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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

24 Jul 1992: Omar, Dullah

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POM     Let me start in the middle and then try to move backwards and forwards. In the last year it seems to me that there have been two stories coming out of South Africa. One is the story of CODESA, negotiations proceeding, agreements being reached, breakthroughs happening. And the other was the story of violence, increasing violence, endemic violence. Sometimes one would think that the two were never linked, that in fact they were reports coming from separate and different worlds. Let me start first with CODESA. When I read that the negotiators at CODESA had made an offer of 75% threshold for a Bill of Rights provision and a 70% threshold for provisions in the constitution, frankly I was amazed. I thought considering all the survey information that was available there was a very good chance that the government and its allies could in fact get sufficient support in a Constituent Assembly to have a veto power and thereby be able to entrench the property rights in the Bill of Rights, to be able to entrench something like the independence of the Central Bank in a Bill of Rights. Two things, (i) what were the dynamics that brought about that offer, (ii) if the government had accepted it, done the deal, would the ANC/SACP/COSATU alliance have had trouble selling it to the membership, maybe even to parts of its own Executive and (iii) did the government blow the best offer that it might ever get?

DO     All right. With regard to the first question which is the dynamics that led to this offer being made. I think what we had at CODESA was the existence of two strategies fighting for dominance, fighting for victory, for acceptance. The ANC entered CODESA with a view to winning an elected constitution making body, a body elected by all the people of South Africa including the people of the homelands. The Constituent Assembly, as we call it, would in itself have been a step in the reuniting of the country and it would have created a legitimate body for the drawing up of a constitution. On the other hand the National Party government entered CODESA also with a strategy and their strategy was to win what they called an interim constitution and in that interim constitution they wanted to make provision for a rotating presidency, for a multi-party executive, for a parliament consisting of two chambers, the second chamber being dominated by minority parties and having a veto power over the democratic chamber which would be the first chamber.

     Now both parties set about at CODESA a strategy to try to chuck away the strategy of the other. What the ANC did, it said to the government, the National Party, that you are making your proposals on the basis that you want a constitution which protects minorities, we are saying to you that you do not need that second chamber in order to protect minorities. When I say you don't need a second chamber I mean a second chamber for the purpose of drawing up a constitution. Because the government was arguing that it is this interim parliament which will have to draw up a new constitution. My view, by the way, is that there was nothing interim in their proposals because once you set up the presidency and the executive council and the parliament consisting of two chambers and you create procedures which make it very, very difficult to amend the constitution ...

POM     In effect they wanted the interim constitution entrenching the rotating presidency, etc., drawn up at CODESA so that if that interim constitution came before the interim parliament it would be amended rather than drawing up a new constitution?

DO     Correct. In other words CODESA would draw up that constitution. You then have elections in terms of that constitution and you set up a government in terms of that constitution. You would then have in place this two chamber structure and their proposal amounted to an attempt, in fact, at CODESA writing the constitution. The only way you would get out of that constitution, or make amendments to that constitution, would be by satisfying the requirements of that interim constitution with regard to amendment. In effect also once that interim constitution was in place the only way you could alter it would be through a measure being passed in the lower chamber, the first chamber, by a special majority and also being passed by the second chamber by a special majority and it in effect would have created a situation of a minority veto. It would have meant we would not be able to amend the constitution easily or to introduce any new constitution through that mechanism. So in effect their proposal amounted to a constitution which was not interim at all. It would be permanent.

     Now we argued that CODESA should not draw up the constitution, that CODESA does not have the legitimacy. You know the argument so I'm not going to repeat it. The Nats argued that this was an interim constitution and once you've got your interim parliament, that interim parliament can draw up a constitution which must take into account the fears of the minorities, etc., etc. So what we did at CODESA was to say, you are making all these proposals because you say minority interests must be protected, well let's address the issue of minorities. And we are saying that the effect of your second chamber which you are proposing is to deny democratic majority rule and therefore it is not acceptable. If you drop your second chamber we are prepared to look at other ways to protect the interests of minorities. Hence we have proposed proportional representation, we are prepared to accept that a constitution cannot be passed by a simple majority or we are prepared to have a Bill of Rights with minority rights protected in the Bill of Rights, language, culture, religion and so on, freedom of association. We are agreeable to an independent judiciary and any other measures which would be reasonable and which would not frustrate majority rule, which would not frustrate normal democratic government.

     Now we could not get them away from their proposal for a second chamber and in an attempt to pry them away from that we agreed to increase majorities in the Constituent Assembly. So the whole idea of going for the 70% and 75% formula was an attempt to get the government to abandon its proposal for the second chamber. It would have meant that we would have ended up with a single chamber constitution making body and the constitution making body would adopt a constitution by the requisite majority as stated. Now that was our reason and our strategy to try to get them away.

     On the other hand what the government was doing was to add more and more conditions. They created the impression that they were prepared to go along with this proposal provided that they could get all kinds of guarantees and they wanted a Bill of Rights which protects property. There was a great deal of debate around that and we were prepared to agree to a formula which said that legitimate property rights would be protected and that if property is taken just compensation should be paid and we defined 'just compensation' as being one which takes into account the public interest in addition to the way the owner acquired the property.

     But much more important than that, what the government then did, because we were not moving from our proposals in an attempt to win them over, but they did exactly the same thing on their side. They said, OK we're prepared to consider your proposal but you must create regional structures and phase them in during the interim period and so their proposal was that the parties should agree on structures of government at CODESA, provide for regional government, demarcation of regions, allocating of functions and powers and the phasing in of regional government during this interim period. After a great deal of debate in our own ranks our team decided that in order to win the Constituent Assembly we will accept that condition, so we accepted it. Ultimately when it came to CODESA 2 and we accepted all those things and said OK.

POM     So you had accepted that regional structures would be developed at CODESA, regional powers defined?

DO     On condition that the government dropped its proposal for a second chamber. And finally at CODESA the two strategies played themselves out and the government then realised that the time had come for it to say yes or no and it said no. By the time CODESA 2 was held it was already clear to us that the government was not going to agree. There had already been talk on their side that they are not going to drop the second chamber. Irrespective of what we proposed, they wanted their second chamber, they wanted their presidency, they wanted a multi-party executive, all of which we wanted them to drop in order to ensure that we have a Constituent Assembly which can draw up a constitution. So what you had then at CODESA and in the period leading up to CODESA were two counter strategies playing themselves out. The reason we went up to 70% and 75% was an attempt to wean the Nats and the government away from their vision of constitution making. So those were some of the dynamics.

     Secondly, the proposal was very unpopular in the ranks of the ANC. When our region heard that we had gone up to 70% and 75% there was great dissatisfaction in the ranks of the ANC. We had actually gone beyond our mandate. If we had won a Constituent Assembly we would have gone back to our regions and branches and said, look this is what we've got, that in any event we don't believe we should write a constitution on our own because we have to think of the period beyond the constitution and the maintenance of peace in the country. Just understanding as we did what had happened in other parts of Africa and the capacity of the white population for counter-revolutionary activities and devastation and so on, we felt that we would be making some compromises but we'll be buying peace and we would go to our constituencies and we would explain why we have accepted this formula.

     In other words what we are saying is that constitution making cannot be seen in isolation, on its own, it's got to be seen in the context of the real situation in the country and the capacity of the white population to cause damage to prevent the reconstruction of the country. So if we could win the constitution, even if it is not perfect, it gives us breathing space and enables us to begin building up the country, ensure people have work and food and so on, and there are serious socio-economic problems, we felt that those were compromises that we could justify. And we would have taken it to our constituencies. But now once rejected, once the offer had been rejected by the other side, all our regions came out and said that they were not prepared to accept any formula which requires a 70% and 75% majority. At the end of May we had a policy conference with all regions represented, all of them mandated by their branches, and the policy conference adopted a resolution that any constitution would have to be adopted by a two thirds majority and not more. So in response to the second question then, the proposal was not popular at all. With regard to the third question - what was it?

POM     Did the government blow the best deal it would ever be offered?

DO     I think that the government blew it. They had an offer which we thought if we were in their place we would grab it. But they are greedy, the de Klerk regime has not come to terms with the need for democratic majority rule. They thought, and continue to think, that they can compel the ANC to accept what is called a power sharing arrangement and I think to a large extent they were depending on United States support and they thought that the international community would bring pressure on the ANC. Very often when de Klerk speaks he's actually speaking to the international community. So their strategy has been to create as much problems for the ANC, there has been a great deal of devastation, destabilisation, violence to compel us for the sake of peace to accept the kind of power sharing arrangements which they were proposing.

POM     When we talked about this last year and one of my questions was that there were two languages going on here. There's the language of de Klerk and the Nats that only talks about the sharing of power and the language of the ANC where it is majority rule or the transfer of power which are two very different things. In a way they were coming into an inevitable conflict as the negotiations moved from one level to another. It strikes me that during the whites only referendum that every report that came out of South Africa, whether it was on the BBC, the New York Times, the American television networks, the British dailies, The Independent, the quality dailies, or even in the South African media, and I subscribe to two news clipping services, always had de Klerk speaking about it being a referendum about a process that would bring about equality for all and peace when whites share power with blacks. It was always referred to as the sharing of power with blacks. Now no-one in the ANC said, hold it, this is not about negotiations about the sharing of power. This is a process that eventually will bring about the transfer of power to the majority of the people of the country in a free and fair election. A couple of questions: that de Klerk might in some way have, I won't say fooled himself, but allowed himself to believe that you were beginning to buy in to his definition of what the process is about?

DO     In the first place at the time of the referendum we did not want to do anything which would enable the right wing to win. Whilst we did not agree with de Klerk and we saw the cunning in the way he went about it we were not going to do anything which undermined a yes vote because we did not want to strengthen the right wing. But we did make it clear that we disagreed with de Klerk. We have always done so. We've always made it clear that we rejected his notion of power sharing and that we are for democratic majority rule. The problem, you will realise, is that the media in our country is controlled by firstly the state itself insofar as radio and television is concerned, and the newspapers controlled by the big monopolies, all of whom support de Klerk. And in our view there has been a massive media campaign to whip up support for de Klerk and to get people to agree to de Klerk's proposals. And the press very often created the impression that the ANC was on the verge of accepting de Klerk's proposals when in fact there was no basis for it. It was an attempt to prevent the ANC with a kind of a fait accompli and get the ANC to fall in line. It is still happening today. So the role of the media is something I think that one must note in particular. We are very, very concerned about it because even if we were to have elections now, those elections are not going to be fair and free.

POM     I'm getting to that.

DO     So it's a terrible problem that we are sitting with. In other words what I am saying is that we never gave the impression to anybody that we would accept the kind of power sharing which de Klerk proposes.

POM     I understand the strategic reasoning, the chief reason would be this and this, the white's business has to define what they are doing and we'll stay out of it and it's to our advantage to allow de Klerk to win by as big a majority as possible because that will eliminate the threat of the right. On the other hand if you were to get out there and categorically and very definitely make it very clear to the white electorate that de Klerk was only selling them a bill of goods then do you think the right wing would have done a lot better or perhaps even won?

DO     Yes.

POM     If the ANC had intervened, so to speak, to say, no this is not a process about eventually coming to an arrangement about the sharing of power, it is a process about the majority of the people deciding for themselves what form of government they will have.

DO     But in fact we did intervene and we did make it clear that we rejected de Klerk's notion of power sharing, that we wanted a democracy in the country and that we felt that if the right wing were to win greater and greater support it would make the transition to democracy more difficult. And it was precisely because we wanted to move to majority rule that we wanted a situation in which the right wing was eliminated from contention. So in fact we did not refuse to intervene, we did intervene, but we never got the kind of publicity that de Klerk was getting.

POM     Do you think the right wing as a result of that referendum, that the threat of the right wing has been reduced very effectively or is even close to being of marginal concern?

DO     Well in our ranks there have been two views on that. The one is that it has been marginalised. The other is that the right wing exists within the de Klerk regime itself and I think a little bit of both is the truth, that in fact the right wing as represented by Treurnicht has been marginalised but that there is a right wing phenomenon within the regime itself.

POM     Where would that be addressed? If I wanted to look to find it where would I go looking?

DO     Basically within the security forces, within the civil service. I think those who feel that they've got something to lose.

POM     What do you think whites thought they were voting for when they voted for the referendum, when they voted yes?

DO     The whites voted for a system of power sharing which would ensure that de Klerk remains in control. They voted for a dispensation in which they believed de Klerk would always be there and would always have the last word. If the choice was put to the whites, "Do you support democratic majority rule?" they would have voted no. And that is still the situation at the moment.

POM     Maybe that's the crux of the whole matter, that there's no acceptance of what democracy is really about. What do you think blacks thought whites were voting for?

DO     Again there was no unanimous position. There were differences within the black community. PAC, AZAPO for example argued that this was not our referendum, to hell with the referendum, we don't want to have anything to do with it. The ANC's view was that we would not prevent people from voting yes, in fact in some instances we would call on our white comrades to vote yes knowing exactly where they stood. But even within the ANC there were differences. There were some people who argued that we should not participate in the referendum at all, we should not dirty our hands. Basically I think that there were therefore a number of different views within the black community.

POM     What would you make of surveys I saw last week when I came here, one by Markinor Polling Institute done for the Gallup Polls which seem to consistently show that a large majority of blacks are quite willing to accept power sharing arrangements?

DO     Well I don't think so. I think that these Markinor people have always produced the kind of surveys which the government wanted. Any real survey among the blacks would show that blacks want majority rule.

POM     Are there within the country, polling organisations that you would regard as being reliable indicators of public sentiment?

DO     Difficult to say. The Human Sciences Research Council has conducted research as well. The Centre for Development Studies, which is here, they've been doing some amongst the so-called Coloured population. The Institute for Black Research I would consider to be the one. This is a body headed by Professor Fatima Meer in Natal. I unfortunately don't have a copy of one of their surveys. I saw some of their surveys which are completely contrary to what all these other people are saying.

POM     Is that right? She did her last survey in 1990 I think.

DO     I'm not sure when the last one was done.

POM     I visited her two days ago, that's her benchmark because she said she wasn't surprised at the results of the referendum and she looked up the results of a survey she had done in 1990, questions asked and replies received, a fairly accurate indicator of what actually happened. Then there's this period: CODESA deadlocks, it looks as though Mandela and de Klerk put the best face on it, they said yes there are problems but the difficulties are not insuperable. And then within a month you've moved to a situation of where the ANC walks out of CODESA, where a programme of mass mobilisation becomes the centrepiece of a new campaign, where Mandela begins to mount what seem to be quite vitriolic attacks on de Klerk personally as distinct from the government and the security forces or whatever. There's a complete change in the climate during that period. Boipatong being at the centre piece of it. But what were the dynamics that were conspiring to bring about this?

DO     You see I think Boipatong was very much a catalyst, but that phenomenon had been building up. The ANC and Mandela in particular had hoped that despite the setback at CODESA, and he made it clear in the press conference after CODESA 2 that the break was serious, the deadlock was serious. He did put on his best face at CODESA in the hope that the parties could continue talking and that he could persuade parties to come to terms with the realities of the situation. But it became clear that the destabilisation process was so serious that greater attempts would have to be made to it and that in fact the regime, we came to the conclusion, was using the CODESA process in order to buy time and in order to alter the balance of forces in its favour.

POM     You say alter the balance of forces in its favour, you mean?

DO     Inside and outside the country. In other words break out of international isolation insofar as the international world is concerned, getting rid of sanctions, not come to any agreement in the meanwhile even though you go through the motions of negotiating. Inside the country destabilising the ANC, trying to win more support for himself.

POM     Among blacks?

DO     Among the population generally. Strengthening his own position, weakening the position of the ANC and then seeking to impose a solution through CODESA or elsewhere on the basis of a weak ANC. So that I think has been our reading of the situation and the Boipatong massacre just made it impossible to continue. By that time also I think it is fair to say people on the ground had lost all confidence in CODESA. In our branches, in every region, in COSATU and in the black community generally there was a feeling that CODESA was just a waste of time. CODESA had de-legitimised itself to some extent by the way it was operating the meetings. Meetings were taking place behind closed doors, they were the Working Groups, but the media was not allowed to be present so that there was no direct reporting of what was happening inside CODESA, what parties were saying. So to the general public CODESA was meeting in secret and generally amongst the black population there was a loss of confidence in CODESA so that by the time CODESA 2 took place and the position of the government became clear, I think the black population in general had lost confidence in CODESA to such an extent that it required very little to get people to say that CODESA is wasting its time. What people had noticed over a period of time was that here you people are talking, you are meeting at CODESA, there are pictures on TV, you people are drinking tea together, laughing and smiling with each other, shaking hands with each other, in the meanwhile our people are being killed in the country. This contradiction in the minds of people became more and more intolerable and when Boipatong took place I think it was just the last straw. Even if the leadership wanted to continue in CODESA our constituencies would never have allowed it.

POM     You had these tensions within the ANC, that you've mentioned, do you think that Boipatong kind of allowed the ANC to pull itself together, to pull the fractious elements in its constituency back into the fold. There was a new militancy that mass mobilisation was the re-involvement of the people in the process?

DO     No, not at all. In fact the programme of mass action was planned long before Boipatong. The plan for mass action was evolved immediately after CODESA 2 and even if Boipatong had not taken place the ANC would have continued its programme of mass action. So the mass action itself had nothing to do with Boipatong. We adopted the programme of mass action at our policy conference at the end of May. COSATU had adopted the programme some time before this and so the mass action campaign was something which had already been planned and it did not come as a result of Boipatong.

POM     Just in following events from a casual distance it would appear that within the alliance at this point that COSATU has achieved a far more prominent role than it had in the last couple of years, that it has become in a way the 'driving engine' of the direction in which the alliance is moving at the moment.'

DO     I think that COSATU is certainly playing a much more decisive role and I think it's something which most or all the branches of the ANC find extremely useful and good. We have always held the view that organised workers must play a more and more important role in decision making. But it's a mutual thing, most of COSATU members are members of the ANC, ANC members play an important role in COSATU. But it is so that COSATU has played a much more important role in the current period.

POM     Large scale mass mobilisation is like the power the movement has to play, the threat of it makes the government hesitate because it can immobilise the country. What if you call for a campaign of mass mobilisation and it fizzles? Already one has seen what has been talked about originally as perhaps a general strike of three weeks, scaled back to seven days then it became a two day, then a 24 hour one with the voluntary co-operation of employers and now it's back to a two day general strike supplemented by other actions, but it's no longer talked of as bringing the country to a halt for three weeks. Is it a risky tactic?

DO     I think we were never under any illusions about the nature of mass action and its limitations. At the same time it's power. We are under no illusions that a general strike of two or three days can bring the country to a standstill, it cannot. It will not bring de Klerk to his knees but it will create so many problems for de Klerk that he will have to think about it and our view of mass action is not a spectacular period of mass action, we argued against it, but we are ready for a sustained period of mass action over a period of time, long period of time, one year, two years, in the same way that we fought the tricameral system in the 1980s and brought the government to a standstill. So that our vision of mass action is one of rolling mass action which continues to mobilise, continues to de-legitimise the regime. You see we are taking into account that the regime itself has embarked upon a campaign to de-legitimise the liberation movement, to present itself as the force which is ending apartheid and bringing democracy to South Africa. And so in the same way we have to fight the regime and de-legitimise them and win the legitimacy of the liberation movements, we have to do so again, and that's not something that will necessarily take one week, two weeks, three weeks. It's a continuous process in the sense that it can last much longer, a year, two years, whatever the case may be. Our sense, however, is that the crisis in the country is serious, the economic crisis is bad, that the social crisis is bad, that the organs of government are continuing to break down in different parts of the country. The government cannot continue to rule and it cannot continue in this way much longer and therefore will be compelled to come to terms somewhere along the line, maybe in a months time, maybe three months time, two months time, we can't say.

POM     What's your own gut feeling?

DO     Well my feeling is that within the next couple of months they'll have to come to terms. The big issue was whether we would win international support for democratic majority rule or not. I think that would have been the determining factor in the short term. And I think we will win that. I cannot see the international community, if it understands what power sharing will mean in South Africa, that it will in effect mean a white veto over all the processes, I cannot see the international community supporting it.

POM     Yet many people would suggest that the UN Security Council debate, they began to look upon it in terms of winners and losers just in purely political terms, that the South African government appeared to be the winner, that it was a relatively soft resolution and the fact that people like Buthelezi and Brigadier Gqozo and Mangope got to speak, that up to this point the UN had always heartily and unilaterally criticised and ostracised the South African government and there was none of that present.

DO     I think the first thing one must say about the United Nations view is that the situation has changed since February 1990, that de Klerk has unbanned the political organisations. He has freed large numbers of political prisoners. But all those changes would have created the conditions for the United Nations to review its attitude to de Klerk at least and so one should not be surprised that they give de Klerk a hearing. Not only European governments but African governments have given him a hearing so it's not something that takes us by surprise and we don't bemoan the fact that he was given a hearing. Also when we lodged a complaint with the Security Council, our fundamental objective was that the Security Council should ... itself of the matter, irrespective of our ... The regime has fought that, de Klerk has fought that all the time. They did not want the issue to become internationalised and for us the very fact that the Security Council agreed to take up the matter and to listen to the complaint was in itself a victory. We did not expect that they would only listen to us and not listen to the other side. You can't get the Security Council to take any kind of action without listening to the parties concerned. Also we anticipated that if we take up the issue the South African government would bring its cronies along. The mere fact that the Security Council listened to Buthelezi and listened to the others does not add to their legitimacy. It was pointed out by the Chair of the Security Council that the mere fact that they are being heard does not amount to recognition.

POM     In their personal capacities?

DO     Yes. [So for us then the mere fact that we were able to win Security Council ... itself of the matter was ...] Secondly, I think what is happening is as a result of that there is a spotlight on South Africa. The security forces in our country will not be able to act with the kind of impunity they want to. Thirdly, with regard to the negotiation process I think there will be a better understanding of what the issues are. Just this morning I heard a report of Herman Cohen's speech. Bush has made a speech in which he offered to facilitate a settlement, I don't know if I'm putting it too strongly. He addressed something to de Klerk, Mandela and Buthelezi. One of the things that he has said is that there should be majority rule and whilst minorities must be protected and their rights guaranteed there cannot be a veto. So already I think that it is paying dividends. So the response of the United Nations and the weak resolution is not entirely unexpected. We did not expect that the Security Council would make the same kind of resolution that the General Assembly would take, for example.

POM     In the sense that the government would have always maintained that what happens within South Africa is internal to South Africa and it's now been moved out of that domain into a larger international sphere.

DO     They did not come along and say, this has got nothing to do with you, keep your hands out of South Africa. They didn't do that, they couldn't.

POM     A couple of last questions and thanks as always for the time. The Goldstone Commission in one of its recent reports came out and said that it had uncovered no evidence to link de Klerk, his Cabinet or senior security officials to the violence, which on the face of it is a direct contradiction of what the ANC has been saying for the last two years and which Mandela put even more forcibly a couple of weeks ago when he threw responsibility that de Klerk is murdering our people. On the other hand in New York he went out of his way to praise the work of Goldstone, which seems to be kind of a contradiction. What lies where?

DO     No it's not really a contradiction. Very often we have found that evidence only becomes available long after the event. Now I think if you read Goldstone you will see that Goldstone says that there is no evidence. Goldstone does not say this did not happen. Goldstone does not say the police were not involved. Goldstone says there is no evidence. The fact that there is no evidence which has been uncovered thus far does not mean that it is not so. One good example is the Trust Feed case in Natal where the evidence of police complicity and involvement only came to light much later.

POM     Do you think that de Klerk is in control of his security forces? Is he a free agent to take action, to fire senior security personnel or to begin the process of a widespread restructuring of the police in particular, or is he captive to elements within the security forces and within his own party that would preclude him from doing that?

DO     Well I think you see that de Klerk was party to a government which over the years built up a national security management system with all the elements and characteristics which we are witnessing today. He is party to its creation, so if he is a prisoner of it at the moment he also a creator of it. It may be that there are elements in the security forces that he cannot control, that may well be so, but then he is not in control of the situation and he is not fit to govern. It is difficult to believe that he is not in control. He has taken steps when he was compelled to take steps. If you take Battalion 32 for example which he claims to have disbanded now, he has never disbanded it even though he knew what Battalion 32 was about and there have been many complaints about Battalion 32. He has defended Battalion 32. So I think there may be elements of the security forces that he does control, but there are also areas, we suspect and believe, where he himself is a party to the various strategies they are implementing. He may not be a party to deciding exactly what they are going to do where, but he is certainly a party to the formulation of strategy.

POM     The strategy is to destabilise and undermine the ANC and hope that support starts drifting in the direction of the National Party which portrays itself as the law, order, stability, blah, blah, blah.

DO     How that strategy is implemented in detail he may not be entirely aware of or may be unaware of.

POM     You said earlier that one could not have free and fair elections in this country now. Must the question of resolving the violence take precedence over the question of negotiations for a future constitution if you cannot create the conditions in which you can have an election for a Constituent Assembly?

DO     Well firstly the violence has a deliberate political objective and that is to prevent elections taking place. The violence can be stopped if the parties who have a stake in the violence decide that the violence must stop and their objective is to prevent elections in our view. If you take into account what I said earlier that de Klerk wants an interim constitution now and elections afterwards then I think the picture becomes clear that as a result of violence and destabilisation they hope to create pressure upon the democratic forces in our country to accept an interim constitution in order to win peace. And then elections would take place within the context of that constitutional framework with all the safeguards for a white minority veto which it contains. So it is not impossible for violence to be stopped. The ANC has no stake or interest in violence whatsoever. We want elections, therefore we want peace. I'm not saying that ANC members are not involved in activities in different parts of the country but we have no stake in violence.

POM     My question would be if tomorrow morning by some miracle the government and the ANC agreed to a package, an interim government would be put in place, elections scheduled for early next year, if in the meantime there was no significant reduction in the level of violence could you go ahead with elections for an Assembly or would the conditions of violence make them meaningless?

DO     You see the issue of violence was also addressed in Working Group 1 at CODESA. It was recognised that violence must be ended, that you must create conditions in which there could be free political participation. So it's not a new problem, the problem has got worse but the problem has always been there. So that element of violence has always been there and one of our demands has been that the violence must be ended in order to make it possible for South African people to participate in free elections. Secondly, there's the media. Thirdly, there's the security forces which of course is related to violence as well. So to create the conditions for free political participation and to ensure free and fair elections a number of things will have to be done and amongst those things that violence will have to be addressed. Something will have to be done about the media to give people free access and the domination of the state media, television, radio, will have to be ended and political parties will have to be given political access. It will have to be placed under different control. That of course doesn't solve the problem of newspapers which are under the monopoly control. But something will have to be done there too to ensure that they give space to different political parties. Security forces, media and others in Working Group 3 a number of proposals were made to deal with those elements, commissions were going to be established to take control over police, security forces, media.

POM     Finally, Dullah, you were an advisor to Group 3, that was the independent homelands?

DO     That was Working Group 4.

POM     What were the main issues that emerged there and was it easy to establish consensus on what should be done since they have long been such a contentious issue in the country?

DO     It was not easy to arrive at any consensus and in fact while compromises were made it is clear that we still have some way to go. The issue in Working Group 4 was the future of the TBVC states, Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Ciskei and Venda. The ANC position was quite clear that the independence of these territories has never been recognised internationally. It was a fraudulent independence. It was a strategy of the regime to cause division in our country to prevent extending rights to blacks. So that our position was very clear there will have to be re-incorporation and we demanded an acceptance by the government that the TBVC states should be reincorporated and become part and parcel of South Africa. Secondly, the citizenship of the people of the TBVC states has been removed, they have been deprived of their citizenship illegally according to international law and we demanded that citizenship should immediately be restored. Thirdly, we wanted to ensure that the people of the TBVC states are able to participate in all transitional processes, in all elections and in all constitution making processes as citizens of South Africa and on an equal basis with all other people of the country. Now all of those proposals were resisted by the regime. They have never agreed in terms to the re-incorporation of the TBVC states. The best we could get out of them was an agreement that the people of the TBVC states will participate in the elections.

POM     They would participate in elections for a Constituent Assembly?

DO     Yes. But they have not agreed to re-incorporation as such. They want the elections to be run in such a way that the elections themselves will give an indication whether the people want re-incorporation or not. Their initial position was a very difficult one. They would not consider incorporation. They argued that the TBVC states are independent, that their citizens are foreigners insofar as South Africa is concerned, that therefore they have no right to take part in any election or other processes in respect of the new constitution. Further, if they wanted re-incorporation each of these states should have a referendum in its own country. If the result of the referendum was in favour of re-incorporation that state or territory would have to negotiate with the South African government which would have the final say with regard to the resulting re-incorporation and the terms of re-incorporation. And we had to fight them on that for four months before they accepted a compromise which I indicated.

POM     That is that they would participate in elections and the elections would also be a referendum of, would be framed in a way ...

DO     Give an indication. But they've never agreed in terms that these states shall be reincorporated. At the same time they continue to prop up these states with military and financial assistance.

POM     Lastly, if a settlement was reached where accommodation is made between the ANC and the government as the main players and which Buthelezi would not accept, could he become a spoiler?

DO     I suppose he can become a spoiler. He has been armed by the regime, but that capacity will over a period of time decrease once the kind of support that he has been enjoying is removed. Once there are elections and there is a clear indication by the people who they want, then I think there is no problem. If the people vote in support of Buthelezi then he'll obviously have an important role to play. The same applies to all the players.

POM     One of the things I ran into in Natal in talking to people there was that conditions simply don't exist, or will not exist in the foreseeable future, for there to be any kind of free and fair elections, that the degree of political competition and the intensity of it is still so great that even the question of where you would put a polling booth would become a matter of enormous significance.

DO     Yes, that is quite correct. But that is so because Inkatha and Buthelezi do not want elections and they have been furnished with the capacity to resist. The KwaZulu Police for example, the SADF work with them and they create the conditions for that kind of situation. But it's not an unalterable situation. The population in Natal as a whole do not want that kind of situation and the surveys which have taken place in Natal indicate that people would overwhelmingly vote for the ANC. Lastly in that regard, in the last few stayaways which took place despite the call by Buthelezi there have been over 90% stayaways which also gives an indication of the kind of support which Buthelezi does not enjoy.

POM     OK. Thank you very much. I appreciate the time.

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.