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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

27 Aug 1990: Suttner, Raymond

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POM     Raymond, if you take your mind back to the 2nd February and Mr de Klerk's speech, were you surprised at what he had to say.  What do you think motivated him to move so sweepingly and so broadly at the same time?

RS     We had anticipated this but it was nevertheless something for people to grasp although he moved from Mandela's meetings with De Klerk and things like that, that this was actually likely to happen.  Politically unpredictable because it's such a messy thing to do - unban the ANC and the Communist Party.  So if we had good reasons to believe it would happen but we didn't really prepare something for it, and therefore it just changed the political scenery so much that we couldn't really envisage it properly.

POM     What about De Klerk's motivation?

RS     I think it's quite a complicated thing.  In the first place, they have experienced, and still are going through, a very big crisis and with their base narrowed, with economic stagnation.  They came out of one recession and very shortly after there's a new reason for recession.  There's this revolt of the right-wing, I mean defection to the right-wing, which has not been compensated with a proper realignment of forces behind him.  And I would see the new dispensation on February 2nd and subsequently as the attempt to find a political solution as opposed to a militarist solution uneven in effect because certainly now they've returned to militaristic methods in the townships.  But I think he's trying to remedy the loss of his base in the white community by trying to win black support.  Now one of the ways of doing that is to engage the ANC, whose legitimacy is without doubt, and through reasonable communications with the ANC they're hoping, I think, to possibly co-opt sections of the ANC, but at the very least to win over the same supporters.

POM     That would be people who would support the ANC who would actually switch and start supporting the National Party, or who would even be prepared to vote for the National Party in a local election?

RS     Well, that's one way of doing it.  It can be done in another way. If you can engage people in a way that joins you, that's possibly their hope of success.  They'd like us to take joint responsibility for certain things, security aspects.  Now, if we were to do that we will have responsibilities but we wouldn't have the power.  We'd have responsibilities for this about everything.  This is why we've got police who have to deal with things in case there's trouble.  Now, what constitutes 'trouble' is the mass stayaways, consumer boycotts, and they wanted us actually to renounce those things, whereas we said we are prepared to suspend the armed struggle, but these other things they'd like to get us to suspend.  And that's part of the engagement with an attempt to co-opt, because if you can get the ANC to operate just through the leaders, not with its mass base, you've co-opted the image and everything.

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

RS     No.  I think that what's significant about this government is that in words they've committed themselves to dismantle apartheid but they haven't committed themselves to creating a non-racial democracy, in particular with regard to one person, one vote.  They don't seem to concede it without substantial qualification, like a veto of minority groups in a second chamber is what they are speaking about at the moment.  So, we wouldn't accept that as being a universal suffrage in the normal sense of the word.

POM     The word 'power-sharing' crops up quite frequently.

RS     What word?

POM     Power-sharing.

RS     Yes.

POM     Crops up quite frequently.  When it's used by the government or by the National Party - what do you understand it to mean?

RS     You see, everything that they are doing is aimed at reducing the impact of majority rule.  Privatisation is an attempt to prevent the future majority government from redressing some economic imbalances.  Now, power-sharing is an attempt at diluting the majority power and if it makes universal suffrage, and I'm saying universal suffrage, it means some sort of arrangement at the top which limits the power of the people to choose who they want as leaders.

POM     Do you think that they might also use it in terms of looking for a position in which they themselves will still continue to exercise some executive power?

RS     Yes, I think so.

POM     So that you'd have a government that, while it might be, let's say, ANC-dominated, elected by a majority, that the National Party would still hold three or four portfolios within that?

RS     Like getting a few portfolios.  I wouldn't think it really worthwhile because I think they have a number of fall-back positions.  I believe they'd like to sideline the ANC and have a deal with, say, Inkatha, but that wouldn't stick.  I think the reason why they're engaging the ANC is because they believe that the ANC, if it makes a deal, can make it stick.  And I think they've got a lot of fall-back positions, one of which might be to relinquish political power finally but have the economy so locked up in white hands that our ability to redress imbalances would just be nil.

POM     I was going to ask you that specifically.  Do you think they're willing to concede political democracy without conceding economic democracy?  That what's really the issue is the holding of economic power, not political power?

RS     Yes, economic democracy is the issue.  I think what they will concede is a dynamic thing.  It's not going to be static.  And just as in our case we didn't want to suspend the armed struggle but negotiations reached, or talks-about-talks reached a certain point where it seemed to be the correct thing to do tactically.  Now, likewise, they wouldn't like to concede anything, but if they have to concede their final position may be to try and keep white privilege but concede power, keep this power.

POM     This promise of De Klerk's to take whatever new dispensation is arrived at back to the white electorate, is that a promise he can keep or one that he must keep?

RS     No, he doesn't have to keep that.  I mean, they've done a lot of things with the strategy, but I think that that is an example of the way in which they act to castrate majority rule because they basically want to have a situation where if they don't like the result, they're going to stop it, or the constitution which gets worked out must have qualities which will be sold to the white electorate that would be a primary factor at the negotiations.  It's not just stamp of approval.

POM     Again, in terms of dynamics, is this something that while he might have said it and he, in fact, continues to say it, he said it just last week again, that as the situation evolves that it will become impossible to do, or at least certainly something that the ANC wouldn't tolerate?

RS     You mean white people?

POM     Yes.

RS     No, it wouldn't.  But, he might!  In politics, anything is possible.  I feel that he may be forced to compromise in all manner of things, because if you don't compromise then you may be asked to do something worse, or a setback may be necessary in order to prepare to go forward again.  But I can't say with certainty that we would never accept a white veto or a reserved (quota) for whites.  Obviously, we're totally opposed to it.  But we have to assess if we get to point X and at the end of the road alternatives didn't then point to Y or whatever.

POM     Well, in terms of that, how do you see the process unfolding?  You now have talks about talks.  All of the obstacles by and large out of the way, let's assume they're over.

RS     They're not out of the way.

POM     They're not, but let's say that they are gotten out of the way and that we're moving on to the next stage.  What is that stage and how does the process unfold over the next couple of years?

RS     It is already not going along a predictable path.  It's not going on the path that we would ideally have liked to have seen it go and there are a lot of variables that determine what's going to happen.  I think that the logic is moulded also by what we do on the ground and mass activity.  All of that is related to negotiations.  It's now going to make it very dangerous for us to set up branches.  That is the case in Natal.  We will not be actively deploying our mass power as effectively as we would like.  So, I don't really feel I can forecast what's going to happen but if we were to move on to negotiations proper, the Harare Declaration says there must be agreement about the principles which are found in that Declaration.  Now those principles are basically what the negotiations are about, which established a particular type of state, a non-racial democracy.  We have no agreement on that at all at this point in time.  There are not enough common objectives shared by the ANC and the government.  Now, consequent on that, personally, I don't see negotiations resolving things. I think they must break down, in my view.  But we're already engaging on issues that are likely to come up, for example, the question of minority rights.  People try and make it that they're going to suppress the languages of white people and things like that.  It's an immensely clear decision in our case, we accept minority rights but not minority privileges.

POM     In a way, the words 'minority rights' have been used as an euphemism for minority privileges.

RS     Yes, yes.

POM     When you say your own belief is that negotiations will break down, I think you're about the first person that we've talked to who's actually said that.

RS     Who has been positive?

POM     We've talked to quite a few people of the ANC, yes, regional co-ordinators and some people on the EC.

RS     Well, I suppose there is a by our victors, and they don't share it.  I can't see negotiations being successful.  You know, I think that people are a little bit utopian about this.  I'm working to have them perceive the realities. Also, their position isn't static and it may be that they can come to realise that they can't accept there are common objectives.  But they haven't.  I think people are not staring at what's actually happening.  And these negotiations seem to get a momentum of their own and we seem to forget what is it that we're measuring it against.  We're not going to talk with the government just to talk.  We're talking with the government because it may be the best and quickest route to free this country.  Now, if you were to free this country, there's got to be an agreed objective on what that means.  And I think that's lacking.  So I'm probably one of the only ones who is pessimistic.

POM     If they did break down, what do you think would happen then? You're now at a point where that process has been set in motion and there's no going back to what was before it.

RS     Well, I don't know.  I'm not going to speculate. Let me put it this way, I think we're trying to make it irreversible but this last week is an indication of it's being reversible in the sense that they are putting 32 Battalion, a notorious group, into Soweto.  They can't speak the language, they are just there as spooks.  They are so very involved in security, they're so very involved here in undermining the agreement with the government.  And so this gives one an idea that we've lost one, we've got one emergency in the sense that there's a ...  So I think people are actually mesmerized by meetings at a leadership, top leadership level.  But on the ground, actually, what's happening recently is essentially a war situation when you've got 500 black people spying.  That's something. I think that there's very good evidence of that.

POM     The three scenarios are presented.

PK     Can I ask a question?  When you go ask them, the government, to take control of the situation and stop it, in some sense this is very akin to something like the 32 Battalion. And what do you mean by that, that you want them to do?

RS     Stop this Battalion from actually, from aiding and abetting the perpetrators of violence.

PK     Right.

RS     What we're saying is -

PK     But you're saying something like - I mean, 'stop the police' means what?  I mean, they're not going to go and retrain the police overnight.

RS     What I feel is that some can get trained.  And our people come up who've been hit by Inkatha.  What we're saying is, at least abide by the law.  And they must also facilitate free political activity instead of suppressing it.  And this is not only happening in Natal and here.  This is happening in most cases.  We're refocusing on what's happening.  But we realise that shooting political prisoners   When we say the police have the capacity to stop it, we mean that given these powers, that we're exercising in a professional, non-partisan way, they would agree to fight the real causes of violence.  Pallo Jordan is quoted in The Daily Mail today saying that what is wrong with this emergency and these regulations is that they do not distinguish between victim and perpetrator.  And the result is

POM     So, when you look at the violence that's occurred in the last two weeks in the Transvaal, what interpretation would you put on it?

RS     A number of factors are involved.  It's been timed to coincide with numerous ANC branches.  So there's an attempt to defeat the ANC militarily and suppress its political gains.  It's also an attempt to export the Natal war to Transvaal.  We have had indications that this was going to happen.  It is an attempt also, I think, to flesh out the of the people, if they're asking in the townships to have some sense of what the truth is.  I think there's been an attempt of security forces, they're trying to prevent a political solution.

POM     They're trying to prevent a political solution?

RS     Yes.

POM     Now, do you differentiate between the government and the security forces?

RS     No, no.  I differentiate between sections in the government.  The election of De Klerk was a defeat for the militaristic securocrats in the government.  It wasn't a total defeat.  The failure of the state of emergency, economic problems, all those things.  So, De Klerk must temper the white supremacy over that grouping.

POM     Which will be led by?

RS     Malan and Vlok. Every political solution doesn't seem to be emerging sufficiently clearly or the character of that position isn't, regarding the danger of how many people either formally or informally are trying to reintroduce violent protest.  When I say 'informally', we've got a lot of killing and things like that which we believe are  sanctioned by some but you can't prove it.  We all talk in the sense that we may be unbanned, and all say that there's a lot of danger of assassination and things like that.  I mean, I was supposed to go to Bloemfontein this week and the organisers got a brick through the window with a note around it with certain information. That's suspect.

POM     That's at the office there?

RS     No.  The union office, mostly in the white areas.  That's where the organisers ...

POM     So you see it as being elements of the security forces operating with Inkatha or elements in Inkatha?

RS     Yes.  You see, it's not only Inkatha.  You've got this phenomenon of warlords and vigilantes which have different names. They're called the A-Team in some places.  In certain areas they're called the A Team, and Inkatha warlords play that role.  Now, everywhere there's the police escort that is watching them move around with weapons.  They unbanned the Native Cultural Weapons ban.  I mean, we've been complaining about it for a very long time.  So there's a clear attempt to redress the balance on a political level between collaborationists and the ANC and messing up the ANC militarily.

POM     Do you think that Inkatha is formally engaged in these activities but that it is doing it with Buthelezi's approval?

RS     Let me put it this way.  I can refute the information if I say that I believe, whereas I can't prove what I believe.

POM     The United States.  You can't sue for defamation in a book.  Once you're a public figure, anything can be said about you.  Anything.

RS     Now, I heard from someone who suggested that.  You see, we had information that seems to suggest that there may be some official

POM     You were just saying you had some information.

RS     Yes.  You see, we've lured up to the military train and things like this.  Now I fear some of us may already be in court, but I'm not sure.  You see, another fact is we've had affidavits concerning the activities of a lot of these people and presented them to the police and the prosecutor and that's never been prosecuted, as far as I know.  Or very few have been prosecuted, and these guys are running around freely.  Some were actually at this conference on the weekend, this Five Freedoms Forum conference.  I believe they threatened some foreign correspondents.  You know, it's not very veiled.

POM     But, I suppose the point is that there are suggestions that it has the tacit approval of Buthelezi?

RS     Yes.  I think Buthelezi does approve it. He makes various political speeches and soon after the speeches, violence occurs.  He is also trying to make up an attack on Inkatha, an attack on the Zulu people; an attack on him is an attack on the Zulu people.  And he's trying to revive ethnicity as a divisive factor.  I mean, he's probably still just as divisive. It's, in his ordinary activities, it's a Zulu tribalist organisation.

POM     Is this to insure himself a prominent place at the table?

RS     Or to try.  In its own fate, it will succeed.  I think he wants to remedy his loss of power also.  You see, a lot of these townships used to be Inkatha strongholds, in Pietermaritzburg and so forth, and he's alienated not just ANC people but ordinary people who they try and force into recruitment.  So I think he's acting out of panic.  Their power base is mainly illiterate rural people, older people, and demographically, that is a base that is disappearing.

POM     Do you think that Mandela should meet with Buthelezi?

RS     I don't have any principle against it but I think what is going to be clear is what was he trying to achieve, what he expected, was he expecting? Because I think at the moment, this ploy of meeting Mandela is being used as a substitute for addressing the actual perpetration of violence.  And they're trying to use this as a lever. If you meet Buthelezi then we may reduce the violence.  So I'm not in favour of it but I'm not against it, either.

POM     But, can meaningful negotiations proceed as long as the situation remains as unstable as it is, as long as these mini-emergencies are still in operation?

RS     My personal view is they can't, but others would disagree. Negotiations have sort of a mystical character for some people.   I don't really see that the time is ripe for negotiations yet, personally.  We tried to facilitate negotiations through suspending the armed struggle.  I don't see negotiations as viable.  You see, the ANC isn't like a normal political party which has elections every five years.  Then you go back to your constituency, kiss babies and things like that.  Our strength is determined by our link with ordinary people, our capacity to organise stayaways, our capacity to organise street committees and crime control and so forth.  And if that isn't the right way of doing it now, we can't deploy our power.

POM     Where in this do the youth lie?  We've heard a lot about this generation of young people who are uneducated and unemployed, perhaps unemployable, who are somewhat nonplussed by the ANC's suspension of the armed struggle, who remain a very volatile element in the whole equation.  Could you talk about that for a minute?

RS     Well, I think that there is a problem with many people not being in school and being on the streets.  And a militaristic tendency, a sort of romanticisation of violence.  Now what they have learned in their country is that decisions are effected by violent means.

POM     Violence works.

RS     Well, violence is the only way in which decisions are made in the South African context.  The South African state was created through violence, it's maintained through violence.  And I think the tendency is for powerlessness to corrupt and lead to violence within the community.  Now, we have very strong youth structures in the Youth Congress who are addressing these problems.  And I think the problem is surmountable.

POM     One, we've heard it in another context, and that is that you have the PAC sitting out there saying the ANC has sold out; that the PAC remains an outsider factor and as the events last week took place and there is disaffection with the process of negotiation, more people, young people, will start gravitating to the PAC.  Or, if there was a majority government which, in a short period of time makes no appreciable difference in the quality of services for people, that there would be this movement towards the PAC.  Do you see the PAC as a threat, either now or as a threat when, let's say, an ANC government comes to power, as something that must be watched?

RS     Not really.  You know, I don't think the PAC is a significant factor.  Their rhetoric is a significant factor. It will strike a sympathetic chord within our ranks, particularly the Pretoria Minute, which they say is a compromise, which I disagree with; long live the spirit of no compromise.  And I think it's illusory for anyone to think that you can conduct politics without a compromise.  And the PAC takes always that position of no compromise.  And what I'm trying to do, we've produced this booklet on negotiations and on the back of it, one of the questions is: do you agree with the slogan "Long live the spirit of no compromise"?  Well, it was an ANC booklet but you'll find this view put across by the PAC.  And you can take an attitude like that when you aren't organising, when you're not serious about politics, or when you've got no structures.  And it seems to me there's not much beside the rhetoric involved with PAC.  And I think a future ANC government could lose support because it doesn't have the resources to deliver what people expect.  We could have problems even with them but they are not a massive or a rich organisation.  But where the defectors will go to, whether we could keep these people, is very hard to say at this point.  I don't see PAC as a specific beneficiary.

POM     Let's talk about this for a minute.  If there were majority rule tomorrow, what difference would it make in the life of the average squatter or the average family in the township, not just tomorrow, but, say, even in five years from now, given these absolutely huge limitations on available resources?

RS     You see, I don't like answering questions by 'ifs' and 'ands' and 'what depends' because there are so many variables involved.  It depends on majority rule if it's completely unqualified.  If we got 90% of the vote, then we would be politically powerful.  If we were conducting a war against bandits, such as the MNR are in Renamo and Mozambique, resources that could have been channelled away from defence couldn't be used for something else.  But if there was peace, we would, with or without nationalisation, have more resources at our disposal.  So these two variables are variables that would condition it.  On the other hand, we would try and picture some redistribution, if necessary, through nationalisation.  But that's not the only way of doing it and we're very concerned not to create a situation with much lower productivity as a result of nationalisation.  We want productivity to continue, but some attempt to address these imbalances seriously.

POM     Yes. How else, other than through nationalisation, would you attempt to do it, again given the narrowness of the tax base.  It doesn't provide a lot of leeway for redistribution.

RS     Well, you see, I'm not very knowledgeable on economic questions but the sort of things that have been touted are taxation reforms and antitrust laws to curb monopolies, state participation ventures, and so on.  There's actually a written report on a seminar, an ANC-COSATU seminar in Harare, where many of these things are elaborated better than I can do.

POM     That's in print, the document?

RS     Yes, or if you go to the Department of Economy and Planning of the ANC, they'll have it.

POM     To shift then the question I asked you, to get rid of the 'ifs' and the 'ands', what should an average family in a township or a squatter be able to expect five years from now, if you had clear unfettered majority rule?

RS     Well, you see, there are a whole lot of issues which we address, education, health, all of those things.  And I think we can expect redirection of resources.  Let's say medical resources; there would be a greater emphasis on paramedical activity and preventive medicine and medical facilities being operated all over the country, not just the urban centres.  Now that would, of course, be limited by the resources that are at our disposal but the orientation would definitely be towards that.  Educationally, we would place great weight on literacy effort.  The rural areas would receive a lot of attention, with a view to empowering these people, giving them the opportunities to play a role in building this new South Africa.  I think we would see, we would like a situation, if we're not able to deliver immediately, to at least give people the impression, which would be valid, that we are clearly moving in a direction that will help resolve their difficulties.

POM     Do you think that there is a dangerously high level of expectations out there?

RS     I don't know.  I really don't know. We may come to generalise about these things.  I think people want to live in houses and not in shacks and be evicted from those shacks.  And they're not asking for plush places. They want a decent education and those things.  And I don't think these are dangerously high but they are too high as to be able to deal very quickly with given the present economic imbalances.  Now, the question is when we'll be able to take power in a way that doesn't block us in regard to the economy. The economy is crucial.

POM     Do you think that the structures of the economy will be one of the pivotal things in negotiations?

RS     At a later stage it could well be that they try and entrench in the constitution some provision preventing nationalisation, but I'm not sure.

POM     Or privatisation?

RS     Privatisation, on such a scale as we could endure.

POM     Protections that the government might seek to have written into the constitution.

RS     Yes.  They may.

POM     What kind of protections?

RS     They may insist on full compensation for any expropriation and that sort of thing, which would effectively prevent nationalisation.  Now I recognise that would be quite an important negotiating question.

POM     To go back to the process for a moment.  Three kinds of general scenarios have been pointed out to us as a possible way forward.  One is the route of the Constituent Assembly, the other is a broadened negotiation table with representation from anybody who appears to have a political constituency, and the third is an interim government where you'd also have a separate assembly meeting drawing up a new constitution.  Which in your view is the more likely one to go forward?

RS     This is again, all of the questions have variables, they have lots of variables. It depends on the balance of forces, on our capacity to demonstrate our might and ensure that we had a Constituent Assembly.  So, the answer to the question is contingent on the way in which the struggle unfolds.

POM     Well, one argument made to us by some ANC people is that in a Constituent Assembly in which the government would be deployed, the terms of its support would not be the best situation with which to negotiate.  I mean, the ANC want to keep the government as a negotiating partner.

RS     As opposed to defeating it.

POM     As opposed to undermining its standing and its relevancy among whites.

RS     I think we would prefer to remove them from the scene.  But I don't think that's realistic, especially having suspended the armed struggle.

POM     But you'd like to remove them from the scene during the process of negotiation?

RS     No, I'd like to just see us take power and not negotiate, but pursue a reconciliatory policy having attained power. That's ideal in my view.  You've got a government who is the government of the day and to dislodge it is not a simple matter.  But I would prefer to have them out of the way.

POM     Given what exists, what about the possibility of an interim government?

RS     You see, interim government is actually a very problematic concept.  Although we support it, we haven't really thought out adequately what it entails; I mean, how it's composed, what its mandate is.  Now, in the Harare Declaration, before it is established, there must be agreement on the principle dimension, non-racial democracy and so forth.  If you establish an interim government when there isn't an agreement on that, it means that you can take responsibility for apartheid's atrocity.  On the other hand, if there is agreement on the principles, one of the first things that government does, even before a constitution is created, is to abolish apartheid laws.  So, it's one of those things which, again, relate to the possibility of fruitful negotiation arising through a common objective, which there isn't.  So, I see a lot of these things as forming a unity.  Unless you have a common objective the meaning of all sorts of things is completely different.  The meaning of Constituent Assembly, the meaning of interim government when there isn't that common objective is completely different from when there is that objective.  And that is the difference between co-option and co-option where you take responsibility as opposed to engagement in a process whereby you direct it along lines determined by your objectives.

POM     How about the right-wing, and differentiating it into the Conservative Party and the more militant elements?  Are both either a passing phase, something to be expected that, as uncertainty diminishes may support for them diminish, or are they a real threat to the process itself?

RS     Yes.  I think it's unfortunate but it seems to be true that the right-wing threat is of unprecedented character on this continent.  I mean, Algeria springs to mind, but the Algerian right-wing, the right-wing there, took a lot of their troubles to France.  Now, what we've got down here is every racist you can pick out of each African state has gone down south, from Kenya to Rhodesia to Mozambique and to here.  And you really get a lot of hard-line people. I fear for the future in that regard.  We would try to be reconciliatory but I can see that maybe it will lead to some military conflict after one person, one vote.

POM     How about the Conservative Party itself?  Do you see it ultimately coming to the negotiating table or maintaining the stand that they won't negotiate unless their condition, that of a homeland, is accepted beforehand?

RS     You see, again, it's a question of what process is going to be.  If it's a Constituent Assembly, then they're going to stand for elections.  I don't know how many seats they would get with majority rule, probably only one or two.  If it's under De Klerk's auspices, ideally they would like a round table, everyone having undetermined weight and in that situation the Conservative Party could come into it. I don't know. It must see us as unstoppable.

POM     What do the ANC think of a round table with undetermined weight?

RS     We reject that.  That's why we go for a Constituent Assembly where your weight in negotiations is determined by your electoral support.

POM     Yes, so in what context did Mbeki make a statement the other night at the Five Freedoms Forum that the ANC were inviting blacks into the process and that all their opinions would carry equal weight?

RS     I don't think that is correct.

POM     OK.

RS     I don't see that. I don't think that's in line with what has been our reading for a Constituent Assembly.  I mean, he may have said we don't see ourselves as the only negotiating partner, as has been presumed.  It's all of a part but not necessarily an equal part.  Their voice can be heard but ultimately the power you command determines your weight.

POM     Just two more questions.  One is, what do you understand white fears to mean and can you differentiate between fears that may have a basis in fact and fears that are purely imaginary?

RS     I think I would put it a different way.  I think most of the white fears are based on facts, that some fears are legitimate fears.  Others are illegitimate fears. And to see the passing of the time when you can kick Africans around.  There are fears for change, that they won't be able to do that anymore, because that's their fear that we won't be sympathetic to.  There's another variant, Joe Slovo says they fear that what we have done unto them will be done unto us, and that we will address that fear and indicate that we don't intend to wreak vengeance.

POM     At what point does this whole process become irreversible?

RS     I don't know.  I think maybe when we've got a constitution and there's no war on the ground.  A new constitution and locked up the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging, AWB.

POM     And, at this time next year, where will the process be?  How far advanced, if advanced at all, will it be?

RS     I don't know.  These are the questions we have asked of professional politicians.  I'm afraid I'm a professional politician but those sort of questions I can't answer.

POM     But, if certain things are not done, will you be disappointed?  For example, if at this time next year you still have the Group Areas Act on the books, will that disappoint you? I mean, if you expect the Group Areas Act to be gone by this time next, if the Population Registration Act will be gone, do you expect the main laws that are still on the books related to apartheid to be repealed?

RS     I'm not sure. I think this process has received a setback now with this violence.  I think that quite a lot of things may happen.  I know that they want to move quickly but I haven't set target dates for those things.

POM     So, you don't see that this process has to be completed by 1994 before De Klerk's mandate runs out?

RS     No, that would be his imperative.  But in one year, from February to February, things happened which were inconceivable.  Now I don't see those leaps and bounds as necessarily continuing.  I'm very cautious about this.  People are getting a bit romantic about possibilities.

PK     In distinguishing the SACP and the ANC, how do you tell people to see the distinction between members of the ANC who are not members of the SACP and those who share a common membership?  What do you tell them?

RS     Well, every Communist Party member I presume is an ANC member.  Only it's not the same in the other direction.  The Communist Party members are bound by ANC decisions and ANC discipline in the ANC.  The Communist Party does not control the ANC, nor does the ANC control the Communist Party.  Obviously, communists make important contributions in the ANC on a theoretical level, or analyses of the situation is shared with the ANC.

POM     What would the beliefs be?

RS     Beliefs?

POM     What would a member of the SACP who's also a member of the ANC believe that a member of the ANC does not believe?

RS     Doesn't believe.

POM     Doesn't believe.

RS     Well, they're coming from, there's a in this analysis, which communists will have.  Most communists would be atheists, not all.  The ANC is a much broader organisation.  Within its ranks, there would be people who did not favour socialism, whereas the Communist Party is moving for socialism and communism ultimately.  On a practical level in South Africa, I think the independent role of the Communist Part is not very clear.  There's not a great divergence between the ANC and Communist Party over the immediate path in South Africa.  In the long run I think there will be a divergence.

POM     There's a convergence at the moment?

RS     Yes.

POM     But in the long run a divergence.  Well, thank you very much for giving us the time. I will have a transcript of this made in due course and sent off to 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.