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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
04 Aug 1992: Asmal, Kader
POM Kader, maybe you could just start by giving me a bird's eye view of what's going on or what appears to be going on, where the ANC is at, where you think the government is at.
KA Well the ANC is still at the process where we want a negotiated arrangement on these basic areas of arranging for the transition and the constitution making mechanism. Also we are still at the process where CODESA 2 broke down and the government realised the enormity of the agreement that there would be in fact a democratic arrangement and constitution. And so when Boipatong took place that was the crisis point where the ANC recognised that the government was not firmly committed to peace and order in South Africa and the post-Boipatong National Executive Committee demand was for response, a reasonable response to the two areas. One is a commitment to dealing with violence, from the hostels to hit squads to investigation of complaints. Another was how they would arrange for the constitution to be adopted and from that point of view the ANC has to have a commitment in broad terms because we don't want the constitution to be drafted by CODESA, which I think the government accepts now although that was the original view a year ago. And until there is a movement on these two areas there can't be any negotiations and these are fundamental issues. You will talk to Dr Worrall in a few moments and you will get Dr Worrall wringing his hands in despair and saying, We were so near agreement and we must not adopt heightened positions. But it's not in the interests of the ANC to allow the situation to continue in this way because the more time is spent in arid exercises the greater the destabilisation of the country. When I last met you our people were proud to be associated with the ANC, people wore T-shirts all over the place. Nobody wears T-shirts any more. Nobody says that I'm going to an ANC meeting tonight, you know I'm talking about the general people, because of fear and anxiety. And in the end of the awfulness of being killed particularly in the Vaal triangle and Natal, the immediacy of being killed, people who are in the Peace Accord, who are officials in the Peace Accord are exterminated.
POM Let's take a number of the points you've raised and work backwards on some of them. I was very surprised when I heard that the ANC had offered a threshold of 75% on provisions in a Bill of Rights and 70% for the inclusion of items in the constitution. I was surprised at that offer. Most surveys would suggest that the government and its allies could put together between 25% and 30% of the vote, so it would appear to be giving a veto to the government and its allies.
KA Well 75% for the Bill of Rights meant effectively 75% of the constitution, people forget that. So the distinction between the constitution and the Bill of Rights is a mistaken view because you can't adopt the Bill of Rights separately from a constitution. So effectively what the ANC was saying was that the constitution be adopted by a 75% majority. And, people forget this, this is part of the generosity of the ANC. Only Alistair Sparks of the journalists here recognises that.
POM But in terms of the importance that the ANC had put on such things as second generation rights which would be opposed by the government, it seemed to be conceding, for example, a lot of things that you and others involved had said were very important for incorporation in a Bill of Rights, so that surprised me.
KA Well I think again the reason was, apart from the generosity, the ANC's view then was that if there a 30% dissent with a constitution then that's an appreciable dissent, although my own view is that the ANC was wrong. I think two thirds is not generally required by constitution making instruments. The Portuguese constitution wasn't adopted by a two thirds majority, the American constitution wasn't adopted by a two thirds majority I don't think. The Irish constitution was adopted by a majority of five in 1921 and in 1937 by a majority of a few hundred thousand, by about 4% or 5% it was adopted, the majority in 1937. So the ANC's concession, the ANC's agreement for this was largely governed by what has been, in my experience, the total commitment to having an acceptable inclusive constitution. Now you may think it's naive, it's simple minded, but we wanted movement to take place. Now I myself opposed this as a member of the National Executive Committee but the NEC agreed to this and, I don't mind saying so, I'm not saying that I was right.
POM This wasn't a question then of the negotiators operating without a mandate?
KA Oh no, no. All these things were discussed. We are always plenipotentiaries in that way, unlike the government. In our own working group I would propose a compromise proposal and the Minister for Justice would go and ring up De Klerk's office on simple things, which laws to be repealed or the restructuring of broadcasting or when they refused to repeal the laws of press censorship I would say, Well can you give a commitment not to use them during the interim period? That's all. And they wouldn't give that commitment without the agreement of the President's Office. So we have this broad power and authority, we worked within that. When it came to the constitutional provisions and the powers of regional assemblies and all we discussed this at the NEC and we articulated, some of articulated objections and the majority accepted it. Now you may think it's mistaken to have 75%.
POM No, I'm just surprised.
KA Because simply to move the negotiations along, the next step, and this is why in May when we got to CODESA 2 the ANC realised the government was not negotiating in good faith. They invented this whole idea of the Senate to be elected in an undefined sort of way, possibly bringing the regions, because they work on the basis that they will be able to get major support from the regions, great authority. Incidentally, the general strike yesterday and today shows that the ANC's support in Empangeni, in Richards Bay in Natal, even the Western Cape, the regional support of the ANC has been really extraordinary. And because there's a huge streak of the 'swart gevaar' here, this wasn't the red menace, this was a tripartite strike and if it's simply an ANC one, in my view, the ANC would get even better support. But this gets rid of the myth that the ANC is regionally weaker.
POM My understanding from many people I've talked to is that if in fact the government had accepted that offer that the ANC would have had a real problem selling this to grassroots. In fact that there was outrage, cries of sell-out, real anger that the offer had been made in the first place.
KA Well since the ANC's the only organisation that every month had 14 regions coming to Johannesburg and there was this negotiation forum it was called, and since in fact every region had discussed the ANC proposals, and this is a matter of record, this idea of revolt and shock and indignation is news to me because I believe very much that the process of negotiation must be open. We said that it should be televised and it's news to me. This is a perfect example of post hoc reaction, presumably depending on who you speak to. I think that there was shock and indignation at the government's reaction in May at CODESA, but you must realise that this was part of a package and the extraordinary triumph of the indivisibility of South Africa, the triumph of one person one vote, the triumph of a Bill of Rights, the triumph of a single electoral register. All these are not triumphs for the ANC, they are part of the victory, since I last met you, of the democratic option and if people want now to say that there was shock and indignation I'm surprised. There are obviously dissenting voices, I've said so, I don't say one thing in the NEC, I've disagreed with that.
POM You don't think at the grassroots?
KA I think I have a pretty shrewd notion about grassroots because I'm one of the few people in the ANC who actually does a lot of speaking in Khayelitsha, in Guguletu, and in the Eastern Cape which is the heartland of the ANC. I do a lot of speaking. I think it's an exaggeration about the grassroots reaction. Like me there would be other people I know who oppose this idea of 75% and 70% and we opposed it then and the majority supported it and I have to accept the democratic conclusion. But I am not aware - and you say it would be difficult for the ANC to sell it to the grassroots? I don't believe so. I think this is a classic example of ex post facto reactions. The package that resulted was a result of give and take. The ANC has now said we'll stick to two thirds.
POM But do you think the government turned down the best offer it would have ever gotten?
KA It can't get an offer like that. Ever. There's no question about it.
POM So in that sense they blew it?
KA They blew it, yes. They blew it because of their total commitment to retaining their constitutional and economic and political rights. They blew it because of overweening pride arising out of the referendum. They blew it because they thought they had the ANC by the short and curlies.
POM Now why did they think that? Why did they think they had the ANC by the short and curlies?
KA Because they know that the ANC wants an agreement. They know that. They don't have to tap our telephones and tap our meetings and all that. It's not in the interests of the democratic structures here. It's not in the interests of the ANC. And we say publicly that there shouldn't be a long drawn out interim period. I don't know if you are aware of it, but their constitutional arrangements would have locked the ANC into what is called a power sharing thing for virtually an indefinite period, ten, fifteen years, because there would be no method of changing that so-called interim constitution without the consent of all the parties, effectively, and the recognition by the ANC that the interim constitution was no longer an arrangement for the transition, but this interim constitution would be the basis for a future constitution. In Northern Ireland in 1974 one could say there should be one GLP, one Alliance and five Unionists in the Cabinet, but we are talking of an independent state, removing the whole area of apartheid privilege and apartheid rights. We're not talking about a province where power has been used in an exclusive way. So therefore we recognise the implications of that interim constitution.
POM OK. So am I correct in saying that the government knew that the ANC wanted an agreement the faster the better, the sooner the better, because the longer this process dragged out the more the violence was undermining your constituency on the ground.
KA And the twin-track policy of the government. They knew that, destabilising the ANC.
POM So you ascribe to this double agenda, on the one hand destabilise you and on the other hand negotiate with you and try to weaken you to the point where the weaker you get the stronger they get, relatively speaking.
KA Yes. That's why this stayaway yesterday and today was very necessary. As the Weekly Mail said, I don't claim the originality, that Mr de Klerk got a mandate on March 17th, he miscued the whole nature of that mandate. It was, to personalise it, Mr Mandela needed a mandate. He needed to be able to stand up and say, We also speak from a degree of strength and social power. Because negotiations then, you see, are not concerned with past aspirations and not concerned with vocational morality and justice, they are also concerned with power and that means, what power can you generate? Two years ago there were the sanctions externally, two years ago before the armed struggle was stood down there was the pressure that came from Umkhonto weSizwe, two years ago there was a high degree of mobilisation with some of the features which I mentioned to you last time. There are no sanctions now to speak of, the balance in the world has changed, the balance in southern Africa has changed. But the government drew the wrong conclusions from that. They thought they could marginalise the ANC, and of course since we met last time the scandal of Inkathagate, the ANC didn't break off negotiations. I think I spoke to you about that. Everybody expected the ANC to say there will not be negotiations. And we said that it just shows the government is both untrustworthy and incapable of managing the interim.
POM I want you to back up on something that's important and that is the whites' only referendum. In all the reports that I heard in the United States about this, that's on the BBC, National Public Radio, the TV networks, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, all the clippings I got from the two news services I subscribe to here, all talked incessantly about this being a process about whites being asked to share power with blacks, it is how De Klerk talked about it. One, what do you think whites were voting for when they voted yes? Two, how did De Klerk interpret the results, and (iii) how did that affect the strategy he developed with regard to CODESA 2?
KA Well first of all I think that the words 'power sharing' as Alistair Sparks said the other day, does not mean for ordinary people that there would be a veto arrangement in the Cabinet, in the executive and so on. It means that there would be a movement towards a democratic option. Now, without any degree of precision, the second ...
POM In the minds of whites?
KA Well in the minds of whites it may be that they want normality and the government played up this thing about sport very much. I have all the advertisements in the 25 million rand campaign. You won't be able to take part in international sport, you'll be a pariah, an extraordinary thing they used was that if you vote no you will be supporting the Nazi elements here and they had pictures of the Nuremberg Tribunal, they had pictures of concentration camps and so they played the international isolation game.
POM So when whites voted yes they voted for?
KA Normality. In one word they were voting - obviously, as you know, people vote for a mixed range of motives, but in Natal 90%, in Durban 90% supported it. In Cape Town it was near 90%, which means 100%, 90% is 100% really in any reckoning. Anything more than 90% is a 100% vote. Now of course a lot of the campaigning was done by the Democratic Party where there were huge votes, the 90%. There was hardly any activity by the National Party in Cape Town, in Durban, in Pietermaritzburg. I was in Johannesburg for the week of the election and there were all these DP posters everywhere in Johannesburg. There were no National Party posters and there were Conservative Party posters. So the English speaking people, I would have thought there would have been a 95% vote and there are hundreds of people, at least scores I know, who never voted in their lives, who wouldn't vote for the United Party, the Progressive Federal Party or the Progressive Party, but they voted this time because they said they have to make a statement. And so they were making a statement against racism, against race rule, first of all. I don't think they were making a statement about the details of a constitutional order, that would be an exaggeration.
I find that I have to explain to people who ought to know better what the arrangements were being made at CODESA in relation to Working Group 2, about the difference between the interim first phase and phase 2, and this I was doing including people who were high up in various circles. And so for ordinary people there was - the second point was that De Klerk drew the wrong conclusions and certainly I knew that because the referendum took place on a Tuesday, the results were out on a Wednesday and there was this extraordinary euphoria, I think de Klerk used the word, in Tuynhuys, euphoria. And on the Monday at CODESA they made their proposals for the interim administration. The day before that there was a bilateral with the ANC, a very senior bilateral and the only people missing from that bilateral were Mandela and De Klerk. And the ANC said that you can't be serious about these proposals tomorrow. And they presented their proposals. They were bullish proposals and the bullishness continued.
In my Working Group, Working Group 1, there was a difference of tone, of atmosphere in the government representation and from March 18th to the end of April, the imminence of CODESA, there was a different approach by the government altogether and I think that they drew the wrong conclusions. They drew the conclusion that their government had a mandate. I think De Klerk used the phrase two days before the referendum, in what passes off as independent broadcasting here, in Agenda he said, We have our bottom lines and these are the bottom lines. He said, And I've got to argue, negotiate bottom lines with the ANC. I said if these are the bottom lines they wouldn't have any negotiations. But these are bottom lines inventions in the middle of negotiations.
POM In your view what was his perception of the latitude that the referendum had given him?
KA Well I think the reaction reflected a combination of factors. By March, remember that the international presentation of apartheid was such that De Klerk and the administration claimed the rehabilitation of South Africa as a victory, a kind of disembodied thing. I've met a lot of visitors who have come through the Department of Information Services and there has been a multi-pronged approach to present South Africa in Japan, Northern Europe, Western Europe, North America, but also in Africa, big breakthroughs. And again I think there's a lack of understanding that in the end the cockpit is here, not internationally, but South Africa had a huge presentation by March. Even to Ireland, to coerce the Irish they paid for the whole reception by the way. They organised big dos in Dublin with all the lawyers and Chief Justices and they paid for the reception and the Irish Government didn't pay the fifty thousand for the reception. But this is all part of this whole process of chipping away at what they consider to be the strength of the ANC, international presentation. Secondly, that the ANC can't raise it's money here. The ANC, this is a remarkable tribute to Mandela, that Mandela's visits result in the ANC's coffers, not being filled, but just to keep things ticking over. And the government's recognition that time, again, was not on the side of the ANC and the press here has been full of the fact that if they can spin out this process another two years that it will bankrupt the ANC, not in a political way only but financially too. So there was the second feature. The third feature was a genuine insensitivity. By and large they were trying to establish links among the coloured people and the Indian people.
This is a typical South African security state. South Africa is still a security state. I mean De Klerk went to Boipatong because his security contacts said, You should go. It's very important.' And the security state here, or the national security state, shows its lack of understanding of what's happening on the ground. A typical example of national security behaviour. And they thought that by March the ANC (i) was so destabilised that it's actual strength on the ground was pretty low, (ii) that the ANC's desire to have an agreement meant that the ANC would negotiate in such a way that they would be totally hamstrung for the future, and (iii) they have thought that they could get an interim constitution because, it dawned on me pretty late in the day, they wanted an interim Bill of Rights and I produced a document saying why you shouldn't have an interim Bill of Rights because a Bill of Rights shouldn't be an interim matter, it should be a permanent thing and you destroy the integrity of a Bill of Rights by saying a 'racial' parliament. And they said, no, no, it doesn't have to be a racial parliament, it will be a CODESA-type arrangement and fourthly they thought the CODESA arrangements would come out with an outline of a constitution. These were the factors that led them to push and then to withdraw.
I would just say also that the fact that the negotiations are highly centralised itself is a fundamental weakness. In the ANC they are decentralised and this is why I reject this idea that there will be large scale dissatisfaction, they are decentralised and I explained to you how they are decentralised. Apart from the fact that the National Party never meets as a conclave to discuss the proposals, we clear the proposals to the point of tedium in our NEC. We discuss these proposals and so there is a very decentralised system of negotiation in the ANC. And I want to discuss it in a larger area, the government obviously knows about them, as to how the balance in the ANC is, who is standing for particular positions and all that because it's discussed at regional and NEC level and at the Negotiation Commission. No-one knows, the last two weeks since the Cabinet met at what is a South African phrase, a bosperaad, this private meeting, nobody knows what their proposals are. That's impossible in the ANC. Not because the ANC leaks like a sieve, which some people say, it's because we've got to discuss all these things and so our policy conference, and I think you should take the policy document away in Johannesburg, the 80-page policy document, it's the most advanced policy document any political organisation has adopted. I don't have a copy to give you but you can get it in Johannesburg. On every area of South African life. So the ANC's position is known in advance.
POM One theory I heard put forward was that during the first year the government felt very constrained by the right, fearful of the right, and looked around and decided that it's best option might be to try to have some kind of alliance with the ANC, have it as an alliance partner and to that extent they pushed Buthelezi aside. Then after they had wiped out the right in the referendum the thinking changed and they said the ANC has been getting weaker and if we get the coloured vote we can make inroads into the black vote itself, we can pick alliances here and alliances there and in fact we can do a lot better for ourselves by switching away from the ANC and towards other alliance partners.
KA Of course they went further than that. The ANC in an historic sense is important. Just before Inkathagate blew up in their faces, look at the newspapers, The Sunday Times, a week before Inkathagate, they were about to announce this Christian Democratic Alliance in June last year. I think everything has telescoped in South Africa. We live with the immediacy. If you look at the historic basis they were about to announce a Christian Democratic Alliance. The Democratic Party, they were talking about eight or nine people who were about the join the National Party, the National Party was thinking about changing its name and De Klerk went on June 16th to speak at Ulundi, as he did this year too. And he went to the annual conference of the Inkatha Party. Their infinite capacity to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory arises from the fact that they don't understand what happens on the ground and in the vast majority of the population.
So it goes back further. I think the generally accepted thing was that from February 2nd 1990 to about June or July they thought that the ANC would become their junior partner. The first train attacks started in June. The first hostel attacks started in September. It is a conviction of many of us that the twin track policy was to lock the ANC into negotiations, the Groote Schuur and Pretoria Minutes, and because the ANC did not agree to simply become a junior partner in a kind of elite arrangement that security elements started using the other track. It is surprising that the train attacks and the hostel attacks coincided. Then there was the December Consultative Conference of the ANC, December 1990, where the ANC worked out a sharper, clearer position.
I think it goes back further the government's decision to create alliances rather than March 17th. March 17th may be the icing on top of the cake but again there is this misconstruction, misunderstanding, it's a miscuing of South Africa because South African history is full of this, organised third forces against the ANC, the swart gevaar doesn't work, the rooi gevaar may work in the Conservative Party. This red menace thing doesn't work because the Communist Party is basically a very conservative party in South Africa. There are more radicals in the ANC than the Communist Party. And, therefore, this swart gevaar doesn't work. I mean anybody who meets Joe Slovo finds out how cuddly he is. So, therefore, the alliance building is a process. It's in fits and starts, the government. Fits and starts. Just before Boipatong they produced a most extraordinary propaganda material which I think you should get hold of, what the government did to make ventures in the black community. You can put that up in smoke, the chimney, now. You should get someone to give it to you. So there are these fits and starts and the longer they spin it out the easier it will be. But notwithstanding all the allegations of corruption, development division, Mossgas, everything, nobody seems to be responsible.
POM Where does the ANC place the Goldstone Commission, which in a number of reports has said there's no direct evidence to link the government or De Klerk or the Cabinet to violence, they have been unable to come to any conclusion regarding third forces on the trains, the train robberies, that puts down the causes of the violence as being much more complex than simply there being destabilisation on the part of the government. And yet Mandela in New York went out of his way to praise the Goldstone Commission. He doesn't play into there being a deliberate destabilisation policy.
KA But the invocation of a destabilisation policy, the fact that we continue to invoke the destabilisation policy approach is not inconsistent with supporting the work of the Goldstone Commission. After all the government called a meeting here.
POM Maybe its findings rather than its work.
KA But its work and findings, I would make as a lawyer that it was uncalled for for them to make a statement on Boipatong immediately and without any evidence in his support, any investigation. I remember what they said was that Cabinet ministers and senior police officers and senior government structures had not been involved.
POM That's with regard to the violence in general, not Boipatong in particular, because Waddington was conducting his own investigation into that.
KA They issued a preliminary report saying that the government and Cabinet and senior ministers were not involved. That was without prejudice to other police elements that may be involved. I think both Waddington's and the preliminary report of the Goldstone Commission were premature, I would say, because there was no systematic presentation of evidence and why should they produce a preliminary report when they said that in fact the evidence had been presented to us. But they haven't in fact called for evidence and I think that's irregular frankly. This is the kind of cautiousness to show that they are absolutely even-handed, which in South Africa largely means, even-handed of that kind, means that it lets the government off the hook. So I have no problem in saying that that report was premature, it's uncalled for. And this is why I believe myself, and I speak as an individual, that we cannot rely on South African social instruments to monitor the causes of violence and monitor the government. It is not possible to do so. I can't accept that Prof. Waddington could in a matter of a few days come to the conclusion that the police were not involved with it. That's a prima facie position, it's a position where on the basis of information ... But you see at the end of the day the government has a monopoly of power. It's the government's job to establish, systematically establish, and the government is under reconstruction. It's not dissimilar in that sense, although the Catholics have no, still today, I mean the generality of Catholics have no faith in the IUC. It's the perception of the IUC. IUC in my view is much more restructured than the SAP is in any way so I think it's consistent to say the ANC officially supports this, the work of the Goldstone Commission, and still say that we need the international supervision.
POM What I wouldn't understand is why if the government was making this attempt to break into the black community, why would it be involved in anything like Boipatong which would only rebound to its disadvantage?
KA Well you can come to conclusions like, for example, that there may be elements over which De Klerk has no control. That's at the first level. Secondly, the forces in which, among the blacks that he may be looking for support, would be middle class and professional people, not those in the townships and the squatter camps. You target, not in the military sense, you target for political support, social formations. So in the Indians there's no point in targeting the unemployed and the working class, some of the Indians, because they would be natural supporters of the ANC. You target people like my family in Natal, professional people, business people, shopkeepers, who suddenly now find that they are strong supporters of the market when the market doesn't exist for the vast majority of them, even those in business too because the market never allowed them to buy land, never allowed them to set up shops where they wanted. And the fact that these laws are repealed, the markets didn't allow them the same access to loans from the Agricultural Board or from banks for that matter. So you target these people and the Africans who were targeted would not have been the inhabitants of Swanieview or Boipatong, and it's perfectly consistent. So you can have rogue elements or elements over which De Klerk will have no control.
POM What's your impression of him? Do you think he is in control of the police or that because of the nature the state that he does not have a free hand to take actions like firing people left, right or centre, or restructuring the entire police force, that he just doesn't have the freedom to do that?
KA I don't think he cares very much frankly because, you know, in Jonathan Gluckman's letter that was written to him in December last year that in a routine way Africans die in police custody or they are shot dead, has not really evoked a response even at the present time. All the response has been is the President's Office has said that he has in fact responded. And Gluckman is a conservative. In any society he would be voting for the conservative party. And Gluckman broke publicly because he felt that this was wrong, he couldn't live with his conscience, and that's only one illustration. The ANC has been on two delegations with the government about the hostels. The most recent decision of the government was to reject the findings of the Goldstone Commission and to ask the Goldstone Commission to re-investigate the issue and the Goldstone Commission months ago said the hostels must be surrounded with barbed wire, there must be police presence, they must be phased out. Now this shows a lack of seriousness. If there's such a lack of seriousness that can drive me to the conclusion that he doesn't care. I mean this year the figures from the Human Rights Commission is the highest number of deaths from violence from January to June, 373 in June alone. Now the extent of the violence is so great that anybody who formed the temporary government would be concerned about it. I don't see much sign of that concern, apart from the fact about the current ordinary criminal lawlessness in which middle class areas because there's more breaking and entry and all that.
POM To back up to events between the time CODESA deadlocked to a month later when again Mandela and De Klerk were putting their best statements and saying the problems are not insuperable, we've made a lot of progress too. A month later - collapse. All the talks are off and the programme of mass mobilisation has moved centre stage, De Klerk is much more personal in his attacks on Mandela. What were the dynamics going on within the NEC itself during this stage, this movement from purely deadlocked to where they wanted nothing more to do with this process?
KA I think at Boipatong the statement that appeared immediately after Boipatong, we met five to six days after Boipatong and made a considered statement. There were about 43 speakers. Three speakers said we should break off all negotiations and the other 40 said we will suspend negotiations. And so there was again a very mature reaction from the ANC. It would have been very easy for the ANC to have said we can't talk to this lot any more. And the feeling in Boipatong, Boipatong was the catalyst, the feeling was very high. Now you may say, the Goldstone Commission may say the police were not responsible for it. Anybody may say that. But the perception of the people on the ground is very different. It's quite clear that the police, for the first time the people say in South Africa, had actually fired on people running away from them and you should get hold of Alistair Sparks and read his article, his syndicated article, because he was there with his wife and his wife cradled one of the people who were shot. So for the first time white South Africa saw policemen with automatic weapons firing on people actually running away. We've seen it in exile because these kind of pictures were never shown in South Africa. So the perception of the army of occupation was there. So the ANC had to take that into account.
In that month from May 20th or so to June, in that month there were no attempts at negotiations. While we were there the Acting State President, Pik Botha, tried on three occasions to see Mr Mandela before the NEC met and Mr Mandela said that this is a matter for the NEC to discuss rather than a bilateral. But there were no talks between the government and the ANC for that month and the ANC was trying to work out what its position should be about the interim arrangements now that we had rejected the idea of an interim constitution and work out its position in relation to the Constituent Assembly. But Boipatong provided a cutting edge to that and there were discussions of course in that month as to how we would use pressure because negotiations are a matter of persuasion. The fact that we had the best negotiators means nothing. I remember asking Fitzgerald, asking him once, he was Foreign Minister of Ireland and there was one of those chinless wonders who was Foreign Minister of the United Kingdom, and I remember asking him at lunch in Trinity College, I said, "It's an extraordinary thing there is really a remarkable intellectual understanding and you have a chinless wonder." He said, "It doesn't matter about whether they have chins or not, it's a social strength and the power they speak for."
So in the same way there's no doubt that we have the best negotiations, we have the most persuasive arguments, we have the best documentation both in style and in content. No doubt about that. But if they say no it means no because in the end although CODESA 2 had this great victory that the implementation of the decisions would not be left to the government, like the Groote Schuur and Pretoria Minutes, but the implementation would be by CODESA-type drawing up of the laws with the tricameral parliament to pass, that was a great victory. But they kept on saying, "No, no, no", or "Yes but", or a yes didn't mean yes it meant something else two months later. Therefore you have this crisis arriving that by May there was no confidence in the negotiation process and CODESA reflected, the final day before CODESA 2, that the offer the ANC had made was turned down by the government.
POM In essence the government wanted the talks to collapse?
POM With what strategic purpose? That you would get weaker and that you would be forced back to the table in a weaker position?
POM That what you talked about earlier, as time goes on your financial resources begin to run out or they hoped that the mass mobilisation will fizzle?
KA Well all the papers said, the Sunday Times and the Cape Argus, that to judge from what happened last week that there would be nothing. And Johnson, your esteemed colleague, said that if this was successful it would be the result of massive intimidation. Your esteemed colleague Johnson, this Oxford Don who seems to be writing here. I'm only teasing you. But he even said last week, and the extraordinary thing is, let me give you a small thing, my niece rang up (this is a millionaire niece I have who's husband is an ENT specialist). The Doctor's Guild wrote to all the doctors in Natal to say they should close down their surgeries and they gave the reasons why they should close down their surgeries. There was no consulting except for emergencies, nobody was open in the professional area in Durban, there were no pickets. These are self-employed people who are in private hospitals, the poshest hospitals in South Africa. They wouldn't even identify a picket if they saw one and they all closed down. People like Johnson and certainly De Klerk, if De Klerk believes Hernus Kriel's nonsense, again it's a misunderstanding that intimidates four million people.
A young white man who came to look at my gates yesterday said he can't come here to do me a favour. I said, "Well you have to come because I won't be here for the next four weeks." And he said, "But we need the stayaway." He's a political young white man and he's a businessman. We need the stayaway because we can't live in this state of uncertainty. And this was a government ... that uncertainty leads to alienation which is destabilising. You see alienation is as destabilising as killing lots and lots of people in the Vaal Triangle or in the Natal Midlands. A remarkable national organiser was murdered on Saturday, Hadebe who was the Regional Secretary, was seriously wounded on Saturday night. Nothing to do with the stayaway. The KwaZulu police have gone mad. They're just attacking whole townships and they are sanctioned and armed. So the destabilising is not only physical violence but the general culture of alienation, the removal of certainty and support. And what the stay-at-home has done is it's shown very clearly that there is a massive amount of support for the general ANC position.
POM So the government were trying to play it up as a relative - I mean where do you think it is going from here? Do you think the government will be convinced, will look at the reality and say the ANC has shown it has this massive support behind it, that it can engage in disciplined action of this kind and we'd better make some concessions? You're saying that they'll never get the offer they got before so in fact they've already blown it?
KA Well blown it in that exaggerated sense that one uses language to say it may, but remember that the pressures on the government are acute also. We must see what the British, the Americans and the Germans think of the events of the last few days. They are not without influence with the government to say the least. Secondly, the government didn't want SACCOLA, this labour co-ordination / business body, to have an agreement with COSATU. They were on the verge of an agreement last week and the government used every pressure not to have an agreement. It's quite clear now and it doesn't say very much about the nature of the South African newspapers that they haven't honed in on to that. If there had been agreement there wouldn't have been this massive stay-at-home today. There would have been one day, a kind of formal kind of thing. So therefore the pressure on the government from business, and it will become much more acute, we mustn't forget that, and the economic crisis. Inflation here is 25%, 26%, 27%, my own guess is more than that. But inflation on food prices, 35%, 40% you're talking about in food here, so it doesn't matter that the government has never cared very much about a famine in 1985 in the Eastern Cape, the devastating effect of hunger. But whites are being affected now, for the first time since the thirties there's now poverty among whites. Not here, not in Rosebank and Rondebosch but in the northern suburbs and certainly in Johannesburg whites are being affected by this. There's unemployment among whites and so therefore the pressures on the government must not be excluded.
At the end of the day they will have to negotiate. They know that there can be no agreement in South Africa. It's a cliché to say the agreement must encompass the ANC also, so while they try to build up the PAC and they try to build up certainly in statements from the SABC, the PAC and AZAPO have become favoured people, from the statements, you should see the statements. They have a three minute interview with the AZAPO student leader to say he was going to solve - three minutes! So all these are signs that the government is using the security approach to try to destroy or weaken the ANC. But as some of our papers mentioned six months ago it's legitimate to see the ANC as a political element, it's not legitimate to see the ANC as an enemy. An enemy must be destroyed.
As far as the police are concerned, and I must tell you this, in the Vaal Triangle, and I spent the last five months in Johannesburg and I've been to those areas like Thokoza, Kwa-Thema, Sebokeng, oh my God it's really searing, painful. There it's very palpable that there's no regard for African life and so the ANC has to take this into account. The government must show a commitment to deal with violence and there has been no sign of that. The five or six measures they announced the night before the Security Council, look at the details of them. First of all they were announced the night before the Security Council which itself is rather remarkable, so in other words there's damage limitation, internally, look at the details. There's no real decision, it's all aspiration. So even Battalion 32, Battalion 31 is not being dissolved. They are being regrouped into other formations and that's an extraordinary thing. The hostels are not being closed down and they've got to 'investigate' on a consensus basis. Look at all the details. As I have to say to foreign broadcasters, there is no movement, there is no development. Although we are prepared to consider, and we are meeting next week, to say is the government expressing a sentiment that takes into account the fourteen points or the twelve major points about security? If it expresses a sentiment to support that then we will consider going back to negotiations. That's quite different from carrying out the decisions. Again, the ANC could show reckless disregard for the need for negotiations by saying there are fourteen points and we have to be satisfied on every one of them. Well we have to wait for the cow to jump over the moon frankly. If there's a general movement, tendency, then I am prepared, I don't know about others in the ANC, to say the government is reacting in a positive way. But you see it would be very easy for us to take an infantile view and say there must be actual agreement with us on the fourteen points in which case we can talk about postponing the matter. But the government's lack of seriousness, and let's go back to last year when the ANC asked for the dismissal of Magnus Malan and the other man and in the fullness of time he became Minister of Water Affairs & Forestry and something else, but always a refusal to accept the illegitimacy of these issues, a refusal to recognise the seriousness of things and the ANC's function is now to ensure that the government understands.
POM OK Kader, in your own view what do you think? Will you be back at the table within two months?
KA Too long, can't wait. Other commentators have said two months. That's October, that's too long.
POM Has the agenda changed when you go back? Is it now more of a ...?
KA Well it will be a different form of negotiation. I am not prepared to go back to this CODESA arrangement, it's a debating society. If there's agreement on the constitution making then I think everything will fall in line. I think that's the central issue for the ANC, the degree of how is the constitution going to be drafted. And the rest of them, which laws should be repealed, discriminatory laws and all, they just fall in line. They are technicians' jobs really to draft the laws and repeal them.
POM So would you see bilateral negotiations outside of CODESA or has CODESA served its purpose and you go on to ...?
KA Well the ANC wanted inclusive negotiation. They wanted as many people as possible in it. We can stick to the CODESA structure but you can't negotiate the details of every item which we are doing where effectively you're talking about if there's a political commitment there will be details that will simply need to be tied up by experts, technicians and we can't discuss this with either 76 people or 36 people. It's out of the question.