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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

23 Aug 1992: Lekota, Patrick

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POM     From the time you started prison, how has that affected the way you value things in life outside, how does it influence the way you look at the actions of other human beings, whether in the political arena or elsewhere? Does it give you an appreciation of things in ordinary life that perhaps you were not sensitive to before you went to prison?

TL     I think the prison experience taught me a lot more appreciation than I had before. Naturally, I would have developed patience with the years of adulthood like any other human being, but I think it is the particular experience of imprisonment that had a particularly strong influence towards patience with people. I also learnt to understand more than one's own point of view.

     In the period before I went to jail I think I did not quite realise how vulnerable white South Africans were and over the years of looking at the political programmes in the country and reflecting on the changing attitudes, especially in the decade of the 1980s, when increasingly young Afrikaners were coming forward within the leadership of the NP as well as the ranks of the student groupings, they began to reveal doubt and their own questioning of government policies. It became clear then that they were not as secure in the position as the impression which had been created over the years.

     I think as a result of that observation I find that the programmes that we have to contend with in this country must consistently also be seen through the eyes of the leadership of the white community, and I think now I have a deep understanding of the crisis in which they find themselves as individuals and as organisations.

     In the church for instance, the NGK, the Afrikaners sat in the leadership of that church and they have had to come to terms with the very serious mistakes which were committed by that church, making many individuals continue, even to this moment, to come to terms with the history that the church has gone through. If you go into the NP, the military, the police force, suddenly the history of repression is apparent. The assassination of political opponents in South Africa I think weighs very heavily on the consciences of many of the people in those ranks. In a real sense I think as we try to solve the problem in this country, we need to be sensitive to their particular positions because we need to be able to confront the mistakes which were driving them in the past and correct them. I think we need to also give them a reassurance that there is a place somewhere in the future for them as well, that the mistakes which have occurred in the past are a burden that our country has had to carry, but that it is important to understand, therefore, that they must not as a people or as a section of the population, see themselves as forever condemned. We should be able to look at that history together and draw out the lessons that will be very useful for the future generations.

POM     Is this why if there were amnesty it would have to be amnesty with disclosure?

TL     Yes. You see, in spite of what everybody else might say, and they are saying we must grant a general amnesty to everybody because they are attempting to link it to the fact that there has been amnesty granted to our old people, but our defence is that our people were first of all arrested, they were tried and they have been forgiven for actions which have been disclosed and which are well known to the public. Those who were in exile and wanted to come back home had to apply for immunity and to disclose what they did in that application. To ask us to just grant amnesty without disclosure would not make sense. At the very least there need to be disclosures. There are comrades we have lost like Comrade Hashe, Comrade Stan Bopape and many other comrades who have disappeared. Many of them we don't even know where their graves are, where their bones lie, we don't know what happened to them, we need to be able to go back to their families to say this is how your son/daughter died, where he died and he was killed by so and so. There must be some record of what happened to these people.

     If we are going to just grant general amnesty it would be as good as saying we are not interested in knowing what happened to so many people who have died, and that is not proper, no human being can be allowed without a record for the grave that says this is where they ended. So we are ready to forgive the past, but we can't forgive something we do not know and we would be fools to say that we have forgiven everything and we don't even know what we have forgiven.

POM     In the two and a half years that I have been coming here, I find no sense among the government people that I talk to or NP people that I talk to of having any sense of wrongdoing, that apartheid was wrong, that it perpetrated immense injustices. There is no sense of their being sorry for the wrong they did but instead they want to say the past is over, apartheid is gone and we are in a new SA and let's all get on with the business. Do you think there can be true reconciliation with all the people of SA as we go towards a new future unless a collective sense of apology, of admission of wrongdoing and an apology before the future can be dealt with?

TL     I think there are many of these people who do regret what happened, they try to avoid confirming that reality and so they keep saying let's forget the past now and deal with the future. It is a nightmare, they would rather not confront this issue. So it is not that they don't realise that something very drastically wrong was done, it is more the shame to confront it. It is too ugly, it is like taking someone to the spot where that person had murdered another individual, there would just tend to be an inclination to move away from that spot. It is not a mature approach and one can only hold the view that sooner or later their attitudes will mature and they can then confront this and say this happened and we are very sorry that it happened.

     As a matter of fact it has already been done because in some ways, when the NGK (Nasionale Gereformeerd Kerk), which is one of the three major Afrikaner churches, considered the wrongness of apartheid, they gave them the lead. It excluded the political leadership in the main, which has not had the guts to do that, but I think also there is a little bit of some of the pride and consideration of some of the practicalities where they think that they might be out of step with their constituencies and that perhaps, to go overboard and say it blatantly might create the impression, to their constituency, that they didn't know what they have been doing. So there is that level of personal pride on the part of the leadership of the NP in the main, not all of them but the majority of them. To create the impression, as unfortunately as I say, it is not being honest, that they have always known that this think was going to go this way and everything that we are doing we are clear in our minds that it is correct. So for the purposes of constituency politics, there is a lot of reluctance on their part to do so. But I believe that they will do so. People like de Klerk for instance, as soon as they are out of the political arena in the future, you will probably even find in their own memoirs the apology, they will make the bite when they think that it is no longer capable of influencing their careers as of now.

POM     When you look at de Klerk and say here is a man who two and a half years ago was universally being praised for the actions he took; he unbanned the ANC, SACP, he released Mandela, began to dismantle the legal structures of apartheid and to someone who in your community or organisation he is vilified as the murderer of your people and the duplicity of carrying out a double strategy, where do your feelings about him lie? Do you think he is sincere but he is trapped in some way in terms of what he can do and what he can't do? Are there real constraints of what steps he can take, particularly with regards to the security forces, or is he an accomplice in the violence that has been going on?

TL     Speaking broadly, one might say by virtue of the fact that he has been part of the leadership of the NP since about the early 1970s, it would be fair to say that it is natural that he was part of the policy making process throughout all of those years and being a politician therefore, he must carry a certain amount of responsibility for what has happened. I suppose the question you ask is whether in his individual capacity he approved of the policies that the government was pursuing. I would say that he cannot claim to have been ignorant of what the regime was doing over the years, not only was he a member of the NP in parliament, he was the leader of the Transvaal NP, he at least would have known what was going on, not the individual instances etc., but he certainly would have understood what the doctrine of the total onslaught was about. He obviously accepted it and when he became President, he continued some of the problems of these undercover agents, the CCB etc. It was not until the middle of last year, with the exposure of the Inkatha scandal that he went out to the public to say that we have done this, we have been giving money to these formations, but now we are closing them down. Essentially he said that I was aware, I know about them.

     So it is clear that he was aware of them and anything therefore that was done under those formations, especially after he became State President, he must accept culpability. He may not have set up those structures himself but he inherited them and they continued to operate after that so a certain amount of culpability goes towards him. You see we must also be realistic, he has not been closely associated with the police and the army. Even when he served in the Cabinet he had nothing to do with the police or the army. But being a lawyer by profession he served in other departments other than those which were a bit removed. But because of his profession he would have been appraised of issues such as those of the activities of the military, the Department of Justice and the Correctional Services, etc., these are issues that would have been of interest to him.

     What is clear is that somewhere within the security forces of the country, are elements which are not interested in the strategy of negotiating a settlement with the blacks and, indeed, there are some who actually feel threatened by certain settlements because they feel he has not been able to get them, for instance, the amnesty we were talking about, that he is going to go into settlement without granting them an blanket amnesty which would render them safe from prosecution afterwards. Some of those elements are certainly doing their bit to undermine his efforts and weaken his position. Then you have the right wingers like the AWB and the CP who also don't want to see a settlement with black members of the populations and therefore who regard him as a threat to themselves. So I think, one can't hold him culpable for everything that is taking place, room must be made for a lot of the other things that are happening being done by his opponents.

POM     One can't hold him responsible for all of these things?

TL     He can be held culpable for things which are done by the official structures which means they are acting under orders. But one can't hold him responsible for the activities of some right-wingers who happen to still be in the police and military forces and who are acting as they are acting in order to undermine the process, because quite definitely he would like to see the process go on, his future now hangs on it.

POM     Do you overall believe in his authority, that he wants the thing to go forward and a revolution to occur through negotiations?

TL     I certainly think he wants a settlement, there is no doubt about that, the question is what kind of settlement. He wants a particular type of settlement that must also suit him and suit his party and that is where I think the difference comes in between us. There is no doubt in my mind that he wants a settlement, but he wants to shape it in such a way that the best still remains for the white section of the population so at least whatever has been garnered by white South Africans must remain, e.g. the wealth of the country. He is opposed to the question of taking effective steps to redistribute wealth in such a way as to be able to bring blacks on par. He would feel that he threatens the wealth of whites, his wealth, etc.

POM     Another question of the security forces. One argument I have heard made is that the defence forces are his last line of defence of ensuring that what is done between the ANC and his government, so that if things go bad he can fall back on them and rely on them to bolster his position and in that sense, he can't alienate key members of the military. Do you think he could take broad action against these elements in the security forces, is he willing to do so?

TL     I think his capacity to do so is very limited actually because I am sure he wouldn't like to do anything that might risk him a huge rebellion because if he got rid of some of these top fellows and did so in large numbers, he could just be developing a rebellion. They could come together outside of the army and cause trouble, and they would still have influence from a lot of the membership of the army and I think that would be very damaging. That means essentially that he is limited in his capacity to get rid of them. He has to act very carefully if he is going to weed out some of these elements.

POM     Would there be an appreciation of this at the NEC? Would something like this be debated with a consensus emerging that he has real problems and his capacity to act is constrained by many factors? Some of what you are saying is at variance with official rhetoric, which all political parties engage in like, "De Klerk wanted this and that and he is responsible for this and that".

TL     I think there is an appreciation of that. We have said from time to time that there is a third force in the violence. Secondly, what we have seen is that other than what officialdom is doing, there is a section that is busy with an agenda of its own. Some of the things that are happening are also causing him problems. We do appreciate that much. As for to what extent that threat or that problem influences his actions is a different matter, I think we would probably not agree on this. Some say 30% of his inability to act comes from that, some say 50% and others a bit more, there are variations. We still feel though that he could act more effectively than he is doing at the moment, despite that problem. He is not using his capacity to influence things to the extent that it is possible for him to do so.

     Let us take this for example, if you take the revelations that Dr. Gluckman made about the people who are being killed in jails, he said he would institute an investigation into the allegations about six months ago or so, six months later he still has been unable to do anything about the matter. That shows you something about his capacity to act. Why wasn't something done? The trend just goes on and on. I would assume that when the matter was raised with him he would have referred it to the relevant department to say that something is wrong there and he should have been able to order a report to be ready inside of two weeks. Six months later he still has not come back and we are still not able to explain what was happening. Why didn't he demand a proper investigation? Is he being misled by the department involved into believing that all is well? If Gluckman gave him a list of names and people etc., what kind of report did he get back from them? Something indicates a crisis situation inside his own party, between himself and his colleagues.

POM     I want to move to the whites only referendum last March. What do you think whites were voting for when they voted yes and what were they voting against when they voted no?

TL     I think the question was whether the government must negotiate and find a settlement with the ANC or whether it should pull out of the negotiating process. In the main that is the question, they were voting to say whether negotiations should continue or whether to go back to war.

POM     Did they want negotiations for a particular purpose?

TL     I think the simple question for them was that the government should negotiate and get them as good a deal as possible and bring peace to the country. Many others would have understood the question of voting for de Klerk as opposed to Treurnicht and I think, to a certain extent, the campaign that the NP used tended to emphasise de Klerk rather than the process. For instance the posters which they used said, 'Yes to FW'. That was a misconstruction of the facts, that slogan was not correct, it was misleading, it tended to suggest that they were being asked if de Klerk is good or not good, instead of saying 'yes for negotiations'. I think from that combination of the campaign, some white people might have misread the campaign. But be that as it may the issue there was really about the process of negotiation, they obviously believe that de Klerk could not just negotiate a deal that is not favourable to them, they expect a good deal to be arrived at.

POM     A power sharing arrangement?

TL     Possibly power sharing, some kind of agreement that will leave them, as whites, in a semi-comfortable position.

POM     How did De Klerk interpret his mandate?

TL     He understood it as one to continue to negotiate. He understood it to mean that even the policies that he was advancing inside CODESA, positions like power sharing and some minority questions, etc., he understood the vote to be 'yes for negotiations', but more than that, the political arguments that de Klerk is putting forward in CODESA are also right. Which is wrong because a lot of our own membership was advised to go and vote, that is to vote for the process to continue, not for de Klerk. We have got many members of the DP, the ANC, etc. who went to vote, but they were voting for the process, not for de Klerk and his policies.

POM     Do you think that because you kept such a low profile during that whole election and urged whites to vote yes, that de Klerk might have interpreted that as a sign that you broadly agreed with the goals that he had in line for the negotiations i.e. power sharing?

TL     I don't think he has that illusion at all. I think he understood very well that we wanted the process of negotiations to go on and that is as far as we went. We had said before, and we continue to hold the view, that when it comes to the question of negotiation the NP and ourselves are partners. We need the NP because it is the majority white party. They need us too because settling with anybody else without us would miss the whole purpose altogether because we do command the majority support in this country. He perfectly understood that we only kept a low profile in order to encourage an NP victory around the referendum question. Also at that time, of course, the point must be made, the way things were going were such that the NP was quite optimistic that the rapport between us would continue to grow and deepen. Certainly at that time on the horizon it didn't appear that we would have the problems that we were to have later on at CODESA 2. So if one looks at the circumstances at that time, it will be seen that the NP and Inkatha were actually drifting apart quite significantly. Something of value has changed since CODESA 2 and they've tended to move closer to the IFP again. They had moved so far away from Inkatha that Inkatha itself was beginning to move very close to the CP and even the AWB for that matter.

POM     Some people have said to me that after the referendum, when de Klerk came back to negotiations, he now took a much more hard-line attitude. What were the dynamics that were going on that now moved him away from you towards other alliances?

TL     The thing is that before the referendum he had lost a lot of by-elections to the conservative side and he was under pressure for certain mandates, he was worried that the longer we took to reach a settlement, the more eminent was the situation that we might be forced into an election with the CP and the danger was that if the CP continued to muster what appeared to be growing support at that time, it could cause very serious problems for him. As soon as the referendum was over and he had won decisively against the CP, he felt so confident that he actually became arrogant. He no longer felt the pressure of the CP and he interpreted the victory as a mandate to do as he pleased. He even moved to a position where some of the tentative agreements which had been reached in the bilateral discussions were thrown overboard.

POM     Could you point to one or two of them for me? I am asking you that because I will be seeing some other government ministers next week and I would like to pose that question to them, for example, you reneged on this and that.

TL     In Group 2 some agreement had been reached on the adoption of the constitution, on the interim government and the Constituent Assembly, we had agreed that we would hold an election, a second election would elect a body of people that would on the one hand sit as an interim government and on the other as a Constituent Assembly. In the bilaterals we agreed that position. Then they came back to renege and to say no, in fact we must now draft an interim constitution first and foremost and they were now working to use CODESA to actually draft a constitution instead of electing a Constituent Assembly that would be fully mandated to draft that constitution. It was clear now that the urgency with which they viewed the situation before the referendum had gone and they were prepared now to stall things and play for time.

POM     So is it your belief that after the white referendum the government lost interest in CODESA and wanted it to stall?

TL     Actually after that referendum they became very complacent and they felt no sense of urgency any more. We had lifted person-to-person sanctions, the Springboks were playing abroad, Australia and other scheduled tours, so pressure from their constituencies to break international sanctions had been removed from them. Internationally de Klerk was able to visit European countries, ones which would not have welcomed him before were now receiving him, the internal challenge from the CP was gone, so he could afford to be arrogant. That is something that marks a lack of sincerity. You must relate all that with the violence that was raging in the country at the same time. Although we insisted that he must act against the violence, he did not. So essentially the NP said to itself that we have finished with these other things, we will allow this violence to go on raging and kill members of the ANC, effectively destabilising the ANC because we have finished the other opponents, play for time. That is the kind of scenario that one could read in that situation.

POM     When you say 'smash these fellows', what do you mean?

TL     In the townships our supporters were being attacked regularly and the security forces were involved in those attacks.

POM     Why did Goldstone not come out and make this more explicit in his reports?

TL     The problem is that Goldstone asked the people to bring relevant evidence forward, but since the police were implicated, most people were afraid to report and be seen to be reporting. People were not sure what protection they would have if they went to Goldstone as witnesses. Some witnesses who have given him statements have been killed. So while Goldstone was inviting evidence there was no protection being provided for those who were giving the evidence. So for many people it was very difficult, we tried to push people to go but they were very concerned about their personal security. Ultimately, therefore, he has not been able to get to the evidence and in his earliest report, he had no evidence of any kind. We still don't understand why he wanted to make that report at a time when it was quite clear to him too that people were not coming forward because there was no sufficient security for them. Even when he released his report he did so in a manner that places a big question mark on his integrity because he submitted his report to the government and did not even announce to the public that he has given the government the report, he didn't tell the other parties as well until some later, when the NP released the report under conditions which suited them. In some ways there are some tendencies of Goldstone which were not very convincing at that time. I would say that he did that because he hadn't been able to collect sufficient evidence to deal with those issues.

POM     How does the ANC view this commission?

TL     To all intents and purposes, the commission is there and the crucial thing is that evidence should be placed before the commission. If there is this endless lack of evidence before the commission, even though the commission might have some question marks around it, if you have evidence it would be inescapable for the commission to arrive at a conclusion based on the evidence before it. For the important thing is not whether the commission is composed of Goldstone or not, it is that the commission should be supplied with as much evidence as possible so that it can make the conclusions, we can then judge it on the basis of what conclusions it makes when it is supplied with this evidence.

POM     Do you think that has happened?

TL     It has not been happening before, but it is happening now. We are waiting very eagerly to see what the future reports will be like.

POM     So on one track the NP and the government, its manoeuvres and changes in policy direction strategy, on another track what was going on within the ANC, how were you analysing this new posture of the government and what kind of conclusions would start leading the ANC to counter strategies towards these developments?

TL     At that time there was a fair amount of impatience. The point that I was making to you was the kind of analysis that we also were making inside the movement, but the most important thing for us was to be able not to go out ahead of everybody else.

POM     Who would everybody else be?

TL     The population and even the international community. Being close to the situation, there are certain things which we began to understand earlier than everybody else. We could not act on that unless we were sure that national and international opinion also has an understanding similar to what we have. That was the reason why, for instance, last year when Inkathagate was exposed and some people said we should suspend the talks, we said no, because the international community and national opinion had no reason at that stage to believe that de Klerk is not acting as he should act, so we had to give ourselves time to educate national and international opinion. Therefore we stayed on in the talks and moved ahead.

     We kept raising the question of violence month after month, but de Klerk was not acting. It was a legitimate thing, we understood long ago that the police were involved in this violence, but was that the understanding that the international community had? People in London and New York were told that the violence is between the Zulus and the Xhosas, and some between the ANC and Inkatha, that is what these guys were told. In the UK and US, people have been made to understand that there are only two tribal formations, the Zulus and the Xhosas, it was a revelation to many of them when I said there are nine tribal formations in our country, and although the Zulus are greater in numbers, they are ahead of the Xhosas by only some fraction of a million, they are ahead of the Southern Sothos by a fraction of about a million as well, and they are ahead of the Peli by about one comma something million. If you look at all of that, you can already see that the Xhosas and the Sothos put together are already by far more than the Zulus. But the image which was given to them is that the Zulus and the Xhosas are at war. Where are the Sothos, the Ndebeles, Tsongas, Vendas, Bapedi, Batswana, where are all these other tribal formations?

     So when you look at that situation, it became important that we have to take our time for the international community to be able to internalise the reality of the situation at home because people who are not living in this country don't see those realities, where are the Indian and Coloured sections, etc.? So the point which I am trying to make is we could not have had acted on the basis of our analysis at that time, because it needed international opinion about what was the reality of the situation at home. That was necessary even for the African countries. Then we went to CODESA and when CODESA 2 collapsed, on the basis that we were offering a Constituent Assembly adopting the constitution by two thirds majority, nobody could fault us for that stand. We were most reasonable and the government was demanding seventy five percent which, by any stretch of the imagination is unacceptable. That has helped to educate opinions about how is being sincere and who is not.

POM     And then you moved to even seventy percent.

TL     We had even offered seventy percent which they still refused to accept. Again each one of those steps was conveying a message to the international community; somebody is not being sincere, on the question of the violence, on the constitutional processes inside CODESA, on the interpretation of the violence question. Take Boipatong where people were slaughtered and, with a police force inside the country, nobody was arrested. Of course we had to suspend the talks, the international community could look back over a series of incidents which clearly laid out who was not playing ball. We could then leave the country, we were even giving them a chance, they said don't bring the international community in and we agreed to handle the problem together and when they ultimately failed we had legitimate grounds to then leave the country and go to the international community and say, "We would like your community (to help) because the situation has reached a crisis point." By then the NP itself could not complain because we had given them a chance, we had said they should go ahead and do it and we would co-operate, we have given them that co-operation. I feel that if we didn't act earlier, it is not as if we were not aware, but a case was building up and Boipatong was not the issue, it was the breaking point, the final catalyst. We had began to sense government reluctance and insincerity some time earlier.

POM     So your negotiators were already proceeding on the assumption, particularly in Working Group 2, that the government at some point would find a way to stall the process, to create a deadlock, etc.?

TL     There were times when we saw that they might stick to their position, that they might actually act firmly, but what was clear to us at that time, I don't think that we thought that the government would definitely go towards blockading it, the government had a misconception, I remember that in the analysis of this when ultimately we had broken the talks, because we had come out so strongly in favour of negotiations, the government came to the conclusion that they could sit next to us at the table during the day and at night do whatever they want to do, that we thought so highly of sitting next to them on the table that we would be reluctant to act against them decisively, and therefore they could go on and on. In the discussions we did make the point that we have given them a wrong impression, the impression that we want negotiations at any cost and that misconception had to go and certainly whilst the violence was on we said unless it stopped and unless they fulfilled some of the agreements which had been reached before, such as the release of political prisoners, we still had major problems. They had already offered to release them but were now trying to force a linkage. We wanted the negotiations to go on, we were not threatening them, but we began to sense this insincerity much earlier.

POM     What about what was going on - again we have heard a lot about the leadership of the ANC losing touch with the grassroots, not knowing what was going on and getting disaffected and many people saying that if the government had accepted the offer of seventy percent as veto threshold for a constitution, and seventy-five percent threshold for a bill of rights, that you may have had a real problem, you may have had a real problem selling this to the membership?

TL     I think what is true is that because of their involvement in the negotiation process, the level of interaction between the leadership and people on the ground was somewhat reduced, it was limited. Perhaps not sufficient time was devoted to briefing them as to where the process of negotiation was, and in some cases people had to depend on newspaper reports, which is not the right thing. I think that had the government accepted the seventy percent it was offered at that time, we would have been able to sell the matter to our membership. But at this stage, since the policy conference is behind us, the question of seventy percent is out, because we offered them seventy percent in a desperate attempt to save CODESA 2, even we were completely divided on that question. But we thought the process was so important that we swallowed blood and saliva together. When they refused, not only were we very much angered, but we were also grateful because it was a dangerous gamble. One thing that it did help to do was to show just how insincere the government is, we offered them 70% for the adoption of the constitution, but now they can forget about it. In fact they wanted that percentage in order to get a veto for the white section.

POM     Many people will argue that you came close to giving it to them, that in an election they and their allies could maybe cobble together thirty percent.

TL     Exactly, and what they were going to do with a percentage that high, they would have been able to fight and win a percentage in the Constituent Assembly that was going to be higher than thirty and then they would be able to block any clause they did not approve of, even if it was supported by a majority of sixty-nine percent or sixty-eight percent. Once you do that the veto is now with the minority and the majority is at the mercy of the minority.

POM     I was very surprised when I heard that you had offered the government seventy percent. Now the policy conference ...?

TL     The policy conference overruled us and said sixty-six comma seven percent across the board. Now we are tied to that, they allowed a golden opportunity to pass them by and they are not going to get it again.

POM     Is there a recognition of that in CODESA 2, that in the Charter of Principles there has been an agreement on a regional basis that the powers of the regions would be entrenched in the constitution and that at the policy conference, a resolution was passed that the powers of the regions would be devolved from parliament, because that is another thing that you are tied to. So there has been a significant simplifying, in a way, of the conditions under what you think must be discussed at negotiations when you get back there.

TL     What our policy conference said is that we are not averse to regional structures and federalism under less ... circumstances, but what we want to say is that such powers as will go to the regions must flow from the central government. There shouldn't be any hard and fast rules about this because you can vary the amount of these powers from time to time. The approach which is indicated by the regime and its supporters is that the regions must really be independent, or at least certain powers which cannot be interfered with by the central government must be conferred upon them, and that we find unacceptable. That is where the difference is. When we discussed the whole question of federalism with the other parties in CODESA, the terminology to agree on having a federal structure, there was no argument about whether there should be federalism or not, the difference was on the amount of powers given to central government and to the regions.

POM     Three last questions: (1) in a negotiating process there are some questions on which you make comprises very quickly, some on which you make compromises very slowly. What would be the one issue, when you go back to negotiations, on which you think you would be least able to compromise, comes close to being non-negotiable?

TL     I think the adoption of constitution by two-thirds, we are tied to that.

POM     Many people say that you can't have elections now because the level of violence and intimidation is too high, others say unless you have elections you are adding fuel to the fire of violence, you will even have more violence, do you believe that elections must be held, notwithstanding the fact that there may be violence?

TL     I think that elections must be held notwithstanding the fact that there may be violence. In any event, if you look at the Zimbabwean elections, there was a fair amount of violence during the course of that election, if you look at the Namibian election there was a fair amount of violence, much of it engineered by the state through their dirty tricks department. Elections by their very nature are a fairly emotional issue, so one is bound to find some levels of violence. But I think that we should hold an election. As soon as we have had elections, we will be in a position to introduce an interim government under which the control of the security forces, and therefore the containment of the violence will improve, the longer we leave the government in a situation in which it must tackle the question of the violence alone, the worse the situation will become because I can't see that there is anything the regime can do, it can't win the confidence of the black communities, the only way they can do this and win their co-operation thereby, will be to have an interim government of national unity in which there are parties from the black communities that people might feel that they can relate to.

POM     This must be an elected interim government?

TL     Certainly yes. So an election must be held, we need it. We shouldn't wait until the violence is over, it will not end.

POM     Do you think that the mass action stayaway was successful in the sense that it sent the SA government a message that the people stand behind you, you can bring this country to a standstill, and do you think it will make them more receptive with regards to getting back to the negotiating table and meeting the demands that you want met before you return?

TL     Whilst we were not calling people out onto the streets for action, the regime had began to develop these feelings, that we have lost our support hence the violence. So when we called this mass action, they were very curious to see what response we would get, in fact they thought we would not get any response from the communities whose support we claim. But the overwhelming support that our campaign attracted showed, once again that we continue to enjoy immense support within communities and that the government must really take us seriously because we are in a position to call out people one more time and again and again. We can mount those campaigns from time to time. So they know now that people may not be wearing ANC T-shirts because of the violence, but there is no doubt where they support lies, there is no doubt that their support is with us now.

POM     Do you think the government will act on that knowledge?

TL     They should.

POM     Has Buthelezi got the capacity to be a spoiler? He sits up there in Ulundi brooding and militant, making all kinds of noises about the Zulu nation being left out and that they won't be party to any agreement to which they were not a negotiator. Even if most of a restructured CODESA reaches agreement and he and the Zulu king are not a party to it, has he got the capacity to be a spoiler in the sense that he has sufficient power and resources to make Natal a war zone for years to come?

TL     I am of the opinion that he can cause some amount of trouble, but the point is that he has no support now, he has lost a lot of his support. He has lost so much of his support that we are actually worried that when we go into an interim government of national unity, he might not even get five percent.

POM     In Natal?

TL     Yes indeed and we are now worried that if he doesn't get a percentage that enables him to be part of an interim government then it will be much more problematic for us. So we accept that the baseline should be five percent for parties that will be in the interim government of national unity, but we are not sure that he will get five percent.

POM     Even in Natal?

TL     Yes. If he doesn't get five percent, we are even thinking of reducing the percentage to three, just to guarantee ourselves, to make sure that at least there are more parties in the interim government than just the ANC and the NP.

POM     Some would say that it is better to have somebody inside the tent pissing out rather than outside the tent pissing in. Thank you for your time.

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.