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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

02 Sep 1991: Shubane, Khehla

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POM     Well I'll start with something that might sound almost naive but I ask it because of the variety of responses I have in fact gotten to it, and that is, what is the nature, the essence of the problem that the negotiators will face when they finally sit around the conference table? For example some people have said to us that the issue is racial domination of the black majority by the white minority. Others have said that it's about two competing nationalisms, white nationalism and black nationalism. Some have said that, yes, there are racial differences but within racial categories you have severe ethnic differences and that these must be taken into account. Others have said it's about access to resources, the advantaged versus the disadvantaged, the privileged versus the underprivileged. If you were given the task of coming into this room where negotiators from all parties were assembled how would you define the problem they were there to negotiate?

KS     I think the problem relates to all the things you've mentioned. Quite obviously race is a pertinent factor and race is important because for a long time in South Africa you've had just one race that's had access to power, access to privilege, access to all the things that white people in this country have had access to exclusively. And I think there is a view out there among whites to cling to those privileges. I think also there is an awareness that if all of those privileges have to be shared on a non-racial basis only a few of the privileges that now accrue to them will continue to accrue to them. And to that extent I think a number of plans are being put on the table whose objective is to protect those privileges. And it's true also that nationalism does play a role in all of this. Afrikaner nationalism doesn't seem to accept that South Africa is a country of both black and white people. It seems to be an idea among Afrikaner people that seems to suggest that it's possible in a post-apartheid South Africa to continue the Afrikaner nationalism that has existed all along and to me an essential characteristic of that is that Afrikaner nationalism has come to be used to the idea of ruling and directing things in this country and quite obviously a post-apartheid South Africa, one wouldn't think that it is possible, the one obvious example I think would be Afrikaans as an official language. It has been stated in some Afrikaans-speaking circles that Afrikaans has to continue as an official language and quite obviously if apartheid were done away with I would suspect that that would be a hotly contested issue. I don't see why people would have to be forced to continue speaking Afrikaans if they too have power to determine what other languages they want to speak. I've spoken about privilege, I mean all of what has happened in South Africa, apartheid has been in a sense a system by which privilege is apportioned to people and a great deal of that privilege has gone to white people. And I think you're going to affect that in a post-apartheid South Africa. All the cushy jobs and all the secure jobs that people have here in the civil service are going to have to come to an end.

POM     I want to talk for a moment about ethnicity. We've put the question before to a number of what I would call white progressives, including Lawrence Schlemmer, and asked them whether ethnicity is an issue and they will say yes it is. And then we will ask, is it talked about? And they say no it's not because if you see yourself as some kind of progressive or anti-apartheid and you raise the issue of ethnicity you're perceived to be an apologist for the government. You're kind of saying that the government got the problem right but just got the solution wrong, so he said in his circles, pretty academic circles, it's simply put aside, it's not talked about. Do you think ethnicity is or could be a problem of significant impact and that in whatever future government structure is arrived at it must be one in which ethnic tensions or ethnic conflict is addressed? First I'd like you to talk of your experience, do your white colleagues ever raise the issue with you? Does it come up? Does it never come up? Is it a white creation?

KS     Let me answer the first question first. I think in the last three years or so ethnicity has been something that some people have been working at quite consciously and I'm speaking here of Inkatha. They quite clearly have been organising on the basis that there's something in Zulus that's unique, and to that extent I think ethnicity has arisen as a factor that structures politics in South Africa. And I think with regard to the future it just depends on how that factor, the Inkatha factor, is handled. My guess is that for as long as we have apartheid Inkatha would have power that far exceeds the real organisational power. And the fact that they have participated in the violence that has plagued the country in the last three to five years has over-emphasised their role in politics in South Africa. And I think in a post-apartheid South Africa if Bantustans are retained in any way that would give Inkatha a power that is far in excess of what I think they deserve. And quite obviously it has been seen by the leadership of Inkatha that the KwaZulu base is a fairly critical and important base for them and I don't think they are going to let go of that base very easily.

     The point I'm trying to make is that without those bases, namely Bantustans, it's going to be very difficult for any one person or any one organisation to perpetuate or rely on ethnicity as a basis of organising or structuring politics in any way. But that's not to ignore the fact that there is something out there in ethnicity, not just in KwaZulu but throughout South Africa, that one has to take very seriously in addressing questions of negotiation and a post-apartheid South Africa. There are for example, all of these ten Bantustans that have been explicitly structured around ethnicity and there are individuals and groups in those various communities that have had access to privilege and power as a result of all of those things and I don't think it's going to be easy for those people to hand over those positions without getting anything to compensate for that. And I think in the negotiations one is going to have, or whoever's going to be involved in it, is going to have to play things in such a way that you're able to deal with that in particular. The ANC's Patriotic Front strategy, PAC's Patriotic Front strategy, has been formed to try to incorporate some of the homeland leaders. I think it's beginning to address that problem but quite clearly it is not all the homeland leaders that want to be part of that and those who do want to be part of it, at least some of them, want to be part of it with an aim of retaining their power base in a post-apartheid South Africa. It is for this reason that some of them would support the federal alternative that's been put on the table by the Nats.

POM     Could you give me an example of one of the homeland leaders who would favour retaining ...?

KS     The guy from Qwa-Qwa, for example, would argue that he's entrusted in becoming part of the Patriotic Front, but the Patriotic Front must take into consideration the existing reality by which he means that there is a state called Qwa-Qwa, which in some ways has to be accommodated in a post-apartheid South Africa. The Lebowa government is pursuing that line. He has formed something like a People's Liberation Front or something like that, there's an organisation already formed and he has been building an organisational base for himself for the reason of retaining some kind of role for himself in a post-apartheid South Africa. I think he realises that, this is the guy in Lebowa, that he definitely doesn't have a chance with regards to South Africa as a whole but if he were to tailor his ambition for the region there is a chance that he could still continue playing a role in that region. Ethnicity therefore is a factor in some way.

     I have spoken to a few white academics about some of these questions and my view would be that their sense of ethnicity, its role and so on, is very exaggerated. People have read into the events of the past five years the fact that it is because Zulus are not well represented in the ANC, for example, that we have had all of the violence that we have had. And to them all of those events indicate that you simply cannot negotiate a post-apartheid South Africa without taking those interests seriously. And I think that's an exaggerated sense of speaking about ethnicity because it doesn't take into account why you have the programme about Inkatha at this time, and people don't seem to want to go beyond who exactly is affording Inkatha the support that it has. People, for example, in the southern Transvaal who are responsible for this violence are known publicly in all of these townships, if you went to any one of them and asked them who is the chief organiser of this violence, we all know about it and these people are armed quite openly. No action has been taken against anyone of those people and I don't think action is going to be taken against any one of those people, I think because this thing that is going on is part of an agenda that seeks to determine the outcome of the negotiations. It is for that reason that I think talking of ethnicity as if it were not rooted in that reality is a bit of an exaggeration.

POM     Would you be very pessimistic therefore about the impact that this National Peace Accord might have on bringing the violence to an end?

KS     It won't bring it to an end.

POM     Will it, in your view, will it bring it measurably under control or is the political struggle that's there really just going to continue unbridled?

KS     I don't think violence is going to be affected in any way by this agreement that exists. As I'm saying, the government still insists that people must come forward with evidence of where this violence comes from. Cops know, it is public knowledge who is responsible for the violence. If you go to Soweto, you go to Alexandra, you go to the East Rand, people who are responsible for the violence are known. This is public information, it's not that you need to go out and conduct investigations that are very expensive. And each time violence occurs the group that is responsible for the violence, they are there for everyone to see and more often than not cops are there to see all of that and they haven't taken any steps. Yesterday, for example, in Soweto there were marches from one hostel to the other end of Soweto, a march of about ten kilometres and all of those people who were participating in that march were armed, cops were there.

POM     That's despite the ban on the traditional weapons and all? The cops were there and just let them, made no attempt to ...?

KS     It is for this reason that I don't think this violence is going to end in spite of the existence of that agreement.

POM     I think what struck me this year, we were here last year when the violence really began in the Transvaal, you were away a lot of the time I remember, it was on the front page every day. Now you see five people killed in Soweto on like page five in the newspapers, small paragraph, just five people killed over the weekend. It's no longer news, it's just there. But do you think there can be meaningful, real negotiations about the future, if this level of violence doesn't go down, just perks along at the rate it's going?

KS     My guess is that it will continue for the next year or two, perhaps a decisive time during which it may be addressed the nearer we get to 1994. It may even escalate beyond the levels at which it is now. The thing about 1994 is that this government has to go out there and seek a new mandate and perhaps they would want to take at least some of the participants in the negotiation process much more seriously and incorporate them in whatever scheme they have. Alternatively, in my view this violence is used to structure, as I said earlier on, the outcome of the process of negotiation. If at any point between now and then the government is certain that it is going to have a role in a post-apartheid South Africa and it is not going to be landed with the ANC simply taking over everything in this country, decisive steps to end the violence might be taken.

POM     Do I hear what you're saying, let me spell it out? When you say that in the townships that those responsible for the violence are known to the community, these would be members of Inkatha?

KS     More often than not, yes.

POM     More often than not. Now would they, those members of Inkatha, act in collaboration with the police or the security forces or are they acting on their own? How do you distinguish between these members of Inkatha being responsible for the violence and the ANC's accusation of the government itself as the perpetrator of the violence? The government pursuing a double agenda in order to undermine the ANC in the townships and at the same time it holds out the olive branch, how do you put those together?

KS     There are instances where cops themselves have been involved directly in the violence, but most of the times it's cops just turning a blind eye to people who are perpetuating violence.

POM     What I'm getting at is that when Mandela says that it's - the accusations have moved from Inkatha to it's the third force to the it's the government. Do you believe, I mean what you have observed and seen, is it the government who is responsible for it or is it Inkatha?

KS     I think the current government does have the power to stop the violence almost immediately if it wants to. I think the capacity to stop the violence does exist in the current government.

POM     What do you think they should do to bring it to a quick halt?

KS     The one obvious and immediate thing they can do is disarm all of those people who are armed and arrest all of those people who are responsible for the violence and demonstrate publicly that they are taking steps to end it. And I think that capacity does exist, it's just the will that doesn't exist. I don't think anybody in government is willing to stop the violence. And secondly Inkatha is quite clearly the implementing agency of the violence because in each of those townships when you go it would always be Inkatha that would be out there in the streets, armed, doing all the things that have been done. So that, what I'm saying is, yes the government does a play a role it is fairly obvious is that the government isn't doing anything to stop it. And there is evidence of the third force but I don't know how you characterise that third force because most of these people are within government anyway. Some of those forces that were responsible for shooting at people in trains, cops who go around shooting at people in certain instances, whether you call that a third force or part of the government is something that could be debated. And Inkatha is out there implementing all of those strategies which I think, I believe, are strategies that have been agreed upon at least between government and Inkatha.

POM     And you say the violence will go on until the government ensures that it has a role to play in a post-apartheid government.

KS     I think yes.

POM     So how would you define their strategy? What's the objective in terms of influencing the outcome of the negotiations?

KS     I think, my guess is that their strategy is to exhaust those communities that are potential supporters of the ANC. Exhaust them in the sense that you unleash violence at the levels at which it has been unleashed in South Africa to a point where people are just sick and tired of it and are prepared to accept anybody who's going to bring that to a halt. And I think as far as that is concerned there has been a measure of success in the strategy because you are finding people saying that we would accept just about anything that Inkatha says as long as violence is going to stop. I am sure if this is continued over the next year or two we would be at a point where people would be saying we're prepared to accept just about anybody who can bring this particular stage to an end.

POM     If the government stepped in then and put a stop to it, would people be more inclined to say, Thank God somebody stopped the violence. It was the government that did it and we are grateful to them, or would they be inclined to say, You know if they had wanted to they could have stopped this violence two years ago?

KS     I think many people would vote for the former.

POM     So the government would benefit by being seen as being strong or being decisive and being able to bring a measure of security to people's lives? On something slightly different now, I'll come back to this, it struck us that there appears to be an attitude among whites, particularly in the government, and that is, let's get on with the job, let's build this new South Africa, stop making excessive demands, hurry up, let's do this thing together, without any acknowledgement of the wrong done to blacks at all, that apartheid was evil. There's no apology. I mean the past is like just been almost rubbed out, all you hear about is the new South Africa, how people are going to work together. What dynamics are operating there? Should the white community, through its government, apologise to blacks? Should there be a formal acknowledgement of the wrong that was done, that it was wrong not just that they got a policy that didn't work? Are blacks expecting that? Would they?

KS     I think it would be naive to expect that now. I mean for as long as power relations in South Africa haven't changed that won't come. It would come, I guess, when it has to come and that's when power relations begin to change in the country. At some stage it will come, some time in the future and I just don't know what impact it would have at that stage. It would have a very great impact if it were done now, but it's certainly not going to be done now. We have had one or two religious leaders doing those, Afrikaners, NG Kerk people, doing exactly those things, i.e. admitting that it was a sin to have perpetuated apartheid in this country and I think one or two Nationalist Party members, fairly senior people, but nothing beyond that, and I don't think it's going to happen.

POM     Do you get any feeling from white people that you associate with that there is an awareness about this, an awareness of a wrong having been done, that must in some way be, in a more fundamental maybe, be dealt with rather than through political action, rather than in fact, Here we are trying to build a future together - this is wonderful!

KS     I think you find two responses among whites. The one response is, yes we have made a mistake and yes we need to correct those mistakes as quickly as possible. But those people who would argue that position are people who see getting out of this country as an option, mostly English-speaking, mostly well off people, people who have maintained contacts with a country outside of South Africa, And that's a real option to those people, increasingly I think those people have been travelling abroad specifically with a view of possibly emigrating out to those countries if things go absolutely wrong in this country. And Afrikaner people, you do find a section of them who would do exactly that if push came to shove. But a great many of them, that's just no an option. Emigrating would be far more traumatic than remaining within South Africa. And it is those people, ironically, who are trying to cling to the present, not do the kinds of things you suggested, for example apologising, trying to make things work now whilst they still have power. And from them, I think those people are most scared of change. I think because of some subconscious awareness of - we've done so much wrong to these people, what would stop them from reversing the roles?

POM     About Inkathagate, was this a really significant event or was it a story that had momentary, with repercussions that would be lasting or kind of a fly in the ointment, a little bump along the road over the last year, it has some temporary significance but not any really lasting significance?

KS     In South Africa it didn't have a great deal of significance. There are people out there who are convinced and are sure that Inkatha is responsible for the violence and nothing that's ever going to happen will change those people's perceptions. On the other hand there are people who think that the government is fine, they aren't doing anything wrong and so on. And it doesn't matter how much evidence you present to those people that the government is doing wrong that is going to convince them that indeed the government is wrong. What I'm trying to say is that events such as those within South Africa are not going to change anybody's views.

POM     They reinforce views.

KS     I would have expected that that event would have had some significance abroad, particularly with people who take an interest in South African events. But quite obviously I think the group that was expected to make a great deal of mileage out of it didn't. For understandable reasons the ANC didn't go out and campaign to people to say, We've been telling you that this, that and the other thing have been happening.

POM     Why do you say 'for understandable reasons'?

KS     I think it would merely have escalated violence back at home if for example the ANC would have gone to an international forum and began saying Inkatha is doing this, that and the other thing and this is all that we have been saying. This that has happened confirms that. I think it would have escalated violence.

POM     Even with the ANC response to it black people were saying we now have the moral high ground.

KS     I don't think it was consciously geared towards that point. Quite obviously the ANC doesn't have the capacity to stop violent eruptions if they do erupt and Inkatha takes very strong exception to criticism particularly if it comes from the ANC. And on certain points when the ANC has made statements that have been critical to Inkatha those statements have been succeeded by an escalation of violence in various parts of the country and my guess is that if the ANC had tried to gain mileage out of this it would have been at the expense of people who then would have had to deal with escalating violence. So the ANC kept quiet, not because it wanted to or consciously wanted to gain the moral high ground, because I think it wanted to avoid the possibilities of escalating violence.

POM     What about Buthelezi. How does he come out of it?

KS     He does have people who think he's great and those people will still continue thinking he's great regardless of what happens. And those people who think he's a villain, whatever happens, will continue to hold that view.

POM     Do you think he is a party to this violence?

KS     Undoubtedly. I don't think anything can happen around him without him knowing.

POM     So all his posturing about non-violence and peaceful roads to democracy are really all part of an act?

KS     That's posturing. I'm speaking very frankly to you. Depending on when all of these things have straightened out I wouldn't be happy to be quoted as saying all these things.

POM     Don't worry. I'm publishing nothing for a number of years and when I have a manuscript you can look at it. I mean it's for this reason that I'm not publishing anything for some time now.] What is, two parallel questions, one, does the National Party have a clearly thought out objective of what they want to get out of this process, where they want to end up and have they a clearly defined strategy for getting there?

KS     I think they have, and this is a minority view. Among people in South Africa most people think that the Nationalist Party doesn't have a strategy. I think a number of pressures have built up around the Nationalist Party and South Africa and quite clearly the way out of that was to move away from apartheid and I think that side of things the Nationalist Party is absolutely certain about. We must move away from apartheid. But the destination too I think they are very clear about. It must be some form of a non-racial democracy. At that level I think the conception has a great deal of clarity. With regards to how you get from here to there, quite clearly negotiations is the best part of getting there, but between point A and the destination I think a great many things have been unclear within the NP. I don't think they sat down and considered violence as one of the strategies that they were going to employ to structure the outcome. At the point when all of these divisions were made, about 1986, I think violence had gone on, at least in Natal, for some time, in the Western Cape they got a settlement and so on. And I think anybody who was watching South African politics must have seen the role that violence could play. And I think it is only last year that the Nationalist Party woke up to the possibilities of this violence throughout the country playing a role in structuring that strategy.

     I would argue that now they are fully using that violence to structure all processes leading up to negotiations and I am sure that in their own minds they have come to accept that we do need to extend the vote beyond just white people, to everybody, but that has to be done in such a way that the Nationalist Party does retain a role in that post-apartheid government. And the reasons for that, one, the fact that there is some suspicion of the ANC that the Nationalist Party holds, and there's nothing that the ANC can do or will be ready to do that would allay those suspicions. They have to with, I think, the SACP within the ANC, black nationalism and that guilt feeling that we have done all of these things to these people, what would stop them doing them to us. And I think there is a sense in which people are beginning to see that whites are indeed a minority in this country and if you were to have a non-racial democracy there would be domination as perceived by the Nationalist Party and they would want to avoid that.

POM     Some people have, one or two at least, suggested that they may be pursuing a double strategy. One would be focused on the use of violence to undermine the ANC and that in this regard the NP hasn't given up the belief that they could actually form a post-apartheid government in alignment with other parties like Inkatha and whatever, or the remnants of homeland politics. So that's one possibility. The other possibility is an alignment with the ANC.

KS     That's the idea I toyed around with soon after February 1990. In fact I went beyond what most people are saying. I thought that there was an agreement that had been negotiated and wrapped up with the ANC, specifically when Mandela was in prison, that was just waiting for an appropriate time to be unveiled to the country. But increasingly I've come to think that it just doesn't exist, an agreement like that. And the Nats I think have toyed around with the idea of getting together some moderate alliance, Nationalist Party, Inkatha and other moderate organisations. But I think they realise that if it is stability they are looking for in South Africa they need the ANC in government in some way. They are beginning to talk about a moderate section of the ANC which they would take along in that alliance with them. My guess is that that just won't work. Over this particular issue they just wouldn't be able to divide the ANC. There are other issues on which the ANC can be divided, but they wouldn't be able to get significant sections of the ANC coming along with them on this particular strategy and I actually doubt even if they were to get that alliance going that they would be able to secure stability in the country. The mass politics, mass organisations that have been fairly close to the ANC, civic associations, youth groups, trade unions and so on, I think need to be taken seriously in their capacity to disrupt the economy. It's actually very vast. They may not have the power to proactively put certain things into place but their power to prevent certain things from taking place is immeasurable. It is for this reason that I doubt that if a moderate alliance under the Nats is something in the short term in a post-apartheid South Africa, that it is sustainable.

POM     Well Lawrence Schlemmer says his polls consistently show that a majority of people, black and white would favour some kind of coalition government between the NP and the ANC with the ANC being the senior partner, the NP holding a number of Cabinet posts. But do you think such a thing would be acceptable to the ANC?

KS     Ideally that's what the country needs. Quite clearly the Nationalist Party and the ANC are fairly key to the future of this country and I think, I'm talking of an ideal world now, if I were participating in those negotiations I would visualise them as a three-stage process. One, the negotiations themselves involving a wide spectrum of groups and coming out of that you have some period of transition, or whatever you call it, government of national unity and so on, and that government of national unity would not be a government formed on the basis of who got what votes, but it would be a government formed on the basis of the parties that are likely to create the kind of stability that we are talking about and quite clearly the Nats and the ANC would be fairly key in that government of national unity. And it is only then that you can move into post-apartheid South Africa that is structured by a system of votes, people who go out and campaign for votes and the majority party forms a government. And hopefully during the period of transition all of the things that need to be dealt with in South Africa, the fear both amongst blacks and whites, would hopefully have been addressed, questions of economic equality, redistribution of work and all those sort of things, preferably should be dealt with during that process. In February 1990 or shortly thereafter the ANC would have readily accepted that I think. It's difficult for me to read what is going on within the ANC now. There's a fair amount of resentment over what is happening, that I know.

POM     Over the violence? I was wondering what does this do towards the ANC's whole perception of the National Party if they believe the government is out there really encouraging the slaughter of hundreds of people in order to undermine them in the townships. Wouldn't that appear to make it very difficult to do business with them?

KS     Except increasingly alternatives for the ANC are simply being wiped out. I don't think armed struggle is a realistic option now for the ANC. Increasingly I think the ANC would find itself in a position where it just doesn't have any option but to continue with the negotiations and perhaps adopting the strategy if things came to an absolute worst, adopting the strategy that was pursued by the UDF in the eighties. Call it politics of refusal which proved fairly effective at the time.

POM     You said there are things that would divide the ANC, things like?

KS     I think the socialist/non-socialist debate has that capacity, particularly if you were to remove apartheid. There are people within the ANC who quite clearly have seen events in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union for what they are. Socialism as we have known it has totally failed and you can't come try it in South Africa. And there are people who think the ANC would believe that it was pilot error that led to all of those problems, there exists a grouping within South Africa that does have a capacity to correct all of those errors and socialism therefore is viable. I think that's one issue around which you can divide the ANC. But certainly the Nationalist Party is simply not the organisation to do that.

POM     How about the ANC itself, does it have at this point a clearly realised objective which they put down in negotiations and a strategy for getting there?

KS     My reading of what's happening in the ANC is that they are tied to the conception that's enshrined in the Harare Declaration and I think you speak to people within the ANC, they simply can't visualise it because they think outside that process that was set out in the Harare Declaration to a point where, for example, ANC says that they will not go to any constitutional meeting with the government until all the conditions set out in the Harare Declaration are met: return of exiles, release of political prisoners, until and unless we go beyond that first, there's absolutely as far as we're concerned nothing that ought to happen around that. The question of an interim government for instance.

POM     They've now made this a pre-condition that supersedes all other pre-conditions for an interim government.

KS     After their conference there seems to be a shift, very slight shift where Cyril was arguing that the government is now an obstacle. It is the government that is preventing negotiations from moving on. But I haven't heard this repeated by any other person so I just wonder.

POM     We had an interview with Cyril when he was referring, I think it was one of the things that he was strongest on that the government was the obstacle to negotiations.

KS     It was just the sort of statement that was made by him so I haven't been able to see the extent to which that is supported within the ANC. But that was a significant shift if it is a shift within the ANC, but I haven't spoken to anyone of them to test how all of this is visualised, how it is going to play itself out.

POM     Can you imagine any circumstances in which the present government would resign to become part of an all-party government?

KS     Those circumstances are very slim. I think you need to have an unforeseen cataclysmic event to push them in that direction and I think in the fluid state in which things are in South Africa one cannot exclude that. I mean Inkathagate would not have been foreseen by any person and I'm sure we are headed for some embarrassing thing like that. I think it's fairly dependent on what people outside of South Africa think. If all major governments abroad continue to support De Klerk as a person who's leading South Africa to a new world, new era and so on, I don't think De Klerk would be encouraged to do that. But that would happen very late in the day, certainly not in the next year or two.

POM     But the ANC has said this must happen before we will negotiate so this doesn't augur well for a good start to negotiations if they hold to that view.

KS     No they are saying that that should happen at the same time as negotiations start.

PAT     But this would be part of negotiations?

KS     When negotiations start the government can't continue being government, at least this government. Some other authority must be put in place and that authority must be comprised of, I guess, all the parties that are taking part in the negotiations. But that won't happen.

POM     If you look at the ANC over the last year you see it follows a zigzag course, at least it appears that way from abroad since the beginning of the year, they set a demand, they make a demand and set a time limit on it, the time limit would come, expire, they'd either set a new time limit or change the demand. It appeared uncertain and confused in some way. Is that an accurate reading?

KS     I think it's accurate and the reasons for it is that, for example, around that 9th March ultimatum the ANC was under pressure not just from its own membership but from communities that were subjected to violence to do something very dramatic that government would take note of. There was a great deal of tribulation in the ANC for having to pull out of negotiations if the government did not address certain things by that date. That was the one set of pressures that the ANC were responding to. But the other set was that increasingly the ANC has had options other than negotiations closing up on it and I guess there are pressures emanating from foreign governments and very many interests outside of South Africa that are saying to the ANC, That is the only option that there is for you. Pursue it. We are not convinced that you have done all you need to do. And responding to those different sets of pressures is a very difficult thing.

POM     Yes. We were in Cape Town on Saturday, a lot of what I'm doing is with politicians and journalists and many people, including a number of families, and we were talking to a Coloured family and their perception is that the ANC is stalling on negotiations with the government, they should get on with it. Their sympathy was tilting more towards the government than towards the ANC. Does that exist out there in a broader sense? Would some Africans have that opinion too?

KS     I think that kind of an opinion would be rife perhaps in the coloured and Indian community and increasingly you're finding it within the township communities, particularly with people who perhaps have moved into business or some meaningful position in a profession. Increasingly people are beginning to argue that the ANC has been defeated and therefore has to accept the terms set by government for negotiations. There's no point in haggling over all these small little things as if the ANC was in a position to fundamentally alter the relationship that has been struck now, and a great deal of what it does will be seen as a complete and total waste of time. But if you went to Indian and coloured communities I think the majority of people would see things that way.

POM     Has the PAC been able to emerge in the last year as a player of any significance or is it still struggling both on the ground and ideologically?

KS     I think at the public level they have emerged, and by public level I mean at a level of perceptions and making statements and so on, they have emerged as a fairly key and important player in all of what is happening in South Africa. They are very radical in their approach to things. To those people who have been saying that the ANC is not representative of black opinion, they too have played a role in promoting the stature of the PAC at that level. With the kinds of problems that have been taking place within the ANC, namely commitment to negotiations even in the face of violence which quite clearly the government is having a hand in, there has been an argument that the radical perception of the ANC would break away into the PAC. So at that level the PAC has been fairly consistent, fairly strong, fairly important and so on. But the one thing they haven't been able to make headway in is to build organisations out there into which they would enlist a number of people. I don't think they have a presence on the ground that is commensurate with the kind of statements, and the consistency at which those statements are made at that level. And therefore my view would be that even if there were those frustrations within the radical wing of the ANC, there just isn't an alternative organisation for that wing to join because the PAC simply hasn't set up an infrastructure in townships on the ground, within the trade union movement to absorb all of those people into itself.

POM     Do you think any of the uncertainty of the ANC might have been related to the perception that at the December Conference the grassroots were pulling the leadership along rather than the other way round?

KS     No, I think that the useful thing for one to focus on looking at the ANC, the leadership of the ANC is a very specific species of people and by that I mean they largely come from abroad, their world view is informed by a whole lot of factors other than what is happening in South Africa. They are keenly aware of pressures and ideas and moods of people other than South African people and they would take seriously, for example, what the frontline states say, what the US says and what many other people abroad would say. Whereas the grassroots support base of the ANC is just not aware of all of those things, at least if one were to be crude about it, and people would base their views on the immediate surroundings. For example, when the sanctions debate came up at the December conference, Thabo Mbeki made a very brilliant input involving a whole range of factors both abroad and inside the country and the view that opposed him was the fairly simple view that said nothing about all of those beautiful things he said, the view of that we have conceded so many things to the government and we have got nothing in return, we're not going to concede one more thing. There was total refusal for people to engage with all of the points that had been raised by Thabo, which I thought was very significant. And people were just like that, not (convinced) at all by the very important and critical debate that impacts in a very direct way on what is happening in South Africa. They were merely concerned with what was happening in South Africa and nothing more.

POM     Just a couple more things. The National Party's proposals that were outlined last week, discussed in yesterday's Sunday Times, did you get a chance to read them?

KS     Yes. We agree with all of those. I haven't seen the actual document.

POM     In essence they gave a three part proposal. There would be a rotating Executive President, there would be a government that would be made up of political parties according to their proportional representation in parliament, parliament will be elected by proportional representation, a second House will be made up of representatives from nine different regions which are legislators and local government councillors. And the local government councillors will be elected using two rolls, one would be an adult franchise and the second would be a ratepayers' roll, i.e. if you own property you get to vote again. So if you're a property owner, I've got a vote for myself and I've got a vote for my property. Now this astonished us, just the politics of it. I mean after going for a year about one man one vote suddenly produce the basis where you want to decentralise most of your authority. A rigged voting structure where people are unequal, those with property are more equal than those without it, astonishes me. Does it astonish you that they can still propose such a system? Is this going to be acceptable internationally? It was this very issue of property votes for individuals that brought things to a head in Northern Ireland in 1968. This was the biggest act of discrimination.

KS     In Cape Town, presently, there is a property vote within the City Council. And Cape Town claims that that's part of the English tradition. Some time in England, I don't know when, there was ...

POM     15th century probably, not quite that far back.

PAT     I think in the beginning it's most remarkable, the process begins by the way the vote's being given first to those who have a property base. ... one man one vote, universal franchise, we don't have the property.

KS     Well there are a lot of studies that are beginning to emerge in South Africa pointing to a great many examples abroad, in the US as well, where business as an entity has a voice well ahead of the actual numbers that people in business represent in voting terms. And those people who would use examples like businesses moving from the city centres into the suburbs and that has got a great many municipalities to reform their voting systems to allow business slightly more of a voice in municipal affairs so that the people are not taxed more than they are willing to be. And I think South Africa is relying on all of those examples to argue this point. I mean in Johannesburg you can see the effects of all of that. There was a huge discussion about three, four, five months ago of a suburb wanting to put a wall around itself, ostensibly under the guise of keeping crime out, and when this latest law on local government was passed which provides amongst other things that a municipality would be bound to legislate views coming from a particular suburb. If for example 75% of the population of suburb X were to say that we don't want resident A to come into our suburb, in terms of that law the municipality would be bound make that as a by-law. If we lived in a street and somebody wanted to take occupation of a house in that particular street and two thirds of people in that street decided no, we don't want that person, then the municipality would be bound to act as if that were law. And I think perhaps there is something here towards preserving the racial character.

POM     Is that actually the law at the moment?

KS     Yes, yes. Interim measures. There was a fair amount of controversy about it in the last six months or so but the government made a point about the fact that, look these are all interim measures, these are measures to deal with the process during which apartheid laws are being removed from the statute book and there's nothing that has come in to replace them, and we still have a constitution that binds us to certain apartheid things when we want to move away from apartheid. That was their justification for passing these kind of measures.

PAT     Can you see a situation where the ANC would accept a vote weighted to property ownership and be able to rationalise it to a constituency?

KS     No I can't see that but I think there exist possibilities of the ANC being plunged into accepting those, or being forced to accept these measures.

POM     Because they don't think they have any - I mean in a way you're saying the government is in a position to dictate certain things.

KS     To a fair extent I think the ANC still retains the confidence of people who, as I said earlier on, can engage in politics of refusal. And I think for a legitimate outcome to be secured in South Africa you need to secure the confidence of all those people in all these processes. If we ever came to a point where the government said, To hell with that, we go it together, go ahead regardless, I don't see what the ANC would do particularly on an issue like that on which it is unlikely that a great many people would want to react immediately. So that you would postpone that as something you would take on in a few years time.

POM     How about the right wing, looking at the Conservative Party and the militant right, is there a general feeling that the threat of the Conservative Party has by and large peaked and is on the wane, or is there still a feeling that it is a potent force out there? Is the militant violence taken seriously or is it seen as irritating, an irritant more than anything else?

KS     I think views would divide into two there. Support for the right wing, political right wing, most people would argue it has peaked. But their capacity to unleash violence has not and most people will accept that that capacity is vast. And I think most people would argue that it is vast precisely because of the fact that the right wing is white and therefore has access to great strategic installations in South Africa.

POM     Does anyone ever frame things into questions in terms of having to maintain the support of the police force, that the police force may be a most fertile ground for the right to gain support and that the question of the loyalty of the police to the state is an issue, i.e. could it be that the police in the townships don't interfere because to them blacks killing blacks is just what they want?

KS     I'm not aware of anyone, and those views have been made I know, generally, but I'm not aware of anyone coming up with convincing evidence to that effect. I would suspect a useful person to speak to is a guy called Willie Esterhuyse. He's at the University of Stellenbosch.

PAT     I have one more question which takes us back to the first question of Patrick's, talking about ethnicity. What do you think are special characteristics of South African people that will liberalise them politically, enable them to repress their ethnicity or be non-ethnic? It sounds like you're realising the government is afraid of ethnicity to the destruction of the society, but once you remove that I can't understand why it is not in evidence as it is not only in many states in Africa but certainly in Europe as it is in the United States where ethnicity becomes part of the political identity, not simply the cultural identity. Why would that not happen here?

KS     You seem to be speaking ethnicity in a slightly different way from the way I'm speaking. Ethnicity as it is spoken about in South Africa would refer to your Zulus, Xhosas, Tswanas and so on, not just blacks, and you seem to be using it in the latter sense.

PAT     No, I mean it in the terms of how would Afrikaners, Tswanas, the Sothos usually in their political formations they keep to their ethnic groups. What I hear now here is that that won't happen.

KS     It seems to be, and I haven't done any study around this question, that in South Africa what is going to make ethnicity non-potent in those terms is because it has been used by government all along, it has been part of the oppressive armoury of the government, whereas if you go to other countries for example you would find that governments have been saying, No you're not ethnic entities, you're national entities, so that in South Africa you've been finding the government saying, Your identity is ethnic and that's your primary identity and that's how your politics are going to be structured. Whereas in other contexts you have governments that seem to want to deny that and say, Your Zulu-ness, your Xhosa-ness, your whatever else-ness is unimportant. You're part of the national thing and that's what you are and that's what's going to structure your identity. So that almost as a reaction to what has happened in the past, for as long as South Africa has existed, I think you would get that particularly from among blacks that rejection of that type of ethnicity. I'm not however denying the emergence of some African identities that would structure politics in a family in a way that would always seem to go against the non-racial politics that seems to be elevated to just about everything now. And I'm surprised by the fact that that hasn't happened in a big way in South Africa. And I've only been surprised over the last two years when I've travelled abroad and seen, for example in the US and when you go to Europe you see it, and in Yugoslavia and so on, the emergence of ethnicity. That I think is still going to arrive in South Africa. I think that would be dependent on the emergence of a middle class sector that's linked to all of those things in the world. But I don't think it would be ethnicity - I'm Xhosa and therefore you've got to give primacy to Xhosas, etc., etc. That is in the short to medium term. And that I think will purely be a reaction to what has happened to black people over such a long period of time.

     And with regard to Afrikaners, I think Afrikaners will remain as a fairly potent ethnic group in South Africa, but I think because white people in South Africa are going to constitute a minority. It seems to me that my relatives throughout the world would want to come together and de-emphasise their Portugueseness, Englishness, Afrikanerness and similarly, I saw this in Zimbabwe soon after independence where white people were addressing each other as Love in the street. It was such a relief for a white person to see another white person that people would be so intimate when they didn't know each other and that quite clearly was a reaction to what had happened there. And my guess is that in South Africa you'd find that reaction where there would be a de-emphasis on Afrikanerdom and Englishness, etc., etc., just for those properties. And one sees it in the Indian community today in South Africa. There are vast differences within that community but people are keen to come together as that.

PAT     Find a commonality?

KS     In South Africa they find a commonality that you don't see elsewhere. I get surprised when I read about things happening in India between Muslims and Hindus, whereas in South Africa there would be a great deal of coming together of those two religions because, I think, of the perception out there that people see themselves as threatened as a group. Perhaps once all of those perceptions of what apartheid has done to us in that way, then maybe, depending on a whole range of other things of course, you may find the emergence of ethnicity in the way you're describing it. And of course one has to concede that it really depends in the short term how your current Bantustans are dealt with, particularly KwaZulu and Inkatha and I potentially could join that bandwagon. I think it depends on how those people are dealt with and how they have integrated into post-apartheid South Africa. But judging purely at the level of popular elections and perceptions, I don't think ethnicity will be as great an issue in South Africa as it has been elsewhere.

POM     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.