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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

12 Aug 1991: Zille, Helen

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POM     I am talking with Helen Zille on the 12th of August 1991. Helen I am going to go back a bit to a question about the nature of the problem. A man named Donald Horwitz, who is a well know American academic on ethnic groups and divided societies has written a book on South Africa which talks about the nature of the conflict. That it ranges on the one hand from those who would describe it purely in terms of race and racial domination by whites over blacks, to those who would say no, it is a question about competing nationalisms, to those who would say, yes, there are racial divisions, but within the racial groups there are real ethnic differences that must be taken into account if we are to develop structures that will be stable and lasting. If you were addressing the negotiators, and saying ladies and gentlemen, this is the problem you are here to settle among yourselves, how would you define the problem?

HZ     I would find a combination of all three with additional dimensions. I would say that the conflict is perceived very differently by very many different constituencies. In some contexts it is perceived as a colonial struggle, with regional colonists having oppressed and dispossessed and conquered the indigenous people, and a lot of problems having sprung from that root with, in subsequent years, the original colonisers having become indigenous people themselves, but a form of colonialism persisting. I would see competing nationalisms to be a part of that although I think at one stage it might have been generally perceived as the dominant component, or quite widely perceived as the dominant component. I think today, that component is diminishing.

     I think ethnic conflict is a reality in SA. I have defined that or discussed that with you in a previous discussion we had. I think we must never forget a very critical dimension of our conflict, which I think is going to become a much more important dimension, certainly during the transition, and that is conflict over access to resources, especially in the urban context one has a situation in which very little provision has been made for rapid urbanisation. Where land, particularly, is seen as a zero sum game. With a tremendous demand on resources such as land and services, etc. and where groups end up in major conflicts over those issues.

     They tend to fall on the fault line between those who have something at least, for example a brick house, and those who have very little, and often not even access to a piece of serviced land. So conflict over access to resources is a very, very real one. And sometimes it can lie at the root of a particular conflict or problem, which divides around other fault lines as well such as ethnicity, the urban rural dwellers, such as squatters and civics for example.

POM     I want to for a moment just concentrate on the ethnic dimension. Increasingly in the last year in the international media, by that I mean either the television stations in the States or Time, Newsweek, the Economist or whatever, there has been an increasing propensity to describe the violence in the Transvaal in tribal terms, Xhosa versus Zulu to the extent that the Economist, I think about a month ago, said that there was no essential difference between the violence between the Xhosas and the Zulus and between the Serbs and Croatians in Yugoslavia. Do you find that a valid analogy in terms of there being a high degree of actual or potential cleavage between the groups?

HZ     I think under current objective circumstances and current historic circumstances yes. Those divisions are exacerbated by our recent political history, by the fact that different constituencies have organised differently, and different political parties have seen their main constituencies having their centre of gravity within particular ethnic groups, although many would strongly deny that that is their objective. But in fact whether it is any objective or not, and I don't think that it has been in any way a fairly formulated objective, the fact is that the Inkatha Freedom Party, for example, had its centre of gravity in the Zulu speaking people and although many Zulus do support the ANC, the very large majority of Xhosa speaking people support the ANC. So, although it was certainly not an objective of the ANC to base its political centre of gravity among the Xhosa speaking people, it was generally acknowledged that a very large percentage of Xhosa speaking people are ANC supporters.

POM     I find that more interesting in the light of a conversation I have just had this afternoon with Dr. Allan Boesak, we were talking about the low level of support among coloureds for the ANC and again how the ANC did not start out, it does want to be non-racial, that is its objective, but this is the way things seem to be following.

HZ     Yes. The coloured people are to a very large measure, culturally, in terms of their religion, in terms of their history, and in terms mostly of their identification, identify themselves more with white South Africans.  Let me put it that way, they identify with white South Africans to a greater extent than any other grouping. I think what De Klerk is offering them is akin to the prodigal son parable. We have done great wrong towards you, we crossed you out, you were one of us, you are now welcome back. That is very irresistible in political terms. I think that in all the very important social motivating forces, I don't think really politics play such a critical role here, but the socially motivating forces such as cultural identity, language, religion, most coloured people aspire to what they see in white SA. Let me not put it that way because many people obviously aspire to a middle-class lifestyle, but coloured people identify with white SA, and an apt though controversial term sometimes used is 'brown Afrikaners'. Now that does not mean to say that there aren't some coloured people who strongly identify with the ANC, and also many who strongly identify with parties to the left of the ANC, but my estimate would be at this stage that a large majority of coloured people, many of whom are unpoliticised or not highly politicised in their day to day life, would identify and see their aspirations in terms of De Klerk and his government. I think that that is captured by De Klerk's son's pending marriage to a coloured beauty queen (romance this has now ended). They sort of see a sort of prodigal son metaphor.

POM     For most of the last year, or ever since last August when the violence started in the Transvaal, the ANC has been saying that: (i) it was entirely Inkatha provoked and then; (ii) they moved from that to saying there is a force and then; (iii) they moved from that to saying the government was involved. In the last two weeks part of a fallout of Inkathagate was that they see these events and revelations of the various members of the defence forces about training Inkatha people and supplying weapons as being positive proof that De Klerk has in fact been following a double agenda. It moves from elements in the government to loosely the government, to then, well if De Klerk is head of the government, head of the security apparatus, then of course he would know what is going on. What is your whole assessment of this double agenda? The olive branch on the one hand, and helping to destabilise and undermine them, keeping their minds off the negotiations and prevent them from organising?

HZ     I can understand that argument and it makes a lot of sense. I would also understand why it is in the government's interest not to have the ANC getting a simple majority in any election and therefore encouraging other parties to become stronger, to become viable and to potentially undermine the ANC supporters and that argument becomes more comprehensible if one looks at the efforts and the money that the National Party spent in Namibia to sustain opposition parties there. One does not know whether they were in fact destabilising SWAPO but the question of it being in the NP's interest to have a proliferation of opposition parties and to ensure that one party does not gain complete hegemony through a simple majority is a clear cut argument.

     However, to get proof of that, not simply circumstantial evidence but proof, is another question. And also, one sees there would be a very strong downside for a government in conspicuously destabilising the transition process. And the downside would be that they need to get into negotiations quickly and they need to deliver a result preferably before 1995. They need to do it politically, but above all, they need to do it economically. There is no way that we can put economic considerations second to political considerations in this country. In fact if you think it is going to be difficult to get agreement on a political constitution, it is going to be a lot more difficult to get economic growth and development going to meet at least some of the aspirations that people have. And so, I think that there is a major concern to get economic growth and social development going right now, and the kind of destabilisation and violence that we have been seeing as a result of this is totally counter productive to that end. So one can make a very coherent argument on both sides of that divide.

     I may be naive, but my sense is, or my perception is that De Klerk and Gerrit Viljoen and people of that calibre are serious about getting negotiations going and are serious about enabling black leaders to carry their constituencies and are serious about limiting violence. I have no doubt that on the ground, and maybe even sometimes within the police force, have taken sides in conflicts and have sought to exacerbate violence. I have no doubt that the legacy of the Civil Co-operation Bureau is not easily disbanded, and having set up these institutions they continue living on. They get their own logic and individuals involved in that kind of activity do not evaporate. The whole mentality of seeing the ANC as the enemy and Inkatha as a potential ally continues right to the ranks of the security forces. And so, my assessment would be that while De Klerk and Viljoen and people of that calibre are serious about stabilising the country during transition, my perception is that there would be people in the government, in particular in the security forces, who would not be.

POM     What does this do to the process, if anything? Among members of the ANC that I have talked to in the last couple of weeks, and among them were members of the working groups, its now cardinal knowledge that, yes, they have been proved right, that without a shadow of doubt, this government has been pursuing a double agenda and there is real anger at De Klerk, a real sense of being let down, again, just because he is the last person that I talked to, Allan Boesak said, "We were taken in, we were suckered". What does it do to the process?

HZ     It does serious harm to the process and I think that it does show very strongly is that you can't be the referee and a player at the same time and I think that is the legitimate valid point the ANC has made I think. For example, if there was a non-aligned interim government at the moment they would have gone to this question much more thoroughly and would have asked lots of questions and would have uncovered this with much more enthusiasm than the present government and not try to justify it.  I think that De Klerk has backed off from that now and he is trying to take corrective measures, but that certainly won't allay suspicions. I think what this has done is to underscore very strongly the demand for a non-aligned or multiparty interim government of national unity to take South Africa through transition, and I think he then has given some legitimacy to that demand, some considerable legitimacy to that demand.

POM     In one sense I am beginning to think that these events in a way show the underlying strength of the process underway, although the ANC really believes that the government has been underhanded in this awful way. The government is orchestrating the violence, killing their people, while at the same time saying they are still willing to negotiate. It shows that underlying understanding of the need for negotiations.

HZ     Can you just repeat that?

POM     I don't know that I can. But if the ANC really believes that the government has been either funding people or supplying weapons or orchestrating the violence, killing their people, while at the same time saying, "Come sit and let us negotiate", if they don't break off negotiations at that point in disgust or anger or whatever, it shows their underlying understanding of the need for negotiations is really pretty overwhelming.

HZ     I would agree with that completely. What has amazed me about this entire saga is the restraint with which the ANC has responded. They could have made serious capital out of this, and indeed they did, they made capital out of it, but they made very little restrained capital out of this and I think it is precisely because they don't want to throw the negotiation process into jeopardy through it. I think they realise that this has allowed them to regain some moral ground, some moral high ground, which I think they needed to because De Klerk was perceived to be on the high ground by many quarters. But in a sense it might have helped negotiations get underway if the ANC decides that now they have regained a position of moral superiority. What we can do at this moment is to make sure of the all-party conference post-haste, while we are on a strong footing, and in that case it might have well given a strong boost to negotiations. What might be very high on the agenda of those negotiations is the question of an interim government of national unity, saying, look, events in the past week have shown that it is very difficult for any major player to be arbiter and referee of this game at the same time and that we have to find another transition mechanism.

POM     Does the NP have a strategy? Have they sat down and said, listen we are entering these negotiations? Is the party willing to give up power? Do you think that the NP has an objective strategy and a set of tactics?

HZ     They have got a Plan A and a Plan B. When I say that, I mean they do know what kind of constitution they would like to see in broad terms, they obviously have not worked out the fine details. But they have worked out in broad terms what they would like to see coming out of the process, and what they think they can sell to their constituencies. I am not up on the details I discussed with somebody about two months ago, but I can't remember all the fine details, but the fact is that they do know what they would like to aim for.

HZ     They also know what issues they believe are negotiable and what issues they believe are non-negotiable. They also understand, to some extent, that they are quite likely not to be in power when they come out of this process and with this a whole realignment of political forces in SA, which is something that they would not be averse to in any way. So, they obviously understand that it is going to depend upon the state of flux of the politics, not least the state of flux of the economy, the realignment of politics as we go through this transitional period, and the question as to whether they, for example, could take on the ANC and beat them in an election.

POM     To go back to the question, what do they want?

HZ     I don't know. I can't remember in detail, it was a two half system and - it is all lost with me.

POM     They understand what is negotiable and what is not negotiable?

HZ     Yes. I think a market economy is non-negotiable for them. I think a multi-party system is non-negotiable for them. These are all issues, you see all the non-negotiable issues have a large scale of convergence. There is a very large measure of convergence. I think an independent judiciary, I think a Bill of Rights, I think some protection mechanism for minorities, short of a veto. I think they have given up on a veto, they are not achieving that.

POM     When they talk about power-sharing what do you think they mean by that?

HZ     I think that is a very good question. I think that whole power-sharing question is coming much more into the process now.  The questions facing negotiators will be: what kind of power sharing should we have during SA's transition and how long should it last? The government will go for a prolonged period of power-sharing while the ANC will probably prefer a shorter, interim period of shared executive power on a multi-party basis. The concept of the 'social compact' is also becoming prominent. The underlying thinking around the compact idea is that no political party on its own in SA will be able to do what has to be done, because  the challenges are so great and the remedies potentially unpopular. There is no way that any one party can come into power in a post-apartheid government and simultaneously appease those two constituencies with major expectations of what a post-apartheid government should deliver and stay in power. So what you need is an agreement between the major parties, primarily between the two major parties, as to what is needed, what the key objectives of government should be, and an agreement to work together to achieve this, so there is not the kind of political and moral outbidding all the time. (This is what the NP would like, and what the NP understands by power sharing.)

POM     My understanding of it is that the NP will expect to be represented in the Cabinet of a government exercising executive authority. One, do you think that would be an acceptable outcome to the black community? Looking at it in two ways, (i) looking at it in terms of an interim measure, and (ii) looking at it in terms of part of a final solution?

HZ     Well you see, this is why I think it is in the government's own best interests to agree to an interim government of national unity, if you are looking at it from the government's point of view. If they say we will agree to an interim period in which all major parties can govern this country, I think they have got a much better chance of trying to grapple the issues together with the other major players and establish that as a model at least for taking SA into a transition, and a transition not lasting two or three years but a transition maybe lasting ten years, because that is how long it is going to take to start grappling all those sorts of issues, whereas if they push it to a situation in which the winner-takes-all at an election in the end, they are going to be in a very difficult and complex situation. One would imagine that it would be logical for the NP to say, if we went into the kind of interim government and national unity to try and manage the transition, and if that forced a lot of people into government who would then see from a point of view of administering and delivering in this country what sorts of challenges we are facing and if we could bring out combined resources of administrative skills, long experience in government, popular legitimacy, etc., to the table to jointly grapple with these problems then it would make tremendous sense to pursue that course and hope that that would generate enough popular support to be able to tide it across. The big problem, as you would quite rightly say, is would they be able to carry this on the ground? The big problem is whether the ANC can take it to its constituency through an extended interim government period. If the government, if the NP government were now to say we are conceding to the interim government demand, they would take a tremendous amount of flak from its constituency.

POM     There could be no question of this government resigning could there? Surrendering its sovereignty? Resigning in order to become part of a power based multi-party government? Do you see that?

HZ     I can't see that happening right now. But what I can see them doing is bringing some key players from others parties into the Cabinet and giving them executive power.

POM     That seems like a new form of co-option?

HZ     Well, there is some softening on both sides. Previously one heard non-negotiable from both sides, and recently people talk in more vague terms about transition mechanisms etc. One notices very strongly that at least the rhetoric is beginning to converge, on that particular issue right now. It is still far apart and the people who think of the interim government in the ANC think of a small caretaker government to take over some of the executive functions of the current government. I think the government that is in power at the moment says, look, it is impossible to give up the day-to-day administration going of this country under those circumstances. We have to keep the place running, we have to keep the wheels turning and what we are quite prepared to do is go through a transformation of existing processes and structures and decisions with other people, and perhaps pull them in to help transformation. Now that is a whole debate of who change will take place, and it is an extension of the debate around previously whether change would come by revolution or other change, and it is a nuance of variants of that debate. Can one government resign and another party take over, or do you have to have a situation in which there is a process? You see, it does not really matter if the political head changes, but what you have go underneath is a huge bureaucracy carrying on in the same old way.

POM     But the symbol of it in the white communities, of the government voluntarily resigning, would be huge would it not? I mean, are whites ready for that?

HZ     I don't think under the circumstances they could do that.

POM     When you talk to your friends, neighbours, etc., do they think in terms of the inevitability of black majority rule, or do they think - we are going to share power, they may have more of it than we have, but we will still have power, we are not going outside looking in, we are not going to become part of a large fringe?

HZ     I don't really move in a representative circle of white South Africans, but what I do want to tell you is that there are only two things that worry the circle of whites that I move in and one is the violence; they are terrified of endemic violence in which every single conflict in SA is resolved through violence. It is no cost to political tolerance in which you get a situation in which every small conflict over any issue results in blood letting. They are terrified about that. That is one thing. They worry about the economy. They see the economy continuing to plummet, they see rising expectations continuing. They see a situation where two generations of black school children have not had education; they see them coming onto the market with aspirations of well-paying jobs. They see us unable to compete in a world economy and they see a system in which jobs go to people for symbolic and affirmative reasons rather than ones capability and competence and they see the whole thing just unwinding. White liberals are concerned that SA will be unable to compete in the world economy, and they see a system in which jobs go to people for symbolic and affirmative reasons rather than one's capability and competence and they see the whole thing just unwinding. When I speak to many liberal white South Africans they are not particularly worried about who the hell is in government as long as the economy survives and grows.

POM     Is the ANC increasingly becoming, this is in respect to strategy, is the ANC increasingly becoming an urban-African party?

HZ     I do think that the NP could become more non-racial than the ANC, I see that as a possibility. There are very few whites who belong to the ANC proportionately, very few coloured people support the ANC proportionately, and very few Indians support the ANC proportionately, although there are strong supporters out of all those groups. Certainly in the rural areas of the Cape, Xhosa speaking people support the ANC. Wherever you are most of the Xhosa speaking people will support the ANC. So the type of conflicts in the town which are so-called between the Inkatha and the ANC, happen in exactly the same way in the Western Cape but they are between the ANC and the ANC, they are struggles over resources, struggles over absence of land and housing, but they are between people who all support the ANC. So, I think most Xhosa speaking people belong to the ANC, in rural KwaZulu, most rural people might belong to Inkatha Freedom Party, or might support Chief Buthelezi, but basically it is centrally an African party, the ANC.

POM     What do you think Inkathagate has done to Inkatha and Buthelezi in particular?

HZ     It certainly bumped their credibility very, very seriously as an autonomous political force. But on the other hand all parties have received money to bolster their constituencies from a range of sources, so I think it will be very difficult to take that argument and say that proves that he did not have a constituency. I am not saying that it was right that he got the money from the SA government, I think it was completely wrong, but what I am saying is you cannot then say that proves he does not have a constituency.

POM     Yes, but in terms of him being seen by the constituency as being a puppet of the government?

HZ     You know I would be very interested to see a survey of his constituency in KwaZulu because I personally don't think it will make much of a difference.

POM     I would not think so either, they probably don't have TVs, they don't listen much to the radio.

HZ     I think if they do listen to anything it is the radio, but the point is that the cleavages and conflicts are deep. I think that if you debate the political principles of where you get your money, that is part of a high order political debate, the secret funding and this and that. I am not sure whether it has had any major impact on his grassroots constituency. I may be wrong and I have not been in KwaZulu and I have not done a survey, but my gut instinct tells me that it won't make much difference to the IFP's constituency.

POM     Yes. How about in terms of after his meeting with Mandela? Again the international media played up the meeting; talked about there now being a triumvirate of three major players in this whole thing. Do you think he has collapsed as a major player?

HZ     I think it has hit Buthelezi internationally very hard, I think it has hit him in the eyes of elite politics in SA. I think that he was losing ground in Natal to the ANC, there is no doubt about that, and I think it all remains to be seen whether he can hold a constituency. I don't think it is triumvirate of three major players and I do think that Buthelezi's image has taken a knock and will be less perceived to be so, less perceived to be a triumvirate of three major players in the future. You know, I always think the media grabs and puts it into an interesting angle and makes a huge analysis about it, they see it unfolding gradually in one meeting, or a symbolism of it. It does not change the basic unfolding trend. I think Buthelezi is a player, he is a regional player, he is not one of the strong three-person-triumvirate nationally in SA and he never has been. Just because he has one meeting with Mandela and shakes hands with an old colleague and someone he has had harsh words with in the interim, it is no big deal.

POM     I would like to go back to the Zulus again. I was amazed at Christmas I came over for about three weeks, most of it was spent in Johannesburg, but it was at the time of the violence in Thokoza. We went out to the hostels to talk to the workers there. I was astonished by the venom against Mandela. They swore on the best information that they could muster that Mandela the night before had been seen going to the police station and arranging with the police for the hostel to be attacked. And they interpreted Mandela's call for a phasing out of the hostel system as being an attempt to divide them and split them, that in the hostels they were strong and unified, but the real intention here was to scatter them around in the larger community where their strength would be diminished. What I think surprises me is that I don't find any ANC person who even really pays real attention to this because they are 'brainwashed' (that is the Inkatha line), but it is very real to these people.

HZ     Of course it is real, it is very real to them.

POM     Why do you think there is this? Do you think there is a reluctance on the part of the ANC to admit these kinds of cleavages because to do so says in a backward kind of way that the government may have been right about ethnic differences, but has got the solution wrong?

HZ     These are the issues that are very difficult to talk about in SA. I mean there is a kind of self-censorship here that there was in the US when people were speaking about all issues to do with desegregating the society. Because one really does not want to feel racist and one does not want to bring racial concerns into a debate, one tends to run the risk of not talking about things that should actually be talked about. I think that we face that risk as well.

     It is very difficult to raise those issues without being accused of being a racist or an apartheid supporter or whatever. But I think to ignore those issues cannot help. If you want to build a genuinely non-racial society in which we are dealing with the realities and incorporating a real divergence of our society we are going to have to face up to those divergences. At the moment, and I think I am equally to blame, but very few people face up to those issues.

POM     How can they be gotten into? Because it seems to me that unless you can somehow get them into the debate, that you stand a chance of designing a whole systems of government that is built of incorrect assumptions and premises which will collapse within itself.

HZ     I think the first key requirement is to upset the divergent routes to political competition and that we have to have a system which reflects that. At the moment wherever there is conflict, wherever there is violence, the immediate solution that is proposed is let's form one organisation, and the assumption is the minute you have one organisation that will stop the conflict. There is often tremendous resistance against going into one organisation by the different parties to the conflict because the conflict is based on real divergent interests.

     So you have a situation which they resist and people try to push them into one organisation and the real issues are not addressed. So we need to go through that phase because it is just too painful to think of building another South African constitution of ethnic differences. I don't think that one has to do that. For example, one can deal with those things by having proportional representation in the constitution or something. But if you look at mechanisms like proportional representation that are acceptable, for example, to the ANC, that are suitable to a range of constituencies, and say we do recognise different interests, we do recognise that they need to be represented, we do recognise that we should not have a winner takes all, first past the post system, that will go quite a long way towards a solution.

     I think the whole question of language and national language in SA will be crucial in that regard, and a people's right to speak a language with which they feel comfortable is crucial in that regard. It is going to be very, very difficult to deal with, but if you can't deal with it, you won't have anything functioning in this country where anybody can speak one of twelve languages. But is also unfair to have people having to compete equally in a situation where they are speaking a second language, or maybe even a third of fourth language. So it is all of these conflict issues that we are dealing with which I think have to be acknowledged.

POM     How do you get them acknowledged since the political pressures do no recognise them?

HZ     You start talking about them. You start aggressively. Academics have a crucial role in starting to write about these things.

POM     Do you think the academic community here has a lot of clout?

HZ     Well, I want to smile about that because you do not know what an under-resourced society this is. In America the academics do nothing but research. They go overseas and they spend six months in this community and nine months in that community and they just spend their time writing things up and flying around the world. That is resources. Here, I know huge departments run on very small staff, where they are teaching grossly unprepared first years, for example. Trying to maintain academic support programmes so that they can genuinely integrate their department; dealing with political conflict in their departments, dealing with issues that probably American professors are coming here to write about, and these guys are having their hands cut off simply wiping out bush fires on the ground all the time.

     My husband is an academic and he works harder than any individual I have ever seen, but it is called keeping your show on the road. And I think you will find many academics do that too. But what you will also find in this spectrum, as you will find anywhere, some people do precious little and some people work non-stop. But this is not a society where academic resources are such that we have - the pure research posts are as rare as hens teeth in this society. It is very, very difficult. What I do think though, is that academics, particularly in the social sciences, have not been tackling the issues as they should have been tackling them.

POM     Is this in part because, like when you are talking about social sciences, there is an enormous amount done on topics that are either Afrikaner based on English based and that there is not very much research on black social behaviour?

HZ     The social scientists in SA are sitting on an vast resources of primary material and they are not beginning to touch it. They are also going largely through what is called a 'paragon crisis' because in the middle seventies and eighties in particular, there was an almost complete hegemony of Marxist force in the social science department of the English speaking, non-racial universities. They have been challenged now and in a way some of them may have a tough time. In fact some boasted very strongly in the early eighties that the Marxist forces had won the battle hands down. So that has been a big challenge and that has been change, but I don't think that any academics are at the point of looking at the academic consequences of that and a re-evaluation of much of the work which has been done and engaging in issues.

     Let us look at a debate that I know very little about quite frankly, the feminist debate. All the kinds of small minor feminist issues that people deal with, like whether you are using sexist metaphors or sexist this or that, what really needs to be done, and some people are doing it but very few, is to understand the role of women in the crisis that women are facing in a newly organised society in the context of rapid and unprecedented social, political and demographic change in SA. Some people are doing that but they are very, very few people, and certainly when one looks at the kind of feminist central gravity there is to match to women in the social sciences, the kind of work there is really relevantly engaged in making use of the primary material that there is quite limited.

POM     To go back to political parties, the ANC seemed to pursue a very zigzag course last year, making demands and timetables and then altering the demand and the timetables, it appeared confused and uncertain. Is this a temporary malady, or is that a path that moved in with the election of the new executive and leadership?

HZ     They have been trying to turn themselves from a liberation movement into a political party and they have been trying to do that with all the administrative and management changes and take their constituencies with them and try to mould together into one coherent organisation external elements in the form of exiles and local people who have been living through the struggle here for years and years and years. That was a massive task. They had very limited personnel resources, material resources, administrative resources with which to do that. And they lost the kind of moral initiative, to De Klerk who kept on making all those announcements and getting ahead of the game as it were. I think inevitably, trying meet a number of needs whilst you maintain a high political profile to get their act together, to get negotiations going, but not lose the radical use at the same time etc., made a lot of their pronouncements incomprehensible, all very difficult to understand from the outside. I think that was the function of the various demands that were put forward simultaneously. I think that to some extent they have brought that together now, but there are still a lot of contradictions and there is still of a lot of administrative, managerial, infrastructural and personnel needs that need to be met.

POM     Do you think the youth still remain the tinder box that they were last year?

HZ     Yes, and we are going to have to make very, very serious attempts in this society to reintegrate the youth, especially the youth which lost the opportunity of education.

POM     Where does this leave the PAC? To a large degree they appear to have dropped out of the scene. I am certainly hearing less mention of them this year than I did last year.

HZ     Well, we are all moving towards the formation of the Patriotic Front, and I think that is quite a useful development. On the one hand it again undermines the kind of political competition and political tolerance that we should be developing. We don't want to pull everybody to one organisation, we want to encourage and foster discourse and differences. On the other hand, it is one way of bringing the PAC into negotiations, and it is a way of sustaining the process with them in it. I think the PAC, especially in the Western Cape, has been extremely constructive about negotiations, has been very encouraging about engaging the process of transition, very encouraging about doing that. So my sense of the PAC is that a lot of their fiery rhetoric that was very evident about eight months ago, is becoming now channelled into preparing for negotiations in a serious way.

POM     I have heard a lot about the Deputy President, Moseneke. Is he a kind of a new hot political person?

HZ     He is good, he is an advocate. I was with him on the ??? enquiry. Dikgang Moseneke is his name. He is good and he could certainly be a major force in giving the PAC some coherence and I think he will be an important national figure, because I think the PAC has got a potentially big constituency out there. I think in the meanwhile he will pool together with the developing trend towards negotiations, producing leverage, which he certainly does have with the ANC, or the PAC has with the ANC through the Patriotic Front, through the emerging Patriotic Front, would use that leverage to make sure that their principles are also sustained in the process.

POM     Looking at the Conservative Party and the militant right, again last year there was a lot of talk of there being a whites only election and the CP was confident that they would get the majority of the votes. That seems to have died down.

HZ     Yes. I don't think too many market surveys have been done recently but I do think that the majority of white South Africans are going with transition. I think a great number of people trust De Klerk in the white constituent electorate, a great number of them trust De Klerk. I also believe that it might not be their first option but they know it is their only option.

POM     Does what the CP offers, which is so unrealistic - ?

HZ     It is so unworkable. I think many white South Africans if they were being absolutely honest would say, we prefer not have to face the kinds of problems that are thrown up by a large third world community rapidly transforming the society in which we live, but we have go no option. We would rather live in the kind of world that apartheid conjured up, but that was an unrealistic choice.

POM     The militant right, I don't want to concentrate on it or pay too much attention to it, but I don't know whether I said this last year, but in Northern Ireland, the Protestant paramilitary organisation simply got nowhere. They could not develop any kind of a constituency, and part was because the Protestant people saw themselves and the law and order people, and they obeyed authority and respected the law (a) because it was their law and; (b) it was their police force so that any attacks on the police marginalised the radicals even more. Do you think there could be a similar kind of process here?

HZ     I think there is a strong sense of gravity amongst the Afrikaners in the Transvaal and the Free State, who believe they have been betrayed. Afrikaners as a region and conflict within Afrikaners is nothing new. It has happened for generations and it is resurfacing now. I think there is a strong call of people who feel incredibly alienated and who don't feel enough censure from the broader society to feel that is inappropriate. Certainly in the Cape that would be the kind of response as you are describing in Northern Ireland, but not in the Transvaal and the Free State. There is enough support for the far right wing to make them feel comfortable in that kind of behaviour and not experience a kind of law and order censure which you are describing.

POM     Three last questions. One is the ANC and the SACP. Is this alliance causing the ANC trouble?

HZ     Well, it depends from which perspective you are looking at it. If you are looking at their attempt to entrench international support and raise funding, I think it is causing some problems. If you are talking about getting support from the white constituency and the coloured constituency and the Indian constituency, I would say that it is causing problems. If you look at the this whole phenomena of a party within a party, and who is the horse and who is the rider, yes it is a problem. But if you are looking at what the SACP is, which is a kind of vanguard party of intellectuals, and a vanguard party often are very competent administrators and managers, then I think it has been a great advantage to the ANC, it has that kind of calibre of organisation there. That does not mean to say that I support concept of vanguardism, I completely oppose it. I don't think that it is democratic, I don't think that it is justifiable in any way, but the fact is the SACP creamed off the best intellect amongst all races and across the spectrum in the resistance movement, and they did act as a vanguard party and in that sense it has been extremely influential. They are also now going through a paragon crisis, but I think depending from what perspective you are looking at, yes it is a big problem for the ANC, but in some perspective and in other ways it is what kept the show on the road.

POM     Winnie Mandela's conviction, her trial. Is that something that happened at a point in time and it over with now, or is it something that has more longer lasting repercussions?

HZ     I think in terms of the ANC it is something that happened at a point in time and it is over. As far as Winnie Mandela is concerned it could have lasting repercussions, I think we must distinguish there. Winnie Mandela is a completely unguided missile.

POM     Is she also a political force is her own right?

HZ     She is a political force in her own right and she has some youth constituency, yes she does, but they see fit to drop her from the Cabinet and there was no outcry about it. I think this will have lasting implications and repercussions for Winnie Mandela and I think that her wings are going to be nipped. That does not mean to say that she won't make a comeback is some way or other, she is a very clever and very resourceful woman, and she is quite a good politician when she needs to be and she knows which constituency she is appealing to.

POM     Are you at this point, is the process as far as you expected it to be at this point? Do you feel better about it that whatever been achieved, that the process is irreversible in the sense now every side admits negotiations are the only way forward?

HZ     I think in the political sense, yes, it is irreversible, but I want to caution you on one thing very strongly. Many of your questions indicate to me that you see this thing as a political transition, it is not only a political transition. It has to be, above all, an economic transition. If we don't get the economic transition right, the political transition will be next to meaningless and if we don't start making the social transition, and bringing some of the blacks into a system in which they have got prospects, hope for the future, a chance of education, in which they don't become like the American under-class, we can forget about it. The political transition is the smallest part of it, and we really have to emphasise that point.

POM     I think we talked about this last year.

HZ     I did not actually say enough in my documents and I was a bit concerned that we seemed to be concentrating on the political element.

POM     Yes, because I think one of the questions I was asking last year was that whites are willing to accede a lot of political power although hold on to economic power?

HZ     I don't think it is an economic power thing, it is a question of will the economy grow, will incomes rise, will it be a better deal for everybody, will we get our manufacturing exports going, will be able to deliver housing and electricity and services to people, can we get a viable and growing economy? Instead of the kind of economy in which whites hold on to, very tenuously, to their share of income, but increasingly tenuously and continue to run the kind of first-world economy in which a few black people are allowed in and the rest just fall off the bottom, or be able to get a really viable, growing economy that increasingly delivers to more and more people. That is the number one thing, everything else is quite largely second to this.

POM     I am glad that you say that actually, that is what I believe myself. Unless these huge imbalances can be redressed, and there are very few people with whom I have talked on the economy, just on the economy alone, who have any sense of what is really happening. They can't envisage the level of growth that would be required to precede all this huge expectation that there is going to foreign investment which is not going to happen.

HZ     I don't know how there could be any massive foreign investments because if they are going to look at it in a hard-nosed way, which they will, they are not going to get the kind of returns on their capital in South Africa, and especially with the rates of taxation and the way they are likely to increase. They are going to make hard-nosed business decisions and I don't think that South Africans can ever become competitive in the international export of manufactured goods market because of what it costs to produce here and export to the rest of the world. We also have not got the kind of market in Sub-Saharan Africa that we need to do it on that basis, so unless we get the economy right, and I am incredibly pessimistic about our ability to do that at the moment, I might change, we can forget about the politics.

POM     There is a guy called Bob Tucker who prepared a report for Nedbank. Is that report available?

HZ     Yes. I have got a copy of the video.

POM     I would like to get my hands on a copy of it. I am seeing du Plessis next week, so I would like to see it.

HZ     OK. You could come to our place and watch it there.

POM     Could I record off it onto the tape?

HZ     Yes sure.

POM     That would be marvellous.

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.