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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

26 Aug 1993: Lekota, Mosiuoa Patrick

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Click here for Overview of the year

POM     Let me begin with the question, will elections be held on 27 April? I've seen a couple of newspaper attempts where you suggest that they may not be held that day for a number of considerations.  What do you think those considerations are?

ML     Well let me start off by saying that actually we are determined that elections will be held on the 27 April.  We are doing everything in our power to make it happen.  Nevertheless we are also painfully aware of the fact that there are problems, some of them major problems which could make it impossible for the elections to take place.  The single most dangerous element in this situation is violence.  That is a real threat to elections taking place next year.  Secondly, the pace at which the negotiations are proceeding is a crucial factor in this matter.  If we are able to keep the current pace, we should be able, by September, by the end of next month, to have reached agreement and be able to put together the plenary sessions of the multinational conference and to ask what agreements have been made and adopt them finally.  If nevertheless, for any number of reasons negotiations don't proceed at that pace, chances are that by the time we adopt the measures agreed, that amount of time between then and the 27th of April may have become so short that it would not be possible to make adequate preparations for the elections themselves.  And there may, of course, be other quite unforeseen circumstances which could intervene in this situation.  I am thinking here now about things such as assassinations of some of the key leaders.  You know if the assassination of Chris Hani was anything to go by, a repeat performance of that or even of two leaders, not necessarily ANC leaders but maybe even leaders on the government side or some or so, could indeed paralyse the process.  So I mean there are all kinds of possibilities and it is only proper that we should be sensitive to any eventualities that could intervene.

POM     I am sure this is going to be one of the most observed elections ever in the 20th century.  Do you have any idea of how many organisations from outside SA want to send observers and how many from NGOs within SA? Have you anybody to co-ordinate that aspect?

ML     At this stage we have only been discussing the issue of monitors from outside, but we haven't set up someone to deal with this, so I am not in a position to say to you how many organisations are hoping to be looking at the situation, but I can only say to you that the interest is enormous.  From the American continent, from Europe, Asia, Australia, there is hardly any country where government and non-government organisations are not keen to be part of this process.  Certainly all of the international organisations, major international organisations, the United Nations, Commonwealth, Non-Aligned Movement, OAU, all of that are certainly going to be part of this.  When it comes to the NGOs, most of the organisations which are part of the anti-apartheid struggle continue to consider it their prime commitment to participate in this process, to see really the fruit of the work that they have contributed to over the years come to ultimate fruition.  So I am not able to give you the numbers at the moment.

POM     If you look at the last year, last August, in the middle of the stayaway, the government and the ANC were at loggerheads and things were not progressing, they were paralysed.  When you look at the last year what would you identify as the main factors that put the process back on track?

ML     I think the one single factor that brought the process back was the government's concession on the major demands which we have put forward to them. That is on the one hand, but secondly, our own anxiety that the process should not be paralysed forever.  We didn't see the break off of the talks as an end to the process but we used that as pressure on the government.

POM     Did Bisho play a part in putting the process back in stride?

ML     Not exactly, not Bisho.  It was really the agreement, the concessions on the part of the government.  They gave in on the question of the hostels, the dangerous weapons,  and they gave in on the debate which had deadlocked at CODESA, the 70%/66% in the demand for that thing.  And once they had given on these elements and also made a commitment that they would be on an ongoing basis, they would be prepared to engage with us in an exercise to attempt to fulfil some of the remaining demands.  That was in the bilateral of December last year.  That really was encouraging.

POM     The so-called Record of Understand?

ML     That's right.

POM     Did that begin the primary instrument that the ANC and government used to hold to verify that role?

ML     Yes.

POM     In the negotiations that have taken place since then, when you look at where the ANC was last June and where the government was last June, can you identify what would have been the major compromises and concessions made by the government and made by the ANC to get to where you are today?

ML     The first thing, I think the first major compromise the government made, which was a very useful instrument, was for them to concede the 66% adoption of the clauses of the constitution.  The second thing was for them to agree to commit themselves to working, once we had negotiated with them, to stick to the agreement reached at bilateral level and seek to persuade, with us, the other parties to move to those positions.  That was a very important concession because it meant we could then rely on the fact that whatever compromise position we had reached, both of us would become co-workers in terms of moving the process forward.  Until that time the government would make an agreement at bilateral level but once we met with the other parties, they didn't consider themselves bound by those concessions.

     Then on the question of traditional weapons, the carrying of traditional weapons, they for the first time agreed that they would be willing to introduce legislation that would prevent the carrying of these weapons in public.  That was a major advance because we had a lot of arguments on that question until then.  And then there was a question of the remaining political prisoners in jail like Robert McBride and others who were patently political prisoners, and on the basis of whose continuing in prison we were no longer going to continue.  Although the government was resistant they ultimately agreed and they released McBride and the other prisoners who had been in the maximum security prison in Pretoria.  With them was the concession, the agreement, to release some remaining at that time, about 400 political prisoners.  That the government agreed, I think it was about 400, agreed then on a process and then to release them.  That was a major and very important concession.

     Then there was the question of the hostels which we have been saying to the government needed to be closed, and that the criminals who were in there needed to be flushed out, and they agreed to this position.  And so that was another compromise position that was very useful to us when we go back to our people and we can say now that is what the position is.  The government agreed with us on the question of the re-incorporation of the TBVC states and committed themselves to make sure that it did happen.  Yes, I would say that those issues, those were possibilities that also the agreement, their commitment was necessary, and to single out some of the issues that we could not deal with immediately.  But nevertheless they were willing to continue to process them and to attend to them as we go along.

POM     What did the ANC give in terms of concessions or compromises within the same period?

ML     Well, in this period, as you know, we ourselves, have been suffering under the violence and will be suffering still.  I mean our people have been slaughtered. For instance, if you look at Boipatong, a large number of people went in there and just slaughtered our people and so on.  The onus was on the government to persuade us that they are negotiating in good faith; it was not for us to persuade them on anything.  We had been giving and making concessions all along the way.  And we continued, even at that stage, we continued to show a measure of patience with them and willingness to co-operate properly.  And so at that point, we were under no obligation to give anything to the government.

     Nevertheless, when we went to the second bilateral at the end of this year we began to deal with substantive issues not related to negotiations because now we have come back again. We then suggested to them that, well, there was a question of how the constitution was going to be drafted; there was a question of the election itself.  And we had preliminary agreements, first of all that there should be an election to the Constituent Assembly and that there shouldn't be a drafting of the constitution before the elections took place.  But, nevertheless, that once the elections had taken place, the constitution, we argued, should be drafted inside of nine months and they wanted it done in three years, in a period of about three years.  They were very worried about the question of reconciling people, the people of the country, and they were worried about suddenly having an election and the result that if they had lost, and they were overnight out of government.  We then offered a package, the government of national unity package, and said to them whether we want the elections or not was not really the matter, did not mean that they are out of government.  We were willing to set up a government of national unity in which every party that wins more than 5% of the votes would be entitled to be part of the cabinet.  So that if the ANC won 55% of the vote 55% of cabinet should go to the ANC.  And if the National party won 20% of the vote the National Party would get 20% of the cabinet seats and so on and so on.

POM     What's the difference between what the government and the National Party refer to   as a power sharing government and what the ANC refers to as a government of national unity?

ML     The packages, there are two different packages.  We raised the question with them too; what do you mean by that? And three elements were embodied in their response.  One, that for them a government of national unity would mean that all of the parties, irrespective of what percentage of the votes they won, would be treated as equal.  Secondly, that there would have to be a rotating presidency, naturally, because all the parties are equal.  And, thirdly, that minority parties should have a veto. Now these three elements emerged from the response of the government when they were pressured to explain themselves on this question.  We are saying that a government of national unity must mean that the principle of majority rule should not be violated,  which is why we are saying that the cabinet should reflect the percentage required by each party.  But, nevertheless, the other parties are proportionate to the percentage that they get.

     Secondly, we are saying that there can't be, and shouldn't be, a rotating presidency.  The president must come from the majority party in line with the principal of majority rule.  And thirdly, that there should be no veto rights for minority parties.  Therefore, any decision, any position adopted by the majority party or the majorities that are in cabinet, would have to be carried, because to subject minorities to majorities would just be contrary to democracy.  But it was a concession on our part to say that if we won an election under any democratic process, for instance the British constitution, it would matter; we would be entitled to have all the cabinet seats, but for us it was important.  The interests of the country had to replace the head of the interest of the ANC.  And we felt that this is a gesture that we can therefore make.

     Secondly, we said that once the constitution is drafted, even inside of nine months, in what you call an interim government of national unity, it would not terminate once the constitution is adopted but that we would be prepared to accept carrying on with that arrangement reached with the interim government of national unity as now, not an interim government, but as government of national unity until at least, just under five years from the elections that have been held now.  And this was necessary to the concerns of the people of the country.

POM     You mentioned the concessions the government has made. The ANC's position initially was very strong on a unitary state.  Now you seem to have the situation where not only are provisions defined in terms of the powers they would have, but more of a situation of devolution of power from the regions to central government rather than the other way around?

ML     Really, our position has not changed in any significant way.  It's always been really the same position.  We remain committed to a unitary state.  But even in a unitary constitution, there must be some powers which devolve to the regions. The difference between a federal state and a unitary state is simply that a certain amount of powers are devolved to regions, how much power you give to regions, how much power you retain centrally.  So our position has always been that even though we are talking about a unitary constitution, nevertheless elements of federalism must be in it because we are going to have regions, we are going to give some powers to the regions with the provision , of course, that in our view a central government should have overriding powers, more powers than the regions have.

POM     OK, would this become an issue which the ANC is unlikely to back down on? In other words, the issue is that whatever the federalist situation is, that the powers of the region are entrenched in the constitution which can't be over-ridden by the central government. You are saying now that the regions will be given powers, powers that are devolved from the centre, but the centre can recall those powers in certain situations?

ML     Well, let me put it this way, you know even federal constitutions are not always, even they themselves are not always the same.  If you take the constitution of the United States and compare it with the constitution of the Republic of Germany, both are different also, you see.  When you say it is the federal constitution, or whatever, it is dependent on what amount of powers you give here and retain there.  Our approach at this stage is that it does not matter to us what the view of the Inkatha may be, or any other party.  Let them hold the views that they hold.  Nevertheless, those views must ultimately be decided upon by the Constituent Assembly which is an elected body that has got the mandate to decide.  If we found that in the Constituent Assembly that we have failed, our view failed, we would have to accept a democratic part of saying, well we had our chance but the majority has decided this way and this is the only path that we can take on it.  So we are not wedded to unitarianism as such.  It is our view that it would be the best deal in the case of this country.  But we accept that it could very well happen that we are not able to carry the country with that, and we would be subjected to it.

POM     From some people I get the impression that the powers of the regions would be defined, the borders of the regions would be defined in the interim constitution that has been drawn up at the World Trade Centre, and that those powers in position in relation to regions would then become one of the constitutional principles which would be binding on the Constituent Assembly.

ML     That is what Inkatha wants.  They want us to bind the hand of the Constituent Assembly now and we can't, that is unacceptable to us, it undermines democracy.  You should have made a constitution and then you elect the body and then you bring it as a rubber stamp of some kind.  As a matter of fact, we have suggested that there should be a delimitation commission to which all of these parties and organisations can make their recommendations and that those would then be referred to; that such a commission could make recommendations to the Constituent Assembly, or that the Constituent Assembly should detail items to accept or reserve whatever options may be made.  So in that way, you get the parties to make input to attempt and to influence that thinking of the Constitution Assembly but you don't give these parties the right to overrule the Constituent Assembly which is has got a mandate, when we don't even have a national mandate.

POM     You mentioned the hostels a couple of times and the actions that government has promised to take with regard to the hostels, yet in the last year, in fact the last seven months have seen far more violence between hostel dwellers and their communities than ever before.

ML     I think actually there has been a reduction of that kind of violence in the period that you are referring to.  It has been less than what it has been before.  It is true that they have not been able to fulfil all round the commitment they have made to us, but nevertheless, the situation is much better than it was that time.

POM     You say the violence has receded, that type of violence?

ML     Yes, certainly, it has really receded.  There has been isolated hostel violence that remains problematic.  That kind of violence one has continued to see apparently, maybe inside the hostels where members of the hostels, actually in Natal, are in some hostels fighting with other members inside of that hostel and not so much the kind of violence you have here, in Nancefield for instance, the Nancefield hostel in Jeppe, for instance, as well.  That situation has largely receded.  One hostel that has remained problematic for a lengthy period is the Alexandra hostel but even there the tension still is there but the situation has really calmed down.  Thokoza, that is now a lot of people who really come from outside.  Even our own investigations indicate that these are not hostel dwellers; some elements would come from outside, and elements that you would generally define as third force elements, coming in, shooting the people and doing so.

POM     But the level of violence since Chris Hani's death has really not escalated?

ML     Yes, I think it went down, I think it went down  and then comrades went on a march not very long in the East Rand and that march went along the route that passed near the hostels.  We still need to determine what happened.  But had that march not gone along that path we wouldn't have had the sharp escalation of violence in the eastern townships as we all heard in the recent period.  And then because of what had happened it then exploded, I mean, the whole of Natal Square, Germiston, Thokoza, and all of that, were now enveloped in this.  And then it starts in Daveyton and those places. But that was, as I say, provoked differently.  It was not a continuation, a general continuation of what had been happening last year.  Indeed it was until that point of time indeed, violence had really decreased, calm had descended.

POM     Is that more ominous because it is a different type of violence?

PL     Yes, because what is quite clear, what has become increasing quite clear is that the patterns which the violence follows have ceased to be, it has become increasingly obvious, are not politically motivated.  And I'll give you some examples.  Not long ago, I think probably about a month, a month and a half, about two months ago, in Alrode, all the chaps went there, stopped the cars at the junction robots, traffic lights.  And then any car that come in sight, any car, white, black, didn't matter which direction it was going, they then shot at every car that came in sight.  Now you couldn't possibly say that this was Inkatha people wanting to kill ANC people because they don't know who's going to come next on the robot line, traffic line, or ANC people.  It just zeroes in, creating general causes of violence.  Then there is the St James Church killing where you have your whole congregation at prayer.  You can't possibly say, look at your whole congregation, that so many of the people support the ANC, so many of the people support the PAC, you can't.  It's just a church come together.

     And it is true, yes it is true, some of the people they may support the ANC or Inkatha or the government or anybody.  You could never be able to say that this was intended as political violence, that so-and-so wanted to kill so-and-so.  That is not the nature of things.  But that is not entirely new, it is a problem that has been prevailing for a long, long time with regard to the killings of the commuters going to work and coming into the city.  We kept saying no, this is the killing of our people, it is not political.  Because you can't come into a train coach and then just look around and say that people who are not even wearing T shirts or something, that these are Inkatha supporters or ANC supporters or PAC whatever.  So the people who have been killing the people in the trains there, or a mini bus carrying passengers taking them to the townships, how do you know who supports the ANC, who supports Inkatha?  You don't.  This is an attempt generally to create a psychosis of war, to destabilise African communities in particular and therefore to destabilise the ANC's name, command support.  It has been the object of this violence.  It has been the object of this violence.  It has been directed in that way and still you find people wearing the T-shirt of the ANC, generally showing this.  And this, this pattern tells it very well.  With the experience also of Mozambique, for instance, those people have been de-stabilised earlier on and that destabilisation is coming into this country.  But it started in the killing of leaders in the African communities.

     And I tell you something else.  The people who have been doing the killings on the trains and all of these things do not come from our communities.  They are people who come from outside of these African communities here.  Because you see, if you come from Soweto, or even from the Orange Free State, or somewhere, you have relatives in Johannesburg so if you are going onto a train and shoot and kill everybody else, you might be shooting even your own relatives there.  You could be shooting your own neighbours in the train.  You don't know who is in there.  It has to be someone who has no connection and who has no stake in this community and someone who is in conflict with the general freedom of the people of SA to do this.  And we think that a lot of the people who came from the special forces, who have been recruited for Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia and so on, who have been used until now by the regime, are available for this.  These people are in conflict.  They have got two reasons why they should be willing to do this, or to be employed to do this.  The first is that when their own countries became independent, they were in conflict with the freedom of their own countries and they have run away from there and come here because they don't want the freedom there.  Until now, they have been used to destabilise the neighbouring countries etc, etc.  Now, with those operations ceasing there, they are now available to be used to destabilise here.  Why would they agree to do this in SA?  The freedom of our own country represents a threat to themselves as well, that is the second motivation.  They know that we were in alliance with liberation movements in Mozambique, in Zimbabwe, in Angola, in Namibia.  If the ANC comes to power tomorrow they have no guarantees that they might extradited back to their motherlands where they have crimes that they committed and where they may well be brought to trial.  And so, it's not just the question of material benefits or remuneration that inspires them to do this, it's not just the fact that they have been part of the special forces, etc. etc.. it is also at a very personal level the question of how they see the changed situation in this country impacted on themselves.

POM     Do you see them operating more independent of any state control, that there are elements in the security forces who are in contact with this third force and who get used to man the operation?

ML     I think there are two categories, there are some I think who have not been demobilised. They are available to the former chiefs who are not in support of De Klerk's programme of reform and I think that is one category that can and will continue to be used.  It can be used by those people with their own resources, therefore keeping alive a unit which otherwise at official level is dead but is alive at an unofficial level.  So the second category, we still hold some of the view that it is inside of the security forces themselves and it is difficult to escape the conclusion that at some level of officialdom they should be aware that some of these people are being used because this agenda of violence had to promote the women of the ANC.  So what I am really saying is that we think there is a group or a section of them that is linked to government operations and some that are not.

POM     What is their connection to the government? I mean this would post a huge question. You have government security operations which follow secret avenues and organisations and whatever. You would be seeking to penetrate that in some w ay and weed out these subversive elements.

ML     Yes, but as you are well aware, we are seeking to confine to barracks all over the presidency, security and defence formations, and that out of that we will then be in position to set up a national peacekeeping force composed on a linked basis, measuring various forces, but even being very highly select with the process that would take place and we think that it would undermine it.

POM     Do you think that the violence I mean we talked to a lady in Thokoza who said until this thing is over that this violence is going to continue, it is not going to stop. You won't be able to put a stop to the violence.  The violence now feeds on itself and it has got its own set of dynamics.

ML     No, the violence can be contained.  You see the point is that at the moment you have uMkhonto there, you have the KwaZulu police, you have the SADF, and as long as you have all of these various forces, each one standing by itself, you will continue the problem. There is a lot of space, for both criminal elements and other malfeasants and political formations to do whatever they would like to do.  Once you establish one command structure and you neutralise them by putting these forces into the barracks, the capacity will increase.  It will increase because various communities will see themselves represented as whatever in that peacekeeping force.  At the moment some communities don't see themselves represented in the armed forces which are there in position so they don't co-operate.  But the credibility of the national peacekeeping force combining all the military forces must increase and therefore it will have the capacity to be effective, it will become better.

POM     Returning for a second to Buthelezi, Gqozo, you have the black right, and the white right guys teaming up to come together. What kind of a threat do you think they pose to the whole process?

ML     Violence.  These are parties which, it is clear, have no future.  In a democratic election they will lose.  They don't want the process to go on.  They want to live, to survive politically.  They can't survive if they are going to go to people and say vote us into parliament.  That is the thing.  So even this argument about federalism is just a smoke screen.  So, the major threat to the process, even from their side, is violence.   That's the only way they can try to stop this thing by using violence.  So they are the most serious threat to this process.

POM     Take Buthelezi for example,  he is increasingly making statements that are putting him further and further out on a limb, making it very, very difficult for you or the government to accommodate him in any way.  Is it his personality, or is it a carefully thought out strategy on his part?

ML     I think that there are two images there; Buthelezi has got a very big, huge ego and you can't really count on the situation in which he says (he will serve) under some other leader also.  What is quite clear to him is that in a united SA there is no chance in hell to get to the top of government, so he must have a sub-union leader somewhere.  He would have been happy to be on a par with Nelson, for instance, and that is something that is simply not available and possible.  We are thinking that there is no democratic practice, so most of the decisions that have been taken are largely by himself and some close confidantes, particularly Felgate who is very, very close to him. But that is about it.

POM     We spoke to Walter Felgate last week and he was categorical to the point of really having no discussion about it of not contesting an election for a Constituent Assembly. They will not be bound by agreements of which they are not a part, period.  No argument

ML     Buthelezi has lost the youth nationally and Felgate seems to be playing increasingly the directing role.  Maybe he has being doing that from the background up until now, but in the recent period he has been boldly coming to the fore.  And one knows that a lot of the African leadership, the Zulu leadership, around the Inkatha leadership, around Buthelezi, is not happy with the role that Felgate is playing and his influence.  They really just don't like it.

POM     Do you think, you talked about his ego, that with all his propensity to come to terms with him being insulted, he would recent that word more than any word in the English language.

ML     Yes, yes.  He likes to say he is being unified.

POM     Do you think that  the thought of an election in which his party might gain no more than 4% or 5% nationally would expose him in such a way to be so humiliating that he can't tolerate the thought of losing?  He has to engage in this process which at least  keeps him in the news.

ML     Yes, which is why he has also been threatened in civil war, threatening violence and using that as some kind of pressure on the president to meet him and so on.  He is definitely trying to play situations all the time that can project him as an equal to Nelson and then De Klerk.  And one of the reasons at the moment, one of the reasons he is now moving to the Xhosa and all of this, where he sees himself as the leadership of Xhosa, it is simply because he is trying to create a constituency of one type or another.  And ultimately for him it does not matter whether he is creating that forum out of all of these rabid races, wild races and so on.  As long as he can say I am out of a different constituency than Nelson Mandela.  We are competing and so on.

POM     What do you think is going to happen?

ML     Well I think the Xhosa group has no future, and that I think can be seen even in terms of what is happening with them now.  Buthelezi has chosen not to go back to that lot.  The other contact members are certainly not in this stake.  Each has it out.

POM     What about Buthelezi?  What do you think is going to happen with regard to him?

ML     Well, I suppose he will stay in Ulundi until his mood improves and maybe he is a bit more propitious towards the negotiation process.  Meantime we will be marching forward.  We will not wait for his mood to change.  I think that he is sidelining himself and increasingly fewer and fewer people will pay attention to what he is saying there.  And I think he will probably try, once an election has taken place or when we try to introduce structures agreed on at the World Trade Centre, I think he will attempt to blockade the implementation of that.  But he has no capacity to stop every road in this country.

POM     But he has the capacity to seriously steer through to destabilise Natal?

ML     Yes,  The National party has the capacity to impose progress on him.  But we will apply pressure on him as with others.  Once there is a Transitional Executive Council set up and we are participating in, for instance, the sub-committee on finance, we can withhold funds which are supposed to go to KwaZulu.  These are some of the pressures which we will apply and make it impossible for him to resist.  He can't hold.

POM     Do you not think that might be like what might happen, like American bombing missions, like Baghdad, what they do is they don't punish Saddam Hussein but they unite the people on the ground who suffer from the bombing, to make them more anti-American?

ML     No, except that he has no support there.  There is a difference.  Saddam has got support in Iraq, here Buthelezi has no support.  That is why he is afraid of an election.  If he had support that situation that you are opposed to will arise.  But he doesn't.

POM     What about the King and increasing the Zulu tribe - the Zulu nation that is a threat?

ML     Yes, but he should be above politics. What all is going to happen with the King is that his role will be clearly defined.  We are dealing here with a politician who is trying to defy this.  The King until now has never come out to say that he particularly opposes this negotiation or opposes this other and that; he has not really jumped into that.  Buthelezi, he has been participating in it of course, but using his hereditary position and he has been used by Buthelezi to do that.  Now what we need to do is to undercut Buthelezi.  One of the reasons why the King is sensitive to Buthelezi is because he earns his salary from the KwaZulu Legislative Assembly.  We can always withhold this thing and say to the King, we will continue, we will pay you your money and everything, you will get it.  But what is going to happen is that Buthelezi is not going to get any money to do all of the mischief making that he wants to do.  And we do know that that will have a very salutary effect.

POM     Two other things, one is the National Party: after the referendum in March 1972 De Klerk was riding a crest of popularity, then you had CODESA 2 collapse and within the last year you have seen a huge collapse of the basis of support of the National Party where only one person in our who voted for them in 1989 would vote for them today.  You hear of fragmentation within the party itself, with some members defecting to the IFP, other members saying that the government should be more conciliatory towards the IFP, and not be solely in bed with the ANC. You hear of splits in the cabinet.  What do you think is the situation there and is it in your interests to have to deal with a mixed National Party?

ML     No it is not.  It is not in our interest.  And so we do sense that as a serious threat to negotiations, certainly.  It is important for us that De Klerk should remain strong and influential.  And although it is true that he has lost some of his support, it is not quite correct to say that he has actually become weaker in the white community.  What has happened, is that the vast array of right wing factions, which has always been there but in a disorganised, unsettled fashion, has now come to be pulled together under the Afrikaner Volksfront, and that paints a picture, a picture which suggests that he has lost huge pockets of support.  We still hold the view that the considered opinion of white SA is one that is bent on finding a negotiated settlement;  that, therefore, as long as we are able to maintain a certain level of stability, and as long as the process continues to advance, the majority of white SA will continue to support the process, some of them behind the National Party, others behind the DP, and even others behind the ANC and other formations. But no-one, no- one in white SA except these right wing factions and whatnot honestly believes that civil war is the best path out.

     You know even Constant Viljoen, he has been saying that negotiations should be put on hold, but he stated quite clearly that violence was not what he was seeking, or preparation for that.  Although this last weekend, there seemed to be a significant departure from that position when he spoke to the Afrikaner women and was saying to them they must go and get their weapons and that they must practice to shoot, to shoot to kill.  But then you see, he then added a phrase that in order to save them, to defend themselves, he was not suggesting, he didn't seem to be suggesting that they should get the weapons and train to shoot, train to shoot so that they can go and attack someone else.  But still it was not a very good thing for a man in his position, and he has a very clear understanding of the military situation in this country.  If civil war was to come about, he has been one of the most outstanding strategists at military level for the National Party for many years.  So he knows it is not just a question of saying that we go for civil war and we can do this.  When that thing happens he knows what the course will be, even for the Afrikaner.  So he was still talking more on a defensive position although I felt that for a man in his position it might have been better to even talk about that kind of defence in a more confidential way, quietly somewhere, but not to be seen on a national TV, encouraging this because many people would misunderstand what he is talking about, and that's dangerous.

POM     Do you think that he has credibility and a leadership capacity that makes the rightwing more than a viable threat?

ML     Well, it certainly is.  He has huge credibility, not only amongst the right wingers, even amongst white SA generally.  You know he left the army, he retired, there was no scandal, his credibility remains absolutely intact.  And you must remember that at the height of the armed struggle even before 1990, he symbolised Afrikaner resistance, to the onslaught on apartheid, attack on apartheid.  He was seen as a key military figure so a lot of that still stays with him.  In the eyes of many white South Africans he still has an incredible amount of credibility.  That gives him capacity to unite the right wingers.  And as you know in the history of Afrikaners, generals have always been seen as messiahs of some kind, you know.  General Louis Botha, General Smuts, General de Walt, General Hertzog. It has always been like that and once Constant Viljoen is involved in that, this is the kind of thing to make a cut-off, cut down on their big image that Terre'Blanche has enjoyed until that point in time.  He has certainly been relegated to the back, because he can't, it is not a trial run.  He can't. He really can't afford to challenge the generals.

POM     In 1973/4, in Northern Island there was a power sharing government and a group of militant Protestant workers were all against it.  They occupied key positions in the political scene and what they did was they turned of the electricity in the whole province.  Nothing moved, the government collapsed within ten days.  Are there enough skilled whites in what would be pivotal positions where they could take actions that would be destructive, harmful to the economy, and make SA generally unstable and therefore not a place for foreign investment to pour into?

ML     Yes, I wouldn't say that would paralyse the country as a whole.  I would say there is a substantial number of them, in the right-wingers who, like you said, have a lot of those skills, who can do this thing.  But I will have my doubts about their capacity to actually paralyse the country with that form of action.

POM     In bits and pieces?

ML     In bits and pieces yes.  Certainly, in some towns.  More than one, but then you see once they did that you'll be able to weed them out quickly.  They tried this when they and De Klerk spoke at Ventersdorp; they put off the main electricity supply to the whole of Ventersdorp on that night he was there.  But it did not take long, inside of a day or something.  The person who did it was one of the right-wingers who was attached to the municipality and he was caught out.  So then he was knocked off the position in which he could continue to do this.   So you would be able to pick them out very fast.  In any event you generally know among the right wingers, in any town, who knows what, who works what, what their background is.  The police generally know.

POM     Are you right now looking at that situation, trying to find the truth, trying to identify who is in what key position?

ML     Oh, certainly.  A lot of information, a lot of that information is being garnered.  And we are certain that even on the side of the government, that kind of process is taking place.

POM     Thank you very much.

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