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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.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: Mufamadi, Sydney
POM Sydney, a good place to start might be with the National Pace Accord. I remember when I visited you last year you were involved in very tense negotiations about the Peace Accord itself and it was signed with great fanfare in September yet this last year has been the single bloodiest year in South Africa's recent history at least. Has the Accord been ineffective, are it's structures not strong enough or is it a case of the people at the top agree with something but it is very difficult to get it translated into acceptance by people on the ground?
SM When the National Peace Accord was signed in September last year we had hoped that because when we signed the Peace Accord we went beyond condemning the incidents of violence which keep on occurring in the country but we worked out mechanisms to maintain our agreement. Those mechanisms are in the form of the structures which were formed throughout the country, what we call Regional Dispute Resolution Committees. We also have Local Dispute Resolution Committees, there is the Goldstone Commission of Enquiry into incidents of violence, there is a Police Board, national structures, national committee and so on. All these structures were set up in terms of the National Peace Accord.
Of course violence continues to take place notwithstanding the efforts that people are making within these structures to stem this violence. We are in the process of having a look at the entire peace process, looking at the structures which we have on the ground, looking at the Peace Accord itself to see whether there are measures that we can take to reinforce the structures and therefore reinforce the effort that we are making. But it has become very clear to us that local structures alone will not be in a position to effectively stop the violence. This explains why the President of the ANC last month went to the UN Security Council to implore the international community to intervene in the situation. It became necessary in particular in view of the fact that if one looks at all the matters germane to the issue of violence, not all of them are within the competence of the Peace Accord structures.
For example, the role of the security forces in the whole problem of violence. Prior to the unbanning of the ANC and other organisations, those within the South African Police and the South African Defence Force, they had what they called 'special forces'. Those are units which had to do with what they called counter-insurgency. Those forces have not disappeared as a result of the unbanning of organisations and the new political climate in the country. But we are talking about forces who were orientated and trained over a long period of time to fight against what was then defined as the enemy. No wonder, therefore, you still have problems like allegations which we continue to make, which we are able to back up with evidence, of police and security forces complicity in the violence.
POM As you say you can back this up with evidence, why did the Goldstone Commission say there was no direct evidence of any link between the violence and the government or Inkatha or the security forces?
SM No, Goldstone said, that was in the wake of the Boipatong massacre, Justice Goldstone said people should not make public accusations about what we were alleging what was police involvement in the violence because he said at that stage that no evidence had been put before the commission. Now you know that the commission then went into the business of conducting an enquiry and he must have seen the evidence, so he was saying that it was premature at that point.
POM I'll take you back to what you were saying, that you had direct evidence of the complicity by the security forces in the violence.
SM Yes, if you look at, say, the Trust Feed massacre case where today there are members of the SAP who are sitting in prison as a result of them having tried to cover up the involvement not only just of certain people but of members of the police themselves in that massacre. There may be many other incidents which one can quote but the point one is trying to make is that it is inconceivable that our people will co-operate in the manner that they should with the police when it comes to investigating incidents of violence when you have police doing the type of shoddy work for instance which they have just done recently around the Boipatong massacre and the investigations where they then come back and say all the tapes of the information gathered were mistakenly wiped out. So the point I'm trying to make is that it becomes necessary to have somebody monitoring whether these investigations which the police had to do are thorough and non-partisan and the involvement which we requested of the international community. We think it is necessary, it is important. But all those things which we want the international community to do will not necessarily be a substitute for the work which local structures set up in terms of the Peace Accord must continue to do, but there has to be some complementarity between the efforts we are making locally and the involvement of the international community.
POM Now were you or the ANC pleased with the outcome of the Security Council debate and Cyrus Vance's subsequent report and the report of Boutros Boutros Ghali? Were you satisfied that they were doing enough or do you want more than the 30 or 40 observers?
SM We were really pleased with, firstly, the speed with which the Security Council moved when they had their meeting, that they so quickly sent Mr Cyrus Vance to South Africa to meet with all the parties and they quickly put together a report which then became the basis of the follow-up meeting of the Security Council. The resolution itself, the operative paragraph, does say that the Security Council invites the Secretary General to assist in strengthening this process of the National Peace Accord in consultation with the relevant parties. They further authorised the Secretary General to deploy UN observers in South Africa in such a manner and in such numbers as he considers adequate for the task. So they did not, in the resolution, tie the Secretary General's hands to a specific figure. They said that the situation is to be assessed and on the basis of that assessment the necessary numbers must then be determined. They have identified in the same resolution what they call 'areas of concern', relevant to the question of violence. Those include issues of the hostels, dangerous weapons, the role of the security forces and other armed formations, the investigation and prosecution of criminal conduct, mass demonstrations and the conduct of political parties and organisations. Now if you just look at these areas of concern which they themselves have identified you can just see that they will definitely need a multi-disciplinary force, a force which is not just made up of people of one kind. You need people with police background, you need military personnel, you may also need political/diplomatic personnel and of course they will need administrative staff to underpin all their operations. And all these areas of concern are not just confined to one area in the country. There are about six regions which we ourselves have identified as flash points of this ongoing violence.
POM Which are they?
SM The Natal region as a whole, the southern Transvaal, the eastern Transvaal, the western Transvaal, the Cape Peninsula, Border and Ciskei regions. So I am saying if you just look at those areas alone and if there are all these matters and areas of concern within these regions it does appear to us that indeed the task facing the UN monitors will be a mammoth one because they have to prioritise those regions that I've just mentioned but at the same time they must have the possibility of monitoring violence wherever it is likely to break out even if it's not in one of those areas that I've just mentioned.
POM Do you think the 30 or 40 observers which it said it would send would be sufficient for the task?
SM Yes, the 30 or 40 will obviously be inadequate and the UN did not, as I said, did not resolve to send these 30 monitors. They resolved to send monitors in numbers that will be adequate. But, of course, the recommendation that was made by the team that visited the country was that it should be 30. I think there is a difference between recommendation and decision.
POM And part of the reason you were at the Security Council was to make the case for a greater number of monitors?
SM No, no, not really. Of course in the process of consultations we did say what we thought about the report and the recommendations but generally we felt that it was important for us to be present when people are considering the whole report so that if they wish to consult then we are within reach.
POM How many observers do you think would be an adequate number?
SM In our submission to the Cyrus Vance team we had proposed between 400 and 450 monitors. It was based on the calculations which we ourselves had made taking into account all the things that I've just mentioned, the flash points, the things that we think should become the focus of monitoring. But of course we are not hard and fast on that figure. The UN might well feel that it can do with one less or with one more compared to what we have proposed. What is important is for them to be in a position to be effective.
POM Do you believe that if these monitors are sent, that they go to those flash points, that they work in concert with the local Peace Accord structures, that they will in fact be effective, that the level of violence will come down?
SM Well they should be in a position to make a difference and hopefully to succeed in capping this violence completely. You see the United Nations obviously does have this standing amongst our people which should therefore enable it to receive the necessary co-operation not only from our members and supporters of the ANC but we believe that whoever is involved in this violence in the past was able to do that because chances of being brought to book were very minimal if not non-existent. Now if the perpetrators and organisers of violence are going to be brought under that type of scrutiny we think that the presence of the UN will definitely add a restraining influence on whoever is really involved in this violence.
POM Let's talk about de Klerk for a moment. He's always struck me as being a pretty astute politician. He knows how to make the big political gesture even if it doesn't end up as anything substantive. It struck me that he would have done something over the last two years with regard to the allegations of security force involvement in the violence if only to fire a few top officers or to suspend people pending investigation or to set up a special board to look at what's going on in the police, yet he did nothing except to say, "Bring me the evidence and I will act". Do you think, or is it a feeling of the ANC, that he doesn't have full control over the security forces, that there are constraints on him regarding how far he can go to rein the security forces in, either that they have information which could embarrass him politically or that if he loses the support of the security forces he's really out there on his own? The only thing that stands between you on this side and him on that side is that he's got this power apparatus that he can fall back on so he can't totally alienate it and find that when he says, "Come here and do my bidding", they say, "Tough. We don't care if your political head rolls." Do you feel he has actual full control of that?
SM It's difficult to say, but as you said something in the course of posing this question that de Klerk, whenever there are allegations made, his standard response is, "Give me the evidence". But you are talking here about a Head of State who should be content with allegations of this sort once they are made and he should obviously show a willingness himself to investigate and a willingness to act should he find that members of his own forces are implicated or are involved in the actual violence.
You see if you look at the report, second interim report issued by the Goldstone Commission, in that report they list what they call the causes of violence and they list them in historical sequence. Topmost on the list of those causes is the heritage of apartheid. Now, yes we are now in a process of transition from apartheid to democracy in the country. With all its ups and downs there are problems, but I am saying we are high in this process. It does appear to me that one of the things which a Head of State needs to ask himself is what role do the security forces play in facilitating this process of transition. Once you define the role for them then you also need to ask yourself whether there is no need to begin to prepare them politically to play this role. There is no evidence that that was done which means therefore that if people have committed certain acts in the past in the belief that they were doing that in order to protect the security of the state, which in essence meant protecting apartheid, these people are bound to feel apprehensive about change and therefore they are likely to get involved in acts of violence for as long as they think that is going to weaken the forces that have been suing for democratic change in the country.
So de Klerk does not appear to have the will nor the capacity to attend to this problem and we think that you can't therefore just solve this problem by putting forward demands to him because he will always find a diplomatic answer to the demands you put forward to him. He will say, "I am prepared to disband the counter insurgency units and integrate them into other existing units in the country", which is not what we are asking for because we are saying you need to demobilise these special units and there must be a way for us to ratify that indeed you have demobilised them. But if you deploy them, integrate them into other units, then we have got no way of checking whether they are not continuing with these activities.
POM It would be compounding the problem.
POM Having been told that it's clear and there they are all over the place.
SM Yes. So that is one of the issues which we think UN monitors will have to look at. They will obviously have to demand of de Klerk that he does certain things which will include this question of confining these special units to base and disarming them so that then they can be monitored. So in general I am saying that it is clear that de Klerk is not in a position to do these things on his own. He needs to be helped and to the extent that we can be of help to him we are willing to help him and we think the UN must also help him.
POM Someone said to me that unless there is an amnesty of some kind that the next government will never get political control over the security forces. It goes back to saying that there are people in there who are guilty of something, they keep this violence fomenting and will be in opposition to whatever new government comes in, they will fight to make sure that it doesn't get control over the labyrinthine that is the security apparatus. Is the ANC position that it's for amnesty as long as it includes disclosure or they want to de-link entirely the issue of amnesty from the issue of the release of political prisoners?
SM Well you see those two things are different because even before the question of amnesty was raised there was an agreement reached between the ANC and the government that political prisoners needed to be released and there was a mutually agreed definition of a political prisoner. Once that definition was made all we needed to do as ANC was to compile a list of people we say are political prisoners and then those people would be released, because the other side had also itself to be satisfied that these are political prisoners. There are over 400 people who are still in prison who we believe are political prisoners and we are saying they must be released. Some of them have been the subject of ongoing debate between ourselves and the regime. There are obvious cases of MK cadres who came into the country, carried out certain operations and they were arrested and in some cases sentenced to death, now commuted to life sentence or something. The government was dragging its feet. We did sense that they are trying to use them as bargaining chips because they have their right wing element who were involved in all sorts of criminal activities who can then argue that they are themselves political prisoners, but we did not think that an individual's case should be linked to someone else's case. An individual case must be looked at on its own merits. So, OK, these are our people who were arrested for fighting against apartheid. The government says, "We realise we made a mistake. Apartheid has to go." That obliges them, therefore, to release people who had committed certain acts fighting against this apartheid which they say must go. But then they still have people who are in prison or who were involved in criminal activities because they were defending apartheid. This government to whom they were accountable cannot be the one that pardons them. It doesn't make sense, at least to us.
POM It can't be the government that pardons them?
SM It cannot be the very government to whom these people were accountable that pardons them. The government does not have the moral legitimacy to do that. We were not necessarily even saying that that must be done by the ANC. We have actually been saying that we need to move with expedition towards the establishment of an interim government of national unity and we think that is the structure which will have, comparatively speaking, legitimacy to consider any such a request for amnesty as may be brought before it.
POM So this interim government would be a government selected from the election for a Constituent Assembly?
SM Yes. You see what needs to happen in terms of what we have already agreed upon in any case at CODESA is that we need to have an interim government of short duration made up of representatives from all the parties that intend to contest elections for a Constituent Assembly and therefore to form a new government ultimately. So those are the parties which need to come together and form this interim government of national unity, to prepare for elections.
POM This is the so-called TEC? The Transitional Executive Council that was decided on?
POM Which group in CODESA did you work with?
SM I was briefly in Working Group 4 which deals with the future of the TBVC states, but I had to withdraw because of my work load in other areas.
POM What agreement emerged out of that regarding the TBVC states?
SM It was agreed that they be re-integrated into one South Africa. As to the modalities of doing that, that was going to be a subject of ongoing discussion.
POM That includes Brigadier Gqozo?
SM It includes everybody.
POM You said at the beginning that you were reviewing the entire peace process with a view to strengthening it. Does the ANC now think that CODESA as it was formulated has had its day and what you need now is a new negotiation structure? I want you to put that in the context of - I've heard from many people in the ANC and SACP that had the government accepted the offer made by the negotiators regarding the 70% veto threshold for items in the constitution and 75% for items in a Bill of Rights that there was a lot of disaffection at the grassroots and that the grassroots had said that it had been removed from any consultation in the negotiation process, that the negotiators had become like an elite dealing with an elite at the negotiations without taking into account the needs of their own constituency, to inform them, to bring them along and to get their consultation.
SM Maybe we ought to separate the two. The question of consultation and the debate at CODESA about the process of decision making, these are two different things. Yes, the government wanted the process of decision making in the constitution making body to be done on the basis of 75% majority. Then you need to ask yourself, why are they doing that? We believe that they are doing that because they are obsessed with wanting to preserve not necessarily the interests of the white minority per se, but they want to preserve the Nationalist Party, the interests of the Nationalist Party. These people have been in power, in office, since 1948. I think there are very few countries in the world and it's possible that we are the only country in the world where one party has been in office, no change of government from 1948, I suspect we are the only one. Now they are obviously worried themselves as the Nationalist Party. It is possible that in their own estimation they think that at the most optimistic they can get 25% of the total votes in the country which will mean that if they do get that 75% even if you have an ANC government, that ANC government or that majority will not be able to govern without the consent of the minority. So I think that is one problem and we have to meet that argument for 75%, we have to meet it at CODESA.
POM But you were prepared to go as far as 70%?
SM Yes. So I wanted to say we have to make that argument. But then we are looking at what is in the interests of the country. We ourselves said that you can't take decisions in the Constituent Assembly on the basis of simply majority, 50% plus one because it means you are alienating large sectors of South African society, 50% plus one and just run with it. To the extent that it is possible you need to try to be responsive to perspectives which people other than those that voted for the party that wins are putting forward because on that basis that we proposed that decisions should be taken, on the basis of two thirds majority, because then what you have, say you have an ANC government, what you have will not be an ANC constitution. It will be a South African constitution. You want the broadest possible number of people and organisations to owe allegiance to this constitution and with that two thirds majority we have in fact something that is universally acknowledged as a democratic practice. Now the government says 75% and we are saying two thirds majority. We consulted with our Patriotic Front allies who were also participating at CODESA, we consulted with the regional leadership of the ANC to say: this is our position, that is the region's position, what do we do? It was agreed that we need to go there and continue to argue for a two thirds majority. If, however, it does appear that we are deadlocking on this issue we need to consider some flexibility, but flexibility which does not go up to 75% which means therefore that the other side must also be prepared to be flexible for the purpose of finding common ground. That is the understanding that emerged as a result of this consultation and it became the basis on which our representatives at CODESA then after painstaking deliberations moved up to 70%. But I think precisely because of what I said is the problem with the regime, the regime was not prepared to come down to this 70% because they are not that optimistic in terms of their own possibilities and support. So I think they rejected, therefore, this 70% because it would still not have enabled them to achieve the objective which they wanted to achieve through proposing the 75%. That is at least in their own estimation.
POM Do you believe that they wanted CODESA to fail or that they set up failure by being unable to move from 75%?
SM I don't think they wanted CODESA to fail. Like us they wanted CODESA to succeed and we wanted to succeed because we think it must usher in genuine majority rule in the country. They wanted it to succeed if only it can guarantee them the veto. We both wanted it to succeed but for different reasons.
POM How would you define the difference between your conception of democracy and their conception? Everyone bandies about the word "democracy", "democratic values". Sometimes I find it ironic that of everyone around the table at CODESA nobody has ever really experienced democracy.
SM That's true. But one of the basic tenets of democracy is that you must have in the country a constitution which reflects the political will of the majority of the people and in order to determine that will then we must have elections on the basis of one person one vote. I think that is really the starting point. Now if you go into detail as to how will this majority exercise the power, the political power once it gains the legitimacy to exercise it, I think that as I was saying this is where you find the Nats still wanting to have minority veto which we think is not consistent with democracy as it is universally understood.
POM Now the grassroots disaffection? The fact that people thought this was a process involving elites, would you have trouble selling that deal to people?
SM I hear people talking about the disaffected grassroots and so on. I don't know whether it is really a correct characterisation of the situation because here you have a scenario for transition worked out, a scenario in terms of which we say there will have to be multi-party negotiations, all inclusive. The parties meet at CODESA and we say they then must agree to form a government of national unity which will begin to prepare for one person one vote to elect a constitution making body. It is agreed. A constitution making body, as we said, must be elected by all the people, South Africans in the country. That is the scenario. If you go to rallies anywhere in the country that are organised under the auspices of the ANC and if you look at the marches you will see placards demanding interim government, demanding a Constituent Assembly. In my view, therefore, it can't be said that there is some alienation, a gap, between the leadership and the membership. The rest of the things that are being dealt with at CODESA are details of how to get these sorts of things. There has already been an agreement that we have to have a constitution making body democratically elected. We may not have agreed on what name to give it but the principles underpinning it say, government of national unity. CODESA talks about Transitional Executive Authority. The same. So in my view, and in the view of the leadership of the ANC, there is a definite misrepresentation of things when people begin to talk about lack of consultation. Of course when the negotiators are negotiating there will have to be some flexibility and things like that. That relates to the details and not to the strategic objective as outlined in our scenario for transition.
POM So the policy conference, as far as I could see, took two things that had been offered at CODESA: one of the 70% threshold, it said no longer, you are mandated to negotiate for sixty six and two thirds percent and the second thing was that in the Charter of Principles for the constitution in Working Group 2 they had agreed that the powers of the regions would be entrenched in the constitution. The policy conference said no, that the powers of the regions would be decided by parliament so that works the other way round.
SM Not really. Let me start with the percentage issue. It is true that, as I said, the mandate was 66% with room for flexibility but not up to 75%. Of course the negotiators had the opportunity at the policy conference to report exactly what happened and there was a general feeling that the other side is really playing games in which case we are withdrawing the offer that we made of 70%. There's nothing wrong with withdrawing the offer. We are withdrawing the offer, we are going back to 66%, so that is the mandate that stands. No-one will have problems with that mandate, even the negotiators themselves were acting within the mandate that they were given at a given time.
Now on the question of regional powers, again there is really a question of modalities. Firstly, there is not disagreement with anybody, not even with the government, not even with IFP or any other organisation that is perceived to have some vested interest on this question. We are not in disagreement with them. You need to have regional governments. You need to have local government as well, so that you bring government as close to the people as is possible. I can't imagine a situation in which we just say we have government sitting at Union Buildings and you don't have some form of local government and it means that a person sitting in Mooi River in the Natal Midlands region, if there is a sewerage problem in his area he has to phone Nelson Mandela at Union Buildings.
POM Sure. The difference would be having the powers of those regions.
SM Yes I wanted to come to that. So I say again, there is no contradiction between what our negotiators at CODESA were willing to accept and what the policy conference said because what we opposed was that regional governments must have powers defined once and for all and entrenched in the constitution, immutable. In fact what we think ought to happen is that those powers must be defined centrally with some consultations with the regions and at the same time must have possibilities of increasing the powers of regional government or decreasing them depending on what the situation on the ground may dictate from time to time. So you can still entrench them in the constitution but entrench them in very broad and general terms to say regional government will be responsible for the following things in the region but the powers and the manner in which regional government does that will be determined centrally. You can still have that in the constitution or outside the constitution.
But the policy conference was sensitive to the fact that the other side wanted this in the constitution for purposes of making it unchangeable. Because you read that together with the attempt at introducing minority veto then you will understand where the areas of disagreements between ourselves and the other side are. But perhaps people perceive us as the ANC to be having internal problems because we are actually discussing these matters within our own structures and we cannot be expected to just 'follow us', see things the same way at all times. The fact that these things are being debated and we arrived at positions, in my view means that we are having the type of consultation which in other situations of transition many liberation movements did not really have the type of opportunity that we have to consult.
POM The last thing on the constitution was that the government, it seemed, wanted to use CODESA really to write an interim constitution and that would then be amended by a Constituent Assembly. As far as I can see now you are saying, "To hell with an interim constitution. If you want an interim constitution take the old tri-cameral institution and amend it and provide for an interim government and let's get on with it", which wasn't the kind of interim constitution that they had in mind.
SM We never were interested at any stage in the working out by CODESA of an interim constitution per se. The government argued. Initially we were saying that we wanted to have an interim government of national unity which governs by decree. That was our initial perspective. Now the government decided to be too legalistic and say that you cannot have a period of a constitutional vacuum, therefore you need some kind of a constitution in that intervening period. So we said OK, perhaps what we need is to negotiate at CODESA, agree that we need to have an interim government of national unity. At the moment you have a constitution in the country in terms of which you have this government and their parliament. Perhaps what we will require is for parliament to meet, CODESA having agreed, and say how do we give legislative effect to these decisions that were arrived at at CODESA? To give legislative effect will mean that they must come up with some kind of legislation which empowers all of us to set up an interim government. In other words they are legislating the present government out of power. It's a constitutional act they can make. They are legislating the present government out of power and they are saying that there has to be in its place this inclusive government of national unity. It's a constitutional matter. It means that we will still have to go back to the constitution and say how do we then - what are the relevant clauses which need to be changed to make provision?
POM It does no more getting into what must be, that the powers of the regions should be entrenched in the constitution. You're not writing it into your constitution, the old one for specific reasons?
SM No we're not doing anything other than making provision for the interim government of national unity which will then, therefore, be having some constitutional status and parliament is not going to say, "This is how this interim government is going to govern". We have agreed at CODESA on the broad constitutional principles. It means, therefore, that that interim government of national unity will operate within the spirit of the already agreed general constitutional principles.
POM And how the process itself should be restructured?
SM At this stage I can't say I have concrete and developed thoughts. I think what we have done is to initiate a process of discussion within our own structures.
POM It seems to me that when you get back to the table that what you want and what you want negotiated is in a much narrower framework than it was before. You're really saying there are three things to be settled here, one, an interim government, two, a Constituent Assembly which would write the new constitution, three, time frames. That's it.
SM No, it was just like that from the beginning.
POM From the beginning?
SM Yes. It was. We must not confuse what the ANC wanted with what the regime wanted. These are two different things. We want, they are knowing full well, that's what I'm saying, we had worked out our scenario for transition, time frames, everything attached. Nothing has happened so far which made us change our mind about this scenario, I'm not talking about the details, about the scenario itself. Of course the time frames and so on have been affected by the delays, but the point at which agreements will be sealed, the time frames will still apply.
POM On the mass mobilisation, do you, as the ANC, think that it was effective to the extent that it has had the impact on the government that it will make them more responsive to addressing the demands that you placed before them and to get them back at the table willing to work more constructively?
SM Well you see the whole world is calling for a resumption of negotiations and I don't think the government is oblivious to this call. We ourselves are not oblivious to it. If you look at the many demands which were being put forward in the course of the mass action that it has had recently you can actually see that that programme of mass action was an invitation to the regime to negotiate and negotiate in good faith. We have exchanged memoranda. We are not satisfied with the response that they have given so far. We don't think on the basis of their responses they have given so far you can have meaningful and consequential negotiations. They have since promised, you know they had some meeting in the bush, and they have promised to give a response which in their estimation will make it possible for negotiations to resume. We have not yet received that response. When Mr Mandela led a march to the Union Buildings and he addressed the march basically reiterating our demands and so on, Mr de Klerk responded by saying that he is prepared to sit down with Mr Mandela and look at all these areas that are giving rise to the gap that is emerging between the parties. I thought he gave in general what we considered to be a conciliatory response. If that is a signal of a responsible response they are going to give then it is slightly possible that we may resume negotiations very soon.
POM Do you see any evolution in their overall objective or strategy in the last 2½ years or is their thinking basically going along the very same lines?
SM The same lines?
POM Yes. What they thought in 1990, we want power sharing, we want a guaranteed place in the Cabinet, we want veto power over certain things, we want protection of minorities. Do you still think that they are basically still at that point or have they progressed?
SM They don't seem to have abandoned that illusion because it is an illusion. Perhaps we did misread them at some point where we thought that they were prepared to subject themselves to the verdict of the people and say, "We are prepared to have democracy in the country, we will have elections at some point and people will decide." Those sorts of platitudes and I'm saying perhaps we then misread what they meant, for instance, by democracy. But since they don't appear to have abandoned this notion that they can have elections, even if they are in the minority they can veto the majority decision, it is clear that that is not on and that cannot be the basis on which we resume negotiations.
POM One last question, while I've been here this time I've seen COSATU emerge as a central player, much more so than last year or the year before. It was very much in the forefront during the mass action. It's a sensitive question: is there a shift in the relative influence of different components of the alliance? Do sometimes the ANC moderates gain the centre stage and sometimes the SACP, sometimes COSATU?
SM No, we see that there is a problem. I used to be in COSATU myself and before the banning of the ANC the charge that was levelled against us as COSATU was that we were puppets of the ANC and the SACP. In recent months I've heard of new charges that the ANC is taking up line positions because it is being influenced by the SACP and COSATU. It's either people make this charge because they have got mischievous intentions or because they don't understand how the alliance involving the ANC, the SACP and COSATU works. These three organisations have distinct independent bases in the sense that a member of COSATU is not automatically a member of the ANC and vice versa. In the sense also that you have got your branch structures, regional structures which elect their own executive committees and so on and again you've got national structures with the national executive committees. All these structures meet on their own to take decisions in the interest of their own organisations. Of course, because we are in an alliance with these other parties, then it means we do need to say these are the areas in which we have got common interests, how do we co-ordinate our activities? Then we co-ordinate. So there is no question of who is influencing who at any given time.
But leaving that aside now and coming to the ANC itself, the question of moderates and the radicals. I don't know as to what the basis is of determining who is a moderate because we go to policy conference, the policy conference we've just referred to, we take decisions as to what the policy of the ANC should be on this or that issue. All of us consider ourselves bound by the policies of the organisation. So if I am moderate it is because the ANC policy is moderate, although I don't know relative to what because I must propagate ANC policy. If I am radical the same will apply that it is because I am propagating a radical policy of the ANC. These attempts were made many years ago to construct a moderate ANC which the regime would seriously consider negotiating with, a moderate ANC which excludes the radicals and I think the government did not succeed in constructing that moderate ANC, hence they are negotiating with the ANC as the ANC that we know. They tried to say we must abandon our alliance with the South African Communist Party, they are not negotiating with us because we are communists or because there are communists within the ANC. But today they are negotiating with the ANC, they are negotiating also with the South African Communist Party in its own right. So I think it does not help anybody to continue to look for possibilities of divide.
POM Division between it's organisations. Buthelezi, he sits up there in Ulundi, brooding, militant, making foreboding noises about what he and the King and the Zulu nation will do if they are left out of any agreement to which they were not a party. I saw the King last week and he was in fact more militant than Buthelezi in terms of how the Zulu nation would stand up for itself. Do you think that Buthelezi has the capacity to be a spoiler? By spoiler I mean that if you and the government are the two major parties and the others reach a broad agreement on a settlement, Buthelezi could opt out of it and create a situation of almost perpetual civil war in Natal?
SM Firstly, let me speak for the ANC. We adopted the armed struggle because all avenues, as we saw it, of bringing about change by peaceful means were closed to us so we adopted the armed struggle. Buthelezi opposed the armed struggle consistently saying he is a man of peace committed to peaceful change. We suspended the armed struggle because we think that there now exists possibilities of bringing about change by peaceful means. That's why we are negotiating. It is very difficult for me to understand what prompts Buthelezi to begin to consider adopting the armed struggle at a point when those who adopted it before have suspended it because they see this possibility. Is it because he fears the actual outcome of this process of negotiations? It does appear to me that he does fear, he is not sure. They are a party in their own right and therefore they must contest this election in their own their way. He doesn't appear to be sure that he has the type of support which he has claimed he does have over the years. I don't know, apart from IFP as IFP what exactly is Gatsha's base? It can't just be all Zulus. It can't be because in the world of today people will make choices on the basis of what they consider to be their political interests not tribal interests. That is why you have Zulu speaking people in the ANC, you have them in the IFP, you have them in AZAPO, PAC, affiliated, so I still don't know who he is referring to because then I become also confused if it is said that if Inkatha is not accommodated in a settlement the Zulus will rise. Unless Zulus are defined in broader terms to include non-Zulus who are also members of Inkatha and many other even white people, I'm not sure myself what he means. I'm not sure if he is sure himself. But if he is contemplating civil war I think he had better be advised about the devastation which civil war causes in countries. You look at Mozambique, you look at Angola. I don't think our country will commit that sort of mistake.
POM Regarding elections, do you think that you could have free and fair elections now in South Africa or that the level of violence must be first of all brought under control or can you not wait for the level of violence to be brought fully under control because the absence of elections is adding to the fuel of the violence?
SM I think it's actually two situations because those who are behind the violence are saying that you cannot have elections in a situation of ongoing violence, you cannot have elections. It does make some sense. But at the same time you cannot allow people to hold the country to ransom by engaging in acts of violence because they don't want elections so it becomes important to take measures to effectively arrest this violence whilst at the same time you are making preparations for these elections. Of course, with this sort of uncertainty more and more people become apprehensive and even those who are not interested in getting involved in this violence may become that desperate. You see the spiral of violence also has to do with the feeling that the present state and its apparatus is not interested in protecting the community. Therefore, in a sense the apartheid system and whoever is running it will have to go in order to make sure that we have a climate and conditions for durable peace in the country.
POM Did the government blow the best offer it ever would have gotten when it turned down the 70%?
SM They are in trouble. They are in trouble because they will have to live with the fact that no-one is prepared to give them a veto right and they are now doing it with this majority.
POM Do you think they will go back to the table in a relatively weaker position than they were?
SM I think so, I think so.
POM Thanks Sydney ever so much. I appreciate the time.