About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

25 Jul 1991: Coetzer, Piet

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POM     And your position Piet is?

PC     I'm Senior Director for Information of the National Party.

POM     Is it a conflict that here would be the Xhosas, Zulus and other tribes, even whites, Indians and blacks, or is it really a problem of the domination of whites over blacks that now must be corrected?

PC     Well, the last statement, yes, is part of it. There's no doubt that we've had domination over blacks, that much is correct.

     ... not just on black/white lines. I mean one sees the conflict between the Zulus and Xhosas, ANC and Inkatha, so that is part of the division. But it's not just an ethnic division, there are also other elements that also come out in the black on black conflict that we see at the moment. It's also a conflict between a first and a third world component that's present in the society and which has nothing to do with racial background. There are large overlaps in that but that is coincidental. And then I think there is also an element of ideological conflict in the sense that there's a large proportion of the population who are free enterprise orientated, but there is also a strong socialist presence and that presence in some cases cuts across even political organisational dividing lines because you would find strong free enterprise orientated elements inside the ANC but you would also find very strong socialist orientated elements and of course there is this alliance with the South African Communist Party as well. So I don't think that the dividing line is clear cut and simple. It's a fairly complicated scene.

POM     But the ANC is insistent that the ethnic divisions that are there are really a product of apartheid itself. It was one of the strategies used by the government to divide blacks artificially. So, if they hold that point of view, and they have held to it pretty strongly over the last number of years, and if the National Party holds the view that is far more complicated about the nature of the problem, how can you devise government structures where the major parties to the conflict have an inherently different conception of what the problem itself is?

PC     Well, the ANC have moved somewhat on that issue and I think it's best manifested by the fact that at their national conference which was held very recently, they accepted the principle of proportional representation. If there weren't divisions, if there weren't various constituencies and groups that had to be accommodated why on earth make a proportional system of representation?

POM     Or they could say proportional for blacks, for whites, for Indians and for ...

PC     Then that would be a racist argument. Then they want to accommodate racism and they say they stand for a non-racial democracy. The fact of the matter is that they've accepted proportional representation, the principle of proportional representation, which is classically designed to accommodate distinct groups inside a society and one just has to look at the black on black violence that one has at the moment unfortunately in the country, to realise that those divisions are real. I think it would be very unwise to try and devise a constitution that does not accommodate that reality.

POM     In response the ANC will particularly say in regard to the violence that this violence is for the most part government instigated. They've been making that argument since it began last year and if you look at the revelations made by this Major, former member of the South African Defence Force, Major Nico Basson, who talked about the SADF supplying forces to Inkatha and now you have the, what's been called, Inkathagate with revelations of funds being given to Inkatha. I mean that kind of thing lends more credence to the other allegations.

PC     OK. Let's just say about the Inkathagate thing first of all: (a) a very small proportion of that money actually went to Inkatha, the major share of it went to UWUSA, to a trade union organisation and not to Inkatha per se; (b) the money that went to Inkatha and the Inkatha associated trade union was given to them before the ANC was unbanned, before the 2nd February speech, there was one payment made on the 17th March which was, in other words, a few weeks after the February 2nd speech, which was a spill over from a previous phase. And to show how early it was in the new phase, at the time that payment was made Mr Mandela was still in jail. It was before the conflict between the ANC and Inkatha started. So it was something that happened in a particular historical context and is now brought forward into the present situation and judged as if it happened under the present circumstances. So it's totally different circumstances.

     The fact of the matter is, let's for the moment, just for the sake of the argument, accept that elements in the security forces are involved with Inkatha, in arming them, for whatever motivation or reason they might have, that does not take away the fact that there in conflict potential in the society. All that then happens, if one accepts that argument, is that one could then say that, yes, elements in the security forces are exploiting the conflict potential in the society but it does not take away the fact of the conflict potential and that conflict potential will have to be accommodated, will have to be computed, if I can use that word, but in the constitution making process.

POM     I think it was Andre du Toit, Professor of Political Science at Cape Town, who said part of the problem was the lack of a common perceptual frame on the part of the main actors. This is going back what the nature of the problem itself is.

PC     Sure, sure, we are in the very early phases of a total restructuring of the South African society. There can be little doubt that the government has embarked on a total restructuring of the society. I accept that we are in the very early phases of this total restructuring of the South African society and about that there can be no doubt. If the government did not intend for a total restructuring process why on earth would we have scrapped all the apartheid legislation? So we accept it, yes. There's a total restructuring but we are at a very early stage of it and coherence amongst the various components, if one wants to call it that, of the population is not something that's going to come overnight. It's something that will develop over time where people will develop more common interests, common loyalties and it's for that reason that the State President has embarked on what he called a nation building programme, exactly to try and build those common loyalties. There are a number of things that I believe that can and should play a role and that part of it is the normalisation of our position in the international sporting world where all South Africans will be competing together so that can make a contribution towards developing a common national pride. I believe it's important that we get the economy going so that we can start building together on the economy in which we all share. That would help to develop common loyalties. It's those sort of things, I believe, that will - but it's early days.

POM     What would concern me is how can you have serious negotiations if one party to the conflict, that is the ANC, believes that the government is deliberately pursuing a double agenda, having a policy to destabilise the ANC on the one hand and pursue peace talks on the other. How is it possible to negotiate if they really hold that point of view, that that is what their leadership believe?

PC     Well the point is, it's one thing, I'm not convinced that they actually believe that. But it might be part of a political strategy to strengthen their hand in coming to the negotiating table. I think what's happening at the moment is that people are positioning themselves and we're seeing the early stages of the normalisation of the political processes in South Africa and where people start politically to compete with one another. One must not - and I think that's one of the factors that got washed away in this whole Inkatha thing and the money that went to Inkatha, is the timing of that being made public. The timing was literally on the eve of Inkatha's national conference and that totally over-shadowed the news as far as the conference is concerned and I think any objective observer should also notice which vehicle was used to publicise that leak. I mean it was in the Weekly Mail which has strong sympathy with the ANC and I just think that one should see this thing in its total context. It is also, I believe, and the whole 'gewalt' and the pumping up of this whole issue, is also part of the ANC's strategy of trying to create pressure for a so-called interim government. So I think one must be careful not to take all the rhetoric as gospel.

POM     So, would I be correct in saying you would argue that the ANC advancing the contention that the government is pursuing a double agenda is based more on their moves to position themselves for negotiations than on reality.

PC     Yes, I believe so because the fact of the matter is if you judge this thing in its historical context - let me give you an example of the sort of motivation, the sort of background to the money that was made available to Inkatha and UWUSA. In March of '89, in the year when most of that money was made available, a survey was published that was commissioned by ITV of Britain and the newspaper The Independent which found that the majority of black people were opposed to sanctions, but that message didn't get through. The ANC then, and still has, access to almost mind boggling international resources in terms of money which drove the sanctions campaign, or was partly utilised to drive the sanctions campaign. And the whole motivation about the money that was made available was to put the people who were anti-sanctions in a position to get their message across and that was the motivation for it, that was the basis on which the money was applied for and was allocated. There were proper records kept and the Auditor General has found that in terms of the project the money was applied for there were no irregularities.

POM     Talking about double agenda, I refer much more to the accusation that the government is fomenting violence in the townships to undermine the ANC in the townships. They've been saying this since last August and they get more insistent rather than less insistent.

PC     No, sure, but I say again one must look at the reasons for that and try and establish why they say that. And I say again that I believe that that is part of their campaign to put the government's credibility under pressure in this run up to the actual negotiation itself and as part of their campaign to try and get a so-called interim government. So I think one must see in that context - let me just say about the money thing, I mean that's the other side of the coin. The South African government made available R250 000-00 in '89 and part of it in March of '90. Adriaan Vlok himself has made it known that the government has made available R1,5 million which, in terms of the exchange rate at the moment is about $75 000-00, over a period of six years to UWUSA who was fighting sanctions. In the ten months since the ANC was unbanned, in other words from February '90 to December 1990, the ANC received R90 million mostly from overseas governments. That excludes the money that Mr Mandela has collected in the US. and hasn't been transferred to them yet. So how level is the playing field? And if one starts talking about the morality of things, to fight an internal South African campaign with foreign money and then to call foul when one of your opposition parties receives a really negligible amount.

POM     What will be the political fall out of this? Who will be the winners and who are the losers and what kind of further revelations could really damage the government where revelations would be ... to follow?

PC     Well I don't know what revelations can follow. I think what one should do is judge things from March last year, March '90 onwards because in March of last year the State President announced that all covert actions, all covert projects would be investigated and re-evaluated and the government has given the assurance that no money has been given to any internal political parties since that time and whatever covert projects that might have taken place since then - now remember March of last year was still sanctions, it's been sanctions time for more than 12 months after that - but has given the assurance that no money was made available to political parties or political organisations since March of last year and whatever covert actions, there might have been programmes for fighting sanctions in trying to normalise our international situation, that that is now under direct Cabinet management and not with a single ministry or a department. So if there will be revelations that money did indeed go to political parties since March of last year, since Mr Mandela has been out of jail, since the ANC has been put in a position to operate freely as a political party or a political organisation (they are not a political party, they have chosen to remain a so-called freedom organisation) that could be damaging. As far as the historical situation is concerned pre the unbanning of the ANC I don't think that any revelations from that time should have any bearing on where we stand now.

POM     In terms of the politics of it who wins, who loses?

PC     I think who loses most at this point in time is most probably Inkatha, unfortunately. It loses most because I think their credibility is more under pressure from this whole affair than that of the government, but hopefully the focus will now shift, or as the dust settles down around Inkathagate, if you want to call it that, is that the focus will more shift towards levelling the playing field in terms of resources available to all players. Not even the National Party, who is the governing party at this point in time, as a party has nearly the sort of resources that are available to the ANC and I really think that foreign governments especially who are involved in the funding of the ANC should really seriously reconsider their positions as far as that is concerned.

POM     Just to switch to a couple of things we talked about last year. First in terms of the government position on an interim government and a Constituent Assembly: as far as we have been able to judge the government position hasn't changed, no Constituent Assembly and no interim government along the lines of the one being proposed and advocated by the ANC.

PC     No, you're absolutely correct. Remember now, we say yes there must be a negotiating body, what you call that negotiating body does not really matter and at some point that might be called a Constituent Assembly. That is not really what the argument is about. What the argument is about and where our position is still exactly the same is that no Constituent Assembly in the terms that have been defined by the ANC - in other words a Constituent Assembly elected on a one man one vote straightforward majority basis, no checks and balances, straightforward, where winner takes all and a majority of one is an absolute majority. That in fact, there's a bit of a contradiction in the position of the ANC at this point in time where they say they accept proportional representation and that they accept the principle for that but at the same time they are demanding even before you've negotiated at all about a constitution, they demand an election in terms of a totally different system than proportional representation. That does not make sense.

POM     What if they were to say: OK, we'll compromise here. We will have a Constituent Assembly based on proportional representation?

PC     OK. But now how do you put that proportional representation together? That is something that will have to be negotiated first. That will have to be negotiated.

POM     What I'm getting at is the government and the ANC, again I'm just using them as the main actors, there will be other parties involved too, sat and negotiated and they emerge with a commonly agreed upon electoral process based on proportional representation for elections to a Constituent Assembly?

PC     That might not be an impossibility but that would imply that you would have gone a heck of a long way of negotiating one of the more basic things of a constitution before you get to that point, but it's difficult now to speculate because there could be various permutations of this thing. I think the important thing is there will have to be first some real and fundamental negotiations before you take a very serious decision on what the body that is going to represent the population looks like.

POM     So would I be correct in saying that at this point in time the government is opposed to the principle of an elected Constituent Assembly?

PC     Well you see we've just gone through the argument, it depends on how you arrive.

POM     You're saying that even if it were proportional representation in fact that would mean that you would be negotiating before a Constituent Assembly something that should be negotiated within the assembly itself?

PC     Not necessarily. What the sequence of events is going to be is something that is I don't think possible to predict absolutely at this point in time. The important thing that both the government and the ANC have agreed is that the first step is an All-Party conference and at the All-Party conference discussions and negotiations will have to take place about the procedures of the negotiating process. And there again there's a bit of a contradiction in the ANC position where they say, "We demand an elected Constituent Assembly", but at the same time they say, "We're willing to come to an All-Party conference where we will talk about procedures." Then you don't come to that occasion, an All-Party conference, with an open mind and on an open agenda. I think step one has to be an All-Party conference and there the parties will have to negotiate and discuss with one another and try and find consensus about the procedures to be followed for the negotiating process aimed at the new constitution. The ANC is free, obviously it is their democratic right to come to the All-Party conference and to put the question of an elected Constituent Assembly on the table and try and persuade the other parties to go for that and that can be discussed and negotiated. It's interesting that a person like Mr Thabo Mbeki in fact has gone on record where he said that that is the suggestion that the elected Constituent Assembly, is the suggestion that they will bring to the negotiating table, that they won't try and force their will on everybody. He is convinced that they can persuade everybody of the reasonableness of that approach. But that's the point where that sort of decision can be made.

POM     How about an interim government? Here again the difference between what the ANC is calling for and what the government will consider?

PC     There again I believe that that's one of the things that will have to be discussed at the All-Party conference. The government's position on that, and in fact there has been some movement on the government's side as far as that is concerned, the State President has gone on record during this session saying that the government is willing to look at the basis of administration of the country in this interim phase during the process of negotiation and, yes, we accept that there will have to be interim arrangements. Again the procedures about which one will have to negotiate and talk to one another at that All-Party conference and it would be fairly simple to work out procedures by which you could for instance have joint committees between the present parliament and the negotiating body where all pieces of legislation goes to such committees before it goes to plenary session of parliament, for instance. It's not impossible and it will take a very small change to the present constitution to make it possible to include people in the present government, even at ministerial level, that are not members of the present parliament. So there are ways of dealing with it and, yes, there have to be interim measures, but when you talk about an interim government, again, how do you put that interim government together? That is something that opens a whole new field, a whole area that will have to be discussed.

POM     Am I again correct in saying that the government's position is that it will indeed consider having members of the ANC or the PAC or Inkatha or whatever become part of the governmental process even at senior level, but that it will not consider that it would resign as the government, and have discussions about the formation of the interim government?

PC     Absolutely. Let's look at one or two practical things as far as that is concerned. If you form an interim government then you put everything to some extent on hold and one does not know how long the negotiating process is going to last. I mean that interim government will then have to formulate all sorts of policy stances and if that is not the result of fully democratic process you can develop all sorts of problems for the parties involved in that interim government. I'm not sure whether the ANC see it from their point of view, it would be wise for them to become part of an interim government because with that goes shared responsibility. If I were the ANC I would rather want to wait until things get in place like a growth phase in the economy where you are in a position to start delivering to people. I'm also worried that if one gets an interim government at this point in time where the economy is still in a very deep recession that the sort of pressures that will be brought to bear on that interim government to deliver will force it to go for socialist type of programmes. So just from that angle I'm not too sure that it's wise at this point in time to go for an interim government.

POM     Just talking of the ANC itself, how would you read its performance over the last year? It has come across on - it's insistence that the government is responsible for the violence in the townships, deadlines for the firing of Vlok and Malan, it's insistence that it would not negotiate until the violence in the townships came under control, backing away from the deadlines for the resignation. And then in Mandela's recent interview again dropping its insistence that the government must bring the violence under control. It seems, at least in the States, it has come across as being an uneven and rather scattered performance and that the initiative is at this point in the hands of the government rather than the ANC.

PC     I think, yes, it's true if one looks at the total spectrum, political arena, I think that the ANC has a less than consistent record at this point in time. I believe that the ANC have moved more than the government has moved in terms of policy and position. The government has moved considerably in practical terms, in terms of scrapping apartheid legislation and so forth but it hasn't moved so much in terms of position because it's declared its intentions and therefore all that needed to be done was to put the things into practice. The ANC, on the other hand, since it's been unbanned, February of last year, February of 1990, on a number of issues they have moved considerably; the issues that you've mentioned for instance, but have also moved considerably on issues like nationalisation of major industries and the nationalisation of land and so forth. That is true. But I think that one must also be, when you judge that, one should be fair. The ANC, while the government has been in active, practical politics over many decades and have been governing over a long time, you had policy programmes not only formulated but was in a position to implement, the ANC up until February of last year was out and out a resistance and freedom movement. It was not involved in the day to day running of a country, it was not involved in the normal political processes and I think it would have been unreasonable to expect them to formulate complete and fully integrated political programmes overnight. So I think they need a little bit of time.

POM     OK, they need time. How much more time do they need?

PC     I think the sooner we get to the All-Party conference and the start of the negotiating process the better because that will put them in the practical situation where they have to seriously formulate policies and start formulating policies against the backdrop of being in a position where in the near future they might have to take practical responsibility for the implementation.

POM     Do you think that's six months to get to that point, or a year to get there?

PC     That depends on when the practical actual negotiating process is going to start. By the time we get to an All-Party conference they would need to have at least some of their policy programmes in place. So it's a little bit in their hands. It's not something that we can force. It would be silly for the government to try and force or enforce a deadline on an All-Party conference. I don't think that's the way to approach the process. So I think that the time is to some extent in their hands. There is also another element.

POM     Time is in the ANC's hands?

PC     Yes, it is to some extent in the ANC's hands because we are ready to go to an All-Party conference tomorrow and it's for them to decide now when they will be ready. I think there's another element if one judged the record of the ANC over the last more or less 18 months where again I think one must be fair. The ANC does not have a good image at this point in time organisationally speaking. They seem to be a little bit clumsy when they come to organisation. But there again I think one must be fair. I mean they have only been unbanned 18 months ago. It will take some time to put an organisation and the infrastructure for organisation in place. I think on that front one can expect some fairly good progress in the months ahead with the election of Cyril Ramaphosa as the Secretary/General.

POM     You see that as a good omen?

PC     Yes, I see it as a good omen because Cyril Ramaphosa - I mean he's a tough negotiator, it's not going to be easy to negotiate with him. He's cut his teeth in the trade union movement but he's got a proven record as a good organiser, as a good administrator and I think that we would welcome that to get a proper well integrated organisation that you can work with. One of the problems that one had with the ANC, which is another thing that was to a large extent they started to sort that out with their national conference, is one has gone through this frustration where you have on one issue three, four or five spokesmen and that gives a very confusing picture very often on where exactly does the ANC stand on a particular issue because you get one spokesman saying one thing and the next day another spokesman in another area taking another stance and I think that they need to get some discipline into that, but that comes with good organisation.

POM     Looking at the right wing for a moment, last year you said that the greatest obstacle that De Klerk faces was the threat of right wing violence. After a year do you still believe that that is the case? And also last year there was a lot of concern that the Conservative Party was making inroads into National Party support, that more white voters were moving to the Conservative Party. Has that trend been arrested? What's happening on the right?

PC     Let me say what's happening on the right, I think with the final scrapping of apartheid legislation the Conservative Party, in terms of democratic processes, now more than ever faces the dilemma of becoming irrelevant. There was a fairly big controversy inside the Conservative Party itself this year with the publication of a suggested strategy, a strategy document that was worked out by a senior member of the CP.

POM     Is that Koos van der Merwe?

PC     Koos van der Merwe, the famous Koos van der Merwe document which was an internal document and then warned the CP of their heading for irrelevancy. So I still believe that from the right wing in terms of normal democratic processes, the right wing is no threat. If one looks at the results of by-elections and the projections of the experts like Laurie Schlemmer make on the basis of that, I don't believe that the CP is a threat to the government at the polling booth. It's becoming less of a threat. What is still a threat, and that might even slightly have increased since last year, is the possibility of disruptive action from extreme elements. Inside the right wing one has seen that the incident of the Hill View School Building in Pretoria that was blown up twice in recent weeks. The responsible people haven't been caught yet but all indications are that it came from the right wing.

PAT     Is that the school that was to be used for ...?

PC     That's the school that was going to be used to accommodate some of the returning exiles, especially wives and children would have been accommodated in that school, a school that because of demographic shifts is not being utilised any more as a school. So one has seen some increase of activity on the extreme right wing. But at this point in time there's a lot of in-fighting amongst the extreme right wing and it's a bit of a murky picture at this point in time. But then again disruptive elements in any society are usually, and the perpetrators of acts of terrorism and so on, are usually not large in numbers, but that is a potentially disruptive force.

POM     Just to run through a couple of things that you said last year to see what you think of them this year. Last year you said that the biggest concern of whites, at least in your constituency, was having black neighbours and now that the Group Areas Act has been repealed does that still remain their greatest fear or has it changed?

PC     No, I think it's changed. I think, like has been proven during the reform process at previous times, people's concerns change once things come into practice. If I can use the example, and I haven't seen any figures of any surveys on the Group Areas Act at this point in time, but we've gone through the experience where the Human Sciences Research Council did a survey amongst whites immediately prior to the scrapping of the Mixed Marriages Act some years ago and in the order of 70% of all whites were against the scrapping of that Act at the time. The Act was scrapped and some six months after the act was scrapped the survey was done again by the HSRC and the picture changed completely, it almost switched around. As I say I haven't seen any figures but I just get the feeling ...

POM     You talked last year about the feeling in your constituency, the feel has changed?

PC     And I believe the feel has changed. I think the main reason for that is the Act has been scrapped now for all practical purposes, although the Act was still on the statute book, by the middle of last year. The intention to scrap it, and it was declared and it was said it would be scrapped during the next year, so the Act for all practical purposes was scrapped almost a year ago because in terms of the old Act a person could buy outside his own Group Area, he just needed a permit. And the procedure that was followed from the government side was that where a permit was applied for in terms of the Act, while it still was on the statute book, it was almost automatically granted. It was just a formality. So we've seen over the last year, we've seen people of colour moving into predominantly white areas. The Act is now off the statute book and has been off the statute book now for a few months and the fears of a huge influx of people haven't materialised. It's a trickle. People don't just move overnight so those fears of being swamped have disappeared.

POM     So what, again talking about your own constituency, what has emerged in the last year and the greatest fear of your white constituents?

PC     I think that the biggest concern of most people at this point in time is the economy. I think that that's the biggest concern of people at the moment. As we know the recession is not something that's been unique to South Africa. There was a world recession. In South Africa it coincided with the scrapping of apartheid and so forth plus the recession was maybe a little bit deeper here than it's been elsewhere because of the sanctions situation and so forth. I think the biggest concern of people at this point in time is the economy, but people's expectations are picking up at the moment with the announcements that a lot of the sanctions are disappearing. I think people's expectations are picking up. The biggest fear and concern that people maybe have at this point in time is the fear that the noises that you still hear mainly from the ANC that there will be nationalisation and that sort of thing is still a fear with a lot of people.

PAT     How does the fear of the economy manifest itself? Is it a fear of white unemployment? Is it not being able to take vacations, buying a new car? In your constituency itself how do you see it?

PC     Well I don't know. It's more a fear of a dramatic drop in standards. The standard of living of most people has been coming down now for some time with the recessionary circumstances. A lot of people are under pressure financially and a lot of people in fact at the moment are losing things like their houses because they can't handle the bond repayments and that sort of thing. So that I think is the main fear, that their economic security is eroded.

POM     Two questions on violence. The common wisdom this time last year, in August last year, was that if the violence persisted you could not have serious negotiations. Yet here we are a year later and the violence has persisted, some say it has even gotten worse, but it certainly hasn't gotten better. Do you think that there is an acceptance of its existence and that a negotiating process will operate alongside of it or are negotiations still not really possible if the violence continues to exist?

PC     It appears to me that negotiations about violence, peace talks so to speak, could maybe be the first step in the process of negotiations. I'm not sure that I fully agree with you that the situation as far as violence is concerned has not improved. I believe since the Peace Indaba that was called by the government plus initiatives that were taken by the churches and so on, but in recent weeks, at least for the last two months, the situation around violence, the conflict, has improved somewhat. There's still a lot of underlying tension, that sort of thing, and I still believe we have to get to serious peace talks. What's been happening, not just nationally but what's been happening also at a local level, and if I can again use Kwathema, the black town in my constituency, as an example, a few weeks ago Inkatha planned a rally. We have a so-called Working Committee on which all organisations are represented in Kwathema, and people came with the request to Inkatha to postpone the plans for their rally. Consensus was reached among all the organisations in Kwathema that all political rallies will be suspended for a time and the organisations amongst themselves have started a process of negotiating a code of conduct for political rallies and they have progressed well along those lines. The basic guidelines for a so-called code of conduct have already been reached. So what is happening is that local communities, who are tired of the violence, are starting to get at local level, trying to get a handle on the situation and the mere fact that a lot of the political heat, I believe, is disappearing from it because people at local level in the community are coming to the realisation that it's in their own interests to find peaceful ways of competing politically with one another.

POM     You also said that intra-black violence was making white people more secure, they felt more secure. It's kind of the blacks out there bashing themselves in. Is that feeling of security ?

PC     No, I don't think it's quite the same as it was last year. Remember last year when we spoke it was fairly early days in that conflict and I don't think it's exactly the same. I believe that some concern has developed amongst whites that a peaceful, stable South Africa is not possible if there is conflict inside the black community. So I think that has changed somewhat. Just to recap: the sense of security, security is not the right word, but for lack of a better word, I can't think of a better word for the moment, that there was amongst whites as far as that is concerned, the violence among black people almost gave them the feeling that, listen there's not going to be a ganging up of black against white, that there are more factors out there that play a role, there's a better chance for checks and balances in a system and so forth. And that is still present to some extent, that people realise it's not just a black/white thing. But there is, especially in the sort of professional and business circles, there's real concern that the violence will have to come to an end. People realise that all sanctions can go but we won't get a flow back of capital and investment into the country as long as there is violence. And that's one of the reasons, let me just say, it made me think of something else, that's one of the reasons why I, from my side, totally reject the notion that the government has any interest in stimulating violence and conflict amongst blacks because that would be defeating our own purposes of getting stability and peace and a revival of economic growth.

POM     Would white people be more fearful that this may be the future, that you're not going to have that intra-black violence or whatever you're going to call it, ethnic violence or whatever you're going to call it is more likely now than it was a year ago to be part and parcel of the future?

PC     That is difficult to judge without doing proper surveys and so on.

POM     What do you pick up from your own constituents?

PC     It's a varied reaction. Yes, you get the sort of reaction from some people where the violence in the black community tends to get stereotypes of perception, or a perception of stereotypes developing with some people when they say this is a violent society and blacks are inclined to settle differences by way of violence. Yes, there is that element amongst some white people, but I wouldn't say that's the reaction of the majority.

POM     The last few quick questions. Last year you said "I personally can't see the ANC surviving as it is today." In the last year what would you point to as evidence of increasing potential for fragmentation?

PC     I still hold that view. I still hold that view that the ANC as an alliance as we know it today will not hold. I personally believe that's one of the main reasons why the ANC at its national conference decided not to become a political party, but to remain as an alliance and a so-called freedom movement. I think one of the indicators that that process is still taking place is the increasing indicators that one gets from the trade union movement, COSATU, who is starting to argue that they should take a more independent line from the ANC, that it's not in their interest to be part of an out and out political party and that a government of the future is not a natural partner of the trade union movement, that their interests are not going to be exactly the same in that sort of situation. So, yes, that is still there. Let me just say I don't predict a major split, so to speak, inside the ANC, but at some point the ANC will have to make the transition from being just a broad alliance to a political party. Now remember there's already a political party operating under that umbrella, the South African Communist Party. So at the time when they become a political party and they move into electoral politics where you fight in an election campaign, the ANC and the South African Communist Party will have to re-define the relationship between them.

POM     Two last. Last year you said the PAC was an increasing influence.

PC     I believe, yes, that the PAC - they haven't made dramatic progress but the PAC are making more and more public appearances, so to speak. Their public profile has lifted considerably. They have strengthened their leadership levels and have some very able leaders now operating in public, people like Dikgang Moseneke.

POM     Lastly, you no longer hear either Mandela or the ANC refer to De Klerk as a man of integrity. Do you think there is less of a trusting relationship than was there a year ago?

PC     No I don't think so. I think what is happening is while at the early stages it was important for the ANC to persuade its own constituency to come along with the process, it was in their interests to persuade people that they were dealing with a man of integrity, that the changes that are taking place are real and that sort of thing. We're moving closer and closer to a situation where the National Party, of which President de Klerk is the Leader, and the ANC moves into political competition with one another and in that sort of situation it becomes less and less in their own interest to build the image of one of their opponents. So I think that is a symptom of the normalisation that's taking place on the political scene. Something else of course has happened that one should not overlook. Since we last spoke the National Party has opened its ranks and is now an open party. It's not a white party any more and we've been writing up members also from the black and other communities. We are starting to compete with one another directly in terms of power base and I think one must expect that the atmosphere and the rhetoric that goes with it will change.

POM     Patricia?

PAT     Yes. I want to ask you one or two questions briefly just on that point. Have you enlisted any members in your own constituency that are non-white?

PC     In my own constituency, no. Some of the other constituencies - I don't have a large chunk of black people living inside the white part of my constituency, if I can call it that. I have had approaches from people in the black town of Kwathema that we should form a branch. I have not gone over to that step for very practical reasons and that is my involvement in Kwathema as chairman of the so-called working committee which is a forum and at which all the political groupings of Kwathema are present.

POM     The ANC, PAC?

PC     It's across the spectrum. Totally across the spectrum and I'm chairman of that working committee and I'm a bit wary at this point in time to go into direct political competition.

PAT     Because you would be using that position?

PC     Apart from using that position, I think that that position of mine would come under pressure and I would endanger a very useful instrument that we have at the moment to keep Kwathema peaceful and to build a tradition of co-operation across the political dividing lines and so on. So at some point, yes, I might and most probably will go over to actively canvassing for members but in my own particular circumstances at this point in time I don't think the timing is right.

PAT     I have a question related to your role as Director of Information for the party relative to Inkatha: if you were to find through the circumstances that you had hoped were not there, that there were security forces or whatever that were following contributions into Inkatha in that post-March era, how serious do you see this as being to the government itself, to the party? How would you advise us coming from the outside just as this thing is breaking, to look at? What will unfold in the next week or two?

PC     Well let me say first of all, something that we've been busy with over a period now is to redefine the position of the party vis-à-vis the government. From the party's side we've been deliberately starting to build an image of the party being an entity in its own right that is not fully linked with the government. Remember now, if for instance in the interim arrangements, in terms of the administration on a day to day basis, comes into place you might find members of the ANC possibly forming part of the executive of the government, of the executive of the administration. And therefore with that one of the possibilities, one of the scenarios that is not inconceivable, it's important for us to develop a more independent image of the party per se. For that reason the party per se thus far has not reacted at all to the whole Inkatha affair. Our stance is that this is a government affair and not a party affair. It's not party funds that were used; it was government funds. It was a government decision, it was a government project of which the party was not involved. The party and party machinery, the party caucus, none of the party formations have been anywhere along the line privy to any of the decisions or the decision making process in terms of that project and I can't see that changing.

PAT     Would you take that to a logical stance, that in an All-Party conference the government would not be represented in that?

PC     I believe that's where we're heading. By the time that we get to the negotiating table there will have to be a clear distinction between the administration of the day and the party. It will be the party that sits at the table and not the government of the day.

PAT     And so you see the negotiating process leading to an All-Party conference. The negotiating process is being gone through now, the government negotiating with the ANC, the PAC.

PC     Getting to the point, bringing things where the government is putting the practical things in place to get us to the point where the so-called obstacles are removed, where parties then take over and start negotiating with one another. Obviously there would still be influence from the party on the government of the day, but as far as the interim arrangements are concerned we believe that we should establish mechanisms that make it also possible for other parties involved in the process, the other players in the negotiating process to have influence over the administrative processes of the day to day administration of the country.

PAT     If parliament were to come back into session at this critical time, as has been suggested - you don't think it will?

PC     It won't happen. Let me just say the demand for the special session of parliament has come from the Democratic Party which is the smallest party in parliament and that is more or less their stock pitch. It's not the first time, every time there's some controversy and so on they ask for parliament to be reconvened. I don't say it's impossible, it's not impossible that it might be part of the government's strategy, of which I'm again not privy to, what strategy the government is going to follow and I can just, as an observer, look at some of it and make my own deductions. I'll give you an example just now of what I think has happened. It might not be impossible that the government might decide to call a special session of parliament as part of their strategy to diffuse the whole thing. That is not impossible. Personally I think it's unlikely. But that there is a government strategy, of that I'm fairly convinced. I think what is important, one of the things that's been happening if you just look at the events over the last 36 hours, the police were the channel that was used to get the money to Inkatha because they are the people who were operationally on the ground there locally in Natal but the funds came from Foreign Affairs. They control that fund. Secondly, the money was made available as part of an anti-sanctions campaign which is also an international issue. And if you just look at what's been happening in the last 36 hours, Adriaan Vlok, who is the Minister of Police and who acted as a channel for the funds, has been removed from the scene publicly, and the person who is now acting as a spokesman on behalf of the government is Pik Botha. He's the Minister of Foreign Affairs and is the person who has to take responsibility for the funds and the use of the funds. I can see a strategy there where the heat is taken off the police and the police are taken out of the controversy and to say, listen, the police were just the channel that was being used to place these funds, but it was not a police project.

PAT     I can hear what you're saying because even the few days we've been here the players are changing.

PC     So there is a strategy, exactly what the strategy is and how it's going to unfold in the days to come - it's also interesting that Pik Botha will be holding a press conference and making some announcements this week and that the President has said that he will only on Monday ...

PAT     After the Security Council meeting.

PC     That again is a deduction by the papers. It just so happens that Monday is the National Security Council meeting, but I personally think that the reason why the President will only address this thing publicly and have a press conference on Monday is to first see what the effect will be of the strategy around Pik Botha, what the reaction is going to be on his press conference, give the thing a few days to develop and only then will he react if a sacrificial (now you must switch it off and then I'll give you a scenario).

     I'm personally actually convinced of the neutrality of the police in general and as a formal policy -I'm not saying that there might elements inside the police who don't act to the letter and spirit of official policy. We've just come through a very interesting weekend. Interesting, maybe that's not the right word. Gone through a weekend of some violence in Kwathema, but it's totally non-political and what happened there is that we have the so-called hostel where the single men contract workers who come from the rural areas, mostly Zulu, live, there's about 1200 of them at this stage living in the hostel. Over the weekend, on Saturday afternoon, one of the hostel dwellers went to what is called a shebeen, a pub, in the township itself. An argument developed between this resident of the hostel and other people, residents of the township, over a woman. This hostel dweller was seriously assaulted. He's still in hospital in a very serious condition. Some of his friends from the hostel went to the shebeen and asked the people at the shebeen to identify the three people that assaulted their friend. They didn't get co-operation from the people at the shebeen and a fight broke out and the next thing gang fights started breaking out and the thing spread. What's happened since then is that the police called in the help the army. They sealed off the hostel and raided the hostel. Now remember, those 1200 people living in that hostel, more than 1000 are Zulus. They have raided it and disarmed everybody. So they immediately diffused the situation. By Monday things were back to a peaceful situation, a little bit of tension. Last night, this morning it's quiet. It's business as normal. And there the police actually had to impartially - took the step that one could expect of them. So from the practical experience that I have on the ground I believe that the police are acting impartially.

POM     OK. Thank you ever so much for all the time you've given us.

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.