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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

05 Aug 1991: Moodley, Strini

Click here for more information on the Interviewee

Click here for Overview of the year

POM     Your position Strini is?

SM     I'm still the Publicity Secretary of AZAPO.

POM     Is that in the Durban area?

SM     No, no, nationally.

POM     I want to begin with a question that really goes back in time quite a bit and that is, what do you believe will be the nature of the problem that ultimately the negotiators will sit around a table to resolve? Just taking two extreme views, one the one hand you have those who say that the question is simply one about racial domination of a white minority having dominated the black majority and that must be redressed. On the other extreme you have those who say, well this is not just a racial conflict, it's also an ethnic conflict and that it is important to take into account the ethnic cleavages that exist or may exist within South Africa as well as the racial cleavages because too often African countries have made government arrangements or development government structures that have not allowed for equality between different ethnic groups. And then you have those who say it's really a question about nationalisms, on the one hand you have white nationalism which has appropriated all power and privilege and you have black nationalism which has been dominated by whites. In the AZAPO viewpoint how would it define the problem itself that must be resolved?

SM     I think there would be two legs to resolution of the problem of the conflict in this country. The clearly racist nature of the country will have to be eliminated and inter-linked with that at the second level will be the elimination of the economic domination of that same small ruling class or white minority. There would have to be massive redistribution of the resources, the wealth, the land in order to be able to resolve the issue finally. Now what people are going to sit around the negotiating table to attempt to resolve would depend largely on who the negotiators are. It seems to us as though at the present time the negotiators are restricting themselves to resolving either the racial problem or the political problem. Racial in the sense of trying to eliminate all of those things that pertain to apartheid, as it's called, and by the same token to give people the vote. We don't think that is going to resolve the problem. It might be the issues that the negotiators sit down and talk about, depending, as I said, on who they are, but the real issue of this country is going to be the question of the redistribution of the land and the redistribution of the wealth. If those two elements are not resolved then the conflict in this country will not be resolved. It will persist.

POM     What is the present position of AZAPO on participation on negotiations?

SM     We have made it quite clear that as far as negotiations are concerned we do not see what is happening at the present time as being negotiations. We think that in order for negotiations to take place the parties that are negotiating will have to set themselves on an equal footing and if they cannot set themselves on an equal footing, that is regard each others as equals, then it will be a top down kind of style, resolution of the problem where the one party is obviously going to dictate to the other.

POM     Could you give me a specific example of what you mean by that?

SM     Well, where in the circumstances the negotiations that take place will have one of the negotiators not only participating in the negotiating but also acting as a referee to those negotiations, as is the case presently with the Nationalist regime. So that for us we cannot see ourselves negotiating in that kind of climate.

POM     But if there was an All-Party conference called to work out the arrangements for negotiations, that being an open-ended agenda, would you then participate in that kind of pre-negotiation conference to work out the rules of negotiations?

SM     We would only consider such a conference when and if those parties that are allied or linked to the government will have severed their links with the government formally. That means if the homelands come into these negotiations, they cannot come in as part of, or as independent parties. The homelands are made up of discredited leaders, people who have had no support from the black communities, whether they are homeland leaders or tricameral parliaments or community councils or any of the government created structures, those people are discredited leaders. On average they have about 10% of support amongst black people. So that we would not see our way clear to sitting around a table where the homelands are given equal status with the liberation movements because they come in as surrogates of the Nationalist regime.

POM     How about the conference for the Patriotic Front that's going to take place in Cape Town? Will AZAPO participate in that?

SM     We've laid down conditions there as well. The homelands can only participate if they give a clear undertaking that before they come into the Patriotic Front they will have resigned as homeland leaders.

POM     They will have resigned as?

SM     Homeland leaders.

POM     So that would apply to somebody like General Holomisa?

SM     To all of them.

POM     To all of them. There would be no exceptions?

PAT     At this particular meeting itself, are you saying that prior to coming to the meeting?

SM     At that meeting, prior to coming to that meeting.

POM     Just to continue on this thing for a moment. Do you not put yourself in the position of marginalising yourself somehow? Like the PAC will be there and the ANC and perhaps the Democratic Party, some of the homeland leaders who are falling in behind the ANC and are sympathetic to the liberation movement? What's the strategy?

SM     We take a different view. You see if you have not participated in the system you cannot marginalise yourself from something you have not participated in. AZAPO takes its existence from its commitment to certain principles, chief amongst them being non-collaboration which has a long history in this country where people who have been fighting for their liberation have persistently and consistently refused to have anything to do with government created platforms. Consequently we may marginalise ourselves in the eyes of the media, we may marginalise ourselves in the eyes of the international community, but we don't think we marginalise ourselves in so far as the oppressed and exploited people in this country are concerned because they will understand very clearly that we are not participating in that because of our stance on non-collaboration.

POM     But do you not think that most blacks in this country want negotiations to get under way as quickly as possible and will applaud when the government, if, for example, there are some interim government structures set up that meet the requirements of the ANC and the PAC and that the present government can live with, do you not think people will applaud that and say let's move ahead, negotiate as quickly as possible?

SM     No I think what people want in this country is for the Nationalist regime to resign. That's quite clear not only from within the ranks of AZAPO but from within the ranks of the PAC and the ANC. The membership of these organisations are quite clear that the Nationalist regime has no credibility. It cannot participate in any programme for the transference of power from its position of power as it is now. What it will have to do is resign and subject itself to a Constituent Assembly, voting one person one vote for a Constituent Assembly.

POM     The likelihood of that happening is, from at least the people that we've talked to and that includes high ranking members in the PAC and the ANC, who have said that the likelihood of that happening is pretty low and that what you will end up with is some compromise arrangement in between where the liberation movement will have a say in the day to day government, will be in a position to monitor the activities of the government, but that this government, they accept, is not going to simply say, we resign, let us set up a new independent interim government. Do you know what I'm getting at?

SM     I think in terms of our strategy we will monitor very closely what will happen. But we still foresee the situation where we can get together with the ANC and the PAC and all of them to talk about that particular thing because we don't hold the view that the likelihood of that happening is very low. I think it is the duty and the responsibility of the liberation movement to ensure that that happens. I think at the present time the moral high ground rests with the liberation movements. The Nationalist regime has been completely discredited. It has no leg to stand on within the black community in so far as it being a credible contributor to the transference of power from a minority regime to a majority. Consequently what we will do is we will try to meet with the ANC and the PAC behind closed doors to convince them that the three of us together can work out a programme of action which will lead to the Nationalist regime being left with no alternative but to submit to our demands. And that we think is very possible.

POM     Last year I recall you saying that you were disturbed by the fact that the ANC was regarded as being the only representative of the black community. Has that issue been addressed to your satisfaction during the last year? Has the ANC been more willing to consult, to regard others like yourselves and the PAC as equals in the process?

SM     We think, yes, that the events of the past 12 months have demonstrated quite clearly to the ANC that it cannot regard itself as the sole authentic representative of the oppressed and exploited people. We think they have come to that conclusion not only because of discussions of the ANC with AZAPO and the PAC, but also by virtue of their experiences on the ground itself as to how people see other organisations. So consequently there has been a significant shift on the part of the ANC. It's not ideal but there is, yes, a significant shift.

POM     After 18 months of the ANC being operational on the ground, you being operational on the ground and the PAC being operational on the ground, all working and building structures within South Africa, what would you say are ideologically and politically the major differences between AZAPO and the PAC and AZAPO and the ANC?

SM     With the ANC our ideological difference would be largely in respect of the whole question of the transference of power, the demand that we make being for the redistribution, radical redistribution of the land and the wealth, our commitment to socialism and the fact that we have not shifted on the position of who constitutes the oppressed and exploited people in this country. Our definition of that is very different from the ANC's definition.

POM     Could you give me the two?

SM     Well the ANC, I think they have a very fluid definition, that is all people black and white who identify with the principle of non-racialism and democracy will be considered a part of the oppressed and exploited. We believe that the oppressed and exploited are still those who are by law and tradition discriminated against politically, economically, socially and culturally and who identify as a unit in the struggle for liberation. So just on the definition of who constitutes the oppressed and exploited, AZAPO differs very markedly from the ANC.

POM     Would I be correct in saying that the difference is that the ANC regards all blacks plus whites who subscribe to unitary, non-racial democracy as being the oppressed mass while you would take out the white component?

SM     Yes, we would take out the white component. But we don't think the ANC is talking about a unitary state. The ANC continues to talk about a 'united' South Africa. Now unitary and united and two different things.

POM     Would you just tell me?

SM     Yes. 'United' implies that a possibility exists for a kind of federal arrangement whereas 'unitary' demands that we be one state. Not a federal state but one state.

POM     The Freedom Charter talks, to my recollection, about a unitary, non-racial democracy.

SM     Well I hope that they still mean 'unitary'.

POM     Is it your belief that they have shifted on that?

SM     Yes. We think they've shifted on that because they're talking about 'united' now. The mere fact that the ANC speaks to the homeland leaders, has asked those homeland leaders who have been prepared to resign not to resign, indicates to us that there is a problem, a kind of muddy area in respect of how the ANC sees the future state.

POM     Were there homelands leaders who were prepared to resign?

SM     Prepared to resign? Enos Mboza.

POM     That's one, right?

SM     He was one who was prepared to resign and the information we have is that the ANC asked him not to resign. This is what he said. And that for us is of some concern.

POM     Looking at yourselves and the PAC?

SM     Again while we see that with the PAC there is a similarity in respect of, at least at the level of the rhetoric, commitment to the redistribution of the land and a commitment to redistribution of the wealth, the way in which their strategy has unfolded leaves us with the feeling that the PAC might want to fall behind the ANC in adopting a more conciliatory approach or make more concessions to the Nationalist regime. Again in respect of its treatment of homeland leaders its shift away from the question of a unitary state, that is of some concern to us. Again also with the definition of who constitutes the oppressed and exploited, the PAC talks about all those people who owe their first allegiance to Africa as being people who can be a part of the PAC and in that definition they have stressed the question of non-racialism, that anyone whose first identification is with Africa is eligible to become a member of the PAC, and that is again a difference from the way in which we identify and define who the oppressed and exploited are in this country.

POM     So in a sense both the ANC and the PAC can look upon the oppressed people in non-racial terms whereas you look at them very specifically in racial terms?

SM     Well not so much in racial terms, but in terms of the definition of who constitutes the oppressed and exploited. Historically it emerges that it can only be black people and black people are all those people who are by law and tradition discriminated against politically, economically, socially and culturally.

POM     From what you say it would seem to me that your natural allies should be the SACP in terms of its commitment to socialism, as being the long-term solution to South Africa's problems. How would you compare AZAPO to the SACP?

SM     Well again it's the SACP's definitions, this is where we have a problem, their definition of who constitutes the working classes. We have quite categorically said it's a black working class. I think the SACP is still clinging to the old notion in this country that workers have no colour. We think that is a misconception on the part of the SACP because the historical realities and the material objective of conditions in this country can lead to no other conclusion but that it is a black working class and that is where we differ with the SACP. The other point is that the SACP has made it quite clear that it is in an alliance with the ANC. So consequently while we might appear to be on the surface ideologically more closer to each other, the reality is that we aren't.

POM     Looking at the whole pattern of violence in the last year, I think it was just after we talked to you, we talked to you in late July, and about 8 or 9 days later the violence started. Internationally, as the violence has been monitored and reported throughout the year there was an increasing propensity to talk about it in ethnic terms, to say that at least a significant part of the violence, not all of it but a significant part of it, was in fact Xhosa versus Zulu. And The Economist, I think two weeks ago, in an editorial said that the violence between Xhosa and Zulu in the Transvaal was in essence not very much different from the violence between Serbs and Croatians just because they were the hot item at that moment. How would you regard both those analyses?

SM     I can see basic misconceptions actually in misreading of the situation that propensity on the part of particularly media personnel both from the mainstream media in this country and the international media, to sloganise the violence, to give it a very easy definition. They made the claim that it's Xhosa versus Zulu. Now there is no evidence, no evidence at all to indicate that. In fact the evidence is to the contrary that what is happening is that you're having a programme that has been orchestrated by the Nationalist regime to destabilise the black community. If you take for example the hostels on the Reef it is not true that there are only Zulus living in those hostels. If you were to go in you will find people from Venda, you will find Xhosas, you will find Swazis, you'll find Sothos, you'll find all shades of people staying in those hostels. So in the first instance hostels are not only Zulu. Secondly, if you look at the communities on the Reef they are not all Xhosa. They're a mixture, they've got Xhosa, they've got Zulu speaking, they've got Venda speaking, they've got Sotho speaking, Tswana speaking, Ndebeles, all groups that live in those communities in Soweto and other parts of the Reef.

     The violence, as I said, is orchestrated by the government through the Department of Military Intelligence, through the SAP's security police, through the creation of secret armies which has been vindicated by all the evidence that has been provided, both by AZAPO, by the ANC, by the PAC and by what the media itself has uncovered. What is happening in our country and what has been happening in our country is that the ruling class has taken upon itself a programme to destabilise, depoliticise and de-radicalise the black community. It has trained people and it has sent them into the townships to foment violence, to foment conflict, dressed them up tonight in Inkatha colours and dressed them up tomorrow in ANC colours and the following day in AZAPO colours or PAC colours. That is being deliberately orchestrated by the South African government. The various exposés, the admissions that have been made by Military Intelligence people, by people who have participated in the violence and who have been instructed by the SADF or the SAP indicates quite clearly that the violence has nothing to do with tribal or ethnic divisions. It is political violence that is orchestrated by the ruling class and that is what it is.

POM     Let me put that in a slightly different context if I can. Last year after the violence broke out Patricia and I went to a number of townships outside Durban, taken by Inkatha people, we went to Inkatha and said, "Take us out, we'd like to talk to some of the people who have been the victims of violence", and last Christmas we went out to the hostels in Thokoza after the bad violence between the residents of Phola Park and the hostels, and we visited people like the King, the Zulu King, and all of these people, let me add, would have been supporters in one way or another of Inkatha, except the people in the hostels. There was no indication that the men who were in the hostel belonged to any political grouping. We just talked to them at random and they were all Zulus and were all dogmatic in saying that they were being attacked as Zulus and this was a concerted attempt by the Xhosa dominated ANC to eradicate the Zulu nation because the Zulu nation stood in the way of what the ANC wanted, i.e. a one party ANC state. And among the hostel dwellers it was rather sad, I mean to the extent they believed that Mandela himself had gone to the police station the night before and worked out with the police the details of the assault on the hostels. They knew it for a fact. What do you say to those, to people like that?

SM     It's not something new. It's something that goes back in our history a long time where because of the programme of divide and rule the Nationalist regime has become experts on being able to create a belief in the minds of people that some other group is attacking it. The Zulus feel that they're being attacked by the Xhosas. We think in large part that is attributable to the amount of propaganda that has been put out amongst them which has been heavily funded by the South African government. The amount of money given to Inkatha in order for them to be able to put out their pamphlets and they've made it quite clear, we've been doing pamphlets, we've been doing rallies, we've been doing all of these kinds of things and this is exactly what Gatsha Buthelezi, the King and others stand up and say at these rallies. That's at one level. At the other level the police are in the townships, distributing these pamphlets, creating the situation where they are making it appear as though it were Zulu and Xhosa. On the other side of the coin people in the townships also have a similar misconception. It is a kind of a false consciousness that is being inculcated into people who find themselves at the receiving end, not only of the violence but just around all of that. The whole question of unemployment, poor wages, retrenchments and just poor living conditions. The inability to be able to overcome the things in the environment that make it so difficult for them in which to live. The overcrowding, all of those things. So that it becomes very easy to spread rumours and it becomes very easy to create false facts and distribute them into those kinds of things. And we recognise that, yes, those things are being said but that doesn't mean that that is what it is. Those are rumours, those are a part of the propaganda campaign of the Nationalist regime in order to make it appear as though this is what is going on. And the more that gets uncovered in terms of what the DMI is doing, in terms of what the SAP is doing and has been doing, the more we should be understanding that those people are speaking in that fashion because that is the information they have been fed with.

POM     Do you believe that it has now been proven conclusively what Mr Mandela has been saying for some time, that the government has a double agenda, on the one hand the olive branch and the other hand a campaign to undermine the liberation movement, particularly the ANC, in the black community?

SM     Well, I mean, that's been clear for a long time. The programme of the Nationalist regime is clearly a double agenda. It has two facets to it. The first facet is to pretend to the international community that it is wanting to change but on the other hand to ensure, as I say, that the people who are most affected by oppression and exploitation are destabilised so that they cannot organise, they cannot come together, they cannot work out their problems together. And what has been happening over the past 18 months is that the oppressed and exploited people are slowly being depoliticised and being de-radicalised by this campaign that has been initiated by the Nationalist regime.

POM     Do you think de Klerk himself has had knowledge of this double agenda, that it is pursued with his full approval or that it is being conducted by elements within the government rather than being part of official government policy?

SM     If you look at the history of dirty tricks and departments anywhere in the world, the figurehead is always made out to be the innocent guy who knows nothing about what others are doing. I mean that's just so naive. I mean the buck must stop somewhere and Mr de Klerk just doesn't want the buck to stop where it ought to - with him. Whether he knew or whether he didn't know is not the point. The point is that it is his administration, it's his government. Had this been a government that existed anywhere else in the western world it would have been out of power a long time ago. No matter what Mr de Klerk says that he knew nothing about it just doesn't cut ice. It can't cut ice. I mean we're not a bunch of children. We're not naive. Mr de Klerk knew and Mr de Klerk must take responsibility for it. He can't look for fall guys somewhere else and play the innocent.

POM     But do you think that quick negotiations are in the interests of the ANC as being the primary component of the liberation movement, at least the part that receives most attention, or that the slower the process the better for them? Don't they have to show they're getting some place to hold on to their own base of support?

SM     As far as black people in this country are concerned, they don't have to show they're getting some place by being seen to be engaged in a process with the de Klerk regime. I think what they've got to show the black community is that the de Klerk regime is collapsing and black people are prepared to participate in that programme to ensure the collapse or overthrow of the de Klerk regime. I think that for us is what is the bottom line. So that the ANC must not feel threatened and if the ANC is feeling threatened I think it's feeling threatened by virtue of the fact that there are other players as well who may be able in the long run to replace them and actually be able to represent the interests of the oppressed and exploited far more effectively than they are being able to do and if they are rushing into negotiations and rushing into wanting to take power as a government at any cost then it can only be in their own worst interest because the reality exists that they could make the same mistake that Abel Muzorewa made.

POM     Do you think that is the course they are pursuing?

SM     One hopes not.

POM     But your own personal opinion? I mean the way they've behaved in the last 18 months?

SM     An unnecessary rush to want to negotiate. Personally, it's not AZAPO policy, personally I think they are going to find themselves in that position.

POM     Again, most people that we've talked to across the political spectrum say that the possibility of going back to an armed struggle is really an outside possibility and really not realistic or practical. Do you think negotiations are the only game in town or are there other alternatives?

SM     Obviously you're talking about in the context of armed struggle. We have a problem with this whole question of armed struggle because the discussion here is not about whether it's violent or non-violent as far as we're concerned. As far as we're concerned the discussion ought to be about to what extent we can establish solidarity, that is to unite black people in such a way that it becomes impossible for the regime to penetrate and at the same time creates the opportunity for the liberation movement to develop a solid block that when it comes to a thing like negotiations we are in a position of power or in a position where we are of equal strength and where Mr de Klerk negotiates on terms and conditions laid down by the oppressed and exploited people through the liberation movement, so that if the stage arises that we will have to engage in a guerrilla war then that would be determined not so much by how many guns we are able to buy but by the degree to which we are able to liberate territory. And that for us is the bottom line if we are to get to that point. How much territory can we liberate and where can we begin to liberate territory?

POM     In the end it seems to me what you want to do is defeat the government. Am I correct? And then arrange the transfer of power.

SM     That's the bottom line. That's right.

POM     So whereas in a way the ANC is saying, we haven't won and they haven't won, we stalemate each other hence the need for negotiations. So they come to negotiations out of a sense of neither side being able to win, whereas you come to negotiations out of the defeat and then negotiate. Is that analysis correct?

SM     Yes.

POM     To talk about the youth, again last year there was a lot of talk about the disaffected youth, the generation of young people and adults who have been brought up knowing only a culture of militancy, who have been taught intolerance because intolerance was in fact a positive weapon in the townships. Where do they lie now? Are they responsive, are they increasingly responsive to your message? Do you find that you are building a larger constituency and where are you building it?

SM     We are recognising a trend that is growing. At the moment I think what concerns us is our capacity to be able to handle this trend and that I think is our priority now to be able to be organised in such a way as to be able to handle the backlash when it does come. At the moment it's probably just, it's not an avalanche yet, but it's not a trickle. It is there, we recognise it, we see that there is a greater degree on the part of people in the rural areas to want to listen to us, to want us to come and speak to them. There is a greater percentage of people coming to join the organisation every day. We think also that that is happening with the PAC. A lot of people from within the ANC are expressing their disquiet with the way in which things are developing. But for us the disaffected youth that have been part of what one can call the kind of rent a mob events of 1987, 1988 and 1989 have to be subjected to political education, have to be subjected to learning discipline and they have to be subjected to accountability at the local level and to hold a notion of democracy. And those are the things that we think are a priority for the disaffected youth at the present time.

POM     Would it be correct in saying that a large element of disaffected youth are really not in the control or under the control of anybody? They're like some kind of a loose canon out there.

SM     Absolutely. There's no doubt in our mind that that is the case in many respects, very many respects. Some of them identify with the ANC, some of them identify with the PAC, some of them identify with AZAPO in a very loose sense but none of them have yet subjected themselves to the discipline and the political education of the organisations to which they claim to be members.

POM     In a different context but going back to this whole question of democratic structures, if one looks at the history of Africa since 1967, with one exception (that was Cape Verde) there has been no case of an elected government transferring power to another elected government drawn from a different party. The states have either become one-party states or one party has been so overwhelmingly dominant that it's not democracy, it's perpetual power. What factors do you think exist that would make South Africa different?

SM     As things stand now the indications are that South Africa won't be different. As things stand now.

POM     That's a very provocative statement. Could you elaborate?

SM     Yes. By virtue of the way in which the climate of political intolerance has been used both by the regime and its surrogates, including Inkatha, and the degree to which the ANC has allowed itself to become a victim.

POM     Has allowed itself to become a victim?

SM     A victim of political intolerance by virtue of the fact that it also in many respects used political intolerance in order to establish hegemony in many townships. Those factors create the real possibility for much the same kind of thing happening in South Africa as has happened in other parts of Africa. That is reinforced by the way in which the white right, the extreme right wing, is beginning to conduct itself. Also by the fact that much of the ANC's own desire to want to take part is going to force it to adopt a certain approach in the name of preventing the white right. And that is complicated by the fact that you have characters of the ilk of Buthelezi or Holomisa or Mangope who themselves are all eager for power, in search of power. And that must lead to one of two things happening, either a complete breakdown where the country becomes splintered into a variety of factions under a particular political leadership or one of all of those factions is in sufficiently strong position to be able to take power and will have to hold power through the maintenance of a politically intolerant system in order for it to, as it will say, to prevent the white right or to prevent tribalists or to prevent reactionaries from coming into power.

POM     So in essence what I seem to hear you saying is that if the ANC continues to conduct itself in the manner in which it has been conducting itself in the last 18 months and if it rushes hastily into negotiations without trying to deal with fundamental structural differences, whether they're economic or political, that they could be on the way to establishing a one-party state and justifying it in terms of having to control the white right?

SM     And other elements in the society that it will determine as being reactionary.

POM     You mentioned Buthelezi. In terms of what's been called Inkathagate or whatever, who are the main political winners, losers and in particular what does it do to Buthelezi?

SM     I think politically all that has happened with Inkathagate is that it has reinforced the general belief within the black community that Buthelezi is a puppet of the Nationalist regime. And that has been reinforced without any doubt. Any claim by Buthelezi to be an independent anti-apartheid campaigner, he can no longer do that. Now he must come out quite clearly and demonstrate that he is a creation of the Nationalist regime, he is there with Inkatha to carry out, as we put it, to be an extension of the ruling class into the ranks of the oppressed and exploited. And that is what he is doing. I would like to see some of the more independent, international newspapers investigating all those whites who are Inkatha today. It will not be surprising to find that 90% of them either belong to the DMI or to the SADF or the SAP.

POM     The DMI is?

SM     The Directorate of Military Intelligence of the SADF. Your Walter Felgates and your what have you. That must be investigated to find out where do these guys come from, what are their origins, what are they doing in Inkatha? And quite clearly all of the events that have taken place, the money that's been given to UWUSA(?), the money that's been given to Inkatha, has been for the purpose of destabilising the black community. I keep coming back to that. And there is no doubt now that that is what Buthelezi has been doing. In the eyes of the black community that has been reinforced and Buthelezi has no credibility whatsoever in the black community.

POM     Again, internationally, when Mandela, a lot of people said last year, people who belong to the ANC or ANC supporters, said that a lot of the violence in the townships was being propagated by Inkatha because Buthelezi was using the violence to force himself into the role of the third major player, that this wasn't just a two person process, Mandela and de Klerk, that he was a player of equal stature and at the time of the meeting with himself and Mandela and the international publicity that this received there was increasing talk of there now being a triumvirate. Do you think Buthelezi as a national player has now been mortally wounded, that his credibility is now so lacking?

SM     He'll have no credibility in the black community but it's not a question when it comes to the media and as to what the National Party will do. Clearly there is probably already a plan to resurrect Buthelezi and to clean up his image and to ensure that he remains a so-called significant player in whatever arrangement is going to be made in the future. But it's not as though Buthelezi is doing it alone. I think he's doing it as part and parcel of the programme of the Nationalist regime. They want to use people like Buthelezi because if you listen to what Buthelezi says, he says nothing different from what the National Party says. So he is there to reinforce the Nationalist regime and to give the Nationalist regime an air of credibility in the international community.

POM     What about the Conservative Party? A year ago after the by-election in Umlazi there was a lot of talk that if a whites only election were held then that the Conservative Party would probably win or might win or would actually win the majority of seats. And it seems they've kind of collapsed. No-one seems to talk about there being any real threat any longer of a surge of white support to the Conservative Party. Do you think that's an accurate reading and if so what accounts for the change?

SM     I think the bombardment that the white community has suffered via the media has driven them into their shell. I don't think we are getting an honest reading of what is happening in the white community at the present time. What I think is quite evident is that a large percentage of the white community is still very, very much committed to ensuring their power, their privilege, their security, their wealth is not tampered with. I think when the Conservative Party will really emerge and the white right will really emerge is if the Nationalist regime goes to the negotiating table with the ANC and comes out of it having to make concessions. Then we're going to see the white backlash.

POM     When you say 'having to make concessions', what would you list as the major concessions that would result in ...?

SM     Redistribution of the land. The land redistribution will be a major point that would create a problem. There would be other things of course like redistribution of the wealth, economy.

POM     So they're more economic issues than political issues, would they be the determinants of which way ultimately the white community swings? That's right? Do you think that most white people accept there is no going back to the old days, that classical apartheid in terms of Group Areas Act, Population Registration Act, that these things are gone for ever, that they accept the inevitability of one person one vote and that they will define the interests they want to be protected, maybe the economic interests, and concede political power as long as they hold on to their economic power and really wouldn't turn to a party that advocates partition? That really most whites are realistic to know that partition in South Africa and everybody going to their homeland is simply unrealistic?

SM     For as long as de Klerk demonstrates to the white community that he is still on a winning track whites won't want to go for that alternative. But the moment de Klerk begins to lose I think white people would not think twice about going back to the old days. They wouldn't think twice about it.

POM     So what's your overall assessment from the time that we spoke last year in terms of your expectations at that time? Have things gotten worse, is the climate poorer for real negotiations? Is this going to be a long and dirty haul? How do you view the trends that are emerging?

SM     I think that there are two parts to this. The first part is in terms of the media hype and the definitions that have been laid down by the international community as to what constitutes a settlement in this country, that'll probably come in the next two or three years, maybe even four years. But that won't mean the resolution of the problem. The problem will persist, it will remain. It will in fact get worse. So that whether the ANC, the PAC, AZAPO and any other element negotiates or not, I think there will be people who still struggle. If the ANC, the PAC and AZAPO strike a deal with the Nationalist regime and all other parties to create some kind of arrangement in this country, I think within 24 months of that settlement being reached the possibility is that a new organisation will emerge in order to be able to try to destroy whatever system comes into effect and to replace it with a far more radical, far more socialist system.

PAT     Yes, I have a question. You said you can get together with the PAC, the ANC and devise a strategy to bring the Nationalist government down. What is the basic element of that strategy?

SM     First of all we would see a joint programme of action for the politicisation and conscientisation of the black community, a reintroduction of a series of mass action campaigns. We would want to encourage the ANC and the PAC and the external BCM to merge their armed wings and to reconsider the whole strategy of guerrilla warfare. We would want to see the situation where the organisations jointly begin to establish control over the townships and the rural areas where we would force out the defence force and the police and begin to control those areas, to embark upon a vigorous international campaign where we would resurrect the support groups and the anti-apartheid structures to resuscitate the sanctions and the sports and cultural boycott, where the ANC, the PAC and AZAPO would jointly politicise the international community, that nothing in fact has changed in this country. Those would be the broad guidelines that AZAPO would suggest to the ANC.

PAT     I assume if you find the space to go into the meeting on the 23rd of the Patriotic Front, that's your agenda, is that right?

SM     Mm. In fact we're going to try to do that before the 23rd. We have a meeting with the PAC this week and are hoping to meet the ANC next week. And we're hoping that we can convince both of them. Before we meet with anybody else on the 23rd we have our own meeting.

POM     OK. Thank you very much for the time and for all the shifting about. Would it be possible to try to set up an interview with your National President? We're here until 3rd September, moving around. We're going tomorrow to - two days to Port Elizabeth then to Grahamstown, then to Cape Town and then back to Johannesburg and then around again. But we could do it in Cape Town, Johannesburg?

SM     Johannesburg would be ideal because that's where he's based.

POM     OK.

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.