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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
05 Dec 1993: Gqozo, Oupa
POM You were just saying you have had a hectic year. Would you just try to recount some of the things that have happened and the consequences of them?
OG When last did we meet?
POM We talked in August of last year.
OG August, before the Bisho march.
POM Before the Bisho march, yes. So maybe we should start on the Bisho march and what happened and what resulted out of it.
OG Yes the Bisho march was the biggest political tragedy I have ever had in my career because here was a situation where me as a black leader in an independent country which endeavours by all means to give the people an example of how a black run state or country can be with all the little resources that I have at my disposal. Here I am being attacked by my black brothers who would claim that I haven't given them free political activity, but in the meantime they have got offices all over Ciskei towns, all over the villages they have got branches. Chris Hani, before that fateful march, had been here three weeks in advance whipping up emotions, at places pulling rank on security forces who were guarding schools and travel authorities and individuals who had been threatened with violence and mob violence. He went to two villages for instance and shot at security guards, peaceful security guards, took their arms because by sheer numbers these people were intimidated, they didn't shoot back. He just took their arms and then told them that they could kill them. And then at some other place the guards were actually shot at by the group that was accompanying Chris Hani in four cars which came to this village headman's house to shoot him. He whipped up emotions telling people at rally after rally that come the 7th September the people of Ciskei will see the real soldiers, would see these cowards of our Ciskei Defence Force running away and whipping up people saying, "We are going to depose Gqozo on that day". He said, "He's a dictator and we don't want him", and he comes all the way from Johannesburg. He doesn't even know the situation here.
In hindsight now, ever since he died, that fateful day that he was shot, Ciskei has been quiet, very quiet. It just shows what type of man he was when he gets to a situation. But let me say the day came to a close, he went to Port Elizabeth to whip up people there. He went to Durban, he went to Cape Town. In Johannesburg of course before he came down here he had already whipped up this hysteria that everybody must be bussed in here because the people here are afraid, so to speak, to stand up against me. So most of the people's houses in that run up, during that three weeks, were torched just to show them that he means business and I am told, because in that period they burnt my church, my church denomination, in a little place called Ndebana(?). They burnt it, they burned the houses of all the elders of the church and the Pastor of the church and the children of those people were denied access to schools. The children of headmen and government supporters were told not to go into buses and taxis.
You know the ANC comrades, the comrades are these youngsters, these dropouts. Unfortunately in Ciskei now there is a situation where a lot of youngsters because of the shortage of schools and these things don't go to school any more and they don't have work. Those who have finished matric don't have work in large numbers. In Ciskei specifically I am very worried about that situation but it is endemic throughout the country but in Ciskei specifically it is too big proportions. But they used these people. They went house to house and took those children whose parents who are not my supporters, those children who at schools are known to be making Christian movements within, my church denomination is the International Assemblies of God, so they like to go to other students and say, "Give yourself to the Lord and be born again and this and this and this". So they are known for their activities at the school. They have a band which they practise every evening at the church and so on. All those things were vandalised, they were burned down, but the children were rounded up and they were placed in front of the mob which was much near. They said, "Go in front so that Gqozo can shoot you first with his troops". But that day before it came I tried to stop the march. I told Mandela, I told their headquarters, "Don't come. This is a provocation. What has been leading up to now, the whole atmosphere is very tense. The people feel very insulted in Ciskei that people come from all over to invade them and people like Hani talk on their behalf."
POM Did you talk to Mandela personally?
OG I talked to Mandela personally on the phone. They didn't listen. He pretended he didn't know much about it and it was not going to happen. I told him exactly how it was happening on the ground. It was very electric and I made a court order restraining them from coming. I approached the South African Ambassador to tell them, South African Foreign Affairs, we've got a non-aggression pact. Ciskei is about 6 kms from the town Kingwilliamstown. The place where they want to come, Bisho, is right at the border between Ciskei and South Africa so there is a thin line between Ciskei and South Africa. According to the non-aggression pact which was signed at the independence in 1981 no country must allow any other force or any other group of people to assemble on its soil with the intention of invading the other. In other words you can't use anyone's territory as a springboard, launching pad for attacks. I drew their attention specifically to this article and I said, "Please, in the name of peace and non-violence and stability I want you to stop the ANC from assembling in Kingwilliamstown", where they said they would assemble, whip up emotions through fiery speeches, then march up with all those toyi-toyis.
You know everybody - if a mob sings and dances and it does all these things, especially in a situation where people like Chris Hani were reported to be very drunk with dagga smoking and people were drinking bottles like this in the march, people were completely out of control. There was no control, there was no order, it was just do anything that will make you go for the throat, for the jugular. We had information, intelligence, that what they intended to do was to storm the troops, to challenge their innermost sense of nationalism, to see if they can shoot their own people and if that was achieved they would go in and they would burn the whole of Bisho down. Then they would go to the parliament houses and necklace me in public and then the whole world would know, the whole world's press would have said, big headlines "BISHO OR CISKEI TINPOT DICTATOR LYNCHED BY ANGRY MOB" and it would have been the end, no-one would have had any responsibility or accountability for that and so on.
We have learnt the press by now, we have learnt the thinking of the international community by now. The ANC is God in their eyes, everything they do is justified, everything that other people do as their right to be different is a crime. So we were determined that we would not allow them to do that. We were determined seriously that we would show them that this is the 20th century, no-one just goes into any place and acts in a barbaric way just because he is famous and important. We believe that democracy is freedom to choose what you want and what you don't want and we believe that security and protection of lives and properties is our paramount responsibility as a government and the security forces. And we are determined to just do that, protect the integrity and the economy and the self-respect of Ciskei and Ciskeians. And this we did.
So when they came there and faced the soldiers, actually stormed at them - Ronnie Kasrils led the first group that went, flanked the soldiers and when they stormed them he jumped out of sight because he knew that something might happen there. Unfortunately our troops didn't want to shoot to kill. They just wanted to defend themselves and to scare them off. Anybody can tell you that in a 50,000 strong crowd if our troops shot at them with machine gun fire for more than five minutes not a single soul would have been left alive. Anybody who has a little bit of horse sense can realise that our troops restrained themselves tremendously. They shot in the air and they shot only when it was really clear that the people were shooting at them. And they shot. They shot 28. One of my soldiers, we are told the first shot that rang, which completely in that electric moment any shooting would have been fatal, any shooting would have been fatal and we were warned that people have arms in the mob. There were cars in the mob and kombis within the mob. We knew that they were having information or that they even had dangerous weapons like rocket launchers, so you couldn't take a chance. When that shot was fired from that mob and killed one of our soldiers instantly the people just uncontrollably returned fire and it was bad.
POM But the first shot came from?
OG The first shot came from them, that's definite. Everyone who is truthful says so and our troops fired back. During their scampering or whatever, scattering for cover, a lot of weapons were picked up there and some were even shown on TV. Some people saw - I mean that is a shot they would hate to show but the damage was done to the ANC. Shots and hand grenades were seen, were picked up by a very afraid cameraman and those newspapermen who were here, those media men, I should say that they must be ashamed of their ethics. They knew exactly what was happening. They heard everything that was being said by the ANC but none of them wrote anything. When it came out all of them were so-called very angry because they were almost shot dead and the disrespecting soldiers of Ciskei who have total disregard for professional services like Red Cross, the priests, the journalists who were nearly killed by these careless and reckless soldiers. You know it was completely amazing. But the damage was done. This is exactly what the ANC wanted. It wanted headline news, it wanted a reason to kill people. After that day they stayed here the whole night singing, the whole night, and then the following day they went back to Kingwilliamstown where Chris Hani addressed them. In Cape Town the people were addressed in public. Tony Yengeni, for instance, Cape Town Regional Chairman, said "Gqozo must die. He must be killed." Chris Hani here said, "All the soldiers, all the policemen, their wives and children and their houses must be burnt down, every one of them". And as a result of those incitements more than 300 soldiers' houses were burnt down, completely.
POM Three hundred soldiers?
OG Three hundred soldiers' houses. There were a lot of pads for the soldiers to come a stay here at the bases, there were a lot of soldiers accommodated there. At various farm houses there were a lot of soldiers accommodated there. Even now those people, some of them said, "I will never go back to those murderous people because even my future back there where I used to be before I ran to this refugee camp here is completely not certain." I made meetings with the ANC and I encouraged people to reconcile and we had an agreement that the ANC must not kill the people when they go back and then at that time soldiers started demanding that while we are controlled by the law the ANC plays with no rules and they kill us and we are soldiers. It's a shame that soldiers' houses must be burned and we must be killed because most of them were killed in ambush attack. They started fighting back as individuals and when they got back they used to come together and form a sort of a neighbourhood watch sort of thing and there were fierce clashes in the townships. So that resulted in most of the ANC top people running away also, leaving their homes, and that resulted in the talks for peace which made some of the people return to their original bases and we had to rebuild through government costs which were not budgeted for a lot of those people's houses because there was no way we could leave them because they were killed basically because they were either senior civil servants or they were soldiers or working for the forces.
POM So how many of your soldiers and civil service would have been killed in the aftermath?
OG I have documents which were updated almost every six months because I used to send these to the press and wherever we had meetings, National Peace Accord meetings, I used to complain. Actually I sent a lot of those things to the National Peace Accord but it turned out to be a toothless big bulldog. The National Peace Accord is toothless, it knows who the perpetrators and the originators of violence are but it is afraid to go and tell them, "ANC stop your violence, stop this, stop intimidation because people react to your violence, people react to intimidation, people react to your threats and people stand up and resent being forced to join you just because you think you are the only liberation movement in South Africa. There are so many political opinions in South Africa and political trends in South Africa you cannot afford to allow yourselves to get this superiority complex that you are the only mouthpiece of blacks in South Africa."
That is what this Peace Accord people should be doing. But no, they know the ANC is the only organisation that has a private army, thousands of them and they are using those AK47s and those hand grenades. The National Peace Accord knows that the ANC are the only organisation which has arms caches, known arms caches from the case of Operation Vula in the eighties right up to now when they were unbanned, right up to when they were chased out of Zambia. You know they have these arms caches in Mozambique, they have these arms caches in Tanzania, they have these arms caches all over South Africa. They know, for instance, that in Transkei the ANC has been stockpiling arms from Mozambique in large numbers. They know that they have been having Cubans here as instructors to train small cells of highly trained assassins and snipers in Transkei to go out and be unleashed into the rest of the free world.
So those are the dilemmas that actually have plagued us in the last year after we have talked and of course the fact that the ANC started these mass actions which led to the Bisho shooting because they wanted to take South Africa by power, force of arms, but they couched the whole exercise in a name, a nice sounding communist name, non-violent action. Immediately you say it is non-violent it's the most violent one because it tends to draw from the victim a violent reaction and then automatically if anybody makes a non-violence nice action and sits next to your doorstep and sings up to three days in succession you are going to react violently because they are violating all your rights. So that is the way this non-violent concept works. It is aimed at getting top publicity and saying 'we are peaceful'. Peace is the word that they lead with but in actual fact they are the most violent people because immediately you don't support them in that underneath they are threatening you. "You don't support us we are going to burn your house. You don't support us we are going to kill you. You don't support us we are going to do this". So that's the way they have been doing it.
My point was this mass action was after they left CODESA but during that period they made so much damage that the South African government and the businessmen and all these people who have been living under very luxurious conditions felt, look, let's rather do anything these guys want otherwise we are losing our luxury. Then the South African government went into the Record of Understanding with the ANC which completely turned the course of negotiations because now everything that is done at Kempton Park is a rubber stamp of the Record of Understanding. Every process that is happening at the World Trade Centre is moulded like in a frame in the Record of Understanding. Whatever anybody who is not part of the Record of Understanding wants to say or wishes to say can never change the people's minds. That's why it led to us protesting and protesting and protesting and being overruled and overruled and overruled within the process until we decided it is useless to stay in the process because you can get nothing through these guys. By sheer numbers and by the mechanism of sufficient consensus ...
POM What were you looking for that you couldn't advance at the World Trade Centre?
OG I'll tell you now. At the World Trade Centre the COSAG group, as you know we first formed a COSAG group to oppose the Record of Understanding, myself, Chief Buthelezi, Mangope, the CP. We have just been recently joined by the AVF, Constand Viljoen's group. Our first stance is that constitutional principles must be clearly formed. Amongst the principles of the constitution the first one and the uppermost must be the form of state, what type of state do we want to live with for the rest of our lives and our children's lives. The ANC and the PAC and other revolutionaries want a unitary state with central powers, with all powers at the centre and all other places will be provinces and be controlled from the centre. We say we want devolution of power and maximum powers with the people on the ground and we want a federal form of government. That's the first thing we disagree with these guys and despite the fact that we said to these guys that this is the most, most important and priority number one thing. You can't even start negotiations if you don't clearly state what you are negotiating for. We advocated a devolved body because we said if you are serious about federalism you can't make a central body of negotiations, centralised negotiations to the regions so that each region negotiates and debates its future powers, its future constitution, its future local government structure, its future taxation, its future everything, sports, whatever force is there. So in other words you have these states, first demarcate these states. We said first demarcate the states. Let's know whether Ciskei and Transkei is going to be one. Let's know whether there's going to be Transkei, Eastern Cape, Western Cape. Let's know that first and let's debate it there on the ground, not in Johannesburg. People in Kempton Park know nothing about East London, Alice and Kingwilliamstown.
Those are the basic, very important, crucial, fundamental issues we disagreed upon and we said we don't want a two-phase system. We want a system, a one-phase system, and a bottom-up system, where the negotiating leaders will write the national constitution and the leaders from their areas will write the regional constitutions and go for elections at once after having demarcated the states, had the states' constitutions, had the national constitution which devolved all the powers to the states and now we go for elections in one swift move. Now they are coming with a two-phase move of first electing a Constituent Assembly and virtually giving it a blank cheque to do whatever it likes about the boundaries, to do whatever it likes about the powers and functions of states, to do whatever it likes with the form of state and we know immediately that Constituent Assembly is formed it will definitely be tipped against the federalists to unitaries because the only people who want this Constituent Assembly are the Patriotic Front and the ANC. So if we go to the election that calls for a Constituent Assembly we are going for an election of what we don't want so we said, "Why don't we stop this nonsense of the Constituent Assembly, a transitional government for five years, a national reconstruction period and a final constitution". We said we are wasting time, let's make a constitution for the various states, a national constitution and let's make two ballot papers, let's vote for the regions' leadership, Prime Ministers of the various states, and let's vote for the President of South Africa in the same period but with two different national and regional elections. That's the only thing that we are being accused of being spoilers because we want that. Apparently democracy to the ANC is if you agree with them and if you don't agree with them you are completely an enemy, you are completely a fascist, you are completely this and that and that.
POM Do you get any sense that some of those demands might be accommodated?
OG They are being accommodated to a large extent by the South African government. We had the last meeting, I think, yesterday with the South African government. I think this week there is going to be a meeting with the South African government, the ANC and ourselves where now we are trying to sell the idea to both, there is no more negotiation really seriously going on at the World Trade Centre. It's a waste of money. It's an uneconomical exercise. It's a waste of millions of rands of people's accommodations, people's flights, people's meals, everything. It's a waste of a lot of millions which could have been building houses outside here. That Kempton Park thing, because the powers now in the Freedom Alliance, the ANC and the Patriotic Front stooges, all these guys, Holomisa and all these guys, we are called right wingers but it's not true. We are merely having a common purpose, federalism, with the right wing people. They are serious about opposing communism. We are very serious about opposing communism and the socialist sort of ideology in this country. So we have that serious bond in common. So whether that makes me a right winger and an ultra-right I don't care a damn as long as I am with a group that is going to oppose these things. But definitely we have never supported apartheid as the media makes us out to be. We feel that this is an opportunity in a lifetime to correct the country's problems and if we correct it by another blunder of a unitary state, of a communist state, then we will regret it for the rest of our lives. It will lead from one coup to another coup to another coup.
POM Do you expect that the constitution will be written? Do you expect an election to take place next April 27th?
OG If we don't get the boundaries first and the constitutions approved because we have made all our submissions and we vote for governments of states instead of for the Constituent Assembly which is still going to write the constitution, which we find completely stupid and upside down. I have suggested very strongly to our Freedom Alliance partners that we must go for that election. If we can't beat them let's join them in that election and beat them in the election for whatever it is. I have an idea, I feel that if we join forces and make one political party, the Freedom Alliance Party and fight the election, so I say if we join forces and individually we fight the elections in our regions for regional leadership and collectively we fight the national leadership, the presidency, or we fight as it is for the gaining of the two thirds majority which will give us the right to write the constitution then let's go for it in a big way. Let's challenge the ANC to it and let's pull our votes together. The Ciskei, the African Democratic Movement, the IFP, the AVF, the CP and Bophuthatswana, let us vote together and perhaps even draw the South African government to vote with us because they claim they are federalists and perhaps even draw the DP together just for the sake of winning a federal argument and then isolate completely the African National Congress with their fellow travellers who favour a unitary state and a socialist state because in that period of reconstruction according to the documents that we have intercepted of the ANC they are going to change the whole system of economy to a socialist system of economy, government controlled economy and all the nationalisation and so on.
So we say let us pull our resources together, let us win the elections, let us be the ones that dictate terms and write the constitution the way we want it otherwise if we don't go to elections we are going to allow the ANC to win by default and all those people who have been dying because they were following us, they were our supporters, will have nobody to vote for in what may be the only chance of the disenfranchised to actually ever exercise their power to vote. We are waiting on that. I have had tremendous opposition from people who fear that compromising our stands, originally we boycott the CA, we don't want it, we boycott the TEC, we don't want it, we boycott any form of transitional arrangement but now they say why am I changing course all of a sudden and say let's vote in what we don't want. I say it's a tactic. If we can't win our way the international community is not going to say the elections are illegitimate just because we were not in the elections. They will legitimise them, they will say we were afraid of elections and that's why we didn't get into the elections. We will find ourselves marginalised, having marginalised ourselves, and we will find no-one sympathising with us. We will at any rate be pushed out because we will have made ourselves irrelevant. The only course that will be open for us will be total civil war which we cannot afford because we haven't got the resources to fight a civil war in this country. My army is too small, my country is too weak. I can't fight a civil war. I wish I was like Saddam Hussein or Farah Aidid who could perhaps stand firm but I cannot, I will be crushed within a minute. So I don't want violence, I don't want to expose any of the people of Ciskei to any blood bath. So I feel the only way for us to make our credibility is to fight those elections, win them with a great margin and write the constitution the way we want it or face failure.
POM Let's say some of your partners in the Alliance decide that they won't contest the elections?
OG I am going to.
POM You will do that anyhow?
OG Yes. And I will contest it even nationally. Perhaps all those people who will be disappointed in not having Inkatha to vote for, not having the Afrikaner Volksfront to vote for, not having, you know, the silent majority as we have originally called ourselves. Perhaps they will climb onto the ADM and vote for it full strength and then I may have all these leading minds in the country helping me because right now I need all those important brains in the country who think federalism is better rather than unitarism to help me. Perhaps, who knows? People are afraid of the ANC to such an extent that they would flood the ANC offices just to be safe. That's the impression I'm getting. I want to test that impression through a vote. I tell my people, everywhere I address people now, rallies, meetings and seminars, I say, "The future of your children is right in your hands. If I am a politician, I have become a politician not by choice but by circumstances. If after the 27th April the ANC steps out of those elections victorious you will have made your choice. If they are going to do half what we think communist groups usually do after taking over, I mean during the period of reconstruction, during the period of sending people to be re-educated, during all those periods and during the down-spiralling of the economy because of its over-regulating of the economy and nationalisation and all this laziness which comes with not being rewarded for your initiative and talent and free market competition, competitiveness. If that is what you are going to get that is what you have chosen to get and damn you."
I tell them and I say if at the end of those elections I and all my thinking, sane thinking group, if I come out of those elections victorious then we will have proved to the world that communism has no place in the world and you made a choice against the mighty recognised internationalised ANC, highly connected ANC, United Nations, Commonwealth, OAU, EC countries world-wide, they are given a standing ovation wherever they go. But you with your vote, which is secret, you will have proved that it is not how popular you are outside, it is how popular you are with the minds of the people at home, what you are going to offer them that counts. And I say to the people that if you choose the ANC and they treat you well I will be surprised. If you choose the ANC and they treat you in a communistic, repressive, terrible way then you only have yourselves to blame and I, because I told you long ago that I don't like communists, I will go to a country anywhere in the world which still has the backbone to oppose communism.
POM With the Bill that seeks to reincorporate Ciskei, Transkei, Venda and Bophuthatswana into South Africa, now you have rejected that?
OG No I have never actually been against re-incorporation as a matter of course. If you follow what my argument is, I am saying the homelands are completely useless pieces of trash. We have been given land which you cannot build on. All our money goes to Kingwilliamstown and East London. We were just a means to build East London's white suburbs and town and Kingwilliamstown because all the money we earn we spend in Kingwilliamstown because this is the only town in the vicinity and there is no way of building a town in Ciskei because whatever you want to build here it's triple than in Kingwilliamstown or in East London. So eventually you find yourself being easy and invited tourists in South Africa every day. We want to attract tourism into Ciskei but we are playing, all the facilities are outside. So I say it was stupid to take independence by Sebe and exclude East London and Kingwilliamstown as the major cross points in this area, even including Queenstown and Fort Beaufort. So I would very much like this status quo to end and let the boundaries be redrawn and get a state which will be part of the federal states.
POM What kind of boundary around Ciskei would you like to see?
OG I would like to exclude Transkei. It is completely a rotten nest for communists. I would like to start from the Fish River right up to the Gamtoos River, that side of Port Elizabeth and up to the Orange River in the Free State and border with the Free State and Natal and Lesotho and other areas. So that would be the Kei state. I have documentation and presentations to the World Trade Centre and everybody and all over the country I have made this thing. I have had a meeting here in that area bordering that border and I had a tremendous, resounding success because all the people here said, "That's what we want". But at the World Trade Centre it has been vetoed so there's no democracy in the talks.
South Africa and the ANC have a similar map which they want to suggest. They say it should be from the Fish River to the Umzimkulu River, which means Ciskei and Transkei must just be joined into one. I say eventually if that is the one that will be the reasonable one for every one and have the Eastern Cape being a separate state and have the Western Cape being a separate state, I don't mind either. I would agree to that. But let us now work on leadership and let us now work on the constitution and let us now work on the powers which those states will have, which should be maximum powers on the local ground, not being controlled like a puppet by a central government, as we are being controlled now by Pretoria. That is exactly why I am against all these unitarist things because I am living that hell now. I am controlled from Pretoria.
POM One way or another.
OG That to me is a definite agreement to re-incorporation. I'm saying I don't want this thing but I want a better thing. I won't just reincorporate into this foolish arrangement I don't know into a unitary thing. It's a bargaining chip I'm keeping. I'm saying no. Holomisa on the other hand says the same thing but in different revolutionary language. He says he will only reincorporate once the minority regime of de Klerk has been deposed. He is saying the same thing. He is saying, "I will only reincorporate once there is a new arrangement". You see what I mean? We are saying the same thing, but I am saying it in another style.
POM Whatever the rest of the Freedom Alliance decides, you will contest the elections?
OG Yes I have already told them in our meeting.
POM Under the African Democratic Movement?
POM If you lose that election, and let us assume - I mean most surveys show that the ANC is the most popular and if the ANC takes over, what will you do?
OG Then they will dictate terms. They will say, "We are writing a constitution. From today we want the boundaries to be four provinces", as they have said already, they have intimated it already. It will be the Cape Province, the Orange Free State, the Transvaal and Natal. And from today Ciskei is incorporated automatically into the Cape Province and they make the changes, they will be the government virtually. That's what I understand by this thing. They will be virtually the government so I will agree to that. We will have to talk specifics now. How do you accommodate my civil service? How do you dismantle my parliament? How do you? I will be amenable to those talks, but I would still feel responsible and accountable to not letting my people down here. In other words they cannot just disband and today the 30,000 civil servants haven't got jobs, the police haven't got jobs, the army hasn't got jobs. The industrialists' contractual obligations which I signed with them pertaining to incentives, business incentives, tax incentives, all these things, I can't just leave that. We will have to discuss these things and naturally it will take a month, two months, three months, five months, six months and so on.
POM But would you say, and people who have run on your ticket, would you take part in the Constituent Assembly and fight for the things you believe in?
OG If, by virtue of the votes I have received, if once I go to those elections, if I win say 5% and I am entitled to 100 representatives or delegates, I haven't even been following this TEC nonsense because I've been completely dead against it, but I will have to learn fast now because it seems I will have no choice but to join. If we do well I will go there, I will go into the TEC.
POM So you will negotiate from the boundaries you have and join with others in doing so? You mention that you would never engage in a civil war because you lack the resources.
OG Yes I think it would be unwise to just be killing a few people for nothing and still lose at the end.
POM Gatsha Buthelezi has said that the chances of a civil war are fifty/fifty. Do you think that's an exaggeration?
OG It is not an exaggeration. If the Freedom Alliance really set its mind to it, the army, they can only depend on the permanent force. The Citizen Force and the commandos are all farmers who don't want this nonsense that the ANC is doing, these threats that they are doing, these things that APLA is doing. They will definitely fight, they will definitely fight on our side. Definitely. Those are very strong people. The AWB has membership in all these important corporations, Escom, the trains, the mines, these things. There will be hell to pay should that be an option that seriously is considered by the Freedom Alliance. But as I am saying we are negotiating and it will depend on this week's meeting together with the two groups, the main groups, whether we decide. But I also feel that we must take that option at the elections. I still feel that you can't deny yourself a chance of proving peacefully whether you are popular or not. If then we win and the ANC decides not to recognise our winning, our fair win, then I feel we will be justified beyond all reasonable doubt to take that step.
POM It's quite possible if the Freedom Alliance contested the elections in the way you have suggested that the Alliance could turn out to be the second biggest party and it would have the Deputy President. You would almost be the opposition to the government, you would be the second partner. That would put you in a far better negotiating position in the Constituent Assembly.
OG Yes. We are looking at that too. But if I go into that election, if we can succeed in going into that election as the Freedom Alliance we will go there to win. It's difficult for me to accept that the ANC with their track record of bannings and ruthlessness in South Africa as well as the Motsuenyane Report about their ruthlessness in their camps against their own members in Tanzania and Quatro, that they will win. Intimidation has played a very big role in getting business behind them. They have boycotted business with strikes and bankruptcy and they have boycotted people so much that people have told us that, "We are just merely joining them to be safe".
POM Would you like to see here in Ciskei and all over the country international monitors trying to ensure that the elections are free and fair?
OG I don't think they are necessary. I think they cause a problem because in any situation when you are a family and there's an outsider you have a problem in solving your problems. I don't know how you feel about it but I personally feel that we could be left to solve our problems on our own. International monitors tend, all of them, to be taking sides with the ANC and so that makes it extremely difficult for anybody of my position to trust them. I wouldn't trust them with a long pole.
POM Do you think that with the levels of intimidation and violence there are now in Natal that it will be possible to have free and fair elections?
OG Yes if we are left alone to solve our problems the way we know. We know how to deal with these people. If only the government could stop playing double standards. Whenever the ANC does anything it keeps quiet. Whenever the other parties resist it says a lot and the press, especially the foreign press, is very, very divisive in our country. It doesn't know a damn thing what is happening here, it doesn't understand the people's mentality and it goes and writes completely different, misleading articles and that exacerbates our problems. I don't believe in downright interference in South Africa's affairs by the international groups.
POM Do you get requests from the international press for interviews or do they write stories about the Ciskei without ever setting foot in it?
OG Whenever they do you get surprised what they turn out. What I say is not in the interview because they completely write something completely rhetoric, completely pleasing the other side. That's why I say something is completely wrong with the ethics of some of the foreign press.
POM In CODESA you had the government and its partners kind of against the ANC and its partners.
OG The government now is with the ANC.
POM With the Record of Understanding it's like the government switched dancing partners, so to speak. Why do you think the government did that?
OG Many people think that de Klerk was bought by the Americans or by the CIA who they think are behind everything that is happening in South Africa with their quest for world domination through communism, they are using stooging organisations like the ANC and the PAC to suppress the country and destroy its resources so that they can dominate it later. That's what many people are saying in my type of circles. Many people think that all these ploys of people going to get joint awards from abroad, Meyer and Cyril Ramaphosa getting these awards in America, Mandela and de Klerk getting these awards, it's just a way of thanking them for being good boys, of selling out this country. We feel very seriously betrayed by our people who are dancing to America's tune and perhaps Anglo American interests more than they are dancing to the interests of the people.
POM When you were at the World Trade Centre, for the period of time that you were in negotiations, who impressed you?
OG No-one except our group. Gatsha never was there. Bophuthatswana always believed in the same principles that I believe in. Inkatha always believed in the same principles of federalism although in may ways our political systems and approaches differ. I am a more direct person, he tends to become a diplomat. He's too well known. His thinking is influenced by outside interferences like the British Foreign Desk and American State Department, they phone him, Helmut Kohl phones him, these guys phone him and he becomes completely confused sometimes. Completely derailed in what he's thinking. I don't know, I would say that South African politics are terrible. We are in an Alliance but each one is conscious of his own interests, for his own people, because naturally even if you are in the Alliance you have a different constituency to satisfy in a different way than your next partner within the Alliance. What draws us together is the macro aspiration of federalism and our opposition to communism. That is the only thing. Otherwise we are completely different peoples in South Africa, even amongst alliances.
POM If you don't want to talk about this don't, but I was going to ask you about to what degree are your present troubles motivated by political considerations?
OG Yes they are. I have no doubt that these are political considerations. It has come out openly, it is an open secret now because during the trial evidence was led which proved that the South African government was behind all the coup attempts to replace me culminating into this fateful one which saw Sebe and Xhosana killed and the NIS, National Intelligence Service, Transkei Government, the ANC have been fully involved in trying to get rid of me through force of arms.
POM Do you feel confident that the verdict is going to come out on your side?
OG That is the thin line I don't want to walk. That I would rather not say because personally I feel that just because of the very fact that there is political play in it makes it completely very different and very difficult and I would rather say let's wait for that thing and see then.
POM Within the Freedom Alliance itself who impresses you there? Who has got a clear head, sound thinking?
OG I would say Constand Viljoen is fairly good. I am a little bit biased because we are both military men. He's a very meticulous staff officer, he's an organiser, he's an analyser, he's a strategist, he thinks fast and he thinks far ahead and he can analyse his next move as well which is very admirable. I respect him naturally as a man who has had more command of men than I have had in my time and he was also a very good Chief of the Defence Force I know. I was a little troopie when he was Chief of the Defence Force. I was a Corporal when he retired. So I admire him very well and, of course, for the mood of the Afrikaners a balanced man like Constand Viljoen is a blessing because otherwise if we didn't have a man who considered things very deeply before making a statement or a decision we would long have been plunged into a tragedy.
POM Do you think the AWB is ...?
OG It is a force to be reckoned with. A definite force to be reckoned with. It is determined. It is capable. It has numbers and it has very, very, very angry guys. It's just a pity that the South African government has been very clever, it has infiltrated everybody. It is playing havoc with their plans. Every time they plan anything the South African government has already picked it up. Every time they get arms the South African government has already picked it up. They have lost various things, so it is rather a pity that we are fighting a government that has been in power for more than forty years. It is completely ruthless, it is completely organised, it is everywhere and a biased morality.
POM When you look at the negotiations and when you emerged out of negotiations, who do you think won? The government or the ANC?
OG The ANC has won. It has got everything it wanted. The ANC has got everything it set out to achieve which is seizure of power in South Africa. Mandela is already running the country virtually. De Klerk is a lame duck, he's not even a lame duck. He's gone, he's nothing, he's lost his self-respect, he's lost everything. He doesn't realise he's nothing now, he's nothing. No, the ANC has won already. That's why I say the only way is to see if its financial superiority and international recognition superiority is matched by the ballot. If we can pull that very highly unlikely feat they will have won the battles and lost the war. I would be very pleased with myself because once we win the elections then international recognition or no international recognition, to hell with them.
POM Well you would have to get international recognition if you won.
OG Yes, they will have to and we will deal with the press that has misleading both the international community and the South Africans. The press has been unashamedly biased.
POM When you look again at the negotiations what can you point to as the major concessions or compromises made by the government and compromises or concessions made by the ANC?
OG The ANC has compromised on nothing. It shouted nationalisation and when it saw that everybody was alarmed and shocked it backed off but it hasn't dropped it. It is just rhetoric. When it gets into power the first thing on the agenda will be nationalisation. It has been talking unitary, then somewhere along the line it started making this play, this stage acting that we have now made a major concession, we have accepted nationalism, which means nothing. The constitution still says that South Africa will be a one unit thing. They have given nothing. The South African government have accepted that uMkhonto weSizwe, which is a bunch of terrorists, will be incorporated into a fully fledged, self-respecting, legal army, joint control of these forces, national peace keeping force including the self-defence units. It has compromised on accepting the fact that there should be a two-phase system which we all know that the revolution is in three stages. The first stage culminates into the CA, the achievement of the CA and the transitional government, and then this joint government of national unity and reconstruction is the second phase. That reconstruction period is the purging period and the reconstructing of the society and the third one is when the ANC is dumped and the party, the party which is the SACP, takes over. So they have completely, completely sold out.
OG I say they are bought. That's the only thing to betray your own Afrikaner community like de Klerk has done. I'm not even talking about us because they have betrayed us long ago. But he has been bought. I can only say that it's the power of money that worked and the power of praise and limelight that has gone to his head. He's a traitor, he's regarded as a traitor amongst all South Africans right now, I'm sure, all of right thinking minds, like myself anyway. I always have a very high regard of myself.
POM Never would have thought it. So how do you see the future. When I come to visit you again in, say, six months. We're now living in the country. We're going to stay here through next May at least. We've got a house in Johannesburg.
POM Some people have moved out. We've moved in.
OG You're moving in!
POM Yes we have.
OG You are even more optimistic than I ever thought anybody would be. I don't see any future in this country for the next five years. Next year will be a very, very bad year with the ANC trying by all means to step up intimidation and violence, to intimidate everybody to vote for it. So I see a lot of resistance from people like ourselves, like other parties, and I see a lot of breakdown of law and order because de Klerk has completely lost the will to govern, long ago. After the elections I see a lot of acts of retribution and revenge by the ANC to all the people who have been opposing them, including myself and others. Before elections I see a lot of people being killed because they are a stumbling block. So I see a lot of assassinations next year. That's how I see it. It's very raw but that's how I see it. From what has been happening I have come to that conclusion.
OG No, not if we contest them. If we contest them they will not win. But if the FA which I am very much, I am praying that we all agree to go in there and fight them otherwise half the electorate will go to the polls and they may win by default.
POM Three more questions. The first thing is, what role did religion play in your life and how does this have an impact on your politics and what you think?
OG I don't know if I will be able to answer but it has a very big impact on my life because I believe in one thing. Every time you ignore a wrong being done you crucify Jesus again and again and again. It is like you are looking the other way when they are crucifying Him and you are saying you don't know Him, you rather associate yourself with evil and by so doing you allow evil to flourish. I am a man who stops evil when I see it and I am a man who disagrees with what I perceive wrong when I see it and I feel that you must stand up against what you think. In my position I must protect and defend and I must try by all means try to protect life because I believe that life is given by God only and it can only be taken by Him. But if some people just misuse families, misuse life, misuse children for political ends I feel I must intervene.
So I feel pretty bound to stand up against communism and to stand up against evil, to try everything, so I am pretty unpopular because I don't allow the people to do as they like. I don't allow the disintegration of law and order and I don't allow disrespect for authority and I encourage people to work hard because I believe that it is the only way that you can get the reward by working and being proud of what you possess and once you possess something you have a right to protect it with everything you have. So I am basically led by those basic simple principles, protection of private property, family, life and generally respect for authority because authority to me is derived from God and therefore all leaders, I believe seriously, that they are anointed by God and appointed by God, he appoints kings and leaders. No-one can tell me that I am not a leader just because he hates me. No-one will tell me that I am not a leader just because he hates me. I believe that if it was not God's will that I be here I wouldn't have been here. So such philosophies influence me a lot and I stand for what I do because I believe that God doesn't like cowards either, doesn't want you to make effect, to take a side, you can't just be floating.
POM About the African Democratic Movement, is it nationwide?
OG Yes it is a nationwide organisation. It has offices all over in the major cities of South Africa. It has individual members all over South Africa but the people there, there have been three examples in Port Elizabeth where our people's houses were torched and two of their sons were killed. In Cape Town people were completely harassed and they had to leave their areas because they were ADM members and people decide silent support is all that matters because once you get into these mobs then you are outnumbered and you get killed. So that's why we hope that the people will show these thugs on election day where their loyalties really lie. They are now drawn by fear to show support for the ANC because it has got a lot of money, it buys a lot of thugs, it buys a lot of weapons, it buys a lot of people like the Red Cross support by the ANC, because everybody who is working in those organisations, non-government organisations get infiltrated by the ANC, one, two, three, four, and before you can count one, two, three they are all ANC people and they use those structures, they use every structure to IDT's, building of schools, building of crèches, building of clinics, they use all those structures to influence people for the ANC against everybody else.
POM You were talking about going out among your own people here. How often do you go out? Do you go to villages?
OG Yes I do go to villages. Just before I was disturbed by this case, court case, there was a programme of sometimes twice a day from say 9 o'clock to about 1 o'clock and then from 2.30 to about 5 o'clock going to various areas and districts in Ciskei. But there have been a lot of dates suggested to me by my Information and Communications Dept. and by the headmen and travel authorities to visit them and I have had to turn down a lot of these because of prior engagements and sudden disturbances of the programme and people were already expecting me really to go to all the villages. I am sure by now I would be completely covering the whole country which is not easy because the ANC intimidates these people in such numbers that on the morning of my rallies the ANC goes door to door and says, "If you go to that rally when you come back your house will be in flames." That's a very, very difficult decision to make when you are not working, all the property in your house has been handed over from generation to generation, from your great-grandmother who built that house, it's a mud house perhaps but you've got all the furniture in the thing and if it burns it is not insured, you are not working, your sons are not working, everybody is at school. It's a big intimidation of blacks by the ANC and they do it because they get thugs and small children to do it. And if your house is burnt at night you don't know who has burnt it.
POM Now they claim that they are not free to organise here, that in fact it is your security forces who are harassing them.
OG It's terribly annoying to hear them speaking such lies because they are free. Everywhere here they have got offices, they have got branches, everywhere in Ciskei. All that they are not allowed to do is to intimidate people and we are taking action on any case of intimidation that is reported to us. We are taking serious action. All they are expecting is like the South African Police have been instructed not to act on them. Even if they see a crime being committed the South African Police have lost their interest to act because they are harassed by the authorities every time. So here in Ciskei law is still law, a crime is still a crime and violation of other people's rights by intimidating them and forcing them to go to rallies is still a big crime. So that is why they say there is no political activity. What actually they mean is that there is no free intimidation tolerated.
POM Section 43?
OG I'll repeat Section 43 which used to provide for a request for permission before you can go and have a rally, but now you can just inform the authorities so many days before the next rally, the authorities must map the routes, must make sure that other people's lives are not disrupted, businesses are not disrupted, all these things. You can't just - it's a civilised country. We are not in the middle of Namibia where it's just bushes. Here you would halt a lot of services if you do such things without notifying the authorities. But the ANC knows no rules, the ANC knows no authority, the ANC knows no-one except themselves so I am clamping down on such behaviour, disrespectful behaviour.
POM I had asked you about the impact of Chris Hani's death.
OG Yes, I would say that the death of Chris Hani left Ciskei peaceful. When he was here, as I said, prior to the Bisho march he incited and he caused the death of hundreds of my government supporters and soldiers, houses were burnt down. He intimidated scores of people, villages virtually burnt down to the ground and a lot of headmen left their homes, a lot of children's education was disrupted. They had to go to other places for refugees and we had to accommodate them at other schools without having planned extra pupils and so on. He made a lot of havoc because he used to whip up emotions of youngsters and so on. He used to go to Training Colleges, he used to completely disrupt young people's lives because they took him as a hero, a fighter and a communist. It's a new label in South Africa which is tantamount to a sort of a status symbol. Communist here, 'the communists', people don't know what it means so they get taught a lot of rubbish, distort what Lenin and Karl Marx actually did but the youngsters don't know anything. They just see these things have been banned in South Africa now all of a sudden we are being shown these things and this new thing. You know children sooner or later they start reasoning but no, no, no this is not right, but it's too late. This guy is a good orator, he's a good speaker, he has a lot of slogans that are appealing to the youngsters and so on and promises of paradise, everybody will have a house, probably they have already numbered yours. Everybody will have a car and so on, so people who haven't really got knowledge of what is happening are misled by the likes of Hani. Surely the world has lost nothing by his death. It's a big, big, big blessing for South Africa in actual fact. I don't know where the country would have been now if the likes of Hani were still there. Secondly, his death dampened the high flying, high arrogance of the ANC. It has dampened it.
POM So you were surprised at people like Desmond Tutu?
OG Oh I was shocked. My stomach was turned over and over and over. Church people making a big hullabaloo about an atheist, a self-declared atheist who said on national TV, twice I heard him with my own ears saying, "I don't believe in God, God never existed. I am what I am because of what I have done and what I am and so on", and he had no respect for God, nothing like that, if there was a God white, black. He used to say such things on debates on TV and people after his death, instead of going for Easter for the death of Christ they actually made it similar, they actually compared it with the death of Chris Hani. They actually said it's like the death of Jesus Christ. There is so much evil in the South African Council of Churches than in the whole of the satanic cults combined in the world.
POM Finally, and thank you for the time, do you get to spend much time with your family given your schedule?
OG I must say I didn't have and I didn't know what I am missing until the case. Now I've laid off the routine of office activities, my Cabinet is running the government, my deputy is running the government. I am merely concentrating on the case and they come to me every day for consultation and guidance, through phones they ask whether they can disturb me and come after the court. The court is only from 10 o'clock to 4 o'clock, so in the morning I can squeeze in an appointment, an odd appointment here. But they have been very good to me, my Cabinet and my officials. They would rather not disturb me as much as they can. They feel very bad about the case. I am told that all areas in Ciskei are praying every day for me, for the Lord to help me through this case and before the weekend preceding the Monday of the case all the denominations, mostly Protestant churches, not these secular churches, they went to my farm and held a big, big, big prayer meeting and I am told that almost every family feels like they are in mourning now about this. It encourages me to see that. Now I am having a little bit of time with my children and my wife.
POM Your children?
OG Oh the boy is riding around here, the elder one is 13, he will be 14 in June next year. The next one is 10, he's doing Standard 2, the elder one is doing Standard 5 and the smallest one is in pre-school, he's six. He will be 7 next year and will be starting school next year, the real school. He's been in pre-school for the last three years. And they are all boys.
POM That means you will have to have ...
OG A lot of money! But I am so glad because I will have six kids in a few years time. I am so glad. I am looking forward to those nice little bubbly girls that I will be welcoming as part of my family in the future. The agony about blacks, I think in all races or in all societies, that when you have girls you lose them to somebody else for ever when they get married but when you have boys you welcome them. They are such wonderful kids.
Thanks for coming again. As you know when I was struck by this court thing I was devastated and I said cancel everything. I said to my secretary, "Cancel everything please, please, please". Now I am better, I was very, very disturbed because I knew it was just a political way to get at me. So I am happy you insisted.
POM I'll be back to see you again in six months.