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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

25 Aug 1990: Maduna, Penuell

Click here for more information on the Interviewee

Click here for Overview of the year

POM     I'm talking with Penuell Maduna of the ANC on the 25th of August and Andrew Mlangeni. Penuell the first question I want to ask you is, and I've got a varying response from everybody I've asked this question no matter what party they belong to, is do you believe that de Klerk has conceded on the issue of majority rule?

PM     It's difficult to give a statement exactly because one would not be in a position to cite a particular statement where he says he accepts that there will be majority rule. But of course at the same time one comes to that conclusion only after looking at various developments and various concessions of theirs. For instance, the issue of one-person one-vote is no longer in dispute. They have actually yielded on that one. They are prepared to accept that there is going to be a system which is based on the one-person one-vote electoral system. But again you may argue and say in a group context they might actually still say whites will vote as whites and use the one-person one-vote system as whites and then the blacks would be divided and further subdivided and they would on an ethnic basis be applying the same system. Again there is a belief that there is a slight shift from the group kind of mentality and orientation in constitutional terms so that one eventually, it is said, may begin to hear them talk less of a group based constitutional system. Of course it's difficult to say what the source of that belief is because the government has not as a matter of policy said we are now dropping our demand for a group based constitutional political system. So, at the same time of course we have initiated a process of talks about talks. One gets the feeling that at the end of the day they are going to accept majority rule and we make as ANC a distinction between black majority rule and majority rule. The ANC believes that the appropriate answer is not to be found in black majority rule but in majority rule. In other words, a democratic non-racial majority which already exists and reflects itself in many ways within the body politic, should actually govern this country. And of course we want to believe that it is going to be possible for us to persuade them that that is the answer to our problems. Not white minority rule, not black majority rule but non-racial and democratic majority rule.

POM     People we've talked to in the National Party and in the government talk more in terms of power sharing. There would be a power sharing arrangement and that even though let's say the ANC, the political party, might have a majority that they would share power in some way with the National Party, but the National Party still would have a say in government, an executive say in government.

PM     Well you see we have always posed this question, who shares power with whom? If that means that blacks and whites will share power then we can't accept that. We cannot accept that, you see, because it is not consonant with our perspective of non-racialism. And again here we are not actually clear on what the concept of power sharing means exactly because those who pursue it have all along been basing it on ethnic groups and therefore naturally our people would reject even that concept of power sharing. Who shares power with whom has not yet been answered. And of course if it meant that groups as perceived by their party's regime would share power then of course the ANC would not associate itself with that. But if by this is meant political groups sharing power, then the answer would be, how do those political groups share power? You know I'm afraid we still do not know what the answer would be. How would those political groups share power? Because again I can't imagine us accepting that the National Party and the ANC will share power. That's not democracy at all. That's not. I would rather that we find an appropriate electoral formula, electoral system that would ensure that those parties which have a sound enough following on the ground share power on a proportionate basis, on a proportional basis. So that if say the ANC gets 60% of the total vote and the National Party gets whatever percentage of the rest, then in that sense you would begin to talk of a share in power but a share in power with a given mandate. I want to believe that this is how democracy looks and thinks, this is how democracy works. Right?

POM     Can I pose a hypothetical situation? Let's see the ANC as a party, just to simplify this thing, got 60% of the vote and the National Party got 20% of the vote and let's say a third party, whoever they are, got the other 20%. Under the system that you are talking about would that translate into a government where 60% of the power would be exercised by appointments by the ANC, 20% by appointments from the National Party and 20% from the third party?

PM     Not necessarily. We would have to learn from other peoples in this way. If, for instance, we have a 60% share of the vote then, and of course the constitution says that the majority in the parliament or the national assembly or whatever it is called will form the government, it will, I can imagine, be up to us whether or not we give the other parties a share in the administration of the country. And that kind of decision has not as yet been made. And I want to believe that it may result from negotiations. If we sit down with all the parties and we agreed, even in the general and day to day administration of the affairs of the country, all parties that have a following must be represented in the administration on a pro rata basis then I think we will all have to honour our undertakings and our agreements. But as matters stand there isn't this kind of undertaking. If the majority of the people want the ANC to form the government, we will form it. But then again if it is political wisdom to discuss it in that aspect and agree that government on a day to day basis would have to reflect our strength on the ground, maybe then we might have to do just that. Again we would actually be guided here by the feelings of our people on the ground and of course by what is in our best interest and what is politically wise.

POM     What you are talking of in one sense could amount to at first government that would be more or less a government of national reconciliation in a broad sense, everybody would share.

PM     No, no, no that is not the point I'm making. What I am saying is we would actually have to be guided solely by what is in the best interest of our country. Maybe, especially for a start, a government of national unity formed along those lines may be in the best interest of our country. Again if it is politically wise to retain government on the day to day, administration of the country in the hands of the party that wins the majority, we will have to follow that. So all the time we will be looking at it in terms of what is in the best interest of our country. This is what I am trying to say. And in fact this is what guides us all the time and you might be well aware that this is the answer we gave also regarding our decision to suspend the armed struggle. We said we thought that that would be in the best interest of our country and we still believe it is. So upper most in the minds of the ANC and its leadership is the best interest of our country all the time.

POM     You know this promise that de Klerk gave that he would take whatever new constitutional arrangement was proposed back to the white electorate for their approval, is that a promise that he can keep? Some people have said it is a promise that he must keep.

PM     Look, let's not concern ourselves with whether or not he is capable of keeping that kind of promise. Let's look at the promise itself. Supposing we all sat down tomorrow and negotiated a constitution and agreed on a given constitutional model, it would be unfair for anybody to suggest that they would take it first and foremost to their ethnic constituency and that it would be binding on them and us only after their ethnic constituency has given their say so. I want to believe that it would not be appropriate for us to sit down if the whole thing would still depend on the whims and wishes of whites. This is it. Therefore we reject it. He has the courage to negotiate with us as a party with a mandate to negotiate, and we negotiate and come to some conclusion, and that conclusion being a new constitution we all work all out, we all go all out to implement that constitution. In other words, we are not going to say blacks must approve the constitution before it can be a constitution for South Africa. Neither would it be correct for anybody to say Indians or Coloureds must do the same thing. It's just not on.

     As to whether or not he would be in a position to keep that kind of promise, I don't know. He has got his own problems, politically. There is the belief, which may be correct or not, that the white right wing is getting stronger and stronger and if we were to have another round of whites only elections, there is that possibility that he may either flunk it altogether or be returned with a very tiny majority. There is that belief. I do not know what Comrade Mlangeni wants to say about this. So again maybe he may think that it is wise to keep making these promises in order to take his constituents along. But again if he also looks at things the way we look at them, namely that it's not one ethnic group that must decide for all, then it would not be wise in our opinion for him to say to whites, whatever we agree on will be binding on us after you have approved it, you see. Because again, you know if you look at the political balance of forces on the ground, he may not be able to keep that kind of promise. So he shall be proved by political reality on the ground to have been a liar and I'm sure on a long term basis it would not be at his interest to make these promises. He tells the whites we are going to negotiate and the outcome is going to be such that we will have a non-racial majority governing this country. The days of a race based oligarchy are gone and gone forever. He tells them that.

POM     But they are not prepared to say yet.

PM     This is it. This is the problem. You know I want to believe that if you are honest with your following, with your followers, your followers respect you. They follow you. It's proven to be pretty difficult to convince them of the validity of some of the positions you take, at least if you are honest with them they respect you. I also respect honest people.

POM     On constitutional models are there any models that are simply ruled out because they are inappropriate and other models that are or would be considered because they refer to countries that have had problems similar to, though not the same as, South Africa?

PM     No, we don't look at it that way. We don't say this has failed in the U.S. forget about it, this has failed in the Soviet Union, forget about it. We don't look at things that way. We say to ourselves there are basic concepts of constitutional law which are applied the world over. And their success or failure depends on many factors really on the ground. Something may be a success elsewhere, I mean in one country, and elsewhere it may prove to be a real disaster. So in other words you take it, you adopt it, and adapt it to your own conditions. But there are basic constitutional principles that govern a democracy which we accept as ANC and one of those is a multi party system. We are fully committed to it. One party systems all over are being questioned today and in some countries they have been politically overthrown and removed. They have these problems. So we are as a matter of policy committed to a multi party system. We are one amongst quite a few parties within the broad spectrum of political organisations in our country. We are staking our claim to a share in power, if you like it, in as much as the others are doing the same thing and have a right to do so.

     The second basic principle is that the political and constitutional system should not be based on ethnicity or race. That is a basic principle that you would find in basic human rights instruments such as the universal declaration of human rights and many others, the European declaration of rights or whatever it is called you know, or convention. So we find these. The other principle is a commitment to an independent, and in our case specifically, non-racial judiciary. Right now we have race based bench. Not a single judge wears a colour other than white, you see, and the majority are coming from one ethnic group, the Afrikaner ethnic group.

     Then of course the others such as a bill of rights, a justiciable bill of rights, which have also some implications for us. One major implication is that that independent judiciary must, to quite a great extent, be armed with some power of review, what in America you people call judicial review and what elsewhere is called the testing right and so on. Again it's a principle that we would easily adopt but of course subsequently adapt to our own conditions taking into account its own problems and its country of origin and the experiences of America. We are doing quite a bit of research into all these concepts. As I say we are actually working for a human rights oriented constitutional and political order. Whatever human right that you may be thinking of, including in fact the socio-economic and cultural rights, we will actually strive to incorporate into our constitutional order as well as protect and promote. But of course we have to find mechanisms for doing that. There are rights which are easily justiciable and there also non-justiciable rights. But the non-justiciable ones would actual be binding on government, in other words, like the socio economic and cultural ones; there would be standards that we would use to build our new society.

POM     You mentioned the word economic. A number of people that I've talked to have said that the government, I mean acting as the government or the spokesperson for the white community, would attempt to have some form of economic guarantees written into the constitution, particularly some guarantees relating to either property or a commitment to a free enterprise system.

PM     You see we always wonder what they mean by free enterprise system. Right now there is no free enterprise in South Africa. There is a very high degree of monopoly control of wealth in this country. A huge concentration of wealth in the hands of very few conglomerates. So we can't talk of free enterprise at all. That is one. Two, again we look at the world in which we live and we wonder whether there is any country which today allows untrammelled laissez faire capitalism.

POM     Let's say they are looking for a system where say there would be some public but a lot of private.

PM     Again not even in the U.S. do you today find completely untrammelled laissez faire capitalism. There is a need for state intervention in the public interest. So that therefore our approach, simply put, revolves around a concept of a mixed economy where we are still grappling with the issue, with the question of the mix of the mix. We are trying to grapple with that one. It is a difficult question. Which should dominate? Which should predominate, the public or the private? I'm sure not a single country has successfully addressed that. Not a single country can say we have successfully solved that one and solved it once and for all. You've had your own problems in the U.S. which culminated in the passing of New Deal legislation and so on. You are grappling with this question now I am to believe. Others with that outlook, let's just abolish the private interest, are now reviewing it, you see. So we want to believe that the answer lies somewhere between the two major extremes. Especially for our purposes. The answer will be found somewhere between the two major extremes. We will, we want to believe, have quite a big private stake in the wealth of the country. But of course over all we want to believe the economy must serve the best interest of all our people, primarily. In other words, whether it is the public or the private sector the orientation should be towards the public interest. Some measure of social responsibility and accountability would be demanded from the private interest in particular.

POM     I know the word nationalisation has kind of become a dirty word. In what context now does the ANC use this? Does it differentiate between the ownership of a company and having a voice in how that company is run?

PM     You see first and foremost, unfortunately, because of various experiences in many parts of the world, when this way of nationalisation was used by, especially by Nelson Mandela, people jumped. But it was over some time that they used it. Maybe the context had changed. And so it changed that people wanted to believe that it would mean exactly what it meant in many other parts of the world. But all it means to the ANC is the need for state intervention in the public interest. That is all it means. Of course the state itself has to participate. Not only in the appropriation of the wealth that is socially generated but also in the ownership of means of production. It's got to. It's got to have the capacity to participate directly in the generation of wealth in the public interest. What the extent of state intervention should be I'm afraid is still being grappled with. In some instances, in fact I want to believe it is very varied, it will depend on the industry, on the various industries. For instance, maybe in mining it may be necessary to take a bigger stake or a lesser stake, I don't know. In agriculture a small or a bigger stake. And so on.

     But basically what we are trying to say is in the public interest the state has to intervene in economic affairs. We have quite a few millionaires. But these millionaires are living, are little pockets of opulence, in this huge sea of poverty. Mass poverty. I'm sure you have seen real poverty in our country. The country that produces the world's largest quantity of gold. So we need to address it and with the best of intentions the private interest has not tended towards participating in the resolution of these. I know that you may say that some businessmen came together and gave us the Funda Centre(?) and Pays(?)College and so on and how many Funda Centres and Pays Colleges do we have? And what's the quality and quantity of the products of those and so on. They just pale into insignificance if you look at it in relation to the needs of the country. The state has the responsibility to see to it that we have hospitals, that we have schools, that we have all sorts of things for our children, housing and so on. For instance, right now, look at the crisis of black housing. And look at the wealth controlled by, especially these four huge conglomerates. If that wealth could be spread out you would banish from the face of this country this housing crisis once and for all. You'd actually give each one of us a capacity to have the house of ones own.

POM     The four are Anglo-American ...

PM     Anglo-American, Barlow-Rand, Rembrandt, Sanlam, those four. Look at the wealth that they control between themselves and look at the poverty which is the other side of this coin. This is the problem.

POM     Do go back a moment to process, I've heard like three general scenarios of the manner of which the process might proceed. One is the route of a Constituent Assembly which I gather is the ANC's preferred route but which the government is very much opposed to. The second is a broadened negotiating table where everybody who has a political constituency would have a voice in the negotiation of a new constitution. And the third one is some form of interim government and along side that some kind of assembly that would draw up a new constitution again and appoint an assembly.

PM     We do not counter-pose one to three. Let me first deal with our own perspective. Our perspective is that negotiations should produce two conditions. One, an interim government which would guarantee the whole constitution making process. And two, a mechanism that will give our country a new constitution. And we say as a matter of policy that we believe that the appropriate mechanism is a directly elected democratic and non-racial Constituent Assembly. This is ANC policy. I want to believe that the whole world would respect that kind of approach. It supported us on that question, on that issue, in Namibia. Only yesterday that Constituent Assembly was elected there. Save of course for the fact that in Namibia what was a Pretoria imposed government was by agreement converted into the interim government. Of course there are many reasons for that. And of course the UN was also participating in the whole thing so it was no longer governing purely in the interests of Pretoria, that mis-governing the country in the interest of Pretoria. So in our case, the reason for this direct international intervention, it's the South African parties themselves who it is envisaged will come together and work out an interim government as well as agree on a mechanism. And we want to believe that we have successfully sold the idea, successfully marketed the idea of a Constituent Assembly. Many organisations on the ground accept it. You have said that the government frowns upon this concept.

POM     More than frowns.

PM     It hates it. It is very, very hostile towards a Constituent Assembly. Very, very interesting. All along, each time anybody said the ANC was generally accepted as the leader and vanguard of the majority in our country, black and white, shrill and shriek voices would begin screaming and squeaking upstairs. Have they proved it, you see. Let them prove that. Now, so far humanity has not developed any means of proving that other than democratic elections. If they leave the majority, black and white, the time for them to prove that has come, in other words their yardstick applies to all of us, democratic, non-racial elections. I want to suspect that now that the chips are down those who have all along been making all sorts of claims and also alleging that we are not leading the majority, fear that reality on the ground may prove them to have been liars all along. It is not only the government that hates that. Buthelezi also hates it. I'm sure when you spoke to him he told you that the whole idea of a Constituent Assembly is not on as far as Inkatha is concerned. In other words what they want to wed us into in my opinion is what was envisaged in the Constitutional Development Act, I think it was Act 86 of 1988, where they were thinking of a great Indaba between the government and its accomplices in the perpetration of the crime of apartheid. Of course the slight shift from that is that under that Act it was not envisaged that we would be included. Now the tendency is to include us. This is their perspective. A great Indaba featuring the National Party, the homeland leaders, and so on and so forth. Now, that would not be democracy. That would not be democracy at all. Democracy demands that those who give our country a new constitution must have a mandate, democratically given, on a non-racial basis by our people on the ground.

POM     But the government would say, "That's terrific but listen, if we went to an election now for a Constituent Assembly we would get wiped out".

PM     And that's not our intention by the way, to get them wiped out.

POM     Yes, that's not your intention, that is not in your interest to get them wiped out. And (b) "you're asking us to concede what we want to negotiate because if we had an election it would be on the basis of a majority, the best it would be would be proportional representation, and we want to negotiate that, not concede it to an assembly before we negotiate it".

PM     Right. You see we know that if you look at white partyism particularly, the National Party still stands out as the best negotiating partner that you can get. It would not be in our interest, you are quite right, to do anything that would further whittle down their own constituency, because then they would have nothing to deliver. So, I don't know. At the leadership level we are still grappling with this issue. How do we ensure that those who negotiate a new constitution have as broad a mandate as possible, while at the same time we ensure that those who are negotiating with us are strong enough to be able to deliver something. This is it. We've got to work out a formula that would ensure that in fact we don't get the worse out of negotiations.

POM     In a sense, the ANC and the NP are kind of tied together because they can both hurt each other or they can both help each other.

PM     And if they can hurt us at all. In the political sense they can't.

POM     But you could hurt them.

PM     Yes, in fact we can destroy them completely by sticking absolutely to a demand for a Constituent Assembly. And eventually say, look we want the party to end further negotiations if you don't concede to this. Let's all go out, even if you say let's use the proportional representation system, there isn't a white party that can get enough votes to remain in government today. There isn't. It just isn't there. The DP included. It just isn't there. So at the same time it is in the best interest of the country to retain a high degree of white participation in the body politic of the country. So all I'm saying is we have as a matter of policy this, that we are aware of the practical implications of an absolute insistence on this. So somewhere somehow again the ANC, in the best interest of the country, might have to demonstrate its magnanimity. But as to what form that kind of magnanimity would take I don't know. This would be discussed broadly with the masses themselves, their representatives, their organisations and so on. But as matters stand we are insisting on a mandate given to a democratically elected non-racial Constituent Assembly. This is policy.

POM     Where do you see other parties being drawn into the process and on what basis? Thabo Mbeki last night at the Five Freedoms Forum issued a invitation to other parties to participate on a equal basis. And yesterday I talked to Ben Alexander and I've talked to other people in the ANC who have said that the ANC has consulted with other black groups and he categorically denied that the ANC had consulted with the PAC.

PM     Yes, you see he is right. We have not consulted with them. And we are not to blame for that. They were invited long before the ANC and the PAC were unbanned to a conference for a democratic future. Ben Alexander himself, said the PAM, as it then was called internally, would not be party to that. He took that kind of position. It's not the ANC that said don't go there. Prior to that we actually had the broadest ever, in our circumferences as a then banned organisation, consultation on the question of a negotiated settlement before we went out of our country to the front line states, the OAU, and eventually the world. What position did they take in relation to the Harare Declaration? Once again they distanced themselves from it. Now, recently when Mandela came back from Europe invitations were sent out to all political organisations and labour organisations. They also got that invitation.

POM     Yes. They say they got that invitation.

PM     They distanced themselves from it again. This is it. They are very critical of our participation in this whole process of talks about talks. Very critical. We suspend the armed struggle. They are critical of us. They scream. One bullet, I mean one-settler one-bullet. We said no, don't worry about that. They don't have the capacity to do it. They have themselves to blame for their own non-participation. It's a deliberate political decision on their part not to participate. We have been the same all along to them. Let's sit down and discuss how we see the whole process to the future. We said so. But then again they take these positions. The other organisations are always dealing with us, including AZAPO. We're always sharing ideas with them.

POM     When you see this table though, you said it had two functions to decide, one was for a Constituent Assembly and the other one-man one-vote.

PM     No, no I didn't say two functions. I said it has among other functions, two basic functions.

POM     OK. Who should negotiate that? Should it be you and the government or should it be all the parties like DP and the Conservative Party.

PM     It should be all inclusive.

POM     So everybody gets around a table?

PM     That's it. It should be everyone.

POM     Now, how do you weight representation? For example, it is obvious that the ANC might have five times the support of AZAPO. Let's just say that. Do they get an equal voice? Or how do you give more weight to the opinion of those who represent a larger constituency than those who represent a small or marginal constituency?

PM     You see at the point of negotiation that would not matter that much, in my opinion. Because otherwise if you were to say let's elect those who will negotiate, then the chances are that many will not be left there and therefore many would remain outside the process. I would rather that, in fact, all parties that lay claim to a following should be allowed equal representation, they sit there, they actually discuss the principles, the process and so on and so forth.

POM     How are they going to get consensus and the way forward. How are decisions taken? By majority vote? Does there have to be agreed consensus across the board?

PM     No, no in fact at that stage you won't be voting. You would merely be working out the ground rules as it were and coming to some agreement regarding the mechanism and regarding how the country will be governed and how the process will be guaranteed.

POM     But who would make that, how would that decision be made?

PM     The parties themselves, by agreement. In other words it's important that, you know, all the parties that lay claim to a following should be represented at that stage. In fact, if the agreement is that we all send five people from each one, then so be it. But it is important to get negotiations started. It is important to get all those parties involved.

POM     Could you get a situation where say you were for a ground rule, say a certain rule that you wanted, and you found that you were opposed by AZAPO and, for sake of argument, let's say the PAC was there, the PAC and the Black Consciousness Movement, and they would out vote you three to one even though you knew that you represented a constituency that was far larger than theirs combined? What am I missing? I'm missing something?

PM     Right. Supposing you have say five parties all in all represented there and three are saying no to something. Then in fact it would really be a crisis. And I can't imagine any parties saying no to non-racialism. You see we spelt out those principles in the Harare Declaration. They are spelt out, the principles that we think would underpin a democracy. I can't imagine any party saying no to any of those principles.

POM     So you'd be quite OK with an arrangement where the National Party would attend, the Conservative Party, the DP attend, ANC attend, the PAC attend, Black Consciousness attend, AZAPO attend?

PM     That's it. We are all talking and all committing ourselves to this whole process. And we are all agreeing that the country must be governed by an interim government. How we form it should also be a matter of agreement, by the parties. And then we all agree that OK, the mechanism should be a given one. Again we should not impose a mechanism. It should be agreed to by all. And therefore we'd be working for consensus ourselves. We would not be going to the negotiating table to impose the ANC ideas.

POM     How do you see now, say in the next 12 to 18 months, the process unfolding. The talks about talks are just about over, most obstacles are out of the way, we assume that they are out of the way. What comes next?

PM     Negotiations proper.

POM     Now that's you, the ANC, and the government?

PM     No, all parties.

POM     All parties are brought in.

PM     All parties. In fact the PAC is going to come round to accepting the need for negotiations. So they are not at all a problem. They will come around to accepting it. I'm sure Ben Alexander has indicated to you that they are reviewing their position.

POM     Yes.

PM     He has. They are, we are aware of that. So they are not going to be a problem at all. AZAPO is actually on site, as Americans say. Inkatha itself is on site. It does want to be party to negotiations.

POM     And homeland leaders, would they be represented at the table too?

PM     That is very interesting.

POM     Independent states, what they call them.

PM     You see there is problem about the independent ones which is a slightly complicated issue. But let's first deal with the non-independent ones. Five of them walk into the ANC offices today with and they have said categorically they do not want to stake any claim at the negotiation table in their own name and right. They are part and parcel of the broad democratic forces. So that therefore it eliminates the largest portion of this problem. It leaves us only with Gatsha Buthelezi who lays claim to a stage in power. We deal with that one, he has all the right to be there. In other words we are doing a lot of mobilisation work amongst them. Then you go to the other question, to the other part of the questions, the other leg of the question, and that is the 'independent' Bantustans, independent in quotes, yes. There are four. Two of them are already on site, the Transkei and the Ciskei. No problem with them. There is a problem in Venda, yes, but it is not an insolvable problem. There is also a problem in Bophuthatswana but again it is not an insolvable problem. That's it. In other words eventually these problems are going to prove to be easy to solve. The problem is Pretoria itself.

     Now the other things you know, with regard to the non-independent ones, the government has taken a very interesting position, it says to relegate them to the level of regional administrative organs. So already their position, their status, is being re-thought within government circles, you see. So those are not going to be problematic because then if they are the government's administrative organ then they cannot at the same time pretend to be national. We would actually query their status, what would they be representing which is different from what the government represents? Because they are actually organs of the government and it says so. So, this is exactly why these five others are saying no, no, no. We would rather be with the ANC and the broad MDM.

POM     When you see the table, the negotiating table, do you see the government and people on one side and the ANC and other parties on the other side or do you see it as everyone sitting around the table? Would you expect, for example, Buthelezi to be sitting on your side of the table or would he be on the government side of the table?

PM     Certainly he won't sit on our side. He doesn't want to sit on our side. He might change his mind. But at the moment he does not sit on our side. He is not, and if he wants to he is not going about it the best of ways. And he knows that. Maybe he might find it not that convenient to sit on the government side. Then again we don't know on what side he would be sitting.

POM     But do you see the table essentially as having sides rather than being a round table? Like is it the Mass Democratic Movement negotiating with the government, or is it all the parties around the table?

PM     It's possible that you would have a two sided table. It's possible. The other organisations, AZAPO, PAC and so on would find that their best political interests and their survival in fact would depend entirely on their aligning themselves with the broad MDM and the ANC. So those are not a problem at all. So you would have this huge block of non-racial organisations eventually coming together. We'll resolve those problems. We have plans already to deal with them. We even have plans to talk to the PAC, it's a pity at the moment they are not interesting themselves in talking to us. But we have those plans. And as Benny rightly admits we have even sent invitations to them, let's come together and it was the second time in so many months that we did that kind of thing. So that is not going to be a problem at all. In fact it also may change it's position and get closer to us. I don't know. But at the same time, of course, maybe, of course let me say, the government would still be thinking to maintain a certain stance maybe on groups and so on and so forth so they cannot sit on our side. They would be sitting on that other side. Otherwise if there is general agreement then there is no need for negotiations. Ours is to begin to do what we generally agree on. But I want to believe that the government would still be maintaining certain positions.

POM     Do you see the Conservative Party as coming to the table too?

PM     It will come, they've said so. Who is this chap? I'm trying to remember the name of these people, Treurnicht, and I think there's another one, they've always been saying that they will actually put their positions at a negotiating table and so on, they are not rejecting negotiation. They are not, even if they were to become a government tomorrow I'm sure they would find themselves in an even deeper crises. So forget about this general hogwash that you hear coming from them on public platforms.

POM     Two final questions. One, what are the obstacles that you see as you look out over the next couple of years. What are the things that could derail the process?

PM     You see, the obstacles that we had initially identified, as you correctly say, by agreement are on their way out. But there is one major obstacle, violence.

POM     That was going to be my second question, on violence.

PM     That is our major problem and our major preoccupation these days. We want really to bring it to an end as ANC. As we told you when we first came in here, we were out visiting various areas again trying to put out the fires where there were flare ups, and where there were not to defuse the tensions and so on.

POM     On that, if the level of violence continues high, is it possible to have meaningful negotiations?

PM     Let's not put it that way. It would be a big problem because you can't negotiate and negotiate effectively against a background of exploding bombs. Dead and decaying bodies all over, loud mayhem, noise and so on. We actually demanded, you know there's the ANC and there's the MDM, the creation of the requisite climate and that climate must be a peaceful one, and we still demand it. This is why we are saying that the government has a great responsibility in this regard.

POM     Do you believe that the violence on the Inkatha side is being orchestrated from the highest levels by - that it is in fact part of Buthelezi's design. That he is encouraging this to happen? Or do you think that it is something that has gotten out of his control?

PM     I personally believe Buthelezi is not his own man. He is not his own man. Even if Buthelezi doesn't like violence now, cause I doubt if he does.

POM     Sorry, you doubt if he?

PM     I doubt if Buthelezi wants peace. In fact I have no confidence in the man as an angel of peace. He doesn't exhibit that tendency at all. Which is very much unfortunate. But what I am trying to say is that he is not his own man at all. There are elements within the Pretoria regime and within the agencies of the apartheid state who are fanning these fires. They are there, who are stoking these fires.

POM     Does de Klerk acknowledge that?

PM     Well whether or not he acknowledges it is not the issue. There is demonstrable evidence in that direction. Yes. There are elements within the police force who would defy de Klerk and Vlok himself and not seal hostels and disarm people who are actually wielding dangerous and lethal weapons which they use to kill. There are elements within the police force who won't arrest people who commit crime in front of them, who commit murder itself, kill people, man, women and children, you see.

POM     When you were out there today, at the hostels, what did you find? Who was fearful, who was belligerent, who was antagonistic?

PM     No you see, we didn't sense any belligerence because there were no flare ups wherever we went. But there was tension. A high degree of tension.

POM     Would this be Zulus in the hostels or all over?

PM     No, no it is not ethnic based. It's not ethnic based at all. The newspapers may be reflecting it that way, maybe saying that exactly because this has always been the philosophy of the governing, of the ruling class. But there is tension within the townships themselves, within the hostels themselves and between the townships and the hostels. There is tension. But of course this is understandable because it all is against the background of these flare ups. There are deaths all over. Five hundred and fourteen people have died and there is mistrust and so on. This is what we have found. And we are going to give our reports to the ANC and see what can be done to defuse the tension and to restore stability and tranquillity in the townships.

POM     Who is afraid of what? People in the townships are afraid that they will be attacked by the people from the hostels?

PM     You see the hostels have been used all along to attack people.

POM     Well what about this tendency that the members of Inkatha wear red bandannas or identify themselves? You say there is nothing ethnic in it, but ...

PM     No, there is nothing ethnic in it. Exactly because in the townships themselves there are a lot of Zulu speaking people who are not participating in this and in fact are victims of this violence merely because they are members of the MDM and the ANC, COSATU and so on. And there are even those who are not aligned in what ever political direction.

POM     Is it Inkatha versus ANC?

PM     This is it, which is a political thing. In Natal for instance you can talk about ethnic violence.

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.