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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
30 Jul 1992: De Tolly, Jenny
POM Jenny, as we were walking in the door you mentioned that it was like Grand Central Station, that you had to get a statement out quick regarding the mass action for either the direction or non-direction of your members. What are the attitudes among your members on the one hand and then among, I would say, the liberal community that you associate with regarding the whole issue of mass action at this point in time?
JDT OK. It's been very fascinating because this past weekend we had a meeting of the National Executive with representatives from our various regions and also our Advice Office Trustees. So there were people from all around the country, from the Sash, and what became quite clear was that first of all, like always, there are strong regional differences in how the whole mass campaign has been organised. In some cases it has been very broadly canvassed, it has been very democratically put together. In other cases that hasn't been so and in some regions - it's affected by three things, the way in which the campaign has been put together, the particular political profile of the region concerned, like for instance as we've discussed before in the Eastern Cape one could call the Eastern Cape politically homogenous. There's not much else other than the ANC and there hasn't been traditionally for a long time in the Eastern Cape. It is also affected by particular perspectives of our members. On the one hand some of our membership seems less able to wear two hats. In other words some of our members who might be members of the ANC because they are possibly so deeply steeped in putting the campaign together and the ideas behind the campaign believe that it is important for us to take part. On the other hand there are members who are so out of touch, not at this meeting that we were at, but some of our grassroots members who are so out of touch in some ways with why this thing is having to happen, that they are believing everything that the electronic media and the mainline press is saying about mass action which is that it's all bad. I think our analysis of the mass action would be that it is having to happen. I believe that the ANC/COSATU is having to undertake the mass action. I don't believe they have an option.
POM Would you like to expand on that?
JDT Let me try and expand on it. I think that the way that CODESA happened was that it became like a little clique of mainly guys, because as you know there was an appallingly token representation of women, who were negotiating essentially in secret. There was a lot of talk about opening the proceedings to the media. There was a very poor structure of report back because one negotiating partner - let's talk about the Nats and the ANC and the DP and Inkatha because those were the groups that were reporting back mainly, if at all. There would be different report backs and the Nats would come out of a session with a perspective or with their line on what had happened and so would the ANC and there was quite a lot of confusion, the public felt very, very left out of this process. I think that what happened was that the two main negotiating partners started to run ahead of their constituencies and in that F W de Klerk had the means to demonstrate support for his idea within his constituency via a referendum. We can go on to that one later, I think it was the most brilliant piece of stage management I've ever come across, because I think they literally incited it.
POM We'll get to that.
JDT I think it was their means of proving support for their idea. By the same token I think that the ANC has gone way ahead, in some ways, or began to go ahead of its constituency in the negotiating process and literally had to - well there became major differences of opinion and they have literally had to resort to mass action in order to demonstrate their support. They don't have a means by ballot.
POM Let me back up a couple of steps. Were you surprised when the ANC offered the government a 75% veto threshold for inclusion of items in the Bill of Rights.
JDT No, it was 70%.
POM For a Bill of Rights 75%.
JDT I thought they were out of their minds. Yes, yes. I think that they made extraordinary concessions. That's minority veto.
POM What was the logic?
JDT I thought that they had only gone up to 70% but it must have been 70% on the constitution.
POM 75% for a Bill of Rights and 70% for the Constituent Assembly threshold.
JDT You see I think that's when the people on the ground said no way, and quite rightly no way. Just maybe things were getting cosy and they were being nice.
POM So if in fact the government had accepted the offer, do you believe the ANC would have been in real trouble with their membership?
JDT I don't think they would have been able to carry it amongst their membership.
POM By the same token, do you think the government blew the best offer it will ever get?
JDT Yes. I would have been, well yes, it certainly was the best offer it would ever get.
POM Let me tell you what I've been hearing from people and then you can comment on it. One was the factor that you've mentioned, the leadership in the CODESA process getting increasingly out of touch with the sentiments of people on the ground, people not knowing what was happening, no progress being made and violence continuing, people feeling they were not being protected against violence, some inter-faction fighting within the ANC in certain townships involving ex-members of the MK and established township leadership structures. Then you had the impasse and then very quickly the impasse was followed by the walkout and in between you had Boipatong. One could almost cynically say, and this is what I want you to comment on, that Boipatong happened at the correct moment for the ANC, that it enabled it to pull its whole movement together as an organisation to bring the various fractious elements together. It was a catalyst, it was inclusive, it served as the springboard for the campaign of mass action and once again the ANC feels more secure in itself and its constituency.
JDT Yes, yes. I would agree, if one wants to look at it cynically, Boipatong happened at the right time. It was a pretty large scale massacre but it wasn't the only one and there have been a number prior. It certainly galvanised people in the most extraordinary fashion. It galvanised everyone. I found it very fascinating that they had a church service here that was attended by as broad a spectrum of people as I have seen including, in St. George's Cathedral, the Jewish Board of Deputies, which is certainly the first time I've ever seen that.
POM What do you think accounts for that extraordinary reaction to Boipatong when less than 2 months before that you had the massacre of Crossroads where 30 people were killed, where women and children were killed. If you do a comparative analysis of the circumstances they were broadly similar and yet there was no public comment, no church services. The Tutus and the Frank Chikanes of the world were silent. Was there an element of brilliant orchestration about it? Exploited isn't the word, but was the event manipulated brilliantly for political purposes?
JDT I haven't thought that hard about it but I would say that's quite likely. Yes, why that more than any others? Yes. I really haven't analysed it very deeply because you know we've gone on putting out our statements every time that any of these things happen and we certainly didn't set the world on fire the way Boipatong did. There must have been an element of extremely good use of a situation. The ANC has not been known for that before, particularly, so maybe they're learning from the Nats.
POM Or maybe it was a matter of with all the other things happening within their organisation that this was an opportunity that they were able to manipulate. Somebody told me that when Mandela went there to address the crowd and they all began to sing, "We are the lambs and you are allowing us to die", that was Archbishop Tutu who said that, that it had a powerful impact on him and it was mainly responsible for his shift to a very hard line attitude on the whole question of violence. But to go back, do you think that what might be called the more militant or the radical elements in the ANC have now gained, for the moment, the upper hand in the internal struggle for influence. And, two, when you talk about the campaign of mass mobilisation and how it varies from region to region, you seem in a way to talk about it as though there's a lack of any real central direction.
JDT No, I don't think it's so much a question of real central direction because I've gone and got those documents. In order to write a thing to our regions I went and got those documents to try and understand more about the directives. I think it's got an awful lot to do with existing conditions on the ground because the situation in the Western Cape is so different from the total anarchy that is existing in parts of the Vaal Triangle. This past Saturday, as you know, there was this mass action in the city and it was apparently quite jolly. In fact according to our members who went there to monitor the dampest part of it in the city itself was that the policemen weren't smiling because everybody else was. On the other hand we had a report from our Johannesburg members who are part of Peace Action, some of them are on the telephones, others actually go out to the townships, and they are just saying that parts of the Vaal are absolutely terrifying now because there is a state of anarchy and violence that is feeding on itself, that has no logic any more, apportioning of blame is virtually impossible. It's just a cycle of violence that they don't know how it's going to be stopped. I mean, let's see what this bit of strong armed security force action is going to do.
In many of those townships they believe that there is no control by the leadership, that the leadership is unable to effect control, the disaffected youth and gangsters are actually using the situation to just perpetrate further violence and anarchy and they were extremely distressed about the whole situation. They said that it was not only anti-white, which the Boipatong funeral indicated as well, but it's actually anti-stranger so that they as whites wouldn't go into those townships themselves, that in fact it's dangerous for somebody who's not recognised to go into those townships as well. So, here, your programme under circumstances like that, your undertaking of mass action under circumstances like that, is so fundamentally different than good old laid back Cape Town or the Eastern Cape where everybody thinks the same way politically or Natal where you've got a very direct war going on between two political parties. That's why coming to a national position on this thing has actually been difficult because the sort of emotions that run with those who believe that it's moral for us to support mass action, and I tried to explain to them mass action is not a principle it's a strategy and we have to decide who we are in order to decide where strategically we take action.
POM To go back to the violence for a moment, last year you were of the opinion that the violence was being fuelled by elements within the state security apparatus and that the state had a large hand in the violence. Just now you talk about the violence in the Vaal which you say has no logic to it, which feeds upon itself and which would be much more in line with the analysis of John Kane-Berman in his presentation in the Western Cape.
JDT Well let me put it this way, I do believe that a lot of the - I stick with what I said last year - I do believe that elements within the state were fuelling the violence. I'm saying that in some circumstances that violence has its own self-perpetuation and I think that that is happening in certain of those townships in the Vaal. I found it quite salutary just to go several steps back. When we were fairly heavily involved with the issue around the Upington [the Pabalello] trial in which eventually 13 people were accused of murder. I keep on forgetting the figures because sometimes people dropped off. It was the murder of a policeman and when one studied this thing event by event you realised that it started because of certain hard line attitudes on the part of the policeman but then it eventually became a series of revenge killings, things that just fed on themselves and I think that in some circumstances these events are feeding on themselves now. I think that those elements within the state that I do believe were party to a situation which is highly volatile in the first place, that political competition is a highly volatile situation. Yes, I think that they were responsible in the beginning, but I'm just saying that by now ...
POM OK, that's what I think I'm getting to. Since the violence broke out in 1990, beginning of August 1990, whenever we met any 'liberal' or supporter of the ANC or member of the ANC there has been absolutely one line: the government is behind the violence, insistent. They might talk about poverty and socio-economic deprivation but it's really it's the government, it's the government. I'm saying that because after Boipatong, again the first accusation was that it was the government, it was the police who were the instigators of the violence and then the Waddington Report, while accusing them of gross and utter incompetence and being largely an unaccountable police force, did exonerate them from any form of participation. I often get the feeling that we are at a point where it is convenient to point to the police because it gives an obvious explanation for it. If you have to look at this cycle of violence feeding on itself endlessly with its own inner dynamics, it's much harder to grasp.
JDT Well it's very hard to grasp but it's obviously something that people in a position that are not engaged in the war can more easily take. Those of our members who were part of police action and went into the townships had some of the most appalling reports from people in Boipatong of police not doing their duty. Now this is one of the things that we have always contended that we believed that there were elements in the state that were definitely fuelling it. Certainly in terms of our monitors in Cape Town the one thing that they said they could specifically say, they said they never had absolute evidence of complicity although there were certain people who were known to have committed acts that they could actually trace, but the thing that they said quite emphatically is that the police did not do its duty in protecting one element against the other, and that they believe to be complicity.
POM Last year you saw the state and the security apparatus as kind of being the primary element in the fuelling of the violence. This year you seem to have added this second component that particularly in the Vaal Triangle there is a violence at work that is outside the control of anybody, the ANC, the police, the state, that it is operating on its own, and that's not something you talked about last year. So to the extent that you are talking about it this year, you've widened the parameters of ...
JDT Because I think we have a different form of violence now.
POM OK, let's hear you talk about it.
JDT We have a different form of violence now.
POM Yes, talk some about that.
JDT I don't know it in detail, I'm only giving it to you second-hand from those members who were reporting to us at the weekend and I suppose that is the fact that the leaders cannot control it now, that there's a form of anarchy where what they are saying is that youth, lawless elements are now part of these campaigns and they actually can't get at them. They can't control them. They are breaking the sewers, they are not sure how the water pipes are being broken but certainly the circuit breakers in the electricity systems are being damaged on a nightly basis which means that apparently they have to turn the power off so that the whole township is without power. In those places it's a different form of violence.
POM You also mentioned something to me that seems to be quite new and, again, surfaced at Boipatong first and that is there is an anti-white element creeping into the violence that certainly wasn't there last year or the year before. In fact I think I read a story, it could have been some members of the Sash, who went into some village in KwaZulu where the ANC and the IFP are at each other's neck and they held a vigil in the middle, sat there, and the two sides didn't attack each other because there was a white presence, or white women or whatever. Is that changing?
JDT Well apparently it would appear that it is changing or at least it certainly has changed in most parts of the Vaal. That doesn't seem to have crept in down here. In the Eastern Cape it doesn't seem to be an element though there are burnings of trucks.
POM Coming back again to your members and, again, I don't regard you as being a representative of the liberal community but I assume that most of the people you associate with are in one way or another, in social circles or whatever. Is there any changing in attitudes, are there new fears? Last year you talked about fears, economic fears, standards fears. Are there different kinds of fears beginning to grow that are related to these questions of mass action, anarchy, that blacks are slowly beginning to go too far? I put that in the context of a number of people who have said to me, "I voted yes in the referendum but if I had to vote today I mightn't be so quick to vote yes."
POM I wouldn't say that that has happened within the organisation. If it has I'm not aware of it. Certainly I would say that there would be condemnation of any of the acts of violence and certainly terrible concern about the degree to which mass action does get out of hand. We had a hospital strike here and one man who chose to go back to work was murdered. Now we're not sure by whom but that appals me and to think that here is a person ... I would believe that our members would see no option to a process of majority rule and hopefully that takes place through negotiations. I mean we're in a very dangerous time right now, a very dangerous time because unless somebody starts delivering the goods and getting some kind of control to this we're looking at the Beirut option which I would say would terrify most of our members.
POM Do you think that the government was the agent behind the talks breaking down, that the government wanted the talks to break down?
JDT As you know there are lots of theories.
POM A theory for every person!
JDT I'll give you two of them. One was that the government wanted to buy time to start to organise and to start to prepare for elections and certainly we've been in pre-election mode as far as they are concerned. Perhaps they forced it, perhaps they didn't. I'm not terribly sure who forced it, but the ANC had to withdraw. They could not go along, I think, any further. They had to withdraw.
POM When looking at it in terms of the politics of it, the hard negotiations of it, is it not more in the interests of the government now to make it more difficult for the ANC to get back to the table? In a subtle sense the awareness of the pressure, a little bit of pressure on the ANC to go back to the table and if the two days of general strike occur - I mean this was scaled back from three weeks, to a week, to two days. It's a long way from what was talked about originally as bringing the entire country to a halt for a sustained period.
JDT That's not all off the cards.
POM Do you think the ANC has the capacity ...?
JDT To sustain it for a long term? I wouldn't have thought so. I wouldn't have thought in the long term. I think that its members are pretty desperate but I would be surprised if one could go on for that long.
POM So it plays out its two days strike and then what?
JDT Well I do think that if some sort of concessions are not made they will be forced to try to continue it for longer. There's a lot of pressure on both the government and the ANC to continue negotiations but there are going to have to be some concessions because the ANC can in no way go back to the negotiations table and take what was offered last time. The constituency, I don't think, will be able to handle it.
POM In that sense, coming back to the question I asked you earlier, do you think that within the ANC/COSATU/SACP alliance there has been a shift of influence to the more radical and militant elements in the leadership, that the moderates, the Thabo Mbekis, have at least for the moment been sidelined, not permanently but for the moment?
JDT I'm not terribly sure. It sounds logical, doesn't it?
POM What I see every day now, the person I see is Jay Naidoo who is not represented at CODESA.
JDT Can I tell you? I just want to tell you a joke.
POM We are getting more optimistic this year!
JDT The Weekly Mail puts out a calendar and Dave Barr is their cartoonist. He does quite violent cartoons but some of them are terribly funny. There's one in which Bush and Gorby are talking to one another (it shows you how long ago it was drawn) and Gorbachev says to Bush, "I have these ideas about a pact around nuclear disarmament but I think I'd better run it by Jay Naidoo first." And Bush says to him "Yes you'd better. You know how cross he gets if you don't." I suppose, yes, there are times when different people are on the ascendancy. Certainly COSATU is a very big push obviously behind this kind of strike. There have been massive attempts at mediation and one of the things that I had heard in terms of the SACOLA/COSATU talks where it appears that there was going to be an agreement. It really was very, very close. Then, here's the two theories; we operate so on gossip as you know, but what I heard was firstly that those SACOLA members who had gone down to Ulundi to see if this pact would hold in Ulundi came home with a no, and the other theory that I heard, which also would tie in with the Ulundi/government alliance is that the government deliberately scuttled the mediation. So, yes, they didn't want that to happen. They didn't want it to stick because maybe they want to test them. Maybe they're saying to them, OK go for it as long as you can, let's see how long it will hold.
POM This is your trump card.
JDT Well, yes.
POM And the threat of playing your trump card is always better than having to play it. They may be manoeuvring the ANC into a position of having to play their trump card and that trump card may not turn out to be quite as trump as a trump card.
JDT Well let's see. It'll be interesting because I do remember the whole fore-process that we went much of the same routine around the VAT strike. I was terribly concerned about the VAT strike and its potential for violence. Let's leave aside the Sash's role in any of this mass action on which, as I've said to you, there are differences of opinion. But it turned out to be an extremely well organised, fairly unified strike that I think did win the alliance some ...
POM It did result in one of the most prolonged incidences of violence at the President Steyn mine where 86 ...
JDT Was that directly related to the VAT? I thought there were a lot of other factors that were involved. It took place during that time.
POM It took place during that time between workers who wanted to work and workers who didn't. Anyway that's beside the point.
JDT Respect of other people's rights is not necessarily something that is pervasive in this country, on both sides.
POM What happened to the National Peace Accord? Just this time last year when I was trying to fit in appointments I could never get them because everybody was always running off to meetings of the putting together of the National Peace Accord. And then it was signed with great fanfare and structures were set up and one year later the level of violence has increased rather than diminished?
JDT You know, I'm not terribly sure what's happened because again one would have to get reports on a regional basis and I don't know particularly what is happening in the other regions. Here the National Peace Accord in Cape Town, the RDRC, is only one of a number of monitoring bodies. It only seems to be functioning on a fairly stop-start basis. There's a Secretariat, a sort of inner circle, I suppose you would call it an Executive, and then there's supposed to be a much larger body. Well the much larger body to my knowledge hasn't met for two or three months which is making representatives on a much larger body, like ourselves, a little bit cross but I believe that because of pressure they are going to meet again soon. It seems as if the Executive tended to be running things, the Executive here, and not necessarily going back into the grassroots support. There are a lot of other initiatives that have been in operation in an attempt to get the level of violence resolved in this area specifically and we do seem to have a peace now in terms of the taxi war which was our main problem. If you go outside this building you will see the little CODETA, it's got a dove on it and that's the symbol that all the taxis are now using which was a major concession. It seemed as if that whatever the symbol was that was going to be on these taxis. Well it was the unifying body which, of course, was the very bone of contention. Half wanted the routes, the other lot wanted to break into the routes. So there is a frail peace around the taxis here.
POM If you had to just look at the National Peace Accord and give it a grade?
JDT For performance?
POM Yes. I take that to be an F.
JDT Out of ten at this stage, not too high, not too high and I don't know why. Maybe it's when you try to set up over-arching structures and people (a) don't want to play ball and (b) the structures tend to get rather bureaucratised maybe, they bog down.
POM Do you think that it is sufficient for CODESA to reconvene and the same parties to get around the table, or that with the collapse of CODESA one must look at its structure itself and see that there were some very severe flaws in its structure and those flaws must be eliminated if a more successful negotiating forum is to be established?
JDT It certainly was a bit of lark wasn't it? Those 19 parties which included some that almost sounded like the sort of joke parties that one tended to get in Toronto, like the Rhinoceros Party and things like that. I'm not terribly sure and it would be silly for me to even fabricate a thinking around this. It would appear that one of the major impasses of the moment, apart from the violence issue, is on whether CODESA has a substantial hand in drafting the constitution, which is what the government would like, or whether some kind of constitutional body with a vote that indicates who's part of it is the body that draws up the constitution. I think that's where the major impasse is. I would say that because of CODESA's structuring - do you know it was run with something like a 19-person secretariat? No, it was a small secretariat, but each of these groups contained 72 people. It was difficult for this thing to function and it was certainly very difficult for it to function in any kind of a representative way or in a way which accounted back to people. So I would see it as a very preliminary way of undertaking negotiations, of really just sorting out what you're going to negotiate about. We were getting extremely tense about CODESA exceeding its brief and it was going way beyond its brief in a lot of instances.
POM With regard to?
JDT Well it was taking on tasks that I don't think it was meant to undertake. There was an inclination, because people saw something else that was optional to the government, that was operating on three days of the week and parliament was operating on two, or the other way round, people would say "Refer to CODESA", which wasn't CODESA's role.
POM Could you point to something specific?
JDT I'm trying to think of very specific issues now. On policy things like health or on education. That was not CODESA's brief.
POM Do you think it's sufficient for the government and the ANC to reach agreement on things, i.e. that it's really the bilateral negotiations between the government and the ANC that are important and that one can achieve a settlement on that basis, or do you think that kind of thinking is seriously flawed?
JDT Well I suppose it would depend on what they are going reach agreement on.
POM If they reached agreement on, say, an interim government, if they reached agreement on what form of election there would be for a Constituent Assembly, on what the composition of that Assembly would be and what the veto thresholds would be, if this was essentially done between the two of them leaving out the PAC, CP, Inkatha, KwaZulu?
JDT I would have thought that that's where the reality of power lies, but I would have thought it would be quite a dangerous thing to do to leave them out. As I say, so long as it's just the most basic things that are agreed upon because really when you look at CODESA and the spectrum of people it was a farce.
POM The most basic things could have been agreed upon if the government had said yes to the ANC's proposals and the ANC would have found itself in all kinds of trouble on the ground.
JDT Well I don't know who let that one go by. I think whoever it was most likely has had the concrete shoes treatment. I mean, really, that was going way beyond, I believe, it's constituency, but it could have happened so maybe it's just as well that the talks broke off. You know you ask very hard questions.
POM At 9.30 in the morning, the phones are going and you're trying to get press statements out, trying to get a handle on it, mass mobilisation on Monday. I'm just what you need, right? Buthelezi in the last month is making increasingly warlike, strident statements, his bottom line being that arrangements reached at CODESA to which the Zulu people, or KwaZulu or the Zulu nation (whichever one you want to pick) are not a part of will not be accepted by the Zulu people, KwaZulu, Buthelezi himself - take your pick. Do you think that he has the capacity to be a spoiler? Is his power sufficient in his regional base?
JDT You talk about allowing people to play their trumps, maybe he should be forced to play his trump without state assistance because, again, nobody has tested that, have they? He makes a lot of threats and certainly has been quite warlike as you say. They claim massive support but it would be very fascinating to test it because I have no idea whether that support is there or not. Certainly, interestingly enough if you look at where these voters lie, apparently 28% of the vote is in rural Natal, no, 28% of the voters in Natal and a lot of that is in rural areas. I'd better get the figures, I'd better not throw these things around. All I'm saying is that there is a very high percentage of the vote in rural Natal.
POM Which would be the base.
JDT Yes. Well we don't know, until we have an election do we know and when we get an election is it going to be a free and fair one?
POM What I'm getting at is that if you were a policy maker ...
JDT Would I take him seriously?
POM No. Would you say, listen, it's sufficient for the government and the ANC to get together and to hammer out something quickly so that we can get an interim government and get an election because speed is of the essence here?
JDT Would I ignore him?
POM Or would you say, no, no, no, it is far more important that we get this process right and that the structure of it that is set up and the negotiations that come out of that have the maximum opportunity for actually working?
JDT Obviously, when you phrase it like that. Have we got the time for the democratic process? Is that what you're asking me?
POM Yes, if it's a matter of time versus more inclusiveness which should one go for?
JDT What did you say the time was, quarter past ten? That's a really hard one for quarter past ten. That would really be looking in a crystal ball. We have been crying for the inclusive process and will go on calling for the inclusive process because in some ways it's the only one that will stick in the long term. We are in such a desperate state at the moment. We luckily won't have to give in on that inclusive process but one might have to for pragmatics and I think that would be desperate because I think we will pay in the long term.
POM OK, let's say if one went that route, pragmatics determine we should have an interim government and an election as quickly as possible. Do you think that a climate exists on the ground in this country where you could have free and fair elections?
JDT No, it does not. If you are saying that the option of rushing an election right now - no, no. We've got a very long way to go to get a climate that would begin to allow free and fair elections to take place, I believe. Especially now.
POM So we're talking about an election for a Constituent Assembly, let's say. Just with your broad knowledge of the situation and using broad parameters, how soon, if today there was an agreement to go forward with an interim government, followed by an election for a Constituent Assembly, in your view what would be the earliest time at which such an election might be held?
JDT It would be so dependent, obviously, on things like getting the violence under control. In terms of actually physically putting the things on the ground that help elections take place, apart from the violence which is a whole added complicating factor, that's like what documentation do you have to have to be able to be a voter. That's something that we're working on quite hard at the moment and as you most likely know a lot of people don't have an identity document. So just the process of getting ID documents, or of processing people in order that they have voter cards, is something that is in its formative stages but a lot of organisations are taking that very, very seriously right now. I would have thought that a year to 18 months would be the minimum just to get those kind of mechanical things in place. Getting other things in place, that's a real thumb suck. Getting other things in place like monitoring groups, like trying to get the climate of political tolerance in place, God knows how long that would take. And then of course the issue of media and the government control of media at the moment. Sometimes recently they've been so blatant it's been mind boggling in their use of the television. So trying to get that under some kind of genuinely independent board and then changing the culture of an organisation that has been set up to brainwash us could take a little bit of time.
POM So with all speed we might be looking at 18 months?
JDT Yes, but that would take a lot of people. They are trying to get things organised and certainly groups are growing. The amount of resources and organisation that this state has at its hands already is pretty extensive as you can imagine. They are used to running elections, they have control of most of these bodies. They are going to go for broke. They're going to use it as hard as they possibly can.
POM So in one sense it would be in the government's interests to have an election as quickly as possible?
JDT I would have thought that something like a six to nine month timing would be great for them because they could well continue this kind of media onslaught that we're having. I think that they have built certain constituencies quite effectively. I think that Allister Sparks point about how Mandela had stepped aside in order to allow F W to undertake that referendum to prove his base and the fact that the government is not allowing the ANC the space to take its base with it through mass action or through the current state of negotiations is absolutely true. So I would say that they would want, certainly, an election sooner than those people who wanted a free and fair election to take place. I don't think it is possible within such a short space of time.
POM A couple more questions and my hour will be up. Let's go back to the whites' only referendum. Were you surprised by the margin of - you said you had a theory about it?
JDT Well I do think that it was stage managed because I do believe that the announcement of the retrenchment of 4000 teachers a few days before a by-election in Potchefstroom which has a Teachers' Training College in it indicated that they wanted, I believe, to lose and to precipitate something. Obviously the CP won by a large margin and the baying started. So I think it was quite deliberate that they did that and then announced it.
POM They lulled the CP into a sense of security that they could maybe ...?
JDT I think they wanted to lose and they wanted the CP to say, "See, you're going way beyond your constituency. We're the ones that really reflect the white vote." And I think it was a very convenient thing to do. We obviously were deeply resentful about a whites' only election and felt really, how can I say, caught yet again in the old trap. There was, and one was conscious of it at the time, a lot of deliberate scare tactics about the fine margin and the loss. I always thought about 55%. I did not expect such a huge amount, but what was quite intriguing was the amount of people with dual nationality who suddenly, miraculously, including my husband, became citizens overnight. I have never seen Home Affairs operate with such extraordinary efficiency in all my life. For bureaucrats I have never had that level of service in this country every before and I think that it was quite a fascinating process. I was invited to go to the UN the day after this happened and on my plane journey in the news things they show you on the screen and when I got to the UN and got to the States everybody was saying, "You must be so thrilled with this referendum." And I just felt quite sick about the thing because my feeling was that, yes, it was a good thing to have that show of white support but actually what it had done was strengthen his hand vis-à-vis his negotiating partner's hand. Maybe we will see it in a different way in the long term. I just thought it was a brilliant piece of political strategising and I felt sickened to be forced to take part in it.
POM One theory, among many, many theories, was that while the CP was there and winning by-elections and posing a threat that De Klerk was under pressure to move the process forward very quickly, but that as soon as he eliminated them as a political threat in fact he has bought a lot of time for himself. He doesn't need to move very quickly. When whites voted yes, what do you think they were voting for?
JDT I think they were voting for a negotiated process, I believe.
POM But a negotiated process for what purpose?
JDT Well it depends upon which whites. You say for what purpose, now what do you mean by that?
POM Maybe I should put it this way. I subscribe to two clipping services from South Africa and I followed very closely all the international reports on the campaign as it proceeded. Every news report that came out of this country was couched in terms of this being an election in which De Klerk was looking for a mandate to proceed with a negotiating process that would result in a sharing of power between blacks and whites so that all would have equality. But it was always talked about in terms of a process about the sharing of power.
JDT I think that some people would have been voting for that, others would have been voting, I'm talking about whites, for De Klerk and saying, "Get me as much as you possibly can out of this process." So I think that there were different people voting for different things.
POM But when they were saying 'get as much as you can out of this process', were they mostly stopping short of saying that that does not include a transfer of power to the black majority?
JDT I don't know. To what extent the whites of this country can continue to delude themselves that they can hold on to power I don't know. I'm sure a lot have conceded that one is going to have to accept majority rule. I think other things have been happening at the same time which almost make the vote a side issue and I think that those things have to do with the transfer of state assets into semi-private hands.
POM Is this privatisation?
JDT Well it's called privatisation. I think to call it privatisation, maybe it's important to define what they're doing. It's not privatisation in order to make more efficient. In many cases the privatisation has been a case of instead of a state run bureaucracy controlling an organisation it is now controlled by boards and we would be interested to have some kind of analysis done of who the board members are. It would appear that many of them are either Broederbonders or certainly loyal to the state. So it's sort of privatising.
POM What could you point to as - just so that I can follow one of two of these up?
JDT I think one must look at Telkom. I think this is something on which some serious research needs to be done. I'd be interested to see who sits on the boards of the five companies that arose out of Railways & Harbours, which are the South African Airways - they've now got five different names. They've got a property arm, Portnet. Portnet would be the Harbours side, Spoornet is the Railways, South African Airways - Transnet, which one is that? Anyway it's now five arms and I think it would be very fascinating to do an analysis of that. There was talk recently of selling off the state forests. Now I think in the case of selling off of some of these state assets if you're going to make it into a genuinely more efficient and more competitive company, whoopee! Where I think we have to watch very, very carefully is in the privatisation of land. Now that has already been done in the case of the property arm of the Railways & Harbours, in other words if you perceive those now as private companies, those vast tracts of land that were held either by the Railways or the Harbours which, as you know, is invariably in a lot of your bigger cities, some of the most central land that there is, that has now been privatised. They are in the hands of what is called a private company. They are parastatals but they are perceived to be private companies. There are also other things happening. In terms of some of the land, the land to me is a very serious thing, because it is a finite resource, land is the most contentious of issues and obviously if we're looking at any kind of redistribution of land, or at least of just giving people somewhere to settle and have a place to live, the issue of the privatisation of land is very, very serious. I believe no state land should be sold off at all at the moment.
We've just had an absolutely classic case in the Northern Cape, the Sash is not working on it but the National Land Commission is, in which there were negotiations going on for a return to the land near Barkly West of the Majeng people. The Majeng people were in negotiations with the government. They believed that they stood a good chance of going back to this land because the land was still in government hands. It had been between 1975, when the last of them were removed from that land, and now been leased out to white farmers in that area. They discovered some time in June I believe that that land, even while the negotiations process was going on and while the ministers who were involved understood that that land was being held because of the negotiations process, they discovered that that land had been sold off, signed Deeds of Sale as at 30th June to five adjacent white farmers.
So I'm saying that to me what's happening is that the family silver is being redistributed quite fast and that in the case of land I think it is very serious and we certainly would call for and try to campaign with any groups to try to prevent the sale of state land till some kind of comprehensive rural and urban policy is set up. The other thing that's happening is legislation is being passed at an incredible rate. Some legislation which is weird and legislation which we can barely keep track of it. We've got a couple of groups that deal with legislation. Some of it which I don't believe should be even under discussion right now. Things on Electoral Acts and things like that. Surely that's what CODESA is about. But there have been some amendments to the Electoral Act. But on issues that we're quite concerned about where a lot of power is being entrenched in the hands of people like the Provincial Administrators, who are state appointees. For instance an amendment to the Interim Local Authorities Act has placed further power into the hands of the Administrator " to ensure that negotiations proceed as envisaged under the Interim Local Authorities Act." Now as you know that Local Authorities Act is highly contentious because it's saying to various regions: go for it and structure your own local authority now and in fact we will give you money to do it. Kimberley was the first to set it up and it's under way in some places, but it doesn't have particular guidelines.
POM Wasn't Van Zyl Slabbert involved in Johannesburg?
JDT Yes. He was involved in the negotiations over the Local Authority structure, the Metropolitan Chamber I believe it was called.
POM Would this have come under the auspices of the Local Authorities Act?
JDT No it wasn't being seen as that. The minute the Interim Local Authorities Act was passed that process stopped. The Metropolitan Chamber stopped because of the Interim Local Authorities Act which they saw as a means of trying to rush and put into place local authority structures without any kind of guidelines as to what the bottom line of Local Authorities is. It's a kind of local option so that each city was able to construct it's own idea of what it's Local Authority should be.
POM OK, so it really said that for any town that had an adjacent township ...
JDT Go for it.
POM - bargain among yourselves and work out something and there are no either regional guidelines and no national guidelines.
JDT That's what it is, yes. And that was very contentious.
POM Last. The mood among the membership. Is it getting less apprehensive, more apprehensive? Are people seeing light at the end of the tunnel or is the tunnel getting darker and longer?
JDT I think there's a lot of anxiety. I think that the deadlock that one's involved in right now is a very, very serious one. I don't think that, certainly once we'd got through the euphoria of 1990 I think it became quite apparent how long this road was going to be, that we really were expecting far too much of the society that was so rent by so many different things. I don't think that most of our membership ever expected it to be an easy road. I suppose one also realises that the sort of things that we would stand for and that we would go on working for in the long term are just terribly, terribly frail things that are going to be difficult to achieve in this kind of society. An accountable democracy in the sort of climate we live in is going to be a very, very difficult thing to achieve. So one just sees, rather than going out to pasture, rather a lot of work ahead. We were hoping to grow roses soon, live an idyllic life, but it's not going to be like that. Wish it were.
POM OK Jenny, thank you very much. It'll be interesting after five or six years to go back through these yourself and see how you thought.
JDT And also to look at the process one has personally been through because it is most extraordinary and sometimes, really, a very depressing process. I'm finding it actually quite interesting now because I certainly have clarity in my mind and have had clarity for quite a long time as to what I believe the role of the organisation is. But getting everybody on board with you or saying those of you who don't agree with how we define our central role, we'll just have to say, "Sorry, but it's been good to know you", kind of thing. Because the accurate defining of your role now is so crucial. One was able to just be reactive for such a long time that you have to be much more careful.
You were just the good guys then. It was just so easy by comparison whereas now every one of these issues has to be debated, contested, thought through and teased out because we are, after all, sitting in the middle of a kind of a stormy sea and being tossed about by these various political forces and their power games and all this kind of thing and to recognise that as an essential kind of a climate that one lives in but still to hold on to your little ...
POM One of the things that stunned me, I think, about CODESA was the fact that there was agreement that in whatever new constitution was put together that there would be provisions there that would allow for not only states of emergency to be declared but for detention without trial.
JDT Detention without trial.
POM And I thought the ANC and the SACP agreed to this, and they did!
POM Without a murmur. Astonishing.
JDT Maybe for us it will be like Through the Looking Glass or something like that. A crazy time.
POM Have you any papers?
JDT What sort of things would you like?
POM I will take everything that you have.