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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

13 Aug 1993: Meyer, Roelf

Click here for more information on the Interviewee

Click here for Overview of the year

RM     You had a lot of other interviews already I believe?

POM     Yes.

RM     Is the perspective changing quite a lot?

POM     In many regard yes, in other regards no. Sometimes it seems people are speaking the old language. Sometimes they're speaking the new language. Probably the most encouraging sign I think we've seen is this family we visit in Zeerust where the father is to the right of the CP who as a Town Councillor has had to work with the ANC and this is a man who was going to take up arms a couple of years ago and fight to the last bitter end but over the last two years he's found himself negotiating things with the local ANC and he's changing. They work out a deal, find the deal works and they develop a set of ground rules and they abide by them. Yes, in the ANC I suppose the more prevalent view would be that they have to all intents and purposes taken over power, that we are seeing the last stages in a game. I still find some confusion in National Party policies, or government policies, which I'll try to dig out with you. But the violence is the thing. Our biggest change that we've seen in our four years coming here is that when we came here first if you went into townships you would find whites carrying on ordinary business or some business. Now there is not a white face in a township today and when we go in there to visit people they are more concerned about us. We do things that they don't do. You don't go out after six o'clock in the evening, you don't come in in the dark, great, great fear, and I believe that even if an ANC government comes in that the violence is going to continue. There is no fundamental difference in perception. The ANC is still the government and the police and Inkatha. To the IFP it's now become the ANC and the police and they see the police as an enemy that leads to places like Sebokeng and Thokoza and Katlehong. The people see no end to it even if there is a new government.

PAT     It sounds like an accommodation of violence, a way of life.

POM     That part of it is disheartening.

RM     Absolutely.

POM     The CP is out there dreaming of their homeland.

RM     Which they can't even tell where.

POM     Can't draw the line. Quite amazing.

RM     I had a meeting twice at least over the last week with Constand Viljoen and another one this afternoon to try and see whether we can make some progress there. It's not very heartening, the possibilities. We are trying to get within the concept of a federal system approach for them to be accommodated which is possible if they would make some concessions and now they are starting to talk about a particular piece of land but it's so unrealistic. I mean there's not even a departure point that you can really start with.

POM     That's a good place to start as I was reading your remarks at the Natal congress and you were talking about that regions would have the right to determine their own future. You talked of self-determination for the Zulu people. You talked about a regional constitution for KwaZulu/Natal. When you say self-determination, self-determination within what framework?

RM     Well within the framework first of all of the national constitution. A region or regions can only have those powers that are allocated to it in terms of the provisions of the national constitution. I think what we have developed so far, so I was addressing, and the point I made was in line with what has now developed in the draft constitution, namely to provide for regions to have their own constitutions and through the allocation of exclusive powers and the division of concurrent powers in the constitution one can say, well a region within that framework and in terms of the allocated powers will be able to determine its own future. But that remains limited in terms of the provisions of the constitution so it's not a sovereign state or region that we're talking about but it is strong regional government with particular powers.

POM     Would it be verging on autonomy?

RM     Not completely.

POM     Somewhere between strictly what's strictly federal and autonomous?

RM     Yes, I think if I look at the analysis of what federalism means my feeling is that we are there in terms of the provisions already of the draft constitution and the way in which it's been provided for in different constitutions allow ourselves also to say that we will have to still find our own way of dealing with it when it comes to the regional constitution. But the basic requirements of a federation, I think we have in place already. So that would mean that such a region would be able to determine its own future within those parameters but definitely not on a basis of a sovereign state.

POM     Does that become one of the constitutional principles, that the final constitution in the Constitutional Assembly must abide by?

RM     Well the point is the draft constitution as well as the constitutional principles both allow for this to happen.

POM     So the part which says in the first draft of the constitution, that the constitution can be completely scrapped by a Constitutional Assembly would still require that Constituent Assembly to abide by certain principles and one of the principles embodied would be federalism, devolution of powers from the regions to the centre rather than from the centre to the regions.

RM     From the centre to the regions.

POM     Centre to the regions. It would be enshrined in a constitution and could not be taken back by the centre.

RM     Correct. In other words they will have regional exclusive powers as such. What those powers exactly are going to be we will be able to determine in the constitution now for the transitional period. What they are going to be in the final constitution is not specifically described in the constitutional principles but provision is being made that there will be exclusive powers for regions.

POM     If you have your way they will have the right to determine their own futures within those parameters.

RM     In a natural, federal approach. I would very much think along the lines of a combination or something between your model, the US model, and the German model with identified powers in relation to matters like education, health and so forth, that will be exclusively within the parameters of the region and its own administration whilst some other powers relating to health and education would be at the central level, those relating, for instance, to norms and standards and so on.

POM     I want to go back to CODESA for a moment and one of the reasons for the breakdown was the government's difficulty with the deadlock breaking mechanism which eventually, after one went through a number of stages, would result in 51% of people in the legislature deciding what the constitution would be. The first draft of the constitution, I haven't seen the second, the first draft provided for a deadlock breaking mechanism of much the same kind but I didn't hear any objections from the government this time round.

RM     We have made objections and again it is also still in the second draft because there were no submissions yet to the Technical Committee on how to amend it and we have taken the position now in our discussion this week on the second draft again to say "Leave this matter in abeyance for the moment so that we can get the opportunity to bilateral and see whether we can sort it out." And we've made it very clear that we are not happy with it like it is now and we have already started discussions with the ANC on it. It is not exactly the same, the mechanism now being provided is not exactly the same as it was last year but the end result, in the final instance, is more or less the same. We have difficulty with that because the perception that we will have to remove, although personally I think we will be able to settle the final constitution within a year from the election, I'm quite sure it will be possible.

POM     You will settle a final constitution?

RM     Within a year of the election. I think that will be the reality. But you know the concern obviously that we have to address is that if the whole path of the deadlock breaking exercise is to be followed, then after three years only an ordinary majority will be able to decide and that is the concern. So people are saying, "Well if the majority party knows that that is the deadlock breaker it will simply stall everything up to that point because it knows that it will get it's way at the end of the three year period." And that is the concern that we have to remove, although in practical terms I think that stage will never be reached.

POM     I assume you saw The Star today? It had an editorial on FW's address.

RM     I saw it.

POM     One of the questions I had was that in CODESA there were two powers. There was the ANC and its allies and there was the government and its allies and to a certain extent you were adversarial in your roles to each other. This time round there are three powers, there's the government and it's allies, the ANC and its allies and COSAG. The ANC and the government seem to be playing on the same side, something that came out with the Record of Understanding. I have a couple of questions. One, could you take me through the process of the talks that you had with Cyril Ramaphosa, how they worked in arriving at that Record of Understanding? Two, has the government switched dancing partners or has the ANC switched dancing partners? Three, Mr de Klerk's statement that the National Party and the IFP had much more in common and had a common opponent in the ANC would seem to be a shift away from what seemed to be an informal partnership between government and the ANC?

RM     First of all I think all these questions are actually inter-related so you are right to put them together. As far as the first one is concerned, the way in which Cyril and myself developed the Record of Understanding, because that is how it happened. We had a series of meetings over a period of almost three months which led eventually to the Record of Understanding. We initially departed on addressing the subject of regionalism which was at the time of the breakdown of CODESA 2 actually at the heart of the problem. I mean deadlock breaking and all of those were actually side issues and it was always my view that if we could find a solution to the regional aspect then that basis can be found.

     So we started off on that basis but then some other developments took place, inter alia, Boipatong and so on which had a very negative effect then on the talks between us and that let to their so-called fourteen demands. For a period of about a month, even at that stage, we had practically no progress except for telephone calls between Cyril and myself just to keep the line going. Then from the beginning of August again we started seriously to address the so-called fourteen demands. We said we are not going to respond to the fourteen demands or to demands at all because that's not the basis on which we are prepared to negotiate. We said, "Let's address the legitimate aspirations of the ANC to see how they can be addressed", and we started to focus on that. And that resulted in two things. Of course we also said, from our perspective, our legitimate aspirations in terms of constitution making and the end result also have to be addressed. And that resulted in two things on the constitutional side. First, that they got confirmed from us that we are looking at a two-phase process providing for an elected constitution making body at the end of the process. That they got from us. From our side we got what was important and that is confirmation that there will be constitutional continuity, that there will be in the transitional phase a constitution drafted now which will be a complete constitution preventing a constitutional hiatus. So those two elements were both addressed in the end result in the Record of Understanding. That was their fundamental aspiration as far as the constitution making process is concerned and the other one was our fundamental one as far as the substance is concerned.

     Then the other matters are less relevant at this stage. They were partly related to the fourteen demands, namely the hostels issue, release of remaining prisoners and there was a third one that I can't remember for the moment. But they were non-constitutional and rather related to the developments of the day more than anything else. They had no longer term significance. But on the basis of what we agreed on, the first two points, we could say, "OK there is an agreement and that led to the Record of Understanding". Now if one looks back at the contents of the Record of Understanding we can say at the end of the day we didn't shift and I think they could say that they didn't shift and that was the good outcome of the product.

     But that led to a confirmation between us about the process. We always knew, I think, that there were major differences still as far as policy matters were concerned and I think what we're seeing now, if I may jump to the third question, what we're seeing now actually is a situation that is developing towards the election which I think to a certain extent is natural because it remains a fact that the National Party and the ANC, so we believe, are the two main opponents in the election process. I think all surveys indicate the same. I think it's important also for the sake of electioneering, but also for the sake of a democratic process, that the two opponents and their positions are being made clear to the electorate in terms of policy, where we stand policy-wise. If you look at this it's quite clear that in the final analysis process-wise we and the ANC are close to each other in fact we are 'ad idem' as far as the process is concerned. That is why we are still jointly at the World Trade Centre whilst policy-wise there is more in common between us and the IFP, for instance, and that is an historical fact.

     I think to come back to what the State President said on Wednesday evening, what he was basically addressing was to say the National Party is standing for this and this and this, there are other parties who are close to us on this, like the IFP and others, and I think, he didn't spell it out that way, but I think the interpretation one can say is, OK the National Party sees itself being in the main opponent position vis-à-vis the ANC and if there are other parties that follow the line of thinking we are going they are welcome to support us in that line of thinking. But he also made it very clear that if the IFP is going to throw down the gauntlet then they will become an opponent too as far as the elections are concerned.

POM     Do you think now that you are moving into a phase where you have electioneering going on on the one hand, partly to jostle for position, and you have still your deliberations at the World Trade Centre going on and they both demand different things.

RM     Absolutely.

POM     Not demand, but the demands of one in a way contradict the demands of the other.

RM     Absolutely.

POM     Is this a problem or does everybody ...?

RM     I can say this for the purposes of our discussion here, I think a lot is going to depend on me and Cyril in dealing with this because it will need careful management. There is no doubt about that because all the good work that we have done, not only between him and myself but as negotiating participants, could be destroyed if this is not managed correctly because we have to, and they are finding themselves in exactly the same position, they have to be seen to be in an opposing position from the National Party. If they don't they are going to lose out to the PAC and others. So for the sake of both sides it is necessary that we create a clear picture of where we stand policy-wise against each other but at the same time that we remain jointly responsible for the process, to keep that intact, because it is a true fact that we are the two parties that over the last year have managed the process and I think the requirement is that we have to manage it right up to the point of the election. We can't allow, and this my view and I will go full out for this, we can't allow a situation that once we complete a constitution at the World Trade Centre for instance and the other agreements that things just sort of go into the air as far as our mutual understanding and working relationship is concerned. We will have to even work closer probably in a certain way just to ensure that we keep the management ...

POM     So when some people say that what the Record of Understanding means, and the series of meetings between the government and the ANC and right up to January of this year, that they made a deal that they would work together, they reached an understanding of what they were looking for and in a way are managing the process and to that extent they are in the same bed together? Would that be broadly accurate?

RM     Process-wise that is correct. We are the strongest forces that kept the whole process going. There's no doubt about it. We might differ here and there but broadly speaking that is still the situation. Whenever a problem would occur, this week we had the experience again, whenever there's a problem we first take it sideways and see how we can resolve it between Cyril and myself and our teams. And it happens almost at least on a weekly basis that we do that. That is the real cement that keeps the process together. I have no doubt about that.

POM     Since I've been coming here the government has talked about power sharing, looking for power sharing in any interim arrangement and looking for power sharing in a permanent arrangement. De Klerk, I think in May, gave an interview to The Financial Times in which he was still looking for it, saying he would accept nothing less than power sharing in a permanent constitution. In June he gave an interview to The Sunday Times or The Tribune in which he described how he thought power sharing would work and that was that there would be an Executive Committee within the Cabinet among parties that commanded, say, more than 15% of the electorate and they would be the Executive Committee that would run things on the basis of consensus. And then within weeks after that the whole emphasis on power sharing disappeared completely, it being entrenched in a final constitution was no longer a matter of concern and the talk was no longer of power sharing but of a government of national unity. I don't get how there could be such a dramatic switch in the views, not the views but the position the State President was articulating, and where the government found itself a couple of weeks later.

RM     I think the confusion came about on account of different reports on it and I don't want to blame the journalists for it, it might be that the mistakes were on our side but nevertheless the confusion came about on account of the reports that you are referring to was that this matter was actually already being dealt with and finalised bilaterally between us and the ANC in February this year. It came about as follows. We had a series of very serious bilaterals on constitutional matters which started more or less at the beginning of December and ran through to February. In those we addressed some of the most crucial issues that we had to resolve between us one of which was the problem of power sharing and the ANC, to put it in a nutshell, said to us they can't be seen to provide for power sharing on a permanent basis. Politically they can't sell that. On account of that the understanding developed to say OK let's look at a fixed time period for power sharing in a government of national unity. Then that must be fixed in a transitional constitution but then we don't provide further for constitutional principles for a permanent situation on that issue.

     So that resulted in the following. We said we found agreement on a government of national unity for five years providing for power sharing. We will not, from our side, force a deadlock on the question of a principle of permanent power sharing but we will reserve our position to advocate it whenever we wish to do so. In other words we will still keep on saying if we think it's fit or necessary that we believe power sharing is a good model for the South African circumstances. Even after the election in the constitution making process thereafter we would still reserve our right, so to speak, to advocate it if we believe it necessary but we will not force a deadlock on that at this stage with a view to formulate the constitutional principles. That is the understanding that developed in February and it was checked out on both sides and that arrangement still stands. The question came up thereafter time and again through the press although that position was made quite clear at that stage. People seemed to forget about it and the question came up and then there were probably different reflections on the question.

     I checked it out with the President himself and he confirmed that the way in which he dealt with the question in Time magazine, in fact at the beginning of June, I think I've got it, I read that particular piece on the way back from you in June, he outlined exactly what the government's position, the party's position on that is, namely what I just said that we will not look for a permanent power sharing model but that we will keep on advocating it as and when we believe it's necessary. And that is the situation. So there was no dramatic change over the last weeks. The matter came up through particular questions that were received, apparently raised by journalists in interviews.

POM     But the model that he suggested of there being an Executive Committee within the Cabinet composed of the major players, maybe three or whatever, who would lay down the broad policy framework on the basis of consensus, is that the way that you still see it working?

RM     Well that is the concept that we're still working on. This is, of course, for the sake of the constitution that we are now negotiating and you might have noted that that particular chapter is still open and even now in the second draft it is still open. We are currently in negotiations on that. In fact, I received last night a further draft of a particular formulation that we could consider which we will do over the weekend and I think in the next draft from the Technical Committee the matter will at least be dealt with. I don't want to go into the details now because we are still trying to iron it out. But the concept of a leadership core that should be responsible for policy in general at the top is still there, a leadership core consisting of leaders from the major parties.

POM     So is the talk about a power sharing government and a government of national unity really a distinction of semantics?

RM     We call it power sharing, they call it government of national unity. That's basically what it is. What is material of course is the context of how the arrangement is going to work out.

POM     Just to go back, I think you've answered it, but if I can just get clear on it, if you look at where you were when CODESA collapsed and where you are now today, what would you say are the major compromises that the government has made and what are the major compromises the ANC has made?

RM     The interesting thing is, and I've checked it during the week because I had to do it, just to evaluate for my own purposes, at the end of June last year, in that process of the breakdown of talks, it was in fact shortly after Boipatong, there was an exchange of memoranda between the State President and Mr Mandela putting the various positions on both sides. In one of the documents at that stage we presented our framework for a constitution for a transitional period and the interesting thing is, I checked that this week, and what we have basically now developing in the draft constitution is almost on the spot in line with what was already our framework at that stage in June. So party politically, I'll come back to the differences, so party politically I'm quite confident that I'm entitled to go on a political platform and say that we have achieved what we wanted.

POM     On a scale of one to ten how satisfied are you with this second draft?

RM     I would say seven, there are a few improvements that we have to make. But in terms of concessions the one thing that we have given in, if you compare those positions of June last year and now, then we still required a 70% approval of the constitution, it's now 662/3%. That's a concession made that was already on the cards at that stage, we would have been prepared to go for that. And the second one was that in that formulation of power sharing for the Executive we were still talking about a so-called 'presidency' of leaders.

POM     Advocating presidency?

RM     Right. And that position we have also given up. As far as gains or concessions on the ANC side is concerned it's quite clear that the way in which regionalisms work out now is far from where they were even a few months ago. The two relevant points in that regard is the election of the regional legislatures on the same day as the national elections. That is a very important forward step to ensure that we get a solution to the problem. And the other one is the recognition that the regions can develop their own constitutions which was also something very difficult at an earlier stage for the ANC. I spoke to Cyril about that at an earlier stage and he at one stage said to me I mustn't push him because he can't sell that and in the end it is now in the constitution. The way in which the regional constitutions would come about is still not finalised but the fact is that provision has been made that regions will be able to develop their own constitutions.

POM     Let me ask you then, why if you can look at what you wanted and what is on the table nearly as a final product and be very satisfied with it or at least very comfortable with it at this point in it meeting all the stated goals of your own political agenda, why is there such fragmentation and loss of support at least as reflected in opinion surveys for the National Party where many commentators talk about disintegration, losing its core, fragmentation? What's gone wrong therefore? Just the uncertainly of people about the future or has something more fundamental gone wrong?

RM     I think there could be a number of reasons but to my mind the most important is what has happened in this regard over the last three or four months in particular was the assassination of Chris Hani. The effect that incident had first on the black community and the anger that resulted into disruption on a major scale led to the perception that the country has gone out of control and that the government is not able to control any longer. I have little doubt in my mind that that was the single most important factor in this whole process. Incidentally, also the ANC lost in that regard because people started to become more radical and if you look at the surveys you pick this up, the same effect to a lesser extent than it affected us and for different reasons, but they also lost. As I said, I think the main consequence that followed from that was the perception, especially in the white community and in certain sections of the Coloured and black communities too, that things have just gone out of control, that the government is not able to control and therefore FW is a lame duck. That is the perception that developed. I think that was the main reason.

     If you look at the pattern of violence for instance, I was listening to Laurie Schlemmer last week because we were jointly participating in a conference and he had a very long exposition of the whole pattern of violence over the last three years and unfortunately in his presentation he also made the mistake by omitting this assassination factor, because if you look at the trend it was going down all the time and in fact at the beginning of April the incidents of violence were at a low, for a three year period, and then suddenly that thing happened and the situation changed.

POM     The Star this morning said 4.2 a day at the beginning April and 10.4 I think since the assassination of Hani. Is it of concern to you that if this state of affairs continues that in the end the State President can't deliver his constituency?

RM     Oh we will have to do a lot of work I think, that is quite clear, that is why he started this week to address issues like he did. Politically that is, to my mind, also the right thing to do. All these things relate to perceptions and, of course, when you are negotiating and to a certain extent also from the government's point of view it has to be more responsible than other parties to ensure that the process is proceeding, with press statements and so on it has to be more responsible. The perception grew that we are just quiet and have no standpoints of our own and he is in a lame duck situation. And that still remains as far as negotiations are concerned. That is why you would have noticed that the State President didn't address his speech on Wednesday, didn't address any substantive negotiating matters because it would be wrong to address them while we are still negotiating. He addressed mainly political issues beyond the negotiating agenda. So while this situation was developed and we being kept responsible for them, even for the lack of progress sometimes, even being kept responsible for the withdrawal of Inkatha and the right wing and so on, this all caused huge problems for us politically speaking. I believe we can address that in a very short time and the way in which we have started to do that I think will soon show results.

     There's one phenomenon I must actually point out here, and I'm saying this for the sake of the work you're doing because I think it's an important point to look at, and that is the ambivalence that the National Party still has to address. On the one side its own traditional support base, which as you have indicated earlier, I believe also referring to our own support base, we have still not crossed the Rubicon and there are mines in many cases, still looking for things to attach themselves to in terms of the historical perspective and on the other side the new constituency that we are concentrating on with a totally different historical background and perspective. And what is good for the one is not necessarily good for the other in terms of perception of what you're saying. So what I'm saying is, and I have to be careful about this, but what the State President said on Wednesday might have been good for the white constituency, so-called, the traditional constituency of the National Party, but it might well not have been all that good for the new constituency.

POM     There are three other things I would like to touch on. One is the rise of the right. A year ago they were in disarray, disillusioned and demoralised after the State President's victory in the referendum and today they seem to have a newfound confidence and they seem to have a cohesiveness that they lacked before. How seriously must the right be taken in terms of what it's looking for, in terms of accommodations that might be reached with them and in terms of what actions they might take if their demands are not in some way reasonably met?

RM     I think it's very important that we try and reach some form of compromise with Constand Viljoen. He is the only factor that I am concerned about. The CP as such I'm not concerned about because they don't have leadership, Ferdi Hartzenberg is far less impressive than Treurnicht. He's not being regarded as a leader actually and if he has to be on his own nothing will come of it. But Constand Viljoen has taken over the platform with little political knowledge but with huge status.

POM     He gives respectability to the right wing.

RM     He gives respectability to the right wing cause. He is far more flexible in his approach politically than, for instance, Hartzenberg. Hartzenberg is a real hard-liner. You will never get anywhere with him. But it is our belief that we should try our best to see whether there is not a possibility of reaching compromise with Viljoen and that is what we are trying to do.

POM     In the event that it is not possible, do you think that there is a possibility of some kind of armed resistance against the government or will they act in a way that will increase the level of violence in the country?

RM     That certainly is a possibility. We can't rule that out. What I believe would be the correct strategy is we go full out to see whether compromise can be reached and if it's not possible at all then we have to be seen to have done everything reasonably possible to ensure that they are part of the solution because if they then stay out, any action that would have to be taken against them should be on the basis of legitimacy as far as all the efforts preceding that are concerned. The problem that can develop here, Patrick, is the possibility, and I think it's there, it's already in the air, the possibility of some form of co-operation between the right wing and Inkatha which gives credibility to the right wing because they can't be then seen simply as racist any longer. On the other side is the benefit for Inkatha because they will have some organisational capacity which they lack. But that will only have an effect on the white electoral basis. I can't see how Inkatha can gain a single black vote with that kind of co-operation, in fact they will only lose. So this will only have a sort of an effect on the traditional white part of the electorate but it is something that we have to take care of because this is the one type of element, and I think I expressed this before to you, this is the one type of development that could cause a Renamo type situation in this country. So we have to work on everything possible to ensure that we don't develop into that situation.

POM     I think I ask this question every year, what about the Buthelezi factor? It seems that he's increasingly playing brinkmanship, he has brought the King out into the open and is using him as a card or a way to play the Zulu card when he talks about the Zulu nation and all that. Must he be accommodated in some way? And again if he's not, if he stays outside the process, will you really be looking forward to a South Africa that will not be stable, that South Africa will come into the new government of national unity of whatever but will really still be in a state of either war or further brinkmanship by Buthelezi which will be perceived by the outside world as being an unstable state of affairs which means that companies are going to say, "Well let's see what happens here"?

RM     That's rather difficult to say. I think there are two factors here. The one is the person, or the leadership of Buthelezi which I have no clear picture on in my own mind in terms of his popularity even within Inkatha. I'm not quite sure about it. He's obviously the only man there and the question is also if he disappears who will be left to take the lead in Inkatha. I don't see anybody. So that in itself is one side of it which some people might argue leads to the conclusion that they are ignorable. I'm not saying that but some people might say that. On the other hand, and that I think is a more important facet, is that if the approach would be from any party, from any political organisations to try and pressurise or suppress the Zulu factor it will be a hell of a mistake. That is one thing that will create unity there more than anything else. It's a strange phenomenon but it's there. The ethnic factor, as far as the Zulus are concerned is very strong and that is why it seems to me they have almost back-tracked to the concept of the Zulu kingdom as a sort of last resort. If you look at what the King said and look at what they are saying in their advertisements in the papers it is very much this Zuluness that is now coming forward and I think it would be stupid to ignore that politically. If that is not being addressed in the correct way then that in itself could lead to more and more problems and even a situation after an election that would just lead to more and more difficulty for a new government. That is why I've addressed this question openly, also yesterday, because in my bilaterals with them I've come to the conclusion, and I've said it to them, that the bottom line that you're talking about is self-determination for the Zulu people and if we can address that in a way that would fit into the national constitutional framework I think that would be the way out.

POM     Would the ANC agree with that?

RM     I've spoken to Cyril a number of times already on it and it seems to me, although he hasn't expressed himself clearly, it seems to me he would consider it as a strategy and secondly, he can't object against it because it is part of the constitutional framework that we are developing. It is not unreasonable and it doesn't go against the constitutional framework that we are developing.

POM     Let me give you one scenario on that. When we've been in Natal meeting with people in the ANC it's quite clear they see themselves very differently than the ANC in Shell House or the national policy makers and that the bitterness and almost the madness in the war that is going on there has steeled people against compromise. Do you think if you reached a situation where the ANC agreed to such termination from Zulu people, just more or less what you have proposed, that the ANC in Natal would say to the ANC in Shell House, "Go to hell. We don't accept this. We haven't fought all these years to suddenly just become part of a political document and we will fight on."

RM     I have the impression that sometimes that has already happened. It's quite clear that Shell House couldn't control Harry Gwala up to this point, with a few exceptions here and there. If you talk to the Shell House people they admit that they have a great problem there and Gwala is unfortunately dictating the rest of Natal. People like Radebe and Ndlovo are there but Gwala is the key figure, there is no doubt about that. To my mind there's only one way to sort this out as far as the whole region is concerned and that is an election, also at the regional level, to see who is actually having what kind of support. Is it the ANC or the IFP? The surveys indicate both of them don't have majority support but they are almost neck and neck according to the surveys.

POM     Which makes in a way for a more dangerous situation because the loser will say it wasn't a fair election no matter, if it's this close.

RM     Or the one party might even not participate in terms of their current threats. So that is something that we have to manage but theoretically, for the strategy that I would say we must follow, is to ensure that the election is being seen as the factor to determine the outcome of the further developments here. And I put this to the IFP and they have assured me that that is their commitment as well, that they will accept the outcome of the election, at least those people that we're talking to.

POM     And the violence has reached such a level now that there's little one can say about it except, do you think that the ANC has to a large extent lost control over its SDUs and that the IFP have lost control over their warlords and whatever and this is really a battle at the grassroots that has in some sense nothing to do with political development?

RM     Yes that is correct. Hernus Kriel, after he made a visit to the East Rand townships this week, said to me during the week that there are two phenomena in terms of their analysis and I think that sounds to me not far from being correct. The one is that it is actually a war against the Zulus and probably by them against others. There is this warlike type of situation that exists. But on the other side there are radical, or some people would call them revolutionary, elements that are just fighting against everybody else and as far as the total establishment is concerned, they are against the establishment in the ANC as well as, of course, against the establishment on the government side. Even the ANC have said to us, last week, after Mandela's visit there last Thursday, that he was not very popular in terms of the remarks he made, especially he was not very well received there which indicates that this factor is there all right. It is certainly.

POM     But can you have an election, going back to what the State President said, "No peace, no poll"? Can you have an election if this situation doesn't vastly improve?

RM     I think we have to get multi-party agreement that strong action is necessary. That is absolutely necessary. Strong action in the sense of proper control. I think that is absolutely necessary that we get to that point as soon as possible. But on the other hand the question is if it goes on like this and we don't have an election or the election has been postponed, what will be the result of that? I have no doubt in my mind that it will just lead to further violence because again if you analyse what has happened here on the East Rand, in fact on the whole of the Reef, the violence that is taking place is mainly still resulting from the assassination of Chris Hani. It might have taken other causes along the line as well but it basically originated from the so-called anger and frustration that came about after his assassination. And if that is so the postponement of an election will just increase that frustration and anger.

POM     Is there any doubt in your mind that the election will not take place on 27th April? That this process can't move ...?

RM     As far as I'm concerned we're totally committed to get it there, even to bring it earlier if possible, whilst that is going to be very difficult.

PAT      Does the imposition of getting under proper control go as far as the state of emergency and do you think that an election can be conducted, a campaign can be conducted, under a state of emergency constitutionally?

RM     Personally I won't consider a state of emergency at all because I don't think it will deliver the results. And we are not talking about the national phenomenon. Look at the pattern at the moment still, the violence is occurring in some parts of the Reef, mainly on the East Rand, and in some parts of Natal. But the other areas have become very quiet. It is absolutely clear that the violence is where there is a clash between Inkatha and the ANC, or Zulus and others, let's put it that way.

PAT     The people that we visited in Thokoza, we visit quite frequently these days, who are in the midst of all this, still can't understand it because of the years in which these communities lived together, the Zulu migrant workers in the hostels and UDF formations, formations in the township Thokoza. So some ordinary people and some political activists are stymied by it as well.

POM     You say that and Goldstone says that but if you talk to people in the ANC they totally reject it, it's still the old thing of the security forces and the government are behind it. Do you find in private that ANC leadership is more prepared to acknowledge that they are playing a serious role in the violence too and it's not sinister forces out there that are responsible for most of it?

RM     I must say I don't think I've ever come across them admitting that they are responsible or partly responsible but more and more I think they know that there are other factors than what they usually rhetorically say are responsible. The situation on the East Rand at the moment, they know is now flowing from the usual causes that they claimed in the past. And the fact that our visit there this week had to be cancelled came about on account of the information that they had received. We were supposed to go there on Thursday, or Wednesday, and my people were saying all the time, "Hell, it's damn dangerous to go", but I didn't want to raise it because I knew if I raised it I would have been seen as the guy who was trying to delay it or postpone. And then Cyril came to me and he said, "I've received information that we can't allow a group from the Negotiating Council to go there because it will be a target." I said, "Well I have exactly the same information", and then we jointly said, "Well, let's cancel it because we can't let the process become a target." If you would go there with a bus and the bus being attacked, which we can't prevent altogether ...

PAT     Wouldn't that community feel that they are ignored by the leadership, politics?

RM     That's the problem.

PAT     That they've got this war going on and they have these Casspirs coming and going.

RM     The leaders are not there. That's a problem.

POM     Thank you.

RM     Thank you. I hope to see you in any case.

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.