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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

26 Aug 1990: Kearney, Paddy

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POM     I'm talking to Paddy Kearney at Diakonia in Durban on the 26th August. Paddy, taking a starting point, two things you said: we talked last August a month before the elections, you said that the white government wanted to hold onto power at all costs and, secondly, you envisaged a process of change that would, in terms of almost preconditions being met, that is unbanning of organisations, release of political prisoners, return of refugees. You saw that as something that would extend over a four to five year period. One, do you still believe that the aim of the white government is in fact to cling to power? And, two, what has accounted for the rapidity and scope of De Klerk's changes?

PK     I think there's obviously been a very substantial change since August last year. I don't believe that the Nationalist Party any more thinks that they can hold onto total power but I think they want to have as big a stake as possible in the new dispensation and probably try to dilute ANC power as far as they can. Most of their strategies seem to revolve around that. They are very aware of the power and strength of the ANC and that is clearly a threat to them. They obviously realise that they have to negotiate with the ANC but they want to see how they can ensure the best possible negotiating position for themselves.

POM     When you say most of their strategies point to that, what would you point to specifically?

PK     Well I think particularly in Natal, they don't seem to be willing to ditch Inkatha as an ally on the ground as it were and they seem to be caught in a very great dilemma about what to do about Inkatha. I mean the way things are going in Natal the violence here could become a major obstacle to negotiations and certainly there is a lot of pressure on the government from the ANC to say that it's really their duty to sort out Natal. They've got to deal with Buthelezi, they've got to do something about the KwaZulu police. And I don't really see a willingness on the part of the government to take that step. The recent noises made suggest that even the week of national action, from the 2nd to the 7th of July with the stayaway and the marches, hasn't shifted the government. Yesterday there was a deputy Cabinet minister speaking in Durban about how there is no way that they are going to give in to a strategy of isolating any leader and there is no way that they are going to disband an existing structure. He didn't mention specifically what structure or what leader but it was perfectly obvious what he was referring to.

POM     A few people have suggested to us that when this meeting was arranged between Buthelezi and Mandela that Mandela ...

PK     You're referring to the Taylor's Halt joint rally?

POM     Yes, where he backed out of the rally and the suggestion is that if both Buthelezi and Mandela jointly called for a cessation of violence and vested themselves in it that the violence would stop. One, why can't Mandela or won't Mandela meet with Buthelezi to talk specifically about the violence? And two, do you think if both of them in concert asked their supporters to stop the violence that it would in fact stop?

PK     First of all why won't Mandela meet with Buthelezi. First of all I think he was very angry by the way Buthelezi handled that meeting. I presume you know Mandela's side of the story, that he had suggested that the details of date and venue be arranged by the people involved in the talks at that time so that it could really be a joint rally. And Buthelezi, having heard him say that unilaterally decided that it would be at Taylor's Halt and decided the date and the time and put all the arrangements into the hands of the local Inkatha war lord, [David Kandela(?)], who just a few days before that had organised this massive attack on Edendale which left 12,000 or 14,000 people refugees. Now it's impossible to imagine that ANC people were going to go into the very heartland of David Kandela's territory for a joint rally with Buthelezi a couple of days after being attacked in that way so that was a non-starter and Mandela felt very let down by Buthelezi. He actually said, He is not a man of integrity, I cannot deal with him. And very interesting those words are the exact reverse of what he has said about De Klerk, He is a man of integrity, I can deal with him.

POM     What we talked a bit about, not a bit, a good bit about the violence in Natal last year and you were somewhat hopeful that the ANC/UDF/Inkatha talks still had kind of a ranging over, a broader range of subjects than just the violence itself yet things have gotten a lot worse.

PK     One was very hopeful at that time, that was immediately after July, the fireside participants had just drawn up their comprehensive peace plan but it came unstuck in September when Buthelezi unilaterally again declared a moratorium on any peace talks and then after being persuaded again by the Anglican Bishops he allowed two-a-side to go on but the guts had been knocked out of it by then. Really people now are so cynical about peace talks, so switched off on both sides and now it is the ANC which is dragging its heels more than Inkatha but I don't think that Inkatha is really convinced of the value of that exercise so one feels much less hopeful now than in August. It is kind of a reverse of the national situation where there is more hope on the national scene there looks to be less hope on the local scene.

Pat     Is that why, out of this frustration, that the ANC turns to the government because it says we tried it?

PK     We tried working with Buthelezi, we cannot deal with him.

POM     But isn't it also being seen as strategy of nothing is going to happen and we are just going - (phone interruption)

PK     Yes, it is also a sign of the change on the national scene that they now actually have access to a man at the national level. It is unthinkable that they would go to PW Botha and ask him to sort out ...

POM     What accounts for the sheer ferocity of the violence? I mean it seems that people who are neither on one side nor the side are in fact the targets of both sides, there is an intensity to it that is something more than just mere surface political differences.

PK     No, I think it has a lot to do with political differences and the intensity is very understandable in view of the fact that the end of a very long struggle is coming in sight. Clearly now, real political power is closer than it has ever been in the past so the rivalry and the competition for that effective control of Natal is at its most intense. I think also there are national things at stake in Natal and everybody is watching to see what happens here. I think, as I have said earlier, the state has used Inkatha, certainly in the past throughout the state of emergency since the founding of the UDF it has used Inkatha to achieve its own political goals here in Natal to crush the UDF and COSATU. It hasn't succeeded but it has tried jolly hard. Well, as in other provinces it has had to use its own security forces almost exclusively. It hasn't found a strong black group which it could align itself with.

POM     Do you think that the violence has gained a momentum of its own, or is about to gain momentum of its own that really puts it beyond anyone's capacity to effectively control?

PK     Well I think that brings me back to the question you asked a moment ago which was can Mandela and Buthelezi having a joint rally and jointly calling for peace and jointly investing themselves in that, can they make a difference, can they bring it to a halt? Not on its own but I think that is a very important part of what is needed. I think it could help a great deal if they began to meet and instead of shouting at each other began to project some kind of joint message. But a great deal more than that is needed at every level. I mean one needs a very, very comprehensive peace plan, involving at the one end of the spectrum improving socio-economic conditions that are appallingly bad, and those are kind of fuel to the conflict. They don't explain the conflict on their own. One needs a great deal of healing and reconciliation, I mean there is a lot of psychological damage that's been done which needs to be talked through by bringing together small groups from both sides and you need to do that in every township, in every area and it is a massive investment in time by all sorts of agencies, you know, social welfare agencies, church agencies. I mean one needs the media to give a totally new encouragement to peace. At the moment the media, you know like media everywhere, peace isn't particularly good news, casualties and warfare are much more exciting. I guess the media play into that like anywhere else.

POM     You'd mentioned that you still think the government wants to cling onto as much power as it can in these negotiations and two questions, one, do you think that the government has conceded on the issue of majority rule? And two, in the local papers this morning you had Mandela at a press conference saying that compromises had to made by every side so he is talking about a deal more than the ANC getting precisely what it set out to get. How do you think those two, the majority rule issue and the compromise issue, play against each other?

PK     Again I think the Nationalist government has realised that it is only going to be one of the actors in the future. But it is looking around for potential allies, it is trying various groupings like the homeland leaders as a block that it could align itself with and Inkatha is another one. I think they are uncertain, there must be disputes in the Cabinet on that score, I think. Some of the more intelligent astute Cabinet ministers I imagine are saying, this is a liability to us actually, go down the tube with them. And others feeling that no, there is a big future for Buthelezi and Inkatha.

POM     When Mandela says compromises must be made, what kind of compromises do you think he might have in mind?

PK     I really don't know. It is not the first time he's said that, he said it very early after his release, quite strongly. I feel that he's at the moment doing a certain amount of damage control, I don't know what the word is. You know he has been away for a long time and a great deal has happened while he's been away and I think things have got a little bit out of hand actually, I think he's trying to reset the tone. I think he is feeling that people have gone a bit over the top, like Chris Hani, and that isn't helpful at all. I mean it has given a great deal of satisfaction to the right wing and it is going to make negotiations a lot more difficult. I think Hani is playing to the kind of PAC leaning youth. And Mandela is not primarily, I think, at the moment concerned about that grouping.

Pat     You wonder when you hear Hani make those statements that that is not a determined strategy ploy. That he sort of put Hani out there.

PK     Yes, have Hani talk in a way that will satisfy the youth and have Mandela talk in a way that keeps De Klerk at the table. Yes, it may well be that they decided there can be the two faces of the ANC. But I'm also very fascinated in their response to the detention, very, very fascinated. First of all both they and the government have said that the talks will go ahead, this will not faze the talks. It is quite surprising in a way for the ANC. I mean I'm not surprised about the government. And the other thing is that Mandela in a kind of veiled way admitted that the people being detained may have been plotting violence. Well anyway you heard him saying some of our cadres haven't yet really been properly briefed on the Groote Schuur Minute. This was very fascinating, you know, not the kind of reaction of this is a major obstacle, how can they be detaining our people, just when we are sitting at the table with them? Not that at all. But in a sense you know, our guys are a little bit out of hand, we haven't quite got our act together, everybody doesn't quite know what the line is yet, we haven't communicated properly with all of the troops.

POM     On this score do you think De Klerk's speech on the 2nd of February and the subsequent actions are revealing kind of differences within the ANC itself and that there are differences between the ANC that are beginning to surface again as a prospect of real power begins to emerge?

PK     There are big differences, I mean one sees them here in Natal, you have noticed Archie Gumede going off on a limb about the stayaway. You weren't here at that time but you probably heard about it.

Pat     We read about it.

PK     Saying that he disapproved of it and didn't think it would help to end the violence. And other people like Harry Gwala being at the other extreme perhaps in Maritzburg, totally pro, a very hard line on Buthelezi.

POM     So how would you list these differences as you see them emerge?

PK     Well I think its again what I was saying a moment ago, that some are more concerned about negotiations with Pretoria and what is happening with the right wing and those kinds of considerations. And some are looking over their shoulder and are worried about a drifting of young people away from the ANC because they feel it has gone soft.

POM     What other, as you look, say, at the next year head, what obstacles lie in Mandela's path in advancing his agenda?

PK     Well, I think he has got big problems in terms of violence that have got to be sorted out. The violence in Natal, but not only here, it is in quite a number of parts of the country and many obvious critics say in the white community say, well this man hasn't controlled the violence, he tried and he is not able to do it. And I think that is quite a blow to his image and he needs to deal with that. I think there is a sense in which the government is trying him out, they are trying more and more in terms of the detention, immediately after his release they wouldn't have tried any of these things and after the unbanning of the ANC. I would think the security establishment is kind of testing its powers more and more. Yesterday they detained Mac Maharaj, the first senior person returning to the country from exile, from the ANC and that is very interesting. I find that quite surprising but it is obviously a thing that they will do and if they get away with that, they will go further and that is going to slow up the whole process of people returning and that is going to put the clock back on negotiations. So he needs to be very firm with the government on that kind of issue.

POM     Do you think there are differences on economic structures, the type of economy that should be put in place?

PK     Yes, the whole question of nationalisation, it is a bit unclear exactly what the policy is. He gives different messages to different audiences. So I think there are a lot of battles to be sorted out there too.

PK     Do you think this is part of what happens when a broad movement changes from being a movement and has to become more on the way to becoming a political party?

POM     Yes, I mean they are catching up for years of underground work, now trying to be above ground and to set up branches. That's still going along quite slowly, I mean we have had three branches established in Durban, but I don't know what their full plan is; there must be many more in the pipeline. They don't have adequate staffing, I don't know if you have seen their office in this building, it is one room with I don't know how many people working there, people just pouring in with every sort of problem. They don't have adequate staff, they don't have adequate offices, they don't have trained people in the field. There are all sorts of young people who believe that being a member of the ANC is wearing a T-shirt and toyi-toying and shouting slogans and there is a lot of disciplining to be done amongst the youth and giving them clear direction and leadership.

POM     Isn't there a potential conflict here between, again, Mandela's call for compromises or insisting there are going to have to be compromises and the expectations of the young and that this in fact is the two, the ANC cutting a deal rather than seizing power in someway.

PK     Yes.

POM     Do you think that could lead to - or where would you position the PAC in this?

PK     If you see the figures on the PAC support from a survey that was done by Markinor, they asked people in metropolitan areas of South Africa which one person should lead South Africa, and the figures, the results are: Nelson Mandela 58%, this is all areas, all metropolitan areas except Natal, 58% for Mandela, De Klerk 22%, Makwetu of the PAC 2%, Buthelezi 1%. And then which one party, group or organisation's policy comes closest to the way you personally feel: ANC 64%, greater than Mandela's personal support, 64%, National Party 8%, UDF 3%, PAC 2%, same as Makwetu's personal support, and Inkatha 1%, the same as Buthelezi's personal support. This was this week in the Daily News.

POM     Could we get a copy of this?

PK     Yes, certainly.

Pat     It does not include Durban?

PK     Does not include Natal, there was too much violence here for the magazine to do the survey. One would dearly like to see the figures for Natal. I mention this because it doesn't suggest that the PAC is a very substantial force at the moment.

POM     But could it be?

PK     It could be and that is their fear.

POM     Do you think, is a scenario in which, say, the ANC cut a deal, it becomes the government, and the measure of economic and social change it can bring about say a five or six year period is extraordinarily limited, will be one way or the other, that the PAC stands in the townships and says, we told you so, this has been a sell-out, that disaffection is just setting in and it becomes the magnet attracting the disaffection?

PK     Yes, I think that is one scenario. I'm inclined to think that Mandela has a sense that this is the scenario. That there is this relatively small support for the PAC helps him to focus more on the white community actually. That is a bigger concern, the dangers of the right wing growth there and maybe even a coup by the right wing is greater.

POM     Let's talk about that. You have the bi-election in Umlazi and we had, I don't know whether we would call it the dubious honour of interviewing Francis Hitchcock, the Conservative Party candidate the other day, a real piece of work, but do you think if an election were held today that the Conservative Party would in fact come to power?

PK     Yes.

POM     Do you think if De Klerk hasn't managed to work this process through by 1994 and there is an election involving a white constituency again that the Conservative Party at that point would come to power?

PK     I'm much less confident about making a prediction about 1994. I mean it depends on white perceptions of whether the country is totally out of control and at the moment conservative whites generally see that suggestion is totally out of hand.

POM     But more and more Nat whites are beginning to believe the same thing. How serious do you think is the potential backlash from the right?

PK     I think it is extremely serious. I think the whole security system is still very much there. Those people haven't disappeared and their kind of last fling was during the state of emergency. If you go back a bit to 1985, remember the Eminent Persons Group came out and they were actually doing very well, I think they had convinced a number of people in the Cabinet to make the sort of moves that De Klerk made in February of this year. And I know that on the day that South Africa invaded those five frontline countries and that scuttled the whole EPG mission; for the first time the EPG group was going meet with eight Cabinet ministers together rather than just individual conversations here and there. I mean something was really coming together there and was a real threat to the security guys and they deliberately scuttled it. Exactly who was involved and the extent to which PW Botha was involved I don't know. I think what the security guards then were saying was give us one more chance, because that was followed then by the first state of emergency which was a partial one and then the national one a year later. I think the kind of scenario they were putting was, look, it is actually possible to smash the UDF and COSATU, let us have another go at it, just give us sweeping powers and we will do it. And they failed. I mean they had a jolly good go at it, detaining 40,000 people, but it didn't work. In particular COSATU carried the movement through. COSATU came out of that whole exercise relatively unscathed. The UDF was hit pretty hard. But those guys with that kind of thinking they are still around, and I think they are going to be demanding another try to smash the ANC. And they are members of the Conservative Party, members of the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB), they are in the security forces, the place in riddled with them. There must be a lot of talking going on behind the scenes about what kind of alliances can be made. Many, many whites are very fearful of the future, I mean it is extraordinary the number of people buying guns and really arming themselves, defending themselves, building walls and getting dogs and security has become a massive concern.

POM     This is in fact partly a result of the wave of violence that's engulfed the country as a whole?

PK     And it is interesting, you know, that Umlazi bi-election is in Natal. It may give slightly bigger change here than you would get in other parts of the country because the violence is so much worse here. And white perceptions of that violence are that it is black on black and it's part of the scenario that the country is out hand, nobody is able to control these blacks anymore.

POM     So you see this violence as precursor to further violence if the ANC, if the negotiations proceeded ahead?

PK     Well, I would be interested to know what their perception is of those negotiations. I mean aren't they saying, we are getting nothing out of it, this is just a handover? Which the young black are also saying. But let's just look at what whites are saying, I think they are saying, where are we going out of this? This guy Mandela he just keeps talking about the armed struggle and sanctions and not giving up any of these things. He's giving up nothing, we're having to give up everything. There is no future in it.

POM     Again on the right side, De Klerk gave an undertaking that he would put any new constitutional dispensation before the white electorate for its approval.

PK     And then before the tricameral group he also said that. In other words we go before whites, coloured and Indians.

POM     Clearly he can't, that's a promise he can't keep is it?

PK     Absolutely, but it is a damaging promise because, of course, in the black community it is absolutely unacceptable. I mean that is one of the major obstacles to negotiations. If he proceeds with that he can really wreck it, we will have a situation like when the new constitution - you know we had a referendum on the new constitution and it was introduced, which led to the establishment of the UDF, that whole interim where we will have worse than that if he tries that direction. It is just not on. And, of course, having a referendum, a real referendum, is just not on with conservative whites, he's got some difficult calculations to make has De Klerk.

POM     How do you see the process of negotiations unfolding? On the one hand you have the ANC calling for a Constituent Assembly. Let's assume you have a government putting forward a proposal that will involve extending the negotiations table, bringing in other political parties and groupings and the working out of a constitution from that base, and then you also talk of some form of interim government between the introduction of a new constitution and the elimination of the present one. What course do you think will be charted?

PK     I think it is going to be extremely difficult. I can't see the ANC readily giving in on the question of a Constituent Assembly and I can't see the government agreeing to a Constituent Assembly, they have too much to lose in that direction. So what I fear will happen is that the government will be forced to go the direction of Constituent Assembly by protest, by further violence and resistance, and so that could be quite a protracted struggle. That is going to be the key question. You asked me just now what Mandela had to deal with, that particular issue - is it going to be a Constituent Assembly or everybody sitting around the table without having tested what their real strength and following is? That is an issue he is going to have to deal with, the thorniest one really.

POM     When Mandela calls for compromise is this one of the things that he is talking about and is he talking about it in the face of an almost widespread belief in the black community that there is going to be an election for a Constituent Assembly? That could prove very tricky for him too.

PK     Yes, yes maybe he is willing to concede. I don't know, I haven't really fleshed out that compromise story. He doesn't give any examples of it.

Pat     is that the ANC/UDF/COSATU can mobilize people to the streets, boycott on the issue of .

PK     I think so.

POM     Do you think the government would continue to negotiate of that. I mean if you're sitting down at the ANC and are people trying breaking down doors outside to accept what the ANC wants, its considerable more than a one on one negotiating situation.

PK     Yes, it would be difficult but what else can they do? You know the international community will be watching, the question of sanctions is at stake again, the economy deteriorating, I don't know that they can do anything other than give in. And, of course, in that protracted struggle the chance of the right wing seizing the moment because they are going to be watching the spectacle of a steady erosion of power as a result of protest.

POM     When you talk about the right wing seeking power you are really talking about some kind of coup?

PK     Yes, yes.

POM     That is the only way they could in fact.

PK     That's right. Not by election.

POM     They could in fact seize power.

PK     I think that is where Mandela, if one doesn't take the two faces of the ANC scenario but just that perhaps things have been a little bit out of hand while he has been away, that he has a better sense of the dangers than say a Chris Hani has. And if he feels the need, move, move, there must be progress in those negotiations and rapid progress because of this danger.

POM     Do you think it is within both De Klerk's and Mandela's interest to move this process forward as quickly as possible.

PK     Yes, I get the sense that both of them realise that very well.

POM     Again, one scenario painted is that you cut a deal as quickly as possible and you announce an agreement has been reached and you let it take effect and you let people react to it, they essentially say this is it. The other course is you move more slowly.

PK     You go back to the people each time.

POM     You educate them. So which one do you think would be the more fruitful?

PK     Yes, I think there is something to be said for both. I mean what is not happening at the moment is De Klerk and the National Party are not educating their people. There is absolutely no enthusiasm at the grassroots level in the Afrikaner community. Those Nat MPs are not going back to their constituencies and holding report back meetings and explaining the process of negotiation and working up some kind of enthusiasm. The only enthusiasm in the Afrikaner community is CP, AWB, and that is disturbing.

Pat     Well what we see is that MPs are not that enthusiastic themselves.

PK     Yes. They need to be educated. Now that process is not happening. You have got a kind of elite scenario, and I don't know how much is going on from the ANC either to educate their constituency. So it is a bit like the old Indaba that we had here where you had a group sitting behind closed doors and working out a deal and then announcing it at the end. There is quite a danger of that actually.

POM     What do you see as the major white fears?

PK     Loss of power and loss of control and loss of economic privilege. I mean all they see in the future is we are going to lose out, we are going to have less and less control over our own destiny, our children are going to have a much harder time than we have had, the schools are going to deteriorate, the hospitals will deteriorate, all those kinds of things; as things are equalised we are going to lose out. They, of course, are not seeing that other people's status will be improved and that education for many hundreds of thousands of people will improve in the process, they are not seeing that at all because they have never really been aware of what goes on in black school or hospitals or so forth and they also don't see that their security could improve. They only see their security worsening. The big discussion point in the white community is robberies. Wherever you go you hear people talking about robberies, their car being stolen, their house being burgled.

Pat     Just like at home.

PK     Yes, but it is perhaps a little bit new here.

POM     What reassurances do you think De Klerk will try to give the white community? Maybe I will phrase it more specifically: do you think that in order to assuage their fears and to control the moves to the right or reverse it, he will seek to have guarantees put in the constitution regarding economic structures, i.e. there would not be nationalisation, or only nationalisation in very limited areas, that in other words he will seek to have constitutionally guaranteed the economic structures that would still best preserve white economic interests?

PK     Yes, simply that would be a major thing, and then the whole business of minority rights. He is going to be beating that drum a great deal. Of course the kind of international perceptions will be important. His trip overseas was meant, I think, to give another kind of fillip to the white community. I don't know whether it has really worked. I'm not sure, I'd would like to see some surveys on what people thought about that trip. I mean for the first time in, I don't know really, since the Nationalists came to power in the late forties, now a South African leader has been welcomed overseas. And it was shown night after night on TV.

Pat     Does that stay in the mind of the Afrikaner?

PK     No, it is very easy, very easy to be obfuscated and also there is a whole kind of history of Jan Smuts, you know Jan Smuts who was the darling of western countries and very highly regarded and always away and always overseas and eventually they decided he was playing to that audience rather than to them and, of course, that swept him from power in the late forties. So that is a real danger. I think there is a small part of the white community, certainly the business community, who would be very impressed by doors opening overseas that had been shut for a long time, but the average guy working in a factory or a farmer whatever, I don't think they are terribly impressed with that.

POM     Talking about the average guy, if tomorrow morning there were a black majority government, what difference would that make in the life of the squatter living outside Durban, a family living in a township, the millions of unemployed?

PK     I fear only too little and that in itself is a major problem because there are many, many people in squatter communities and so on who believe that when the ANC comes to power they are going to get a house and they are going to get schooling for their kids and they are going to get jobs almost automatically. And they are going to be very disappointed and very disillusioned. There is no way that the ANC can satisfy their expectations and I think they need to understand that there is going to be a very long and very hard struggle. But gradually things will become available. There will be an equalising process but it is going to take a very long time. The priorities of government will change and so money will become available for things for which it hadn't been available in the past.

POM     Does it surprise you that the level of De Klerk's support, what we call in the States a favourability rating, in the black community is very significantly higher than the level of Mandela's favourability rating in the white community?

PK     It is quite extraordinary actually and yet in another way it is very hopeful for the future. You know it's very hopeful that if white people will really begin to grasp what it is that black people have been looking for so long, there is a stake for them, there is a place for them, they are acceptable, they have a future. So I see it as a very hopeful thing in one sense but there isn't the same kind of generosity perhaps in the white community.

POM     One explanation we were given which I thought, taking it at face value, was a good one, that there are two different processes under way; Mandela to the white community is a symbol of someone who is going to take things from them and so far De Klerk to the black community is a symbol of someone who is giving things to them. So one is a giver and one is a taker.

PK     That's right, that's a good analysis.

POM     Mandela's performance since he has been released, how would you rate it? What has he done right, what do you think he has made mistakes on?

PK     Well let me say my disappointments first. I have been a little surprised to find him more impetuous than I thought he would be. I mean in one sense he gives the appearance of a person who is extremely steady. I was reading Hugo Young's article in the Guardian Weekly describing him speaking to the Confederation of British Industry and he said, he is so incredibly still and so self contained, he said he moves far less than any other politician he has ever seen, no gestures, and he just sort of plods along in a very steady voice, and he said he could only have learned that in one place, and being in that one place for a very long time. He said at one point when the President of the CBI was making some very glib remarks about sanctions, his gaze, he said, tended to the catatonic.

Pat     In the United States they call it dignity, that he's dignified.

PK     Well he is extraordinarily dignified. So that on the one side and on the other side he kind of shifts in positions and he seems to be very spontaneous in some ways. He is amazingly generous in his responses and one of them, of course, has been to De Klerk, his constant and consistent praise of De Klerk which I think some people have criticised, some people say he is just being taken for a ride by the man. And even his praise of Maggie Thatcher, praised her for her calling for his own release. He looks as though he really kind of dug around to find something for which to praise her.

POM     He did an interview with, I think it was Ted Koppel where he does a series of interviews with different people from around the world, when he was first released and Koppel asked him who are the political figures that he admired and the first one he said was Margaret Thatcher.

PK     I think she reminds him of toughness.

POM     Or taking a stand and holding to it like he'll hold to what he believes on Arafat and say it no matter what people think, no matter what the consequence is.

PK     Another example of where he really looked around generously to find something good to say was his speech here in Durban on the 25th of February and what he said about Inkatha. I mean we simply had never heard such generous things said about Inkatha. He praised them for consistently calling for the release of political prisoners, including himself. He praised them for not accepting independence. He praised them even for the Indaba, which was so discredited in ANC/UDF circles and he said he hoped soon to be able to share a platform with Buthelezi. And of course there was the whole throwing away of the pangas. But just the fact that he was generously looking for something positive to say to bring them closer and to cut that huge divide. Of course it didn't succeed but I found it very interesting. So that is the generous side. And then while he was overseas these two speeches, the one in Rome where he said in response to question about Buthelezi, Don't even mention the name. That man Mangope you must not even mention him to me. And then a week later he was with Bush and he said there is no way we can find a solution to Natal except we have got to sit down with Buthelezi and Inkatha. So that kind of lurches form one attitude to another. I was surprised by it, I must say. I really didn't expect that. Then what I found very impressive is his reaching out to the white community. And I think one great moment you must have seen it, I don't know whether you were in Cape Town when they had the press conference after the Groote Schuur conference, but you probably saw it on TV, his saying at some moment there that this was not a victory for the ANC, nor was it a victory for the National government, it was a victory for South Africa. So that kind of thinking, wow! We haven't had that in South Africa's history, I can't remember anybody before, maybe Chief Albert Luthuli said things like that but they were hardly heard. And now it is being said on a world stage.

POM     Do you see him setting the agenda for the ANC or as having to put himself under the umbrella of the ANC?

Pat     The ANC setting his agenda.

PK     I see evidence of both. For example the thing he's saying that if I speak to Buthelezi I am going to get strangled by my people, he says that quite openly. On the other hand I hear people like Frank Chikane saying, Well Sisulu may have said this and so and so may have said this but let's just wait and see what Mandela actually says because when he gets back, you know, let's find out what he thinks because actually that's what going to hold sway. So I am not sure. There are those two conflicting views.

POM     The next twelve months, when we are here this time next year, how far advanced will the process be do you think. Where will things stand?

PK     I would like to answer that question round about the 10th of August or so, after the next round of the Groote Schuur talks.

POM     Well then give me the two.

PK     If they go really well.

POM     If they go well.

PK     I think rapid. If they come unstuck then we're in for a very, very long haul.

POM     When you say very rapid, will there have been an election for a Constituent Assembly or will that still be some place down the line?

PK     Still down the line but promised, the people knowing that its going to come.

POM     The rest of apartheid legislation, Group Areas, Land Act, Population ...?

PK     Yes, they are moving away from that very rapidly.

POM     Will it be gone?

PK     Most of it I think, yes.

POM     The violence here?

PK     Beginning to be sorted out.

POM     Will there have been a meeting between Buthelezi and Mandela?

PK     Um.

POM     Is that a yes or a no Paddy?

PK     That's a yes. I'm sorry, I'm in a difficult position I am supposed to be in a meeting.

POM     Thank you.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.