About this site

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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

19 Aug 1992: Holomisa, Bantu

Click here for more information on the Interviewee

Click here for Overview of the year

POM     General, just to run back on a couple of the things you said last year, you were talking about a constituent assembly while the year before you said a constituent assembly would be about eighteen months, you said within that timeframe there is still six months to go, where at this point in time do you see the process going?  How do you analyse where the ANC alliance is at and where the government/Nationalist Party is at?

BH     Well firstly, the first time we met, when was it 1990?  One can say between February and August 1990 the South Africans including ourselves as well as the international community were making predictions and amongst those predictions was how apartheid would end and at that time we seemed to take things easy, that apartheid would end soon, and then we started to put timeframes.  Then came the violence in August 1990, we said that in the beginning it was based on ethnicity, people said, no, it is ethnic,  that it is black on black, but the evidence that has come up after that points to the fact that this violence may appear to be black on black but it has got a white hand behind it.  The commissions of enquiry are continuing and certain people have been tried and so as a result of that, there are more revelations coming out publicly.  The South African government and the ANC were also moving poles apart, it also therefore lengthened the period of 18 months that we predicted for having a settlement. Where are we now? The ANC and its allies have pulled out of negotiations precisely because of violence, suspicion that government are playing a double game or double standards, something like that.  And the government were given certain demands that they must address before the talks can resume, so if they are to resume tomorrow it would still be within that 18 months that I predicted.

     But as you know the situation in South Africa is no longer a situation of our own only, we have to rush back to the to UN actually, going back to what I predicted long ago that I had my doubts that we could solve our problems without mediation.  Be that as it may, we are now talking about resuming negotiations and we have put certain demands to government, so the talks can resume as soon as possible if the government is prepared to address those demands.   We were in a meeting of the ANC and the other alliances inside CODESA and we were unanimously agreed that we are not going back to the negotiations until those fourteen demands are met and secondly that we must review CODESA as a whole.  The second mechanism that we need to look into must we allow the government to unilaterally take decisions now that we have exposed that it is untrustworthy.  So those are the areas that we are looking into and also the role of the UN, how are they going to fit into the peace accord and into the negotiations.

POM     When you say that the government must address the 14 demands, from your point of view it will not be sufficient if they show an intention to do so?

BH     No.

POM     They actually have to show a broad declaration of intent.

BH     If their intention were not built in to those intentions and they say how, that's what we want, not just a statement.  We are going to address this.  We have been given this in the last two years, we have given demands and De Klerk has said that he is going to address that, like the hostels issue, he said that all right we will transform these, last year, not one hostel has been transformed so far according to my knowledge.

POM     Let me take you back a bit, to CODESA and the period when it looked as though some successful negotiations were going on, there were agreements in all the working groups except working group number 2 on constitutional issues and there you have the situation where the ANC offered the government a veto threshold of 75% for the inclusion of items in a Bill of Rights and a 70% veto threshold for items in a constitution, do you think that that was a very generous offer on the ANC's part?

BH     70%?

POM     They said 70% for the inclusion of items in the constitution and 75% for the bill of rights.

BH     Because ANC for the bill of rights, if you say 75% we work from 50 + 1 and want to get to about 60%, now you say 75%, we are still prepared to go down a little bit.  Alright let's go for 70% and you return with 75% for the Bill of Rights, now the South African government threw that chance away.

POM     Do you think that they threw away the best offer that they will ever get from the ANC?

BH     Yes, the ANC were prepared to go to 70% without consulting their constituencies at that time, now they have gone back to their people and the people say 'no other nonsense'.

POM     I got the impression from talking to many people that had the government accepted that offer that the ANC might have had a lot of trouble in selling that package to their own membership.

BH     I don't think so because of the percentages.

POM     But the whole deal?

BH     Yes, the whole deal, even if it was 70%, I think the main problem is for De Klerk - he wants CODESA to talk constitution so that the constituent assembly will be rubber-stamped.  There are certain clauses that he wants to entrench which cannot be changed by that constitution-making body, that is the main problem.  As for the 70%, even if it was 100% and then 85%, the ANC, if it is commanding the majority of the people, whatever percentage they would still win that election.

POM     OK, my question is had the government said yes?

BH     The ANC would not have a problem to sell that to their followers.

POM     They would not have been able to sell it to their followers?

BH     No they would not have had any problem selling it to their followers.  They would not have had any problem in selling 70% but they would have had problems if they were to allow the senate to have equal powers with the constitution or the assembly, they would have had problems if they had allowed CODESA to talk boundaries of South Africa and start talking federal systems and so on.

POM     But they have agreed to many of those things, I mean, they had agreed to a federal system in principle.

BH     There is no government that has the power to make those boundaries, the ANC is refusing to discuss this, they say it is the duty of the constituent assembly.  If they had allowed that then they would have lost face.

POM     OK.

BH     Not the question of percentages, it doesn't matter, the population of South Africa will welcome it, I know that.

POM     In the charter of principles that has been drawn up, the ANC had agreed that the powers of the regions would be defined in the constitution and would be entrenched in the constitution, in other words power would lie in the regions according to what the constituent assembly decided and not according to what parliament decided, then the ANC went back to its policy conference and reversed its position and said parliament must decide what powers the regions will have.

BH     There isn't much difference between parliament in this case and the constituent assembly because that constituent assembly depends on economic reign. You can still carry on for the next five years.

POM     It would become the parliament.

BH     Yes.  There is not much difference.  What they wanted was that the boundaries, the duties, the powers, must be decided by the people who have been elected, not by CODESA, so that is the main reason why there was a breakdown in communication, not so much on the percentages per se.

POM     So do you think that generally the negotiators had kind of gotten out of touch with the sentiments of the grassroots and that the ANC kind of wanted out of CODESA?  Do you subscribe to the view that the ANC wanted out of CODESA and wanted CODESA to fail?

BH     No they didn't want CODESA to fail, not the ANC, instead I will say that government publicly before CODESA 2 took a stand together with Inkatha and others that they were not happy with the pace of CODESA, they said that it was too fast, and indeed because government has got the power, they played it deliberately.

POM     So it is your view that it was the government who wanted CODESA to fail?

BH     I think the South African government miscalculated, typical of them being misled by their media, they thought that they were in control of the world in this instance.  Also they thought that they had out-manoeuvred the ANC in international politics and now they thought that we should abide by or give them permission to borrow money from the IMF and so on without them delivering, so they had that euphoria thinking that now we are getting the red carpet treatment, but as I said they had miscalculated, maybe they would have loved to scupper or delay the process of negotiation, while on the other hand consolidating their own position because now they can play sport internationally, now they can go into any country and there was talk now that the OAU must accept De Klerk, and the Russian president Yeltsin, out of maybe having had some wine or brandy, stated that he was going to ask that South Africa and De Klerk to be accepted at the United Nations, all sorts of things, so out of that I think that De Klerk thought that he can unilaterally control the pace of South Africa.

     I think that what they wanted at the beginning, coming back to what I said earlier on in 1990, we were wondering whether it was not a strategy to deceive the outside world by saying he is involved in negotiations, whilst on the other hand he is busy discrediting these leaders and destroying them, declared them parties of no significance.  But Mandela said, "I am pulling out, I am calling the United Nations military force, I am calling the General Assembly to be assembled," so they reacted.  So in fact the ANC is controlling the pace.  At the beginning they, the South African government, said they don't want to be the outsiders here but when the ANC presented its case to the International Forum, the same International Forum that De Klerk was boasting about that he has control in, so everything now goes to the success of the ANC internationally because the ANC just made one statement, they can say, 'right we want the UN to mediate in our constitution meeting issues and we want this deal to be finished within six months'.  The UN is just going to do that, they are not going to listen to De Klerk.  The case in issue here is that apartheid is still well and kicking through the tricameral parliament, through denying people the vote, so it is not a question of arguing about their policy.

POM     Do you think, with your knowledge of the ANC and SACP/COSATU alliance - it has been suggested to us that there is a struggle for influence going on between what might be called the pragmatists or leaders who want to get on with negotiations and those who would be more hard-line or more radical and would say let's put more emphasis on mass mobilisation and that the last mass action was as a result of that playing itself out with those who were in favour of mass mobilisation particularly those in COSATU moving to the fore, some of the negotiators moving a bit to the side and even since then you have had contradictory signals, for example, six weeks ago Mandela called De Klerk a murderer, two weeks ago he said that De Klerk was a man of vision and courage.

BH     And just the day before yesterday Mandela again said that De Klerk was a murderer.

POM     Yes, so it gets confusing trying to read signals and counter-signals.  What do you think is going on within the alliance itself, being a monolithical alliance?

BH     You see, you are dealing with a revolutionary period.  I refer to that period beginning February 1990, there was good romancing going on between the communists, the ANC and the white South African government and the trust was very high until the government securocrats sabotaged the negotiations, perhaps against the will of President De Klerk but because he is in charge he is accountable.  Now what you are going to see is that people are going to start analysing what is going wrong and the in-fighting, they have abandoned the armed struggle and the theatre of operation now is concentrating on economic war, and the ANC is succeeding in that.  Bush and the others tried to work with De Klerk against the wishes of the ANC and they said that they would lift sanctions and so on, these things are outdated.  Mandela took a vow publicly, he said that he won't come here in South Africa, and it is true, where are the MacDonalds of this world? In America, they should have long been here from America but the ANC said that they won't come if we make the situation unstable. So there is that economic war now you are going to argue and say the hardliners this and that, the ANC when they come to negotiations and the climate is good, when the trust is there, they lead in that field, they will go and talk nicely and so on.  When the chips are down they say COSATU, can you lead this process? So if you are communist you are expert in mobilising people, can you go ahead?  So you are going to find that people are going to argue that they use divide and rule tactics, why are they doing this and fighting among themselves, but we know that people close to Mandela, no one dictates to him.  Within the ANC or COSATU or SACP, he is the man who wanted to break out from negotiations as early as 1990 and the violence started in August, in September he thought, let's call it off.  Again this year he said, "No ways we are pulling out of the talks", so what did they do, the SACP and COSATU? Get the tune from the leader that he wants this and organise mass action and the credit doesn't go to SACP it goes to Mandela.

POM     Let's talk about the economic war for a moment.  You say the ANC said let's make the situation here unstable so that foreign investors won't come.  First of all do you think the stayaway was a success, do you think that it was successful in the sense that it sent a message to the South African government which would have an impact on them that they would say, "My God, they have had three million people away for two days, they have 70 000 in Pretoria, 20 000 people in Cape Town, the masses are really behind the ANC and if they do more of this mass action it will really cripple the economy, we had better get back to the negotiating table, we had better be more receptive to meet their demands", do you think it had that kind of impact?

BH     Certainly it has had an impact on President De Klerk, because he has portrayed himself as a messiah of South Africa.  Now the people in America see the politics going back to the street, the first question they ask is, what happened to De Klerk, was he deceiving us, the people are starting to ask questions, the anti-apartheid movements are mobilising in Europe and elsewhere and so on, now the UN is involved.  He said to Cyrus Vance, "I will release political prisoners immediately if the ANC can come forward with a list", he didn't raise the question of amnesty and so on with Cyrus Vance.  Now when the ANC went there he raised this issue, now again is he a trustworthy man?  Now he has disappointed Mandela and others in the past, now he has disappointed the UN Security Council.  Now with this mass action people are starting to question so that when I say to De Klerk it has had an impact because he must move fast to correct that impression.

     As for the negotiations themselves and other issues, the economists, businessmen have protested to the government that if you don't move we are doomed. The interim government must come soon because Mandela is a man of his word.  He said, "Right, if the interim government is here they will lift sanctions.  If your government doesn't want to move then this is what is going to happen."  And he has done exactly that and the government cannot counter, so the mass action has had an impact, it has had an effect that is precisely why now they are under pressure to move.  Another mass action which is being planned by the ANC and its allies, the government of South Africa would have to do something miraculous if they are going to counter some of the moves which are going to take place.   Remember when we had that strike it was effective, this one was also effective, another mass action is going to cripple the economy of this country.

POM     Many people would say that when this mass action was first contemplated that it was going to be the mass action protest of all times, they talked about it in terms of a three week stayaway, then it became two weeks, then it became for a while a one day stayaway with business and the labour movement co-operating together when they had the negotiations with them and then it became two days and some figures show on day one an 80% stayaway across the country, day two 70%.

BH     Our figures are day one 80%, day two 90%, instead of dropping it went up.

POM     That's your figures?

BH     Yes.  According to Radio 702 and Capital Radio and even the SABC that reported on the number of passengers that boarded trains had dropped significantly.

POM     My question is that, do you think if there was a mass action involving a stayaway of a longer period, say a week or ten days, that it would work or that the average black worker simply cannot afford to be out of work for more than a couple of days?

BH     It would depend again on Mandela, he has the power to demonstrate to De Klerk that if you are going to threaten my people by expelling them I am going to demonstrate to you, De Klerk, that you are wrong because the nine or ten top business industries said although there was this two day stayaway I want an assurance from you that you are not going to expel those people.  Secure businessmen who had a right to vote in this country had to say, "No thank you, Mr Mandela we are not going to expel these people."

POM     But you know, people did lose their jobs.

BH     I am only talking about the top companies.  I mean there are other companies outside that.  When he plans another mass action he needs to broaden that because once he does that he has the opportunity to talk to them and explain - don't read these newspapers which are distorting, the main aim of the mass action is to   So they understood that lot and they did not expel people.  I am talking now about the companies that employ many people.  Now you talk about three weeks, two weeks, two days, one week, to a level of two days, you must also consider that there was a meeting between SACOLA and COSATU and so on and ANC consultations, maybe there was a little bit of understanding that the government did not sabotage the two day stayaway.  It is possible that the whole thing would have been called off maybe at the last minute saying that in the light of this agreement and the undertaking by the business people we are suspending this exercise but again you must also realise that these people are already gearing for election, so who's who?

POM     The ANC or the government?

BH     The ANC and the government because the government when they said don't give in to that SACOLA meeting they knew very well that they would have lost round one.

POM     So is part of the ANC strategy to kind of confront business with the possibility of an economic close-down so that business would put pressure on the government to be more receptive to the alliance's demands?

BH     Yes.  That is the main aim and also it is going to be difficult for the government and the businessmen not to listen to Mandela because he has demonstrated, defied Bush and said, "You are going to lift those sanctions if you want, but if you don't want to consult us you won't invest here", and he made it a point that he is going to send individual people into various companies all over the world and they are not coming.  So he speaks from a position of authority.  When he says to those businessmen, "How many companies from America came after the lifting of sanctions?" they will say none.  He will say, "Right, because I have done this and I am telling you it is not going to happen."  So where else are they going to go? The Union Building?  They will be saying why can't you give these people the right to vote, because now we are compelled to close down our businesses.

POM     So do you see when they get back to the table this increasing pressure on the government to start addressing some of the ANC's demands?  Do you see a situation where the government agrees to address those demands in a satisfactory way and that the major parties get back to the table with the government in a relatively weaker position than it was before the deadlock at CODESA and with the ANC in a relatively stronger position?

BH     The government has never and will never be in a stronger position in the negotiations because we are talking about the basic human rights of nationals and giving people the right to vote.  They would never ever be in a stronger position because the policies that they are defending are inhuman in nature.  All that they can do if they want to be stronger, because they will never be in a stronger position democratically, not this government, but to be in a stronger position you need to dictate the pace and then you are in a stronger position.

POM     That's what I mean, has the government lost the capacity - ?

BH     No, they lost when they received 70%, they will never grasp it again.

POM     OK so the momentum and initiative has now clearly moved to the ANC.

BH     The ANC is on a higher ground.  They are dictating the pace, dictating who must come here and what they must do, like the UN.  It is not the brainchild of the government.  That was initiated by Mandela and is going according to his plan.  He said 30 observers will not be enough and the UN had to listen to him.  So the Secretary General said, "Please you must appoint as many as you like." They just don't have the power to, unfortunately, in government and they are also being embarrassed by these exposures which if they sit on power for longer periods, De Klerk will soon be entangled by these scandals and it will be difficult for him to extricate himself from it.

POM     Let me get back to that in a couple of minutes.  Right now I would like to pursue, to get back to the table, when in your view might they sit around a table again, not necessarily CODESA, but a table?

BH     Well the government, this breakdown of negotiations, is still their plan although they never thought that they would be embarrassed or actually pull out because De Klerk said unilaterally he would call parliament in October to review the issue of the interim government and so on and legislate.  At that time he gave the impression that he is controlling that, bearing in mind that we planned for July to have an interim government.  So he pushed this thing to October so we said let him go to October, but before the 12th October we will also have our own programme.  So he can do as he pleases, we will give him a chance up to October but we are not going to wait for him.  Mass action is going to continue, the United Nations is going to come, the OAU issue is coming, that was not in his programme when he announced that.  He never knew that the UN would be leading marches or observe how the police are opening fire so we have actually countered some of his strategies.  So he has got to come up clean and say in parliament, "Right gentlemen, we accept these demands of the ANC or we don't."  The ball is in his court, we are not in a hurry, instead the blacks are now busy trying to address some problems like unity and we are happy that the PAC is coming closer to the government to talk.  Perhaps by the time he calls that parliament there will be a lot of common ground between them and the PAC as well as ourselves, but we are not going to be used again by De Klerk as a stepping-stone or to use our backs to improve his battered image.

POM     So the steps you see are an interim government, a new date for the elections?

BH     Yes, preparing for the elections.

POM     Then an election shortly afterwards?

BH     That must be done within six months.

POM     Within six months, so that you will have an interim government of six months.

BH     Because that interim government is preparing for the elections and the constituent assembly.  At the end of the six months we must have a new  government.

POM     Then will you have an election for a constituent assembly?

BH     Within that six months.

POM     Yes, and does that constituent assembly also form a new interim government?

BH     Yes, what would happen is that, let me just write on a piece of paper, it would say we are here now, right?  This is the South Africa we are in and we want to come to one South Africa and between here and here, we need to have firstly a transitional executive.

POM     Is this the transitional executive authority agreed upon at CODESA?

BH     Yes, the TEC, and then you have an interim constitution.  At this time now, of course, we are preparing for the elections.

POM     Which would take place in six months. Would this be the six month period of the TEC coming into being?

BH     And then you now have the constituent assembly.  So it is TEC first and then the elections, but the period between here, we say it must be six months.

POM     And the TEC stays in being while the constituent assembly draws up the new constitution?

BH     No.  The constituent assembly will have sovereign powers, which means that we must have an interim executive, right?  They can say, all right, just justice or administrative or whatever but all these governments now, the SA government, the TBVC states, homelands of Buthelezi, that certain bond will disappear and be replaced by this interim government or the constituent assembly which will have sovereign powers.

POM     How long would the constituent assembly have to draw up the new constitution?

BH     I think if we want to be realistic I would say another three or four months.

POM     So you see a process that would take from the time of the appointment of the Transitional Executive Council to a new constitution being placed before the people in a referendum as being a period of a year, a year to 18 months?

BH     I suppose that delay which has been built by the government, but we are realistic really if the government were to say yes now we can still have elections for a constituent assembly in December.

POM     OK.  Two questions, one, given the level of violence in the country as a whole most people we have talked to have said that it would be impossible to hold free and fair elections.

BH     In almost all the history of Africa, where there has been a revolution, the first elections everybody always has their own imaginations, some have intimidations, some are fair, some are not fair, but we are not going to delve into that history, they must not delay us.

POM     If the present level of violence continues as it is?

BH     Immediately we announce that on such and such a day we want to have elections in South Africa and everybody agrees, the violence is going to vanish because everybody will be preoccupied now in planning for the elections, everybody will know where he is going but at this point in time the government is playing its cards close to its chest and others are trying to embarrass them, continuing with the violence and so on, but immediately you say, come 15th December, just making an example, that is the day of the elections, everyone now will start looking for people, who is going to campaign for me, discuss alliances, where are we going to get the money? The alienation will stop, instead even the ANC will say to the government, "Can we talk alliance?"

POM     Do you see Buthelezi participating?

BH     Buthelezi is not a factor in this thing, he is just an ordinary leader like De Klerk, Mandela, Makwetu.  He will go to the polls with his manifesto and then he will see whether the people who have been promoting his image were correct in portraying him as the leader of the new South Africa.

POM     Do you see Buthelezi opening up the political room in KwaZulu to election competition?

BH     We are not going to ask him. Yesterday amongst the plans we have is to go as a patriotic front to the so-called no-go areas.  Immediately the UN observers are here we are going to say, "Right, the ANC says I want to have a meeting in Ulundi to address my followers, De Klerk see to it that that creation of yours does not kill or disturb my people.  UN you are being told to make sure that the whole thing comes together." The room is going to be very small very soon.

POM     So when he talks about the manner in which the Zulu nation and the Zulu king has been excluded, this is all bull, it's all nonsense?

BH     It's nonsense.  Ethnicity is not going to serve any purpose now in South Africa, they are using violence, people are fed up, including the Zulus because not all Zulus follow Buthelezi.  Most Zulus are ANC and PAC and AZAPO, still those tactics are dated my friend, I am telling you the day that the ANC go to Ulundi, go to Bophuthatswana, go to Ciskei, like in Ciskei they ordered mass action there, those poor people are just going to salute. When you talk about elections nationwide they will not feature. There are two parties here that will emerge, black parties, the ANC and the PAC that's all.  The time now for cheating ourselves is over.

POM     Let's go back now, you mentioned the revelations that are being made and how De Klerk himself might become entangled in these revelations. Last May you said that you had in your possession what you called 'files of death' which showed that killings were sanctioned at the highest level of  state.  Could you talk a little about what information you had?

BH     That information will not be revealed publicly until De Klerk has appointed an independent commission of enquiry.

POM     Would that follow the Goldstone commission?

BH     No, that is not an independent commission of enquiry, he got the government behind that commission of enquiry.  Goldstone is not even naming all the questions or challenges.

POM     Do you find his book deficient?

BH     Yes, there are areas where I don't agree with him.  The timing of releasing some of his findings, they make some interesting reading and the timing and also wanting to deceive the world that in the Goldstone Commission the government is not involved in these things.  Now he is in the middle of investigating, he said the South African government is not involved in these killings in Boipatong and so on.  Instead of querying the ANC why you are not bringing witnesses forward or postponing for that matter, because he knew that it was volatile and the timing was just before the United Nations Security Council.  So he is a civil servant and he would never earn any respect from Holomisa unfortunately.  So those documents will never be handed over to him.

POM     But these documents, as far as you are concerned, are authentic evidence.

BH     The South African government is an expert when it comes destabilisation of black people.  Destabilisation of black communities, destabilisation which leads to the spillage of blood.

POM     This evidence refers to the period since August 1990.

BH     No it includes every - it does not specifically include from August 1990.

POM     Well it is evidence that it has been directly

BH     It just proves that the Nationalist Party is an expert in destabilising. They have said, "We are not the experts in destabilising people", and I am going to prove them wrong one day.

POM     Let me put the question this way.  Somebody said this to me yesterday on the question of general amnesty that if you didn't have a general amnesty that any new government would never get political control over the security forces.

BH     No, we are not against the amnesty, the timing is wrong, not now.

POM     But you are not against the amnesty?

BH     No we are not against the amnesty and we say that the amnesty must not be the baby of the ANC and the government only. Why can't they take it to CODESA when the negotiations resume?  We are not against amnesty, but the timing is going to ruin it, because the government is killing our people on a daily basis. Why amnesty now? If De Klerk would say, "Yes I have found out that our people have been involved and I have now issued instructions that there are to be no more killings and I ask that we observe a period of peace for a month or a few months and then we start with the negotiations"  But he is being evasive when it comes to violence.

POM     I want to just go back to something I should have followed up on.  Do you envisage a process where from the time of the installation of the Transitional Executive Council to the point in time where you have a new government under a new constitution or a continuation of the constituent assembly as the first government of the new South Africa, that is a period of about 18 months.  Now many, many people would say that the ANC does not have the organisational capacity and the experience, the knowledge or the ability to unilaterally take on the running of the South African government in a period of 18 months given the huge problems this country faces and given the fact that the bureaucracy, the people who carry out the policy of the government, is entirely in white hands and is able to frustrate easily. You would not even have a new security upper hand in that period of time.  What is your answer to an argument like that?

BH     Definitely we are not regarding the present white South Africans as colonialists, we regard them as part and parcel of South Africa.  We want to build South Africa with them.  Even in the military we would love that we identify a certain country to do re-orientation, upgrade some of them, some of us, because the arms embargo tended to deny a number of us going to train in another country including South African security forces.  I am not worried much about that, I know of countries that have got a number like Zimbabwe and Namibia as good examples.  So you have a constituent assembly you chase the whites away.  White South Africans are working there, developing that country together and we have not had that.  Standards have dropped, the ecology is still being observed, the roads are still good and the people are calling for the industrialists to come and assist them, the tourists are still going to Namibia.  So our approach in this is we have no vendetta, if one had a vendetta against a black person then you would harbour those fears, but if General X deserves to be head of security and he has got qualities we say that he must stay there because we don't want to drive whites away.  With that experience, with that attitude I don't think that he should have any fears and also the ANC has had an opportunity to stay for a period of at least two and a half years after they have been unbanned unlike others like Zimbabwe and Namibia who only spent six months in preparing for their elections.  So obviously they have done their homework, even if you look at their teams at negotiations right now, it is not all the people who have skipped to the outside who are assisting them, there  are even white lawyers who are not even members of the ANC but they have heard them because they are the experts.  You look at their economic policies, everything is all right.  University X can you assist us on this?  They want to involve everybody. That is the way I see it, even the style of CODESA.  Let everybody come and we are all equal which I think, and even Mandela said that if they win the elections, they want to make sure that almost all the parties are represented which means that he knows the background of South Africa.

     As far as the administration, the standards, I don't have any problems with that.  I can serve under a white man, I can serve under a black man and another thing is that, well of course in Transkei, we work with whites here harmoniously in the various departments.  But what we need is to go back on training and also to having programmes of training and reorientation after, it will take time but on the job training will assist us.  You cannot hold everyone to ransom and say you need so many years to be taught.  It is not going to work, instead you are going to divide people further.

POM     Do you think De Klerk, this question comes up periodically and is addressed to the media and you hear different analyses on it, do you think De Klerk is in control of his security forces and that he can take action against them in terms of cleaning house, firing people, demoting them?

BH     According to my intelligence I have is that amongst themselves in the companies they are divided, so the hardliners are giving him a lot of problems inside the companies, he has got some conservatives, he has got some liberals.  He has got problems, it is not just a question of security but a question of the whites who are divided.

POM     The whites?

BH     Right from the cabinet up to the man in the street about what he is doing although they wanted this new change but some I think have got their own programmes, it is a question of fear or something.

POM     So can he or can't he take actions that would clean house?

BH     No.  Because if he had to do that they would bring him down to his knees immediately.  For example, he cannot expel General van der Westhuizen, Chief of Military Intelligence, just academically or according to the regulations.  He would have to talk to him because General van der Westhuizen can come down with the entire government.

POM     Do you think he has enough information about actions in the past that involve him?

BH     Approvals by them. They can't do anything to him.

POM     What is the one bottom line issue that the alliance would find most difficult to compromise on in negotiations?

BH     It is the question of the constituent assembly, the constitution must be drawn up by elected people. That one we are not prepared to compromise on.

POM     And will it adhere to the 66 as mandated by the ANC policy conference?

BH     I think that one at least, but as I said the percentages in the context of South African politics doesn't mean anything because if the elections were to be held tomorrow, a black political party would win.  It would have been difficult in America where you are all equal there, all equal in terms of constitution and so on.  But in the case of South Africa the whites whether they can say 98% or whatever, the ANC would win the election or PAC throughout the country and they form a strong alliance.  Where you could have problems is where you have the ANC and the PAC is on the other side. Inkatha, I think the ANC and the PAC have got more common ground than the other side.  Inkatha will just be swallowed even if you had to combine the ANC and Inkatha because they are only in Natal and the Transvaal.  The ANC and the PAC are national.

POM     Just a couple of general questions, where do you see yourself staying?

BH     Still the same thing I told you, no change, nothing has impressed me, nothing has enticed me.  Come the interim, relax keep a low profile for the next five years after the election.  You can give me study leave for a period of five years, I will improve my military academics or my military crosses or my academic qualifications.  That would be a bonus and a reward for thanking me, but not be involved in the first five years.

POM     You don't want to be involved in the first five years?

BH     No, I am not interested, because since 1987 I had to get into politics, not because of my liking, but because of what we were trying to do and I have lost a lot of ground in improving my personal progress in the army, as well as starting privately to invest in South Africa.  So I would like to catch up because I think that in the new South Africa the competition is going to be high so you would need, whatever field you are involved in, to possess some certificates.

POM     Could you just tell us a little about yourself, where you were born, where you went to school, how you got into the army, what were the influences on your life.  If you look at South Africa as an authoritarian anti-democratic society where there are no democratic structures, and in one way it is ironic that everyone at CODESA is talking about democracy but nobody has actually experienced it.  If you go back in your life what were the main things that helped you form the convictions that have you where you are today advocating this kind of South Africa?

BH     Well firstly I would say I am from a royal family, my father is a chief and passed away in 1978 and then I was educated at the schools for sons of chiefs and headmen.  There we were taught, amongst other things, leadership, courage.

POM     Sorry to interrupt, where is this school?

BH     Jongilizwe College in a small village in the Transkei about 65km from here.  So this was a college for the sons of chiefs and headmen and kings and so on. They taught us some leadership qualities, conduct of public affairs.

POM     Was this a boarding school?

BH     Yes, a boarding school, men only. Conduct of public affairs, how to conduct meetings, how to address people, then we taught the office routine, how to run your affairs in the office, then we were taught filing systems, then we were also taught another subject, current events.  Every day at school at eight o'clock we would listen to the news say 8 am to 8.15 am, and then the teacher would say "Right, can you analyse the news and so on?"  Then we were getting supplies, newspapers like Newsweek, Time Magazine.

POM     Was the news local or international?

BH     International news.  The Guardian newspaper we subscribed to.  We had other assignments which were mainly about 80% international like in 1973/74 we were given an assignment to talk about the Middle East war.  In the assignment we would say Dr Henry Kissinger is going to fly to Egypt, to Israel next week, how do you see that meeting?  So you must pre-empt it, start evaluating it and analyse it, you can't do it if you do not base it on what he has done already, what is the reaction of the world, the reaction of the Arab world and so on.  And then we would also be given assignments on certain conflict resolutions.  That was quite an enlightening college.  Then I went to the Post Office and I was completely out of touch there, I would go in the morning and sell stamps or send telexes but now I was staying alone for the first time in 1976 after school and trying to live on my own and have my own little room, but I left my room in the township.

POM     Is that in Umtata?

BH     Yes, that is in the little township.  I was not active in politics, I enjoyed reading the papers, newspapers.  I am very lazy, if you want to quarrel with me give me a book to read.  I am not talented in that, I can hardly finish an introduction of a book.  I like current events and my decisions are not based on certain individuals, I take decisions as problems dictate at that time, or issues dictate at that time, so fortunately I was recruited by my fellow students with whom I studied to go and join the army, and I was a sportsman.

POM     You say you were recruited by your fellow students?

BH     By my former fellow students who were in the army, they said come and join us.  At that stage our army was established in 1975 whilst I was at school, so those who had passed Standard 10 in 1974 joined the army and left us at school.  So in the army I found that standards of training are good.

POM     Were you trained by the South African Defence Force?

BH     Yes and then later by Transkeians, so we went to countries like Zimbabwe to do courses there with white Zimbabweans while Zimbabwe was still under Ian Smith.  I was the first black to be accepted by the South African Army College to do their staff course which was about eight to nine months, quite interesting tactics we were taught there like revolution, counter-revolution, strategy in general, South African strategy, a strategy politically militarily, OPEC countries and so on, NATO policies.

POM     Did you receive a lot of, I would say, indoctrination with courses built around Magnus Malan's kind of total onslaught?

BH     When you are doing revolutionary warfare you won't get marks if you talk propaganda, so we must go and do research, that is why we had to go the University of Pretoria library or get lecturers from the University of Pretoria or UNISA or guest lecturers, at that level you are not taught propaganda because you are taught now to deal with the outside world with problems that would be on the ground.  But here we had students from other countries like Chile, Uruguay, Taiwan and so on who were also doing the same course.  So it was not indoctrination, it didn't happen, it didn't have any chance because you must go to the library and take a book written by Mandela which is banned in the country but not banned in the library.  You must go to him if you want marks and you must quote so and so and you must study, go back and so on and do research work, but if you are going to do your homework and try to please the present government of South Africa then you come with zero rating.

POM     So the propaganda was for the people but not for the elite corps?

BH     Not for the elite corps, the elite corps must understand what is going on.  I think the college I was in and the staff training I received in Pretoria and also my interest in current affairs, as I said I am not interested in history.  Even a thing that happened last week I don't want to labour that, that is history, how can you improve from that one not to repeat the same mistake?  You can go to my house and my wife will tell you that, even if I travel from Johannesburg to the USA, I want to buy newspapers not a book, I don't have time for that.  It's a type of life, if you want to make decisions.

POM     So then you came out of the Staff College.

BH     And I was immediately confronted with national matters because I had finished staff courses in 1984 and then immediately in 1985 I was promoted to the rank of Deputy Commander, so I had to interact with politicians because at that level you are taught to take decisions and also to fulfil the political directions of government.  Bush cannot survive without Dick Cheney and General Powell, he knows that, so the military plus all the management, if you have read management techniques they are based on military management.  That is exactly what I did in Pretoria for a period of nine months, management techniques.  But in the army you need to take decisions speedily, if you delay decisions you can cost the entire country, but the decisions must be soundly based on certain principles, the most important one is to have control in whatever you are doing.

POM     Control?

BH     Control in whatever you are doing. At the end of the day you must have control.

POM     So what moved you then to participate in the coup and then into politics?

BH     That was a decision that the army officials made by virtue of the fact that I was a Commander at the time, that I must lead the government.  It was not born out of me or that I had a desire to rule a country, I never planned it, that came from the Commission of Enquiry.

POM     What I am looking for is what has formed your values, you had school, you had military training, you had specialised military training, but these are all like apolitical structures so to speak.

BH     I think I was fortunate to have been taught to be an officer.  When you are an officer it depends on what training you have received.  Authoritarian rule in the army is not more authoritarian than sticking to the policy.

POM     It is not democratic, how did you develop your democratic ideals?

BH     In the army, because firstly in the army the first thing you must do is keep your men involved, then you must open channels of communication, and when problems are addressed to you, you must attend to them immediately and even if you are outside with your troops you cannot eat first, the troops must eat first, you must make sure that they are happy.  There must be timeframes, at such and such a time you must go to work, everybody must know the programme.  When I introduced that concept to the public it was a new concept because it was the first time that you saw a government who kept to a programme, here is a government who says we have an open-door policy, here is a government who says let us form new structures.  When we were invited to go to CODESA we didn't go on our own, we said, right, let's invite everybody in the Transkei.  So we had a forum now of about 60 organisations which mandated us to go to CODESA and said this is what we would like to see in your papers.  Out of that we appointed a 60 member steering committee and we took that input and we then reduced it into a document and then we went to CODESA feeling that we were the only ones in the whole of that organisation who had been told what to do.  When we came back we had to report back what had happened.  So it was held that because also we felt that when we took over the people are going to think that this military government is going to be like the government of Uganda and so on, so we had to address ourselves to that problem and here is the programme and we need to make it public.  So we also said we respect independence, which has helped us.  So that is tale of Transkei and myself.

POM     Who are your models in public life?

BH     I do not have one.

POM     In history?

BH     As I said before I don't read books.  I just used examples like I quoted Mandela.  But I do defer to people I respect.  You know if you have a leader who is not evasive then I admire that person.

POM     In South Africa who would that be?

BH     There are little, very little such men.

POM     Who would you point to then?

BH     You take PW Botha, he would say this is not going to happen, he would just tell you where you stand.  But not someone who says I am prepared to help you and then in the long run he does not fulfil his promises and you see that he is using you.  Take Mandela as one of our leaders, he has said that he wants to negotiate from jail and people said no, what about the armed struggle?  He said, "You are going to negotiate."  I suppose that type of leader.  You go to Treurnicht of the CP who says that he wants a boerevolk or whatever.  He stands on the platform so where would you place people like De Klerk?  Unfortunately they are not clear in what they say and they are still negotiating.  He said in 1986 that he wants to negotiate, that he wants a fair deal.

POM     My last question, it is a personal one.  Where did you meet your wife?

BH     She was at the College of Education.

POM     The first time that we met and went to your house it was on a Sunday morning that we arrived, she was going to university.  Has she finished now?

BH     She has got a B.Tech and her honours.  She is now doing her final papers for her Masters.  I think she is finishing off next year.

POM     You have three children?

BH     Yes.

POM     Any of school age yet?

BH     One is doing Standard 3 one Standard 2, the other one is a boy of five.

POM     Are they at the local school?

BH     Yes, the local school.

POM     Thank you once again.  You mentioned the rugby game, did you know what was happening when it happened, did you know that this was how is was going to be?

BH     No. Firstly I was just surprised when we were requested to observe a minute's silence, the people started to sing.  Of course we were not much surprised at that because at the start of the rugby we were all standing there observing a minute's silence and they started to play the national anthem.

POM     Do you think the rugby tour should be cancelled?

BH     Let me look at it from all angles, if you cancel the tour then so what?  What are the implications? Was it wise to allow sport to go international before we get our political dispensation?  So if they are to say they are going to continue it must be built into a programme that because of this you have affected this rugby, you would never go out and so on.  You need to build certain issues into it. You say cancel the tour to Australia, the next thing South Africa will be allowed to go to France and England what is the significance?  Australia were not part of that exercise it was the All Blacks.  There are many issues but personally I feel that a decision was taken to go and we are not yet ready in South Africa to receive people like yourselves because you can see that we are polarised and alienated from one another.  Leave us alone and we will settle our problems.

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.