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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

17 Jul 1992: Maduna, Penuell

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POM     Could you give us an encapsulation of the negotiation process at CODESA, how it worked, what the nature of the bargaining was, who stood out on the opposition side, what the alliances were and what led to the ultimate deadlock and collapse?

PM     That's quite a tallish order I must say.

POM     I know you're up to it.

PM     I would have to trace it from CODESA 1 when we set up five working groups which were supposed to attend to five areas of work. The first one was supposed to deal with two issues, namely the creation of the requisite climate, a climate conducive to free political activity. The second issue that it was supposed to address was the role of the international community in respect of that climate. The second working group was supposed to deal with two issues also, the issue of the constitutional principles that parties would have to agree on and agree to be bound by if we were to move and move as speedily as possible to a new constitutional order. The second issue it was supposed to deal with was the issue of process or the actual issue of constitution making, in other words the body that would give us a new constitution. The third working group was supposed to deal with one issue only and that is how the country would be governed in the interim until there is a new constitution. The fourth one would deal with the issue of the homelands, the so-called independent homelands, especially the question was their re-incorporation, with regard to their re-incorporation. And then the fifth one would deal with two issues again. The first issue would be time frames with respect of all the things, in other words each one of them to take place within what time frame and so on and then the implementation, the implementation of these agreements.

     So Working Group 1 went into the issues of the climate. Particular issues with regard to climate were the following: release of political prisoners, the return of exiles, all of them, unconditionally and without any fear of arrest, harassment, intimidation and so on, on the part of the state, especially agents of the state. The third issue was the issue of the public media, especially broadcasting. Then the fourth issue was a broad climate where you've got all sorts of laws governing political activity in the country which we call repressive legislation in South Africa itself as well as in the four TBVC territories that it created and gave independence to. So those were the basic issues, issues of access to people and areas because there are all sorts of no-go zones for us especially in the country. So they went into all these issues and we reached quite a number of agreements with regard to them which we had hoped that by the end of CODESA 2 we would be talking about the implementation of them. I don't know whether you would like us to go into each one individually?

POM     Not in detail. The two main ones would be the interim government ones and the constitutional principles.

PM     We're coming to those. We also dealt with the issue of the role of the international community because the government's position was until fairly recently that if there was to be any role at all for the international community it would be restricted not only to monitoring but to observing, people were bragging that they could descend upon us with all their big and small cameras, we wouldn't care as long as they did not interfere with how the country was run and so on and so forth. So, so much for that.

     And then we come to the issue of these principles. The basic principles were agreed. In other words as you would, for instance, see this if you read the Declaration of Intent we signed at CODESA 1, you would realise that the principles were agreed. We all want one united country for instance. We all want a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic political and constitutional order. All parties are agreed on that. And we all want in fact a multi-party democracy. We all want a rigid constitution which is not easy for simple temporary majorities in parliament to interfere with. We all want that to be underpinned by an entrenched Bill of Rights outlining all sorts of civil and political rights and some of us will add the second and third generations of rights as well and that's to be debated in a public forum.

     And then having agreed on all these the government and some of its satellite parties then were insisting that we would have to agree in advance on a Senate. Right now there's no Senate in this country. They abolished it in 1980 by an Act of parliament. They are insisting that there must be a Senate and we said: how will it be constituted and what will it's role be and why can't we actually have this issue debated in an appropriate forum when the constitution is being made because it's not a matter of principle, it's a constitutional structure of institution so we've got to debate whether or not we need it. You will find that in fact the ANC is with you on that question. We do think that in fact we will need two houses and as a matter of policy the ANC is not averse to that. We are committed to a two chamber parliament. We have said so. Then that issue, that whole issue of those institutions of power is actually supposed to be debated and agreed at an appropriate forum and not at CODESA. No, they say, we need to agree on it now. In other words there must be a Senate even before we address that question.

POM     That's before any of the Working Groups met at all, they wanted an agreement?

PM     No, no. They wanted it before - in other words, you see, we were on the brink of announcing to the country all the agreements reached and therefore announcing how we would proceed and implement those agreements. That's the point we had reached. There were a number of areas which had not been touched upon but those were really not as critical as the issues where agreement had already been reached. So we said, no, but the issue of the Senate belongs appropriately to that forum where we are going to debate whether or not we need it in the first place and allow those who think we do not need a Senate to argue their case, to be heard. But now if you say that the hands of that forum must be tied now even before it's born we cannot agree with you. It's not a matter of principle at all. It's a structure or an institution which would be made and which would have to be debated. That was one area.

     The second one was the issue of federalism versus a unitary state. They were saying they are committed to federalism and we need to agree on federalism and the details thereof beforehand. In fact I was surprised that de Klerk still stuck to that and said we would have to agree on that even before we're going to make the new constitution. In other words they would already be making the new constitution while pretending that the constitution is going to be made by a democratically constituted forum. That is what they were trying to do. So we said, no we can't do that. The whole issue of a federal order is not a simple matter of principle. It belongs appropriately to that forum where we will argue whether or not we want a unitary state or a federal state and those of us who do not believe in federalism will be heard, we will be entitled to be heard there, but not here. No, if you don't accept that beforehand then we can't move forward. So we couldn't agree with that, it's not a matter of principle. Then they also say there, let's proceed to the next issue then we'll come back to this other very important issue, but I think we need to have a sequence of some sort. We said, OK, right, we can't agree on all these so-called principles of yours so then we put aside the whole issue of principles, we'll come back to it.

     Then we considered to deal with the issue of the forum of the body to make the constitution. The viewpoint of the ANC was and still is that in fact our people would have to have a role in the making of the new constitution and we think that that role is critical if the constitution itself is going to be legitimate. So we are saying parties would have to agree that the appropriate forum to make the new constitution would have to be elected but we thought that in fact had been resolved because we had already said at CODESA 1 that in fact the constitution would be made by an elected body which would also play the role of an interim parliament. So we said, no, this has been resolved and all this time they never said, look the constitution is going to be made by CODESA, sorry. Until we then started saying, OK we realise that you people have misled us, where exactly is the constitution going to be made? We have never got an answer as yet. Now what we get in discussions with them is that they think that what is critical is that you need an interim constitution which for all intents and purposes is a fully fledged constitution. That's what they say. So that, therefore, the elected body would have one very simple task, amending the interim constitution as and where necessary. That's their attitude.

     In other words as far as they are concerned the constitution is going to made by CODESA. That's it. And we say, no but that's not all. CODESA can actually give us a simple statute on the basis of which the country is going to be governed in the interim and on the basis of which we will begin phasing out the structures and institutions and organs of the apartheid state. That's that. In other words a very simple statute which says what's going to be happening in the interim and how the country is going to be governed. But the constitution proper cannot be made by us at CODESA. We will have a fully fledged constitution agreeing on all sorts of details like flags, symbols and so on. But those issues can't be decided by us. We do not have the popular mandate even to sit at CODESA, but because of the stature of some of the organisations involved, especially the ANC, our people have given CODESA a thumbs up because they accept CODESA as a means to an end and that is the end in itself.

     So at some point CODESA has to be prepared to surrender, as it were, the sovereign right to making a new constitution to a body appropriately mandated by the ordinary people and that is where the nub of the problem, as far as some of us are concerned, lies. Because you see the government calculates it this way; they think that in fact if the constitution is made at CODESA and our people are fobbed off with the fait accompli, as it were, then they could pack whatever they want to pack into it at CODESA, load everything, pack it, freeze it into the interim constitution so that whatever happens in those elections eventually, even if they lose power, the new constitutional order will still be bearing their imprimatur. That's it. And they can only achieve that if the constitution is made by CODESA and not made by the body appropriately mandated, because they know already, in fact should elections take place the chances are that they will be a minority party and indeed they are a minority party if you look at them in relation to the entire populace.

     And that is where the problem lies. If they allow the seeds of democracy to be planted in this country, to germinate and to blossom, then they will not be part of the process that gives this country a new constitution. And that is where the problem lies. Then their Buthelezis, their Mangopes and so on and so forth are worried about the possibility of the constitution being made essentially by the ANC and parties that cluster around the ANC. That's where the problem lies. That is why they begin to talk of even higher percentages with regard to decision making, exactly because you see they think that in fact the higher it is the more difficult it's going to be for the ANC and it's allies broadly, allies, that is I'm not just talking about the alliance that you people know of, the historical alliance, I'm talking now about the broad alliance of the ANC. They think that in fact the higher the percentage is the more difficult it's going to be for the ANC to fob this country off with a constitution. So when we actually started out with a demonstration of great magnanimity on our part and said up front that we thought the constitution would have to be made by at least 66.7%, they thought, no it can only be because we think we are going to get that 66.7%. So the first figure they gave us was 100% consensus, total, absolute consensus. Then we said, no but you are joking, when are we going to reach that consensus? We can't, I mean it's obvious, with every little comma and full stop and t to be crossed and i to be dotted and so on.

POM     Who made the actual proposals of 100%?

PM     The government. They said no, no, no they need a consensus.

POM     Where did Inkatha - Inkatha wanted 100% too?

PM     Inkatha was even opposed to an elected assembly. Inkatha initially said CODESA will give us because people are going to come out in a referendum and vote yea or nay to the constitution. That was their initial stance. So now we talked them out of that one and the figure came down to 80%. We said, no but that's nonsense, you are actually demanding a veto without saying so. Then they climbed down to 75% and then dug in their heels after that. It's as simple as that. Even at CODESA itself the ANC and its broad allies once again, because you see we had a series of meetings even on the 15th when CODESA was supposed to start, we started late, because we were trying to work out a compromise position with which we could all live. And we said, OK let us say 75% for the Bill of Rights, which is a fundamental component of the constitution, and 70% otherwise across the board. We tried to market that to them. We just couldn't agree with them. The reason simply being that each time you went up they thought it's only because you think you are going to get it. So if it's 70% across the board, it's only because the ANC thinks it will get that 70%. That's that.

     Now we then said OK, right, but still we can't agree on all these matters and these are very critical matters as far as the ANC and its broad allies are concerned. It would be pointless us agreeing to implement the agreements already reached without us agreeing on these critical issues because whatever we are talking about, the climate, interim government and so on, are actually the little rocks, your mortar, your water, your sand and so on, but the purpose is to build a new structure founded on a new constitutional and political order. That's the purpose of the exercise. In other words negotiations are not about an interim constitution. They are about the process that will give us a new constitution at the end of the day and if we can't agree on that process then it's pointless us going ahead with the work that we are doing here. And then of course they were even more ridiculous when it came to the issue of time frames. We said to them, look, we think that in fact it should be possible for us to emerge with a new constitution within a very short space of time. We said this world has had constitutions for centuries now, we will essentially not be inventing the wheel. We will be borrowing from a lot of constitutional jurisdictions to fashion out that which is suitable to our own peculiar conditions. So working out a constitution is not going to be a very long matter. It should be possible for us to be able to report progress or the lack thereof within the first six months of the sitting of the Constituent Assembly or that parliament which is going to be your constitution making body, which is going to have that task. They said, no they think that the whole process should take anything from 10 to 15 years.

     Now we said, OK let's talk deadlock breaking mechanisms. They said if we can't actually agree on a new constitution we should be able to find an escape route. The escape route should eventually lead us to a referendum before which we place a draft which has a majority support but does not have the requisite majority. They said no to that, exactly because you see they do not want the masses of our people to be involved in the process at all. They want the masses of our people to vote yes or no, in other words to accept a fait accompli that we wise men, not wise men and women but wise men because CODESA is male dominated, fob them off. And that is where the problem lies. Now in a nutshell that was the picture at CODESA 2. We couldn't agree on it. Somebody even said, look it's just like being asked to board a plane when you don't even know the destination and then you don't even know whether there is a landing strip at the destination just gambling with the lives of all these people on board.

POM     Did the outlines of the government strategy become clear during the meetings of the staff, the working groups had being done on their behalf?

PM     It became clearer as we were discussing with them at various levels, at the bilateral level the ANC sat with them and at the multi-lateral level it became clear that we were talking to people who essentially were not too eager to see the emergence of democracy in this country. When you get a ridiculous suggestion by President de Klerk which is to the effect that in fact he believes in power sharing and he says in his statement that in fact this is how, more or less, they have been looking at negotiations. There is democracy in this country which therefore has to be extended to the others. In other words it's an invitation on the part of de Klerk and regime to those who have never voted in this country to join him in his constitutional and political parlour. So it remains thus. He remains in charge of the whole thing. Now he then shares power with them, this is how he's been looking at it. Another thing, he's not eager to see the emergence of a democratic majority that would rule this country.

POM     Hasn't this kind of conflict, clash, deadlock been really in the works since the beginning because it seems to be in the 2 years we've been coming here that we've been hearing two different languages. From whites you hear that the process is one about the sharing of power and every government minister always has talked about the sharing of power. In liberation movements you hear about the transfer of power. These are two fundamentally different concepts of what power is. Just to go back a moment to the whites' only referendum, that was conducted entirely in terms of de Klerk saying this was a process about the sharing of power and blacks would achieve equality because everybody would be sharing power together. Now the ANC at that time didn't say, hold on Mr de Klerk you're really selling your people a bill of goods, this process is about the transfer of power, let's be quite clear about that. In fact Mr Mandela urged whites to vote yes. Two questions, one is, what do you think whites were voting for when they voted yes in that referendum? Two, how do you think de Klerk interpreted his mandate?

PM     Let's start with the very first one. It's not completely true that de Klerk said to them the issue is about sharing of power. The issue was very simple: do you want apartheid to go or do you want it to continue? That was the essence of the issue. And that is why in fact we urged a lot of whites to vote yes, it must go. To the extent that they were the only ones who could vote it out of its existence and that is why we persuaded even those who had never voted for decades in this country, because they were affronted by the way this country was governed, they were affronted by the very continued existence of minority rule. So in other words it's not a reflection of de Klerk's strength and support among whites that you see mirrored in the results of the referendum. The polls generally in this country have never been anywhere near 70% since the National Party took over and even before that. So you had voting yes, people who would not necessarily give de Klerk their support at all and that is why the poll was this high. That's the first thing.

     Secondly, de Klerk reads into it support for his programme which must culminate in the sharing of power. And therefore because he imagines he's got this high degree of support he can stall as long as he does not get us to accept the sharing of power. Now all the people who talk that language, and here we know we are not just talking about white minorities, we are talking about minority rule because there are people who participate albeit at a secondary level, who play second fiddle in the exercise of power, the Buthelezis, the Mangopes and so on. These are the people who constitute minority rule and they are talking this language of sharing of power. They are not talking about democracy they are talking about sharing of power. In other words they must be there and that's why you begin to hear that federalism, the basis of which would be the existing entities of power that were created by the apartheid state. I know that when they are challenged they deny this but among other things federalism or confederalism will entitle him to keep his domain, to keep his little fiefdom. Buthelezi thinks that way. So the whole concept of sharing of power, in other words, is about the denial of the essence, the negation of the essence of democracy as it's known in this world. That is where the problem lies.

POM     We have talked, remember, of people in the NEC, SACP and ANC and the question asked was, why did the ANC go so far as to offer 75% veto power on a Bill of Rights, particularly as it has always laid such importance on a Bill of Rights that would reflect second generation rights, third generation rights, housing. It would be the philosophic foundations of what the state believed in and in effect you're merely handing a veto since most polls show that the government and its allies can get about 25% of the vote anyway, but you were in a way giving them a veto. And why would you move to 70% on a constitution where again it seemed unacceptably high, that they would want to. And then the third thing was by making that kind of offer did you nearly blow it? What if the government had said yes? Would you have been able to sell it to your membership or would there have been rebellion in the ranks? Would people have said this is outrageous, they've sold the house, they've sold out everything?

PM     No, let's start with the very last one. It's true that we did not have a mandate to do this. It's true. The mandate we had was 66.7%, that's true. And then again if we had to choose we thought that between the process stalling and the process moving forward we thought we should be prepared to make certain concessions in order to get the country out of the mire of apartheid. We said even if it costs us this, let's get it out of this mire. I've always said, imagine that you are faced with a situation where your own most beautiful daughter is drowning in your swimming pool at home and you are wearing your Sunday best suit, would you say I'd let my daughter drown while I'm thinking about what to wear in order to take a dive or would you take a dive get the child out and deal with the suit afterwards. This is the approach we took. We said, OK, let's take the plunge into this abyss, fish the country out because the country is really sinking into an abyss. Then we would have had to market that amongst our people. I'm sure we would have had quite a lot of difficulty, I'm sure about that, but we were prepared to live with the consequences of that if the major consequence would be that the country would emerge as some kind of democracy. That's how some of us reasoned it. And, of course, we were proved wrong, luckily at that very critical moment because it showed that we were dealing with people who are not prepared to bargain at all, who had made up their minds, sharing of power or else. So in other words then they rescued us by being obstinate, by rejecting our offer of a compromise.

POM     So why now were you prepared to accept the 70% and the 75%?

PM     We would have gone back to the masses and explained what we were trying to achieve and our masses have said, look, now you have learnt from your own lesson. So the mandate is a stricter one now, don't shift from that. And our people argue, and this is correct, that in fact this country has a history of constitution making. That history is twofold. One, constitutions were made by whites only in this country and all of us agree that that can't be the case now. But, two, all our constitutions from the 1909 Act have been made by a simple majority, adopted by a simple majority. This is true. So people are saying 50% plus 1% should have been your starting point then they would have had to persuade you to come up to 66.7%. But then again the basic philosophy underlying the ANC's position and that is that when you look carefully at the body politic in this country 50% plus 1% would be an easy thing for the ANC to opt for exactly because of the chance to impose a constitution on this country. But then again is that what we want? Do you want a constitution that is rejected by close to 50% of the populace? We want to believe that in fact a constitution which is adopted by a broadly based body, a constitution that is adopted by a higher majority will give us peace, stability and prosperity in this country because almost everybody will be able to say they don't agree with that clause and that other clause, broadly speaking this is also my constitution.

POM     But you are now mandated not to go beyond 67%, is that correct?

PM     That's it, yes.

POM     And what other things are you now mandated to do that you can't go beyond?

PM     Well you see the mandate is very clear. We have to come back and say to our people, one, the constitution is going to be made by an elected body. Two, the constitution is going to be adopted within this body by 66.7% in its entirety. And three, it's going to be a new constitution. We're not going to be amending an existing constitution agreed at CODESA and so on an so forth. The task to make a new constitution belongs to that appropriately mandated body but CODESA can agree on a simple constitutional statute on the basis on which the country will be governed in the interim. If we like it we can agree on a mandate for a version of the current constitution which then allows us to participate in government in the interim. I'm not saying that that's the position but it's as simple as that. A simple statute that allows these agreements to be implemented so that we make a new constitution is what we want in the interim.

POM     So when one gets to the deadlock at CODESA you still have Mandela and de Klerk putting the best face on things, saying that they have achieved a lot, that this deadlock isn't insuperable and they're still using words of civility towards each other and yet six weeks later there has been a sea change in attitude. You have pulled out of CODESA. You have decided to embark on a process of mass mobilisation and you have made a series of demands that must be met before negotiations will be resumed. How much of this reflects the anger and alienation of the leadership encountered among the members?

PM     Let us actually start with this: CODESA as CODESA is not a failure and is not doomed to failure but there are forces which cluster around the ruling NP which are doing quite a lot to undermine CODESA. It's important for us to illustrate this by simply referring to a meeting they had a few days before CODESA 2. At this meeting President de Klerk, Mangope of Bophuthatswana, Buthelezi of KwaZulu and Gqozo of Ciskei concluded that CODESA was moving rather too fast, I suppose, for their liking and obviously if it was allowed to move to the pace at which it was moving where we could be talking by now of implementation of agreements, then it could only mean one thing and one thing only, that is that they would be out of power very soon. So how best to ensure that they are not out of power? They have actually stalled CODESA, undermined it, and in fact here they act as a collective. You might have seen them also on TV when they were addressing the UN Security Council, the boss Pik Botha spoke and then after that the puppets joined in and they presented the crisis or the essence thereof as the existence of the ANC led alliance. That's the thing that they were saying yesterday. It's this alliance, this alliance, this alliance, this alliance. Everything that you see here, even the continued existence of white minority rule, is ascribable to the existence of this alliance.

     So what does it tell you if it is not telling you that they have got this problem? They are fully aware that should there be elections in this country this alliance, this ANC in particular with its allies, would take over from them. De Klerk will tell you, "I am completely against domination, we all are, we have been fighting domination all this time." And they have domination right now which continues on the pretext that we are not on the best formula to avoid domination. But we are, they say, against the ANC's majoritarianism and a completely unknown political concept is emerging, majoritarianism. But all it means is that they are against democracy because all of us must be prepared to accept that once the ordinary masses have voted and have voted in such a way that those who are in power are booted out and the new ones come in, that is the will of the people. This is it. There is no way you Americans can accept a similar situation where Bush says, "I decide that whoever wins these elections I will remain in office and share power with them." It can't be allowed. But these gentlemen of minority rule can't understand this.

POM     So of those that you have knowledge of , on the government side, who would they have been?

PM     The core really consists of these four, de Klerk himself, Buthelezi, Mangope and Gqozo. These form the core. Then there are those who live on the peripheral fringe politically who are neither here nor there, who blow hot or cold depending on the issues like your DP, Democratic Party, like your National People's Party, like your Solidarity Party and so on.

POM     I mean players, those who are representing the government and its allies, who were the key players who made their case and who among them impressed you and who among them did you just dismiss? What were the personality reactions between people during all of this?

PM     It's clear that in fact it would be very difficult for us to handle the satellite entities of the apartheid regime separately from the regime because you see I think they completely sold their souls, as it were, to the apartheid regime. They are not their own persons, they can't act independently. So you always have to target de Klerk in order to get them to move. Even on re-incorporation of Bantustans Mangope proved to be the most difficult until we said to the de Klerk regime, "Tell your man to behave", and then they got him to toe the line. Simple as that. When you talk of impressions and non-impressions I think that is how I would answer your question, depending on what you mean by that.

PM     Well you see they all present their case quite forcefully and they think they have a case by the way and their case is simple: we all have to agree at the end of the day on some formula or other of power sharing, full stop. Some of them would say 'in the interim' and others would be honest with you and say 'for ever'.

PAT     But there were some agreements that were reached throughout this crisis. Were there certain figures that were more critical on their side to getting that agreement going or was this just pure force that your ...?

PM     Well you see if you ask me to comment on that it becomes quite difficult because you would reach some agreements with some of them and they would be prepared to renege on those agreements once they had been rapped over their knuckles over some of those agreements. At the end of the day you realised that you are talking to a block of people who are not too happy if things move the way that you are saying they should move. They've got their own notion of democracy and that is that they are a permanent feature of democracy, and de Klerk in fact says that in fact they would not be satisfied with a mere presence in the institutions of power, political power, they would want to have an influence, they would want to have a participatory role. That is why, for instance, he says discuss the issue, the idea of President, start talking about a presidency or an executive council which will have three to five heads with each head taking his turn, or her turn, every so many months for a year and so on. In other words it should be possible to have President Gatsha Buthelezi today, no matter what his support is on the ground, and then have President Mandela one day no matter his support, and President de Klerk no matter his support, and so on and so forth. It's never been heard of that in fact you all agree that you'll have a presidency with three to five heads and each one of them will take a turn at being the Chairman and therefore the President. Then you would have a multi-party executive consisting of parties with demonstrable support, whatever that means. How do you govern the country? Because you would have to have quite a good degree of agreement in order to be able to get cracking on anything that has to be done.

POM     Who were the political winners and losers as a result of the collapse of the talks?

PM     I'll tell you, at the end of the day I don't think you'll talk about individual parties as being winners or losers.

POM     Well the PAC that we've talked to are going around with big smiles on their faces saying, "We told you so."

PM     Ah. I don't think they're right. They can't be right on that and I'll tell you why. First and foremost there is no alternative to a negotiated settlement with the government and all serious people accept that. And secondly, the PAC is being childish to think that negotiations are going to take place outside this country. You ask them, where is this Constituent Assembly of yours going to meet? You elect people here and then ship them across the seas so that they meet on neutral ground and so on and so forth, it's stupid. So, they can't be the winners because we shall go back to negotiations. We would all go back to negotiations and we will go back when there are adequate signals, adequate and adequately clear signals with regard to the seriousness of the regime as far as democracy is concerned. In other words they only have to say to us not make other demands, they only have to say to us, you know I accept that there will be majority rule in this country and we are prepared to accept the will of the majority whether it is against us or in favour of us, we will accept it because in the end we say so also. We will accept the results even if they are uncomfortable results as far as the ANC is concerned. We'll accept it.

POM     Remember I'd asked about the sea change in attitude that appeared to have occurred within the organisation itself, a move towards more militant action in terms of stayaways?

PM     I don't think so. I don't think there was any change of mood as such. I may be wrong about it but the ANC has always felt that in fact negotiations do not have to be seen in isolation. It's part and parcel of a whole national effort to rid this country of apartheid, minority rule and to replace that with democracy. And, therefore, there shouldn't be any moment when more emphasis is put on one area than on the others. In other words we've got to move on all fronts in order to achieve that goal. The goal of our struggle remains to dislodge minority rule from power. Of course whether we like it or not, the country was in the grips of some euphoria in the aftermath of the events of the 2nd February 1990, and this is why you hear more of negotiation than of the other fronts of the struggle but the others were not forgotten. It's not as though we are now saying because there is a crisis in the negotiation process we then have to rush back to the masses of our people and unleash them on our opponents and so on and so forth.

POM     Is there in any sense, where Boipatong became a catalyst for action in the sense that (i) you had what you admitted was the dissatisfaction in the ranks with what appeared to the people to be unreasonably high offers of 70% and 75%, there was some dissatisfaction there?

PM     Well we were one of the negotiators.

POM     There was criticism and some discontent and then you had some cases of where in townships there was fighting between different factions of the ANC, some backed by former MK guerrillas and against established leadership.

PM     I don't think so.

POM     Well, Sebokeng?

PM     No. I don't know what you've been told about it but it's interesting that the ANC is investigating there and in our investigations what comes out even more sharply is that in fact there was quite a good degree of intimidation there. So that in fact we are going to discover that some people are not working for us there, they are working against us within our ranks. I don't want to pre-judge the issue but this is the picture that is already emerging, that we were dealing with enemy work. Joining the ANC is no longer as difficult as it was over the past 30 years. You only pay R1.00 a month and you get an ANC card whoever you are. So some of the people who have joined may not be genuine patriots. It's as simple as that. It's not as though there was a rebellion in some quarters against established leadership. That's not the case. In fact it was not about the headquarters of the ANC at all. They have been fighting among themselves there but we're investigating that and we're discovering things.

POM     But did Boipatong exist as a rallying point for the movement as a whole to pull itself together, to renew its purpose?

PM     No I don't think so. There was talk of mass action even before Boipatong. We had said that we would actually launch mass action on the 16th June. Boipatong took place the following day. I want to believe that Boipatong was a reaction on the part of the government, Buthelezi and so on to the mass action. They had accurately predicted, and listen to this, at the level of the Minister of Law and Order, Hernus Kriel, that mass action would unleash a violent response. That was an accurate prediction. Mass action on the 16th June, we had over 17 marches countrywide and they attracted thousands of people, each one of them that is. The major one was here in Johannesburg, Orlando, led by Mandela. Those big marches and those big meetings did not see the breaking of even a sliver of glass and everybody said mass action itself has been absolutely quiet but it was the reaction to it that was violent and that had to be violent as per the prediction on the part of the state. And that is very interesting.

     Now Boipatong affronted a lot of people, ANC and non-ANC, South African and non-South African. I think those who were behind Boipatong underestimated the mood of the people and the mood of the world. You know you can do anything but to kill a pregnant woman, highly pregnant woman, and to kill a baby of 9 months affronts everybody who's got a conscience. It affronted everybody. It was so clear that in fact it was in reaction to mass action which was very successful and very peaceful. That is why de Klerk was actually told in no uncertain terms that he was an unwelcome guest in Boipatong when he went to shed crocodile tears there.

     We had to decide. We either had to continue with negotiations when it was clear to all and sundry that negotiations were not delivering exactly because those who were in power had taken a deliberate decision not to participate in delivering democracy in this country. We had to choose. We didn't continue with those negotiations which were fast becoming futile because it was clear that they would not deliver. They had converted CODESA into a little talk shop where you could talk your whole spleen out and then go back home wondering whether you had achieved anything. So we had to choose against the background of violence and maybe to make a statement we had to pull out of CODESA. And we know that in fact without the ANC there would be no CODESA and indeed as long as we don't go back there, there won't by any negotiations to talk of in this country. It's as simple as that and therefore if they want to negotiate with us they will have to take us much more seriously. We have said to them and to the world that we are prepared to go to negotiations now if they want to negotiate and negotiate seriously and negotiate with one purpose in mind, the emergence of democracy in this country. And that's that, that's that. I don't care whether Mandela is President of this country or not. What we want it democracy for all our people. And if our people give the ANC the mandate so be it. If they don't give it, so be it also. Simple as that. And if they can approach the whole process exactly that way themselves it would help us tremendously.

     ANC was not actually founded to take over from whoever was in power and impose a dictatorship on this country. It was founded to liberate this country from the bondage of colonialism and apartheid and that's its major task. After that we will have to decide whether or not we want to retain the ANC and if we do we convert it into a party like all other parties and it contests power in its own name and right. But right now the issue is not about who is going to govern and who is not going to govern, the issue is about democratisation of this country, the dislodging of minority rule in all its forms. That's the issue. Then once there's no minority rule we decide by means of our votes who governs and doesn't govern. But the critical issue right now is to end minority rule.

POM     This government being the government it is, what do you think will be its next steps?

PM     It depends on a number of things. It depends on mass action itself for instance. It doesn't depend so much on them. It depends on the reaction of the world as well. If the world wants to see us emerge as a democracy it will play its appropriate role, it will bring much more pressure to bear upon the powers that be than it has done hitherto.

POM     Do you think there's any possibility that the general strike will fizzle out after a couple of days?

PM     I don't know. They are having discussions, but it is not as though we have chosen this way out of many ways, it's because really the situation leaves us with absolutely no alternative but to take this route. But assuming that things were to turn better, then it would be criminal for any one of us to persist along that route. De Klerk can change things now if he wants to, if he wants to I say, and make it easy for all our people to say, look, therefore we don't think we need to mount this kind of mass action. But right now nothing has happened which convinces us that we might have to abandon that route. Unfortunately.

POM     OK. Thanks very much. You said a lot. How are you feeling? Are you optimistic that negotiations will get back on track in a short period of time or that it's going to take longer?

PM     As I say there is nothing here for the past two days, yesterday and even today, because I came just for this interview. So I wouldn't know whether there has been any development other than those that have been publicly announced.

POM     Well 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.