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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
12 Dec 1990: Skweyiya, Zola
POM Zola, last when I was here in July and August, the violence began in August. But at least while I was here in July there appeared to be a real spirit of optimism about the way this process was unfolding. Corning back, I don't see that optimism there anymore. Could you kind of run through the obstacles that have manifested themselves?
ZS Yes, I would say in August, especially after the meeting in Pretoria and the issue of the Pretoria Minute, everybody had another hope and optimism. We were very aware that we do differ on many questions and we stand divided on broad political questions. But also we thought that there were issues that sort of unite us all, that is, the question of a better future for South Africa and looming hopes of a constitutional solution to our problems. We thought that we were nearer than that and that all our efforts would be to watch, trying to find out exactly how the talks held out, could be developed. And they were beginning to talk to each other, from different points of view, especially us as an ANC. We shared our opinion with different other political parties. In August, then the whole violence started. And it started in a very unpredictable way. It was very intense and seemed to very targeted and had some direction of some sort. It was quite clear that it was highly orchestrated and that it was not just violence for the sake of violence but political. And of course the whole question that turned out is that instead of looking forward towards the solution of South Africa's main problem, that is, the removal of apartheid and development of democracy amongst our own, everybody concentrated on this. And as such, it sort of removed us from our main objective, that is, the struggle for a better future for our people and for our country, towards trying to temper and to sort of lower tempers and violence in general.
POM One thing that puzzles me is that time and again, after every incident in a township or a squatter camp, the ANC says that invariably the police are acting in collusion with members of Inkatha or they're standing by and doing nothing. Yet despite the fact that Mandela has called de Klerk a man of integrity, nothing happens. I mean, just nothing happens. How can you - OK, Why?
ZS First of all, it's not the first time that there has been violence. But this violence seems so very much organised. And it was quite clear it was not just ordinary violence as you usually had had in the past, that is, of ordinary hostel dwellers quarrelling with the residents of the locations from the residential areas. But it seemed to have some political damage and it was aimed directly at - not only dividing the hostel dwellers among themselves and also at the same time hitting at the residents as such of the residential areas, of the African residential areas. And it seemed to be so directed and organised and orchestrated in such a manner, in the same manner, almost, everywhere. It was not just ordinary people fighting. It seemed to be an organised group, trained and, you know, with specific orders. And the main aim, it seemed to be directed directly at the democratic forces of this country. And this is something that has never happened before.
POM But, you have gone to the government with affidavits. I suppose the point I'm getting at is, Why doesn't de Klerk acknowledge the problem at least?
ZS Well, as far as I'm concerned, my personal opinion is the fact that de Klerk has got his own agenda and he might be a man of integrity, as Mandela calls him, but also one cannot separate him from the collective with which he is working.
POM From the collective ?
ZS As such. He might be a man of integrity, I'm not disputing that, but also, him being a man of integrity does not necessarily remove the fact that he's working with people who do not necessarily believe in the whole line for which he's standing for.
POM Do you think he's in control of his own side?
ZS I, personally think, how can I put it? - that he might think he is control but I don't think, personally, he can be able to sort of give direction and give orders for the whole running of the country, especially that of the security forces as such. He might be having the allegiance, basically, of Afrikaners as such who sort of always believe, in the leader as such. But he might not be in full control or giving direction in the manner that that control is supposed to have gone down to the ordinary man. Here are elements in the security forces which are against him. The present forces, as such.
POM Would Magnus Malan be, do you think, one of those?
ZS I'm not very sure, but I mean, he is very much ...
POM You'd mentioned that de Klerk had his own agenda. What do you see as being his agenda? What is he trying to accomplish, do you think?
ZS Well, the main agenda, personally, what I think is de Klerk is trying to salvage whatever he believes that the whites could have after apartheid. He's completely convinced that apartheid cannot continue as it is but also he is prepared to go into any compromise as long as, to a very much extent, that the privileges that the whites have had in the past are not threatened. First of all, I would say, nationally, I think they are prepared to share power.
POM What do you think they mean by that phrase?
ZS Well, they would be prepared, for instance, for blacks to participate in parliament. They will be prepared, for instance, that I think they very much are even prepared for a black president. But also, at the same time, they would like to preserve some privileges for the whites in South Africa. Hence, the whole concept of group rights that they've putting across.
POM Sorry, the whole process of?
ZS Group rights.
POM Group rights, Yes. Again, just to harp on power-sharing for a moment. Do you think they mean by that executive power-sharing that is, that they would actually have a say in the government itself? And I will tell you why I ask you that. In Northern Ireland, where the Protestant community accounts for 60% and the Catholic community accounts for 40%, the British government says majority rule is not democratic rule because all Protestants vote for the Protestant party and all the Catholics vote for the Catholic party, that means one party is permanently, or one group is permanently enshrined in power. And it says that if there is to be a government within Northern Ireland, it'll have to be a power-sharing government where the Catholic community has the same proportion of Cabinet ministers as their proportion in the population. So 40% of the ministers would be Catholic.
ZS That's exactly what they're fighting for.
POM Do you think that's the NP should have some say, for instance, some say in the executive?
ZS Some representation within the executive and some protection of what they call "minority rights" and that it is not a question of just protecting one separate minority in rational legal terms but also to very much extent that certain positions should remain for them. And you can look into that other setting, Northern Ireland constitution and what is happening. I know there's a question in Belgium and all those other places where the minority questions are. But the other question, those, I think, are the main issues that they would first put across And I think that they are beginning to lose. But if one looks at them, while they would be prepared to do that, to lose power at the national level at the present moment, but they would like to ensure that their rights at local level are preserved as such. And this, you will see that in their proposals for local government, that local government should be in charge, for instance, that local areas should be in charge of most of the - especially the resources. Each and everyone, for instance, they shouldn't have power even to veto some other person. Let's say, the present Group Areas and through apartheid, it's quite clear the Bantu areas, the divisions of the cities and such, it's quite clear that where the resources are mostly in the white areas, and they would like to keep that, specifically for whites, that blacks go and stay in Soweto and they'll be given some free say in whatever they want.
POM I'm sorry, some free ...?
ZS I mean, self-determination, as they put it. That is the right democratic government and all these other, the local government in that area. But the resources that are there at the present moment should remain the preserve of the whites, as such. And these are some of the questions that have become terribly, very crucial in South Africa at present, the question of local government. That is where the battles are being fought. It's not only battles for power but also there are battles for resources, as such, in South Africa, especially between black and white. \
POM Do you think de Klerk has conceded on the issue of majority rule?
ZS Well, according to his speeches he seems to have considered that he would like ...
POM When I said "majority rule", now let me put it more succinctly, do you think he's conceded on black majority rule?
ZS Well, according to his speech in the United States, in his speech he said that he had to accept one-man, one-vote. [and one ... But what does he mean by one ... as such. These are the fiat ??? He seems to have ...] He is selling himself as de Klerk and his reforms as such. And some of the concessions he has made public in the United States simply because he wants the removal of this Anti-Apartheid Act and the question of South Africa re-entering into the international community, the removal of sanctions, and everything else. This is very important and one can look at that, the very fact that he had said that, and as soon as he left all the violence stopped. And the police made sure that there was normal violence while he was in the United States. But as soon as he came back, all the violence started We are convinced that South Africa that he has the capacity to stop the violence when he wants. But he does not want to and that is why we suspect very strongly that it is part and parcel of the violence.
POM That it is, part of?
ZS Part and parcel of the violence as such.
POM A number of people whom I talked to in July and August who said at that point that the violence was political between supporters of the ANC and Inkatha, are no longer singing ANC songs, they were singing Xhosa songs,
ZS I wouldn't say so. It is that these guys are running right into a location. You cannot necessarily say you are beating Xhosas as such. At the beginning the impression that is trying to be created is that all violence is tribally-orientated and tribally directed, in a tribal direction. And I am personally of the opinion that at the beginning, I think Inkatha was very much involved. And Inkatha was used, as such, by certain elements, by the so-called third force which the government admits is involved.
POM The government admits there's a third force involved?
ZS I mean, I'm not sure, but the so-called third force, there's supposed to be a third force, everybody's talking about this third force in which - now, I won't say the government, but I think some elements within the security forces are involved. And they use the so-called conflict between Inkatha and the ANC and the whole violence that has taken place in Natal was artificially transported and transplanted into the Transvaal.
Why there? Why did it have to be like that? First of all, the main thing, when it was happening in Natal, first of all, it could not be interpreted as any other thing as tribal because Zulus are the majority, more than 95% of the people. And that, while it still remained, which I also feel is a matter, there are elements of the security forces who are very much involved in controlling the whole situation. When it came over here it had to be interpreted one way as tribal, first of all. And why did it have to come here, if it was really tribal? Simply because they know there is an element within the population, of the Witwatersrand and such. And if you look at the violence, it seems only to be concentrated within the Witwatersrand, particularly within an area. It is not moving anywhere north or south but in one area. Simply because the Witwatersrand has become the melting point of all the peoples of South Africa, generally. [Therefore, for over last two ... before ??? since the setting up of industries.] So while transporting it there, to bring it, they tried to give it a tribalistic element. [But if you look are ??? to Africans.] You cannot necessarily say, this is a Xhosa, this is a Zulu. There are many people who died, they were not necessarily Xhosas. And many, they were not necessarily Zulu. And most of them came from different areas of South Africa, they have come back to work.
POM So these are attacks that would be carried out by Inkatha members?
ZS Well, it's supposed to be Inkatha but Inkatha definitely in a mix-up with the police. Now, if it was tribalistic, if it was as such, the Zulus wouldn't first move into an area that is composed and inhabited by Africans. Because they would nowhere have been able to differentiate amongst the people that they are fighting whether this one is Zulu or this one is Sotho or this one is Xhosa. They just went inside. Now, that is the question. Of course, they had always been - they were run out from that, some differentiation between so-called urban dwellers and the hostel dwellers not only here but generally, right through all of South Africa. And one finds that, in general, the Africans in the urban areas are a little bit more proletarian in outlook and very urbanised.
POM Sorry, a little bit more?
POM The concern was?
ZS Proletarian outlook as such. And they are settled. Whereas, people who remain in the hostels are temporarily living within the urban area. They just come back and they leave their families in the rural areas. In a sense there has always been in all the areas an element of the people who live in the residential areas of looking down on people who come from the countryside. People who come from here in the Transvaal, the main aim was to push it and to play on the element of tribalism. [And to show that first of four the main ??? is quite obvious,] Buthelezi being Zulu and Mandela of Xhosa distinction, to play that the whole question of the supporters of Mandela are necessarily all Xhosa-speaking. Which is not true. The ANC is the only organisation here in this country which is represented in each and every part of the country. In each and every part of the country, there is an ANC branch, there are ANC regions. Whereas Inkatha has always been another story and a very few of that support of the Zulu-speaking migrant people. And this is where the big question is, in Africa. Even Zulu migrants want to run away because they don't want to get involved.
POM Sorry, Zulu migrants?
ZS They're running away from the hostels because they do not want to be involved in the violence. And some of them are being fully forced to participate in this.
POM Do you think Buthelezi is a willing partner to this, or is he orchestrating this in some way?
ZS I think that with the Natal Buthelezi might have been a willing partner because he has never condemned the violence as far as that goes. I notice at the same time, there is an element that one feels, to a very much extent, he might have misused his power and that Inkatha is pursued by certain elements, I would say, within the security forces in South Africa. I think he might have.
[-rC 21 and meaningful negotiations?]
ZS Of course not, I mean, as far as we are concerned violence really does one way or another influence the whole political climate within the country. And as long as it exists it will be very, very hard to get a solution to some of the problems that are facing South Africa. That is why it has been recognised by all reasonable South Africans that it is the duty of all the democratic forces of this country to play a role in the solution of this question of violence in South Africa. It is an obstacle.
POM One of the sticking points between the government and the ANC, or the whole liberation movement for that matter, has been the question of a Constituent Assembly, with the government saying, 'Under no circumstances will we agree to a Constituent Assembly because essentially we'd be giving away what we want to negotiate.' How do you see that being resolved?
ZS Well, that's our position. I mean, that's the position of the ANC. It's a position we put as early as 1988, that we need a Constituent Assembly to resolve the question of who is who within the South African political system. And the question of legitimacy. And it is the position that we're fighting for. And I think it's a position that has been adopted by almost all the anti-apartheid forces in this country, including PAC/AZAPO, and everyone. It is only the government and Buthelezi who do not agree with the question of a Constituent Assembly.
POM But the government has more or less said, at least in my understanding, that this is just about non-negotiable. Look at the situation like this, we say we are drawing up a constitution and all the groups want to be represented. And that you put, for instance, the Nationalist Party, which represents a minority within South Africa, and you put it against the broad alliance of the ANC. Can the Nationalist Party claim the same number of seats as the ANC and the pro-democratic movement anti-apartheid forces in this country? Would that be just? Would that be acceptable to our people? And if so, if it is not so, then how are we to resolve that thing? Can the Nationalist Party all of a sudden, at the same time on its own, determine who is to sit and how many people are to sit around the table? I don't think. that that would be fair. It would be easy, and I think it is a democratic principle, that the people of South Africa given the chance to say amongst themselves and to choose the people who are going to negotiate for a new constitution. I think the Nationalist Party itself is a little bit, is true to its principles on the issue we are talking about. I know they feel that at the present moment that they would be abdicating power and that they would become moot in some political suicide, as such. The only thing they are putting across is the question of their plan to co-opt blacks into some sort of a organ that will rule until everyone ... [And they will feel very strongly, it would not be quite impossible ...]
One of the things, correct me if I'm wrong, but what I've understood from other people I've interviewed on their side, is that they see a process where members of the ANC and other organisations in the liberation movement would be brought into government, would be given ministerships or whatever, while this whole process was continuing.
ZS That is co-option because they would be deciding themselves who should be there or how many ministries should be given to the ANC, how many to the PAC and such. That's not a question that works on the basis of equality. There's no parity whatsoever between the parties that are supposed to find a solution for the future of South Africa.
A question of equality between the different parties and such. They are educating to other parties. They want to be sort of referee and player at the same moment, and I don't think we'll agree to that.
POM So how do you see - I know what you want, like you want an election for a Constituent Assembly, an interim government - but how do you see the process unfolding? If you were sitting around the table with the government and they say, 'Well, you know, we can't agree to Constituent Assembly, we'll consider something else, but not a Constituent Assembly.' What do you do if they balk?
ZS Well, it's part and parcel of the negotiation process at the present moment. These are our positions that we're putting across, the democratic process that we're putting across, the question of a Constituent Assembly and the question of an interim government. There is nothing new that we are putting across. W are putting broad democratic principles, that is what the ANC is putting across. Our Bill of Rights, draft Bill of Rights, is quite clear. And I think if they agree to that they should bring an alternative to discuss exactly how far to go. It's part and parcel of negotiation process - what we put as our position, of their position.
POM If you have to look at, first of all, Mandela, taking him as the magnet for the liberation movement, what do you think are the greatest obstacles that he faces in his path? I really mean the Mass Democratic Movement's part, as this process went forward. What are the main obstacles they are likely to incur? And then, when you look at de Klerk, what do you think are the main problems he has to face as he proceeds in this process, from his own side?
ZS You mean before we started? Well, I mean, our problem is the question that we want all political prisoners to be released, we demand the return of all the exiles. And we definitely feel very strong that all the oppressive laws have to be repealed and that there should be a free political process within the whole country and that people should be free to meet whenever they feel necessary. On the other side, de Klerk has to convince his own people, I mean, he's got a problem. The problem - I mean he and Gatsha Buthelezi have got a common problem. One, he has stood on the side of tribalism and ethnicity that is Gatsha Buthelezi's, and Zulus as Zulus as such. And de Klerk on the other side has been , his base has been very racialist, racist as such, defending white interest. Hence you see they move amongst both of the, one, opening up the Party, for instance, de Klerk to blacks and creating a broad ... to change Inkatha into a national party, etc. But raising questions that the two parties have been racialist and tribalistic from the viewpoint, from the beginning. So this is the position they want to have, they've got to win the confidence of all South Africans as such and they are to present themselves as nationally and non-racial as much as possible. And also at the same time they have to win, especially for de Klerk, win the white population, which is becoming very difficult for him at the present time.
POM Does the right wing have ...?
ZS He's got a lot of opposition from the right wing.
POM Do you think it's a real threat?
ZS I think it is a threat at present. The right wing is a threat not only to us but also to the whole process, including to de Klerk himself and the Nationalist Party.
POM Could you see that as a real destabilising factor in the process? You mentioned the return of exiles and a couple of people have told me that there is this horrendous process where you have to fill out a form and say what travel documents you used, what aliases you used, what offences you've committed, whom you've committed them with. Surely this didn't arise out of the Pretoria Minute?
ZS Well, that's a clear-cut question that the ANC has been raising with the government at the present moment. The main question is that the de Klerk administration wants our people to confess whatever they might have done, but also at the same time they are trying to get information on where they have failed over the years, to find out exactly who and where was the ANC involved, and what personnel was in the ANC that brought armed struggle to continue. They're using that whole situation. And I think, that's one other problem that is holding up the whole process at the present moment. And I hope a solution will be found as soon as possible on this question.
POM But in an odd way the government seems to be one-up. And I say that in the sense that you've now find yourself negotiating about one of your pre-conditions.
ZS Yes, yes.
POM Do you know what I mean? Rather than having moved from the point of where your pre-conditions are met, you're moving onto negotiations, that they're tying up your time with this whole question.
ZS With this whole question. This whole process is time-consuming and that is exactly what they have been wanting to do, sort of tie us up in a process that will take a long tine to solve while at the same time using violence and whatever means possible to weaken the ANC, nationally and across the country with terror. It is in de Klerk's interests to stretch it out as far as possible, if he knows that come 1994 and he has to call an election, there'd be chaos in the country and the Conservative Party would probably wipe him out anyway. Do you know that it would be more in their interest to get it over quickly. I think that the interest of the Nationalist Party at the present moment, as a party, is to find a solution, with all the democratic processes in this country, to the problems that are facing South Africa. And to move as fast as possible towards a democratic solution.
POM Why, then, would they be going through this kind of procedure on the return of exiles, knowing that this wastes valuable time?
ZS As I said to you, personally, I think this is a time-consuming. The aim is to bog us in this situation. And I think the political situation has referred to this whole problem as such.
POM Turning to that for a moment. Some people have said to me that the government would be willing to concede political power in order to attain economic power. That this is what they're really after. And that they will look for guarantees in the constitution regarding free enterprise and the rights of property. Do you think that's an accurate reflection of things?
ZS I think that might be one of their problems, one of their aims as such, to sort of retain the privileges, not only socially but also economically, the power that the white community has at the present moment. And the economy is no exception.
POM Will it be an issue? Or is that an issue that has now been folded under the general phrase, "a mixed economy"? Or do you think they will try to present certain things from being in negotiations?
ZS Nationalization as such. That we foresee a mixed economy in which not only do we see a role for the state but also a very big role for private enterprise. How mixed that mix would be would depend on the conditions that are in the negotiation process. We have some experience, basically, because we've lived outside South Africa for a long time. We have seen the weaknesses and the problems that brings with it to the economics of the developing countries especially those of Africa. We're aware of the problem that at the present moment it presents problems, especially in terms of manpower, because look at a situation that presently in our past and vestiges of Bantu education and apartheid, very few blacks are in a position of managerial position. We can in no way claim to be able to run the country in the future on our own, because one thing that is definite, once you nationalise, the experience in Africa is the majority of the whites who have the technical know-how will leave. I'm not saying that it would be the same thing even in South Africa in view of the fact that the white community lives here and there is not other home. But also at the same time one cannot run away from that fact, that not only are they going to run away but also capital will run away.
POM Sorry, not only are they going to?
ZS Not only are they, whites who have the technical know-how, going to run away from South Africa, but also capital investments will also run away.
POM Last question. At this time next year, where do you think the process will be?
ZS I cannot predict.
POM Well, are you optimistic?
POM Or are you less or more optimistic than you were?
ZS I'm less optimistic than I was before this violence, before July, at the present moment. But that doesn't necessarily mean I do not foresee progress in the future. And I think it is the duty of all parties, of all democrats, whether black and white, even if we differ politically, that we should ensure that the process continues for the good of our own South Africans, for the good of our own children and also for the good of Southern Africa and all of the African continent.
POM OK. Thanks very much.