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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
17 Aug 1992: De Lange, JP
POM Professor could you just give us perhaps a bird's eye view of where you think things are in August 1992?
JDL I doubt there's anybody can really give you a correct summary of the situation. It's difficult to describe the situation as it moves through time. I would say that within the ANC there at the moment, if one reduces the positions in the ANC to broad positions, the so-called realists and then the more radicals, the more radical approach at present is fed very strongly by COSATU on the one hand and the SACP on the other is possibly in a slightly dominant position and accounts to some extent for the hardening of their attitude. From the government side I would think that there is a measure of disarray caused by the fact that Gerrit Viljoen was a key player, he's no longer a key player, his health gave in and he's a bystander now. This has, for the moment, weakened the position of the government. They are busy overcoming this. That's my perception. It means realignment of their not only policy so much as of the people who are acting.
POM So who in your view are likely to be the key actors who emerge on the government side?
JDL For the moment it seems like Roelf Meyer and a few others. I'm not so sure that this is a position that will last. It's difficult for me to judge who will be the key players in the future. Roelf Meyer will be there but I don't think he will be the dominant player. That is my perception.
POM Who would be likely successors to his position?
JDL A very strong person in this regard is Kobie Coetsee. He is not a very diplomatic person but I think he will probably be playing a stronger role in strategy and so on. And then I think another issue which has come to the fore which is not unimportant, at present the government and the National Party's position because of the lack of other groups is ostensibly a position slightly to the right, whereas they are in fact, because of the changes that took place, more in the middle of the road but there are no players on the right partaking in negotiations and suddenly with the break within the Conservative Party there will not be players on the right of that. So I think it will be a better positioning of the government and the National Party, more realistic positioning, having active negotiators to their right which is a position that they ostensibly had to take up but is not their true position.
POM Does that not relate to a perception that exists among at least the ANC members that we talked to that after the referendum or that the role of the government rather than becoming more conciliatory actually became more inflexible and less accommodating in their view?
JDL As I said earlier I think this is partly due, I call it the weakening of the distinction, this is partly due to the change in the players, younger less experienced players going to the fore, had to come to the fore and without the depth of understanding.
POM I want to take you back for a moment to the whites' only referendum. When the white people voted in such overwhelming numbers for the referendum what do you think they were voting for? What were they voting against?
JDL There is more than one dimension to this. For a negotiated settlement. This was the direct - but to vote for a negotiated settlement meant, and I think this is very important that one realises that those working for a negotiated settlement were voting against apartheid. To get beyond apartheid the present government had to release the prisoners, bring all the players on to the field, unban the banned parties and take the apartheid supportive laws off the statute book. But apartheid was also an attitude and this had to change and I think if the referendum did one thing it caused people to confront themselves in regard to their attitude towards apartheid and a move from a full apartheid, or at that stage a more or less fluid position in regard to apartheid, into a position of being against apartheid, taking leave of apartheid would be better, better expressed, taking leave of it.
And I'm looking at the whole thing, not in a political sense but in more a psychological sense, so that the most difficult still to be completed in South Africa is for the whites to move from a full apartheid protected situation to an anti-apartheid situation which by and large the majority of whites have moved into, into a post-apartheid situation which is a completely different thing from being anti-apartheid. I would think that the same difficulty obtains on the other side, largely black side. Anti-apartheid is still the mode. They also have to move into a post-apartheid situation. For that the vocabulary in which they describe the realities of the day have to change. If there is hope for a sufficient measure of common ground this, as it were, new vocabulary of the post-apartheid era has to become evident and we still must take down an anti-apartheid kind of mode, as it were.
POM What would be some of the words and vocabulary of the post-apartheid lexicon that you would suggest?
JDL Well, let's start with symbols. A consensus on, say, a national anthem. At the moment we have two vying anthems neither of which probably will be acceptable because both are players to a large extent. And the flag. It's fairly nonsensical the situation now with a strange flag for the Olympic Games which nobody can even describe. Nobody knows what it looks like because nobody gave any attention to it ever. It's a figment of somebody's imagination and there was no on the ground reaction to it, acceptance of it. And this is the type of thing that has to be developed. We probably need people who are common heroes, or martyrs if you wish, for a common cause. We need emancipation from the anti-apartheid and pro-apartheid loaded meaning of the word 'ethnic' in South Africa. Get beyond this loaded meaning which it has today. And there are many of these expressions and words that have to be de-loaded of previous meanings.
Let's take two key concepts: commonality and diversity. In terms of power seeking one group would insist on a great measure of commonality, a unified, one man one vote situation without any qualification to that whatsoever which would leave the reality of the diversity and all the tensions that it creates and we won't be better than human history in this regard, we will be as bad as human history in our ability to create tensions between groups leaving that, as it were ignored so stressing only the commonalities, we'd probably have this country explode within five years of such a settlement.
Another loading is that of diversity and we had the debate, I suppose you saw it last night on television, on a programme, Agenda, which is after the main news, they had just about every political grouping in South Africa round the table on television. For the first time the Conservative Party elements were there too and even more phobic groups on the right were also present. The PAC was there, the ANC was there, about twelve groups, and the debate was on diversity and commonality. The ANC's position was a one man one vote unified approach. The PAC had the African view, African dominance view. And then you had these groups demanding separate states and then some in between, federalists, it was all there. And it's still stuck in the, what I call broadly speaking, anti-apartheid phase. They haven't yet entered into the post-apartheid stage in which you would in all reality try to accommodate both the diversity and the commonality.
POM How do you get from anti-apartheid to post-apartheid? This is more than a small step. This is a leap of immense proportions. How do you conduct successful negotiations when both the primary parties to the negotiations are still in conflict?
JDL I suppose there are many roads there. The worst road would be that we have to suffer much more before we get there, much more. There is foolishness on all sides, the killings going on will probably spread. The other is a mixture of suffering and negotiation. The present position seems to be, as far as the ANC is concerned, that the mass action which could push this economy over the brink and I don't think there's sufficient realisation of how bad this economy really is.
POM Business Day had a headline this morning about ANC hard-liners talking about the need for mass action. Do you think they are grossly over-reading their hand? Do you think that the stayaway that happened at the beginning of August and the mass actions that accompanied it sent a message to the government, I won't say made them tremble in their shoes, but made them somehow recognise the need to deal more expeditiously with negotiations and the ANC rather than have this second wave of mass action?
JDL Let's put that in a more balanced way. You say 'deal more expeditiously', to give in to the demands whatever they might be that the ANC made at the time and they're shifting the goal posts as they go along. Should government succumb in ordered fashion and force themselves into a bad negotiating position? That is how the government would look at it. I don't think so. I don't think so and one hears so many things. People come to see me, black people, and tell me what the reactions in the townships are to mass action, people losing their jobs, firms closing down because of mass action. How many closed down I don't know but one bank, Nedcor, estimated that if the mass action lasted more than two days, three hundred companies doing business with them would be on the brink. Three hundred companies which would mean a large number of jobs, a large number of dependants.
But if you read the Business Day this morning you also saw that the Development Bank, where they have an article based on the Development Bank estimation that between one and three million people would move into the PWV area by November if it hadn't rained. Now if this area absorbs another million people by the end of the year, I'm not speaking of three million, we're in for a huge disaster. The sewerage systems, the water systems are already overtaxed. The hygiene, there's no way in which sufficient housing can be provided for that kind of influx. And in part it's the drought that causes this and part of the pressure building up is people leaving Mozambique and Zimbabwe and coming into South Africa. There are large numbers because it's even worse there. So taking a mass action road increases this force for economic - you know the second quarter of this year we had a negative growth rate of 2,6%. The first quarter 2%. In the last quarter last year they estimated we'd have a positive growth of 1%. We're heading for a negative growth rate of round about 2% for this year. Now that is a large number of jobs and if mass action continues it's going to be beyond 2%.
POM But would the mass action, again it's coming back to more the way that you stated the pressure, as an instrument of pressure will it achieve its goal?
JDL Let's look at it from a different point of view for a moment. Your basic question is, has it moved government?
POM Or will it move government?
JDL No. Government's ability to move also depends on the mood of it's supporter base. If that supporter base becomes angry, and one saw signs of the anger at this sports event over the weekend when they sang the national anthem, it was largely a white crowd and it wasn't Afrikaans, it was Afrikaans and English speakers who sang the national anthem and waved the flag. Why? Because at the Olympic Games it was not allowed because it was prohibited this time round and people are just not going to take that. Now this is an illustration of the kind of mood that could be developing amongst whites and the government also has to look at that. It doesn't only have to look at what the ANC demands. It, of necessity, has to look at it's white supporter base. I don't predict this but I must say there is a distinct possibility that the mood seems to be changing.
POM The mood among whites seems to be changing? They're becoming more hard line? A lot more anger is coming to the surface?
POM We were up in Zeerust at the weekend and along with interviewing public and politicians we have ten families that we do twice a year and we're doing a conservative family in Zeerust and the mood was then very angry and very full of patriotic ...
JDL If you find that in the conservative families I would expect in a more moderate family, middle of the road kind of family, the way I read the situation was that a period of great uncertainty is developing this year which is now changing into the type of reaction which conservative families are having.
POM Looking at mass action as a political instrument, do you believe that (i) the government would believe that even if it was a successful mass action in terms of the numbers that stayed away that that was primarily achieved by coercion and intimidation rather than by mass support for the political aims of the ANC?
JDL I think that is the estimation of government, yes.
POM That it would be really true. Would it also be their analysis that mass action of a stayaway type really could not be sustained by the alliance for more than a couple days? That if they had stayed with their first indications that they would have it for three weeks, that there was just no way that people would stay away from work for three weeks, that it had to be collapsed to two days, so that their ability to sustain mass action is also limited?
JDL The cumulative effect of that - it is very difficult to see this over a short term. Let me give you a longer term practical example. Toyota, the motor manufacturing company, had a 57 day strike. Just before this 57 day strike began they announced that they would be investing another nine hundred million rand, say a thousand million rand, increasing their productive capacity and bringing in new models. The 57 day strike has simply put that on the back burner, for years. They lost more than a thousand million rand in turnover and they are still under threat of strike so they're just not investing. Toyota Japan isn't even thinking of investing another rand. Now a thousand million rand would have created a fair number of jobs in an area which has a large measure of unemployment. Now for 57 days people received no pay. When the strike ended they didn't even have money to pay their train fare, the company had to help them. They were in bad condition.
And the feedback, I know about this because I run an educational development project for Toyota in the Natal area and I know what the effect has been. I was in that area during the strike period in regard to this. We have this programme running in 42 schools, and the feedback I got from the ground there is that people were dismayed that they couldn't go and work, but the strike, they said, was about 60% of the work force of 7000 who were forced to strike and there were instances of people's houses being burnt who tried to go back.
I think that is in microcosm an example of the type of thing that's happening over a longer period. The economy will suffer. People will be out of work. Who will they blame? The propaganda on the ANC side would put the blame on the government for being impractical and the government's propaganda would put the blame on the ANC and a portion of the blame is going to be just about everywhere. So we'll have a situation of instability in which white anger will also be created. Black moderate anger will also be created.
POM The black moderates. Anger against the ANC?
JDL Yes, because they live under these conditions.
POM Do you see that the indirect purpose of the mass action is to get business to put pressure on the government?
JDL I think so, yes. I think there's no doubt that that was also part of the scenario.
POM Would that be a continuing part of the scenario? I mean the threat from the ANC of more disruption of the economy and the assessment in business of the impact of that, all the businesses putting pressure on the government.
POM So some businesses gain from it even as others lose? I want to take you back for a moment to the deadlock and then collapse at CODESA. When I saw that the ANC made an offer of essentially a 75% veto threshold for the inclusion of items in the Bill of Rights and a 70% threshold for the inclusion of items in a constitution I was surprised. I thought it was more than a reasonable offer especially since most polling information suggested that the government ...
JDL I agree with that.
POM What's your understanding of what happened around that, so that the government ended up by rejecting what many people believe was the best offer they might ever get?
JDL I personally think it's rather confusing about that. At that particular time, I'm told that about eleven o'clock the night before CODESA, the Saturday, the ANC came up with this proposal but an additional proposal that if there was a deadlock then the fifty plus one would break the deadlock, which in practical terms means that all you had to do was to create a deadlock and then instead of the 70% you could have a fifty plus one referendum which was rejected as being a new proposal at five to eleven, the meeting adjourned at eleven and this was made at five to eleven I'm told and there wasn't sufficient time, that was the position that the government apparently took, to consider the consequences of this, so they said no. Another view on this was that the intention was to breakdown, cause a deadlock because the mass action had already been decided on. How true that is I don't know, but there seems to be a fair amount of evidence for it, that the mass action road had been decided upon a couple of weeks before CODESA. Whether it was a contingency plan, I don't know. What I personally think is at the time of CODESA 2, the people who were on the government's side were not sufficiently experienced and that is one factor.
The other factor was that within the ANC the realists had moved, call it what you wish, the moderates, whatever, had moved very quickly and had gone, in the view of some, too far and they were getting a lot of backlash on it. There was a lot of tension at that time. So it was an interplay of all these forces. I think just to pinpoint it down to a single position would be wrong. There were a lot of forces operating.
Another factor, and this is rather an interesting logistic one, in the run up to CODESA 2 there were too many people involved in the groups. There were nineteen parties taking part, each party having twelve people in six groups, so every party had seventy two people. I am told that the government had great difficulty in co-ordinating it's two groups, the National Party and the government group. I'm told that the ANC was at times in complete disarray in regard to co-ordination between the different groups and what was happening in different groups. Individuals were taking positions. They simply didn't have the time to come together sufficiently to co-ordinate their efforts, all these parties. Bophuthatswana, Inkatha, the lot were in disarray and there was thus a fair measure of confusion in the immediate run up to CODESA 2. One tends to reduce the positions to clear cut positions. I don't think those positions were so clear cut.
POM What are the lessons of CODESA? Very few people see it coming back in it's old structure.
JDL I would think the first thing to do in the negotiation process is to reduce the potential for confusion which in human terms simply means less people have to take part and if you need advisers let them come in on the issues in which they are expert and not sit around all the time and become part of the broader consultation and negotiation process. So a smaller negotiating team. And hopefully, and I think this is important, a broader spectrum of people should be there. It is sad that the PAC and the Conservative Party are not there.
POM Do you think that the impasse in a sense was inevitable because what you've had for the last two years has been the two main protagonists, the government and the ANC really talking again in two different languages. One talking the language of power sharing, the other talking the language of the transfer of power and at some point these vocabularies had to get their syntaxes mixed?
JDL Your question leads me back to a phrase I used last year at seminars in Europe in answer to that type of question. I think one must basically realise that we are travelling an uncharted road in the African veldt, that's the simile I used, in that it's unpaved, we have to pave it as we go along and we'll come to huge gullies that we'll have to bridge and we're at such a gully at present, and we'll run into mountain ranges which we'll have to tunnel or make passes over. This is going to be a hard road. It's going to go up and down. It's going to be start and go. I think it is beyond reality to think that this is going to be a cave-in on the one hand, a victory on the other hand. Both sides are going to lose a lot, the country is going to suffer and we'll get there by suffering as much as we'll get there by re-negotiation.
POM But if one looks at the position since - let me take you back to the position of the impasse at CODESA with both Mandela and de Klerk putting their best faces on and saying, yes it's a deadlock but we've come a long way, we've made a lot of progress, to a point where less than a month later you have the ANC walk out of the talks, mass action is put on the front burner, Boipatong, Mandela making some very personal attacks on de Klerk himself, holding him responsible for the violence. It's a complete sea change apparently within the ANC. What's your understanding of what was happening during that period and the aftermath?
JDL I have great difficulty in understanding it. If it is part of a rational, thought-out strategy then I must deduce that they just want to achieve what they want to achieve by the weakening of their negotiating partner, that is de Klerk. If that is their intention, as I indicated earlier, they are up for some bad surprises. There is anger that could be developing within the white community. If this is the result of tensions within the ANC more than it is the result of rational thinking of strategy then I don't see it lasting because the positioning in the ANC is taking place all the time. One speaks on all these things and in the background you have a realisation of what it's like out there and what it's like out there is simply there is a significant proportion of the potential voter base of the ANC who are beyond the ANC's control, this is an historical fact. We are busy with an investigation, and the ANC is involved in this, so is Inkatha, trying to estimate the extent of the young beyond control, the nature of these young people. It appears to be gang-based, accepting only the authority of the peer group, not authority of adults or organised groups whether they be police or ANC or PAC or whatever, and there are between four and seven million such people.
POM And you say this is an assessment going on of the extent of this problem?
JDL Van Zyl Slabbert, he's leading this investigation and as I said all the stakeholders are participating in the research. We've just given out all the research concepts. The support base of the ANC is young, very young. If one doesn't realise the fact that more than 60% of the voter base of the ANC is under 35, between 18 and 35, if you don't realise that you don't realise the potential for a more radical position within the ANC because young people are like that, more radical, they have a foreshortened view.
POM Philip Nel wrote a piece in one of the papers after the collapse of the talks in which he made the argument that the ANC is not a political party, that it always has to take it's legitimacy from it's belief that it represents the masses and therefore it must maintain this contact with the masses in order to reaffirm its own legitimacy and during the CODESA process there wasn't enough of this consultation with the masses and that the government must recognise that it is not the same as the National Party or the government, that it has peculiar attributes and part of it is the need to be seen to be consulting its broadly based mass constituency. Do you think that's correct?
JDL Yes the analysis I've just tried to give supports that view. I didn't read that article. I would just add the additional nuance that there is a strong tendency developing with the ANC as it moves from 2nd February 1990 up to the present day to become a traditional political party, a political party in the more traditional sense. And it's pulled up short every time in the realisation that it hasn't yet arrived there. The distinction between the so-called moderates or realists and the radicals I think describes this dichotomy within the ANC, developing within the ANC. Certainly when Nel says that it is a pull back from the realistic point of view to the more radical point of view - let me put this differently, in a rather more cynical way. The ANC is pushing and so is government and just about everybody else for an interim government. The moment the ANC enters into an interim government arrangement it becomes co-responsible for law and order. Now mass action is brinkmanship of law and order and it would be extremely difficult to continue once you are part of an interim government. So about the last chance it has to go back to its roots, this is this mass connection we were talking about, Philip Nel was talking about, is now before the interim government. Once it enters into an interim government the legitimacy of such an action seems to be much less, from their point of view.
POM Do you see any analogy between the predicament that de Klerk was in prior to the referendum, having the Conservative Party breathing down his neck, having certain constraints on what he could do and what he couldn't do and then the referendum providing him with the opportunity to deal with that problem. And the ANC were sympathetic, they kept a very low profile, in fact came out and encouraged whites that if they had to vote they should vote 'Yes' and after making their ritual objections to a whites' only election allowed the process to go forward and kept out of it. Some say that Mandela faces a similar problem with his constituency, that he has the left pushing him and that he had to use this round of mass action as a way of reeling them in, so to speak, before he can get back to the negotiating table, but that the government wasn't quite as sympathetic to his predicament as he was to de Klerk's. Do you think the government was?
JDL I think the government, in terms of its previous record in this regard, was leaning over backwards to allow this mass action to go along without interruption. You are here, what would you have said?
POM Low key. Ritual statements about the intimidation and the violence that it would give rise to. The impact on the economy.
JDL My estimation is that the government didn't put any real barriers in the way of mass action.
PAT What about the reports that suggest that certain officers of government were responsible for the breakdown in the accommodation between the business community and the trade unions to avoid a substantial part of the stayaway?
JDL The government was responsible?
PAT The government intervened, the government injected itself into that.
JDL I had discussions with people on the business side and that's not the impression I got. Absolutely not. Professor Gorman(?) who is the General Manager of the Afrikaanse Handelsinstituut and Raymond Parsons who is General Manager of SACOM, the South African Chamber of Commerce.
POM I want to turn for a minute to the question of violence. It has struck me that since we were here at the beginning of the violence in August 1990 and having followed it pretty closely, that over the years there were sufficient allegations from credible people of either police involvement in some actions or siding with Inkatha in other action or the police standing aside and not doing anything, that would warrant some dramatic political response from de Klerk, that he would be out there saying, "I will be seen to be doing something about this situation." Not just saying to the ANC, "Bring me direct evidence of complicity between the security forces and Inkatha in the violence and I'll do something." We have the statements of Mandela and Ramaphosa that in a private conversation de Klerk said to Mandela that, "I don't have total control over the security forces." Do you believe that there are constraints on de Klerk with regard to the kind of action he could take against senior personnel in the security forces?
JDL An obvious concern is the fact that any government puts itself in extreme danger if it destroys the morale of its security forces, especially in a situation of fast change as this country is experiencing. Identifying the people who at the upper levels might be responsible for what you've suggested is probably not easy and I have the impression that some action will be taken fairly soon quite apart from the fact that he's been so open to the Goldstone Commission and others to investigate. Could I just say something more? It seems to be almost a classical position that in times of great uncertainty and change the security forces tend to develop in the middle management, not upper management so much, middle management, the right to a more radical view, to lean to the right or to the left. And it is my impression in so far as there is this type of thing within the security forces, it is at the middle level more than at the upper, which doesn't mean that there aren't any there, that there's nobody up there at the top level, I think there are. And certainly their neutralisation or elimination from positions of power must be seen ...
POM Why do you think he has been reluctant to take that kind of action?
JDL I think considerations of the morale.
POM Do you think it's a fair argument when people say if it were whites that were being killed in the same numbers that de Klerk's actions over the last two years would have been a lot different?
JDL That's very difficult to say. I can't really answer that because it's a hypothetical situation because many police are being killed, in their hundreds, and certainly that must also be a factor in de Klerk's view. You know he's changed the political leadership of the security forces a number of times in trying to get somebody to really clamp down and manage these forces.
POM That is in terms of Minister for Defence is it?
POM He had Roelf Meyer.
JDL He's had Magnus Malan who became unacceptable as Minister of Defence. He had Roelf Meyer and now he has got Eugene Louw who is a good manager. To what extent he has the confidence of the leadership in the South African Defence Force. These people are like most professions, a fairly closed shop.
POM On a different subject, more than two weeks ago we visited Buthelezi in Ulundi and found him sitting there brooding, feeling very left out, very militant, making threatening statements as he had in his address to the KwaZulu Legislature about ...
JDL Are you speaking of Buthelezi?
POM Yes. About the Zulu nation would not easily sit by and allow other parties to arrange the future for them. Do you think that any settlement can work that doesn't somehow accommodate Buthelezi?
JDL That doesn't accommodate the more conservative Zulu? Buthelezi is a figurehead in that regard. He gives voice to his constituency and I think it's one of the guessing games of South Africa actually what support base he has and it's extremely difficult to judge that because the support base of Buthelezi is continually confused by the fact of the kind of personality he is and the Zulu feeling that Zulu people and Inkatha are two distinct things. I think I told you once that watching television one night in a friend's home on the South Coast of Natal his housekeeper was there also watching television, he's an illiterate Zulu, highly intelligent but an illiterate Zulu, and something about Inkatha came up and I asked him whether he supported Inkatha and he said, "Yes of course" and he gave cultural reasons for that. And I said, "Well then you have great respect for Buthelezi?" and he said, "No I hate the bastard." I tried to establish why and he said that. "Well he is soft on violence and he has many faces. When he speaks to me he has one face, when he speaks to you he has another face." It describes the complexity of Buthelezi but it also describes the difficulty of estimating the basis and the power base of Buthelezi. I think it is a mistake to ask whether Buthelezi must be included. There are strong Zulu people quite apart from Buthelezi who would insist on a Zulu presence in any settlement. There's no doubt about that. I think it could become an extremely assertive presence. So one should not reduce the Zulu equation to Buthelezi. That's a mistake. I can give you another example. The same factory that I was talking about, Toyota, Buthelezi was convinced that he should go through it. He didn't want to because he knew that most of the workers there are COSATU supporters, National Union of Metalworkers, and he was afraid that there would be confrontation. And yet they sang his praises when he travelled through the factory. But they were not singing his praises as a leader of Inkatha but as a Prince of the Zulu nation.
POM When he makes statements, the Zulu nation, the Zulu King must be somehow represented, do you think they can make a compelling case for that being so and if they are left out ...?
JDL I had a black man here the other day, a leader of one of the political parties, and he said the reason why the ANC will not agree to the Zulu King being there is because then the position within CODESA would have been nine/nine instead of a majority of one in favour of the ANC's alliance.
POM Can Buthelezi be a spoiler?
POM Can he bring about a situation of where you have just endemic war in Natal no matter what settlement in reached? If they are left out, they're in the cold, that this war just goes on the way it's been going on for the last five, six, seven, eight years.
JDL It'd become worse.
POM Now some people say Buthelezi is not really a threat or the KwaZulu government is not a threat. What you do is you pull the financial plug on them and once you pull the plug they're finished. Is that a simplistic equation?
JDL Extremely simplistic. It does not take away the Zulu feeling. Part of the Zulu feeling is a disregard, looking down on the Xhosa. There's an expression in Natal amongst the Zulus which says that when you're weak or when you're a thief or a liar they use a word, they say, "You're a bloody Xhosa." Xhosa to them means a weakling and it comes from their history. They forced the Xhosa, and the Xhosa are basically blood brothers, they are the same language group, they forced them south of the dividing river between Natal and Transkei and the Xhosas have really never forgiven that and the Zulus have never forgotten their supremacy.
POM Forgotten supremacy of?
JDL Of the Zulus over the Xhosa. In every clash that the Zulu and the Xhosa had the Zulus have won. Removing Buthelezi is not removing the Zulu. If the Zulus, who have a very strong sense of identity, probably the strongest of any people in South Africa, if that is threatened you will have, at least in my estimation, a very strong Zulu movement which will be capable of disrupting this country, not only Natal.
POM So there's often a tendency to, and I reflect it myself in terms of most of the questions I ask you about the government and the ANC, there's often a tendency to see this as being primarily a process between two major players. While that may be true it's not exclusively a process between them and to leave the other actors out would be a very dangerous thing both for the government and the ANC to do if they think they can reach an agreement and have the country at large accept it. What about the UN? Is their involvement, small as it is, (i) significant and (ii) slightly changing the parameters of the negotiating process?
JDL I think what has happened with the UN presence during the mass action was the realisation that the world was watching. This is a strange thing because television has been watching South Africa, which means the world has been watching, but that does not influence the people in their actions. They tend to play up to television. Yet with a UN observer there, there were a few instances where they calmed down the situation. It was amazing, the psychology of this I don't fully grasp. So it seems as if a UN presence could be a calming presence. I think it probably would not be acceptable to most South Africans of whatever conviction if they played a direct role.
POM And with regard to elections, obviously given the present level of violence it would be impossible to hold countrywide elections.
JDL It's a sad situation.
POM Yet if you don't have elections sometime in the very near future you're going to add fuel to the violence. How do you get a balance between the two?
JDL That's a sixty four thousand dollar question. I think we will probably have to suffer more before we come to our senses. That is not necessarily so. We have instances in the rest of the world, going on now, where more suffering means more violence, bad situations and less likelihood of negotiated settlement.
POM Do you think that the ANC's adamant insistence that it's the government, the security forces, who are behind most of the violence and their absolute refusal to deviate from that point of view at any time in the last two years, contributes to it being more difficult to resolve the question of the violence?
JDL There's no question about that because it's based on a part truth, it's not true fully. The truth of the matter is there are too many people out of control within the black community and I've referred to them. They perpetrate violence without being asked to do so and they perpetrate violence when asked to do so, as they have done. The so-called groups that Chris Hani acknowledged were out of control were in fact put in control of certain situations and they're muck. I can give you any number of examples down in Natal where - let me put it differently. If you travel through Umlazi, which is a huge place, one of the most characteristic sights you see are small groups of young people standing around. Now they look fairly innocent when you pass them but once you get to know what this is all about and know some of the acts that they perpetrate, you realise these are gangs. Young people organising themselves into gangs because nobody lives in a vacuum. You have to create some structure, and they create this structure of gangs. I have no doubt in my own mind that a large measure of the violence perpetrated in this country can be directly brought back to these young groups. It's world of gangs. When we say four to seven million young people, the so-called lost generation or marginalised generation or whatever you want to call it, between the ages of 12 and 35, we are in fact speaking not of a mass, we're speaking of four million plus organised into gangs, very small gangs of ten or twelve all over the place. And the violence emanating from them is, a large measure of violence in this society can be ascribed to them. And that's quite apart from the hostel violence.
POM What do you think can be done to get the ANC to admit that they are as much a part of as the victim of the violence that goes on?
JDL I don't know. In their discussions they of course acknowledge the role that these people play and they continue thinking of methods to get them under control. If they attempt to postpone the solution of this to the time when they will be in power, I'm told the discussion that took place in Mandela's home a while ago on an almost sporadic basis, that you organise special service battalions, bring them into a military discipline situation and teach them the skill and then again under strong discipline let them employ that skill in a community service project such as building a school, whatever, hoping then that this will normalise their lives because by and large a lot of the anger the young people has is that they left school for the struggle and liberation before education hasn't worked out.
POM Finally, in the post-CODESA period the ANC came out of its policy conference and it has developed a new negotiating posture which really says: when we reconvene it's for the purpose of really deciding when we're going to have a Constituent Assembly and how it's going to be organised. That's really what the agenda is and that after that we have an interim government while it deliberates and that once the constitution is drawn up, be it six months or eighteen months, we then have an election under a new constitution, and that is it. And power is transferred or shared according to the new constitution. Do you see that as a realistic description of a likely path forward or are we going to have a longer period of transition which the government talks about and many academics, at least white academics, talk about too?
JDL It's probably going to be something between these two positions. I don't think either party is going to get complete satisfaction.
POM So when the government talks about an interim government of perhaps three years you find that is too long?
JDL I think the ANC is underestimating the road that this interim government is going to travel if they think of it being a very short period.
POM If they think of it as being very short. So would you see something more in the region of eighteen months?
JDL Yes, yes.
POM And then an election for a new government under a new constitution and the first government as being a government of national unity?
JDL I think one of the key issues that will have to be decided is whether the time is right for an election, whether an election is in fact physically possible. It'll mean that the disruptive forces will have to be contained for an election to be possible and these disruptive forces aren't only on the far left they're on the far right too. And they're not insignificant on either side.
POM So you don't think we've heard the last of the right wing?
JDL They're desperate people out there.
POM Would you see something like the AWB as being an important threat in this regard?
JDL Let's hope that the groups on the far right don't enter into a viable coalition with each other. At the moment they're split and are therefore ineffective. But there are significant numbers of trained people, military trained people in these splinter groups.
POM So once again the tendency to write off the right as a result of the referendum is a serious misunderstanding of what the referendum was about and again the anger and the deep-rootedness of that anger ...
JDL The extent to which the referendum gave a resounding 'No' to apartheid and a 'Yes' for a negotiated settlement meant desperation for those that were left outside of it, on the far right of that. I personally think that the Conservative Party was completely demoralised by the referendum, as a party. And two things happened to it, there was a hardening of it's rightist wing but there was a softening of the moderates, which we've now seen in the breakaway of these seven people.
POM The seven are?
JDL It was Koos Botha, Koos van der Merwe and then the five. And there are some more afterwards. There are many, pity you didn't see last night's Agenda.
POM I might try and get a tape of that programme. Agenda?
JDL Part of it was in English, part of it was in Afrikaans. Most was in Afrikaans in fact. But Beyers made a very strong call for support and I think it fell on fertile ground because there must be immense uncertainty in the ordinary Conservative Party supporters, seeking somewhere to go and with some hope of a future and he's holding up something which seems more realistic than the nonsense that Dr Treurnicht and Ferdi Hartzenberg have been advocating.
PAT I just want one question on another personality. Cyril Ramaphosa, we've been watching for a long time. Where does he fall in your spectrum of realists and radicals within the ANC? I don't know if you saw the comment in the paper today, the lead story in the Business Day which said that he and only he would be the person that would now conduct any negotiations, in fact ... Mandela based on last weekend's call to de Klerk.
JDL I think Cyril Ramaphosa is one of the more interesting people in South Africa. He's a Venda. There are half a million Venda's. Within the Venda he's a Lemba, there are about fifty thousand Lembas but of the half a million Venda one tenth, more or less, are Lemba. They are known as the Black Jews. There was a seminar led by a Sephardic Jew, who is one of the top physicists in the world, he was at Wits, he's retired now, his wife is a music critic, the two of them were highly interested in these Semitic characteristics of the Lemba. They had a seminar to try and establish whether they were in fact true Jews. The result of the seminar was more or less fifty/fifty. Now he comes from that group. Now if you look at Venda, the leadership comes from the Lemba and he, Cyril Ramaphosa, is one of those gifted Lembas.
When the first group of ANC members were freed from gaol, you will recall, it was Govan Mbeki and Walter Sisulu etc., a reception committee was established. Ramaphosa was then still General Secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers and he was made Secretary of this reception committee and as happens with many committees they left the work to the Secretary. So he had more or less full control over the programmes of these people and when Mandela was released he was still Secretary of that reception committee and he ran Mandela's programme, and over-reached himself. Mandela made commitments which Ramaphosa cancelled. One friend just down the road who's a reporter with the South African Broadcasting, the Afrikaans service, made an appointment with Mandela and Mandela accepted it for an Afrikaans interview, not on politics but for personal views on various matters, and that was the afternoon. The following morning at nine Ramaphosa phoned this chap and said, "I'm cancelling that." This apparently happened quite often and Mandela fired Ramaphosa as Secretary of the reception committee. He did it by disbanding the reception committee which wasn't functioning. It was only Cyril Ramaphosa functioning.
And that left Cyril Ramaphosa somewhat out in the cold for a while. And at the same time the COSATU or Workers' Movement in South Africa came to realise that they had to position themselves very strongly if they wanted to be a significant force in the future because in Africa by and large, I know of no exception but there might be one, all labour movements, labour union movements, after black government have simply been destroyed. There's nothing left of them. And this was an understanding which Jay Naidoo and Cyril Ramaphosa had a strong impression of. And then they had in August last year, while you were here I think, their congress in which their leadership was legitimised through being elected. Mandela got, I think, 96% of the votes and Cyril Ramaphosa got 92.5%, which put him in an unassailable position. Not only the workers movement are now in a very strong position and just shortly before that you might have noticed, as political observers, that suddenly the alliance was no longer an alliance between the ANC and the SACP it was now an alliance between the ANC, SACP and COSATU as it is still to this day a tripartite alliance because COSATU is now an established, essential basis. Mass action is not possible without COSATU. They provide the organisation on a logistic base. And also the money for such action.
POM So Ramaphosa lies in a very strong position? But would you put him on the side of the realists or the radicals?
JDL He tends, by nature, to be a realist. I base this on the experience that the Chamber of Mines had with him over many years in negotiations on labour issues. He's an extremely good negotiator. One of his ploys apparently is that he uses five points, the first four highly acceptable and the last one is just way out.
PAT That's a good negotiator. You have to give away something, if you can get the other four!
POM Would it be just from your observations and maybe conversations with people, do you believe that the government was out-negotiated at CODESA 2 or that the government out-negotiated the ANC but overplayed its hand at the end, or underplayed it?
JDL I've been listening to all sides in this. The impression I have is that they both made serious mistakes. Both made serious mistakes. On the government side it was a mistake of young arrogance and inexperience to some extent and on the ANC side they caused a crisis which they didn't quite know what to do with.
POM OK. Thank you every so much for all the time.
JDL There's a real fear growing up that we will go the way Africa's gone in terms of the economy and in terms of order and people are finding more and more of Africa. They see what the situation is in regard to infrastructure. The view is, we will not allow that. So I would think that there is a dichotomy in this anti-black thing that is more an anti slip into chaos and poverty thing than it is an anti-black thing.
PAT Don't you think there's also the realisation on the ANC's part that they don't want South Africa to become part of the rest of Africa as well and it drives them?
JDL They know that, but they also know - I've had people sitting in this office, members of the ANC, saying that we cannot allow the number of people, they are white of skin, but with the technical and managerial expertise, to drop below a critical base because then we slip down. They know that. And I think there is a growing realisation, I have some involvement in this, in white dominated businesses, that unless they can bring blacks in in significant numbers they simply will not have the manpower basis to continue, full stop. They must bring them in as fast as possible at the higher levels of management because the white base is not growing, in fact it is decreasing and we won't have large scale immigration into this country, not for a long time.
POM OK. Thank you.