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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

01 Nov 1994: Hartzenberg, Ferdi

Click here for more information on the Interviewee

Click here for Overview of the year

POM     In the last six months since the election the country seems to be doing reasonably well. Do you ever regret your decision not to have contested the election?

FH     No. No, I think that was the right thing to do because we realised that if we participate then we approve the whole situation and the basic problems are still unresolved. The fact is that it is fairly reasonable at the moment, but you must watch the signs then you will see that the cause and effects of the new South Africa is now starting to affect the people.

POM     Like what would you specifically point to?

FH     Well I think the first thing that we have noticed is that the pattern is exactly the same as it was in the other African countries. Actually the government is not really governing the country. They appointed a lot of advisers and they cut themselves off at the civil service and the civil servants they don't know really what is going on. They published a white paper on education, but the department was not involved, it was only the advisers and the ministers. They have only taken one decision that you can say is a decision and they have implemented it. Otherwise they haven't implemented any decisions. The fact is the provincial governments they haven't got any powers until after six months. They are without any power. The only decision that they took was to increase the salaries of the political office bearers by a tremendous amount and now they say they will reduce the salary of the President and the Vice Presidents by 20% and ministers by 10% and so on, but that still leaves it very much higher than it was before the election. That is the only thing.

     Secondly, the strikes have escalated. Last year 700,000 man days were lost. So far it is already two million this year and some of the ministers in the Cabinet they encourage people to strike and of course it has a tremendous effect on the economy, the productivity. If you order certain things, farm equipment or even furniture, the reply is they cannot say when they can deliver because of the strikes. They don't know whether the people will be there to work. That of course is very important for the economy because if the RDP is going to work then there must be economic growth and I think at least a 10% growth if they want to deal with the government debt, which is 235 billion at the moment, the interest on it is 21 or 22 billion. They must first deal with that and then there must be investment in the infrastructure and capital and so on and then they can invest in social things.

     So the problem is that I don't think the RDP will be successful as a result of the fact that there is not sufficient economic growth. The other thing which is important is violence is still going on. More people were killed this year than last year and in Natal violence is going on on the farms, and there is, more or less, law and order is in a terrible situation. It has not fallen apart but it is deteriorating and without law and order there is no stability and no confidence and no investment from abroad. The culture of not paying for services is still continuing and the expectations that have been created before the election that every person will have a job, every person will have a house, that is continuing. People refuse to pay for electricity and water, they refuse to pay their arrears and they just demand that it must be written off and that houses must be allocated and as you see in the newspapers people occupy buildings in areas and squatting is escalating.

POM     The ... ascribed to white communities?

FH     That's the next thing that is going to happen. Because as a result of the non-payment the accounts of the people who pay have escalated and more or less doubled, 50% higher. ESCOM now is taxing the people who pay in order to make up their losses and the people who don't pay they use electricity but they don't pay and the only remedy they have is to increase the tax of the people who pay. And the fact is that people have said to me that their monthly electricity account is more than their bond on their house and it is not for the bill, they haven't got the money to pay the increased tariffs because they have their budget, they budgeted for a certain amount and now suddenly there is an increase. And they are not satisfied because they realise that they are paying the tariff, the account of the people who don't pay. And then you have the other thing, in Soweto for instance, there is a flat rate of R45 per month, that includes everything. That is for services and for interest on bond and so on, rent, that is a flat rate. R45 a month. But the fact is that in Soweto there are millionaires who are living there and they pay only R45 a month and there are high ranking officials who get tremendous salaries. There are advisers of the government who are living there, there are ministers who are living there, there are members of parliament who are living there and they have got tremendous salaries. In Pretoria the unemployed people and the people who live on social pensions they must pay the full rate. Of course that is not fair. Everybody is now a subject of the government and if a millionaire in Soweto only pays R45, for what reason must I pay more than R45 as a poor man?

POM     Is this exclusively for Soweto?

FH     No, not only Soweto. The flat rate is R45 but they don't pay the R45. I think if everybody pays his R45 then the total income is between 3% and 7%, they don't even pay the flat rate, but that's the flat rate and now the rest of the people, it starts on the East Rand, in Ryger Park, that's the coloured suburb, Coronationville, it's the coloured people, they said, look we must pay say R200 a month, that is their normal account based on what they have utilised, but in Soweto the people are paying only R45. They also want to pay R45. And now all the other people say if that is the norm, if Soweto is the norm then we also only want to pay R45, but in certain townships on the East Rand the flat rate is only R20, but they don't pay it. Only a small percentage of that is being paid. So the people feel that it is unfair, the whole situation is unfair. They are being discriminated against.

POM     Are these points made in parliament?

FH     No. I think the position at the moment is that the parties in parliament, of course, the major parties are involved in the government of national unity and it is very difficult to be part of the government and at the same time to be opposition and only the very small parties, the Democratic Party, they sometimes point out these things but more or less the Democratic Party is the only party which points out what is going on. But that situation is creating unrest and the people are not satisfied. So that is the one thing. Next year of course we will have to see what the budget will be, but the government during this weekend they have announced a six-point plan of which the first one is to reduce the salaries, but I think it will save the government two or three million rand, it will make no real difference.

POM     Do you not feel frustrated by your lack of access to public forums where you can make these points?

FH     No, we have public forums. Actually we have several discussions with the government. The big issues, we've pointed it out and we negotiate with the government on that. But we are not in parliament but all the other means are available. You can have public meetings, you can release press statements, from time to time we appear on television and we make use of it. We really act now as an opposition party and it is a tremendous situation because they are doing nothing and in any case you can point out what should be done. For instance, the six-point plan, they said they are going to privatise certain public corporations, of course that is a good intention, but they must do it. They are going to cut on the civil service.

POM     I think they mentioned 200,000.

FH     Well that must be seen. It is a good intention but there is a saying which says the way to hell is paved with good intentions. Good intentions is one thing but to implement it is another thing and if they privatise what are they going to use the money for? If they are going to pay the debt of course it would be a good thing because then the interest will be less. But if they are going to use it to satisfy people because I got the impression that the government, the ministers, when they appear before the angry crowds, then they are not able to resist their demands. Then they say, "Look, we will do what you want." That's what happened with Dan Mofokeng when he said they were going to write off all the arrears, they are going to hand over the houses. And even Slovo says it is not possible to do that. Even the President when he appeared before a lot of angry students and he said, "Look, you must go back to school next year because from next year there will be free education to the 11th grade", but the next Monday morning they announced, no it will only be the first grade that will have free education. But before the crowd he was not able to resist them. So that is the problem. The make promises as a result of pressure and if they are going to use the money from privatisation to spend it on insignificant things and not repay the debt and not invest in capital loans to create growth then of course it will be no use and if they don't reduce the civil service because it is too big, but they are under pressure as a result of affirmative action, they will have to fire the experienced people.

     You see they will have to compensate with commerce and you already have the situation, just to give you one example, in the Eastern Cape as far as agriculture is concerned, in the Transkei there were 7000 officials involved in agriculture. In the Ciskei 4000, that is a total of 11,000 officials in agriculture only and outside the Transkei and Ciskei there were only 350 officials in agriculture. That is the ratio, but now they will have to fire officials and if they fire the supporters of the ANC they will be in trouble. They will have to fire the white people and the production of the Transkei and the Ciskei was not very much above zero, agricultural production. It was very low and although they put more people on the job they didn't increase the production in the Eastern Cape. Where the white farmers are living there are only 350 agricultural officers and they produce and they are going to upset those people. The second thing is the land restitution and redistribution. They are going to take away land from productive farmers and they are going to allocate it. So that will affect the productivity and the production of agriculture.

     Then of course the most important thing is they haven't made provision for the various nations. Like in Natal there is still the struggle going on because the ANC are not satisfied with the fact that the IFP is controlling that province. They boycott the legislature from time to time, they don't cooperate because they want to control that province and violence is still going on. Unless they realise that and they make provision for the various nations I think things are not going to improve because next year in the white paper on education they said they are going to open a school but we have 30 nations in South Africa and if you have children of more than one nation in the same school then the matter of the mother tongue and the culture and all those things arise and we have been through that in the past. You know about 40 or 50 years ago it was the policy of the government to reconcile the Afrikaans speaking and English speaking people and they said the starting point was the schools, the reconciliation must take place in the schools. And then they started with the dual medium schools but it wasn't possible for the headmaster and the staff to control two separate children and two sets of parents and then in a natural way the dual medium schools developed into single medium, Afrikaans and English, and then the standard of education improved. Now you will have more than only that. You will have three or four or five language groups in the same school and it will create tension and it will affect the standard of education tremendously. So those are all the problems that still lie ahead because they said they are going to implement it next year and then the trouble will start.

POM     Is there any significant brain drain?

FH     That is also going on and a brain drain, well trained people are leaving the country especially professional people because it is easy for a professional person to establish himself abroad, but for a farmer it is difficult because you cannot take your farm with you. And for a businessman you cannot take your business with you. But the professional man he can establish himself easily and a lot of people are going to Australia, Canada and the United States and so on. And that is still taking place. The other thing is people are taking money out of the country. Business people are taking money out of the country to establish themselves.

POM     Do you feel that the Freedom Front co-opted a number of your supporters?

FH     Our estimation is that about 33% of our people voted for the Freedom Front, but they are not members of the Freedom Front because the Freedom Front haven't established themselves as a party. They haven't had a congress, they haven't formed branches at grassroots level. They are actually a head without a body.

POM     If you take away Constand Viljoen there's no structure underneath?

FH     Yes. That's so. No real structure at all. They haven't got a party in the real sense of the word with branches and a congress and those types of things. They haven't had a congress.

POM     The overall membership of the Conservative Party was stable over this period or was it losing members?

FH     No, no, I think people are coming back because the people who voted, that is a political phenomenon, when some of our people voted for the Freedom Front then there were tensions between the people who didn't vote, it was not a very comfortable situation because they started fighting a little bit, the people who voted and the people who didn't vote. But now we are moving away from the election and many of the people who did vote they said well they thought that if they vote then after the election they would get a volkstaat and now nothing has happened and they realise that it is not really the intention of the ANC to grant us a volkstaat and now Viljoen is cooperating with the ANC government more than the National Party. He is supporting them in the sense that he supports a unitary state, he supports all their programmes and so on and they feel that Viljoen is not going to be the saviour.

POM     Just looking down the road at the future, what role do you see the Conservative Party playing especially if it continues to stay outside national and regional parliaments?

FH     Well the fact is that at the moment we are negotiating with the government, that is the first and it is a soft option, that is what we decided to do to put our case.

POM     When you say negotiate, negotiating about?

FH     About self determination and freedom. We have had several discussions with the State President himself, Mr Mandela and representatives of his government, and we made proposals to the government.

POM     Have you found that they are more receptive, more willing to listen than they were nine months ago?

FH     Oh yes. Let me tell you, of course, that the fact that we didn't participate in the system is the reason why they had to discuss these matters with us and we made proposals to them and they must react now and it's a little bit difficult for them because if they say yes to our proposals, more or less if they accept it, then they accept the principles and then it's only a matter of implementation and so if they say yes they will have to amend the constitution and if they say no then we realise that they are not serious. So it is difficult for them because the answer is really, I think, no, but they cannot afford to say no. Now they want to play games and they want to use the National Party to sabotage the whole effort because they want to say, "Look, we were prepared to give you self-determination but it was destroyed amongst yourselves and the National Party and perhaps the Freedom Front." So we realise that is the position but they want to create the impression that they are prepared to accommodate us. But now they must prove that they are serious. That is what we must determine. But that was the first option.

     The second one is that we will have to go to court, the Constitutional Court. We will have to use that to demonstrate and to make out our noble case so that everybody can know that there are now injustices from the other side as far as race, education, anything. The first thing is that we can then encourage people only to pay a flat rate. So we are in a strong position and the fact is that if General Viljoen joined us, stayed out of the election and we were united, we would have been in a very, very strong position. So we must now bring the people together again and we must put our demands in a fair way and demonstrate that we have a case.

POM     How about local elections next year?

FH     Well, we have discussed this matter at our congress a week or two ago and, of course, you know, the Transvaal Municipal Association, we won enough towns in South Africa, in the Transvaal, in 1988 so that we controlled the Transvaal Municipal Association, and then the Nats they broke away from the TMA and they formed their own thing. But now the TMA has decided, they appealed to parties not to participate in the elections but to give them the opportunity to form an organisation who can participate in the elections on the basis of also self-determination at local level and at our congress we have decided that we are sympathetic and they must submit their policy and their constitution and then we will finally decide whether we will encourage to support them or not.

POM     Are there any circumstances under which your own party would directly participate?

FH     Well if the TMA, if their policy is not in accordance with our policy or if the government comes forward and they say, "Look, we are going to give you nothing. We are not going to give you self-determination in any form", then we can use it as a sort of referendum to indicate the support for self-determination.

POM     If the government does say no, what options are open to you at that point?

FH     One of the options is as I pointed out to you, that the ... and what we then do we just demand what other subjects of the state get.

POM     All your actions would be within a constitutional framework?

FH     Oh yes.

POM     I remember Dr Treurnicht saying about three years ago that there was a possibility of a closer relationship between the Conservative Party and the AWB, where in effect the AWB might become the armed wing of the Conservative Party.

FH     Well the AWB is a certainly different organisation and there is no connection between us.

POM     Do you think they are a spent force? Their retreating from Mmabatho kind of showed that they were more paper tigers than real soldiers?

FH     Yes. Well I don't think we will ever try to create an official connection between the Conservative Party and the AWB.

POM     Looking at your actions over the last year, is there anything at all you would do differently if you had an opportunity to do so?

FH     Oh yes. You know in May last year we formed the Afrikaner Volksfront because we realised that there were various groups and we tried to unite the people and we have been very successful, but to realise it is a difficult thing to maintain that. But we thought that if we can keep the people together for eleven months and we can achieve something, afterwards it will not matter, but it was not possible to keep them together for eleven months, and of course then Viljoen decided to participate in the election. That also put pressure on the Inkatha Freedom Party and it influenced them also to participate. But if we must do that over again then I think right from the beginning we would have organised the Volksfront differently, not a structure, but only an organisation. Then it would not have the same effect and we would have been in a better position.

POM     There were widespread allegations that a lot of rigging went on in these elections.

FH     Not only in Natal. The outcome was not based on votes because it was not possible. You know, some of the people who worked there at Midrand they sent us copies of the reports that came from the polling stations. It was not signed by everyone, the idea was that every party must have representatives at every polling station and when they count the votes and they finally fill in the form and before they send it to Midrand it must be signed by all the representatives of the various parties and some of the people who worked there sent us copies of the faxes that they sent in. It was not signed, but it is obvious, in one case I remember very well 23,000 votes were cast, 21,000 in favour of the ANC and 2000 in favour of other parties, but then a '1' was put before the 21,000 and it became 121 and the grand total became 123000, so they added 100,000 to the ANC. In other cases people who were officials inside the polling stations they said that the representatives of the ANC, they just grabbed the old people, they took them in and they say when they get the ballot papers they must hand it in and we will vote for you and then we hand it back and you just put it in the ballot box. So the irregularities were there. Finally, they negotiated the outcome of the elections. So it was not really based on the actual votes that were cast. In the end they had to take a decision and allocate votes.

POM     Despite ...?

FH     But he said there were irregularities, he said it was the best that they could have done, but he said never again in the future must it be done on this basis, there must be a voters' roll because people voted more than once, cast more than one vote.

POM     That is something they will have to do for the local elections.

FH     Yes, if it is the same thing then it will also be a disaster.

POM     Do you think the provincial governments have done enough to ensure that the local elections can take place next October?

FH     They have done nothing. Local government has no power at the moment, they cannot do anything.

POM     The provincial governments.

FH     The provincial governments. They have got no powers at the moment. Nothing has been delegated to them and what is more the government takes decisions, but they don't make provision for the implementation. They don't plan. They have decided that all children under the age of six will have free medical care and for pregnant women it will be free. But they didn't inform the department and the hospitals and they didn't plan where the money would come from. They just took the decision and the people who have to perform it in actual practice they have heard about it on the radio and the television and now after six months there is no money available. If you go to the Hendrik Verwoerd Hospital in Pretoria then there's no medicine available because the budget is fully spent. In Bloemfontein it's the same thing, then you must buy your own medicine because they didn't inform the people. And when the people ask where must we get the money from to do this, they said you must use your own budget. No provision has been made. The same thing with the education. They have taken decisions but they didn't inform the department how to implement it and headmasters at this moment don't know what to do next year when the schools open. So that is a strange phenomenon. A government taking decisions but don't plan and make provision how to implement it. They think if they have taken a decision then it will happen on its own.

POM     Do you see think this is inexperience or ineptitude?

FH     I don't know.

POM     If you look at the economy do you think it has improved in the last six months?

FH     There is a small upswing, but it's an international phenomenon and it is always so, if there is an upswing abroad then of course we feel the consequences in South Africa but it should have been much more. The growth rate this year will not be more than 2% but the population rate is much, much higher than 3% because it's not only the natural increase in the population it's an influx from the whole of Africa because as far as Rwanda people are streaming to the land of hope and the population increase is much more than the normal 3%. There are people who say that the total population in South Africa now stands at 70 million and not 40 million. A big difference. Because people have moved from Mozambique, and now from Rwanda, they are moving into South Africa. Zimbabwe, Zambia, all those places, people are moving to South Africa because they hope that in this rich country they will be able to make a living. But of course we have a tremendous unemployment rate at the moment.

POM     Now Derek Keys has said repeatedly, while he was Minister of Finance and after that, that the best this country could hope for was an increase in employment of about one percent a year. Essentially there is no way that the government can talk about putting masses of the unemployed to work because there is no work.

FH     That is the problem and that expectation has been created that there will be jobs, there will be houses. And that is the reason why people from the whole of Africa are moving to South Africa and they will never be able to meet that expectation. That is impossible.

POM     Can we talk for a minute about the incident surrounding the MK, cadres walking out of the camps. How would you rate the government's treatment of this?

FH     Well they are undisciplined. MKs were not a disciplined defence force, they were a lot of terrorists and all the people who reported there and were recruited they were not even MKs, a lot of people were from the streets. They said they were MKs but they were not military trained and they went to join the South African National Defence Force but not to be integrated into the National Defence Force. They said the National Defence Force must be integrated into MK and they want to determine the rules and that is not based on international military rules. They don't want to be trained, they want to get a salary. Yesterday morning when they received their salaries they just walked away. No discipline.

POM     What do you think? Mandela came out with a number of strong statements.

FH     They don't listen to him, they just continue. I think it will be a tremendous task for him to discipline those people because then he must inform the military officer to apply military rule. Fire the people who are AWOL and train the people who stay there, make good soldiers of them.

POM     How would you rate his performance overall?

FH     Mandela?

POM     Yes.

FH     Well, I think he is trying his best and he is doing a good liaison job and that's what they use him for.

POM     Liaison job between?

FH     Internationally, elsewhere inside to pacify all the people. But of course if he's not there I don't know what then is going to happen because you can see the rift inside the ANC already between the communists and other people who realise that the time for communism has gone. There is that risk. And then there are also personal aspirations. So at the moment he is more or less ...

POM     The glue that holds it together?

FH     He holds them together but if he's not there then I don't know whether somebody else can hold them together.

POM     There are just one or two more things, and thank you for the time that you've taken. This rift between Buthelezi and the King that has the makings of a very nasty conflict. Are there serious differences to the extent that could lead to some kind of civil war in Natal/KwaZulu?

FH     The fact is that civil war is already going on for a couple of years between the IFP and the ANC and that is the basic problem because the ANC is trying to create this split between Buthelezi and the King and they have worked on it and they try to get the King on the ANC's side. The royal house as such, not the person, but the kingdom as such is very important as a traditional institution and the Zulus respect the monarchy. So it is important if you can have the King on your side you have an important person. But now they are the advisers of the King and they gave him bad advice not to attend Shaka Day. Shaka is a hero of the Zulus, it's a very important tradition. The King should be the custodian of the tradition and now as a result of the advice that he gets from the ANC he gave the people the wrong instructions and that is a problem.

     The second thing is that the King should be the custodian of the traditional leaders and the legislature of Natal/KwaZulu has accepted the law that makes provision for the traditional leaders, the King and Paramount Chiefs and so on, to have a body that will make them ... and the King now opposes it. So he alienated the traditional leaders from himself and that is a problem. Buthelezi is a traditionalist himself and he has royal blood from both sides, from his mother and his father and the Buthelezis are traditional; you know you have the monarch but next to the monarch you also have the advisory functions and that is traditionally the function of the Buthelezis. So that is also an established institution and of course Buthelezi is a traditionalist and Zulu nationalist and the King is making mistakes now.

     The other thing is, there was a stage when the King's father died, King Cyprian, the King was very young and he was not able to take up the throne and then these other ones, Prince ... Zulu, he was the eldest one and he was Regent for some time, but then he tried to outwit him and to take over the post but Buthelezi protected him, King Goodwill, against him and he made sure that the King was instituted as the King and the Zulus realised that and now the man who saved him at that stage he rejects that man and the man who tried to unseat him, he is collaborating with that man. So among the Zulus they say that it's the loyal man you are now pushing away and the one who threatened you, you are now running into his hands. And then of course there are other things, also important things, that the ANC advise the King, that is not acceptable to the Zulu nation. But of course the fact is that the ANC has been alienated from the Zulu nation for many years and they don't know how strong the people are feeling about their customs.

POM     Do you think Buthelezi did the IFP a disservice by coming into the election at the last minute?

FH     I think they made some concessions and as a result of that they achieved something. But I think they would have preferred to achieve more. But under these circumstances they achieved at least in principle the fact that the Zulu kingdom would be recognised. For that reason it was possible for them to participate because they did get something.

POM     The ANC say that there was massive rigging of elections in Natal, pirate polling booths, and in the end they decided to give it to Buthelezi because the outcome would have been an ongoing civil war.

FH     But the civil war is going on. Last weekend, this weekend they killed twelve people and it's a daily thing that is going on and the ANC is responsible for it, because I think they decided to give it to Buthelezi and when we are in government we will grind him. Because the central government, they will use their position in the central government and make it very difficult for the provincial government and that is of course what they are doing.

POM     And are they doing it across the board?

FH     Well, no, they are doing it in Natal because they control the other provinces except for the Western Cape. But so far they are more or less satisfied with the National Party because the National Party is implementing their policies. But now in the last few weeks when Mr de Klerk started to attack the ANC, they also became unfriendly in the Western Cape.

POM     Now the Truth Commission. Do you think it is something that could tear up the country?

FH     No, that will not be a Truth Commission. It will be a commission to take action against certain people. And the fact is that the date has been established as the 5th December, indicates to me that one measure will be applied on some people and after the 5th December there will be another measure. And the fact is that if it must be the same treatment then that date must be moved at least up to the 10th May so that all the people before the election who were involved in violence could get the same treatment. The Shell House episode took place in March but so far there is nobody investigating because it was done by them. So they are going to treat their people in a certain way and the rest of the people in another way. So I don't think the people of the ANC, people like McBride and Joe Slovo and Joe Modise, they are members of parliament and they said they will not be subjected to this Truth Commission.

POM     So they have immunity?

FH     They have immunity, amnesty, indemnity and another thing, there are three categories. They are in one category and now they are out.

POM     Finally, if you could rate the government on a scale of one to ten where one is a very unsatisfactory performance and ten a very satisfactory performance, where would you rate them?

FH     If the government could make only one decision and implement that decision it would be something, then you must give them one point.

POM     Can you think of any accomplishments that they have achieved in the last six months? Are race relations better between people, in the country settling down more?

FH     I think that the country is still waiting because they realise that it is a new government and you cannot expect within a week to turn around the country. But now time is going on and nothing is happening and the effects, we will have to deal with the effects of all these things next year and when the people see the effects then we will get a reaction. But at the moment the debt is increasing but the ordinary man in the street it doesn't affect him until next year when the new budget will be presented. What has happened is that at local government level the taxes have to come up and so on. So after six months the effects are not there but there is no firm government in the country who can control and give direction and say look, this is the direction and we implement it step by step and we are doing this and we are doing that. There is no government in the country.

POM     Some would say that the RDP ...

FH     The RDP is an election platform. RDPs have been applied in Chile and in Southern America, a lot of countries, but that type of thing is impossible. You cannot build economic growth on social programmes, building houses and the man hasn't got a job. How is he going to pay for the house? You see that is the problem of the RDP, it is a totally socialistic programme and they want to implement it in a capitalist system and it is not possible.

POM     OK. Thank you. I'll be back in about six months.

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.