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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
04 Aug 1991: Holomisa, Bantu
POM I am talking to General Holomisa on the 4th of August 1991. General let me start with something that we encountered on our way coming, that is the military check point, where we were asked to open the boot of our car, soldiers standing around with machine guns. Is there a particular reason for this, now in the Transkei? Is it related to the coup? Do you follow me?
BH No, those are normal routine checks conducted by the police. I am sure you were not checked by the army. The army wear camouflage, the police wear brown. So, they do conduct the road blocks as and when the want. For instance like stolen cars, they want to search them, or they have been given a tip off that so and so is running away from this area to that area. Otherwise it was just a police routine.
POM Maybe we should start with the attempted coup of last year. Would you go into what happened? My understanding is that you were accusing the SA government of complicity in it.
BH Well, the abortive coup last year came as no surprise to us because we have been warning South Africa that they are harbouring people who are intent on destabilising Transkei. South Africa has been denying that. We started to warn them as far back as December 1988 through their Minister Pik Botha. We even filed extradition papers of certain individuals who were involved in planning to overthrow the State. Such documents which were filed to the SA government asking for those people emanated from interrogation we conducted from the people we arrested who were on their mission to either assassinate or reconnoitre the area. So SA has been protecting those people. SA has been giving those people VIP treatment, like being protected by SA police, and some of them, we complained at one stage, some of them were arrested with arms near our border. So SA arrested them, they sentenced them in a court of law, but they released them immediately, and the police undertook in their courts that they would protect these people. But in December the same group was arrested here in Umtata, others were killed during that abortive coup. So that is why we were saying SA has been aware of the coup and there was a complicity on their part.
POM Why do you think the SA government are involved to overthrow your government?
BH The SA government has got a double agenda. There is no doubt about that. They don't want areas where there is a free political process in particular, where the liberation movement has got an anchor, or has anchored themselves, like in the area of Transkei. And in Ciskei, at the time you were here, the PAC and ANC were conducting rallies, but today they command the Chairman of the Military Council in Ciskei. He doesn't want those rallies there. ANC can't hold a rally in Ciskei; they can't even be quoted in their radio station. So all the liberation movements in Ciskei. Gqozo has said it publicly, this he said after SA seconded white security officials inside that country. In the case of Transkei, they are wanting to control this area. They want to put leaders who can say 'yes' to them. I think what de Klerk is trying to do in my own opinion, perhaps, is to build an alliance with as many players as he can. He knows that the present government of Transkei would not form an alliance with him. Nor can we form an alliance with ANC either because we are a military government. But what we are doing today is to facilitate the process. We want ANC/PAC/AZAPO and other political organisations to gather for support in Transkei freely and all what we are doing is offering protection to everybody. De Klerk is not doing that inside his country. Obviously, it is embarrassing him for Transkei to be taking that lead in Southern Africa today.
POM When you talk about the government having a double agenda, Mr. Mandela has accused the SA government of having a double agenda. On the one hand the olive branch of negotiations and on the other attempting to destabilise or undermine the ANC within SA itself. Do you think that sufficient evidence has now emerged? That the SA government has been involved in supporting and perhaps in organising the violence in the townships during the past year?
BH If one were to look at the recent revelations of the Inkathagate scandal, in particular the money paid to their UWUSA Labour front, wherein, the papers are quoting that the aim of funding that exercise, that UWUSA labour front was to counter COSATU and also that the tactics that they used were of violent means and intimidation. If you were to read the Weekly Mail and the New Nation, those are the only papers unfortunately in SA today which are credible in the eyes of many. President de Klerk and Pik Botha have openly said that they have used secret funds to assist Gatsha Buthelezi's Inkatha. Now there are allegations that the CIA and the SA National Intelligence Service (NIS) have long, since 1974, been building up Inkatha as an opponent to other liberation movements. If one had to take the same trend of the right wingers from America who have been funding UNITA, supporting it militarily, under the pretext that they are fighting communism, they have used violence there. In SA there is no doubt now that de Klerk's government has also been having the same agenda, that of undermining the liberation movements.
When the violence erupted in Transvaal last year, they portrayed it as a Xhosa/Zulu war. Obviously we rejected that right from the beginning, that we know of no war which is existing between the Zulus and Xhosas, and we vowed that we are going to expose that it is not. With the recent revelations, and many more to come, because we are still going to reveal more, it is clear now that the government of SA is engaged in a two pronged approach: 1. On one hand to keep the lines of communication with the liberation movements whilst; 2. on the other hand to seek to discredit these liberation movements to their followers inside the country as well as to the international community. For instance, it was uncalled for for President de Klerk to go alone to the outside world and use that grip as a grip to defeat the liberation movements to their friends internationally by saying 'ANC or PAC is wrong, lift the sanctions. I have done this, please reward me.' If he was honest, he should have, together with the ANC and PAC, agreed on a programme of phasing out sanctions and together go out and sell that programme. Then, they would have been respected. But they were banking on dividing the international community. So, that is why I say they have a double agenda. But today, as I am speaking, they have lost the initiative. The initiative is now in the hands of the liberation movements, and with the coming of the Patriotic Front (PF), de Klerk must accept some more resistance to come his way.
POM Do you believe that de Klerk personally knew and approved of this double agenda?
BH Yes, he is the Chairman of the Security Council. The Security Council of composed of the following people: Magnus Malan, Minister of Defence; Minister Vlok, of the Police; Minister Pik Botha, Foreign Affairs; Barend Du Plessis, Minister of Finance; and Minister of Justice, Kobie Coetsee. So, all the decisions of secret funding, covert operations are decided at this level. So he knows exactly what was taking place.
POM So what happened to that man Mr. Mandela called 'a man of integrity'?
BH I am not Mr. Mandela. While he can, I have never called President de Klerk a man of integrity. Even there, you must understand politicians. Politicians can say a thing but they mean something else. By saying that this man is a man of integrity, possibly, he was trying to sort of promote him and banking on the fact that he, together with Mandela would deliver SA, and that the international community must give de Klerk a chance. But now, it is the same Mandela who doubted his integrity towards the end of last year. So, I have subscribed to that notion, and I am not going to answer on behalf of Mr. Mandela. I have been vocal, since April last year when I said, I don't trust this. The liberation movement has got to be vigilant. And I was the first one to go to Pretoria in August last year, when the violence started in Transvaal, and I told the SA government, in no uncertain terms, that this violence smacks of a ploy by someone who is engaged on a double agenda, who wants to discredit other political parties and in the process, elevate a certain ailing homeland leader, and I think I was right. That was August last year.
POM At the time of the signing of the Pretoria Minutes last year, when the ANC suspended the Armed Struggle, that seemed to the beginning of the basis for a climate of trust between the government and the ANC, which augured well for negotiations. Do you think successful negotiations can be carried out if one party totally distrusts the other party, the government.
BH It is true that in the first half of last year, there was a euphoria and there were people, I would conclude, were having easy assumptions as to how apartheid would end and eventually a new government be installed. But, immediately the violence started in the Transvaal, in July/August, the people then started to doubt the government's sincerity because there were reports that the security forces were involved and the government kept on denying this. President de Klerk was vocal in defending his ministers, whom he has now demoted. Coming now to your question, it is not going to help if the political parties are suspicious of one another. I suggest that it is time now that they should have a mediator.
POM You say that there now has to be the appointment of a mediator?
BH Yes. I said there will have to be a mediator. And it would appear that things are coming the way I predicted. On the 25th of April last year, when I welcomed Mandela home in an open rally, I said to them 'With all what is happening in this new look de Klerk government, the best thing for us would be to garner for a mediator of international repute. We cannot expect that the people who were oppressing us yesterday are going to hand over power on plate to us, and that every bit of evidence which had emerged then, was that de Klerk's government was still living in politics of 'pressure' as opposed to politics of 'persuasion'. Because it was not his liking of thinking that he unbanned the political organisations. Up to this day, he is still reacting to politics of pressure as opposed to politics of persuasion. The people have been saying 'We don't want Malan, otherwise we will not negotiate', he had to reshuffle. Which means he is still reacting to pressure. We need a mediator that will quicken things.
POM What do you think about the minimum steps that the government has to take that will restore some confidence in the liberation movements that the government is acting in good faith.
BH They must agree that there is a need for an interim structure. For an interim government. We can't have confidence in them anymore, we have been doubting them. But they have now actually destroyed themselves in this revelation. The best bet for them, in order to win the confidence of the blacks, and in order to see that they are prepared to relinquish white supremacy, and they don't want to use the negotiation process to say what they can of the white supremacy, the best bet for them would be to agree to an interim structure. Interim structure means, therefore, that there would be no parliaments in the homelands, Cape Town (the present parliament). We must agree on an interim structure where all the parties will be equal, ANC, PAC, NP, Inkatha, etc. If they are honest, they should say 'thank you, we are ready for that'.
POM Would you have equal representation from all the liberation organisations? Would you have for example more people from the ANC?
BH No. All we need is a government of non-partisanship if possible. Because if you are going to say you want an ANC government or PAC led, there are hundreds of political organisations in SA, that exercise would be too costly. But, if they were to agree on non-partisan structures like you have for instance, let's say take a Chief Justice to head that interim for a period of 18 months or so, and he is going to have a team of administrators in the region of 11 Secretaries General, and then he can take other people who are on retirement, black and white, and those people can be tested and proven by all the political organisations and they would say yes we want that team. Or else, if they don't want the South Africans, whereby non-partisan South Africans to monitor the situation, there is OAU, UN, and superpowers which they call upon. But, I think an organisation like the UN can assist us a lot because they have equipment, facilities, etc to do so.
POM Do you see the SA government giving in to this demand?
BH If they don't give in to this demand, that would mean they have a hidden agenda. We will be correct in saying so. Because this is a fair way of doing things. We are not saying we are taking power and giving it to the blacks. We are saying that power must be shifted to a certain party and you go to the bush with other players as equals and then you debate and produce a constitution.
POM Going back to the scandals of the last couple of weeks, of revelations of the last couple of weeks. What do you think is the political fallout of what is being called Inkathagate. Who are the political winners, who are the political losers and in particular, what does it do to Buthelezi?
BH Firstly, one has got to be careful on that issue. I sympathise with Buthelezi. Buthelezi has been known to be an anti-apartheid activist for most of his political career. He has earned himself a lot of respect in many countries and in black African countries. The NP knows that Gatsha Buthelezi has been attacking them, more especially their former President PW Botha. I think the NP must have arrived at a programme also to destroy Gatsha Buthelezi, because immediately Gatsha Buthelezi got closer to the new President de Klerk, President de Klerk was the leader of the NP under PW Botha, obviously he knows that Gatsha is not meaning what he means. Perhaps he just wants to use them up to a certain level, he is unpredictable.
POM Gatsha is unpredictable?
BH Yes. As far as the Nats are concerned. Because only yesterday he was attacking them. So, you can't say he has become trustworthy overnight. I suspect therefore, that the South Africans also must have wanted to ditch him out in a style, away from them and that they would rather prefer to forge an alliance with other organisations, even possibly ANC. You can't rule that out, because the negotiations they have started with the ANC have definitely produced some good results. They are now respected internationally. But with Gatsha what are you going to achieve? Nothing. Gatsha has been here, he has been talking to the South Africans and nothing has changed for years. So, I suspect that there are players within the NP who would like to ditch Gatsha Buthelezi away from the NP. But within the NP also, there are players who would like to retain Gatsha, to use him against other black organisations. So, I see the NP of today being divided into two camps. There are those who are liberal, who might think they would not like to deal with Gatsha, because he is too conservative for their liking and there are those who are conservative in the NP who would have preferred to deal with Gatsha. Now it depends now who has got the power at the present moment. This scandal, I think there was a plain strategy planned to say they should leak the document. It was so well written, and the way it was leaked, Pik Botha was the first one to say 'Yes, I authorised the payment'. In his press conference, he was the one who was saying 'I used Inkatha rallies, I am still going to use them'. On the other hand Gatsha says, 'I have never used my rallies for anti-sanctions campaigns. I know nothing about this fund'. Can you see this? I hope you are following my analysis. So in a way, Gatsha at the present moment, from the black mans' point of view, and in the black constituency, he has lost faith because blacks have been saying 'You are being used by the whites'. Now here comes de Klerk and Pik Botha saying 'Yes we have used Inkatha', so in that context, I think Gatsha has lost a little bit. But he has still got some friends in the white conservatives, even amongst the NP, and the government, Pik Botha's and de Klerk will not want to be stupid and openly ditch out Gatsha, they will still say 'Here is a man, he is a good man', but they are destroying him daily.
POM One line of thinking when the violence broke out last year was that Buthelezi saw Mandela and de Klerk, the ANC and the government as being the two main players in the negotiating process and he was looking for a way to move himself in as a player of equal stature, and that in a way the violence benefited him because ultimately it led to a meeting between himself and Mandela, and I know in Time, and Newsweek and other magazines, now talk of three leaders who are necessary. Do you think that his stature has now been diminished, so much so that he is no longer a major player?
BH Again, the issue of trying to elevate Gatsha Buthelezi was as a result of mischievous players within the government, in particular the securocrats and so on. The ANC was not negotiating with the government. They were talking about talks, obstacles to be removed. Chief Gatsha Buthelezi had been to de Klerk and he issued his conditions to the negotiation. PAC has its own, and so on. So I fail to understand why people were starting to panic, pressing panic buttons, as if negotiations had started. The only thing which I think the conservatives who were supporting Gatsha, more especially from the western world, western superpowers, they misjudged the talks about talks with the government and they felt that now major changes were being made by the political releases and return of exiles. But those issues are related to the ANC because Gatsha has not got people in jail, nor exiles. But the mischievous players, the western conservatives and the securocrats found a chance to say 'our player is being relegated to nothing, let us promote him'. But unfortunately, they did it at the expense of our people. Over the corpses of many people. It has that unfortunate part of it. Right now, Gatsha is no longer a major player in the politics of SA. He has destroyed himself, together with the securocrats. He also is alienating himself from the rest of the blacks, because in his conference this year, national conference, he said he is not going to join the PF, which is going to be composed of the ANC/AZAPO/PAC and many homelands and other political groups, and I think including the Democratic Party (DP). So he is now next to the NP. They are now being clouded by the scandal. Because if the reputation of de Klerk is doubtful, so will that of Gatsha. So I think he is the man who has been hit hardest in this scandal.
POM When you look at the last year, the ANC appeared to be following a very zigzag path. They would make a demand, lay down a deadline, the deadline would come, the demand would not be met, they would make another demand in a different form, etc. and they appeared to be uncertain of what they were doing, and the government appeared to be the party which had the initiative. Why do you think that was the case? Has that changed?
BH When the SA government started this violence, the ANC was not strong in the media. The papers here and overseas were saying this is a Xhosa Zulu war and as time went on it proved that on the contrary the security forces were behind the violence. The ANC put their demands. But those small minded newspaper writers they were still thinking that the story which was sold to them by the government was the right one. But as time went on, when the Weekly Mail released their information, overnight the whole thing turned up. Their information proved that the ANC and other organisations were correct from the word go when they said the people who are doing this are so and so and so and so. Therefore your assessment is based on a media which was said by the securocrats, and the newspapers here are unlike those in America. They are controlled mainly by Anglo-American and the government. It only the Weekly Mail and the New Nation which are independent, which are not associated with the NP and Anglo. So they know that they were what they were doing, but it backfired badly in this scandal now. Because all of a sudden, de Klerk was down there in the mines and Mandela was sailing there. I don't know whether I have answered your question.
POM You have. Again, there are a lot of people who say, including scholars, people who have studied, who have said that in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, that as long as totalitarian communism was there, the people were suppressed, it also submerged ethnic or national differences. But when you took away communism all these differences which had been suppressed for many years began to come to the fore. So you now have conflicts between Slovaks and Czechs, between the Slovakians and the Croatians.
BH You can't compare the issue of, you are just being sophisticated, you can't compare the issue of SA and that of Soviet Union. There was no ethnic problem here. Gatsha is not drawing any big crowds even in his own yard.
BH The conflict which was in Natal was between the Zulus and the Zulus. But when it went to the Transvaal they saw it differently. They said it is between Xhosas and Zulu. But that thing has been exposed as a farce. Because these people were killing people indiscriminately, slaughtering people in the trains indiscriminately. That actually united the entire black community, the Sothos, Tswanas, Xhosas, against the so-called whites and Zulus, because now Gatsha was seen to be under the control of a white hand, which was directing him, and we have been proved right. Notwithstanding the fact that even the ANC, when they started this violence in the Transvaal was still trying to find its feet. People were coming, homesickness was there, and they were confronted with this violence. Of course, it was planned by the government. They were caught with their pants down, they didn't know what to do. And they appeared in the eyes of many to be weak and not to be responding.
POM You mean the ANC was appearing to be weak?
BH Yes, because people were saying please protect us. Yet, the government of the other side was fanning this. It was training Inkatha members as is being revealed now. So, you can't still put that argument forward anymore because it is outdated as a result of the recent revelations, that government was actually involved in the violence.
POM What about those that say that just as Inkatha is a Zulu organisation, the ANC, at least in terms of its leadership, is Xhosa? Is that true?
BH The first President of the ANC was a Zulu, Albert Luthuli, and I think the second President was also a Zulu. Inkatha, formerly was also an ANC organisation. Gatsha was an ANC member, I don't know whether you are aware of that, and when he formed Inkatha, ANC said please form that organisation, so that you can be an internal wing. In other words when it was formed, it had the blessing of the ANC. So it was never on ethnic lines. But Gatsha, in his constitution portrayed it as a sort of a Zulu cultural movement. So, in the election of the leadership, the Zulu speaking people are there. The Zumas are there, and the majority. In fact the ANC has proved during this conference that it is a national organisation. There are Zulus in the PAC, AZAPO. Even if you go and compare their rallies, the ANC in Natal and Inkatha rallies, you cannot accuse them of tribalism.
POM When we talked last year you noted that the people who came from the Transkei were in the vanguard of the ANC and people from the Transkei traditionally had occupied leadership positions.
BH No, no, no, that does not imply that the ANC is a Xhosa organisation. What I was trying to say is that we are proud that the people from this region have been in the vanguard of the liberation movement. Like anyone would say that the role which was played by Luthuli was in the vanguard. So, it was just merely to say, it is strange that the Sisulus and the Mandelas, who were working in the mines, decided to join the struggle and now they are about to be rewarded by what they have been fighting for.
POM When you look at the government, and having looked at their policy positions and their statements and their pronouncements since February 1990, so you believe that the government has conceded to the principle of one man one vote, that the government has conceded that down the line, there is going to be black majority rule? By black majority rule, I mean ruled by parties like the ANC in which there would be whites, Indians, Coloureds, but of which Africans would form the majority, just as they form the majority in the NEC of the ANC?
BH I do not think the government has conceded that. We will only know if they have conceded in an all-party conference when they are actually agreeing to that notion. But so far, it is just posturing which we have noticed, like de Klerk saying when he visited the US, on the nice green lawns he said, "I have no objection to one person one vote and so on and so on", what he meant by that, you don't know. And then he comes back and talks about checks and balances. Implying that he wants to have veto powers over that one man one vote.
BH I am not going to lie to you, we will only know that when we have seen that he is sincere in whatever he says. For us to know that he is a man of integrity will be when he relinquishes white power and gives it to an interim government.
POM Where do you think the government stands today in terms of the vision it has for a future South Africa? Somebody in the ANC NEC said to us last week "If things were like this at this time last year, we would never have given up the armed struggle". Do you think that realistically there is a possibility that the ANC would go back to the armed struggle again? Are negotiations in fact the only game at hand?
BH I think the negotiations are to a large extent the only way out for us all. Because, even if the ANC were to resort to the armed struggle, they have a limited capability to do so, in that the neighbouring countries, like Angola, Namibia, etc., would not be interested in housing any further cadres to launch attacks from their soil against SA. So the resumption of the armed struggle can be suicidal for many people. For SA, for the ANC itself, because obviously the cadres of the ANC are inside the country now and they have made their own assessments, certain targets which in the past they had no access to. So I think the only course open to us all now is to negotiate and swallow our pride. The issue of who has got military might and strength, we must remember that this is not a conventional warfare that the ANC is fighting. We are not going to expect them to have gangs and so on.
BH The ANC is fighting a non-conventional warfare and for them the space that has been created by the government allowing them in has taught them a lot. That is why I say both sides will have to swallow their pride. It is not a question of the government flushing out the ANC as in convention warfare. But ANC cadres are moving like fish amongst the people.
POM If the threat of the armed struggle is really there, given the fact that ...
BH We are not ruling it out. It is just not a priority on the side of the ANC.
POM My question is with the lifting of sanctions as well, what leverage does the ANC have to pressure the government to, for example, meet the demands of the interim government?
BH I think the ANC firstly gave the South Africans a chance that the issue of our future must be decided only by the South Africans, without outside intervention. But now we hear that the ANC is calling for international involvement. That is not going to auger well for de Klerk. The international community like the Security Council, if it is called upon to analyse and assess the situation in SA, in order to avert any more bloodshed, will have to jump in now. The longer they delay the process, the more it is going to be costly. So ANC has got too many options to go to those bodies. They have got a lot of international strength. Number two, even the ANC itself is talking of phasing out sanctions, it is not rigid. Obviously the international community is listening to that, but the ANC and the government obviously don't agree on that one. The government wants them done away with completely. We don't know whether the government is intending to affect a political defeat on the ANC or not on this issue. But with the revelations like this, the government is going to be compelled to move a step further in this process.
POM Would you regard the revelations of the last couple of weeks as being one of the major turning points in the process since Mandela was released?
BH Yes, I think that was a major one because de Klerk is now international and internally, more especially by blacks, no longer trusted.
POM He had had some standing among blacks?
BH Many people had given him the benefit of the doubt, but now they have written him off. So it is his duty to make up for that by covering a lot of ground. For instance he said he said he is now prepared to talk about the interim structure which was a good move on his part. Had he said he doesn't want the interim structure, maybe now we would be witnessing a lot of unrest, burning of businesses, mass action and so on. The government has no power. Political power is not with the government now, it is with the blacks. If this PF which is due to come is a success, then de Klerk will have to devise a strategy because the ANC was trying to be moderate. They did not want to use hard line tactics. But I am sure of late you have noticed that Mandela is hard-lining. He even said that de Klerk is trying to raise to the politics of the international standards through the corpses of my people. That is Mandela saying that to de Klerk. De Klerk will have to choose also whether he should use securocracy or negotiations.
POM In fact you said last year, in a very telling phrase you said "If de Klerk is sincere and doesn't want future bloodshed, negotiations will succeed". The evidence after a year is you don't know whether he has not been sincere during the past year.
BH That is why I put that question. Otherwise if I trusted him, I would have spoken like Mandela, I would have said de Klerk is going to take through, he is a man of integrity, but I did not say that. Because I was having my doubts as a security man, who has analysed the situation and the violence.
POM You also said, and I would like to quote "The victims of apartheid are speaking one language, but using different tactics. Gatsha Buthelezi will not sit next to President de Klerk at the negotiation table". Where would he sit now? Would he be sitting on his own?
BH I think I was a little on that side when I said he won't be sitting next to De Klerk. I was saying that if Gatsha, for instance, in a conference he will stand up and say the same thing which the ANC is saying, that we want to vote. It is meaningless for him to sit next to de Klerk.
POM But now he is not taking part in the PF and in the eyes of many he has emerged as kind of being a puppet to the government. So where does that leave him? He is not with the PF, not with ...
BH I still maintain that Gatsha will not sit next to the NP. He can perhaps gamble as an independent partner and hopefully he will form an alliance with an emerging partner after. It would be too dangerous for him also if he now all of a sudden moves to the ANC. If I were his political advisor, I would say, stick your neck out, the only road is to be independent. Prove them wrong.
BH So, I still maintain that Gatsha was using the Nats during this period. He had money from the business people, but certain elements in the Nats were also using him for their own objectives, which is now embarrassing for him. I know him to be a hardliner in politics, if you would hear him attacking PW Both. For him to say he likes de Klerk all of a sudden should not be taken at face value.
POM You say that he has been a hardliner and spoken out for years against apartheid, he refused to enter into negotiations until Mandela was released. Is this really a struggle for power between himself and the ANC?
BH Yes. You have hit the nail on the head. In fact, he is now seeing himself as an equal partner in the whole process. He is power drunk. For instance, he says, 'I can't go to Mr. Mandela's house to congratulate him for having been released', but on the other hand he says he has been calling for his release, and is now expecting Mr. Mandela to fly down to Durban and meet him. It just proves that he sees himself as a national leader at that level. That in going there, he will use anything to achieve that. Even if he says, 'De Klerk, please give me a hike in your aeroplane.' And once he crosses the river Rubicon, he will be saying 'Cross my back, Satan.' That is how I feel. So he will go there banking on the fact that maybe he is going to match the ANC and win the sentiments of the white electorate.
POM But as a result of the last couple of weeks, Gatsha is finished?
BH Yes, he is finished. Politically he is a survivor, but I think that if the ANC and the NP play their cards carefully and cleverly, Gatsha won't have another chance. I have a feeling that there are players within the Nats up to the highest level who would like to ditch Gatsha because he is an embarrassment. He is killing people. For de Klerk to be seen to be begging Buthelezi not to carry traditional weapons whereas he has power to stop him, that was a defeat for him. His image was already on the decline. Maybe his intelligence officers came back and said to him 'Hey, that stand of begging Buthelezi who has killed people, you are now being classified also as a killer. The best thing to do is to try and alienate this man'. Because if you look at this now, the SA government is saying these funds were given to him a long time ago. But they have damaged Gatsha. So I have my reservations about the leakage of that document. I think it was leaked deliberately certain players in the government who did not want to have anything more to do with him.
POM Do you think with the demotions of Malan and Vlok that the securocrats' power has been severely reduced given the fact that he could not fire them outright?
BH Technically you can say yes. But behind the scenes, we don't know whether those people will still be invited in the Security Council which unfortunately is not open to public voting. Obviously since de Klerk was also possibly involved, he did not have the guts to fire them because they would have said, 'You must not forget Mr. de Klerk that according to the minutes of such as such a Security Council you were chairing it.' So he had to play his cards carefully. And I think he did not want to defeat them. He said 'Gentlemen, we have been caught with our pants down, what should we do? I propose that I do not sack you but you go to another department to defuse the situation.' [So now we are only waiting one other, one made person to still in the face ?? minutes of the security council when he is finished.] They were together and they said, 'Gentlemen, let us swallow our pride, what must we do? If I sack you, Malan and Vlok, and give you a golden handshake, someone within your ranks can easily leak this thing. What must we do?'
POM Last year, when we talked you talked about your hopes about the Transkei and you talked about a referendum where people would be given three choices on whether they wanted to remain independent or join SA now or join in the future and you also talked of hoping to have elections. What has happened to both of those hopes in the last year?
BH I think we are still in the process of realising those hopes. Last week while we were in a cabinet sitting, the Department of Interior tabled the comments from various organisations, political parties, civil servants, security forces, universities, comments about that draft decree on a referendum we issued last year. Now, we have referred that draft decree, those draft comments, to the National Advisory Council, which is drawn from various representations in the country. After that, it is going to be referred to 150 committee, a referendum committee which is composed of 150 members, it is that committee which will decide or recommend again to the government as to when they think the referendum should be conducted, and what questions should be asked and what scenario we will be looking for in the Transkei. Once they say that, they will also determine when the political parties can go now to the people and canvass them.
POM You said you were afraid of a situation developing in the Transkei similar to what has developed in KwaZulu where you have Zulu fighting Zulu, Inkatha fighting ANC/UDF. Are you still afraid of that kind of situation arising here?
BH Since we met last year, we have developed a culture of tolerance between political organisations. Particularly the ANC and the PAC which are the main political organisations here. They are united now more especially after the abortive coup last year. Because they could see that this thing was directed at derailing the free political process. So we are working closely with the PAC, ANC and the government. So, we have no fears that there could be a vigilante type of warfare. If such a thing occurs it would be impossible for it to come from outside. It would be a matter of a day or a few hours and we will know what is going on because the ANC and the PAC have now got various leadership at grassroots level, including in the rural areas.
POM What about the PAC during the past year? Last year you said there were three main players in the SA situation. The government, the ANC and the PAC. Do you still see the PAC as a major player?
BH I think I was correct, others were trying to push Inkatha. I said to you, the main players are the two main liberation movements and the government. The ANC cannot go forward without knowing what the PAC is doing. So they must see to it that the PAC is also part and parcel of the process. Hence we promoted last year unity between these two groupings. The Transkei government went to Tanzania to meet with PAC senior officers, we talked unity with them. They said, please do your utmost best. We would like to talk to the ANC. We then sent that signal to Lusaka. That was before the ANC came back to SA. Ever since then there have been a number of meetings which culminated in the one in Zimbabwe where they discussed the PF. So we are proud of the progress made thus far.
POM Would you envisage that first of all there might be a referendum? Would there be elections thereafter?
BH The referendum issue is not related to the elections. If tomorrow we decided that we have achieved our objectives, we will conduct elections and hand over power to the civilians. As of today, we have not yet achieved those objectives. So if the referendum is to be undertaken whilst we are still in power, it will take place. If it needs to take place under civilian rule it will take place. Because the people have said there is a need for a referendum. Whether there is a military government or no military government, so we are not depending on this.
POM Are you closer than you were a year ago to achieving your objectives?
BH Remember this corruption started in 1976 and we think that of the cases where the Attorney General has decided to prosecute, 99% have been warned by the state. But there are still pending cases which need some big fishes, top business people who are in SA. We are struggling to get them to be extradited back home because it is placing barriers. That is why they would like to see this government done away with because we seem to be notorious in doing away with corruption.
POM You also said that the independent homelands should have a right to decide for themselves whether or not to be re-integrated back into SA.
BH I am still saying that is the only correct way of doing it. Because technically, or constitutionally, these areas are independent. It makes sense if you give them a chance to decide about their future.
POM We have also talked about the Transkei being a Xhosa nation. What do you mean by it being a Xhosa nation?
BH This is a Xhosa-speaking area.
POM Do you believe there are a number of different nations that exist within the framework of SA?
BH They created it, we can't run away from it.
POM Do you believe that there are different nations? Do you see Transkei as a Xhosa nation?
BH There are Sotho speaking areas, there are Xhosas, Zulus, etc.
POM And the Zulus have a nation? Is it a number of sister nations within the framework of SA? My questions is do each of those tribes, their individuality, their culture, their history need to be reflected in a new constitution?
BH Definitely. I think it can be enshrined under the Bill of Rights. Like the protection of different cultures, white, black, Zulus etc. But in the constitution we should be minimal. If we agree on a unitary state we must not talk ethnicity.
POM The obvious question to ask is that, if you look at the history of Africa, particularly since 1967, it is a history of ethnic conflicts within countries of people from one particular tribe dominating and ruling other tribes. How do you guard against that happening in SA?
BH If you read that history, you will also find that certain players are always behind in playing these ethnic groups against each other. I am sorry to use the word imperialists, they are always caught involved in these issues. Like the violence in the Transvaal. White South Africans were trying to use it as Zulu/Xhosa, but they failed completely. Instead it united the Zulus and the Xhosas who are for national liberation. So I think in SA we have matured enough to avoid such a thing. Because almost all the political organisations which are likely to take over the future government don't talk about ethnicity. So I am not worried about mushroom parties like Inkatha, those will be swallowed in the stream.
POM The Ciskei would be regarded as another Xhosa area. When the homeland system was set up why did they have two Xhosa nations?
BH It was in the plan of the whites who wanted to keep this divide and rule situation. This area was one before. Maybe they can give you a better answer to that question than mine. I see it as none other than an attempt to perpetuate the divide and rule system. Now that the leaders are now back from exile they are talking of having one SA. If they were hell bent on promoting ethnicity, they would be wasting their time in saying Transkei and Ciskei must amalgamate, but they are not interested in that. They are talking of one area, whether you are Zulu and there are many Zulus or even two homelands of Zulus, with Matebele.
POM Where does the Ciskei stand with regard to the developing negotiations?
BH I think Gqozo is talking about a federation or something like that. I think he is free to express his views.
POM A federation of SA.
BH Yes. In my case I cannot say that. Only the people of Transkei will decide in a referendum whether they want a federal system or not.
POM What is the nature of the destabilisation that appears to be going on with this company Research International?
BH That company is an extension of CCB which was in the Ciskei with the sole aim of destabilising the Border, Transkei, Ciskei region and Eastern Cape. Because they know that is a strong post of the ANC.
POM The Transkei?
BH The Transkei, Border, Ciskei and Port Elizabeth.
POM Who is behind them?
BH South Africa.
POM South Africa. Not the government of ...?
BH Both of them. Because people are from the SA security forces. All of them are from the SADF. You will find that he is an ex-SADF. That is the same trend they were using in the CCB. When he is arrested he is an ex-policeman, but the money to pay him comes from the government.
POM So, is General Gqozo in bed with the SA government?
BH At this point in time, it appears so.
POM Would you say he is the puppet of the SA government?
BH I think he is working hand in hand with the SA government because he seems to be a good boy in their eyes.
POM A few last questions. The right wing. Has it ceased to be - last year you said it was not much of a factor. Is it less of a factor even this year?
BH I don't think it is a factor but as a political organisation it must be given a place in the negotiation table. They must stay in their place. We must not leave them out. But, they are not a factor in the politics of SA. For instance, laws have been changed. The Group Areas Act and so on. They were there in parliament but they did not have any impact. They just made noises.
POM Last year you said that the big problems facing Mr. Mandela were the expectations of the youth in the townships. Do you still think they are a potential problem?
BH The youth is not accommodating. They have pressurised the ANC for all their demands. They have elected leaders of their own choice for the first time in Durban together with the adults. So the leadership of the ANC now looks stronger in their eyes. Even the papers are saying that. I think it is up to the ANC to respond to their impatience with regard to their demands in the light of the Inkatha scandal.
POM The SACP, do they have any kind of a base in Transkei?
BH They have got offices here.
POM Are they as viable a political organisation as the ANC?
BH I don't think as much, but they have got offices and they are about to launch.
POM The majority of blacks are not in the townships but in the rural areas in Transkei. Would the majority of black males who came from Transkei be in Transkei or would they be working in mining or in the large cities and sending their money back to their families here?
BH The majority of the black men are working in SA. There are lot of men who are still here, however. They work on the land, ploughing, etc. But there are substantial numbers of Transkeian men working in SA.
POM Who would then be sending their money home?
BH Yes they do.
POM Would that account for a large part of income for the Transkei?
BH Definitely. If we were to be paid Transkei's contribution in taxes of South Africa by the Transkeians, we would be satisfied that they are giving us our share. Our statistics show they contribute a lot to the economy of SA.
POM We saw in a magazine a quotation on some wage rates. That unskilled workers earned R1.2 per hour; semi-skilled workers R1.3 per hour; and for skilled workers R1.9 per hour. Those are awfully low. When we look into store windows down town, commodity prices for things like shoes range at about R250.00 per pair; who can buy them?
BH I am not sure those figures are now accurate. But the labourers working in the government although they are the lowest paid people, per annum, we have raised their salaries, they are getting R6000.00 per year. And then the labourers in industry they have been demanding a living wage. I think that as a result of the unionisation in this country they are demanding a minimum wage of R800.00/month. That category is also not taxed. The first R8000 per annum is not taxed. That is what is considered low level income. R10000 and above is taxed. So in terms of fighting for better living standards for our people, I think we have achieved a lot in that. We have also increased pensions, old age pensions, for the people who are not doing anything. We are paying them close to R450.00 per month. And then war veterans are paid close to R600.00 per month, those are the people who fought in World War II. I think we have worked hard in trying to improve the living conditions of our people.
POM Last year you were talking of a Constituent Assembly within 18 months.
BH I am still within that.
POM You have got six months left.
BH I think so. When we talked in July, I said to you the first part of last year was historical in that it was easier to function within apartheid, but when the violence started, the carnage in Transvaal, we started to doubt de Klerk. But I still maintain that the next six months are crucial in SA even if we don't have a constitution on the table, but now they are talking of an interim government. So I think we are still within the limit, because what is important is to agree on a principle. How that issue to be implemented.
POM You cannot take part in the PF because of your independent state, is that right?
BH That is correct. The PAC and ANC do not recognise the homelands. They say, however, the leaders can contribute to the PF, because they are not classified as collaborators because as with the Transkei we have been on our own long before they were unbanned, since 1988 and we paved the way even for the SA government.
POM What independent homelands and non independent homelands have moved in behind the ANC?
BH I don't think it is a question of homelands and governments, it is a question of people. If you concentrate on talking leaders, Holomisa - ANC; Gqozo - NP; Gatsha - NP; or Gatsha - ANC; you can't say that is the real line because underneath these leaders the people are joining ANC and PAC. At the end of the day, one will be holding just an empty shell, without people. What is important is to divide SA into various constituencies which will include all the homelands. That is when I will say 'Gatsha, let's go to the polls,' and he will see whether he has got support. It would be a miracle for him to run for the presidency of South Africa. But we don't have time to be worrying about Gatsha. Right now, we will just bury him. There is more to come because the homeland leaders what they were doing in their administration, the ANC has not yet touched that on paper, there is a common trend amongst these homeland leaders, Matanzima, Gatsha, Mangope, etc. They were allocating businesses to themselves, their friends, giving themselves farms. We want that one to be straightened out. It has destroyed the Matanzimas, the Sebes, the Mangopes. I don't think Gatsha will survive that one either. That is what Pretoria has been doing, saying to them 'Here is a nice farm for you, it has got electricity, you can get it for R10000', and then he also allocates others to his friends. So as you can see, politics here are wanting to take the trend of America.
POM Thank you very much for giving time.