail and his wife is in jail. But that was the situation. Gatsha Buthelezi was there, Robert Mugabe was there, Robert Sobukwe was there, Indian, Coloured, white, black, Chinese. And then that was the picture of the new South Africa. But when the government came into power they destroyed that. And so there's a question of separation here, a Coloured university, a Xhosa university which Fort Hare began, Zulu university, Northern University, and it's all a question of separation. Then physical separation as a result of Group Areas. People living together in District Six here in the Cape were settled, you go to Mitchell's Plain, you go down to Hanover Park and the African section, you go to Nyanga and Guguletu, and so on, and separation.

     And as I said just now, wherever there is separation there is fear of the unknown, that's just part of nature. But there certainly is also this fear of domination. And then you've got a further psychological problem, as we have experienced. You know, the stupid thing in terms of race classification is that although you are classified as Coloured you can be reclassified as white. Race classification says that if you are not black, if you're not Asiatic, and if you're not white, then you're Coloured. So completely in the negative. But it also says that if you look like or are accepted and associate with whites, you can be classified as white. And I always tease the Nationalist Party about this in a sense that I say, 'When you say are four million whites, you've got give half of them back to us.' But that psychological problem we find in all, you may have it in the United States also, and everywhere, I think international. The people who are nearest to you are the ones that are more antagonistic. The poorer Afrikaner who's got a Coloured affinity is the one who is fearful of the Coloured. The same thing amongst the Coloureds. Those who are African in a sense, and you can be reclassified to Coloured from African too, you see, you've got the set, they are the ones who are anti-African and not ... we, here in Cape Town, we used to call some of our people, in Afrikaans it's a nicer word, "window gazers". Because if you walk down Adderley Street and they see you coming along, they'll gaze into the window so that you don't recognise them and they don't have to recognise you.

POM     But among your constituents, what kind of views have they been expressing since February?

AH     I think there is a growing fear of black domination. They're talking about majority rule and the question of sharing as equals in terms of white, but they certainly do not want to be dominated by the ANC or a black group per se.

POM     So, what if I said that the Coloured community are in favour of majority rule but not in favour of black majority rule, that would be accurate?

AH     Absolute correct.

PK     What do they think they lose under black rule? What do they have that they would be losing?

AH     You see, at the moment you've got whites who are the privileged and the Coloureds who are semi-privileged, and the blacks who are under-privileged. So that these Coloureds in the middle, they would like to have what the whites have, and the whites are afraid of losing to them. And the blacks would like to have what the whites and the Coloureds have but there is the fear of Coloureds that because of the majority they would lose something. You know, as I said again, it's forty years of indoctrination, of separating, and so on.

PK     They lose more than they gain in a new South Africa? I mean, if you do away with the Group Areas Act ...?

AH     No, not in that sense. I think in the sense of being black majority. They are fearing that what whites, as a minority group, but because of power did to them blacks would also do that to them. You see, one of the problems, well, I suppose one will overcome that in a way, is that the blacks always looked down upon the Coloureds because the blacks were never slaves. They look down upon the Coloureds. And they would say this. They've got an African word, malawu (?), which means you are just a mixture. They've got their pride in being Xhosa and what have you, and you are just nothing.

POM     So, in a new constitution, what kinds of safeguards would coloureds be looking for?

AH     I think that, although many of them would be looking for group safeguards, the majority would look for safeguards in terms of individual rights. And it would look for a Bill of Rights which protects the individual because by protecting the individual, you would be protecting a group, you see? We'll have to move out of the group complex, once, of course, the Race Classification Act goes and so on. This will take another forty years for us to move on.

POM     In terms of, say, political alliances, as you look on the political landscape, with what parties do you think it most likely that the Labour Party could align itself with?

AH     Well, it's no doubt that for years we have said that we have a common objective with the ANC. And our only difference is a difference of strategy. Where they were committed to the armed struggle, we were committed to negotiation at that stage already. The 25 years of our existence has been a commitment to negotiations. That was the only difference. But one must always call the fact that the new National Party has got a new face. We are always going to find ourselves in the middle of the sandwich, in terms of alliance towards the ANC and alliance towards the National Party. More a working with than a physical alliance as such.

POM     I know this is hypothetical, but which party could do your constituency most good?

AH     I've got no doubt that the National Party would be at this juncture the party that could do us the most good in terms of what they have and expertise and all kinds of things, privilege. But in terms of end policy, of course, we'll have to recognise the question of the ANC.

POM     Are there fears among members of your community that in a process of redistribution that might take place that, again, you would be forgotten? You would be squeezed? That while there would be the redress of imbalances between white and black education, that Coloureds again might not fare out as well?

AH     No, you see too the cultural difference and the language difference. The majority of our people speak Afrikaans. And they are concerned about one, for instance, we had a lot of condemnation from certain people, well, from groups within the constituency, when we opened our schools. When I took over education, all our schools are open. But unfortunately, we only got one white person who came to school. And in previous schools you see that we've got a lot of Africans throughout the country in our schools. Now, there are those, almost an elitist type, say that in a new South African situation, an open school, there should still be a place, like the Afrikaners, for somewhere to keep our language and 'culture' because language and culture is of course an Afrikaner affinity. So that now the question was a question of fears, wasn't it?

POM     Whether there's a fear that in a redistributive process, the Coloured community might get left out, so to speak?

AH     Yes. Take the question of housing, you see, it's still a question of numbers and housing is at a premium amongst the Coloured community at this stage. And that is the problem in Port Elizabeth that's being exploited in rents and one thing and another. Now they say, 'You've got, across the road, you've got all those thousands of squatters and in an open society they will take from us because we're nearest to them.' It's always just a human nature fear rather than a colour fear. Our situation everywhere is that we're almost the buffer between the Africans and the whites.

POM     Looking at de Klerk for a moment, what do you think are the major obstacles that lie in his path with his constituency as he tries to manage this process through to fruition?

AH     Two things. I think that they are looking for group identity and he is still persuaded at this stage that something must be done to protect the Afrikaner group identity. And this is going to be a problem for him because the majority of South Africans other than whites are not looking for group protection but are looking for individual protection. So, certainly, I would regard this as his major problem in terms of the white constituency. How far he can go to ensure security for that?

POM     And Mandela, what do you see as the major problems that he faces of trying to hold together his constituency?

AH     I think that his problem is the whole question of negotiation versus power takeover. That he's got a real problem in terms of negotiation.

PK     In what respect?

AH     As we mentioned just now, that the majority of young people are saying, 'Fine, we are the largest number of people, we must take over.'

PK     But you don't mean in terms of depth and skill of negotiators sitting at the table?

AH     No.

POM     On the question of the ...?

AH     Another, you know, this is one of your problems which amongst the younger blacks, and I talk about total blacks, Coloured, African and the younger, that they haven't acquired skills of negotiations. We who have been in the system have acquired those skills. I mean, I'm meeting with de Klerk on Thursday afternoon with certain problems and then we're meeting the whole day on Friday but by our experience of participation, and this goes for Africans within the ethnic groups also, they've learned to negotiate and therefore the ability of Gatsha Buthelezi to sit down and talk to people as far as the negotiations ...

POM     Can you say one thing quickly on the youth? A lot of people that we've talked to suggest that this is the big question-mark. What will happen to young people, a generation who haven't gone to school, who are uneducated, unemployable?

AH     That's our problem, we've been, as a so-called Coloured group within the situation, had an 1985 experience that where the slogan was, and Allan Boesak was one of the chief motivators, was "Liberation before education". And then at the end of that year, kids couldn't write examinations. A big failure rate and we were able to let them write in the next year in February their examination because suddenly, one, there was, what was it, a rainfall. You know, the kids said to the parents, 'Look you've had 40 years of apartheid and you've done nothing about it', guilt complex. The kids played on the guilt complex of the parents and the parents allowed their kids to go ahead. But then the kids themselves realised thereafter, no jobs without a certificate, walk the streets, and so on. So, then you had a new approach up to now of a change of strategy. And last year Allan Boesak made this appeal to the kids, "Education for liberation". Now that was accepted amongst our Coloured kids and I'm disturbed at the fact that there's something happening in our schools at the moment in terms of this whole question of, as I said in the beginning, the whole question of expectations that were not realised.

POM     Two last things. What is a South African communist? How would you differentiate between a member of the ANC and a member of the SACP?

AH     I think a clear difference, the fact that Nelson Mandela has never become a member of the SACP is a reflection of the general attitude of the largest number of blacks in South Africa. I think that the sort of noises that Nelson initially made were satisfying members within the South African Communist Party like Alfred Nzo that now that they themselves are sitting down at the negotiating table. We're hearing, for instance, less about the whole question of nationalisation. And Nelson is now saying that this need not necessarily be so.

POM     But in your community, what does the word communist co-notate?

AH     Communist is completely rejected. Communist is a person, firstly, who is atheistic and doesn't believe in God and he believes in man and everything is situated within a state. Now, in the past, the state in South Africa has done exactly the same as ...

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.