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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

16 Nov 1994: De Klerk, Willem

Click here for more information on the Interviewee

Click here for Overview of the year

POM     Let's start, Professor, with how you would rate the process of transition. Is it going well, poorly? Where is it doing well, where is it doing poorly?

WDK     I would say basically, from a holistic point of view, I think the transition is really a success. I want to motivate that. There are of course problems; I will also underline them. First of all, I think that the spirit of reconciliation is really a dynamic force in South Africa at this moment in time from a holistic point of view as an outcome of the election and as part of the transition because one of the dynamics in the transition situation now is that I think the vast majority of South Africans see nation building, reconciliation, trying to meet each other half way, to rebuild the country, focus on the RDP, the Reconstruction and Development Plan that's a driving force in our society; and that's a remarkable thing in a transitional situation I think.

     There are tensions, yes, to a certain extent. In the white community, there's a kind of wait and see attitude. Not all the whites, definitely not only CP members, also the high ranking business personalities and National Party members are waiting to see what's going to happen. That's one problem to a certain extent. The second one is the feeling of the masses that the ANC doesn't deliver. That's another kind of a problem. The whole relationship between labour and the ANC is another problem that's not sorted out yet. The whole merging of the security forces is a little bit problematic, but I think we're getting there. And then, of course, the question of the whole economy: will the international world really invest? Is it only lip service or will we have a real meaningful upswing? And the crime and so on, that's more or less part of the negative picture. But, by and large, I think everything is going well. There is a relaxed atmosphere in the country.

POM     I've been going around the country for about a month now and, after being three months away from South Africa, I came back and went through old magazines and papers to see in detail what happened in the last three months. And the picture that emerged for me was that you had a part of the MK in rebellion; the SDUs are still operating in some of the townships, operating as gangs; you had the President saying that the South African Police had declared war on the ANC; you had taxi wars; you had an incredible rate of crime, a serious crime every seventeen seconds; you had huge labour demands; you had random strikes. One way of reading it would be like a country that's slowly sliding towards, I wouldn't say anarchy, but that it is losing control of itself, no-one could impose control over it. Another way of looking at it would be the signs of a healthy functioning democracy where a high level of crime ...

WDK     Well, that's more or less my answer. I would say there are two sides, that's part and parcel of reality. There's always a negative and a positive aspect, but I would say that the positive, the electricity, the dynamics within the positive energies is more forceful than the negative ones. We're busy sorting out the negative ones. I expected this kind of turmoil to a certain extent because the new government is still in the planning phase to prepare legislation [... and good for them,]. The indaba culture of the ANC is to talk and talk and refer back and to ... committees and meetings. So decision making is slowed down to a certain extent within this culture of indaba. The planning phase: planning housing, planning everything. Maybe from the perception of the public, [maybe and is to a certain extent,] nothing is happening, nothing's changed. On the other hand, rapid change is going on but it is still in the planning phase.

POM     But, in a sense, the government will have to create new structures before they can deliver?

WDK     New personnel, new structures and a new policy direction. So I think it's not fair to compare. I know it's a difficult, journalistic thing to say, "What happened during the first 100 days of government?" And it was also the game here, 100 days in government, let's look at the balance sheets, but I think it's unfair. This is an inexperienced government to a certain extent. It's an absolutely new government that must turn the ship around from one policy structure, one ideology, to a new direction, so you can't measure what they delivered during the first 100 days.

POM     Let's go back to the RDP. Again, going around the country asking everybody from ordinary citizens to the premiers of the regions, we found that most would greet you with a blank stare when you say the words 'RDP'. No-one had a very clear sense of what it was about or what it should do, even at senior provincial level. And when they did have a view of what it was about, the views consisted of different interpretations within the same government. The government seems not to have sold the RDP to the people as something that the people own in the same way as they used massive marketing on television before the elections to say, "This is yours, come out, this is what you do". And there is this distance between the planners over here and the people over there, even at levels of government.

WDK     Well my answer will be that that's definitely planned by the government and I know that it's not only speculation. My wife is now the director general of the Advertising Agents Association in South Africa; she starts her job at the beginning of next year and Minister Naidoo has already contacted the AAA to organise a TV and radio and newspaper campaign to sell the RDP to the people. So that's definitely in the pipeline. But you're absolutely right. There was this overheated expectation, especially in the ranks of less developed people, that the RDP would deliver very soon. But I'm confident that the whole planning of the RDP in Naidoo's office, and what I've read about the RDP, that it's going to managed like a business and I've got the feeling that it's a very sound kind of a basis from where the RDP will operate. There are also Mandela's speeches and speeches by Mbeki and others who tell the people continuously, "You must remember it's a process, there won't be any meaningful delivery during 1994, but we hope to deliver during 1995 and 1996 more or less 25% of the goals that we ..." So I think the kind of communication through to the masses about the RDP, that's in the pipeline and it's already going on. I'm personally not worried that the government will handle the RDP issue badly. I'm more worried that the business sector. There's an inclination (and I know there's also a perception in ANC circles), [will the old actions of business, the social responsibility ...] they will just switch their social responsibility programmes to the RDP desk. There's lip service to the RDP but I'm worried that big business is not really focused on the necessity of the RDP, that's the most important thing now in South Africa. If that's a failure, then everything will fall apart.

POM     Now ... a question about the emperor who has no clothes. When Derek Keys was Minister of Finance I interviewed him. He was very blunt and said that the best that could be expected was that the rate of unemployment would be lowered by about 1% a year. This year I went back to see him again and asked him the same question and he gave me exactly the same reply. There is not going to be significant job creation: in fact, you're deluding yourself if you build around that. At the same time, you have the government saying that it's going to reduce government expenditure from 21% of GDP to 17%. It's also going to trim the civil service by 200 000 people. Even the best estimate quoted in the Business Day today was that the economy would grow at 2.6% annually, which is not enough when you take population growth into account. That means you've got a declining per capita income. So where are the resources going to come from, the finance for it?

WDK     There was a White Paper; they are expecting a new White Paper on the RDP at the end of the month.

POM     It's out today I think.

WDK     Oh, I haven't seen it in the morning papers.

POM     Well it was due out today I think.

WDK     But according to my sources, yes it is going to be tough to budget for this RDP but it seems to me that there are different sources. One is money from abroad, that's development funds and that kind of thing. There's millions and millions and millions already in that fund so to speak, but that's not enough. But that's one source. The second source is a reallocating of the budget. The third one, I believe that there will be tax, at this moment in time they want it voluntarily from business but there will be a kind of a levy, a tax for the RDP, up to 5% of the income of businesses after taxation. So I think that will be the third source. The development funds from abroad, the reallocating of the budget between different departments, a kind of a forced RDP taxation on the individual too but also on business, that's the third source. The fourth one is selling South African property abroad, selling South Africa House on Trafalgar Square. That will be millions of pounds. In more or less all the main cities of the world, South Africa has really wonderful property and in South Africa too. So selling property, state property, that will be another source. Therefore, I still believe that they won't be in a position to deliver what they think they can deliver within these five years, but at least if they can deliver 20% of the total package during the five years and the next within the next ten years: I think the whole RDP is going to be an ongoing process for years, decades. But I think the first deadline must be trying to deliver 15%/20% by the end of this term, 1997/1998, and then the next five years another 20% and so on. And I know that's more or less also in the pipeline, this kind of planning that we can only deliver what's possible and let's get the housing going, that will also create jobs, etc.; let's get the housing, electric supply and education going to a certain extent. Let that be the first aim of the RDP for the following three years and let's concentrate on that.

POM     Going back to business or to a question I think I asked you maybe two years ago, and that was: if whites were faced with having to choose between maintaining their political position or maintaining their economic position and interests, which would they choose? As far as I recall, you said that they would choose maintaining their economic interests. Derek Keys, when I asked him why he left as Minister of Finance, said, "Because I'd done my job". Essentially, he said the job was to be there, sit down with the ANC and say: this is fiscal fact, fiscal reality, this you can do, this you can't do. Funds from the IMF, World Bank.

WDK     He was supposed to convert them from socialism to capitalism.

POM     That's putting it very ... "When my job was done I left", which would suggest to me that there's no-one on the business side I know or former government minister who thinks that whites had been let down and were vulnerable on the economic side. Would you agree with that?

WDK     Would you repeat the last part of that?

POM     Most former government ministers, people who were in the last government, believe that the economic interests of the country have been taken care of, that they needn't worry as much about what an ANC dominated government might do with the economy because it is slowly becoming more capitalistic than capitalism itself.

WDK     Oh yes, I would agree with that. There is of course a kind of a socialist trend within ANC thinking on certain levels, and there is a very strong lobby within the ANC. I think in my former interview with you I called them 'the radicals' as opposed to 'the realists'. There is this radical, socialist orientated pressure group within the ANC that's a very, very strong and formidable group. So I wouldn't say that the ANC has arrived in the kingdom of capitalism already. I think we must still watch them, we and the whole population, on their economic policies, but for the time being, I would say for the next four years, it's a priority for the ANC to attract international investment and they are very, very cautious not to do anything that will result in a withdrawal from the world market, world sources of finance. So I think, yes, for the next four or five years, we will have something of a so-called mixed economy but it will be more or less market orientated, a free market.

POM     Who would have thought that in four years the ANC would have gone from talking about nationalisation to talking about privatisation?

WDK     Yes

POM     180°.

WDK     There is, of course, a tendency and I don't know whether you've got that in your questions but there is a tendency within ANC circles to control. The kind of tendency of the central authority. We've seen in the news during the last few days that they want a super lawyer within cabinet, who can control all the attorneys general; that's a tendency to control, a tendency to control the press, a tendency to control the SABC, a tendency that rules in circulations. They speak democracy and they believe in democracy and they are democrats: that's OK, but this centralised kind of thinking is still very, very strong in the ANC circles and I'm worried that it can easily flow over to the economy again. For instance, the Small Business Corporation that was half state owned and half owned by the private sector, they also want to control that. They want to take that on as a fully state organ and so on. They are still worried that these institutions will discriminate against black people, and that's why they want to be a little bit of a big brother. That's also the tendency, according to my sources, in cabinet. There is transparency, OK, and that kind of thing, but there is a kind of a big brother mentality amongst the ministers. They just say a thing and then it must go through. We are used to that even in the apartheid years so it's not something new for us, but there is this tendency in ANC circles.

POM     There is always this tendency for the oppressed, the liberated, to take on the characteristics of their oppressor.

WDK     That's very true.

POM     How are decisions made in cabinet? To date, it seems to be very fluid, done by making the best attempt to reach consensus, but if that's not possible the majority has the view or ...

WDK     I would say it's still really ... and this is really from the horse's mouth, the principle of consensus in cabinet is definitely upheld but, also from the horse's mouth, there is a kind of a strategy that they don't consult beforehand. They put the thing on the table. They are willing to compromise but only to a certain extent. They're bullying the National Party a little bit in cabinet and in the parliamentary committees. There is a feeling that they don't really consult. They are willing to compromise, but they work their plan to the full from A to Z and then they are willing to compromise, let's say, three points but not further, and that then must represent consensus. But consulting before final decisions are made, that's something of a problem. According to my source, he doesn't think this will be for ever, he thinks it's a kind of a phase of adapting to consultation with the opposition. From the National Party's point of view, they are pushing very hard for consultation and talks before they come to the decision situation. So it is more or less consensus decision making but not ideal consensus. And that's part of what my perception is, the tendency to control, the tendency to be a little bit of a big brother, to always remind you that, after all, you only represent 20% of the voting public, and we have the power of the people, the power of the vote, and we're governing this country now and, by the grace of our compromise, you have the privilege, but then you must really keep in mind that you're not equal partners with us. There is that tendency.

POM     I want to take that tendency back to relationships between the central government and the provincial governments. A common complaint among all the premiers that we talked to was that they are simply not getting powers devolved to them to do their job, and it is they who are in charge of the implementation of the RDP and (a) they don't have the resources, but they don't have the capacity to set up the proper structures to do so because central government is holding on to everything. Ironically, I found two of them who are unitary state people who have changed their minds. Maybe a little of their power ...

WDK     You mean the provincial people? Yes, I think that that's from my point of view, in any case, a very sound development, and a very hopeful development that we, via the provincial authorities, via the provincial premiers and their respective councils, are moving hopefully into something more of a federation compared with the current situation.

POM     Why is the government so slow to devolve powers?

WDK     I still think, as I said earlier, because they are still in a phase of planning and it's going a little bit slowly and they don't want to make final decisions on very, very important issues. That's why they are, to a certain extent, busy with window dressing. And that's also typical of politicians, to take the easy things on the table. But there are still in think tanks and committees and so planning this. I would say that's the first reason. The second reason is this tendency to control, definitely, that's the second reason. And the third reason, a lack of the ability to finance the provinces, to really give them enough money to do their jobs. So I think the interplay of these three factors is definitely at work.

POM     Do you think that the issue of federalism versus the unitary state will resurface in the Constitutional Assembly, that you might find that the ANC is now split on the issue? That the people out there in the regions are arguing for more and not less power?

WDK     Yes I think so. Formerly it was only the non-ANC people, Buthelezi, the National Party, DP and the COSAG group, CP, etc., that put the case for federation and the ANC compromised to a certain extent in the climate of a federative kind of dispensation. But now the lobby for a more real and a more working federation comes from their own people, and very prominent people, Sexwale ...

POM     Molefe.

WDK     Molefe and Lekota in the Orange Free State. So I think it will be a major debate that the final constitution must be more federal. There will be a major lobby for that.

POM     So, if you had to take the national government and rate its performance over the last seven months, where 1 would be very unsatisfactory performance and 10 would be super performance, satisfactory performance, where would you place it?

WDK     I've got a thing here (I'll give it to you later on if you like), a presentation I was invited to do about two weeks ago. To quantify it, I would give them a 6 minus. I would say in the vicinity of a 6. They are busy doing thorough planning. They have switched their whole economic policy. They have announced a lot of new policies regarding housing, electricity, etc. They are doing a little bit of window dressing, this whole Truth Commission. I think it's necessary, this Truth Commission. There's lots of fear in the country, especially among the old regime. I don't think it's going to be a witch hunt. I'm not worried about that. I think it's going to develop symbolically to a certain extent, and be more focused on specific people and specific happenings in the apartheid past, but it's not going to be a witch hunt at all. Now that's a little bit of window dressing, changing the names of dams and names of provinces. They are doing that for the sake of the masses, to buy them some time to plan more thoroughly. I expect that we will have a very, very rapid legislation programme. It will go very quickly with final legislation on education, etc., etc., in all the departments more or less from May let's say, April, May, June next year, and then I think we will be in a position to assess. Then we will see the final profile of ANC policy. Now it's a lot of loose talk and a lot of kite flying. There is tension within the ANC and they are also still busy compromising for the sake of their own following. But we will see exactly what the new policies will be.

POM     Applying the same kind of scale to Mandela, how would you rate his performance?

WDK     10 out of 10, and not only internationally but also in the country. He's wonderful. For the first time in South Africa's history, we have a man who is accepted enthusiastically by north, east, west and south. And in the country, even CP people, even AWB people from the white point of view, are really absolutely enthusiastic about his performance, his speeches, his reaching out, his level-headedness. His influence in the country is that he calms things down: as a person he brings a kind of a relaxed atmosphere to the country. I would give him 10 out of 10. But I'm worried about him. The papers say, yes, I think he's very sick and old. All of a sudden, the heavy burden of this job as president and advisor for the whole of Africa ...

POM     Every problem seems to end up on his table.

WDK     Yes. Even problems with MK and the police merger. Well, they say he can't say no. He doesn't want to be the big boss, but I think his deputies and his ministers are very worried about making decisions without Mandela's OK. So the root of the problem is not Mandela wanting to oversee everything. I think the root of the problem is, especially in cabinet and other desks of power within the government, state departments, etc., that everyone wants to have Mandela's blessing before they do anything. And now he has said openly in cabinet, and I think also to a certain extent in public, that he is going to be an 'issue President' as from next year, and that the two deputies will run the country on a daily basis. He will take an issue, let's say the issue of education, and for the next two months he will focus only on that issue, talking with people, talking with cabinet ministers, the ministry, the department, etc., etc.

POM     So in a sense he is the glue that's holding everything together.

WDK     I think so, yes.

POM     If he were to die, would there be a power struggle within the ANC for the leadership position, or has that been set in place?

WDK     I wouldn't say so. I would say, if something happens to Mandela today, during this year, that, yes, Mbeki would definitely be the next President. But if Mandela can hold on for the next two to three years, I think Ramaphosa will be a real threat from Mbeki's point of view for the post of ...

POM     It's very interesting that you say that, because a number of people have told me that Mandela doesn't like Ramaphosa. In fact, last August he went to some place in what used to be Venda and said that the leadership of the ANC was in tatters, that it was a disgrace.

WDK     Said Ramaphosa?

POM     No, no, said Mandela about ...

WDK     About his party.

POM     He said there's no leadership, a disgraceful lack of leadership, which couldn't be construed as other than being an attack on Ramaphosa as leader of the working of the ANC not even taking into account that, not only did he want him to be the operative leader of the party, but that he also bore the burden of being the chief negotiator for the ANC and delivered ...

WDK     Hand delivered in a formidable way.

POM     There was no recognition of this. He didn't get the deputy presidency.

WDK     Well, I'm not informed on that. I know the word is going around that there is tension between Mandela and Ramaphosa, but he is a very, and I use the word shrewd in the positive sense. He's a very shrewd politician. He's young, he's ambitious, and he's very, very able. His power base is labour, as you know. He's a very able administrator. The quality of his leadership is formidable and I don't think that Ramaphosa will just roll over and say let things go on without him. I don't know exactly what his strategy is, but I've picked up that he's trying to get the support of the radicals. The word goes around that Mbeki is something of a sell-out; he has been used to the European kind of palaces and so on. He's not a man of the grass roots. That's the propaganda I picked up from the Ramaphosa supporters.

POM     Well that kind of begs the question, why would the Youth League be the group that presses for Mbeki?

WDK     Yes, that's now, but that's why Ramaphosa's strategy is to get closer to this Youth League and grassroots and labour unions and the masses, so to speak. He will then gather support to challenge Mbeki, but he needs three years for that. To be quite honest with you, Mbeki is a close friend of mine. I like him very much. I am in regular contact with him. I like him very much, but I would say Ramaphosa is a man of greater stature than Mbeki, even given the time, four or five years. Another contender is Sexwale to a certain extent. We must still wait and see what's going to happen with Sexwale. According to his public appearances, he's something of a Pik Botha in style. It's very impressive, very humorous and he can address a public meeting and the people will roar. He's a typical kind of a pop star politician. So we must wait and see how he will develop, but he certainly has the ability to develop into a strong man.

POM     When I interviewed him last year, his office was lined with books by Charles de Gaulle and about Charles de Gaulle. He looks to De Gaulle as a model.

WDK     I see.

POM     That's where he sees himself as a politician or statesman.

WDK     Perhaps that's dangerous if De Gaulle is his model.

POM     Yes I know. He'll go into exile! The gravy train? Is this one of the exaggerated issues where more of it is made by the media than by anybody else, or is it real that the complaints that are being raised aren't really about the gravy train itself but about the lack of delivery of goods for the people?

WDK     I would say it's a mixture. You know when you're poor and you haven't got a house and a job and you represent more or less 25% plus, 30% plus of the population then a salary of R200 000, R400 000, half million, that's a hell of a lot of money from this point of view, where you're without a house and so on. So I think it's a little bit of propaganda. I don't think that there's really a gravy train but, yes, there is a tendency. You will know as a man of wisdom that with people of power, there's a tendency for them to like the good life. So I think it was a very symbolic thing to do. It's not going to help the country. It's a symbolic thing that they cut salaries, but I don't think it's really a gravy train.

POM     I suppose what I'm asking you is, how does an ANC-led government come into power, a movement that claims to represent the great masses of people, the poor and downtrodden, and among its first actions is to accept the recommendations of a commission set up by the previous government which increases salaries. I mean the perception is ...

WDK     Yes, and I think they are very inflated salaries to be quite honest, but I don't think, there was this kind of euphoria in the beginning, people reaping money and so on. All of a sudden to switch to an MP from a salary of, let's say he was a worker somewhere in the civil service or so, and all of a sudden he's lifted from R2000 a month to R8000 a month. It's a hell of a nice shock. So I think it's something psychological, but the ANC is very aware of the fact that this is the perception and they must try to tone this whole perception down. So I don't think the intention is really to keep on riding the gravy train, so to speak. On the other hand, there is, I'm not talking cynically about it, but there is this Winnie Mandela for instance with seven bodyguards and the state must pay for this, and even Ministers of high profile, there's a kind of a not a responsible kind of a euphoria, carrying people around with bodyguards, go to the Mount Nelson for a weekend and that kind of thing. But I think that's temporary. It's the shock of the switch. I'm not really worried the gravy train is going to be an issue in future.

POM     You mentioned the tendency of the ANC to want to control the press. Potentially, it could be very significant. There is the threat of censorship in some places if you are not seen to be loyal.

WDK     It was in Mbeki's speech and Sexwale's speech on this. I think that's, well again I won't say it's a real threat, but I think again the tendency of controlling the press will have to fight a new battle for press freedom. You can see it in the new SABC. It's just the same as the old National Party if you speak to people in the news-rooms and the leading personalities, black personalities. There is the kind of tendency of intervention, a tendency to be on the red carpet, a tendency of this kind of attitude that "what do you have against me?" You know, we must see that in the background of these models of democracy in Africa: we try to be a western democracy but they also call it a development model. The newspapers, the media and the business sector are partners of the state in developing the country and so, in this partnership, they must only focus on and publish what's good for the country and not what's bad for the country. And within these limits, there is, of course, press freedom but there is a higher kind of a value than press freedom and that's to be responsible for the welfare of the country. It sounds good, but who formulates the values for the country? So I think there will be a new fight for press freedom, but I'm not really worried that the press will lose the fight. I think we're playing our politics on the world platform, and the whole of the western world is looking at us, focusing on us, and the strength of the media in this country is first world, it's a first world institution. I don't think Mandela, Mbeki, the ANC cabinet will easily burn their fingers on this. They will make these kinds of hostile sounds and so on, but I really don't think the press must just fight back very arrogantly and very straightforwardly. And they are doing that, Ken Owen and so on.

POM     Now, again at the provincial level, almost everyone we have talked to has said that the country won't be ready for local elections in 1995, that no preparations have been made. They are to be administered by the provinces and they haven't even gotten around to putting voters' rolls together, demarcating boundaries, putting wards together. Is it your feeling, I'm getting the sense almost universally that everyone has said they will be on schedule. If they are on schedule they won't be complete ...

WDK     Roelf Meyer said that, but I also think that was just a ... No that's why they are very busy establishing these over-bridging kinds of committees to merge the old black, brown, coloured and white municipalities to a certain extent as a transitional procedure, with a committee that will oversee the whole thing on local level as a transitional institution. They are working very hard to establish these committees, but unfortunately the white, the CP, dominated local governments object to going into these new structures of local committees representing all of the local population. I also don't think that we will be ready in 1995.

POM     I want to turn to the elections themselves and what you said about the development model of democracy. Everyone certified the elections as being free and fair almost as soon as the ballots had come in, and the international community gave it its blessings. The fact that 30% of the vote was lost some place along the line, that there were in fact irregularities, didn't count for much in the face of the fact that all of the people accept the government that came out of it as being a legitimate government, so it had a legitimacy if not freeness and fairness. That's on the one side and, on the other, you had an election where a week before Carrington and Kissinger packed their bags, spent 24 hours in the Carlton Hotel, said there's nothing here to mediate about and violence escalating between the IFP and the ANC, and then it all came together rather miraculously. One might say too miraculously. Everyone came out a winner. Buthelezi got KwaZulu, the NP got the Western Cape and the ANC got a vote that was less than two thirds, but one that allowed them to call it a multi-party state, not a one party state. So it sounds more to me that it was a brokered election in the sense that Kriegler could have got them together and said, "Listen, we can't find any more votes, they've just gone, they're missing, but the broad trends that exist in the country suggest the following, and I suggest you all get together and make an arrangement and we will have a result that will give the broad substance of what we know will stick". Did you ever hear of a political party that got 50.3% of the vote and wasn't challenged by the opposition for a recount?

WDK     Yes, but Kriegler in his report have you seen his final report?

POM     I've just looked at it. I haven't gone through it thoroughly.

WDK     He rejects this kind of accusation and says there wasn't a deal. There wasn't a deal but there was a kind of a tolerance that political parties, the National Party and the ANC and Buthelezi and even Constand Viljoen's people decided not to take certain irregularities to court for the sake of the legitimacy of the new government, as you said, and for the sake of the high expectations. They couldn't afford to go to court cases to say, well, in certain areas there must be a re-vote, etc. etc. But it wasn't really like a deal on the table; it was more an attitude by the different players. According to the Nationalist Party (and, of course, if you speak to the ANC and the IFP they will say the same kind of thing), but according to the Nationalist Party ... even my brother, their point of view was that, if there was a recount or if there hadn't been these irregularities, they would have gained at least 28% of the vote.

POM     That's significant.

WDK     And that's significant. Especially as there was a lot of cheating going on according to their sources in the Northern Transvaal and KwaZulu/Natal. But even that, I know it was a kind of a tense moment and the decision was, mainly on the part of my brother, to leave it like that. It was a bit uncomfortable to have 20% only, but let's leave it.

POM     Was it more important that the election result in legitimacy and stability than that it be free and fair?

WDK     I would say so.

POM     This struck me, as election monitoring, which really began with Marcos in the Philippines, [was adhering to irregularities either on a wholesale level - messing with computers ...] In the post cold war era there has been a change in emphasis. They now would call "free and fair" something that wasn't free and fair, but that brings stability and legitimacy to a country.

WDK     I would say, absolutely, yes, I think that was the case, but I don't think there was really a deal on the table. Kriegler wouldn't have said that there wasn't a deal if there was a deal. It's too dangerous to admit that, to say there wasn't a deal and there was a deal, that's too dangerous to say. I think the election results reflect more or less the situation, more or less two thirds of ANC votes. Yes, I think that's reality. And National Party, well they expected 28%, 30%. I always thought that was a little bit too optimistic from their point of view, but 20%, so what? If it was 24%, it's not that important. So I think it reflects more or less the reality of political sentiments.

POM     You have the government saying that they are going to crack down on boycotters; rents still haven't been paid ...

WDK     That's in this afternoon's paper.

POM     Are they on a collision course with any communities, which is in part a collision of their own making, that they created as part of the mass struggle: people were told to withhold rents, withhold rates, not to pay for electricity or water or anything, and naturally, after many years, they got used to not paying and it was not this government that told them to pay. So again, the first benefit of the end of apartheid in a new ANC-led government is that the level of disposable income is going to go down and not up. Is there a culture of entitlement that is going to be really difficult to deal with?

WDK     I think that's a dilemma for the ANC. There are two factions, I don't want to give it the status of a faction, but there are two arguments going on there at top level. The one is, and it seems to me that that argument is winning, to crack down, to be absolutely final. Especially Joe Slovo is adamant on this: no pay, no services. And there's another kind of an argument that you must do that gradually. You must be very sympathetic, there must be a re-education process, you must first of all say, "OK we know you are used to this, we know you are poor and we know you're jobless so let's start with deflated affairs. Let's pay for the next three months only a quarter of what's necessary. Let's gradually go up. You can see that the services are there and so on." I personally think that the ANC must crack down. They must do this. They must govern. I'm very happy that that argument will win the day, to crack down on this whole thing. There is a tendency within the ANC to become stronger and stronger, a strict government with an emphasis on law and order and to hell with the rest. That's the tendency ...

POM     It sounds suspiciously like the National Party.

WDK     Well governments are alike more or less.

POM     Just a couple more questions and thanks for all the time you've devoted to this. The PAC, it wasn't just that it lost, it's like they were eliminated; they fell off the map. Why do you think their particular support level was so small? I remember John Battersby wrote a piece the gist of it was that here was a party that had made a remarkable political comeback. He was saying this in August before the elections. And it didn't make a remarkable comeback; it didn't come back at all.

WDK     Well I would say for several reasons. The one is a lack of leadership. Clarence Makwetu is really not a very impressive leader. And also a lack of leadership on different levels, provincial, national, etc. They have got a few intellectuals and ideologues, people with academic backgrounds and so on, but during the election campaign they couldn't get enthusiasm going. Lack of leadership first and, in the second instance, the ANC's campaign was so overwhelming that I think the reasoning within the black communities was that there's no place now for smaller groupings. They must stop the Nationalist Party and push the ANC as high as possible, forget our differences. So that was a reaction within the reasoning of black people on different levels of society. At heart, I think, there are a lot of people in the ANC that have great sympathy with the PAC and certain policies of the PAC, the land question. There's a radical faction within the ANC that would be more at ease with PAC policies than the ANC policies. That's a real threat for the future. What's going to happen? I don't expect a breakaway and a schism within the ANC. So I don't expect that there's going to be a schism within the ANC during the next five years. It's going to be an infighting; who's going to win the argument, the radicals or the realists, and it will all depend on the quality of deliverance and persuasion of the masses by the ANC leadership, all the structures of ANC people. But I expect that, during the next election, we will have an even more overwhelming 'yes' vote for the ANC. That's only a gut feeling. OK, there's the possibility of a workers' party, labour unions, PAC, AZAPO, left wing or right wing of the ANC, there is speculation and there is the theoretical possibility, but my gut tells me that I think the ANC as an umbrella organisation with its left and right wing will maintain the support of the two wings to a certain extent, and the next election will really be more or less a two party election. That goes also for the National Party, the DP, even I think the IFP sentiments: the Freedom Front, DP, National Party will not merge but will form an alliance, but it's going to be, again, only a two party election. But that's ...

POM     A two party election, the ANC and ...?

WDK     ANC and the National Party. Even with different names, if the National Party wants to change its name. I'm worried about the Nationalist Party because their power base is the Coloured community and the ANC is working very hard to get the Coloured people and the Indian people back in their camp, and with some success. And you don't see anything of the Nationalist Party. They must gain more or less six million black supporters and keep more or less 75% Coloured and Indian support and more or less 85-90% of white support to gain 28-30% of the vote. And they are doing nothing about that in the black townships and so on. There is something of a lack of enthusiasm within the inner circles of the Nationalist Party. I think my brother is a very lonely individual now. All of a sudden, the infrastructure, the enthusiasm, the fighting spirit amongst the Nationalist Party MPs and party political structures everything have collapsed to a certain extent. I'm not a Nationalist as you know, but just for the sake of the balance within the developments in the future.

POM     On the right wing, is the threat still there or is that evaporating?

WDK     As you know, I was never very worried about the threat of the white right wing. I think they will settle. Constand Viljoen, well he won the argument within the right wing circles. We will have the extreme right, but CP people will gather more and more around this Freedom Front. They are willing to accept the Northern Cape as "their homeland", which they hope to gain in a future federation as the Afrikaner province. And still in their constitution there will be this ideal of working in the direction of an absolutely independent Afrikaner state, but they will push that more and more into the future and say, "That's the ultimate aim see what we've gained now, we've got a province in the federation that's more or less Afrikaans orientated." There's a very interesting thing, perhaps you wouldn't understand the nuance of this, there is all of a sudden in the whole of South Africa within the Afrikaner community a tendency not to refer to us any more as 'Afrikaners', because that's the connotation of die boere, the apartheid people. There's a tendency to refer to us as Afrikaanse mense not Afrikaner people but Afrikaans people. So there's a tendency to focus on the language as the binding factor, not history, not colour. And if this is going to be a success, there are a lot of black people in South Africa who are really Afrikaans people. I'm referring now to the Cape people; they can speak Afrikaans more fluently than English, some of them can't even understand English and they identify with Afrikaans as language and the way of the Afrikaans people in doing things. So that's going to be the main aim of the right wing, to get an Afrikaans kind of a province, not an Afrikaner province.

POM     So in a sense Viljoen played a pivotal role in coming in, making the decision he made and the Freedom Front appears to be doing very well in Parliament.

WDK     Yes, very popular with the ANC. They trust him to a certain extent more than they trust the Nationalist Party. That's the irony, that's really something else. But, yes, I think they are doing very well in their communication with their own support base. There's a kind of a relaxed atmosphere within right wing circles; even the AWB, Terre'Blanche's people, they are very quiet. Perhaps doing little things in the dark with their sabotage strategies and so on but there's really no threat at all. Even in the Transvaal Agricultural Union, organised white agriculture in South Africa (and they are very right wing), there is a focus on working with the ANC: work together, make compromises and it's not that bad, the new government.

POM     Lastly (we talked about it partially earlier on), the Truth Commission. Is it a good idea, a bad idea? Is it a necessary thing that the country should understand its past before you can have true reconciliation, that if you are forgiving somebody you must know what you are forgiving? Has it the potential for a witch hunt vis-à-vis the element of it that has not been publicly debated, who has the intelligence records? Should people have the right to see the intelligence records that were kept on them, including do they have the right to know who spied on them, who supplied information about them to the police or the security forces?

WDK     I would say the concept of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission I think it's absolutely necessary. We can't avoid that. There are morals for that in the rest of the world and it's necessary in South Africa. That's number one. Number two, it all depends what's going to be in the final legislation about the Truth Commission but I'm happy that, according to my information, according to my ANC friends, we will get a piece of legislation that will really be based on very sound principles of law and that it won't be a witch hunt and that they will focus on a specific agenda, 20, 25, 30, 45 cases that must be solved and then it will be more something of a symbolic kind of activity. I'm not worried about that at all, but it all depends what's going to happen with the legislation.

POM     What about intelligence records?

WDK     On me?

POM     Would you like to see your file?

WDK     Well, I'm referring again to what's going to be written in the law because there must be in life there are secrets, especially in intelligence services, and everything can't be transparent. I hope that this will be reflected in law and that there will be certain limits regarding the kind of thing that you've talked about.

POM     Even if there is an amnesty, let's assume that a Minister or senior person in government is shown to have been implicated in what we would call a crime, should he or she have to at least step down?

WDK     Yes, I think that must be, and I think that is also the ANC's philosophy, that you can't have a high public profile and in the public service if there is anything in your cupboard that is not kosher.

POM     Yes their own investigation ...

WDK     Was watered down.

POM     Quatro was not actually a model of how to deal with the situation.

WDK     Yes, and I think they recognise that. And I think the reasoning now is that we must face it, we must fact our own crimes. If we want to bring the whole background of apartheid and the main actors in apartheid to the fore, rip it all open, we must expect the same thing to happen to us. And it's going to be problematic. They can go for PW Botha, but they can also go for Alfred Nzo and Jacob Zuma and so on. So I think that will keep the thing in balance, because the ANC knows something about intelligence, they know something about totalitarianism. They are not angels.

POM     Van Zyl Slabbert described this whole process of transition as being a deal-making transition. You made a deal, and that would apply to the Truth Commission.

WDK     I think so.

POM     Just leave something out because the consequences might be worse than the crime.

WDK     But never a deal in the open.

POM     Behind closed doors.

WDK     Not even in writing, it's just a question of a gentleman's agreement.

POM     A nod and a wink.

WDK     That's very true.

POM     Thank you ever so much.

WDK     It was very nice to see you again. I know I'm always very irritated when people want to give me some reading stuff, but these were two presentations of mine: "The birth and first 100 days of the new Government", and another one more or less overlapping but going into the ideals of political reconstruction [... framework develop during the next four years] and then I discuss the six things and then I talk about the possibility of short circuits and so on. In any case, it's in the whole framework of our discussions.

POM     Thank you very much.

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.