About this site

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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

26 Aug 1992: Jordan, Pallo

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POM     To start with a general question, have you noticed any evolution in the government's policy regarding constitutional matters since February 1990 when they first began to issue documents?

PJ     Yes there is some evolution. I would say the government has dropped the rhetoric of group rights, it shifted slightly, they now speak in terms of group values and they moved even further away from that and began to talk in terms of rights of minorities. I suppose those are significant shifts in terms of the rhetoric of the government, in terms of the content of policy which at this point is unclear.

     The government's rhetoric as far as constitutional arrangements are concerned have moved quite decisively away from the idea of a centralised state and increasingly in the direction of federalism even confederalism and in that respect I suppose that also marks a significant shift in rhetoric. In terms of the content of policy, again the intent appears to me to be to disguise the principal position of government policy which is to protect the accumulated privileges of the white minority. But there is a recognition even on the part of government that the whites as a minority can't hope to protect their minority privileges on their own and they need to mobilise other minorities, defined either in ethno-racial terms or in political terms for that particular project, that if it cannot harness the energies of those other minorities, however defined, they cannot hope to secure their accumulated privileges on their own.

     Of course the rhetoric of federalism/confederalism is deceptive, I would say even to a certain extent self-deceptive in that the government has mistaken what are viable political minorities at the present moment when it is in power. It has the wherewithal to buttress the existence and buttress the power of those political minorities as being something that will continue into the future. If you take, for example, a political minority that is represented by military dictator in Ciskei, Oupa Gqozo, Gqozo is a non-viable prospect in the absence of the Pretoria government to pay his civil service, to pay his military, to give him the wherewithal to give the impression of strength and power. Without that sort of material and financial support from the Pretoria government he is non-viable. Take another example of President Mangope of Bophuthatswana, in actual fact his government had been overthrown in a military coup some years back. He was restored to power by the Pretoria government's military power. He represents a political minority but without Pretoria's military power to back him up he is nothing.

     So the rhetoric of federalism is, I think, also somehow self-deceptive of the government itself. Its intention of course is to give the impression to the political minorities, who have not actual interests and who benefit very little from the amendments of white domination to give them the impression that there is something in it for them. The same would apply to ethno-racially defined minorities like the Indian parties in the tricameral parliament, both those parties have no credibility within their own community and as such represent nothing. They are in fact a joke if the truth be told. They exist, there are people who are attached to them, they employ quite a sizeable civil service, etc., so as an empirical fact they are there but what they represent is nothing and what meaning the government itself attaches to having the Solidarity Party or the other one linked to it I really don't know.

POM     I have heard people say that the ANC is outvoted, that democratically nine parties voted one way and eight parties voted the other, so they were trying to use the 19 parties as the representative of 19 defined constituencies. In this regard do you think that Buthelezi has the capacity to be a spoiler. He sits up there in Ulundi brooding, making militant noises, talking about the Zulu nation, the Zulu king and saying that he won't be party to any agreement reached to which he was not a negotiator. Do you think he has sufficient power to get a civil war going in that part of South Africa or is it again the SA government pulling the financial strings?

PJ     There are a number of factors we would have to take into account relative to Chief Buthelezi. It is true that Chief Buthelezi and the whole KwaZulu administration government and consequently also the IFP owe a great deal to white minority rule. The entire system that Buthelezi has been able to set in place in Natal/KwaZulu is patronage to the system within a one party system. It owes its existence to the financial support of the SA government. What I would say is the IFP also does represent a certain extremely conservative constituency amongst Natal Africans, people who identify very closely with the royal house, with highly modified and an extremely qualified version of traditional Zulu values, you must remember that part of today's Zulu values are not the values of the Zulu people in the 19th century, they are the values of the Zulu people as interpreted and as in many cases presented by various colonial government authorities and anthropologists. These are the sorts of people or constituencies that the IFP appears to endeavour to represent.

     The IFP would not have the capacity to be spoilers except for the fact that the SA government has adopted an extremely indulgent policy towards them and the antics of its supporters, both in Natal and in the rest of the country. It is becoming increasingly clear that what the IFP has done in fact constitutes an aspect of the SA government's own policy in that the destruction of the democratic movement with the ANC at its head, to reduce the capacity of the democratic movement to organise itself and to also destabilise and, if possible, destroy its organisational structures and make it a weak negotiating partner. If there was a government which was committed to maintaining the peace and was determined to be even handed, the IFP in very many respects would be tamed and if it continued in the fashion it is doing now would in fact find itself on the wrong side of the law.

     Just to give you an example of how indulgent the government is towards the IFP, in September last year when the National Peace Accord (NPA) was signed, a Peace Accord which has amongst its many clauses a call for the banning of the weapons of war and aggression in street parades, in public places, in public meetings, etc., on the very day that Accord was being signed the IFP mobilised supporters in the Witwatersrand and they had a massive armed demonstration right outside the venue where that Peace Accord was being signed. Not only did the government not do anything about it, the leader of the IFP was there and they did not ask them to get rid of their supporters outside. That was a clear indication and signal to IFP supporters and to everyone else there that the IFP was going to thumb its nose at that Peace Accord, it was not going to take it very seriously and the government was going to be very, very indulgent in its attitude towards the IFP's display of its military strength, etc.

     So, you have got a situation in which the IFP is allowed to do as it pleases and, of course, people like that are not intimidated or discouraged by the indulgence but in fact are emboldened by it, so much so that when de Klerk finally thought he might have to do something about the bearing of arms publicly he went to see the Zulu king almost in the capacity of a humble petitioner, cap in hand to negotiate with the King of the Zulus about restrictions on the bearing of arms publicly and when the government finally legislated on the matter the legislation was such that it permitted the IFP to continue having these armed demonstrations because the manner in which the legislation was drawn up says that you may not bear arms at a public meeting but on your way there and on your way back it is quite all right to do so.

     Now the fact of the matter, the danger which everyone was trying to address by calling for the banning of the bearing of arms, was being parlayed to IFP supporters who wreaked havoc on African townships. Again when the government legislators met it moves it to another session leaving this loophole. So you have this attitude on the part of the government which, unless they are absolute fools, they know is calculated to embolden the IFP. So Buthelezi's capacity to be a spoiler is in large measure a function of the attitude of the SA government at present.

POM     If the government, the ANC and other parties reached a negotiated settlement and Buthelezi says I am not a party to this and I declare a UDI, does he have sufficient residual strength in terms of access to weaponry?

PJ     I don't see that happening, he is not that crazy. He would only do that, in my view, if he had received a clear indication from the SA government that they would let him get away with it and that they would assist him. If it was clear to him that the SA government would not let him get away with it and would not lend him any assistance, either covert or overt, he wouldn't dare do it. I don't think he commands sufficient political support in the region of Natal to think that he could pull something like that off.

POM     Could you make a case for the SA government doing that, where they would say even the partnership old attitudes don't die and they find that a partially destabilised SA prevents the ANC from governing effectively?

PJ     It would seem to me that what the SA government has been doing since 1990 is precisely to create that situation even before the ANC can even begin to govern. The destabilisation, the violence, it is becoming increasingly clearer by the day that the hand of the government is there. So as far as that is concerned I don't think it is something that needs to be demonstrated any more, there is overwhelming and compelling evidence that the government is deeply implicated in the destabilisation that is taking place.

POM     Do you think that de Klerk has full control over his security apparatus or that he is not sufficiently knowledgeable in its structure and workings, or that he can't take action to fire senior officers or to command investigations because they are after all a fall-back position if negotiations were to stall, if he loses the army then the whole future of his political power is greatly reduced?

PJ     A scenario like that in which de Klerk is in a sense a prisoner of his security establishment is quite terrifying when you think about the implications because it would mean in fact that the man has no real power. It would mean that within that entire security establishment there are no officers who are loyal to him or that there are so few that they couldn't make a difference anyway. Then it would mean also that the entire exercise of negotiations is in fact a charade because if the man does not have command of his security establishment he could sign an agreement tomorrow and they would say to him, blow you Jack, we are not there, and that agreement would be a dead letter. So that is a very, very, very frightening scenario.

     There are alternative scenarios that one might hold. The alternative scenario is one in which de Klerk indeed does not have control over the security establishment, does not know what they are up to and if that is so that is almost as frightening as the first because, again, it suggests that there is no-one in the entire establishment who is loyal to him and therefore keeping him appraised of what is happening and at least enlighten him about the plans of whoever it is in the security establishment who is opposing him. In which case if he was aware of what they are doing and did nothing about it, it would mean the man does not understand how these things work because to the extent to which he is lenient towards potentially subversive treasonous military officers to that extent he encourages them. He was actually part of the military establishment, he knows that if you don't knock them very hard on the head they just get bolder. If he took care of the business, rounded them up and put them in jail it would discourage anyone else with treasonable ideas. If de Klerk, knowing that this is happening, does not do this then the man is a fool because they will only get bolder. You can't be scared of someone who is a lame duck and, as I say, if that is the case, if in fact these guys are there, they are too well entrenched and he can't do anything about them or he feels because they are his fall-back he can't be rough, then he can make any agreements he likes and they will be meaningless.

POM     In that context, on the subject of amnesty, the argument that I have made is that unless there is an amnesty brought forward, a future government will never get political control of the defence forces, that they will be working all the time to undermine government positions. Do you think that is a fair argument?

PJ     The danger about arguments like that, they look very tempting, but the danger is that the sort of signal it gives to the wrong doers is first of all that you can get away quite literally with murder as long as you are able to hang on. It also has the effect of emboldening people, if you say there is an amnesty, they say, "Geez is that so, no holds barred then, at the end of the day no matter what I do there will be amnesty". It is not a deterrent. It looks very attractive, deceptively.

     In every case where you have had this sort of context, you take what led to the coup by Franco in the war in Spain, it was precisely this sort of leniency towards treasonous military officers that made them bolder and bolder and in the end they did rise against the government and overturned it. There was a terrible civil war which claimed the lives of thousands of people. It was far more costly at the end being nice to treasonous military officers instead of having been tough with them. At the moment you maybe wipe out a couple of guys in your military establishment, maybe the cream of your general staff. If it was a hundred men that would have been a hell of a lot, in fact you could just use twenty or thirty as a good strong example to the others, it is far less costly. By being lenient it cost the country a civil war, hundreds and thousands of people got killed and it was very, very costly, it didn't pan out although it looks so attractive.

     What the military in Latin America and Argentina have been able to do, they hold the government to ransom every now and then. The government wants to do something, some would be dictator stages, some military demonstration somewhere to force the government to negotiate with them. It does not restrain them.

     I would say you don't make any undertakings of any amnesty. We must say we want the truth to come out. It can come out, the government's interest at this point, in amnesty, is not to put the past behind us, it is in fact to cover up because many of them have got blood on their hands but they just don't want it to become public knowledge.

POM     Do you believe that a future government should set up an investigative body to look into past activities?

PJ     If it is done now and it all comes out it becomes possible when the truth is known for a future government then to seriously look at the possibility of amnesty but at this point you can't give them like a papal indulgence.

POM     Let us go back to the time of the referendum and the white vote; how did de Klerk interpret that mandate?

PJ     It is unclear to me, but it is also clear that the way the government chose to pose the question of the referendum was clever and designed to reinforce the government's own posture, that de Klerk had been given a mandate because the way the question was phrased was to support the reforms being implemented by de Klerk. If you didn't vote yes you were voting against de Klerk and if you voted yes you voted for de Klerk. Many people who would normally not have voted for de Klerk voted yes, otherwise it would mean you were voting against reform. But people know that if you wanted negotiations/reform/change you had no option but to vote yes and by implication you were voting for de Klerk even if your particular agenda might be well beyond de Klerk's agenda and even if your agenda was extremely critical of de Klerk's. Hence, for example, white members of the Communist Party voted yes but that does not mean they are supporters of de Klerk. Members of the DP voted yes.

POM     How did he take that?

PJ     What is interesting about that was the way the government behaved after the referendum. It was almost as if the NP had just won elections and that wasn't in fact the case. There had been a referendum about the negotiating process and these people voted for the continuation of that negotiating process but the NP interpreted it as if they had won a general election and heaved in that fashion. Now when it comes to the mandate that the government received it becomes difficult to interpret it because some people would say they weren't giving the government any mandate and weren't asked to give the government any mandate to go into an election, but that is the way the government has chosen to treat it.

POM     Would it be a mandate in an election to pursue power sharing?

PJ     Yes, to pursue its own particular agenda.

POM     Was there a change in its negotiating tactics after the referendum?

PJ     There was definitely. They came to CODESA feeling very, very arrogant. In a sense, of course, one can understand why because up until that moment even the zealots of the NP might have felt fiercely that we have got to get this show on the road and get it over with before the next all-white general election is due. After that they probably felt, well we are not as weak as we thought we were.

     The thing about the by-elections that have taken place and which gave the right wing the sort of illusion which prompted them to say that the NP are not representative of the whites etc. They are a function of the gerrymandering that the NP did in 1948 when it first assumed office.

     The manner in which the white electorate was re-structured was such that far greater weight was given to rural constituencies than to urban constituencies. In the meantime the white population has changed very dramatically since 1948, in part as a result of the NP's ascendancy. Then the white population, especially the Afrikaners, were rural, some living in the urban areas, some in the rural areas. Now even the Afrikaners are overwhelmingly an urban population today. Whites are not a rural population at all but rural constituencies still have a weight in the white electoral system as if they represent huge populations.

     When the NP looked at the by-elections and how they could be interpreted, they said if we called a general election now these guys could actually give us a good run for our money, they won't beat us but they could give us a good run for our money, they might even dent our majority. Let's go for something which is electorally powerful but which does not give them this advantage, we are going to be counting absolute numbers. At the end of the day if you have a million people in Johannesburg and two hundred in Rustenburg there is no way the votes in Rustenburg can outweigh those in Johannesburg. But if you have four rural constituencies, those two hundred suddenly have a weight far out of proportion with their actual numbers.

POM     Do you think the government has suckered the Conservative Party into the referendum?

PJ     Not only have they suckered the CP but also world opinion. When de Klerk announced that he was calling a referendum I was in Washington DC and I was meeting not only the legislative but also quite a number of leading opinion makers in the US, newspaper people, radio and TV people, etc., and they were all saying, don't you think this is going to be a tough run? I said, no de Klerk is easily going to get between 60% and 70% majority in the referendum and he knows it, he would never have taken this risk if he didn't know that. They asked how I could be so certain and I told them the recipe. One of the editorial writers at the Wall Street Journal wanted to take me on for a bet (but unfortunately I have a very strict upbringing which does not permit me to gamble), but I knew that I would win the bet.

POM     So when he took this to CODESA and changed his tactics, what were the practical reflections of the way be began to change?

PJ     It then ended in that impasse on the eve of CODESA 2 and the breakdown.

POM     Do you believe that the NP government wanted out of CODESA?

PJ     No it didn't want out of CODESA, it wanted a deadlock. They had now put the right wing on the defensive and in terms of their calculations they were absolutely right because the referendum win threw the white right wing into disarray, they are now splintering. When you get to another white election the right won't pose a threat any more.

POM     They would say in response to what you have said that CODESA wasn't supposed to be an end in itself, it was supposed to look at progress reports, etc.

PJ     It wasn't only supposed to be a progress report, if you look at what was said at CODESA 1, which set up working groups, and what was supposed to be reported at CODESA 2 was what those working groups had done in terms of elaborating on the constitutional principles which had been agreed on in the Statement of Intent at CODESA 1 to take the process forward. What should have come out of CODESA 2 was agreement on issues like the levelling of the political playing field which was the fork of Working Group 1, agreement on constitutional principles which was Working Group 2, agreement on the question of the re-incorporation of the so-called homelands and Bantustans, etc. There should have been a whole range of agreements on all these crucial issues and in fact we have got nowhere with respect to that.

POM     They say it is you, the ANC alliance, who wanted to opt out of talks because they found themselves having agreed to things which on reflection they should not have and that the powers of the regions should be enshrined in the constitution.

PJ     We have never had a problem about the devolution of power.

POM     They said it would not be devolved from the centre but it would be enshrined in the constitution itself.

PJ     We have never had any problem about powers to regions. What the NP did, because if you look at what the ANC did before CODESA 2 in the bilaterals with the NP, it leaned over backwards to try to accommodate the NP and get it to address the issue. In South Africa there is not a single constitution, from the 1910 one to the last one, which has been adopted by a two thirds majority. In fact constitutions are not adopted by a two thirds majority, it is a two thirds majority that is required to amend the constitution. We were willing, because we are sensitive to the fears in the white constituencies, the NP constituencies and other white parties, that if you said just 50% plus one majority it would just cause problems. We were willing to go to 70% majority.

POM     They say you attached a rider which read that in six months the constitution would be adopted by 50%.

PJ     No, there they are lying through their teeth and they know that. What we said is that 70% majority across the board for the constitution then for regional powers 75%. They wanted us to go up to 75% for adoption of the constitution. I mean that is giving all the power to a minority. How could anyone want that to be acceptable?

PJ     Then we said it is still possible in CODESA after having done all this, to then go to the Constituent Assembly and you still can't get majority, you would have to have mechanisms for breaking the tie. So we said in that case at this point we have options, try to resolve the constitution, see if you can't reach agreement then go to elections. In that particular election, at the end of it return and go on the principle of two thirds majority, or, this is your worse case scenario, where you have two elections and you still reach a deadlock, then you have the second election.

POM     So now you have three elections?

PJ     Yes. After that you can expect   Is that being unreasonable? What the NP wanted was that we should go into the Constitutional Assembly, reach a deadlock and instead of them resolving the deadlock or having some mechanisms for breaking the deadlock, we should say we agree to disagree, let's go on haggling, and then the interim constitution becomes a more or less permanent one, that is what they wanted. But in the first instance we made a great deal of allowance to accommodate them by agreeing to this two thirds majority in those elections. This has not been done before.

POM     So in a way they turned down the best offer they will ever get?

PJ     Yes, and then up to now because of mass action they are saying, please come back with the 70%, we are willing to talk about that. By that time we had had a conference and our conference said, you guys were dicing with our future there, you should never have gone up to 70%, you had no mandate to do so, your mandate was sixty six and two thirds percent, you exceeded that and we are now tying you to sixty six and two thirds percent and don't exceed that mandate. We can't move now.

POM     The other thing I have heard from members of the ANC is, thank God the government rejected the 70% because we would have had a really hard time selling it to our own grassroots. Do you think there was a reasonable possibility of it being rejected by grassroots?

PJ     People would have gone along with it grudgingly, exceedingly grudgingly. There wouldn't have been a revolt but they would have been very, very let down.

POM     With regard to the mass action, do you think that the mass action was persuasive enough, that people turned out in sufficient numbers, that the stayaway was 90% successful? Has the government received the message that will make them more accommodating when they get back to the negotiating table?

PJ     The government received the message but what it chose to do with it is the question. What the government has not been able to do, and I don't know what it is that is stopping them, because rather than sitting back quietly observing what happened and then maybe preparing its own constituency to look at the consequences, it played this ridiculous propaganda game that we've got four million people out of work, using the government controlled media, the government spokespersons from the highest to the lowest level, all claim was by intimidation to the point that in Cape Town where there was a march from the township to the centre of town, which is not a short distance, thousands of people marched to the town centre and as they passed under a bridge on Eastern Boulevard a white woman, who must have been a victim of government propaganda, said to a reporter, "Isn't it a shame they have all been intimidated". Now if the average white reads that response to say the march is as a result of intimidation, it means they haven't come to terms with what the present mood and opinion of the black majority is and the government has not assisted them to come to terms with this.

POM     Do you think this government actually believes its own propaganda?

PJ     They don't believe it but what it does is that it closes the minds of the average white citizens who have confidence in the government, like that woman who could think it is conceivable that thousands of people can be intimidated to walk miles from the African township into the centre of town purely because they are intimidated by the ANC. If the ANC can do that it has a formidable force, they should be preparing the best terms of surrender.

     The inevitable, and insofar as they are doing that even though they might receive the message, what they are doing with it is in fact just wasting it because they are making the whites believe that all this anger is just intimidation which is madness because sooner or later you are going to get to a point where we are going to have elections and the ANC might be delivered to government with a massive majority of black votes. And what is the average white to make of this? Will it still be intimidation? If they believe in intimidation what does it mean to them? That the government is not legitimate, they need not obey it, respect its laws? So the government in fact is doing the future government a great disservice because they should be trying to educate their constituency to come to terms with the fact that there is no way that in the long run we are going to hold on to power and you are going to have to live with that. We are going to lose power.

POM     I asked you this question last year, two languages I was hearing: (i) was the language from white people that this is about power sharing? In all the reports in the BBC they all talked about it being a process in which whites were being asked to share power with blacks. And (ii) you have the language of this being a transfer of power. Do you think that the government itself is nearer to acknowledging that this is a process more about the transfer of power than it was about a year ago?

PJ     The government of the NP have never grasped that concept. There might be a handful amongst them who have but as a collective they have not been able to grasp that. This explains in large measure a lot of their manoeuvring both in terms of CODESA negotiations and in the constitutional proposals. It is all a function of its incapacity and unwillingness to come to terms with losing power.

     The NP was a lot more short-sighted than many people thought it was. It made sense when they had an all-white electorate to be an ethno-nationalist party, specifically an Afrikaner NP. The other parties tried to be at least white SA parties, General Smut's United Party, the Dominion Party, the Progressive Reform Party. The NP alone was a distinctly ethno-national party. It made perfect sense, the Afrikaners were the majority of the whites. It paid handsome dividends for more than 40 years but it paints you into a corner because now when there is a prospect of a non-racial constitution and therefore a non-racial electorate you can't possibly be a majority, there is no way you can be a majority. I mean the DP can think it has a long range strategy of someday becoming a majority party, it is not an ethno party, it happens to be white at this particular point in time but that thing about its identity that it is white is not there. But with the NP that is the whole history behind it. It cannot be a majority even with all the shenanigans of trying to win the coloured vote and calling the coloureds brown Afrikaners, it is not going to wash. Even if every Coloured voted for the NP it would still be a minority party, it has painted itself into a terrible corner.

     So the immediate prospect if you have democracy is that we will have the Afrikaner NP as the opposition party, first term in parliament, second term, third term, maybe the fourth term when people have forgotten its ties, history and its old leaders have died, you might then find the possibility of it becoming something different and people voting for it.

     But for the first three parliamentary terms there is no hope in hell that it will get a look in. So what you do is either try to hang tough with the negotiations and drive the person out, coerce your interlocutors into a deal which is going to constitutionally guarantee your hanging on irrespective of what the electorate thinks. That is what they are going back to and that is a very hard one to sell to anyone so you try these other things, like alliance, coalition blocks, etc., but at the end of the day it doesn't really wash.

     There was a time, for instance, when there was a desperate bid, the Afrikaner/Zulu block was looked into.  This highly ethnicised issue because they think the Zulus are exactly the same. It doesn't actually work that way because the average Zulu/Inkatha are now struggling to see themselves as South Africans first, and then if you are lucky they regard themselves as Zulus second.

POM     Do you see the government going back to the table in a weaker position than it was before?

PJ     It is going to be a different table I think. I mean there seems to be, even on the government's part, an acceptance that CODESA is not going to be the forum, there will be a different table.

POM     Will there be new parties coming in?

PJ     PAC will come in, maybe AZAPO will come in, I don't know.

POM     Are all the agreements reached at CODESA essentially now dead agreements? Will the other parties that come in into the process have to agree to them in order for them to stand up?

PJ     It remains to be seen, I don't know.

POM     Do you think this could be a more complicated process?

PJ     I don't know, the ball is very much in the court of the SA government. If they come ready to talk and they are serious then things can move very fast. If they come back with a determination to continue to try to buy time and play games then it is going to be tough going.

POM     Two last questions, and thanks for the time. With regards to COSATU, when I came here at the beginning of July it seemed that COSATU was getting more prominence, there were indications that they wanted a seat at CODESA and last March Jay Naidoo was talking about bringing the government to a halt by instituting a programme of mass action unless they had an interim government by July and elections for a CA by December. They assumed the centre stage during the mass action campaign. Is COSATU playing a greater role in this alliance than it was, say, two years ago?

PJ     I wouldn't say so. What happened about the issue of COSATU's representation at CODESA was something that had been there even last year. It was debated for a very long time, which sort of constituencies should come. At the end of the day it was agreed that the political parties would come. The reason why the issue of COSATU's participation was in a sense revisited during the course of this year was because of this whole issue of traditional African rulers which was introduced by Inkatha insisting on the Zulu King being there. Then of course the whole character of CODESA was going to change, it was going to be political parties, traditional leaders, etc. Then people said that in that case the insistence that COSATU should not be there because it was not a political party was no longer applicable.

     The appearance that COSATU assumed the centre stage during the mass action campaign is perhaps a function of the way the media decided to handle it, also the way the government decided to project it. COSATU, of course, does have a certain role to play when it comes to any mass campaign because of the constituency it commands, especially the organised shop floor workers. If you want to talk in terms of a general strike COSATU automatically becomes a very, very important factor.

POM     Lastly, in the context of Namibia, at the end of last year and beginning of this year we were talking with Ministers there, they were talking about two things with which they were having trouble. The one was that white civil servants who had been constitutionally entrenched in their positions, about half of them were really playing a negative role, working against the government, they were making the whole process of government inefficient by their lack of effort. The second thing was their relationship with the unions, that the unions had compiled a whole package of demands and that they weren't met. They were not met because they claimed ownership of the struggle for independence and they were not in a position to meet demands, they don't have the money, but they have equities. Have you talked about the future and the kind of pressures that might play off in a post-apartheid government?

PJ     I anticipate that there will be those sorts of pressures but I think they are good because I think people's expectations should rise with the democratic government and those expectations are not unjustifiable. If nothing will change except at the instance of the people down below then they should make their voices heard. Everybody always says that, yes, but there is just so much of the pie and it can only be divided in so many ways. If they don't insist there is going to be no division.

POM     Is this tied into this whole debate that is going on around federalism? The Constitutional Committee had a group in the States and our university put on a seminar on the strategy of the economy during the great depression which concluded that you had to have a strong central government and they would have to intervene on a massive scale and this is related to the level or federalism. Is that where you want to be?

PJ     This is one of the arguments around the whole issue of the structure of a future state. Because what we have always argued is that the pro-federal argument is designed in fact to make for an ineffectual state, a state that is disempowered and therefore unable to do certain things. We want to interpret it that the intent is that the whites should not feel any discomfort as a result of a change of government and a change in the constitution, that the whites have got certain prerogatives and privileges that they have accumulated unto themselves and they must feel comfortable with those and if the state has power it will be unsettling to the whites.

     You look at all the theories of federalism here, all these federal models are built upon the best interests of the whites, not even one pretends to be in the best interests of the blacks; that whites will not be able to live with change, that is why we need federalism. We need concessions so that whites are able to live with change, you need a weak central government so that whites are able to live with change. Not one has ever taken as a consideration the interests of the blacks.

POM     Two last questions, one is on the question of the entrenchment of the white civil service in the constitution. Do you think that is likely to happen?

PJ     It is going to be something which these people are going to haggle about. But one has the experience of all sorts of countries against that. The difficulty, of course, is that if you don't find some formula you will either have to pension them off, retire them, or if you are going to have retrenchments you will have the problem of litigation because people will say they were unfairly dismissed; or if you are going to keep them on you are faced with other problems.

POM     What is the one issue on which the alliance will be least likely to compromise on the major constitutional issues?

PJ     At the end of the day the question is, are you going to have democracy or a qualified democracy? Are you going to have a democracy in which the will of the majority can be thwarted by various devices including the constitution, or are you going to have a democracy in which the majority can exercise his vote?

POM     Thank you very much.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.