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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

22 Aug 1991: Cooper, Saths

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POM     I am talking to Dr. Saths Cooper on the 22nd of August 1991. Dr. Cooper you have just mentioned the coup in the Soviet Union and I had brought up this question of with a number of the ANC and the SACP I have seen in the last two days as to why there was such a delay in a reaction to the events that were going on there. I got replies ranging from the defensive to the acknowledgement that they should have said something earlier. How would you analyse their reluctance to issue a statement? Do you think this is one more thing that plays on the fears of many people that the SACP really controls the ANC or makes them more uncertain about what the nature of the alliance is and therefore are perhaps less likely to support the ANC?

SC     I think there are a variety of factors to consider most of which could be untrue in this particular case. The Communist Party, I think, did issue a statement on Monday saying that enough information was not available to make an informed opinion on what is going on, at the same time committing themselves to the negotiation process here and a peaceful transition. Yesterday, which was Wednesday, Joe Slovo came out very clearly saying that they have committed to the transition process, utilising peaceful means and committed to a democratic socialism, that they were not wedded to Moscow's line [and therefore responded quite earlier on]. However, it was not as clear as he made it out to be yesterday. I think they did not come out as clearly saying they were against the events that had happened, that it was patently an undemocratic act. So, whilst left with speculation as to what their feelings are about the advent of Gorbachev and the changes he has brought not only in the Soviet Union but in many other parts of the world, Eastern Europe and here in this country, I think we would have a different situation were it not for the types of things done by Gorbachev. It is not the only why change is taking place in this country, but it is a significant one.

     So I think they are not very clear about whether Gorbachev really is a revisionist, which clearly he is, but using the terminology followers of Marx and Lenin have always used before, revisionism is very dangerous. So, I think some people, not only within the Communist Party but elsewhere as well are not very happy with the type of the line that Gorbachev has taken, such as glasnost perestroika, lines that Gorbachev has put forward. For the ANC, I think they wanted to be more informed very clearly, they also did not want to issue a statement which probably would conflict with what their alliance partners may feel. I think that there were clear positions from leading figures within the ANC about what they thought the coup meant. But at the same time, publicly they had to be more circumspect because of that linkage, one; secondly because I think some of the leading figures within the ANC themselves are not very clear for similar reasons that I gave about the Communist Party, people being unclear about Gorbachev.

     I think their own actions and the ability to keep to the public rhetoric and statements about commitment to transition and a clearly participatory democratic feature in this country is what we will have to test in the next three years I should imagine. It will unfortunately be a situation where those ends, like a democratic new South Africa, the ability to do certain things in a democratic fashion, accountability, internal recalls, going for mandates in the fashion that it should be done, and not merely use them as excuses for delay. All those will be the things that we will have to look at in the future. Right, it is very largely speculation about why they are silent about these events. But I think that it is safe to say that this was a very significant event, for them akin to the pronouncement that they won a bet on the 2nd of February last year, and immediately being able to react to that type of thing would pose a lot of problems, because they were not sure what that meant.

POM     To go back to something which is almost very basic, there was book published very recently by Donald Horowitz, in which he makes the case that SA is indeed a multi-ethnic society with the possibility of deep cleavages, that it would fall into the category of what is normally called 'divided societies', and that calls for special government mechanisms that must be developed to preclude any possibility of conflict erupting in the future. I have found this book has raised a lot of controversy, depending upon which side of the political spectrum you come from. In fact the reactions are almost predictable. If you were called in tomorrow morning to a room where all the negotiators and various parties were sitting around the table and you were told to brief them as to the nature of the problem they were there to try to resolve, what would you tell them?

SC     Well Patrick, I think that SA is a deeply divided society. It is divided along lines of colour into white and blacks on the one hand. But also it has been further divided by ethnic cleavages and also certain regional strands and groupings in the country. It would be totally unrealistic to wish away something that really exists. People are Zulu speaking, Sotho speaking and so on. This I feel been very significantly exacerbated by the period of apartheid. Apartheid has tended to make these cleavages sharper and reinforce a very clear ethnic identity and base.

     My own feeling is that we need to take account of that. It should not be the primary consideration but it should be an important consideration, there are various other considerations of course. Clearly we cannot have the type of system that was tried before, and still exists to a large extent in certain places, like the Bantustan system, and any sort of group association in this country, economically and otherwise, it is not viable. My own feeling is that we should not have a high cut-off point for a proportional representativeness. I think that the 5% that you have in Germany is one where it is precisely to limit parties, and they did it with a great homogeneity in Germany.

     Here you are dealing with a great heterogeneity and also you are dealing with a new process, a process that has been not available before. It would mean bringing in people who would be constructive within the mainstream rather than have them on the fringes, becoming martyred, also allowing for their destructive potential to continue. You just need a few people what it takes a lot of people to build. So I would say that if we have a cut-off point for a proportional representation house, that it should be fairly low, less than 1% point. Some say there should not be a kind of point but I think that if we have a point of about half a percent or so, any group can show that they have such a percentage support. It also takes account of some regions, it takes account of ethnic identify as well so that all those groups will be included. That will be one mechanism, however it has worked out, I would advocate for it for removing barriers to inclusion, so that if you have a 2% and higher cut-off point, you are excluding a lot of people.

POM     I have asked people, particularly people who would normally be labelled as progressives, for the most part may be white, whether they believe there is an ethnic factor and they generally say 'yes', and then about seminars or forums or even private cocktail parties, I ask them if they raise this point and they say 'no' and that if you were to assert the point you would be regarded as somehow an apologist for the government or racist. They government has got a right to use a solution that was wrong, so it does not get talked about, it does not get acknowledged in the way that it should be acknowledged, and of course it is totally rejected by the ANC as being an artifice of apartheid. What is your experience in this regard?

SC     Well I don't think that the ANC rejects it as roundly as imagined. I think the ANC recognises that we do indeed have a language spread in this country, that there is an ethnic spread in this country, that there is an ethnic base in this country. If you mark Mandela's fairly wide ranging open interview with Stanley Uys that appeared in the Guardian in the August papers after their conference and before the Inkatha scandal, where he acknowledges that there are these factors, in fact the ANC if anything, has always believed that there are four racial groups in this country: African, white, coloured and Indian. So, I think that the period of the seventies created a certain black solidarity, the Black Consciousness period created a certain black solidarity which superseded ethnic identity. It did not dis-acknowledge ethnic identity or language, but it played up group cohesiveness and I think that many people began to be quiescent from that time in pointing out language and ethnic factors because they feared if they did it would be equated with apartheid, while clearly we were not talking about the same animal. We were talking about a reality.

     We are not talking about a mechanism, which apartheid has been more of. It has been a mechanism to create lots of cleavages, using an ethnic base of course. But the fact that there is an ethnic base I don't think is disputable. There are people who speak Afrikaans, there are people who speak English, those are languages, but also very certain ethnic identities are associated with that. Very clearly you have a Zulu nationalist that is ethnic, also you have an Afrikaner nationalist that is ethnic. Often, unfortunately, it is extreme in its manifestation, but it is there. Not be able to acknowledge and work with that I think is a singular failure and it does not augur well for a future which tries to pre-empt conflict you see. If you recognise conflict and then work with that, you have a greater chance of impacting on the conflict. But if you dis-acknowledge conflict and try indirectly to impact on it, it will have a very invidious way of continuing.

POM     My question is, is there a real possibility just because of the psychology of this process that the problem will be misdiagnosed and structures developed that don't take into account the possibility of these kind of conflicts arising in the future, therefore creating a system which in the longer run would be unstable?

SC     I think that it would be a unfortunate misdiagnosis. I think we need to work with that factor. Yes it is a perception and often perceptions are larger than reality. Right now you have a lot of fears, you have a lot of ethnic fears. Whether they are based on any fact is irrelevant because people do have certain fears. So it would be with the major minority groups like the coloureds, the Indians and so on; they all have certain fears. Similarly you have fears among the Zulus, you have fears among Venda speaking people. By acknowledging their presence I think we are going closer to seeking a solution for those problems, but if we blindly move on and disavow those then we are heading for further problems in the future.

     I don't think the leadership of this country, whether they come from the NP side, the ANC side, the other significant black groups, is going to not acknowledge that and deal with that. It would be disastrous for them. Their support does not come from one grouping but from many ethnic groups, and they see that people have fears and I think there is a readiness to deal with that. But of course you are dealing with people who are attempting very far from any linkage with the apartheid background and unfortunately apartheid has deepened ethnicity. So, I think it is going to take a little while before we are able to deal with that problem as openly as we should.

POM     Looking at the violence of the last year in the Transvaal, there has been an increasing propensity in the Western media to view this as ethnic violence, Xhosa versus Zulu, even to the extent that about five weeks ago the Economist said in essence there is no real difference between the Xhosa and Zulu violence and the violence between the Serbs and the Croatians. They are saying they are both ethnically based. Do you find that a simplistic analysis, or that largely the violence has been ethnically based, or what?

SC     I think we are dealing with the thrust of political control. You are dealing with the Bantustans, you are dealing with organisations or parties vying with each other in particular pieces of territory. It is in a sense the preparatory work to future power in the country. So each of the parties and organisations are setting themselves up for that thrust and it happens that some are oriented Inkatha is clearly an overwhelming Zulu party and organisation. The others are not as clearly one or the other ethnic group, although there has been an attempt to portray the ANC as Xhosa, but I think it is quite untrue. I think there is a significant support base coming from the Cape, but I think there are other groups which also have support in the Cape.

     Now in Natal, it has been clearly not ethnic. There is no significantly Xhosa group or Sotho speaking group with whom the Zulu people are in conflict. It is a political battle among Zulu speaking members of the ANC, or supporters of the ANC on the one hand, and Inkatha people on the other. So there is no ethnic factor there. It is very simplistic to deal with one particular area and generalise it for the rest of the country. Now, where the most killing has taken place is in Natal, it has been Zulu on Zulu. There is no Xhosa or any other group. Now in the Transvaal there may be at some places ethnically oriented conflict, which I believe has been engendered by the attempt by both organisations to seek membership and control in a particular area. So where the ANC has tried to establish a branch the Inkatha people would come in to establish theirs and vice versa. Thus, it would be that an ethnic factor gets introduced. But the motive is clearly a political one. I am not saying that there are no situations where a particular ethnic group has been in conflict with another. But I think to say that there it is Zulu/Xhosa conflict in this country is really an insult to the reality of SA. In the Western Cape for instance, where there is no significant Zulu presence, in Crossroads people are fighting, in Khayalitsha. It is Xhosa speaking versus Xhosa speaking. Where is the ethnic factor in that? I think we are dealing in some of those situations with traditionalism, and that traditionalism has to do with certain ethnic identities. It could be that the Witdoeke are more traditional and make a claim for traditional patterns of governance within the community which the younger people, the comrades, would distance themselves from. They would tend to identify with the liberation movements.

POM     So it is a case of the old order versus the younger generation?

SC     Right. I mean there is an ethnic flavour to some of that but it is traditional, its the old and new. Definitely in some instances there would be a flare out but that is not the case throughout the country. In the Northern Transvaal there is no Zulu problem but there is conflict there within Pedi speaking communities because somebody supports AZAPO, somebody else supports Ramodike, and somebody else supports the ANC, it is that type of thing.

POM     The violence in the Transvaal has lasted out just about a year and initially the ANC pointed a finger at Inkatha, then it pointed a finger at a third force and increasingly it began to accuse the government of direct involvement in the violence and to being the orchestrator of it. Mr Mandela talked about the double agenda: the olive branch of negotiations and the efforts to undermine the ANC in the townships. And for almost everyone that I have interviewed in the ANC they have taken the revelations around Inkathagate and the various exposés in the papers, of former defence and security force personnel, as being almost irrefutable proof that the government has been and is involved in the orchestration of this violence and perhaps even participating in it themselves. What is your analysis of what are the consequences of the ANC's belief or perception? It is a bit more than a perception it is a kind of proven fact of direct involvement in the violence.

SC     Let me approach it this way, either the government is involved or it is not. If it is involved, I think it is, in a sense, very understandable. If the government is not involved in what is happening it is worse for this country in that case, because the government is not in control of its security forces. I would prefer the government to be involved, to be in charge of its security forces, than not be in charge because the ability to derail the process right now is tremendous. So, there is very little choice in that dimension. I think that there is clearly a very strong case to be made out for government knowledge, participation, collusion and quiescence in this process of destabilisation. I think it is understandable because you have a government that has on the 1st of February last year regarded all these groups as terrorists and communists, and enemies of SA. And on the 2nd of February, De Klerk then changed all that. So you are bound to have very deep cleavages in understanding what this new process that has been unfurled is about. I think at the same time, there would be serious, very significant pockets of malcontents within the government who would hold out that we can deal with the ANC but they are still our enemies. I think that if we look at the reasons for De Klerk making the type of spaces available that he has, then it would add to the list that his government is involved in this destabilisation process. His entire security force has been based on that philosophy. Their involvement in Angola, Mozambique and other places is legendary. I cannot see them not being involved and the evidence that is emerging, merely to announce in a blasé fashion that the security forces have never and never will be involved, is ridiculous. And that goes for the army and the police force.

     There are units in operation. The Harms Commission that was set up last year was a joke. I think that the mechanisms announced now are an attempt to come out of that crisis situation of involvement. But still they are very far from a solution and the suspicion will remain that De Klerk and his government are not to be trusted. So, I think for De Klerk to become stronger in distancing himself from this securocratic establishment and closing establishing operations that are endangering this process of negotiation and peace in this country, how he is going to do that is going to be really dependent of factors that militate against his leadership and a few other things in this society, so I think there is evidence. The evidence points to government involvement. As to who knew and at what level becomes meaningless because clearly there are significant people within government who have been involved in this thing. So my point is, if they have not been involved, then this country is in greater trouble. They are not in control at all.

POM     What do you think this has done to the process of transition?

SC     I think in a sense it has triggered the urgency for settlements, for quick, effective, peaceful settlements on both sides. Both sides recognise the process is fairly tenuous and shaky. The ANC has been remarkably statesmanlike in the last six weeks, two months, when a lot of this stuff has happened, because they have not just attacked De Klerk and diminished him publicly - which I think De Klerk can learn quite a bit from, in terms of denuding your chief opponent publicly, than when you recognise that you have to deal with him or her and reach agreement on something and make that agreement stick. So they did not ask for De Klerk's removal or resignation during the Inkatha scandal, which is significant.

     I think that the ANC is coming of age as well in terms of its understanding of the realities and perceptions in this country. It is not as gaga about De Klerk being a man of integrity. It realises that he is a politician, a wily, effective politician. He has done some things for motivations which they may understand, but sometimes the motivation may emerge much later. It is not because he is an actualistic, humanistic, democratically oriented person, concerned about all South Africans, he is clearly a patriot concerned about SA but, more concerned about his vision for this country and you know, you don't come from spending an entire lifetime operationalising apartheid and see this remarkable transformation within a few weeks. They, I think, are coming down to earth and recognising that the honeymoon period of meeting with these leaders the other side and being civilised, and having these long dinners, and drinking, having cocktails, and you know, in nice surroundings is really over and the reality of it is he is being diplomatically catered. And you delude yourself into not acknowledging political motivation and basically that is about power. So I think they are coming of age and being more circumspect in their dealings.

POM     One thing they have done is to satisfy the other pre-conditions, like the return of exiles and the release of political prisoners and replaced them by one blanket pre-condition and that is the resignation of the government and the formation of an interim government. There is really no possibility that this government will resign and cede its sovereignty and legitimacy and literally vote itself out of power.

SC     Sure, sure. I think that when a public demand is made a lot of the time it may not actually be that demand that is being sought. You ask for a hundred points when you know you are going to settle for fifty. Here in this case, clearly the ANC wants transitional management arrangements, which the government also recognises. So, its modality, its terminology, is significantly different, but we are talking about the same process. The ANC talks of an interim government, the NP talks of transitional management, others talk of an national unification arrangement or something like that to oversee the process and incorporate other opinions during the period of transition. So they are talking about similar things. Saying 'resign' is clearly something that they are negotiating about. I don't think it is a non-negotiable demand. Even though they say this is our bottom line, they will end up with something else. So far all the accords that have been signed, the ANC has gone in saying we want five hundred, they have come out with a hundred and that is how it is going to be. The government has said similar things: we are going to go in there and we are going to maintain certain things, and they have come out of those agreements having conceded in certain things. So, I think it is a two-way thing.

POM      Do you think that the ANC takes into account, when it is going to make its demands and then accepts compromises, that De Klerk can only go so far, that he has to bring his constituency with him or do they feel that is his problem?

SC     I think that they have recognised that so far. Where they will go with that in the future I cannot say. I think that they are going to increasingly say that it his problem.

POM     It would seem to me that if De Klerk threatened or offered to resign tomorrow morning with his government it would awaken the right and certainly awaken within the security forces that you were talking about.

SC     Sure, and I think the ANC does not want that also.

POM     Would you, in those circumstances, consider a coup a possibility, if the SA government were voting the SA state out of existence, were quitting?

SC     The way the constitution is shaped right now it allows for that kind of intervention.

POM     It allows for that kind of intervention?

SC     This constitution is significantly militarily oriented and if De Klerk does not go to the polls in some fashion, he has just over two years, and within that time he has to do certain things, otherwise the chances of a military intervention increase because the constitution very clearly underpins the military. That is why PW Botha set up that military apparatus which De Klerk has tried to cut down on but you can see the off-shoots of that, there are certain other little groupings in the game.

POM     Does the NP have a clearly thought out strategy? Does it know what it wants? Are they trying to arrange the variables in such a way that they get most of what they want?

SC     I think the NP now is beginning to realise more clearly the vision of what it wants, than what it was last year this time. They were inventing as they went along last year. Now they are a little more confident, a little more - especially with this last cabinet reshuffle. They have opened their ranks. They are beginning to appeal to certain other groupings outside of themselves, and they are looking at alliance possibilities. I think they want to prolong the process as long as is possible under the current circumstances, and hope that the ANC's popularity will soon diminish so that their popularity will rise. The coalition, the new blood that they are getting in from other groups will begin to make a difference. Basically I think that is their underlying strategy.

POM     Do you see them drawing some of that support from Inkatha?

SC     Well until recently, yes. But I think that they are not going to be as foolish to court Inkatha publicly, because Inkatha does not have that type of support. It has significant support but very minority support. If Inkatha goes into two figures it does not have two figure support. It has very significant support in certain areas but single figure support. They will attempt to further erode the other Indian parties and also tend to woo people from the Democratic Party and the other groups. [Similarly the ANC recognises its own capacity to do ...]

POM     When you say from other ethnic groups, do you, in addition to coloureds and Indians, are you including ethnic groups within the African situation?

SC     Yes, the more traditionally oriented African people and their organisations are going to be increasingly wooed by the NP. That is why De Klerk makes it a point of going to Soweto to open a particular church, and that type of thing.

POM     Do you think they actually think in terms of that, in coming to the conclusion that they could win the election?

SC     Yes. They believe that, their analysts are telling them that if they have this alliance, they would win the election, I don't believe so. I truly don't believe so because one of the problems with pollsters is they often tell you what you want to hear. They are not as honest as they should be and the polls that the NP relies on are notorious for their inability to really reflect what is going on. It is like the results that we got from the Human Sciences Resource Centre a couple of weeks ago showing the NP having more support than the ANC, showing De Klerk more popular than Mandela. This is patently untrue, patently untrue. Now if De Klerk believes that, he is more of a fool than I imagined. He does not have that support. Mandela clearly is by far a more popular person than De Klerk. But, the ANC is similarly more popular than the NP. The ANC's support is greater than theirs. That is for a variety of reasons and very dissimilar to De Klerk being more popular than the NP. They are not the same comparison. But you see the people who give their analysis are not telling their Lord the truth, and this always happens in such situations. You know, they approach things in a particular way and there is that deference and cronies have developed so intellectual honesty is removed under those circumstances.

POM     When the NP talk about power sharing, what do you think they mean? When they talk about this is not a transfer of power, that this is a sharing of power?

SC     Right now it does not say what it means by that, and for most people it is not very different to their rhetoric in the apartheid age. That is exactly what they talked about, this power sharing. The whole thing was about power sharing, even Botha's main phrase was power sharing.

POM     In the report that was issued by the Imminent Persons Group they have quotations from PW Botha who talked of power sharing, protection of the minorities and what was said throughout last year.

SC     That is exactly what I mean. So, I think they have to spell out what they mean by that power sharing.

POM     Going back to the polls, Laurie Schlemmer says, and he has done a number of surveys which show support across the board, including the non-supporters of the ANC for an arrangement in which the ANC and the NP would share power, enter into a coalition with the ANC being the senior partner and the NP being the junior partner but nevertheless, a partner. Do you think an outcome such as that would be acceptable to core of the ANC, the activists, the people who have put their lives on the line in the last years?

SC     I think that the answer to that is yes and no. It would be acceptable at a certain intellectual level, emotionally not. I think it is going to be very difficult to cross that bridge in terms of emotional conflicts. I think most of them would agree, there would be a lot of rumbling, there would be a lot of disillusionment and dissatisfaction. I think that in a way, looking at it very objectively, it is probably the arrangement that would best serve the interests of the country. Perhaps it would be good for the ANC so that they can create a characterisation of what really the ANC is about and what the other factions within it are about, distancing themselves from the Communist Party, distancing them from the new leadership, the leadership who are fairly homogenous in thinking and who feel that power sharing would be most problematic because that is where you have your difficulties as well as a lot of exiles, younger, youthful members of the military wing and so on. So I think it would be a position that would be accepted within the country, but within the membership it is going to create certain feelings. Where it will go I cannot say.

POM     As a social scientist, how would you explain a situation in which a people have been brutally oppressed for at least the last 40 years in that particular way, and then they turn around and offer to share power with the people who have oppressed them? It does not make any sense.

SC     It does not. That is why in a conference it makes sense but emotionally it is going to be very hard, and I think you are going to have a lot of actions that don't gel with the public pronouncements. I think you are going to have people doing one thing and saying something else. There is going to be a lot of dissonance. There are going to be people who are going to be driven by major questions, about what they did, what they sacrificed for and stuff like that. Can somebody who was so brutalised during detention by Adriaan Vlok and his group really seriously sit down and say, right, I have capitulated, I have purged myself of any resentment and bitterness and emotion associated with that, and I am prepared to acknowledge you as a partner, an equal partner and move on? The question is, is Vlok on the other side prepared to make the same acknowledgement as this side? Those are serious questions.

POM     Why would you chiefly say it would be generally acceptable in the country. I assume that means the majority of blacks too?

SC     Yes, I think it would be fairly generally accepted.

POM     Why?

SC     I think many people recognise the reality of power. I think they understand the reality of power better than the scientists have analysed it so far. They experience in their daily lives so they recognise who is in control of what and they are going to be very pragmatic. They have been pragmatic, they have been survivors. So it would be what I have to do as distinct from what I want. I will have to do this, and hopefully it will work and create what I want, so many people are going to accept that. They may not like it, but it is going to be something that is for them better than striking.

POM     Do you think they would accept it as part of a long term settlement? An open ended settlement that goes on, or do they need this arrangement for ten years and then majority rule?

SC     I cannot tell you what people feel. I cannot tell you about what I feel about that situation also. I have to look at what it means because it can because a very comfortable new plus and what is changed? I have deep suspicions about people who quest for power, who can, when once in power, do exactly what oppressors have done elsewhere. For instance, in Israel people who fought for certain things and turned very brutal in their treatment of other people. Look at the types of things that have happened here, the so-called black on black violence where blacks kill and that sort of behaviour. For me as a psychologist it was maudlin behaviour from people who were supposed to keep the peace, so I think that it is going to be a very difficult one to just predict.

POM     Do you think that there would be a potentially explosive problem out there?

SC     Yes. Nobody would know what to do with them. The government side and the opposition side, nobody knows what to do with them and I think that is where they are going to continue certain brutalisation. That is one of the big gains for the ...

POM     Would they almost start off with what the PAC and the ANC did, try to enter a coalition government with the NP, but the PAC says you are selling out?

SC     I think then you will see the PAC and the AZAPO people being in a position to look more attractive. Right now the ANC is the one which is attractive because the youth rationale is it is our people who are in power. But when they see that actually it is not, then the other option is fairly attractive. Whether those groups, the PAC and AZAPO groups are able to attract and retain that disillusioned support from the ANC and increase it, I don't know. Going on their present ability I would think not but I don't think we should merely go on that present ability, I think we should allow for certain other things to happen which hopefully will be different.

POM     I want to ask you just a few more questions and thanks for your time. The two phrases one hears bandied about are transfer of power and power sharing. You were not quite sure what power sharing means. What do you think transfer of power means on the ANC's part?

POM     It means resignation and the ANC walk in and run things from there on. Very simplistic. I would imagine that there would be a powerful sharing that happens, that would mean, what we have just discussed, a partnership, an interim partnership. Their confidences are built, their suspicions are allayed and then they discuss and say, right we have reached this point where the climate has changed significantly in the country we now go to the polls and do XYZ. Do you see that as part of a formal arrangement entered into and presented to the people as part of the solution?

SC     Yes.

POM     Would it have to be done beforehand?

SC     Yes, otherwise it would add to the uncertainty. There is nothing worse for change than increased uncertainty and lack of information.

POM     Secondly, Buthelezi, where does he come out of this whole mess?

SC     I think that in May he retained some of his major support, lost to the ANC because of their conference, and very clearly the ANC conference was a significant political event in this country and it boosted the ANC tremendously, it recouped the ANC's lost popularity. I believe they peaked last year July, they were able to retain that and probably take it a little further. I have not gotten involved in any study this year. I know that, judging by the other surveys done etc., my impression is that they have taken it a little further. His crass rejection of the accusations, his attempt to handle the matter in a cavalier fashion points to other things, dis-acknowledging any knowledge of this on the one hand and then handling it in a very crass cavalier fashion has tainted him and his popularity. I think he is not the third figure that he could have been. He has reduced himself to another player nationally. Inkatha's popularity is likely to either remain what it was or diminish. His is likely to diminish very significantly. Because you see Buthelezi had that propensity to appeal to a section of the white community of SA, which I think does not exist as much now because of the way he handled the scandal, and what they perceive as immoral behaviour. In some instances I think he is perceived in certain places as saying similar things like government ministers are saying. In some instances he is perceived as saying things to the right of us. I think he needs to seriously take stock of his situation, and try to recoup that previous image. Though those people who swear by him, and there are large numbers of people who do, I think they will defensively stand by him, but I think they also have lots of questions. I know a lot of analysts are asking, "Is there an Inkatha without Buthelezi?" To tell the truth, I don't know.

POM     The Zionist Church, is an organisation that crosses all ethnic lines, is the largest single trans-ethnic grouping in the country. Does it have a role to play?

SC     That is why I think PW Botha was so much attempting to woo the Zionist Church and De Klerk is attempting to do the same thing. If they are able to get the support of the leadership of that church, they would be able to swell their votes. It is a church built on traditional lines. It preaches a variation between church and state. Other than that I don't think they are different from the mainstream of the other churches. We tend to equate church social responsibility in this country with the involvement of the likes of Desmond Tutu, and that is not true within the church itself. It may be very far from there.

POM     Finally, the right wing, looking at the Conservative Party and the AWB; a year ago there was a lot of speculation about how well the Conservative Party might do in a whites' only election and they might even get more than 50% of the white vote. This year, until Ventersdorp, I don't think I heard anybody talk about the threat from the right as such in terms of support for the Conservative Party. Has it peaked?

SC     I think that the Conservative Party's support has peaked and begun waning. You see, in this country you have a remarkable difference between by-election support and what can happen in a general election. The by-elections here are fraught with such a high percent of postal votes and so on, and you know what happens with postal votes , the old age homes, good old fashioned coercion happens, and the last by-election that took place in Ladybrand, you had a ridiculously high percentage of postal votes. It is ridiculous. You don't get that normally. It shows that these party faithful are going out there and saying, "Are you with me or are you against me?" - that type of stuff. I don't think that the right wing is as great as it has made out, save that they do have a very destructive capacity. They have a very destructive capacity, that increasingly, and Ventersdorp was an important case in point. They are losing out on support with whites when they see that type of action. And they won't identify with that. They did not identify with that action when it came from the black side, and when it comes from their own side, they will have great difficulty with supporting that action.

POM     I had made an analogy between, a user analogy, the Protestant community in Northern Ireland and the Afrikaner community here. Protestant organisations in Northern Ireland have never got any significant support in the Protestant community, the Protestant community sees itself as the law and order, they sees the police as being their police as the force is 95% Protestant, so an attack on the police is like an attack on the community itself. Do you think something similar might go on among Afrikaners?

SC     I think that clearly this police force they have identified with. It has been there to protect them against the rest of us of course. They empathise with the police. When the attacks began, like happened at Ventersdorp, they truly identified with the police, and on the black side of course, the police are beginning to look like a police force and they can start acknowledging them. So I see similarities, with the ultra-nationalist, vigilante type of military you have in Ulster. There are similar things happening here.

     They, the right-wing, don't have support, they are regarded in intelligence circles as being a bunch of people who have a destructive capacity and they may start to attack the police. Even Eugene Terre'blanche said the State President should come back to normalise the situation. But I think that within that he is acknowledging that they have lost certain support. Come back so that we can clear the air, because we did not intend X. These guys went there looking for a fight. You don't go to a meeting to ask your State President questions, however important they may be, armed with all sorts of traditional Boer implements of war.

POM     Let us end 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.