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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.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 Oct 1995: Mzizi, Abraham and Gertrude

Click here for more information on the Interviewee - Abraham

Click here for more information on the Interviewee - Gertrude

Click here for Overview of the year

POM     First of all, we haven't seen you since you have been elected. We haven't seen you in this setting here in Thokoza so it's nice to see you again as an ordinary human being without all the trappings of an MP, without the shirt and tie and Armani suit and the Rolex watch and all the accoutrements of the gravy train. That's a joke. How are you?

AM     Thank you Padraig, I'm fine, except that you make mention of the gravy train. Yes, one would probably imagine that there were gravy trains in the past but unfortunately now what is left in that train is bones which we can no longer enjoy, just pure white bones. But coming back to the fact that indeed since we last met before I became an MP I thought that you people have sort of betrayed me because you used to come frequently, frequenting the place.

POM     Well, excuse me, it's because I said when I see Abraham today the first thing I'm going to say is, Abraham, we come out here all the time and now we haven't managed to get hold of you for 18 months, you have deserted us!

AM     Well it's vice versa, it's how a person probably will respond to a statement. But, yes indeed, I have been very busy. I have been to and fro Cape Town, back in Gauteng, Cape Town back in Gauteng. The condition as you left, I must say we quite appreciate your visit here because it has sort of highlighted many other things that probably many people abroad did not know what was happening in South Africa and your visit really must have made an eye-opening to many people because since you have been coming to Thokoza I think a lot of people started having that very enthusiastic of coming to Thokoza and talking to people of the hostels as well as the residents in the township. So we thank you for your exploration, you have explored a good thing and I think we will keep it up and what you have been doing, I am sure you must have struck a good confidence in our people here, more especially in Thokoza in the stronghold of IFP. People gain confidence in such as that. What you have been saying, you were actually sending back your script and we had to read back to the people and they discovered that what they have been telling you is exactly that you have put the message across abroad and we appreciate and applaud that, and I think you will keep it up and we will have friends many, many years to come.

POM     That's because you listen to the year 2000 at least, so we'll all be old and grey.

AM     Let's hope. And also coming back to the work that a person had found himself actually exposed to, you know, though I did not envisage that one would end up in parliament, and looking from afar one had thought that to be a parliamentarian you just go there probably occasionally and sit down and you make laws and come back and sit back home. It was just the opposite. I may just as well tell you that the parliament is in recess now, since 14 September, but since that time we have been to and fro Cape Town, Pretoria, we would be going back again on 29 November, that is now the Justice Standing Committee. It's not only my committee that is actually sitting, it's various committees. We are actually believed to be in recess but in the true sense we are working like anybody else up till the end of the year because we would be dealing with committees, try to make some other bills that have been left behind and sort of push them up, which might even result in having a special sitting to pass those bills so that they become laws.

POM     How has your life changed since you have become an MP? I mean for so long you lived here on the front line, so to speak, of the war. The walls are still pockmarked with bullet marks, there was a constant battle, a war between the hostels and the squatter camp at Phola Park. Down the middle of Khumalo Street there was the dividing line between whether you were on the IFP side of the divide or the ANC side of the divide. It was a very precarious and dangerous situation which you lived in all the time. How has your life changed now?

AM     Patrick, it has really, you know when you first started touching my flesh, bones, to see whether I am still the very person you used to talk to in the past, I have done the same thing when things had sort of subsided. One morning I woke up touching myself, is it still myself who can't hear a gun in the morning and during the day and at night? It is quite amazing. Since you came about ten minutes ago, you know in the past what you would have heard, you would see people running in all directions, but you came here, I am sure you must have been surprised to find that it is so quiet. Yes. Coming back to the battle that we went through, indeed the Phola Park and hostel residents feud, you would be surprised, and you might not even believe me, that the Phola Park people they come to this hostel without being escorted by the police during the day, during the night. The hostel inmates can go to Phola Park without being escorted by police or by anybody else. They are friends, they have made friends. It is only unfortunate that the only problem we still have, it is that portion on the other side of Buthelezi Street which is the no-go area, no-go area in the sense that our people, that is now on this eastern border side which is IFP territory, have not passed Buthelezi and beyond, but the people from Phola Park or from Vergenoeg on the other side of Buthelezi Street, they go to and fro without being hampered, without being attacked by anybody else as we have spoken to our people to normalise the situation. Now, I must say up front that we have compromised our rights to ANC. They enjoy the freedom of this country without us enjoying the same. As you would see, you would see cars going that side, you could also just as well yourself drive from here till on the other side of Buthelezi Street provided you would not be coming from the hostel and go that side. That I cannot guarantee your life. But if you drive from here right that side nothing will happen to you. You can come from that side without having warned the people.

POM     That's coming from the Phola Park side?

AM     From Phola Park side, you will pass through here without being harmed. We are gravely concerned about the situation because people feel that why should we bend backwards when we cannot enjoy the privileges that are being enjoyed. In fact it is not privilege, the rights that are being enjoyed by other citizens, or the inhabitants of Thokoza. We have a problem and we try to get ourselves engaged with the ANC component to find out what are they doing with that situation and it seems as if they are quite happy, that if IFP would compromise everything they have then there would be peace, as long as they don't compromise.

POM     Gertrude, good morning. Nice to see you after 18 months.

GM     Good morning. I'm in such a big hurry now.

POM     You always are.

GM     I am rushing to my office, I have got too many things to settle.

POM     You've got too many things to settle? Well, when are we going to see you? When are we going to get a chance to sit down with you? It's been 18 months since we last chatted to you. Even Nelson Mandela has time for us. You say you're too busy?

GM     I am very busy. Nelson Mandela is ...

POM     Dr Buthelezi gave me an hour and a half.

GM     Those are the people who have got the back up. I don't have the back up, I do everything on my own.

POM     Well, how about tomorrow morning? Could we see you alone for three quarters of an hour or something?

GM     Where?

POM     Anywhere. You name it.

GM     Tomorrow morning at what time?

POM     Say eight o'clock.

GM     Oh, eight o'clock will be too early. You must also remember that I am a mother of four. I have to wake up and do their lunch boxes and transport to school.

POM     OK, nine?

GM     Nine thirty.

POM     I've an appointment at ten, yes from ten to eleven.

GM     I don't even have a diary because everything just comes.

POM     Will you be at home tomorrow?

GM     Yes.

POM     You won't be at the office?

GM     No, I think if you can come at nine o'clock I will be here. But let me say, do you have anything which you want to speak to me about, is it possible to do it now so that I can go?

POM     Yes, OK. First question. What about the local elections? Are local elections going to take place here in Thokoza without violence? Has there been any problem with the nomination of candidates?

GM     Quite a number of problems. We had to withdraw certain candidates from certain wards because of intimidation and we couldn't force people to stand risking their own lives because we don't want to lose anyone, we don't want to see anyone being killed. As a result we are only contesting one ward here in Thokoza.

POM     You're only contesting one?

GM     Only one ward out of six wards, we are contesting one ward.

POM     So you are conceding the other five to the ANC?

GM     No-go areas, they are the no-go areas for IFP, and we always believe in the notion of where you are not welcome, don't go, because it's useless sending people there, risking their lives and even your own life, because you can't even go there and campaign.

POM     Do you think the IFP are getting adequate protection from the security forces?

GM     No not at all, not at all. In many other cases we are simply being told that since you know that the ANC in that area is very hostile we would advise you not to go because it's possible that there may be some snipers in between and we are not going to be able to protect you.

POM     Do you see the South African police force now as, with the integration of some members of the MK into it, more as an ANC police force than as a government police force?

GM     You see in the past all the security forces, the armed forces, were under the control of the National Party, so even now it is exactly what the ANC is trying to do. In the police service you have got too many members of MKs who are integrated into the police service and who have got high ranks and even in the SANDF you have got the same. But here in Katlorus it's much better because we have got both members of the SPUs, which are IFP aligned, and the SDUs, which are ANC aligned, into the police service but they don't mean that much. What counts is he who is in the top brass, who can give the command and we don't have people who can give the command so I can see that the forces are now being ANC controlled.

POM     Do you still feel as you used to feel that the ANC, that their ultimate aim is to establish a one-party state?

GM     Exactly. I still believe that. I can give you an example of Zonkezizwe. Zonkezizwe is an IFP stronghold and the ANC tried the best it can to penetrate into that area but they did not succeed until yesterday when they bussed people from all over the East Rand into that area. Wherever they were, they were moving, they were spray painting, even vehicles of IFP supporters, ANC. And as a result of that there was that confrontation between the ANC supporters and the IFP supporters in Zonkezizwe. The intention there was to go and provoke the people so that they will react and they will run into the Electoral Court claiming that the IFP has violated the Electoral Act simply because they wanted to impose their candidate, who doesn't even live in that area owned to IFP supporters either by hook or crook.

POM     So how does this bode for the future? Do you think that these are going to be free and fair elections?

GM     I don't think so. How can you say the elections are going to be free and fair when you couldn't even put up candidates in certain wards because of fear of their lives? So you can't say elections are going to be free and fair. They are just going to be like the general elections of 1994.

POM     Do you think there is going to be a lot of fraud?

GM     Exactly. This is what is going to happen.

POM     Well then, will you accept the results that come out?

GM     In fact what I'm expecting, I'm expecting the ANC to win like they normally do. The ANC will win either by hook or crook.

POM     But if you think that in the longer run this state is going to become a one-party state, do you think that the ANC is out to systematically destroy the IFP?

GM     Not IFP alone. At this stage they have changed. They are on to the Democratic Party, the National Party and the IFP. Any progressing party they are on into it.

POM     When you look at the voting system it seems like one of the most complicated voting systems in the world.

GM     It's very complicated and I believe we are going to have too many waste ballot papers, more especially in metropolitans where there are going to be three ballot papers, a ballot paper for the candidate, a ballot paper for the sub-structure, a proportional list and the ballot paper for the metro proportional list. It's very complicated and you must also take into consideration the high number of illiterate people in the country, and the voter education has not been enough. The kind of a voter education, I don't know who's sponsoring that voter education, it's a voter education in English which we see on the television and the illiterate and the semi-literate are not benefiting anything from that.

POM     So when the council results are announced and the ANC win most of the councils will the IFP contest them?

GM     We are not going to do anything like we did before and we are expecting that, we are expecting the ANC to clean sweep everything.

POM     But then you will participate in ...?

GM     We will take whatever, we will take whatever. You must also understand, you have been here for quite a long time, you are not a stranger, you know what we suffered, you know what we went through. We went through hell in the hands of the ANC. We are not even allowed to bury the dead in the graveyard. We are not allowed to go to schools. We can't even go to churches. They have taken everything away from us. We don't benefit anything from violence so we are not going to revolt. Who are we really to revolt against the armed forces of Joe Modise, Ronnie Kasrils and Sydney Mufamadi?

POM     Does that not leave you in a very weakened position?

GM     We don't think our position is weak because our voices will never be shut up.

POM     What about in KwaZulu/Natal and what's happening there. How does that impact on the IFP nationally?

GM     The intention of what is going on in KwaZulu/Natal is also to have an impact on Gauteng but we were aware of the fact that whatever has been happening there they want our reactions and we were too clever not to react. I can give you an example of the State President who made an announcement that he is going to cut funding into KwaZulu/Natal, he was also expecting the people who are from KwaZulu/Natal in the province who are also supporters of IFP, to react and we didn't react. We didn't want to give him a chance to come in to us either by the security forces or by any other means.

POM     So do the animosities that did exist between the IFP and the ANC, would you say they've intensified over the last 18 months?

GM     Where, in which province?

POM     Or perhaps look at a process of more accommodation? Well, talking about Gauteng and KwaZulu/Natal.

GM     Here in Gauteng it's much better because we must also take into consideration that the ANC is in power here and on the other hand they will try the best they can to reduce the levels of violence as they were the people who were responsible for violence, because it's very difficult for one to rule in a violent area. But on the other side it's us who are compromising whatever right we have. The ANC is free to go anywhere. We are not free. In order for peace to prevail we are the people who must lie down and the ANC must walk on us. After the elections we brought in Tokyo Sexwale here, introduced him to our supporters as the premier of the province and unfortunately it was the ANC supporters who stoned him, who even barred him from entering.

POM     Stoned him?

GM     Yes, stoned him, Tokyo Sexwale. They even barred him from entering any premises of the ANC in the East Rand.

POM     Why did they do that?

GM     They did not want him to come to the IFP people and talk to them because they don't want peace. The unfortunate thing is that the ANC cannot control its supporters. The conditions they created they can no longer cope with them. They taught people how to strike, how to attack political opponents and sometimes they failed to stop them.

POM     So you think the chickens are coming home to roost?

GM     Exactly, to roost.

POM     How has your life changed?

GM     It has not changed, it is still the same life. I am still doing what I was doing. The only change is that I am now involved in legislation.

POM      How do you find it in the legislature, do you easily get on with your ANC colleagues?

GM     Surprisingly. I was not even expecting it.

POM     So what's the difference between what goes on in parliament where you have a good relationship with the ANC and members of parliament, and what goes on on the ground where there still seems to be this underlying tension and conflict?

GM     We talk with two different tongues. In the legislature we can legislate together and adopt some strategies which we can use to avoid confrontation but outside the legislature it's a completely different thing. It is still the IFP of 1990 and the ANC of 1990, still like dogs and cats.

POM     But Abraham says now that people from Phola Park ...

GM     Yes they do but we cannot. People of Phola Park can come here in the hostel, the hostel can go to Phola Park but the hostel people, the supporters of IFP, cannot go into the township. They even say the peace that is prevailing is only between the Phola Park and the hostels, not ANC and IFP. That is why I said to you it's us who must always compromise. Can I go now?

POM     That's your first question. Am I going to see you tomorrow?

GM     No. I have already given you my time.

POM     You've given me one answer to all questions.

GM     Do you have any other question? You repeat too many questions that need to be answered, so come out with your questions, I must go. I could have already gone. Your questions? I was even in US, you didn't want to come and interview me there. You could have saved quite a lot of time and money.

POM     Did you want an interview in the US?

GM     Yes, I was in US, you were supposed to come there, I was even in the University of California for three days.

POM     University of California? I'm in Boston, that's 4500 miles away.

GM     It's much better to have come to University of California rather than coming to South Africa. Let's continue.

POM     What about the allegations that are being made between, the relationship between the Vlakplaas ...?

GM     Oh you are talking about that Vlakplaas, let me help you out. I cannot speak of the two people who have been named there, I do not have proof of what was going on and I cannot make any comment, but the only comment I can make there is that there were also allegations in the very same case of Eugene de Koch of Vlakplaas claiming that there were high ranking ANC officials who are now some of them ministers and members of parliament who were involved in the same dirty tricks and the ANC stopped the Weekly Mail from publishing that, and Sowetan. So we are also interested in knowing who are those people and what exactly were they doing.

POM     Do you think the allegations, do you think that the Truth & Reconciliation Commission ...?

GM     The Truth & Reconciliation Commission is ANC whitewash.

POM     ANC. Are they going to go after the National Party?

GM     Let me put it to you this way. I say the Truth & Reconciliation Commission is ANC whitewash. The only thing that ANC is aiming at is to clean itself of all the atrocities that they committed in Angola, in Tanzania or wherever, or even in the country, because who will testify against the ANC? Even the people who were supposed to testify at the Motsuenyane Commission who were the complainants, the ANC made sure that it employs the ... TEC as the protection service members. So if you employ me and you give me money to shut up I will shut up. So the only thing now is that the ANC, I don't even think it's gunning for the National Party that much, the only party that poses a threat to the ANC is IFP. They think by so doing they are going to discredit the IFP and the IFP will just disappear into thin air.

POM     Do you think that the IFP poses a threat to the ANC over the whole country or just in parts of it?

GM     It doesn't matter where. They can see the potential for growth and you must understand that the National Party is a white party, the ANC and the IFP they share the black supporters, so the ANC does not want to be disturbed in so far as the black support is concerned because the blacks are the majority of the country.

POM     Now one hears a lot about divisions within the IFP, particularly on constitutional issues on what are called the hard-liners, the Walter Felgates.

GM     Have you also ever heard of the divisions within the ANC over constitutional matters?

POM     Well let's talk about the IFP first and then talk about the ANC.

GM     It's a natural thing in any political party to have divisions. There are divisions in the ANC, constitutional divisions. There are divisions in the National Party, there are divisions in the Democratic Party. You must understand that unlike your country where you have democracy, in our country we have got plutocracy where I will have to be in line in whatever my party says even if I see it's not right. I don't have the right to exercise my own vote in a sense of being my own vote, I go along with what the party says.

POM     You do?

GM     No you don't in your country. In your country you don't. We do it here. In your country Senator Bob Dole can vote with the opposition, it depends on what the matter is all about because the interest of all the congressmen or the senators in your country is the interest of the constituency they represent and then here political parties play a very strong role.

POM     But my question would be that in, again, KwaZulu/Natal which is the stronghold of the party ...

GM     Exactly in KwaZulu/Natal there are differences, constitutional differences in all the parties which are there. The only thing is that the IFP is the leading party there. It's like myself, I differ with IFP in many other issues. Like any other person in any other party can differ with his party in any of the issues because sometimes when you choose a political party it is because out of ten you can go on with eight or seven, but when the time goes by there is a specific issue where you will differ with them. You can even have three different groups over that issue with three different opinions.

POM     Do the IFP still believe that in the 1994 elections, the April 1994 elections, that the ANC massively stole votes?

GM     Exactly.

POM     Do you believe they stole them up here in Thokoza?

GM     Quite a number, even myself, I don't even think I do have a vote. My vote was not counted. It's also the mistake we made by boycotting the TEC where everything was being planned. It was ridiculous of us to believe that the ANC can take care of our ballot papers because the securities, the monitors were all members of the ANC. Here in Thokoza we lost 14 ballot boxes.

POM     I remember seeing you the night of the election, you were rushing around like a - trying to get people.

GM     All that work done was just a futile exercise because in the end ballot boxes went missing. After six months they were discovered, some of them were discovered in Brakpan mine dump.

POM     Let me ask you, if the election wasn't free and fair in 1994 and ballot boxes went missing all over the place and millions of votes were stolen or disappeared and the count stopped before all the votes were accounted for, yet a result came out that made everybody a winner. The IFP won KwaZulu/Natal, the National Party got the Western Cape and the ANC got the rest of the country and it was called a miracle. Was it in fact an arranged result?

GM     It was the arranged result.

POM     People got together behind closed doors and said let's ...

GM     Exactly, give this one that and that one this, I am sure they will be happy. You see they agreed on the results that if the IFP in KwaZulu/Natal can have something like 51% they are not going to be able to totally lead there and in Western Cape if the National Party can have something like 57% they are also not going to be able to do anything. And here in Gauteng if we can only give the IFP three seats, just give them representation.

POM     Then that result had to be accepted by the leadership of your party? They were part of the arrangement.

GM     No we did not, they were not a part of the arrangement. The arrangement was only between the NP and the ANC, they have always been the people who were running the whole show. We did not accept the results but we had nothing to do because by not accepting the result that would mean that we would say to people, fight.

POM     Well if you had not won in KwaZulu/Natal would there have been a further outbreak of violence?

GM     I cannot predict that, more especially because I don't live in KwaZulu/Natal. I don't know that much about KwaZulu/Natal.

POM     But it's the focal point of the IFP party no matter how you look on it.

GM     Unfortunately I cannot comment on that because I don't know the feelings of KwaZulu/Natal people. I am only concerned right here. I can see other things happening there or I can make a general comment, but as to how they would react into that I don't think it's appropriate for me to comment.

POM     Let me ask you this question, you said I had no questions, I have thousands, is there resentment in the IFP that so many white people who were in other parties who joined the IFP at the last moment were given prominent positions on the ballot list so that they could be elected? And is there a difference between what white members in the IFP, late joiners, want and aspire to and what the core of the IFP, the core of its black constituency aspire to?

GM     Yes it's true because - I don't want to speak on behalf of other people, I can speak only on my behalf, it's true because most of the white people I see are the people who are really not known who are they and then where they come from. However, I say we still need certain expertise in the party. It doesn't matter when did that person come into it.

POM     But there are differences? Is there resentment, that's what I'm saying?

GM     No there isn't that much resentment, there isn't that much resentment. It was just a question which was put in the beginning, who are these people, where do they come from? And the white people who are in the IFP now they are the most hardworking people, they even work harder than we do, so why could there be a resentment?

POM     They can't work harder than you do.

GM     Yes they do, honestly they do. We have got white people who come from Pietermaritzburg, who come from - Hennie Becker has always been here and he is one of the hard workers, so there is no way in which people can complain because in the political party, the way we see the political party in IFP it's like building a house. You need a person who with no skills who can just close up the foundation, you need the tradesman, you need the bricklayer, you need all those kinds of people. So we take these white people and we use them where it's appropriate.

POM     But do you not think the fact that the IFP is just going to contest, or is contesting just one ward out of the six wards here is kind of a confession of weakness, that the best they can do is win one ward out of six?

GM     I don't know what you understand about confession of weakness because the confession of weakness you are talking about means that you don't have support, you don't have power to do this. The only weakness we have we say is the weakness as far as fighting is concerned. We don't have power to fight the ANC and say you shut up. We point the AK47 to them and say this is our candidate. That's where we are weak. But we are not weak politically and I would like to tell you that the votes which put me and my other two colleagues in that provincial legislature are the votes from the areas declared to be the ANC strongholds because the ballot boxes were not destroyed or lost. In our stronghold we got nothing, ballot boxes were lost.

POM     In your stronghold they were lost?

GM     Yes in our strongholds, all over the province.

POM     But my point is that you are only putting up candidates in one ward out of the six wards so you are conceding the other five wards to the ANC?

GM     Should we go and die? Should we put up candidates and those candidates should die and their families should suffer? We have got nothing to offer to the families of the dead people.

POM     But you fought for so many years, on the streets. Your yourself ...

GM     We were being attacked, we were defending ourselves. We had to.

POM     Well do you not have the right to go in to these wards and defend yourselves against attack?

GM     We don't think it's appropriate. What happened is that we were chased out of all the places and have been confined into this area where you also are and here we can do everything in our power to defend us. But where we still have people left we do not want the same thing to happen again. Those people who were saved we want them to remain there and they will exercise their vote and vote for us.

POM     If you have no candidates in those wards then?

GM     We have got the party contesting elections. Those people will vote for the party.

POM     People at large, OK. What about Tokyo Sexwale's housing programme? How many houses have been built in Natal?

GM     None.

POM     How has this province changed in the last 18 months?

GM     Not at all. It is still the same province.

POM     Nothing has improved?

GM     The only thing that we can see here is strikes, the high rate of crimes. Nothing has improved. We only have talk shows. You can talk and say the new government is in power, we will give you houses, we will improve this and that and that, no there is nothing that has been improved.

POM     Well then if you go to parliament in Johannesburg and you pass legislation, does any of this legislation have any impact on the way that people live their daily lives?

GM     The only legislation which is going to have impact, although it's being contested in the constitutional court, is education legislation. The education, schooling legislation. That is the only legislation that is going to have impact. Other legislations don't have any impact on the life of the man in the street.

POM     Now your own children, are they going to public schools?

GM     Yes, they have always been in public schools. I can't afford private schools.

POM     They're in Alberton?

GM     In Alberton.

POM     So these are mixed schools?

GM     They are mixed schools.

POM     And do they work well?

GM     Very well.

POM     OK, I'll let you run. See you in another ten years.

AM     Right, are you back to me?

AM     Well there are so many things that you have touched upon now, Padraig, I wonder if you still need some further answers beyond what you have heard.

POM     I would like to hear your elaboration of some of the answers that Gertrude gave.

AM     Which are those where you still don't have clarity?

POM     Well the KwaZulu/Natal situation, it's simmering, it's there, it's not really being dealt with. The death toll is going up every day, slowly building to one kind of constitutional crisis after another. When Dr Buthelezi says, as he did and I want to Durban to meet him there on Shaka Day, that what the Zulu people want is self-determination and that the Zulu people are now in the final stage of their struggle for self-determination, what do you understand him to mean when he says that?

AM     Well it all depends on how you interpret his response to your question. If we want a secessionist we would say so if we so wish. We don't have anything to hide. Truly speaking all we say is that the national parliament should devolve powers to provinces, not only to KwaZulu province alone but to all provinces and the national parliament should not interfere with the provinces or with the daily running of the provinces on the daily issues. That's all what I understood by him to say that and that's what we actually envisage to have. All provinces must have their own say in their own affairs and where the competence of the national parliament should be exercised, let it be exercised as well as the competence of the provincial parliament should exercise the same. That's all we say. But now going back again, you spoke earlier about the death is escalating, people are dying every day, it's unfortunate circumstances that we experience, but the unfortunate part of it is that the government, the now government which was yesterday saying that De Klerk's government has all the capacity and the power to stop violence with its police and its defence force, they are the very people who are actually deploying the very same people into the area though one has to be very cautious, here as I say I don't live in KwaZulu/Natal, but it has appeared and there are statements that the police are involved, they are the one now killing our people. The SANDF they are the ones who are now engaged in killing the people.

POM     Now are these former members of the MK who are now part of the SAPS?

AM     Exactly.

POM     Now have you documentation of this or is this an allegation?

AM     Hence I say it is difficult for people probably to come out clear with evidence but what it is being said that the people seen with uniform, when a person is seen with uniform you cannot actually say that person is the person because though Shakespeare always says that an apparel often proclaims the man, you cannot see a man with a collar and say this must be a minister of religion. So all those people who were wearing uniforms of the police, SANDF, we assume that it is the police and/or SANDF members till the contrary is proved. Now if you cannot have document when you see a person with that, yes charges have been laid to the police, nothing has come forth. All those charges up until now they haven't seen light. That's as far as I can say about the dying of the people in KwaZulu/Natal and we cannot run away from the fact that it is unfortunate circumstances where you see life has been lost. We would love that people should no longer be dying. We have lost too many lives and it is unfortunate that ANC would go all out to do the same. They would come to a table and talk to you. You must not take heed of what they are saying, it is just the opposite. They will go on. They have taught people to cause the country ungovernable and they haven't gone back to the people and told the people that, look, IFP is now in partnership with us now in the government, now accept IFP, talk to the members of IFP, talk to the supporters of IFP. They haven't done so. They have left the people in the cold, yet they are talking to us in the government.

POM     So, again, my question would be more or less the same as the one I asked Gertrude, you work in the national parliament, you work with people from the PAC and the Freedom Front and the National Party and the ANC and you all get on together. Do you?

AM     Yes, there's no problem.

POM     It's like a club.

AM     It's like a club, but I would tell you that not that what it has been done in the legislating that we all agree with what they are doing. Where we need to differ we openly say so that we differ here, we don't agree, and they have to accept it and we have to accept it.

POM     Well what do you think has changed? How has the country changed in the last 18 months? Is it going in the right direction, the wrong direction, are things getting worse or are things getting better?

AM     Well I would say this very pessimistically in that the country is probably on the brim of slipping, but one would say that with the kind of attacks that have been made to De Klerk we believe that these kind of talks which were happening in the bush, the Record of Understanding, it's now the Record of Misunderstanding. I am sure if they can thrash that out we would be in a position to say, now the country either takes this direction or we all take this direction. I am sure those upheavals will have to be there for a while but the sooner thereafter we would be soon finding ourselves on even footing.

POM     So do you find not only deep divisions between the IFP and the ANC but between the National Party and the ANC and that these divisions are increasing?

AM     Yes they would be, there would be a lot of loopholes now lately which we have seen what is developing and we hope that if that can actually develop to that type of a thing that they repel each other, or the marriage broke down to such a state that it cannot be reconciled, then the country will be in a position now to say, this is it. You probably have your analysis. It's either IFP or ANC.

POM     But the ANC is so powerful. They have got a powerful political machine. When one goes around the whole countryside the billboards for the local elections are ANC billboards, when you look at the newspaper the full page ads are ANC for the local elections, they are all ANC, ANC, ANC. One is hard put to find an advertisement in a newspaper or even a poster that has an IFP candidate on it.

AM     Yes. Now I think you have an answer. The American people, all the Scandinavian countries, have pumped a lot of pounds and dollars into ANC coffers. We were left with nothing, we had nothing to offer the people. Now what do you expect? Yes, they will go about, do everything, money talks all the languages, but if you go down and see the realities the time will prove us right. People begin to realise that all those that are glittering it is not gold. They may have everything in the papers but the truth remains that they got this thing by hook or by crook. The truth will prevail. In the end we will be proved right and the only thing that will prove us right is the cross what people are going to make.

POM     Do you believe, like Gertrude does, that there was massive fraud in the elections in 1994 and that what you had was a brokered result where either the ANC and the NP got together behind closed doors and said, listen we've got to come up with a result that will prevent civil war, we've got to make everybody a winner so let's give KwaZulu/Natal to the IFP, that'll keep them happy, let's give the Western Cape to the National Party, that will keep us happy, and you guys can have the rest of the country but you're not going to get two thirds, we're not going to give you two thirds. And so everybody came out and there was peace and everybody said it's a miracle. Was the miracle a fraudulent miracle?

AM     Well, Padraig, I think you must have heard long before the elections, the question was put to President de Klerk then, are you prepared to become a Deputy President to a black man? He says, yes. Long before elections how did he know that he will become a Deputy President, had it not been talked behind closed doors that OK, give me this, if I have this then you can have the rest? But to make sure that IFP is also not going to make noise give them something, don't you think that that was settled long before? It is exactly a tailor-made thing, let us try and do this. Yes, it is a miracle in the sense that we were all thinking the opposite, the world was thinking the opposite. All of us thought there will be no elections, there are so many things that are happening right then, but on that day it was like the rain had just stopped and the sun started shining because people moved together, ANC, IFP, from all directions, brushing one another's shoulder, grabbing the ballot papers, going to the polling stations. That was a miracle and nothing has happened. Yes, a miracle in that way you call it a miracle, but not that it's a miracle that we achieved something that was not expected. The results were tailor-made long before, they said, look we will give you so much. There were so many things that were happening, there were so many things that were reported and when they were to be followed up everything was just ... and they said OK let's do this and this and this. But in all of that we had the way forward. We had to accede to whatever had been agreed upon and we said let's see what will happen. But time will prove us right. If we were robbed, it's pointless to stand in the street and say this has happened to us, this has happened to us, like the woman who decided now to divorce her husband and to start telling things that happened 20 years ago.

POM     It sounds like America.

AM     Exactly.

POM     It sounds like Bill Clinton.

AM     So that was the type of thing that we thought, keep quiet, let's go forward, charge on the Light Brigade.

POM     OK, you've gone for it.

AM     We have gone for it.

POM     It's 18 months later, what's changed?

AM     Well there are so many bills that have been legislated, there are so many things that have happened. I am sure we are actually on the verge of probably if we can change a few things in KwaZulu/Natal we would be in a position to say that we are now heading towards a victory. There are only a few things, or probably two things in the constitution that need to be agreed upon. If the international mediation can be probably acceded to take place, we don't say that we need some kind of a dictation that this should happen, we want an opinion, and if the opinion is expressed we will take whatever decision we may arrive at. That's all we need. But over and above that the constitution, we feel as we left the CA and said that some of the things that are being done in the constitution, those are the things that we thought that the international mediation should actually have a voice. Dr ... was around here and he would be the facilitator, as the initiator he actually came about with the suggestion and he succeeded in putting us onto track when there was no hope. And that man, I am sure, he has spelt out exactly what we need to talk about. ANC is just having those delaying tactics.

POM     How can the IFP accept a constitution that will emerge say in another year or whatever, maybe a draft will be out before that, in which it has refused to participate in the whole process?

AM     Padraig, politicians, I have learnt something in politics, as a politician you are an opportunist, you always look which side your bread is buttered. Yes, we would not accept the constitution but where we find it actually works in our favour we will use that constitution. We did not actually draft the interim constitution, we walked out at that World Trade Centre, but where it actually favours us we make use of the constitution. So it probably would be the same thing. The same question has been asked, what will happen come 1999 or probably if the ANC ... that, look, we have a constitution, let's go for elections and the IFP wins, that question was asked, "Are you going to accept that constitution or are you going to draw up another constitution?" The same thing, the constitution will be there, we would see where we apply the constitution. And I am sure if we had been given a chance to go ahead with the constitution that we envisage to have in KwaZulu/Natal, probably I'm wrong by saying KwaZulu/Natal, I don't know what Natal means in any way, it's a different language, KwaZulu, kingdom, yes the kingdom of KwaZulu whatever you may call it, that would have been a milestone to us that the world would have seen what kind of a model of a constitution we would envisage even in the national parliament, but unfortunately we cannot succeed in going ahead with it, but I think in the near future we would be in a position to table that constitution.

POM     Yes, but last week there was an outcry from all the other political parties in KwaZulu/Natal when the IFP pushed through legislation on the constitution when it had given the National Party an undertaking, because the National Party said it wouldn't be there on that particular day, that they wait for their presence so that their input could be taken into account on such an important matter. It was like strong armed politics.

AM     Well, Padraig, look, people would always have excuses. It is the same dose of medicine that we are also tasting in the national parliament.

POM     That's what I was going to ask you, what's the difference between the way the ANC operates in the national parliament and the IFP operates in the KwaZulu parliament?

AM     Exactly, what the IFP is doing is unconstitutional, what the ANC is doing is constitutional. They always have the right, they have that veto of doing things and other people cannot do it. We are working on principles, but with them in the national parliament it's not the same. I am sure you must have witnessed the same thing when we were doing this local government deal. I tell you, it was pathetic. If you were there, the electronic accounting machines, I don't know how often we dipped our cards, the results could not be read, they said, no the machine did not work. Five times. Then we said something fishy is happening there. So that is the daily thing that is happening on a daily basis. There is nothing new, nothing actually what one could say, well what the ANC is doing, the IFP is also supposed to do.

POM     What I'm saying is that in the national parliament, the ANC is using it's power so it pushes through what it wants.

AM     It's just pushing it's majoritarian - yes, exactly.

POM     And in KwaZulu the IFP have a majority and they pushed through in the end what they want.

AM     I think that's the right thing, it's very healthy. If you feel you are on the right track and you have to push your point through, do so, why hesitate?

POM     What I am saying is there is no real difference between the way the ANC operates on a national level and the IFP operates on a provincial level?

AM     Exactly, that's your view, but I am sure - I will endorse your view.

POM     But you complain about what they do at the national level and they complain about what you do at the provincial level but you are both operating the very same way.

AM     Yes. It's exactly when you can see something in somebody's eye when you don't see it in your eye. Start pointing a finger, forget that there are three pointing at you. It's exactly what is happening. We suffer the same thing and if they suffer the same then I am sure they must accept it.

POM     When you look around here in Thokoza, has anything changed in the lives of the people in Thokoza in the last 18 months?

AM     Yes, a lot of things have actually changed since we have compromised our rights to ANC and they do as they wish, yes, people are no longer dying, they are no longer gun toting and you can see it's quiet in the street, streets are being cleaned, services are being rendered just because we have compromised a lot of things. And I am sure you wouldn't be surprised if you read tomorrow, because unfortunately the people from Score Metal, as you would have known that Score Metal was actually pressurised by ANC to close their hostel, now those people we decided that they could come and be inhabited here in the Thokoza Hostel. A big truck went past while you were actually interviewing Gertrude loaded with their belongings, bags and mattresses and everything, and I am sure it must have drawn the attention of the public, and I wouldn't be surprised if you would hear that the IFP has bussed people from KwaZulu/Natal bringing them here so that the war can go on. I wouldn't be surprised. Change goes with time, Padraig. We were never violent and if we were actually interested in war we would have said, fine let's go and fight them and drive them out. They have driven us out of their area, let's do the same. They have driven us out of our area and we confined ourselves here. They made an attempt to drive us out of the township and we said this is the last resort, we are not going to get out yet, and we have defended the place and we are still here and we will remain here. So, they have stopped attacking us, so there is no war. That is probably the change that one could probably speak of.

POM     When you say that the people will ultimately see that the IFP is the logical alternative to the ANC, in the local elections do you expect the ANC to do 'as well' as it did in the national elections or will the people say there has been non-delivery of services, promises weren't kept, we're not going to vote for the ANC, we're going to vote for other parties because we're going to protest against the non-delivery of services, against promises not kept, against good faith not kept?

AM     Yes, I will repeat the last statement before your tape went off. In the local elections probably I slightly differ with Gertrude in that I don't think ANC will do well this time. It has been said in various quarters that people say, we still live in the same shacks, as you said, "Vote us into power we will give you houses, we will give you jobs, we will do that and that", you haven't done so, now where are those things? Now local elections are just a doorstep away from us, you are telling us that the local elections would do better than what you could have done when you are in power. It goes a long way but people soon forget things and if ANC, as you said that they have got everything in power to do and convince people with all those adverts they have everywhere, people may be taken once more for a ride again probably and vote for them with the hope that they might do something. But this tells me a lot in that they did not also contest in other wards and I don't think if you probably take Alberton, I don't see candidates, their candidates, contesting in Alberton. They are all interested in the townships, in the black townships. So that alone it might change the attitude of the people.

POM     What areas have the IFP targeted for the local elections? Given that it's got scarce resources it must pick whether it will put its resources into a township or whether it will go into ...?

AM     Well what we have targeted on is that we thought instead of wasting our votes, let's target areas where we have strongholds, like for instance ward seven here in this area, there is no opposition except an independent candidate. Otherwise if that independent candidate did not contest this ward would have been declared an IFP ward already because we have one candidate for IFP.

POM     In the other wards are there only ANC candidates?

AM     No, PAC, ACDP and many other people are actually contesting, so it is not ANC alone, so wards will be contested. So it is not a situation where a ward has already been given to ANC, no, there are a lot of people contesting, independent candidates and many other people. So that will weaken the ANC tremendously, and for the reason that he is not contesting in towns, that can be his danger point. We have twelve wards, if ANC in the five wards that are remaining, he manages to take two and others are given to the other one and we manage to take one or probably two, who knows, people can still vote for us somewhere, and they don't have anything in town, we might pick up probably two or three wards in town, so we might end up with four. When we go to the proportional list we might probably find ourselves having more councillors than ANC, then we might probably be in control, or even if we might be having more councillors with other people if we join, sort of coerce those other parties to us, then ANC would be weaker.

POM     So you would expect that the ANC will get a smaller proportion of the electorate result than in 1994?

AM     That is my estimation.

POM     What if they got more?

AM     Well if they got more it would be the same, nothing will change.

POM     Well then they wouldn't be penalised for non-delivery, they wouldn't be penalised for not keeping their promises.

AM     Well they have got good propagandist machines but they don't have expertise to provide the needs of the people.

POM     OK, now, you come into the national parliament and you arrived there with everybody else, they are all new, and the first thing you discover is that there's no money in the till, in fact the state of South Africa for all intents and purposes is bankrupt. Right? Well, now even if you were a member of the ANC how could you fulfil promises which you discovered after you came into office that rather than there being revenues and resources there that the country was verging on the brink of bankruptcy due to the actions of the last government?

AM     Well, Padraig, I was there telling people what they are supposed to do and I think the ANC should have had the same guts. If you are not quite sure of the depth of the river, don't estimate that we will go there in numbers crossing the river. They must now go to those drawers which they were telling people that there are a lot of pounds and pennies there and they must open up those drawers and get the money. I don't care what they have been telling the people, they should have envisaged or should have known that, "We don't have the facts before us, let us not tell people this A, B, C." They were outside the country, they did not know anything. They should have been very conscious. I don't have any sympathy with them in saying that well they said this because they thought there were enough resources to meet the demands that they have been actually telling the people. For instance, they said they would be building houses, not lavatories in the veldt. Now where are those houses? It's only Slovo who succeeded getting a beautiful one-roomed house where he is now resting. That is the house that he managed to build and he left thousands of the people that he said, "You will be having houses, you will be having houses of that type of bathrooms and everything, you will be just switching on lights and hot water".

POM     Have there been any new services that have come into Thokoza?

AM     They have said that all those who were ravaged by violence, their houses would be rebuilt, will be renovated, something would be done. This has been said up until date, Mr Msomo who lives here in my house, they have formed up contracts, everybody has been given a chance to get a tender to have contracts, building contracts. They have been told to stop building those houses, I don't know whether it's the money it's not there any more or what had caused them to stop, but we are in a process of building those houses. Probably it might happen before the end of the year or probably early next year. It all depends.

POM     So is there some small improvement happening in the quality of the lives of the people here?

AM     Yes, yes, in a way, but though it hasn't had the maximum impact one would expect it should have. It's only the talks that have been going on, and it makes people feel that probably one day, it will happen one day, it keeps them in suspension.

POM     So just as you - two questions, and these are the last two, you're busy, busy, but it won't be another 18 months before we talk again, OK?

AM     Right. Let's embark on the two.

POM     The first one is, as the dominant party in government, what should the ANC be doing that it's not doing?

AM     Well, Padraig, you know it is difficult to say what the other person should be doing when the person is not doing. Let me try and answer you in this way. I am a golfer. If my opponent cut the ball or hook the ball it is not for me to tell my opponent that, look, you are cutting the ball, you are hooking the ball. It is for the opponent to know that what he or she is doing, he or she should go back to the driving range and go and rectify that. The ANC, as I told you, when they now became the leading party in government, having accepted other minority members of their so-called political opponents, they have failed to go down to the grassroots and say, listen, what we have told you to do on to these opponents now we are now in government, desist from those practices. This is their approach. They would not do that because they know the moment people start realising that without violence people will have different choices. They might lose the power, hence they have left people to continue with whatever they are doing and make lip service when something is happening that this is the third force, we don't know anything about it, it must be the third force. Those are the things that I think if they can stop doing that and if they can stop actually killing their political opponents they would do much better, but very good service to their image.

POM     The second is, how do you operate both as a member of the government, or your party as a member of the government of national unity on the one hand and on the other hand as an opposition party and on the third hand, if such a thing existed, believe that the ANC is out to destroy the IFP as a political party? How can you reconcile all those three things?

AM     As the associate, or the kind of partnership in the government of national unity, I don't think to be in the government of national unity it actually barred me from exercising my rights, my independent thinking that I would always carry on and do it. In whatever legislation we have it is the right of any political party to pursue its policy in the government of national unity. That does not actually bar anybody from doing so and therefore we will remain in the government of national unity but not endorsing anything that it's been said, as "Ja baas" as you would put it in the Afrikaner language, "Yes master", no we are not going to act in his master's voice. We will have the independent thinking. I would tell you in this context, when the ANC, when the government has been blamed, the ANC has that audacity to say that it is the government of national unity that has failed but when there is a handout such as probably the RDP it is the ANC that is doing this, not the government of national unity. Now that tells you a long story that they also have the same double agenda, that this national unity is just some sort of uniform which we are wearing, or a costume which we are wearing when we go to a wedding. Fine. Now your link up question was?

POM     OK you have addressed the two as a member of the government of national unity, trying to behave as an opposition party. The third one is, how can you be a member of a government of national unity when you are convinced that the senior partner in that government is out to destroy you as a political party?

AM     Yes. I probably must have answered the very same three type questions in one voice when I say to you, they haven't gone back and told their people that you stop doing A, B, C. People are still continuing doing the same, people are still saying we cannot accept IFP, we cannot talk to IFP and there are many areas where IFP cannot go. I can't go through Katlehong here, walking, without probably IFP traditional gear but speaking Zulu. I cannot. So those are some of the things that we know that when we speak to them they say, no all those forces that are actually anti-democratic, those are forces which we term them third force. It's always the third force to them that are doing things, they don't know them. But whatever is happening in the IFP we are supposed to know and control all those forces even if they are now known to us.

POM     So are all the tensions that existed here before, three or four years ago, still there but they are now more under the surface and they are not expressing themselves in terms of violence for the moment but are the underlying causes of potential conflict still there?

AM     Padraig, you would understand it this way. I don't say people are dogs. If you are having two dogs fighting every day and you talk to your neighbour and say, look let's chain our dogs so that we have peace in this area and your neighbour said, "I'm not interested it is the survival of the fittest." Now you decide to have a long fence and you keep your dog in that fence and the gate is locked, do you think there would be any dog fight? There will be none of course. But would you say that now that his or her dog is moving around freely here, not gaining the entrance into the premises, would you say there is now peace? What happens one day if you leave the gate open and the dog goes out? The dog will fight again. We have a very fragile peace in Thokoza because of the people. They kept on asking us how far are you going to bend backwards and compromise our rights? Have you now joined the ANC? What is happening? Now all we say is that we have never been violent, we have never waged war. Why would you want to wage war? If they don't do anything to you they just ride past, would you bother? They said we don't bother, said yes those are the facts. But I am telling you, it will take one drunk person who will walk that direction and if that person gets killed I don't know what will happen.

POM     Very last question and you can give me a quick reply, and I'll even start standing up, is the RDP embraced by the IFP as part of national policy or is the RDP really ANC propaganda and has the RDP delivered anything?

AM     Padraig, RDP, it's not an animal or it's not a new thing. It has been there, all these NGOs were there long before RDP. With us it is just something, a continuation. We have accepted in the past and we will continue with it. There is nothing wrong, it's only the name. It's like the Afrikaners have changed us, I don't know from what, we were once natives, then we were changed to pluralists, then we were changed to a Bantu, then to a development, so many names we have been called but nothing, it's new in the name. RDP is what's been happening in the past. It's just to change the name as if now you're having a new vehicle. If I put the four-wheeled drive vehicle in that car which is a Mazda I haven't changed the character of the Mazda, it's still the Mazda.

POM     OK. Thank you Abraham.

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.