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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

21 Nov 1994: Buchner, Jac

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POM     Maybe we could start with your own broad perspective on what has happened since you left the KwaZulu police: where do you see the country, where do you see the state of transition, where do you see the future?

JB     First of all, I must just apologise for the noise in the background, people cleaning up outside, they have been doing it the whole morning. There have been dramatic changes, I think, from the time I left the KwaZulu police until now [, and the region went through a few old pressure points in the last few days on] what happened prior to the elections when South Africans, especially the Afrikaners, went across to Europe and had discussions with members of the ANC in secret, which set the basis for where we are today. From then on, we progressed to having an election in April this year. I think prior to the elections or the formation of the government of national unity, I must just go back a bit to the fears that were expressed prior to the elections. Many people did not believe that this would actually work and there was great concern about the Inkatha Freedom Party not taking part in the elections ... at the last minute they were persuaded and took part and, with only a week to organise themselves into canvassing and so on, I think they did extremely well. Having said that, I do not think they are going to do so well in the next election.

POM     The local elections?

JB     They did very well in the local elections, and even nationally they did very well.

POM     No, the local ones are in October.

JB     The local elections will be in 1995; they will still do well there, but there are several events now leading to problems. The local elections will take place next year and I am of the opinion that, if nothing dramatic happens now, the IFP will still make quite a good showing, because there isn't really somebody at this stage to take their place and the ANC majority government haven't really proved themselves; they haven't had enough time to do so. But from the time that I retired, we've moved into a new phase in South Africa. We've now got a government of national unity in which the ANC has the majority representation, followed by the National Party and then by the IFP. Just a brief look at what they have done in the first six months shows there's much less acrimony in the actual confrontation in parliament than was expected, and there is less acrimony than there used to be between the National Party and opposition parties in the old parliament. There seems to be more a feeling of trying; everybody is leaning over backwards to try and make this thing work, which is very surprising with all the prophets of doom who thought it would never work. I believe that, in six months, you can't see actual proof on the table of what they have achieved; but if you read through the documentation of the various sub-committees and the committees and discussion groups, I think we've gone a long way to create a new South Africa and a new government ... new government to create a new South Africa.

POM     [... converging with ... the IFP not going so well ...]

JB     The first thing you are looking at is the political forum. I'm not a Zulu, but the Zulu nation is held together by the King. The King is the Zulu nation and the King is the person who must intercede on behalf of the nation, with the forefathers' spirit, and he's got that traditional role and, if the King is out ... all right, there will be another King tomorrow, but you lose quite a bit. And they are using the King now as a pawn in this political wrangle. It might lead to the destruction of the Zulu nation as a cultural unit, and this is one of my biggest problems, because Buthelezi is not the king of the Zulus and he will never ever be the king of the Zulus; he cannot be the king of the Zulus; he's not high enough in the lineage to come to that. But if the King is lured away from the traditional KwaZulu, from the traditional politics of KwaZulu and away from Buthelezi, there might be a split later on, and if there is a split then that would basically mean the end of the Zulu nation which nobody would really like to see. That is one of the biggest problems. The second one is, of course [by using the King and getting support from a very small percentage of a piece of land], if the King swung to the other side, to the ANC side; if he is convinced that that is the way he should go and he gets more political powers through that, he could lead the Zulu nation into the ANC fold and ask them or order them to act or vote against IFP. That's why I foresee problems now with the youth, and high profile people being used. The first one is Prince Ncyayisemi Zulu, who acted as regent when King Cyprian died. King Cyprian was followed by King Zwelethini, but Prince Ncyayisemi, who was one of the senior princes, acted as Regent for quite a few years, and he is of the opinion that he is in actual fact the true king, that he should have been King and not Zwelethini. In my opinion, he is leading this ... rift that has happened between the King and Buthelezi. There is only one man that can benefit by that, that is Ncyayisemi. Buthelezi cannot benefit from the rift between himself and the King. The King himself cannot, even if he feels that his life is in danger.

POM     You were saying that the only benefit of the rift between the King and the Prince was that ...

JB     No, the only beneficiary of a rift between Buthelezi and the King would be the senior prince, and of course the ANC. As I have said before, the King thinks that his life is in danger and things like that, but it was thought that he meant that he was afraid of the IFP and of being attacked by IFP members; but the IFP will have nothing to gain by getting rid of the King because it could only lead to further dissension. Buthelezi now has say over the appointment of the new king and it is just possible – although some people have said that one of the sons of the senior wife should be King – it is just possible that Ncyayisemi may take the throne and say that he is the legal successor to the King. So I definitely foresee problems for the Zulu nation as a whole should, first of all, this rift continue. Secondly, should something happen to the King; and, thirdly, I foresee problems for the IFP if it continues because the people on the other side might just take over some of the votes. And then one other thing, of course, is that those who are playing against Buthelezi, or mounting the campaign to aggravate the rift are, I think, discredited people, because the senior prince Ncyayisemi has already been discredited not once, but three or four or five times in the past.

POM     Discredited in what sense?

JB     In his attempts to prove that he should be the king and, in his political attempts, he has been put down by Buthelezi on quite a few occasions in the past ten to fifteen years. He's always been antagonistic towards Dr Buthelezi. And then this new man, Siphiso Zulu, who seems to have the ear of the media and can every day issue statements about Buthelezi not being of the royal clan, of various things, and he gets front page publicity. Now the most senior prince in the royal household has issued a statement to say that this man is not related to any of the kings; he is not of direct lineage or direct descent from any of the kings.

POM     Then how does he end up as a prince?

JB     Well, he's assumed the title of prince somewhere and nobody has really gone to town to publicly disown him. This is what probably Buthelezi was trying to say to him in the studio that night: you say you're a prince and I don't even know you. And nobody knew him; he was a clerk of works [down in Malawi] somewhere, but he now comes with a lot of statements.

POM     Did you happen to watch that?

JB     No, I was in Europe at that time so I didn't see that fiasco, and I haven't seen Buthelezi here since then so I don't know what the story was. I've seen the statements but I personally have no knowledge of it. Basically, that's how I see it at the moment. The new government, beyond all expectations, is proving to be willing and also keen to get on with the new South Africa, but there are problems. The one problem is that you cannot change attitudes: you can change the law, you cannot change attitudes. There are various things; I'm just going to deal with them as sort of general things. The first thing is we are lucky in Natal. The Zulus and the other groups in Natal have worked together, I think, very well, and there's not that blatant racism between the Zulu and the white. I know there was a clash between the Zulu and the Indians in 1948 but, by and large, the other race groups in Natal have never really had a racial problem, if I may call it that, with the Zulus – not to the same extent as you have in the far Northern Transvaal where there is blatant racism. So we don't have a big problem here, but you definitely have a problem in Transvaal. ... to say that, look, all people are humans, all human beings are born equal and created equal and we should accept it as such; but there are certain people who just cannot and do not see themselves on that level with other ethnic groups, especially not with blacks. That is the one thing. The other thing is that there are problems here because great expectations have been raised among the people, and especially the unemployed and the working class, the blue collar workers, are believing that the new government is doing nothing to change the situation: that they are still unemployed, that they are still living below the poverty line, that they are still treated as third class citizens. There, outside my house, there are people now working in local government, but they are wearing blue overalls and they are sitting on the side of the pavement eating their lunch, which is exactly what they did a year ago and exactly what they did ten years ago. For them, nothing has changed and their work is still exactly the same. They are fortunate that they have work, but their lifestyle hasn't changed and a lot of people thought that with the new government we are going to change our lifestyles. That's one point. As far as Natal is concerned, the Indians in Natal are very upset because there were a large number of them in the forefront of the political struggle against apartheid and everything and they are very well known. I'm not speaking of Gandhi now, but of well known local Indians, especially in Durban, who for ten, twenty, thirty and forty years have been actively involved in the struggle, and these were all ignored by the ANC when they dished out MPs and stuff like this. Very few Indians got into parliament or even got into local government and there is great unhappiness about this. Then there is the other unfortunate aspect, which was to be expected to a certain extent, that all the people who came back from the bush, all the people from exile, arrived here and were absorbed into the new government, absorbed into parliament, absorbed into structures and suddenly they are earning high salaries; they are dressing very, very well and they are driving very nice cars and the working class are saying, well they've joined the bourgeoisie and they've forgotten about the proletariat.

POM     The gravy train syndrome.

JB     It is, and suddenly the expression 'gravy train' – it has been used once or twice before by the ANC to describe the white government – is now being used on a daily basis to describe mainly the ANC members of Parliament, that they have joined this gravy train. Wherever I go now suddenly I hear the words 'gravy train' and 'fat cats', which is the in word now: the elitist fat cats and people on the gravy train. But it's one of those things to be expected. If you were in exile and suffering for quite a while, you come back and you have the opportunity of having a nice income ...

POM     If you were to rate the performance of the government on a scale of one to ten, one being very unsatisfactory and ten being very satisfactory, what ...?

JB     As far as results are concerned, only about two or three on a scale of one to ten, because they haven't started producing yet. The production will come; again here we hear about raised expectations. But on what they achieve by sitting in government, sitting in parliament, I would say it's very close to an eight, seven to eight, higher than I expected. When parliament started, everybody thought it was going to be a mud-slinging match every day and there was going to be more animosity. And I, honestly, I've been down to Parliament and I've seen some of the faces that came out there and everything, but everything that is debated there is debated in a very reasonable manner and, as I said earlier on, I think everybody is trying to make the government work and bring about a new South Africa, because there is a commitment from everybody to try their best and forget petty differences. So in that sense, yes, they have done very well and I rate them very highly. But as far as expectations are concerned – and I'm speaking especially of the people who suffered under apartheid, the people who are unemployed, the people who are suffering because of the economics in the country and the lower income group and the squatters – they have been promised that there will be housing for all, that government will build houses and the government hasn't delivered any houses yet, but you cannot deliver houses within a month or two. And I see the government is now getting all their grants from overseas: this money must be distributed, plans must be drawn up. The squatter areas have already been investigated and houses will be built. But it looks like there's an expectation from the population that this is going to be a free and easy government; that every house will be built, and I take it furnished too, and then they will just be able to move in and they will never have to pay rents or water or electricity or anything like this. There is a shock ahead for many of these people.

POM     The first thing that they get under a government of their own is that they will have to start paying rents and services and their standard of living will go down.

JB     Well, most of our problems in the past in our mainly black residential areas were because the people refused to pay for services. And in some of our places, we're lucky that we didn't lose a lot of people through disease because of the conditions in the townships. But I still believe that, once the people start living under better conditions, the government will start producing, and the government will start producing within the next year or two. The ANC majority government are very aware of the fact that they have lost a lot of support from the man in the street, and they also know that, within four years time, or just over four years time, there is another election and they had better make a good showing for the future of the ANC in South Africa. They cannot afford to lose votes to new parties like the one Lucas Mangope has brought about. They cannot afford to have their votes eroded by splinter parties, by people who are dissatisfied with the ANC and will not vote for the ANC but will vote for another possibly black political party. The PAC is doing its best to attract more votes. And to be able to run the country properly, after five years the ANC will have to get an outright majority in parliament, otherwise it's going to have a problem. And it is going to lose key figures, I would think, because I do not think President Mandela will stand again for parliament in five years time. He might just stand to pull them through the election and then step down immediately afterwards.

POM     Is he the glue that holds the whole thing together at the moment?

JB     He's emerged as one of the most brilliant statesmen that we've ever seen. He holds the whole of the ANC together. He is the voice of reason behind everything. He is the person who can solve just about every problem, even the problem with these young dissidents in the military. He is in such high esteem among the people; when he speaks, his word is law and it's accepted. They cannot speak against him.

POM     Would you have imagined six years ago making a statement that Mandela is one of the greatest statesmen of all time?

JB     No I wouldn't. I would have had a problem with it, first of all, because he was incarcerated for twenty-seven years or whatever. I did not know what his ability was except that he was quite an upright person, a brilliant thinker; but I would never have been able to say it, no, not at all. And, actually, when he came out of prison, I did not believe that he would have that affect either, or that he would be such a statesmen, because I still believe that that first statement he made on the steps in Cape Town was not his own statement; it was not his own statement to the world. I still believe that and nobody will convince me any other way. He has proved subsequently that that is not his style. It is not his way of fighting things, so he had nothing to do with that first statement. He is going from strength to strength. He has got, I believe – and we were discussing it last night my wife and I – Thabo Mbeki, who I believed to be one of the brightest young stars on the horizon. Even before all this happened, I always thought that Thabo Mbeki would go places, and he has disappointed me totally. He's coming across fumbling and stumbling a bit. I mean, he is first Deputy President, or Vice President. He makes statements without careful thought, which is something Mandela never does and I don't think FW does. We've got a catastrophe as Minister of Foreign Affairs. I mean Alfred Nzo is a catastrophe. I know what position he had in the ANC before, in exile and so on, and I know that he was outside the country for thirty years or something like that; I know that he had contacts with many countries outside, but he's not on the same level or in the same class as any of the other foreign ministers throughout the world. He is not. He is completely out of his depth.

POM     Well, he got chucked out as Secretary General of the ANC.

JB     Well he was, because he was so disliked within the ANC ranks, but they had to fob him off on something else and they gave him foreign affairs which I still believe - we need a good foreign affairs minister; even Joe Slovo would have made a much better foreign affairs minister than Alfred Nzo. Thabo Mbeki would have made a brilliant one, but not ...

POM     Where do you put Ramaphosa?

JB     Ramaphosa is a brilliant man; he is absolutely brilliant and I think he's in the wings waiting to take over; he's as clever as all that.

POM     If Mandela were to die, would you foresee some kind of internal ...?

JB     Look, this is my own personal opinion now, but there is a tripartite alliance, there is the ANC, the Communist Party and Cosatu, the trade union movement. Now the ANC has got Mandela; you can't wish for a better figurehead to run an organisation. He's got world attention focused on him through his incarceration, through many other things, but he is, according to the world, he is the man of the moment and I believe he is. Secondly, Joe Slovo and the Communist Party. Now the world tries to put out statements, even the communists, that communism is dead. Communism is alive and flourishing in South Africa. The Communist Party is going from strength to strength. We can come back to that one just now. Then we have the trade union movement. Just before the elections, Ramaphosa said to the ANC, "we've got 1,2 million workers registered as Cosatu members; they will all vote for the ANC; I guarantee you 1,2 million votes". They did all their voter education long before the ANC: they were in gear; it was done at factory level, at floor level. But then they got 20% of proportional representation in parliament. They asked, the members of the trades unions said, "we are stronger than the ANC, why must we share with 20%? Why don't we go this thing alone because we can win?" When you ask Ramaphosa if the trade unions will break away – and I'm not talking today, but in four years time, three and a half years time – the trade unions will break away and they will get the majority vote in Parliament and Ramaphosa doesn't have to fight a single battle, he will walk it. Of course, he can then do it in an alliance with the ANC and the Communist Party; they are close to both of them. But that means more power to him, more power to the trade unions. I do not foresee it happening, but it could, Ramaphosa being as brilliant as he is. In the government of national unity there are lots of members of parliament, there are a lot of Cabinet Ministers, everybody is going to make mistakes, they are going to fall by the wayside and Ramaphosa is sitting outside. He's got his trade unions; he can use them to flex their muscle here and there, wherever it is needed, and he remains untainted by the politics of the day. When the time is right, he will be the only one that is untainted, who hasn't fallen by the wayside, who hasn't done anything wrong and is ready to be elevated.

POM     Now Mandela is obviously leaning in the direction of Mbeki.

JB     Yes, very much, I agree.

POM     Why do you think that is?

JB     Why is he leaning towards Mbeki? Well, first of all, you must remember he spent his whole life with Govan Mbeki, Thabo's father, on the Island, and the same with Sisulu. You know the real hard core [... but obviously, within the ANC]. And outside South Africa, Thabo Mbeki proved himself to be a brilliant strategist. He is a good man. I am just surprised that he is doing what he is doing at the moment: he is fumbling, he's not coming up. But there was talk in the beginning that he might even eventually become president when there were rumours about Mandela's health and so on. First of all, it's his personal brilliance and, secondly, as a result of his father being Govan Mbeki. They all grew up in front of Mandela. So we are in for an interesting time. On the other hand, I don't know if I've mentioned (we haven't seen each other this year), the Communist Party – and the Communist Party, I think, got 10% of the proportional representation – but the 10% were known communists, when I say communists, take Joe Slovo. But there were very many other known communists that came in on the ANC ticket, that stood on the ANC ticket, that were called into parliament on their ANC membership. The Communist Party got 10% but they got about, say, 50% of trade union representation because 50% of Cosatu people in parliament are also communists. So they got 20% there in total. Then they got a portion of the ANC representation. So I would say at this stage that the Communist Party in parliament stands very, very strong proportionately to the ANC.

POM     Could you have imagined four years ago that the ANC had abandoned the word 'nationalisation' and were now talking about 'privatisation'?

JB     That's right.

POM     How much bigger a swing can you have?

JB     That's right, but you see, when you speak in those terms in the United States of America or in Britain ... but the eventual aim for South Africa is a socialist society, which is the way most of the black people live. And the trade unions openly in their documentation (I've seen quite a few of the resolutions taken since September 1993) say, we are going to form a socialist state in South Africa and that is the ultimate aim here. We're going to have privatisation and they're going to underwrite privatisation, but you still are heading towards an eventual socialist state in South Africa. It won't be any worse than it is at the moment because for most of them, their way of life is socialist.

POM     Do you find it strange to see faces on television now, badly dressed, looking ... talking about government policy ... that you were kind of chasing down ten, fifteen, twenty years ago?

JB     Even three, four years ago. Well, I was saying to somebody the other day that I went down to parliament and I sat outside: there's a little bench the main entrance there, and I sat there waiting for somebody to come out to have a chat with him. It was like being on duty, all my old suspects coming out and going in, and the biggest change was that not one of them recognised me with the long hair. But it is very strange and there's a strange feeling. It was very strange in the beginning. I am getting used to it. When you first think, you think of Mandela and you think of Mandela. Now when I think, I think of President Mandela. The change has already taken place. All right, it is a personal thing, a person can take two points of view: you can kick against the bricks and it's not going to help you, or you can accept it and the quicker you accept it – I mean, when I always think of the President, I think of President Mandela. There are many people who still can't agree with it, but look at the Minister without Portfolio, Jay Naidoo. I know all my ministers. I know most of my MPs. I've made a study of them to make sure that I know who is minister of what, because I did have quite a high profile job and if it ever came to the push one day, when somebody says, "well, what do you think of the Minister of Correctional Services", then you've got to be able to say, "well I know that it's not Adriaan Vlok now; I know that it's Mzimela". Well at least you know who it is, and what do you know of him? Well I can give you quite a good history of the Minister of Housing and I can give you quite a bit on the Minister of Water Affairs, Kader Asmal. I knew them all biographically from the documents I had on each one of them. So, for me, it's easier to accept them in their new role because I know them; it's easy for me to remember the names, it's easy for me to - well let me put it this way – it's also easier for me to accept it because – I did say to you before that, many years ago already, in my interviews with the ANC people. I have urged and I have asked that we should at some stage try and get together and resolve these things politically and not by means of armed struggle. There are two or three quite senior ANC people who are now back in the country. [They will be able to bear me out that we did in actual fact, when we started in 1972, 73, 75, very definitely 76, and on several occasions up to 78, very definitely encouraging, people we know that were going out again, that we had to release, say, speak to your principles and we can get together.] This never came about from my side.

POM     This talk now of the Truth Commission to investigate God knows what: since you had a very high profile originally on the ANC's list of undesirable people, do you think you could become a target of it in any way?

JB     I hope not, but I also doubt that I will become a target. I might be the press's favourite target. I think I caused the ANC quite a bit of problems with statements I made running them down, putting the thing into perspective as I used to call it, and they could have suffered because of that. But every ANC person who came back into the country, every ANC member who went into detention knows for a fact that I never took part in any tortures; I never took part in any real third degree or anything like that or brutal interrogation. My nickname actually, according to Jacob Zuma, was Gentleman Jac. I always treated them as equals and I was never involved in any clandestine activities against the ANC. There were people who tried to scare me. From the time that the thing went to press in March this year (and it is now November), still nobody has been to interview me or ask me anything about it, but it was done for reaction to keep the thing in the public's eye.

POM     Are you talking about The Weekly Mail?

JB     No, I'm not speaking about anybody in particular. I don't read The Weekly Mail so I don't know if I figured in there. But I know there was a front page article here, and my name was mentioned with two other generals as supplying weapons to the IFP and, by chance on Friday night, we went to a function and a local gun shop owner said to me, "Oh, by the way I had two policeman asking about the guns I supplied to you, those guns that I supplied to you in so-and-so". Now I never had any dealings with him. I spoke to another chap afterwards and he said to me, "no, the man's mistaken, he had bought the weapons and he had already testified in court about the weapons that he had bought;" but this man was under the impression he had sold them to me. So you see there is a lot of ...

POM     One, do you think there should be some kind of investigation based on the fact that people must understand the past in order to let it go and move on to the future? You can't hide your own history.

JB     No, you can't hide the history. But I think it is unfair especially to take junior members and put them on the stand. What they should do is put the former State President on there, put Minister Vlok on there, put Magnus Malan on there. I mean, to come with a war crimes trial as they did in Germany: right at the top, not at the bottom, not the corporals and the sergeants, though you could say they were implicated in brutalities and stuff like that. But to sort out what actually happened in South Africa, to get a Truth Commission, you should start with the top and, as Commissioner of the KwaZulu Police, I should be involved in there too, to say what I know about whatever happened, and the Commissioner of the South African Police should be there. But now what they want to do is – and it's going to be a witch hunt – they are going to say that we take sergeant so-and-so, we give him indemnity, now he can come and say what he wants to and all old scores can be levelled or evened out. It can never work because Goldstone never worked and this is going to be the continuation. He never brought anything to a successful conclusion, not one of his enquiries, and I think he had some fifty of those. Like the Shell House massacre, I don't know if you saw the finding that he made there? He gave a finding there that the IFP was wrong and they didn't have IEC, Independent Electoral Commission, permission to hold a march; that's the only finding that he made. The fact that so many IFP people were killed: I'm not coming out on the side of the IFP, I'm saying that the judgment that he made on the Shell House massacre was that the IFP was wrong and nothing was said about the ANC. And people are now asking questions: how is it possible that 100 or 200 of these cadres can now arrive and ask for asylum in Pietersburg the following day and Goldstone never heard about this or ... never proved it. We're slightly off the point; it's not Goldstone but the Truth Commission. I believe that there should be a Truth Commission because, if there isn't, we will have a continuous flashback. Somebody will get up one day again and say he believes that so-and-so did this and it will never be laid to rest: "Let's have a commission of enquiry, a Truth Commission". But, again, I understand it didn't go through parliament. Now it is the next year again and every time it's a year longer, another year on, and it's no use having a Truth Commission twenty years later because they cannot finalise a Truth Commission hearing in two years or three. It's going to be like the Namibia question at the United Nations; for twenty years they had it on the agenda, Resolution 435, and later on people don't even read it any more. No, I believe we should have it, but then it should be implemented immediately, but at a responsibility level because, I mean, Armscor, if there were weapons supplied, Armscor must be involved. Who runs Armscor? Who benefited from certain police actions or army, SADF actions? Who knows about these things? Who will know about it? Now I saw a statement when I came back from Europe by a chap by the name of Rian van ... who was ... and he says Buthelezi personally appointed him or requested him to run his ... Now anybody who believes that can believe any story. Buthelezi met him personally at ... which is way out, about 300 km north east of Ulundi. Now I'm sure if he gives a date that Buthelezi has a diary of what he does every minute of the day; he will be able to counter that with proof, more proof and more proof, that he was never there on that specific date. But the press grabbed that and ... If Buthelezi ever wanted to have, he's got organised, wouldn't he speak to his commissioner of police or somebody much closer, somebody he trusts with his life rather than take ... specific orders.

POM     Have you found in the circles that you move in that people are scared of what might happen if there were ...

JB     I do not think they fear a black government, but what they are really concerned about, and they are seriously concerned about it, is this gravy train story, the fact that this new breed of parliamentarians are seen to be climbing onto and living the fat cat ... lives and spending money like it is going out of fashion. That is really of concern and especially with the business people. And they also say that it doesn't augur well for foreign investment. And they also say that the actions of certain of these ... will not encourage foreign investment in South Africa. But there is no fear of black domination of parliament. That has been accepted. As I said earlier on, you cannot change a person's mind, so some of them still do not accept that these people are superior now, that they are ministers, but there are no fears of a total black takeover. I think this is one of the best things that was done – the government of national unity, an interim five year plan – to ease people's minds, to make them more relaxed and to accept the change that is very necessary in South Africa; and we did need change.

POM     ... if the ANC can't deliver, they will have to answer to that in four years. How long do you think they have; at what point must some visible progress need to be made?

JB     You see, it's not only a question of whether they can produce the goods that they have promised. If they do not, let's say within the next year to 18 months, if they do not produce, you might have opportunistic people. Lucas Mangope is now coming forward and forming his own party, saying that the new government will not be able to produce. But the new government has got more problems than Mangope had when he was running the show, and he's got quite a wide following and this will erode the ANC vote. Next, if they do not produce, say, in eighteen months time, you might have one standing up in the Western Cape and saying the government we voted for is not producing. I'm now forming a party and we will take over. So it will erode the vote and this is a problem I foresee. You asked for a specific time period: I would say twelve to eighteen months, but only because of opportunists stepping in and trying to use that to get support for themselves. I was totally wrong in my view at the time before the elections. I believed that the PAC would have a fantastic showing in the Eastern Cape and they never did. I still do not know why. Maybe it was ...

POM     They did particularly badly ...

JB     They got wiped off ...

POM     [... against them ... whether you were at the top of the poll you got an increased vote ...]

JB     No, they were totally annihilated. But it is surprising because, even today, most of the Transkei and the Eastern Cape, Port Elizabeth, is still very strong, staunch PAC and they are making great inroads. Now the die has been cast, the new government is there; now, again I believe that there might be a build up now because the ANC hasn't produced and the PAC might use that. But firstly and then secondly, the voters will see that they voted for the ANC and didn't benefit by it and maybe try the PAC. I still cannot believe that the PAC did so badly. It's unbelievable. I have to say that because I was wrong. I was right with the IFP and I think I was right for the National Party, but I was totally wrong.

POM     ... coming up to April, even with negotiations going on between the ANC and the IFP, then you had Lord Carrington and Henry Kissinger, who packed their bags and said there was nothing to mediate about, escalating conflict between the IFP and the ANC, then Buthelezi comes in. Why do you think he came in?

JB     Well I do not know. But I said to him, "You nearly left it too late", and he said, "Yes, it was nearly too late". But he always had the intention of taking part. This is what I find amazing, because all the groundwork was done by the other parties. He did say at one stage that people were sent out [to Delport's] for voter education and so on because he said that, although the IFP wasn't taking part, they would still allow their members to vote. But it is said – and there were quite a few stories about this one central African leader who persuaded him at the last minute – [and it was just a question of ...] I do not know what to believe. He didn't tell me why he left it so late, but he did agreed it was really too late.

POM     So ... the elections ... the international community said it was free and fair and no intimidation whatsoever, but there were allegations by the IFP, particularly in KwaZulu/Natal, of the ANC vote rigging the votes. And then you had this miraculous result ... Buthelezi gets KwaZulu/Natal, the National Party gets the Cape and the ANC gets a large majority but not enough to get over 661/3%, so they all accepted the outcome. The question that arises is, do you think there was some kind of ... was there a kind of informal ...?

JB     It's a very interesting point that, because there was a lot of speculation about it. We actually received reports, and especially from IFP strongholds, that boxes and boxes were recovered two, three, four days later lying in the bush. We had reports of boxes filled with voting slips that hadn't even been folded and ... they were all only for one party and they were stacked inside the ballot box. So there were anomalies, there were irregularities; but I do not for one minute believe that it was an agreed upon result. There were too many honest people involved who kept score of their own counts, and the counts were given through while we were counting – so much there, so much there, so much there. It would be difficult to juggle the figures to get to the position that you've just spelt out. The best thing to come out of this, of course, is that there will not be another election until the voters' roll is complete, because there was absolute chaos in this province, with people being bussed in from the Transkei and people being bussed in from the Transvaal to come and vote here on the last day of the election. There were polling booths that didn't open for three days and only opened on the third afternoon. There were some polling booths that never opened at all. So all those irregularities, people who – and I'm speaking of rural people – had to walk and ride on donkeys and busses and cars and whatever, thirty, forty miles to get to a polling booth, and they sat there for two days, then they just upped and left. There were people who went from polling booth to polling booth and voted, notwithstanding the infra red and all that, because not all the infra red machines worked. So there were a lot of irregularities and, unless I have proof, I can't say the one party was more involved than the other one. But the fact that we are going to have a voters' roll: we may even have the voters' roll for the next local government elections, but then after that ... if there were irregularities. We've got thirty million registered voters and 99.999% of them voted, or maybe 101% of them. But we can't even tell you what the percentage poll was because nobody in South Africa knows what the population figures are ... just over 40 million and, if it is over 40 million from previous statistics of the HSRC, more than half of them are under the age of 16, then basically we've only got twenty million voters. I think we came very close to 100% ... Yes, it's a good thing we lost a lot of votes. But there were irregularities on both sides I'm sure.

POM     So ... as you look towards the future ...?

JB     Oh yes. Maybe it's been my problem all along that I've been too optimistic, but this is a country of great potential and, if I had been in exile and had come back and was offered a place in parliament [... I'd turn it down]; but if I'd been offered a place in parliament, I would also have worn a nice suit and looked after myself; there's nothing wrong with that. We will see the results of this government of national unity and the people of South Africa are going to benefit by it, and what I find totally different is that, going to Europe, and reading the newspapers for days on end, there are no articles about South Africa. Suddenly we are no longer news. Coming back to South Africa – we spent twenty-two months over there – I walk in here, life is still exactly the same as it was last year and the year before and the year before, except that we have now scrapped apartheid legislation. But the blue collar workers are still blue collar workers; there are still millions of unemployed people; certain lifestyles are still not safe. But we haven't got that stigma of apartheid and there is going to be an improvement in the lives of the people down at the bottom end of the scale. People at the top end of the scale are going to come down I feel, but the bottom is certainly going to ... And this is what the whole thing is about ... for the people and equality for all. And we can do without a lot of those ... we used to have in the past. It always irritated the hell out of me. All people are equal and I think we are going to prove that we can make this thing work in South Africa. I don't want to deflect the story back to you again, but in 1964 in the United States wasn't solved overnight. There is still quite a bit of animosity today.

POM     A lot.

JB     But it's individual animosity; it's not the people rising with animosity, it's individuals. There are a lot of people with chips on their shoulder. I've met them. In South Africa I meet people with a chip on their shoulder: Zulus, Afrikaners even Englishmen and Indians. They've all got a chip on their shoulders and maybe they are entitled to it. But once we've got our constitution and they draw the line, then let everybody do what he wants to as long as he doesn't interfere with mine.

POM     OK, thank you. You've been terrific.

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.