This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
22 Jul 1992: Gumede, Archie
POM I remember one of the main points, Archie, that you made two years ago when the violence broke out in the Transvaal was the absolute necessity for Mr Mandela and Mr de Klerk or Mr Buthelezi to get together, to do things jointly. They did meet, they did call upon their followers to not fight with each other and out of the wider range of meetings that resulted from that initial meeting you had the development of the National Peace Accord. Now it would seem to be that after eleven months of the National Peace Accord being in operation it appears by and large to be in tatters. Would that be an accurate reflection of what has been going on with the National Peace Accord or has it kept the level of violence lower that it would otherwise have been if it weren't in place?
AG Well, the reason that I would say the violence has more or less stabilised at a certain point is because it is breaking out in various different places on different scales. It is a bit of a problem and I would say that the Peace Accord has had the effect of placing more or less a ceiling on the amount of violence that is taking place. That's my impression of what has gone on. But at the same time the assumption I made when I spoke with you about these three people coming together was that they would be sincere, that all the parties were as one and would tend to work together and that the organisations which they are representing were going to be disciplined to the extent that there would be no incidents of this nature. That was my assumption but, of course, I wouldn't say that that has in fact happened. There are incidents of security forces, state security forces, acting contrary to the Accord. I would not say that none of the supporters of the ANC are actually - if I said none of them break the Peace Accord I would not be really honest with myself. [And as far as Inkatha is concerned, well that has just been something that is well - or the international community.] When senior members of Inkatha are able to say that certain areas in KwaZulu are no-go areas for ANC then I don't think that that is in any way consistent with the declaration of the Peace Accord.
POM So one theory advanced, and I've heard other opinions from people varied along the lines of what you have said but are none the less consistent with, and it would be the theory that neither de Klerk, Mandela or Buthelezi are entirely in control of their own constituencies.
AG Actually I know that as far as Inkatha is concerned, the constituency is under control.
POM Of Buthelezi?
AG Of Buthelezi. Well, of Buthelezi in that he is in control of the organisation and the organisation is in control of its members. Now just a few days ago there was a conference of the Inkatha Freedom Party in Ulundi [and I believe that Buthelezi ...] there were thousands of people, one thousand or two thousand or eleven thousand, but it was very high figures looking at the TV report of that meeting and it was a very difficult meeting. It was held in a huge marquee and to me it gave the picture of a solid phalanx. Now this took place at a place called Emantlaneni and at Emantlaneni there was a camp where there was training of Inkatha Youth Brigade. Now those people were drilled and were disciplined. Whereas when you look at the ANC ...
POM Stop there for a moment because we talked to two people who were at that conference, I'll mention them by name and the others by reference, and they both said that the resolutions which came to establish local defence units came from the floor, they came from the membership. They didn't come from the leadership. That this was a case of the members of the organisation dictating policy in a way to the leadership and that the leadership went along with it.
AG Well, there again the reality is that before that conference took place the Chief Minister had asked them, demanded, that the Inkatha Freedom Party should have defence units, should have a defence unit. This was published in view of what was taking place and the people knew what the leadership wanted.
POM The second person of the example I would give, you probably know him, Thomas Shabalala?
AG Yes. He is one of the biggest Inkatha scoundrels.
POM Yes, well now we spent a day with him.
AG I'm sorry!
PAT Well you said that before you knew he's a great friend of ours.
POM Some people have said to us that he was thrown off the IFP Central Committee simply because he was either too unruly.
AG He was an embarrassment by his actions but he retained his position as a leader of that township where he was having an income, R20-00 per head, then they wanted money from the people in the camp. He retained his position as the leader of OWUSA, whether it's direct or indirectly and at this present moment he is the person who is organising that the mass stayaway should be opposed through any workers who are dismissed on account of participation in the stayaway be replaced by the unemployed in his area.
POM Why is he held in such tremendous disdain by people would have been active supporters of the UDF and who today would be affiliated with the ANC?
AG Kidnapping, killing, you name it. Burning people's houses. When there was the National Education Conference, this was 1985 or 1986, it was a group from his camp led by him which staged attacks on the people. First of all they attacked them at the hotel where they were staying, where the delegates were staying, then later on at where the conference was to be held, killing one of the people who was shot dead.
POM OK. So as far as you're concerned Inkatha is firmly under the control of Buthelezi and it's a disciplined organisation for the most part except for the occasional renegade like Shabalala.
AG Who may just overstep the mark and may be caught in the act, who is too rash like this man Dhlamini who was convicted of the murder of a tenant of his.
POM Now the second organisation, the ANC, is the ANC leadership in command of its structures on the ground?
AG Well, well, well, well, that's a big problem I think. You must bear in mind that the politicisation of people outside Inkatha took place under the UDF.
POM We're talking about Natal now, right?
AG We're talking about Natal. And this was opposed bitterly by Inkatha which asserted that the formation of the UDF in Natal was splitting the Zulu nation. So all means for dissuading people from participating in the UDF were used.
POM You were talking about when the UDF was formed, how it was opposed by Inkatha because they charged that it split the Zulu nation.
AG Yes. And so there was care that any political organisation could not be penalised for furthering the aims of the African National Congress which was banned. So care had to be taken not to expose people to prosecution through contravening those provisions of the law. And that being the case meant that organisations were to be affiliated because they supported the formation of the United Democratic Front against the tricameral parliament and many responded. So this was not a unitary organisation, it was a federal organisation. Federal organisation meant that each organisation remained completely independent except that when it came to the opposition to the tricameral parliament they would be acting together, all their strategies were agreed upon. Now, because they were supporting the UDF which called for united mass action in one form or another, when there were stayaways supporters of the UDF began picketing. When that picketing took place this resulted in the stayaways being somewhat effective, being effective. But also there was the question of the consumer boycott. When these were seen to be effective the reaction of Inkatha became very violent in those areas which were identified as having support, such as Umlazi and in other areas.
Now the reaction then of the youth was hostility against Inkatha and this did not result in any action being taken but in defensive action being taken against attacks by Inkatha. So you see we had this programme: Inkatha being a governmental organisation had access to weaponry which the United Democratic Front did not have. That is, there were no licensed weapons in the possession of the UDF. That then created a tremendous imbalance as far as that was concerned but it did not stop the UDF particularly in places like Kwandengezi and Hammardale. There actually the conflict did not start on the basis of stayaways but it started on the demand for free education for black children. This was opposed by Inkatha which was in charge of the education in the KwaZulu area and which maintained that seeing that it was the KwaZulu government that was in charge of education, in charge of the syllabus, in charge of all these things, there was no need for opposition to this government, to this KwaZulu, because it was doing things for and on behalf of the Zulu people.
POM What I want to get to, Archie, though, is we're going through the whole history of the UDF/Inkatha conflict, the more direct question of whether the ANC today, whether the ANC leadership in Natal today is in charge of the grassroots, i.e. that independent members of the ANC in villages or whatever can't go off and do their own thing? Whether they are in fact as disciplined as Inkatha?
AG No, No, No. There's not the same control now.
POM Could you explain how they're not under control?
AG When the ANC was re-established it had to recruit its own membership. Now it's membership was not similar to the organisational membership of the UDF so they found that there were many people who had supported the UDF and still called themselves UDF, who are not members of the ANC. One reason of course is that for membership of the ANC one has to subscribe to certain principles and so forth and pay a subscription fee, whereas for supporters of the UDF that was not a part of it. So that you find that there are many people who were mobilised by the UDF who have not become organised into the ANC. Now the ANC has its structures but I would not say that the amount of support it has in these various areas is anything like the support the UDF had in the same areas. But there are those who are as opposed to Inkatha now as they were then and it is not possible to say those people will not do things which are not in keeping with the dictates of the ANC.
POM So you are saying that if one looks at UDF supporters you can divide them into roughly two groups, those who became members of the ANC and who come under the discipline of the ANC and who maintain that discipline of the organisation, and those who did not become members of the ANC and who may on occasion take matters into their own hands with regard to attacks against Inkatha or things like that. OK, that's the second.
The third element is the security forces. My question here is, is de Klerk in control of his security forces? For example, no matter who you are you can't read of the litany of incidents in which security forces are involved either by doing nothing, by not arresting people, by conducting half-hearted investigations, or by circumstantial evidence that they were involved in some more major way in an incident. The obvious thing for a head of state to do would be to either fire some of the senior people who are in control of local structures and replace them, to set up an independent investigation into the operations of the security forces, but to take positive steps that would reassure the population at large that he was doing something about it. Now de Klerk seems singularly unable or unwilling to take that kind of action. Is that a correct reading of the situation?
POM OK, why?
AG His constituency he has to take into account. He's worried that he can't do that, then he is going to lose the support of his constituency.
POM Do you define that constituency in terms of the white population?
POM What about that he would lose support in the middle and lower ranks of the security forces themselves?
AG You see now these are all part of the white community so anything that is going to affect him adversely is going to be resented. So as you have put it, these people have in fact allowed this situation to develop. They have allowed it to develop and now who is going to put it right, accept that action, and now this man finds himself between the devil and the deep, so to speak.
POM When you analyse it, the way the ANC looks on it is that this is part of a deliberate policy on the part of de Klerk to have or allow attacks on townships or members of the ANC so as to undermine the ANC in the townships and weaken the organisation or to cause it to lose support among its own people because it doesn't appear to protect them. That's one explanation. Another explanation might be an elaboration of what you said, that de Klerk really is unwilling or unable to take the necessary steps to bring the security forces under control because he would lose the support of his own constituency and perhaps even in a backlash his job? Is that possible?
AG Yes, yes.
POM So in a way he's a prisoner of his ability to manoeuvre and to move.
AG I'd go further than that and say that if de Klerk is removed then there will be the devil to pay for all of us. Say what you like, the reality is that assuming that his constituency removed de Klerk, who will replace him? And what will that person do? Will it be Treurnicht or who will it be? Who will the Afrikaners believe is going to - will it be Pik Botha? What is important as far as I'm concerned is that there should be a credible Afrikaner leading the negotiations. Now, the history of the Afrikaner makes it clear that the Afrikaner will not support anybody who is seen to be prepared to work with other people. At the end of the Boer War the people, people like Botha (not this Botha), Louis Botha, because he was a General was more or less accepted after signing the Treaty of Vereeniging, but many Afrikaners decided to trek up the country, even to go to South America. They went up to Kenya and so forth. What is relevant here is that people like General Hertzog who did not agree with General Botha were later to become the leaders of the Afrikaner people and Smuts, who was always called 'Imuyani(?)' and they did not trust him although he was the person who was following a line which in the end could have resulted in the country remaining a home for all the people of the country.
POM So you are far more sympathetic ...
AG Once you discredit de Klerk - I can't see Stoffel van der Merwe replacing de Klerk and I can't see the other man, Botha, there's another Botha, replacing de Klerk. Does anybody see them taking his place?
AG I don't see the point of attacking de Klerk. Of course I'm not talking on behalf of the ANC, I'm talking as Archie.
POM Thank God you're not speaking for the ANC. If everybody that I talked to who is part of the ANC spoke for the ANC then everybody would say the same thing. I'd just go to one person rather than to thirty! The thing is that you are far more sympathetic to the predicament that de Klerk faces in balancing these multiple forces than official ANC policy is.
AG Well I don't know what official ANC policy is, but this attitude of treating de Klerk as an enemy when he could be, with some understanding, become an ally is something I don't quite understand.
POM I remember you saying, things are coming back into my mind as we talk, but I remember you saying when we talked first, of the importance of the relationship between Mandela and de Klerk to the whole process. The chemistry that appeared to exist between them at that point in time was the glue that would hold many disparate elements together and then recently you've had Mr Mandela making fairly vitriolic, personal attacks on Mr de Klerk.
AG Yes. He has been attacked by Buthelezi.
POM Do you find that sad? What do you think is going on? Why do you think Mr Mandela would move to the position of saying, "Our relationship was never that important to begin with, I put no great faith in it?"
AG Well, if Mandela is thinking in terms of peace in this country you will just have to accept that the best leader for the Afrikaner in these times, or for the white people in these times, is de Klerk and there is no point attacking him. It's so important that an understanding should be reached with him because he can influence more white people than any other white person can to avoid conflict. And as far as I'm concerned I don't think that anybody will reap any benefits whatsoever from attacking him.
POM Let me ask you another question in relation to Mr Mandela. That is that when CODESA deadlocked and you had both Mr Mandela and Mr de Klerk in a way putting the best face on things, saying, yes we have reached a deadlock but the problems aren't insuperable, we will try to work them out. And one month later you had the ANC breaking off negotiations altogether and you had the more heightened and personal attacks on de Klerk as being directly responsible for the violence, as being the murderer of the African people. What were the dynamics in that period that moved the ANC from the position of, OK we're deadlocked but we can work on it, to a position of no more talks, we've a whole new set of demands that must be met before we get back to the negotiating table?
AG In between these two evils you know we had this Boipatong, because I think that that did deal with the situation. And of course you see the continuing attacks, those were some of the things that I would say would harden attitudes on the side of the ANC and then of course on one side you were having these constant attacks from Inkatha.
POM But you have had the Goldstone Commission saying there is no direct evidence to link de Klerk, his Cabinet or senior personnel in the security forces to direct involvement in the orchestration of violence.
AG Does the Goldstone Commission posit the security forces are not involved in the violence?
POM It just says there's no evidence.
AG No evidence? Does it feel that the trial at Maritzburg of Trust Feed is not evidence? What evidence are they talking about?
POM Well that didn't fall under the mandate of the Goldstone Commission which has only been investigating incidents of violence since 1990, since the beginning of 1990. So anything prior to that would not have fallen under its mandate. It's really looking at the new phase of violence.
AG No, I don't see that it can actually say that because there have been incidents of violence that have taken place and with a security force which was determined to pick up the culprits it would have done so if it applied its mind to that. The fact is that the security forces have themselves pretended. You take what took place at Umlazi just recently. Nobody has been arrested yet but people were killed in broad daylight by Inkatha supporters and nobody has been charged with any offences. Where are the security forces? What are they doing? What is their duty? Whatever else do you want to show that they are in fact by omission helping the forces of destruction?
POM Looking at the negotiating process since the inception of CODESA, how would you rate the performance of the ANC and how would you rate the performance of Mandela since his release now that one has a broad period of time to look at?
AG Well, this is a very, very difficult question because I don't know what is happening in the Eastern Cape, I don't know what is happening in Border, Transkei and so forth. All these areas are supposed to be under the control of the ANC. Who are these areas? It's not only in Natal. But I will say the PWV area and others, I will say that as far as Natal is concerned the manner in which the reorganisation was handled, by what was called the main task force for organisation, did not result in creating a strong ANC in this area. There are two areas where there is conflict which the ANC has not been able to resolve. In both places the branch leadership was killed in a place called Kwandengezi just outside Pinetown. The leadership there was killed. The branch leadership was killed.
AG Assassinated by disgruntled people in the township, from the township, who had left the township. And in a place called KwaDabeka the leadership there of the branch had to leave the area, they are refugees outside the area. But the ANC does not appear to have done anything to restore that leadership to the area. Because I will take it that it's their duty to see to it. So I can't see that there's a strong organisation if it fails to protect people who have been properly elected by the membership and those people find themselves victims of an attack by other people and the organisation is unable to come to the assistance of those people. When I say unable, fails to come to the assistance of their people, then I can't say that. You're having the same problem out in Port Shepstone, all over the place. [some are attacked by other former - even Gumulanga(?),] There are attacks by what are called 'comtotis', Comrade Tsotsis, these are hooligans. You see you are having things of that kind. And the organisation doesn't appear to be in a position to take control over these elements in Natal. I don't know.
POM In Sebokeng there has been faction fighting between former MK guerrillas and the established ANC leadership in the town, again over the question of power and I think Chris Hani and somebody else had to go in there, I think Jacob Zuma went in to try to mediate the dispute. Let me put a very broad question, I'll throw it out in the form of a hypothesis but I want you to think about it before you say yes or no or whatever. It's been 2½ years now since the ANC has been unbanned and you've had exiles come back, in many cases one doesn't find that the ANC has done a lot to help the exiles. There's a fair amount of disgruntlement in townships, among former members of the MK and exiles, lack of jobs, lack of anything, lack of progress. That's one element.
The second element would be you had negotiations going on at CODESA among the leadership with the government but really negotiations are again removed from the people, they don't know a lot about what's going on. They learn that their negotiators were prepared to give the government and its allies a 75% veto in a Bill of Rights and a 60% veto on provisions for a constitution and there's a backlash against this. People are upset. There's some outrage. And so the ANC leadership is facing problems from the grassroots on a number of fronts and then Boipatong happens and it becomes a symbolic catalyst, it allows the movement to pull itself together again. It becomes the springboard for mass action involving all sections of the community so that without being crass or cynical about it one could say that Boipatong happened at the right time for the ANC.
AG Well I can't say that the tragedy of Boipatong - now the tragedy of Boipatong may have contributed towards the revitalisation of the organisation, but more or less than that, you see when you speak of the exiles, the return of the exiles and the return of the prisoners, you are talking about people who were not part of the process of change in the seventies and eighties up to ninety when they were allowed to come in. That does not mean that there were no people who were involved in that process up to that time, but for some reason or other those people are in a difficulty because some of them were immediately placed in positions of responsibility. Being placed in a position of responsibility they were not equipped to deal with the problems that were arising, they do not have the necessary contacts. They do not know what people want, programmes that are arising, but they were the people in charge and they wanted to show that they were the people who were elected by the people to lead the organisation. One finds that the situation has not been dealt with as one would have expected in the sense that the people who were then supposed to deal with these programmes did not have the necessary information to find solutions for the various problems. Now that information cannot be obtained from books, it could not be obtained from theory or anything, it just had to be acquired from day to day living, people's ideas and people's views. We have a very, very serious problem I must say. Unless there are some ANC that are going to take over these problems.
POM Unless there are some ANC leaders who?
AG Well I don't know who is going to be responsible for our youth who are disillusioned in that they have grown up but they are not employed but they want money, they want to see the good things of life, they want motor cars, they want all sorts of things that they can't get. I happened to be in one of the courts in Durban and they were talking about the youngster who was charged with the theft of a motor cycle. Now that sort of incident is very common and understandable to us because these young people are expecting to get something out life. But where you are I cannot see there is any sort of machinery that is being established to pay attention to the needs of people like that. Perhaps the need for that to be established is not recognised by the leadership, but the reality is that the situation is going to deteriorate and in the end we are going to find ourselves being in a situation of chaos.
POM There's talk about an interim government coming and then elections to follow within a stipulated period of time for a Constitutional Assembly of one kind or another. Do you think in Natal there is, first, the climate in which you could have free and fair elections?
AG At present, no. That is one of the things that has to receive attention, wholehearted attention.
POM My second question is related to that. If there were elections tomorrow morning, is the ANC sufficiently well organised that it could get out its vote?
AG If you say tomorrow morning, nobody would know what you are talking about.
POM Is the ANC in the area ready for elections?
AG My impression is that it is not.
PAT Apart from Natal, which people seem to realise has some exceptional characteristics to it compared to the rest of the country, do you think things would be stabilised at any point in the foreseeable future to where one would have elections in which people all over Natal, Northern Natal as well as the areas around Durban, would have confidence that they could actually go to a polling station without any threat to their life, securing the election system?
AG Now that depends entirely on what you began with, the people who are the leaders genuinely applying themselves to solving the problems. If they've got a hidden agenda that's why we lost. People are going to be trying to organise in such a way that they gain advantages, points. Now one of the programmes we are having, for example, is that political points are more important than human lives.
POM I hate to tell you this, but we talked to Thomas Shabalala yesterday and he said exactly the same thing that you said. Until the leaders, Mandela, de Klerk and Buthelezi, together apply themselves directly to this problem of violence it's not going to be resolved. So there you have consensus.
PAT Is it one of those political points what we see in the paper today where the King of the Zulus wants to speak with Mandela and yet there doesn't seem to be ...?
AG No, no, no. Now it's the same sort of game that Mandela is playing against Buthelezi. You see these two are trying to outwit one another and as long as that is going on we are not going to get anywhere.
POM Can there be a settlement?
AG And of course I don't think that Mandela is a free agent. Mandela has his own programmes with the people who know nothing about Zulu customs and nothing about Zulu culture. As far as I am concerned, my observation is that they are thinking not as Zulus in Natal.
POM Can there be any second forum like CODESA that excludes Buthelezi or KwaZulu from being part of the process?
AG I do not think such a thing is possible.
POM You don't believe such a thing?
AG No. You see unless people are looking for a Renamo in South Africa or looking for a UNITA in South Africa, they can go along with that.
POM Is there any doubt in your mind that if such a settlement were to emerge that it would be fought by Buthelezi, that he would militantly oppose it
AG Even if Buthelezi was eliminated there would be others who would take his place and just be very, very willing instruments for upsetting any such settlement. Even as I said de Klerk is important for a settlement. As far as I'm concerned Buthelezi is also important for a settlement and at present Mandela is important for a settlement. That is why I would never say or do anything that would create problems for Mandela because at present he is our best bet. If we remove Mandela we have Sisulu, he is nowhere near Mandela even in ability.
POM And if you remove de Klerk you've got the same situation on the white side. What about on the Inkatha side?
AG On the Inkatha side that is a core, there is a Zulu core in the Zulu Royal Family and others who do have the ability to have authority to be recognised as leaders by many people in KwaZulu.
POM Thank you for the time, and again I apologise for being late. What I'd like to do as I go along and continue these interviews is learn more about you and your life and the events that formed you. Would you mind talking for a couple of minutes about your own background, your father, your mother, your family? You come from a distinguished pedigree.
AG No, no, no. There have been so many factors that I recognise now as having had an influence on the way I look at life.
POM Maybe I should leave it until I come back at Christmas. I will leave you with this thought in mind that this is what I would like to talk to you about, the factors that affected your own development and thinking and how they have evolved over time to their present position.
AG What position are you talking about now? The position of being a spectator while events are developing? You are talking to a spectator now.
POM An important one.
PAT Do you have any activities that engage you in any aspect of the process right now?
AG If you are thinking of the national process, none.
PAT In Natal?
AG None in Natal either. It's only that I do have dealings with people in the local area. I have mentioned KwaDabeka, this is this report I've got here. It was from a man in KwaDabeka who is threatened by a group which is part of the Youth League and is functioning as a branch at the area.
POM That's the Youth League of the ANC?
AG Youth League of the ANC. He is organising real chaos without realising that they are organising chaos.
POM That's the Youth League?
AG The Youth League. The ANC does not exercise any control over the Youth League. It allows the Youth League just to do things as it likes.
POM Why do you think that is?
AG I don't know whether it's ...
POM Is it that they're unable or unwilling to? Are the ANC behaving with regard to their Youth League the same way de Klerk is behaving towards his security forces?
AG That is right, that is right. You've got it now.
POM Thank you.