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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
15 Aug 1991: Schlemmer, Lawrence
POM I'm going to start with a book that you've almost certainly read as you were quoted a lot, and that's Donald Horowitz' book in which he has this whole section on there's conflict about the nature of the conflict. Forgetting his prescription, how did you find his diagnosis of the problem?
LS I found it very, very apt and extremely germane to the way in which we've got to approach our problems because basically he was saying that we have to deal with ethnicity while pretending it doesn't exist and he really adduced a great deal of evidence for the potential effects of ethnicity in the future. He seemed to me to be, he scoured the literature, every single tip of the iceberg peeping out and certainly he put it together in a way which was, I think, quite formidable in the sense that I began to think that the dye is almost cast. We are going to have a resurgence of ethnicity of a kind that we haven't really had up to now and then dealt with it, I think, by pointing out that there was this, what he calls, the institutional aesthetics of South Africa meant that couldn't be confronted head on. Very useful. I think it was a most useful analysis.
POM I have found that reaction to the book here, or to the thesis of the book, follows very much along ideological lines.
POM Where it is rejected almost totally by supporters of the ANC, members of the executive, people at the University of the Western Cape who see it almost as a kind of right wing assault or intellectual justification for the perpetuation of another kind of apartheid system. You now talked about this ethnicity factor before the fact that it was not fashionable to acknowledge it, it was there but not talked about. Two questions, one: the first is the simple one perhaps, when the negotiators get together, the various parties, and they sit at a table, if you were there to brief them on the nature and scope of the problem they are there to attempt to resolve, how do you define it to them?
LS I would define, I mean the central problem of South Africa's future constitution is how to avoid political alienation and I think that the more manifest conflicts are going to be resolved quite easily. There will be considerable agreement about certain fairly sensible compromise positions on a whole number of things but this will tend to get them to overlook the problems that might arise in the future. For that reason to them I would say, look, avoid any prescriptions or avoid any jargon or any codified proposals like federalism or anything like that. Try to develop an approach which guarantees participation. In other words I would say that surely the central problem here in a very complex society, without wishing to go into the nature of the complexities, is how to secure the representation of the variety and as wide a range of participation by everybody. And I think that one can get a fair amount of agreement around those two concepts and then to spell out those concepts in ways which will facilitate the kind of checks and balances that Horowitz and others appeal to them, without it appearing to be addressing any contemporary issue of conflict because people are going to be dissimulating on their contemporary conflicts. You see most people are agreed that the major issues to be resolved in that conference are going to be economic issues.
Most people seem to think that the National Party has moved substantially away from any kind of group rights kind of idea, that they are going to try and secure balance through a political party system and through checks and balances in a totally unlabelled kind of constitutional dispensation, that the mechanisms and procedures will make it essential to have a considerable amount of interaction between parties in the formulation of policy through committee systems, through referrals, through second chambers and all that. Now that's all very well and I can see that that will go. They are then going to settle down and they are going to have a king sized fight about issues like property rights, about things like the independence of the Reserve Bank and about possibly even tax rates and that's where all the really tough talking will take place.
Now I'm worried that having gone through and eventually achieved some sort of uneasy resolution on a whole range of economic and constitutional issues they will all sit back and sigh with relief and forget about the fact that even though you've worked checks and balances into your system to accommodate both minority and majority parties, that is not sufficient to overcome the danger of a kind of political alienation, certain regions being left out. Because when you are dealing with centralised parties you can quite easily leave out regions, you can leave out factions. The National Party and the ANC can do a deal quite easily, I think, which will accommodate the economy and accommodate most of the urban class interests in a reasonable balance but the sacrificial lambs will be the whites and the blacks of the Western Transvaal, a very marginal area left out, way off the mainstream, obviously Northern Natal and KwaZulu, once again involving whites and blacks, very easily left out, definitely not powerful in these two parties and other regions.
POM What you see as being the elements of this combination of economic and constitutional?
LS Now in some senses some sort of federal devolution will take care of it if one looks intelligently to the kind of linkages and regions to the central system. But then there are other kinds of dangers of political alienation right within the cities which you don't necessarily address in federalism. For example, the squatters in South Africa of which there are 7 million who are politically unmobilised and completely unrepresented or under-represented in all political decisions. They are marginal to the political system. Everybody will use squatters as a way of getting at some other guy but in terms of actually bringing them in there's very little. Migrant workers are another and I think that's part of the cause of the violence. So you can't only deal with it on the basis of some sort of geographic integration in a federal or semi-federal system. You've got to develop other mechanisms as well I think. One of the reasons why I say this is that the harsh reality of our future, quite aside from what all the politicians promise is that our socio-economic inequalities are going to widen from now on with growth. A lot of blacks will be pulled into the system but the insiders versus the marginal categories, whether they be geographic, it doesn't matter what colour they are, are going to widen because we are an economy which is terribly poorly spread. Our economic activity and our economic resources are not evenly distributed throughout the country by any means. We've got a very lumpish economy. 60% of it is really in the urban insider categories of the Witwatersrand and the rest is really in two or three other places, which means that it's very easy for a sort of widespread process of being let down, estranged if you like. And I would say that's a problem they've got to try and address.
POM One person particularly, in outlining to her the various models that Horowitz had outlined, said that it may be about all of those things but more importantly it's about access to resources, that's the key to the future of South Africa. How do you get resources to the people who don't have resources. This is despite the ANC's talk of a fundamental transformation to the social and economic system, which I find Horowitz to equate with the emphasis being put on the need for a mixed economy that will attract foreign investment and reassure capitalists and bankers that South Africa is a trustworthy and stable place to invest in. And talking earlier today with Chris Hani, he said that this question of negotiation is that questions such as economic structures and modalities for redistribution would not be matters for negotiation. Negotiation would cover constitutional matters and each party will articulate its programme to the electorate and the electorate will choose which party it wanted to govern on the basis of the programmes being offered. Now I for one cannot see the National Party agreeing to that kind of constraint to be put on the negotiations, the fact that more emphasis may be put on what economic structures will be put in place, what kinds of modalities will be employed, redistributive mechanisms, how much over what periods, then on the questions of one man one vote, a Bill of Rights and things like that. What's your impression?
LS No. My impression is that this is going to be the major issue of great difference. Already there are very substantial voices in business demanding of government that it explicitly include economic things. Some of them even refer to it as a Bill of Rights for the economy relating to things like inflation, tax rates, level of government expenditure, etc. and we're going to have a ding dong battle between the ANC and the government on that. I mean the greatest fear among minorities and I suppose, well perhaps not the greatest fear, but the fear that unites the different minorities in South Africa, English and Afrikaans, Jewish, Indian, etc., relates to this issue of mismanagement of economic resources and that unites people. So you can see that there's a great potential for conflict because you can eventually have a sort of ganging up of those minorities that are concerned about productive use of resources against those majorities who wish to, in a transformatory mode, use resources in a welfare programme. So I think that that is a big issue. But when that issue is resolved it will be resolved as a trade-off. Obviously we're going to have some sort of mixed economy and there will be a bit of everything but that bit of everything will not necessarily address people who are marginal and non-mobilised because the ANC and Chris Hani and all the others are understandably concerned about the demands in mobilised disadvantaged constituencies. But what about the unmobilised or the people that are out of sight? They could quite easily be left out.
POM I want to switch to something different for a moment and that is this whole question of the government and a double agenda. Since the violence began last year in the Transvaal you had the ANC saying first it was orchestrated by Inkatha, then there was a third force and then it was elements in the government, or rogue elements in the security forces, then it was the government itself and the revelations of recent weeks regarding the funding of Inkatha and the stories of former members of the Security Forces seem to them proof positive, icing on the pudding, that the government has in fact been engaged consciously in a double agenda. To what extent, if any, do you think the government has been pursuing that course?
LS Here one has to be cautious because there is actually very little substantial proof and the way I would approach it is the following: I think there is a double agenda on both sides, both major sides and I think the double agenda is logical and almost inevitable and I see it as a phase we've got to go through. Now starting off on the ANC's side, just recently uMkhonto weSizwe had a meeting in the Northern Transvaal where Joe Modise made a surprising admission. His admission was that uMkhonto weSizwe had never been able to establish itself in the local communities and it was more or less an admission of its ineffectuality. Now it's quite clear that the ANC, part of their reasons for coming into the negotiation process was that their other alternatives to that were not proving to be very promising but nevertheless they came into this negotiation process fully aware of the fact that the government was in a position of great leverage. So I can understand that they developed very soon, from the outset, a double agenda. They had no alternative but to negotiate but nevertheless they couldn't afford only to negotiate. They had to maintain pressure some other way. The first evidence of this was Operation Vula and the fact that the ANC does not deny having established a whole range of arms caches which it in some way or another would anticipate deploying if they felt that they were due to lose a great deal in the negotiation process. Mass action was another part, a less covered part of the ANC's double agenda.
One counts among these things the fact that 230 black City Councillors have been coerced to resign, more have resigned than that but 230 odd have been coerced to resign. That was to weaken the allies, or weaken a group of people who would have become allies of the government had they still been up and running. All this is understandable and predictable and I think it's perfectly logical strategy. That is still continuing. If you look back in the papers, two weeks ago a Mayor of Tsikane (?) resigned, called Mr Raymond Hadebe. He said he couldn't stand the tension any more. He had just had a grenade thrown through his window. A couple of days later his assistant, a black lady, told me that she had had her house burnt down simply because they were hanging in there in the local government system in Tsikane.
Now who's doing this? I'm fairly certain that you cannot trace a direct link between these activities and the ANC that is complaining about a third force on the government side, but nevertheless a framework has been created of perceptions of inclinations to act in which a certain level of operative, perhaps in MK, perhaps in civic structures, perhaps in both, more probably in both, are still busy with a fairly systematic attack upon what they would see as being allies of the government, including incidentally a lot of policemen because last year 90 policemen died. This year 75 policemen have died already. Not all of them as a result of political acts but a few as a result of political acts.
So double agenda and there is a third force on the ANC's side although the press doesn't choose to write about it. The press never asks the question, who is running the more lethal aspects of the mass action that cost lives? Because these are assassinations and therefore they don't rank with the loss of life caused by the other side. But in terms of intentionality it does. I mean your method secures a different outcome but the motive for the method is fairly similar to the other side.
Now on the other side what we have is a government that knows it's got to negotiate with the ANC but simultaneously knows that the ANC has got dozens upon dozens and dozens of arms caches. What do you do about that? You've got a situation where it would be surprising indeed, I think, if the government were to be negotiating with the ANC in a mode of trying to keep them or make them as strong as possible. I'd find it surprising. Just as I'd find it surprising for the ANC to go into negotiations feeling that they should encourage the government to have as many black alliance partners as possible. It wouldn't make sense. Similarly it wouldn't make sense for this government to be negotiating with the ANC without being concerned to limit their future importance in the political system. So I have no proof but as far as I'm concerned a logical analysis would suggest ...
POM But the problem is not the logic but the perceptions and within the ANC, at least among the people who we have talked to and includes a large cross section of the Working Committee and the National Executive, and there is real anger at what they perceive as being the planned campaign of the government to undermine them by participating in the slaughter of hundreds of people. And my question is, what does this do to the process itself? It certainly takes away the element, if it ever existed, of trust.
LS Yes obviously it does.
POM What are the repercussions of this kind of perception becoming ingrained and firmly held?
LS I think the implications do relate to trust. I don't think they threaten the negotiation process simply because the very fact that there are double agendas, and I would personally insist that if they exist they are on both sides, means it's an indication of how seriously they take the negotiation process and its outcome. In other words, these double agendas are in a sense complimentary to negotiations. I don't think it threatens the process. What it means is that every single compromise reached in the negotiation process will have to be codified and specified in precise details because of the lack of trust, which will slow it down, it will make it more difficult to achieve compromise. You won't be able to make generous assumptions with regard to the other guy.
POM This comes maybe back to Horowitz again. If South Africa is a deeply divided society can you have a process of successful negotiations in a deeply divided society unless you create some climate or mutual trust beforehand?
LS Yes. There I disagree with him. I think that there is enough evidence in international negotiations to indicate, provided the balance of forces is right, you can have very odd people negotiating with each other, who hate each other's guts. I would see trust being built as a consequence of the negotiated outcome in our society. It's nice to have but it's not essential for the negotiation. As a matter of fact I would say that, perhaps not so much trust, but dissimulation of the kind that was occurring before the violence was almost equally bad for the negotiation process because it engendered a false sense of security. There was almost in the initial stages a love-in between the ANC and the National Party. Now that could never have lasted. It would have been blown apart sooner or later and sometimes it's as bad if you feel you've been lied to as when you feel you have been attacked. So sure, I can see that trust would be nice to have but it's not essential.
POM Just in that vein, a year ago a lot of emphasis was being put on the special chemistry between Mandela and de Klerk and also suggestions that perhaps they were indispensable to the process. Now those days are over. Are they?
LS Yes. And I really think that that was 'pop' politics of a particular kind. It was flimsy and it was media driven and hard realities were bound to destroy it sooner or later. One of them has.
POM What do you think are the political fallouts of Inkathagate? The winners, the losers? In particular what has it done to Buthelezi?
LS Unfortunately, the effect on Buthelezi and through Buthelezi on the system is perhaps most serious. What it will probably mean is that Buthelezi's capacity to get external and indeed internal donation support is now over which means that he will be a very much less well-resourced party than he was quite aside from what he may have been getting more recently from the South African government, business donations and things like that. Now that doesn't mean to say that Buthelezi is going to curl up and die but it does mean that he is more limited to his bedrock support and his bedrock support is his most conservative support. It's his most parochial or insular support. Now coming back to Horowitz, if Horowitz is right, if we have the possibility of ethnic descent or factional conspiracy in South Africa of the future, then there are various possible contenders for this. One of them would be the Northern Zulu conservative faction. I'm not talking of all Zulus because Zulus are the largest group and they are very diverse and they are spread all over the place but I'm talking about the Northern Zulu conservative faction, the clans that surround the Royal House. Now those people seem to me to be, if alienated, if induced, if shifted to the margin, are the sort of candidates, on a minor scale perhaps, Tamil Tiger type of activity in Sri Lanka. And they will have allies. Their allies will come from another marginalised group and that is the Northern Natal right wing white Afrikaners and Germans. There are a lot of Germans there, very conservative. It won't take these people long to find each other I promise you because their position will be very similar. Even down to the nature of their economies which are rural farming, cattle ranching type economies.
POM So you would see them acting together looking for some kind of autonomy for the northern region of Natal?
LS No, not necessarily looking for autonomy but just playing a spoiling game. In other words destabilising. I think I mentioned in our last interview, like the western part of Zimbabwe, the Matebele part of Zimbabwe. Once again that didn't involve most Matebele. It involved particular factions, the core, the core networks in the Matebele culture and this is a core, it's really the origin, the cradle of the wider, more diverse Zulu. No, I can see that as a problem.
POM There was kind of a careful build up to their being a troika of leaders, Mandela, Buthelezi and de Klerk. When Mandela and Buthelezi met Time and Newsweek put the three of them on the cover, put Buthelezi on the cover. He was getting what he wanted, the respect he thought he deserved, the position he thought he deserved. Do you think his status in that regard has been reduced, that there are two major players and he is a half player or a minor player or something?
LS Yes. There's less incentive for the government to try and form any kind of an alliance with him because what will have been perceived in this, it will be perceived as a sub-category of itself, not a real alliance. In other words there is much less to be gained by the government in symbolic terms. So he's lost that status, yes. He's now into the game of battling, probably knocking at a door and saying "Don't leave me out because I will break my ...".
POM Does that move him in the direction of again perhaps using the violence as a way to re-inject himself into a major role, i.e. his position becomes not so much that I am a major player of the thing, but that I am seen by my supporters to be a major player and there are of all kinds of consequences over which I have very limited control?
LS Quite frankly what it means, if Buthelezi looks around and looks at the successful strategies of the ANC, takes his lesson from them, what it means is that he has to claw his way back through fighting the government. In other words he's got to now, I'm not saying he will, I'm saying that this is an analysis I would make if I was in his shoes, he's got to say:- I've got to start my own mass action against the government. I've got to start having head on confrontations with the police. My supporters have got to be tear-gassed because (a) that will make the government start worrying about me a bit more and secondly I will re-establish my image as an independent agent. Now, OK, that may happen. It won't undermine the system. But if that doesn't happen and he simply withdraws into a kind of sullen corner, then later on a more serious reaction along the lines I've suggested will occur.
POM At a negotiating table now where would you see him sitting? The ANC would try to have him sit on the government side. Obviously he won't do that. He won't sit with the ANC. Would he carve out a corner of his own?
POM You mentioned that in a way this nullifies part of the government's strategy on alliance politics. Where does it leave the government in terms of the directions that it can move, in terms of it's strategy? Was this covert alliance with Buthelezi part of a conscious government strategy? What does the exposure of it do to that strategy? What is their strategy at this point?
LS I don't think that the government had a clearly defined strategy of alliance politics. There has been a debate among various people in government and there's also a wide variety of opinions in the National Party about how they should position themselves with regard to Buthelezi. There are, particularly lower down in the branches, in Natal there's a feeling that Inkatha and the government should blend. They should just become one. But among more sophisticated people in the middle and upper levels of the government there is a feeling that they must be very careful and calculate the advantages and disadvantages. They are calculating that all the time. I think everybody is calculating that all the time but there have been no decisions, that I'm convinced of. In fact I think it would be bad for the government to have an alliance with Buthelezi because it will make it more difficult for the government to attract other kinds of black support and I don't think the prospects of attracting those other kinds of black support have been harmed by Inkathagate because that black support is, after all, fairly conservative and fairly tough.
POM How would you loosely identify these ?
LS All right. I would categorise it in the following way. It's a category of people which is composed of black civil servants, people who have absorbed a particular kind of political culture through their association with the civil service. There are lots of them because we've got a big civil service. Secondly, middle level black business people who have for a long time been supremely irritated by the strategies of the ANC and will find it very difficult to trust the ANC. These are not the more celebrated black business people who speak on behalf of black business because they are into diplomatic modes, but these are shopkeepers and bottle store orders and shebeen queens and very, very materialistic down to earth people. They would naturally be inclined towards a more, shall we say, conservative position.
Thirdly, many people in the conservative black churches, I don't say all of them, I don't necessarily say the entire movement coming across, but nevertheless in the black churches there are a large number of people who distinguish themselves from the political culture of the mass of black people by one thing in particular, and that's an international thing as you know, and that is there is a great concern about personal responsibility in approaching life and challenges. In other words it's the classic liberal conservative position, individualistic. I am responsible to God. I don't have to interact through. Now this is somewhat pietistic, it blends in with a degree of pietism as well.
Now there are a lot of people there who would feel more comfortable in the political culture of the National Party than they would in the political culture of the ANC, which as you know is the political culture of entitlement. And there's a big difference between that culture of entitlement, and the culture of personal accountability. Now an alliance with Buthelezi doesn't help to get these people because they don't necessarily see Buthelezi as being their kind of guy. Buthelezi is a complex man who often confuses people. I've got great respect for his intelligence. I think he's perhaps the most intelligent politician in the country, barring perhaps van Zyl Slabbert, but it doesn't help them. The National Party would be best advised to go it alone. It can do better and do surprisingly well.
POM But it wouldn't stand any chance of - no political party and no government can willingly give up power and so one can assume the government is trying to devise a strategy that will allow it to retain as much power as possible or to have as much influence in the future over the course of events. Does it have a strategy to meet those objectives other than saying they are for power sharing?
LS Well the thing is it's early days and I get a sense from government people I know that once again they are keeping their options open and they are studying it meticulously.
POM I just really have to go back to the question on the ANC talking to us always in terms of this being a transfer of power process, that it was the transfer of power and not the sharing of power and not in terms of the politics of feeling good.
LS Yes. I think I summed it up by saying it's not so much a misunderstanding of the situation but an existential need on the part of politicians in a highly stressed situation to live and taste the reality of future power and to incorporate it into their agenda all the time, but at the same time in their private moments probably acknowledging that it's going to be very difficult and that for that reason they are going to have to ultimately consider some kind of a deal with the National Party to enable them to exercise authority. They have got enough legitimacy in a popular sense to govern. Or, no, let me rephrase that. They think they have enough legitimacy in a popular sense to govern. They also consider that they have the intellectual ability to govern, to know what has to be done, but I would be surprised if they were comfortable about their authority to govern or to gain the compliance of a very, very established and fairly wilful bureaucracy.
POM So, I was going to ask you, I think I saw the National Party as talking in terms of what they meant by power sharing and that is the exercise of executive authority at executive levels in government, holding a number of ministerial portfolios. Would your research or your opinion survey work show that an outcome like that, an outcome in which the National Party would be almost guaranteed a share in the administration of government at the highest levels, albeit a junior partner, would be an acceptable outcome to a majority of black people?
LS Absolutely no doubt about it. As a matter of fact my review of opinion polls and attitude research is suggesting to me that the inclination to accept that kind of an outcome is increasing among black people. I used to say two thirds of black people accepted it and by the same token a clear majority of ANC supporters accepted it. But some of the recent studies I've seen suggest three quarters or more.
POM Would they see this as part of an interim arrangement or as part of a final settlement?
LS No, no, it's part of a final settlement. Here I must indulge in a little bit of amateur anthropology, social anthropology. If you look at the way in which traditional politics works in Africa, it is consensus politics and I think it's most clearly epitomised in Botswana with the Kgotla system, village councils, you incorporate your opposition in the debate and you hammer out. There's a centre seeking tendency in the political system. It's probably not African, it's probably village politics the world over. Perhaps party politics and the politics of opposition is an urban phenomenon. For the real grassroots, for the real rank and file, there is a natural, almost commonsensical assumption that this is the way to govern a country. That if you've got important players in the economy and important players in all sorts of institutional life it strikes them as simply odd to think you should have the politics of opposition which excludes them. If after a reasonable process of debate and consensus seeking they won't play along then, sure, exclude them, perhaps kill them but until you have to do that it's an inclusive. Now there's a person in Cape Town University, I don't know if you are going back or whether you've spoken to her, but that's Professor Harriet Ngubane who has given quite a lot of thought to this and she is a black South African social anthropologist who worked for years at the University of Edinburgh, a very substantial consideration of issues.
POM She's at UCT?
LS She's at UCT. Multi-party democracy is not too readily understood at that very, very grassroots level. If a party is important enough to fight it's important enough to talk to and try and incorporate it. So I've got absolutely no doubt that the ANC doesn't stand to lose one iota of its potential support at the grassroots level because what they will do is that they will lose their Trotskyites, Leninists, middle level activists and mobilised protest constituencies. They could lose them. But the thing is that in third world politics, I regret to say, the lessons that I have gathered from what I've seen and read is that you lose them anyway sooner or later. There is an elitist tendency in third world politics. In other words I'm making the general argument that the extent to which in developed western societies one can incorporate dissent into the rules of the game is much more difficult in third world conditions where the gaps are much bigger and the expectations are relatively larger in relation to what the system can deliver. So the ANC's going to lose its activists anyway.
You know revolutions shoot their children and I think transformatory political parties eventually become establishments and it's going to be very difficult for them and they will find that their grassroots pragmatists are a much greater resource than their middle level activists. So I can see this working and I can see it working initially as a transitional system but after the transitional system is over, after that sort of five year or three year or whatever period of 'let's agree to have a coalition government for a while', after that is over it may in fact just crystallise out as the way to go because certainly we are going to have a lot of dissent in South African society later on and if two establishments can give each other comfort it makes a lot of sense. In other words I'm saying that corporatist politics is probably our future anyway, quite aside from this particular set of needs that may make it necessary in the beginning.
POM How about this question of an interim government, again the ANC insisting the government must resign, surrender its sovereignty and become part of a broadly based all-party interim government. There isn't really any conceivable circumstance is there in which de Klerk could resign the authority of the government?
LS Look, if one were to take a gathering of Nationalists in an upper middle class constituency on the Witwatersrand, all of them with degrees and post-graduate qualifications, I sometimes get the feeling that there may be a lot of intellectual pressure on de Klerk to make some sort of heroic concession from this category of people, category of his own supporters. There's a lot of liberal, or newly found I might add, very newly found liberal guilt floating around of a kind that you're perfectly aware of from elsewhere in the world, and de Klerk is a person with a very great conscience and guilt gets to him, in my view. But he can't afford it nevertheless. So, in other words, we're going to go into a period where he will find National Party people making the suggestion that in a framework of trust building perhaps we should have an interim government completely. In other words, he should step down from power. The trouble is that this may be the most articulate and visible part of his constituency but it's not the guts of it and he can't afford to do it.
POM It represents the transferring of - it is the transfer of power.
LS That's right.
POM It's no longer sharing or anything.
LS That is the one thing that the right wing is waiting for and they haven't got their act together up to now in order to challenge his mandate or his legitimacy but under those conditions he will be handing it to them on a plate.
POM On the other hand the ANC and the PAC or any other black party for that matter, can hardly become part of an interim government under de Klerk's concessions of, we will make room for you in an expanded Cabinet, that's just why we are co-opting you. Is this going to prove to be a real problem? Is this going to be a sticking point for quite a while?
LS I think it's going to be a sticking point but if you think about it, they will demand his resignation from government. He will then suggest an expanded Cabinet or a Cabinet Council or a National Council of some kind to oversee legislation. They all refuse. But all this will be happening in the context of an on-going multi-party conference. The natural thing for him to do then would be to switch and say, right, what can we do with this body that we're in already chaps, to turn this into an interim arrangement?
And I think that that will be the way to go and I think it will resolve it. In other words you end up with your multi-party conference forming all sorts of sub-committees and structures which then will operate as a transitional arrangement. All this would require that he attend to the matter of some kind of chairing function, chairmanship function or secretariat function which is manifestly neutral. He may have to pull in a group of carefully selected people who can be seen to stand above the conference to act as mediators or arbitrators or something. Now when we talk about this we talk about the individuals. Oscar Dhlomo, van Zyl Slabbert, the Chief Justice, and then we run out. Like some other countries there are very few honest people in this country and we actually are short of people. We have a great need for people of stature. They're in short supply.
POM Just lastly, I want to talk to you about the right, the CP and the AWB. Last year a lot of talk about how strong the CP was becoming, how it might get a majority of white votes if there a white's only election were being held, concern that de Klerk had to bring his constituency with him somehow. We don't hear that this year. Is it simply because it's not in the news or is it still there, still as potent as ever?
LS No. I'll tell you why, because a lot of survey evidence as well as some by-election results have shown fairly conclusively that the right wing peak at about 35/37% of the white population, whereas when I spoke to you last it had probably peaked, I can now say with greater certainty that it hasn't been growing in the fabric of the political constituencies. And that's one of the reasons why we've got new phenomena because it's obviously having to shift strategies.
POM Is it aligning itself more with the AWB or would that be the death knell for the CP?
LS Yes, I detect signs that there is a greater mutual identification. No, it doesn't come so much from the AWB side but from the CP side there's a greater tendency to endorse what the AWB is doing than there was before. Previously the Conservative Party was very worried about the AWB and they thought that they would spoil the game, but they have seen that Ladybrand election in the Orange Free State was quite clear that even in a very favourable constituency that de Klerk still had a slight majority of whites on his side. Now they are beginning to think in terms of alternative politics. In other words, you know, everybody is learning the lesson of the ANC, the way to get noticed is to create mayhem, make townships ungovernable. First of all they perfected the technique, Inkatha picked it up and I fear that the far right wing has picked it up as well and, by golly, you can't blame them because here you get all sorts of people that they quite understandably perceive as murderers, terrorists, people who have bombed and blown up things being released, and they say, well, what the hell? If that's the way to get attention and to get favoured status let's do some of it ourselves. I think we can see more of it.
POM You told a colourful anecdote about Terre'Blanche before we started. Maybe you could repeat it so that I will have it for ever. I'm actually meeting with him at the Peace Conference.
LS You mean Mr Terre'Blanche?
POM Yes, with his performance. I thought it was a very insightful, just given the short period of time I've spent with him myself but I would like you to repeat it.
LS Mr Terre'Blanche came to the State President's conference on violence and intimidation in order to make, shall we say, an expanded statement and to walk out. He was dressed in pseudo military garb with heavy boots which resonated on the floor as he walked out. He gave an absolutely consummate performance, faultless. There wasn't a scrap of hesitation. It was a theatre director's dream performance and to the surprise of quite a number of us there, including himself, just before he stood up and spoke the State President reminded the audience that the Zulu monarch was there, King Goodwill Zwelethini, and in starting his presentation Mr Terre'Blanche looked at the audience and said, 'Here I find myself in the company with people who have become estranged from their roots, people who have become beguiled', or some words to that effect, 'By all manner of superficiality, sentimentality and other red herrings in politics. But at least I am comforted by the fact that here in our midst is a man who also, like me, represents the roots, the origins of his people, and I pay homage to the King of the Zulus.' And so that took the audience completely by surprise because here was the arch racist looking straight past his own white State President to whom he showed, shall we say, displayed a somewhat cavalier attitude and displayed great respect for the Zulu King. I think it gives an indication of what is possible in the politics of dissidence in the future.
POM You talked about how he never used an er or an um, the seamless sequence of his sentences.
LS That's right, absolutely unhesitating as if, like Ronald Reagan, he was reading it from some device concealed beneath the rostrum. But of course he didn't have that, it was a totally faultless performance in very, very moving Afrikaans which for an ex-policeman is a remarkable use of language.
POM But he's a playwright, I didn't know that. He had them written some place and had them produced. Not just stuff like third rate theatrical productions. One guessed it was actually taken quite seriously. It was some years ago.
PAT How did Oscar escape being involved in Inkathagate? Oscar Dhlomo? It sort of happened on his watch, right? How did Oscar Dhlomo escape the Inkatha scandal? He was still there as Secretary General.
LS Yes, he was the Secretary General, right. It's a very good question. How did Pik Botha escape it? Pik Botha gave him money.
PAT And he acknowledged it?
LS Actually acknowledged it and then went on and took probably his own department by surprise and acknowledged a whole lot of other money he had spread around Namibia. No, the thing is if this is to be understood in the light of the fact that Inkathagate was in very large measure a media event and the media was using it with a particular focus and their focus, their targets were not Pik Botha and not Oscar Dhlomo, with the result that they were not even referred to twice after that, oh, a couple of comments. In other words there was to some degree, and here I can tell you this has not gone unnoticed on the other side, to some degree a coincidence of motivation between the media, the press and the ANC's targeting of Malan and Vlok. It looks a little unhealthy to me. I can't help but congratulate the papers for exposing the story. I think it was their democratic duty and I'm eternally thankful that they did it. How they played it after that to my mind displayed their own agenda which has now, shall we say, been entirely objective in the interests of democracy and good government in Natal.
POM Were you surprised by the manner in which de Klerk treated Malan and Vlok?
LS I was surprised, I was surprised. I can tell you that I've seen a confidential survey which shows that a majority of whites, including English speaking whites, consider that he did that at the behest of the ANC, in other words that he yielded to ANC pressure. Now he can afford so much of that but not too much and I think he's going to have to do something to recover a little bit.
PAT Has the media calculated a strategic campaign with these particular forces or is it their unprofessionalism?
LS No, no, it's the norms and the sentiments which operate in the newsroom. Most journalists these days are social scientists who come out having had the enormous benefits of Political Science I and Sociology II and disciplines like that which I think, quite frankly, a little bit is worse than nothing at all but the sentiment, there's a consensus of sentiment. It's not a consensus of intent. [They don't intend to ... it.] It wells out, it bubbles out. It's the debate, it's the buzz. Look, in most western capitals the media is left of centre or the press is left of centre by virtue of the kind of people it has to recruit. It's not necessarily a bad thing. I'm just making that observation. As a matter of fact it may be a good thing from the point of view of the countervailing power of the establishments of the world.
POM Thank you Larry for all the time again. In due course you'll have a transcript.
LS This one I'll have to edit a bit. As a matter of fact I'm sorry I didn't tape record Eugene Terre'Blanche's talk. I could have written it into the edited transcript word for word.