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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
31 Mar 1994: Delport, Tertius
(IEC refers to one of those two members of the IEC, both of whom are unnamed.)
IEC For the sake of the meeting obviously, thank you very much, we know you're very busy. Operation Access - I have the fundamental rationale with me here and you are very, very welcome to go into it in your own time. It is something that came about because of certain difficulties experienced by not only political parties but mainly political parties, but there were also some problems from business, from land owners, farming communities, and also from certain community leaders in certain communities, for example townships and places like that. The parties complained that they could not get through to the electorate and there were certain no-go areas, we all know about these no-go areas.
TD So you accept it as a fact?
IEC The judge has accepted it as a fact and that's why it's come about and from the fundamental rationale you will see that that is the truth. May I just before I get on to Operational Access, I don't have to explain to you about the IEC? You understand the IEC itself? This is part of the IEC but because of time being the essence we founded IEC as a whole operation, IEC staff members, but because of this problem this Operation Access had to be operating not separately from IEC but we made decisions separately and that is why we are moving so fast. The other people are concerned with ballot boxes and ballot locations and things like that and monitoring and administration and communication. We are here to facilitate and that is basically what our Operation Access is all about. We are facilitating. We got all the parties together at that national level and we have their unequivocal support for this project and that includes parties that are not part of the electoral process, people who are out of it, even the IFP, they have fundamentally supported this. What we do, as I saw, we facilitate and how our operation works is we would through the parties, they would tell us which their no-go areas are, then we would try and find the place where we could actually have a meeting and this meeting includes all the parties who are interested. We will not facilitate one party access into a no-go area because we will then be seen to be biased for that party. We will only access if there are two or more parties that will want to go with us. And what we do in a case like this is we go the parties and say we've identified the spot and then we have, before we go to the spot, we have all the concerned people, that includes police, that includes monitoring, international monitoring, peace-keeping structures and also voter education departments which are part of IEC involved in a meeting there with of course either the landowner or the business people and we have this briefing meeting and at this brief we then go to certain ground rules and we don't dictate them, we get consensus on each of these things from all the parties including the police and including the land owner. Everyone must be happy.
TD You haven't got time though.
IEC You see, we understand that we cannot, a meeting like that takes an hour and a half. We work on 48 hours. We realise that we cannot see everybody.
TD What about my meeting tonight? I've just been threatened that my life might be in danger if I go into a certain area. I'm going. I might be stopped but what do I do now?
IEC The police is your only avenue here Mr Delport.
TD Or I must ask the Independent Electoral Commission for a ruling that the votes from that township will not be counted.
IEC Because they've refused you entry?
IEC We're going to have many of those areas and they are still discussing that kind of thing. I understand what your feeling is here but on the other hand ...
TD I want to make it quite clear. It's beautiful to work through all sorts of beautiful operations but you don't achieve anything. There's a man who's just been threatened, we had to give him police protection last night because he was told he would be killed and he was told that he would be killed by ANC supporters. So in these circumstances I must campaign after he asked a legitimate question. So I would give you all the support.
IEC Was that this morning's thing on Newsline?
TD He asked a question of the ANC, Raymond Mhlaba, the National Party has apologised for wrong-doing. Will he be ready to apologise for the necklacing and the brutalising or whatever, I don't know what word he used, over the 1985/1986 period. And because he asked that question he was threatened and he had to. And one of the other ANC members even apologised this morning for what happened, but the fact is it happened. We're up against that.
IEC Mr Delport, this is called the Kriegler Plan, the judge himself has mooted this plan and it was his idea. I wish I could give you answers. I'm not involved in that. The only thing I can say is obviously Judge Kriegler and the commissioners themselves will have to deal with that kind of aspect. Our operation basically is to come and explain to you and see whether you want to come on board with this kind of thing, if we can facilitate this type of thing. Obviously we can't get involved too much because then our operation will be seen to be supporting a Nationalist Party rally. We are not a substitute for your campaigning. We are an additional avenue for you to reach some of the electorate and however poor it may be if we only have four meetings in this whole region over the next four weeks we feel that some of our objectives have been reached in that some people can get the benefit to see political parties together campaigning without the fear of intimidation or violence at that meeting and that is what our whole campaign is about.
TD You can count on us. We will not disrupt, we will talk about it, we will not intimidate. You can count on us.
IEC Thank you very much Delport. Basically what we want to say is we've got kombies, we've got ten of these mini-buses, we then come to you and say one of these mini-buses is available, you can bring as many people as the bus can take which means if it's a 16-seater you can bring 14 people along. You can bring your placards and everything and flags and paraphernalia that you might want to hand out.
TD I don't understand.
IEC At this meeting, say we go to a farming community and we get 1000 people together, then we go to all the parties and we have this briefing, we're going to go to this farmer, he is there as well. Maybe I'll just tell you how it happened in Pietersburg.
TD So you are specifically aiming on the farming community?
POM No, no. If it's a community somewhere else, if it's a business, Volkswagen or to Delta because even business has said that although the Electoral Act states that they cannot refuse campaigning, they say it disrupts their businesses so what we say to the business is here's an avenue where you can place all your workforce, where they get all the parties together in one group, you lose a little bit of production for one day and then it's over, finished and klaar, then you are perceived by workers that you are impartial and your workers get an opportunity to listen to everybody, even if it's an ANC stronghold at least they can hear what the DP, the NP and whoever what their views are. We give each party a certain amount of time, it is by stop watch, you get into a bus there, you park the buses, they've got very powerful PA systems. The buses park at one end then we park two buses in the front with a platform in between. The two buses can facilitate should you need an interpreter, if there are Xhosa people only there and maybe you would like to speak to them so there's an interpreter there. You get on to the platform when it's your turn, you get onto the platform, you do electioneering, afterward you move back and then the next party comes and the parties are drawn out of a hat who goes first. So it's very, very democratically done and very open. You have the police there and it's done in that way. I'm very sorry to hear about the other problem but as you can understand I can't get involved in that whatever my feelings might be. We have to be seen to be impartial.
TD I'm a little cynical.
IEC I understand that and I think a lot of people are in many ways. Part of my area is also Natal so you can imagine what our problems are in Natal. We also have another part of the Eastern Cape, Transkei, where Holomisa wouldn't allow certain parties to even open offices there. So, yes, we can understand the frustrations that there are.
TD You will see them tomorrow?
IEC I think everyone should demand their rights. And similarly again the ANC has also come to us and said there are certain no-go areas for them, that they can't get into certain farming areas for example and that is why our launch nationwide was in Pietersburg. It was on a National Party farmer's land and over a three day period we saw each day 1500 people to 2000 people every day on different parts of his farm and it was televised, all the commissioners were there, all the press and the media were there. It was fantastic to see from our point of view and all the parties were very, very happy about the way it worked. You can see how people work it out because they realised that the farming community there were mostly women because the men are out working in the cities so they got mostly women to go to it.
TD So we can approach you for ...?
IEC We would like you to. The way we see it we would obviously want to have a kick off, hopefully at the end of this week, otherwise early next week, with a dry run, an area that is still a no-go area but which can be seen to be not a very hot spot area so that all parties can get together to see how it works and get the perception of the benefits of the kind of thing however small it may be. But we would need a list from you of your no-go areas you would really like to get into or any other no-go area. If you can give us a list, you know we pool the lists of all the parties and then through that try to facilitate an area because also we have to go and do a selling job now to the area where you'd like to go, whether it's the community leaders of that township, whether they are the leaders of the business area or whether it's a Farmers' Association for certain farming areas and that's what we're targeting. Whether our goal areas - if you want to get the City Hall, you can get it, the ANC can get it, anybody can get it. We're not campaigning for voters to come to a certain point. We don't do that, that's your problem.
IEC You'll find that interesting reading I'm sure Mr Delport. Were you on this morning's programme? I saw a bit of that this morning early. Where was that, the beachfront or something?
TD It was in the open air.
IEC You got a lot of coverage there, you know that.
TD I just wanted to mention that we had a meeting of Mr Abie Williams two weeks ago at the Town Hall in the coloured area near Cradock and our MP and his organiser were thrown out of there last week by the ANC. That's the coloured candidate, not the black candidate. It's a no-go town for us.
IEC I think what we must do here, obviously if the Security Police say, listen if you take any buses even if it is IEC, which I think IEC is perceived overall to be quite, very impartial, completely impartial, we have to be, so there is the perception on the ground that the IEC should be untouchable except in Natal where IEC is not liked by Inkatha because we are seen to be part of the electoral process. But in other areas we are seen to be impartial and everyone is allowed in. What we would do in an area like this is we would go to the ANC, say listen we've had problems that we can't get in there so we want to facilitate, who are the community leaders there, we'll go and talk to them and then get this road-show set up. Let us have a chat about this. We're going to see all the other parties. You're the first party I've seen here today. We've just come from the police. We've got an appointment with General Smit regarding the areas here and he's going to get all his commissioners together and we will have a chat. I don't think we will be able to kick this off until next week but we certainly thank you very much for those two areas and we will certainly have a chat.
TD Have you got contact persons?
IEC Community contact people or your party contact people?
TD Our MP.
IEC Would he do the talking, would he go in and do the electioneering over there? I would like that very much, the National Party contact person yes. Have you got a telephone number for him?
TD Tobie Meyer, Jannie de Bruyn. [0481-2275]. We would very much like to hold a public meeting but we can't go in there. If we can get the ANC and us together, I don't think you're going to make much progress but we will support that.
IEC Thank you very much. That's what we need. If we've got your support that's all I want, thank you very much. Are there any questions regarding Operation Access that you would like to ask us?
TD I'll give you a copy of them.
IEC Sorry, have we got a contact name?
POM Project Vote.
IEC You are Project Vote. So you're not into the electioneering? Would you send observers to these meetings of ours?
POM Could I give you our phone number? And could we have a contact number for you? Are you basically here in Port Elizabeth?
POM No. In Johannesburg.
IEC Oh, so you won't be coming here? Oh you're just here for the day. I understand. Let us give you our telephone number here so that you can get in touch with our contact man for Operation Access. IEC offices, Port Elizabeth, Operation Access: co-ordinator is at Tel. 041-5055251(?). If your person comes down he will be able to contact us and we know where to contact him we'd love to invite him for our meetings. It's the first time in the whole world that this kind of thing has happened so it's a brand new thing, we don't know how it's going to work.
POM Are you going to go out to organisations, events in the afternoon? Let me ask you, you talked about the constraints on your campaign the main one being the lack of adequate funding. How does the National Party Central Committee, or whatever, allocate funds to the various regions?
TD They actually expect us to do our own fund raising then they provide us with a limited number of posters, placards and pamphlets and of course pay basic staff. The position is unfortunately that we in the Eastern Cape we are a separate entity, we are sort of the back door of the Cape branch and therefore we have never had a real full office established here and we still have our so-called head office in Cape Town, the head office is in fact now the Western Cape office and we've got to sort it out here. That is why I've got to do everything including transport for people, and pamphlets, and making speeches, and appear on television and not lose my temper too often which I find very difficult nowadays.
POM Can I get an idea of what the breakdown is?
TD You see it's very difficult to gauge our support east of the Fish River, in other words Ciskei and Transkei and Border areas. This side of what we call the (Fish River) line in terms of our interim constitution we are entitled to demand a referendum after the election. If we get a 60% yes vote we are entitled to establish our own province, in other words we divide the East Cape region into two parts. Now this population distribution is something like 54% Xhosa and 46% Afrikaans and English. On the other side of the Fish River I think it's something like 92% Xhosa and they have got about two million voters and just under one million on this side. We have all been campaigning very strongly. As far as the 46% of coloured and white voters, coloured voters will vote for us, no doubt about that. We've got a couple of problem areas like the one I'm going to tonight. Also in the Coloured areas we've got problems, the ANC is very strong there, then they are strong in Cradock. They have support in Cradock. In other areas they've got no support. The last couple of months especially they have not been at quite a number of public meetings. I had one at the end of last year with 800 people turning up. The other day at Uitenhage, 350, I get more and more indications ...
Well I have had talks with many of them and they say what's the use of voting for a right wing party that wants to establish a volkstaat up in the Transvaal, it's not going to help us down here. Here we've got to consolidate our power base and of course we are propagating that. So I think eventually we will get also something like 80% of the white votes, then the big issue, and I'm still talking about this, the big question is what percentage of the vote will we get in the black townships. No polls have done because I think the lie factor will be against them. We call it the lie factor. In other words people say, "We support A", but they're not going to vote A. What they say is not a true reflection of what they're going to do. They're afraid, they're scared to death.
TD No it's all over the place. I haven't been into the black areas yet. And people will not come out, it's no use having a public meeting because people who will tend to vote National Party will not turn up and if they turn up they will shout for the ANC, so it's a useless effort.
POM The PAC is strong in this area?
TD Yes it is strong.
POM Is the PAC a spoiler? Could they keep the ANC vote down enough for wind of opportunity to go through?
TD Yes, but not in the whole of the area. On this side, the Eastern Cape, there may be a chance for us to come out as the biggest single party because the PAC will definitely take a lot of black votes and the ANC will not get significant white support, as I say they won't take more than 10%, maybe 15%.
POM In terms of the structure of the elections, a referendum along the borders of the Ciskei and Transkei and people will decide if they want to remain part of an Eastern Cape province. In the interim who's in charge?
TD The newly elected parliament and the Cabinet, the executive. A Premier and an executive will be appointed.
POM So if they voted to split would it mean you would then have a new set of elections?
TD No it will not be necessary because the votes will be counted separately.
POM The National Party essentially is a well oiled political machine.
TD You see when we had the campaign in our traditional constituencies it was quite a different matter. Each candidate was responsible for his constituency and it was easy for him to go around and simply collect the money and get his donors. It's changed, that sort of thing now can be very difficult to raise from your smaller donations and that was our strong point that we had many hundreds of rands in donations and I'm getting my people together, I don't know when but they are arranging it. You simply have to fall back on that and get our candidates to take responsibility for a certain area.
POM Now your first meeting this morning, is that a campaign strategy or what?
TD No that meeting was about the one city ... at local level. The ANC was not prepared so what we had this morning was the leader of the National Party caucus in the City Council, he's also the Deputy Mayor, and then a delegation from the northern areas, coloured, because up to now the Coloured Management Committee, the Coloured Council, the ANC was not prepared in the forum that was set up to discuss the future. They insisted that the Coloured Management Committee be excluded from that forum which runs absolutely contrary to the act of parliament governing it. Now the whole question was, are we going to let this go in order to get the results that we want, from the agreement reached, or what are we going to do? Now luckily there is one clause in the agreement that totally, that can never be enforced. The politics are that the Administrator must OK the agreement in terms of the act, the Administrator and a duly constituted provincial committee that must advise him and they will now sort out a written letter that on their insistence remedies ...
POM How do you split your time as between ... and attending strategist and management in terms of your doing something that a professional should be doing, the actual campaign, how does it break down?
TD Yes and in between, I don't know whether we've covered that, I have talks with Raymond Mhlaba and ANC candidates on practical issues after the election, how we are going to manage the interim period until we know whether we've got one or two provinces. I'm now working this afternoon to prepare a document in this regard. I don't know, I do not have the time to concentrate on what I'm doing. I keep long hours nowadays, I would say at least 18 hours a day and I'm getting very tired and as you can see this morning a little bit frayed at the edges because I have no Sundays, I have no Saturdays and I have late nights every night, and it's travelling up and down to Pretoria to get to the office.
POM Do you have a schedule?
TD My secretary will have that. Amongst other things she will also have that.
POM Now does she wait till you come in or do you identify the schedule?
TD No I give her every day, she told me early this morning that I cancelled something, there's no way I could do everything so I will have to start cancelling something.
POM If you were a betting man right now, what would you give your chances?
TD Here in the Eastern Cape, our chances on what?
POM On winning.
TD Nil. That is realistic.
POM It's not very realistic?
TD I say I am very realistic. No, we've got no chance of winning this in the Eastern Cape. If it were split I would say we've got a 40% chance. I would have said a fifty/fifty chance except that I'm not sure what's going to happen along the border, how many people will come over and vote on this side. There's no check on that, you can vote wherever you wish.
POM The ANC is happily organised?
TD Most definitely. They are excellent at advertising, but that's about as far as it goes. You know I had to write to them recently, they have now indicated the towns where they will count the votes and which districts will be covered. I said in the letter, "But you have not taken into account the fact that there's a dotted line. You've got some of the centres where you will count that embrace both sides of the dotted line and the instructions are that it must be counted separately. So in one of these you will have votes ..."
POM This morning it seems to me that you were dealing with a ...
TD Well I started with the television programmes. But you know I was on TV this morning, apart from last night.
POM You spend most of your day reading up newspapers.
TD But you see now one must take into account, this is the only day this week that I will really be in the office. The rest of the time I'm out campaigning, going up for Cabinet meetings. On Wednesdays I will start at seven o'clock with our negotiating team, BGH it's the policy group for ..., that's the negotiating team. We meet regularly. When we were in the negotiations we had to meet a few times a week, now we meet every Wednesday morning at seven o'clock before Cabinet. We have it on the same day.
POM Do you get there a while beforehand and make sure ...?
TD No, no, we make use of our own party's Branch Chairman. No that is well established. We need to get there, then there's the parking, the local cops ...
POM OK thank you. Do you get some time for yourself?