About this site

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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

03 Feb 1994: De Lange, JP

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POM     Could you first give me an overview of where you think the country is at, and what pitfalls exist as it treads its way forward?

JDL     One could approach the answer to your question from different sides. I suppose one could look at it economically, constitutionally. I would prefer to look at it in a more fundamental fashion really. We are at the stage where the whites who have had political, economic and administrative power for more than two centuries are now giving up that power in a negotiated manner. That, however, is a process which has taken place at a very high level, and the rest of the white population has to adjust and re-orientate themselves to this new situation in which their monopoly of the administrative, and that's a very important aspect of power, and economic and constitutional power, political power is in fact coming to an end and the adjustment to that new life situation is a problematic thing: it's a dramatic thing, it causes tremendous uncertainty, fears. So, on the white side, I would say we are in a situation of uncertainty: I am speaking of the broad population. On the black side, the movement into political and economic and administrative empowerment will be very new and the responsibility that brings will be very strange and the adjustment to that situation will probably be as difficult as the whites' adjustment.

POM     How do you evaluate ANC negotiators vis-à-vis government negotiators?

JDL     I would guess that the ANC's negotiators did very well.

POM     Did very well?

JDL     Mm. But there was quite evidently give and take on both sides, there's no doubt about that. But I think the kudos, if one wants to hand these out, should go to the ANC negotiators.

POM     Would that be something of a surprise to you? Did the government underestimate the ...?

JDL     Well I don't think the government underestimated the situation so much as that it ran out of manpower, negotiating manpower. We had Viljoen's illness and he was certainly the intellectual leader of the team of negotiators and, with him gone, there was a serious qualitative fall back on the government negotiating side.

POM     And Du Plessis dropped out too.

JDL     Yes. I would regard him as a less important figure than Viljoen.

POM     I've asked this question of everybody just to see how the plot works out. On a scale of one to ten, how satisfied are you with the interim constitution?

JDL     I would put it round about seven.

POM     Again, if you had to look at the last nearly four years now, what would you identify as the major turning points in the situation?

JDL     I would say that the major turning point was, in fact, the acceptance by the government, the ruling party, that the time had come to negotiate a settlement and that the maintenance of the white power monopoly was becoming too costly. The beginning of it became evident and was expressed four years ago. That was the real turning point. Obviously a lot of factors led up to that, but you are speaking of within the last four years. I would guess that another very important turning point was when the Freedom Alliance was formed. For the first time I think the resistance to the ANC/SACP/National Party/DP direction, the resistance to that became evident.

POM     Do you think General Constand Viljoen added a kind of respectability to the right that it had heretofore lacked?

JDL     Yes, to a certain extent that did happen, although I think there was a misjudgement involved in bringing him out. If I had been part of the right, I would have brought him out later. He is now a misspent force to a large extent. His charisma, his status in society, was very useful to them in the first, I would say, six to eight months of his coming out of retirement as it were; but he was brought out too early by those who wanted a degree of respectability and a sense of moderation to the right and he is now in difficulty.

POM     The ANC has come out with a statement saying that they will accept a double ballot, which is one of the key demands of both Chief Buthelezi and the whole Freedom Alliance. Do you think that will open the door for everybody to become part of the [Buthelezi have one more thing that he wants]?

JDL     I might be completely wrong in my judgement of this situation, but I would guess that it would tend to bring Buthelezi in rather than tend to bring the Afrikaner Volkswag in. The Volkswag with their boerstaat or volkstaat idea are further along the line of self-determination than Buthelezi is in a sense.

POM     How would you evaluate the capacity of the right wing to mount a campaign that is, say, a low intensity conflict, like the one going on in Natal? Society functions around it. There are sometimes states of emergency, sometimes there are not, but life goes on.

JDL     Yes, they have that capacity. I, on the basis of historical facts, predicted in the early 'nineties that, as we reached an agreement, between having reached an agreement and implementation of that agreement, would be the most dangerous time for activists; whether they be from the far right or from the far left is almost immaterial. That would be the most dangerous time. They could then play on the emotions of a certain sector of the people. That is the time of the greatest uncertainty.

POM     Could one say then that Buthelezi has been a brilliant politician, that he has played his hand masterfully? He stayed out and got the one big thing that he wanted?

JDL     This is guesswork you know. I'm not so sure that if they had taken part in the negotiating process they would probably have achieved the double vote much earlier. If all they have achieved of their goals is the double ballot at this last, very last stage, I think they could have achieved that much earlier because it was an issue in contention at the negotiating table for quite a while and their absence there - there was no resistance to the single ballot around the negotiating table. There was consideration but no real resistance, and they would have been the only resistance if they had been at the table. So I can't say that Buthelezi was a brilliant strategist in this regard.

POM     ... Again when you look at the period while the negotiations were going on, what do you think were the main concessions or compromises made by government and made by the ANC?

JDL     I think the ANC has in fact, in principle, moved away from its very strong centrist views. It seems, some people interpret it this way; Louw is one who interprets it that they have got all the central powers still intact. If you speak to FW de Klerk or Roelf Meyer they say no, there has been a decentralisation, an effective decentralisation. Now I'm not a constitutional lawyer who can really judge this in detail. My impression, however, is that government has, and this is a bit of an ironic situation, there was a time especially in the eighties when the National Party resisted the idea of federalism but it was on superficial grounds. In fact, their basic policy was a federalist policy but, because the Democratic Party, the Progressive Federal Party which became the Democratic Party, had monopolized this idea, on superficial grounds they resisted the idea of you didn't even speak of federalism. And suddenly, when they were facing the last stretch, they came out for what they had always stood for and that was for federalism. But they moved away from that to a considerable degree to meet the ANC who had moved away from their very strong centrist position. So I would guess that those are the major concessions. There are other issues which, if not dealt with wisely, could bring about blood baths in this country and one is language. I think the ANC's position when they started moving on this, that all languages be equal is a wise move in the shorter term. Whether in the longer term they will have the wisdom not to degrade Afrikaans, I don't know; but Afrikaans remains one of the major possibilities for blood letting in this country.

POM     Does this mean you will have to watch the news in thirteen different languages every night?

JDL     Yes.

POM     Two weeks in English or Afrikaans.

JDL     We are a multi-lingual country and I think a major mistake was made when negotiations started and they didn't have a decent translation service at the negotiating table. They should have had it right from the start: that would have created a mood of respect for the languages of this country, which doesn't exist. They went for English, so there's a lot of suspicion with regard to the future intentions about language in spite of declared policy.

POM     Right now, the ANC seems to be riding on the high crest of the polls, showing 65% or 66%, and they seem to be (from those to whom I've talked in the organization), they seem that they want to break 66½%. Now it would seem to me that that would be a disastrous thing both for the ANC and the country, in the sense that the ANC would be able to write its own constitution and take whatever decision it wants to take in cabinet after consultation perhaps with others but certainly not regarding it necessary to attach consultation to whatever legislation they want to bring forward.

JDL     Well, if I understand you correctly, my reaction to this would be that I would agree that it would be disastrous to the country if that measure of power was obtained by the ANC or any other party for that matter. I seriously doubt whether there is a political party with sufficient wisdom of such a situation in South Africa to handle the enormous power which a two thirds majority would give them with any sense of wisdom. It would require more wisdom than is normally present in the newly powerful, in the 'nouveau riche' as far as power is concerned. And that could be a recipe for endemic violence.

POM     Who of the new brigade, so to speak, impresses you?

JDL     On the ANC side? Well I've known Thabo Mbeki a long time and I have the intuition, if you wish, that he is in essence a moderate man. Mr Mandela quite obviously is a very remarkable person and if nothing else his age tends to make him moderate. But I think he is also in principle he gets carried away; like most politicians, he gets carried away by his own rhetoric at times.

POM     I think it was only yesterday that he said the one thing that was non-negotiable was the ballot, but today ... It makes you wonder.

JDL     Jacob Zuma is I think also one of the I don't know all of them. Peter Mokaba is one of the younger men. I am involved with a research group, on the youth problems of South Africa, the problems the youth have, and Peter Mokaba is also on this and he has no real contribution to make at that level. No, he doesn't make any contribution. Some of the Indians Mac Maharaj is a highly intelligent chap. Slovo seems to have slowed down.

POM     There's one name you've left out of that that I would have thought would have been a conspicuous one, and that is Ramaphosa.

JDL     Yes, well Cyril Ramaphosa is - he's very effective, he's a highly intelligent man, he's very sophisticated and he's acquired many of the habits of the richer white classes. He loves trout fishing and this type of thing. He's also a philanderer I'm told. His wife doesn't see him too often.

POM     Thank God he's not running in American politics; if you make one mistake ...

JDL     But he's an excellent negotiator, there's no doubt about that. He has extensive administrative experience as General Secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers and now of the ANC as such. I don't know when, or whether it will even, the ethnic factor will start surfacing within the ANC. If it does, then he is in a danger because he comes from a very small ethnic group.

POM     What's it called?

JDL     The Venda and within the Venda he is a member of the Lemba tribe and the Lemba are said to be, by and large, the more intelligent of the Venda tribes, the more effective, the more powerful and are quite often the objects of jealousy, if that's the right word, amongst other Venda tribes. So being of that particular grouping, if the ethnic factor starts to surface, as some people tend to predict, once the power is in their hands then after the first few euphoric months or years the ethnic factor can come to the fore because there is a very strong Xhosa base and animosities amongst these ethnic groups are ancient.

POM     I think I've talked to you before about this and I would ask white liberal academics whether there was an ethnic factor or not and if they say there is, I would say, "Well why isn't it discussed more openly?" and they would say "Well, you don't want to be the one to bring it up in conversation because then you seem to be siding with the government and apartheid". So it's not discussed and people say nothing about it.

JDL     I think that's one of the foolishnesses in our society at the moment because apartheid was there. Anything which you can even by a stretch of the imagination bring into connection with apartheid is taboo, so one doesn't discuss the ethnic factor. But the ethnic factor, whether you discuss it or not is there, you cannot wish it away and that's got nothing to do with apartheid; that has to do with the human condition as we've seen through history and as we are seeing now elsewhere in the world.

POM     How do you understand federalism or regionalism? Do you see the interim constitution as a federal constitution?

JDL     The interim one?

POM     Particularly, yes.

JDL     I tend to agree with the view that the constitution, and as I've told you I'm not a constitutional lawyer so I'm a bit out of my depth here, but I tend to agree with the view that the interim constitution would have had a stronger federal character if some of the powers that are given to the provinces were given as original powers by the interim constitution so that any new constitution couldn't take away those powers. The fact is that within the interim period when the constitutional writing takes place those powers can be taken away.

POM     During this five year period?

JDL     Yes. I think it would be foolish to do so but it's possible and the two thirds majority might just create sufficient foolishness to do so.

POM     What about political violence? Every year it just seems that the total goes up, that nobody has a handle on it. Is that because, in a way, no-one is really governing the country any more in these three months?

JDL     I think the last remark you made is fairly close to the truth. The fact is that, once the negotiations started, the acceptance of the negotiators as being equal partners, which was the condition that had to be met for negotiations to start, created a power vacuum in this country. The authority which derived from a previous white election came into question and certainly the moment the negotiating table started, some of the power moved away from Cape Town and Pretoria to Kempton Park and the ordinary law and order issues, ethnic violence, was given a field of play. But there's another factor which I think, whatever happens, would have come into play and that is simply intolerance, political intolerance and my introductory remark when I said that the adjustments the whites will have to make will be equalled by the adjustments that the blacks will have to make; they come from the struggle and they have to adjust to what one should in broad terms call a more normal democratic-like attitude than the struggle provides for. The struggle is per definition not a democratic movement because in our case it was a covert movement. I think we're in for quite a long period of political intolerance. I would even guess, and I've told you this before, that the first years with greater legitimacy for the government, will see very little democracy, a fair amount of authoritarian government for the sake of law and order. There's going to be a lot of expectations that cannot be met.

POM     Does this again pose a real problem? You have millions of people out there who are expecting dramatic things to happen in the months following an election, and people will flooding from the countryside to create even more shacks? What do you think is going to happen?

JDL     Essentially very little can happen. In the ANC's political platform which they made public, they say they put aside 23 billion rand to right the wrongs in education. But they have no idea how much education costs. The budget for education exceeds 23 billion per year. How is 23 billion going to right all the wrongs, going to make ten years of compulsory education possible? We've worked this out in great detail and the closest we got to ten years of compulsory education for everybody in this country is that that would absorb 42% of the national budget. So from about 26, 27 billion which education costs this country at present, you would have to move that up to round about 45 billion rand per annum, which is almost half of the total budget which means less ... They want to provide free health services. There's no way. They want to provide sufficient policing: no way, when education absorbs almost half of the budget. So there are going to be a lot of expectations not met. And there are a lot of sad things in this transition, inevitably, so I would guess. John Samuel of the ANC told me that he was in the employ of the Zambian Education Department when Kaunda took over power from the British in Zambia, and it took five years to settle education. The youngsters had been used in the struggle in the same way as in South Africa, and to get beyond those habits [it was almost to get the kids out of the school] who had acquired those habits. It took five years. So normalising education, quite apart from how much you put into education, simply to the habits which went along with the struggle, to get beyond that is going to take a number of years.

POM     Because in a sense you're asking them to take on a set of values that are diametrically opposed to the values that they had to wage the struggle?

JDL     That's right.

POM     And now they can't adjust because ...

JDL     Well we're already seeing that. The interesting thing about our situation (you cannot compare it to Zambia; in Zambia there was a quick take over of power), here it is a transition period, negotiated transition period. So in a sense the ANC struggle partners are already part of the power system and one sees what is happening. Mandela tells them "Please go back to school", and this past year, 1993, is the worst school year we've ever had in South Africa's history. We've never had anything as bad.

POM     What do you think accounts for it being so bad this year?

JDL     You know if 13, 14, 15 year olds are part of a political struggle and you suddenly tell them the political struggle is now being dealt with at the negotiating table, "you are no longer part of the struggle", they are not going to give up the habit of stopping school whenever they wish, kicking out principals, just telling the principal, "You're not welcome at your school" and he has to stay away six months of the year. Nothing is happening. In the meantime his school might be carried away brick by brick as has happened in South Africa, especially in Soweto. All that's left when the principal comes back is the foundation. This happened last year. So the point is it's not going to be a quick, euphoric thing. That will have to be contained because the ANC will have to make this country work within a few months; the responsibility will rest with them.

POM     If you had to prioritise issues like education, housing, electrification ...?

JDL     Work creation.

POM     Creating jobs.

JDL     You know they are so intertwined. The idea of isolating work, creating jobs from the rest is a form of silliness really. If you can combine the creating of jobs with training and education and if much of that work is directed towards the creation of homes and all this is economically viable and is not dependent upon the creation of money, paper money, credit, but solid growth in wealth then I would put these - education, job creation and housing as top priorities. But if I go back again to education, just using the school system as it is would in itself be a tremendous advance. If you could move the pass rate from 38% in the final school year up to say 80% you are doubling the effectiveness of the present school system with no additional moneys necessary, just better school discipline, attendance, etc., using what is there. But the major educational problem is the 6 - 7 million adult illiterates who are a strain on the economy and as many as possible of them should, within the shortest possible time, become sufficiently literate to be better trainable so that the viability of the economy rests not on artificial factors but on manpower, training.

POM     When one looks around the world, unemployment rates tremendously high in Europe, they are continuing to be high in America and the kind of jobs they made in America are not high tech jobs; there is only a demand for service jobs.

JDL     It's universal. Yes you're right, to create all these jobs it could be an extremely artificial thing and therefore a short-lived thing or it could be more fundamental. I would define the major problem of South Africa, quite apart from political empowerment of all the people, is the economic empowerment of our society. And that can only be done if the potential within the total population is exploited, not in the bad sense of the term, but is exploited in the sense of being educated, properly trained and with the values which make an economy work. Then this country has a chance. But 40 million people must all be involved in the economy on the basis of a more modern level of education and training. Now this is a terrible thing; where do you break the vicious circle of the shortage of money? We will need injections from outside and I certainly hope that those injections will be spent in the right places, and we've mentioned a few.

POM     There is a lot of competition for those ...

JDL     Tremendous competition. I think basically the same thing is going to happen as happened in Namibia. It's just a lost cause now, a forgotten cause. It was in the forefront of the world while they were struggling for independence. I attended a conference in Britain where a lot of countries were represented before the independence of Namibia and it was already evident there; there was very little money going to Namibia. Namibia would be a boot straps operation by and large and I think South Africa will probably, 90% at least, have to be boot straps operation also.

POM     We were talking about concessions before and you had said there were concessions made by the government; what concessions do you think were made by the ANC?

JDL     Well a movement from their strong centrist position. In other words if one looks at it from within the ANC, the pragmatists won the day over the ideologues, it would seem to be the case. And that opened the field for concessions in terms of negotiating with the government.

POM     Where does the Conservative Party lie? Is it again painting itself into a corner out of which it's very difficult to get?

JDL     It's painted itself into a ridiculous corner. There's a form of craziness there at the leadership level. I know many people from the Conservative Party who are by and large very ordinary people without unrealistic expectations, but Ferdi Hartzenberg having himself declared President of what? Their ground claims are mad. The Conservative Party can very easily move, as was evident the other day when Viljoen was booed into an unthinking reactionist position. They are very close to that and it can be very dangerous.

POM     That's when Viljoen first of all threatened the use of violence?

JDL     No that was when Viljoen said we must take part in the elections; he was booed. And they said "We want war now". And he was not allowed to conclude his motivation for his view which I believe was the view of the executive of the Afrikaansevolkswag. They had to adjust very quickly to this mood of the rowdy group. You know this is a very interesting factor in politics; I suppose as a professional student you are well acquainted but I find it interesting simply from observation; and that is the noise level being beyond the numbers, much larger than the numbers and the effect that sometimes has. This meeting where Viljoen was booed, the noise came from a fairly compact group, a significant but compact group and a minority group within the audience, and yet they were bowed to.

POM     But in a sense that happens in most countries which have a problem of nationalism. It's the small groups which ultimately make everyone pick their tribe when any kind of violence breaks out. If one looks at what's been happening all over Eastern Europe, people who thought nationalism was one of those concepts that belonged in the 19th century are now having to reacquaint themselves with the concept and its consequences. Do you think that people at large can say "Oh there go the Afrikaners again; they want their volkstaat and it's never going to happen anyway", and in the end they throw in the towel and go to some place like Orania, that they don't believe in the intensity of feeling involved?

JDL     I think that would be a misjudgement. I think that the majority of Afrikaners are today more sophisticated than when the strong national movements amongst the Afrikaner were dominant, and I would say that the right is still less than half of Afrikanerdom. I would tend to agree with FW de Klerk when he says that the right is the minority. But they are a significant number and they have grown in number and they have grown in intensity of feeling. You find strange things. I was standing in a queue at a farmers' co-operative (and I am known as a liberal in Afrikaans), and a chap standing a bit behind me in the queue, about four people away, addressed the whole gathered consumer group there by saying, he was addressing me in fact; he said, "The mistake the right makes is that they are too splintered, they don't consolidate". He said, "All that is needed to take over the country", and he was boiling mad when he said this and he really believed what he said, "is to mobilise 10 000 people, each with a hit list for one night and they could take over the country in one night": 10 000, and he believes this. I know people who in fact, it has become public, hope that they can take over towns on this basis and they will be killing fellow Afrikaners not anybody else.

POM     So it would be your estimate at the present time that the obstacles facing Buthelezi have essentially been softened and that the white right wing is still dead serious and won't be moved by anything less than what they demand?

JDL     I would say that is very close to the position at present.

POM     This ties in with economics. If you were a foreign investor, let's say I was a foreign businessman and I came to visit you and I said to you, "Well give me one good reason why I should invest in South Africa rather than Scotland or Wales or some place in the middle of Italy that are very poor areas but are stable areas'.

JDL     I think one of the major reasons why investment will be possible is what I said previously: we are in for a fairly authoritarian period of government rule which, through the use of fairly harsh measures, will maintain law and order. The wild card in this is two things and I've mentioned them both. The one is the level of frustration from unmet expectations on the one hand, and the other is the mad fringe on the right. These are the two basics, and they will have to be dealt with and I don't see a democratic way of dealing with them. I'm glad I'm not in government after 27th April.

POM     A couple of questions about the Broederbond. During your tenure as president, what role did it play in discussing the need for reforms, or did any such discussions take place?

JDL     Oh yes. I think we played a very important role. I wouldn't like to over-emphasise the role, but I have no doubt in my mind that we facilitated much of the new thinking; we did a lot of experimental and risk thinking. The reason why I became president was because a split within the Broederbond developed around a more volkstaat type of approach, or isolationist or insular approach, and a more open approach and I was leader of the more open group and we won the day.

POM     Dr Treurnicht was part of the other group, right?

JDL     He was part of the other group but he moved out quite a bit earlier. He was succeeded by Carel Boshoff and I succeeded Carel Boshoff. Carel Boshoff resigned when he saw that he was in the minority he resigned.

POM     Has there been any admission in the Broederbond that apartheid was wrong?

JDL     Yes, oh yes. Well this became evident in the early 'seventies really within the Broederbond; but it wasn't a clear cut thing, and there was a group of isolated people within the Broederbond in some places with a stronger feeling about this and that it wasn't working economically or morally: that both in the moral sense and in the economic sense it was a failure.

POM     In that case, why did it take so long for reform to happen? Why did it take so long for 1990 to happen?

JDL     If I take my tenureship of the chairmanship of the Broederbond, the first phase was to confront the apartheid group, the protagonistic people who were still thinking of apartheid as the only solution. This was done and it was a highly dramatic thing where 4 500 members resigned over a period of two years out of a membership of 12 000. But we kept on developing the thinking, and we did it in a confidential way but very democratic way. We involved each chapter and, when I stood down as Chairman, we had 1 400 chapters. And by 1986 we brought out a document in which we basically spelt out the principles which obtain today in this new constitution.

POM     This was brought out when?

JDL     In 1986.

POM     Is it possible to get a copy of those?

JDL     Yes. I don't have a copy here but I could quite possibly get a copy sent to you.

POM     I'd appreciate that. I'll leave an address.

JDL     And this document became public knowledge; everybody expressed surprise. We gave expression there to the basic principles which obtain, and that is that everybody should have the vote, that a black president be accepted, etc., etc., etc. We put down certain basics in terms of language and so on, education. And then in 1989 after discussion again within the chapters (it took time to feel the pulse as it were), we then again had a discussion document on guidelines for a new dispensation and it was in the immediate aftermath of that that the politicians came to the decision: F W de Klerk and the 2nd of February. He told me that our discussions over this ten year period had more or less had opened the way for his speech. I think we played a major role, yes.

POM     That's going to be a remarkable achievement. Was PW Botha an obstacle in the way of change happening after 1985?

JDL     He became an obstacle, yes. Initially he was not. He was quite happy with the thinking that we had been doing and in fact, as you know, he made a policy speech at the opening of Parliament in 1985 that ...

POM     Crossing the Rubicon speech?

JDL     No, no, it was before that; it was in fact with the opening of Parliament when he said that all people in this country must have an equal political vote. That was a pronouncement of a death sentence on apartheid. But the implementation of that, that was supposedly to be the crossing of the Rubicon speech. Something had happened to him in that interim between that opening of Parliament and the Rubicon speech which was ...

POM     Had he been talking to Mandela before that or did those conversations start at a later date?

JDL     No, he had not been talking to Mandela but one of his men was talking to Mandela.

POM     A Minister or ...?

JDL     No it was an official.

POM     A civil servant?

JDL     Yes. One very close to him. So there was communication, no doubt about that. I think that it was the fact that his health gave in. He had a minor stroke. I think it is fair to say that he had several minor strokes and the one which led to his resignation eight months later, in September 1989, was the last of a number, [concealed ...]

POM     That evening I was here when he went on television to announce that he was just getting out of everything.

JDL     You know a stroke is a terrible thing. It destroys an area in your brain and then and that is gone, and it's fairly haphazard where it strikes and certainly it was starting to affect his judgement and his memory.

POM     As you look forward to the future, do you see increasing levels of violence before the elections? Do you think the elections can be free and fair in the face of that violence?

JDL     We'll have to use a fair amount of imagination to see that the upcoming elections will be fully free and fair. There is going to be intervention, intimidation from the right and from the black side.

POM     So is it more important in this case to ensure that the government that comes out of the elections has legitimacy as distinct from the elections being free and fair?

JDL     I think we must get elections over and done with so that we have a government with greater legitimacy than we have at present; [as a start[ and if there is sufficient wisdom around we can make things work. It's going to be a rough time and there's going to be violence. I think South Africa has a very good chance of making it.

POM     Looking at Natal in particular, where in fact there has been a civil war going on for the past several years, if the ANC and the IFP get 48/52% or something like that in terms of the vote, I'm just leaving the National Party out of it, the side that loses is almost certain to say, "Foul, the elections weren't free and fair".

JDL     You know Natal is a highly involved situation. Quite apart from Buthelezi who is the politician, there is the King who is the symbol of the proud Zulu people. Whether they are ANC or whatever, they tend to recognise the King. I can imagine I don't say it's going to happen but I can imagine a situation in which Buthelezi becomes side-tracked and if that happens there will be a greater consolidation of 'Zulu-ness' as it were. He is at present a divisive factor within the Zulu nation. He is disempowering the Zulus.

POM     Would you agree with those who say that the way to deal with KwaZulu and Bophuthatswana and the other either independent or homelands states that are holding out is just simply pull the financial plug on them. Pull the plug on Ulundi and you can't pay your civil servants, you can't pay your police, you can pay anybody, and at the same time you're holding out the attraction of "Well, you can come over here to the ...; you can come over here and become part of the new Police Force". Do you think it's that easy?

JDL     I think simply pulling the plug will create so much chaos, so much suffering, that the organisation that pulls the plug will have quite a job getting that plug in place again. The forces of chaos are strongly present in the South African situation and you could easily push it over the edge. I would imagine that many of the civil servants that are at present in the employ in the provinces, as they are, and in the self-governing states and the so-called independent states will be without jobs anyhow. If the nine provinces mean anything, it means there will be less people in the employ of the state and if it means all those people employed then you just ...

POM     Again, does this not pose a problem for the ANC that they must get their stamp on the civil services as quickly as possible; that they can have the most beautiful sounding policy but, unless it's implemented by those who know how to implement, nothing happens.

JDL     There's no doubt that they will. When the National Party came into power in 1948 it took them less than three years to get their people in powerful positions within the civil service and I would guess it's going to take the ANC about that time too.

POM     Probably turn to the NP for help.

JDL     Yes.

POM     "How did you do it?" Thank you very much. One last thing before I go, as this will be the last time I interview you before the election, how would you sum up your own mood now all the campaigns have been launched, this country is going to be significantly changed in less than three months and strangely enough the negotiating process, as cumbersome as it was, actually worked.

JDL     Yes, it actually worked which creates hope for the future. Well I think I've already expressed my mood but let me sum it up like this. I think that in the medium to longer term we are going to make it. In the shorter term we are going to have a lot of turmoil, a lot of upsets: there will be violence, there will be uncertainty, there will be a tendency towards misuse of the newly acquired power. If that is not the case then we are super human and I don't think we are, not any of us, no matter the colour of your skin. So we are going through a very human history in which most of the mistakes that human beings usually make in such circumstances will be made. On balance I think we are going to make it as a society. I hope we develop a sufficient sense that the diversity in this country must be respected. You cannot negate the diversity and give simple preference to the uniformity, the sameness, the nation building ideas. You have to somehow balance this act, and that's going to be the major political problem because the economic and all the other things are dependent upon that.

POM     I didn't hear you the first time.

JDL     Economic and other developments are dependent on the ability to contain the potential destructiveness which will result from the imbalance between diversity and generality.

POM     Thank you. The Commission you are on youth, has that had any publications?

JDL     No, no. We have been having the research done and next week we have Van Zyl Slabbert is the Chairman of this and he thinks that it will be our final meeting next week. I doubt it very much. I think we will need another. I, for instance, have not even received the final draft so just to read the final report between now and next week and be able to judge it sensibly will take more time.

POM     How long has it been in existence?

JDL     About fourteen months now. I think it's extremely important that the report be brought out before or immediately after the election so that the new authorities can use the results of the report. It is a multi-party effort, ANC, the whole caboodle is there.

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.