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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

27 Nov 1993: Mhlaba, Raymond

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POM     Let me start with, are you surprised at the speed with which dramatic change is coming to the country? If anybody had told you three years ago that there would be an election in four years and that there would be an ANC dominated government in power on 28th April 1994 would you have been surprised or not surprised?

RM     I would be surprised because what I have in mind is that the government is not going to give in easily. It is going to drag even the talks because I believe that it is in their interest if they drag the talks so the speed as we see it now is remarkable. Very few people would be bold enough to say that they expected this rapid speed which is going on.

POM     How do you envisage the immediate future, the TEC coming in?

RM     My main worry in the implementation of all the decisions, including the TEC and with its sub-structures, that is the sub-councils, is the disturbance which may take place from the right wingers. I think that, although I came from Johannesburg last night reading the newspapers, that is the information that they are planning actually to take a surprise move to come up on the level to say we are ready to take part in the elections and number two, after they have calculated that they can make it. It's not the first time to hear this calculation. There are people in that combination of what is known today as the Freedom Alliance, that that combination well organised can in fact be number two. So I'm not worried about that aspect because I believe that once they are brought in the elections they are no longer, in fact they think in terms now of actually sabotaging the elections, but they say that they intend, the information is to the effect that they intend now doing what is called 'internal sabotage'. In other words being inside there, applying the brakes and seeing to it that their point of view is heard. Now I think that if they take part and they become number two that the counter-revolutionary tendencies I think they will disappear.

POM     They will disappear?

RM     Yes they will disappear because once they take part in the government they are now going to find themselves that they are no longer going to embark on the extra-parliamentary struggle, doing the struggle outside parliament. They are in parliament, sooner or later I think they will be harnessed.

POM     Would you prefer to see that scenario develop?

RM     I would prefer to see the scenario developing whereby they take part in the elections and they are in parliament. Once they are in parliament I think that that hostility is going to be reduced.

POM     Particularly if you give them a couple of good jobs.

RM     Precisely, because once you are in parliament and you start discussing and find possibilities of taking part in parliament and the struggle and even if they still carry on about their demand of a homeland idea it is going to be harnessed, they are going to be involved in consultation and discussions with the government, the present government, and being in parliament and taking part in parliament and the struggle.

POM     I want to go back for a moment to the World Trade Centre. Since we came here in July we spent five weeks in Johannesburg first and I went down to the Trade Centre just about every day and when we are moving around, like in Cape Town or wherever we buy newspapers and keep up to date, watch television, yet we are unclear as to what precisely was passed. To the best of your knowledge what has been agreed?

RM     To the best of my knowledge is the fact that a decision has been taken that there should be the Transitional Executive Council with its councils and that has to be passed in parliament. Parliament is sitting today is it? And thereafter then the whole structure operates.

POM     I was unclear as to whether agreement had been reached on how decisions within the Cabinet would be taken or what precisely was the deadlock breaking mechanism or things like that.

RM     Then the information so far as to the deadlock breaking mechanism in the Cabinet - I'm not quite clear about that point.

POM     How about the percentage that will be needed to make decisions in the Cabinet? Will it be 51%, 60%?

RM     Oh I see, I see. Apparently our idea of 51% has not been entertained. This is in fact one thing which I got to know which would mean then in that situation we will have to make a great deal of compromises, yes, a great deal of compromises.

POM     So this has still got to be worked out what exactly ...?

RM     It has to, it has to. But I doubt very much that once the decision has been taken in the World Trade Centre, because what was needed was to accept the interim constitution. Once the interim constitution has been accepted it has to be applied up to the expiry of the five year period.

POM     When we came here before one always heard of the struggle being framed in terms of the Harare Declaration and the Freedom Charter and if one looks at what has emerged from this process it's quite a way away from the principles that were set out in the Freedom Charter and whatever. On a scale of one to ten how pleased are you with this interim constitution?

RM     Now insofar as the Freedom Charter, what clause are you dealing with because what is enshrined in the Freedom Charter is the setting up of a non-racial society.

POM     But they talk about the ownership of the land and the resources belonging to the people.

RM     Oh I see, yes, that is true. What we will have to do in the course of time is to discuss the land question. It has to be discussed in any event. When we are talking of inequalities, disparities, how do we correct those? We have to do it by way of discussing with the landowners and there is no question of confiscation or expropriation of land but we are not going to allow an individual to own land which in fact is not being used. It means that there must be a Land Commission which is going to go into the whole question of land and see to it that the landless at least get land but the point we are making is the same point which, when I was on holiday and I went to Taiwan the land reforms there, they talk of land reforms which they implemented as from 1949, the tillers of the land they made provision in the law that they must get land. It's similar to the Freedom Charter but if you read the Freedom Charter you may perhaps think that it is the taking over of the land by the tillers, the literal interpretation of the clause, but what we do want to see to it that the landless, as they are trying in Zimbabwe, they must get some land. In Taiwan there is a provision that no one individual can own land beyond this size, it is stipulated. The landowner is entitled to own land of a certain area beyond which he cannot. Now once you stipulate a law like that, I'm not suggesting it's going to be done in South Africa I'm just giving you an example of how people have tackled the land question in other countries, but then the extra land then goes to the tillers until in the case of an individual ...

POM     I don't know ...

RM     No, no I'm not suggesting that they have done so.

POM     No, but they should look at the case of Ireland where in the 19th century big landlords owned all the land and the British government provided a way in which the tenants could buy the land out but when the Irish government came into being it took all these large estates and allocated land to poor people and consolidated holdings in the poorer regions of the country and moved people from those areas to other areas where there would be land available and they had that going until 1962, from 1921 to 1970 they had what was called Land Commission, a department of government that dealt completely with redistribution of land.

RM     Now with the way they are handling the land question of Taiwan, because there is really no sense in saying to a man who hasn't got money, "Buy this or the other thing", when you know that he is not going to be able to afford to do so. I prefer, as they have done in Taiwan, to say that no one individual can own much land. The land area is stipulated. The extra land must therefore be divided to the tillers on the spot and that enables more production, competition in the production and actual production. I prefer that. I am not going to support an idea where you tie up an individual and say, "Come walk", when you know he cannot walk. There is no point in saying that unless of course the government is going to give loans to the tillers and say, "Buy". But there's no point giving a right to an individual which he cannot exercise and you know that he cannot exercise by virtue of the fact he hasn't got the money. You must make provision, you must say: we as a government, we are going to encourage the tillers to till by way of entering into some form of contract or giving loans to be funded in such a way and to encourage them by giving them equipment and so on.

POM     Just going back to the constitution. There was no provision in it for what would be called second generation rights like the right to work, economic rights that have become a feature of other third world countries that begin to democratise, that were emphasised a lot by the ANC when it was putting together its own Bill of Rights. On the other hand there is a clause in it that protects the rights of private property. On a scale of one to ten, I ask this of everyone, how satisfied are you with the measures and interim constitution that emerged from the World Trade Centre?

RM     Well the interim constitution is not 100%, it has got some loopholes. But you talk about private property, private property is going to - they are going to exercise that right on private property. But I have given you an example about specifically the land question and then in that way I don't see anything wrong in individuals having private property and also encouraging public utilities.

POM     Are you surprised that the ANC negotiators didn't insist on a clause being put in the Bill of Rights that would have enshrined the right to health, to economic rights, to the right to education, the right to being able to work, which are many of the ideals that the ANC explored two years ago, which are not in the constitution at this stage?

RM     Perhaps I've not gone through the interim constitution fully and I don't think that the ANC can fail in seeing to it that the questions on health rights and so on are in fact in the constitution. Now if they are not there I suppose it's because they are in the Freedom Charter and that should be guiding to members of the ANC when negotiating or unless they took it for granted that it is obvious that it is going to be exercised. As I say, I cannot say that the clauses you are talking about are not in the constitution, but if they are not there it means that the negotiators just took it for granted that we are going to observe those.

POM     So if I had to ask you again on a scale of one to ten, where would you place what has come out of this process, would you give it a five out of ten, seven out of ten, three out of ten, nine out of ten? Your satisfaction with it. On a scale of one to ten how pleased are you with the interim constitution and other measures that have emerged out of the World Trade Centre. Would you be pleased to the extent that you would give it a three out of ten? If you were grading it, giving it a mark? What would you give it?

RM     I understand. People in looking at the interim constitution must have in mind that the compromises that the ANC have done, which we were being blamed that we have compromised too much, that we would like to see to it that we are moving forward, that we would like to accommodate the minority groups in the country, that is why we have made so many compromises. And as I say, there are loopholes in the constitution but not to an extent that we cannot move. A number of things are going to be improved as we go on but we want that to reach a stage whereby there is a people's government in South Africa.

POM     Even if it's an interim government.

PAT     I think the idea would be if this were the best possible constitution it would be a number ten.

RM     Well I am finding difficulty there to give you the figures and I wouldn't like to commit myself because I would like to go through the constitution thoroughly to give that figure. Although I know that there are loopholes I wouldn't like to give an exact figure at this moment, I would prefer to go to the constitution again, the interim constitution. In spite of all that I would like to repeat, to say that whatever loopholes are there the intention is that we should move. The compromises that we have made in the course of the talks are solely intended that we must move, there mustn't be complete deadlock.

POM     What are the compromises that the ANC made that have come in for the most criticism from within the ANC, the SACP or COSATU itself?

RM     Well, for instance, as you said just this morning, the 51% we are looking at which we didn't get and we had again to compromise there. And we wanted that principle perhaps to make, we wanted a principle which is practised, that the party which wins the election is the governing party pure and simple. It has the majority and we have been moved even from that fundamental, universal thing. What has been practised in South Africa here today we have been moved from that because we want to compromise to accommodate in particular - let me say all the compromises are based on the fact that we are trying to accommodate the minority groups and the complaint that is being made by our people is that if there is an election whoever wins must run the country. There shouldn't be a compromise there. We are making these compromises. Even last night we were talking about whereby you are trying to accommodate the minorities. Now the view is that is there a need for that. Once a citizen is granted the right to exercise all the fundamental rights what more does a citizen want? That is a very strong view which is circling around our organisation, the progressive movement.

POM     We talked to Harry Gwala last week and he was grumbling, to say the least, that he didn't think this was the ANC that stood for the things that the ANC that he fought for stood for. Would you understand why he would make that kind of remark?

RM     Well he is one of those people that the ANC is compromising, has compromised too much. He is one of those. As I say, people like Gwala will stand firmly on the view that the ANC if it wins runs the country, will grant all human rights and everything to all citizens, that finishes everything as far as they are concerned. The compromises that we are making can never be palatable to Gwala and some people, never be palatable.

POM     So if I hear you right what you are saying is that after three years with little movement, that the strategic decision of the ANC was to move forward as quickly as possible, to get their hands on the reins of power, to appease their getting more restless constituency, dragged out negotiations so the quicker negotiations went the better for them, the slower the negotiations went the better for the government.

RM     Did I say that, the last part of it?

POM     That in the ANC's view the quicker the negotiations proceeded the better for the ANC, the slower negotiations went the better for the government.

RM     Yes, yes.

POM     So the guiding imperative was to get on as quickly as possible so that you could get your hands on the ...

RM     And also to take into account that in future, that when you are in government, you must not give ground to the counter-revolutionaries. You must try to minimise that possibility. And this is all part of compromises.

POM     This might be a difficult question seeing you haven't read the constitution through, but how would you place the general tenets of what has emerged from the World Trade Centre in the context of Marxism/Leninism?

RM     Well even on the basis of Marxism/Leninism you have to look at the whole negotiation process in its entirety whether it is furthering the revolution or not. I say that it is furthering the revolution, this negotiation process. I'm now talking as a Marxist. You need to move to a stage where the entire ANC and its allies, where they occupy the commanding heights. All this compromising you want to move to a position where you occupy a position of commanding heights. Marxists therefore should support that. We are part of this alliance. Our main aim in forming an alliance is to liberate oppressed people. I submit strongly that we are doing so. The black man is liberated to a point where he is going to exercise the voting right, to vote with the manifesto that the voter subscribes to that there must be a government which we will call a government of the people, the entire South African population. Then when you are running a government you have the right of making laws but you will then be at that stage you will make laws for the interest of everybody in South Africa, you are occupying a position of commanding heights.

POM     Do you think it would be better for South Africa, looking at the long haul, if the ANC were to receive more than 662/3% of the vote or less than that? Do you think it would be in the interests of the country if the ANC received more than 662/3% of the vote in the election on April 27th?

RM     Oh yes indeed.

POM     Or if it would be if they got maybe 60% or 59% or 58%, my point being that if you get more than 662/3% you can write your own constitution and you can list other people, but effectively you can say we got more than 662/3% so we can do what we like.

RM     Well the ANC would like to have a good majority but at the same time we are committed to a government of national unity. But the ANC must have power to run the country, we must have power to see that we write a constitution which will be in our interest and taking into account the interest of South Africans then the constitution should be accepted by South Africans. There is a view from the minorities that they would like to take part in the writing of the constitution and that is why, therefore, we have made certain provisions that if you get so much then you will be in the government, so much percentage of the votes and you will be in the government. Now we are doing that to try to accommodate the minority fears but we as the ANC must be strong, we would like to be strong.

POM     So you would prefer to see a situation where the alliance gets more than 662/3% of the vote?

RM     Yes.

POM     Of all the changes that have happened in the last three years what changes took you most by surprise and what changes have you found it most difficult to live with?

RM     I must say that the whole idea of being able to talk to the government has in fact eclipsed almost everything. I welcome that. Other things in fact fall by the wayside as far as I am concerned. We have scored a great deal and we must be thankful about the opportunity which presented itself before us, that we are now talking to the government and we have gone so far in the talks up to where we are.

POM     That surprises you?

RM     Well in the first place entering this phase, shall I put it that way, surprised me because I didn't expect that it was going to happen in the way that it happened although our main political activities were intended in fact to bring about change but the time factor we did not know as to how long it is going to take. A number of people were surprised when we were released from jail, that was the beginning of things in South Africa. No individual would claim that he or she was clever enough to say that on such a date that would happen. That was a surprise.

POM     What things have you found most difficult to live with?

RM     I wouldn't say I have such a situation because when I was released three years ago I immediately found myself in a different situation where now I was thinking how best we are going to create a new type of diplomacy as convincing the government to change a number of things so that we finally produce an appropriate constitution. That battle was not a simple battle. I didn't expect that to be a simple battle.

POM     Was that easier to do than you thought or more difficult to do?

RM     Difficult to do. Difficult to do because we are dealing with people who are possessing almost everything, political power, wealth and so on and so on. To me it was going to be difficult for these people to change, to give in. It was going to be difficult for them to change, to give in.

POM     Are black South Africans better off today than they were three years ago?

RM     No, they are not better off.

POM     Under an ANC led government what does the average person in a township have the right to expect after five years of such a government?

RM     They are expecting already wonderful changes, whether or not those changes will in fact materialise according to their expectations is the big question. But we, ourselves, that is the ANC itself, are advocating that there are going to be changes but we are trying to indicate in the same breath that these changes will not be overnight.

POM     After five years should a resident of a township have electricity, sewerage, a lot of the basic amenities that are not there at present? Fewer squatter camps, more housing?

RM     Now the things you are enumerating these are the immediate things which we have to attack. Immediate.

POM     Mr Mandela said in Natal the other day that, "If we don't produce throw us out the next time".

RM     Yes. In any event they will have to do that. But at the same time we must entertain the idea that there may be a great deal of sabotage even in implementing those things, the civil service is not in our favour, can try to apply brakes but the government has to immediately enumerate education, housing, that must be gone into immediately. Of course we have to see that the money is available to do all those things. But they are the immediate things that have to be done.

POM     Where does the money come from?

RM     The money must come through taxation, the loans, as any government and so on, but there are certain things which must be done immediately.

POM     They being?

RM     Housing for instance. I mean we must see to it that every individual is housed. Every individual. Talk about electricity, we must electrify the entire country as far as possible.

POM     Within five years this should be done?

RM     Let me put it this way, when I say immediately I mean immediately. You must produce a plan that you are starting to say that the entire country must be electrified, we have now drawn up a plan. It must be implemented. National housing scheme, things like that. Water and so on, all things. The people must know that you have in fact started, you have a plan, you are implementing the plan. The question of supplying and speed and so on that is another question but you must immediately see to it that these plans are implemented.

POM     I want to look at two things for a moment. One is what seems to be the slow collapse of the National Party. It's standing at the polls has gone from 25% to 10% or 11% and surveys show that only one out of every four people who voted for them in 1989 would vote for them today. What do you think accounts for that? There has been a dramatic decline in support for the National Party. De Klerk was riding the crest of popularity in the white community after the referendum in March 1992 and surveys now show that no more than 12% or 13% of the white electorate would vote for the NP if there were an election today. They show that only one of every four people who voted for them in 1989 would vote for them today. What do you think accounts for this collapse in their base of support?

RM     As you say the National Party was supported by the whites. What has changed is that the last referendum it supported that this government should be involved, engaged in talks. Now they are doing the talking. Now I think the average white is facing the position of who do we support, the National Party or the ANC? Now that is the question and there are those whites, of course, who go to the right wingers where they talk about their homelands, where they talk about preservation of their language and so on. Now there is that. I think it is the undecided whites who have caused the drop because there's no problem with the blacks on this question, the question is the whites. They only support the National Party or the ANC. Those are the two big organisations in front of the electorate today.

POM     Would it surprise you if the National Party collapsed in the election?

RM     In the election?

POM     Yes. Say they got 10% of the vote.

RM     No I wouldn't be surprised really.

POM     Would it surprise you if the Freedom Alliance did better than the NP?

RM     The Freedom Alliance is likely to do better than the National Party.

POM     So Constand Viljoen could be the Deputy President?

RM     Deputy President, yes.

POM     Again, what do you think would be the consequences of that?

RM     The consequences will be whether Viljoen at that stage is prepared to build South Africa or whether he intends sabotaging progress. Then if he intends sabotaging progress, for what ends? What does he want? Insofar as we know now he wants an Afrikaner homeland, now if then he gets that Afrikaner homeland that means he will be satisfied where he is if he wants to be isolated in that way.

POM     Do you think a plan can be devised that would provide for some kind of Afrikaner homeland?

RM     Well the National Party, the present government, has been engaged with this Freedom Alliance in trying to discuss, to show that it is not really necessary for them to be pressing for a homeland when they are having all the political rights in the country. The ANC is also engaged with the Freedom Alliance but they don't seem to convince the Freedom Alliance.

POM     In your own view, and I know this is speculating but I would like you to speculate, do you think that the Freedom Alliance will come in and contest the elections or that they will sit outside the whole process?

RM     If the newspapers are correct, what I picked up yesterday is that their plan is to take part but with the intention of sabotaging progress within. Now the question is if they intend, if they embark on sabotage, what are they aiming at? Because sabotaging, the result of sabotage is that you are actually demolishing, destroying this structure which is the government. Now what do you want to gain, what are you going to gain in doing so? What is your aim?

POM     I suppose your aim would be to make that government before you demolish it responsive to your demands for an Afrikaner homeland.

RM     Precisely. They are saying that in doing so it is a means of reaching their final goal which is an Afrikaner homeland. Now it means, therefore, if you are in parliament and you want to destroy the government to be powerless so that you are able to force it, do you intend taking over by what means? Because you are there? Parliamentary, by voting? Now what do you intend doing, because you can only change if you are in the majority in parliament, about the change, or if you sabotage of course that means you can be arrested. Because you can't win in parliament unless you have a vote of no-confidence, then you win. You must have more people who are going to support you. This is what I can't understand, their aim, because they want to be in parliament and they think they can do a great damage internally in the structure.

POM     The right wing itself, the white right wing, do you think it has the capacity to severely disrupt the country if their demands are not accommodated in some way?

RM     Well in my way of thinking they have the capacity by embarking on sabotage. If they are embarking on sabotage they must have one aim of destroying the economy of the country. What are they going to gain? They think they may gain that the government becomes unpopular and there will be a change of government to their interest. That is the only logical way I look at it if they embark on sabotage. But if they go to parliament they need to have sufficient votes to embarrass the government.

POM     I suppose what I'm getting at is that people in these situations don't behave rationally. There's no better example than the former Yugoslavia where everyone has destroyed their economy fifteen times over and they are still fighting, so economic considerations are not the driving force, it's an emotional nationalism that's the driving force.

RM     When you are destroying the economy you want to weaken the government, that is your main aim. You are aiming at that. You must perceive in thinking that having weakened the government I want to take over the government, that should be the logical conclusion of your way of thinking. Now have they got the capacity of doing that? In South Africa, in fact I was talking yesterday, when you look at the navy, the South African Defence Force, the Police Force, it's going to be a situation whereby there's going to be division. Now if those fellows think in terms of sabotage and having numbers from these formations will they succeed in their plan? Won't they be smashed by the government of the day and locked up finally in jail?

POM     So you are saying that if you look at the strength of the SAP and the SADF and the other security apparatus of the state ...?

RM     They are going to be divided definitely. They will be divided in a situation like that. No doubt.

POM     Some of them will side with the right wingers?

RM     Right wingers, yes, and others will side with the government.

POM     But you still believe that the government will have sufficient clout?

RM     My problem is that I don't know the strength. I am unable to weigh - I don't know the strength, this is our disadvantage in the ANC because we are black in the main, we don't know exactly what is happening in the SADF, in the SAP, in the navy. If we were to know we would be in a better situation to make a correct assessment of the situation.

POM     Could you foresee a situation developing with the right like what exists in Northern Ireland? The IRA have no more than fifty or sixty operatives who carry out their bombings and their assassinations and whatever and they are supported by maybe a group of about 500 people but in essence they have been able to tie down 30,000 British troops for the last twenty years and turned the whole state into a state that's run by the security apparatus, they have check points wherever you go, there is detention without trial, all kinds of security measures.

RM     To me that example is not quite fitting to our situation. We are talking of people who are fighting what they call a foreigner, people who want to liberate themselves. Now a South African is a South African, he must think in terms of destroying himself, his brother and sister and so on in the process. Now are these people going to go all that way? I do concede on the one factor that a small number of well trained people can embark on sabotage very successfully in South Africa. I accept that. But in South Africa when people, for instance, talk about civil war in South Africa how are they going to conduct that civil war? Say the right wingers decide to embark on civil war, whom are they aiming at? The government? You see. Now it is because this government is predominantly black. If it is so then the whole civil war changes into a racial civil war. Now we must also examine the right wingers themselves, who they are, their social class, the class division amongst themselves. If General Viljoen has got a big farm, has got some investment in financial institutions he wouldn't like to destroy those things, he wouldn't like to see that those things are destroyed. Now there are such divisions amongst these groups how far can they go? This is their country. There is no intention of driving a foreigner out, this is their country. Now how far can they go, this is the question?

POM     Do you think the fact that the Freedom Alliance is headed by somebody who has a high stature among whites of all opinions, General Viljoen, gives respectability to the right that they didn't have before, that kind of again here's a man who has immense connections in the SADF, is admired by many people?

RM     Well his respectability, because he speaks as an angel, he says, "No war, I don't want war", and so on. Whether he is telling the truth or not I don't know but I am inclined to think that he just wants us to go to sleep, that the South African public will go to sleep and to make surprise attacks. But when he talks of war he talks like a person who really believes that war is really not the right thing. He has in fact made examples. We must know this General Viljoen was involved in wars in Mozambique and in Angola. He says through that type of war they were not successful. He speaks like a person who is experienced in being involved in a war and in fact when he analyses war he speaks the truth. He's a correct student, he's a right student. But there is a view that he is put there actually to see to it that the right wingers do not go too much to extremes, but he's advocating the Afrikaner homeland in spite of all that.

POM     So the two things are almost those which leads to conflict?

RM     Leads to conflict, yes.

POM     Talking about Gatsha Buthelezi, what does he want? What drives him?

RM     You know he's a character which I find it difficult even to characterise, Buthelezi. Perhaps a correct description is just a narrow personal ambitionist. That is a nice term to use in describing him. What does he want? Here is a black South African. He is given the opportunity to organise, he has an organisation so that he is engaged in an election and can go to Parliament. What more does he want? That is the real question. A black person who has been advocating that the blacks must be liberated, there is the road leading to liberation and all of a sudden he's talking a lot of nonsense.

POM     He's kind of painted himself into a corner out of which it would be difficult to get without him losing a lot of face.

RM     Well he's going to lose a lot of face by the fact that he's in that corner now where he's wedded with the right wingers. I think this is the last thing that this fellow should have done. The average black person will never go with Buthelezi for that. If he is opposed to the ANC as the ANC, he wants to see to it that his Inkatha runs the country. That is understandable and the competition is there, the market is there, let him go to the market. The market is the people. They have got the vote. What more does he want? He has got all that liberty.

POM     Do you see him coming into the process?

RM     Well he's saying he's not coming into the process. He is now attacking the interim constitution. Finally he will come in when we are now voting for the Constituent Assembly. He says he is going to come in at that stage to take part in the elections, at that stage, but under the interim constitution he has no time to waste.

POM     Again, do you think he has the capacity to be a spoiler?

RM     To us he's a spoiler already, he's spoiling all along the line. He has made so many attempts to spoil, attempts not to take part in that forum, negotiation process. He is not taking part. He has never been taking part in the Plenary this fellow and at one stage he even attempted to go to Supreme Court. He is making all sorts of attempts to apply brakes and all along the line he is failing. I say he is failing because we have reached the stage which we have reached without him.

POM     Do you think he would have the capacity to make a unilateral declaration of independence? Some form of UDI?

RM     I suppose he is also trying to think about such things but De Klerk says he can never allow him to do that.

POM     But then there will be a kind of a civil war in Natal, a continuation of the civil war there?

RM     I can more or less see that type of civil war when we are dealing with Natal but we must take into account when Buthelezi talks about Natal he is making a mistake if he thinks that Natal is supporting him, all Natal as such. Take visible things like the meetings conducted by the ANC and the President of the ANC going to Natal for a week for instance, look at the crowds he is drawing. Now initially we know Buthelezi thought that the entire Natal was going to support him but by now he knows that was a miscalculation.

POM     That would even make him more inclined not to contest elections because he saw himself as one of the big three and national elections might show that he gets 6% or 7% of the vote.

RM     I think he has placed himself in such a position now where he has actually to just accept decisions of the Freedom Alliance. The spokesman of the Freedom Alliance as far as I see is General Viljoen. If that Freedom Alliance decides to take part in this election Buthelezi should be there. That is why they are saying the possibility may be the Deputy President may be Buthelezi himself, dependable, of course, on the choice of the Freedom Alliance. He is no longer now just a leader of Inkatha who can decide. He is bound by the decision of the Freedom Alliance insofar as I see it now.

POM     Thank you for the time, just a couple more questions. Turning to the ANC alliance itself, just as in the government there have been some visible strains between what are called hawks and doves and a lot of argument about how much the government is giving away or not giving away. In the alliance you have three partners who to some extent have different agendas, you have COSATU which is a trade union movement and is there to look after its membership, you have the SACP which in the long run hopes to bring about a socialist state, you have the ANC proper which has committed itself to a mixed economy by taking loans from the IMF and the World Bank, falling in with the western stream of economic thought. When COSATU nominated many of its chief leadership as candidates for the Constituent Assembly, when they come to vote in parliament do they vote as members of parliament who are representing COSATU or do they vote as members of parliament who are part of an ANC government?

RM     Well the latter is the true position. They will vote there as - because initially there is what we call the ANC list, they are operating under the ANC list. They are ANC for the elections. In parliament they will also have to toe the line. They can't do anything against the ANC, for instance, in parliament. As I understand it the ANC has got the right of expelling an individual who behaves differently.

POM     Now again, COSATU and the trade union movement in general wants to further the interests of its membership which usually means getting higher wages and more benefits and trying to assure a better standard of living for its workers. I know of one study that has been carried out that showed that the way to differentiate between whites and blacks who belonged to a trade union who operated similar positions, there's a gap between their salaries or their wages at this point, blacks got about 85% of what whites were getting, which is far more than women get in the United States compared to doing the same job as men. My comment is that some writers have said that there is an elite in the country and the elite are the people who belong to strong trade unions and that the real divisions in South Africa will increasingly become not between black and white but between employed and unemployed because there's no-one out there representing the unemployed.

RM     The unemployed are going to be there but the other function of the government is they will have to see that there is employment. In fact we were talking about that, to do away with unemployment.

POM     This may lead to a clash between - on the one hand the more wages go up the less likely it is that business hires more labour. They are inclined to substitute capital for labour or whatever so there may be a conflict when you force these circumstances where there will be a conflict of interest between what's good for the members of COSATU and what the ANC government believes is good for the country.

RM     Well as far as I am concerned the role of COSATU, COSATU is there to organise workers, to see that workers get good working conditions, more wages, a living wage perhaps. Let me just comment on that living wage. That work continues, has to continue. The class contradictions that you are bringing now are universal in any capitalist society, they are universal. This government can never ever be in a position to harmonise these contradictions. Harmony perhaps to a certain degree but the fundamental principle remains, the class contradictions are there. You were mentioning the employing class, I mentioned the workers, for instance, in the question that the unemployment and so on, the bosses because of certain prices and all that may find themselves not employing more.

POM     So one group is getting higher, getting a better standard of living because they are increasing the numbers in the unemployed category?

RM     Well that phenomenon, I don't see how you can stop that process. But what is going to help us is when the government takes it upon itself to see that there is employment in the country. A government does in fact make it its task to see that there is employment in the country, the National Party government has done so, but they did it to meet their Afrikaners' needs, but this government is going to look in terms of all South Africans who need jobs must get jobs. We have to create jobs. It will be the duty of the government to create jobs.

PAT     What about the party? What role does the party have in this alliance once there's an ANC government? Does it continue to mobilise the masses on the outside, what will its role be?

RM     The role of the party is to see that we have a well organised working class in the country. Now we are committed at this stage, the Communist Party is committed through the alliance to work together with COSATU, to work together with the ANC, to liberate the blacks. You asked me a question then, the blacks are liberated in the sense that they have got equal rights, exercise equal rights they have voting rights and so on. You are saying then is the Communist Party still going to carry on talking about class struggle? I say, yes, it's going to carry on with that task. That is in fact the main task of the Communist Party to see that you have - the very fact that the Communist Party claims to be the vanguard of the working class, it wants to see a well organised working class to the extent that the exploitation of one person by another disappears to such an extent, disappears. This is the contradiction I was talking about a minute ago, that contradiction remains. It's going to remain unless the ANC changes its colour and it becomes a socialist government. Even under socialism they talk of each according to his ability. There is no equality even there by the way. When you say it's according to your ability, I may be producing more than yourself in the same factory. When I say each according to his ability, that means according to my production in this plant I may be getting more than yourself, if we are talking strictly speaking each according to ability. You may be physically weaker than myself and being unable to produce so much per day in the factory. The management in the factory will say to me, "You have produced so much work it is a record for production", and by virtue of that, what we call today an incentive system, "Because you have reached this number in your production you must therefore get more"' That is the incentive system as we call it today. Now under socialism they say each according to his ability, which means that there's no equality, complete equality. It's all Karl Marx talks about that type of equality in a communist state which nobody, nowhere has reached. Not a single country in the history has ever reached communist equality. Even the Soviet Union at its best. Now when we talk of a communist state it will not be each according to his ability, it will be each according to his needs. You have got five children, I have got two. We will have to consider that in giving certain allowances. Now that is the difference. Now communism means each according to his needs, that's the definition of Karl Marx.

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.