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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

24 Aug 1990: Alexander, Benny (!Khoisan X)

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POM     We're talking to Ben Alexander on the 24th of August. Now Ben, first of all, just for the record, your position with the Pan Africanist Congress?

!KX     I am the Secretary General.

POM     I want to do a couple of things. First, just to take you back to the 2nd of February and Mr de Klerk's speech on that occasion; did his actions and did his speech come as a surprise to you, what he had to say? And what do you think motivated him to move so broadly and sweepingly at the same time?

!KX     No, it didn't. At the time, it came as a surprise, we were expecting it a bit more towards the end of the year, we were expecting him to unban the organisations but it unbanned a few months sooner than we had anticipated. I was saying the timing was a surprise, yes. Now, this whole process was initiated by the National Party and must be seen more as a party initiative rather than individuals within that party because during the time of the former State President the whole programme was already beginning to unfold. The previous State President, PW Botha, did some more fundamental changes in terms of laws than Mr de Klerk did to date. For example, he removed the Mixed Marriages Act which is more fundamental, a fundamental pillar of the system. He also removed the pass laws, a very important pillar of the system, and he did not only tamper with the degrees of repression but he went to the 'structural' issues as well and he already had talks with Mr Mandela and promised Mr Mandela his release. He also released executive members of the Communist Party, of the ANC and of the PAC, the former State President. And under Mr PW Botha it was very clear that you can't begin to release executive members and not release Mr Mandela; and release them for what purpose? You can't release top executive members of the banned organisations without the occasion of unbanning that organisation because clearly they are going to be quoted and they are going to speak in the names of their organisations and, de facto, their organisation will be operating. That is what happened. So when Mr de Klerk took over from Mr Botha, he just did the final touches, basically.

     So that is why I say you must look at it as a party programme, process. And he unbanned the organisation and released Mr Mandela. But by then, other leaders had already been released, like Mr Gwala, who was a senior member of the Communist Party, Mr Govan Mbeki of the Communist Party and of the ANC's Executive, and Mr Motopayane the PAC President, were already released by Mr Botha. So the difference between Mr Botha and Mr de Klerk in terms of personal style was the question of chief advisors with Mr Botha, bearing in mind his own background- he was a securocrat and he was a former Minister of Defence. He's an army man, so he was thinking more in terms of military intelligence to assist in this whole process. But De Klerk comes in the academic line and he decided to try, to a little small degree, to undo some of those things Mr Botha had done in terms of his source of his advisors and get him to lend more, to weigh, to depend more on the support and inspiration and guidance adopted by the academics, those types of intelligentsia. And that saw, then, the revival again of the Broederbond as an important underground structure, which gives direction over the course of the events, rather than the military intelligence structures and security structures.

POM     Why did he move at this time? Why did he open Pandora's box, recreating a process which makes it impossible to go back to the past, no matter what happens in the future?

!KX     He did so for various reasons. One, as to why he did it this time, this is coming back to your question of whether he can't go back to the past, and I have another point. But why he did so at this point in time is because he doesn't want the struggle to intensify more, yet realises very clearly, and the National Party realises, that the winning of hearts and minds can fade and failed. They cannot convince people that you are oppressed in your best interest and for your own benefit, as they have tried to sell the idea; that that thing has failed and that before the struggle intensifies too much, they need to come in now. Also, the question of international pressure, before it intensifies too much, let's come in now, let's talk, all of us. And also because we still have, they still have, a relative strength in this country, in terms of the military and debt and all these things. These are the things that made him say, this is the best time, we're totally in a position, dominant position, in terms of debt, in terms of our security force, our power base, so let us start to talk now, from this position. It was in that context that they felt the timing was good, where they could put forth their own bottom lines and keep their heads high and not be in a position of total disarray through intensified armed struggle where they cannot put forward a bottom line for the schedule without the protection and advice. What is going to happen is that if he refuses to accept the conditions put forth by the liberation movements, the consequences there could be very drastic to contemplate, because whites will be dying daily in large numbers in an intensified struggle. And the consequences to negotiate under those conditions, the consequences of not accepting the bottom lines of the liberation movement, would be drastic. Right now, they are not dying largely, daily and in large numbers like that. So it is the best time to put forth a bottom line without being, so to say, totally in the corner. And so it's a question of timing, really, as far as we are concerned.

POM     Do you think the National Party or the government have a grand design, a strategy? Do you think they know what they are after?

!KX     Yes, to put your last sentence more equitably, they know what they want, clearly.

POM     Which is?

!KX     Which is the following: they want the liberation movements to come and make an input. They are prepared to consider any suggestions from the liberation movement on how to run the so-called new society structurally, provided that the basic cornerstone of that structure would lead to what I call the judicial balance of racism. In Mr de Klerk's words, "So that no race must dominate another."

POM     A judicial balance of racism?

!KX     A judicial balance of racism. His own words, his own term, is that not one, no single race must dominate another, and that is the bottom line. So I'm saying that structurally they want you to propose these structures, suggestions. They'll accept it as long as the outcome, structurally, of your suggestion is this judicial balance of racism.

POM     In that regard, do you think that De Klerk has conceded or not conceded to majority rule?

!KX     No. What they are prepared to do is to give a semblance of majority rule. That is why they have spoken about - they said that they think that what people should begin to think about is a two-tier system, and they don't give these tiers names. I name them, usually. I call the one tier the House of Representatives, where there will be one-person, one-vote on a common vote to show in a unitary state. That House will have African majority rule. But that House will make representation to the higher House. It will be very limited in terms of what it can actually push through and make laws. That's a lower House. The majority rule House. Then there will be the higher House which will be the one, what I call the House of Races, where there will be racial balance represented there and where each one of them will have a veto power. So they would have their own veto power. So that whatever the House of Majority Rule says, if they don't want it they just come clearly and say that, "We veto that." As far as we are concerned, in very real terms it means that you become an official yes man of the government. It means secondly, in real terms, to take part in an election in order to strike a judicial racial balance you have to go to your members and ask them for a mandate to take part in an election for the express purpose of not winning but of ending up in sort of draw in terms of actual state political power. Now that, to us, was unacceptable.

POM     Do you see any circumstance in which the government would look for some form of executive power-sharing? And that is, that you might have a government that is a majority government and the National Party would be part of that government, maybe as the dominant part, where they would still continue to exercise considerable executive power, particularly, say, in matters relating to defence, foreign affairs, and the economy?

!KX     That is exactly what I'm saying about what they want, that's what they want now, they are prepared for that, so they are already prepared for that. They are prepared to have an African treasurer right now, they are prepared for that. But as long as they have certain powers which will be able to make sure that nobody dominates them, they claim them but I say that the other side of the coin means that they are able to dominate others because they will have a veto power. Now that, to us, is unacceptable for various reasons. One is the mythical, racial mythical, nonsensical base of the argument, arguments based on the assumption that all white people think the same and therefore they can send us white representatives. And all coloureds think the same and therefore you can have coloured representatives who can speak on behalf of coloured people. Where if Terre'Blanche speaks, many white people will say, "He doesn't speak for me." And when FW speaks, many white people say, "He doesn't speak for me." And when De Beer speaks, many white people say, "He doesn't speak for me." So you can't say send me a representative to speak on behalf of the whites. There is nothing like that, and the same thing with the blacks. You can't say, give me one who will speak on behalf of the blacks. People have different views and it's this racial, mythical, bias nonsense that holds the view that all people of a certain pigmentation think the same and therefore you can just tell them then to send you their representative. That is unacceptable to us.

POM     You now have a process that has moved from the point of talks about talks to the clearing away of most of the obstacles to talks and the preparation for actual talks themselves between the government and the ANC. Now, if you are invited to participate in those talks, we understand that you won't do so, or will you?

!KX     First of all you need to understand a few things very clearly, what it is we're not party to. Right? First of all, you have a situation where the government has not invited anybody to come and talk to them until now. The government has not even asked the ANC to come to a meeting. Both meetings between the government and the ANC took place on the initiative of the ANC. And if the ANC requires a one-on-one meeting with the government it could be very presumptuous for the PAC to say that we want to be there, and it would be very forward for us to do so. You cannot begin to ask why was the PAC not there. I mean, that's a ridiculous question. We were not supposed to have been there.

POM     You're not supposed to have been there?

!KX     Have been there. We were not supposed to have been there.

POM     At which meeting?

!KX     At the first committees there.

POM     You weren't supposed to have been there. But now?

!KX     We were not there and we were not supposed to be have been there. But I do want to make that point clear because some people take this erroneous scenario that invitations had been sent out and the PAC rejected them.

POM     No.

!KX     And that some people are outside because they were rejected. But no invitation was forthcoming to anybody.

PK     But your other point is that this meeting was not at the invitation of the government to the ANC, it was initiated by the ANC, is that what you're saying?

!KX     Yes, yes. And that has been something made public often times by both the government people and the ANC people. And there is no dispute about that in this country. On the question of further invitations, when an invitation comes to the PAC, we'll, of course, take it to our membership and we will see what they say about that. They will see how it is worded, what it is that we are called for, and so on and so forth. It is very presumptuous for me to say how we are going to handle that. We never said that we are against negotiations. We have never said that we are against the principle of democratic settlement. We have gone further than just saying that we are in favour of a democratic settlement, to drafting proposals for a democratic settlement. And we were the first people here to popularise the idea of a Constituent Assembly as a way of a democratic settlement of this country's problems. And we were the first, also, to explain what we mean by that term and even we were the first to go ahead and draw some mechanics and try to explain how that constitution would work. So the question of the PAC's commitment to a democratic settlement and peace has gone beyond everybody in trying to show how possible it is for a democratic settlement.

POM     My understanding was, and correct me if it is wrong, is that you had a number of other preconditions which the government would have to meet before you would consider talking with them, taking part in the negotiations, and included in that would be the elimination of the Group Areas Act, Population Classification Act, the Land Act of 1913, abolishment of the homeland system, and conditions that didn't seem likely to be met, at least not in the immediate future. Is that correct?

!KX     No, we didn't see those things as preconditions at all. We never put forward those things as preconditions. We said that we need to make a distinction between degrees of repression and the fundamental policy of this system. And we are saying you can remove degrees of repression and keep the fundamental policy still intact.

POM     You can remove the ...?

!KX     Degrees of repression and still keep the fundamental policy of the evil system intact. And therefore, the relaxation on the degrees of repression is not, therefore, a trustworthy guideline when it comes to determining the seriousness of the government to removing the fundamental policy of the evil system. And we are saying that the preconditions the ANC put forward are such that it only deals with the degrees of repressions, such as unbanning the organisations, let the exiles come home, let the prisoners come out, let the troops not be in the townships, let them be outside the townships, and things like that. Now, we say that those things just take you merely back to the status quo as existed prior to 1960, take you back to 1959. And in 1959 you could not say that there was fundamental change. So if you remove all the things that the ANC stands for and put forth as preconditions, you are back to where you were in 1959 and nobody can tell me that the 1959 situation was a situation of change, fundamental social change. That is why we in the PAC have said that we need to go a little bit further than that. Earlier on you said the government had met most of those preconditions of the ANC. The government had only met one of those preconditions fully and that is the unbanning of political organisations. The other four have not been met fully. So it is not fair to say it has met most of them. Now, those issues that have been mentioned, we have said that once the government starts addressing these issues and removing them, then we will see that the government is serious now because they are tackling fundamental policies of apartheid and we can see that these guys are serious, really. And we say that that would be the issues that they are merely just going to be asking us, what are the policies? And we say that these are some of the policies and start mentioning some of the laws and don't just see them only as legal people perceive them as a basis for the social system.

POM     So if you saw the government beginning to eliminate the Group Areas Act or the Population Classification Act, could you take that as a sufficient gesture of good intent, of intention, that you would find it easier to say, OK, they're talking about negotiations?

!KX     Yes. What I'm saying here is that once the government starts addressing these things, that does not necessarily mean that they are going to agree to what the PAC wants. It means that these people are serious now in wanting change, fundamental change.

PK     I don't get what you mean by the government addressing this when the government has said that they will introduce legislation when the parliament opens to repeal the Group Areas Act. Is the introduction of that legislation a sufficient gesture on your part?

!KX     No, it is not a sufficient gesture, in fact, it is the opposite. It is proven there that they are not serious because what they said, they said they will not repeal it and leave nothing there. They will replace it with other legislation that will protect the character of an area. For example, if the character is Portuguese, then they will come with new legislation that will protect the Portuguese character of that residential area, or the Zulu character. And they're saying by that it's just a change of labels. It's still the poison. What they want to replace it with, and the way that they want to replace it, is proof that they are not serious. In fact, it does not prove that they are willing to do away with the concept or that they are prepared to amend the concept.

POM     Let's say that I'm FW de Klerk and I've called you in and I've said, Ben, sit down there and tell me what I must do to get you to sit at the table and negotiate?

!KX     In this instance, these are the preconditions of peace. One is that you must declare yourself in favour of meaningful and effective majority rule, which is democracy-serious. Two, you'll have to declare yourself in favour in principle to a Constituent Assembly. And thirdly, you will have to declare yourself in favour, in principle, on the question of the redistribution of wealth and land. Once you are in principle in favour of those three things, then we can begin to talk. By then we can agree or disagree on the mechanics. Like in Zimbabwe, for example, the white people said that they are in principle agreed to majority rule but they've got problems, our people aren't ready for that and this and this and this but we're in principle in favour of that. And we said, "OK, let us see how can we meet each other." And then they came up with a programme of how to gradually move towards that objective and that is how they reconciled both the aspirations of the oppressed and the fears of what the white people were saying, but there was a commitment in principle. Now you have a situation in this country where Mr de Klerk is in principle opposed to effective majority rule because he says, he calls it, 'simplistic majority rule', he calls it an oversimplification of the complex problems, he calls it various names, and he says that in principle it's below the bottom line.

POM     Then by majority rule, do you mean something like the British system, first past the post, winner-take-all, or a proportional representation system or what? I mean, De Klerk calls the Westminster system simplistic majority rule, that's in a multi-party system where a number of parties compete for the same seats, that the party that gets the most votes wins the seat, period. So, theoretically in a three-party state, the party with 40% of the popular vote could win all the seats in parliament.

!KX     What we are saying is that we want to have a situation, we will spell out what we are talking about, the Constituent Assembly. Constituent Assembly is an assembly, as you know, where people come together to draft a constitution and the different parties can put forth their views on how they see the constitution operating and there can be great different views. Right? We are not going to go ahead right now and say the constitution must be like this. That is something PAC does not say. PAC says that an assembly must be established where people can come and debate the constitution and we say that that Constituent Assembly must take place on the basis of elected representatives. The question of anybody claiming to have a following and going to sit down to negotiate a new constitution is unacceptable to us because it is part of the divide and rule tactic and strategy.

POM     Now would this election take place along proportional representation lines, so that if I got 5% of the support of the community, I would get 5% of the seats? If I got 60% I would get 60%?

PK     Is that nation-wide or district?

!KX     Nation-wide. Nation-wide, national individual homes are counted.

PK     Namibian style.

!KX     Yes. And that's why we are proposing that. Of course, in the Constituent Assembly people will discuss how to have a new constitution and then the model of the new constitution might be markedly different from that of the constitution itself. You might give an ear to elections within one year. You might have the elections with a Constituent Assembly and the Constituent Assembly might have two hundred people or two hundred fifty people and they might decide to have a government of four hundred people. They may have to have elections. But all you can decide in the Constituent Assembly itself is that we will have a government of 400 seats, but let the people for the time being, let us continue for the first period, for to be re-elected, people are going to have to vote for us again on the same proportional basis, because the other elections took place yesterday. Now that, in essence, will be debated, that will be discussed. The point that we are making here is that representation must be elected, better be elected people. We are planning in the PAC to have the majority of support in this country. Now on the issue of majority of support because you have membership figures which are higher than that of the ANC and the PAC, but I'm saying the only way you can determine representation is not on the basis of claims.

PK     But don't you also have to have negotiations to get to a Constituent Assembly? It's not like Namibia where the UN decides what the model is going to be.

!KX     No, this is what I'm saying here, is that if you come up now with that idea then the other person will have to be in principle open to that idea. They must accept the principle. Then you can disagree on the mechanics and see how you can meet on the mechanics. If you disagree on the principle, there is no basis for talks, or rather, there is no potential for a short-term resolution of your conflict if you disagree on the principles involved in that.

POM     Who's governing the country while the Constituent Assembly meets?

!KX     I'm not saying. What I'm saying here is that that question itself is premature because the government is opposed to the principle of a Constituent Assembly, opposed to the very idea and to the principle and to the idea itself.

PK     We know that that is their position but we also know there are people who are in the academic circle, the intelligentsia of the Nationalist Party, who say they could perceive at some point down the line the government would accept a Constituent Assembly maybe to ratify something, maybe as a legitimising process to what is going on in the negotiation process. But say, for example, they do accede to that point, you are then willing to sit down and talk with others?

!KX     We are prepared to sit down and talk and discuss how we are, what day, how, what venues, what everything.

PK     But no constitutional principles or anything, they're off the agenda?

!KX     No, we haven't negotiated principles of the constitution and things like that. We're not going to negotiate a constitution. All we are going to negotiate is the Constituent Assembly.

PK     Would you negotiate an interim government or will you just let them rule the country throughout this whole time?

!KX     What I'm saying is that the question of interim government is not a serious matter. Because once you have agreed to a Constituent Assembly you can move to it very fast. You can put up an interim structure; if you have to put up an interim structure it won't be of long duration. You don't have to have a long, drawn-out interim structure when you've already have undertaken what you want. You can go towards that thing quite soon and an interim structure would be a very short-lived one. Now I'm saying that the question of 'interim' must be clearly understood. You cannot begin to talk about interim unless you have a clear objective agreed upon because the more you talk about interim, the question arises, interim to what?

POM     Interim has a habit of becoming the permanent ...

!KX     If you have an interim thing without an objective, the interim thing will become permanent because you must say, interim to what? And the more you have agreed on what you want, then you don't have to have a long interim, you can go through it very fast. You've already got an agreement on that. So, that is a problem that we have got to understand very clearly.

POM     Two questions. One, again, if I, being FW de Klerk, called you tomorrow morning and said, "Listen, we have worked out our problems with the ANC or we just appear to have done so, and we have talked to Inkatha and we worked out their problems. We want you to sit down with us and put your demands on the table, what you want, what conditions you want to be met, before we negotiate." Would you accept that invitation?

!KX     That is a presumptuous thing to answer, that one. But we would have to say that invitation would be handled like all invitations in terms of the operations of the PAC. It would have to go through the structures and there will be a structural decision that would have to be taken. One thing I can tell you which we are opposed to is behind the scene gifts. That we are not going to accept. Behind the scene, secret deals that people don't know of, in whose interest you are making these deals? That, I think, is unacceptable to us. Now, the thing that we need to understand also is how the question of the possible participation of the PAC, or level of participation, possible participation of PAC, arises. When the government and the ANC started to discuss the question of these negotiations, they started four or five years ago without the PAC. There is two-fold conspiracy against the PAC; conspiracy of silence or a conspiracy of distortion. They are either silent on us or if they cannot ignore us, they destroy us. They either say, PAC does not exist and they cannot prove either if PAC is too visibly present, then they say PAC's army does not exist, or this aspect does not exist, or that aspect.

     Now, when they started discussing this, Mr Viljoen said himself in parliament, and you know in this country it is a very serious thing to lie in parliament, you are out if you are caught lying, Mr Viljoen said, and the ANC did not deny this nor did they try to correct it, neither did they comment on it, that in 1986 alone they had 22 meetings with the ANC, of which ten took place outside of prison. That is before Mr Mandela moved to that house. So while they were burning people, the ANC was burning people outside here and while they were fighting councillors and so on, they were talking to the government. While they were condemning every contact with the government they were having numerous meetings with the government, secretly and privately. Now, prior to that they also had meetings with the government and after that our PAC intelligence informers said that they have had 58 meetings totally between the government and the ANC.

POM     Since 1986.

!KX     Since 1984. Fifty-eight meetings. Now, then they made themselves believe that the PAC does not exist. In 1986, they put a banning on us, and they believed their own lies and scandals. You know that if you repeat a lie often it becomes even subconscious to think along those lines. So when the unbanning came, much to their surprise, there was a PAC immediately, and it had national support and it started putting up branches nationally faster than the ANC and now they have to come to terms with this reality. The government did not unban the organisations for the PAC to come and talk to them. They were contemplating these things on the assumption that the PAC does not exist and now they discovered that the PAC does exist, and now they have to come to terms with the existence of us. Because, you see, when they look at the PAC, particularly the west where the PAC as the least-preferred alternative government to the National Party, particularly by the West, there is no question about the fact that we are the least-preferred alternative. Now, when they look at the PAC, they don't look at them as people who have a genuine constituency which it must represent. They look at the PAC in terms of the potentiality of this group to disrupt processes and they are guided by the conclusions they reach on that question as to whether they should be involved or not. Right now the conclusion they reach is that PAC does constitute a threat and can make problems, can be problematic and, therefore, it is felt that PAC should be, ways and means should be found to involve the PAC. That is the context within which a question of possible participation or not of the PAC arises. It does not arise in an honest, genuine, sincere context.

POM     Let me ask you just a few informational questions. One, members of the ANC that we have talked to have said that they have kept the PAC briefed about their meetings with the government, that they called people together and fully briefed them of everything that is going on. Is that true?

!KX     It is not true. They never keep us briefed. They kept the foreign governments briefed. After their meetings they run to foreign governments and tell them what happened there.

PK     Do they invite you to briefings and you don't go?

!KX     No, no, no, they don't, they don't, they don't.

POM     And you can say that with certainty? There are enough PAC branches over the country.

!KX     Yes, no, I mean, they wouldn't brief us on that, they would not. They brief their own branches, their own members.

POM     The second thing is, when we mentioned ...

PK     There is an element of that because we have heard that from organisations like NACTU that in the beginning they felt that they were not being consulted or briefed. Now they are being briefed. AZAPO the same way. And the ANC will use that to say, AZAPO, NACTU, we've sat down with them, the PAC refuses.

!KX     What the ANC called people to is they called them to a meeting to give a report on Mr Mandela's overseas trip, and I have a copy of the letter here, I can show you the letter. And they invited us to a meeting, NACTU was invited, and AZAPO, to hear about Mr Mandela's overseas trip. I think you were in the country when that happened. So, they didn't then call anybody to the meeting to come and discuss. PAC called a national conference and discussed with people the question of negotiations, different organisations, interest groups, supports, policies, and share with a meeting of the press and discuss that with them over the weekend. But certainly the ANC did not ever call such a meeting to discuss the question of negotiations. They discussed the question of Mandela's overseas trip, which was of very little consequence to us. We ourselves are present at international forums and we put our own position there and we are there when he talks, so really, you can't call us to a briefing. It is just political posturing to call PAC to a briefing meeting when PAC was there and put forth its own position at the same time he was putting forth his position, and PAC is as recognised as they are.

POM     The second thing relates to organisation and strength. Again, when we have talked to a number of members of the ANC, when we mention PAC they kind of smile and say, "They have no leadership and they are not a potent factor in the community." What they would point to, in many instances, is to the turnout for marches or parades or demonstrations on the 16th of June. People in Port Elizabeth said that the PAC there had at their meeting a couple of hundred, at the most a couple of thousand, and that the ANC had at theirs around 15-20 thousand people.

!KX     We had a bigger meeting than ANC, we had a bigger venue than ANC.

POM     Well, they did admit it was a bigger venue but not a bigger meeting.

!KX     We had a bigger venue and a bigger meeting than the ANC in Port Elizabeth and they had a smaller venue than ours. It depends on what papers you are reading. If you go outside here - the other day I was travelling and I thought I'll go to buy some of these cheap magazines, I am tired and I don't want to read something heavy. I settled on Drum. I never buy Drum, bought it for the first time, the latest edition of Drum magazine. There I found them writing only now about the June 16th meeting and the figures they give, they say the ANC had 14,000 people at their meeting. Some newspapers say they had 30,000 people at the meeting. Some say they had 50,000. These journalists themselves are members of our organisations and they put forth their own positions. Some papers will tell you that the PAC had 20,000 people, others say 800 people. There's a great difference, you can't miss the difference between 800 and 20,000, but it depends on what you are reading. Now, if you look at the pictures taken in Drum magazine you will see three-quarters of the stadium being full. And the stadium is four times the size of the Jabulani amphitheatre and if you get that stadium a quarter full we would have had at least an equal crowd to the ANC. But let's say it was more than half full, let's say it was four times the size of that, if we have that stadium half-full, there is no way that the ANC could have a bigger crowd than us.

POM     So what do you point to as evidence of your increasing strength?

!KX     What I would say to you is that the fact that you are able to bus so many thousand people free of charge is proof of your access to resources, it is not proof of your support, you don't make it documented national support. Because in the PAC, people have got to pay themselves to come there because the PAC does not bus people free of charge to meetings, while the ANC buses free of charge. And that is proof of the ANC's bigger access to resources than the PAC. And that is what deductions we make of that. But we say given the same access to resources, and even the same resources to be spent per meeting, we would with the same amount draw a bigger crowd than the ANC. OK? We are putting in no money on transport and drawing in - even if we are drawing in half than what they draw in - without even putting out a cent, and they put out R300,000 and draw in twice that amount. I say that, really, there are a lot of facts that need to be taken in consideration when one wants to make deductions. Even take southern Africa, through southern Africa, look at the population of Zimbabwe, the parties which lost the elections drew 200,000 people to a meeting. OK? You take a guy like SWAPO, Nujoma, drew 80,000 people and look at his population; and he had the same access to resources as ANC. Now if you take the example of southern Africa you see here, taking our population into account, if we really have a lot of access to resources and bus people free of charge, we should draw half a million crowds!

POM     What do you point to, then, as evidence that your strength has increased dramatically?

!KX     Well, the first point is the visible fact that the PAC is being reported, the PAC can't be ignored. I mean, this is the obvious fact that the PAC is being reported, it is there, it is known to be there. And it is the obvious, the obvious is there. Before 2nd February, they were not talking about it, they were having this blanket on the PAC; it does not exist, it is not there. I mean, the fact that since February, two weeks after 2nd February - the conference of the PAC took place in Bloemfontein a few weeks later on and the national representation of PAC branches came to Bloemfontein to meet and it was a powerful meeting there and the representation that was seen there was evidence of that and the way the PAC was able to get its act together faster, with a superior party structure than the ANC. There were all 250 formally launched branches, more than that with interim branch executives. And one thing you must listen to when you're travelling, in comparison, you must listen to the language we use when we talk. When we talk, we always talk about we have opened another branch in this area, opened another branch there. When ANC talk, they say they are opening another office and they are employing another four more staff in that office. Now, you can't compare it; when you want to compare what we say, you've got to listen, not hear what you want to hear. You know, you take careful note of the words we use. You see? I mean, last week we launched a branch in Uitenhage and the ANC opened an office in Port Elizabeth. There's a difference between opening a branch and opening an office. OK?

POM     Where are you drawing your support from?

!KX     We are drawing geographically, age-wise, everything, I'll tell you. Geographically, we are drawing our support nationally, including the territories of the so-called homelands. Then, age-wise, all ages, although mostly between the 20 and 25 age group, they are coming in really large numbers. But nowadays we see a tremendous influx of students and of student bodies, very strong. It has the most members of all our organs because there are more students organised. And then, of course, even the older people, we find them coming to our organisation more and more.

POM     I do understand, I suppose, why you would draw more members from young people who might be disillusioned with the ANC's agreeing to a cease-fire and regard some of their actions as being a sell-out, but you say you are doing it right across the entire board.

!KX     I'll tell you why we get older people coming to join us, because in 1984 to 1986, these old people were forced to drink fish oil, to drink detergent, and also they were beaten up by children. They were trying to insanely enforce discipline on them and they never forgot these humiliating experiences they went through. As such, it is very difficult for them, particularly when they see the same leadership, UDF leadership, going back there as the local ANC leadership and the same people who did that to them. There is that type of situation. Secondly, we get older men membership because we are breaking in the townships. The whole spirit of fear, that old traumatisation, it's very serious. ANC put a very serious traumatising effect on the communities when in effect they were threatening people you must do this, you must do that, and so on, and so, people do things out of fear and the PAC had come there as a strong alternative, which the ANC cannot intimidate. The PAC members come and say, "No, we must discuss this thing properly. I'm not accepting this, I'm not accepting that." They'll discuss first, and convince me. In this we were breaking that spirit of fear and creating more openness and people feel that. I think we are getting more credibility in the township for breaking that psychosis of fear and people are happy about that.

POM     Could I turn your attention for a minute to the violence? One, in Natal, and two, as it has been spreading across the Transvaal in the last two weeks. Now, we've talked to people on both sides, Inkatha and ANC, and we got two pretty clear interpretations. As far as the ANC are concerned, it's Inkatha are trying this out with the either explicit or implicit support of the police. With Inkatha, it's the ANC are trying to eliminate all opposition and go on to establish a one-party state, and since Inkatha is the largest organisation, they're being targeted. How would you assess the violence going on, particularly in the light of your own experiences in 1985?

!KX     One thing we must understand is that in all the conflict taking place, whether it is with Inkatha, AZAPO, PAC, councillors, or whoever, the common denominator is the ANC. That is a fact. It's always ANC fighting this one, that one, ANC is fighting to establish control. They are fighting over a bone and did not even see whether there's negotiation in their position there. They are fighting over that bone before seeing whether there's meat on that bone or not, and that is a very serious issue. I think you are going to see more conflict in the country unless the ANC changes that orientation. Inkatha, on the other hand, is also not completely blameless. You remember if you were here, were you here during the town stayaway, the one-day stayaway?

PK     We came right after it.

!KX     OK, you were not here, both here.

POM     No.

!KX     OK. But if you were here during that time you would see that we called a press conference at PAC two or three days before it and this was the result, from that stayaway. The reason for that is two-fold. We said that if you fight a person you must always be leaving options. Amongst the options you're leaving must be one option for him to bow out without losing face. If you leave your opponent only the option of being humiliated or to fight you back, either being disgraced or victorious, then you find that you are not a wise strategist and nobody will take the option of being disgraced so obviously he will fight you back. And they will say this, "Isolate Inkatha and try and fight them and try and destroy this organisation." That's called 'national action'. Let all the others come in and assist us to do this. We said, bearing in mind the extent of Inkatha, we are completely and totally opposed to the homeland system, homeland leadership structures, the homeland system, everything there, opposed to Inkatha, from KwaZulu to KwaNdebele, Bophuthatswana, all of these must go as far as we are concerned. But bearing in mind the extent of Buthelezi, he had jails; ANC/PAC does not have jails. This man has jails. Magistrates, police, armies, everything and it is unwise to give such a person the option of either fighting you back or being destroyed. You must give him another option where he can sidestep and still maintain some sort of face. We said that because of the options you've given, there is no other way, the violence will increase. It will spread to other parts of the country and there is no way that the man is going to accept a defeat. He is a politician. He sees his own future, as well, in terms of the political future of this country. He sees himself as part of that. And if you want to destroy him, we don't think you are going to succeed, particularly given the only option is to fight back. And we said you are going to see that and, therefore, we distance ourselves because we are going to embroil ourselves by supporting you in a violent little flare-up nationally. It might not take place immediately but it will take place soon thereafter. So, as a result of that, that's, I feel, one of the reasons why you have such a situation, that Day of Action. They mobilise themselves very well. They are fighting and we have not embroiled ourselves in those things. And as long as the ANC complete their dominance over townships you will find the thing continuing. Now, where it wasn't in terms of ANC violence, I mean, if you go to the College of Education in Soshanguve, they'll tell you there that the ANC guys just came in there with guns and everything and knives and pangas and started stabbing our people there in that meeting hall. It was quite a carnage.

POM     Was that recently?

!KX     It was about four months ago. Also, in Delmas they decided to chase our members away. In Kimberly right now, members have been chased out of the area. In Natal they killed two of our people last week. In Durban too. So you find that type of situation, where that is happening. And, of course, nobody can accuse PAC of tribalism or anything like that.

POM     Let me ask you, why ...?

!KX     But also, as far as the police are concerned, because we are doing our own investigation on this violence as well, we see that the police are definitely involved in this whole thing. We saw, for example, at one hostel, that four Toyota Cressidas, new cars according to the registration, were given to the hostel dwellers, and two brand new Hondas which they drive around, and we ask ourselves, where did they get that from? Who is giving this to them, these people? Also, you look at the red bands they are wearing nationally. I mean, not national, but all over the place they are fighting and the way things are ready and organised and everything, you ask yourself, but how is it so beautifully organised? Who told them to have these red bands and to have these red flags? Where do these come from? Why so beautifully organised? And it is the same everywhere. This thing is planned. So, we see a situation that we are so busy investigating but we see clear organisation behind the whole thing and we see a situation that is really of great concern to us.

POM     Do you believe that what the ANC wants to do is to destroy all opposition to it? To be the sole voice of the black community?

!KX     I think, yes, they do want to do that. We may have to call it a day now soon after this. But one thing I can tell you, and this I want to put to you very clearly, what it is that PAC is not involved in at the negotiations. The ANC is dominated by the Communist Party or are communists. Only two people in their national executive are not communist, Mr Mandela and Mr Tambo. Now, here you are dealing with a Stalinist organ which supported the butchery of so many, over a million people in Afghanistan, and all the atrocities of Stalin they supported publicly, and here you are dealing with people who are just taking the Moscow line, people who are tremendously intolerant of other views. We are saying they are sitting there, they are the majority at the negotiating table at the moment, talks for talks, and we are saying, and have gone on record saying this, that we notice with a tinge of amusement, a touch of amusement, that to make the world's worst politically intolerant Muscovite/Stalinist organ the custodian of Azanian democracy is a farce, it's a tragic comedy. You are dealing also with the Nationalist Party which has as a bottom line racialism. The whole thing of a balance of race groups means that the bottom line is racialism, still but more contained and with a more human face. We say to make people who have a bottom line of racialism the custodians of democracy is also a farce and we are saying that the only solution, really, for a real democratic solution is vested in my organisation.

POM     I want to take one step back. Why is it that people like Archbishop Tutu and Allan Boesak and Frank Chikane and other people who have international reputations as human rights advocates support the UDF and come out unequivocally saying that Inkatha, with the collusion of the police, are the perpetrators of the violence? You kind of get lost in the process there someplace.

!KX     I've just told you, also, that we also think the police are playing very important a role in this.

POM     You get lost, PAC gets lost, they never comment upon it, you never hear of issued statements on behalf of the PAC.

!KX     No, repeatedly the other day - Tutu the other day made it very clear, made a press statement to say that his priests must not join the ANC and he says he does so because the PAC is criticising them and therefore he thinks the PAC is correct, and therefore they are putting a ban on their members for joining political organisations, the priests. And he came out clearly in saying that he is motivated by this on the stance by the PAC which he accepts and agrees with. He said this on national television. One of the things you must understand, the question of those people, I think you must ask - the only way I can try to understand is through the class theory. I think that the middle class does not have an ideology of its own, it still either goes to this one or that one, it aligns itself and therefore, they are the most unreliable allies. They just change. Bishop Tutu and Allan Boesak were the foremost propagandists and advocates of Black Consciousness in the 1970s and that was when it was most prominent. They wrote books on black theology. They completely attacked non-racialism and things like that. And you can even buy their books today and see them doing that. Because Black Consciousness was prominent, got on the position of prominence, and so he found that all the elite want to be seen to be with the people and joined that bandwagon. Where the ANC took away the youth from Black Consciousness, students, Black Consciousness was finished. And then you find them, they are really going to the hearts of the older people, or they end up with mostly children. The ANC destroyed them in the process. The situation changed dramatically and the priests and all the elite, this will change it back. [just ??? over that sign, and supported them and became leaders of that movement.]

     Now, they can see the PAC rising up and they are slowly withdrawing themselves from the ANC. They are watching the situation, unsure. That is why Tutu is playing a less prominent role in the country at the moment than he's ever played before in the past 15 years. Also, you will see that he is trying slowly to pull himself and his church and his priests out of the ANC.

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.