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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

07 Aug 1992: Nefaloyhodwe, Pandelini

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POM     I'd like to start, since you said you hadn't read the transcript which might have been a fair starting point, but it's an obvious starting point. A year ago you said that AZAPO is the starting point, that the government had to resign and be replaced by a transitional authority and meanwhile there should be a consultative assembly of all the liberation parties getting their act together and then negotiations regarding the transitional process and the elections for a new Constituent Assembly to write the constitution or whatever. One year afterwards the government certainly appears to be no nearer to resigning and the process that began last year with the Peace Accord and then became CODESA now appears to be coming even more entrenched than ever. Could you just lead me through what has happened in your view in the last year and where do you think AZAPO sits or doesn't sit or where its goals are being furthered or not being furthered?

PN     Well up till now AZAPO's framework has not changed. AZAPO did pursue the question of the consultative conference with other liberation movements and through discussions it was tampered with because we had to have give and take with the other liberation movements. We did hold a number of consultations that were to lead into the Patriotic Front (PF). Our view was that before we could embark on a programme for a PF we needed first to agree on basic minimums that we would then carry over to the PF.

POM     Certain minimums like?

PN     Demands that we would have agreed upon. So through those discussions the consultative conference then took the form of the three presidents, that is myself, Comrade Mandela and Comrade Makwetu, the three General Secretaries of the three organisations and three other members of the Executive Committee. We did hold a number of discussions with the other organisations. But at that stage there was yet another committee which was created called the Liaison Committee which was composed of two representatives from each organisation. So we would meet and set out some of the difficult issues that the Liaison Committee members would not resolve. We were acting like what they call principals but we ourselves had to meet. During that time we also had to meet face to face, Mandela meeting with me and then I meeting with Makwetu alone and Makwetu meeting with Mandela which we did during that time. So as far as our programme is concerned that bit of the consultative conference was achieved.

     After that, an agreement was reached to bring about a PF conference in Durban and the kinds of agreements that we had reached as the basic minimums were that we would all pursue the idea of an elected Constituent Assembly which still stands, and that it will be all proportional representation and that that the Constituent Assembly will be the only legitimate body which will draw up a new constitution and only those that have actually been elected to that Constituent Assembly will be the people legitimately chosen to do so to draft the new constitution. So that was one of the things that everybody agreed from the liberation movement side.

     The second thing that was agreed upon was that the PF, after it shall have been formed, it would then challenge the regime to negotiate with it at a neutral venue and the meeting being chaired by a neutral mediator. Of course at that stage the ANC side was not very comfortable but that agreement was reached that that should be so if we were going to challenge the regime, to negotiate with it from one position.

     Those were the two fundamental issues agreed upon and if you also read the statement which was drawn up after the PF, which we didn't attend, it does actually allude to those two points. We felt that was a very good victory from our side but what we could not agree upon prior to the PF, we could never agree as to who should be at the PF conference. The PAC and ANC felt that it should be all and sundry provided that those who come there shall have agreed to the consultative Constituent Assembly.

     The other, third, element was the one of a unitary state. I nearly forgot. So there were three. It was a question of challenging the regime to negotiate with the regime, to negotiate with the regime at a neutral venue, neutral mediator and a question of the Constituent Assembly and also that every person must bind himself with the concept of a unitary state.

POM     All three organisations agreed to that?

PN     Had agreed. But as I say the ANC on the question of neutral venue, neutral mediator was not really very strong even with that kind of agreement. One could see that they were not really in favour of that kind of thing because they had already entered talks within the parameters which were different. But with a little bit of talking such agreement was reached.

     As you know, we couldn't agree as to who must come there. The PAC and the ANC felt that the Bantustans and tricameral parties must be there. We maintained that those are part and parcel of the regime and therefore we are jut bringing them there for the sake of it but that they will have remained aligned to the government. And in that I think we have been proved correct. Because of that friction as to who must come we were then kicked out of the Convening Committee by the ANC and the PAC and later we then withdrew ourselves from attending the PF Conference. It went on and we were not there. There were other organisations which argued that we should be included and a resolution was passed that we should by the two other parties.

POM     Now they kicked you out before you wouldn't agree as to who should be participants? Were you prepared to stay in even though ...?

PN     No, we were actually not prepared to even stay in. We actually wrote letters to all those that were involved, the tricameral parties and the Bantustans indicating to them that AZAPO does not support their participating at the PF Conference but otherwise we accepted the other organisations in the community like NAFCOC, all that, we didn't really bother. We were worried about people who had always aligned themselves with the regime and we were clear that they were just fooling us, they would still return back to the regime. Indeed, after the PF, the so-called PF, was formed they returned to the regime. They held a meeting in Pretoria to plan against other PF partners and the PAC will be able to tell you how they were cheated into the first CODESA meeting only to discover that there was no PF, they will be able to do that. What happened is that when CODESA 1 was to sit, the PAC also attended CODESA 1, but they attended on the basis that they were going there together with their PF partners which included the tricameral parties and the Bantustans together with the ANC alliance, but whilst they were there they then discovered that they were speaking for themselves and not for the PF. Their dreams for a Front were shattered and they had to pull out because whatever they suggested, which was in line with what happened in Durban, they have never accepted. They felt betrayed. They will tell you more about it. At that stage we had already said so, that there was no Front formed because to us the Front meant those organisations that have always been opposing the regime. So that is the area where we say AZAPO's standpoint has not changed in profile.

     The second portion of what has happened is that we then continued to call for the liberation organisations to pursue the concept of a true Patriotic Front and we are still doing so even today. But due to the fact that the ANC was already in CODESA, PAC was already grumbling also about being betrayed, and we were consistent with what we wanted it to be. The relationship amongst liberation movements could not actually make it possible for us again to meet because then we were trying to say to the ANC, "You have sold out", and it was impossible for them to meet us during that period.

     And it went on and we then proposed that we would pursue the objectives as I told you last time, we would want to meet with the regime and we don't shy away from the fact that we can negotiate with them but provided that it is at a neutral venue, chaired by a neutral mediator and the basis of the negotiations must be the transfer of power from the regime to ourselves and that prior to that the regime should have given a clear signal and undertaking that they are prepared to relinquish that power, which means that the indication would be that they are prepared to resign and that when we sit we are then just discussing the mechanisms of bringing about a majority government. It's not something that we go there and talk other things because in our view ...

POM     Would you talk about the mechanisms to bring a transitional authority into being?

PN     That's right. But our basic departure is that we are going to discuss those issues that have got relevance to transferring power from a minority to a majority. So the framework of discussions are quite pointed in AZAPO's view and we think that that is the only thing actually to be debated. There is no other thing in our country to be debated because the other things actually revolve around how power can be transferred from the minority to the majority peacefully, if we were to talk like that.

POM     Peacefully.

PN     Yes, peacefully, which means that even if you want to debate the question of the transitional authority it is there as an intervening structure so that power can be transferred through a Constituent Assembly.

POM     Now at Boipatong you said that AZAPO would organise a campaign to smash CODESA.

PN     That's right.

POM     Could you elaborate on that?

PN     Now what we were saying there was that we were going to make sure that that CODESA, which was sitting, had to fall but luckily by that time when we went to Boipatong it had fallen. Our strategy is not geared at petitioning the government. We don't believe in that.

POM     Sorry, which?

PN     Petitioning.

POM     Petitioning?

PN     Yes, sending petitions to the government. We are really not interested in that because we think that the government has created enough room for us to petition it. In its strategy of CODESA it also gave room for mass participation and petitioning. It is well aware of that and therefore it doesn't really injure the regime if we were to walk in our thousands and leave a petition somewhere, at John Vorster Square, because the regime is prepared for that. So what we wanted to do when we said we were embarking on a process of smashing CODESA, our strategy was more of organising our communities to understand what CODESA is. But that means strengthening AZAPO. It doesn't mean every day going into the street and in these instances we have a programme called 'Village to Village, Township to Township', which is on now and it's on, it's going to be ...

POM     What kind of programme is it?

PN     It's a programme geared at us having to visit every village of this country through our structures and setting up structures in every village of people who will be not less than five. So if we get five people in a village we are satisfied, we can pass to the next village. What we are trying to do is that we think that very soon those who have resources are going to call for some kind of election and AZAPO, because of its own standpoint, will not be given the resources so that when you now have to campaign for your own ideas when the world is supervising that kind of election, you will have to have the resources and AZAPO will not have resources. AZAPO will have at least five persons in every village, five persons in every township and therefore we won't need to be carrying people with resources from one place to the other and that is intact, we are not really trying to probably you are the first person to gather the reality of that process. These people will know exactly what AZAPO is preparing for so that if those who have resources want to go to village A to do their campaigning they will find AZAPO there.

POM     So you are saying that you see with the process that's going on now, flawed that it may be and despicable as it may be from your point of view, you think that that process might in a relatively short period of time result in an election for some kind of Constituent Assembly and you're going to be ready to fight that election?

PN     You see, what we see, it is actually that at the present - what we see are the people who have always wanted to sabotage our (vision) of freedom coming in and influencing the process to say you have to go through some kind of election. And the very people will be what you can monitor and supervise us on that process, saying that we think it may be difficult for AZAPO to stand up and say this kind of process is full of fraud because the UN and all other people we know shall have agreed to go through a process, which would be very satisfactory to our people, but because the world has the tendency of clubbing to bring up what they want so we don't want to be caught napping.

POM     OK.

PN     If we want to either kick the hell against that or, as I say, let's take a ride with it. So what we are preparing is for both. It's either a situation will arise where we are satisfied that in an election, even if we are not really very much, for all intents and purposes we can't get more than what we have got, then we get in. But then AZAPO, because it's regarded as a radical organisation, it won't have the resources, the millions that other people are having. AZAPO must plan in advance to be able to face that so that we can carry through also with victory. If not, AZAPO must also prepare for a situation where we have been sold a dummy, to kick against that dummy with strength from the people, not just shouting that we have good ideas. And that is what is on the carpet.

POM     I've heard many different opinions on what happened at CODESA or what people think happened and I'd be interested to hear your construction on whether the ANC or the government wanted CODESA to collapse. Maybe I'd better start with that one. Did someone want it? Did either of the major partners in that process want it to stop?

PN     To AZAPO it's neither here nor there really. I've heard those stories and we have evidence that the ANC during the last stages of CODESA 2 got itself entangled with realising that the decisions they were going to make and agree on were actually going to be kicked out by their own constituency. That evidence we have. And as a result of that the ANC was pressurised, it was not their intention from the start of the CODESA 2 that it must collapse but they reached a stage where those who were on the government side had strategised in such a way that they were now trapped in a situation which they were now having to gauge and that's what we know.

     On the government side there was no intention to collapse with CODESA because the government's plan was going as they wanted it. The plan of the government was to increase the number of participants in their favour by including their partners in the Bantustans so that when consensus is reached it has to be reached through that mode. There were issues on which the ANC on consensus was defeated either on the democratic level, or whatever you may call it, because they were defeated because the government had more parties on its side. So the government had no problem, that is why it's calling for the ANC to come back. The government has no problem in continuing to talk. That is its problem.

     In our view CODESA didn't collapse because of the government or collapse because of the ANC. It collapsed because of what we had said inherent in that forum that it was this process that was going to lead to its collapse. That's what sustained AZAPO during the time when CODESA was on and people were asking, "You are not in the street toyi-toying, do you think it can just collapse on its own?" We had seen that the construction of that body, it had inherent dangers on its own and that if it didn't collapse the ANC would have been compromised and the only side we saw which would have made CODESA to continue was that the ANC was going to be trounced and that if it accepts that, then CODESA would then have collapsed the other way round. The ANC followers would have then rejected whatever they had agreed upon and it would have still collapsed even after they had signed the agreement but at least here they did shout a bit.

POM     Do you think they have learned, with the break-up? What construction do you put on events from CODESA deadlocks? Both De Klerk and Mandela say deadlock, yes, but the problems aren't insuperable. Then you move very rapidly to a hardening of the ANC attitude; then you have Boipatong; then you have the withdrawal of the ANC from talks altogether; you have a list of more demands they make that government must meet, and you've very personal attacks by Mandela on De Klerk which surprise me because I never thought of Mandela as being the kind of person who engages in personal attacks on other people. What happened, what were the dynamics during that period?

PN     The dynamics, of course, if you were in AZAPO you would find them within the black community in particular. All that is happening in our country, if you want to have a better barometer, don't be bothered about what Mandela says to De Klerk, it's really sometimes inconsequential. We know in AZAPO that at least white people in this country they get bothered by that but we think they are using a yardstick which is not important. What is important here to realise from AZAPO's point is that whatever happens, whatever statements anyone can make against each other, the reality of the situation is De Klerk has kept power which includes the army and all the structural power that he has and Mandela has got just his organisation with its followers.

     So if Mandela wants to transfer this power that De Klerk has, that's where the dynamics are. Mandela has to mount something that can give rise to De Klerk feeling insecure and feeling that he cannot perpetuate what he has. Mandela hasn't done that. That is why we were calling Mandela to consolidate this side at a Patriotic Front level so that the majority of our people can pressurise this because if we are going the peaceful way we have to have a base on which the fear can be directed at De Klerk. But the dynamics were as follows, that whilst all this was happening we in AZAPO believe very strongly that both Mandela and De Klerk had agreed prior to all this which is happening that in order that Mandela must carry along as many people within the black community as possible in this path, which is not supported by AZAPO and PAC, he must be allowed some little bit of indulgence to throw in statements that may be similar to those of AZAPO, otherwise there is no way he can carry this anger here to cross over to strike a deal. So both Mandela and De Klerk know that but the masses may not have not been aware. But that carries an impression - but that is De Klerk, otherwise there is no way they can lose, they can win.

     But the dynamism became so strong as the process was moving towards that agreement and the masses below started feeling uneasy about what Mandela was just about to throw in to sign, and coupled with Boipatong, which is actually a strategy of De Klerk's side which he was not telling the ANC: apart from having power as a government I am also indulging into a strategy of destabilising your constituency by sending my other boys who were getting into all kinds of dealings with Inkatha in order that the recruitment of the ANC, which built its masses, must not continue alongside with these negotiations. So he was weakening them but then something happened which just backfired. I don't think De Klerk sat down and said we are going to kill so many people there.

POM     That got the ANC off the hook?

PN     But what I think De Klerk did, he said to his boys, "Go and cut out the umbilical cord of the ANC in that area", because in the Vaal there are lot of activities of both AZAPO, ANC and PAC. So I think De Klerk then said go and cut that, but the boys are the boys. When they were there they carried out what they were taught to carry out and that then made Mandela to be, even if he had gone on to sign, the whole masses would have belittled him. So that also militated against Mandela. Mandela had to withdraw to show that he's still with his constituency. The climate for signing an agreement was not there as far as AZAPO was concerned but also, shall I say, it was because of its inherent nature that it was going to lead to that. Not a proper climate was created because we were shouting as AZAPO and PAC, "Look, now you are signing this document which is this or that." We had a document which we were given by some of the government who are friendly to us. The ANC and the government had agreed upon it, separate from the CODESA process, which gives you step by step agreement up till 1994. So it describes step by step what would be agreed on what terms and that document is not farfetched from what they were just about to agree upon. But then the climate didn't allow that. Otherwise the ANC today would not be the ANC. That is why if you want to judge it, that is why the ANC had to go on mass action. It is because it had to bring back its own status.

POM     I don't want to put this in a cynical way, but in a way Boipatong happened at the right time for the ANC.

PN     That's right, because otherwise there would have been more other things happening there.

POM     They would have signed the agreement. Boipatong allowed Mandela to pull his constituency back in.

PN     Boipatong allowed the ANC to have a reason why they are pulling out of CODESA. That's all. It only allowed and that even was not for the Boipatong people. The reason was the international community because if Boipatong did not happen Mandela would not have had reason to say, "I'm pulling out because we are still debating 70% or 75%." He would have been stupid to say, "Because we can't agree on percentages I'm pulling out of CODESA", but it gave the right reason which would never have been there. So the real reason for pulling out was that they had also discovered, it had dawned that they are now in trouble with the signing of this document. And they were battling as to how they could come out of that situation. Boipatong presented a very clear picture which actually Mandela could explain to those who are giving him money for this process. You must know that the ANC is also getting funds to pursue this process. They can't just pull out and not explain to the funders why it pulls out but Boipatong is a good platform to say our people have been killed, you can't expect us to be sitting around a table. We need to go and talk to our people first.

     So that was good but Boipatong also came and went. Now to consolidate again a process which must lead to negotiations, Mandela has to build from the start again. He has already built some image through the rolling mass action that you have seen.

POM     AZAPO oppose that?

PN     We oppose it, we didn't oppose mass action, we opposed the aim of the mass action. We were very clear about that because we ourselves when we get mass action as an instrument that can attain the goal that AZAPO is talking about, we felt that the ANC because of the circumstances of CODESA, and they still wanted CODESA to be there because all these people who are pouring money into it will never allow it to remain outside CODESA, so it survives also on showing some kind of flexibility to the donors, and we realised that the ANC is merely wanting mass action to build again an aura of being there, fighting, so that they can also get a good basis upon which they can return. Boipatong took them out which was actually an opportune time to get out but they must also now get an opportunity, reason also, to go in and they can't just get in without showing that they are with the masses. So they were trying to reach the people, again to lead them to the same process. AZAPO was saying we support mass action but if you want to use it now for that CODESA which has just collapsed which we feel structurally it cannot deliver, then we are sorry. We support mass action but we can't support a process that is purposely being turned into a process towards CODESA 3 maybe, because we are calling for a process which would lead to the whole restructuring of the negotiation forum.

POM     I have two questions: I want to ask you what that restructuring would entail but before that, do you think that the mass action was a successful mass action and do you think that it has put 'fear' into the government or that the government will be responsive to it, or is it part of the game between the ANC and the government; the government saying to Mandela, OK, now we've allowed you to do your thing and you've shown got your people behind you so let's just get back to the table and get on with it?

PN     We think that the fact that the mass action was intended to go back to CODESA and we also think that the government also knew that the mass action had to occur. As to the proportion it took, that's a different matter, but that the government was prepared to let mass action occur that's something agreed upon, it's not a problem to the government. That is why the government at one stage was saying let's let it take its course because if it didn't occur it would be impossible for Mandela to stand up for (his constituency). But the government, on the one hand, has got a credibility problem from its own constituency. You must remember it's also dealing with its own constituency. So when Mandela rises up, even if the government leadership knows that that is also for our own good, it is not necessarily so with the constituency of De Klerk, the ordinary person in the street. A situation has been created where De Klerk comes even tomorrow, and even after about two or three weeks maybe, because he has also to time whether it was because Mandela was standing near his offices that he now says I'm prepared for majority rule because that would really be detrimental for De Klerk.

POM     But do you think that De Klerk was impressed by the extent of the stayaway and by the numbers who showed up at the rallies, the marches?

PN     Yes I think do Klerk felt that Mandela would not pull as many people as he did. I really think that. He says mass action must be there but De Klerk, because also he is working within the black community by various means, including violence, but he thought that it wouldn't be what it was, that the many numbers came later, that was not what De Klerk and his echelons thought.

POM     So in that sense the successful mass action in the way that you would think of it, of letting the regime see the extent of the masses' anger and discontentment with what's going on?

PN     At that level I wouldn't say yes because you see the regime, as I told you, the question of mass action and petition is part of its strategy so it is surprised by the numbers, it's not surprised by the fact that it is meant to show some kind of support. That it knows and that it fears must occur because if it doesn't occur they don't have Mandela because they are also struggling to get a which can, together with them, resolve the conflict in the manner that could well be of AZAPO. So in that situation you give and take. At that level they are not really bothered about they are surprised about the numbers because they didn't expect the numbers but they are not surprised that this had to happen.

     In their strategy as the government what has occurred, which is very fundamental, is that within the ANC rank and file, the ANC has been able now to win back the disillusioned membership that was critical of CODESA 2. But that's temporary, that's temporary in terms of politics but for now it's still hanging. This membership they are at loggerheads with, the steps that may be taken by the ANC in terms of either returning or not, so we think the ANC, if indeed the ANC thinks like AZAPO (we don't know whether it thinks like AZAPO) it would not go to CODESA 3 immediately even itself. It will try to throw in and tell De Klerk that, you see, I've got a lot of support, and build up on that kind of rhetoric and when the right climate comes chip into CODESA 3.

     The government on the other hand also in terms of us, we think if it is well intentioned it will remain saying, "You can come any day, we have never pulled out of CODESA because we are prepared to talk to you. Every day our doors are open." That is also their leverage that they were always and they are not doing so for their constituency only, they are doing it for the international world which may turn against De Klerk and say, "You are refusing with majority rule." So the government will continue to say, "Well, you don't need to talk somewhere away from me on the podium, come to my office." So it will go on a little bit of that but what I doubt personally is some of the demands that ANC have put, they go beyond what Mandela would have liked to put as far as I am concerned, but they do express the feeling of the membership of the ANC.

POM     What demands would you point to?

PN     Now there's a demand which says, in those demands, that unless the government indicates clearly that it is for majority rule we cannot go back to CODESA unless the government indicates that it is prepared to have elections for a Constituent Assembly as the ANC has decided we will then design it. The government is for the Constituent Assembly but not as designed by the ANC. Now, if indeed the ANC sticks to those two demands, then AZAPO's battles are over because that's where we were even before they went to CODESA so they took part of our objective, which is good politically because then what you do? You say it's a bit of those - you open it, you include it into your framework, then the masses also follow you that now you have become the man we want. But then you can use those masses later for something else and that is the game that AZAPO sees, but as I told you AZAPO is far beyond that because AZAPO now no longer wants to be struggling, it is going to every village and every township to set up people who will then politicise these villages while the CODESA project is still on. They are still going to go back for another six months or twelve months to talk and while they are doing so we set up structures and they are bound to go back to enunciate again to the people what they want to be voted on. They must find out if what they are saying is all right. This is what we have done.

POM     When you met with Cyrus Vance when he was here, what did you tell him had to be done? What advice did you give to him in terms of how he and the UN could be effective, could play a role that would hasten the process?

PN     What we did say to him, we said to him first, as AZAPO we gave him our step by step leading to the one that I told you, transitional authority, and we gave reasons why. It was also clear, I think, to him and the delegation that to some extent some of the issues we were raising have now been fulfilled. For instance, we were saying it is impossible for warring factions to actually proceed to agree on their own and stick to this agreement and monitor them on their own. It's impossible for AZAPO to see that. If it happens, fine, it's the first miracle that we shall have seen but we feel that there must be a force which makes sure that this is what we told you, because we then refined that very clearly, that if the United Nations, the international community gets involved in these negotiations and we get involved in those negotiations, we want the international community to be a facilitator which will include chairing the meeting and we want the international community to be a guarantor of every single decision that gets reached.

     So what we want to do, in other words, is that if we reach a decision near you, the guarantors are there, that decision is fixed, it's agreed, we are moving towards other issues that we have not agreed. We deposit the decision with the international community and it keeps it up until we resolve the next issues and we deposit because we have seen throughout these negotiations with the ANC and the government, because there was nobody who guarantees those decisions, wanting to go back and say, well I no longer believe in what I proposed to you and signed at Groote Schuur because you have gone against that one and that one. That process can't continue to go. AZAPO is saying you stay there, once we agree that the armies must be quarantined and everybody consents to it, we put it to the guarantor and none of the parties must renege otherwise they get out of the process and the international community must then exercise its muscle upon that party. And that will assist us to get other issues at the back of our side and then we will continue to do more difficult ones bit by bit without having to go onto a seesaw mechanism. So that's what we told him.

     The second thing that we told him, we then said that we believe it will be definitely impossible to conduct elections in this country, which everybody wants to happen, if there is no peace. It's impossible. We can't see peace coming on its own with De Klerk's forces all over here and doing the things that they are doing with our boys, some of them trained in Moscow, who also feel that there must be street committees and they are doing their own thing. We can't see peace unless again the international community is prepared to bring some monitoring force. As to the shape it will take, that's a subject now for talk but the reality to us is that it will be impossible to just tell De Klerk to withdraw everything that he has in the black community which he is doing now to say go and quarantine them somewhere. It is difficult for him to remove the Koevoet and Battalion 32 and how do we know that he will all of a sudden slip and say well I'm going to remove everything? It's power to him because we must also look that until such time the last dot of the agreement has been signed and the process has been set into motion to actually transfer that power, De Klerk still has power. If Mandela doesn't know that then he doesn't know what he's fighting against.

POM     This seems to me, the nub of it here is that people talk about they must have elections, they must have elections, and yet it's impossible to look at what's going on in the country and say there will be free and fair elections. The violence must stop or be brought under control before you can even think of having elections.

PN     Yes. I can assure you, I don't believe that the ANC and Inkatha members can vote in one booth in Natal. It's impossible. Whether I like Inkatha or not, the fact is that Inkatha members and ANC members will never vote at one place and unless somebody does something about that situation, which will allow a T-shirt of Inkatha in front of a T-shirt of the ANC in front of a T-shirt of AZAPO in the same polling booth to happen in an atmosphere of that, then we are just talking. That has to be created otherwise you will make people vote for what? It will just be intimidation over intimidation. In an area where AZAPO is still strong then we take everybody by force. But is that resolving the real conflict of what does it want because it leaves other people with tension so they are going to rise again? AZAPO is just merely saying realistically we know that you people don't want some of the things to happen but that is what does happen.

     So we told him that and the third thing that we told him was that we believe very strongly that that forum called the United Nations, it has got its own history, we told him. It's history, of course, was that for one reason or another it had got into the euphoria of sole and authentic representative of people particularly those that were coming from the struggling nations. You will get one party, which through it's own maybe diplomacy coupled with other things, it gets the sole and authentic stage at the United Nations. We were telling him that that history has passed. We understand because the history was actually really of the super powers when they were still at loggerheads so one would want to promote its own wing and the other one also say ... So we understand that. And we then told them that that history is over. So AZAPO must also be there when you are discussing the future of this country now because we don't think you have any reason to go there now and we then sent him to talk to the General Secretary. I wrote him a formal letter on that to say that we will no longer really be happy that you want to resolve a situation of our country but yet when you go to the podium we then get represented by the government, ANC and PAC. That we can't tolerate. So that is also a matter which we are very clear about because we have been non-aligned right through. We fought the government, we fought the ANC in 1984/85 during the UDF days and we are proud of doing that because we feel that we have to protect democracy. Democratic processes must be allowed to be in our country.

POM     Are you personally, or AZAPO as an organisation, disappointed in Mandela, that here's a man who spent 27 years in jail, the best years of his life, on principle and then comes out and would seem from your point of view to enter into a bargaining process that will end up with the sharing of power with the white minority which has oppressed black people for 300 years, and for the last 40 under apartheid, and thinks that's an equitable and just settlement of the whole situation?

PN     Well I'm happy at least to say that when I was in jail together with Mandela and many of the leadership of the ANC we had time to talk about the struggle. When we went to jail we actually were charged for eulogising Mandela, Sisulu and company and that is what we served sentences for because in our view they were part and parcel of what we call the liberation struggle. The same we were also charged for eulogising Sobukwe who was the PAC fellow but we were charged for eulogising all those who had fought before us which included them. But when we arrived there it was a matter of our own methodology and our own way of looking at the struggle over the country versus theirs.

     We then discovered that we had differences with them on what the future should be like and even on methods except that they were still at that stage very much Muscovites, completely, except Mandela. Mandela at that stage one couldn't see where he really stood. The majority, Sisulus, what have you, they were in that move that the Soviet Union will come here and it is giving us AK47s and they will oppress you if you have never belonged to uMkhonto, they will be singing and doing all that. And we said to them that no, we don't need your uMkhonto because we don't believe that the Soviet Union has anything to do primarily with the liberation of our people and that if the Soviet Union has something to do with it it's the help they give but they don't go beyond that.

     But we found a euphoria which goes beyond that, which tended to think, in our view we thought they might even come and dictate the terms of it and I'm talking from experience. I've lived with some of the boys who have been trained in Moscow and I have found that they were all most dogmatic to the book. So we differed on that because our basis of argument was that no single country in the world should dictate the pace and what we want as people. They can help, yes, fine. So the differences started to occur. We are not really surprised truly speaking. We are not surprised because when we came out of jail we did inform our cadres of AZAPO that we think Mandela is the trump card of those forces that wanted to compromise our strength. That's how we put it. But we didn't want to make it a public matter because on the one hand we valued Mandela's contribution in the struggle. We had no qualms with that. We respect also Mandela in as much as we would respect every fighter, but our respect doesn't go beyond that. It's just respect and an acknowledgement of the contribution that he has made and still feeling that he is part and parcel of us, but that does not deter us to tell him that we feel that you have compromised the aspiration.

     So to us it's not a surprise that he's doing the things - in our analysis, we again are saying it was bound to happen because the kind of conduct in prison and otherwise we saw, and the discussions we had convinced us that only a Mandela can save some of those who fear us. So they wanted him to be a trump card. Even among his own organisation they know that and there are many people you can talk to and they will tell you that is what they also feel, Mandela is being used to do certain things for other people. The agreement between Mandela and the government was not reached when he was outside. This whole process was agreed upon when Mandela was still inside because it was impossible to champion anybody else.

     In AZAPO we have watched the development this way. There was a stage when we and the rest of the liberation movement were one, during 1968 up until 1977, the liberation movement was under the umbrella of the Black Consciousness Movement before the death of Steven Biko. You wouldn't find all these others. So it was impossible at that stage to crack the liberation movement by those who didn't want it to bear fruit. But then at that stage the people who were against our liberation were creating figures such as Mangosuthu Buthelezi, he's a creation. They wanted to sport him above all others but he didn't really succeed and when he didn't succeed there was a creation of the UDF which in the eyes of the world was church based. It was church based in the sense that it was cutting from the tradition of the militant tradition of the BCM led by Steve Biko. It was thought of in 1977, everything was then and they had to create a vehicle which they thought it will lead them to that. In our view they then put what is called the Nobel Peace Prize winner to centre around ideas of that nature, which was Tutu. Tutu, if you talk to him, he knows that's what we queried him about because then Tutu used the money that he was given as a church leader only to feed the UDF. We are on record as saying that. And not give the same money to AZAPO. And so we saw it clearly. So you are created in order to do something here in our midst.

     But what then happened was that the ANC still was the militant organisation of the Soviet Union. Most of cadres who were in the UDF then joined the ANC. Now that forum which was meant for something else was destroyed because it had elements of people who were now radical, COSATU, what have you. So when that happened, that championing of an ideal which must sabotage the struggle could not come into fruition. Another alternative had to be looked at. We know that the alternative this time was no longer the creation of a priest leader because it failed in Zimbabwe. So they needed to create an alternative which is nearer the fighting forces and in our view we have got a proper leader for that duty, that's AZAPO. That duty was then shifted to an organisation that seemed to have more hostility to those kinds of interests and they found Mandela being the most acceptable figure. That is why, it answers why all of a sudden the first sponsors of Mandela's organisation come from the very people who opposed the ANC when the ANC was still with the Soviet Union. It answers to AZAPO that dilemma because this is the kind of people they had always wanted but unfortunately before Gorbachev they had Stalin and other people, but when the opportunity arose they also flooded that quarter. That leaves AZAPO with really a challenge.

POM     Is Mandela the glue that holds the ANC together? Would it splinter off into a number of separate political organisations?

PN     It can't split now. It might split post-settlement, political settlement to be more exact. Post political settlement it might split but prior to that it can't split because the circumstances that make it not split is that AZAPO still wants to be the power organisation. Many groups see other groups wanting to rule over them, but they are actually going to be together for some time.

POM     But your AZAPO is very cohesive, it's thought through its ideology and everybody subscribes to the same set of ideals and the methods in which these ideals will be implemented. It seems to me that the ANC is a hodgepodge of people with different ideologies, that it has no inner cohesiveness.

PN     That is true. And that is what they will make it later when the situation is more relaxed. It will split because it doesn't have an ideology. It really doesn't operate on a framework. So it will be prone to get more people who would have a better understanding of the situation and they will push an ideological line within it and they are going to split. Also post-Mandela and Sisulu and that range, which probably gives them another five years, because of age, not because one wants them to die, but because of the reality, post-Mandela there is going to be a bit of who is who because at the moment they haven't created a space for a person under here who is almost the one who is going to take over. What they did when that occurred, which nearly caused them a problem, they then brought Sisulu to just cover up really. Sisulu is just about to go and that tension is probably going to roll back.

POM     Did it surprise you when Chris Hani took over as Secretary General of the SACP and gave up being Chief of Staff of uMkhonto?

PN     No, it didn't surprise us because in AZAPO we had analysed the situation and found that the Communist Party had no followers at all. It was a parasite organisation operating under the auspices of the ANC. Now what had made it more to have followers was a reality which both the ANC and the Communist Party were trying to deny, that there is a reality in our country that leaders in an organisation should be black, probably because we like to have black people leading the liberation movement. It might not get the right people because the situation is still like that. So it was not reflecting what it wanted to recruit by keeping Slovo as the figurehead. Within themselves they analysed the situation and said that let's put more flesh and, if you check, the Communist Party now has got more black people, members, in its Executive. They needed a Hani. They really needed a Hani. At the same time it was a relief to Mandela, from my side, because there was also pressure from the people who are funding Mandela that this boy is out order, we can't continue this way with this communist boy who just shouts as and when he shouts. And probably that was, I suppose, also the thing that Winnie also had to be chopped, despite other family connections, because she would shout things that would not augur well with Mandela's stature. So Mandela is not the kind of person who can tolerate that noise. So at that stage it also served the ANC well because the ANC wanted to prove that they were no longer worried about uMkhonto weSizwe, that era is gone and to remove a Chief of Staff who has been a hawk and shift a bit it gives ANC stature in terms of its strategy.

POM     Did Hani lose out? Is he a loser in that regard?

PN     No, no. He's actually not even a loser. He still has support within MK. I believe that. In my view it was a question of reshuffling so that the dignity which the ANC wants to portray should not be tampered with. I think the same applies to Winnie really despite the fact that we have also our own problem with Winnie, but Winnie was caught up in the whole jungle of militancy and also that she was then charged for Stompie, murdering. When a man is of a dignified nature he cannot tolerate that situation and it can lead maybe to internal family differences which also played a part. And we know from records that Winnie didn't really agree much with the CODESA process, as we did not.

POM     Is she a political force in her own right?

PN     No. She was, but I think they are playing their cards well to phase her out of the system.

POM     Finally, and thanks for the time, it's really been worthwhile talking to you, it makes a big difference who you talk to; how do you see the next several months unfolding?

PN     As far as we are concerned at the moment, we are going to meet tomorrow anyway. We are going to assess the mass action. In our view the next few months that occur will be basically the months that would allow first Cyrus Vance's report to be made public. That's a process on its own. So the Mandela/De Klerk negotiations also we think will be tempered by that because people will want first to see in what way Vance is trying to resolve the situation. The United Nations has gone even further by allowing a network of its own people here. There are a couple, about ten now, who have been given some kind of mandate that they must try to create conditions for negotiations. I don't say CODESA.

POM     Just for negotiations?

PN     Yes, they don't say CODESA, which is in political terms good because then AZAPO doesn't need to say, but why do you have CODESA in your sentence? We are talking generally, even if they mean CODESA. I feel that's OK. So the realities are that insofar as I see it, is that they will wait for Cyrus Vance's report, they will also wait for this monitoring of mass action. They will probably call for another sitting of that special Security Council on the basis of Vance's report and there will be a little bit of debate there and the possibilities are that, so far as that is concerned, that they are probably going to pass a resolution which will say they will have a UN presence but not necessarily to do the chairing, that's our version. They won't do the chairing but they will be there to be the go-between, do a sort of mediating role but just as a presence. That's what we see as number one. And the question of the neutral venue, as AZAPO would want it to happen, they would not want to accede to it. They would still stick to the fact that the judges can do the job. We think so.

     But in terms of the violence side of the story it is still going to be a process of debate, give and take, because I think De Klerk has gone a little bit far. I think the United Nations would want some kind of monitoring of the movements of the security forces of De Klerk and De Klerk seems also to have given in to that because he just doesn't want a lot of condemnation by the international community; there is going to be a little bit of seesaw mechanism on the side of the violence. It's still going to be with us and how it will finally be resolved, it's a matter which will arise from the Vance report and this guy's report about mass action, what they have all said. So the process will go on for some time.

     In the meantime one sees another stage but the government, in our view, in our interpretation, it's no longer as keen to go to the negotiation table only with the ANC and the Bantustan leaders. We think it is also debating whether it would not be appropriate to broaden that forum to include AZAPO, PAC and the CP or, if not, the split of the CP. But we think they are doing so to bring more variables because that would give them space. If I was the government I would do that. In fact I would go for that because then on my side there would be a lot which the CP and AZAPO and PAC will be raising on their own which will make this process to be prolonged because they can't just come there and sign a document. So from AZAPO we see that, because we think the government is more clever than even the ANC, so we think the government is going to read that situation that it would want to champion some kind of a broader forum and that would leave AZAPO with a difficult task indeed of having to make decisions on this new set of circumstances and perhaps that's where I end, that we might have new sets of circumstances which we are going now to investigate tomorrow and day after tomorrow when our Central Committee is meeting. If you had been here after that then probably you would find a little bit of our projection. But those are the circumstances that may arise and Africa also chipping in to pressurise AZAPO and PAC to say maybe you set a new forum you guys, and maybe this is the time that you must take up the new forum and not dilly dally. So those are the issues that we are going to see.

POM     It seems to me if all those things happen, a sufficient amount of your preconditions have been met to enable you to say we would become part of that process.

PN     That's to inform you. We have been approached already by the government and we have made that matter public already and the government is willing to accept our conditions for the first talks between AZAPO and the government. So the only thing that happened is that CODESA came into it when that process was still going on. They approached us informally and we also sent some people to talk to them informally.

POM     This was before CODESA?

PN     This was before CODESA collapsed. Just about that era and they were willing to go along with what we are saying. In fact at that stage with our people they were saying, "If the Central Committee agrees", because the Central Committee was not involved. So they were feeling already that they can't continue to talk with these informal people from AZAPO so they wanted some formal talks.

POM     Even while they were conducting CODESA they had this kind of side game going on with you?

PN     Yes, yes. It's public. We made it public to say this is what has happened and they were saying that they would be prepared to get a neutral venue. They even asked us as to which country do we think we can consider to be neutral. And those are the other dynamics that makes us to think that the government is thinking of coming with new variables. As I say, if I was the government I would come with new variables because that's really a negotiation tactic. But I don't know what they think. So that's really what is happening and that kind of door between our people and the government at informal level, it's still as open as always. The last which was discussed was that they were actually saying to our people that unless the Central Committee of AZAPO, which includes me, is getting involved then we can't continue now to talk and the Central Committee was refusing to get involved. But that showed us that there is some kind of coming and at that stage already they had talked to the PAC. So there's a lot of chip in.

     We hope that the United Nations might actually create a new space which will be manned by them and that is why I'm saying that there will be those circumstances that AZAPO will have to deal with. We might not have much reason to say well we still want this. There are other people who will say they will be there to assist and monitor, but that decision will have to be made by our membership.

POM     Thank you. You make a terrific interview. I'm really glad I talked to you.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.