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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
27 Aug 1992: Chikane, Frank
POM Dr. Chikane I would like to talk first about something we talked about last year. Did you get the transcript of the interview?
FC I would have got it, yes.
POM Because I can give you one if you want. This relates to hostel workers, dwellers. You talked at some length last year, but this year again going among hostel workers there was a very clear attitude again of the church and the South African Council of Churches as being partisan and the issue they focused on in particular was the massacre at East Crossroads where they said Frank Chikane wasn't there to bring it to the attention of the world, Desmond Tutu wasn't there to bring it to the attention of the world like Boipatong so that they are linked, they have an attitude about which violence is bad violence and which violence must be condemned.
FC Let me say that we condemn violence from whichever quarter it comes. As the SACC we do not take sides with party political structures but that we strive to ensure that there is justice done which is a gospel imperative. But on the hostels issues in particular there are a number of problems. Firstly, that we have called for the transformation of hostels into normal dwelling units, family units where in a normal flat you have bachelors' accommodation and family accommodation, etc. They have understood this as destroying their accommodation. That's how they interpret it. I think if you were in Natal you would know there is a group of people, joined group of people brought together by the churches from the different parties who are talking about reaching agreements on what we mean by transforming hostels which doesn't mean depriving Inkatha members, or Zulus as they put it, of their accommodation. The perception is we want to get their families here so that they lose their land there. They fear losing what they have there. We say, no, you have the right to come here as you choose to stay in single accommodation but we should not have a whole block of rooms just for single people because that creates a social problem. If you know you don't have a family here you can go and attack people and come back, you don't think carefully like a family member who goes and attacks people and knows their house could go on fire and the whole family suffer. I'm just indicating the elements of the problem areas but in terms of the actual Crossroads and Boipatong which is what the press has played so well.
POM In the hostels, maybe they pick it up from the press or from whatever?
FC Yes from the press. We have had meetings with the IFP, we have a working committee. They are supposed to be convening it. It has been months they have not convened it. We used to do it alternately, to work on some of their misunderstandings. We have said to them we are ready to minister to everybody but we do not normally impose ourselves on people. When the Crossroads event happened I asked our field workers to go and check. That's what we do, even with Boipatong. We send our field workers to check, detect the ground and check the Ministers in the area, the leadership in the area and when we are welcome we go there to be received by the community, but if the community happens in that particular instance to belong to Inkatha and they were not interested in talking to our people we don't go and impose ourselves. The only time we tried to go to a hostel, if you would remember, would be in 1990 December when we planned a tour of diplomats, leaders, political leaders across the board. We were going to have Mandela, Buthelezi and Mrs Suzman was there, etc., but then Mr Buthelezi said, no, he wasn't going to come because he didn't have the time. We wanted to go to both, there was war there, both sides.
POM We got into both sides.
FC That's good. You have a personal experience. And there we were trying to have both leaders and go with them in both instances. The Chief Minister said, no he couldn't come with us because we told him too late. Everybody was told late because it was an emergency. If violence happens today you call them tomorrow, then he says protocol doesn't allow that, but then he comes and flies with the Minister of Law and Order in the morning before we come and addresses those hostel dwellers. We still have the guts to go there and still try it and they rejected us. Now, you don't impose yourself as church on people even when you preach the gospel and if they accept you and allow you to minister to them you will do so and we have done it in a small way in other areas like in Soweto and other places. But you see you don't stop us coming and then say that we don't want to come and you don't encourage us, even funerals, you don't go to a funeral and impose yourself as a Minister and bury a person. It's normally with the local pastor of that particular family that you agree with and if the local pastor is subject to political constraints that he cannot relate to you on that particular issue then you compose yourself and we have said to them, invite us. If there's a death invite us, we will come but if you don't invite us we cannot come and impose because then you will be chased away from there in any way.
POM This is like a perception that feeds on itself. It's like they decline to have you there because they see you as aligned.
FC They are angry already.
POM And then because you don't come, even though you don't come because they didn't invite you, then they blame you for not coming which reinforces ...
FC It's a vicious cycle. And we have said to the Inkatha Freedom Party, I am sure you have heard me say, that we have differences with them which are political, which have to do with sanctions, which have to do with the homeland system, which has to do with funding through government structures. Those are three fundamental issues and we have said we believed and we still believe that sanctions are the best way to put pressure on this government to change. They say no. We say we'll have to accept, that's democracy, let's accept we differ. But then they used that as a basis to extrapolate and say how biased you are in the operation. For instance, up to now they agree, I mean everything the government says they almost agree with it, in fact they are almost on the right now side of government in terms of some issues. Mr de Klerk said to us in October last year, "You take sides against me. You are helping the liberation movements to gang up against me." You remember when the Front was building up to be formed and we were encouraging that because it will lessen violence, that's why we did it. He said, "You are getting them to gang up against me." Then Desmond Tutu answered that question. He said, "We are not going to apologise for taking sides with the victims of apartheid, we are not going to apologise for taking sides with justice. If you moved now and took the side of justice we would be on your side."
POM I want to get back to something ...
FC But I am just showing you the bias that they are interpreting.
POM Yes, just the latter bias I want to get your reflections on. The two of us have been coming here for four years and at least twice a year and talking to a lot of people. I am struck by the attitude among government ministers because they treat negotiations, they treat this whole thing as if it were a labour management dispute; you sit one side of the table we sit the other side of the table and whatever the areas of difference we hammer out and we have to compromise. There is no recognition at all of historic gross injustices that have been perpetrated, of wrong being committed and that it is not an equally balanced ...
FC They were right, basically. It didn't work well but they were right. That's the logic. That's why the Archbishop Desmond Tutu has tried to say to Mr de Klerk, "At least if you say to our people 'I'm sorry' it will be sufficient, you don't even need to do much more." They are not doing that, they operate on the basis that they were right and they are going to continue to find a way in which they can maintain the same way of life in a different way that will be more acceptable. I think that's really for them the subject of negotiations. The subject of negotiations is not to eliminate an evil system which was heretic to establish, a non-racial, much more democratic - they accept it's not democratic. They accept that but they are saying it was necessary at that time and we were right, it didn't work.
POM Again, doesn't this create deep-rooted problems ultimately about resolving something where one side has an attitude that must be altered in some way if in future the huge socio-economic imbalances and restructuring that must happen in South Africa is to survive would happen? Pik Botha the other day said to me on this question of apologies, he said, "I've apologised many times." Can you remember any occasion on which he has said that?
FC I think there's only one Minister in that Cabinet who has honestly apologised and he is Mr Wessels. Wessels went to Norway and made an apology and he had talked to me. [I don't think you should record that.] He talked to me before he went to Norway and it was almost like a quiet - he has a particular relationship with me because when I was detained he was the Deputy Minister of Law and Order and so he was partly responsible for my detention so when I met him, leading a delegation, he said, "I want to ask for forgiveness from you." And that to me was extraordinary and I thought he was joking and I said, "Well, you know, I've no option, the Bible requires me to forgive you and anyway I don't have a choice in that respect if you say forgive me." And during tea time he came to me personally and said, "I really mean it." And then he went public, he declared it in Norway, he declared it again in parliament in a sitting of parliament. We have not had that type of thing from any of the others. What they are busy with is that there are still radicals in the ANC, communists there, they are manipulating, that's why the ANC is taking radical steps. It's the old song. It has nothing to do with the ordinary people in Soweto who have been deprived of a vote for so many years. That's not the problem they are solving. What they are solving is how we reach an agreement where we will still be in control and perpetrate the old systems.
POM I remember last year you were very optimistic about the negotiations that were going on for a Peace Accord to be successful. The Peace Accord was signed with great fanfare last September and yet last year was the single bloodiest year in South Africa's recent history. What happened?
FC What the country and the world failed to notice and realise is the song that we were singing at that stage, we didn't make headlines, that the National Peace Accord can only address what I understand as overt violence. So that from September last year to almost the latter part of this year, after June 16th, you didn't get what used to be just mob violence in streets, you were not getting armed people marching and killing people, it was more of assassinations and much more sophisticated that was going on. We had said then that the problem with the National Peace Accord is that it doesn't deal with covert operations, so that the covert guys who are paid with ... would continue stirring the violence and running activities that would generate the violence, even when the Peace Accord is there. Until you catch him and say this is a member of ANC or Inkatha or the police you can't use the Peace Accord, you see.
POM The Accord is funded by the government?
FC Yes it is.
POM In one way it's one more government funded agency.
FC In fact they even say to fund it for that matter. That's worth more. The compromise position was they worry about their sovereignty. OK, we have now reached an agreement, we sign it, put up a law that recognises this thing that we have signed. That's your parliament. I think that was a compromise position so that it becomes acceptable to them as well and you can implement it but it has not been implemented fully. It couldn't be implemented to cover the rest of the covert operations in any way. It wasn't properly funded. The Commission which issues out of it, its recommendations were not acted upon. The Commission doesn't have investigative powers. It's now that they are beginning to resolve that particular question. And so the odds are actually against that Accord. I don't think the government had an interest in stopping the violence. I think they were interested in being seen to be peace makers but not to stop the violence. If they had the interest they had no capacity to do so and I think, I believe lately, the latest, that they are incapacitated, they are paralysed by the history of death and destruction that apartheid has done and it involves Generals, ministers and most probably de Klerk himself.
I am still waiting for this announcement at 10 today to see what happens but I'm more convinced since we talked to government at the end of July and after mass action and the amnesty debate that we are now prisoners of the Generals. We are prisoners of the Generals because de Klerk can't act against them simply because if he did they will tell us something about de Klerk that will make him lose that position immediately. And so de Klerk can't risk that and because he can't risk that we are at the mercy of the Generals. They will determine the agenda of what this government does. Mr Pik Botha has been implicated in a number of ways that we don't know now but if those Generals will decide to tell us what Mr Botha was involved in, in sanctioning things that no-one can defend, you would then realise why he cannot himself motivate action against the Generals and so we are victims and that's where we lost trust in Mr de Klerk.
When you met me before I would have told you that he's a man of integrity, he's doing his best and that he has difficulties. But since the revelations of Inkatha funding in July last year and subsequent to that we met Mr de Klerk because we had met him twice in 1990 if you remember. April we met him on the 11th, August the end of the month we met him again. He sat with Vlok and with that Commissioner of Police. In both instances we presented evidence, prima facie evidence indicating security police involvement. They said we are lying, we wanted to discredit the police. In fact in September 1990 they made headlines to say Frank Chikane is really on a campaign to discredit the police. One year later the revelations come and it confirms all those things we presented to them. I have not got a call from Mr de Klerk saying, "I'm sorry, these people lied in my presence." If he didn't know. But he did something worse in the press conference in July last year to express confidence in Mr Vlok and Mr Vlok knew about those activities and if he does so then it makes me suspect he also knew about it. If he didn't know, he knows if he acted against them then they will also reveal what more he also was involved in. I think that's the vicious cycle for me that we are trapped in now.
POM So where does that leave one with regard to amnesty? Under what conditions ...?
FC We took a decision yesterday with the Executive Committee, we are going to make that public. Our view is that there can be no general amnesty for the government and security forces without declaration of the truth. The El Salvador agreements on commission on truth which was facilitated by the UN, it's very critical otherwise we have a generation of psychiatric, psychologically disturbed people who sit with knowledge that murder people. Because if you say amnesty you have not helped them as human beings, they live with it. If we discover one day that you murdered my brother, because information will come out, that amnesty will not clear up that relationship, but if we know you murdered my brother now we have declared amnesty on you, we now accept one another. It's easy to forget and forgive and forget and we are saying pastorally we cannot have an amnesty without declaration. They must say what they have done and then you give them amnesty. But this particular government has no right to give itself amnesty. It can't forgive itself, it can't say I'm declaring myself not guilty from now on. You need an interim government to do that and that's our position that has come out quite clearly.
POM There must be an interim government that would deal with that?
FC Yes, de Klerk ...
POM Maybe they should have them do what the government did with the ANC exiles and that is give them an indemnity form and they have to list all the charges and if you leave one out you can be tried for it.
FC Yes. And you get tried for it. You remember that story? I'll indemnify them on those things they have declared. It's actually strange because during those days we used to say: give these exiles general amnesty. You remember those days? We were dealing with victims of apartheid. We were saying these people were victims, they tried to resist the system, they got into trouble, they ran away, give them amnesty. But if you say, and somebody said we are biased, if you say I make a difference on this issue about ANC torture and government torture and killings, they are saying we emphasise more of the government than the ANC. And I said there is a fundamental difference between the two, the one uses legal authority as government with our tax to kill you, which is different from some organisation or individual torturing somebody. You can't equate that you deal with that individual who tortures somebody, but it's even worse when a legal government in power does it officially, because that violates everything else that you can think of, that should be allowed in any country.
POM Do you think that for the purposes of justice, of reconciliation, that the ANC should disclose what went on in the camps because this became an issue in Namibia where SWAPO promised an investigation and had never followed up on it and it's still an issue of contention?
FC Yes, yes. As far as I'm concerned there are difficulties within the ANC about those issues but there is willingness, at least from those people who have not been part of this process, to say let the truth be known and be declared. They have accepted they have done those types of things. You see there is a difference. Mr de Klerk hasn't accepted the security forces have done those things that are being revealed, from CCB, the lot, they say it was a peace-keeping thing. It was not unique to assassinate anybody.
But the ANC, Mandela has said on the basis of information he has, there are atrocities that have happened in the camps and he hasn't gone into details of what type, details about this character and that character. For me, who was involved with some of those people who were repatriated and I negotiated for before their repatriation programme started, the so-called dissident group, I went to Nairobi twice to negotiate their coming back here, between government, ANC, government of Kenya and the churches and we got them here and the ANC was able to say to me, "So-and-so, yes he was tortured but we now believe he was innocent." You see they do say that. We believe that he was caught in the crossfire but this man is not an informer. Those people of the mutiny in 1983/84, they do say that there is a difference between an informer who infiltrated that camp and generated that mutiny, but there were people who genuinely joined that mutiny because they had grievances and they are able to say to me "These are definitely, we accept that they were tortured and they were wrongfully tortured"' When you push them on specific individuals the Intelligence gets up to telling you exactly what the position is.
POM I want to go back to violence again because personally I can't see ever there being free and fair elections unless somehow the violence is brought down to a manageable level. When you refer to young people, to townships where you appear to have had the emergence of gangs who are accountable to nobody, only to their peers, where you have some ANC local defence units out of control, as Chris Hani said, where crime is committed but the perpetrators put it under the political label (if it weren't for this we wouldn't be doing that), one gets that that violence can develop a momentum of its own.
FC It has already.
POM It feeds incessantly.
FC It perpetuates itself, it is self-perpetuating.
POM That every time you go to get it under control you get half measures and it escalates further so it's growing exponentially to the point where neither the ANC can exert control over their youth nor the government nor anybody. What are your reflections on the dimensions of that?
FC We have done that analysis. We have a structure that explains that problem and that's why we have said that if there's violence in Alexandra in the recent conflict that neither government, nor ANC, nor Inkatha could have actually made a call to stop those people. So saying to Mandela or Buthelezi make a call and call on your people not to be involved in violence is a waste of time because what happens is that even if suppose they call, the theory about involvement of police is right, you would engineer an attack on me in the name of Inkatha and then the people would attack Inkatha because they believe they attacked you and then they come and pay revenge. Somewhere else you go and hit a child of somebody who is not a member of Inkatha or the ANC or AZAPO or the government, then that person goes and attacks a member of the family of the person they believe was involved. At the end it becomes non-members who fight with one another, who will not take anybody, any of the calls seriously and so it perpetuates itself.
What we have said as churches is that we must set up an internal peace-keeping force specially designed and trained with a different identity, because the present police force has lost credibility, to deal with the violence and investigations of those crimes so that they can deal with people without suspicion that they are part of the regime. And we said it could either come from elements of the existing armed forces from the government, homelands, liberation movements or it could be a new force under a different command and if they have it nationally they must internationalise that command. We have put options and then we have said, secondly, that we need international monitoring because when the UN was here people behaved and those few people who were here made a lot of difference and that's why we believe strongly that you need that. Once you've done these two things, and, of course, you've declared the covert operations and deal with the Generals who are generating because otherwise you will be trying to stop the water before it flows on the other side, then you can deal with the self-perpetuating aspects at a moral level, training.
We had agreed in the summit of leaders of affected areas in April and in follow-up meetings up to June, that we would have multi-party workshops on democracy and cultural tolerance, cultural violence and how we get out of that culture. That's really what we planned to do but the deadlock in CODESA has just destructed the whole process. I don't believe that as long as the government is failing to deal with the violence we will be to stop the violence in any form and the Boipatong example is critical. You have people massacred, such a massacre during the night and it takes 16 hours before they do a follow-up operation. More people say those people went to this building to kill or lead us away and they take 16 hours and that indicates the unwillingness to resolve problems. If the legal arm doesn't you can't solve the violence.
POM Just on Boipatong, I can't understand, if you presented violence to me in the scenario, what the government is doing is negotiating on the one hand and destabilising the ANC on the other and weakening them. That I can understand, it's rational. But how would the government have stood to gain from the massacre at Boipatong at all?
FC No, no, what I am saying is, I'm not saying, I have not said that the government gained.
POM Just that the police didn't respond?
FC I'm saying when the legal arm of the state fails to do the normal thing that a police force does then you can't stop all these elements that get into the fray because then you need your own army to do it. I felt like, that day, if I had my own unit I would go and fight those people. You would go whilst they still have blood in their clothes and everything else. You go straight there. You surround the hostel. They have done it before. They fought a very gallant war here. They dealt with us very effectively, sophisticated and they got their results, but when it doesn't suit them they have no interest in doing it and then of course the tapes get wiped off as well.
POM Yes, if you look at the Waddington Report and you see a police force that you would think is the grossest, most incompetent force, unaccountable, and woefully commanded in the world and you contrast that against the activities of the police force in the seventies and eighties when they were notorious around the world for their efficiency and thoroughness and ability.
FC Let me tell you, I was sitting in the police station in Soweto in chains, in leg irons, in a Captain's office and they were monitoring an ANC young man who was going to cross in Mafikeng and the radios were ringing and they were monitoring and I listened to all that and they caught him. They were so efficient. I could see the operation and I can't believe that so many, 200, 300 people go and murder people and you take 16 hours before you actually do a follow-up operation. You make sure the evidence is destroyed so that by the time you go to court you can't prove the case because you as the police must present the case, the state case as they call it, and you lose the case and then you say, well, there was no evidence.
And so I am saying that it is not inefficiency, there can be inefficiency now because they are demoralised, they don't like what's happening and so they are a different force than the one that was fighting at that particular time. They have no interest in making sure there's peace and therefore no movement at all. I gave them information. We got information, and that is with the police and the Commissioner of Police and the minister that after Boipatong, that that weekend after Boipatong there was going to be an attack in Soweto, that a meeting was held in a hostel, a person who attended that meeting was worried that his relatives stayed in the area where they were going to destroy, so he wakes up and goes to the relative and says, "Please during the weekend get out that place because you're dead". I wrote a note, fax, quickly to the Minister of Police, Commissioner of Police, and said, "Here's the information." Then a policeman calls me in Soweto and says to me, "Can you give me the name of the person who gave the information?" I said, "No I can't give you the name because I don't know who amongst you is involved in that meeting." And he said, "How do I find out whether this information is right or wrong?" Then I said to him, "You would use your Intelligence to get into that hostel and find out whether there was a meeting on this particular day, what actually happened, who was involved, etc., etc. You've done that intelligence with us I can't see why you can't do that." They might be recording what we are saying now. It's so efficient when it comes to those people they don't agree with and nothing has happened.
The difference is that the attack didn't happen because then they knew we were monitoring that particular event and we had already set up mechanisms to address that particular event. So what I'm saying is that if they act willingness, whereas if they got just the teeniest information there was a guerrilla somewhere else they would have surrounded the whole area and blockaded everybody, searched every house to find one single person and they have done it before.
POM Do you think with the deadlock at CODESA and the subsequent collapse that the government wanted CODESA either to deadlock, to fail?
FC No I have a different interpretation. Maybe I have the privilege of having talked to business and other people who talked to government confidentially. I have my conclusions about what happened at CODESA. I think they made a fundamental mistake at CODESA.
FC The government. You see they played the game of pushing for the maximum and they pushed the ANC to the top of the hill and hoped they will actually fall over the other side and they missed the calculations because the skill of negotiations is at which stage you stop demanding more and reach an agreement. The ANC comes with a compromise but they had not consulted with anybody and at that stage they should have accepted that compromise and they rejected it. One month later to prove the point they accept it. The ANC has already been castigated for having presented something. No-one sent them to prison there. If there was an agreement they would have to do a big job to get people to accept it and most probably they might have succeeded.
POM But there would have been a lot of talk about sell-out.
FC Yes, they would have debated it and maybe people would have said, well, because Mandela has agreed we will respect him, let's accept it but we don't agree with that. You know what I mean? They could have most probably, but the government made a mistake because they believed the ANC will cave in more and they were certain that they will then seal the agreement and that they will be in power for a long, long time. If that agreement was signed they would be in power for a long, long time. The freedom people were looking for was not going to come.
POM A lot of people have said the same thing. Did the ANC negotiators fail to see the trap that the government was setting, that they were making concession, concession, concession?
FC They went in good faith. Let me dramatise it a little bit. A week or so before CODESA, Valli Moosa, who is secretary of the negotiating team, was briefing church leaders, I think there was a briefing, I don't remember the dates. He was very confident. I met him a few days before CODESA after that briefing. He was still very confident. I even said to him, "Please compromise everything else except an elected body to produce a constitution." I said if the ANC compromise on an elected body the churches will not support that, they will oppose it because we believe it's a valid reason, the PAC argues for it, AZAPO argues for it. If they agree on an elected body they will get everybody else participating, we solve all our problems. He said he believed that they are going to accept this and the theory was they had accepted a transitional government to be elected which will then be in their terms a Constituent Assembly. It's a matter of agreeing on a mechanism, Transitional Council government, whatever they call it, to take charge of the election processes. They had given up the sovereignty of the interim government already by then because they believed the government was going to agree on that elected body so whatever happens here didn't matter too much. So they agreed on all those things because they didn't matter but they didn't expect the government to say that constitution for that elected body will be produced here by CODESA with all the constraints that make the minority have a veto. And they didn't think the government will sustain that up to CODESA 2 at the meeting and indeed the government did and the thing collapsed.
I think the government made a very fundamental mistake. The ANC made a mistake of judgement. They had too much faith in the negotiators from the government and that faith has been destroyed and for me that's the tragedy.
I have been involved in negotiations, you know you develop the opposing party's trust, develop a dynamic that's outside your respective organisation, you develop personal relations, you sit here and say, "How do you help me?" On your side what can they accept and what they can't accept, you understand my problem, I understand your problem. At the end we end up strategising together how we deal with our two constituencies. You know there is a dynamic in negotiation which takes its own momentum and then you begin to trust one another and when your partner says, "Give me this. I will make sure that on the basis of that I deliver the other thing." And then you believe him because you've developed a trust and then the crunch comes and it's not delivered, the negotiators get discredited and this is what has happened within the ANC forum. We have said to government, you are doing yourself a disservice if you don't allow the voices to deliver, a simple thing of allowing people to vote and you want them to agree on a complex thing that doesn't give their vote any meaning. Those negotiators will lose credibility, they will not deliver the goods, they will not be acceptable and we are back to square one.
POM All of that, in a way, could have happened if the government had accepted the 70% veto threshold?
FC Oh, if they accepted that formula in its totality. To have the 70% is not sufficient, it's the total package they were presenting which meant the constitution will be produced in CODESA.
POM Then the ANC would have accepted the whole package.
FC Yes. And they would have been in big trouble.
POM They would have been in big trouble.
FC And we would never have been free for a long time and we would have, churches and other people would have stood up and opposed it. That's the crisis.
POM Do you think they understand that? People we've talked to in the ANC, and you've got to work out what's propaganda and what's not, do you think they know that they made serious errors of judgement where they almost gave the whole struggle of forty years away?
FC I think that's why Mandela is angry. When we met Mandela, you remember last week of July when we tried to intervene, his anger is that he has been let down by Mr de Klerk. He came out and told the world this is a man of integrity. He wanted the world and South Africans to believe you could settle with him. He said that to us, and you needed to maintain that and work on the basis of trust and you hoped that he would take that seriously and reach a settlement and that has not happened. And that's why Mandela is going on this onslaught on Mr de Klerk at a personal level which is quite hard actually. But he's not saying there was a bad judgement on his part. He is saying he believed that was the best way to find a solution. But I have now discovered that on the other camp they are not interested in finding a solution.
POM That the government are not interested in finding a solution?
FC Yes, that's acceptable. You see they want to maintain their power, they want to continue controlling. If they would agree on a simple thing of people electing a government and he was prepared to ensure that minority rights are not violated. You know, his person on its own could have influenced the direction of events, but what de Klerk has done is to discredit Mandela himself and that's where the crisis is. If you go down to the actual negotiating people who were on the table, I haven't talked to them all to assess what the issue is, but all of them, those who were at the critical stage, know that they realised within a day or two that they were in trouble, that the government in fact wasn't going to deliver what they had promised to deliver. You see they accepted the smaller things hoping and expecting that the major thing will be delivered and the major thing wasn't delivered. That's why they said it nullifies the rest of the other things because we agreed on them because of, contingent on. I'm not sure whether they can tell you that. I mean, talk to them individually if you can, it might be very helpful to talk to Thabo, talk to Valli Moosa and those types of people.
POM We've talked to six or seven people who were involved in the 70/75% - seven different versions. It's amazing.
FC Because it was never consulted. That's the problem. It was a version that was put there in the debates, etc. and there was no proper consultation. As I'm saying, de Klerk was taking advantage and the real scenario for me is that he believed the ANC had no recourse to anything and when they did move out of CODESA de Klerk didn't believe that. I don't think he really believed. They still believed they will find a basis for doing that, then Boipatong came and just killed off the thing. Then de Klerk comes with the same package and the ANC says, no. Then he says it's because of the communists.
POM So you were trying to mediate, or the churches were, to get the two parties together. You say on the ANC side their perception was that the trust had been destroyed, that de Klerk tried to pull a fast one on Mandela and that accounted for their anger and their insistence that these other things had to be addressed before they would go back to the table. When you went to the government, what was their perception of what the difficulty was?
FC At an official level it's the radicals really. At the official level it's the radicals who are really creating the problem. But when you talk outside the official levels, like you talk to Roelf Meyer and others, you will realise that they know very well that that story is not a valid story. They don't want to say they were mistaken, they believe there are radicals who are driving the ANC and that's why the ANC is not coming to a settlement. I actually no more believe what they believe. It's a strange way to say it. Somehow somebody told them mass action wouldn't succeed, their Intelligence. I believe that there might be Intelligence elements who also misled that government.
Take the example of visiting Boipatong. Twenty minutes before Mr de Klerk moves into Boipatong they check, Intelligence check, and they say it's OK he can go in. And I believe anybody doing proper intelligence should have realised that de Klerk would never be allowed to get into that place. It's either they misled him to lead him into that situation so that he feels it himself and, of course, had an occasion of shooting people for no particular reason. I believe the intelligence they get, business also began to believe that that mass action wasn't going to happen. I also almost believed it because every commentator was saying that mass action won't happen, the ANC is going to mess itself up. And they were expecting that they would mess themselves so much badly that they would come running into the negotiation table and that hasn't happened. So I'm not sure about the information they operate on any more.
POM Do you think that the mass action was successful in the political sense that it exceeded the government's expectations to an extent where they know that future mass actions of this nature will further damage the economy, i.e. their particular interests, and push them in the direction of going back to the table, finding a face-saving formula with the ANC or do you believe they are really saying it happened because if it did happen and if it exceeded our expectations it was because of intimidation?
FC Yes. There was intimidation, etc., and so forth and they are banking on the fact that people get tired of stayaways and mass actions and they expected a reaction when Inkatha opposed it and it was still normal, but when the PAC did so and AZAPO and NACTU they actually thought, now we're going to have a conflict within the black communities during mass action and it didn't happen. In fact all those parties had withdrawn and the ANC and COSATU pulled out that type of mass action proved the opposite, that they do have some following in here. But I don't think the importance of the mass action for me is whether it can cause so much damage to the government that it would not survive. I think the people who would be more hard hit would be business and if business were the voters then the government would have been in trouble.
POM So is the strategy that mass action puts pressure on business to put pressure on the government?
FC Exactly. I think because the actions that were taken weren't really putting pressure directly on government. It was more on business and business is the one that sustains government with their taxes and all this stuff. If business took a stand tomorrow and said we can't have this government, this government wouldn't last for a long time. And so I think it's in that sense, more indirect than direct. But it also dealt with the myth, you see they were saying that they are irresponsible going to mass action, etc. But what mass action proved, which is just the opposite, is that they are more privileged. If they doubt their support. They say Mandela wasn't sure about his support so he resorts to mass action. When de Klerk is not sure of his support he uses taxpayers money to go and test his support. The playing is not level. It's not equal and that's where the church leaders have said, "We can't condemn mass action because these people have no right to get a referendum to test their support and they have the right to use mass action. What we are concerned about is that it must be peaceful and accept the other people's rights." So that's really what it is psychologically in terms of politics and that if they repeated that event again the government would find it more and more difficult to justify it. But the ANC has formidable obstacles.
POM To repeat it again.
FC Yes, I mean it's not an easy thing.
POM We talked to people in Thokoza where some of the men had lost their jobs and their complaint was that they were small businesses and they didn't belong to a union and the complaint was that COSATU played a big role in all of this but it's members were protected.
FC And the others were not protected, that's fact.
POM And they're paying the cost, not the people who actually call it.
FC The big unions can deal with the problem but they can't. They become victims of circumstances in a sense, yes.
POM Do you see the government going back to the table in a weaker position than it was in when CODESA deadlocked, with a clearer understanding that they must now face the critical issues? Or are they still going to try more posturing? For example Mr Nefoloyhodwe, he said the government had been talking to them, the government was talking to the PAC, and he said, "If I was the government this is exactly what I would be doing because what I would look to do is to say, OK, let's have a new negotiating forum and let's pull all these parties in. Now we have to start from scratch again because the agreements we reached at CODESA have to be reopened and the PAC is going to disagree with this, and AZAPO is going to disagree with that and the Conservative Party with the other and we thrash and thrash and we start the whole cycle all over again." Do you find validity in that?
FC Yes, I don't think, I mean it's a nice type of theory but I don't think in terms of practicalities it's going to happen. I think whatever forum they set up will take into consideration all that volume of work that they have done because lots and lots of work has been done which is not contentious. There are lots of things in CODESA which were not necessarily contentious, but I think there's a different route for me. I believe that the UN Resolution, if implemented accordingly, would create the possibilities for the parties to go back to the negotiation table and it might be a broader forum at that particular moment. But you couldn't start the Peace Accord anew and the Goldstone Commission, you can only build on them. So the UN Resolution helps to deal with the violence which is the major thing that angers the ANC. You see the constitution you can still debate but the violence is the major issue. If the violence is taken care of, and they are doing some things now, they are talking about strengthening Goldstone, they have agreed on monitoring. So a number of things are happening.
It is at the constitutional level I believe that on the basis of the UN Resolution the government cannot continue maintaining those unreasonable veto mechanisms and even if these governments are not saying it loudly (I mean the Americans, the British, etc.). They know that this is nonsense. You can't have a minority veto built in into a constitution, you have to find another way. That's why the government is moving in the federalism route. That route they are following to call a meeting of federalists, if there is such a word, they believe that that will strengthen their position so that they can divide the country in a way that regionally they would still be able to devise a mechanism of control, which they wanted to do in CODESA and the ANC said no. So they are going ahead so that they can get the maximum agreement to come back, but that's foolish as well because they are going to end up with homelands doing that which is not going to help anybody.
POM You're going to end up with homelands doing ...?
FC I mean doing the federalism, agreeing with them. Without the liberation movements it's not going to help them.
POM It's not going to help the government.
POM When it comes to the question of violence and elections, the obvious question is: can you have free and fair elections in South Africa at the present moment? But if you don't have elections you add more fuel to the violence.
FC Our view is that we have an election whatever the case because if you say we won't have the election until violence has subsided, the Generals will fan more violence so that you never have your election and we believe the international community must put up monitors and we can have elections. Like during the time of the mass action the presence of those monitors made it peaceful and I believe that we can have a peaceful election for that moment. You know what I'm talking about? What we need to deal with, which we were discussing yesterday with church leaders, is what do you do with the Ciskei where there's no freedom of expression and how do you run an election when you can't mobilise people? That should be part of the agreement that no-one can actually do that. The agreement that leads to elections must say that no-one can stop anyone organising anywhere in the country for support during the elections and then you can get UN monitors doing it.
POM Do you see the SACC as playing a role in the monitoring of the elections themselves, such a vast, just your organisational capabilities?
FC Yes. It depends on circumstances. For instance if an agreement was reached, in CODESA they were talking about an Election Commission which was independent of the parties, etc. and we thought that's where the churches would participate because we wouldn't want to participate in a party related type of structure. We are now working on a monitoring mechanism, international monitoring, ecumenical monitoring which will start the latter part of September. Monitor violence and end up monitoring the elections so we will have international people coming facilitated by the churches. We are facilitating also peace monitoring groups within the country and the debate is whether you attach them to the National Peace Accord or not and that's the biggest debate at the present moment. So we will participate in a monitoring process.
POM Last question, and thanks so much for the time. The Buthelezi factor, he sits there in Ulundi, militant, bitter, saying that he will not be party to any agreement which excludes the Zulu nation, the Zulu King, if the King and the Zulu nation are not part of the negotiation process. Can he be a spoiler? That is if he doesn't feel "accommodated" in some way. Does he have the residual capacity to engage in a low intensity civil war in Natal indefinitely?
FC Unless something serious happens internationally I don't think many of the credible governments would actually want to associate themselves with that type of action but we should accept that there are right wing groups, both in the United States, Britain and elsewhere, who have their own resources who link up with people like those and generate the violence and then of course the right wing groups that could have been disgruntled within the country who have access to explosives and all sorts of things could also team up at that level. So there is a danger in that respect, but my position has been that unless indeed the agreements are so unreasonable the majority of Zulu-speaking people would not go that direction. So there is also the element that says this tribal ticket is used, it is over-dramatised. 6 million or 7 million Zulus against this issue and we know that half the percentage of Zulus would be in the urban areas if you use the general proportions in the country and most of those would never want to go and be confined in KwaZulu. No-one is going to vote for confinement. Those who are already in that rural area may say that but none of those people who are outside there would vote for being confined in a very dry, arid part of this land.
POM But if there were not a federal structure that linked, standards of autonomy that Buthelezi wanted or that the King wanted or whatever, does he have access to weaponry and the resources to say I'll fight this? And the result will be a state of civil unrest indefinitely in Natal.
FC Yes, but that's why I'm saying if you don't have the masses on your side you need a much more sophisticated, you need war that causes destruction for the sake of it but if you have masses that becomes more dangerous because then you can't resist that. But actually, anyway I've grown up in Soweto so I don't understand that I must accept that I am not the best person to talk about these traditional things but I can't understand the contradictions they are dealing with. They are dealing with very serious contradictions. Any King would not have a war amongst his people where 5000 people get killed, same tribal group. You don't do that as a King. You could do that as a politician but not as a King because then you become a King of everybody. Now if that happens it means you have violated other people within your own family in a sense because so many people have died.
That's why I do not believe if there was an election now they would actually win an election, get as much votes as they would have done say three, four years ago. Three, four years ago Buthelezi would have got quite substantial votes but after all this violence and with about 5000 people dead in Natal, it's not a tribal war, it's Zulus fighting Zulus as well, and so that destroys your natural cultural base and so you must look for a political base rather than a cultural one. I think that's, for me, that's why suddenly he was cultural and then he became politicised. There was a time when he had to be called President of Inkatha. You remember by 1990 when you went to talk you had to say "President", when you said "Chief Minister of KwaZulu" you were undermining him.
And then suddenly the dynamic changed in CODESA and then he says, "No, I'm now representing the Zulus." It's the Zulus really because the IFP, he realises the IFP which is a political party will not go for the nation so you need to go back to the tribal which you hope you use that emotional ticket. But that's suicidal because that will make you lose if you do that in this country. It's not like in Zimbabwe where you had so many Shonas, the percentage was so huge that you were guaranteed a victory. Here you can't on the basis of a tribal ticket.
POM Thank you ever so much.