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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

15 Jan 1993: Mokaba, Peter

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POM     First of all Peter, perhaps you could tell me very briefly the relationship between the ANC and the ANC Youth League.

PM     The ANCYL was established in terms of the constitution of the ANC. We are an organ of mass mobilisation in the ANC, concentrating on the youth, training the youth in terms of the perspectives of the ANC and ensuring that they contribute to the life of the ANC. We are bound by the policies of the ANC, but we do have organisational autonomy to hold our own conferences, take our decisions, run our own organisations autonomously and actually take decisions that impact on the decisions that the ANC takes, although we pursue the policies of the ANC.

     I, as the President of the ANCYL, am also a member of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ANC and I am also a member of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the ANC. In both structures I am there in my double capacity: 1) as a directly elected member of the NEC of the ANC and; 2) in my representative position as the spokesperson and the representative of the youth. So, that is in short our organisational and political relationship with the ANC. We are founded on the basis of the constitution of the ANC to promote and organise for the ANC.

POM     My impression from talking to a wide cross-section of families, is that many of the youth are disillusioned with the very slow pace of change that has been taking place over the last three years. Is that correct?

PM     It is true. The youth are disillusioned with the slow process, as you have just put it. But the youth are always a barometer of what is happening in any one society. According to statistics, the same number of people that were optimistic at the beginning of the process are now pessimistic about the process. But the youth's mood is indicative of that general mood of the populace. The optimism that you find in SA today is amongst politicians within political organisations. But negotiations as a prominent process, an aspect of struggle that is dominating our political lives today, has tended to be more and more exclusive, more difficult to translate into everyday language, into everyday activities on the ground, people have found it very difficult to contribute to the negotiations process. In short I must say that we haven't been able to conduct these negotiations in such a way that it becomes a process that involves the mass of the people and actually becomes their property.

     It is this lack of feeling that we are part of the process that contributes to the kind of mood that you are talking, despondency, disillusionment. They are feeling that they are no longer part of the solution as they used to be in their mass action/mass organisation stage. But this is something that we as the YL have noted and are very critical of, and we are working towards changing it. We would want to take the YL out of the doldrums of the past years this year, organise our youth, mobilise them and ensure that negotiations are reflective of the mass struggles of the people on the ground and not vice versa.

POM     As I recall last May, when CODESA deadlocked after the ANC had offered the government a 70% veto threshold for the inclusion of items in a constitution, the government turned it, my understanding, again from many people, is that the youth in particular were very upset about the percentages that had been offered without consultations, the fact that they didn't know what had been going on at CODESA, it seemed to be a process that was being conducted behind closed doors.

PM     It is true. It is also very true to say that was an offer made by the ANC because the ANC is an organisation. Our representatives at CODESA made that concession, it was not consulted or mandated and that is why everyone, the youth were the most vociferous, opposed that kind of concession by our negotiators, all regions condemned that kind of package as was offered to the regions by our negotiators. It is that kind of thing that disillusioned a number of people about the process of negotiations. It is true that the youth were in the forefront of dismissing and rejecting the compromise that was made to the regime in CODESA 2 of 70%. We think in fact even the 67% is the last compromise that we can ever make on the question of percentages. It is quite a compromise in the sense that we have moved already from 50% + 1% over to 66% which in any country, in any democracy is a special majority and not an ordinary majority, our constitution will be the most difficult one in so far as that every clause will have to be adopted by that special majority and the whole constitution adopted by that special majority. That compromise of 70% was therefore going overboard. We viewed it as something that was actually abandoning the whole tactic of national democratic struggle.

POM     Why do you think that offer was made, what happened?

PM     I am saying it was an act of brinkmanship on the part of our negotiators and we think also it was an act of desperation, which did not reflect the actual desperation of the masses on the ground.

POM     You say an act of brinkmanship, what do you mean?

PM     They were trying a trick but it was a dangerous thing that they were doing.

POM     What kind of trick?

PM     It was risky to do that, secondly if the government had agreed we would have been worse off, we would have been abandoned and we would have had to abandon many of our programmes because how else can the ANC achieve a 70% in this election that the government is already fighting against through the violence that they have unleashed at this stage. 70% of which communities? They will achieve 70% of the African community, but the Coloured, Indian and the Whites, where would we get such a percentage from them? The average percentage that we are going to get will be much less than even 66%, so we would have introduced the veto power by the minority parties through the back door, and that is exactly why we are opposed to it even today, even the 66,7% is a very huge compromise for which we are getting nothing from the government.

POM     I would like to move to the weekend past, when the ANC's NWC adopted a document called the 'Strategic Perspective', which makes the case for not only power-sharing during an interim government but also perhaps for sometime after the final constitution comes into place. I used to ask people, government, ANC and PAC people, a basic question: Is this a process about sharing of power or is it a process about the transfer of power? Everybody in the government would say it is a process about the sharing of power and everybody in the ANC would say it is a process about the transfer of power; and yet here the NWC, again without what appears to be a lot of consultation with the grassroots, have adopted a formula that could be explosive in its implications because how long is the NP going to be involved in the government of this country.

PM     That document of power-sharing was rejected outright. The final document adopted by the NWC does not make power-sharing an objective. The problem here is that there are people who are projecting that as our position. The decision of the NEC was to reject outright the question of power-sharing. We have opted, as something that we may consider, depending on three conditions; 1) the balance of forces at that time; 2) the interests of the country as a whole; 3) our own interests as a movement. But even these considerations and elements at the time ... we may consider the question of establishing a government of national unity. We made very clear the point and we made this point clear even in the NEC, that we are opposed to power-sharing with the regime, we are not opposed to a government of national unity, and government of national unity and the concept of power-sharing are two different things.

POM     How do you differentiate between them?

PM     Power-sharing would entail that the ANC enters an agreement prior to the elections which agreement would hold, despite elections, the view that says that the ANC would then give so many seats to the NP, it does not require of the NP to abandon their election platform or their programmes, it means they come in there in their own name and right and that government would be a government of consensus, a very, very weak government, it would actually be a coalition.

     With a government of national unity, history has proven, for instance, let's quote the Churchill example during the war, when Britain had a government of national unity, it did not entail then that the Labour Party had its ministers on the cabinet of Churchill. What government of national unity then meant was that a problem of national magnitude had developed and needed the consensus of the whole national government. The opposition then decided to suspend their opposition and to agree with the government in all such issues that would affect the solution that would save the country.

POM     Would I be reading you right to summarise what you saying as if there were an election, and the ANC wins the majority, that the ANC, at that time, may decide it's in its best interests, or the best interests of the country to enter into a voluntary coalition with the NP, Inkatha or whoever, but done on a truly voluntary basis?

PM     No, we don't want that coalition. What we are talking about is that the ANC, a government of national unity should recognise the right of the majority party to establish a government on its own and that majority party to implement its own programme through such won through an election. What that means is that in the first place having won a national election, the government that is established is one of national unity, but then can re-emphasise the point, by picking your ministers not only from your members (members of your organisation), but from the wide spectrum of organisations or organs of civil society and political society. We can do that, establish that kind of a government of national unity, taking people from all sectors of the society. You don't have to take them from the NP.

     What should happen is that all those ministers we are bringing in should then implement the programme of that particular organisation, it should not do away with the right of the majority party to establish its own government, that is the kind of a government of national unity that we are talking about, that we can live with. So, we reject out of hand completely, comprehensively, the suggestion by Comrade Slovo of a government based on power-sharing and consensus.

POM     So what you are saying reflects the statement, "We also need to accept the fact that even after the adoption of the new constitution, the balance of forces of the interests of the country as a whole may still require us to consider the establishment of a government of national unity provided that it does not delay or obstruct the process of orderly transition to the majority rule and that the parties that have lost the election will not be able to paralyse the functioning of government, which is fundamentally different from the approach of power-sharing which entrenches veto powers for minority parties". So there would be no constitution that would have sunset clauses.

PM     No constitution of that nature, no agreement between the NP and the ANC that would actually override election results. If you look at the beginning of that document it emphasises the question of the transfer of power and democratic majority rule. If you look at the first document of the Strategic Perspective it never did that, so it was our insistence that that is our objective. This other one is something that may happen, depending on our strengths and weaknesses at the point of transfer of power. It is a question of how we would want to see power exercised, on whether on not power should be transferred.

POM     On a point that you made earlier regarding consultation, something that is very important is that there doesn't appear to have been any reaching out to the grassroots.

PM     The consultation was very thin, narrow and shallow. We actually raised that point with the ANC NEC and said that we don't even see why we should go forward and adopt this position, we don't think it is representative of the organisation, we don't think it is representative of our constituency, and they still went ahead. That is why that document is not being promoted by anybody. You can go to the townships and ask anybody whether they have read this document, many have not seen it and they are not even going to look for it, they don't want it.

POM     Let's say an ANC government was elected, people's expectations will be very high. What do you think the youth have a right to expect say after five years of ANC rule?

PM     We expect the right to education, the right to develop land, we expect the right to jobs, I am not saying that should be exclusive to the youth, but you see our frustrations of today are that you go to school, you qualify and then you find yourself without a job. To avoid that kind of situation there must be an economy that is socially sensitive, there must be a government that is socially sensitive to the needs of the youth. Those are the kinds of things that we would expect, the question of housing; many of us reach the age of adulthood without any hope of acquiring a house, we are not assisted in any way, there is no special attention for the youth, we don't have, for instance, something like a Youth Development Bank which we think is one of the things we would want to see happening even if it doesn't happen in other countries.

     We don't believe that the youth should be referred to as the 'lost generation', we don't they should be referred to as marginalised, these are products of a society, products of the struggle between apartheid and the people and the society that comes in has to be sensitive and take them in, they have to have a stake in that economy and social order. That is our objective and that is why we think that a power sharing arrangement will frustrate all of that. The NP that has been insensitive and has actually targeted the youth as its main enemy, children, cannot be expected to implement anything that will be in favour of the youth, that would ensure that the youth developed. That is exactly what we are saying, that the power-sharing arrangement as proposed is actually an arrangement to frustrate the aspirations of the youth, for all of us our objectives today are the right to learn and the right to development. All of us would be frustrated and would again become outcasts of the society that we wanted to build.

POM     So, if in five years of ANC rule there have been no significant changes, say there has been some improvement in the education, but the unemployment rate is going up and not down, some houses are being built but not anywhere enough of them to make much of a dent on the backlog what will happen?

PM     It will depend of what is actually responsible for that situation. If it is as a result of a government that is lame, that cannot implement the policies it has adopted, that government will be voted out of power, that I am sure of. People don't eat names, the ANC is supported not because it is a short name, it is beautiful, it is the oldest organisation, or even because it has got Mandela. People who are supporting it are hungry people, people who have been oppressed for many, many years. They are very interesting people these ones. If the situation fails to improve because of objective problems that are beyond the capability of our government but the government is seen to be trying, that government will be returned to power, but if it is because of a deliberate policy, a policy that is brought about by this power-sharing which frustrates, which keeps in place the civil service that is not sensitive to the interests of the masses, to the cries of our poor in the squatter camps, they will have the right not only to take them out of power, but to revolt.

POM     In Namibia they gave an undertaking not to fire any civil servants, but in a very uneasy way. Some people I have spoken to there say at least one third of the civil service is working on activities to undermine what the government is doing. Now, when you look at SA, with this huge bureaucracy, much of central government has fourteen different people for everything, would it retain the civil service in its present form?

PM     That is exactly what we are opposed to. We say that the ANC's aim is not the retention of anything that comes from the old, but a strategy to change the military and a strategy to form a new army, to establish and transform the civil service, make it economically viable. For instance, if you bring all the fourteen departments together you create a mammoth bureaucracy that actually increases government spending as against the capability of the economy, you actually kill the economy. We cannot make such undertakings. That is why we are so vehemently opposed; and what about the numbers of people who must still join the civil service, who come from our own ranks, where are you going to put them? The question of transformation, of affirmative action for the African people, where do you put that? That is why we say this thing must be rejected completely, we are saying it can never be implemented. If anybody is going go on a power-sharing arrangement, they will do it alone, not with the masses. We don't think that that will happen. We have opposed it and we shall oppose it everyday.

     I was in a mass meeting in Evaton of thousands of youth, if you look at the posters outside there, we told them they should be (and they told us too), they don't want power-sharing and we told them we don't agree with power-sharing and the best way to avoid it and to prevent it is to organise ourselves into such a strong mass that we are able to exercise our independent thinking as the youth and be able to bring changes into this ANC.

POM     Is it becoming more difficult to keep elements of the youth under control in the townships, particularly in the Vaal Triangle?

PM     No, it is not difficult for the ANCYL, we enjoy a lot of support and authority there. But the youth are getting disillusioned with the structures of the mother body, that is the problem. But, as I said, I was in Evaton, the YL has managed to organise the biggest of all rallies there, streets full of people; they managed to do that because they are under control and each time they have a problem, they come here. Their solutions are discussed here. If we had a problem of authority they wouldn't be doing that, they are able to discipline their members. We have given an order that a member who conducts himself against the community, has to be chased out without preamble, out of the organisation. They are doing that and we are not suffering, we are in fact experiencing a growth in our organisation now that we are chasing out elements that act contrary to our policies.

POM     Let me ask you this in relation to the question of the abuse that took place at the ANC camps. There are now three reports and probably the most damning and the one which internationally was acknowledged would be the Amnesty International report, which was quite devastating, particularly as related to torture. Do you think the ANC must name the people who were involved, what positions they hold today and take drastic disciplinary measures against them, particularly as they knew about the torture that was taking place and did nothing to stop it or curtail it?

PM     My problem with all these commissions, including the ANC commission, is that they did not interview the people against whom the allegations were made. That is a miscarriage of justice. All of them have not done that. What kind of justice would it be to then publicise the names of people you have not given a chance to respond. That is one problem with these commissions, all of them including the commission set up by the ANC. Secondly, these commissions all fail to go into the questions that forced the ANC to operate like a state, establish for itself a security department, an army etc., the conditions of struggle under which we have been operating in Angola, with the enemy continuously sending in enemy agents, to poison our food. I was in exile myself.

POM     Where were you in exile?

PM     I was in Angola, Zambia, Mozambique. What I am saying is that we lived under very difficult conditions with enemy agents amongst ourselves. There was a case before I came to the front, of somebody who poisoned food and 700 of our cadres nearly died, all of that is not coming out into the open. There was a case of somebody who (there have been many, many cases), somebody just next to me claiming to be cleaning his gun and then released a bullet that nearly killed me, it never struck me. We lived with these people in the camps. Nobody is saying anything about us, we could not sleep because the enemy had sent in agents amongst ourselves.

     So most of the things that they are talking about, they were clearly mistakes, were out of the problem of hysteria and paranoia, people were feeling that we were unsafe. What would you say about a situation where you are sent into your country and at the point of crossing the border the enemy agents fire on you and kill so many around you? When I was arrested, I found the enemy reading my report, a report that I knew I had sent to the movement. What does that mean? It took quite a lot for us to remain committed to this movement, to this struggle, because we understood that this was the work of the enemy, and we condemned it.

     I am saying that we should look at the problem in a more holistic way, the circumstances under which all of this happened. Others who did that were also agent provocateurs sent into our ranks by the enemy. They found their ways into the security structures and did all of these things. There are those who actually did these things, I am not saying they have to take the blame. But I am saying if the commission is about correcting the movement and to build a democracy for SA, let it look into the circumstances and not just the actions.

     You look at the internal movement of the ANC, the UDF, look at what has been happening inside the country here today in relation to this office. You may look back and say those people were barbaric, there was killing of agents through the necklace, etc. Can we open a commission today and say to the leadership of the UDF you are guilty because you kept quiet? Given the circumstances of that time it is a very complex situation, I am not justifying it, I am saying in the first place those things that are being said to have been things that the ANC was committing outside were not a matter of policy. We don't have a policy to arrest dissidents and in fact no dissidents were arrested, only suspected enemy agents were arrested. Here in the country we were arrested because we were dissidents, we disagreed with the government, that is all. You didn't have to be a guerrilla to be arrested, but we disagreed with the government, we went to jail and died in jail.

     We were forced into that situation as a movement and a people not because we like violence, we were here unbanned and operating and the enemy followed us into our den and we had to defend ourselves. We have made mistakes in that process. You can't say the people outside were wrong, those inside were right, all of them have been engaged in a process of trying to defend themselves against a system that was sending people into their ranks. Very serious mistakes were made, there are people who have died who should not have died because people were paranoid, people were afraid, people were thinking that they were defending their movement at that time. The point is that it was not a matter of policy.

     It is for that reason that I am saying even if you divulge the names, will you be doing justice? We had given these people the task of defending the movement. You look at the secret services of the West and East, the kinds of the that they have done, you look at any other liberation movement, Zimbabwe: I have not seen a commission of enquiry going into who killed Tongogara and many others, because those were things that happened during the war and things that happen during the war, particularly a war that was forced onto a people, are things that we can be condemned for today and say that they should not be condoned, but I doubt whether you can then take further action and say you have to punish those you have designated to do work that was noble and difficult to perform. That is my only problem.

POM     Again, staying with the youth for a moment, if there is a changed new government which doesn't improve things, is there a possibility that the youth in fairly large numbers, could defect to the PAC, who would be sitting there saying, "We told you so, we told you the ANC would sell-out"?

PM     There is no question of the youth defecting to the PAC, unless the ANC changes its policies. You see the problem here is that the ANC support is very conscious. We know, for instance, that we are supporting the ANC that accepts whites because we don't define the enemy in terms of colour, unlike the PAC, that defines the enemy in terms of colour. We define the enemy in terms of a system, we don't define the enemy in terms of particular individuals. That is the difference between the ANC and the PAC, which says whites are enemies and therefore looks for a SA without whites, or looks for a SA where whites would be the underdogs. We say no freedom for myself is no freedom for the man who oppresses me and no freedom for that man is not freedom for me if we are all South Africans. We believe thoroughly in the Freedom Charter and it is for this reason that we will not be able to go into the PAC, change policy and begin to shoot at whites because they are whites. We may be frustrated because the ANC is not going well, but we will not go down to a position of the PAC, where we are going to find ourselves having to fight whites because they are white, they are human. These are terrorist tactics.

     That is the kind of support that we have got, different from that of the PAC which really has got no politics, no ideology. We are sustained in our support of the ANC by the ideology of the ANC, the way it defines the solutions, the way in which it defines the problem that is sustainable and makes sense to us. No university or high school student can say all whites are enemies. Here is Buthelezi who is wreaking havoc in our townships, an African, you see. We are able to understand him as an enemy, despite the fact that he is an African and we are able to accept Slovo as a comrade, despite the fact that he is white because of our ideology that takes out the whole question of colour, we are not racist. So there is no way we can budge and go to the PAC, no way.

POM     Talking about Chief Buthelezi for a moment; he sits up there in Ulundi, making all kinds of threatening noises, playing the card of Zulu nationalism, can there be a lasting, stable settlement in a country that does not somehow, accommodate Buthelezi? Does he have the capacity to be a spoiler?

PM     Buthelezi is an individual, solutions that we must look to for SA are people-based, people-oriented solutions. It is to the extent that this individual represents a constituency that we can find accommodation in any one solution that the SA people work out. We have proposed an election and that election is going to take place. It is up to Buthelezi, if he believes he is a leader, to subject himself to that process and listen to the verdict of the masses of the people who will then be voting and saying who their leaders are, together with the people who reside in Ulundi. If Buthelezi had that kind of support, the kind of support that he claims he has got, why is he afraid of elections? Why is he burning houses of civil servants in KwaZulu. It is because he knows that he hasn't got the support of the people of KwaZulu. He knows that he hasn't got the support of the Zulu speaking people, that he is a puppet.

     I don't think Buthelezi has to be accommodated in any way. This democracy that we are establishing should be a peoples' democracy, the people must decide. It's like asking a question and saying what is the ANC going to do if it loses elections, will it go back to the bush? We will not support that kind of move. We stand here and say that the people must govern, let the people choose not to elect us, that is the will of the people, why should we go back to the bush? If we don't have the right to go back to the bush, what right does Buthelezi have to destabilise? He has to be dealt with thoroughly, we don't think that only the method of persuasion should be used, force has to be used against such people. Particularly after elections. We don't agree with the Savimbi thing and we think that the government of Angola is actually being very lenient with that fellow, he has to be hit and hit very hard. The people have made their choice, should we go back on that then we have compromised democracy for others. We don't think he has to be accommodated as an individual, let him work to ensure that he wins elections.

POM     I have seen a frequent scenario, and I am sure that you have too, that shows that the ANC could get a vote of about 46% - 47% but that all other parties combined could end up with 52% or 53% and you would have to go into a coalition. What would be political, psychological consequences of the ANC failing to become the next government of the country?

PM     That will then see SA sliding into anarchy. The question is not just the ANC failing to become the government, but the people of SA failing to establish a clear authority and without authority we all agree, anarchy will reign. That is another of our arguments against a coalition government. We say let the people choose who, let us not go to an election and say to our people we will be sitting in parliament with the NP even if they lose. Let the people make a statement and say who their leaders are and then we will have authority, we will have an authority people can listen to, which is what SA needs today. SA hasn't got authority and it hasn't got national consensus, a thing that we must still build, a thing to which all will strive for irrespective of their political persuasions. It is what we are still trying to build, a nation and an authority for that nation.

PM     So the question of the ANC failing to win an election and no other party winning a majority, is a disaster for us.

POM     Maybe you can give me some insight into how the strategy has evolved in the ANC since last May, the deadlock of CODESA, Boipatong, the ANC walking out of CODESA, mass mobilisation, stayaways continuing, the march of Pretoria, the ANC giving a list of demands to the government, the meeting between De Klerk and Mandela, and now this document which is considered by the government to be going some way to meeting some of their demands. Some would see it as the hawks being more in control of the action, that the roles have now been reversed, the doves were being silenced, am I reading this wrong or what?

PM     In the government circles or in our circles?

POM     No, your side.

PM     The problem with that term is that the hawks are always the people who are representative of the masses on the ground. If that is the case, you are then saying that there is going to be a disaster. You see, you can yourself do a research and say this one is a dove, but you must ask yourself what umbilical cord that person has with the masses, and you will see what I am telling you. Concocting solutions above the heads of the people in your offices is always dangerous. We are not quiet, the reason why Slovo's ideas did not take root in the ANC is because we are not supportive of them and they know it. We are not and the masses are not supportive of that.

POM     Do you think the ANC leadership over the last couple of years has gotten of touch with the rank and file?

PM     I would say that section that is proposing this compromise is actually out of touch, not the ANC, the ANC as an organisation is quite in touch with the masses, but this section of the leadership that says we should go into compromises are not in touch in any way with the masses.

POM     How would you see the evolution in the ANC strategy, is it moving in the right direction according to your view?

PM     In terms of strategy as stated on paper it is the correct strategy. Transfer of power, installation of a democratic majority rule, mass driven processes, all that is correct. What is out of order is the compromise proposed in the Slovo document, it is out of character. It actually resigns the whole policy of the ANC and that is why it has been rejected. So I am saying in terms of the organisation, in terms of the regions, the YL, Women's League, uMkhonto weSizwe, we are on track, in terms of the branches, we are on tracks. In terms of our documents we are on track, transfer of power the objective, not power-sharing. That which is not on track is a proposal to compromise on power-sharing.

POM     Do you think that the disagreement over that could become sufficient to split the movement?

PM     The movement won't split because the organisation on the ground does not believe in power-sharing. Maybe some leaders might leave the organisation but that is not a split, a split would then affect both the branch, the region, the zone and the national movement. But a situation where a man moves out of the organisation, that is not a split, because his ideas are not supported. We have had phases like that where individuals resign, and that is not a split because no-one follows them. People believe in the ANC, not individuals.

POM     Do you see the YL as the force of the movement on the ground rejecting any attempt by the mother body to make a deal behind closed doors with the government?

PM     Not only that, we also who are in the NEC are there to ensure that that does not happen. We oppose that kind of thing. Anybody will tell you that the strategic objective document when it was introduced was rejected out of hand immediately, it could not be adopted, not even as a discussion paper. Finally when it was said that it was a document of the NEC, even in its changed form, everybody will agree that it was discussed, it was not really discussed on the ground or anywhere else. That is why, I mean, you go to Sebokeng or Soweto after this and ask anybody about this document, you won't find support for it, no-one is popularising it. If then the people who wanted this to be popularised had the masses on the ground, they would have long popularised it, no-one is making a speech out of this thing.

POM     So if you look at the next year, what do you see in SA?

PM     I am sure that if we mount mass action this year, if we strengthen our organisation this year, particularly us the youth, if we ensure that we root out criminal elements in our communities; because one of the disasters of our time is that the African communities are disintegrating. That is my concern, I come from those communities. If we as the young people organise in such a way that we become the cement that holds the communities together and ensure that we act in the very same way that we have been acting in 1986 and 1976, I am sure that elections will take place this year or next year and I am sure that we will be able to put into place the correct leadership that will ensure that SA moves away from disaster and moves towards a position of stability and prosperity, a situation in which everybody feels that they have got a stake in the South African order that we shall have established.

PM     I see the youth, the women and the workers as the mainstay and the main force that can ensure that that happens. When those are organised, I fear no SAP, SADF, I fear no counter-revolution; I fear no wave of violence, I feel we can handle violence, we have lived through a lot of violence and I think we are experienced enough to deal with those kinds of elements. I don't think they should be dealt with through compromise.

POM     A final question, and thanks for your time. Do you think De Klerk is in full control of his security forces or whether he is hostage to certain elements within them, or that he is afraid of a coup if he moves too fast?

PM     I don't think from his own actions that De Klerk is fully committed to the process. I think, of course, that he is not in full control, but that does not mean that he is then fully committed, he is not in full control and he is not fully committed to the process of change. In fact he is part of some of the destabilisation in an attempt to weaken the ANC.

POM     What can you point to as evidence of his being part of the destabilisation?

PM     You heard him say that there is a third force, we have said there must be an investigation, he refused. When his own commission, the Stein Commission, finds that there is a third force, he does not want the commission to be opened up, he covers up and does not deal with the whole question of the SADF and the police. There are people who are killing in the trains, no-one is being arrested and De Klerk is not worried about that situation. What he is worried about is what the ANC says or does. He is the one who is encouraging Gatsha Buthelezi in his intransigence today. If De Klerk was fully committed to this, why would he be encouraging people like Gatsha to act in the manner in which they are acting? Gatsha is not like an independent state (KwaZulu), the government has got all the powers to deal with the situation of KwaZulu as much as they can deal with any situation in Soweto, they are not doing that. How fully committed is De Klerk to this process?

     I think what Gatsha is doing is part of what De Klerk wants him to do, what some of the security forces are doing is part of what De Klerk wants them to do. It is true that he cannot have full control, he can introduce a presidency by a majority of two people over Du Plessis, he has got the military man, he does not come from their establishment, but he is a conservative himself. He has always been like that, I don't remember him changing; he still sees the ANC as the enemy, he is not co-operating with the ANC. None of the agreements we have reached have been implemented fully and instead of looking at that as a drawback we are wrong in doing these things, to show that he is not responsible. He is actually hiding the whole thing.

POM     Since you came back to the country, have you gotten any sense, from the white people that you have interacted with, or the reactions of the collective white community, that they regard apartheid as wrong, that they are sorry about it?

PM     I have never seen a sizeable number of whites actively defending apartheid. But I don't expect a massive revolt when this system goes, they have been living with us now. For instance, we are moving into towns, Pietersburg, one of the Conservative areas, which is also my home area, we are trading in towns, and we haven't seen a massive reaction of the whites saying that they don't want blacks amongst them. It has always been a government policy, no-one is defending it on the ground except the far right. When you talk to the whites, particularly those who have ... you know we have been engaged in consumer boycotts; what happens is when you go into negotiations with them, they actually tell you that we depend on one another, we don't think this should be the strategy, we think we can live together. That is way out of what the government has been telling us about the white community. The Town Council in Pietersburg, when we were discussing the question of a consumer boycott, they were saying they are not responsible for this thing, they will allow us to come into town and live there, and they are doing that.

     So that, particularly the business and the student community and the ordinary folk have never really been invited into the system of apartheid properly, they have been gaining, that is not in doubt, but I don't see them defending it today. I am staying here in Berea, I go to Sandton. My friend in the other room Mothibe, lives in Sandton. The whites came to see him and accepted him there. I haven't met with the kind of resistance that blacks should not live with whites, except from the far right.

POM     Are whites apologetic for what they did to you? To me it seems that they say, OK what we did in the past didn't work and therefore let's scrap it and build a new SA. But they are not saying that apartheid was fundamentally wrong and that they are sorry for the injustices that they did to black people over the last forty years. Do you get any sense of sorriness, of 'we did wrong'?

PM     I think that is how I can describe the mood of the whites, that is why I don't expect a revolt because they feel that the system of apartheid was wrong, some would say that we have always felt this, we have never really believed in it but it was government policy. But I think that is the reason why they voted yes in the referendum. I don't even think it captured properly the mood the whites and their fears. Even the Slovo paper, that has been one of our criticisms, that you are not really even representative of the white fears in the true sense of the word. We don't think that accommodation of the NP is accommodation with the whites and we don't think that to bring in the NP we shall have brought in the military, that is not true. We don't think we shall have brought in the people who are in the civil service, it is not true. That is one of the criticisms that we have made because we are aware of the white sentiment there, that is not the way the NP is portraying. They are saying those things for their own sake, they want positions in the power politics of SA.

POM     Thank you very much for your time.

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