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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.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

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POM     De Klerk's speech of 2nd February seems to have taken everybody by surprise. Did it take you by surprise? And what do you think motivated him to go so far so quickly?

TV     Well I suppose it did take everyone by surprise because he went much further than even his most stalwart supporters expected at that time but he also, by going further than they thought, he pre-empted a lot of people and I think he regained the initiative in a way that would not have been possible had he been more orthodox. The one example that everybody refers to of course is in that speech where he not only unbanned the ANC but also the Communist Party. That was a very clever move because just think of the subsequent if he had to keep out the communists then it would have been a point of friction immediately between him and the ANC. Then he had to open the whole debate with the Conservative Party and they could have mustered up a lot of emotion in this country as we saw subsequently with PW Botha, the one reason why he said he was not renewing his annual subscription to the National Party, his only utterance in public since he resigned was about this issue. He said, "Because I don't sit at the same table with communists." So what FW did then was very clever, he said, he appealed at one shot, he pre-empted the whole debate, he regained the initiative and he was on the moral high ground. Now why did he do it?

POM     Yet here was a man who was widely regarded as being a conservative and a pragmatist.

TV     You've probably read a bit lately, there were articles in Leadership about him, why this Damascus option, why the Damascus, why had he seen the light? He did surprise his supporters. I had a chat with him about a week before he made that speech and he was quite confident that he was going to say a few things but never in my wildest expectations was I anticipating that he was going to go that far. One expected him to do something about Mandela, etc. What he did in those terms was a culmination of processes which had started in the Botha Cabinet and, give PW his credit, remember he had talks with Mandela privately beforehand, etc., so the whole thing was building up to this point. Whether under Botha he would have used that platform at that stage it's quite possible because it was after all the opening of parliament and he would have known it was his last chance in a way.

TV     But FW, if one reads him, I think he absorbed a terrific lot under PW Botha. Here he was fairly young and he was the leader of the biggest province, the Transvaal. His party didn't do too well under his leadership in the Transvaal. They lost members, they split, he lost a lot of support at the polling booth and every time he had a setback PW Botha was not really encouraging, he said, "You must get your province in order." What was happening in Cabinet is we had a megalomaniac dominating a Cabinet. All the constructive inputs of people like De Klerk, Gerrit Viljoen, it was all just wiped under the carpet.

TV     Whatever game PW played he had the first we were governed ad hoc, we were ruled not in an orderly systematic fashion leading up to something, and then we had this culmination of his illness, the country stood still for a long while and in that period FW had a whole year almost in which he knew he was going to become State President. He was the anointed one, he was appointed but not anointed yet. He had the constitutional crisis in terms of the NP's own constitution where he was the leader but he had no power so that whole thing had to be sorted out but whilst that process was going on he had lots of time in which to think how the hell am I going to run this country, to break away from the past, to get out of our own Irish situation, our own intractable situation? And there he was faithful to his own credo. If you go and read up his speeches which he has made all along as Transvaal leader of the party you will see a lot of strong, forward-looking ideas in that but he was under-played, people didn't really notice at all what he said. But at least he was consistent and then when he suddenly had this moment thrust upon him he rose to the occasion and I think he articulates the sentiments of not only the majority of the Cabinet but there was a lot of pent up frustration in the NP caucus and in the cabinet due to PW Botha's excesses.

TV     Suddenly here comes a guy from outside the mould, FW was never in PW's inner circle. He was not one of the securocrats. He's a lawyer by training, he's a good listener and I think he's also a man of principle. He's a very moral man. He then sat down and he made an agenda for himself which he sold to his colleagues and which they jointly decided upon at the end of the day and that was the thing he then put to the country. Now he's running according to that schedule.

POM     What assumptions do you think he made about the ANC when he embarked on this process?

TV     Well the basic one is obviously I think that's been the stumbling block all along while PW was relatively active and that is that the realisation that once you let Mandela go that A leads to B which is recognition of the ANC. The unbanning means that you'll have to bring blacks into the centralised political system. That is the touchstone. But if you look back at Afrikaner thinking over the last decade the most important decision was taken, how many years go? Eight, nine years ago when Chris Heunis said the influx control measures are going to lifted. SA will not have that any more and that opened the door. If you had to put a lid on that you would have had an explosion. So FW is consistent in that he's opened the doors to blacks, the assumption now the ANC is unbanned, it means that blacks will have to participate in the political process. How do you do it? By allowing them to form political parties.

POM     Did he make assumptions in terms of the ANC is the party who can deliver the black community, who can bring discipline to the black community?

TV     Well you have two assumptions, the one is you cannot have in this country any semblance of talking about normalisation of politics without the ANC. That's the one half and the other half is that the ANC, as Afrikaners, as I myself have written, they are the National Party on the black side. They are the regional black political vehicle. They were established before the NP. They were formed in 1912 I think and to cut them out of the process is just going to take the delusion, let it last that much longer. Yes, and if you weigh them up against Inkatha which is another major actor, you would say I cannot get to first base unless I have the ANC inside the system as an actor. And if you had to choose in this country as things stand at the moment I would say the ANC is more of a national institution than Inkatha. Inkatha is very much regionalised although they are numerically there are more Zulus and you cannot discard them or at least you cannot avoid them. There's a better word than that but you must include them as one of the players.

TV     The ANC is a very viable and potent actor and to get to grips with our problems in this country means, yes, a national government running the country. You will have to sit under the ANC, there's no use running away from it. They will have to do the same whoever runs the show.

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

TV     That's the real crunch question isn't it? De Klerk too have you seen all these interviews on all his trips overseas? I think he was asked that many times; what about majority rule?

POM     Yes I know.

TV     I think it's going to be up for debate. This is where the real nexus is, where the crunch of power lies, is it a simple majority rule situation where you hand over? Then De Klerk says no. But all the blacks will vote on an equally weighted vote. I think the constitution is going to be fine tuned where you get balancing, checks and balances. The bad part about SA apart from anything else is that we just have too many whites around to discard. You know whenever I speak to foreigners and we debate these issues, Kenya was a piece of cake, Zimbabwe was a piece of cake. They are examples they hold up as lovely Elysian fields of harmonious race relations after colonialism and post-independence. Botswana or Namibia, those bloody countries, the problem is we've got about five million whites who are just large enough or big enough to upset any apple-cart and they can't be packed off or shoved off anywhere else, they've got to be part of the solution. So FW his bargaining power is going to be, "OK Mr Mandela, we can have an election but we will have to have a constitution that takes care of this because if the five million say no then the show is not going to go on the road." So it's not straight majority rule, is your answer.

POM     Do you see De Klerk pursuing a form of, a power sharing government?

TV     Very much. I think the whole tenor of what he's saying and what Gerrit Viljoen is saying is that we're going to have accepted morals of running our politics, acceptable to all civilised societies in the world where like the American system the Senate has a different loading factor. But there will be a common vote, yes, and we can have a Lower House where the blacks are the majority. We can have a Senate and Upper House where there are checks and balances and where the legislation will have to be put to both houses before it becomes law and we could have a ceremonial President and we could have a Prime Minister running the show and that could be black. The presidency could be passed around. I think it's going to be a federal structure, a state-like structure like in America where you could have fourteen or fifteen states where blacks would dominate huge areas and run the show but coming together where blacks would also dominate large areas but where the whites would have a trade off, a veto, where their admitted skills and whatever and the system will have to be defined. The economic system, that is for debate, and nationalisation.

TV     I think everybody concedes it cannot be as it is now. The whites have too many goodies, or at least the backlog of blacks is too huge. It must be addressed. I think there is so much room for bargaining and maybe I'm too optimistic but I think Mandela is willing to make a deal on that basis. He knows, you've seen the Greek statue of the two wrestlers, you know the one where they're upside down, each has got the other by a very tender spot, and if you pull the thing apart there's problems. So SA will have to find an accommodation between these two very strong opposing forces.

POM     These are like symbiotic forces in the sense of each needs the other.

TV     Each needs the other. There was a lovely article in one of the British magazines about two years ago at the height of the miners' strike and it's a Brit, he lives in the country, he's a mining engineer and I see from time to time, his surname is Kenney and he writes for these journals and he said, from the sidelines his comments in the article was, "I am a mining engineer, I'm a Brit, I run a coal mine and I have X thousand of black coal miners and X hundred of white miners, etc." And he says, "But the mining strike doesn't frighten me because the couple of hundred whites can keep the mine running and they can keep the power stations running, but if those whites go on strike then we've had it. Then the whole of SA will be shut down." And that is what the right wing knows, the Conservative Party, who runs the white mineworkers union.

POM     What's his name?

TV     Arrie Paulus. He's a parliamentarian, he represents the seat of Carltonville but he was for many years the General Secretary of the white mineworkers union. Now if you ever want to talk to a recalcitrant, hard-hat, unbendable white go and talk to him because he's simplistic and he says, "To hell with the blacks, we can run the show." And he can call upon all the white mineworkers and say, "But let's walk out, then all the power stations will be shut down." Now Mandela knows this. Whoever is going to run the show will have to take cognisance of that.

POM     On the other hand COSATU wields a fair degree of economic power itself?

TV     This is the point, it's a stand-off and the wise man will try to find a compromise between these two. I think both Mandela and De Klerk and Buthelezi, these three top actors are willing to form a compromise and that's the only real salvation SA has got because they realise that at the end of the day the one cannot govern without the other.

POM     Yet we hear a lot about, how many people have we heard from about the youth factor? How marginalised the youth has become, how many regard already Mandela's cosy relationship with De Klerk as being a sell-out.

TV     You know one reads it, one hears about it. I'd love to get more facts about it. Interestingly enough the one comment that came out of the Groote Schuur talks is that De Klerk told Mandela, he said, "Whether you run the country or I run the country or whoever runs the country in future we will have between six and seven million black kids, that is the present count, running around totally anarchistic, no discipline, no job training, no schooling. Now between the ages of 18 and 28, you take the Soweto 1976, that's 14 years ago, whoever runs the show will have to contend with that. How do we solve that problem? This is Mandela's worry and this is De Klerk's worry and whatever is going to come out of constitutional talks will have to make provision for a massive retraining and training of these people.

TV     So yes, Mandela is taking a chance, obviously, and his verkramptes, his hard-liners are going to lead him a merry dance just as Treurnicht is. If you go to the polls now, if you see the results of Umlazi, De Klerk is out on a limb. Afrikanerdom is split, not even down the middle, it's now 60/40.

POM     So you would say that the CP represent the voice of the majority of the Afrikaner community?

TV     Yes, but I still say yes they do but it's, hopefully, short lived. De Klerk can win back 20% by producing a stable constitution that seems favourable, that guarantees whites certain rights and a place in society and where he gets some return on his investments. That is the most urgent now. If Mandela begins to play for time, and he hasn't got much time either biologically and otherwise, but if he plays for time to think that he can outlast De Klerk until the next election is due in terms of constitution then De Klerk is out. But then we're in trouble and Mandela too.

POM     If you had to look at the main obstacles, stumbling blocks that lie in the path of De Klerk that he has to manage, within his own constituency, as he tries to manage the process, what else would you enumerate?

TV     Well he's got to sell it to his own people. In other words he's got to re-convince them.

POM     Many people have said to us that he's done a spectacularly poor job in communicating with the white constituency.

TV     It's interesting that you say that. He has been playing an international field up to now with his overseas trips and then the exposure he's had internally has been in terms of his dialogue with the ANC, etc. But you are quite right, he hasn't been addressing his own people enough and his own lieutenants haven't been out on the hustings doing their job as they should. The Dawie de Villierses and Pik Bothas and those guys should now start batting in their local meetings. I think De Klerk wants to, his schedule or his timetable is say three years and what does he want? He wants some constitutional success because on that will follow recognition, financial reward, I'm talking about international perspectives, cultural bonds, sporting bonds, those sort of rewards, he would want that to show the white Afrikaners and the white community that the walls of Jericho aren't tumbling down. Then he can do the selling job for his own people. So that's why he's probably hanging back a little bit on that front but he did give his caucus strict instructions now in this recess that they've got to go out there and go and do their work.

POM     But do they know what they're selling?

TV     It's very difficult to say to white people in the face of taunts that you're a sell-out, you're selling the white man down the river. But, OK, it's our job too in a way. We are government supporting but what are we selling? We're telling the people that you've got to adapt, PW Botha's famous "Adapt or Die" thing of how many years ago, the old order has passed.

POM     What is the Afrikaner press in general?

TV     It's verlig, very much behind FW De Klerk. There's no mainstream paper that is not supporting him. There's only one, the right wing has a small little weekly, it doesn't sell 7000. It just shows you the potency of the emotional call.

POM     But what is selling the process? It's not selling that we are embarked on a process that will lead inevitably to black majority rule.

TV     No. They are selling that but what we are selling is not black majority rule. We are selling a power sharing, we are selling a new dispensation where blacks figure in central government, which is a watershed departure from the past and a totally new model and that's why they talk about a new South Africa with almost a reborn fervour. I don't personally like that phrase, I think it could so easily be egg on your face. I think you should just sell gradual integration as SA changes through the pressures of economy and the more you open up the more people will just ease into it.

TV     We've taken away the whole integration process on a social level which caused a lot of friction say in the United States 20 to 30 years ago. I would say by and large we've taken it fairly calmly, the people have just grown into it. If you look back at the American experience there were a lot of sit-ins and ugly incidents at universities, now here it's just gone, it's been accepted. I think the whites are not that short sighted or stupid. They realise they have to adapt and you have to push them.

POM     When you look at Mandela, what do you see as being the major obstacles, stumbling blocks that lie in his path as he tries to manage the black constituency towards fruition of this process?

TV     The black constituency, body politic out there is not by any manner of means all Mandela supporting. You have to allow for a large degree of factionalism. One must not gloss over the fact that SA has X number of nations with different languages and that the Zulus will not readily follow Mandela and that you have this big distinction already between the urbanised blacks and the rural blacks. That is one of his problems, how to get cohesiveness in a way. The other thing is as we've touched on this thing about these last two generations, as urbanisation creates this spawning black majority even in our so-called white areas, if you go to Khayelitsha I believe of the males walking around 60% are unemployed. So Mandela has got to bridge all those gaps in terms of urbanisation versus the rural component, the fact that there are so many black nations walking around who do not really trust him. I can just refer back to the process in Zimbabwe where the Shonas and the Matabeles were very stand-offish at one time. It was only when it was fait accompli that old Nkomo buckled down.

TV     Then he's got the PAC as another political movement. I tend to minimise their influence. They talk big, "Africa for the Africans", but their leadership component seems very dubious. If you look at Makwetu, the sort of leadership role he plays, he's not very dynamic. I think the greatest problem Mandela may well have is not only the age gap but the Rip van Winkel factor of his being removed for 26 years from the scene. As somebody said, when he went into jail you could count the black graduates on one hand in this country but when he came out we have X number thousands of black graduates advancing in jobs, also when people are fully urbanised they have a will of their own and a mind of their own and who are ambitious. Your trade union leaders, your COSATU leaders.

POM     Do you see different agendas?

TV     They may have a different agenda and he may want to forge a coalition out of that to give him an agenda to bargain on with the government and he needs to have their support and confidence. That could become a very uneasy coalition for him. The only thing that keeps them together now at the moment, according to my information, is his own stature and personality. He is held in high regard but some of the younger ones are getting pretty restless and how long can he stick around?

POM     So you would see potential points of division between COSATU and the ANC?

TV     Who's the leader of the mineworkers' faction?

POM     Cyril Ramaphosa.

TV     Cyril Ramaphosa. He's commonly described as one of the frontrunners for real power. In the ANC the younger generation, the Hani/Mbeki factor is one to be reckoned with and the Zulu factor.

POM     What about that, the violence in Natal?

TV     You guys are well informed but you know very well the ANC want to alienate the tribalised Zulu from the urbanised Zulu and that's why we have the violence in the urbanised areas. It's the UDF type wanting to upstage the grip of Inkatha and I think they are succeeding in doing that. Buthelezi I think is a worried man. But at the end of the day if he makes a call of blood to the Zulu nation he could rally a hell of a lot of support so one mustn't discard him and discount him. I think the government will be very happy if at the end of the day, apart from any other actors, they get round a table for discussion, Mandela, Buthelezi and De Klerk. If those three can get down to grips they will pull in all the others.

POM     Do you think that if the violence in Natal continues at its current level that it could be impossible to put those three people around the table?

TV     No, although I would look forward now to the violence de-escalating. Maybe now you could get the discipline from Buthelezi, of Mandela and the government, through the army. Maybe we're over the worst. If it does escalate it could be a serious problem of serious concern because it could so easily spill over like we've seen in the Vaal Triangle, places like Sebokeng where you have a replica of the Natal violence, it's the Zulu, Inkatha component versus the rest.

POM     How do whites, in particular Afrikaners, interpret violence like this?

TV     It is commonly known as faction fighting. They dismiss it and say that that's what you can expect from blacks because they've been fighting each other for centuries. Normally it's a weekend thing, when they're at home and they've got nothing to do. They drink and then take up a spear and a knife and then they sally forth.

POM     Were they extrapolated into a vision of what a new SA might be like?

TV     I think that is one of his main problems. A common perception of the white voter, I'm not saying Afrikaner, is that the new SA could well lead us into an anarchistic situation where this sort of thing becomes common where no standards will be upheld, where policing will go down the tubes, where the standard of living will decrease, where no-one is really safe. It's a frightening spectre and that is why people vote with their gut reaction against De Klerk. Largely they're worried about the future but we all say cooler heads must prevail. If there are enough jobs, if there is better schooling, if the socio-economic condition that prevails in black townships can be alleviated through better housing, if the Group Areas is done away with, where there's a more natural selection, then you can have more normalised communities. You don't have normal communities and that is the problem of apartheid. How can you start Khayelitsha with 500,000 people and have houses with no shops, no points of congregation, a normal way of life, without natural parks and community centres? There's no fabric.

POM     What in your view are the main white fears?

TV     The white fear is a basic one, it's not so many. They see themselves overrun by blacks, that that which they have attained, they don't see it as having privilege or it's theirs through the whites being at the top of the economic pile, they have worked hard for it. The guy, say he's a clerk or a railway man, he's got a house, he's got a little back yard and he says it's going to be overrun, I will be stripped of this. My kids will not be able to go to a decent school. He gets examples of what happened in American schools, the schooling system there, the government system. In other words, yes, he is in an island dominated by a sea of blacks. How am I going to maintain a fairly liberal way of life? That's what it's all about and that is where we've always maintained, and I said earlier, if you bring people into the system in a gradual way, as they have been doing in the last fifteen years, international hotels, international sports, socialising, socialisation in terms of public amenities, then these things are opened up and there's no real friction, then the people accept it. But they somehow think now, they say, "Oh my God, tomorrow they're going to sign something in Pretoria, Mandela is going to run the country from next year, 1st January, then the whole thing is going down the tubes." That is a perception that will have to be cleared up.

POM     How do you see, from this point on, the process unfolding?

TV     There's a lot of vagueness still but it seems to me that they've cleared the pre-conditions, the talks about talks can now start.

POM     For example, the ANC are almost insisting on a Constituent Assembly, the government seems to say under no circumstances.

TV     I don't think that will come about but I think what's going to happen from now on is that the government will line up the other actors. The ANC is going to have a very vital national congress of theirs in December which will have to elect a new leader and I think Mandela will be anointed. I think they will make out their negotiating posture. So we may have some talks between now and then to set up and create this necessary infrastructure for the talks, real negotiations next year. I think the government is going to say that the Democratic Party is welcome, the Conservative Party is welcome, they want to bring them all together.

POM     Let's assume we've all these people around the table. In the absence of an election how do you attach an appropriate weight to the opinion of each party?

TV     They have by and large, on the white side they have no problems. On the black side I think the government will accept the ANC, Inkatha and those manifestations of political representation that you do have already defined as the leaders of the homelands. They will come in.

POM     In the negotiations would as much weight and importance be given to the view of a homelands chief as to the ANC? How do you balance, how do you say this is what - ?

TV     I don't know, I can't tell you how they're going to do it. I've got no real ideas on that either. We had a national convention in 1909 and there were a lot of people around the table but they didn't really represent so much weight. Taking into account SA, the known elements they have their own weight and any guy will tell you the gut feeling is you can't have a deal in this country unless the ANC, Inkatha, the NP and the Conservative Party elements, unless they agree. And what comes out of that will be a framework of reference, and this is where I think in a way you may be wanting to put the cart before the horse, I think the government wants various disparate elements to go and sit down and find a consensus on a model which could be tested and that model will then be taken to the voters and initially it could be taken to the component, remember we have a constitution as it is, and that will have to be put up before the various building blocks of the present constitution and the black component. These things are difficult. You asked me how much weight but you cannot have an election until you have a voters' roll and you have to have voters registered. That whole process will have to be defined by the people sitting down and talking about a constitution. It's going to be quite a process but I think De Klerk wants something and I think Mandela wants something in the course of next year, 1991, which is a frame of reference which could be then set up for the voting community of the total SA to vote on the principle and it will be universal, adult franchise, everyone over 18 will vote. And what comes out of that could form your Constituent Assembly. It's quite a process ahead of us.

POM     De Klerk promised to take it to the whites, is this a promise that he can keep in the manner in which it was originally framed?

TV     I'm confident he will take it to the whites but if it's going to be a referendum saying, "Are you in favour of the following principles?" and that vote may be held on the same day as one for the coloureds and Asiatics and the blacks. I would say that the majority of the whites are going to vote yes they are, the majority will vote yes. It may be squeaky but the majority are going to say yes, and the coloureds are going to say yes, and the Asians, and the blacks will also. Then he can say the majority of the people in this country are in favour of the next round.

POM     The SA Communist Party, what is a South African communist? What does he stand for?

TV     I can only guess just as much as you. The point is they've been driven underground. They were always in our history if you go back into it. They even sided with the NP at one time in the twenties. The SACP has always been an elitist element that in a sense rode on the back of black frustration. I am fairly confident that, it's the only comment I have, that the Communist Party's role has been played out. I've got no doubt that they won't have a big following, that if Mandela can keep under control those elements that we discussed earlier, if he can form a coalition of interests that the authentic voice of black nationalism, which I've no doubt that the ANC does stand for it in the urbanised context, then there's no real room for the Communist Party.

PAT     How does the African press explain to its readers how this change is taking place so dramatically, all the change that is taking place. One day it's this major spread and tomorrow it's - it's so confusing.

TV     It's not only confusing to us, it's confusing to the East Germans and the Poles and Hungarians and God knows what. The fact is De Klerk, he was very clever, in February he took the gap that opened up in Europe. He could not easily have done it without that European upheaval. It's quite easy now, I don't think the white Afrikaner community are as worried per se as PW Botha made them about the communists, etc. The communist ideology is the weight of evidence surely, even the Afrikaner can now see that, the red danger, the red dragon is finished. It's not for us to say but we used Eastern Europe.

PAT     That's how you saw it.

TV     It's quite easy to do that. We haven't had a backlash, I can tell you, in terms of the letters.

PAT     From the failure of Eastern Europe, here I think somebody wrote today, it's like South African communism, the Communist Party is alive and well in SA.

TV     The only one in the world now. But it's not really alive and well, it's because it's suddenly been unbanned here a few actors like Joe Slovo, the communists, but the communists were never really a big factor in this country. They were given an aura of influence by our government by equating communism with black nationalism and honesty. The biggest mistake we've ever made was the suppression of communism legislation in the fifties in which we equated normal black aspirations with communism. That was a lovely ploy and it was wonderful to put down Mandela and all those guys, but Mandela has never been a communist. Although the blacks have a communal system of living and communal farming that doesn't make them communists. I think they're wonderful capitalists. We have joint ventures with blacks where they have 51% of the vote and I tell you they love their dividends. They're all capitalistic if they can share in the goodies.

POM     In that context what part will economic structures play in the negotiations?

TV     I think it's going to be very important and I think when one talks about nationalisation a lot of that has receded. I think what everybody now knows is that we need different structures, we need structures where obviously blacks will have to come into their own much more. In other words when it comes to the distribution of the gross national income then it should go to education, job advancement, that sort of thing. It obviously has to change. In other words the more refined thinkers are talking about a social democratic model on the West German lines and that sort of thing for SA.

TV     Pieter le Roux, do you know him, have you met him? He's at University of the Western Cape, he's an economist. You should go and talk to him. He was at that conference I think, he's a great friend of Herman Giliomee. You should speak to him about it. He's a real expert at this.

POM     Do you think the government will attempt to have guarantees, economic guarantees in the constitution?

TV     For whites?

POM     That would limit the scale and manner of nationalisation, for example, that would protect property rights?

TV     Oh yes.

POM     Or do you think they will get them?

TV     I think you could argue universal principles will have to be acceptable all round, in other words on property. That's why Olivier was working hard on the Bill of Rights, this commission.

POM     How would you assess Mandela's performance since his release from jail? Has he exceeded your expectations? Has he surprised you? Has he disappointed you in some ways?

TV     A lot of people have been disappointed but I think he's done rather well. I think he's grown in stature and I think he's got a grasp of the whole, he's impressive. He has his problems and his advisers they take him out of circulation so long when he's overseas. Maybe that was the last time and now we can get down to business. But so far I think for a man who's been locked up for 26 years I think he's done well. De Klerk finds him very impressive, very clever. There are no flies on him whatsoever.

POM     How would you assess De Klerk's performance?

TV     Fine. What he's done for this country is he's given us back a lot of self respect in a short time but he's a civilised man in the way he deals with people and their issues and government has more of a rhythm, there are no blow ups. He's a typical good lawyer, he listens, he sums up, he's leading his Cabinet well. Obviously he knew when he stood up to speak in February that he's going to lose his right wing, it was a question of how far and how deep the break is going to be in the white community. He's probably passed the nadir. I would say he's passed it, he's been in the trough, at the bottom of the trench and maybe he's on the way back. I've got that feeling.

POM     This time next year where will we be if we're having this conversation this time next year?

TV     We'll be on our way, the discussions will have come a long way between all parties and sanctions will have been lifted. We will have been accepted in many respects internationally. In other words there will be a return on De Klerk's investment, political capital will come back.

POM     The violence?

TV     The level of violence, if the present level of confidence between the two parties is maintained and the momentum is maintained, the level of violence will have dropped and we will be on the way to a far better position. The right wing violence will also subside. They can do a lot of damage but there's a lot of bluff in what they say. But if De Klerk plays it well and carefully and the body politic sees that we're on the way to a better dispensation I think that level will also subside.

TV     The Afrikaner family, the Mafia, whatever you call it, but there are a few problem areas. The one is obviously the Nats have lost touch with their own blue collar workers. I think the blue collar workers aren't all that many any more. The blue collar workers today are black. The educational field will have to be handled carefully. There's a lot of disgruntlement amongst the teachers, likewise the police, the military establishment. I've got no problems with the leadership, I think they've always been far ahead of the police with their leadership, especially the police leadership. I think they're trying to demand it of them again now.

POM     Thank you.

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.