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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

12 Aug 1993: Mokaba, Peter

Click here for more information on the Interviewee

Click here for Overview of the year

POM     I suppose I should begin by taking you over what has made you most notorious recently. This is from The Sunday Tribune on 20th June, it says: - "ANC leaders in frantic moves to prevent rift as 'Kill the Boer' slogan and Winnie's revival threaten unity." It says: - "Acknowledging it is a problem that's very serious, ANC PWV region Chairman Tokyo Sexwale told The Sunday Tribune that the organisation leadership had its work cut out trying to deal with the breakdown in discipline. In Khutsong township near Carltonville Mr Sexwale soothed the flaring tempers by firing the local ANC branch committee following allegations of autocratic corruption. It is understood that the ANC's National Executive Committee met on Friday to discuss ANC's Youth League leader Peter Mokaba's defence of the controversial 'Kill the boer, kill the farmer', which is said to have discomfited Mr Mandela during a Soweto rally on Wednesday." When you look at what's going on with this full negotiation process, do you think it's living up to the principles of the Freedom Charter?

PM     Well in as far as our people are concerned at the World Trade Centre, that is our negotiators, I think that much, not all of course, of what the Freedom Charter stands for, the framework within that can be achieved is being laid down at the World Trade Centre. We cannot, of course, expect that everything that is in the Freedom Charter will be achieved because there at the World Trade Centre we've got forces that are opposed to the Freedom Charter and forces that are for the Freedom Charter, but what has been happening is that we have achieved much out of the talks that I'm confident that after the 27th, after the first general non-racial elections, we will be able to bring this country on a path that is defined in the Freedom Charter with less obstacles in our way.

POM     Could you put that remark 'Kill the farmer, kill the boer' in the context of the Freedom Charter? It would seem to be contrary to its spirit.

PM     No it is not so, it has never been so. The Freedom Charter when it was drawn our people were singing about 'Amabono'. To us 'Amabono' has never meant an individual white person. To us 'Amabono', which is the boers, has never meant that we have suddenly started to define our enemies in terms of persons. We have always waged a non racial war against the racialism of apartheid. Where apartheid defines blacks as enemies we defined apartheid as a system as the enemy and fought against individuals and groups to the extent that they allowed themselves to act as the agents of this apartheid no matter what the colour of their skin is. That has always been so and in all of our assaults our people have always expressed themselves against white supremacy in the words 'Amabono' or the 'boers'.

     Today at the funeral in Thembisa Comrade Ronnie Kasrils, who is a white person was saying 'Amabono', he wasn't saying anything against himself as a white person. He was saying close down the parliament of white supremacy, white racism, and for that we don't apologise. Now we have always had, in that very same funeral that people are talking about ,the funeral of Comrade Chris Hani, we were singing there a song of MK that is almost a national anthem, but it is not, that says "Hambagatle uMkhonto". It says, "Go well MK but do not worry of course because we, members of MK are determined to kill the boers." That is the literal translation of the song. It is not racist, it still says that the system that the Freedom Charter stands against of white supremacy is the one that is the enemy of all of us. It's the very same apartheid that the world has declared a crime against humanity and the world has declared a threat against peace.

     So the distortions of the Nationalist Party have never been part of our meaning or the meaning of our songs and we have never accepted those interpretations which were meant to be propagandistic and in fact try and put the ANC on the same path at the Nationalist Party which has just recently lost its ideology of apartheid and now want to project themselves as people who can compete with the ANC on questions of non-racialism when they have not actually crossed the Rubicon, they have not moved from white supremacy, they still want to retain white supremacy in a variety of forms and one of their struggles is the current violence, the current assassinations.

     Just before you sat here I received another message from our Intelligence that only last week another attempt on my life was exposed. It is the regime that continues to kill our people and to try and want to kill us because we belong to the ANC and because we hold these views on non racialism and they know that. So actually the question of 'Kill the boer, kill the farmer' is not a meaningless song, it is a song that expresses real conditions of life our people but the meaning that is given to it by the boers, by the regime, is not the meaning that our people understand it to be.

POM     Was this subject addressed in a meeting of the NEC?

PM     It was. We did discuss the question but there in the NEC no-one suggested that the song was wrong, that it meant what the Nationalist Party and the SABC was saying. All that was said was that, of course, we don't have the kind of propaganda machine that would be counter ... it would distort anything that we're saying, but do we want to spend a lot of time defending this slogan or can we simply shift and expose the real murderers of the farmers because the ANC is not engaged in a programme of killing the farmers and in fact it condemns the murder of farmers. We believe that those who are murdering the farmers are actually the forces of De Klerk, the very same forces that are murdering the blacks in the townships because De Klerk has never been able to move the Nationalist Party, in all of its history has never been able to keep the loyalty of the whites without using the element of threat, 'swart gevaar', 'total onslaught', every time whites must rally around the Nationalist Party because of a putative threat that the Nationalist Party works against them, always on a racial basis. So it was not new.

POM     Do you see the Nationalist Party now trying to organise itself around white fears?

PM     It is unable, it can no longer defend apartheid, but it is unable to move from the premise of apartheid. It still wants to sustain and retain the support of whites but it cannot do so on pure politics, it cannot do so by raising pure policy positions that they alone can implement because on those policy positions we will defeat them on each one of them. They raise the old fears, relying on old attitudes, relying on suspicions that they themselves have engendered through the system of fascism and apartheid that they have implemented in our country. And that is how they hope to sustain themselves and to keep themselves as a party. Should the whites begin to interact with the blacks that will be the end of the Nationalist Party.

POM     I think recent surveys showed of those whites who voted for the NP in 1989 only one in four of them would vote for the NP now. It's base seems to have collapsed, it's divided.

PM     Exactly. That is the situation that is facing the Nationalist Party.

POM     How do you think they will organise their election campaign?

PM     We believe that they are going to use violence even more as part of disrupting the constituents from the ANC, trying to limit with fear the number of people who would go to the polls and also keep the whites afraid that if the ANC takes over the violence in the townships would also engulf them. They are going to use the element of violence even further. We are still going to see more terrorism from the state and it's how I believe the campaign is going to unfold.

POM     Do you think the violence in Thembisa and Daveytown and Thokoza and Katlehong is all part of that?

PM     It is. Once we exposed the cheques that the government gave to Inkatha to train itself so as to fight against the ANC, once we exposed the kind of money that was spent on that organisation, Inkatha, to train them to fight against the ANC, once it was also exposed that about 250 members of Inkatha were actually trained in both Israel and the Caprivi to come and conduct terrorism against the constituents of the ANC, once De Klerk himself agreed that 20% of the CCB and the covert operations is still on and he has not dismantled it, there is no doubt that De Klerk is involved in this violence. There is no doubt that, as one of their defectors pointed out, that they themselves made Inkatha what it is today. So it is not the man who carries the spear who is important to us but the people who organised that man and motivated him and actually paid him to go and kill his own brother. The De Klerk regime is the main culprit.

POM     Why then would the ANC persist in not only negotiating with a government that's orchestrating the violence but one that is prepared, in a government of national unity, to share power with it? Will they not try the same thing after the election?

PM     The ANC should continue to negotiate. Negotiations is not a form of surrender. Negotiations is not because the ANC has abandoned its positions. Negotiations is an extension of the very same struggle that we have been involved in. When negotiations were not possible armed struggle took its place and because now negotiations are possible armed struggle has had to be suspended. The ANC has always preferred a peaceful settlement but had history imposing on it the question of armed struggle. We are not negotiating there the survival of apartheid. We are negotiating the modalities to end apartheid and transfer power to the people. So the ANC should continue. The enemy will continue to try and discourage us to kill the people even as we are negotiating and I am saying it is wrong to counterpoise negotiations to real struggle. It is part of struggle and too many people are making the mistake that when our people are killed that it means that then we must withdraw from one form of struggle which is negotiations because they view negotiations wrongly as a compromise, as a favour to the enemy. It is not. It is about the same power that the Freedom Charter said we have to establish.

POM     A year ago when we were here the right seemed dead on its feet. It was disillusioned, demoralised after De Klerk's victory in the March 1992 referendum. This year we come back to find a resurrected right. The various elements of it have come together, it's more cohesive and it has in a man like General Viljoen a man with credibility and respectability. What do you think has accounted for the resurrection of the right?

PM     The right have always been a friend of the Nationalist Party. There isn't an organisation in our country of the whites that is not infiltrated by the Broederbond. There isn't an organisation that is not infiltrated by the security structures of the Nationalist Party. All those right wingers are trained members of the SADF. Now it cannot be true that, of course, these whites, the right in particular, were ever disorganised.

     I was saying the right has not resurrected on its own. It took Viljoen himself who was in the SADF, removed from the SADF with a golden handshake, sent out to go and reorganise the right. Viljoen did not become a right winger after Potchefstroom. He was a right winger all along. They were forming these front organisations as the Military Intelligence within the government structures as part of an operation that De Klerk is aware of, Operation Thunderstorm. The very same structures of covert operations that De Klerk is heading. We do not think that there is the question of the third force, De Klerk is the main enemy here. The right wing are his front organisations. Whether we talk about the black right wing which is Inkatha, Mangope, Gqozo or you talk about the white right wing, including the CP itself, even the DP, the so-called liberal English white organisation, failed for instance to disclose the people who within its ranks belonged to the Broederbond. Now these are faces of the same thing. I do not believe an inch that the right wing were resurrected now. It is a strategy by De Klerk, part of the violence campaign that he is conducting.

POM     What did you say at the funeral today?

PM     I don't know. For sure when I said my people should arm that might have caused them a problem but I believe in that.

POM     They should arm to defend themselves?

PM     To defend themselves and I've said to them that we must chase the police out of the townships together with the soldiers because they are there to fan violence and not to protect our people. We believe in resident policing. The police who live in Thokoza must defend Thokoza and not anybody who has got no responsibilities towards Thokoza.

POM     Do you see the action or rather the inaction of police as being part of this orchestrated plan?

PM     It is part of it. It is part of an orchestrated campaign against the African National Congress.

POM     Again, Peter, my question would be if all this is true, I don't suppose you would say that it is not, how does the ANC then fight an election against a government that is still trying to destabilise the townships and which claims that only it can bring stability back to the townships? No doubt still the ANC would be the largest party after the election but it will then enter into some kind of a power sharing agreement with the enemy.

PM     We are not entering into a power sharing agreement. We are saying that we would want to establish a government of national unity.

POM     Could you tell me the difference between the two?

PM     National unity means that all those who believe in the kind of progress that we shall have set out at the Trade Centre and who shall have participated in elections and therefore have got particular support out there will be brought into government by the majority party. It's not as if we are saying no matter what, I mean anybody is going to be part of that government. It's not a coalition government where you come in as a matter of entitlement. You come in as the loser but because of the magnanimity of the winning party and we are doing this because we want to deal with the fears of those who might have doubts about an ANC government. It is an exercise in nation building.

POM     Do you think that if the National Party becomes part of a government of national unity that it will put its past always behind it or do you think that the right wing will still be out there which will be in opposition?

PM     I don't believe that we will be able to deal with the whole problem. I think what is going to enable us to deal with the whole problem of course will be to include, to make everybody feel that they are stakeholders in the kind of system that we are going to introduce. But there will always be elements out there who out of hatred over many, many years would not want to see an ANC government. We cannot always use the method of persuasion. When the ANC is a government it will have to act like any other government to defend itself. I believe that both persuasion and force are going to assist us. There is no revolution without force, without the use of force and we are engaged in a revolution here. What is true here is that those who are carrying arms today and shooting our people also think that we are incapable of taking up the same arms and shooting them back. And we think that is not the case and when the moment arrives and if they continue in this fashion we will certainly be ready to take back, to take up arms again to confront them. When Mandela said, "We are ready for their violence", I believe he meant that we can meet their violence and put it down as a government.

POM     I remember Chris Hani before his death this year saying that some of the self defence units in some of the townships had gotten out of hand and in talking since we've been here to people on every side, ANC people as well as government people, both say that they are not quite in control of their constituencies whether it's the townships or the military. Do you think the ANC is in control, that it can exert the discipline to bring renegade elements that might be operating on their own under control or we're at a point where everything is out of everybody's control?

PM     I think so. We can be able to do that. We made a mistake. A gun is a very powerful instrument in the hands of anyone that owns it. You don't say to people, "Organise yourselves militarily", and deny them direct political leadership and subordination and say that they will be led by the community that is faceless. That is our first mistake because once we made a call that our people must defend themselves we should have also created structures of political control of those self defence units. Now if you leave men alone to decide when to hit and how to hit and who to hit they are certain to go against some of the political objectives that you set up for yourself. And I think that was the mistake. It is not the self defence concept that is wrong. Indeed Chris Hani was correct that they have got out of hand, but they have never been within hand because we have never given them effective control. That is the mistake that we made and it is a mistake that we should not repeat, to put men under arms and not constitute a clear political leadership for those men, clear disciplinary structures, rules of operation and so on. There is no document today that defines what a self defence unit is and how it should operate. Now men when they are organised, men and women when they are organised, certainly the rules of organisation will include procedures and hierarchy and how the structure is formed and so on, how members can join and how members can leave. We have not resolved those issues. We responded to the situation.

     Although it was of course correct for us to say people must defend themselves, we should have taken it more seriously, further, and organised them ourselves to teach them how to defend themselves. Also the self defence units have not gone out of way because of themselves. The government still has got a programme, and it says so publicly, of infiltrating every organisation. Now a government agent within the self defence unit would necessarily ensure that this self defence unit does not act in terms of the perspectives of the ANC, that they should act in such a way that they become again problems for the community and the police who belong to the enemy, to the De Klerk regime, become an alternative. We formed the self defence units in a theatre of struggle and I am saying we did not consider all questions properly when we said they should be accountable to the community and be controlled by the community. The community is not faceless, it exists in terms of structures. People believe in certain authority and not in other. The reason why they don't believe in the police is because of course they believe in the African National Congress. Now you cannot say a community in which there are sell-outs, that that community can actually constitute itself into an authority and later a command structure that would be able to give definite, positive orders to defend the community itself. I think that's where we went wrong.

POM     I interview every year a number of families in Thokoza, some of whom are ANC supporters and some of whom are IFP supporters and the IFP people would see the police being on the side of the ANC. They have no love for the police at all. They see the police as the enemy that are in fact on your side. They can recount in graphic detail attacks made on their houses or shoot-outs outside or attempts on their lives. Where do you place all that? They are people who are scared, they are people who think that the police are lining up with the ANC effectively to kill them, to destroy their houses, to destabilise their communities. What would you say to a family like that?

PM     That the police are killing them. That is the life experience of the people. You see that is why we believe that the infusion of more police and soldiers is not a solution, it worsens the situation. Just before you came into this office I was told that in Thokoza where they have just gone into another form of repression the main target of the police there are ANC members. The main target is the self defence units. They are not looking for the thugs, for the Inkatha members who are killing people. They are killing ANC members, they are killing the self defence unit members. They have got the perfect cover now to deal with them. That family, I would say to them, of course organisation is our first answer. Organisation street to street, organisation that excludes the police, does not co-operate with them, actually makes them feel that they are not wanted in the township, a campaign that should get them out of those townships and a properly constituted self defence unit that is able to defend the people even against the police because I do not think that they have got such fire power that they can defeat an organised people. I don't believe that.

POM     Again, what would you say to this IFP family who are convinced beyond all reasonable doubt that the police are their enemies and the police are in collusion with the ANC?

PM     Well you see I think only experience, if they have got an experience, if their suspicion is based on experience then we have got a problem there but I would say that we can easily prove that whoever is a member of the ANC who collaborated with the police against Inkatha cannot be our member. We don't have such members. We don't want them. If they are able, for instance, to show us that a certain member of our organisation has done that we will take action immediately and that person will be expelled and will belong to the police because we do not co-operate with the police against Inkatha. We do not co-operate with the police against anybody in the community and if any person has done that, has actually breached the discipline of the ANC, they cannot legitimately belong to our structure.

POM     So do you see the violence increasing between now and next April?

PM     It will increase.

POM     Do you think when De Klerk said last night some place that, "No peace - no poll", that he will attempt to use the violence to postpone the election?

PM     That is their objective.

POM     What do you see as their strategy at this point in time?

PM     Their strategy of course is that they have to - you know the Sandinista situation?

POM     Yes.

PM     Where now the war was dragged on and on until the whole community, the whole population was war weary. All that people wanted was peace, it didn't matter who brings about that peace. They ensured that the Sandinista government could not operate in certain areas, they ensured that as long as the people supported Sandinista they would be killed and that was complete blackmail and that is how the Sandinista lost the elections, added to other mistakes that they made. This is what they want to produce in the South African situation, in the Angolan situation too, to make our people war weary, make them look for any solution including selling out their rights to democracy, proper democracy, and proper peace. They want our people to look for peace at all costs including at the cost of their own deeply felt demands. This is their strategy and of course also they are looking at violence as a weapon that is going to effectively disintegrate the African National Congress. There may be such feelings in some areas.

     In Thokoza we had a problem recently where our people and other ordinary people were regarding any Zulu speaking person as Inkatha, a mistake that led to innocent people being attacked simply because they spoke the language that Inkatha uses predominantly. Now that is now bringing in the element of ethnicity, fostering ethnicity through violence and the enemy, which is De Klerk, keeps on harping on the question that we are a multi-national society, Xhosas do not want to live with Zulus and Zulus do not want - It is those kinds of actions that they want to promote through this violence. Violence anywhere is not a uniting force, it is a disintegrating force. It's like a hit against anything. It disintegrates the compound it is acting against.

POM     So you are saying they would like the elections to be postponed but by their own constitution they have to have elections by the end of September of next year? So what's the goal in postponing elections?

PM     No. The government wants the interim constitution to be in place but postpone elections for a Constituent Assembly where the final constitution would be decided and drawn because it has always been the attitude of the government that the interim government must actually become the constitution of South Africa, the interim constitution. Now they have tried that within CODESA and we deadlocked. They are trying it outside the negotiations process using violence. They are not saying, for instance, that this violence is going to stop legislation of the TEC, legislation of the interim constitution. They say it will stop elections for a democratic Constituent Assembly. Why not the first stages? Why does it stop that one and not this one?

POM     Do you think the fact that your people are war weary, want peace almost at any cost, is putting an added pressure on the ANC in negotiations where they don't want to drag the negotiations out, they want to get something in place quickly?

PM     No. We have always wanted a speedy resolution of this problem because the more we do not have an acceptable, legitimate government, the more this violence, some of it coming out of the uncertainty cost, will continue. And also this is an element, of course, that we know, that we don't want to engage our people in and we don't want to see this violence continuing because it is not a positive thing to happen. It is going to make nation building very, very difficult. Where we had a positive element such as the fact that we were able to come to the negotiations table without either side feeling that it has been defeated completely and out of that we could have actually worked out a very good solution that would have been accepted by all, unlike the solution of the 1902 Vereeniging Treaty when the British defeated the Boers and the Boers ever since felt then that the Treaty was against them, we thought that these conditions in which now we are, in which we are negotiating with people whom we have not defeated militarily and who have not defeated us militarily, that that was a situation that was very conducive to nation building because no-one was going to enter the new agreement as a defeated force. That was going to be a major positive impact. They are working against that because they want to disintegrate South Africa into a federal state. They want to disintegrate people of South Africa in order to weaken the African National Congress. That is the main thing.

POM     On the question of federalism, do you not think that the ANC at this point has moved a long way towards conceding federalism?

PM     We have not conceded federalism.

POM     What will you concede, would you think, to Buthelezi in order to pull him back into the process?

PM     We have shown Buthelezi that regions - Buthelezi can never govern South Africa. He has got no membership throughout the country. That is the first thing. In Natal itself he cannot even muster more than 30% of the votes. Now we did not say to him that he will have autonomy in Natal. That is not going to get him, that we have proposed and we have actually developed fully the areas over which regions will have exclusive power and the areas over which the regions powers will have to be concurrent and could be overridden by the national law. But we have also situated all of that within the Constituent Assembly and said that all regional constitutions that we are not opposed to should not conflict with the constitutional principles and any law that will be passed by the national Constituent Assembly. Now we have not allowed asymmetry, we have also not allowed autonomy of regions altogether.

     There is no country today that is completely unitary or completely federal. All countries have got features because the main thing today is to take governments closer to the people. The ANC has never been opposed to strong regional and effective, strong effective and efficient regional government and local government but we are opposed to the disintegration of a people to create smaller states where we are working for nation building. So we have not considered and we will never concede federalism. Their main problem, of course, is that they have always thought that the ANC is against certain of the things that they think are federal features, but we have never been so mechanistic in our approach. Ours was never an either/or situation. We said we will take from these systems what is good, both of them. Excessive centralisation of power is not good too. But also excessive decentralisation is also very detrimental to nation building and developing common society. The government in its own economic budget complains about the fact that apartheid separated people functionally and spatially and the need now is for us to come together economically and integrate because that is the only way forward. At the time when Europe is integrating itself, looking for common markets, we cannot be looking for disintegration.

POM     If Buthelezi then remains unsatisfied and remains up there in Ulundi and plays the Zulu card, talking about the threat to the Zulu nation, do you think he will attempt secession? Do you think there will be a more vicious war in Natal?

PM     We don't think so. I don't think that there will be a vicious war. It can be very cruel at the beginning because it will have to be a terrorism, a terroristic war. They will have to adopt terrorism. But the fact of the matter is that it cannot even be a civil war because South Africa's people are divided in terms of what Inkatha wants and what the ANC wants. In Natal it is the Zulu people who live there. There are no Tswanas and now we can't talk of a situation in which Inkatha can actually claim to be representing all the Zulus when there is a strong ANC presence that they have been unable to defeat and we are very confident that we are going to defeat them in an election. We are confident that even militarily we shall defeat them, but we don't want a military solution. We don't.

POM     But when Buthelezi says, "Since I haven't got my way I'm not going to participate in these elections ... " ?

PM     We said, and we have said so in the ANC, that Buthelezi in that respect can go to hell and we should attempt to bring him back but if he doesn't want to he can stay out. We don't think he's an important element. We have said so and we maintain that he can stay out together with these other fellows. They are not important to this process. We have wanted this process to be as inclusive as is possible but this inclusiveness itself cannot mean that even dysfunctional elements should be included. It doesn't mean that. It says all that are committed to a new, prosperous, peaceful South Africa should be included. Those that are committed to violence, yes, they've got a right to stay out and of course to be fought against, not by the blacks but by the whole people who believe in democracy.

POM     What does Buthelezi do then? He's now sitting the thing out, he claims KwaZulu as his own territory, will there be intensifying of the war that is already going on there?

PM     His umbilical cord is moneys from Pretoria. Once you take Pretoria he is dead together with the other Bantustans of Mangope and others. Once we take Pretoria and we keep our budget they are dead. They cannot maintain a single structure there.

POM     One could say the same thing about Somalia. In Somalia there are no structures, people are starving and yet there is no shortage of weaponry and no shortage of killing.

PM     No, South Africa will not be like that. I don't believe so.

POM     I'm just saying that the fact that people don't have money, the fact that purse strings are pulled on them doesn't mean that they can't get their hands on weapons and continue to behave in an irrational way and against their own best interests.

PM     The problem is that those people have got bad relationships with people in the ANC in the first place, in KwaZulu. There are many people, Inkatha itself is not a unified body and we think that once we take over, once we remove one of these elements, that is the economic thing, from them and we continue to mobilise we will win over those people to our side. That we are confident about. That is why we believe that even if you can have peace in Natal, Inkatha will not see the second election. It will be dead by then.

POM     So you are saying that there people in the IFP who really oppose Buthelezi and the designs he's trying to carry out?

PM     There are, there are people who don't agree with Gatsha and that is a one man organisation. It's not in control of itself. It's useless to discuss with Inkatha or with Gatsha Buthelezi because he's controlled by Pretoria and that's why we feel that we should not waste time over that chap Buthelezi. We shouldn't. This country cannot be held at ransom by a man who fears democracy, who fears elections. We don't think so.

POM     Just moving slightly, what were/are the political implications of Chris Hani's assassination both within the politics of the alliance itself and on the broader political culture?

PM     Well Chris Hani was undoubtedly one of the strongest leaders of the Communist Party and also one of the strongest militants in the ANC, a man who was able to keep this very strong umbilical cord between the ANC and the masses. Now his removal caused us a bit of a problem of course, a big problem at this end. They have removed a symbol that young people, militants in our structures, could relate to and that has caused a problem. But also the party, after the killing of Comrade Chris Hani, went down and it's going down, it's not growing.

POM     The SACP?

PM     SACP. It's not growing. He was the one most popular leader of the party who was able to be followed by people. People would follow his example and go into the party. Today they don't have that kind of a person and that has seriously weakened the party and the ANC very, very seriously. But it has also hardened attitudes. In the townships and everywhere people feel that it is time for the ANC now to stand up and fight back even if it means going back to armed struggle. It has hardened attitudes.

POM     Do you think most people in townships believe that this was an act carried out by two or three individuals or that the hand of the government is still some place?

PM     No, no. They believe and we believe all of us, even in the township, that it is De Klerk who is responsible.

POM     That it is De Klerk?

PM     De Klerk himself who is responsible. You can go anywhere, you can ask anybody, even my own neighbour's daughter, daughter of three years, you ask her, "Who killed Chris Hani?". She will start off by saying "Walusz". And say "But who is Walusz?" and she will tell you that he is De Klerk's man. So that's how it is.

POM     Did you see Hani as a potential successor to Mandela?

PM     When we discussed the matter with him, our view has always been that Comrade Thabo Mbeki is the potential successor, the person best suited.

POM     You came out and endorsed Mbeki for Walter Sisulu's position. People are saying it was kind of incongruous because the ANC usually just see you as being hard and being militant and pushing mass action and the revolutionary side of the struggle whereas Mbeki was always seen as a moderate. In fact Mbeki is like the white man's ideal of what a black President should look like, should behave like, should sound like, a man who knows his brandy and cigars and can mix anywhere, a cosmopolitan.

PM     The first thing is that it means is that they have to change their perception of the Youth League. They have never understand what is militancy because we don't believe, and actually if there is any person that has been thoroughly understood it is Comrade Mbeki. There is no victory that we have scored as the ANC that Mbeki has not worked out himself personally.

POM     There is no?

PM      That he has not been the architect of. You talk of the negotiations process, the Harare Declaration, you talk of the bringing of international monitors here, you talk about the opening of the fronts military, of bringing arms when the ANC was still outside and when the front line states were still very hard on us, it was Mbeki who opened all of that. Now I don't understand then when people say Mbeki is this moderate and a non-military. What do they mean? A man who has got such a track record, highly educated, highly trained literally. Educated not only by one side, by both the west and the east. He went to the best schools there. A man who is able, as you are saying, able to infiltrate the white laager and also sustain the kind of support that he's got among the militants. You need a man of that nature, a unifying person. You don't need me who would be an idol of only radicals and militants. You see it doesn't matter how much of ANC policy I understand but as long as I represent - even those that are opposed to us are not convinced that they will leave under my government, it is not worth trying for presidency then because that will not assist to develop the kind of peace that we need to ensure that your development programmes are in place. Comrade Mbeki will, by being there, assure those that are doubtful of the ANC, but also be able to sustain and consolidate the unity of the African National Congress which is very important and very crucial. And by being able to assure them will also open doors that we will begin to interact at a more easier level than we would under a person that people simply, not because the person is like that, but people have got perceptions against him that we are going to have to deal with before they can accept.

POM     Where would you put, in the usual contrast that is made between Mbeki and Ramaphosa, would Ramaphosa not have some of the same qualities?

PM     No they don't come from the same experiences, that is true, but we are not counter-posing them. We think Comrade Cyril is a good administrator. We need him there but you don't need one person, you need a team and Comrade Mbeki is an essential addition to the top leadership of the ANC. That's how we see the question. Mind you I've not just suggested the question of Comrade Mbeki becoming a Deputy and it stops there. I have said that I also think that the time has come for the ANC to establish a shadow government now and not to wait until after elections because we will be ill-prepared to govern. Now a shadow government means, among others, that we have to say who is going to be there and who is going to remain and those decisions must be taken. I have made those proposals and I believe they are correct proposals. I do not want us to begin to deal with economic problems of South Africa only when we are in government. I want us to begin as a shadow government today to begin to set up structures of development and to begin to develop the culture of developmentalism. We cannot do so if our only characteristic is the liberation movement and therefore opposition.

     We have also to begin to proceed, to put in place and to demonstrate what is it that we can do should we get this power. We need a shadow Cabinet. That's what I believe in. We need to train people in that shadow Cabinet to begin to appreciate the kind of task that they will be carrying out when they become the government. If we do that only after the 27th I foresee another chaos. Chaos, because I believe that when we came from abroad we also made a mistake. We did not sit down as people who came from Robben Island, from prison, people who came from the underground, people who came from exile, people who came from the mass democratic movement, and said, "What is our collective experience?" shared that experience and out of that prepared ourselves to deal with the kind of ANC that can only come out of that kind of composition. We haven't done that. We just came in and started establishing structures and that is why we are still grappling, even today, with establishing good formal authority of the ANC on the ground. I believe, and I've said so of course, if you look at the conference video, that's the portion of my speech that they are quoting and I was saying to the movement that people have come into the country and emerged from the underground in a very disorganised fashion and this is going to cost us.

POM     Two more questions and thank you for the time after all the delay or whatever. If you look at where the ANC and the government were in June of last year when CODESA collapsed and you look at where the two parties are today, can you see what concessions the government has made over that period of time and what concessions the ANC has made over that period of time?

PM     Yes. Well the government has moved from its position that the Constitutional Assembly should amend the interim constitution and not draft a new constitution. They have abandoned that. They have abandoned their position on rotating presidencies. They have also abandoned their position that of course South Africa can only be a federal system. They have agreed on many other issues like our fourteen demands, they were all agreed on. There are others, of course, that they have not met fully. There are still political prisoners in South Africa. The hostels that we said should be fenced have not been fenced and so on.

PM     The ANC for its part, we have been able to move away from the concept that we are only going to draw a skeleton constitution, but in order to assure people that we don't intend to do anything that they do not expect we have moved to draw a fuller constitution without abandoning our original bottom lines. We haven't abandoned any of our bottom lines.

POM     So in your view it's been the government that's been slowly, in the midst of everything, capitulating?

PM     In my view they have capitulated formally. Of course they are resisting in other forms, which is violence. But they have capitulated. On the table there's nothing that they have got, there's no position that they have been able to sustain. That is the truth of the matter.

POM     Lastly, have you noted or seen or detected any sign that the white community in general has come to recognise that apartheid was an evil thing and that they, as a community, will have to make some retribution for it?

PM     Yes I think a number of white people, in fact the majority, have realised that apartheid has got no future, it was a mistake. But I think they need to be assisted to acclimatise, to change. They are not an exception in this respect. They still want change to be made as smoothly as is possible for them, but change is going to be seriously fundamental and it's going to hurt a number of them because they were privileged and those privileges have to be cut. It is something that they don't believe should happen immediately. In tourism for instance, they can't just accept that their structure which is SATWA cannot continue.

POM     They are not saying that apartheid was a mistake but there's a larger moral element to it, that it was evil and they were all mistaken?

PM     The majority out there, it is De Klerk who has not accepted that it was an evil. De Klerk keeps on saying it was a mistake, which is not true because it was their policy. It was not something that happened because they never planned for it. It was their policy. It was not a mistake. He has not come out condemning it as a crime against humanity and joined the world in doing so.

POM     It seems to me that the white community has not accepted that, that apartheid was evil and because they haven't accepted that, that when they look on blacks they see blacks doing their stayaways and doing their mass actions and doing this and that and they put all those actions in a very narrow context and they think blacks are becoming pushy, they are demanding everything. Whereas if they understood that apartheid was evil ...

PM     No. I don't think that says then that they have not accepted change. They may not be able to deal with the change that is going to take place because it is not within their control. They are not in control of that change, but they have realised that they cannot sustain apartheid. It shocks them, there are going to be a number of cultural shocks and other shocks that they are going to have to suffer because when old institutions come down certainly there has to be a shock. It doesn't matter whether what is coming is positive or not, these people don't like change, they hate change. I think that the majority of them have accepted that it will come. The problem is that they are uncertain about what is coming. They are not clear about what is going to replace it and that is the main thing that is a challenge to the ANC to be able to put a clear vision to them as to what is going to happen.

POM     Last, last question. The civil service. I'm sure the government will try to negotiate a package where civil servants won't lose their jobs or whatever, but the civil service has got to be drastically restructured if an ANC government is to be effective since if the bureaucracy that was all white is still National Party and Conservative Party it can just screw the whole process up. How do you think that question must be addressed?

PM     Well that is one of the reasons why I am taking a post-graduate Diploma in Public Administration and Public Finance with Wits. I'm looking generally today into all the countries, Japan, how the public administration works, I'm in favour of a developmental public administration. I'm in favour of the judicious application of affirmative action in the initial stages. I'm in favour of the fact that we have to have limited political appointments but without sacrificing meritocracy. I believe that we can change and restructure the public service and we have to do that but the question is how we do that so that we don't ourselves create another monster even against our own changes. I believe that the public administration, if not properly structured, if it becomes a master particularly where political institutions are weak, it can actually destroy the future of this country. That is why I am worried today as to who is going to be in the public administration and who is going to remain in the political structures. We have to ensure that the political structures remain strong at all times and become masters of the structures. But if it becomes the only hope for career politicians, that is the public administration, and there is no hope for career path in the political organisations then we are running into a problem that the third world and developing countries have suffered over the years.

     I am saying, restructuring, yes, it has to be, but the formation of a new public service, of course, is going to also entail that we do not by so doing repeat the old mistake of a bloated public administration. We have got about nine public administrations here, or ten, the Bantustans and the government, the tri-cameral parliament. Now the question is not just emerging. The question is we have to put the orientation of the new public service on board and see what it is that we want to achieve in that public administration. We have to relate it to our GNP, we have to relate it to other things. We want a mean, mean machine. Those are the words that I would like to use. We don't want to create a public administration that is going to be a burden to our economy. South Africa has got a below zero economic growth and I believe in one of the proposals that I am making of the government of national unity on how we can save money, I do believe that rationalisation of the public service can actually save something like twenty billion which can be put - I'm not saying retrenchments, I'm saying rationalisation that says those that we will not need to use in the public service should now be employed in productive labour. They should be redeployed because so many of these people are actually mis-employed and we need to correct that. We don't have to create a new army of educated former public servants unemployed. I don't think that we will succeed in so doing.

     Whilst we restructure this public service the question of redeployment, the question of retraining, the question of reorientation is going to be very central. That will then address the question of limited political appointments to make the public administration responsive to our reconstructive programmes and also the question of the public administration that is very small but efficient and effective, that is also not a partisan kind of public administration that will be able to frustrate any government that comes into power because one of the most destructive things with change is change in that area, but we can't do otherwise. Moving away from apartheid to a democracy we have to deal with that situation of the public administration having to be drastically changed. So I'm saying that we should not lie to the whites who are working in the public administration. There is going to be redeployment, there are going to be retrenchments in as far as that particular body is concerned but this must take place, of course, alongside programmes that would create jobs not only for those that have been retrenched but for the seven million people who should be economically active in South Africa. I believe we can do that. I believe if we apply ourselves correctly, if we do our studies properly and if we pose the problem properly, we will be able to come out with a democratic South Africa that is not going to be frustrated by a bloated, inefficient bureaucracy that is not re-orientated to deal with the problems of reconstruction and development.

POM     Thank you very much.

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