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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

26 Aug 1991: Moseneke, Dikgang Ernest

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POM     We're talking with Mr. Ernest Moseneke on the 26th of August. I want to start at maybe an obvious kind of a point, but one nonetheless to which I've received a variety of responses. And that is that there appears to be a lot of conflict about the nature of the conflict itself. You have those both in politics and the academic community who would argue that it's about white minority domination of blacks, those who would say it's a conflict between two nationalisms, black and white and those who would say, yes, there are indeed racial differences but within each racial category you have important ethnic differences and unless these ethnic differences aren't taken into account now, they will be a source of conflict in the future. And you have those who would say the real problem, so to speak, is about access to resources, those who have them and those who don't. If I were to ask you, how you would define the problem, not the solution, but the essence of the problem that the negotiators from all parties will have to face when they eventually sit down at the negotiating table? How would you define it?

EM     Well, the essence of the problem is, if you will, a distorted and uneven distribution of both political and economic power. One can go and look at the historical causes of that. And that uneven distribution of political and economic power, by and large, coincides with the racial divide of the country for no other reason than that, historically, ours was in essence a colonial situation, in the business of subjugating people. And in the process, the people lost control over the land, over their source of economic structures and that led to political paralysis, it led to exclusion from an economic process and inevitable social degradation in the ranks of those who were, by and large, victims of this colonial process. And that therefore cast a particular mould. And therefore the conflict, in my view, is in essence a conflict between those who have and have exclusively kept power to themselves, political power, and those who have kept economic power for themselves. One can expand on this theme, obviously, and one can give a historical underpinning of the present conflict and make projections about what other forms it would take. Ethnicity is a sub-theme. Neo-racism is a sub-theme, too. In the end, it's a conflict about power, its dispersal and deployment in society.

POM     I want to concentrate for a moment on the ethnic sub-theme for a number of reasons. First, I've run across many progressives, mostly liberal whites, who will say ethnicity is, indeed, a factor in the conflict, but it is a factor that is not talked about in their circles, because to bring it up is to suggest in some way that the government is right. That you appear to be an apologist for the government's stand and open to be accused of being a racist. So, in essence, the subject is never openly discussed in a non-emotional kind of way. That's one. Two, because increasingly in the West over the last year, the violence in the Transvaal has been portrayed as tribal or ethnic violence to the extent that about five weeks ago, The Economist, a well-regarded periodical in Europe and the United States made the loose comparison saying that the violence between Xhosa and Zulu was really no different in essence than the violence between Serb and Croatian. I would like you to address those two.

EM     I would understand the caution in one's thinking processes that one should not be thought of as being emotive about the question of ethnicity. And that's understandable because the whole basis of the subject of apartheid, keeping people apart, is that people flourish best when they're with their kind. And you get the best and the most out of them if they operated in the milieu that is akin to them. And, of course, the other rider is that if you are a white supremacist, those of inferior stock or origin should also be kept away from those of the superior stock but we've had all that over many, many years. But also implicit, I think, in the whole colonial set-up was keeping the natives of different stock apart. Then they're malleable, they're more controllable. So each time one raises ethnicity, therefore, it brings back to the fore the colonial quest to keep people apart in order to rule them effectively. And I think that it's a bit of both. Ethnicity is overplayed in order to make out in some specific occasion about the past. It's convenient to government and, indeed, to many of us who have pursued goals, to over-emphasise ethnicity, to place it and put it out there, if anything, to justify a federal system, for instance, in this particular situation. What I have said is equal to saying, ethnicity doesn't exist. We, the PAC, very consciously negate it, we have fought against it. We recognise that it is divisive. It is a weakness. And that it is the weakness means that it exists and that it should be destroyed. So that is why our general position is in that sense very encompassing of nationalism which seeks to look at our conflicts as Africans, as all bound together by a common experience that is wedded to the fate of Africa itself. We are fairly conscious of trying to strive for something more than just the narrow tribal sentiment. And therefore in that sense, we very consciously, we don't have a subdued sense of guilt about whether or not we are against, we are against ethnicity, and we've fought against it, and we seek to tell people that we need a broader, if you care, ethnicity, which is encompassed by all of our identities.

POM     But do you fight it in the sense that you will accuse those who will bring it up of trying to give comfort and succour to the government, and its allies, or will you fight it in the sense of that, it may be there, but it's not something that we should build structures on? We should build structures that reconcile people, not structures that are primarily oriented to their differences and their diversity.

EM     I think it's about the latter. We seek to find those things that can cement all of us together. Remember, up until now, and for a long time in the future, those were kept on the periphery of political and economic power. We had to make common cause and part of this was to find a nationality, as I say, that is sufficiently broad to create a patriotism that would allow all of these things to flourish. In our view, it is just as African and noble and therefore acceptable to develop a Xhosa land as it would be to develop a Zulu land and see these as part and parcel of a broad African cultural thrust. And these don't stand in an antagonistic position and should not. But the other thing that needs to be said, the violence is often ill-characterised or under-characterised, if you will. To say it's ethnic strife is to say a small part of the truth. One should go on to say that for the very reason that we reject it, its divisiveness, a group is bolstered up in a certain way by government and other agencies which have certain economic interests, who want to see changes only within a certain range. And obviously Inkatha comes into mind. And in that way, it becomes very easy to actually use the rather phoney signs of ethnicity to spark a hatred for other groups and therefore to spark more violence. But one must see that within its proper context. It's certainly not a Zulu/Xhosa conflict. I don't see it as a conflict between those two groups in essence. Of course, the ethnic sentiments get exploited from time to time. The Zulus are coming, you know? The Xhosas hate you. And in the process, you can use it as a very divisive weapon. But I don't think it's an out-and-out ethnic conflict. If it were, we should have had it 20, 40, or 50 years ago. And it's a fairly new phenomenon. And it is contrived.

POM     Just before I get off this area, one last question. Could you listen to somebody make an argument on behalf of the importance of ethnic differences and the possibilities of future conflict, believing the person was making an honest argument? Or would you really believe that the person had been propagandised, accepting of the more prejudiced white view of things?

EM     No, I would hopefully have the capacity to listen to others and understand what they seek to convey. And some arguments, no doubt, spring from honest views and beliefs. All I am saying to you is that, ethnicity has had a specific role in the history of our people and that role has been divisive. And therefore, I think, it would only be normal that you would seek to give it the least chance to float. I don't see any of us opting for some ethnic or racial federation, certainly not. Certain geographical areas will always exhibit a predominance of a particular ethnic composition. I think you'll find that to be so. But we would always, from the PAC point of view, and my personal point of view, would certainly strive for a mass patriotism that would encompass the whole country.

POM     Before I get to the PAC specifically, there are a few questions that relate to broader themes. One touches on the violence and the manner in which you mentioned it. For the better part of a year now, the ANC was saying that Inkatha was behind the violence, and then they talked about a third force, and then they talked about the collaboration of some elements of the security forces, and then they went directly on to say that it was government-sponsored. The government had a direct hand in it, the government had a double agenda, to hold out the olive branch and to undermine the ANC in the townships. And with the revelations around Inkathagate, that said this was the final, irrefutable proof of what they had been saying all along. Do you believe that this government has been following a double agenda, that what the ANC has been saying is, by and large, corroborated now by sufficient evidence as to make it a very substantial claim?

EM     Yes, we have. We have written open letters to FW de Klerk. We have made our position known from the time we were unbanned. Firstly, about the government's capacity to unleash violence and ... including us. I mean, we've had a series of deaths of leaders under very mysterious circumstances. The government has always kept Koevoet out of Namibia. It has had these policies as covers. Members of our own organisation who have turned members of the South African Police, whose units are made up of ANC and PAC ex-combatants who are all now working for government. So what I am saying is that the apparatus is in place to do that. Just as a starting point. The second point is that there's no doubt that the Nationalist Party and the government are trying to erase political power. They are themselves contestants and they hope to be able to make certain gains from where the most votes lie. And that is within our people. I mean, predominantly African people and this kind of thing. So, they would have, and in fact, did, we believe, exploit a situation which always had a potential for violence. It's been rather dull.

POM     Did they do this as part of an officially-sanctioned policy, as an implicitly sanctioned policy, or was it carried out by "rogue elements" in the security forces?

EM     I think it was a fairly well worked-out plan. I think the guys at the top would probably not too often look down to see what's happened, or to be seen to be looking down. I don't think it is an accident. I think it's fairly well worked-out. And some people would have reconciled themselves with the high probability that there was orchestrated violence, and say it was a necessary evil, which has ups and downs, and probably the merits outvote the demerits.

POM     Where would you see de Klerk in this arrangement? As knowing what was going on or having been involved in it?

EM     In one sense, yes. I know the temptation to isolate him and leave him completely sanitised is great for the benefit of the process, if anything. We were not impressed by that and were unable to join that type of temptation. You don't see him naive and just wondering what is happening all around him. I said earlier today, part of the whole liberalisation process is to retain, is not to give away power. That's really what he is trying to do.

POM     I'd like to follow that line of thinking for a moment, but first I want to go back to de Klerk. Yesterday we were out in Thokoza, just talking to the families living there. And they were more enthusiastic about de Klerk than about Mandela. I mean, their eyes actually lit up, there was an enthusiasm that came to them when you asked them about de Klerk or when they began to talk about de Klerk. It was absent when they were talking Mandela. And yet the PAC and the ANC, through its street committees and organisations, have promulgated the view that it's the government that's been behind this violence. How would one reconcile the two, that on the one hand you can recognise the hand of the government in the violence, and on the other hand, believe that de Klerk is their liberator and in some way, still worthy of their support?

EM     Well, one answer should be, that is hardly a representative sample.

POM     Oh, I know that.

EM     Well, secondly, we wouldn't be having the type of support that we jointly have. If you run elections in this country there's no question about that, that you will have the PAC and the ANC having a fairly large chunk of the vote. This is all untested, obviously. That is why we want a Constituent Assembly. We hope to prove our anticipation. Now, de Klerk's boldness on a number of issues has obviously let imaginations run, there's no question about that. And most of the moves he took were just excellent timing, left and on the right. And that should leave people thinking. But I don't think one would put it higher than that. What you're saying is very close to a lot of which one finds amongst many people about de Klerk's potential to win elections outright. The Human Science Research Council among many other semi-government bodies have come out with one study after another to say that de Klerk is all ready to get in. I understand the temptation of those bureaucrats. But I think one should not push it much further than that. Remember, we're living in a country where more than 14 million people are houseless, they're completely out in the cold. [So, only now pronounced, in the Sunday newspapers, has collapsed.] And they say the economy is at its worst. Whatever little they see around them it is definitely worse now. And I don't think you should be too facile about these things. I think some people would feel excited about his performance. But I think, once again, once the dust settles as it is settling now, you won't find that less and lesser people who were entirely excited about Mr. Mandela so, too, about others.

POM     To pick up on the point you made about the National Party and the fact that political parties, especially political parties in power, are not in the business of giving up power. They're in the business of retaining it. What do you think? Do you think that the National Party has an objective set and has a strategy that it's executing to achieve that objective?

EM     Yes. It's very plain and obvious. I think Mr. de Klerk wants to do just what he says. They're both oppressor and liberator at once. It's a miracle of no mean degree. And to see him actually do that, transpose himself from the one end to the other with success, I don't think he will succeed. Their obvious idea is to make a switch, make it appear complete, run an election, hope to win it essentially with African votes. Because you can't win a one-person, one-vote election here in any other way, except if you get a substantial support of African people.

POM     Would this be with an alliance with other parties like Buthelezi's or the homeland parties that still exist? I mean, it doesn't believe it can go head to head with the ANC to win, does it?

EM     No, it can't. But I think they still think that they will be able to put together some type of alliance that will get them there. An alternative is not possible. I mean, they don't have a base, they don't have support. They have power but they don't have people behind them. And little wonder, they love the multi-party formula [It's unelected] where they'll actually be able to survive and participate. And to lay some claim to popular support, obviously they would want to see the electoral process come in to be arbiter on who should write a new constitution. So the strategy is clearly to try and win as much as support as possible from men and women, both from the right and the left.

POM     Now, is the violence in the townships part of that plan, that you show liberation movements like the PAC and the ANC to be incapable of protecting you and the township and that the National Party can?

EM     It's playing up to the most basic instincts of most human beings. We can protect you, they can't. We can bring you law and order, they cannot. They are part of ongoing violence, we are not. As the troops withdrew, who are the visible face of violence on our people? Then faceless violence started. [And in time, these fellows are the ???.] And both have the same impact, they have the capacity to weaken our people. The one was in an orderly form with troops and the other was simply faceless. So, yes, that is part of the strategy. And to bail out some money, is directed to uplift people in a socio-economic level.

POM     So that situation goes on because this is the government doling out money and pulling votes?

EM     Buying votes, yes. A necessary process, we need housing.

POM     One thing that came out of Inkathagate was the revelation of the government support of a party in Namibia after they signed a UN declaration that they would be the impartial administrator of the process. And that certainly gave more credibility to the ANC's demands for an interim government, or at least the argument that the government couldn't be both player and referee at the same time. You disagree with the ANC on the question of an interim government, right? What are the ideological differences you have with the ANC on that one?

EM     On the interim government question in particular?

POM     Around that.

EM     Around that.

POM     Around that. I'm talking about the Patriotic Front with, I believe, your initiative with the ANC.

EM     Yes, that we made so much progress on in April, engaged the ANC in bilateral talks on a wide variety of topics. And in particular on the transitional process to define the nature of the conflict and to define the factors and what are practical steps towards achieving these immediate political objectives. There's a consensus between us and them. Earlier this month we engaged AZAPO and went through the process again. And somewhat surprisingly, there was a remarkable consensus on a number of issues, particularly on the transitional process. The underpinning similarity in our positions is the need for the intervention of the electoral process in contrast to the government's position, that there needs to be an electoral process to put a new constitution in place. And that all of us support the Constituent Assembly, which has various advantages in our view. It's legitimate in the sense that it springs from the people themselves, something that they've never had in 300 years. It would obviate the need to debate the right of each right of them to vote. Implicit in the formula is the one person, one vote and a common voters roll. We've had racial rolls in the past. We're for a unitary state, one state. In other words, we don't anticipate to have different electoral processes in the homelands. We thereby implicitly disavow the whole arrangement of racial chambers, for example, on the basis of proportional representation. And the parties would be represented within the Constituent Assembly in proportion to the votes they have pulled and those delegates will then negotiate a new constitution duly mandated by, voted by, across-the-board. In that way you've achieved responsibility, you've achieved legitimacy. The democratic principles come into play right from the beginning. And you will ensure that everybody defends the new constitution because it would flow from the people themselves. And in contrast to that the multi-party formula as the vehicle for creating a new constitution is flawed. And you will have to deal with people of proven support, actually with unproven support. You have to assume and accept that the ANC, the PAC, Inkatha, AZAPO, the Nationalist Party, the DP, are all organisations with proven support. You also have to accept that FIDA is one of the government's new creations.

POM     What's that?

EM     FIDA, Federation of Independent Democratic something. You'll have to accept that each of the homelands could come and be a party, a political party. There are no less than seven parties, divide up the CP. And you can go to the left if you want to. There is UWUSA, there is the New Unity Movement, there is New Socialist Left, there are any number of organisations, so in essence you need a very big table. You need to fight and forge a consensus. You will have to put some type of value on the base that you have around the table. You will have to be able to make up the difference between the big and the small. And that situation perfectly suits Mr. de Klerk, because he would be the only obviously conspicuous big person around the table with governmental power behind him. So, in our view, an all-party conference is not an appropriate place to create a constitution.

POM     But is an all-party conference an appropriate place to draw up the mechanisms that would be used during the transition to set the ground rules for a Constituent Assembly? To decide what should be on or not on or whatever?

EM     It's obvious that you would have to pre-negotiate the modalities of the process. You would have to work out who votes what and how to count the vote. And you will have to come together and work out what we call some sort of transitional authority. But it's distinctly different from a government which implies authority and sovereignty over a given territory. We are not particularly keen about governing within an undemocratic set-up. The authority of government must flow really from a democratic process. We are not unmindful of the incredible practical problem of creating an interim government. We have to decide the extent and the power of the party. We have to give that process a certain validity. Implicitly, only this parliament can govern. And if you want it to be effective, then you'll have to infiltrate the bureaucracy in sufficient measure to wield actual control. And you can hardly deal, in our view, in 12 months or 24 months. And, therefore, we would like to see a transitional authority that would focus on specifics that have relevance to the transitional process. And what comes to mind here is public control of the media, the armed forces, and the security forces, finance so we can try the whole electoral process, the whole electoral process. Our target is not to rule in the interim. Our target is to gain democratic political power. I don't think there should be too much tarrying or to make too much out of the process.

POM     That would require the resignation of the government, would it? For the government to step down and hand over to a transitional authority with oversight parallel with regard to ...

EM     There are two formulations there. I don't think they have been well worked out. One is the position that the government must completely resign. That a transitional authority would take complete charge of the entire country. The ANC came on to that position just after Inkathagate, came and said that the government must completely resign, because it was not their position at first. And our position is that you pre-negotiate the modalities, set up a transitional force, that have fairly defined policies, very specific. And you facilitate movement from A to B. You're not entirely rigid that you're going to run pensions. That's part of an interim government, you know, you would want to see them running fully. And to put down squatters who are ... any time before elections. There's just too much of an apartheid legacy immediately at hand for you to want to dabble with that any time before elections, before your election of an interim government. And I'm not pretending that it's an easy question. The most vexing and complicated question is actually how your transitional arrangements are put in place.

POM     I mean, in the practical sense, do you see any circumstances in which the present government would resign, more or less sign itself out of existence, cede itself without incurring some kind of huge backlash within its own community?

EM     Well, that's part of the practical problem that there is. That's why I say to you that you actually have to call up, you've got to pull down the structure, you've got to pull up apart from the presence and change in that sense. I suppose we do recognise in some way that it's not something that you're going to easily have. So, in our own way, we think that the critical things that you actually want to put in place, we want firm agreements about the political process. I will explain in part why we are not interested in any deals or public declarations about cessations of hostilities or any of those things. I think the time for transitional arrangements, we'll have to make a mutual pact for some type of arrangement that must include definite pacts about what would happen to the security forces in their present form. In what circumstances may they not be deployed? And what controls? In our view, we say to what international authority, because you're going to insist that there must be an international component in the process. In whatever we might have been prepared to concede, a retention of power by the present regime in the process, they have to concede to international intervention.

POM     What leverage do you have to bring the government around to the point that it must agree to international intervention?

EM     In essence, making the demands and making an important pre-condition to further progress. And mustering support around that particular demand. Interestingly, you might have seen over this weekend at the NAFCO, the National African Chamber of Commerce, meeting which was addressed by J.C. ... Manyani(?) came on to say within that transitional process, must have an international component. It must be negotiated. We have always taken that position. AZAPO has taken that position. I think increasingly, more and more people will say that there's no reason why you should de-internationalise the process. The assumption underlying that is de Klerk is a man of integrity, that in fact you can make deals with him and push them forward. And we're saying it's irrelevant whether or not he's a man of integrity. We must also have adequate safeguards and have a process that will run irrespective of the integrity, or the lack of it, of the players.

     Oh, there are many things. The EC, the OAU, the UN. You can decide whether you are going to give them a monitoring or supervisory role. Many things. Two, we can't keep the matter on the international agenda all by ourselves unless the international people will have an interest and continuing interest in the pressure. So, that becomes important. And a third part of the progress in our country, I really think, has been attributable to international pressures. Much as most of white South Africans hate ... they simply hate that and for different reasons we might love it. But the point is, that somewhere there we would have to find a balance between their desire to keep power and stay in power and supervise the elections and not let them repeat their horrid role in Namibia. And we think that there should be ways of curbing that by introducing other elements.

POM     At the Patriotic Front, they united to face ... What is its purpose?

EM     Principally, firstly, to galvanize support around the demand of a Constituent Assembly around the leadership of the liberation movement. And two, to reconcile and work out common strategies for transition.

POM     What criteria are used to say whether one party organisation or another will be invited to participate in it?

EM     Their commitment to a Constituent Assembly, or acceptance in broad principle of a Constituent Assembly as the only legitimate mechanism for transition.

POM     So does the Democratic Party fall under that umbrella?

EM     Yes, as you know, we've been talking to the Democratic Party lately. And, I think, yes, all who support that process and see that as the way forward would certainly be able to be part of the Front.

POM     So, in terms of hammering out a common strategy, would that mean that ... is the transitional process again?

EM     The Constituent Assembly is one element of the whole process. You've got to harmonise your positions and enlarge them.

POM     But there are still very considerable differences between the ANC and yourselves over what kind of structures there should be. Is this some attempt to reconcile those differences and come up with a common strategy?

EM     Yes.

POM     Have you as a liberation organisation over the past year been, what's the word I'm looking for? Do you ever feel as if you have almost unconsciously sidelined what the government has tried to make this into a process between the ANC and themselves, constantly playing up that there are two major players, and that it's the National Party and the ANC who can strike the significant deal or can make things go or not go?

EM     That perception is strong, I think, in government circles. Certainly some people in the ANC could very well think that their return from exile - I think they saw it as a two-way process. But you have to be able to see whether other parties are actually going to gain significant growth. And to think that the process can be limited in that way is to be totally naive about what is actually happening on the ground, I think. And yet, the government, of course, has continually tried to engage us in negotiations. And we have at least four letters from government, invitations.

POM     Are these for bi-lateral talks?

EM     Bi-lateral talks. And they have said, we think you are a significant and key player in the process. I don't say that you should attach much significance to those words. What I'm saying to you is that they have continually tried, from the beginning of the month, in fact, as recently as two weeks ago we received a letter of invitation from the Office of the State President that both should understand and know that they would actually not pull it off alone.

POM     But there's also quite a number of polls that show that most South Africans would be quite prepared to accept a coalition government of the ANC and the National Party as an acceptable outcome. One, does that surprise you or not surprise you? And two, many within the ANC talk about the feasibility of such an arrangement, especially in a first government. Do you think that people would be satisfied with an outcome such as this? That this has been what the struggle has been about for the last 40 years? That you end up in a coalition with your oppressors?

EM     How would that come about? In the normal electoral process?

POM     Either worked out as part of the negotiations, of there being a government of national unity. Or the ANC after the electoral process is over, assuming it came out as the major party, would find it to their advantage to form an alliance with the National Party only because of something you brought up earlier. And that is, that the bureaucracy at that point would still be dominated with whites. And it's one thing to get your hands on the instruments of power and another thing to know how work those levers.

EM     Sure. Well, the question still remains unclear, whether to be post some electoral process. If it is, and you've had a democratic process, and the majority of the people vote for the Nationalist Party, not for ANC candidates, they'd be obliged to form whatever alliance they would want to form. We would be equally obliged to do so, with one or more of them. But if it is the result of some undemocratic exercise, some deal which is not tested, a non-electoral process, then I think we have a much more complicated situation.

POM     The government sees power sharing as some kind of arrangement where the National Party would still exercise some executive power in government no matter whose government it is. They want to be in there somewhere and they want that to be part of a negotiated settlement. I guess what I'm saying is, taking that scenario, do you think the African population, or the black population, would regard the outcome to the negotiated process which would result in the inclusion of the National Party in any future government in some way, whether they would find that an acceptable outcome?

EM     I think the long years of struggle in our country have actually developed a fairly democratic ethic. I don't think there's any conscious effort in any of the groupings to exclude people on account of the fact that they are white. If we're really talking about an alliance which falls on some democratic process which allows everybody, PAC, AZAPO, Inkatha, whatever - the Democratic Party took the position that there should be normal elections, I don't think you're going to find it difficult. I think most people want to accept the outcome of elections. But if you say some bilateral deal, which is no normal electoral process, which has seemed to be sealed, and that is the government of the day, of course, we don't find that position acceptable. We only find acceptable a fair ballot position from all sorts of quarters, including, perhaps, the people you met in Thokoza.

POM     I'll leave it there. Thank you very much for your time.

EM     In 1959, when the PAC was established, I wasn't there, I wasn't really part of the process, I was ten then, they started out with ... Backed the PAC race policies. And one of its founding fathers said, 'There can only be one race: the human race.' Of course, to our people, who could very well be described in the parlance of the time as "kaffir boys" or whatever, Mongoloids or something, and that, of course, there are nations. You can identify people through certain boundaries who would be Germans or Japanese or whatever and that they would exhibit certain cultural characteristics which tend to bind them together. And they're going to say that, in our old country, we believe this is Africa and people who live here are Africans. And all of those who live here and are at peace with the democratic rule of the people can also be called Africans. So, that was said in 1959 already. And I think it followed on a position that was taken for many, many years. [And as well as talking about the patriotism but it revealed certain features that ???] Because whether you ask whether Zulus are African or whether an Afrikaner's African, you know, the Japanese, if those Japanese originally lived here, are they Africans or not? And there should be a real answer. And I think Americans should understand that better because they habitually talk about Japanese-Americans or Chinese-Americans, African-Americans and so on. So, you are capable of being a national-level country and have an ancestry which can be traced to another place and still remain part of that. In fact, we have worn a very beautiful T-shirt painted to show the map of Africa as we have it there. And it has "Don't call me black, white, Coloured, Indian,, call me African". I think that just about encapsulates it. And we see all of our people as Africans. And that's what is so great about it, trying to understand what impact historical experience has had on us and how we should seem to reshape our own lives in order to deal with that. So, I don't seek to push that any further, but I think it flows so naturally. And that is why the PAC will never talk about black people and white people, we try and avoid that terminology, much as it might be terminology used all around. We try to emphasise the fact that it has nothing to do with race. We are trying to describe a particular experience. And in that sense, that's one of the big differences between us and Black Consciousness groups. For instance, Richard Danton(?), who is as white as anybody could be, is a member of the PAC.

PK     Well, I thought I understood it when Ben explained it, which is the way you explained it, but then I subsequently found people who would not accept that or would not accept the explanation that it's white as well as non-white. And it was characterised as being ambiguous, that the PAC is not very clear about what it means in that definition so I thought I would ask you when I had the opportunity.

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.