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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

06 Apr 1995: Ngubane, Ben

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POM     I want to ask you first about the role of the IFP in the government of national unity, how on the one hand do you operate as the junior partner in a coalition and on the other hand operate as an opposition party and how can you reconcile the two? Does that give rise to some form of identity crisis?

BN     Well it does from time to time when issues that are politically sensitive in terms of party standpoints arise. For instance, the debate on land legislation elicited quite a lot of opposition from the IFP in parliament and the senate. I expect also that the debate on the Reconciliation and the Truth Commission, as you can call it in general terms, will obviously elicit such differences because those differences exist. Nevertheless, the government of national unity is a great unifier, there is consensus, for instance, about the Reconstruction and Development Programme. Now this is a very extensive and comprehensive document which covers almost every area of government expenditure and function and we agreed on that and this is what is the cement and the glue of the government of national unity. The other issues which arise are obviously worked out until some modicum of consensus is reached and I think the government of national unity is a new and innovative process which I think is going to be very good for the further evolution of politics in this country because we are being forced in a way to reach compromise, to negotiate things in such a way that they are resolved through negotiation and not through breakdown.

POM     I don't think I would be incorrect in saying that when the new government took over at first there must have been a great deal of lingering animosity and distrust between the IFP and the ANC. Has the experience of working together resulted in their being able to develop more trust in each other?

BN     Well certainly. We have been thrown into very close contact and co-operation with people we had never really worked with before. I think this goes for every party. We come to know each other as people, as persons, we can relate to one another as persons so this has been a tremendous benefit for politics of the country.

POM     Are there cases where consensus is simply impossible to arrive at and the ANC says, "Well we're not just in the majority, we're in a substantial majority and if we cannot reach a compromise or consensus then we're just going to go ahead and do it our way"?

BN     They haven't used that clout yet, probably they will in future, I don't know, but up to now they have sought compromise and consensus very strenuously.

POM     Talk a little about the international mediation the IFP are calling for. I had a quote from Mr de Klerk which he gave the other day and it was to the effect, he said, "There is agreement with regard to mediation. I signed it, President Mandela signed it and Chief Buthelezi signed it. We stand by that agreement and we are prepared to keep that agreement but there is dispute over what is to be mediated."

BN     Well they hold that we must re-look at the terms of reference. On the other hand the IFP says the terms of reference are there, they are known, they were agreed to. That's why Carrington and Henry Kissinger came to the country to mediate because the terms of reference were agreed. Now to me that is actually a side issue. The point is we have to have international mediation to honour the agreement for a start, we must agree to honour that agreement. Then we can set particular working groups to see, out of the outstanding matters, which ones have been addressed fully, which ones have been partially addressed, which ones have not been addressed at all. I think that approach would be reasonable, but to simply say they are not going to mediation because we have not given them the terms of reference, I think that is actually false and it's not right because we both know what the issues are, all three parties know what the issues are.

POM     But the fact is, as you say, they signed an agreement so they must honour it irrespective of what they think of it now.

BN     That's right. Absolutely.

POM     I noticed over the weekend when the ANC had their constitutional conference a kind of a tone of cockiness was there. Like you had Cyril Ramaphosa saying, "Eat your heart out National Party, no more power sharing after 1999", and you had Thabo Mbeki saying, "Absolutely no compromise on the question of mediation." Was that politicking?

BN     Well it's important to differentiate between the functioning of a coalition government as we have and the actual politics on the ground. That is politics on the ground. As far as I am concerned it's an opening gambit by Cyril Ramaphosa, by the National Party, it's to be expected that when people take very extreme positions so that they don't have to move so far from their real position when they compromise.

POM     Looking at local elections for a moment, registration is very low in most areas, it's lowest of all in KwaZulu/Natal where I saw some figures up to the end of March that absolutely shocked me. I think in the rural areas it was something like 88% of the eligible voters hadn't registered. So you've got a problem of low registration, the problem of people don't know what the elections are about or what the government is. They don't know why they should vote again since they voted only less than a year ago and don't seem to have got much in return for that vote and the story I like is where Mac Maharaj told me he went into one rural area and painstakingly went through the whole thing, why it was necessary and why they should register and when he was finished a group of elders came up to him and said, "Now we've got to vote Mandela out of office in November, is that right?"

BN     Well again you've put your finger on it. It's really information. There have not been sufficient programmes to inform people and to educate them. Compared with the previous elections, the 27 April elections last year, how much money was spent on voter education? A tremendous amount, but that voter education was very specific for that election, it didn't cover elections in general, why you have to go to elections periodically at local level and provincial level and national level. It wasn't because the time wasn't there and I think it would have taken far more funds to achieve that. Somehow this time we missed this type of input into the process and I think it's going to be unfortunate if the country pays a price for it at the end by having a very small turnout because that will affect the credibility of the new structures and new institutions. But there is still time as far as I am concerned if we can get our act together. The celebrations themselves on 27 April this year will have as a major component the Masakhane programme, the nation building programme and the local elections programme. Whether that will be enough on its own I don't know but I see it as a beginning of another big campaign to acquaint the people with the need to register and so on. Obviously the closing date of the end of April has to be revised so that people can get another month to make sure they register.

POM     It would seem to me that the elections are critical in the sense that it's through the local bodies that the RDP is going to be represented. If you have a poor turnout and poor calibre of candidates then you're not going to get the RDP implemented in the way it must be implemented if the country is to take off.

BN     I agree, this is why I say the country might have to pay a huge price if we fail to move the people to vote seriously and make sure that they choose the right people. Because you are right, that's where the implementation takes place and that's why you need imagination, innovativeness, a lot of energy has got to take place to canvass committees, to establish consultation process with the communities so that the programmes that are implemented satisfy the people concerned who will be the recipients.

POM     Why would the figures be so low in KwaZulu?

BN     Because it's been a contentious issue and KwaZulu of course has been, unfortunately, stricken with this conflict between the parties in their government of unity and this obviously has had a spin-off of making people disinterested, uncertain about the future and programmes have not really taken off the ground because for that you need a lot of consensus in Cabinet, who is going to do what. So it's an unfortunate situation but they can still remedy that if they put enough shoulder to the wheel.

POM     Before the elections last year you had this pattern of violence for a number of years between the IFP and the ANC. Do you think as you approach the local elections that that violence might start to flare again because you're now even talking about more limited pieces of territory which will be fought out between the IFP and the ANC?

BN     I don't think so. I think now we have got a legitimate government, a legitimate legal system, law enforcement organs, I think it is going to be far more easier for the police to get access to who is doing what and therefore to be able to nip that in the bud. The fact that there might be sporadic violence here and there is just like faction fighting which took place long before I was even born and carried on up to today. That sort of violence you cannot really stop because it happens, it flares up. But violence on an organised pattern like we had in the past where it was clear that it's orchestrated, it's being organised, I don't think you will have now, I doubt it very much. If someone tried they would surely be picked up by the police.

POM     Just give me a kind of outline of what kind of scenario would be in your head regarding the Constitutional Assembly. You have the ANC proposals which are very definitely centrist. I think even some of them would allow for the central government to take back some of the powers they have already given to the provinces even though the interim constitution says the provinces must end up with at least the amount of power they had.

BN     Starting with the interim constitution, the constitutional principles. So the Constitutional Court is the guardian of those principles. If the ANC was serious about taking back I think they will be up against the Constitutional Court. Ramaphosa knows this, he was one the major architects of this constitution so I think it's just an opening gambit as far as I am concerned, from the negotiating position.

POM     Do you see a real debate occurring on the whole question of federalism?

BN     Well not in the terms of saying it's federalism but we have now a de facto federal system in many ways, not really complete but we have got premiers who have now got functions and powers and legislative competencies. I think each one of these premiers is going to fight very hard together with his province irrespective of party, to maintain what they have. Whether it will be wise to bring in at this stage other aspects of federalism which would require a lot of capacity in the provinces, well that's debatable. But what is there now I can see it only being built on. When the ANC talks of strengthening the senate I think they are perfectly correct because I don't think the senate has defined its own role up to now in terms of working very closely to promote provincial government, good governance in the provinces through an effective programme of legislation in our central parliament. Now the senate has got that duty and I don't think they have developed it fully yet, so that side of it definitely needs to be strengthened. And again you see we have situation here where central government can override provincial legislation but it's only in very clearly defined cases. It's not just ad hoc or at will. It's the duty of the senate to test that on behalf of the provinces and see whether in fact they can delimit the ability of the overrides to operate vis-à-vis the provincial legislative competencies. I don't think the provinces individually can successfully deal with that issue. So from that point of view I agree with Ramaphosa that you have got to strengthen the role of the senate in the legislative process at the centre but on the other hand I think it would be totally ridiculous to expect to take back the powers which are there because the whole country is in the mood for effective decentralised government. I think this is taken for granted now. So it will not just be a political fight. If they try it I think the whole nation will be up in arms over this issue.

POM     I know most of the ANC premiers that I have talked to have talked in terms of getting more power, not giving up power.

BN     Absolutely. I mean you cannot suddenly dissolve all this and say go home we no longer have this system.

POM     To go back for a moment to mediation. What are the specific issues that the IFP believes are within the frame of reference as it was drawn up?

BN     Well the issue of provincial powers was a very hotly contested issue as you know. The central government overrides were very hotly contested by us. The financial powers and functions given to the provincial governments, the ability to raise their own taxes and so forth was very, very seriously contested. Those issues, and of course the whole issue of autonomy and self-determination, those are the issues that have got to be looked at to see to what extent can those be accommodated so that everyone is satisfied with the ultimate final constitution that we have.

POM     Do you find yourselves and the Freedom Front on the same side with regard to self-determination?

BN     I don't think we talk about the same thing when we talk of self-determination. I think they have got a different meaning to self-determination than we have. We are talking of self-determination within a framework of a federalist system where there is a state but with decentralised government with a lot of original powers and exclusive powers. But they talk to a large extent of almost a confederal Afrikaner state which is quite different.

POM     My understanding from talking to people in the NP and the IFP is that for the interim constitution the idea was to get as much of the constitution written and as many of the principles in place before the elections so that when the interim constitution went to the Constitutional Assembly there would just be some tinkering done with it, be fined tuned here, or there might be an area here or there that could be improved but that one mustn't, so to speak, be reinventing the wheel and starting from the bottom up. Yet the ANC and most of the negotiators that I have talked to in the ANC give the interim constitution quite a high rating. Out of ten they give it an eight or seven and a half, and so do the National Party negotiators. Why is there this need to appear to start all over again?

BN     Well again it's politics here. I think the ANC desperately wants to cast the image of it being in charge, dictating the process, setting about writing a new constitution. That will be obviously different from the final outcome, I don't expect that - I mean we have a constitution now, we can only improve on it and it would be ridiculous to scrap the whole thing and start again defining what the Constitutional Court is going to be, what the commission on provincial government, what the fiscal and financial commission, what the judicial services commission is going to be. That really would be ridiculous.

POM     If you had to rate the interim constitution yourself on a scale of one to ten where would you place it about?

BN     Well I would place it around, in terms of it being a complete constitution that guarantees the rule of law, civil liberties, bill of rights, the functioning of the judiciary, I would say it's eight out of ten. What will be remaining is the provincial dimension of those functions, that they are better defined to the satisfaction of most of the stakeholders.

POM     And if you had to rate the performance of the government of national unity after ten months or so in office?

BN     I would say it's really nine out of ten. There are lots of things that are going on in the government which the public probably are not aware of, lots of processes are being developed which will ensure - and the central feature of everything is fiscal responsibility, sound monetary policy and management, independence and separation of powers. All those things which really make for good governance are there, are being put in place. The RDP, it's whole budgetary cycle, it's business plans, it's all sound management which when it is implemented will restructure the economy, restructure the whole taxation system and the functioning of government as such. So I think we are on a winning wicket. It's just the question of time. You cannot implement these things at the same time and very quickly so people lose sight of the major work that is being done.

POM     Take the RDP for a moment. I've gone around the country for the last ten weeks and talked to provincial premiers, to heads of departments and when I mention the RDP a kind of a glaze comes into their eyes. They know the RDP is there and it's going to be the master plan for building the country but many of them have different understandings of what it's about, different interpretations, and when I get to the question of saying who's going to pay for it, there is a kind of a conspicuous silence.

BN     Obviously you are right. People don't understand what the RDP is about, even some educated people. They think it's an add-on programme where you say, "Oh that's good for community development", so you add it on to a ministry's departmental functions and programmes. It is not so. RDP is about redirecting and realigning government expenditure, government services and functions to a new vision for South Africa. In other words government is being made to serve all the people and not just a particular section of the people. Don't forget that we come from a very fragmented type of government service where you had your TBVC states, you had your six homeland governments, you had your three own services in central government, it's been terribly fragmented. To bring this together and to start taking these same programmes which are so fragmented and making them serve the whole country is like turning a ship at sea, it's a hell of a process, it's a paradigm shift if you like to call it that. So I don't expect ordinary people to understand that abstract level of what the RDP means. But what is important that they should understand is that through their own input and cooperation they can help government to better their lives. I think that is the central issue.

POM     Do you think that message is being sufficiently conveyed?

BN     Not at the moment, that's why we approve the Masakhane campaign and that's why it's going to be another feature of the celebrations on the 27th, that message that nation building starts with me, that individualisation of effort which I think is going to be very important. But there's a lot of media that's needed on this, passing the message in the classroom to the kids and the teachers must internalise this message, so must the radio, so must the press people, not in a massive indoctrination sense but in terms of helping to define the new vision.

POM     Now in your own party, have you created ad hoc constituencies where you would pick a certain area of KwaZulu/Natal and go and visit it and set up a constituency office? Is that being done around?

BN     It's being done around. There are lots of elections, regional elections taking place. We have been assigned regions to service. Of course, being ministers, we are hard pressed to fulfil this role but the other MPs are doing this all the time. There's a thriving committee now of the IFP here in Cape Town which is a new development, it's got very active. So is East London, Port Elizabeth, Kimberley, so it's starting to come.

POM     Just to go back to the RDP, good politician as you are, you didn't answer the one part of the question I really wanted answered, which was who is going to pay for it? How will it be paid for?

BN     Oh well that question actually doesn't arise because what you are saying is, we take what we have, we realign it to services that go to everyone, so existing government programmes have to be turned round, reprioritise those programmes. For instance, health has done it well. They have taken the same money which they presently have and said, "Now look, we must integrate primary health care with secondary and tertiary care as a continuum at this stage." Now in doing that obviously you will have initially to redirect the money and resources to primary health care because that has been the neglected area. You have operating tables, you have equipment in hospitals, it's there already, so you don't need to spend more money buying huge scanning machines and all that, but you redirect your money into creating clinics, putting that type of infrastructure. And obviously in the next budget cycle you will have the clinics so you can go back and attend to buying more modern equipment, etc. So it's that type of re-prioritisation that is taking place. So it does not necessarily mean that you must get a huge amount of new money. You would have to do that if it was an add-on programme where you are merely adding on to what has been going on all the time.

     But of course I must just add that the international donor community has been very good in supporting the RDP, so there has been a lot of money that has come in, specifically dedicated to the RDP, but what is happening is that that money is not just being given to departments. When I reorient my activities here I can then say, "Here is the budget, my shortfall because of this reorientation exercise is probably two billion rand, can you help me now to make that up?" But I must make provision within my own budget that next year's budget, my own departmental budget will function and carry through these new added functions without going back to the RDP to ask for more money. That is the exercise we are doing.

POM     Again, going around the country in the last two months, one could gain the impression that the country was not yet politically stable, with the taxi strikes blockading the streets of Johannesburg, students trashing Cape Town, trashing their universities, unions taking civil servants hostage, mutiny within the new South African Defence Force. There is a whole list of things which could easily convey the impression that no-one was really in control or that the stability that had been achieved was still very fragile.

BN     Well I'm not surprised because really that's to be expected. People's expectations were that, some of them, that overnight their lives would be so transformed that they will be driving cars, that they will be living in better electrified homes with all the amenities, which is just not possible. So it's a problem of a crisis of expectations as to what liberation means. So we have got to go through that phase and address that issue and it is being addressed to bring back people's expectations to real levels, to deal with the reality of the situation, but to know what government vision is for all of them. Students heard the story that there will be free education, that is the intention, and they want it now. That they cannot be expelled from universities if they under-perform, they think this is the meaning of freedom. So we have to correct those perceptions, but unfortunately there have been these ructions of course which have frightened the outsiders and thought, well there's no stability. I think there's plenty of stability. The government is very much in power and it's very determined to maintain law and order. There are just no two ways about that. There are big initiatives going on such as the National Economic Development and Labour Council, NEDLAC, which is bringing labour and business and government to a negotiating table over all sensitive issues. There is the new Labour Relations Bill which creates a partnership between business and labour and forces consultation and negotiation on any outstanding issues which labour may feel has not been addressed. It also brings in labour to decisions on productivity, so that it's not just the prerogative of management to decide on productivity but labour is equally involved. So if the firm is under-performing it's not just one section to blame, everyone must be held to blame. So we are creating these institutional mechanisms to create more stability and transitions normally take a long time. We are only in the first part of the transition and before we consolidate democracy probably it will be another five to ten years before the institutions start really functioning and creating a new culture in the country.

POM     Now the NP seem to say, the constitutional proposals of the ANC are politicking at a high level but it's politicking and they know and we know that some form of coalition government will probably be needed for the next ten or fifteen years, that's just a reality. When one strips all the politicking away, the international community would want that and I think they have made it clear that that's what they would want. Would you agree?

BN     Well not really because this is a fragile situation in many ways. We come from a terrible past, for the wounds to heal, for everyone to have a common vision it's going to take time. Whoever is the Minister of Finance of this country is going to need the support of all parties because it's an impossible job and it will be so until really the economy stabilises, balance of payments issues are no longer impinging themselves all the time. So until then it's going to be a fight about how we divide the cake for one thing. So there will have to be consensus government, so from that point of view I think the National Party is correct. It is the mechanisms of how you establish that coalition, of course, that must be negotiated.

POM     What would you see as the greatest obstacles to continuing stability, the greatest obstacles in the way of the implementation of the RDP?

BN     If we fail to make the economy grow that will be the most major obstacle because then we won't have the money to finance the RDP. That is why among short term measures, well long term as well, we must look at the reorganisation of state assets and see how we can best optimise these to take forward the RDP, to reduce the state debt. We must look how to balance the whole taxation issue. If we were to privatise some of the important assets we would not only have the once off payment for those assets but you have got a new tax base created which is sustainable, that will add significantly to the revenue of the state. So it's a fairly complex issue.

POM     Just continuing on that note for a moment, on the one hand you say the test of future stability is economic growth, whether it can meet the people's needs. On the other hand you have a situation where it is almost impossible to decrease the level of unemployment significantly. Three years ago I interviewed Derek Keys and he quite bluntly said that the best this economy can do will probably be to increase employment by 1% a year every year between now and the year 2000. The following year I went back to him and I said, "Have you any reason to reassess your evaluation?" and he said, "No, anyone who tells you otherwise is really trying to pull the wool over your eyes." So how can you on the one hand create a level of economic growth that maintains stability and order and on the other hand deal with a chronically high level of unemployment which you just can't do very much about?

BN     I think Keynes is the answer here. Government expenditure must be in the direction of creating public works programmes, building of homes, infrastructure, bulk supply of electricity, water and so on. That can take a lot of manual labour, labour intensive programmes. And I think government can play a major role in that respect. Obviously now when you come to industry it's high tech, it's about competitiveness on the global markets, it's about expertise and skills. The vast majority of the population don't qualify for that labour market so you look to other sources for creating that skill, for employing skilled labour. Then you look at promotion of small businesses in the rural countryside, small farmers, create training schemes for them and government support through extension services. I think there is a lot that can still be done at low cost to expand employment. It needs proper management structure and teams. It can be done, I am quite confident about that.

POM     You are talking about something like Franklin Roosevelt introduced during the New Deal, massive public works and programmes.

BN     Absolutely, because there is justification for it, because there is need.

POM     Just some political questions. One, what happened between the King Zwelithini and Dr. Buthelezi? Now I've interviewed the King four times and I think Dr Buthelezi four times and they always spoke of each other with the highest regard. I also regarded the King to be more hard-line in terms of protecting his people from domination by the Xhosa dominated ANC, even than Dr Buthelezi, and yet after the elections were over you had this apparent split between the two.

BN     The King then decided not to be party political, in other words he wanted to distance himself from the IFP because he has been labelled as a political puppet of the IFP. I think that was his basic motivation. And yet unfortunately there were outstanding issues that were started by himself, the whole issue of the Zulu kingdom, autonomy for the Zulu people, he had started that personally. He had three meetings with De Klerk, he issued a number of major statements on this issue and then suddenly just dropped it and said now he's above politics, he's neutral. This really is the bone of contention, whether he can now say he is not going to involve himself with this further struggle. I don't think it's more than that. I think it's just that. But it all, of course, ultimately comes down to saying the IFP is now peeved because they can no longer use the King, which was not the intention. It was more of a regional imperative that he should lead that type of struggle but then it got mixed up with IFP politics.

POM     What is the role of the Amakhosi?

BN     The Amakhosi have always been there, this is the basis of local government and of course national government in terms of their collectively being the custodians of the land tenure system on behalf of the King. So they have played a crucial role in the lives of ordinary people, in terms of settling disputes, in terms of being the first port of call for people who are in distress. When there is drought people report there, when there is disaster people report there. And the Amakhosi in recent times have been the main conduit between the magistrate of the district, who was really the conduit for development money for justice, for welfare. I mean welfare pensions have been collected from magistrates offices. So there has been this inter-linkage and people have seen the Nkosi as the person who is an advocate on their behalf. Now any new development which seems to abolish that role is going to destabilise the communities in the rural countryside. To have a young fellow now elected as chairman of the council is just not going to wash with the people. They don't know that young fellow, probably they don't even know who his parents were. It is not how rural society functions. So we can't transfer the modern urban township situation and want just to transfer it to the rural countryside, we will have disaster. This is why the IFP has been saying that let's be innovative, let's look at this thing of Amakhosi, local government structure, and see if we can't modernise that in the sense of making it democratic but not just totally wipe it off the table.

POM     At the moment where would things stand?

BN     Well there's an agreement at the moment between Roelf Meyer and the Amakhosi in KwaZulu/Natal about a fifty/fifty model. I am not part of those negotiations so I really can't tell you more other than to say seemingly there is a workable solution in sight.

POM     That's why one day he threw me out. I was interviewing him one day and he said we would have to stop because he was seeing a number of chiefs. The Winnie Mandela factor, is that a real factor in South African politics that will have some impact on the direction the ANC takes?

BN     I don't think so. You know a party like the ANC, unless you are Nelson Mandela or Thabo Mbeki or Cyril Ramaphosa, your authority must be organisationally underpinned. You cannot just be a populist and then say you can influence events because this is the situation here, other than the Women's League which was the real source of strength for her party-wise, which is now in tatters of course. I think she made a big mistake when she jeopardised that power base because without that what other standing has she got other than populism, and populism is a very transient thing.

POM     So how would you, when one looked at the elections to the NEC, we saw Holomisa ...

BN     That was populism that. You stand up and make slogans and shout, like Mokaba was saying, "Kill the boer, kill the farmer", it is populism. With the young members and the labour rights and in those type of elections, that, really, I don't think you can count on that. That doesn't enable any politician to stand up for party leadership and succeed just because of that, because the same people who elected you, once the party says this person is in contravention of party discipline, they will shy away from you.

POM     So as you look to the future do you look to it with a good deal of optimism?

BN     A good deal of optimism. It would take a major thing to, I think, really destabilise this country at this stage, but it can be destabilised particularly if the RDP fails totally to deliver. Then we will really be looking at serious problems. But while we are on the process of getting these things done and people have reasonable confidence that government is doing everything to better their lives, I think, and after all it's the first black government for centuries and this is not lost on people. We may differ as political parties but ultimately, really, this is it.

POM     Is Mandela the glue that holds things together and how would you rate him in terms of his performance?

BN     He is very important, no doubt about that. I think apart from Mother Theresa I don't think there is anyone more developed as a human being than he is. He can look at things, he has the wisdom of Solomon, he can diffuse crises, bring everyone back together again. There's no doubt it, absolutely vital for this period of nation building in this country. But I think he has set in place mechanisms which will take this country forward even after he retires. So Thabo Mbeki, I was with him in Washington and I realised how lucky South Africa is actually to have a man like that, being groomed, his legitimacy being clearly established, his credibility assured, that there is going to be a very natural succession here if the old man decides to step down.

POM     I'm going to leave it there. I'm sure there are a whole lot of questions I've forgotten. Oh yes, the Truth Commission.

BN     That's going to be hard fought in parliament.

POM     Where do you come down on it? What do you think is fair and reasonable?

BN     Well, you know, the whole thing of dragging people to the limelight of the media, taking evidence from culpable people who seek their own salvation through doing down the other people, that has got to be worked in such a way that it doesn't happen. If we can work that type of thing so that it is a proper process which seeks to establish what happened, it is an even-handed process, no-one is using it for political reasons such as bashing the IFP by only bringing in the IFP, the wrongdoers, leaving a whole host of ANC wrongdoers. You know what I mean? If you get rid of all those things then it can work, but at the moment it's going to be hard fought because we haven't reached that stage yet.

POM     Now one of the things that I have been told about KwaZulu/Natal is that cycles of retributive killings, that if I kill somebody from your family, your family in turn will come and kill someone from mine, and this goes on.

BN     Absolutely, that's how the faction fighting was built up.

POM     Do you think that one of the reasons the Truth Commission couldn't work would be that let's say I belong to the IFP and I go before it and I admit to being involved in the killing of two people in the ANC who lived in my neighbourhood, my township or whatever. Now if I went back to that township was I a dead person? Would the other families simply say ...?

BN     Most likely.

PM     There's a powerful motivation to keep your mouth closed.

BN     That is the problem. This is why I am saying the whole thing of opening it to the press is going to be the undoing of this exercise because people are not going to go forward when they know that that man's sons are going to be after me and wipe out my family the minute I admit killing their father.

POM     Very last question is on Dr Buthelezi. Do you think he is treated fairly by the media?

BN     No, he's treated totally unfairly. Buthelezi has done a lot for this country. If the whites, the Afrikaners, thought the only alternative was ANC domination, as they call it, and fighting for white survival they would have fought, but the fact that there were other black organisations such as the IFP who sort of were middle way, who guaranteed that they would balance established interests with emergent interests, that was crucially very important for the Afrikaners and whites generally in this country, that there are blacks who are willing to stand up for that, not just say we will take over, transfer power, you know what I mean? That would have destabilised the country if those were the stark choices, so Buthelezi has played a very crucial role in bringing reason and stability to the whole political transition in this country. People forget that. The press doesn't give him credit, and also being a man who gives instructions. Buthelezi from the past has said, "I can't support sanctions because people must live, there must be jobs. I can't support sanctions. I can't support the armed struggle because we have been through wars in the past and I know what devastation that brought on my people." All those elements were important in helping to create a fairly stable transition. But no scholars have brought this out. If I have asked people overseas, some institutes, how much of Buthelezi's writings do you have here, how much of the Hansard from the KwaZulu Legislative Assembly do you have here? None. So it's been very unfair. There is a whole body of important contribution to this country's progress which is totally ignored.

POM     I'll follow some of it up. Thank you ever so 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.