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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
31 Jul 1991: Khoza, Themba
POM Just for the record Themba, what is your position in the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP)?
TK I am a Central Committee member of IFP, I am also a leader/chairman of Inkatha Youth Brigade in the Province of Transvaal, which is one of the four provinces of SA and the largest and the most densely populated one in this country.
POM I want to go back to something very basic, and that is what the nature of the problem is in SA, that when the parties get around a negotiation table they will be trying to resolve. Let me give you a little bit of back ground of what I mean by that. You have those who say that the problem in SA is the racial domination of whites over blacks, that that is the problem that must be resolved; then you have another group which says it is really a question of there being two nationalisms, a white nationalism and a black nationalism, and the two of them are competing for power; and then you have those who would say that SA is a very divided society, that besides having four racial groups, within each racial group you have different ethnic groups and that these ethnic groups compete amongst themselves for position and for legitimacy also. With that in mind, how would you describe the problem the negotiators from all the political parties will face when they sit down to negotiate?
TK Maybe one at first should look at the realities like the complexity of multi-racial, ethnic and political differences amongst the political organisations themselves, because we have now Inkatha Freedom Party, led by Dr. Buthelezi, Dr. Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who is a member of the KwaZulu Royal Family and the Chief Minister of the Zulus under the King of the Zulus, King Zwelethini Ka Bekuzulu; and then with the Zulus themselves being the largest nation, or ethnic group in the country and in a proper sense, they are (the Zulus) a nation within the borders of SA, they are a nation as such. Now, they are the only one nation we have because the other groupings now become ethnic groupings without being symbolic of nations in terms of having a King to identify around, or to symbolise the nation, then that is the reason why I do not say that SA is a nation, but it is the Zulus that are a nation. SA is a state with different ethnic groupings and of course, rightly, political differences.
Now coming to the question directly, is that when the time for negotiations comes, amongst the things that we are expecting to be resolved and identified and highlighted is that what does each organisation have for the future of this country, because there is no problem in the Zulus being the Zulus, there is no problem in the Xhosas being the Xhosas, Afrikaners being the Afrikaners, that is not a problem, it is something that is there, it is something that we live with. Now, we must seek ways and means constitutionally that will accommodate these realities that exist, which say that there are political differences, there are colour differences, there are ethnic groupings and also there is a nation within the country.
So, the problem in SA is a problem which I call the 'unknown', the fear of the unknown because those who are supposed to move forward the whole SA population to the transitional period and into a new SA, they hesitate and ask themselves, where are we going to and what will come next? Am I still going to be allowed to be a Zulu, am I still going to be allowed to be an Afrikaner?, Am I not going to be suppressed simply that I am black? Or, am I am not going to be discriminated against simply because I am white? Am I not going to be suppressed or discriminated against for the wrongs that I did in the past? It is those things, those questions that are groping within the minds of the blacks and the whites, of the ethnic groupings and political organisations.
POM How would you distinguish between what the ANC means by democracy and what Inkatha means by democracy?
TK To start with the ANC, I am going to take what they are calling for now and work from there. They are saying the only way we will have a proper democracy in this country and a proper elected democratic government in this country it will be by Constituent Assembly and that is the only way. If one now looks at the Constituent Assembly itself, that is to say all people will be allowed to vote in an adult voters roll, there will be one man one vote. I accept that, it sounds very fair. They further say, from that vote those who will be elected out of that voters roll will then sit down and form the constitution of this country, so in that sense, they are saying democracy will then prevail, or it will be derived from the majority opinion. I agree, democracy is about majority rule, but at the same time it protects the rights of individuals and the minorities, and if this is not so, then it is not a democracy.
Now, we argue that what we are saying in return is that Constituent Assembly in SA is not the solution. What we are saying here is that let us go to an all-party conference, let the ANC put their own proposal as how do they envision the future SA, how do they want it, let the other organisations like PAC, AZAPO, NP, IFP and everybody, let them come in there with their own proposals. Now, when we do that, it will be before the elections as far as Inkatha is concerned. When we weigh the need for the constitution, we will all be representing our constituencies and from that meeting/conference, then we will then reach a consensus, a model which will be accepted by everyone around the table. This is prior to constitutional drafting, because in that very agenda, we must also say who is going to draft the constitution, who is going to be there in the constitution, because we are not expecting to have a constitution out of that multi-party-conference, but what we expect is to hear the views of everybody, and we must also now have delegates who will be representing organisations in the drafting of the constitution, and we must agree on that from that all-party-conference.
Now, our approach is an approach on consensus. When we have reached that agreement, then we must then have a body that is going to agree on who will be there in the final negotiations, where constitutional modalities will be negotiated. We must have that from this all-party-conference. And then in this all-party-conference, that is where we will determine who is legitimate and who is not legitimate to go to the constitution drafting. That is from the Inkatha point of view.
POM So, am I correct in saying that you have an all party conference which does two things: it draws up the lines and the rules and the main principles that should be included in the constitution. Is that true or does it just draw up the rules?
TK Rules of how are we going to play the game of constitutional drafting and who will be there, and who is legitimate to be there.
POM How in that situation would you differentiate between say, the strength that Inkatha has and the strength that say the PAC has?
TK Now, it is important that we do not look at the strength before the interests of the country. I assume, I may be wrong, that Inkatha has got bigger strength than the PAC, that is my assumption but I may be wrong. The only time we will see our strength is when we now go back to the people and ask for votes, so the strong organisation will win the election then, and then it will be the government of the day. But in the process where we will be putting the pieces together, we do not look at each other as the bigger and the smaller partner, but we look at each other as legitimate organisations.
POM And the composition of the body that would draw up the constitution would be from consensus?
TK Yes, that is what we are saying because, if I may make a quick illustration, that there are negotiations does not mean to say the SA government does not have strength and power to resist that. The government will be, or is now negotiating still from a strong and powerful position, not from a weak position. The government can still stop this negotiation, they can still stall the negotiations. And on the other side, our side, black liberation side, we do not have means to overthrow this government, so this can be still ripped apart if the government can decide to do that. So it is then important that we do not look at numbers to reach the conclusion, but we must look at the consensus to reach this conclusion.
POM The State President has said that he made a comparison between the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union and the repeal of the apartheid laws here. He point was that when communism collapsed, ethnic differences between the countries under communism, or within the countries under communism, which had been long suppressed, began to come to the fore and he said that a similar thing may happen in SA. That as the common yoke of apartheid is lifted the differences between the different ethnic groups in the country at large might make themselves more felt. Do you agree with that?
TK Partially the suppression in the country has not been about ethnicity as it has been in the communist countries.
POM What I mean is that all the groups that were under apartheid had solidarity against apartheid, but as apartheid lifted then the differences between will start to emerge.
TK There is that possibility. It is a reality and then this is the reason why in Inkatha we said this needs to be reached on consensus, not on numbers, because at the end of the day, we will have the largest ethnic group wanting to dominate, and that will be unfair for an individual person to be deprived of his rights simply because he is coming from a minority ethnic group. So, it is along those lines that we disagree with them and again I am saying I think the concentration on that one, the State President must not use that one as an excuse for any delay that might take place. It has been an excuse for too long when they were saying to us, we are the Zulus we must go to Zululand, we are Xhosas we must go to Xhosaland, we are Tswana's we must go to Bophuthatswana. It was a delaying tactic. So that must not be used as an excuse this time. If they do have that in mind, the State President and the NP, they must have it in their proposal as a fear that we must address in an all-party-conference. So I am seeing nothing that can be regarded as a stumbling block now, except of course for the violence that has been engulfing and which looks more tentative in this country.
POM Let us just talk about that for a minute. There has been a year now where there has been extensive township violence in the Transvaal and continuing violence in Natal. What is Inkatha's analysis of what this violence is about?
TK I will try to stick to the realities, something that is tangible, because if I am talking theory and politics, it may side with me. The world must remember this, the ANC has suspended the armed struggle to give negotiations a chance. On that declaration they said, "We are not abandoning the armed struggle, we suspend it. Should negotiations fail, we will resort to armed struggle." That is true, that is reality. Now I am saying for peace to prevail in the country, you need a peace conducive of climate for peace, which is stability, faith and hope amongst people. For the armed struggle to take place in the country, if I am just shallow, you need a climate conducive to the armed struggle or to the war. The only conducive climate for armed struggle is violence or an unstable society. Then that draws us to the conclusion that the reason why the violence is always there, being with Inkatha, be it between Inkatha and the ANC or between the ANC and the PAC, or between the ANC and AZAPO, but it is all violence, in a general term.
The reason why it is maintained, it is not only maintained but retained, is for the armed struggle to be easily resumed. To qualify this statement, one must remember and must be realistic in that the violence taking place in the country is not between Inkatha and AZAPO or Inkatha and the PAC, but it is against these other black organisations and the ANC so that I am saying the ANC maintains violence to keep the conducive climate for them when they want to switch over from negotiations to armed struggle.
POM It is your belief that the ANC does not believe the negotiations will succeed and that they promote this violence in the townships to ensure that the negotiations won't succeed and that they can then go back to the armed struggle?
TK That is the way I perceive it and that is the way I want everybody to take it because it is that way.
POM Is that the general feeling in Inkatha?
TK Yes. We understand that. Well, maybe my analysis is deep. The general feeling is the ANC wants to see no opposition, they want to remain the top organisation. In fact they want all other organisations to be behind them on the negotiations. They want the negotiations to be the government and the ANC on behalf of the black people or between the government on behalf of the whites and the ANC on behalf of the blacks. That is how they want it, that is the general feeling.
POM So, do you feel that the ANC's ultimate goal is to establish a one party state?
TK Yes exactly. Without any question. As I have already said, they want to try to put all other organisations behind them. The ANC cannot continue to fight Inkatha if we simply say no, we surrender we will stand behind you, we join you and ask you to be our representatives, and they are not going to attack the PAC if the PAC said look, we stand behind you now, you negotiate on our behalf. That is what they want to do. Eventually that leads to a one party state.
POM Do you regard, or does Inkatha regard the ANC as being primarily a Xhosa dominated organisation?
TK That is the general feeling of the South African community. If you look at the leadership of the ANC, the top brass, it is of course Xhosa, but I do not accuse them for that. I do have my own reservations which are in terms of generally speaking, if you go to England for example, you must expect the British, or the English people to be in the dominating positions in many organs within the country, simply because they are the majority. This is like when you go to Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe has got some few Shonas and Ndebeles. But Shonas are the majority ethnic group there, so it is literally universally acceptable that in many organs, associations, clubs, etc. they are in the dominating position, you will expect that. But now in SA, amongst black organisations, generally it must be expected that the Zulus dominate, because they are the largest group within the country. If not, so one can ask why and at the same time do accept that, so that is the democracy that works. That is my reservation with the ANC, to see them having Xhosas right at the top in majority in leadership. With the Zulus actually at a minimum as compared to other ethnic groups within the organisation. But all the same I do accept that.
POM When you look at the pattern of the violence in the last year, do you believe that the ANC was perpetrating that violence against Inkatha or against the Zulu people?
TK It was an effort for the ANC to try to dismantle and dethrone the Zulu Kingdom when they set out last year to have Chief Buthelezi and the KwaZulu government dismantled. There were some pamphlets issued under the name of the ANC that the Zulu nation must be dismantled and there were some few castigating insults levelled against the Zulu people so, again, there were other pamphlets given this year in their conference which were now castigating insults levelled against Inkatha with ideas and plan to destroy, eradicate and annihilate Inkatha. So in that sense, I am saying yes, the ANC planned and orchestrated and executed this idea of trying to eliminate whatsoever seemed to be strong. In terms of ANC as a communist aligned organisation, I wonder if I should call them a communist organisation, but I want to say it is dominated by communists, so in that sense in communism, as you have seen in their own world, they do not allow ethnicity, because it means division to them. The Zulu nation is actually a symbol of strength which poses a threat to the British, Boers, Hollanders and now today, the ANC. So I think that is the reason why they were trying us because they were fearing that strength.
POM So do you see the ANC as waging a war on the Zulu people?
TK They did that. Looking at the statement they made, looking at the evidence that they have set out. But now it was under a great pretext that it was not directed to the Zulus. After they failed to do that they realised that the Zulus people, with their traditional weapon, the spear, they could not just crack them apart. The ANC failed with the AK47. Then you must have been aware that there was a huge cry for the banning of traditional weapons in this country. The mob psychology could not just work because it was something for the Zulu people to defend themselves with, the spear. In communism mob psychology is one of those good weapons to destabilise the community or society, and this could not work against the Zulus because those mobs, people revolt against them.
POM What is the position now with regard to the traditional weapons? Can the Zulus still carry the spear?
TK Yes, but not in an unrest declared area, but it is still legal.
POM Is this resented by the Zulus that they are restricted?
TK It was because of the compromises which they respect, that they accepted that in an unrest declared area they are not allowed to carry them. But all the same, they finally accepted that that was a compromise, in a true sense there is no power on earth which will part the Zulu from this traditional - not weapon, you would not call kitchen utensils as weapons, but you can use them when you fight. It symbolises my manhood. I do have mine. I love them and I will carry them.
POM Over the last year, since the violence began last year, the ANC have persistently said that the police and the military have been helping Inkatha. Does Inkatha categorically deny that?
TK Yes. The fact here must be looked at, as I am speaking to you now our members are still being picked up and incarcerated as I am talking to you now. I am talking about this Reef area alone, the Johannesburg area alone, where I am staying myself. At some stage, when there were fights between the ANC and Inkatha, there were policemen who were killed, helping the ANC. That is known to the SA government and to the ANC. Now, my analysis on this is that, the police are not computer machines. They are human beings like me and you. What they do, they also know who is wrong and who is right although they know they must be impartial. But deep down they know who is wrong and who is right, they do love somebody there. Depending now on the area and the place.
Let me put it this way, in the Thokoza area for example, the ANC complained that the police were lenient, sympathetic or soft-handed with Inkatha, and Sebokeng as well. In Kagiso and Soweto we were complaining that the police are on the side of the ANC, so it depends on who is doing what where. I do think personally, now this is my personal perception, I think that the police at some stage are soft to the ANC and at some stage not to ANC but to Inkatha.
Let me put this to you again, this is my personal perception. I believe that in some areas they were hard on the ANC and a little softer on the Inkatha side and in other areas they were hard on Inkatha and softer on the ANC, depending on who the police are who are doing that. Remember, you in your own capacity as a journalist, you don't need to tell me that you like Inkatha or the ANC, but deep down in your heart you know who is somehow better, but you don't need to practice that. So that is what I am talking about.
TK We say, the State President, now I am not referring to Mr. de Klerk, I am saying any State President is supposed to be a State President, he must not side with a specific party, political organisation, but State Presidents come from a political organisation, definitely he has got an affinity to someone more than anyone else in the situation, yet at the same time we expect them to be unbiased. So, there is nothing that is unbiased in this world, it is only God himself who is unbiased, the rest are just biased no matter to what limitations. Some to an exposed limitation, some to an unexposed limitation.
POM How would you relate that to what has happened in the last couple of weeks with the allegations against the police supplying money to Inkatha rallies?
TK Let us first say this. In terms of all this that has prevailed, it is the Foreign Affairs that paid money out. But in terms of the South African press people, journalists, reporters, it is the SAP. Why? They are trying to give another image, the image that will suit and defame Inkatha.
POM Why do you think the media want to do that?
TK I think many of them are against us, rightly because they are human beings. As I said to you at the end of the day they will also go and vote and cast their own vote. Do you think they are going to vote for me? I don't think so. So, in order for them to vote, their organisation must win, so they must promote it. Ask me if I would not be biased as a journalist today, I would give Inkatha credibility. I would create a good story out of nothing for Inkatha. So it is both things. So, what I am saying here, most South African papers are for the ANC. Take for instance the Weekly Mail, it is a well known ANC newspaper. The Mail writers, editors are card carrying members of the ANC and the same with other newspapers. So, anyway, but above all this, Themba is feeling very good, comfortable and soft. The leadership is not created by the papers and if you say to me it is created by the papers I say to you, no, leaders are born, they are created by the community. So the ANC can have the fame and everything but if they are not realistic about what they are doing, they are not serve the good of the country.
POM What political impact do you think the last couple of weeks will have on Inkatha, nationally and within KwaZulu itself?
TK I do not know, but I've got a surprising story here, it is just that the phone hook is off. Almost each day, since this news was brought out, I've been phoned by people saying that Themba, we support you, we support all that, we think you are on the right course, we are behind you, we pray for you. Some say for this that has been exposed, would you please send us membership cards, we just want to join you. Remember this is the creation of newspapers. The fame, the prominence of the matter was made by the media. The people of SA now they know that there was such money, they also knew that when the ANC got down to the preliminary negotiations, where they went to identify obstacles impeding negotiations, it is the SA government that paid. When they got to Pretoria for what is called the Groote Schuur and what is called today the Pretoria Minute, it was the SA government that paid, and again, so the SA people know about that. But the story was the SA government and the ANC were in Cape Town talking, blah, blah, blah and the government covered the costs, and full stop. If that line was to be put on the headlines and said the money from the SA taxpayers has been used to fund the ANC talks, or is paying the costs for the ANC to go to Cape Town, you would have had the same noise as you heard here. But the media did not play it that way. So it is just a matter of how do you play it that gives the results that push you where you want to go. Then again, as the exiles are coming home now, it is the SA government that paid, and where does the SA government get the money? From us, the tax payers. Now when the money went to Inkatha, it was now the other way around, instead of saying the SA government covered the cost of a rally, it has said that the SA government secretly used the taxpayers money, therefore there is a collaboration between the two. Now it determines how to used words. Now again I am saying, I am not even dented, I am less interested. I was a bit arrogant or disobedient at the Ulundi conference when we were called to go and caucus about it. I just said look, look, I don't want to even be there. You don't call me to that meeting. Why should we address a matter that was created by the media. I did not want to talk about it because I knew it was such nonsense from the beginning. And it is nonsense in the middle and it is nonsense at the end of the day.
POM What do you think the last year has done towards eroding the climate of trust that is so necessary?
TK It is not the incident of money paying that might have caused the erosion of trust or all that you are saying but it is the newspapers, it is the media reporting that eroded that. I think that if one were to be quite honest, they must be held responsible for the disruption of the country or any derailment of plans, structures. Not Inkatha, not the government, not the ANC, it is those Mickey Mouses who want to be big out of nothing, who use the wrong words in the right thing. So all in all, I think if you listen to what I am saying and really understand that anybody who thinks like I do is not dented at all, he is just looking forward to doing the next job, the next good job for the country, that is all.
POM How would you say that the interests of the ANC and those of Inkatha converge and diverge?
TK Well they diverge on the point of that one wants multi party democratic future for SA, one wants a one party state, which is the ANC. And they converge in the sense that we all want freedom, liberation and we all regard that SA should be a sovereign state.
POM Just a few more questions, and thank you for the time. If you had to look at the ANC, the PAC and Inkatha over the last year and assess each in terms of gaining more acceptance for its positions among the blacks, how would you assess the situation?
TK I do not know very much, but what I can say is that I cannot talk on behalf of other people. I am not sure, but if one judges from a distance, the only way from a distance you can say organisations speak is when you can see it in its rally. So currently we are the only organisation that fills up stadiums in Johannesburg for example, not the others. And again, our minimum membership per day, only in this office, is about between 20 and 30 people a day, that excludes Saturday and Sunday, so that is five days a week. Now I am talking about this office, which is not a branch because this membership application is not done in the office, it is supposed to be done in branches, so there are those people who do not know who to talk to, who simply come straight to the office and join us, so we are leaders in that case. Surprisingly, I wonder if you will be there if you want to, you are invited, because of the demand, we will be opening our first office in the Western Transvaal, where it is a Tswana speaking area. There are not Zulu speaking people there, so we will also have a press conference on that day.
POM Two last things. One is on the Patriotic Front. Did Inkatha decide not to join the Front or was it not invited to join?
TK Let me first ask this question, why the Patriotic Front? What for should there be a Patriotic Front now? Because the only time you need a Patriotic Front is when you have got an opposition. Which is now against who, because the one that was in opposition has become a member of the family of negotiators.
POM Is that the NP?
TK That is the government. The government is now saying come all, we will negotiate. So what are you going to do with that thing. In fact it is a primitive idea. It was supposed to be formed ten years ago, a united front ten years ago. Inkatha worked for this thing. Almost about a decade ago we were calling for black unity, which I do not mind when somebody wanted to convert it to a Patriotic Front. But now the ANC must come with that. We talk about the future now, we don't talk about the government which resists this and that. We talk about a government which is willing to do this and that. So if the government is willing to do this and that, then what we need to do is to now say X organisation, come out with our strategy, tell us how you want the country to be run. Unless you are trying to achieve black polarisation against the whites. And that is not going to work.
POM The last question. What is in your understanding of what the government and the NP, will settle for in the way of an accommodation?
TK Say that again?
POM What is your understanding of what the government and the NP will settle for, will be acceptable to them in ways of an accommodation at the negotiations?
TK I am expecting them not to accept a one party state. I am expecting them to work for a multi party situation for SA. I have heard them saying so, and which is not what the ANC asked for, but all the same, I cannot say much because I do not know what is up their sleeves. But from the Inkatha point of view, there are some of the things that we will not compromise on.
POM When the government talks about power sharing, which is the word they use all the time ...
TK In fact they took our term. Dr. Buthelezi came out with this. It was first made a universal word by Dr. Buthelezi.
POM What do you think the NP mean by their use of the word?
TK I think they mean different kinds of government. Where there would be local government, regional government, and the national government. I think they mean that. If they don't mean that then I do not know what they mean. But from Inkatha point of view we mean the federal type of system for running the country, where each one has got a say in the formation of a government, where the constitution will be guaranteeing people from an individual point of view.
POM Ok, thank you.
PAT The press has also made this issue of Namibia and the role of the SA government common knowledge, their role in the Namibian election. Do you think it is appropriate for them to do that? The issue has to do with the role that President de Klerk played in the election in Namibia. Do you think the press has also exploited this issue?
TK No, I don't think so, I think that when the government said that, when the State President said that, he was actually qualifying the right for the Government, for any government to promote any right cause. I don't think that needs to be a newspaper issue. Remember, when you want to make an untrue statement or when you want to tell lies, you don't make them naked, you cover them with some few truths, in order for them to be easily acceptable, there must be some truth here and there. So I think when we have those realities growing with some other realities, which are propaganda in turn, you will simply accept everything. It is easy for one to accept all of them, because it is linked with some realities which are proven.
PAT But what is your opinion of what the SA government did in Namibia by giving funds to the opposition of SWAPO when they were at the same time responsible for overseeing the elections?
TK Giving funds and interfering are two different stories. I think you will agree with me that SWAPO also got funds from the countries which were under the UN. It was the UN and the SA government which were bound with the agreements reached about the transitional process in Namibia. So in that sense, if one then says that SA was breaking any rules, so did the other countries. But I think that was not an interference, it was simply money to say I know that you are a democrat as I am, here is money, go in there and promote our cause. I think that is not an interference.