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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

21 Aug 1991: Akhalwaya, Ameen

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POM     I am talking to Ameen Akhalwaya on the 21st of August 1991. Let us start with something that is very current, the coup in the Soviet Union. Apparent Viljoen called on the ANC to state its position and the ANC with its usual alacrity said, we have not yet developed a position, or we need to consider before we have a position. Do you find that response a strange response? The fact that hundreds of thousands of Russians would be out on the streets interposing themselves between tanks and their parliament and the party here of mass mobilisation and the voice of the people says 'Well, we have got to think about it before we issue a statement'.

AA     I think I can understand the ANC's position in this regard. You see the thing here has to be seen in the context of the government propaganda onslaught against the ANC. What the government has decided, which is very, very clear from SABC TV, is the fact that the SACOMMUNIST PARTY is allied to the ANC and SACOMMUNIST PARTY members are also high ranking members of the ANC. The government has perceived this as a possible Achilles heel of the ANC in terms of winning white support and middle class black support.

AA     It is a valid question but when our government asks it, it may well be saying that OK, if the Communist Party in South Africa does something here are we going to ask the Communist Party in Britain, or the other way round. If the Communist Party in Britain does something, do you ask the Communist Party in South Africa? This is the sort of dishonest approach of the government. It is trying to score propaganda points on that issue. But I think also the ANC position, the fact that the ANC has not acted with any speed, can also be understood, is precisely because of issues like the Gulf War for instance. In this country we are left more or less to get the opinions of the Western media. Things are not as clear-cut as it would seem to the West as they would be out here. On the other hand it may also be true that because of the SACP's old links with the Soviet Union, and the fact that the SACP and communists in the Soviet Union would still be ideological soul brothers, it would be a valid question to find out exactly where they stand. But I think the ANC will have to respond. It is not just a matter of saying that we are an organisation in South Africa and what happens overseas has nothing to do with us. It has everything to do with us simply because the ANC has also called on various governments around the world to impose sanctions and so forth. So the ANC has internationalised its own campaign. In a way I am not surprised that they have not reacted with great speed at this stage, but I think if it holds out longer then we will have to ask some very strong questions about it.

POM     Last year you said that this connection between the SACP and the ANC was a real problem for the ANC particularly in the Indian community and among whites. Should I assume that the problem is still there, that it has not gone away?

AA     It is a real problem amongst whites and amongst those who are classified Indian and Coloured, and in fact amongst Africans themselves, it has become a middle class problem. I think the middle classes want to maintain the status quo. They are more worried about losing what they have built over the years under apartheid and the fear is of having spent so much time building their lives to find that a government that may come in may nationalise things. That is used as an excuse. In terms of those who are classified Indian, we have been looking at this very closely, in fact at those who are classified Coloured as well, and every single time we have come up with the fact that the people who are against the SACP don't actually worry about the Communist Party. It is another excuse not to support the ANC. They don't give reasons for not supporting the ANC because there is no debate. Every time any point is tackled, they come up with something else, so it is quite clear they have already made up their minds. They are not going to support the ANC because they want to maintain the status quo so whatever the ANC does, they will look for some excuse.

AA     But, I think that amongst those who are classified Indian it is not such a widespread phenomenon. I think there are a lot of people who are driven by religion, who are fearful of communism, who think that communism means being anti-religious, and if you actually point out that a lot of the Communist Party in South Africa are actually religious people who go to mosque who go to church and so forth, then they will find some other excuse. Just to give you one idea, the old President of the Communist Party, Dr. Dadoo, who so happened to be a Moslem, he was also President of the SACP. People condemn him out here for being a communist, and yet Dadoo went for Haj, which is one of the most important pillars of Islam. So, when Dadoo died, we kept on asking these guys about, we say 'Look here is a communist who has gone for Haj'. They say yes, but he is buried next to Karl Marx'. It that type of excuse. Then you get a guy like Ahmed Kathrada, he is a member of the Communist Party but he also prays, but when you tell them that, they say that he is probably doing it for show. So, they will always look for excuses, but I think it is an important question, but I think as far as the black communities generally, it is not that important a question. It may be an important question now in the run up to elections or whatever happens. But I think when it comes to election times, it is going to be a different ball game altogether, and people are going to look at the records of people who have fought for them and for their rights. A person like Mandela obviously is going to carry sway. I don't believe that if the ANC even say it wants to become hard line communist or become hard line capitalist, that the vast majority of its electorate is going to be bothered about its ideological content. The fact is that this is our organisation, these are our leaders, we are prepared to give them a chance.

AA     In this area, the youth are very strong pro-ANC or certainly they are anti-NP, a lot of the older people, people who have an interest in maintaining the status quo, they are the people who will support the NP.

POM     Is that even among the blacks?

AA     If you look at the economical structure in this country, like those who are classified union are generally relatively better off, so I am talking about the middle class. Where you find the hostility towards the ANC in this area for example, is among the older, better off people and not from the youth.

POM     I want to go back to something very basic, that is the contention that there is a conflict about the nature of the conflict here. You have various people in the political groupings or people in the academic community or whatever, who say that the real problem is the racial domination of blacks by the white minority, others would say what you have got going here is a clash of two nationalisms, black nationalism and white nationalism, then you have got those who say, yes there are racial differences but within each groups there are important ethnic differences and they must be taken into account in developing a future dispensation because if they are not the potential for conflict will remain. If all the negotiators from every party were sitting around a table, and you were told to outline for them the nature of the problem they were there to negotiate a solution to, what would you say to them?

AA     Even in terms of the protection of minorities and so on?

POM     No in terms of what the nature of the problem they are to resolve is, not what the solution should be, but the nature of the problem?

AA     Well, I think again we come back to the case of excuses for those who want to maintain power or cling to as much power as they can. You will find the people who are talking about the problem in terms of ethnic groupings, religion, and so forth, are the very people who are afraid to have universal franchise. If you are going to take it on a racial basis, the whites obviously cannot win power in this country simply in terms of numbers. So, it is not just a question of black nationalism, this is white nationalism.

AA     It is going to be an economic fight really. At this stage the problem is to get political power, and that is where the real battle is. As soon as that is decided, it is going to be a question of economic power. If you look at the people who are talking about minority, ethnic protection as a problem, the ANC does not want to have that sort of thing, it wants to have individual rights. If you look at this question, you see the dishonesty of it because the whites obviously, if you break them down into various components, there are Afrikaners and Greeks and English and Portuguese and Jewish people and so forth. If you look at the African people you have the various tribal groupings. If you look at the so-called Indians, you have the Hindus, Moslems, Tamil speaking groups and all of them, within those groups as well, have all sorts of components. With the Moslems you cannot just say a person is a Moslem, there are different tendencies amongst the Moslems as there are amongst the Hindus as there are amongst the Christians, you've got the various churches. So if you are going to keep that as a problem, we don't even know where we are going to start because there are going to be so many groupings that are suddenly going to emerge.

AA     So I think what these people are trying to do in reality is to create problems. People look for excuses in order not to advance.

POM     There has been a increasing propensity in the West in the last year to characterise the violence in the Transvaal as tribal violence, and I think about four or five weeks ago the Economist ran an editorial in which it said that the violence between Xhosa and Zulu in the Transvaal was really no different in essence from the violence between Croatians and the Serbs in Yugoslavia. They were actually saying that in each case it was ethnic violence. Do you agree or disagree with that statement?

AA     I think the problem with the West is that they try to simplify everything into terms that would suit them in terms of ethnic conflict: you know - Africa is full of tribes and savages and they really can't get their thing going. I mean it really is nothing of the sort.

AA     If you look at the Natal violence, the people who are involved are all Zulus. In the Transvaal the conflict has been between hostel dwellers and residents at large irrespective of what their origins are. For example we have got staff members out here. One of them is from the East Rand, which is the centre of a lot of the violence, she is Zulu, and in Soweto, in the Meadowlands area where as recently as three or four months there was a flare up of violence again, there is a guy who lives out there, he is Zulu as well. Their homes were attacked by people from the hostels. So, it is totally indiscriminate. The people who did the attacking were Zulus but I don't think that they attack anybody on the basis of their not being Zulus. There are a whole lot of factors related to this. It is not a simple case of tribal conflict or ethnic conflict.

POM     So you think that the insertion of ethnic conflict as something that must be - or potential ethnic conflict as something that must be provided for in a future constitution, or is it really a red herring? Is it a way of dividing populations, so as again to divide and rule in a sense?

AA     I agree with that. You see the potential for conflict lies not so much in terms of ethnicity, but in terms of linguistic groupings. Language groupings obviously are going to become factors in terms of the education system. Which is the official language? I think you can accept that English is going to be the official language, even the Nationalist Party government talks increasingly in English. Afrikaans is for the constituency and sometimes in parliament. So if we felt that English is going to be the major language, obviously the question is which is going to be the second or third language? Are we going to have more than one language? And that has some potential for conflict. But I don't think it has a potential for violence. I think there is going to be a lot of disagreement around it. In some areas it is very clear cut. In the Western Cape for example, if you have English, Afrikaans and Xhosa there is no problem, and I think it is the same with the Eastern Cape. The problem is in the much more urbanised areas like in the PWV region here, where you have got a whole mix. It is a melting pot really. What type of official language is going to be used is what the people who are going to formulate a new education policy will have to come up with. Whether they are going to have schools offering different languages and people being allowed to choose according to the language offered by that school. Where the second or third or even more languages are going to be enshrined in the constitution, that is going to be a problem.

POM     Just to finish on this area of questioning, since 1967, with one or two conspicuous exceptions, there has been no transfer of power from one freely elected government to another freely elected government in Africa. They usually become one party states or the party in power enjoys such an overwhelming monopoly of power that they have re-elected themselves. What do you think will make South Africa different?

AA     It is difficult to answer that but I think if you look at the way African governments came about, immediately the post-colonial era, where people had not really been trained, there were very few skills, very few educated people, there was no proper infrastructure, the indigenous people were not involved really in shaping the economy, they were left a legacy of scarcity really in terms of resources, skills, etc.

AA     Again, I don't think that the political organisations were that well developed or were sophisticated enough at that time, so I think Africa is also paying in terms of its colonial past. But that does not excuse what happens in a lot of these African states.

AA     The difference here is obviously that we have a much longer tradition of parliamentary rule although that rule was confined to one racial grouping. But that tradition is there and I think the fight amongst blacks here has not been for any ideological system or economic system initially. All they wanted was parity with the white people. In other words open up your parliament to all of us and we are going to be part of that parliament. So there is a tradition. I think, what is important in terms of a democratic process is that people have learnt from other countries and we don't find any of our political organisations, certainly not a black political organisation, anybody demanding that it is going to be our way. Obviously no party is going to announce beforehand that it intends to seize power and gain control, but the realities are such that if you look at the exiles who have come back from the ANC/PAC, they have also lived in Western countries, they have lived in Eastern Europe as well. They have seen the different forces. They know that no matter what happens if you are not going to have a multi-party democracy it is not going to work. You may be able to take power for a short while, but it is not a permanent situation. The fact also is that the number of people we now have, whether through exile or internal education, or whatever it was, are a lot more educated. One of the things that gives cause for optimism for example is the ANC's system on getting people from all spheres to give input into various strategies of economic policies and other policies it comes up with. If you just look at the constitutional proposals, those are obviously with help from outside, but a lot of it is input from South Africans who genuinely have studied constitutions and so forth, the same with economics. You can have all those systems, but the fact is that they are prepared to put it to an electorate.

POM     The violence in this part of South Africa which has gone on now for about a year, and from the onset the ANC said Inkatha was provoking the violence, and they said there was a third force and then it moved on to accusations by Mr. Mandela himself that the government had a hand in the violence. With the revelations of Inkathagate and the exposés that have been in Weekly Mail and the New Nation over the last couple of months regarding activities of the security forces, do you believe that there is now just about irrefutable proof that the government has in fact been involved in a double agenda, extended the olive branch of negotiations on the one hand and working to undermine the ANC on the other hand by orchestrating or participating in violence?

AA     Yes, we have suspected this for a long time and I think the whole funding scandal has merely confirmed this. Certainly on the part of de Klerk that even while he was holding out the olive branch to Mandela when Mandela was released, that his forces were going out and funding Inkatha and that type of thing. That shows that there has been no sincerity on the National Party's part. It wants to move forward but it is not prepared to lose power. It has a double agenda, but I think at the same time it must also be understood that the government is the National Party and the National Party, like any other political party is not willingly going to give up power. So what it is trying to do is to give the impression that de Klerk is a great statesman and wants to move the country towards a democracy and is gaining points on that basis in a political arena that can be understood, but in terms of the violence that has been created, in terms of its own hit squads and so forth, that cannot be accepted. I don't know whether de Klerk himself really is aware of what is going on in his forces. I have all along suspected that he really does not know.

POM     But Mr. Mandela has gone to him again and again in the course of the last year and said that de Klerk must do something about this and providing him with at least circumstantial evidence, and de Klerk every time would say, "Come forward with irrefutable proof and I will believe you', which people would not do in the first place if they were genuine.

AA     Yes, I think the problem here is de Klerk does not know to what extent it is happening because he was not part of the great PW Botha's strategy really. So he really did not know what was going on within the security forces. When I say he did not know, that does not mean that he was completely oblivious to what was going on. I don't think he knew the methods of operation or how deeply these squads went in the security forces. That is one of the reasons why, with all the evidence that has piled up against Magnus Malan as Defence Minister and Vlok as Minister of Law and Order, that he did not sack them long before he moved them sideways, or demoted them. But, I think that the real fear was that if he probes too deeply and he throws out Malan and Vlok, he does not know who else is there and how far they are, how many secret projects they have running out there. I think that is what he does not know, he did not know and he still does not know. This is reinforced by the fact that he has not sacked these guys but has kept them in the Cabinet, hoping that these guys either will be flushed out or while Malan and Vlok are in the Cabinet they will not try anything.

POM     Do you think there are elements who would be in the security apparatus that have been carrying this out without consultation with the government or de Klerk so that it, in a way, has not been the government per se that has been doing it or sanctioning it, it has been really elements within the security forces that have taken it upon themselves to do it? Or do you think it has been at least implicitly sanctioned by the government, that it suits the government strategy to weaken the ANC to show that they cannot protect their own people, to show that we are the party of law and order? Which is it?

AA     I think if you go back to previous administrations this was part of their policy, the dirty tricks and the hit squads and all that, and although it has been ingrained within the security forces, de Klerk himself does not know how far this goes. So these guys are obviously acting within the mandate that they have been given and, because de Klerk does not know how far this stretches down the line, he has not been able to get through to those very people, that is what I suspect. He cannot get through to them because he does not know about them and that becomes a real problem. So these people are not doing anything that they were not asked to do. They are obviously not doing it the spirit in which de Klerk is trying to get the talks going, but then I think he does not know, the status quo is being is maintained for the simple reason that De Klerk does not know who these guys are and these people have not had any instructions to the contrary.

POM     But that leads to the question, as you pointed me to, and that is does the National Party have a strategy? Have they sat down and worked out how they will get to the negotiation table and how they will try to fix the variables to get what they want out of the negotiations? What is their strategy?

AA     I think they are very vague at the moment, but what is becoming increasingly clear, obviously, is that they have been seeing that the ANC alliance with the SACP is the Achilles heel insofar as the government is concerned. They use this to try to denigrate the ANC as far as they can. They try to embarrass the ANC in terms of the Communist Party and consolidate its own support and then win over the middle class across the spectrum. I think that is one of the strategies. It is not going for the Constituent Assembly simply because if you are going to have universal franchise, the National Party obviously is not going to win the most votes. So that is why its strategy now is to call for a multi-party conference, or all-party conference, or whatever they call it, and then say we have the support of so many parties. In other words, if you are going to have any discussions, it is not going to be on the basis of how much support each of these organisations has, but on the number of parties there are, which obviously is a very clever thing because on the extra-parliamentary side all you have is the ANC, PAC and AZAPO, and on the other side you have got a whole lot of them that are in parliament. All these little splinter parties in the House of Delegates, like the Lenasia MPs, four of them, who between them did not get did not get more than about four or five thousand votes, and they are now going to be represented on an equal footing with the ANC. This is clearly ludicrous, but I think this is what the NP's strategy is, to get them around the table and say, 'Right, we will all decide now, lets put it to the vote'.

POM     The PAC has accepted to the call for an all-party conference and they are willing to participate?

AA     In an all-party conference to discuss the agenda, but the NP does not want it that way. They want a sort of a holding operation as the grouping that is going to decide on the new constitution. That is the only way they can cling to power. Obviously it is still an apartheid strategy to use and abuse SABC TV for its propaganda. If you analyse what goes on on TV very closely, you will find the subtle questioning of the ANC, or sometimes not so subtle questioning of the ANC, always ends in Communist Party links, Communist Party alliance.

AA     Anything that De Klerk does, he is not seen as an NP leader but de Klerk has been put out as this great Statesmen, and they are building the NP around de Klerk, the figure. The ANC, obviously, on the other hand has allowed itself to let Mandela be dragged in as a mere party leader, or an organisational leader, rather than the national or international figure that he is. So the ANC has fallen for this type of baiting that comes all along and pushed it onto the level that the government wants it to be. It is a very clever strategy on the government's part, and it has worked to some extent. Internationally of course, as far as Bush and John Major are concerned, they look for any little excuse to support the NP or do whatever they do. So, I think it really does not matter in Bush or Major's eyes how bad this government looks, or what strategies it uses, as long as they can get a little indication that these guys are moving forward. As long as they can get international acceptance, especially Western endorsement, white people here in this country think we are on our way back, we are going to get back into international sport, we are getting back and sanctions have not even been lifted.

POM     Last year you said that the NP would get quite a number of votes in the black community and there was a poll earlier this year which showed that de Klerk's level of favour was well above the NP's party's quotient but on the other hand, the ANC's favour was above Mandela's, that Mandela in fact was less popular than the ANC. What do you think accounts for this?

AA     I don't believe these polls at all. Not at all. I think they are totally dishonest, especially anything that comes from the HSRC (Human Science Resource Centre). I think they are so, so utterly misleading. I know these polls. If you take for example the House of Delegates, House of Representatives elections in 1989, the figures that were bandied about in the opinion polls were that between 50% and 60% of those classified as Indian and Coloured were going to support these organisations. When it came to voting, it was way below 20%. So, I just don't believe these polls at all. I would think it is the other way round. For example if you have a rally here in Lenasia and you say it is an ANC rally, these days we actually get 200 people, and once upon a time you used to get 2000 people. But if you say it is Mandela coming you are going to get your few thousand people. So those figures just make no sense whatsoever. The ANC has rallies and meetings all the time, but when Mandela goes and speaks somewhere he swells those crowds up to 100000 to 150000. Just reality shows you that those figures make no sense whatsoever.

POM     Still on the question of the NP, last year you talked about a possible coalition between Inkatha and the NP. Would the funding revelations suggest that an alliance of sorts was already in the making? What do you think will be political fallout of Inkathagate? Do you think it is one of the most significant events of the year or is it just another thing that has happened, and who have been the political winners, the political losers and in particular what does it do to the stature or standing of Buthelezi?

AA     I think the effects are very minimal. Obviously there is the short term controversy where people are now confirming their own views one way or the other. But, if you look at the people outside who have been supporting Buthelezi, the Americans, the British and so forth, they obviously expressed their unhappiness about this type of thing, but within two weeks all that is forgotten and then they will carry on just as they were previously. Within the country I don't think that in terms of black support Buthelezi is going to win any more or lose any more. Most black people have suspected all along what is going on. He may lose a few more supporters. It also depends on the Chiefs and other traditional leaders, and how they would react. I think a lot of them had already turned their backs on him. In real terms it is not going to make much difference. If you look at the reaction of white people generally about Inkatha funding, it is that the only thing that was wrong was to give the money secretly, but there was nothing wrong in giving him the money. That element has always supported Inkatha. But when I say supported Inkatha, it is interesting to note that while a lot of white people, and if you listen to Radio 702 it comes out very clearly on every issue there is a black/white divide whenever they have these phone-in programmes, but white people who always support Buthelezi will say they support him in relation to the ANC monster they perceive. Buthelezi is not such a bad guy, he does not support sanctions. The same kind of excuses that the Western governments use to back him. But that does not translate into actual voting for Buthelezi. If you had a vote between Inkatha, white people I am talking about, between Inkatha and NP, they are obviously going to go for the NP. So I think the formation of the alliance is going to be a natural thing. If they do come together it is merely going to confirm what everybody knows has been happening in any case. It is not going to come as any real surprise.

POM     What about the revelations of the government funding of the opposition parties in Namibia, particularly after it had signed an agreement with the UN to administer the process and act impartially? Many would say that had strengthened the hand of the ANC in calling for an interim government, that the government obviously cannot be referee and player at the same time. On this question of an interim government, the ANC calls for the government to resign, cede its sovereignty and become a part of an all-party government. Do you think there are any circumstances under which this government could agree to do that?

AA     Not on a straight negotiated basis. It is not going to do it. But, if it does not, and a lot depends on the PF (Patriotic Front) conference that is coming up this weekend, a lot depends on what they decide. If they decide on mass action, which means boycotts, stayaways, economic damage across the country on a wide scale supported by ANC, PAC and AZAPO and the Communist Party and COSATU, that will probably bring the government to its knees. I think when Buthelezi has talked over the years about not all the options having been exercised, all the non-violent options have not been exercised and he also speaks about economic boycotts and so forth within the country, it has never been done really right across the board with the support of all the major black groupings. We have always had these little divisions. But in this particular case, obviously Inkatha would be left. Inkatha would not support all of this.

POM     But neither the PAC nor AZAPO support the interim government.

AA     No, but I think if the PAC and AZAPO can be persuaded that an interim government is just part, it is not that important a component of getting the Constituent Assembly, the Constituent Assembly is the main factor in this, that we want a Constituent Assembly and I think that is what the alliance is going to work out, how they are going to arrive at that particular point. They will be able to pressurise the government if they do that.

POM     Our feelings having talked to members of the ANC, many of whom are in the Working Groups, are that the ANC is going to stand firm on this one, on the interim government, on requiring that the government resign. What I am getting at is, with mass action bringing the country to a stand-still and let us say de Klerk does in fact say 'OK, we are putting ourselves out of existence, we are on the first step towards the transfer of power', what would be the reaction in the white community and among the security forces? Could you find yourself in a similar situation to what appears to be the case in Russia, where the military would step in and say 'You can't just resign away the South African state'? Do you see any possibility of that? What do you think the reactions would be?

AA     I think in terms of the white community obviously there is going to be a tremendous backlash, especially handing over power. De Klerk would be seen as having capitulated completely. In terms of numbers it is difficult to guess how many, I think probably 50% of them would go along with him and trust that de Klerk is going to bring a solution to the country, but as you say the factor is going to be the security forces. How are they going to allow this type of thing to happen? Obviously this is going to be completely unacceptable to the Conservative Party and the AWB. There is potential for tremendous conflict there. Violent conflict. That is one of the problems that I have with the interim government, in terms of the mechanics. How are you actually going to structure the forces? Who is going to be responsible for the security forces? On whose instruction are they going to act? You don't expect an army that has been fighting black people all this time, having perceived them as the enemy, to suddenly now take instructions from an interim government unless that interim government also consists of the NP and you have everybody else. If it is going to be an ANC dominated body ...

POM     Oh no, definitely it would be an all-party conference. But, do you think there would be any real possibility or any possibility of the elements in the security forces, about whom we have been talking, saying 'Hey, this is enough', and put their foot down and not return to legal apartheid but simply say no government has the right to cede the legitimacy and sovereignty of the State?

AA     It is difficult to guess how much a reaction there would be within the security forces. It may have pockets with little groups within the security forces who would take the law into their own hands and go on some sort of rampage. But as long as the NP is part of the interim government, and as you said, if they can sell the concept that this is part of power-sharing, that we have not capitulated completely, that may then be able to limit the potential for violence. I don't think that this country is right for a coup even if you form an interim government. But the potential for violence is there. It remains on these groupings. I think the trend that we are seeing now within the defence forces, within the hit squads and all the other dirty tricks operators, we are always going to have those pockets out there. Except that in a situation like that you would be able to mobilise more of them and get more of them and your conflict could be a little more widespread.

POM     The government from the beginning has said that this process is not about the transfer of power, it is about the sharing of power and first, what do you think the NP or the government mean when they talk about power-sharing? Second, is the process really about the transfer of power but politically the NP simply could not say that to the constituencies at this point?

AA     I don't think the NP sees it as a transfer of power. They want to cling to power. I think it has accepted that it cannot win any elections on its own. The question of keeping the maximum amount of power, certainly economic power, in white hands is one major concern. It is one of the things that government people have been talking about in terms of the Bill of Rights and the constitution spelling out the type of economic system we want, which is unheard of really. But this is the type of thing that they want.

AA     I think its idea of power-sharing is again along the same lines, that the NP is the major player and everybody else comes in. This is what de Klerk is trying to sell at the moment. Also talking about the interim government, we are prepared to accept elements from within extra-parliamentary organisations in government.

POM     Do you think that in negotiations they will seek, in terms of power sharing, an arrangement in which the National Party would continue to some ministerial portfolios even though the ANC might form 80% of the government. They would have maybe 20% of the portfolios and at that level exercise power and be in the Cabinet?

AA     I think in the final solution, I have been told repeatedly from various sources that de Klerk and Mandela have both agreed that whatever government wins power is going to be the government of unity and I know for a fact that the ANC has repeatedly said that they want a government of national unity. I think the ANC had accepted that they are going to incorporate other organisations as well. The interesting thing is that the NP probably would, if it also wins, try to incorporate people from other organisations as well. I think both major players have accepted that whoever wins the elections is not going to suddenly bring stability to the country because of the nature of what has transpired before and the only way to avoid sort of conflict is to try for some Namibian type of solution.

POM     So, you can easily imagine a situation in which the ANC and the NP would share power with the ANC being the senior partner and the NP being a minor partner?

AA     I think that will be left to a government or organisation that wins, what it wants to do, how big the mandate it gets. Let's say the ANC get 80% of the votes in this country, it won't be too keen on getting as many other players into a Cabinet of national unity but I don't see that happening. I don't think that any party that is going to win that convincingly. The ANC I think would win comfortably between 55% and 60%. The minority is large enough for it to be concerned about forming a government of one party only. I think whatever happens we are going to have a narrow victory down the line, narrow in the sense that we are still going to have this big minority. I think the ANC is very concerned about the military power held in the white hands at the moment. It cannot suddenly go Westminster style and say right, we won now and we take over. The military with all the whites, especially right wing whites, and all the other elements saying we are going to appoint our own Minister of Defence and we are going to tell you how to run the country. I think it is the same problem I have with the interim government as to who is going to run the security forces.

POM     So, there is a big difference between gaining political power electorally and getting access to the exercise of power to the bureaucracy, and the bureaucracy being a major stumbling block for an ANC government that attempted to just go it alone.

AA     I think the bureaucracy will be a stumbling block. As long as the bureaucracy is employed and does not lose its benefits the bureaucracy will work for anybody. Most of the police also believe that they are doing a job as policemen irrespective of which party comes to power. The security forces are much more difficult. Ultimately a lot of the heads of departments would be black people. The white bureaucrats will have to understand that if they don't do their job properly will lose their jobs. As long as the promise is there that if you are good enough they will keep you.

POM     Have you seen any evolution in the government thinking about power-sharing or protection of rights, like a better idea of partly looking for as much retention of power as they can.

AA     I've seen nothing specific. There are just no specifics. That's why I keep on saying that the government is trying to show de Klerk and the government not as a National Party but as a government. The NP is separate from the government, and the NP formulates its own policies and that will be tabled at the negotiating table, unlike the ANC which has provided some documents at least for discussion. If not necessarily adopted, you can be critical of some of these, but the NP simply hasn't come out. The Bill of Rights is left to the Commission. There is no guarantee that it's going to accept those recommendations or whether it's got it's own Bill of Rights. Economic policy is very wishy-washy, education is still going to be determined. There really is nothing concrete coming out from the government.

POM     Do you think that this acceptance by the ANC that it just cannot use transfer of power right now is again transitional, that once we get into some kind of government of national unity that it would then say perhaps even a new constitution built on the Westminster system is optionally called for?

AA     I don't think that would be the ultimate call but I think the ANC has two problems; one, is a question of acceptance by white people who have the military might and obviously the economic power, that is why they want to become a national unity; a) They wanted to be able to carry out its programmes; b) To limit the scope of violent action against it. I think what it is also mindful of is that if it moves too quickly in terms of the power of economic and military power which is concentrated in white hands there won't be a coup or potential for a coup but there is going to be tremendous destruction and it cannot carry out its programmes. I think it's very conscious that if it's going to be elected for five years there is no way, I don't think any government with the greatest of goodwill is going to even get power for the problems resolving this country and come the next election if you have not delivered your goods. It's OK to have a government of national unity right across the board rather than to accept all the blame for yourself because there is no way with the problems of housing and education.

POM     The ANC were looking out for its long term interests to maximise its own potential to share power initially. The threat is from the right, the same words they talked about a year ago. Do you think the Communist Party still poses a potential threat to the government with the ongoing process?

AA     It can act as a break on the NP's progress in terms of how much it is prepared to give in. I think the AWB in short is irrelevant in terms of the potential havoc it has, not on the scale of Ventersdorp, I think a lot of it was grandstanding but in terms of individuals who can create problems, the AWB is no real factor in this country. The Communist Party is a constitutional factor but only in so far as it affects the policy of the NP.

POM     One feels the sense of scepticism about the prospects of what is going on more than a year ago, before the violence broke out. People were kind of blunt on that issue. There were feelings. A lot of the feeling has gone. Why?

AA     The honeymoon is over, it is something like the American presidential elections. I suppose any general election in any country, when you have a new government or whatever, there is always this enthusiasm and then you have your crisis, and I think we are experienced in that type of crisis, between the release of all the leaders, the unbanning of the organisations and the process of negotiations starting, because people generally don't see any progress taking place. All these things that are happening are happening behind closed doors somewhere, the ANC saying one thing, maybe they are meeting or not meeting the government. What are all these working groups? People are not being involved in the process and at the same time I don't think the people want to be involved in the process. All they want is let's get started. Let's get the whole thing going soon. They want to get on the line, it is no longer the consuming question of their lives. It's like we've got our leaders and they are doing their work.

POM     The expectations, are they lower than a year ago or still at the same high level?

AA     I wouldn't say they are lower because we are experiencing this crisis of confidence or enthusiasm, but once elections come up, obviously we are going to have a different world with elections campaigns going on, the enthusiasm will come back mostly. At this stage nobody needs it. It's pointless going to the streets yelling about anything saying we want the government, and the government is also saying fine we are heading for elections on later. It's understandable what has happened. There seems to be no progress anywhere.

POM     There seems to be no progress?

AA     Yes a lot is taking place behind closed doors. The people are not being involved, so they really cannot be enthusiastic about something they don't know. They want some concrete proposals to be put on the table and say now can we rally around this type of thing or reject it or whatever. So they have nothing to make noise about.

POM     OK I will hold it there. Thank you.

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.