About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

23 Nov 1993: Van Der Merwe, Koos

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POM     My first question, Koos, whither South Africa?

KVM     South Africa is either having an election next year or not. If the government and the ANC succeeds in drawing the Freedom Alliance into their consensus basis then there will be an election. The ANC will win that election unless the Freedom Alliance and the National Party form a loose alliance in which case they do have an outside chance of defeating the ANC. On the other hand if the Freedom Alliance is not brought in then you will have an angry Freedom Alliance outside, frustrated, and they will do their best to derail the election in which case I think they have a sixty/forty chance of derailing the election.

POM     In this regard which is the more important element of the right wing? The homeland and independent states or the white right wing?

KVM     I made a speech in this parliament yesterday in which I pleaded for an alliance between the National Party and the Freedom Alliance. I can see no reason why they cannot form a loose alliance because federalism is what is binding them together. The National Party at this stage has become a federal party, the Democratic Party is a federal party, Buthelezi prides himself on the fact that his party is in fact the purest of all federal parties. The Bophuthatswana government has accepted the principle of federalism, so has the Ciskei. General Viljoen will accept a federal dispensation. The only people in the Freedom Alliance who are against a federal dispensation is just the verkrampte far right wing of the Conservative Party. What should be done is for the Freedom Alliance to jettison this baggage, this burden, namely their racist component. If the Conservative Party can jettison it's racist component then all the other parties, National Party, Buthelezi and all the others are bound together by a federal motive and I think therefore that such a loose coalition is feasible provided they can jettison the racists from the CP.

POM     In your own view at this point do you see Buthelezi coming into the process or that increasingly he is making statements that are marginalising himself when he talks about the liquid leadership of the IFP, the IFP does not contest elections. Now what is he up to? What is his game plan, or does he have one?

KVM     Nobody would give you a true answer to that except Buthelezi himself if he wants to give it. I can only guess having spoken to some of his lieutenants, even they are not sure. I know from the bottom of my heart that Buthelezi would want to have part of this, he would want to be inside. But he wouldn't want to be inside as a pawn of the ANC, he wouldn't want to be overrun by the ANC. Buthelezi would want to know that he is running Natal as governor of Natal which will be a component state in the new federation, that he will have a high degree of autonomy there and that he will also have a good position in the central federal government. I am sure he will move in then. So would Bophuthatswana and so would General Viljoen. The only stumbling block is the racist group in the CP.

POM     I want to back up a little bit to last week, the constitution that was passed, the interim constitution that was passed. Do you see any merit in that constitution or how would you rank it on a scale of one out of ten in terms of your satisfaction with it?

KVM     No it's not a good constitution because there is a big discussion at the moment on whether it's really a federation or a union. What we all thought of getting is a strong federation in the sense of strong regional powers, a high degree of autonomy in the states and a weak central federal government. As you know better than I the weaker the component states are, the closer you get to a union and the debate at the moment is whether we've got a union or whether we've got a federation. The mere fact that that debate is going on means that we didn't get a strong federation. The other problem is that we don't have a final constitution. If the ANC gets a good majority next year, they change that constitution, they make the next constitution as they please and the minorities are then at the mercy of one big majority which was exactly that which the National Party said that they would defend the minorities against. So my basic problem is that the federation is too weak.

POM     So on a scale of one out of ten you would place it where? Zero represents total dissatisfaction and ten would represent total satisfaction.

KVM     Three.

POM     Two things on which we have been unable to get the same answer from people and that is regarding two clauses in the Electoral Bill. One is what is the formula for reaching decisions in the government of national unity and what the deadlock breaking mechanism is in the Constituent Assembly? What's your understanding?

KVM     One of the problems is that we at parliament haven't received a copy of the bill yet. I haven't seen it. We are already here to start to debate it and still we don't have copies so I can only talk vaguely. The impression that I have is that the latest move, because you've got to rely on newspaper reports and it shifts from day to day, but the idea that I have is that for some time there has to be a consensus in the Cabinet which means a minority veto which is untenable, it can't work.

POM     If the ANC think it's 60% or 55% or whatever, it may be able to appoint a majority of the members of the government of national unity which means that in fact you have majority rule from the word go.

KVM     Of course. Where's the protection? Now if, and this is why I was prepared to move from our original demand for an independent sovereign Afrikaner state, was prepared to move in order to compromise, move towards a federation, a federal system in which there will be component states and then you scale down, you temper your own aspirations, you don't have 200% of the country any longer you now have 20%, but you want to settle, you want to make concessions. You say, "OK I'll take 20% of the country, I am abandoning racism and apartheid and everything but now I know at least that whoever forms the central federal government, in one or two of these component states we will have 90% autonomy", but now we're not even getting that. Now you're getting autonomy to such an extent that you can decide where to drill a borehole and where not otherwise the real important issues are in the hands of the central federal government. It's weak, it's practically a union. So in that respect the government has failed miserably.

POM     When you look at the ANC and the government over the last 18 months what concessions did the government make and what concessions did the ANC make?

KVM     Maybe we should call in yesterday's Sunday Times which quotes Ramaphosa as saying towards the end the National Party succumbed, caved in, surrendered, just gave away. And then also in the Sunday Times they quote a poll or some sort of a mechanism in which they judge exactly the same question and they said that Joe Slovo, the Communist Director General has not conceded any one of his non-negotiables. He has put down sixteen of them and he has surrendered all sixteen. They said that De Klerk surrendered four of them. The important thing is that on the main issue, namely strong regional government, on that the government surrenders. That is the main issue. That was the yellow carrot that pulled a number of us. We're going to get strong regional government, let's do that in order to get a settlement, but we're not getting it.

POM     So in your view the ANC out-negotiated the government?

KVM     The ANC has won hands down, the ANC got exactly what they wanted.

POM     How did they manage that?

KVM     They managed that by simply being too strong intellectually and as debaters their team was far too strong for the National Party team. The Nats had their Dawie de Villiers, who is a known liberal, who is known not to have guts to fight. They had their Roelf Meyer who falls in the same class and then obviously Leon Wessels. The team that they fielded was a team that was a sitting duck for the strong ANC negotiators.

POM     Why would have De Klerk picked them?

KVM     He thought they were good, but I have told De Klerk personally (I see him from time to time) and I told him that his problem is that he is surrounded by mediocre people, he has a very weak Cabinet, he has a very weak team but he doesn't agree with me. I think the reason why he doesn't agree with me is that he thinks it's a strong team. He disagrees with me, he thinks it's a strong team but history will prove that they were weak, they just succumbed.

POM     In the three years since Mandela was released and this whole process began taking place has your opinion of the ANC changed in any way?

KVM     Yes in the sense that there are some signs that the ANC has mellowed a little but if you look closely, if you examine it closely this is more in respect of individuals. One would intend to get the impression that Ramaphosa or Mbeki or Phosa are moderate normal people and that they would then secure a moderate future government but then the next moment when Derby-Lewis is sentenced to death the ANC immediately says, people like Phosa and others, he should be hanged whilst it is their policy that they should not be hanged. Just the other day, a day or two or three ago, the ANC says if the homelands don't come back voluntarily into the system the tanks will roll out and put them in their place. You hear consistent, even today as I speak to you, there is consistent rumour that they will still nationalise institutions, nationalise land and other stuff, that there will be strong affirmative action and so forth so the moderation of the ANC may just have been cosmetic but we will get a monster to become the government on 27th April. That's quite possible.

POM     Do you believe that the ANC believes in democracy?

KVM     No. Rubbish. They want power, that's the end of it.

POM     Why would you say they don't want democracy?

KVM     Real democracy, if you go back to the Greek word democracy it means government by the people and there is not an English word for the Afrikaans and German word 'volk' although in English if you use the P of people as a capital letter People, a group of people like the Afrikanervolk or the French People or the German People that's a closer ethnic group. The idea is that they should have democracy and this debate raged in the United Nations and the United Nations has actually distinguished between the two words 'nation' and 'People' with the capital P and said that democracy is something which is meant for the People, not the nation. Now in South Africa what is going to happen is that democracy will be for all the people, in other words we're all thrown into scrambled egg and all people should vote which means that the one with the largest number, undoubtedly, will win the election and control the destiny of the smaller groups, which is not democracy, it will be the same as if you remove the country borders in Europe, just remove that and let them all vote together which means that without a shadow of a doubt you'll get a German government because they are almost a hundred million and small countries like the Portuguese and the Dutch and those will be under the foot of the Germans the next moment. That is not democracy. We had the same in Namibia. In Namibia you have 52% of that country are Ovambos and you have eleven other smaller nations. Now because of this so-called democracy where you throw a lot of Peoples into one nation the biggest nation automatically dominates the smaller ones. That is not democracy.

     So what we're getting in South Africa is simply a hand over of the power over the smaller nations into the hands of the Xhosas. Now this has been my objection from the beginning but I thought that we could accommodate this in a federation provided the regions have strong regional powers. Then it could have been a good settlement. But now we don't have it and that is going to be a problem. It's going to be a problem also because during the negotiation phase the negotiators have laid big time bombs and landmines for the future by ignoring ethnicity and I'm telling you that after 27th April, it doesn't matter how long, progressively you will have ethnic conflict because it's been ignored. If you look at the partitioning of Bosnia and the others it's really ridiculous. You have worse partitioning than the suggestions originally of the states in South Africa and they are doing that in order to control the ethnic problem. In South Africa they didn't even worry about it, they deny the existence of ethnicity.

POM     To go back to the government negotiators for a minute, if they did succumb at the end, why?

KVM     They were weak, simply weak individuals. Kobie Coetsee is a weak individual. I know, I was told yesterday by somebody of the State President's office that the Generals are fuming with this Coetsee character, the Minister of Defence. They have given him all the ammunition to go in and strike a better deal for the future defence force. He was too weak even to voice it. He came back and said, "No, no, don't worry, we'll accept that". Same thing with the Constitutional Court. He was willing to accept and he has, that's the worst part of it. Coetsee has a conservative image but he's a weakling. He went in there and he handed on a silver plate the Constitutional Court.

POM     How would he do that when the ANC would be in a position to appoint the majority?

KVM     He's weak, he's simply weak.

POM     But that's stupid.

KVM     It's stupid and weak and then Tony Leon had to rush in from all areas, Tony Leon of the DP had to rush in to try to save the Constitutional Court and he added some damage control. We have weak people there. We have people like Dawie de Villiers who has never been a strong man. He's been a Springbok captain and he's been at school and all over during his life he's been a popular man, he's never taken any controversial standpoints, he's run along and he's just there, he sat there. He sat there for three, four, five, six months doing bugger all, making a speech now and then, trying to be serious and they had a philosophy, the government negotiating team had a philosophy, whatever we get now, whatever we get will be better than what we'll get next year, so make concessions, just make the bloody deal because whatever we conclude here will be better than what we expect to get next year. And this was their philosophy. I should have told you this earlier. Let's make a deal, no matter how bad it is it's going to be better than the one that we'll get next year. There are members of the Cabinet who have spoken to me, told me that there will come a time when we will have to choose between two forms of chaos, the chaos of the new constitution or the chaos of withdrawing and going for conflict. Which of the two forms of chaos is the more acceptable? So I was told by ministers from the Cabinet.

POM      Speaking in a more general way of the National Party. You had the March 1992 referendum. De Klerk is at the peak of his popularity, rides the crest. It looked as though the right was then demoralised, no strategy, very fragmented. It appeared that De Klerk could say he spoke for the majority of whites yet 18 months later we hear continually about divisions in the Cabinet , about the troubles he has with his own members, and De Klerk himself has lost that touch. Whereas before he appeared to be always one step in front of the ANC, the person taking the initiative, that's now gone, he's become almost a background figure, no longer seen in charge. Concomitant with that the resurrection, literally, of the right wing. What factors have been at play that brought that situation about?

KVM     Let me comment on that. First of all the result of the referendum was not a true one. One week before the result, before we voted, it was still a bit risk for the Nats whether they will win it or not. The National Party then went wild. Employers went out, big firms like Sasol, and the big money firms went out with the biggest scare you ever had, sending letters to their people saying, "Remember if you vote no, if we don't win the referendum you lose your job, etc.", and they went on a media campaign that's unreal and they twisted the real judgement of the electorate. It would have been very close. I think they should have won by about 48%/52%, they should have won, but not by 66% / 33%. So to start off that is a wrong impression that he was strong. He was strong on paper but he wasn't really strong. Then, why did he become weak? He became weak.

POM     How did he interpret his victory?

KVM     Oh he interpreted his victory that he is now the strong one, Rocky Marciano, personally he can knock out any person. But then he couldn't produce. He said vote yes and you'll get peace, prosperity and progress. We didn't get peace. We never got anything worse than that, we have no progress. There is nothing of that. There are more killings now than ever. We just got the opposite. That's the one thing. And the other one is, it's not a resurrection of the right. The CP it's a dead duck, but the resurrection was created by the introduction of the Generals. When the Generals appeared a few months ago that is when the life jacket was thrown to the right wing. That is when new life was brought about by the stature of General Constand Viljoen. That is what resurrected the right wing. At the moment if there is to be an election now the Nats will lose it as sure as I'm alive.

POM     And one sees a decline in their support from about 28% of the poll at some point last year down to 11% or 12%.

KVM     Still falling.

POM     Surveys show that only one person in four who voted for them in 1989 would vote for them today. Will part of this transition of change be that the National Party will simply disintegrate?

KVM     Not necessarily. It's up to the Freedom Alliance to save the National Party. If the Freedom Alliance were just to sort of fragmentally fade out then the only real alternative you have on 27th April against the ANC would be to vote for the National Party. So then that will save them. On the other hand if the Freedom Alliance were to go in and stand and fight strongly they would pulverise the Nats and they wouldn't understand this. I made a speech here three months ago in which I warned the Nats, and I'll say in thirty seconds what I said. The Nats are used to fighting an election in a particular manner. Firstly they relied on the abuse of the state instruments. In the past they abused the South African Broadcasting Corporation, the TV, the radio, they abused it. Now it's in the hands of the ANC. They won't have the SABC. Secondly, they don't have the governmental departments any more, they don't have National Intelligence which bugged every room of opposition parties which had their own people infiltrating the opposition parties. They knew on a day to day basis exactly what the strategy of their opponents were and they could plan their strategies at the hand of that. They don't have that any longer. So firstly they don't have the abuse of the state instruments any longer and secondly they are a disgraced party. They are a party who is the guilty one, whether you agree with it or not, but they carry the burden that they are the apartheid party. They are the party that caused the whole catastrophe. They are the party with the scandals. They are the arrogant party. Nobody likes them any longer, why should you vote for them?

     So all that has to happen, and this is the second thing, if for Constand Viljoen to come out with a strong, clean, morally justifiable, internationally acceptable model which will say, fine let's go for a strong federation in which the Pretoria, western, eastern, northern Transvaal area will not be reserved for whites but it so happens that that area has a majority of whites, Afrikaners, in it and that that area will then automatically because white people will just be numerically in the majority, like the Zulus will be in Natal and the Xhosas in the other area, and if Constand could get that act together then the people will vote for him. This man has a plan. This man emphasises the rights and the aspirations and the dreams of the white people. De Klerk doesn't.

     If this happens the National Party is going to get 5% of the votes. Who is going to vote for them? Which black man is going to vote for them? What black leader of quality, of reputation do they have? Who do they have? Nobody. What do they have in the Coloured community? Abie Williams and others? They've got nothing. What is it that they can offer? So I think they are a spent force. The Nats are a spent force and I think that without the state departments, abuse of them, and with Constand Viljoen running well with a good plan they will be demolished.

POM     Wouldn't that latter situation in fact then have Constand Viljoen as the Deputy President of the country?

KVM     Of course. All Constand has to do is he must say to Buthelezi, "Fine, you and I are the leaders of these groups, let us rotate the Vice-Presidency. If we don't win let us rotate the Vice-Presidency, let's shoot up a coin and you call, maybe you are the first Vice President", every year we rotate it and Buthelezi will be happy. Who's De Klerk, where is he coming in?

POM     On the other hand if the alternative strategy is that the alliance stays outside the election?

KVM     If they stay outside they will obviously understand that they are sidelining themselves, they are shutting themselves out on a little siding and the train is gone, so if they remain silent there, if they just sit there, then they will be lost so they cannot afford to just sit there and they know that. Then they will cause problems. They cannot afford the train to go.

POM     If they stay outside will the voters who would vote for them stay at home, not vote?

KVM     I think the majority, or a large percentage, will go and vote for the National Party or somebody else.

POM     So the beneficiary would be the National Party?

KVM     I see signs of a Federal Party being formed. Unless credible leaders can come together, white, black, Coloured, Indian leaders, new ones, dynamic ones, which is possible, they will come and take the votes from all of them and say, "OK, you can't settle your differences, just go to hell, we will look after the people." That's possible.

POM     So if they stayed outside, do you see them resorting to violence?

KVM     Yes it can, it will. I would think that the Freedom Alliance, I'm going to give you some information now. The first thing the Freedom Alliance will attempt is secession, immediate secession. God alone knows how they want to do it but they've told me, they're going to secede, they want to take, just secede. I don't know how they want to do it but they want secession, secede with parts of the country and tell the government, "We are now in control here." And if they have the defence force on their side they will do it.

POM     Do you think that Viljoen's standing with the SADF is a plus, that there might be a split in the military?

KVM     There's no doubt, not the slightest doubt in my mind that he commands by far the majority in the defence force, the officers, the non-commissioned officers and the men.

POM     There's also no doubt in your mind then that if he called on them to support the secession of the Freedom Alliance that they would respond to that call?

KVM     Oh yes. It's going to depend on whether he does it cleverly or not, if he plans the secession correctly, if he drums up enough support and kicks up enough dust around it. Yes. Her must make out the ANC and the Nats as people who are leading the country towards conflict. He must get outside support for this and if not support then at least tacit support.

POM     Where would that support be likely to come from?

KVM     I don't know. I don't know how well they are organised.

POM     In the same way people have said to us that the way you deal with the recalcitrant homelands like Bophuthatswana and KwaZulu is that the centre government simply pulls the purse strings.

KVM     Then they're inviting trouble. They're going to get trouble.

POM     If Buthelezi did not get the subsidy he gets from Pretoria could he maintain their regime, the police or army or whatever you want to call it? Could he get access to weaponry or would he just slowly bleed to death because of lack of funds?

KVM     He won't bleed to death because that will be an invitation to real problems because KwaZulu has for ten years been a legitimate, in terms of the South African constitution, has been a legitimate state. It's done good, done well for ten years. You can't just cancel that. It's wrong by all international legal standards, it's wrong. You must discuss with them, you must negotiate with them and if you just roll in your tanks I'll tell you there will be slaughter that you've never seen. The Zulus are much more of a war-going nation than the Afrikaners. We have become socialised. We like to sit in nice chairs like I do now and have big carpets and air conditioned and things like that and coffee and anchovy toast, we wouldn't really want to go out and make war. If we have to we'll do it, but the Zulus will be there immediately if the King tells them. There will be slaughter, there will be blood like you've never seen. They will go in and they will blow up the show house where the ANC sits. The ANC knows that.

     But maybe, I've told Constand Viljoen we should stop barking, we should bite a little. People don't believe that you have power, show them. Get 100,000 people to come to the Witwatersrand, each one with a car or a big truck and just block the Witwatersrand for a day. Park 2,000 vehicles on every one of the big arteries moving in, nobody can move, but have helicopters in the event of people dying or bleeding who have to go to hospitals, fly them with helicopters. But just blocking. Go with 5,000 vehicles on to Jan Smuts Airport, nobody can land. Cut off the international communications system between South Africa and the outside world for four hours. Cut the electricity and the water, everything. Warn the people you are going to do it, do it, show them. We can immobilise the country totally and do other things but stop barking because what Viljoen and the others have embarked upon is to bark.

POM     Ironically that kind of parallel is what happened in Northern Ireland in 1974 where there was a power sharing government set up between the moderate Protestants and the moderate Catholics but the hard line right wing Protestants wanted nothing to do with it. What happened was that the hard line Protestant working class who occupied all of the skilled positions in the industry turned off the electricity all over the country. Nothing moved.

KVM     And then?

POM     And the government fell in three days.

KVM     That's a point. Just imagine the power of the white people in the country if they were to be motivated and well organised, we control totally everything. There's nothing we don't control. We can stop the country. The blacks have been running in the streets toyi-toying, throwing stones into windows, stealing people's clothes and cars and burning out people and so on. It's nothing. And they can avoid all this by making a number of concessions. The important one is to give us a proper federation, the type that Buthelezi has asked for. Why do they set aside Buthelezi? For God's sake why not? He has published a constitution and I can understand his fear. He says if we don't have a final constitution, "I want a final constitution now". Let's make it a final constitution because if this is a preliminary one, a phase one and then later a phase two then the next one you will make the way you want it.

POM     A number of people I've talked to have said that probably the biggest concession made by the ANC is that they have allowed a full blown constitution to emerge, 156 pages of a constitution, not a short one which the ANC favoured that would just be an amendment to the existing constitution and there seems to be agreement from many people that this constitution will be subject only to minor amendments in the Constituent Assembly.

KVM     No, that won't be it. I don't believe it. I'm telling you that once the ANC is in power they will progressively move towards their original goals.

POM     A one-party state?

KVM     Not so much a one party state but a very strong central government with centralised power, nationalisation.

POM     A command economy so to speak.

KVM     Total. They will just move towards that. They have to learn the hard way. Third world people don't learn from a handbook, they must learn practically by bleeding. So South Africa will not be spared the trauma. People are now happy that apparently on the face of it we have saved ourselves a bloody revolution and so forth but I don't believe that. I think a black government will want to experiment, will want to go back to their old policies and only after they have suffered in practice they will go back. So we are facing a five or a ten year trauma in this country.

POM     Where do you find yourself in all of this?

KVM     Waiting. I'm waiting on Constand Viljoen to come in. What I would want to happen is for Constand Viljoen to shed some of his baggage which is, as I said earlier, the CP racists, and for the National Party to shed some of its baggage also, its arrogance and it's ANC sympathisers and so forth and then for the two of them to form an alliance. That alliance can still win the election and if it doesn't it will lose by a few votes so you will have out of nine regions the non-sympathisers will win four or five and in the central federal government the non-sympathisers will have at least 45% of the vote. That leaves the government, the one that wins, very little because you then control on the ground half of the component states with a high degree of autonomy and in the central federal government you have those who govern by the short hairs, they can't move because their majority is too small.

POM     Where would you see the larger threat coming from? Again, a distinction between the white right wing and Buthelezi.

KVM     At this stage ironically enough it looks like Buthelezi and Mangope. I have information pointing towards a deal between Viljoen and the ANC but not a deal between Buthelezi, Mangope and the ANC or the Nats. So you may eventually have Constand Viljoen being more agreeable to come in than Buthelezi and Mangope. Buthelezi is very, very strongly opposed to the Nats at this stage.

POM     That's one of the strategic changes made between CODESA 2 and the negotiating forum, in CODESA 2 the government was kind of partners with the IFP and they were all aligned, they formed a grand alliance against the ANC and then with the Record of Understanding everything was changed about, they entered into an informal alliance, at least with regard to constitutional matters, and marginalised the IFP.

KVM     Yes.

POM     Why the change?

KVM     Roelf Meyer. Ramaphosa. The influence of the negotiators coming back, reporting once a week, getting a freer and freer hand, doing what they wanted to do. Roelf Meyer, Dawie de Villiers and Leon Wessels easily trust the ANC, they have become their friends, they have wined and dined together, they have said to themselves, "Ach, there's no big difference between them and us. What's the fuss about?"

KVM     At the negotiation process?

POM     No, just at large. On the one hand the government has been charged with giving too much away and on the other hand nobody seems really to know what's in the package that was finally negotiated.

KVM     I'm an MP. I don't have a copy of it yet.

POM     It's crazy.

KVM     It's totally crazy, but it shows you the arrogance of the government. They don't care, they just move, move, move. If people in their midst commit wrongs, Gerrit Viljoen and the others, they just keep them there. In England if something goes seriously wrong in a department the staff in the minister's office when they are reading the newspapers will automatically start to pack their bags and when he comes in they will say, "Don't worry sir, there's your bag. We're preparing for your successor." It's their style. In this country you don't get out of a Cabinet job even by a hydrogen bomb exploding under your whatisname. You don't get kicked out. I said to De Klerk the other day, I said, "One of the weakest men in your Cabinet is Kobie Coetsee." I said "His name stinks with the bench and with the Bar and the Side Bar and his department. You know what you do? Instead of dismissing him you make him Minister of Defence also. What the hell's wrong with you?" And he says, "Yes, but he's done a lot for legal reform." I said, "Nonsense man, Judge Olivier has done it." He just looked at me. Weak negotiators. They never once upturned a table in the face of an ANC, they never once seemingly lost their temper, they just went there like little angels and gave it away step by step.

POM     So if you were a betting man what would you put your money on?

KVM     Let me rather say if I were a hoping man I would hope that the Nats and the Freedom Alliance will get together so that you can beat the ANC.

POM     Why do you think you would beat the ANC if you had that alliance together? Many people would say that Mangope doesn't really have much base support in Bophuthatswana and if people had the choice they would vote for another South African rather than ...

KVM     They have the choice but the ANC does not want to form a political party in Bophuthatswana. They have told them in Bophuthatswana, you are more than welcome to come, any political party, but we don't allow movements. So register yourself as a political party and come and do your meetings, but they don't want to. Now let's look at the percentage of vote. How many people are going to vote? 22 million can vote. We're going to vote within a few months. I don't know how many of them you are actually going to get to the polls. Will you get 80%? So suppose you get 16 million people there. It's going to be a vote of two days, it's going to be a massive organisation. OK, two days, 16 million people. Just take the 16 million. You need eight to win, eight million people. Now there are more than three million whites. Between the whites, Coloureds and Indians there are close to six million votes. Now I think if you go out with one hell of a drive and a campaign you can pick up practically all the white votes against the ANC. The ANC says they'll get 2% of white votes. You'll pick up 70% of the Coloureds and 70% of the Indians. So you can, if you are very good, pick up close to five million votes amongst the whites and you only need three million black votes. Just three million. Now I'm telling you between all those groups, Mangope, Buthelezi and the others assisted by the churches, assisted by the white employers, of course you can pick up three out of 12%, 20%, 25% of the vote.

POM     Why do you say assisted by the churches?

KVM     I think, talking as an electioneering campaignist, that you go to certain places for assistance, you go to the employers and so forth and one place where you can pick up a lot of votes is if you influence the churches. It's done all over the world.

POM     Where would the Zionist Church be?

KVM     Against the election.

POM     Would be against the election?

KVM     Yes. That's two million votes.

POM     Has the Zionist Church made its opposition to the ANC known to its membership?

KVM     No it hasn't shown its colours yet. But if the Zionist Christian Church and the Zulu King, if just the two of them come out assisted by the white employers, which means me and my wife and every housewife in this country and every employer in this country, if they just influence their workers then we win the election. We can still win the election. But then De Klerk and Constand Viljoen and Buthelezi must come together in a solid massive alliance.

POM     This would be like a complete switch on the National Party's policy.

KVM     Not policy, just a loose alliance and say let's fight together. People still vote for the National Party or this or that one but we stand together in order to defeat the communists. Joe Slovo. I mean what does the Communist Party represent in South Africa? Bugger all but they control the ANC, like a tick on a horse. They control the ANC. It was said in the debate here yesterday that Roelf Meyer how many times asked the opinion of Joe Slovo what to do and then before he gave indications of what the government is prepared to do Roelf Meyer would look at Ramaphosa and if Ramaphosa winked at him he would say, "Yes". Things like that. It's very unsatisfactory. My whole political body is demanding a fight to thrash the ANC in a one man one vote zap so that we then can call up our people, we call up our people along a new set of principles and those principles will be things like standards, peace, but real peace, not peace in order to get political power. Peace, prosperity, standards, a safe environment, a place where I can send my wife to the cafe to go and buy bread without worrying whether she will be raped or killed on the way, where my children can play in the parks again, where I can leave my car outside and it won't be robbed. We're sick and tired of what the government and the ANC have done to the country. Look what you've done to the country and they get the Nobel prize for it? What I can't understand is four years ago when he released Mandela, and I don't say he shouldn't have released him, when he released Mandela from that moment until today not one day has passed without people dying, people being maimed, people being killed, the crime rate shot up, thousands and thousands of innocent people being killed and the people who caused this get the Nobel prize. I don't understand that.

POM     But do you see the violence escalating between now and the election?

KVM     Depending on whether the Freedom Alliance comes in. If not, then yes there will be an escalation.

POM     There will be escalation.

KVM     Yes, oh yes.

POM     Do you think escalation between the IFP and the ANC?

KVM     Mainly. But there will come a stage where sophisticated right wing violence will commence, but real sophisticated like cutting off of electricity for a day. One of the problems, they already wanted to cut it, one of the problems was that their engineers, right wing engineers said how much damage it would do to ISCOR's big ovens, furnaces, those big furnaces at ISCOR. If they don't have electricity for so long or you put them back too far it's too many thousands of millions of rands damage, so you have to cut it only for so long and so long. They've worked out all those things. I hope it never comes to that. I just want to get the country's economy kick-started to go forth but the problem is, and when Vance was here, this American politician Cyrus Vance, I said to him that the core of our problem is the fact that the ANC wants the whole cake for itself. That's the problem. We have conceded, people like myself have said OK, nobody is getting first prize, let's settle for a good second prize, but slowly but surely it now emerges that the ANC is still bent on getting the first prize. They want the whole cake for themselves. They are getting such a strong central government that it won't take them long to get the rest of the powers back and do just what they want. Why should we accept that? So it depends on what Constand will do now. There's no hope that De Klerk and these weaklings could do anything but we now have the report card written on 17th November, a union that's what we got. We didn't get strong federal government, we got a union. This is what people say, that they failed. It depends on Constand Viljoen.

POM     You would discard somebody like Ferdi Hartzenberg?

KVM     Ferdi Hartzenberg can only plough. Ferdi Hartzenberg, there's nothing he can come up with because he doesn't understand politics, he doesn't understand that apartheid is dead. He doesn't understand that the whites are no longer entitled to a privileged position. He doesn't understand those things. There are still people in the old USSR who want to restore communism. That's Hartzenberg, Jaap Marais. It can't work. You've got to adapt and go for a new challenge, try a new strategy and the new strategy, if you move away from an independent state, then you say, OK I'll go into a federation but if I don't get a federation then I get domination which is unacceptable. And what makes me mad is that these arguments could be sold, these arguments could be sold at the negotiation process, it could be sold internationally, it could be sold to journalists, it could be sold to TV stations, it could be sold to politicians all over the world and to academics and to politicians. But the CP was not there. I told them yesterday, "You, the CP, you are guilty more than anyone else of the rotten deal that we got on 17th November because you were not there. You were not there when it mattered. You were not there and with your absence, your arrogant absence you left it to the Ramaphosas and the Joe Slovos and the weaklings like Roelf Meyer to make the constitution, so it's your fault. Had you listened to good advice three years ago, had you then entered the negotiation process, had you then tackled those people with your intellectual and spiritual and academic capacities, had you tabled a concretised plan an acceptable, morally justifiable, internationally acceptable plan, had you fought for it for three years we would have had a much better constitution." I get worked up.

POM     Before the vote was taken on the TEC there were all these rumours of possible defections from the NP.

KVM     No, I don't foresee it.

POM     You see them going solid all the way through?

KVM     It depends again on that factor, that Freedom Alliance factor. If the Freedom Alliance does something creative and acceptable you may have defections. I may go to them, some Cabinet ministers may go to them, twenty National Party members may go to them. But then they must come with something attractive. If I'm not married or if I'm not very happily married to my wife I'm not going to marry another woman unless she's attractive enough. There must be an alternative. She must be beautiful and attractive and you must say, "Watch that broad." You, of course, don't know what I'm talking about. You're too bloody old!

POM     Research shows that men tend to marry the same kind of woman over and over again.

KVM     I bow to your superior knowledge. We had a good one yesterday. One of the CP members, a good friend of mine, Barnard, made an interjection and he said to De Klerk, "You are an idiot and a skellum" (what is the English slang word for a very dishonest person? Crook, crook is the nearest). "You're an idiot and a crook", and the Speaker said, "Withdraw it", and he withdrew it and then De Klerk said, "Mr Speaker, I cannot make any comment on that subject because that Honourable Member knows much more about that subject than I do. I readily concede that." There was this beautiful one in England, this Reilly and I don't know who the other one was, they always had a bite in the British Parliament and the one said, "Mr Speaker, when that Honourable Member dies one day it will either be because he will be hanged or he will die of venereal disease." And before the Speaker could say something the other one said, "You're absolutely right but I will only die in that manner if I embrace either your mistress or your principles." Lekker hey? What I think the message that I'm giving you is at this particular moment, 23rd November 1993, it is extremely difficult to make projections more than I've given you because the Freedom Alliance and the ANC and the government are having discussions and it can turn into any direction from there.

POM     Tactically the ANC should seek to cut its own deal with the Freedom Alliance and marginalise the NP even more.

KVM     I would say that if the ANC is clever they would want to avoid a coalition between the Nats and the Freedom Alliance, they would want to avoid that. So therefore they would want to make some sort of a deal which would keep the two apart. Strategically the National Party should really realise that they won't be able to go it too far. They don't have the strength, the support on the ground any longer. They should go for a loose coalition with the Freedom Alliance then they will be strong. On the other hand the Freedom Alliance knows that if they come in they are certain of a second place. That they know. So De Klerk must realise, "I can't come first and I can't come second so the only way for me to be in there, to be one of the rotating Vice Presidents or President is with the Freedom Alliance." So De Klerk has no alternative. He must go with the Freedom Alliance. He could say to himself, De Klerk, "Well let me keep the Freedom Alliance totally out and I will pick up their votes because those people won't abstain, they will vote for me." That way he can do something but then the ANC, of the votes cast, will probably get 70%.

POM     Then they will draw up their own constitution.

KVM     Yes. Of course. There's no other alternative but for the Nats and the Freedom Alliance to get together and try to beat the ANC and if they don't beat them they will have such a hold on him that there won't be abuse. There's no other way.

POM     OK Koos.

KVM     How long are you now staying?

POM     Until 15th December.

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.