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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.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 Apr 1994: Holomisa, Bantu
POM General, you've been on the campaign trail going around the country for the last several weeks. Give me a feel for what kind of vibes, so to speak, are coming from the rallies that you attend and the People's Forums that you do.
BH Firstly the people surprisingly have come to the rallies in big numbers almost all over and they seem to be cautious, they don't trust President de Klerk and the Nationalist Party that indeed they will hand over power after the election. Some think that they might organise a palace coup for someone to take over and put people like Viljoen and then delay the whole process. Others are worried about the violence and the position of many has been vindicated by the recent exposé of the Goldstone Commission where he said there is a prima facie case. There is a saying that there is no smoke without fire.
POM So do you believe that De Klerk knew about the involvement of the three Generals, particularly the Deputy Commissioner of Police in these kind of activities, that it was part of one plan?
BH I would submit that he must have known because in his capacity as chairman of the State Security Council, of which Basie Smit and others are members, and bear in mind that he also budgeted for three point something billion rand on covert activity. So we would exonerate him if he were to give an account and detail as to how that money was spent. But again it is the culture of the National Party whenever they are asked about something they will always deny it. When you expose them they will say, no it's an old thing, it got done in the past but they would never say no, we were lying.
POM In the new party?
BH Mm. New party.
POM Of all the questions that you've been asked at People's Forums, what would you say are the top two or three questions that are asked repeatedly in different places?
BH The people, I must be honest, one would have expected that they are going to ask when are you building homes, when are we getting classrooms? But they know that that is a process and President Mandela will be taking over a mess, inheriting a mess. But what their concern now is, when they vote on the 27th the attitude of those who are threatening not to allow them, confiscating their documents. And thirdly the threat from the right wing. They are not even worried about the threat of Inkatha. They are worried about the threat of the right wing. What happens if they are connected with the (security forces) and De Klerk is perhaps using the right wingers to prolong his stay in power? That is the main question that comes from the people rather than socio-economic problems. They know that a new government, its priority in the budget is going to be intended to address their problems, but it's the question of violence, they are not happy that the government is not protecting them.
POM How about Buthelezi? Whenever you speak about him you always get a very good reaction in terms of total negativity towards him. Is he still in the game or has he now locked himself into a corner where he's like a chess player, he's made a number of bad moves and there's nothing he can do to retrieve his position?
BH What I suspect from the people, they would like him to die through his own medicine, Buthelezi's medicine, his political slander by not making signals correct. The people would be jubilant if he were to fall in the same way as Mangope and Gqozo. It is true that Buthelezi has painted himself into a corner and seemingly Mandela was trying to rescue him by going and meeting him in Durban on a number of occasions but it would appear he still thinks he can still make it. Now people know that the state controlled media here, like television, they will publish all the threats by Buthelezi that he will fight and do all these things which means that people are developing a hatred of De Klerk to the effect that he is allowing Buthelezi to threaten the people and if he doesn't get a thing he must kill quickly, people must die. So they are questioning the wisdom behind that, why De Klerk will allow Buthelezi as if he is an independent state.
POM I think there was one question yesterday, you talked about the transition, the day after the elections all the civil service in Transkei will come to work. What kind of a phasing out period do you think there will be, how that part of it will work? Will Umtata be the capital of something?
BH All the civil servants including military personnel in the homelands, all their jobs are secure. But what is going to happen? Firstly ... and central government by recruiting proven administrators from the homelands and Transkei will still be there but it will be a part of the Eastern Cape. There is debate going on as to which city must be the capital. That decision has not yet been taken, whether it's going to be East London, Umtata or Port Elizabeth. But the civil servants in Transkei will still be there serving the public.
POM It will take a while really for them because they have to deal with local matters.
BH I think the question of taking over or integrating forces, integrating of forces might be quicker. Integration of the civil service it can take, or restructuring them, it can take five to ten years as we have such a huge bureaucracy here. Transkei, Lebowa, Venda and many others, too big.
POM Do you think the right wing at this point, what do you think the impact of the AWB foray into Bophuthatswana had?
BH AWB's move to Bophuthatswana, I think that was a blunder because they ended up being reduced to nothing. For them to have been shot by a policeman, not even by a military man, I don't know whether that was an execution or not, but people must look at the circumstances which led to them being there. They were there to fight and they shouldn't fight at all. As a result of that and being booted out unceremoniously in Bophuthatswana, that has undermined them in the eyes of most people and it's just paper tigers, nobody cares about the AWB any more. But we know that they are highly connected with the security forces and can still create some havoc on or before the election. Not that we have written them off but I think their morale is very low. It will take them some few months to activate their morale and by that time the new government will be in power. And all the papers all say that the government of South Africa was not involved in using the AWB threat in order to protect Mangope, not wanting them to be there to rescue Mangope for the second time. But when they were reported that the AWB was there they felt that they must jump in. In fact De Klerk was not going to send people there until Mandela directly called him in the middle of the night and then the troops moved in.
POM Compared to six months ago as you look at the elections, are you more confident now that they will take place in a relatively free and fair atmosphere than you were six months ago?
BH The elections will take place more or less fairly now that the SADF is deployed in Natal and they would like to make sure that they are fair because in the Goniwe inquest the police were trying to discredit the army. There is rivalry there. So for them to have gone there and in the East Rand, nobody complained that these people are shooting at us. But whenever there is the police force people are complaining that they have been shot, look at what they did in the march in Johannesburg. Some of them were seen shooting the people and Judge Goldstone is going to prove that some people were shot by the police.
POM The mood of the people, I noticed yesterday at the stadium and again in Bloemfontein, dancing, music. Do you think people are expecting a lot after the election?
BH People are expecting a lot in so far as the upliftment is concerned. They will have a government who is concentrating on perfecting their lives and they are expecting that something will be done to improve their condition. But again and again we are emphasising to them that you mustn't expect that there will be great changes, wait for the budget and the budget is going to be, for the first time, prioritised to the people on the ground and on improving the infrastructure. They are depending that the ANC is going to do that because the first thing is that when they look at a white dominated government they think that their interests are going to be whites only, they are not going to look for us. But what they have been fighting for, like economic forum, housing forum, national education forum, since 1990, they have seen that those things were delivered. If they say that they don't want to be like De Klerk, De Klerk has solved many things and they are hopeful that a new government will be doing something. There are people who might try and incite people that the ANC is not going to deliver amongst the blacks but they create fear. The advantage is that the manifesto, reconstruction programme, it was debated and discussed by members of the ANC. It's unlike talking from top to top because they know that policy. Another thing, they are aware that the government which is coming, not a pure majority, majority rule comes in 1999, they were told that this is a government of national unity but taken on a majority.
POM About the Department of Defence and the head of the security forces and the head of the police, do you think any of those positions will be filled by someone who is currently or was in the past a senior member in the defence forces, or that these are some of the crucial positions that the transitional government has to have a black person in charge of?
BH No. I don't think the colour is going to come into it because we are not taking over a colonial role here. We want to make sure that whites still participate and that they are protected. There might be a few political appointments here and there like Intelligence. The Police and the Army will still need professional commanders.
POM If you want to clean out the military, find out where the pockets of abuse have been, whatever methods the securocrats have ...
BH Well it's going to be easier than that because in that way, I think for the first six months things might continue as they are. They will continue to speak amongst themselves, who are these guys? People like Van der Merwe, allegedly he has been interfering with the investigation of Goldstone, you've got to sacrifice him. You can't have a man like that.
POM If more evidence does come forward and the Deputy Commissioner of the Police and the other two Generals, I forget their names, were indeed not only involved but were in fact the master schemers behind the third force do you think that they will be uncovered and made known that they should have amnesty or that some of the acts that were committed such as the shooting of the people on the trains are so atrocious that they should be held accountable and be tried for murder?
BH I think that people will be calling for their heads, demanding that they be prosecuted. Unless the government is going to come up with some compensation for those families who were killed because we are not at war. If it was still the revolution but these guys were unbanned in 1990, suspended the armed struggle, the government of South Africa became ... I don't think they would get any amnesty because what they have done now, they have been abusing their power. They were going against the instructions of the state and being in power ...
POM I think I told you, last week I spent some time in the Western Cape with Tertius Delport and Dawie de Villiers and one complaint they both had against you was that you wouldn't allow their parties to be operative in the Transkei therefore you were in no position to talk about free and fair elections because you were in fact denying part of the territory of South Africa, or whatever you want to call it, to other parties.
BH No, it is like in Natal/KwaZulu, KwaZulu is not an independent state. Even our people are chased away when they go the white homes, go and canvass in the towns, not only that, they are chased by dogs. There is no political security in South Africa. However, I never received requests that we must guarantee their security, but I said, "You can't even guarantee the security of Mandela, why do you wanted to be treated special?" I cannot be guaranteed security in South Africa so even President de Klerk is not guaranteed security. If you want more guarantees please give me equipment like police vehicles and so on, Casspirs, because we don't have these things. They have armed Bophuthatswana, they have equipped Ciskei, equipped KwaZulu and all other homelands. If there would be a riot in Transkei our car will be smashed. So, but their development now as we said before, if you want to open an office you are free but don't demand guarantees from us because we don't have that capacity, nor will the people of security take it lightly that if you come here things will be rosy with SADF. Instead it will spark off violence because people have got a vengeance against SADF as a result of that raid.
POM That was the raid in which five children were killed?
BH Last year. I said to them let the two governments meet and work out strategy to promote public relations exercise, the Nationalist Party government, people of Transkei. Financially our infrastructure has not improved because you are not speaking the language. I met Professor Delport last Monday and we had a good meeting and they are opening offices, they can open offices anywhere because we allowed them to put their billboards up, distribute pamphlets, we have allowed them. There are members of the National Party who are campaigning there, but when they said they want to open an office and we must guarantee safety, then I said no.
POM You can open the office but guarantee your own safety?
BH Yes, open an office and guarantee your own safety. But our police will be waiting on call but there are things that you must know, if the people were to get out of hand we don't have enough equipment and we are not using the same tactics which the ANC has done, shooting and beating. We are not using that. But they have been given the go ahead.
POM Of the top people in the National Party government whom you have met, who has impressed you as being capable of making the change to a new South Africa and capable of making a real contribution to that change?
BH I think Pik Botha and Dawie de Villiers. Those are the people I know who have been pushing behind the scenes. Others, I don't know whether they are going forward or backward. But Pik Botha and Dawie de Villiers they are the masterminds behind the whole thing. Push, push, push.
POM They have changed. Meyer and others are told by Pik, this is the line, that's what they are told by Pik, this is the line. I say that because we meet and phone each other. On this question of Natal I spoke to him and said, "My friend, it is getting out of control now. Rather move back before we move in as ANC because if we move in as ANC they'll start campaigning against your lack of control. This is not going to augur well for your ... with whom you have promoted your image internationally."
POM What would you like to do in a new administration?
BH Firstly, I think in parliament, you know I came number thirteen, when we originally submitted names before the elections I was number eight. When the conference was held then I became number thirteen. So my aim is to contribute in parliament and be involved in various committees. First I must gain some experience. I'm not keen on running for a post. I prefer to be a loose boy rather than confining myself to only one department. I am used to running eighteen departments. Let me go there and make noises in parliament.
POM Thanks very much.