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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

21 Sep 1993: Pahad, Essop

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POM     When you look at the last year, that is we talked last year at the time of the mass stayaways of the confrontation that existed between the government and the ANC and to the point today where many people would say that the ANC and the government are virtually in bed together. Would you comment on the changing relationship and what brought it about?

EP     First of all, I certainly would deny, and the ANC will certainly deny, that the ANC is in bed with the government. Certainly the government would have wanted the ANC to get into bed with it. I think it's very important to not only deny it because it has to do with what the negotiation process has meant. Now quite clearly you could not move the negotiation process without there being some kind of understanding between the NP regime and the ANC. The ANC in a sense is much broader in terms of the ANC and its allies, it's not just a question of the ANC negotiating although it's the ANC that's doing the negotiating. The ANC has not only an alliance with the party and COSATU but is in a much broader Patriotic Front Alliance, many of whom are represented at the World Trade Centre.

     In that sense, yes, it would seem to be that after the Boipatong massacre when the ANC called off the negotiations, or postponed, if you like, the negotiations, if you remember then a Record of Understanding was reached between the NP regime and the ANC in which it would seem to us that a number of very important ANC positions were then accepted by the NP regime.

     Secondly, I would say that in any event where you are negotiating, quite clearly you cannot enter negotiations with an assumption that you will get 100% of what you want or that you can force others to give you 100% of what you want, because if you could force them you would not negotiate. Therefore I think it's necessary to look at negotiations not so much from the point of view of the absurdity of it or whether or not the ANC has got into bed with the government or the government has got into the ANC's bed and in that sense, yes, I would say that on our side, on the side of the alliance we have made some concessions. I certainly would argue that they were not necessarily compromises. I make a distinction between a concession and a compromise.

POM     Just on that point could you tell me what concessions and compromises the alliance has made and the government has made since last year?

EP     Well let the government speak for themselves, I'll speak for us. If you remember when we began with CODESA, at CODESA we agreed that constitutional principles would be binding on any constitution making body. At that time our approach was that the constitutional principles had to cover a very narrow band. That was the first position we had in CODESA. Also in relation to the questions of spelling out the powers of regions, when we began it would seem to me, although others might dispute this, that we began with a position which was that certainly we agreed that there must be separation of powers between the legislative and the executive and the judiciary and that would form part of the CODESA constitutional principles. Secondly, that there should be three levels of government, central, regional and local but we didn't spell those out and at that time we were not seriously prepared to spell out those powers because we thought that basically that would be the task of the constitution making body.

     At the moment in terms of the negotiations at Kempton Park at the World Trade Centre we have already agreed to a more extensive body of constitutional principles, there are 25 or 27 principles. So in that sense we, I think on our side, made a concession which in my view was not a compromise because my own assessment is that none of the principles that we have agreed to are in any way in conflict with what would have been our position later and what was our position then in terms of our own understanding as to what a new constitution should contain but it was a concession in the sense that this is what some others wanted more detailed spelling out of the principles. We didn't want that but we agreed to that. Secondly, both the constitutional principles and the constitution for the transition period now include a certain amount of devolution of power to the regions. Again it's something as I said earlier that we didn't want to get involved in but in the course of the negotiations this is what happened.

POM     These powers would be devolved from the centre to the regions?

EP     Yes absolutely. It's only Inkatha that has a nonsensical position of starting from the states, as if this is the United States of America. This is not the United States of America and we are not a slave-owning society in which slave owners came together without us to draft a constitution. And so there's no way that this nonsense of different states writing their own constitutions and deciding what powers would be granted to the central government is a viable option.

     What is a viable option, which is a concession we have made, is to say, yes, that we ourselves are interested that there should be strong regional government. We ourselves are interested that the institutions of political power should be taken as closely as possible to the people. An interesting thing that was happening was that the most anti-democratic forces in this country were the ones who were pretending to demand political institutions that were closest to the people. But in that sense we did make a concession, but again not a compromise, because we had already at an ANC workshop on regions come to an understanding that there were a whole set of powers that one would want to give to regional governments.

     Personally, as I've argued, for example I was in India earlier this year and I was in Calcutta where the Communist Party of India, Marxists, have been in power for the last 16 years and of course the Indian central government has been withholding funds because it's a communist led government and actually doing what they can to prevent that state, because they call them states, government from carrying out its obligations to the people that elected it to power. Now when you consider that state has 70 million people, twice SA's population, you're not talking about small things and therefore for me as a communist my convictions were then confirmed that what you would want in a new SA is a constitution which would prevent the central government, and it doesn't matter who is in power, from using its levers of power to prevent somebody else who exercises power in the region or the state from doing so merely because they have a different ideological position from you. I think that would be disastrous for SA and quite clearly having seen what happened in India, in this case it was a left wing government that was suffering, I think it would be wrong and I think there was a general understanding within the ANC which is, incidentally, I think one of the most remarkable features of SA political life. I doubt whether you're going to find in history any other political party which on the verge of taking power actually negotiates deals which reduce the powers of the central government. I think this is a most remarkable feature about the ANC.

     But in any case as a communist, and as the Communist Party, this was very much what we ourselves would also prefer and so in that sense concessions were made but again they were not compromises in the sense that we have compromised some fundamental bottom line position of powers. We did it but we made the concession from our previous understanding.

     So on those two fundamental questions, however, I must say that right now as we are talking there are still some pretty serious differences of opinion as I understand it between the ANC and the NP regime on this question of regional powers. As you saw in the Sunday Times, which was not inaccurate if I may say so, that front page article on that, (perhaps you will have a look at it), I think it painted quite an accurate picture of what the government wants at this moment in time. So they're having a bilateral this week, if not today, between the ANC and the government to look at what additional things the government is going to demand.

POM     Is this part of the attempt to bring Buthelezi into negotiations?

EP     Well whether Buthelezi comes or not, it's part of the bilaterals and the way we work at the WTC is where there are differences of opinion then people would engage in bilateral discussions and even multi-lateral discussions where ad hoc committees have been set up and so on and so forth. So this is part of the bilateral within the ANC and the regime to see if they can't come closer together relative to these positions around powers to regional governments, regional executives and other questions such as the power of the press and the power of the Cabinet, the powers of the Deputy President. Those are issues which still separate the ANC from the NP regime.

     But of course there are other forces involved, it's not only Inkatha, it's Bop, Ciskei. Bop itself is making some proposals around the constitution which are rather similar to Inkatha's position about states or regions drafting their own constitution and that kind of stuff. So as we talk now there is still a gap to be closed in relation to this constitution for the transition period.

     The third element, on the one hand there isn't a difference between ourselves and the government which is on the question of the re-incorporation of the TBVC states, but as you know at this moment in time Bop and Ciskei are refusing to be reincorporated. Bop's main argument is that they want to wait until the whole constitution has been drafted. They're now even proposing that they can come and sit in parliament as observers and at the end of that process they can make a decision. It's not at the moment acceptable to us. Our view is that Bop and Ciskei have to be reincorporated now before the elections. Two, that since the government gave birth to these two creatures it is the responsibility of the government to bring the baby or the child back into the fold and we, therefore, think it's necessary to use whatever pressures are available to us to get the NP regime to move on this question.

POM     Would this be a question of consulting the people in either the Ciskei or Bop on what they want they want to do themselves?

EP     We had said to them before that you could organise elections in such a way that people's votes would be clear that they would be voting for independence. But they know and we know that the people in those areas have no interest in keeping their so-called pseudo independence. The question of a referendum has been raised. At the moment, and I want to stress 'at the moment', our position is that this is a rather difficult thing because who actually organises the referendum in this place? You have a TEC in place which is designed to level the playing field and create the conditions for free and fair elections but these people say, no, the TEC doesn't apply to us. Now who then is to conduct the referendum? Would the Bop government, or Bop administration, it's not a government, Bop administration conduct this referendum on its own? Would the Bop administration draft the referendum question on its own? So it's not so easy just to say have a referendum. Unless one resolves those issues you could have a referendum which certainly does not reflect the views of the people and, as you know, with referendums the question itself becomes an important matter. If it was just a simple question, 'Do you want to be reincorporated into South Africa: Yes or No?'. Incidentally, I think that Bop did their own survey, you might investigate this.

POM     We're seeing Lucas Mangope next Monday.

EP     Well try to find out from him.

POM     They did a poll?

EP     This bloody fellow never gave me the documents, somebody promised me the documents. Let me tell you what somebody said to me, the truth of the matter, I can't verify it because he never did send the documents to me. But this was told to me nine, ten months ago that the Bop administration commissioned the HSRC to do a poll for them on re-incorporation and the overwhelming majority came out in favour of re-incorporation, in the poll, whatever weaknesses - and as you know SA polling services are not as sophisticated as they are say in western Europe or North America. As my information went, the Bop administration then suppressed this, it was a private thing carried out by HSRC on their behalf. So you might investigate and if you find it please you can give me the information too.

     I think there is no doubt, in my mind in any case, that the majority of the people in Bop would want to be reincorporated. Secondly, as you know, it would be interesting to ask Mangope what was his problem with his civil servants. He called a meeting of his civil servants, again as I'm given to understand, and his civil servants said to him why can't they join the ANC? And he got very angry, kicked them out of his office, threatened them with their jobs and then issued a public statement to say that anybody who joins the ANC in his civil service would be fired. We understood that was why he was suddenly making a statement, unless he knew that there was a meeting beforehand.

     So we think the government has the resources. We indeed think the TEC does have some powers in terms of the sub-council of finance which has the capacity to first seek information on transfers between the central government and whoever else and on the basis of that information could ask for certain action. It seems to us at this moment in time that through the TEC you could begin the process of trying to pressurise these people by cutting off their funds and then we will see if they can actually survive.

     Thirdly, in my own view, you know Bophuthatswana is part of the SA Customs Union Agreement which SA has with Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland and that. I see there's an article in this morning's Business Day on Namibia which has a figure of over 80 million, anyway it's a large amount of financial benefit that Namibia gets from being part of this Customs Union although it is said that Namibia also suffers by having to pay additional higher prices for imported goods because of the tariff situation but on balance Namibia still is a beneficiary of the Customs Union. Now obviously Bophuthatswana is a great beneficiary of this fictitious creation of independent Bophuthatswana and that's a very powerful lever in the hands of any new government.

     Fourthly, and again in my own view, the Bop administration relative to the Ciskei seems to be a bit more financially stable. I say relative to them because they are not financially stable. One of the main reasons is that they do have platinum mines and those mines are owned basically by SA companies. Now if you were to impose a tariff area on the export of this platinum you price those people out of the market and so we think there's a lot of pressure that can be brought to bear from big capital on Mangope to say you can't go on like this.

     What I'm really saying right now is that we need to put on pressures, as we're talking in September 1993, on the government to pressurise the Bop administration to become part, to reincorporate insofar as the elections are concerned. As you said, we can organise elections in such a way that if the unthinkable happens and the majority of that territory vote to become independent then it seems to be any government would have to give that most serious consideration because you could not keep people in any kind of system against their will.

     Ciskei, as you know the Attorney General is reported, again this was reported in the press so we haven't got actual information, to be seriously considering charging Gqozo for the murders. If he does charge Gqozo I find it very difficult to believe that Gqozo can survive that. Obviously in such a situation where he's an Attorney General of the Ciskei he would be making 500% sure that he can get a conviction. Other Attorney Generals only have to be sure about 50% - 60%. In his case he would have to be 500% sure and that would be the end of Gqozo.

     The fifth element of course is that we would need to look at our capacity to demobilise mass actions in those areas and I'm not putting them in any order of preference but certainly that is the power that we have. The others at the moment are in the power of the government. So that difference can be resolved. As I said, the difference is not that the government agrees that they should be reincorporated, they don't have a problem with that, but they would differ with us as to how to bring about that re-incorporation. We want it now and we want them to use all the pressures they have got to let the thing ride and not use the pressures.

POM     How would you relate this to, for want of a better term, what I will call the Buthelezi factor? The IFP adamantly are not prepared to take their place at the WTC and wanting much stronger guarantees written into the transitional constitution that must be kept and that constitution goes before the Constitutional Assembly and this growing tendency to use Zulu nationalism as a card.

EP     Well obviously I'm not sure how adamant they are not to take their place.

POM     We saw Buthelezi last week and if you were to go by statements he made at that time there is no way.

EP     I know the reason. I'm going to explain why I think I'm not sure about how adamant they are. It is because it's very difficult to know what is their actual position. It's very difficult to make a coherent assessment and analysis of this because there isn't necessarily, in my view, a strategic thinking on their part. If you actually examine their positions you will find that they change depending on who they're talking to. At one point it is sufficient consensus, this was the big issue. At some other point the big issue was that they wanted the regions to write their own constitutions and then decide which powers they will give to the central government. That had to do with the question of, as they understood it, the form of state. We agreed we will discuss the form of state first and when the technical committee made a whole set of proposals they started coming up with other questions about, well, we're against a two phase approach, we just want a one phase approach. But you set up a body of experts called a technical committee who come and produce an approach in which they had themselves agreed to who serves on that technical committee, including Marinus Wigus who is now the Principal of Unisa. Marinus when we started with the multi-party negotiating process was an adviser to the KwaZulu government, they proposed him to sit on the technical committee.

     As I said they change, so when you say they are very adamant I also have my doubts about how adamant they are, depending on, I suppose, the Chief Minister's whims at a particular moment in time. Let me say this again, we have always wanted the IFP inside the process because when we began the negotiations, and I think all of us must have said it to you separately, we always wanted it to be an inclusive approach and that position remains the same that you would want the IFP to be part of the negotiations because you want it to be inclusive. You don't want to exclude anybody. Also you don't want to exclude somebody who may possibly have the potential to unleash violence in some areas of our country. So we would certainly want them to come back.

     Let me just run through some of their positions. The concept of sufficient consensus was introduced by Felgate at CODESA. When we had the first meeting to set up the multi-party negotiating process or forum, the issue of decision making arose at the first meeting. A sub-committee was then set up to draft proposals. That sub-committee consisted of Ben Ngubane from Inkatha, it was either Ben or Joe Matthews, (one of those two, I'm not sure but you can check that fact) Mac Maharaj from the ANC side and Fanie van der Merwe from the NP regime side. These three produced the document on sufficient consensus. It wasn't us. To be honest I didn't like some parts of it. I just said, look this has been produced by these three, this is a matter of each one having had to give in something and the other and that's fine. They've now produced the set of proposals for decision making. So it wasn't like Inkatha were not involved in the actual negotiations of the sufficient consensus proposal. They were there, they were part of the drafting committee. They were quite prepared to accept sufficient consensus in the beginning when it didn't affect what they would call their 'material interests'. In any case, as you know, the court has thrown out their application, which was using our bloody taxpayers money incidentally, and now they're still thinking of going on appeal because they're so stupid. They have no chance of legally at all winning the case. So that's the first issue.

     The second issue had to do with the question of, as you are putting it, stronger guarantees in the new constitution. The one that brought things sharply to my notice was Joe Matthews himself. Joe Matthews said in one of the discussions at the WTC that there is no such thing as an interim constitution. As you know we also sometimes call it the interim constitution. I think he made a lot of sense frankly. He said there's no such thing as an interim constitution because a constitution is a constitution. You draft a constitution, you adopt a constitution and then people can change the constitution depending on the mechanisms for changes but there's no such thing as an interim constitution. A constitution is a constitution and it is in place until it is changed. So it made a lot of sense. But that's the Inkatha position, it's not ours. We were calling it bloody interim constitution and we were wrong because I think the correct term is constitution for the transition period.

     Now all of a sudden they are saying they want guarantees, so what guarantees do you put in the constitution except to say that the way, once you adopt a new constitution, the way you would want to alter it should have certain safeguards built into it. The US has it's safeguards, other countries have safeguards built into it. Now on the issue of the safeguards in relation to the constitution for the transition period, as you know our position is that a new constitution can only be adopted by two thirds. If Buthelezi's argument is that once you have an election then one party is going to write it, he's already accepting before the election takes place that the ANC will have two thirds. So if the ANC does get two thirds it will be the most remarkable feature of anti-democracy for people to argue that it then doesn't have the right to draft the constitution in its image. Nowhere else in the world would people even ask for two thirds, they don't even imagine that they can get two thirds of the people's support. It's a very, very high figure by anybody's imagination. So if you've got two thirds you've got two thirds but in my view even once you've got the two thirds you would take the vote that SWAPO took in Namibia that we would still want a constitution to be adopted in a way which has the greatest legitimacy possible.

     So your guarantee can't be that nothing is going to be changed. What we have given guarantees on, coming back to the concession we made, is the constitutional principles. Not only, as I have said, have we agreed to quite extensive constitutional principles but we have agreed to the setting up of a Constitutional Court which is going to be even more powerful than the legislature or the parliament in terms of the constitution because the Constitutional Court will have the right to reject either the constitution or the provisions of the constitution and parliament will have no right to overwrite the decision of the Constitutional Court.

POM     So if the constitution is passed by two thirds of the delegates?

EP     It would still have to go through to the Constitutional Court?

POM     It could rule ...

EP     And the Constitutional Court could rule that there are provisions in the constitution which violate the constitutional principles and you have to go and rewrite your constitution, or those parts. That's a guarantee. I don't know what else is a guarantee because you've removed it from - I must tell you that we were not in favour of those extensive powers to the Constitutional Court before but as people were arguing and then the main argument seemed to be to have a fear that somehow or other somebody will ride roughshod over them and then we said, OK it's fine, have a separate Constitutional Court and it has, as I said, very, very extensive powers. That's a second guarantee if you like. So there's the constitutional principles there, there's the Constitutional Court there. Both of them outside of the powers of parliament. So even if you had, incidentally, 100% majority there is nothing you can do about it in terms of drafting the new constitution. That's it.

     The third element, which is the ... here, and that is that we will have elections in April. Now it is illogical to my way of thinking to say we are going to draft constitutions at the regional level when you are afraid that you are going to lose the national elections because you've already decided that the ANC is going to draft its new constitution. Because people have to go and test their positions with the electorate. We will claim that we have the support of at least 60%, I would say so now to you that I think we can get two thirds but certainly we can get 60% if we don't shoot ourselves in our feet. And so the others must have the confidence. If the NP is confident that, they're not but as they pretend to be, they could even be the majority party, fine then they will go and fight elections and if Inkatha is confident that it can win Natal/KwaZulu then fine let it win Natal/KwaZulu. It will give it a power base, a very important region in this country, economically, demographically and everything else. So quite clearly the election has to decide the thing. Therefore I'm saying I don't know what these guarantees are that they want because the final guarantor can only be the electorate itself which decides.

     The question of Zulu nationalism, of course it's any kind of what I would call ethnic nationalism, can have very negative consequences. We know, we don't have to delve deeply into history to see how right wing forces have used nationalism, but worse than nationalism because I think nationalism is healthy, chauvinism, which I think is unhealthy, to project themselves. And we know that chauvinism does have an attraction to marginalised sectors of society, it does have an attraction to people if they feel that they are being ignored and it doesn't only happen in Africa and Asia. In my view in Europe Margaret Thatcher went and fought over the Falklands for very chauvinist reasons and she whipped up support in that country primarily on a very chauvinist basis. So Britannia stopped ruling the waves but in the Falklands it was going to rule the waves. So we can't ignore, however much we hate chauvinism, we can't ignore chauvinism as a potential rallying force for right wingers and therefore you are quite right, one would always have to bear this in mind that it is potentially a very negative force.

     The question is what do you do about it because first of all I would dispute, again the elections will show us who is telling the truth, but I certainly would dispute that Inkatha has the overwhelming majority. It certainly doesn't, not in Natal/KwaZulu, so that's to start with. I said overwhelming majority, so I don't think I would regard 50% - 55% as an overwhelming majority. I would think it has it. I don't live in Natal but our own people are very confident that come the elections the ANC can win Natal. There are two sets of opinions regarding this. I think what is emerging is that in the metropolitan areas certainly the ANC is much stronger. The question is to what extent can the ANC galvanise the rural vote but we would have to wait and see.

     So in that sense the question of Zulu nationalism isn't just the preserve, if you like, of Buthelezi because if one is to talk about nationalism in a progressive sense in terms of the defence and the promotion of the cultures, the traditions, the language, the history of a people then quite clearly for us as we are doing next week, this week or next week, they are having this cultural festival in Maritzburg around Shaka Day. Now who is Shaka? Shaka is one of the great military heroes of Zulu speaking people and of black South Africans but it's the ANC that's taken the initiative on Shaka Day.

POM     Oh yes?

EP     Yes. They're organising a whole cultural festival for three or four days in Natal. So I am saying, therefore, that the question of just saying that in my view theoretically I would want to approach nationalism not only in the sense that it has a negative and a backward content, I think it has that, but I also think it has very positive content.

POM     To what extent is the King a player in this situation?

EP     The King will always be a player but whether or not the King allows himself to be used remains to be seen. One still hopes very much that the King will play the role of the King which is to be over and above the hurly-burly of party politics because he is the King of all Zulu speaking people whatever their political persuasions or those who don't have any political persuasions and there are plenty of those too. So he has to be King to all those people and one only hopes that the King will actually begin to play that kind of role instead of at the moment what seems to be that playing the role of being the supporter of the IFP. I think the King needs to rise above that and hopefully he will so that he himself will be responsible for protecting that institution.

POM     I want to ask you two related questions. Suppose the IFP, KwaZulu government, stay outside the process, simply stay outside of it to the extent that there are no elections in Natal next April, where he moves more towards a secessionist position, what do you think the consequences of that would be?

EP     Well first of all it's not an independent state so the laws of this illegitimate parliament apply equally to Natal as it has done since 1910. They don't even have the fiction of their independence that Bophuthatswana and Ciskei have so there's no way that Buthelezi can say that it doesn't apply in Natal/KwaZulu, it does. Now they say privately sometimes, as Felgate said to me, are you going to send in your army then? And I said, "But why are you talking this kind of language? The law of the land is the law of the land." If they then want to defy the law of the land that's a position they will have to take. We will have to see if they will actually go that far. The state has other means other than military intervention. Buthelezi's salary is paid from the central government who pays his salary. The King's salary comes from where? It comes from the central government, all their civil servants. They are not financially viable so you're going to do what? I can't see that they can be in a position to stop the elections from taking place.

     Now what problem we face in some parts of Natal, of course, is the question of free and fair political activity. There are no-go areas and who would want to go into those areas. Inkatha claims that there are ANC no-go areas which they can't go to and we would have to stop that too if that's true and if ANC people are preventing Inkatha people from coming to organise we have to deal with it, we have to deal with our people. But that's a separate problem which the Independent Electoral Commission would have to deal with. It becomes their responsibility to ensure that no political party prevents another party from actively participating in the elections. So I don't think that given all the bluster and everything else that they have all that much power.

     Thirdly, who are they going to take with them? They can't take the Natal business community with them, never mind what those people say, because in SA big capital is not interested in a Natal secession. They make noise about it ever since 1910, English speaking South Africans have. Every year they make a noise like that. Just talking from memory even from my young days and when SA became a Republic in Natal they didn't even want to stand to sing Die Stem, they were still singing God Saves the Queen weeks after Die Stem had become official. So now, a year later what were they doing? They were standing on the bloody rugby ground and singing Die Stem with the same fervour as Afrikaners were in Loftus Versveld in Pretoria. So I can't see that there will be any economic base for such a secession and certainly I can't imagine that big capital in SA would want it. And Hewlett's, the sugar industry is part of SA's big capital, not separated. They would have to give serious consideration to whether you're going for secession and then what? It destroys the sugar industry in Natal. There aren't enough people in Natal to eat the sugar.

     What I am saying is that at this moment in time in September one should try to distinguish the bluster from the actual reality and I think the actual reality is that the IFP is not in such an overwhelmingly powerful position that it imagines itself to be in terms of a declaration around secession. You have to have substance for that and you would have to have somewhere in the world who would be prepared to accept your right to secession and at this moment in time as we stand, I don't know how many members there are in the UN, but whatever it is 180 or 184, there's not one who would support secession. Thirdly, I think that you cannot ignore the fact that the international repercussions for such a move would be too great for Inkatha to handle. As you know he's just been on a trip overseas and everywhere he was told to return to the negotiating table. If you go for secession the port of Natal is closed.

POM     So you see this present phase of refusal to go back into the fold as bluster, trying to push the process?

POM     Do you get any indications of divisions within the IFP itself, between those who would want to participate in the elections next year and those who don't want to?

EP     Oh yes, that's very clear that they are there. I'm not going to mention names but the media has already speculated on names. But it's quite clear to me that one Mario Ambrosini cannot be acceptable to the senior members of Inkatha. Not only is he young but he looks like a little boy. I can't imagine Joe Matthews and them wanting to take orders from a little boy. He is Inkatha's main adviser on constitutional matters, this Italian/American who actually knows very little about constitutions. I suspect that he's here because some of Buthelezi's right wing funders have sent him here. There's no other reason why Mario Ambrosini should have such a hot line to Buthelezi.

POM     Nobody's heard of him in the United States.

EP     Well nobody has heard of him until he came here.

POM     He sets himself up as an expert in constitutional law.

EP     Nobody knows him, and I saw a document that he did when he was pulling out of this discussion in the Peace Committee on the Code of Conduct for the SADF. The English is so appalling that it wouldn't pass JC, frankly speaking, it is so bad. Now how does he become such an important adviser? He does have a hot line to Buthelezi at the moment. The only conclusion I come to is that those who are funding Buthelezi have sent him here to look after their interests and Buthelezi has no choice. But the others cannot accept him. Go and meet him, talk to him. He will talk to you as if he is making policy for Buthelezi. He will talk to me like that too. Last time I met him was after the court case and I said to him, "Why are you wasting our people's money?" He said, "You know, I want to tell you that we're going to appeal." And, lo and behold, last week Inkatha said they're considering appealing. Now here's this little boy nobody knows, who doesn't know anything about constitutions, in my view, who doesn't know SA, because if he wants he could know something about constitutions but he would need to know something about SA, he's acting as a principal adviser. Where does he come from? Do find him, do talk to him, you will find that he will talk to you as if he does make policies for Inkatha and at the moment he does. It can't be acceptable to people like Joe Matthews and the others, it cannot. Even in terms of African tradition that would be quite impossible, a little boy is going to come and lord it over them, not possible. But a foolish boy that.

     So you get this position where people like Felgate do tend to take very hard positions. Incidentally I asked him the last time I saw him at a meeting of the Peace Committee, I did ask him to say, because he talked about the TEC and that that will never happen, and I said to him, "But why are you talking like this? Why do you always talk as if you put yourself in the corner and then you can't extricate yourself? Why don't you use language that leaves the door slightly open so that it allows you to escape without losing face?" "Oh", he said, "Well our position is...". I said, "No, I'm not arguing your position but you don't have to say you will never go into the TEC because you might find that there's too much power in the TEC and you want to be there." So I just think that sometimes Felgate and them use language which isn't a real reflection of what it means. So when they say, "We will never go into the TEC", they don't mean it in the literal sense.

POM     Can I suggest a hypothesis to you, and it would be that on first meeting with Buthelezi, the first thing he did three years ago was to give us a book of 600 pages that was a catalogue of every insult that the had been made against him.

EP     That the ANC?

POM     That was the first thing. The word insult, insult, insult, crops up ...

EP     Everywhere.

POM     Non-stop. Do you think he might be aware of the fact that nationally he would turn out to be a very weak party with 5% or 6% of the vote at most, and that this would be the ultimate humiliation and that he sees more virtue in not taking part in the process now but waiting until there is a Constitutional Assembly in place, that they are negotiating directly with it?

EP     That's one option and quite clearly that must be one option in his own mind, that if he believes the polls that he doesn't have more than 5% - 6%. The interesting thing about the polls, again with all their relative weakness, has been that where there has been an increase of support for the IFP down the line with all the different polls that have been done in SA over the last few months, it has been amongst the whites and not amongst the African population. As I said, I think they themselves have carried out some polls. I do know, I've been told, I don't know, I've been told that the NP regime carried out its own survey in Natal/KwaZulu which more or less, as I understand, I have not seen the papers, but more or less showed that the ANC and the IFP are of equal power and maybe in their poll the IFP might be 1% stronger or whatever it is.

     Now my own assessment is that the strategy of the NP regime is to do everything to prevent the ANC from getting two thirds in the elections. Did they really begin realistically with the assumption that the ANC is going to win the elections? No, their strategy is to reduce that margin by as much as possible. In order to do that the NP would have to at the very least have some kind of electoral arrangements with other parties. Now if you took an area like Natal/KwaZulu, which as I said is significant both demographically and for its economic power, after the PWV the second biggest economic power in SA, my view is that the NP regime would want to enter into an electoral agreement, not necessarily an alliance but an agreement, the prize being to defeat the ANC. Now that's quite a carrot to dangle in front of Buthelezi because the NP can then give its resources which it has a lot of and equally importantly its skills at running an election campaign. If the NP is anything it is an electoral machine. If Inkatha is nothing it's that it's not an organisation with organised structures and everything else. They can tell you what they want about their membership but if you actually ask them how many times your branches meet then they can't tell you.

     But those are formidable instruments that the NP can bring into play in an area where at this moment in time their own polls might be telling them that there's a fifty-fifty chance for either the ANC or the IFP to win. Two, you then don't split the white vote in Natal/KwaZulu because by and large the white vote is hostile to the ANC, it all then goes there. And three, the NP would be saying to Inkatha that if they then came to an electoral agreement they have a very good chance of winning the Indian vote. The Indian vote is important in Natal, not anywhere else in SA, and certainly very important in the metropolitan areas of Durban, Maritzburg, it constitutes quite a sizeable chunk of the population there. I think that's their strategy and therefore they need Inkatha to come into the process. Inkatha has to make a choice either to stay out of this process and then, as you say, negotiate with an ANC dominated government. [There's nothing ... what are you going to get?]

POM     Still psychologically Buthelezi would appear to himself to be a major player.

EP     But the elections will have taken place then. Some election will take place so there will be a regional legislature in Natal in which the IFP will not be a part. There will be a regional executive in Natal/KwaZulu of which the IFP is not going to be a part of. What major player is he going to be? He's not going to get money from central government. The Natal/KwaZulu government would have to disappear because you will have a new regional legislature.

     I'm not saying that he doesn't think that way, I think it's very likely that that's one of the options he considers. I believe that in the interests of the government wanting to - and if you look at all the regions and if you imagine, let's say for argument's sake, no I don't know, there might be ten, but that there will be nine regions, the strategy of the government would be to say we can win Natal/KwaZulu if we get together with the IFP, we can win the Western Cape because we think we've got enough substantial support within the Coloured community and you might try to find some arrangement with the Democratic Party, that's possible with the Coloured vote. And they can win the Northern Cape again for those reasons because demographically Africans, the way the boundaries are, wouldn't constitute such a big number there.

     In my view that's their strategy and therefore that gives them three out of nine, that gives them their third in terms of the regions. And the way regions will go will be reflected at the national level in my view. Now I think that's what the strategy is of the NP but it therefore needs Inkatha. All these other things of De Klerk talking to him doesn't make sense unless there is something else behind it.

     I am arguing that if Inkatha doesn't come into the TEC and doesn't accept the elections they cannot stop the elections from taking place in Natal. They can make it very difficult but they can't stop it. In order to stop it they would have to take steps which would lead us into a different kind of a situation which we would then have to deal with when we get to it because you don't know what they're going to do and I think it would be useless to speculate that if they do this we should do that and if we do this they will do that. I just think it would be useless at this moment in time to speculate. I think at that moment in time we would need to deal with it in a way that would be satisfactory to all the people concerned.

     That is my view so I say again I'm not convinced with all the qualifications I have made that Inkatha will not come back into the process. I am also not convinced that if they don't come into the process that they have the capacity to prevent an election from taking place.

     Let me add another qualification which is absolutely vital in SA, is what will the extreme right do, white right? I don't think the extreme right wing on its own has the capacity to sustain over a long period of time a campaign of destabilisation. I think politically we can cut their feet from under the ground. Even with their own supporters I think that they're going to run into difficulties because most of their own supporters have houses, have children at school, university, all of these kind of normal, everyday things and people are not going to go around sacrificing their lives for nothing. But they are beginning to say, for example to Mangope and them, "Well if you are attacked we are prepared to defend you." To Buthelezi, "Well if people do this we can come with our arms, we are well armed, we have so many Generals, we have so much experience of having a military campaign", all of that kind of stuff which they have. They have military expertise, they have arms. I don't know how much financial resources they have, presumably they have something at the moment. Presumably they expect to get something from extreme right wing organisations in other parts of the world including the US and I think that's a bigger danger to the future, the involvement of this extreme right because what happens then is that they get involved but the situation still seems to be, as De Klerk likes to put it and which we are totally opposed to, that is black on black violence but whereas indeed it isn't because it really is then violence between right wing forces or anti democratic forces and those forces who want a democratic change in SA. But to me that's a very important element which we cannot ignore in our own calculations of what is possible.

     So Inkatha on its own can be difficult but I don't think can be necessarily on its own a force that can prevent the election from taking place.

POM     OK, thank you ever so much.

EP     We're not going to move ahead with the process because I think at that point we'd have to look at it and say in order for the process to move ahead and in order for us to have an election in April would it be necessary to have the referendum? And that's a question we would pose ourselves at the point at which there is no way forward in terms of the process. Then we would certainly have to give it serious consideration but at this moment in time we don't think it's necessary for a referendum and it's not even necessary to actually discuss the holding of such a referendum because you then begin to divert the discussion on the constitutional matters to something else because then the important issue becomes a referendum and not the actual matters that need to be negotiated.

EP     So quite clearly at the moment we are not favour but, as I said, we don't talk like Felgate that never will this thing happen, because circumstances might change which might get us to re-examine our position but at the moment no, because we think that we'd face the same problem unless of course you see who would run the referendum? OK in this case the government would be in agreement with the ANC on the question of the referendum. As Van Zyl puts it, a very simple question: Do you agree with the constitution for the transition period? Yes or No. It's a very simple question. 99% wouldn't have read the constitution for the transition but it would be a simple question.

PAT     For whatever reason.

EP     Well only ask foolish people these things. But I think that in the end, yes, I think that's what's going to get the process going but we are not at the moment, we think that what should happen is that we should have the TEC, we should have the elections in April and that's it. Don't have anything in between which clutters up the thing. But it's going to depend, as Padraig is saying, on what the IFP does, depends on what the right wing does. In any case then the referendum would have to be a non-racial referendum. Then it would have to depend on what is the percentage of votes.

     Now the NP puts itself in trouble because in terms of the earlier proposals for the constitution deadlock breaking mechanisms we finally said that if after two years something doesn't happen, no constitution, then you can have a referendum and if 50% vote then that should be OK. Then they were insisting it must be much higher. Then we said OK if that doesn't work then you will have a new election and then after the new election a simple majority parliament can adopt a new constitution. They said, "You see this is no good", and the Democratic Party agreed with them. All that means is that you are telling us that we will stall for three years in order to pass a constitution by a simple majority and we said, "You must be mad. We've been asking for this thing for a long time. We don't want to stall it." But they said, "No." So we said, "OK we will have to look again at the numbers if that's what's worrying you." So then you would have to say, well, what are the numbers for that referendum? Is it a simple 50% majority? No, the NP has some difficulty. They say if it's a 50% simple majority for this why are they insisting on 60% and 70% and 80% for other things, and if they insist on 60% or 70% for this then you might not bloody get it.

     So it's not such a simple matter for them either. I think it's much easier for us because a non-racial referendum with a 50% we will walk it, it's no problem from our point of view. We will walk it. But you have the problem of the percentages. I think we will get 60% too but the NP is not so sure that they can get the support of the whites. We are sure that we will get the support of the black population and I think, in a sense, what van Zyl doesn't say but which would happen is it would actually put Buthelezi and them in their place even before an election took place because if they came out against a constitution, it's very different from saying put me into power and I'm going to do this for you, it's another thing to come and say we don't agree on this constitution. And we say, no but we must agree on the constitution because actually it's going to take us to a democratic SA, away from apartheid SA.

     I don't think we would reject it as previously, when we perceived the thing we didn't really have place for this but I think that now we would certainly need to look if the process, as you are saying, does come to a total standstill because Inkatha refuses or Bophuthatswana refuses, Ciskei refuses and we are in a total impasse in relation to the thing. If that is then going to take us forward we would have to give it more serious consideration and say, well, look, this is the direction we need to take in order to take us forward.

POM     OK. Thank you.

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.