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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

31 Jul 1991: Ndlovu, Humphrey

Click here for more information on the Interviewee

Click here for Overview of the year

POM     Humphrey since we visited you last December when you took us out to the hostels to talk with some of the workers there, how have things changed, or have they changed? Have they gotten better or gotten worse?

HN     Concerning the hostels?

POM     Yes.

HN     Well in fact, up to now there is very good progress because there is quietness and there is no longer fighting now like last year. At that time the situation was very tense.

POM     You say it is better in terms of the relationship between the hostel workers and the residents of Phola Park and Thokoza?

HN     Yes, there is a very good relationship now. There is quietness and people are just living with each other. There is a very good relationship now among them. They are just meeting each other and they are talking to each other, they are residing together, there is no more fighting now.

POM     Was this a process that was worked out between Inkatha, the hostel workers, the ANC and the residents of Phola Park or how did peace break out?

HN     Well, since last year, you remember that the President of Transkei, together with His Majesty the King of the Zulus came to Johannesburg, came to the Transvaal last year and they talked to the people about peace and there was a meeting early this year between Mandela and Chief Buthelezi on the 29th January, and they made a resolution of peace that should be taken to the people at the grassroots level. People are in fact practising that attitude of being at peace. There is calm and there is a relationship of talking to each other.

POM     There is still a lot of violence going on in the townships themselves though. This has been a bad year up to this point for violence has it not?

HN     In fact, there is no violence now that we could regard it as violence. It is only a sort of hooliganism, or gangsters who are just intimidating that particular person they see. But really up to now, there is peace unless there are things that provoke the situation. Such as saying that people should boycott white business, you see that. That is a problem, that is a provocative action. I want to buy, somebody says to me I should not buy. Now that is forcing me. Now you start something that at the end of the day then you see people fighting each other because I want to go to buy in a shop, now you block me that I should not go there to buy, you want me to do what you want me to do. I don't want to do that, I have got the freedom of choice, I have got freedom of association, I have got a freedom of moving, so now if I want to go and buy there I am allowed to go to buy there. So that is another thing that is starting now to provoke the situation.

POM     They are starting to provoke the situation?

HN     It is going to provoke the situation if they don't stop it because no one will allow that.

POM     Last year, in December, you felt that the violence was really an attempt by the ANC, which you felt was basically a Xhosa organisation, trying to subjugate Zulus with the ultimate aim of establishing a one party state. Do you still feel that?

HN     Well, yes I still feel that because the thing is one, and that is the ANC has been forcing people that they must all belong to that organisation, whereas people are free to belong to different political organisations. Here in SA we have got different parties and different political organisations, so people are allowed to choose, people are allowed to belong to any party, any political movement that they think is good for them. So now the ANC was forcing people by using bad methods; killing people who do not want to toe the ANC line. They mentioned that they want to destroy the hostels as hostels, but not giving the people who are residing in the hostels an alternative accommodation. Now, who can just lay down when somebody says I am going to destroy your house? But if you ask where should I go to get a house, they say, nowhere, you must see yourself in the veldt. That was another thing that was provoking the situation with us here.

POM     Do you find that the hostel workers are hostile to the idea of the hostels being closed down and being moved out to other places?

HN     Well, hostel dwellers decided to say that they like to stay in the hostels, but we have to think this thing through. These people are running big families in rural areas. You find that there is a man who resides in the hostel who has got a family of five wives in the rural areas, and about thirty children ...

POM     Thirty children?

HN     If this man, now you force him to buy a house of R65,000 here in the urban areas, can he bring that large family from the rural area to the urban area? Can he bring his five wives in one room? It seems as if it is impossible. Can he bring his thirty children in one room? It is impossible.

     Now, secondly people in the rural areas are able to keep cattle, are able to keep goats, are able to keep horses, are able to keep all these tamed animals, whereas if he were here, he could not be able to do that. So people feel that now if you force them to do that, it seems as if there is no difference between that system of forcing people under apartheid.

POM     Just to turn to recent weeks for a minute. We just got here when all these revelations began to come out about the government supplying money to Inkatha to fight sanctions and on the funding of UWUSA by the SA police. What do you think, now you have had the demotions of Vlok and Malan, what do you think the impact of all this will be on Inkatha and on Chief Buthelezi?

HN     I am not supposed to comment on that.

POM     Oh.

HN     Not at all. Completely. Not at all. That is something for the national level, that is all.

POM     Do you have a personal opinion that would reflect what you yourself think?

HN     I beg your pardon?

POM     Do you just have a personal opinion, I am not asking you to speak on behalf of Inkatha, but just for yourself.

HN     No, I am not supposed to comment concerning this matter. There are people who are commenting on this, not me. That is why I say at a national level. I am just at the regional level here, I am not supposed to talk about these things.

POM     If people in the hostels ask about it, what was going on, what can you say?

HN     People in the hostels?

POM     Say if you were going out today to Thokoza and you were going to visit one of the hostels there and one of the hostel workers asked what is going on, what would you tell them?

HN     I would only tell them that - you see all the people, in fact all our members, Inkatha members, were, most of them, I cannot say all, most of them we were at our annual conference on 19-21 July at Ulundi. So now, they heard when our President was reading the newspaper. Now there is no-one amongst us who can ask me that question of commenting, that I have to comment on this matter, that is why I say I am not supposed to comment on this matter.

POM     I am just trying to get a difference between Inkatha and what you feel yourself. What are your own feelings about it?

HN     I feel freely, I feel happy. If you want to ask me something, ask me something, as long as it is not on this matter that I say I am not supposed to talk about.

POM     Well, you know, hopefully in the coming months when differences will be resolved enough so that people will actually start sitting at a negotiating table, when people get to the negotiating table what do you think is the problem they will try to resolve? I will give you maybe two examples: One the one hand there are a lot of people who say that SA is made up of racial and ethnic groups and that in any future system of government, you will have to have to (telephone rang at this point and there is a break in the interview) The question is wherein some people would say that when people sit down to negotiate that they are not just going to negotiate racial differences, but that there are ethnic nations also in SA and that any government arrangement must allow the ethnic nations full expression of their own identity. Then there are people who will say, no the problem is simply that black people have been dominated by whites and that the negotiations are about getting rid of white oppression and white privilege of power and making everyone equal. Which one do you think is closer to the real analysis of the problem?

HN     Well, that can matter, but to me what is important is that all political parties should be allowed to the negotiating table. They should take part, the big political movements and the small ones, all should feel at home at the negotiating table, because that is the most important thing, that no-one should be left out of that process. And we should not regard them as being groups or something like that, we should take them as parties or movements who can take part at the table.

POM     Are you more hopeful in July of this year, than you were in December of last year? Do you think the situation has improved, that the level of violence has gone down?

HN     The level of violence has gone down, definitely, there is no doubt about that. Last year at this time, violence was at its highest level, but now violence has gone down. People are sick and tired of violence. So there are those who would like to provoke the situation, but the majority of South Africans do not like violence, they are sick and tired of it.

POM     So, do you think the climate for negotiations has improved, or, without commenting on what has been going on in the last two weeks, do you think the climate is worse than it was?

HN     The climate is all right for negotiations. They can start negotiating. They can start now.

POM     Do you think this is going to happen shortly?

HN     Well, that is what I don't to predict, whether it will take too long or it will be on as soon as possible, no, I don't want to predict. But I say now the time is all right for negotiations.

POM     How would you rate the performance of President de Klerk over the last year?

HN     How do I?

POM     How would you rate the performance of President de Klerk, do you think that he continues to show genuineness in getting to the negotiation table?

HN     State President de Klerk is a man of integrity, he is a man of his word, he is a man who is recognised by many people that he is doing a very good job.

POM     Is he recognised by members of Inkatha as being ...?

HN     We recognise him, he is a man of his word. He is a man who is doing very well, something that some of us had never dreamed of.

POM     How would you rate the performance of the ANC in the last year? From abroad, they seemed to follow a very zigzag path; they would make a demand for something, give a deadline and then either withdraw the demand and the deadline would go by and they would set another deadline for something. It seemed very uneven. How would you rate their performance in the last year? Do you think they have as much support as they had this time last year in July or that their support has been dwindling?

HN     Well, to me the ANC, in fact it is not my intention to comment so much about another organisation because some people will take me as if I am criticising that organisation or I am just making bad remarks about it, so that is why in fact I don't want to comment so much, but I could give you this idea, or picture, that if you can compare the rallies that the ANC was calling last year and take the rallies that it has been calling this year, you could have seen a big difference.

     Take June 16, which the ANC was celebrating last year at Jabulani Amphitheatre, in the middle of Soweto, thousands and thousands of people were packed into that stadium, and come this year, the ANC called the June 16 at FNB Stadium and compare that number and see the crowd was far less than last year. You see, that shows quite clearly now that the support of the ANC has been going down, the trust of the nation to the ANC has been dwindling. So now, that is my view, I am not talking about other people, they can share their own views with you. I am looking at that level.

     Going back to the march they called on the 15 June this year, here in Johannesburg, it was COSATU, ANC and the SACP, three organisations. They were moving here in Commissioner Street, less than 2000 people, just imagine, three organisations, less than 2000. That statement was not made by Humphrey, it was made by the press, people who are so articulate at giving crowd numbers, people who are well, well, well educated in estimating the crowds gave us that. If you can just compare with the rallies or with the marches that the ANC, COSATU and the SACP alliance used to call last year and the year after that, before the ANC was banned in SA, when somebody was going to talk in a meeting on behalf of the ANC they used to get the biggest rallies. Same time this year, a very popular member of the ANC, who was killed by these people, do you remember? He was killed by these people, he put these things on the ears.

POM     They put which?

HN     Something like these things, what do you call them? Earphones or something like that.

POM     Oh yes, yes.

HN     He was bombed by these people. Do you remember? Early this year?

POM     He was what by it?

HN     He was killed by these things here, there were bombs inside these things and they exploded, early this year, I think it was February.

POM     They were headphones?

HN     Yes. Do you remember that man? A member of the ANC, Mlangeni, he was a young man.

POM     Yes.

HN     If you compare it, his funeral and the funeral of ANC supporters before 1987, 1988, 1989, there used to be the biggest crowds. But just imagine, it was before these ANC were released from prison and those who were in exile had not returned to SA, but if you can compare that with the funeral of this man, there were very few people. I think the crowd was only 3000 people. If you think of these things now, you see that besides being a member, or besides being outside, there is that decrease of support, that people now can judge who is who in the field of politics.

POM     What do you think the government will settle for in terms of an accommodation? Let me put it this way: do you believe that the NP and the white population are prepared to allow a situation where you not only have one man one vote but a situation in which there will be black majority rule in SA?

HN     Well, whites in SA are prepared for change in this country, and what I think most whites are scared of is a one party state. If SA could be a free country of many parties, a multiparty country, that would be a very good thing for whites. If you come to one man one vote, if whites are scared of that you can do something else, not that one man one vote was created by God that if you don't do one man one vote that country is not free, that is wrong. That is a wrong impression. The country can do something else other than one man one vote as long as it is going forward to free the country that is all. We are not bound to one man one vote, then we can be sure that SA is free. No! There are other alternatives.

POM     Could you give me some other alternatives?

HN     Well, I am a young man, but if you can just look at this thing that there is nothing that is being done, there is no way of doing things in one way only. All what we are doing we are doing in many ways, that is why we say there are many ways to kill a cat. We can't just keep on saying, we have to do this because without doing this, without doing it in this way, it will be wrong. No, there are many ways of doing one thing.

POM     Could you give me an example of what will be a way of moving towards freedom which would not involve one man one vote?

HN     Well, I don't want to give you that. But I've got that idea.

POM     You have that idea? OK.

HN     I've got it but I don't want to expose it to you. But you have to believe me if I say there is nothing that you can do in only one way, everything could be done in many ways, but you can do one thing but in many ways and we have to obliterate that mind of saying SA could be only free by using a method of one man one vote.

POM     Just one final question. Do believe the ANC has actually given up the armed struggle?

HN     No, the armed struggle of the ANC is still there. They did not give it up, they suspended it because they want to talk. They said quite clearly that if talks are not going in their own way, they will resume the armed struggle. In other words, they put the armed struggle aside and talked and tell you that if you don't go along our own line, we are going back to the armed struggle, they are our army. The arms are there.

POM     Do you think they have really suspended it?

HN     They have suspended the armed struggle until such time that they go back to the armed struggle. That is honest. Most leaders of NEC coughed out that. They said they will go back to the armed struggle if the talks are not going on their own way.

POM     I think that is about it.

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.