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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
24 Aug 1992: Botha, Pik
POM Mr. Minister, let me start with a question that is very much in your own province, and that is the debate at the UN Security Council on South Africa and perhaps the decisions by the Security Council of the United Nations to send some observers here for the mass action and then later make recommendations to the Secretary General to send 30 or 40 observers to SA. In the game of politics and the way these things are played, people look for winners and losers. How do you gauge the strength of SA, is it relative to what the ANC is looking for at the UN? Do you see that you came out of it as a relative winner, or you came out as a draw, or that the ANC came out not really getting what they went in looking for?
PB We didn't go in there to win. We didn't ask for the Security Council meeting, or indeed, strictly from a legal difficult point of view, you will find commentators who say that there was really no factual or legal basis for the Security Council to discuss SA. If you look at the Charter of the UN, you will see under what circumstances the Security Council are to act, and it can best be described or summarised on a concept of a threat to peace, and 'threat to peace' is the key phrase. There ought to be some factual basis that somewhere in the world there is a looming threat to peace. That is really the fundamental basis for the Security Council, for them to meet and to recommend measures. Two forms of measures, the one is called peaceful measures and the other one is enforcement measures, where the Security Council can recommend even military action.
PB But you know for so many years under apartheid, we objected to just about every debate in the UN family, there are a large number, as you know, of committees, sub-committees, special committees, and a lot of the work of the UN over the years was devoted or spent on apartheid. I think it will be interesting just to go and look at how many resolutions, time, money, effort went into the combating of apartheid. Be that as it may, we used to rely on Article 2, paragraph 7 of the Charter, which prohibits the UN from interfering into the internal affairs/domestic affairs of a member state. That did not help us. Over the years that attitude, if anything, that attitude encouraged intervention because with that kind of attitude, however legally correct it might be, the person using it is almost saying, 'look, don't investigate me, I am guilty, I have something to hide', that is normally the psychological result of trying to hide behind a paragraph of that nature.
Also, I personally learnt quite a few lessons, particularly in your discipline. As a young diplomat in Stockholm, Sweden, I was there when I was 24 years old, when I was first posted abroad my first post was Stockholm where you had a particularly aggressive and hostile place. The Swedes went for us in a big way for various reasons. One being that they had a number of people who were feeding the Swedish press with information, unfortunate sometimes, distorted and inadequate, but nevertheless information. And they had a very, very well known person, most Swedes who are 40 years or older will know about this man, he was called Professor Tingsten. He was the Editor of ... very well known, perhaps the best of Swedish journalism. I couldn't for the life of me, coming from SA as a young man and being exposed to this really vicious assault every day, virtually everyday in the newspapers, with the reporting also of racial connotation in SA. It was all, of course, true. A white sailor on a ship in Durban, or Cape Town harbour being caught sleeping, or having sexual intercourse with a black girl or coloured girl, arrested. That was headlines! Of course it was true, it was true, the incident occurred. But for the Swedish public and I think, the public in most other parts of the world, they could hardly think of anything more shocking or reprehensible. That a person is arrested for committing an act like sexual intercourse, merely because of the colour of your skin, in other words if it is black and black, or white and white then it is OK, you can hardly think of something more immoral, or I cannot.
Now that is on the one side, but on the other hand, they also represented the objectives of the government of the day in a distorted way. At that time, the NP was struggling with the concept of granting full independence to those entities in this country who would wish to opt for it. It was not yet the policy, and this was 1957. It was at that stage, the so called homelands were homelands but without even that prospect of ever becoming totally independent, in other words, it was not accepted that you could have a black president or a black government, black judges, you see what I mean, on a par with a white government, thus creating, at least from a moral point of view, equality.
When I went to see Professor Tingsten, we had a discussion, he knew our history very well, and he said to me, "The problem is you are a minority, you have always been a minority and you are going to remain a minority", and he said to me, "That is true, that is the one factor which is permanent. That means, in terms of your present policy, you are going to suppress permanently the equal political participation of all your people, and you are going to govern a majority based on race, colour."
I then said to him, "Professor you are making a mistake, I predict to you that those black entities or communities who would wish to opt for independence would get it, one day it would come about". He said to me, "Mr. Botha, is that your government's policy". I said, "Not yet", then he said, "If you tell me that is your government's policy, I promise I will publish it in the editorial tomorrow supporting the moral principle of it. I would support the moral principle because at least they would be a number of entities, equal as far as their right to choose their governments are concerned. Can I publish it?" I said, "No you can't." That was in 1957. In the 1960s, almost eight years later, it became government policy, but then it was too late, too late.
Then the moral principle, the moral objectives which was for Professor Tingsten acceptable, had been discredited as a result of the introduction of further laws of discrimination and that basic principle of equality in governing yourself voluntarily and freely on par, was eroded, was overruled by the application and introduction in SA of so many laws of a racial connotation, that there was no way you could then rescue any morality any more that was in it. This was one severe lesson.
The other one was when we won the World Court case in The Hague. I was a member of our legal team. The judgement was on 18 July 1966 and we won, against the expectations of everyone. Why do I say this? A few days before the judgement was delivered, the American Embassy here, I know this is not really known but I might as well make it known, delivered an aide memoir, saying to the SA government, "We want to warn you that you had better comply with the judgement that is coming." That was the tone of it. The implication was that if you don't, in terms of the Charter of the UN, a state participating in litigation, which is different from an appeal, there are two proceedings in the World Court, litigation where a state can litigate against another state, and there is a second type of procedure where an agency of the UN or a structure of the UN can ask a legal opinion of the court, that is not binding, but the judgement in litigation in contentious proceedings, that is binding on the parties, and if a party does not comply once a judgement goes against it, then the Security Council has the right and authority to act directly.
POM The issue before the court was?
PB Ethiopia and Liberia brought the case against us.
PB Ethiopia and Liberia, on behalf of the African states, on Namibia, which was then South West Africa. Well, in effect saying that we had applied apartheid. If you analyse the merits of that case, the merits of that case were that the norm and or standards came into being internationally, the allocation of any rights, obligations, privileges on the basis of membership in a race group, class, sex or what have you, was such a law that had come into being, I don't want to bore you, but international law comes into being either through treaty or by conventions or multi-lateral treaties which then bind all the participating states within the domain and arena of that particular convention, or through usage that the ... eventually became an offence internationally. It is a typical example of how usage, when virtually just about every state says, look, we are now against that, you can act against it, then in that way you can have what we call a means for creating the dynamic way 'mural', but otherwise normally, your international legal experts will tell you, that that seldom happens, the state is really only bound by what it agrees to.
Our contention in the world court was to show:
a. that our opponents had the wrong perception of the policies in the territory, that they were intended to be in the interests of all the people;
b. secondly, in any case such a legal norm never came into being and we could produce evidence of many cases from the Moslem states right through to the former Soviet Union constitution, which we studied. e studied just about every phenomenon in the world in this field, which was a very, very interesting and enriching experience.
Be that as it may, the court eventually decided on 18th July, that Ethiopia/Liberia had no interest in the substance of that land, they had no legal interest and therefore the court rejected their claims. It was only because of that that we won.
I very well remember shortly thereafter Dr. Verwoerd was assassinated but the legal team had then to go to the General Assembly of the United Nations because it was havoc. A tremendous emotional outburst took place particularly amongst the African nations of the General Assembly. Some of them even demanded that all the judges who voted, according to them the wrong way, should be dismissed. Every five years a number of judges are elected there in order to keep the continuation. You could see also that the judges that were elected during that session were virtually appointees, but that is a side issue.
As we proceeded with the political debate there in the UN it became clear to me that even if you have the best legal case and a bad political one, there is no hope of winning. Secondly, if you have a good political case, a very good political case, no legal argument can save you, and it was as simple as that. Our opponents had a good political case being on the moral high ground.
POM So you feel that when you went to the UN that this debate had a good legal case and also a good political case?
PB We thought so. We thought that the result of the international court of justice would somehow assist us in also now making out a case for not interfering any further and to let the government's policies be tested and practised, and that is the mistake we made. There was no-one who would even accept the court's judgement because a little later, two years later, the General Assembly asked the World Court, which was then reconstituted for an opinion, which opinion went badly against us. We won the match in a world forum, but it is a legal one. That taught me the second big lesson.
So what are the two lessons, the one is, if you have a defensible policy morally speaking, introduce it immediately and unconditionally; secondly, there is no way for a government to hide behind legal technicalities or even legal victories when you are in default politically.
POM How would you apply those two lessons to the recent UN debate and subsequent actions?
PB Just before we get to that, that made it clear to me, I entered politics after these events in the World Court and my first what we call 'maiden speech' in parliament was based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and I urged the government then, that was in 1970, to subscribe to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which unfortunately created a furore within the ranks of the National Party.
The then Minister of Foreign Affairs raised his repudiation in parliament and, I think for about two years, no member in parliament or the NP spoke to me or my wife. But I didn't mind because I had learnt my lessons and I knew that it was inevitable. I hope I don't sound arrogant, but I knew it was absolutely inevitable that sooner or later the government would have to change its policy. There was that thing about the permanent majority in your midst. The lesson of the World Court, the fact that only eight years later did we get to that policy which Tingsten told me, eight years earlier, he was prepared to defend if it was implemented, all of this put together convinced me that this was the way to go and I hope in my own way, I did try in 1974 when I was appointed Ambassador to the UN. I was, ironically, the last SA representative that addressed the General Assembly of the UN in 1974, when they rejected my credentials. But luckily in the Security Council that does not apply. There you are invited to speak or are allowed to speak. I was given I think two minutes to make the last SA statement in the General Assembly, ever since the board is there for SA, but without an incumbent.
PB What has this done? To me, in the course also, historical course of events, I think it stood well realised that what retarded, delayed the dramatic changes was the Soviet Union in the regional conflict in Southern Africa. This is really very important. You will immediately grasp this. When Dr. Chester Crocker and I met in Geneva in March 1988, Reagan had eight months to go. No-one at that stage could predict what the outcome would be of the presidential elections in the US. Mr. Dukakis was a candidate and originally very much liked. He never had the lead. A lot of it goes back to those days. I asked Chester Crocker, "Do you think that the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan is genuine, can we rely on it?" because that was the first withdrawal in a series to come, hopefully their withdrawal from the Southern Africa conflict would be next. If I could rely on that in my planning we could speed up the independence process for Namibia/South West Africa, and if on top of it you could get the Cuban troop withdrawal from Angola, you would remove 50 000+ heavily armed troops with their equipment, with radar equipment and equipment that was some of the best Soviet war machines, including aircraft. Their aircraft, technically, were better than ours. If that could happen, I could then at that stage foresee a totally new development in South Africa. Because if you could remove that tension created by that fear, I said to myself it would be easier to persuade the whites of this country to accept greater changes.
PB He said to me at that stage, no-one could tell. Then we agreed that alright, we are going to go ahead, we are going to use the few months that Reagan is still there, to go and think out, to see whether we could get an agreement on the assumption that the Soviet withdrawal was genuine and therefore on the assumption that other withdrawals would also come into being, and it is that assumption that enabled us to sign on 22 December 1988, of all places at the UN, the agreements that provided for the implementation of the independence process for SWA and a schedule for Cuban troop withdrawal. The Cubans are back in Cuba today. Namibia, I was there last week Friday, it is peaceful, it is stable, it is going well.
What does that do? That enabled us in fact to take a very, very, very new serious look at where we were going, and those of us who insisted all along in change I think our hands were very, very much strengthened by the implementation of that resolution.
PB What did this do to the world? For the first time in decades there was an immediate softening of attitudes in the US against SA. The industrialised states immediately showed a changed attitude. I succeeded exactly then, to take PW Botha. In 1988? Yes it was him. It was his last visit abroad. Yes. Or was it the beginning of 1989? I am not quite sure, but be that as it may, no, no, it was the Nkomati Accord. I used the Nkomati Accord to take the former President abroad. But the Nkomati Accord did not get off the ground. Now came this one, and this one did it.
Governments, after the signing of those peace accords, governments were prepared to say, "Well, well, well, maybe we can trust them after all", there was still severe suspicion, but that set in motion and prepared the stage for President De Klerk, in my opinion, or rather for his announcements to have so much greater effect. His announcements were made against the background of what had happened in Namibia, which was generally accepted as genuine, sincere. It went a long way in assisting to restore credibility. So that when his announcements were then made in 1990 the ground work was done. Before you plant, you prepare the ground, that was already done. That work was already done, the ploughing and the cultivating of the ground, which I think then enabled us to move much faster. It was a tremendous experience for our President to be present at the independence day of Namibia, that evening, he received as much applause as Mr. Sam Nujoma, the new President. These are the things I look for, because this is real. The way people react is to a large extent a safe barometer.
POM Did you then find that subsequently that some of that trust which had been adopted now had been dissipated with the revelations of the covert funding of Inkatha?
PB No. Well because it was never, with all respect the amounts involved, your governments abroad have and had intelligent services and spent some funds of covert operations and so on. It was never a big deal, even in the ranks of the ANC, they knew it. They used it, with all respect, to a large extent as propaganda. It was never a big deal, it never got off the ground. I personally addressed an international press conference, it fell flat within an hour, I hope I don't sound arrogant, but that is a fact, and within weeks you never ... everyone and then someone would still refer to it but people were not talking about it any more. It is not a vehicle that got started.
POM How much time do I have.
PB Around 20 minutes.
POM We've only done the first question.
PB No, no, we can carry on. We must use this document, it is important. To round that off, it was the way it was portrayed, as if we, on a massive scale had bought Inkatha, and the intelligences of other governments knew the truth and they knew that was not the truth. It was a pittance. I paid, not Inkatha, but the organisers of a rally, on the basis of a memorandum prepared by my department, not me, it was not even a political decision.
The way it works here is my department will prepare a memorandum and say to me, "Look, we are making progress as far as combating sanctions are concerned and this perception that blacks are for sanctions, we must combat that, the polls show that it is not true that the majority of blacks are in favour of sanctions, the polls show the opposite. There was going to be this rally and to us it did not matter what rally it was, as long as it was a relatively large black rally and they were prepared, they said they were going to make an anti-sanctions rally, so we paid for posters, for tents, toilets, etc., and absolutely in line with this department's way of circumventing sanctions, and this was our opponents' right to blow this up. It is a bird that never flew.
POM Is this also with respect with the money that went into Namibia?
PB The same. It is dead. There is no-one in Namibia who is bothered about it? Why basically? The ANC and SWAPO over the years received hundreds of millions which was never accounted for, never. Hundreds of millions. A member of the ANC has as a matter of fact warned his colleagues that, "You carry this too far and it runs eventually into an investigation by an impartial committee, if we must start accounting for the millions that we have got from Western governments, churches and whatever sources, where do you think we will land?" It is not an issue, nowhere, it was never an issue.
When I revealed that we spent money in Namibia, a very prominent Western ambassador smiled, and said, "Mr. Minister, do you think we did not know it?" All of them knew it. The only surprise was that they thought we spent more, and some of them also spent money, or some part, they also knew it. It was not an issue.
POM I am asking it in the context of when it comes to a future election here, that the ANC and others will argue that the SA government can't be trusted to have a fair and free election, administer a free and fair election, and they will point to interference in the Namibian election, where you were the administrators of the election, so they would be calling for, perhaps, more involvement of the UN.
PB That is a totally different situation. Namibia was never part of South Africa, even though we have the right to administer it, it was never part of the Republic of South Africa's sovereign area, and the parties there said, "Look, SWAPO received millions", which is a fact. Hundreds of millions. Go and see what SWAPO bought there when they said free and election, democratic elections and the circumstances were, we must face this giant, which can buy buildings cash for 20 billion and put into the field, I don't know how many thousands of organisers and workers and T-shirts and have parties and rallies. Is that a free and fair election? That is what it was about. Why don't you try to investigate what funds SWAPO had available, and what funds the other parties had available, it would be a very interesting exercise indeed.
POM Let me not deviate from your getting to the present involvement of the UN as a result of the debate at the UN in July. The original question was, did you come out of that with - I was present at a press conference where you went through the report, was the government satisfied.
PB Oh yes, I have said so, I have said so, that is why I have taken you a little bit back in history. Let's do it, let us take a typical resolution of the Security Council in the past, and I addressed that Council seven times years ago when I was Ambassador and later when I was Minister, there was total condemnation of the South African government, total, unconditional condemnation.
Now, we already have two resolutions, not only are they the most positive that were ever passed since the inception of the UN, these two are the most positive resolutions from the South African government's point of view ever passed by a body of the United Nations. No condemnation, moderate terms, no apportionment of blame on the government or any specific party, urging all the parties to get back to the negotiating forum. As I said no apportioning of blame for the violence but urging all the parties to work together to curb the violence. The authorisation to send observers was not new because, while Mr. Vance was here, we agreed during the mass action campaign already, that there could be UN observers here. They played, as far as I am concerned, a useful role. Indeed, in the case of the Ciskei, where I was confronted with a very critical situation with the mass march by the ANC into the Ciskei approaching the government buildings, and my representative phoning me and said, "Minister, they are marching and near the government buildings the troops and the police of the Ciskei government are waiting for them. They are going to walk into gunfire." I said how much time did we have and my men said 15 to 20 minutes. In those 15 to 20 minutes I had to send one of my officials who was there to the marchers to go to Mr. Chris Hani and to appeal to him to stop the march and telephone me. And the United Nations man there, Mr. Jose Compino, assisted in persuading Mr. Hani to stop the march and to go to a nearby hotel, the Amatola Sun, and he phoned me.
This started a process that afternoon, which enabled us, not just me, I succeeded in contacting Mr. Ramaphosa and asked him to speak to Mr. Hani who was still at the hotel. This set in motion a process which then lasted an hour and a half, and in that hour and a half, we diffused, I believe, together, not just me, a very critical and inflammable situation, where at one stage I was convinced that the killing of people that afternoon was almost inevitable. And that was staved off, and I am very grateful for the co-operation I received from the side of the ANC.
I am mentioning this to you actually to say to you that when this last resolution was passed by the Security Council, we already had a positive impression about the role UN observers can play here, particularly if they work closely with the internal structures that we created, like the Goldstone Commission as well as the National Peace Accord Secretariat.
One of the UN observers, or the man in charge of the UN observers, when taking leave and saying goodbye to us, said to our President, in my presence, "The UN learned a few lessons as well, and the most important is that, if you have inside a country a National Peace Accord, like the one you have, you don't need so many people." His words were, "Ten of them, ten UN observers did more here than 5000 troops in some other areas of the world because of these structures created by all the parties." This is important, also that both Security Council resolutions, 765 and 772 give full credit, indeed, are in favour of strengthening these internal structures. That again says to me very much vis-à-vis, that the traditional supporters of the NP who would be inclined to be against anything that happens in the UN, whether we like it or not. We are talking now of perceptions and historical perceptions that must be changed, and that is, of course, very difficult to change the hearts and minds of some people. But once you have exercises of this nature, as we have had, it makes it easier. It was therefore much easier to say immediately the sceptics must welcome these observers.
So, we did not go in there to win. I am happy, I am at least, very satisfied with the wording, tone and the provisions of the two Security Council decisions. It is clear to me the Security Council does not want to become directly involved in this country, they are not interfering, they are not telling government that, look, you had better comply with the 14 demands of the ANC. It says all the parties must get back. It says, CODESA, for all its faults or inadequacies, was a good beginning. We agree. It says they are going to send observers who will work closely with the internal structures. It urges all parties to strengthen these internal structures and the government is completely prepared and ready and able to acquiesce its funding, its staffing etc.
PB There is another, I think potentially very effective provision, and that is the one saying there should be flashpoints in the black townships up to of up to 24 hours functioning, manned or staffed by Inkatha, at least Inkatha, ANC, government, with a direct line or communication to police units, so that within those townships, the people, irrespective of their political leaders, know that there is the place. Indeed I went as far as to suggest to the UN people that were here, I said why don't you fly advertisers ... what do you call them? They look like these old ...
POM Yes, I know what you are talking about.
PB I think that went down. It had a name, Zepelins ... about 5 - 8 and say this is the National Peace Accord permanent office, so that everyone will know, there it is and I can run in there, day or night and complain. It is like a port, a harbour and rescue place, where everybody ... that in itself will bring about greater security. So, look at all these positive provisions that we now have. I would like all parties, and I am glad now that the ANC also welcomed the resolution, so it would seem that the resolution itself is not a bone of contention, which is a very positive further development. As long as all of us now implement it.
PB I am not giving you actually what you asked for, but I thought it is important that you have some of the background.
POM I was struck at your press conference, at the very end of it, somebody asked, in a half joking way, whether you would be looking for amnesty yourself, you kind of responded laughingly and then you said, 'Hey, I have spent all my life fighting apartheid." I understand some of that now from what you have said with regards to your actions at the UN and in parliament when nobody at the NP was speaking to you for two years. But, I would like to ask you about that. Then I would like to ask you about amnesty and disclosure, the principles involved and then about whether you think apartheid was wrong and that the government collectively owes or should make an apology to black people for the wrongs that were inflicted on them during apartheid, and that this is a necessary part of reconciliation. That acknowledgement of the past is the beginning of reconciliation. That struck me in a way because of the manner in which the ANC were behaving during the whole brouhaha about the national anthem. They wanted to punish.
PB With all respect, I am looking for breakthroughs in terms of negotiations. We must bury the past together in order to build the future together. If we start digging into the past to seek out the wrongs, first of all where do you end, where do you end? You must not forget apartheid was not practised in the rest of Africa, now to what do you ascribe that? The retrogression in the rest of Africa, you can't ascribe it to apartheid. I think it was wrong, yes. How else could I have asked this government in 1970 to subscribe to the Universal Declaration of Human rights, how else could I have delivered the speech in 1974 at the United Nations in the Security Council? It is on record that I could not defend discrimination based on the colour of a person's skin, and why did the former State President, repudiate in public, in parliament in front of the whole world, for saying that this country could have a black president?
POM But do you think that the concept of separate development was well intentioned and is something that went wrong? As distinct from apartheid laws, the concept of separate development was well intentioned but it did not work.
PB It is not only that. But the application lacked a moral basis, there was no way, as I said to you earlier, that I or any of my representatives could defend the arrest of a white sailor who had slept with a black woman. There was just no way.
You take the pass laws, we can have a debate on that. You will have perhaps an expert saying, look it was a good thing to restrict the influx of unskilled workers to the urban areas because they would rob the settled inhabitants of their jobs and a steady rise in their wages. We can argue about it. We can argue about that specific objective as saying that in itself is not immoral. For instance, if we might have up to 2 million foreign workers in our country at the present moment, I don't think you will find much opposition to any idea of curbing the influx across our borders of foreigners taking jobs of our own black people, I don't think you will find many people who say it is immoral to try and preserve the jobs of your own people, charity begins at home. It is the way it was applied, this is the point. The way it was applied was cruel and indefensible and that is where the problem lies.
For me, the most important form of apology lies in the fact that the government totally and completely changed. That is the greatest admission that it was wrong.
POM But the blacks would say they have never heard that.
PB I have said it.
POM What white SA is saying is, OK, it has abolished apartheid laws, together we must build a new future and we must forget about the past.
PB But what else can we do? We cannot recover the past, there is no way. If you have a way, tell me.
POM Maybe it is just for the government collectively to say we were wrong and we are sorry.
PB It was said over and over again. There are also things wrong with the ANC. You cannot solely ... and then hide your own wrongs because somebody else committed sins and wronged. That does not make your own wrongs good. That is the point I am making. Yes, I say it was wrong, and I have said so and there is my record. The whole public crier is on record, and what I said is recorded in the UN, it is recorded in the annals of parliament, it is recorded in the many, many newspapers of this country.
What this country now needs is a new spirit. There are whites who died as a results of bombs. Do you give apartheid the blame, or do you blame the person who planted the bomb? Just as I thought that apartheid was wrong and reprehensible, I also find it reprehensible to kill innocent people for political purposes. It is also reprehensible and there should be a way out in circumstances of that nature.
PB What I take as amiss, is that those of us who battled against apartheid, and remember the NP did allow me to remain, otherwise I would have been kicked out, I was over the line with that last remark on the black president, the former state president said to me, in front of a full Cabinet meeting, that he did not think I could survive politics, and I did, because of relative support within the party. Now is that wrong too? How else could you have ended apartheid? I mean, I devoted virtually all my life to the creation of Accords, the Nkomati Accord is there, it is not my fault that it did not work, the whole world's imagination was ready, and the whole world's surprise was there at the time, with telegrams pouring in from President Reagan and every head of government and state urging us to encouraging us for such a wonderful accord. Now I am taking you back to 1984.
The adoption of Resolution 435 on Namibia, I battled for months to get the Cabinet to approve of it. I battled for years to get the negotiating process of Namibia going and with the assistance of the United States and others, and I would wish to call a balance of interests, a point of balance of interests, either Castro is going to introduce another 10 000 troops and we so many more troops and so many more would be killed and no-one would come out of it, but all would be losers in the end. It was that realisation, if you would have asked me two years before those talks started whether I would ever find myself in a room sitting next to a Cuban, negotiating a deal, I would have thought that you don't know what was going on in this country. But we did it, and I wish to apply these lessons of the past. I want to apply the lessons of the past to the future in order to help us to build and go forward.
If we remain in the past, you might have people who are waiting for those who planted the Pretoria bomb, to sue them severally, the laws can make it possible, unless we, as the government, make the law, and I think we have done so, make it impossible for an individual ANC member for having killed his father, or a wife, for having killed her husband and breadwinner. Where is the end of this, where are we going to end? It was wrong, it is accepted, we will not debate it. We need now to trust each other to build a new future in the line of a new world order which is coming into being.
PB I am concerned not only about SA, my concern is the whole of Africa, and particularly Southern Africa and, with all respect, I happen to know what is going on in the thinking of Americans, of Japanese industrialists and European industrialists and politicians. Even in Europe, the Socialist party, who are now more Social Democrats of course, but I happen to know how they view Africa now. I happen to know how they see Africa's prospects of surviving, and there is a new form of racism and prejudice in the word 'marginalisation'.
PB Not only do they say this continent is doomed and will soon be marginalised, which means it will wink out of existence industrially speaking, technologically speaking, socially, economically and politically speaking, that is what is going on in the world. That is the debate that goes on behind the scenes, it might not be the quorum but you know, as well as I do. I am saying, well, there it is. If you look at the statistics produced by UN agents in SA, it is a dismal dark, almost forsaken and lost picture. That means that we in Southern Africa, and I have started this vision years ago, 2 - 4 years ago, when I started to look beyond apartheid and say to myself, the only to save this place is not only to get rid of the rule of apartheid, yes definitely, but thereafter, what then? What do we do then, the country is reasonably well developed, it has good infrastructure, so has Namibia and Zimbabwe. So the hard core of this huge Southern Africa, and there 110 million people, which accounts for quite a large internal market first of all, but with the new world order coming into being, they are going to demand multi-party systems, democracy. They are going to demand certain constitutional principles, like freedom of speech, freedom of religion, a market orientated economic system. So to me, the fear of an individual party, is not great. An individual party trying to do things against this current of world norms and standards. No party is going to be allowed, neither our party, nor the ANC, nor a combination of the two, we will simply get no investments, there will simply be no economic growth and whoever is governing the country will have to account to the people of this country in the long run.
The people of this country would say, look, you have now been in power for two years or so, we have fewer jobs, we are more ill, there are worse hospital and medical services, kick them out. I predict that is what is going to happen to a few of the old timers in Africa. I predict they are going to be kicked out by the new world order, working through the people in those countries, saying that we have had enough of this.
POM One last question. The ANC would say that in terms of diplomacy, in terms of from February 1990 up until Boipatong, that de Klerk took the international scene by storm. He went to Russia, he was seen as a man of great reform, he was a man who was leading the initiatives towards a new SA, in many ways eclipsing Mr. Mandela. You gained new footholds in countries, your success in getting sanctions abated. Then came Boipatong and the break off in negotiations where the ANC made an offer of 70% veto threshold for a constitution, that the attitude is changing and that they are beginning to regain the initiative in the international arena.
From your ambassadors, just from their diplomatic work around the world, what is your reading of where the government is positioned with regards to (a) its insistence that negotiations are the only way forward; (b) that it won't give in to ANC demands and allow itself to be influenced by mass action activities. That in a way it is digging in its heels a bit.
PB Digging of heels. Of course be open, I also have demands, but I prefer the word proposals. We want a market orientated economic system, we want a strong Bill of Rights for individual human rights to be well protected and guaranteed. We want a strong federal system in this country.
You have never heard us say to the ANC that unless you agree beforehand to these proposals of ours we are not going to talk to you again. We could. We have never said to them, unless you break your alliance with the Communist Party we are not going to talk you. We might even have strong support for such a view. The greatest irony is when a Soviet television interview asked me last Thursday, in this building, of all questions he asked me the question, how come, that only in SA, there is still a Communist Party? A Soviet, or rather Russian interviewer asked me that question. I believe the ANC is wrong in what they are doing here, I know that there are within their midst moderates who agree with me, who see the negotiating table as the only solution, who will realise that our situation is too complex, it is too diversified to deal with things simply in terms of a strong central government, governing centrally and planning the economy centrally. It is not going to work.
PB The mistake that I think is being made here by some commentators, but here again I believe governments luckily know what is going on here, they know that there is an Inkatha who want an even stronger federal state, who want even more increased majorities to change the constitution, and that my government is actually playing a moderating role. Luckily these facts are now known and they therefore know that we are doing our best. Naturally the violence is the worst thing that could have hit us but I think it is also known that the government as a government is not involved at all, that we are making strenuous efforts. It was its initiative to bring about the National Peace Accord, it was us who received Cyrus Vance here, and we were the first to accept the Security Council's resolutions. These are the parameters within which we are going to work, not with the demands and propaganda of any individual political party.
POM Do you find that international support for the government is higher than it was before the ANC embarked on this moral ...?
PB I say support, sympathy and understanding. Sympathy, otherwise you would not have had that Security Council resolution. And after all, we are in touch with just about all the governments in the world today, and I do have to take in African states, and some of the most important African states, they also talk to us. There is, I can say to you, there is a general disillusionment, if there is such a word, amongst some of our neighbouring states with the ANC's work. I haven't gone public, I can go public on this. It seems to me, when we are talking to each other, that they detect a certain arrogance in the ranks of the ANC when the ANC addresses them. They are beginning to fear what will happen to them. One of them asked what will happen to their workers working here, will they be kicked out? They are asking me, what about that Trade Agreement giving us most favourable nation treatment in terms of which we can sell our cotton, we can sell our tobacco, where we have no other markets in the world, can sell our tea? Have we guarantees that that will last? We have joint projects, in terms of which we and certain of our neighbouring states will build power stations, of soda-ash producing plants, running into billions, what about the future prospects of those, will it last, will it be carried out?
Do you know how many of their Executive are communists? You don't because they refuse to publish their names, out of fear that the black public, inter alia, would immediately see who is running, to a large extent, the ANC. I sincerely believe that attempts are being made to isolate Mr. Mandela and to feed him with distorted information. I really believe that, which is a pity because it does not matter what you say, this country at best, this is the best scenario, will be governed jointly. I also sincerely believe, the polls show, that a vast majority of blacks also, though supporting the ANC, are in fact in favour of a joint system of government, at least for a time to end the violence, to get investments, to get economic growth, to get more jobs for the people.
POM So you are not saying that is a permanent arrangement? That is an arrangement that should last for a period.
PB It should last long enough to bring stability here and a perception of stability abroad. I predict to you, once a joint successful government has succeeded in bringing money, jobs, stability, end to the violence, then it does not matter even if we, say for instance, we become a majority party which I say to you is not out of the question. I am saying this to you, today. I have experienced some of it now, after addressing a Coloured audience last week and after attended the National Youth Congress, where the audience was Coloured and black. I would like us, as a majority party still to govern with other parties, because I know this is what we need, and I know this is what a majority of South Africans want us to do.
POM On the way out of the door, would you answer the last question, which is: I have often felt that the deadlock or breakdown happened because over the two and a half years I have heard two different languages being spoken, that the language of the ANC is the language that this process is about the transfer of power, and the language of the government, the NP, has been this is a process about the sharing of power.
PB It is not only there you make a mistake, I urge you please, I urge you to concentrate to a larger extent, I know it comes out that way when you hear it, but it is not just the government and the ANC. You will be surprised how we are tied down also by black parties. Believe me, you think that the whole issue of federalism - Mr. Mandela himself told a friend of mine that he is under severe pressure, also from homeland governments that support the ANC politically, but not on federalism. It is not that simple. When the government therefore says, we are in favour of federalism, it is not the government versus ANC. It is the government plus 6 - 8 other groups and groupings with mainly black supporters. Check it out. I didn't give you a complete answer on amnesty, let me round it off by saying ...
POM Let me give you the question I really want to ask you. The ANC would argue that when their exiles, their people abroad, that when they applied for indemnity, that they had to list the activities they had been involved in that would be construed to be a crime or against the laws of the state and indemnity would be granted against prosecution for those faults. They say a similar process should apply to people in the state in they committed crimes, indemnity and amnesty would be given but they should acknowledge acts which should be prosecuted.
PB Yes, I am very much aware of this. But then we will deal with all the crazies in exactly the same manner. All those exiles received a legal guarantee, not a political guarantee, a legal one, which makes it impossible for the Attorney General ever to use any of that information against them, ever.
POM This applied in the case of?
PB Let us talk about it, let us discuss it, this is what we wanted to discuss. My interest was in a general amnesty. This is the point I am trying to make. If you really want to wipe the slate clean, within the ranks of the ANC, Govan Mbeki sat here in this office when we discussed this that evening, from 5 o'clock to 11 o'clock. He said to me, as I am talking to you, "I have not even received a permanent amnesty, mine is renewed every semester." He said, "For heavens sake let us bury the past properly" I sincerely believe it will bring about greater security within the security forces, there are not so many that I think are involved, but they are a fraternity, and the same applies to all fraternities also in the ranks of the ANC.
I look at what is hampering the negotiating process on the new constitution, this is hampering it. As long as you have police or defence force people or ANC people or PAC or APLA, or AWB, fearing that at some future point they might be delivered, revenge might be taken, because in the ranks you will have ANC members saying, alright, Mbeki might say I never authorised anybody to use a tyre and petrol to kill someone. Correct. But his followers might have interpreted things they said at their conventions as if that kind of activity might be included in the armed struggle. The politicians took decisions. The ANC was the enemy and the terrorists, there were laws against them. Individual policemen might have interpreted their brief against that background. So it is perhaps easy for politicians on both sides today to say what good boys they were. It is a different matter if you were on the ground level doing the job and had to do it in the light of the political decisions which prevailed. That is why I say, all of us, and perhaps the ANC more than the security forces, can only gain from a general amnesty. Let us get this over so that we can go and sit at the table, at least with one major obstacle removed from the agenda and from our minds and our hearts, and that is the way to build the nation.
POM Can I come back and see you at Christmas?