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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

03 Dec 1993: Matthews, Joe

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POM     If the four demands that the IFP have now made to both government and the ANC as conditions for entering into the TEC or participating in the elections in April of next year, if those demands are not met what are the options open to the IFP and how would you evaluate the consequences of each option?

JM     I don't think we want to anticipate failure to achieve our demands. In fact quite a number of them have subsequently been met so it's too early to say, especially when a meeting is being held right now as we speak on the very issues which have been agitating us for quite a long time. I think myself that the line that was taken by the Central Committee last Sunday, on 28th November, was the correct one which was to say that we would participate, not in the TEC, we would participate in the electoral process, in the elections, provided that the various demands that we are making were met. Now these are not new demands, they are very old and are quite well known to those who have been participating in the negotiations and the crux really of the whole matter politically speaking is this; we thought that when we entered into the negotiations we were going to arrive at a durable political settlement basically between the main antagonists, that is the white minority and the black majority and that there would be a settlement and then reconciliation leading to a democratic South Africa.

     Now what disturbs us about the present situation is that the agreements as reflected in the documents issued by the Multi-Party Negotiating Forum are temporary. They are all contingent upon the decisions that will be taken by an elected body after the elections. In other words, here we are, we spend literally three years negotiating in detail all manner of things relating to the constitution, the Constitutional Court, the Bill of Rights, the constitutional principles, the boundaries, powers and functions of provinces, measures or procedures for amending the constitution, the power sharing arrangement. All this we are told is temporary, it's transitional, it depends upon the decisions that will be taken by an elected body. Now if they said they were decisions that would be taken by an elected body on the basis of normal internationally accepted procedures for changing a constitution like a two-thirds majority, that kind of thing, if that was it we would have no problem because all constitutions are amendable. Every agreement you make is amendable, but here we've got a deadlock breaking mechanism which says first we try to get a two-thirds majority for any proposal.

POM     That's the government.

JM     Well that's the ANC/government position. Our position is two-thirds for amending. Then if that fails, if we don't get the two-thirds, then a referendum and in a referendum 60% of the people voting in a referendum will enable that clause or whatever to be adopted. If you don't get the 60% then an election is called, then after that election 51% of the parliament can pass the proposal. Well you see that means we are saying that in the final analysis a vote of 51% in the parliament will be able to adopt a constitution, the final constitution for South Africa. We say it's totally unacceptable.

POM     Was that more or less the position of the ANC in CODESA?

JM     Of course it was their position.

POM     And the government wouldn't ...?

JM     That's the whole point. We want that clause changed and we return to normal methods, procedures for amending a constitution which are known the world over. Why must we have the so-called deadlock breaking mechanism which in effect means that at the end of the day 51% can pass a constitution? We think that is totally unacceptable.

POM     Why did the government find that totally unacceptable in May last year and totally acceptable now?

JM     Because the government thinks they have got a power sharing deal which will last at least until 1999, five years. They reckon then can gamble and say, "We've got a power sharing arrangement. In terms of this constitution the power sharing arrangement it is hoped will last until April 30th 1999." What they don't seem to appreciate is that the power sharing deal itself is subject to the same deadlock breaking mechanism that we are complaining about. So there is no certainty even of their deal that it will outlast or survive an elected constitution making body.

POM     So an elected constitution making body could say that government will be by the majority party?

JM     You create an artificial deadlock in the drawing up of a new constitution or an amendment to the existing or the interim constitution if and when it is adopted. You create a deadlock. So you've got to go to referendum. So off you go to referendum. If they don't get their way in a referendum, get 60%, then of course the procedure is you dissolve parliament, hold a general election and after that general election a simple majority passes it. Well, they can abolish the power sharing arrangement like that. So you see we are totally puzzled by the attitude of the government because throughout the CODESA period they definitely were totally against this deadlock breaking mechanism which Valli Moosa and others invented. Now they hold a series of bilaterals with the ANC, from September last year onwards, and low and behold we look at the draft which was presented on November 17th and there is the deadlock breaking mechanism again which we thought even the ANC had abandoned because at one stage there was actually a press statement to the effect that the ANC has abandoned the deadlock breaking mechanism.

     Now the history of the deadlock breaking mechanism is this, originally the ANC was putting forward this idea because the theory was that the government in fact doesn't want a change in South Africa and that they would delay or stall the process for ever. In fact that was a mistaken political analysis but that was the idea that you must have some way of breaking anybody who is trying to stall. That was the purpose of the deadlock breaking mechanism, so to bring it now in this political situation where it is clear there is no government which is sitting there wanting to stall, it is a mystery to us. And it simply arouses all the suspicions that there is a different agenda. What is the agenda? Why do we want to pass important aspects of the constitution by a simple majority in parliament, as they do in Britain? In Britain there is no such thing as a big constitutional - there is no constitution at all, a simple majority in parliament, in the House of Commons, suffices and I have got no quarrel with that if you have taken 700 years to develop the damn thing well and good but if we are dealing with different peoples, different cultures, and we are still expected to give a blank cheque to the lower House of Parliament then I say we can't do that.

POM     In the continuing talks you're having with the government, let's say that the government and you come to agreement, do the two of you then have to sell that agreement to the ANC?

JM     Oh yes. Always. This is what has happened. Let's take Section 118, it's actually a saga, it's become a saga of Section 118. That is the section which deals with the powers of the SPRs, although I think the word is provinces. We couldn't decide whether they are states, provinces or regions so they finally decided on the word province. Now first you had in the third draft constitution a few powers which were described as exclusive powers for the SPRs, casinos and a very derisory list of powers, but they were exclusive and they were to be entrenched. That was the first Section 118. Then we had bilaterals with the government and produced out of those discussions a long list of powers which would be exclusive. In fact we had two alternatives. One was a long list of powers which would be exclusive and entrenched. The other was to define the powers of the central government and say, as in the United States, that the rest, the residual powers belonged to the states or the people. There was a lot of humming and hawing and it was decided finally let's have this long list of defined exclusive powers which will adhere to the provinces. We thought that was not a bad idea. You had a long list of these powers and then, of course, there were several caveats that those exclusive powers would however be subject to intervention by the national parliament for purposes of ensuring uniformity, standardisation, protection of defence and security matters and so on and so on, so there was a caveat.

     Then this Section 118 went to the ANC. When it returned it now read that all these powers are held concurrently by the province and the national parliament except that the concurrency with respect to the national parliament will be confined to ensuring standardisation, uniformity, defence and security and it looked like when you read it, well, it's a question of attitudes. Do you have exclusive powers and then provide for intervention by the national parliament or do you say all these powers are concurrent but that concurrent powers on the part of the national parliament will be limited to the following? A politician could say, well, it's the same thing. It's actually not the same legally but that's another matter. But from a politician's point of view whether you put it this way or that way really an ordinary person would say, "Well look here man, there isn't much to choose between the two."

     [But the point is this you see that we are now ...] then people say, "Oh my God, we do not even have exclusive power over casinos. We've got nothing that's exclusive to the province." The previous third draft actually had more powers for the province because they at least had exclusive legislative power over some things even though everyone laughed at them but here we have got no exclusive powers at all. They are all held concurrently with the national parliament and, of course, to some federalists concurrent is a dirty word so the argument started again. So what we have been doing now is a merry-go-round; Section 118 is being literally battered from all sides with somebody trying to find a formulation which suits all sides. I am bored with the subject personally. I'll tell you why I'm bored, because in modern government all powers are concurrent.

POM     All powers are concurrent?

JM     In modern government. Now 200 years ago in 1787 and you said the states had this power or the central government had that power, you had rudimentary government, I mean government was really only concerned with maintaining law and order and the army here and the navy or something, but they are not dealing with welfare and health and education. Now the government of the United States, can you say there's any exclusive power anywhere? There's practically not an aspect of life in which you do not find an interweaving and an over-lapping and that's just because of technology and modern government. It's not a legal thing. Legally you still have that same position. In the German constitution they define the powers of the central government and also leave the rest to the regions. But in effect the central government in Germany has probably got more power than the central government in many other countries. It's a very powerful central government and yet in legal terms it looks as if it's only got defined power. That's because of finance, because of banking, because of all these things that in fact undermine the legal concepts and create a reality in which everything is inextricably interwoven.

POM     If you know this and believe that modern government almost by definition means concurrency then why would the IFP ...?

JM     Well you're talking to Joe Matthews you see. I'm a lawyer and I'm also a person who has been in government and I am telling you now, personally, that just as I thought the discussion of the federalism versus a unitary state was phoney, and I said so several times that this is a phoney debate, because really basically it's an argument over power so we should really be saying, show me your list of powers and I'll show you my list of powers. But to try and make a philosophical debate and discussion as between federalism and unitarism, this was becoming absurd, but once you got down to detail and started saying, "Now what powers are you talking about?" the thing became practical and ceased to be this airy-fairy thing.

     Now I haven't been in the current negotiations between the Freedom Alliance and the government and I'm laughing my head off because every night I go to bed I tell my wife, "They are still on that merry-go-round", because I knew it was going to be a merry-go-round. You see the thing is lost now, it's no more a substantive issue, it has become a matter of drafting and what they should really have done is get a British parliamentary draughtsman, bring in a chap with no axe to grind, given him some instructions and he would have produced the thing and everybody would probably have been happy. But because the people doing the drafting are themselves involved in the thing and are suspicious of each other, there is a great deal of mutual suspicion of motives and so on, they are just going to go round and round and round and round and really someone like you should be able to say, "Now look man, do you know the effect of this draft would be this, the effect of this one would be this." And I am prepared to bet you the effect would be the same, whether you define it this way or whether you define it the other way. They should get the civil servants to come in there and say what does this mean? What will happen here and what will happen there?

     We are having really, when it comes to the powers, I am still talking about the powers, Section 118 and also Section 121, that's another endless argument over taxation powers. Now why is it endless? I'll tell you why it's endless. The bulk of our taxes come from one region, the PWV. The bulk of our people, the thickest population and the one that requires the most assistance is in KwaZulu/Natal, that's where our population is the thickest. But now the guys who need more funding, who demanded federalism in order to give them political clout to demand a bigger share of the national cake, that was the object of the exercise so you are trying to get more money out of the PWV. The more you demand powers, exclusive powers and so on, the more you are creating terrible complications in the tax arena because you are saying, "I want the power to tax, I want power to do this, I want power to do that", but the goose that lays the golden egg, the other fellow would say, "Oh sure, have the power." In other words we are getting on the political front a correct demand politically; we must have a federal state, pluralism, this and that and the other, and on the financial side we close our eyes to the fact that the goose that lays the golden egg is the PWV and it is from there you will be wanting your subsidies and whatever to finance your development because if you are by yourself - you know we produce 15% of the wealth of this country in this area and we are about 26%/27% of the population.

     Now it seems to me again that when we consider the question separate from realities you then have the political crisis. If only we had included in our transition, and this is the biggest weakness of the transition, the absence of the financial and economic implications of the transition. It hasn't been accompanied by any kind of study of the economics of the transition. No negotiations have even touched the economic and financial issues except Section 121 is about taxation, but really even that is based on - people say, "Well in Germany they are doing it like this, there they are doing it like that." It's not based on a study of the South African economic realities and therefore it's unreal when you look at it and you think about it, you say to yourself, "Yes, there it is". ... goes around saying he's got this graph showing how we are spending more and more and more on government and less and less is going into private investment for development, so he says our task is to reduce this level of government spending. So then you should really be saying, "Will our new proposals reduce government spending and encourage growth or will they increase government spending?" Well that question is not even asked, it's not even in the negotiations.

POM     Am I correct in hearing you saying that in the light of modern day realities and in the way governments work that the deadlock over the powers of the regions versus the centre are really artificial?

JM     Let's put it this way, the debate over exclusive and concurrent power is totally in modern government, it's a totally unnecessary debate. You follow?

POM     Yes but the consequences are that the IFP could stay out of elections if the government doesn't meet its demands for exclusive powers.

JM     Of course, of course.

POM     You're staying out of an election for the wrong reasons.

JM     Well the thing is this, remember that you are dealing with political parties. Now the political parties know that for 83 years we have had a unitary state, for 83 years, and that unitary state produced apartheid. The power of the majority party in the lower house has been disastrous for our country. Therefore, there is a political justification for saying we no longer want to have that kind of power ...

POM     Concentrated.

JM      - concentrated at the centre. We must have a decentralisation. So it provides a moral case, democratic case and a real case based on our past and our history, it provides a real case for the demands, the political demands. Now as so often happens in history those correct demands which have accumulated over a period of 83 years could very well have been left behind because of technology. You see technology comes along and says you must have one telephone system in the country, you can't have nine telephone systems. You will have to have one transport system, we must all travel on the left side of the road. If we don't, if one state has us on the left and another on the right you have chaos. So modern technology creates this interwoven situation which makes the powers that you are demanding very largely symbolic. If you say, "Look I must have exclusive power over development in my region", it sounds wonderful. You say to the people, "Look here it means we take our own decisions locally here and so on", and then you ask, "Now who's going to develop Richard's Bay?" When it's a huge national project then what? So in other words if we are demanding these things in the light of modern economic, scientific and technological developments it would make sense.

     We speak about residual powers, I'll give you an example. Residual powers in terms of the constitution of the United States, nuclear power is part of the residual powers. It shouldn't be a national power. But in terms of technical and scientific realities it would be utterly absurd to have handed over nuclear power as something that should be developed by a state. In other words your technology beat the system. It just forced so that legislation and court cases, and by the way we usually ignore the decisions of the Supreme Court. We are still publishing the constitution of the United States as it was with it's amendments but, of course, the real constitution of the United States also consists of the decisions of the courts, then it makes it volumes and volumes and volumes of a document to understand the constitution of the United States. Now this is my point, that those volumes and volumes and volumes are not there so the chap on the Technical Committee drawing up a constitution, he's only got a little thing that's the constitution of the United States and he's looking for examples there. Similarly the German constitution, it's a small little thing, he's not concerned with the decisions of the Constitutional Court, hundreds and hundreds of decisions on all manner of little matters which in fact have produced a situation in which you can't even - I mean what you plant in the ground is governed by federal legislation, what fertiliser you use is governed by decisions of federal government or by Brussels. It is even worse these days in Europe, Brussels is governing almost everything.

     So I am saying that when I look at the developments almost as an outsider, not as a participant, as an outsider I look at this and I say to myself, "My God, you are going to get people even taking up weapons over something that really is not there in the modern world." It isn't there, there's no such thing really. But, of course, if you said that everybody would say that, you are crazy. Of course you must have exclusive powers to run your parks but do they run their parks exclusively? The world decides you mustn't trade ivory so you've got to stop that, you mustn't kill elephants and so on. The world today has got so many rules and regulations and so on which affect things that are done at the local level, that it is no longer possible to speak about and use the word 'exclusive'. Almost everything that you do now has got some element of concurrency with numerous institutions, organisations, parliaments, countries. Everything you do.

POM     Let me ask you a question, it's related in a way to what you were saying earlier. What's your understanding of how decisions would be made in Cabinet in a government of national unity?

JM     Of course the IFP position all along has been first of all to doubt the whole concept of a government of national unity based on figures, percentages because they said the normal position is that there's an election and then people decide through negotiations whether they are going to go into coalition or they are going to govern alone and that depends on their programmes and their manifestos and so on. We thought this thing - it would be difficult to make it work. If you put together people with diametrically opposed views on the economy and on other issues then that coalition wouldn't work and how would the decisions be taken? We kept on asking the question, how would the decisions be taken? All right, finally they have said, first of all they thought they should divide up the thing, important decisions, very important decisions should be by consensus. Then another set of defined conditions by two thirds majority and then other decisions by a simple majority.

     Now the ANC's view was that we should stick to traditional way in which decisions are taken in Cabinet, the traditional British way. Now the traditional British way which we inherited was that the Cabinet meets, has a debate then at a certain stage in the debate the Prime Minister says, "Well gentleman, I think we have exhausted the subject", and he then makes a ruling which represents the decision of Cabinet. It is his words which are then taken down by the clerk of the Cabinet and that is what will come out as the decision of Cabinet. That works well if he has chosen the Cabinet as the leader of the party and all the people sitting round the table belong to one party, this thing obviously works very well. If anybody there doesn't agree with him he's always got a way out, to resign from Cabinet, so the system there works well.

     Now here to suggest such a system we thought was unrealistic but the government on the 17th November they went and agreed to that. So all those elaborate arrangements, which some people said would never work anyway, they thought it would paralyse government and make it unworkable if you start having two thirds votes for this, something else for that, something else for that, there would be endless arguments and quarrels within the Cabinet but despite that the collapse of the government position where they suddenly gave in and said it would be by consensus and basically the President will make a ruling, that's where we are now that the chairman will be the President of the state, that he will rule on the consensus.

POM     My understanding of it in talking to people or even some of the negotiators in the ANC is that they will try to establish consensus and if they fail to get it they will just go ahead and say 51% is 51% just to do what they want.

JM     Well it's not even necessary to go that far. If it's consensus remember that consensus is a ruling by the chair, so in practice what you are saying when you use the word consensus is that the chairman will make a ruling as to the consensus.

POM     Do you think in this first election, it seems that it will be an election that will be dominated by personalities, Mandela, de Klerk, Buthelezi, it's like the three big names across the country and that it will be far more voting for a personality, so to speak, than for a specific programme. If Dr Buthelezi were to resign from politics, as he's hinted that he might do if whatever, at least it's been reported that he said that, where would that leave the IFP in terms of structuring a campaign where there would not be that charismatic personality to be the driver or the engine of the election campaign?

JM     Well I think it would be a very serious blow to the IFP despite the fact that some people believe that Chief Buthelezi's image is a big electoral disability. But you see on the other side is the fact that he's been there for all these years, he has built up some reputation as a man who speaks his mind, speaks the truth, he doesn't dissemble and so on, that he's a man of integrity and so on. A lot of people believe that and they certainly are going to vote for the man. Now if he's not there the IFP will be crippled with respect to the traditionalists, the traditional sort of people who believe in the Chiefs and so on in the rural areas. They will have a credibility problem with many of the whites who would have seen Buthelezi as a man who will defend private enterprise, who was against sanctions and so on. That whole thing would be very difficult to be taken over and there's no personality in the IFP I believe who can in the next three or four months develop a strategy that would straddle all the various groupings and so on who tend to regard Buthelezi as their representative. So I think it would be quite a serious blow even if he said, "I'm retiring and I'm asking you to support so and so." I think you would still have a problem.

POM     Can't transfer his charisma?

JM     It would be difficult. There are people who I think are popular in the IFP generally in the country, people like Dr Mdlalose and so on, he's a very popular figure but would he be able to get the loyal support of say the traditional chiefs and others? You know there are 200 of them all over KwaZulu/Natal. There are many others outside KwaZulu/Natal and people who feel, whether in Transkei or Northern Transvaal or other places, there are a lot of traditionalists who feel threatened by the new system and who think that he is the man who is defending their continued existence. Now all that would be lost, I think, if Chief Buthelezi wouldn't be there and therefore one has to weigh that up against the other aspect where people say, the intellectuals and many business people, he has a credibility problem, they don't see him as a possible leader. But we are not even talking about that. You see I think realistically the IFP cannot possibly expect to win an election and be the majority party. I don't think that is realistic, at least in my view, but in order for them to have a strong showing I think you absolutely need somebody like Chief Buthelezi. I think you need him, even the Freedom Alliance. You're not going to get away with somebody like Ferdi Hartzenberg. You need Buthelezi even for the right because for the right to be able to go to its supporters and say we have got support from some of the blacks, we are not racist, they need Chief Buthelezi as a figure projected as an alternative to Mandela.

POM     There's a huge block of undecided votes out there still. How are you going to target that undecided vote? What message are you going to bring to them that would persuade them?

JM     It's costing us millions working that out. Of course one of the ways of doing it, which is being done, is to find out what those people are actually thinking and what their demands are as distinct from the demands of the parties. You see the parties have got all sorts of ideas of their own, the issues and this, that and the other, but take a surprising result like this; we've done a study which shows that the whites and the blacks both put the peace issue at the top of the agenda whereas the Indians and the Coloureds don't. Now we ask ourselves, "Why are the Indians and the Coloureds not interested in the peace issue when the whites and the black are?" It's a peculiar sort of thing, but it's brought out by polling, by results or finding out what bothers people. Now you find that the Indians are mostly concerned with their businesses and their jobs and they are not putting the maintenance of peace as their priority, whereas now the whites for their reasons want personal security and you can't run a business unless there is stability and peace and so on. The blacks want peace because they have been suffering all this while. So you find these two communities from opposite angles both putting peace as their main objective and what they are looking for in the election so your propaganda has got to change to target that. Now all these people who are undecided, you have to find out specifically in various areas and so on, what is it that they want?

POM     But one can suspect that the National Party is doing the same thing.

JM     Everybody is doing the same thing. They are using different organisations but they are all doing the same studies.

POM     If I am undecided voter why should I vote for the IFP rather than the NP? What distinguishes one from the other?

JM     Well I want to find out from you first, I must find out what are you after. You see I've got to make sure that my people go around and find out what is at the top of your priority list. If in fact in your mind you are saying to yourself it doesn't make any difference which chap I vote for, they are both going to make a mess, then your propaganda is going to change to take that into account and then produce the differences and say, "Look here, these chaps stand for private enterprise and these chaps stand for government intervention or socialism and we think that private enterprise is the engine of growth. These chaps stand for highly centralised government and we think government should go to the people. We have had the civil service in South Africa, in Pretoria, concentrated there and taking all the decisions. Most of those people will still be there after an election. They have carried out apartheid all these years, how are they going to empower blacks? Whereas if you have a federal system you will be able to empower blacks at the point where the decisions are actually taken and therefore you need a more decentralised system." So you try to meet the needs.

POM     What are the main differences between the National Party and the IFP? Are both for protection of private property? Are both for the free market system? They are both against communism and De Klerk on a number of occasions has said that the National Party and the IFP have far more in common than the National Party and the ANC and its allies.

JM     The National Party has done the deals with the ANC. The National Party may say that but the question will be, right through the process you have been taking bilateral decisions with the ANC on all important issues and you have ignored the people with whom you say you share common values. What has happened to the federal? You never defended it. The IFP was fighting alone every inch of the way on the aspects of ensuring a federal structure for South Africa and you sat there and supported the ANC position right through. And of all issues this is what was happening.

POM     Again, this puzzles me, it may puzzle you too. Why has the government in the last analysis kind of really caved in and met most of the ANC's demands? Most people I've talked to simply say the government was out-negotiated.

JM     No it's not that. The government has achieved it's main objective, it thinks, with the power sharing arrangement. You see the whole thing was first of all to guarantee the position of the civil service, its pensions, its rights and so on. That was their constituency they wanted to protect. Secondly, to have a power sharing arrangement to make sure you were not going to get an exclusively ANC government, it would be a mixed government.

POM     Just for five years.

JM     Right. If you are not going to get that straight away, you're going to get nothing straight away. Five years is a hell of a long time especially if it can be extended. They are now talking of extension for another five years. So from their point of view as a party as distinct from a community, I think as a community of Afrikaners it's not the same thing, but as a party once they got the power sharing arrangement which they never expected to get, they thought the ANC was going to say, "No, no, normal practice. The majority party rules the country, the people with the majority rule the country and that's it. That's the normal thing. Why do you want to change that?" But the ANC unexpectedly, led by Slovo, said, "Right, let's accept your proposition." And I think they looked at it from the ANC point of view that if the civil service and the military and the security services are all more or less National Party in orientation you couldn't rule the country.

     In a typical colonial situation there was a big advantage in the fact that the colonial rulers left the country with their civil service and their armies and so on and you had to start from scratch. Here the people remain there as citizens of the country. They are not going away so you are faced with the civil service that's white, an army basically white, security service. From the ANC point of view it was a compromise that was necessary at least to advance the situation, to move it from where it was. Once that happened the National Party was absolutely tied hand and foot to the power sharing arrangement and we can criticise them as much as we like but they did say that the power sharing arrangement was the kernel of their policy in the negotiations and I think they believe they've achieved it. However, what happens if they are wiped out in the elections? Where is their power sharing arrangement? How are we going to run the country if you have the CP as the main representative of the white community? What happens to the power sharing arrangement? Well they say those are the risks that a gambler has to take and so they have done.

POM     To what extent does Zulu nationalism play a role? Chief Buthelezi has made many statements that the Zulu people are under threat from the ANC which he refers to as a Xhosa dominated organisation and that the aim of the ANC is to have Xhosa people dominate the Zulu people. The King has made statements to this effect. How do you distinguish between statements or positions of Chief Buthelezi on the Zulu nation and positions in relation to the IFP which is not a Zulu party?

JM     Well you see we've had this in Africa all over the place, it's not a new thing. We had it in Ghana with the kingdom of Ashanti, we've had it in Uganda with the kingdom of Buganda. A million lives later the Kabaka(?) is back in Uganda. He was installed two months ago, the young man. It's a question of these kingdoms. The kingdoms in Africa have been a very hot potato to handle after independence. The kingdom of Buganda, the kingdom of Lelosi(?) in Zambia, there's already a crisis right now in Zambia over the agreements that were made with the British, between the kingdom of Lelosi and the British government, the agreement of 1964, just as the Buganda agreement of 1962 is the same problem. We here have only had in South Africa one kingdom and that is the kingdom of the Zulus where you had a monarch and people owed allegiance to that monarch. In all the other groups you have got numerous chiefs with different peoples. The Xhosa people, there is no such thing really as the Xhosa people except in the narrow sense that the Galeka and the ... people in the Ciskei and the ... people in Transkei, those two groups are supposed to be the descendants of Xhosa. But the other tribes, the Tembus, Mandela's tribe, they are Xhosa speaking but they have their own ruler. The same with the Pondos, the Pondomisas, all these people speak Xhosa but they don't owe allegiance to a single monarch whereas the Zulus do.

POM     So there's a Zulu nation but there's not a Xhosa nation?

JM     Yes you can say that. You can't say about the Xhosas that they constitute a nation, certainly you can't say that they constitute a kingdom. I think a nationalism has developed among the Xhosas too but it's not based on a kingdom, owing allegiance to a king. It's based on other factors now, modern factors like education and so on. The Xhosas developed a literature of their own and so on and so you can even say that Mandela is a representative of modern Xhosa nationalism and when he speaks in those areas, of course, he's more comfortable because he is speaking the language and he knows the history and traditions of the Xhosa people. Whereas if he does that here he is an outsider, he can't speak for the Zulus. So there is a sense in which you can say there is a reality which is represented by the King and by the chiefs and so on of the Zulus and it's the same as we have had in the other areas. Mobuto tried to overthrow the kingdom of Buganda and this led to a crisis which lasted thirty years and has only now been resolved which shows that you have to be very careful how you handle these kingdoms and be very statesmanlike about it. On the other hand you have got the modern Zulu person or the urbanised chap in the township who finds himself having more in common with his fellows from other tribes in Soweto than he may have in common with a king who is far out in Ulundi or something so that the modern chap his connection with the kingdom of KwaZulu is very tenuous, it's not as strong as it is in the rural areas.

POM     So how do you as a political party distinguish between what Buthelezi says about the threat to the Zulu nation and set that apart from the fact that he is head of a party that embraces more than Zulus? Do you understand what I'm getting at?

JM     Yes, look here, I'm not a Zulu but I support the kingdom of KwaZulu. It presents no difficulties for me. I don't want them to be destroyed by anybody. I think the Zulus are entitled to have their kingdom and to prosper in a modern South Africa. Why should they be deprived of their right to do that? Therefore I support that. As an IFP member I will say that just as much as I think that the Batswana shouldn't be deprived of their lands and their rights and their minerals, they are a rich people. In fact compared to other groups in South Africa the Batswana are the wealthiest. So must our wealth now be dissipated and destroyed with people taking over our platinum mines and all those things? Why? I would support the Batswana if they said "We would like to have our own region. We would like to have our own province, we would like to have federal powers and so on." I've got no quarrel with that, I've got no problem with that. But if somebody says to me we must now break away from South Africa, that we must no longer have South Africa, we must break up into sections, then I would oppose that even if it's brought forward within our own ranks. If somebody put forward that idea then I would say that the kingdom or the nationalism of the Zulus as now destructive. It's no longer a constructive force whereas if it's a constructive force like now it supports being in South Africa and being part of a federal South Africa, that makes the kingdom a constructive force in the situation and therefore I can support it. It's not a problem. Intellectually it's not a problem at all.

POM     When Chief Buthelezi as Chief Minister to the King is speaking about the Zulu nation, can one take it that he is also speaking on behalf of the IFP?

JM     I don't think so. Look, any African is tribesman. Don't forget that. You people are not tribesman any more.

POM     I'm Irish, lots of tribes.

JM     All right, you see, so you have got no problem. All people who have got their own ethnic origins and are proud of it have no problem about it. I've got no difficulty in understanding that when Mandela addresses a meeting of Xhosa chiefs his speech is different from the speech he delivered here against the Zulu chiefs. There he was saying, "I'll protect you, we'll look after you. Please don't be nervous." Here he makes threats against the chiefs because it's not his people, it's not his chaps and I can understand that because all of us are like that. We have all got chiefs, we have all got tribes, I mean half the people in the PWV are Tswana which is often forgotten. That the other chaps, Xhosas and Zulus, are one quarter, one quarter but they speak as if they are the majority which is not the case. The thing is this, we are fighting at different levels. You fight at a personal level, you fight at an ethnic level, you fight at a national level. In other words we all of us represent many interests. If I felt that the Zulus were against the basic interests of Botswana I would be in difficulties within the IFP in Natal. I would be uncomfortable if they in fact were going out of their way to go against the basic interests of my own people, I would feel uncomfortable. So all of us are like that. All Africans are tribesmen. All of them. They may try and conceal it and even sometimes deny it. They will even tell you that it's not a factor but it is a factor. You must never forget that and they are all the same. They have all got their own prejudices which we as Africans of course know. The trouble is that most of the people who talk to us, white people, journalists and so on cannot even conceive of what these tribal feelings really mean. Many of them left that behind hundreds of years ago and nationalism became far more important than whether you were a chap from Yorkshire or whatever. So I think that we still have that as a reality.

POM     Say I'm a member of the IFP, a white member, when Chief Buthelezi makes a statement about the Zulu nation and the threat to the Zulu nation, he's not speaking in his capacity as head of the IFP?

JM     Why not? Why not? Are you saying that the IFP would not be interested in the preservation of the Zulu nation?

POM     No, but I'm trying to distinguish, to white people it might make no difference at all. They might say all that's ancient stuff.

JM     Yes but that's the point. If a white member is sensitive to what is happening in South Africa and if he is born here he would know that there is such a thing as Zulu people, the Indian community. You mean to tell me that if a chap stands up and speaks on behalf of the Indian community that somehow that is contrary when Farouk Cassiem one of our Central Committee members says that, "I feel that the Indian community must not support because the ANC because the ANC is a threat to our businesses, they smash our shops every time they have a rally." They do this, they do that, that somehow that becomes a threat to his IFP membership, the fact that he is speaking now about the special interests of the Indian community. I say no. I as an IFP member will understand him when he raises that, even when he raises it against Zulu members, people who are Zulus, because when he speaks of the ANC breaking up his shop those ANC members are Zulus. But I won't side with the Zulus who are smashing up his shop. I will say as IFP I support Mr Cassiem's argument because we in the IFP don't believe you should smash up Indian shops every time you have a rally or occupy their houses in Cato Manor. We think it's wrong whereas the leader of the ANC is in difficulties. He first says, "Get out of the houses of the Indian workers", then he has to change it a few days later and withdraw his statement, you see? So that the interaction of communities and its distinction from national issues is always there. There is no contradiction at all. It's always there. It's a reality.

POM     If you look at the ANC it seems to have done a 180 degree turn in terms of its economic policies and you had both Trevor Manuel and Derek Keys in Washington making almost joint presentations to the World Bank and the IMF and both of those organisations have promised help but in order to get help from either you have to follow what they call, euphemistically perhaps, structural adjustment programmes. You have to give assurances that expenditure will be kept within certain bounds and whatever and you have to be fiscally responsible. I noticed today in The Mercury where there was a survey done of the 70 biggest firms listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, the 25 biggest unlisted and four or five parastatals and 68% wanted to see Mandela as President, 32% wanted to see De Klerk and none of them supported Chief Buthelezi. Considering the fact that over the years he has been the unflinching proponent of the free market, was against sanctions, was against communism, what do you make of this significant shift in attitude on the part of the business community and what differences would you see now between what the ANC endorses in terms of economic principles and what the IFP endorses as economic principles?

JM     Well I think it's a question of adjusting to the realities of the situation. The business people see it as inevitable that the ANC will become the next government. Now you know if you are a businessman and you are protecting your business against COSATU, the constant stayaways and strikes and all sorts of things, if you are to preserve your business you have to hedge your bets. Buthelezi is totally useless to you at that level. How is he going to help you? You are looking at the people who you are told are going to run the show and may have the majority in most of the provincial governments. Therefore it really perturbs you, it's a kind of clutching at straws. People believe that there has been a moderation in the attitude of the ANC and maybe there has been because once people realise they may have to be responsible for government decisions that does influence the way they speak and the way they react and, of course, all the criticisms they have received do also impact on their policy. But I would say myself that I wouldn't be surprised if business generally they can take Buthelezi for granted. He will support private enterprise and so on. They don't have to declare support for him at all. He will behave in a particular way. Therefore even if they were to get a shock of seeing him winning it wouldn't alter their positions whereas with these chaps, with the ANC and the South African Communist Party, COSATU and all that, there you are faced with - they are the majority group, they are going to be the inevitable government, they are the ones who are going to have to deal with the international community.

     So a businessman who is realistic I would think would probably say to himself, "Well look here, we had better stick with the guy who has got the majority support. This is what democracy is all about and abandon our old friend who appears to have no support." I think that's how they would think. I would think like that if I was running a business because businessmen are not ideologists. They are not there to run a crusade for any particular policy or ideology. They are there to see to it that business is carried on in a reasonable atmosphere. They asked a hundred chaps and as chairman of the IFP Election Commission I say to myself now I have got to find something like six million votes and somebody wants to terrorise me with the views of a hundred businessmen. To hell with that. I can just go along and be street sweepers here and get a hundred chaps and I've got exactly the same number of votes as the very biggest businessmen in the country. That's what democracy is about. It's votes.

POM     There's been a lot of talk, Dr Buthelezi says there's a 50/50 percent chance of civil war in the country. First of all would you agree with that assessment and under what circumstances could South Africa be plunged into a civil war?

JM     Let's put it this way, let's look at some examples of neighbouring countries. In 1974 the Portuguese decided to pull out of their colonies and against all advice they handed over power in Mozambique to Frelimo without an election, without a constitution and it was the only liberation movement really worth talking about so you could say they were just being realistic. But the trouble is that the transfer of power like that was a recipe for civil war and people said so. They said, "Don't do this. Do as the British do for God's sake, hold a Constitutional Conference, call all the parties together, adopt a constitution, then hold a general election and get a legitimate government. You can't do it this way." And the Portuguese said, "To hell with you we're going", and they left. Now 17 years later we are still grappling with the results of their decision. The same in Angola. The Portuguese couldn't find someone to whom to hand over power so in Angola it was worse. They put the instruments of power at the City Hall on the floor and Admiral Cortina got on to the ship and left and it was for Agostino Neto of the MPLA to go to the City Hall and pick up those instruments of power and say, "I am now the President of Angola." Well we are still battling with that.

     Now civil war is caused by the imposition of a solution, even the imposition of a solution on a very tiny minority. It's always a recipe for trouble. Now we have been saying you must have an all inclusive solution based on consensus. And these chaps said, "No, don't worry about that. The ANC and the government by themselves can carry the thing and they can leave other people out." Now that attitude, that tanks must roll into Bophuthatswana, that kind of mentality is what causes trouble in the end. It may not even cause it now but somewhere along the line you get trouble if you say you are setting up a democracy but it is democracy for yourself only but for the other people they will have to fall in line. Mandela made a speech, it was reported on this morning's news, talking about the very issue of the TBVC states and blaming the government and saying the government must pressurise these people, it must force them, he used the word force, and I thought to myself the man has no sense of history. You don't do that with constitutional matters and so on. You must do everything, which is what the government is doing, the government is going out of its way to try and avert a problem like that because they understand it that you must try and make sure that even people who may get hardly any votes in the election but you've got to get them on board. It's an historical fact and Buthelezi is a student of history. We did it together, we majored in history together.

POM     Is that right?

JM     So he understands that you can't do that. In fact we did constitutional history together so it's really just a statement that if you're going to push on regardless it doesn't work in the end because you have to impose it. You see you must impose it. How are you going to operate? So sooner or later you are going to be compelled to use some form of sanction or compulsion. In other words you abandon negotiations and decide to impose.

POM     Some people would say that what you do in the case of say KwaZulu or Ciskei or whatever is that the government simply pulls the financial strings.

JM     Even that doesn't work. The people are being superficial. We in South Africa we've got a terrible weakness of being very superficial unlike the ancient nations where people have learned through history that there are certain things which cause a great deal of trouble. Everything is instant. Instant opinions, they don't think about the consequences of their actions that they are about to embark upon.

POM     If the financial plugs were pulled could the KwaZulu government continue to exist?

JM     I have no idea. The kingdom of KwaZulu existed without money and they defeated the British army, gave them quite a hard time and they had no money at all. The thing one must think of here is not just services, when you pull the plug on the KwaZulu government of course you are pulling the plug on services. Now are you going to just abandon services, hospitals, schools, everything? How are you going to do it? What are you going to do? Therefore, I think myself that a lot of this talk is actually based on, as I say, a very superficial analysis of the situation and I am against it. I feel we must do everything possible to avoid civil war conditions without in any way suggesting that anybody or group should have a veto. Nobody is suggesting that Terre'Blanche or someone must now have a veto on developments simply because he is opposed to certain things and therefore we don't move ahead. The main thing is that you have got to make sure that everything possible has been done to ensure that every political or economic interest is represented and was there when the state was set up on a new basis. One has got to try and do that and not pooh-pooh any section of the community otherwise we have an IRA situation which certainly doesn't represent, I don't think they represent a sizeable section.

POM     Four per cent.

JM     And then we are all uncomfortable, we are all suffering. My children were working in the holidays in London at Harrods and fortunately some Arab, I think it was Sheik Amani or something, came in and so the shop didn't close. They kept it open so that Sheik Amani and his family could be served and the bomb went off at the entrance, you see, which could have killed hundreds of people and just because of, pure coincidence, Harrods didn't close at five or whatever the time was, they postponed it. So all of us now, there was a settlement of 1921 which is being opposed and we are still having to live with the consequences of this. But that's what happens if you ignore people. The guys were running things like Renamo and all that. At least in Angola they have got a charismatic figure like Savimbi but I met Mr Chicano in Johannesburg a year ago for the first time and I looked at him and I thought to myself, "Gee whiz, all this trouble, all these years", and you look at the chap and you wonder what - and his argument is simply there was never an election, never a constitution, this was imposed on us. Then you say, "Yes, but weren't you chaps founded by the Intelligence chief of Southern Rhodesia?" and he says, "So what? How does it alter the fact that these guys are imposed? The colonies imposed the people on us, Russia comes and imposes". You see he's got a kind of an argument and we must avoid anybody being able to say that something was imposed on us, we didn't agree with it.

POM     Now Roelf Meyer in Durban, I think in August or September at a National Party Congress, and I'm quoting, "It seems to us that one of the most important things Inkatha leaders want is to ensure self-determination of the Zulu people. We believe this is attainable." Then he went on to make a proposal, a four point proposal, "At the national level a federal system should be provided for allowing the region to determine their own future. Second, the constitution should make specific provisions for specific powers that will be exclusively exercised by the region. Third, the national constitution should provide for regional constitutions and fourth provision should be made for the development of a regional KwaZulu constitution." Now that seems to me in essence to go a long way towards meeting your demands.

JM     But is it there? Where is it? Is it there? We've got 160 pages of document. Where is it? Where are all those things you're talking about? Where are the exclusive regional powers?

POM     What I'm interested in though is, sure you had the government saying this which would indicate that if Roelf Meyer was saying it, that even looking at him as a dove as a negotiator, the government was prepared to go a long way towards meeting your demands yet somehow they reneged on that.

JM     Well the thing is I kept on saying in the negotiations themselves, I kept on saying one advantage with the constitution is that it is a public document. It's not a conspiracy, it's a public document which eventually has to be published. Then I will see, I said I will see when that document is published I don't need an interpreter, I don't need some clever person, I will read it for myself and I said in the negotiations, in fact I used a Latin expression, I said I want to see the 'ipsima verba' of the constitution. Then I will tell you what my view is about that constitution. And I have waited and waited for months. All right, they say now the final one was adopted yesterday. I still haven't got that version but this is the version of 17th November. So all these words by De Klerk; we have this, it's a federal constitution, it's this, it's that; we can read it for ourselves and, of course, there are chaps at the Bar if you pay them R2000 would give you an opinion about it. Clever fellows like Doug Shaw and others. We don't need to rely on ourselves, just give it to a chap at the Bar and say, "Give me your opinion on this, what does it amount to?" Now maybe the questions we should be asking, there's a question which hasn't been asked in South Africa and which maybe is the one we should be asking, "Is this a unitary constitution?" Instead of saying, "Is it a federal constitution?" let's ask if it is a typical unitary constitution. I would like to hear the answer. I don't think it's a unitary constitution. On the other hand I don't think it's a federal constitution and perhaps it's like the German one, I call it a unitary/federal constitution. I don't know. Because each constitution has got its own characteristics. They differ, they are not the same.

POM     So when Walter Felgate said after the constitution was put together, he said, "We are more than ever confirmed in our original opinion that the negotiating process is moving from incurably wrong constitutional principles and is rushing the country to a constitutional and political disaster." Would you share that assessment?

JM     Well I don't like to share an assessment with Felgate on anything. He's not a lawyer, the man is a political chap. He knows nothing about constitutional law so really his assessment like many of the assessments I see in the press, they are by people who know nothing about the legal effect of a legal document like this. They just talk I believe.

     I believe that we should study this very carefully. It's a horrible job to really study it. We should study it carefully and find out whether it provides space and opportunities to advance the causes for which the IFP stand. In other words, can this flawed constitution, for example, with provinces in place, provincial legislatures in place, government in place, with a Senate in place, with regional representatives in both the Lower House and the Senate , can such a structure be utilised to advance the cause of further pluralism and federal principles? When I look at it I think that it doesn't close the door to that kind of development. In fact I think that even ANC oriented provinces with their Premiers and their governments are going to demand more and more. They are going to demand exclusive powers and so on. So I don't believe that the cause is lost and that they will use the weapons of last resort because if you did that a lot of people would be totally confused.

     There are people who really believe that this constitution has sewn the seeds of federalism. Mind you, as Chief Buthelezi has pointed out in one of his speeches, there was the same euphoria after the National Convention in 1908. People thought they had achieved federalism and all the chaps from Natal went back and reported to their constituencies that we have got what we wanted, we've got a federal constitution for South Africa. Well history has shown that they were mistaken. In fact what we had was a highly centralised constitution. But then that is because we adopted the British system and the British system didn't really tell you that the constitution of South Africa didn't say that it's based on federalism but it was in fact based on centralism where parliament was supreme and that's how the courts interpreted it all these years. It's not in the constitution. It doesn't say in the constitution that we are following the British system but in fact we did.

     Whereas here now we have a situation in which the constitution is supreme, you have a Constitutional Court, Bills of Rights and you have a lot of the characteristics of a constitutional state and one which has got quite a large measure, a number of federal features but, of course, in order to conform to our ideas we would have to do very much more and the question is, can you do it within the framework of this or can't you? If you can't and you make that assessment then only will you be justified in using other methods, other more militant methods. If you can then you use legal and constitutional methods of changing things.

POM     Well if an accommodation was made that was acceptable to the IFP and other members of the Freedom Alliance would you then endorse the fact that the constitution is a two-phase process, i.e. the interim and the one final elected by the Constitutional Assembly or would you want this constitution amended to accommodate your concerns and for that to be virtually untouchable?

JM     I've never liked these phrases, one-phase, two-phase. Legally, of course, you know they are absurd. In law you only have a constitution. It's not interim, it's not final, there is just a constitution and when you appear before that judge you can't say to him, "Well My Lord, this is an interim constitution and no doubt your considerations will differ from those which apply to a final constitution". You'd be laughed out of court. There is just the law. What we are talking about really with this two-phase thing is it's again this deadlock breaking mechanism. If this constitution only has normal methods of amendment it's a final constitution. If it says you can only amend this constitution, then it's a one-phase situation because that would apply no matter what you did. Any constitution that you drew up can be amended. So the real issue is, is this constitution capable of amendment in the normal manner? If it is then we would be satisfied but if there are extraordinary methods which are being suggested like this deadlock breaking mechanism for amending then you have got a constitution that is not finalised. It can go on and on and on.

POM     So if the provision is that this constitution went before an elected body and that if it was supported by two thirds of the delegates at that convention you would go along with that?

JM     Yes because that's normal.

POM     Is that the case in Namibia?

JM     Yes. If they desert tomorrow we've got no problem. If they did what they did in Namibia you've got to get two thirds. Now in Namibia that resulted in a constitution being adopted by consensus, 100%. From extreme right to extreme left, adopted the same constitution, they all signed, every delegate. Now you can only get that where there is consensus and you are reasonable and so on but Nujoma and crew, to their credit, decided that they must forget all these stratagems and whatnot and tricks and so on and they didn't have the two thirds majority, they had 57%, and yet they went along and they are satisfied with the result. They are not disturbing it, they are not attacking it, they are carrying on.

POM     In fact Moses Tchitindero, the Speaker of the House, I was interviewing him once and he said, "When we were carrying out our election campaign we were hoping to get more than two thirds of the vote but it was a good thing that we didn't. It's better for the country to have a strong opposition and consensus on what turned out to be a pretty good constitution."

JM     Yes it's a good constitution, but you see Nujoma is like that. Nujoma has always been a commonsense man. The man is uneducated, couldn't speak English. When I first met him he couldn't speak English. He taught himself and over the years he acquired a lot of just common wisdom and I wish we had something like that.

POM     When you talk about the self-determination what precisely do you mean by that phrase?

JM     Well you know that self-determination is an internationally accepted principle. What people are really talking about is the exercise of the right of self-determination. Different peoples exercise their right to self-determination differently. Some people exercise their right to join with someone else, some exercise their right to superimpose someone else. It's a question of how a particular group sees its destiny, how they define their destiny. For instance, we say, Chief Buthelezi has said, that the destiny of the Zulus is to be a federal state in a federal South Africa. That's exercising the right of self-determination. And Afrikaners are saying, "No, for us self-determination means we must have a separate state." So it's not the principle of self-determination that you are really concerned with, it is its exercise. I mean the blacks in America were offered in the thirties, "You chaps, there are six states where you have a majority, the so-called black belt, what you should really be having is your own state", and the blacks rejected it and said, "No we don't want our right of self-determination to be exercised that way. We want to be integrated. That's how our right of self-determination is. If we get consistent democracy and equality throughout the United States we will regard that as fulfilling our right of self-determination." So the right of self-determination is exercised by people in very different ways.

     I said that at the negotiations in Kempton Park. I said, "Don't argue about self-determination because you'll get confused." The way the Swiss exercise their right of self-determination to bring together the German, Italian and French communities into one confederation is one thing but other people do it differently, they want to separate, they don't want to form a union or join with the others. So this is really the issue, how are you going to exercise it and how does it affect the rights of other people. If, for example, the establishment of an Afrikaner volkstaat means that you take half of KwaZulu as part of your state, well you see, this is a problem, it's a bit problem. That's what some of the people on the right - they want Vryheid and this and that and other parts of KwaZulu to form part of the Afrikaner state.

POM     Do you have a problem with the IFP being associated with parties in the Freedom Alliance who are, to put it bluntly, racist?

JM     I'll tell you, I don't think I've spent one minute of a sleepless night. Do you know why? I have never been oppressed by the right, I've only been oppressed by the National Party. I have gone to jail and been exiled from this country and the only people responsible for that are the National Party. So along they come, do a deal with the ANC and suddenly they are angels of light. Dirk Coetzee kills a popular Attorney in Durban, confesses, "I killed him but I'm now sorry for what I did and I want to join the ANC", and you are expecting me to say, "Ah Dirk Coetzee is a democrat", in contrast to Ferdi Hartzenberg. I say, "Look here man, let's not waste time with claptrap like that, it's meaningless." Whatever the perceptions may be that's another matter, now perceptions are another matter because they are not based on reality, they are based sometimes on fantasy but they are there.

POM     But that's more important than ...

JM     That's what I'm saying. I'm saying that sometimes a fellow who believes that his life is threatened and throws himself off a 12-storey building ... for the poor fellow, but it's real, he's killed himself. It's a reality but it was based on a fantasy so fantasy can be as real as anything and so I say people see fellows marching in a procession with a flag which looks like the Nazis flag, well you are going to get the perception that these fellows are mixing up with the fascists so politically it's a problem.

POM     Three last questions and thanks for all the time you've given me, I've really enjoyed this interview. One is a kind of a personal one, you were a member of the ANC and you crossed over and joined the IFP?

JM     No I didn't. You see what people forget is that I was born in Natal first of all, born in this province. We graduated with Chief Buthelezi, all the pictures will show him and me standing together at the time at the graduation. He was the best man at my wedding, I have worked with him all these years. Because to me these differences between ANC, IFP, PAC this one, that one, I take a very catholic view of African politics. Most of these differences are totally irrelevant in relation to the problems we face on this continent and I have become more and more convinced of that the older I get, that all the rubbish about socialism in Ethiopia and this and something else there which have led to all the famines which we are suffering are the result of taking seriously the rubbish ideologies that we have been getting from other countries and other continents. So really to say to me that my own best friend, Buthelezi, is this and the ANC is that, to hell with them. What's the difference between the IFP and the ANC? You tell me, fundamentally. In African terms really it's a joke.

POM     Just two very quick last ones. When you look back at the negotiations what do you think were the critical turning points? For example, during CODESA 2 the government was trying to build an alliance with the IFP and other parties and you were then on the one side of the table and you had the ANC and it's cohorts on the other side of the table. Then you had the breakdown of CODESA, the mass stayaways. Then you had the Record of Understanding which very firmly put the ANC and the government together and more or less said, "We're going to work this out together and the others will just have to come along with whatever our decisions are." Now those were obviously very critical turning points. Can you think of other critical turning points that have affected the course that events have taken?

JM     I don't know. You've really got the major ones especially the Record of Understanding, well first the break up in May last year of CODESA. Maybe the mass action was not as much of a turning point as all that. It really reflected the breakdown of the negotiations. The beginnings of bilateralism over the Record of Understanding and the partnership of Ramaphosa and Roelf Meyer in the bilaterals, I think that was a major turning point. The system of bilateral negotiations as distinct from multi-party negotiations I think was a big turning point and I think was a fatal mistake. I think that if the National Party was doing that, that would be different but for a government of South Africa to pick one of the parties it's like the British government going along to a colony and saying, "Now we want to meet Jomo Kenyatta only." They would never do that, never do that, and they never did it. You must call in all the people, the media, the dominance of the Indian Congress was very obvious, you know Gandhi and Nehru and everybody got together, about 500 delegates representing every single shade of opinion so as to get away from the idea of bilateralism. But I think that was really a big turning point these bilateral negotiations.

     Then we tried to get back to the multi-party negotiations but the use of the provision for sufficient consensus caused a breakdown so I would say the walkout by the IFP was the next important turning point. I don't like to call it a turning point but it was certainly the beginning of a different development. Negotiations continued so you had negotiations in parallel there and multi-party negotiations at Kempton Park, the bilateral negotiations between the ANC and the government and the IFP and so on and now, of course, that developed into the Freedom Alliance bilaterals with the government and the ANC. And I think, of course, now the other turning point we are about to get is the coming into existence of the TEC, Transitional Executive Council. That also marks a kind of a turning point because people will have to decide whether they are going to go along with it or not. If in fact it is confined to measures to produce a free and fair election then, of course, you won't have a crisis, but if it goes further and starts to use executive and administrative powers and to intervene in various situations then it could provoke a crisis. But we'll see, we'll see how it goes.

POM     And very lastly, again when you look at the negotiation process what compromises and concessions did the government make to the ANC and what did the ANC make to the government?

JM     Well if you start from the beginning when the negotiations began I think the government thought there would be a multi-party negotiation which would produce a constitution, you would then have an election which would produce a new government. Now they insisted that the constitution would be drawn up by the multi-party negotiating forum, CODESA. Now the ANC policy was that they would not have any decision taken by a non-elected body. They were suggesting that there should be an interim government appointed, not an elected government mind you, but there should be an interim government and that this interim government should prepare for elections and promptly after those elections you could start drawing up a constitution, drawn up by elected people. Well now you had to marry these two ideas. The government and the ANC, the government had to concede that you would have to have a constitution drawn up by an elected body and they then proposed that there should be an interim constitution drawn up by the multi-party forum because they said it must go from legality to legality. They were against the idea of an interim government which was non-elected and which was appointed so they said we must go from the tricameral constitution to another constitution and then maybe to an elected body which draws up a new constitution. So the government was forced to accept the so-called - in fact the so-called two-phase process was their proposal. They proposed that they should do it in two stages and the ANC had to concede that you must have an interim constitution and hold elections in terms of a constitution. The elected body could draw up the final constitution so you got this idea of a final constitution. And, of course, there was a lot of give and take on many sides on all these matters of abandoning the Westminster system, the adoption of a system of proportional representation. It would have suited the ANC to have first past the post, they would have won an overwhelming majority but they gave in to the demand for proportional representation. Then they were against two houses. They were in favour of a single unicameral parliament that would be a body which would be reactionary and which would veto decisions of the lower house. Eventually they accepted the idea of a Senate representing the regional interests. Before that they were against it. [There has been a lot of - you can go through the constitution and pick out ...]

POM     Do you think both sides in the end ended up with most of what they could have gotten?

JM     I don't know, you can't quantify it. In all negotiations people have objectives. If I had one objective and I achieve it, it may only be 2% of the constitution but if I achieve it I've achieved 100% of my objective. So if you are looking at it from the point of view of objectives I think the government feels that they've done well to achieve their objectives and the ANC have done well to achieve their objectives. The only people who are not yet sure if they have achieved their objectives are the IFP, though I think they have achieved a lot of their objectives. There are only one or two matters but they have achieved quite a bit. There are some people in the ANC who are convinced that Buthelezi has won the negotiations. I met Zola Skweyiya at the airport and he was telling me that, "You guys have got every damn thing."

POM     Thank you ever so much.

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