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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

17 Aug 1993: Ramaphosa, Cyril

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POM     It's only taken me two years to get him. He cost the university $30000-00! Cyril, if you look at the last 18 months what would you identify as the key turning points? What significance would you attach to each?

CR     Well there have been several. The ANC has been back in the country for almost three years now and a lot of developments at the political level have taken place and I would say, maybe working backwards, the key one is the near successful negotiation process that we embarked upon which is going to lead up to developing a constitution for the interim period and work out the modalities for drafting a final democratic constitution. Now that must stand out as one of the most important developments, that even though other parties have walked out of the process, such as the IFP, we have continued. That even if other parties do walk out we will continue with the negotiating process. It's akin to the story of the caravan in the desert which just moves on and on while the dogs are barking.

     I guess the other one, also a very serious development, is how violence has intensified and has become more and more ugly and gone beyond just what you would have regarded as rivalry between the ANC and the IFP and has taken very ugly features such as people just getting into a train shooting people dead, into a church, into houses, into public places like shebeens and restaurants. Now that in itself must stand out as one of the saddest developments in the political transformation of the country.

POM     I'll get back to that. Let's leave violence aside for the moment. Looking at CODESA 2 ...

CR     I wanted to add one or two others. The other one is how the right wing, the third more significant development, how the right wing has emerged as a force to be reckoned with in terms of their ability to mobilise and to win support from among the white people. But as part of that to see how the right wing has forged its links with the black right wing where you no longer talk about the white right wing you can now talk about right wing in both communities, the black community and the white community. That too is a significant political development in the last 18 months. There are many others such as the economy but those stand out as the key ones.

POM     In CODESA 2 many people I have spoken to over the last year believe a couple of things: number one, that when the government turned down the offer which you finally made to them of 70% veto threshold for the inclusion of items in the constitution, when they turned that down they turned down probably the best deal they would ever get. Two, since you were a key participant in this whole exchange that went on about weighted majorities, could you tell me how you saw it work, how you saw the exchange, the negotiation? Everyone gives me a different version and I'm trying to track down - it's amazing, sometimes you feel the people weren't in the same room together. The versions of what they said went on of who said what and who came back.

CR     When it comes to the adoption of the constitution by the Constituent Assembly the government had said that they would agree to it provided it was not a simple majority decision making mechanism. We had insisted that it should be a two thirds majority. They had come back with the 75% but then later they came back and said, "Let's make it 75% for the Bill of Rights and 70% for the constitution." They wanted the Bill of Rights to be at a higher threshold because they felt it was a sufficiently important document that needed to be adopted through a fairly high majority, hoping of course that they would be able to stop the ANC from imposing a Bill of Rights that would not be acceptable to them by a simple or much smaller majority. We had discussed this and we had agreed that we would be willing to have the Bill of Rights adopted at 75% because we wanted the Bill of Rights to be a document that would be a symbol of unity for all our people, a document that would enjoy the support of everyone and we were therefore not concerned about its being decided upon at a fairly high decision making level, a high majority. So we had agreed to that. When it came to the constitution we were at two thirds. We then said we would be prepared to agree to a 70% provided we could build in a deadlock breaking mechanism and part of the deadlock breaking mechanism was to finally end up with a certain election being held and a constitution being adopted by a simple majority.

POM     Which is not so different from ...

CR     From what we have now. No.

POM     Have the government queried that?

CR     They are querying it, yes, they are querying it. It was when we made that offer, which was really one of the best offers they could get, they decided to kick a gift horse in the mouth. They just threw it all out and said, no, they were not prepared to go along with it.

POM     The other variation, the other side of that coin so to speak, is that many people who I spoke to last year who had been members of the NEC or the National Working Group said, "Thank God that the government didn't accept it", that we might have had difficulty in selling it to our own supporters, that it looked as if we were giving too much away.

CR     Yes. That is true. The 66% was seen as something which was a sacred cow and our people were unhappy that the ANC had moved to this point and we would have had enormous problems in selling it and in a way it was as well they did reject it. It would have been very difficult. Taking everything into account, the totality of everything, it would have looked like the ANC had actually sold out completely.

POM     When I was looking at polls at that time it seemed quite reasonable to believe that every other party except the ANC could put together 30% of the vote. Do you think that the collapse of CODESA 2 was inevitable given the manner in which it was structured?

CR     It was inevitable. It was inevitable because the government had chosen to ally itself with the IFP and quite a number of other parties. They were playing the politics of alliances and not so much the politics of a government that needed to negotiate in good faith. And they were in a way bolstered in taking their positions by their alliance with the IFP and felt that they could resist the ANC. When we started the negotiation process we all agreed that it must be driven by bilateral agreements between the ANC and the government and we also agreed that we did not have to make it so obvious that we were the owners and the guides of the process. We had to take other parties along but every move should be underpinned or underscored by an understanding between us. They reneged on that. They started throwing caution to the wind and reason to the wind and because of the temporary alliances that they were forging with the other parties they thought that they could actually resist the ANC by just proceeding with the negotiations without even touching base with the ANC on a common basis. And that is where the problem came in because when we deadlocked we didn't have a clear understanding between ourselves as to what was at stake and we didn't share some form of vision, albeit from two different organisations who are going to be opponents or adversaries. We needed to underpin whatever we did by continuous common understanding and we didn't have it. That is why the talks floundered.

POM     What were the lessons when it came to setting up the negotiating forum this time? What were the lessons learned from CODESA that would preclude some of those obstacles?

CR     I would say that the lessons were twofold. One for both of us and the other for the government. For both of us it meant that you couldn't proceed with this process without making sure that it is properly supported by a common understanding between the two parties and that we have built in a mechanism of enabling us, even if we differ in council or whatever, we should be able to resolve problems. The lesson they learnt was that they just couldn't hope to build alliances against the ANC and succeed with it. It's just not possible. So they have now learnt the lesson and even here they are the one party that does not have alliances. When every grouping will go off into their own blocks they are one of the two or three parties that remain in the middle. They just don't have any form of alliance. Their need to have alliances actually, I would say, made the negotiation process flounder. It really did and that is an important lesson that they had to learn. They are now able to make an input in the negotiation process in a much more constructive way.

POM     But then from the period of Boipatong and you had the mass stayaways and then you had the only circuit open between the two being yourself and Roelf Meyer, could you tell me about how that relationship developed both on a professional level and on a personal level and how one reinforces the other and what you think that personal element does in moving things forward?

CR     At the professional level, we started meeting at some conference or other where we were both speaking and that's when we got to know each other. We started relating together more at a personal level when we were thrust into the role that we are in now, where we are the chief negotiators on both sides. As we went on it became logical that we would relate at a personal level. The need to relate at a personal level was mainly directed at having a firm basis on which we can solve problems because we knew that problems were inevitable. We were going to have to confront problems as the ANC and the government from time to time and we knew that it was only through some understanding between us that we could make a real attempt to resolve the problems. I wouldn't say we have become friends. I think we have a relationship that lends itself to enabling us to resolve problems. At the same time we know that we are adversaries. We know that when we go for elections we are going to be fighting the elections on different sides and we are people who come from different backgrounds. We have different interests, we have different history, we have different aspirations for the future, but at a broad level I think we are bound by a common vision of making sure that we move our country from an apartheid society to a democratic one and that is what binds us together. Not really binds us together but that is what makes it easier for us to work together.

POM     In this kind of regard do you believe that the De Klerk government genuinely now wants to move forward to a full and proper democracy or that it still is fighting a rearguard action and trying to delay the process as long as possible or to end up with some still guarantees for their positions?

CR     I think there is some form of genuineness on their part. I say 'form of' because there are still people who are in their ranks who are completely intransigent, who just do not want to be changed.

POM     Who would you put in that category?

CR     Who wants to see change coming in such a way that they can control it? I would put in people like Hernus Kriel. These are people who are so conservative, who even, the unbanning took place in February 1990, still have reservations and I think continue to have reservations. One in relating to them has to remember that while they may have shown courage and guts to move the country this way they are still hamstrung by a number of other people within their own ranks who would like the process to move a lot slower or not to move forward at all unless those parties that they find they are very close to, like the IFP, are brought along.

POM     Does this tie De Klerk's hands in some way?

CR     I think it does.

POM     So you have to give leeway when a problem comes up to not only what you want but what he can deliver given the make up of his government?

CR     Unfortunately, yes, that's the case because he has a difficult time within his own constituency, his own caucus of hard-liners but at the same time he has got to walk a very tight rope. But he obviously walks the tight rope which is tilted more towards their side and not so much on our side.

POM     Would the same kind of parallel apply to the ANC and your position, you had what are called the realists and the revolutionaries?

CR     No, no. Our position is slightly different because whilst we've got a group of people who believe that things should be done in a particular way, who are unashamedly left, they also have committed themselves to the broad strategic thrust of the ANC and they know that in that thrust there is the negotiation process that needs to be prosecuted to a successful end and they also know now that we have got to go into a government of national unity and basically accept it. So now and again, one hears them being vocal, but at this stage I think we have resolved the major problems. It's always said that the ANC will probably split one of these days and all that. I don't think so.

POM     If you look at where you were in June and where the government was in June last year and look at where you are today and where they are today, what do you think are the major compromises or concessions that have been made by you or by the government and what has the person who made the concession got back for making it?

CR     We have made compromises. We have made compromises on tactical issues, we have not made compromises on fundamental issues. Recently I looked at the Harare Declaration and when I looked at it I tried to analyse it in the light of the criticism that was being levelled at us, that we are selling too much, we are bending over backwards to define regions, powers and so forth. And as I looked at it I found that it said that we have to govern during the interim phase. One thing that we had never fully developed was the concept of governance in the interim. When we did develop it we only developed it for the national and never finally developed it to its logical conclusion that when you govern a country you have to govern at three levels, national, regional (in your case it would be state) as well as the local or whatever, county and stuff like that. At one point we went only so far and said, "No, we will not look at governance of regions", which was a rather nonsensical way of approaching things because if you are going to govern at national level you may just as well govern at regional level because you cannot have governed. Now when people look at this they think that, no, the ANC has made concessions and yet when you look at the Harare Declaration you actually find that it talks about 'interim government'. And that interim government has to be an interim government not only at national level or in one section of the country, it has to be a fully fledged interim government with sovereign powers and so forth. So in that respect whilst we have made compromises they have basically, in my view, been tactical ones.

POM     What would you point to, some illustrations of the tactical compromises?

CR     For instance, looking at the establishment of regional government. Initially we had thought that you could only govern at national level in the interim and we hadn't given full thought to the fact that you actually had to set up government at regional level, that you had to allocate powers, duties and functions to regional government. Now when looked at outside the context of the Harare Declaration you could say that the ANC has moved completely from not having regional government to finally having regional government but when you look at it in proper context, when you look at the words 'interim government', government would mean governing at all levels of government. So we then, in my view, did a tactical move. If, for instance, we wanted not to believe in regional government, the Harare Declaration did not say we should govern the country, I would accept that we made, if you like, a principled compromise. But my view is that we made a tactical one because that is what government means, anyway it would have come to that.

     On their side some compromises, they were completely opposed to the idea of an interim government, they were opposed to the idea of a Constituent Assembly that would write a constitution. They came around. They have now even appropriated our own language when we talk about it, interim government of national unity. They are also beginning to talk about interim government of national unity. So if you look carefully you will find that there are quite a number of areas where the government has had to compromise to come closer to us.

     But the perception is that we have had to compromise quite extensively. At CODESA, for instance, we had said the powers, duties and functions of regions can only be determined by the Constituent Assembly but now because we are dealing with this question of governance even in the interim we basically said, yes, it is in keeping with our original position even though we would have preferred it as a CA on its own without having to go through the process of parliament.

POM     Now I want to be clear on one thing, that this negotiating council, when the interim constitution is drawn up will it entrench powers in the states where you really have a devolution of power from the periphery to the centre rather than from the centre to the periphery? Does that become a binding constitutional principle which cannot be altered in a newly elected Constituent Assembly?

CR     Yes, yes.

POM     On a scale of one to ten, how satisfied are you with the draft proposals that have come out on the constitution?

CR     We can live with them. In terms of taking the country forward to a certain end we can live with them. The Constituent Assembly will be a sovereign body that will be able to apply its mind very carefully on what type of a constitution we should have. This is a transitional constitution which is not cast in stone. What is cast in stone is are the constitutional principles which we are very happy with and it is around those constitutional principles that the Constituent Assembly will draft the constitution. The current draft makes good provision for the Constituent Assembly to start de novo drafting a new constitution, basing its decisions or its draft of a new constitution on the principles themselves. And that is all that is binding. The rest, it's really got to take us through the transition period.

POM     Do you trust this government?

CR     It's difficult to trust a lot that has proved untrustworthy.

POM     Have you found in the three years of negotiations that they backtrack, deviate, make promises they don't keep, I won't say double agendas but different agendas?

CR     They do have a different agenda, clearly they do, but they never comply with agreements that you reach with them.

POM     That would apply to the Record of Understanding which has not yet been fully implemented?

CR     Yes. You go along with them with the full knowledge that they cannot be trusted but to the extent that we are able to move forward we are prepared to do so. In the constitutional negotiations with the type of guarantees that we are setting in place we think we can move along. It's all to make sure that we get a good deal for our people.

POM     OK.

POM     This is continuing the interview with Cyril Ramaphosa on the 21st August 1993.

POM     One thing I've noticed since last year is what appears to be a virtual collapse of the National Party, that they would get one in four of the votes that they got in 1989, they are talked about in the media as being divided, discredited, that they've lost their core vote. What do you think has accounted for that? When De Klerk came off the high of the referendum in March 1992 it has been like a downhill slide all the way since. He went all the way from being what appeared to be a decisive leader always being in the front running of things to somebody who is now desperately trying to catch up.

CR     I think a lot of things. After the referendum De Klerk was too confident, became very arrogant, became very reckless and I think squandered his good fortune. That was manifested during the negotiations leading up to CODESA 2. He thought he was riding on the crest of a wave and his vision for the future became too narrow and too short sighted. After that referendum he could have moved decisively to reach a settlement with the ANC, at the Multi-party of course, on a multi-party basis. We could have reached an agreement at CODESA 2 and we could have settled the apartheid question last year even. He could have utilised that support to rally everyone who had supported him in the referendum to remain a fairly big party and when he didn't people started seeing, on the white side because he lost time, people started seeing that he was not serious with the reform and as the crisis developed they started seeing him as an indecisive leader who could not live up to the promises that he had made because he had made in fact some stupid promises.

POM     Like?

CR     Like saying there will be permanent power sharing and when it became clear that the ANC would not agree to permanent power sharing and he was beginning to weaken his resolve to have permanent power sharing that led to a rupture within the National Party, the membership and the supporters and they thought he couldn't be trusted to deliver what he had promised and the move towards the IFP then started, the move towards the right wing then started, the white right wing, because the IFP is also right wing but the black one. He then started becoming isolated even within his own party, not as a person, but the group of people around him started feeling that he is giving in too much to the ANC. That started eroding his support base. His lack of resolve to bring the violence under control also led to him losing quite a bit of support. The crime situation got worse in the country. The economy is not picking up. To some extent the standard of living amongst white people started dropping markedly. When that started happening it became clear that he was becoming a lame duck type of government and he was ruling from crisis to crisis. People then in his support base started seeing the ANC beginning to surge forward and I think that started worrying his supporters that we are dealing with a president who is just continuously giving in to the ANC. I think that is the sum total of why De Klerk has lost support and he is now seen as a president who hasn't got a lot of power.

POM     Do you think the divisions within his Cabinet are serious enough to bring about a split or that De Klerk is in fact the only person they have even if he's seen as weak or rather ineffectual that to remove him would totally derail the whole process?

CR     There's no other leader they have who can lead the party. I don't think it will lead to a split but he's walking a tight rope because he's under enormous pressure from those who are more inclined towards the right wing.

POM     Those like Hernus Kriel and Kobie Coetsee and Tertius Delport?

CR     Tertius Delport. But I think he will be able to sustain his position. In the end it is not in the interests of, say, the democratic forces in this country for De Klerk to lose power and his hold.

POM     It's not in your interests either, is it? If you were dealing with a weak opponent who can't deliver his constituency?

CR     That's right. No it isn't.

POM     You need to prop him up in some way.

CR     I don't know how we prop him up because he is caught in between two terrible positions and at times he tilts more and more towards pleasing the other side, the right wing in his party, to our displeasure, to a point where we start wondering why we would want to prop him up but at the same time we know that we need him because if he goes then that will be a setback for us.

POM     Do you give room in your analysis to take into account that he might have to veer to the right in order to just prevent himself from capsizing, that the tight rope sometimes wobbles in one direction and sometimes you wobble in the other and you need some prop to hang on to?

CR     Yes we do give some room, but in some cases I think he's burnt his bridges. His alliance with the IFP is all but finished and he is trying to hold on to straws, making gestures towards the IFP, gestures that are just dismissed because they see him as having moved too much towards our side, being in alliance with us. And in terms of democratising our country I think we share a common vision. Beyond that there is nothing in common between us.

POM     He recently came out with another proposal, I think it was in an interview with The Sunday Times in which he floated his idea that every party that would have more than 5% of the vote would be represented in the Cabinet but then there would be a kind of super Cabinet composed of the two of three parties that had more than 15% of the vote and that decisions in that would be by consensus, they would in fact be telling the Cabinet what to do. That's not exactly how you perceive a government of national unity is it?

CR     No. He wants an inner Cabinet and it's interesting the way he has moved. He initially wanted three presidents who would work on a rotation basis. We dismissed that and he realised that it is a stupid idea and as he went on talking to his people it became clear that he actually wanted a position for himself. He sees his role continuing into the future and hence the idea of this inner Cabinet which would take decisions, as you say, on a consensus basis. And we've dismissed that too and have argued that decisions will have to be taken by a president who will have to be coming from the majority party. We then proposed that we could create a position of a vice president and a vice president would work in the main with the president but in the Cabinet decisions would have to be taken by consensus, no, no, no, by two thirds majority - what am I saying! By two thirds majority.

POM     I might have asked you this before, in what respects is a government of national unity different from a power sharing government?

CR     Power sharing in their view is a situation where all decisions are taken by consensus, where the minority parties have a power of veto. A government of national unity means that the majority party will admit minority parties, of course up to a certain percentage, maybe 5%, and will govern jointly. They will have Cabinet positions but the president will come from the majority party and decisions will be taken by two thirds majority.

POM     Now would people who come from these minority parties, would they be there as representatives of their parties or as individuals who are chosen because of their ability?

CR     They will be representing their parties no doubt. They would have to. They would come in, nominated by their party leaders and the president would then decide on the basis of the recommendation from the party leaders. Once a party has, say, 5% it will be guaranteed a certain amount of seats in Cabinet, it will all work proportionately.

POM     Let me turn to Bisho. You were at Bisho at the time of that massacre. Did that bring about any change in the utility of mass action or did everybody see the brink suddenly pull back and it began that period which culminated in the Record of Understanding?

CR     I think Bisho brought some measure of realism to bear on our mass action campaigns. After Bisho we felt that we did not need to take risks that could lead to the loss of life, that whilst we would not abandon mass action we would have to assess the situation thoroughly and fully before embarking on mass action. And after that we tried everything we could to make sure that there was no loss of life and I think to a large extent we did succeed. Of course there were mishaps along the way but not on a scale near to what happened at Bisho because Bisho was really mass action that was leading to a head on collision with a tin-pot dictator who was armed to the teeth. After that you saw Bophuthatswana campaigns being measured, being well calculated. There was much talk about going to Ulundi. That was never really seriously on the cards. So there was some realism that came into it.

POM     The violence of the last three or four months, which has jumped I think to an average of 10.2 people a day compared to four point something before that, is it different in its purpose, character and nature than the violence that erupted first in 1990? I'm talking about the Reef.

CR     Yes it is quite different because the violence that we have seen in the past two months or so seems to have been sparked off by people who are responding in an organised fashion to what is taking place at the negotiation table. After the setting of the date the violence started escalating and rearing its head again on the Reef where people were just being massacred by elements or forces that seem to have a clear programme, a clear objective of trying to destabilise the process that is under way at the World Trade Centre, where people would just walk into either a house or a shebeen or even a church or whatever and just mow people down and disappear into the dark. That in our view is connected to what is taking place over the negotiation table and in a way it could even be a dress rehearsal by those who want to escalate the violence leading up to the elections to try and prevent the elections from taking place.

POM     Do you still think this is what is called a third force and is now called a sinister force, that still operates with if not the complicity of the government at least with its indirect approval? Does it suit the government's purposes or do you think that there are these rogue elements in all parts of the military that are either operating autonomously or under a group command?

CR     I think it's more rogue elements but it's difficult not to blame the government because the rogue elements are never arrested and brought to book by a government that has strong surveillance capabilities. So I would say right now, indirectly at some level in government there is liability that can be blamed for this through complete indifference. They have worked very hard to apprehend the perpetrators of massacre situations that involve white people. They have gone out and they have arrested them but when it comes to black people, fifteen people are mowed down at a particular time and no real follow up takes place to get the people arrested. There was Eikenhof where a white family was wiped off in a car and the perpetrators were arrested immediately and then there was this one in Cape Town where people have been arrested, but the same does not happen when a large number of black people are killed. That leads one to believe that at a particular level the security forces, or elements in the security forces, would be behind this. Their slowness, their tardiness, their neglect of following these incidents up can only lead one to believe that there is a connection somewhere. But as often happens it's very difficult in the end for people who are very professional and good at this to pin it down to highly placed people in government and that is why it has been difficult to identify, finally, the character and the origins of the third force.

POM     The Goldstone Commission said that one of the primary, though not the only, cause of the violence was political competition between the IFP and the ANC. Would you agree with that finding or do you think he understated the role a third force might have played?

CR     He has. In his past reports he has actually identified a whole number of causes of violence. The rivalry between the ANC and the IFP is one of them but in previous reports he has gone beyond that and he has said that the causes of violence can never be pinned down to one cause. It's multi-faceted and in earlier reports he's said that it's the whole system of apartheid, the socio-economic situation in the country, rivalry between the ANC and the IFP, the role of the security forces. That is what he has been able to find, so I would not subscribe to the view that it is mainly or only the IFP and the ANC rivalry. It just is not so.

POM     Some of these things confuse me, that the violence it's hard to know where to stop. It seems to me that this year I notice a couple of things very different. When I go to townships no whites at all and places like Thokoza there's no-one out, people just stay inside. And yet people will tell you harrowing accounts of not just a neighbour being burnt out but of the bodies being set alight and in one case ... and burned. It's like all the anger the blacks had against apartheid with the pressure that has been lifted rather than directing it towards the oppressors in some way they have directed it towards themselves.

CR     Yes it would appear to be so but if one bears in mind that it is these forces that are operating in the townships that are getting the violence directed against black people, one finally gets to understand the nature of the violence because it is not so much black on black violence as it has been characterised in the past. It is these forces that have a clear programme and an agenda. We will argue that ordinarily there would be peace amongst the black people but the forces are utilising the rivalry between the ANC and the IFP as a vehicle through which to propagate this violence. For instance, the level of infiltration by these forces amongst the community is quite high. They even use gangster groups like what happened in the East Rand, in Tembisa, to actually fan the flames of violence against a group which enjoys the support of the IFP, is supposed to have started the violence in the East Rand recently. They went out and attacked a few people. When the township residents retaliated the group fled into the hostel. They had a good sanctuary and they then played into the hands and the intentions of IFP warlords, if you like, who then saw a perfect chance to start attacking the township residents.

     Now you have to take it a little bit back and take it back to the role apartheid has played in the violence because you have people who stay in a hostel who are under attack from the township residents and the township residents in the main would want to retaliate against this gang but in doing so they then start hitting against hostel residents and the hostel residents then have to hit back to defend their own turf. But then you also find that in that hostel, for instance, most of the legal occupants of the hostel have left. Those who now live there are what you could call illegal residents, some of whom are not gainfully employed elsewhere, anywhere. Their sole purpose is just to fan the flames of violence.

POM     Some people have suggested to me, not just this year but last year too, that you have a situation in which all the leading players are not in full control of their constituencies. The ANC isn't in control of the youth of some of the self defence units in the townships, Buthelezi hasn't control of some of his warlords and that De Klerk certainly doesn't have control over the SADF, particularly the police who in these township situations can inflame it or take one side or the other. Do you think there's merit in that?

CR     Yes. To the extent that self defence units have been infiltrated we have lost the control because most of them have been heavily and thoroughly infiltrated.

POM     Is that right?

CR     But the worth of the defence units were they provide an outstanding service to the community because they are vigilant, they have been able to ward off attacks and to impose a measure of peace in their own community. But we did an investigation and found that quite a number of them were infiltrated, ill-trained or had no training whatsoever and they were really left at the mercy of their own devices and, where our structures have been weak, outside forces have found fertile ground to intervene and misdirect them.

POM     I heard on the radio yesterday of some MK exiles occupying ANC headquarters in Durban. They left today. The ANC almost sounded like the government did after a mass demonstration, like, "Thank God they were gone. They shouldn't have taken over the building so the ANC couldn't get on with its work." So it was like substituting one bureaucracy for another. With returned exiles, particularly people who were in the MK, if somehow jobs are not found for them or something done specifically for them, don't they become a source of great threat? They can become bitter so quickly. I know of some three or four young people who are absolutely so bitter about the way they have been treated since they came back that they would almost vote for Buthelezi before they would vote for the ANC. Is this problem sufficiently recognised?

CR     Very much. We recognise it. We are in a way disempowered because we are not a state, we are not in government. It's difficult to do anything meaningful for five or ten thousand people who are trained to be soldiers but because the transition period has gone on so long those people who went out to fight for the freedom of this country are left in limbo. They are without jobs, they are without proper training. So it has made the work of the organisation very difficult so we recognise it and we are trying to do something about it. There was a question of welfare that was mentioned at one of the MK conferences and it's always been very difficult for the organisation to even attempt to do anything without adequate resources. So we recognise it, we are going to be trying to do something about it in the next few weeks.

POM     The security structures of the state, it would seem to me that the effectiveness of joint control of the security forces is going to be the litmus test of the transition. Here you've got a security apparatus that must be among the most sophisticated in the world in terms of subterranean kind of movements, movements within movements. How do you see an ANC government forcing that open, getting into it, exposing the secret structures that exist, or will it all be forgotten in a way, like a new day has dawned? It seems to me that you can never have effective joint control. At some level you simply don't know what is going on, what kind of levels of security exist.

CR     That's true. It's going to be difficult. It's going to be very difficult to unravel what they did in the past, what they are doing now because they have been quite good at hiding things, disguising them and there were times when the one arm of the state did not know what the other arm was doing and that is what they are going to want to hide. They are destroying documents now because they don't want us to know what they have been doing. The whole move, for instance, to get rid of their nuclear capacity was really part of it all. "We don't want the ANC government to place their hands on the nuclear bomb control or lever." They suddenly came out openly about it after hiding it for so many years successfully I might add. So in my view that is just the tip of the iceberg, there is a lot more that we are going to have to unravel and they will continue hiding it. And in effect it's difficult, even as you move towards joint control, when you are dealing with people who have been totally excluded from state institutions.

POM     Would they be approaching joint control as something that has been imposed on them politically where their attitude doesn't really change or can you develop a structure which is genuine? Would they be foiling you every step of the way? And that with the bureaucracy which would still be in white hands, not just in regard to security but in a whole range of issues paralyse a new administration.

CR     They will want to make sure that a new administration is disempowered. It is something that is imposed on them because of the political transformation that is taking place. There is no other way, but for as long as they can they want to continue having real power, controlling things and they detest being opened to scrutiny. They detest it immensely. They still have that 'baasskaap' mentality that we are white and we know it all, everybody else who is not white (like us) must just follow our lead or do as we say. And they won't want to disclose everything, they just won't want to. I still am to meet a group of people or a government that gives up power willingly, altogether. They will still want to hold on to certain things.

POM     So would you expect the violence to continue to escalate as the election approaches?

CR     Yes, I think it will escalate.

POM     Again, I met a woman in Thokoza, she was an IFP person, Gertrude Mzizi, she's actually from Lesotho, she complained, you talk about the ANC and it's like the devil incarnate. It's Xhosa speaking people also, not just the ANC. But she said there can be a settlement tomorrow and it will make no difference to the violence going on here, the violence will continue, it's feeding on itself in a way, whether it is retributive or whatever. The larger picture doesn't concern them, they don't know what goes on in the World Trade Centre so we will always just have to look at territory or shack or whatever. Again if you have elements in the security forces which assume a role, how will you take over? You're facing problems of immense proportions. It must take your time away from concentrating on the new agenda of reconstruction.

CR     Yes, those are the challenges that we are going to have to deal with, but I cannot agree with her when she says that the violence will just continue unabated. A new government is going to have more commitment to stop the violence. It will be a difficult problem, an enormous challenge, but we will be taking more direct action with the willingness, the capacity and a commitment to make sure that we bring the levels of violence down.

POM     ... because this happened in Ireland. One of the actions of the first liberation government was to impose a state of emergency.

CR     I hope it doesn't come to that.

POM     But it might?

CR     It might.

POM     The constitution, the day the endorsed it they suspended it - for 30 years!

CR     Yes, yes. Like the Zimbabwe government, they got into power, there were state of emergency measures. Those continued for a good long period but they needed to utilise them to bring some stability to the country, but in the meantime investments were not flowing in and they were not really able to effectively embark on reconstruction programmes.

POM     In your view have whites as a collective sufficiently acknowledged that grave wrong was done to black people during apartheid and that some form of retribution must be made, therefore they will have to bear with sacrifice over a period of time because they have, in a way, been falsely privileged?

CR     No. No. We are dealing with a very selfish lot of people. They could only have been selfish to have continued holding on to the privileges, defending those privileges and extending the base of those privileges. Now when it comes to a time when they have to say, "We have not treated our compatriots well", they would rather say, "No, we cannot admit and we will resist any form of redistribution or retribution or restoration or restitution. We will completely block it because we want to continue having what we have and the sun should never set on the South African empire as it were." That's how they approach it.

POM     Can there ever be true national reconciliation until somehow they get to acknowledging that?

CR     No there can't be.

POM     It seems to me what they miss all the time with their talking to, negotiating with you, they think it's like an employer/employee. You give there and I give there and you hammer out the best deal and get a compromise and that they miss the moral element. They miss the fact that you have been wronged and that therefore the whole dynamic would be different because of that.

CR     No they missed that completely. They don't even want to countenance it. And that is why when we even talk about, for instance, a reconstruction levy, which by the way was utilised in Germany after the war, it was payable over a long period, the South Africans here who have property, who have wealth, don't see themselves going in that direction.

POM     The re-emergence of the right wing and Buthelezi are the two main things I'd like to cover. A year ago the right wing appeared to be in disarray, humbled after De Klerk's victory, lack of leadership, it appeared to be divided. Today it appears to have emerged as a far more cohesive organisation under one umbrella and now with a leader in Constand Viljoen who is a respected figure in the Afrikaans white community. Are they a real threat or is this kind of the last splutterings of people who want to live in a different age?

CR     They are a threat and we are well advised to take them seriously. They are armed, they are getting armed, they have enormous resources both material and otherwise. Their policies are not popular even amongst white people but it can only take a few people to create complete chaos and that is what they hope to do.

POM     That's what happened in Yugoslavia. It was only a few people. They had a referendum and they went through all the rituals and people said "No" .

     Buthelezi. I found it funny when I picked up the Star this morning and it says the IFP may soon be back at talks and an hour before I heard on the radio where he gave a speech at Pietermaritzburg last night that he's going nowhere until the ANC drop any talk or any notion of an elected Constituent Assembly. Is he painting himself into a corner out of which he cannot come?

CR     He is painting himself into a corner but I think he's resourceful. I think in the end he will be able to come out. He wants to get a lot more out of the process than he would ordinarily get than if he was inside because there's an attempt to deal with him to see how best his concerns can be addressed and we have now given notice that we cannot negotiate with a party that's not at the negotiating table. He should be at the negotiating table, we argue. But he's clearly painting himself into a corner, not only that, into a corner where he's going to lose because black people to a large extent are leaving his party in terms of support. They do not support him. But he is gaining support from the whites. In a way it is the response by the white people to a person whom they think shares their values because he has openly said he shares their values. They see him as a person who is interested in the right for self-determination, for Zuluness, and that they find very attractive because that is also their approach to life that as long as you are white you must make sure that you protect everything, your culture and so forth. And you can only do so if you are part of this.

POM     But how do you throw him a lifeline when he makes a statement blatant as "I will not return, period, until this is done, this can't be done."

CR     It is difficult.

POM     A few things that struck me about him, I did three interviews with him and on each occasion he was a totally different person, absolutely no consistency to his personality at all. What I found interesting was that the first time I met him, the first interview, he gave me a 600 page book of every insulting statement made by the ANC. Every time he did three of four sentences he said, "I am insulted, I am insulted, I am insulted." Do think that maybe his level of psychological make-up is such that he knows he would do poorly in a national election and would expose him for being a fraud and that would be the final insult, that he can't contemplate that happening so that even if it meant war at some time he would prefer that route because in the end it would stall the negotiating mechanism and he would be in the news and big again and the Zulus would not - he would have saved honour? Does any of that make sense?

CR     It makes sense. That's the agenda he is pursuing. It is precisely the agenda he is pursuing.

POM     Let's say the process moves ahead without him and you go ahead and have an election on April 27th, there wouldn't be elections in Natal. So you would have a new government which would have at least a low intensity war going on in Natal. The ANC there certainly wouldn't give up just because - they certainly wouldn't give up, period. Would that result in a stable South Africa, stable in the sense of where foreign business would say, "This whole thing could get more nasty, we're out of it", and you don't get the foreign capital?

CR     It can develop.

POM     And the other scenario, let's say you move over backwards to pull him out of his problems and let's say you find a way of almost acceding to his demands in a way that gives him a substantial amount of what he wants, not quite everything, but enough to bring him back in. Would the ANC in Natal tolerate that? Would Harry Gwala say, "Our guys have been dying for the last ten years and this is what the end of the struggle is about?"

CR     It would not tolerate it. So you're looking at a total ANC that is on the question of Buthelezi not only being informed by the responses of our Natal leaders but you are looking at an ANC which approaches this issue on a common platform, so it would not be tolerated even in the Western Cape.

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.