About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

16 Aug 1991: De Lange, JP

Click here for more information on the Interviewee

Click here for Overview of the year

POM     Professor, driving out here one is struck by the fact that every single house has a security system alarm on it, the one being most popular apparently being Armed Response. It almost looks as though all the suburbs are under some kind of state of siege.

JDL     There are two factors that play a role here. The first is that policing is at a very low level. The number of police per 10000 of the population is one of the lowest I believe anywhere, and that has tended for South Africans, both black and white, to protect their homes with anti-theft mesh in front of the windows and so on. And then of late an additional factor came in and that is unemployment because of the economic situation which has lasted now for a fair number of years and has caused much more theft. This home has been robbed a number of times.

POM     Is that right? Would this be at night or at day when you are away?

JDL     We were away and it was at night. The first haul was about R40000.00 worth of stuff, second one was much smaller. It was detected immediately by the system that we have. So Armed Response is in fact a private police force, as it were, for which you pay quite apart from the taxes you pay which have to provide for security services in South Africa. We pay separately.

POM     In major cities how large a business would private security firms be?

JDL     I don't know how large. It is large and it's growing.

POM     Can you pick up the thread of where you were talking?

JDL     So I think it's two elements, low levels of policing and increased crime because of the unemployment. Part of this crime has in the last few years included motor theft. To give you an example, recently a woman stopped at her gate, this is not an extraordinary situation, it happens a number of times, got out to open her gates and while she was doing that they stole her car with her child in it. Another instance, stopping at the gate to open the gates, a chap was killed. He was just shot and his car was taken. So people tend to go for electronic gates, you press a button and they open, you drive in and they close.

POM     Is the crime in areas like this mostly crime perpetrated by blacks on whites?

JDL     I would guess so, about 90%, yes.

POM     And what does that do to the whole perceptual apparatus of whites?

JDL     It influences it. To give you an example: we were on holiday when this house was burglarised, the big burglary, it was before we had the alarm system. They simply broke one of the security gates from the wall and broke through one of these sliding doors, broke it and came in. When we came back, we were notified about it. I immediately accepted that it was probably blacks yet the police told me that they suspected a young white schoolboy gang who had done this because of the kind of things they took. So the perceptions are influenced because the majority of the crime is perpetrated by blacks you immediately respond as it were.

POM     By blacks on every occasion? I want today to come at things from a slightly different angle and there's a recent book out by a man named Donald Horowitz who is an expert on divided societies, on ethnic societies in conflict. He's at Duke University, recognised the world over as one of the primary authorities on ethnic conflict and he has written a book on South Africa. What I want to get at, the question I'm asking you is that if the negotiators from the various parties were sitting at the table today and you were given the task of defining the problem they were there to resolve to them, how would you define the problem? And I want you to answer that perhaps in the context of the opening sentence in his book which reads: -

     "There is disagreement over the extent to which the conflict is about race as opposed to being about oppression merely in the guise of race, or among nationalisms and groups demarcated by race, to about contending claims to the same land. There is disagreement over the identification and even the names of the racial categories and there is disagreement over the extent to which the conflict also involves ethnic differences within each of the racial categories. There is no consensus whether a future South Africa might also be divided along racial or ethnic lines and if so how severe such divisions might become, and there is discord over what measures might be required to reduce further conflicts. There is lack of a common perceptual frame. In fact there is conflict about the nature of the conflict."

     With that in mind, how would you describe to the negotiators what you think is the essential nature of the conflict they are there to negotiate?

JDL     Well you are actually asking two questions. The one is the nature of the conflict and I think I will perhaps speak on that for the moment. The other part of your question is: what must they achieve? Let me start with that. What they should achieve is a form of access to political power in which there are sufficient checks and balances for a just society for everybody. It is then the result in terms of a constitution. Obviously a constitution doesn't guarantee justice but it is an enabling instrument to a very large extent. About the nature of the conflict, certainly the basic nature of the conflict is that whites have the monopoly of power and having had that their monopoly which they created for themselves to a large extent, a situation of privilege in terms of education and many other facets of life, practical facets of life, including the economic, the space which must now be created by resolving the conflict is that everybody must have equal opportunity and there must also certainly be enabling programmes to enable those who have been excluded either by convention or law from full participation to obtain a sufficient measure of participation in economic and other areas. I have been exercising my mind over the last few months about an aspect of the conflict which will probably be the most difficult and that is for whites and blacks to rid themselves of apartheid induced thinking, whether it be pro or anti or even a neutral position towards apartheid. Our vocabulary has been influenced by it. Our perception of reality, especially social reality, has been influenced by it. Our perspective of the future is in terms of not becoming creative and building a new future, but how do you redress the past, kind of situation.

POM     You were talking about apartheid.

JDL     Psychologically speaking I think it's unavoidable that apartheid has this continuing influence on the thinking and perceptions of people.

POM     Could you give some examples on maybe both sides on what you mean by 'apartheid induced thinking' affecting people's perceptions of reality.

JDL     First of all it's the black against white, the white against black mode that we put ourselves in. Another one is, and I'm speaking from a direct experience last Monday where we had an exploratory conference on youth problems, and to my mind there are two basic youth problems. The one is the marginalised black youth about whom I spoke last time, and secondly, the extreme right which is bringing up their children in an extremely bigoted way and influence that way. So we were discussing and everybody was there, white, black, Coloured, Indian, PAC, ANC, National Party, the lot, people with those orientations. And in discussing the problem we spent, I would imagine, about three quarters of the time pointing fingers, not looking at the essence of the problem, it's causes and possible remedies. So there was a whole smoke screen, as it were, which we had to penetrate before we got anywhere near the essential problem. Although there have now been a few examples of - if you keep at it long enough you come to trust each other in sufficient measure around the table, you reach a point where you are beyond apartheid as it were. I might sound very abstract now.

     Perhaps I should go back a bit and give my view on these things and put what I just said into some perspective. But the success of the so-called Peace Initiative, which you know about, is an example of having talked intensively with each other and coming to an agreement beyond apartheid as it were. Doing something constructive about the future. I referred last time to the death sentence of apartheid being pronounced in 1985/1986 when full citizenship for blacks was decided on by the National Party and the government. The execution of that sentence only started on 2nd February last year and there were a number of logical things that had to be done to execute the death sentence. First of all you had to bring all the players on to the field. You have to release them from prison, unban the banned organisations, which was done. Secondly, you have to start with the removal of all the discriminatory laws. At the central government level that has now been done, but at the regional or local government level there are still laws or regulations which do still discriminate. They have to be removed because their basis has been removed. Thirdly, you have to start with removing discriminatory practices in a significant way, experienced way, and this is not done overnight. It takes time, it will take years in fact.

     How do you redress a situation in education, for instance, where R900.00 is spent on a black learner, R2200.00 on a Coloured learner, R2700.00 on an Asian learner and R3600.00 on a white learner overnight? You have to change the number of teachers employed for these various sectors from a very luxurious position in the white to a very poor situation for the blacks. And this means changing, billions of rands shifting and you don't do that overnight unless you risk stalling the whole provision of education. Now you have to start with that and it must be experienced that you have started with it and you have to obtain, and this is the fourth area of activity that was necessary for the census to be executed, you have to obtain in every functional area a unique consensus about what changes must be wrought before the constitution is in place. This overlap period of the regime which has announced its own termination and a new one is not yet in place, it will take time to put it in place but in the meantime functions have to go on such as providing education, security services, welfare services, etc. But the government itself cannot in all credibility and legitimacy do this unilaterally. It has to bring in the future participants now into each functional area and create a mechanism in terms of which they can make decisions. And this has been done in several areas successfully. It has not for instance been done in education, security and so on.

POM     Which areas would you point to where it has had some success?

JDL     Labour, labour laws. Last year nine months was spent around a table by ANC, PAC, that's COSATU, NACTU, the PAC labour organisations, the other labour organisations, all the employer organisations such as Chambers of Commerce and Industry, etc., and the government. After nine months, in November last year they reached a broad consensus and in April this year laws were passed changing the labour relations in South Africa on the basis of the consensus reached by all these various groups. That was the first significant breakthrough where the present regime could enact laws acceptable to all.

POM     Would you have seen this as an example of post-apartheid thinking?

JDL     Yes. They had to get through to it though. It took them nine months to get there. It's not because of the technical complexity of the laws. It's because of all the prejudices and perceptions which had to be cut through. For instance, to sum it up simply, the Minister concerned, Eli Louw, told me that for the first three months they were basically shouting at each other. The next three months they started hearing each other and the last three months they were creating together.

POM     So it seems to be that you are saying that in this process of getting to post-apartheid thinking the creation of an element of trust across race groups, or across constituencies, is very important, almost a pre-condition to getting to - I'll leave that there but I'd like to get back to it later. I'd like to come back to the ...

JDL     Could I just mention the other two areas which you have to act on to conclude the death sentence, execute the death sentence. The fourth area is in fact risk management. I mentioned this last time. We are in a situation of extremely high risk and elements in society such as the youth, far right, even elements in the far left, and the high levels of unemployment can disrupt society and put it into chaos. This has to be managed. And again the management of this has to be done in a collaborative manner between all the parties concerned. Then the last area is in fact the death of apartheid in your person. You can remove laws, you can stop discriminatory practices but if apartheid doesn't die in me, it doesn't die in my black friends' innermost being it is still alive as it is still alive in much of the United States. And it seems to me that the only way in which this can really be overcome is if in inter-personal terms there is enough intensive work being done together with good intent to work through all this, through all the apartheid or anti-apartheid.

POM     I'll come back to some of the points you've mentioned but I'd like to come back first to the question of ethnicity for a couple of reasons. One, most government people that we talk to would put primary emphasis on the ethnic component of the problem, not admitting there was a racial component but saying the ethnic component had to be taken into account. Most ANC people we talked to dismissed all talk of the ethnic quotient of the problem as being directly as a consequence of apartheid, apartheid thinking. Yet what Horowitz and people like him would argue is that if this is in fact a severely divided society then in the building of a constitution and governance arrangements you must make special precautions to preclude the eruption of conflict or competition between ethnic groups in the future that will bring about conflict, but before you can do that there must recognition that the problem exists. In your view is there a serious ethnic dimension to this whole question and must it be taken into account in negotiations so that governance structures are built in a way that would tend to mollify, if not eradicate, ethnic divisions in the future.

JDL     As I said last time, I have no doubt about that. Even if we go beyond apartheid it does not relieve this society of the fact of its diversity and this diversity is certainly a racial diversity but that is not a basic diversity. The basic diversity is in fact an ethnic or cultural diversity and there has been movement in this. Let me give you an example. For not very good reasons, and he didn't anticipate it in any way, the minister of white education, Claase, who has now resigned from the Cabinet, brought out three models for schools to choose from, all these models imply that the local community will have a greater freedom of choice as to who may enter their schools, may be enrolled at their community school. And in all instances where schools have made this choice they have opened those schools up for people of like ethnicity, in other words who are prepared and capable of receiving instructions through English or Afrikaans or whatever the language might be, and some of them added a religious element to it too, not all, which indicates that there is a readiness in the South African white community to go beyond racial divisions but to acknowledge ethnic divisions. There are schools, however, in the English community, private schools such as the New Era Schools, who want the constitution of their student body to be a direct reflection of the South African racial composition. A certain percentage of whites, more or less equal percentages of blacks, Coloureds and Indians in the school. And then they are taught and the views that they are taught are broad South Africanism, a colour-blind South Africanism. What in fact happens is that they are taught an English cultural approach. There is an element of cultural imperialism implied here which is not always acknowledged. So, getting back to your question: must the diversities be acknowledged in a post-apartheid South Africa? I have no doubt that if they are not acknowledged we'll have a very short term constitutional solution.

POM     But they must be acknowledged in the negotiations?

JDL     Yes indeed. And it seems to be the ANC is ready to do that. Mandela has said, how many times, that differences in language, in religion, will be acknowledged.

POM     But differences in language and religion can be protected while the political component of the ethnicity might not be. That's what I'm getting at.

JDL     As I understand the National Party's position, they are prepared to go into the negotiations on a political basis, party basis, and they would seek the highest possible, either drawing in of people of all colour into the party, or ethnicities into the party also, but also alliances. Now it's anybody's guess which is the most workable approach to this.

POM     Perhaps I'm stating it badly. To the adherents of the ANC, to their supporters, to talk about ethnicity is to talk about apartheid in a different form.

JDP     I think that is a very short term view that they're taking.

POM     But do you think that's a problem?

JDP     I think it is a problem, yes.

POM     I've also talked to many white intellectuals, progressives, and asked them, is ethnicity a real problem or a potentially explosive problem? And the answer is yes. I ask them, do they talk about it in their progressive circles? And the answer is no because to do so makes you somehow an apologist for apartheid so people don't talk about it.

JDL     Well this is exactly the position, a good illustration of what I meant to get beyond apartheid thinking. If your view of the reality as it is, is clouded by this fear of perhaps being an apartheid thinker when you say reality looks like this, the facts say the following: you're afraid to say that because you might receive the epithet of being an apartheid thinker that is being the victim of apartheid.

POM     Now you mention the development of trust as ...

JDL     Getting beyond ...

POM     That everyone is attempting to act with a measure of good faith.

JDL     I've had personal experience that one can do this and I did this during the period when there was still apartheid. It was the condition of the day and that was in the education investigation which I had. White, black, Coloured and Indian were there and having sat together for a year we got beyond this on the basis of trust which was a very involved network of trust that had to develop. First of all between the person representing a constituency and his constituents, and therefore I had to allow them, and I would imagine this is going to be the same with the negotiating table, they had to go back to their constituencies endlessly and had to speak their minds without any restriction of time or subject around the table. Having that experience they came to trust each other as people with open agendas. Once the trust between the members developed, and this took months, and between the members and their constituencies, the eventual breakthrough came when the various constituencies started trusting the whole table. And I would suggest that the negotiation table, whatever it may look like, will have to take a fair period of open discussion and referral back until the broad South African community comes to trust at the table.

POM     I think you've mentioned something extremely important and I think something that has become central to the kind of questioning we are conducting on this trip. Since the violence broke out in the Transvaal last year and the ANC has referred to it being orchestrated by Inkatha, then by a third force, then by perhaps rogue elements within the security forces, and then Mr Mandela began to say the government itself had a hand in it, that the government was pursuing a double agenda of the olive branch in the one hand and trying to undermine and destabilise the ANC on the other. Then with the revelations about the funding of Inkatha and some of the other revelations about the alleged activities of former members of the security forces, to the ANC and to members of its National Executive and members of its Working Group to whom we have talked, to a fairly large number of people, there is now irrefutable proof that this government has consciously been engaging in a double agenda of peace and negotiations on the one hand and cynically engaging in a policy, either orchestrating or providing assistance to Inkatha or to elements in its own security forces to kill people in order to undermine the ANC, show that it cannot protect its members and induce a feeling throughout the country that - My God, this is what black majority rule will mean, blacks killing each other. And there is a total level of distrust. The question then is, how do you put these parties at a table when at least one major player believes that one of the other major players is consciously, not competing in a political way to undermine them, but is involved in the most heinous kind of activities to attack people in order to gain political advantage. The thing is we were wrong to think the Nats had changed, the Nats will never change. So it solidified old attitudes. I mean we see a total change in attitudes among members of the ANC than there was this time last year. There has just been reversal.

JDL     I can't speak with very intimate knowledge about what the ANC is thinking. I think there is a lot of rationalisation in that whole situation. I do not for a moment believe that FW de Klerk is orchestrating violence on the scale that we've seen it happen and I have some experience where it is of going into a black area which was strife torn and extremely violent. I was requested to look at the effect of the violence on the black schools in Natal and I visited a fair number of areas which were worst hit by violence and spoke to many people and I visited, I suppose, about 50 schools. I was struck by the simple fact that there were young people out there, groups of them in their thousands, small groups but in their thousands, who were not acting on anybody's instructions, who were without work, with no saleable skills because they had become part of the school boycott and lost out on schooling, this was in the early eighties up to this time in fact they still miss out on school, and they were vandalising not only the school buildings, they were killing people. This was not being orchestrated by anybody. It was just out there and these are the same children Mandela said, 'Throw away your weapons'. He went to Natal and spoke to them. He said 'Throw your pangas, etc., into the sea and stop this violence'. They ignored him flat out. So I don't think the view, the way in which you summarised it, is acceptable in terms of the realities out there.

POM     I'm not talking about reality. I'm talking about that this is the perception on the part of the ANC.

JDL     Could I stand a bit further away from the present situation? I've used this following comparison: we're on an unpaved road, an uncharted road in Africa, in the veldt in Africa, we have to pave it as we go along and there are many, many gullies and there are many rivers, many mountains we have to travel through. We're in for a rough time. We have to pave the road as we go along. And certainly this attitude which you now perceive, and you must not misjudge an element of rhetoric in playing or political advantage, this type of thing will be happening over a period of time and that's why I'm personally convinced we still have a few years ahead of us. At the same time that this is going on, however, in intimate discussions in regard to violence, peace, they come to an accord. So the one doesn't necessarily preclude the other.

POM     What do you yourself believe about the allegation that the government has a double agenda?

JDL     Let me qualify what I'm saying. I've no doubt, and FW de Klerk has said this, he said 'We will go to the table without an agenda so that it's possible for everybody to come there. Obviously we have our view of what the future should look like and we will negotiate that'. So if you want to call that a double agenda, yes, then they have a double agenda. But then everybody has a double agenda going to that table. He has to come there without pre-conditions and if he sits there then he brings into the negotiation process his conditions. And in that sense, yes. But to think that anybody can be so stupid, certainly the government I don't think is so stupid that it can somehow manipulate the situation to its sole advantage. It's too late in the day for that. They're not dealing with fools, they're dealing with people who are very expert in negotiation and know their own minds. Unless both parties are prepared to meet each other somewhere in the middle we're in for an even rougher time than I assume we're going to have.

POM     Well let me take that up to ...

JDL     About twenty five to eleven is the absolute latest.

POM     OK. Some people have talked about that the NP has a strategy to advance its own point of view.

JDL     I suppose everybody has that strategy.

POM     And that strategy is going to engage in alliance politics and that part of that strategy would be to weaken the ANC and strengthen other parties, such as Inkatha or other political parties. Do you think the government has a strategy in that regard?

JDL     Covertly weakening the ANC? I doubt it. You have to look at television and especially at the black programmes, their discussion programmes. There's no limit on what they say. There is no censorship on what they say. Anybody with a strategy to weaken them would, having possible control of that immensely powerful medium, prevent that.

POM     Well the argument they use is that because of the fact they have to pay so much attention to the violence in the last year is that they have been unable to be organised in the way they would have liked to.

JDL     Assuming that the violence was instigated by the government? That's the assumption?

POM     You were saying you reject that pretty categorically.

JDL     I would not reject the fact that there might be individuals and even small groups of individuals in the security forces. As happens in most security forces there are people on the right, but to say that it is an orchestrated attempt by government then they've thought it out badly in the first place, they've been ineffectual in the second place. You speak to moderate blacks who live in these violent areas and ask them who starts this violence and they won't say it's the police, as has been said. They say it is Inkatha and they say it's the ANC and they say it's the criminal element and they say it's the youth out of control. They live in fear of their lives because of black on black violence. I'm fairly convinced that the police play, if they play a role in this, they play a role in terms of the possible initiative of individuals. In every case where an investigation has been made into such an allegation it has not been the case.

POM     Let me move aside from that and talk about what has been loosely called 'Inkathagate' in a more general way. One, from among the broad spectrum in the black leadership that we've talked to there is no doubt that this distrust is now there. The question is, can you have successful negotiations in an atmosphere of mistrust? If you can't then in what way must the government acknowledge that part of the fallout of Inkathagate is this perception on the part of the ANC and what kind of confidence building measures must it take to redress the situation to attempt to create that climate of trust?

JDL     My practical experience has been people who go and sit at the negotiating table all mistrust each other. That's the starting point of negotiations and we have to work through to a position where there is sufficient trust. The negotiation table is the place to develop that trust. The assumption that somebody is being terribly clever and that you can be negotiated into a position where you can only be the loser I think is nonsense.

POM     Well it's difficult to enter into commitments or to take the other parties' assertions in good faith if you mistrust something. At some point trust is a necessary component to the process.

JDL     Eventually some document has to ensue and a legal basis must be found for that document in a referendum, nation-wide referendum, including a white referendum. Where will this hidden agenda be then? This is almost a conspiracy kind of a view of reality.

POM     What do you think is the larger political fallout of Inkathagate? Who are the winners, who are the losers?

JDL     I have no doubt that so some extent the government has been hurt by it. I'm not sure that it is all that important in the longer term. It was a huge media event. Now, what was the last bit I said?

POM     You were talking about the fallout from Inkathagate and you were saying you were sure the government was hurt but it wasn't all that important in the end.

JDL     In the longer term I don't think it was that important. It was not money for violence. It was within the context of the sanctions, anti-sanctions activity which to most South Africans is a very valid activity. Part of the unemployment must be directly ascribed to sanctions. To people who know something about economics that is an accepted fact. To people who play politics and ignore economics it's not.

POM     How about Buthelezi? Where does he come out of it? Was he hurt?

JDL     He's been hurt less in the broader South African situation than in the KwaZulu situation itself. I'm told that there are many Zulus who regard his reaction as being weak. He should have immediately acknowledged the money and he should not have paid it back. That is the conservative Zulu attitude which is his power base.

POM     Looking at what the purpose of negotiations is and one comes back to de Klerk saying that this is not about a transfer of power, this is about sharing of power, have you seen any evolution the last year of what the government means by sharing of power?

JDL     I think there's been some refinement of that perspective, of its position. I'm not too clear on how their thinking has moved on this but certainly I have the impression that they are much more open about it and not so rigid. They are prepared to negotiate a situation. You know, it could mean anything from power sharing in a very strict sense to power sharing in the sense of sufficient real checks and balances being built into the process by, for instance, an independent judiciary, a Bill of Rights which is beyond direct political manipulation and, thirdly, by having proportional representation and some regionalisation of South Africa.

POM     You mean proportional representation, that's in an election for parliament?

JDL     Yes.

POM     How about the exercise of executive power sharing? Do you think that's something they might forgo or something that they would insist on?

JDL     Well I personally think at present they're probably still thinking about insisting on it.

POM     One of the things would seem that the ...

JDL     You know, again, just let me add a thought here, it might be regarded as racist, it's real in Africa, unless there are a sufficient number of able people running this country we're going to disappear into the swamp of poverty which is Africa and history has privileged the whites to have the technological, etc., expertise. They must somehow be able to employ that expertise in the running of this country commercially and otherwise. If they are excluded from the process completely it would be an extremely foolish thing to do. And this does not necessarily mean that their position in government must be guaranteed as it were. It would be stupid just to remove them. There are some technical areas in government where there are no black people who are trained to deal with that.

POM     So what you're saying is that it's in the interests of the ANC to understand that if it wants to bring about the changes in the social and economic system that it wants to see that the sharing of power with the NP or whoever may be a far better way of doing that than trying to do it on their own.

JDL     Yes. An element enters into the picture here which I'm not very clear but constitutional lawyers tell me that a constitution is not something which appears overnight. It is built over time. So one should possibly begin thinking about phasing in to a new situation as it were, where in the beginning you have guarantees which then fall away later on as the position normalises and you get beyond apartheid thinking. I don't know whether we're going to be wise enough to do that. Perhaps we want the magic key to be turned in one day and discover the next day that there is no magic key. It's a hard human slog to create a better and a new society. There's a lot of sweat involved.

POM     Many people would say that the revelation that the government was funding the DTA in Namibia after it had signed an agreement in New York to keep its hands clear of the Namibian election process is grounds for there being an interim government, it shows this government cannot be trusted to be both referee and player.

JDL     That view is slightly critical. There is external to South Africa a sympathy for certain political groupings in the country and they are funded very heavily, for 80% and more. In Namibia's case it was probably about 95% they were funded externally, that was SWAPO. Now if you allow a situation where the rest must find their money simply within the country and their political views and expression of their political views be restricted to the people of South West Africa to pay for that whereas the other group gets its money from outside, then you are pre-judging the situation in moral terms and saying there are good people and all the rest shouldn't have a voice. And this is somehow true of South Africa too. The ANC used to get a lot of money, it's getting less now, but it is still largely dependent on outside sources and not from people in South Africa. If their activities were restricted to their funds they can find in South Africa and all the other political parties were also restricted to the funds they can find in South Africa then perhaps the political playing field would be more even. And this is part of, I suppose, the temptation to fund moderate groups or different political groups, certainly not funding the far right.

POM     How about that argument for ...?

JDL     This is the type of thinking that goes on. I found this out afterwards, after the event, the thinking that went into the SWA situation.

POM     How about the larger argument for an interim government?

JDL     Well, an interim government, a few months ago before the Inkathagate thing, before this heavy position on violence was taken by the ANC, almost immediately after a conference they had in which they said they wanted an interim government, they were asked to explain what an interim government was and it was interim arrangements they were talking about, they started using and then they reverted to an interim government. Some interim arrangement has to be made because certain functions have to go on. I have no doubt about that. But it doesn't necessarily mean an interim government. I have the impression that the government has softened its attitude somewhat on this and I would imagine the ANC would have to soften its attitude on this and somewhere meet in the middle.

POM     But you cannot see any circumstances in which this government would in fact resign?

JDL     Just abdicate?

POM     And say, 'We resign to become part of an all-party interim government'?

JDL     Which means handing over power? Handing over power before a constitution, before a new power position is resolved?

POM     Or sharing it. It would be called sharing. They would be handing it over to a government.

JDL     On what basis? On a numerical basis?

POM     On some basis. In fact the government would be conceding its sovereignty, it's legitimacy.

JDL     I don't see that happening.

POM     Do you see this becoming a sticky point?

JDL     It could be a delaying point but it won't be something which stops the whole process. No, I don't see that happening.

POM     The right wing in terms of its CP and say militant right, a year ago we heard a lot of concern about the strength of the CP and how if there were a whites' only election that perhaps they might even gain a majority of the white vote. One doesn't hear that today and I don't know whether it's because it just hasn't been in the news until the last couple of days or whether there is a perception that that threat has ...

JDL     It's going to be in the news within a month or so when the Virginia constituency has a by-election. Piet Claase, the chap who's resigned from the Cabinet and from parliament, and the Conservative Party is going to have a landslide victory there in Virginia. The last election in 1989 he had I think a 47 majority, just 47 votes, Piet Claase. This time around it's going to be a complete CP victory. So it will be in the news again. The wild card now, and one can only guess, is after Ventersdorp and the violence perpetrated in Ventersdorp, I think the CP has (and this is my personal view) suffered great damage. There are a lot of people who would ordinarily vote CP under the conditions that now obtain who don't want to be associated with that type of behaviour, bad behaviour. But I don't know what effect it will have. It is quite possible that this is the turning point of the CP and it is probably the main reason why A P Treurnicht has suddenly said 'No violence at meetings', and why Terre'Blanche has also given a guarantee that there won't be violence at political meetings.

POM     So a realisation that this is not acceptable to the Afrikaner community in particular?

JDL     To their broad community which includes about 20% English speakers.

POM     Finally, because I know you have to go, if one looks at the ANC over the past year one sees kind of a zigzagging. They make a demand, set a timetable, the time limit comes and they either adjust their demand or move the time limit. They said they would not go into negotiations until all their pre-conditions were met. They've added another pre-condition in terms of an interim government and yet they are saying 'Let's get on with the negotiations'. If you were the government would you see them somehow as an indecisive, rather confused adversary who is uncertain about where they are going?

JDL     To some extent this was true up till the beginning of August. They hadn't been subjected to a legitimate election of leadership and there were a lot of tensions, unresolved tensions within the ANC. Some of them have been resolved, not all, but certainly their congress in the first week of August creating a new leadership, democratically voted for, should give them much more confidence and once this working part (their Executive Committee is too large, it's beyond reality, you can't have so many people agreeing) so they created this Working Party which is in fact a kind of Shadow Cabinet for them. Once they get to know each other sufficiently and get to trust each other, because they represent all kinds of tensions there, they will be much more orderly in what they do politically. I think in the past year we've had quite a lot of mistakes made by them for the simple reason that there was uncertainly about the leadership. For instance, I mentioned last time, just to give you an example, that COSATU or the labour unions had some doubts about their position. Now they've moved right into the centre of the ANC and are in a very strong position with Cyril Ramaphosa being the General Secretary.

POM     In terms of a time frame how much time is there? Has this process got to move ahead with full speed or must all constituencies be brought along even if it takes more time?

JDL     I think it has to take more time, more constituencies have to come in, not just Inkatha, not just the NP and the ANC. There are others out there also in the black community who have no real expression, haven't found a real expression. There are many in the national forum. Somehow they have to find an expression and possibly it could be the beginning of a new alliance cutting across. I think the slower mode is probably the better.

POM     So 1994 was talked of as the time when the next election is constitutionally due. It's an artificial deadline is it in a sense if progress is being made on all fronts?

JDL     Well if a final constitution has to be presented then it's going to be a terrible thing. If a consensual basis on which a constitution must eventuate can be presented before then and making an election unnecessary as it were, that I think is more likely to happen.

POM     Making an election unnecessary, simply by an Act of Parliament? How is it constituted?

JDL     Well it will have to be implied in the referendum which is used.

POM     So there would be a referendum rather than an election for a new parliament?

JDL     Yes.

POM     And the referendum would ...?

JDL     Well the parliament will have to continue until it's replaced by a new dispensation. But delaying or cancelling the election can be done on the basis of a referendum allowing that.

POM     Allowing it. OK, thank you very much.

JDL     I'm sorry about the time limit.

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.