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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
18 Nov 1993: Worrall, Dennis
POM Dr Worrall, this in a way is a momentous day, the first day after the interim constitution has been approved by the Plenary Session of the Negotiating Council. On a scale of one to ten how would you rate the constitutional proposals as they are now set?
DW I think one has to look at them against what people started out with and I would say that I'd rate them about 5.2 and I would do that on the basis that there are a couple of areas that worry me a little bit. I don't know that the element of federalism that is reflected in the constitution, I'm not sure of its significance firstly and I'm not sure whether it accurately reflects the intention of major players. I think there is a strong centralist drive still in the ANC, there are elements certainly within the ANC/SACP/COSATU alliance who in fact do intend using central state power. That is an area of some concern to me. I was very troubled at the response to the initial proposals in respect of the Constitutional Court for instance. One can understand why people take the positions they do but I think what we're looking at is clearly the spirit in which the constitution is going to be implemented and made to work and I think this has to introduce - it's a sobering consideration. I'm not sure that there's a full commitment to making a decentralised democracy work.
POM The Cape Times news this morning said there were so many suggestions at the World Trade Centre that the government rolled over and in the end had given in to most of the ANC's demands with regard to a simple majority for decisions in the Cabinet which means that if the ANC gets 60% of the vote in an election it can effectively dominate the Cabinet and Cabinet decisions are ANC decisions and in that sense there is no government of national unity and there's no sharing of power.
DW What in fact they have done is to have said that decisions will be taken in the spirit of a government of national unity and things like that. There are a lot of things in the situation that are disconcerting. I think the exclusion of the Freedom Alliance, I think of those parties, I suspect really that one has to be taken seriously. The Ciskei government and Bophuthatswana I would discount, I don't think they are factors. I think that KwaZulu and the IFP, I think Buthelezi has lost a lot of support, incredibly, but I think Afrikaner nationalism has to be reckoned with. We mustn't assume that it's just going to be accommodated. I am genuinely very worried about that. You know that I do a fortnightly brief to international corporations and you will see in the latest one that I concerned myself very much with this Afrikaner nationalism. I just don't believe that they are going to abide by the decisions.
POM Do you believe on a more general level, and I may have asked you this last year, that what has happened in Yugoslavia last year with the break up of the country, each nationalism fiercely fighting for its own territory, boosts the case for Afrikaner nationalism, among themselves at least, saying other countries do it, it's accepted in other countries why shouldn't it be accepted for us?
DW Absolutely. I think that the whole trend towards ethnic assertiveness is interpreted here by the right wingers, this is a precursor of what could happen in South Africa and, secondly, it provides a grounding for the right of self-determination that they're talking about and, thirdly, from a practical point of view they are saying that if the right to self determination is not granted here this is the kind of breakdown that you can expect. It bolsters their position, there's no doubt about that. I think the difference, one just has to say this, the difference between us and Yugoslavia is that the great majority of South Africans here are, a lot of Afrikaners are committed to making this thing work, that concept of the centre that I spoke about previously, the relationship between De Klerk and Mandela and the ANC and the National Party and the relationship of inter-dependence which there is. The reason that works is because it expresses the hopes, the aspirations, the anxieties of the overwhelming majority of South Africans and that has prevented the growth of tendencies of polarisation on the kind of scale that one might have seen.
POM Yet one looks at national opinion surveys and the support for the National Party appears to be eroding at an alarming rate.
DW Absolutely. I think that's true but I don't think it alters the fact that you needed a strong white leader with a good base to bring the people with him. Yes their support has eroded, the Conservative Party and the Afrikaner Volksfront have grown alarmingly. Most important of all, however, what the statistics show is a tremendous disillusionment with politics and political parties generally. There is a very high percentage of Coloureds and Asians, for instance, who frankly are undecided, something like 50% of the Asians are undecided.
POM We talked to an Asian family in Durban last week and they were totally disengaged in every way from the political process and they built their lives around community, cultural groups and had more or less shut out politics completely where they couldn't say who they supported, who they didn't support. It was disengagement of somehow it doesn't matter to us, either we're such a small group that we're going to get crushed by one side or the other. What I thought was another singular victory and a surprising one, two things surprised me, one that the government and the ANC went along with the single ballot which means that if people are voting their national vote is in effect also their regional vote so if they are voting Mandela nationally they are still voting Mandela regionally even if the ANC in that area are relatively weak.
DW It doesn't make sense, I agree it's surprising.
POM Why would the government go along with it? You would think they would want to split their votes?
DW I don't know. I'm not sure. It was a package as they said. It doesn't make sense. You ought to have a separate ballot for the regions. It doesn't make sense and the consequences as you describe them are serious but I've not had a chance of checking this out.
POM There has been a lot of talk about divisions within the National Party and divisions within the Cabinet over the course things should take. I've talked to some ministers who identify themselves as being hawks and some who identify themselves as being doves but there was talk of mass defections when the Bill establishing the TEC was being debated and yet there wasn't one defection. Are there still real divisions?
DW I think the differences don't relate to creating a new post-apartheid South Africa, kissing goodbye to the past and moving on. I don't think that's what the differences turn on. The differences turn on emphasis. There are those who have put the emphasis on progress in the negotiations and those on the other hand who are saying, "Just a minute, stability and order are critically important and stability and order has to be maintained as you progress". And I think this is a question of emphasis with certain people, like the Minister of Law and Order for instance, security, Hernus Kriel taking a strong position in that respect and on the other hand Meyer going flat out for progress. I think, also to some extent it reflects a kind of priority, a difference in priorities. It also reflects a difference in personal futures. Quite frankly the Minister of State Security is not going to be part of the new order. Meyer is absolutely confident that he will be part of the new order and he wants to be. I think these are the tensions in this respect.
POM When you look back over the process that began in February 1990 and culminated yesterday, or it culminates in parliament here next week, what would you identify as the major turning points?
DW It's a long time since I've thought in these terms and you had the breakdown in July last year, Boipatong, and I would have said that the March 1992 referendum was a critical point from the government's point of view in the sense that I think that was a critical event on both sides. It meant enormous support for the government, the government misread it or read too much into it, the ANC stepped back. You had Boipatong, you had Bisho, you had a couple of ugly events. I think the mass action towards the end of last year I think all of this, the ANC had to demonstrate its particular strength, its ability to mobilise the people in much the same way as De Klerk had had his referendum. I think a lot of international pressure, the increase in international pressure which said to these fellows that you can't play the fool, you've got to move, I think a sense that you have to compromise. The whole question of regions for instance, which happened this year. It's hard to say, if you were to put some things to me I might respond.
POM One of the things that seemed to me to be a strategic move in the government's position was that in CODESA from aligning itself with the IFP and with all the other parties and trying to form an alliance against the ANC, whereas after the Record of Understanding in September of last year it became clear that it had switched dancing partners not just to a small degree but to a passionate degree. It was like they were the axis upon which everything would be built, the ANC and the NP. And I thought of that more and more last night as these last minute deals were being made. Essentially the ANC and the government were saying, "Stand aside we're doing this and once we do it there is sufficient consensus". Why do you think the government made such a turnaround in its own strategy?
DW I really don't know. I'm just trying to think back to what did happen. I think you are facing people who increasingly have lost the will to govern, who increasingly accepted the sort of inevitability of not just sharing political power but actually being a junior partner in the whole thing. And I think too the realisation that if you can't beat them join them kind of thing if you want a future. Personal agendas have played an important role in this. Certainly an important factor lies in the personnel. Gerrit Viljoen was not strong or rather he was strong but not as flexible as Roelf Meyer is and his departure from politics was very important, but I don't know that I can offer anything more than that.
POM If you look at what happened during the negotiating forum, what would you identify as the major concessions made by the ANC and the major concessions made by government?
DW The ANC on the regions. I think that there may be arguments about it, its resilience, but I think that we do have a federal constitution. I think as far as the government is concerned the concession it has made on structured power sharing, whether it be right at the top, a revolving president, a collegiate of presidents, whether it be in the Cabinet whatever the case, but the power sharing the government envisaged has not occurred and I would say that is a major concession on the part of the government.
POM Yet on the question of regions, as you pointed out at the beginning, the powers are concurrent between the centre and the regions and the centre can override the regions so it is not federalism in the true sense.
DW In the classic sense no, which is a source of concern.
POM So trying to bring Buthelezi in, he would be looking for federalism spelt out in a classical way. It is going to be increasingly difficult because he can look at that document and say, "I'm right, this is not a federal constitution".
DW Yes he can and he will argue this view. I think the Democratic Party, which has the longest tradition of federalism of all the parties at the World Trade Centre, the Democratic Party I think is going to take some of the blame for not being more assertive. In fact the party became relevant, it became alive, in the last week.
POM Last week, I know. It justified its existence.
DW Exactly, and this should have been our position all the way through. I know what the feeling is in the caucus and the last congress and our delegates were told that they must stop being the people with the oil can, the lubricators, the facilitators. The Americans have got that expression, the good guys come last, or whatever it is. The fact is that we were told it's time you asserted yourselves and distinguished our position, don't let this happen. But the fact is that on the question - Harry Schwartz our Ambassador in Washington amazingly expressed views the other day about being unhappy. It's amazing that an Ambassador can express strong views, it's not amazing that Harry Schwartz expressed views. If you know Harry Schwartz you will know him to be a remarkably outspoken person but the fact is that he has said this is not true federalism. Many of these points, I think that there have been, there are people with double agendas. One of the Democratic Party representatives is playing a major role all the way through and in fact has actually said privately, "I'm very concerned about the loopholes that are being left", and our attitude was, "For heaven's sake if you're so concerned why haven't you done something, why don't you say something?" And that's where they were given the mandate to take a more assertive role.
POM Could I ask you, who is this person?
DW It's Ken Andrew.
POM I want to go back to something I briefly asked you about before and that was given that they had agreed that decisions in the Cabinet can be made by 51% and in the event of the ANC receiving more than 60% of the vote they in fact have absolute power within the Cabinet itself so the concept of power sharing even as structured beforehand becomes far more limited.
DW Yes I accept that that's true.
POM What puzzles me is why the government has suddenly gone from looking for 70% to 51%. It's as if they are saying to hell with it.
DW Yes. I haven't done any telephoning and I haven't really assessed it. It is puzzling. Pressure of events I suppose and the fact that these guys have accepted that they are going to be a minority and that's that. It of course all confirms what the Conservative Party have been saying that the government and the ANC are in cahoots. That's very widely believed.
POM It should be even more widely believed now.
POM To go back to the DP, you said it's most conspicuous and successful moment was the furore over the composition of the Constitutional Court and my question was going to be the one that you have answered, why didn't it play a more assertive role with regard to other issues particularly like federalism, was it weak leadership or just a poor negotiating team or what happened?
DW Well it's a difficult question for me to respond to. I've always had the feeling that we want to see progress very much, we want to be part of this whole thing. We preferred initially certainly not to want to be identified with the government point of view on some of these issues. In some of the inner sanctums as I understand it the DP has, even on the question of federalism at one stage there were Nationalists who said to me, "You should be a little more concerned", that your chaps are adopting a rather indifferent attitude. Now I don't know to what to attribute that but again I suppose people are reading the situation and saying to themselves, "OK I'm going for this, this is what I want". But it's hard to say short of specifically being critical of individuals. I think what one has to understand, and I think this might explain the Nats, it explains the DP certainly, but this has been an extraordinary abstract, rarefied process. It's been a top down process, an extremely artificial process these guys sitting around there. It's not as though they come with developed mandates. It's not as though they come with grassroots support for their positions any of them, not tested, and they sit and negotiate very much as individuals and certain personal relationships develop there. They generate a kind of mutually satisfying heat. Most of the country has watched this process and has been bemused. It hasn't affected the lives of people in Khayelitsha and white farmers in the Free State. Everybody living in the Free State must know of somebody being killed in a rather barbaric way and their kind of attitude is when De Klerk says that it's a changed situation life has actually got worse, the quality of life which adds to the sense of it being a top down process. Decisions have been taken in bilateral discussions, in conclaves in smoke filled rooms.
POM The point of the quality of life getting worse has been vividly pointed out to us. I have a sub-group of ten families ranging from rich conservative white to poor Africans living in the squatter camps and every range of colour and income in between and I would say for nine out of ten the quality of life has deteriorated and for some it has deteriorated very dramatically to the point where they are about to lose their houses, have lost jobs and can't make mortgage payments and this also applies amongst whites and Africans, they definitely feel worse off.
POM I know you can only speculate on this, but why would the National Party have agreed that the State President would really have control of the Constitutional Court. For three years they talk about protections that are needed for minorities and on the one crucial point that really determines not only the legitimacy but the interpretation of the constitution they have kind of handed over to the party they know will be in the majority and say, "You can fill it any way you want". It seems to be totally inconsistent with everything they have been saying for the last three years.
DW Yes, I suppose one will get to the bottom of it in the course of time but I think this could reflect the development of a certain trust between them as negotiators, ignoring the usual axioms about power and the dangers of power, Lord Acton's sort of thing, but I think that we've come to know each other well and we've had endless meetings with conclaves privately. I think that's a factor and, of course, let's just remember that the National Party has never practised those kinds of things. The National Party was quite happy to appoint judges of its own political persuasion. It wasn't as though the National Party ever really strongly felt that independence of judges was something that will have to be guaranteed. It wasn't their practice.
POM So in a sense they were allowing the ANC the same latitude as they had had.
DW Yes. Kobie Coetsee's reaction to the DP was that you're exaggerating, you're alarmist. It wasn't a principled argument, just you exaggerate.
POM What other element I found disturbing was that the debate on the restructuring of the police force and the SADF was run through the Negotiating Council in 90 minutes. This is surely one of the most crucial issues facing the future especially during the transition phase.
DW The question is whether in fact there's an agreement on that. The negotiating forum itself, discussions have taken place outside of that and so it's gone through quickly. The point is it's pre-cooked, they spent time on it.
POM Do you think in this case, looking at CODESA and looking at the process here, that here they were determined that no matter what happened ...?
DW Oh I think so.
POM There were a number of resolutions that were referred back to the Technical Committees last night which people voted on. I don't think they were voting on an approval of the principle involved or of the actual language. So the determining factor this time was we're moving ahead regardless.
DW I think so, I think there's an element of that. The thing has gone so far now, we're losing support, the sooner we have an election the better. The National Party, it's sad, but the National Party, it's a very unhealthy situation, the National Party is probably the solution.
POM With its own leadership?
DW Not so much its leadership but where it finds itself. I spoke to one of their young people the other day. He was just saying it is so difficult to in fact establish an identity for themselves as a party, to find their role.
POM If the Freedom Alliance contested the elections they could end up in a number two position?
DW They could do better, absolutely.
POM So that Constand Viljoen would be Deputy President.
DW I argued here that a deal is possible. You see to give you an idea, I argued here that Constand Viljoen, who I think is a very important player, he knows, I talked to him three times last week, he knows that a deal with the ANC is more important than a deal with the National Party and it's desperately important to De Klerk that he be the one to bring Viljoen in because if the ANC brings him in it really is a major political blow to the National Party. Then in fact Viljoen is potentially a more important player than De Klerk and increasingly that is going to happen because Viljoen is going to be the person the ANC is going to have to negotiate with to prevent violence from the right, not De Klerk. I don't think it's far fetched to actually say that Viljoen could actually be the Minister of Defence in the new government. I certainly don't exclude that possibility. He's certainly thinking about it.
POM Again personal agendas seem to ...
DW Well this is a very strong negotiating point. If you hear what he said last night the threat is, "We must arm". Now this is not an IRA kind of operation, the IRA kind of strategy will come from Terre'Blanche. His people will go out there and put bombs at airports and things like that. Viljoen's is a much bigger operation and demands a much wider respect. He's ideally placed to take advantage of the resurgence of Afrikaner nationalism which is happening, which De Klerk unfortunately isn't. Although De Klerk is an Afrikaner and an Afrikaner nationalist, De Klerk I'm afraid, because he wants to be part of the majority, because he wants black support, because he wants support across the spectrum, has had to shrug off his Afrikaner political identity, play it down.
POM But he lost both ways because with the statement after Umtata he lost the last black vote he ever would get.
DW Correct. I'm afraid De Klerk has got himself into a real pickle.
POM What happened? Here was a man who until March of last year was making all the running, was brilliantly capitalising on every opportunity, seemed to be decisive, was determined, courageous and you've had this slow slide from when he won his biggest victory in the referendum to Boipatong, slowly the sense you get is that he is becoming more indecisive and that he is no longer at the forefront of things, that he is no longer in control.
DW He's made a number of very serious mistakes too, politically. He's lost touch, political touch. I'm not saying he's out of touch with people. He's lost political touch. Let me give you a couple of examples. He was part of a decision to tell members of parliament in June that they would not be sitting again and that they needed to clear their desks at the end of September. Clear their desks, clear offices. Now this was an incredibly stupid thing to do because the Conservatives and many of his own supporters, a lot of the Coloureds and Indians, got to like to come into Cape Town in December and school holidays, bring their kids down here, subsidised, stay in Acacia Park, whatever it is, and by telling them, "Look, clean your desks and move out of here by the end of September", what he was in effect saying to an awful lot of people was that the political coup is over. For many young Afrikaners, the Conservative Party, a conventional career is finished. There's no way that these people are going to get back into politics you see. What's the basis that they could get back? That's the first point. The other point that one makes, he was saying that it's ended too early, their careers are finished, he's denying them that opportunity of coming down, it just leads to depression. You could feel it around parliament. It's a small thing but he should have understood that. This AK whether it's a 74 or an 84, applying for a licence for a gun like that, it's a gift from Czechoslovakia, he applied for a licence.
POM The AK 47?
DW Whatever. It wasn't a 47 it was something else. It was 74 or 84 or something, the newspaper tried to cover him on it, incredibly stupid politically. If I got that gun I can tell you if I were leader of the DP or whatever I would never hold a gun. I might accept it, find a way of accepting it, I like guns but I would never go and apply for a licence. It's politically crazy. Somebody's going to link, a conservative supporter, wherever, it just shows a lack of political touch. It's a small thing but it just says to me - wait a minute. There have been a couple of other things where I've thought his handling has just shown that he's lost that.
Now this is one of the things about our politics that I sense and that if I feel a little, I'm not particularly keen to continue in politics after 27th April. I have developed other interests which I find very satisfying intellectually and otherwise. I also frankly can't live off a parliamentary salary, I've had to supplement it. My business interests now have really grown very considerably. I'm getting a lot of satisfaction from that but I have to tell you that politics, as you will appreciate, if you can enjoy the intellectuality of politics because there is an intellectual element in politics, then the more subtle the politics the more satisfying the politics are, defining position relative to other parties in your quest for power, what it's about, drawing on defining positions in ideological terms and developing philosophical arguments. That's the exciting aspect of politics and I'm afraid our politics has become social engineering, the issues are just so unbelievable. How do you resolve our housing crisis? And every issue is a negotiated issue. Everything now goes to a forum that has- to debate the thing.
It's lost it's magic and it just doesn't have the appeal it used to have and the issues are just so enormous and I think also something that worries me, we are talking democracy and now there is democracy and there's democracy. What we're talking in this country, frankly, is ballot box, stuffing paper into a ballot box, that's what we're talking. We're not talking democracy in the British or American sense or even the Indian sense. You have a competition of ideas, genuine exchange where political opponents are opponents not enemies, we don't have that and we're going to have enormous levels of intimidation. Effectively the Democratic Party and the National Party, they are just not going to get there. As far as most of us are concerned it's going to be a telegenic election, television and radio will play a very important part in the whole process but rallies, I suspect you're going to have a couple of big rallies here and there and they will be on a grand scale as far as the ANC is concerned.
POM To follow up on a couple of things, do you think that the National Party was defined by its ideology which was apartheid and once you took its ideology away from it, it has found simply a vacuum, they haven't found anything to replace it so that the inevitable consequences of that is a fragmentation and disintegration of the party itself?
DW No, I think that the swift abandonment of apartheid and the adoption of a completely diametrically different view, it has left a lot of Nationalists confused. I think that's happened but the National Party has, I think, rendered until now, if we can assert ourselves fine, for that we need a much more developed strategy but it's rather neutralised the Democratic Party because in effect the National Party has taken over our rhetoric, it's taken over our approach and we as a consequence - there is a question of just what our relevance is in this situation. How are we different from the National Party? Why should somebody vote for the DP and not for the National Party? I think that going into an election in which the great majority of black people in this country are going to be voting for what they want, everybody else is going to be voting not necessarily for what they want but for the guy who can - they're going to be voting against something. In the Cape the Coloureds will vote National Party and they will vote National Party because they fear blacks and they are moving into the middle class and they are very worried about those values, their property and things like that. The Asians find themselves totally on a limb. You mentioned the case of the people who were completely apolitical, well they frankly don't know what they're going to do. I've been told by business that, "We're going to vote National Party". They're worried about the Zulu factor as opposed to the IFP, the Zulu factor is something that worries them. Democratic Party people in the Transvaal are going to vote, many of them are going to vote for the National Party. I think the decline in the National Party, this is unfortunate and there is a sense I think that De Klerk and company know that we're on a losing streak, make the best possible deal, be part of the new thing.
POM You talked a moment ago about the Zulu factor and now the legislation to repeal the independence of the TBVC states and the self-governing states which will probably go into effect in a couple of weeks, means for example that the KwaZulu government as such no longer exists. Where does this place Buthelezi?
DW Well you see what he's doing, he's setting up a solidarity front. It may be that his strategy will be the same as the Conservative Party who are saying, "We will set up a government of our own, a parliament of our own". He may try and do that but there are a number of very difficult hurdles ahead. You referred to the ending of these structures, well it can't just happen like that. There are civil servants in place, there are functions that are being withdrawn, all of that has to be looked at. In addition to that there's the whole question of local government. In the Transvaal/Free State countryside handling that is going to be an extremely difficult thing. Most of those towns have got black majorities, where you adopt a democratic principle I'm afraid it would be whites out blacks in and they are all conservative.
POM So what options are open to Buthelezi?
DW I don't believe that the Transitional Executive Council is just going to scrap KwaZulu status and structures. I don't believe that will happen. I think they've got a strong leverage, I think they will have to negotiate. Buthelezi will be part of the KwaZulu/Natal region. He could be a player there depending on how he handles what his strategy is. He could get to be the major player there because when it sinks in that KwaZulu is going to disappear, when the changes that we are talking about are understood, there are going to be an awful lot of people who while they may have welcomed the decisions of yesterday, are going to become concerned. That sort of euphoria is going to turn into alarm very quickly. Buthelezi will be a major beneficiary of that as with the Afrikaner Volksfront.
POM Now if he sits it out and does not contest the elections?
DW Then he's doomed to irrelevance. There's a lot of pressure from the present - Buthelezi might be tempted to do that. There's an awful lot of pressure from the sitting members of parliament and people who aspire to be the parliament that that not happen. People like Hennie Bekker, people like Mike Tarr went to Inkatha because they saw this, not entirely, but certainly it was a factor, they saw this, as white politicians, as ensuring their continuance into the future.
POM Someone yesterday made a very good point that if Buthelezi did sit out the elections and if the Freedom Alliance as a whole sat out the elections that it would just increase the probability of the ANC getting more than two thirds of the vote.
DW Correct. It's a valid point. The Conservatives use that argument all the time. They say De Klerk is not going to have his majorities.
POM Do you think there's any way that Buthelezi could sustain a secessionist movement if he did sit out the elections, or if he did contest the elections? Some of the polls in Natal/KwaZulu showed that the IFP and the ANC are close to running neck and neck. Given the level of intimidation and violence would you have a situation in which either side, if it lost by a small margin, would claim foul, an unfair election which wouldn't resolve anything.
DW Sorry, just repeat that.
POM Given the level of intimidation and violence and the fact that many surveys show that the IFP and ANC are close to running neck and neck, that if you had an election ...
DW In Natal?
POM In Natal, under those circumstances, that any side which lost by a small margin would cry foul because of the level of intimidation or violence, so the legitimacy of the poll would be at risk? Can you have free and fair elections in the situation that South Africa is now in if the level of violence does not deteriorate or is it a matter of having the elections and that a sufficient ...?
DW No, no, I think in fact that we can have an election, we can have a satisfactory free and fair election with pre-set levels of violence. Let's distinguish what we're talking about here. The violence that occurred at Katlehong, for instance, yesterday, that kind of violence first of all it is isolated, it occurs in certain pockets. We're not talking about criminal violence, we're talking about political violence. That tends to be isolated. It's lamentable but nonetheless it's isolated. On the other hand there's intimidation and frankly we're going to have lots of intimidation. There are going to be no-go areas for certain political parties and I think that to think that you can have free exchange of views, everybody is going to be able to get to all the voters they're talking about, I think this is pie in the sky, it's naïve, it's not going to happen but I don't think that that's going to invalidate anything.
As I said, the democracy we're going for is a very poor brand relative to the real thing and this is happening everywhere. My wife, she's a Child Psychologist, she's a very committed person, I met her studying abroad, she is a Romanian originally, a naturalised American, lived everywhere in the world and I brought her to South Africa and we were married here. One of the things that she made up her mind on when we came back from London was that the only way to live in this country was to get involved and she's been involved, not terribly politically in the Democratic Party, but she has been very involved professionally with psycho-like clinics in the less privileged areas of Cape Town. Her clientele incidentally is middle class Coloured increasingly, that's where you see the middle class kids with learning difficulties. It's quite fascinating, the people pay on the dot, no problems like you get with a lot of whites in her experience. But a major charity built a clinic out in Guguletu and my wife and certain of her associates gave freely of their time to there several hours a week. People unwisely gave them too much money, they don't know how to budget, the whole thing has broken down, computer equipment vandalised and more recently Coca-Cola who were actually prepared to train co-ordinators said, "Sorry, we're withdrawing". More recently what has happened is that it has been taken over by the ANC.
POM Taken over by the ANC?
DW Yes. You see they've taken it over and the attitude is the community will decide. They have these endless discussions, decisions are never taken. The community must decide, in effect, what the problems are. You know what I mean? You've probably had experience of this. The security risk now in going out there is problematical.
POM Has she found that to be increasingly so over the years, that the security risk has increased?
DW But she never was conscious of this you see but with the Amy Biehl murder and a few other things it's just not safe to go there and she was told not to come. The point is that we know they've got an excellent full time lady who happens to be white working there. Circumstances have become impossible you see. Now that kind of thing is, I'm afraid, that's going to happen in this election. You're going to have intimidation occurring, you're going to have people wanting to control things, exclude others, because the level of understanding what democracy is all about is slightly higher among whites but not all that higher. You don't have a democratic culture here, the democratic culture is skin deep.
POM Just to finish up on Buthelezi. Has he the capacity to be a spoiler?
DW Strip him of his institutional power, strip him of his police force and his army? I wonder about that. I wonder about that. He's not going to get support from outside. KwaZulu has been supported very generously down the years by the Germans and in particular by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and it's support that I've encouraged because the ANC gets a lot of support from all over the show and I just thought the Germans were not - and it was a very clever move by whoever it was to suggest that Buthelezi go and see - that Kohl see Buthelezi to try and get him back into the process. I think everybody has now lost patience with Kohl, and he won't get any money from outside the country. I don't know what the purpose of this trip was to Cairo, everywhere he went he will have got the same message, "Get back into negotiations". He would certainly need funding.
POM He's such a proud, egotistical individual that he would find it impossible to go back into negotiations with his cap in hand.
DW There's an interview here with Oscar Dhlomo by the way which I think is very, it's actually I think very revealing but he says, "I think Chief Buthelezi's political ego was mortally wounded when his initial suggestion that a troika consisting of himself, Mandela and De Klerk should drive the negotiation process was rejected by the ANC and thereafter by the National Party." Since then he has not seemed to take the negotiation process seriously. He's the only leader amongst those whose parties are negotiating who has never set foot at the World Trade Centre.
POM Just to finish up, so the threat you would see is on the right and particularly the threat is the rise of militant Afrikaner nationalism and a way must be found of dealing with that else the country would have an interim government of national unity but it would be a country that would be very unstable and foreign investors would certainly say "We're going to wait a while and see how all this works out".
DW Yes. This worries me. If you look at the history, Patrick, you know the situation well, but there are really two themes to South African history. The one is the oppression of blacks and the struggle of blacks to surmount this and overcome this and it's a noble story. But the other is equally important and I happen to respect it very much, the emergence of Afrikaner nationalism, a movement which grew out of people's determination to see their language generally spoken, the whole rise against the British, Pakenham's description of it and so on. The mobilisation of Afrikaners in the economy. What the blacks are going through - and these organisations the Afrikaners did in the 1920s. They set up organisations, SANLAM, certain shops that they established, businesses specifically mobilised with Afrikaner capital and they did it outside of the state. Since 1948 they have used the state and Afrikaners have used parastatals to rise and they have benefited from this unquestionably but apartheid itself, deplorable as it was, was an expression of the Afrikaner's determination to maintain power for himself and the whole concept of creating Israels for every black nation has now failed.
As Gwendoline Carter says in Politics of Inequality, remember? You remember Gwen Carter? She wrote the first north west, she wrote the first really ... on South Africa, new wave of American interests in South Africa, and she described Afrikaner nationalism as the most developed, the most modern African nationalism. I think that's exactly it. I think there is going to be one hell of a resurgence of Afrikaners, they are not going to sit back and take it. They're divided but when De Klerk - De Klerk sits where those books are, just a little further from me than you are, I sit directly opposite him in parliament and he hurts when these conservatives speak, when they develop their historically based arguments. "You're a traitor to the Afrikaner people". He hurts and I expect a major development. I just can't see them going.
POM Going with a whimper?
DW Yes. I can't see them going with fundamentally majoritarian non-ethnic politics. I don't think it's going to happen and I think that you might even see in the next couple of days, you might even see certain acts of terrorism just to sort of send the signal. I wouldn't be surprised. And I think the ANC in a way is under-estimating the difficulties in this respect. There is a kind of glibness about it. Mandela's statement the other day about De Klerk, if he was somebody interested in conflict management it was incredible, unbelievable, the foolish, maladroit. I mean to say, in fact the whole concept of the government of national unity is ... De Klerk's a very remarkable politician. If anybody has to be admired in this situation as a politician, he's signing away power.
POM Negotiating himself out of existence.
DW Exactly. And the difficulties he's creating for himself are enormous because he has to give hope to his own supporters although everybody knows and can see it that he is in fact negotiating away his position. He at the same time must say, "I'm going to be a factor in the future". It's awfully difficult to have to also cope with a statement of that kind by Mandela. I heard it on the radio.
PAT Do you think it's possible that when the government could not deliver the Freedom Alliance, in particular the IFP, back into the process a week ago that the ANC decided to try and pull back some of those things that they had given, function as the majority government, Mandela's statement re-negotiating the single ballot issue, the court issue, all these things have evolved and emerged in the last week, that in essence it had apparently been settled on in the bilaterals in order to give the government the ability to bring the IFP in. There seemed to be a drastic change in tone, in positioning in terms of the negotiating forum, in public posture in the last week.
DW Possibly. It could be that, I mean De Klerk was rather promising, he made a statement that he thought they would be coming back in. He was at one stage almost reasonably optimistic that he could bring them in and it may be that you are right and having failed that the ANC said we'll take a tougher line, let's go for broke. It's possible.
PAT How do business people that you deal with, the more progressive Afrikaner businessman look at this process?
DW I think frankly they don't understand it. I think it's mumbo jumbo very largely. They go for the bottom line and that's why they buy this thing. They go for bottom lines but I think the fact that the election date, a clear indication that there is going to be an election on April 27th, the adoption of this constitution coupled with a pick-up in the economy, because the economy definitely is coming off the bottom, I think all those things, let's go, let's get stuck in, let's invest, got to make it work. There's a greater degree of certainty. We'll deal with the ANC government but let's get weaving now. There's a greater degree of certainty.
POM If the room were full of, say, businessmen from abroad who come here to be briefed by you on why they should invest in South Africa what kind of case would you make for them?
DW I begin every discussion by saying it's a personal matter for your business and quite frankly the only basis you would invest in this country is if you find an opportunity which on a cost benefit basis makes economic sense and that's the only basis anybody invests anyway. At the point that they come to me they've found the opportunity and from a financial or a commercial point of view it makes good sense. The question then is the politics of the situation and if they ask my view I would say, "Look it's going to be an uncertain period for a good time to come. We are not going to get strong", or rather I've changed my position on that, I would have said until very recently that you are going to have weak decision making in government because it's going to be compromise decision making because everybody is going to be looking at the next election.
I think I would qualify that, I think in fact we could have strong government, we could have good decisions being taken in the transition but South Africa has, it's got a growing market, it's got the resources that are required by industrialised countries and this is the Japanese interest. I come back to the Japanese every time, the Japanese are involved in this country and keen to invest here because all the essential minerals for an industrialised nation are here. There is an international concern at seeing South Africa succeed. This is the one aspect of the South African situation that I rate quite highly in ensuring a measure of stability and good governance and that is that this country is going to become internationalised on an unbelievable scale. I'm not now talking about only international agencies like World Bank, IMF, ODA, I'm talking about there is going to be a lot of pressure on international corporations in being involved here. I expect quite a major switch to occur in the US with the African American. There were two of them sitting here yesterday, one from the State Controller's Office in New York and the other from Banker's Trust and they knew nothing about South Africa but there's no doubt about it that they expect the African Americans, once Mandela is elected, are going to be involved on a big scale. So I think the international factor is very important in this situation.
POM Thank you for the time, it was most interesting. The whole tone of my questions have now got to change. I think what disturbed me last night was the number of things left unsettled or just pushed over into a Technical Committee to resolve the difference here and there would be so many differences in interpretations. It's also historic.
PAT It's also a fascinating study of a negotiating process when with one having broken down and then spend so much time on re-starting on the fine tuning of things and then leave the most difficult things to the very end. It could be another fascinating book for your friend, Fisher.