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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

23 Oct 1995: Van Der Merwe, Koos

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POM     Koos, let me first begin with a general question. After 18 months of the government of national unity in what direction is the country going in your view?

KVM     The country has no particular direction, it is a confused, uncertain future. One of the problems is that the government is suffering from inexperience from Mandela downwards and now not only in the cabinet but in parliament and in the committees and in the bureaucracy you have new people who don't know their job, who have to be schooled. That has a negative effect and then also the problems in the country especially with the IFP who want a greater say in the affairs of KwaZulu/Natal and they are being denied that and the general lowering of standards in the country makes it very difficult for a person to say whether we are heading into a peaceful prosperous future. I don't think we are and what is very certain is that standards will be lowered continuously, standards in the civil service, in the hospitals, in the schools, in the universities, the streets, the bridges, the clinics, the harbours, South African Airways and the trains and all that. The standards will go down and down and down until it will probably come to a standstill at the level of an ordinary African third world country.

POM     Now what role do you think the IFP has to play, and I want to distinguish between two IFPs. You have the IFP in KwaZulu/Natal where there is a heavy element of Zulu nationalism and their strive for greater autonomy there, and then you have the IFP as a national party where it needs white support. Is there a difference between the goals and visions of the two?

KVM     No, not really. The goals and aims of the IFP are to establish a strong federal democracy in the country together with the free market economic system and so forth. I am of the opinion that more and more people will choose this model because already the nine premiers of the provinces are craving for more powers. They sign, let's say, ten orders per day and nine come back to them with a note, "No, sir, Cape Town must decide on this, not you."

POM     You said they signed ten?

KVM     They have to sign ten, let's say, orders or take ten decisions, it's just a thumb-suck figure by way of speaking, they give ten orders and then they find out that nine or eight of them they can't give because it's outside their jurisdiction, it's a Cape Town affair. And I hear that they are getting very annoyed with the fact that they are hampered in governing the provinces because too many decisions have to be taken by Cape Town and not by themselves. That is a strong current towards federalism and then also the Afrikaner people are moving towards a federal system and there are many sounds of federalism in the country.

     I want to say that the main reason why the ANC does not want to honour their word by getting international mediation is because they know the mediation will go against them, because if Buthelezi stands before an international mediation panel, let's say ten people, then all he will have to tell the American on that panel and the German and the Canadian and the Mexican and so forth, is, "Gentleman, the IFP wants what you have. American sir, we want your model. You have tested that over centuries. That's what we want." This is what Kohl said when he was here. He actually pushed Mandela into thinking seriously about federalism. Now it's impossible for the ANC to accept federalism because their policy is a strong centralist policy, they want to control everything from the centre, and when Kohl was here I think that was the turning point. Then they decided, never, we'll never go for international mediation. If they haven't decided before then, then that was the last straw. They know now if there is international mediation it will go against them. Buthelezi will win. Therefore, they just break their word, they brush it aside, they go on as if nothing has happened and in the meanwhile the IFP is outside the constitution making process and the IFP is a party that does not really only react, it's not a reactionary party, it is a party that takes initiative. So when we are pushed into a corner in Cape Town we take initiative in the province, we publish our own constitution, we want to have an election there, we do various creative things.

     Now to get to the question whether there is a big difference between the two so-called IFPs. Yes, in KwaZulu/Natal you do have a very strong nationalism, especially in the rural areas and elsewhere, and they cling to the IFP, those people, because the IFP is in fact articulating the aspirations and the dreams of the Zulu nationalists. But those who are, shall I say, more educated and more exposed to the world, they go for the federal option. I, for instance, as an Afrikaner know at this stage that the chances of getting a volkstaat are very slim so I investigated the South African scene and I eventually came to the conclusion that the federal model of Buthelezi will be in the best interests of the country. It will break the centralist hold on the country, it will create nine provinces with a high degree of autonomy and I can then vote with my feet, I can see which of the provinces suit my particular taste best and then move and go and live there and in this manner you could have that Afrikaners may in ten or twenty or thirty years eventually become a majority in one of these provinces. So joining the IFP, to me, was on the basis of federalism.

POM     You hear these stories which other people I have talked to in the IFP have substantiated to a degree, and that is that there are divisions within the IFP itself as to the way forward and particularly with regard to their constitutional proposals, even to the extent that you had Buthelezi threatening to resign saying he would not preside over a divided party. How serious are those divisions between the hard-liners like Walter Felgate, who just wants to push the IFP constitutional proposals through the provincial legislature, and those who say, no the constitution is something that must have the agreement of all the parties, everyone has to sign.

KVM     I am aware of the two sides. I don't think it's very dangerous or very serious. It concerns discussions. They look at the constitution for the province and obviously you will never get people to agree on a new constitution, you have to work towards consensus. It so appeared that there are those who want to go forward strongly, they are making out a good case in saying that you can't trust the ANC, with good reason, we must say what we want and go forward. Others say, no let us negotiate. But this is not a serious position because in the end we will find consensus within the party because it doesn't concern a principle, it concerns a method. So I am not concerned about that.

POM     Well in this regard did Arthur Konigkramer become a scapegoat?

KVM     Konigkramer was the chairperson of the Constitutional Committee of KwaZulu/Natal Legislature and he was also the chairperson of the IFP's caucus. Apparently he was the one that was pushing for the negotiation type and maybe he overplayed his hand but they removed him from those positions but he is still the Treasurer General of the party, he is still a member of the KwaZulu/Natal Legislature and he is still working hard for the party.

POM     How do you see the local elections coming up outside of KwaZulu/Natal?

KVM     Outside of KwaZulu/Natal all we wish to do is to hope that we can increase our percentage. It will be easy to just again see what the percentage of the poll is that we achieved in 1994 and then all we have to do is improve on that. I can't remember what the percentage poll was that we achieved in 1994, last year, but the aim is outside of KwaZulu/Natal to improve on that. If we do that, apart from the Freedom Front, we will probably be the only party that shows growth, so that's our aim.

POM     What is the relationship between the Freedom Front and the IFP?

KVM     It's a normal relationship. We don't speak to them on a regular basis. We speak to them from time to time. We also speak to the Democratic Party from time to time and others, so I would say we have a good relationship but not a special one.

POM     Do you have a special relationship with any party?

KVM     No.

POM     Does this not kind of leave you in a more difficult position to forge coalitions of interest?

KVM     Well let me say, what I mean is we are not on the point where we are moving into coalitions with others. We have good relations but nothing special, but the relationship we have with other parties is good enough for us at any stage to move in and discuss possible coalitions with them, the way is paved.

POM     I would have always thought that if it came to a choice that you would have picked the Freedom Front before the IFP?

KVM     Myself, yes. Without committing myself to an answer let me say this, I joined the IFP in December in 1993 and the Freedom Front was only established after that date.

POM     And if it had been established before, you might have made a different decision?

KVM     I may have made a different decision because in a certain way, well in a definite way, they are actually articulating the things that I started. When I was still in the Conservative Party, when there was nothing outside, I started with reform talks. I started to ask questions. I said to my people, "Look I'm the chief information officer, I go overseas regularly, I am exposed to overseas television and radio and to personal interviews with hundreds of people and overseas seminars and so on and it appears to me that the general trend of questions towards us, the general trend is that our policy cannot succeed, not because there is anything wrong with the principle of Afrikaner self-determination but with the concretisation thereof." So I started to ask questions such as, in the caucus, "Gentlemen, I have just returned from America, please help me. We say our policy is partition, we want to divide the country. Now fine, suppose we divide it, how do we divide the land? Which is ours, which is theirs?" Silence. "Gentlemen, suppose we then we get a part of the land for ourselves, how do we divide the assets of South Africa? Who gets the Defence Force?" Silence. "Who gets the Police?" Silence. "Who gets the civil service, who gets South African Airways, who gets the harbours, who gets this and this and this?" Silence, silence, silence.

     So by continuously emphasising the fact that the policy cannot be concretised in a practical manner with these questions, I started to become very unpopular. They would say to themselves, he's full of foreign ideas, we must get rid of this bastard. Then I wrote the Koos document in which I said that what we have to do is find a new strategy. In other words the message was that separate development has failed, we must find a new strategy, and the strategy that I voiced is roughly that which is what the Freedom Front is following today.

     Secondly, what is amazing, just on a personal note, is that quite a number of those who are now with full enthusiasm with General Viljoen in the Freedom Front fighting for that ideal, those very people were vehemently and violently and poisonously against me while they were in the CP, and now I'm outside and they are running with my idea whilst I don't think a large number of them even understand what a volkstaat means and what all these things mean. General Viljoen is an excellent leader, he has a very good image in the country and I think what is going to happen, if I may predict something, I think the Freedom Front is going to grow, I think the Conservative Party is heading for the political ...

POM     Dustbin.

KVM     - what would I want to say, where you bury people?

POM     Cemetery.

KVM     Cemetery, for the political cemetery, and I think the National Party is going to retain its support and you may say, but then where would the Freedom Front get their extra support from? They will get it to a degree from Conservative Party but they will largely be getting it from the National Party. So if the Freedom Front then gets a lot of National Party support, how then is it possible for the National Party to maintain their support? The answer to that is the National Party is becoming browner and blacker. Whatever votes they lose to the other white parties they make up with brown and black supporters so that on the fact of it the National Party will appear to be as strong as in the past but its whole inside is changing, it's becoming a brown/black party.

POM     Is the National Party in danger, or has it lost its identity?

KVM     Oh yes.

POM     It doesn't quite know ...

KVM     Oh there's no doubt about that. Their identity in the past has been without a shadow of doubt the best interests of the Afrikaner people, the white people in general and specifically the Afrikaner and self-determination for the Afrikaner, separate development and so on. That is their identity. They have totally moved away from that identity. They are no longer interested in the interests of whites and Afrikaners alone. They are now interested in the interests of all South Africans, blacks, coloureds, Indians and whites. That already is a fundamental change. Then their way forward is to look after the interests not of the Afrikaners and the whites, but of all the people in South Africa, so it's a totally new party.

POM     So there's no way they are really going to make inroads into the masses in the townships?

KVM     They are going to make large inroads into brown, but black they can forget it.

POM     Middle class black?

KVM     They will get something, they will get the crumbs off the table, the morsels, they will get something. But the masses, the masses of blacks will not vote for the Nats. They will vote for the ANC, they will vote for the IFP, they will vote for the PAC, and then maybe eventually 10% of them, middle class and others and so on may vote for white parties. The growth potential there is very limited.

POM     So you would see the Freedom Front as the coming party?

KVM     Yes, but limited in the sense that they can never exceed, let's say, two million votes because they are an Afrikaner party, a white party. The difference is that they say that, they say that we are here not as racists but we are nationalists and although we care for the interests of all the people of South Africa we are an Afrikaner party so we don't want the Afrikaner to be placed in front of others and get special treatment but we are here as the hawks watching for the interests of the Afrikaner and that's what we should have done in the past also.

POM     Do you think that there seems to be a kind of a special relationship between Viljoen and Mandela, certainly a far better relationship than exists between Mandela and De Klerk.

KVM     And all the other leaders.

POM     And De Klerk. Why is that do you think?

KVM     Well I'm not right if I say all the other leaders. He has a good relationship also with the leader of the PAC.

POM     That's Clarence Makwetu?

KVM     Yes, and who is the current leader? Makwetu, yes. He doesn't have something much against Tony Leon but the relationship between him and De Klerk and him and Buthelezi is certainly strained. But with Viljoen he has an excellent relationship and I will tell you why that is. Viljoen is a person who can adapt. When he was in the Defence Force he served as Commanding Officer at various places. For instance he was appointed as a Lieutenant, as a Commander somewhere, then thereafter he became a Captain and he had to move to a new environment, new people, new responsibilities. He adapted to that. He went on, he became a Major, he adapted to new. Then Lieutenant Colonel, then Colonel, then Brigadier, then a General, then a Lieutenant General, then General of the whole army, and every time he had to adapt to new circumstances, new people. So he is probably the best qualified of all the leaders to adapt.

     When he came here he read the present and current situation and he said to himself, why should I from the beginning just fight the ANC, let us tackle the problems of the country. So what he has done is the following: when he goes to speak in parliament he says, look I am here on behalf of the Afrikaner people, we want a volkstaat, we want self-determination for the Afrikaner, but we will come to that later. The more serious things to address are the following. Let's start with the squatters. It doesn't matter that they are black or they are this or that or that, they are South Africans, what are we going to do about the squatters? There are millions of them living in awkward situations. They get cold at night, or even in the day they don't have something to eat, we must do something. Then they start to cheer him. He says the rate of unemployment is absolutely out of the question, we must do something about it. These things are not party political things, it is something that concerns the country and the people of the country. Let us tackle these things, what are we going to do as a team, as a parliament, to address these very vital issues. And so he identifies with the problems. He says to Mandela, what are we going to do? I am prepared from my side to help you but let's alleviate the position of the people.

     So he identifies with the problems and then he goes on from there. Mandela and he, and it's basically because of Viljoen's adaptation capabilities, he has had so far appointed two of his people as Ambassadors, prime people, prime positions, the Czech Republic, Prague, and also Singapore, and he is getting somewhere with Mandela. He has achieved a lot of things and he is trying this. Now if Mandela and the ANC eventually let him down he cannot be blamed for whatever he does then later because he has for two years or 18 months or three years, he has walked away, he has tried his level best with them. So he is achieving something, he is not negative. He doesn't really fight with people, he emphasises the problems that we have to address. Let's forget the small things, let's tackle the problems of the country and that style of his which he has adapted to the new circumstances, just like that, he adapts to new circumstances and he has the support of numerous generals and others, he is very powerful.

     You asked what is the possibility of violence in future? Whatever the possibilities are the only person who can break this government in twenty pieces, in a hundred pieces militarily is Viljoen. Only he has that ability. He has all the ex-Chiefs of the Defence Force, all the ex-Chiefs of the South African Police on his side working close with him and they are discussing things and these people have all the know-how and technology. So if it comes to violence in future I wouldn't even hesitate for a moment to say that Viljoen has the ability to overthrow the government in a fortnight.

POM     So you think he has the capacity to actually call a coup?

KVM     Yes, but he will not do it, and I have discussed this with him, what I told him is this, "Constand, I won't fight at this stage. Don't call me. I have been your Staff Officer in the operational area, I served as his Intelligence Officer there, and I said don't ask me to fight if I don't know what we are fighting for. You give me the model and say this is the model we want and I will investigate that and if I see it is morally acceptable and internationally justifiable and all that and that there is a government, dictatorial government that is just withholding it and we have the sympathy of the world, yes then I will fight. But to fight for something which is morally unjustifiable and internationally unacceptable and the government has the moral high ground, you are making a fool of yourself, you are going to be hanged one of these days or put against the wall and shot." So Viljoen must therefore first get that particular model which we will all accept and the international world will say, well that's fair and just, give it to them. And if there is to be a fight then, then he will fight, but then he will overthrow the government chop chop.

POM     Now he claims that before the election when there were up to 70,000 right wingers massed to launch military action against, or seize certain areas of the country, that he actually talked them down and said that was a foolish way to go forward.

KVM     Yes, I know about that. I know that he was considering to go for that option, but I think eventually what made him decide otherwise was just what I have been telling you now, he didn't have something proper to put in place, it was just going to have a coup, get the government in your hands and then say, oh hell, what do we do now? I think it penetrated his brain at the time that I don't have something to fight for. That is at the base of the reason why he withdrew.

POM     So it would have been a reactionary action without any foresight or thought of what's next?

KVM     Yes, that's the problem. No plan. When Margaret Thatcher was here she saw the CP and at the reception later I was also there, I spoke to Robin Renwick who was the Ambassador at the time and I said, "Robin, she saw them for thirty minutes", this was Treurnicht and Hartzenberg and so on, "What did she say? What is the judgement?" And then he said she told him afterwards, "Ambassador, after five minutes I could see they have no plan." Then Gareth Edwards was here, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Australia, I was in the discussion for two hours with him, we went out, there was a press conference, I spoke to Ambassador McDonald, his Ambassador, I said, "What does he say?" He says, "You've got no plan." Then I was shattered by that. And then I started to realise, our plan is a theoretical model but we do not have a plan to concretise it, to make it work in public. We just stuck to words such as, we are a nation in our own right, we have our own language, our own value system, we have the right to govern ourselves in terms of all the international law and so on and so on, and we will not be overthrown, and we have this country, we've had it, blah, blah, blah. And people would say, stop, stop, stop, that is all true, we accept it, but how are you going to do it? And then there was always silence. For me, persisting along that line with the Conservatives, persisting, telling Treurnicht, "Andries, just in Soweto there are four million blacks, there are six or seven million squatters, what are we going to do with them?" And then he would say, "Mm, mm, that's serious, we'll have to talk about that." No plan, no concrete plan. For that reason I think Constand said, "No, no, no, I'm not leading you into this because we don't have a plan". Once we have the government there is nothing we can do because we will sit there and say, oh hell, what now?

POM     Do you think a turning point, some people say the crucial turning point before the elections was the attempted invasion of Bophuthatswana by the AWB.

KVM     That was one. Do you know the facts about that?

POM     No.

KVM     Roughly, you must ask Constand about this, but they had something like 4000 people there and Constand Viljoen had his people there within.

POM     4000 AWB?

KVM     No, no, no, Constand Viljoen's people, up to 4000, three or four thousand of them, they were there, very disciplined, at various places. Then there were also 150 or so AWBs and they came there with their hunting rifles and with a lot of brandy and they were later referred to as the 'brandy brigade'. They were drinking and they wanted to kill kaffirs. Then they had a Colonel walking up, or a General, they had an AWB General walking up and asking questions.

POM     Asking questions of?

KVM     Speaking to Constand Viljoen's people and he spoke to the Colonel there. Now that Colonel was Breytenbach who is the most experienced operational officer in the South African history, well the recent history, he fought in Angola and elsewhere, he was the leader of 32 Battalion and all that. Now Breytenbach then was addressed so he said to this Colonel, "Look, we are here in strength, we have definite plans with the Bophuthatswana government, we want to do something." And he said, "No, we're going to do it in a different manner and besides you're only a Colonel, I'm a General." So Breytenbach looked at him and he said, "Fuck off General", and then they started to argue for many, many hours and then the AWB apparently, the way I heard it, just went in and they started shooting blacks and they killed about fifty. They just started to pot-shot them, boom, boom, boom, going through, full of brandy. And when they came back, this is when the three of them were killed, and Constand just withdrew. He made the agreement then with Jack Turner who was a General of Bophuthatswana and said we would rather withdraw, so he withdrew and he came back and he decided the time is definitely not right. The AWB is a big stumbling block, I have too many problems, I don't have a clear vision yet, I'm not going to spill blood unnecessarily, that can wait.

POM     Well were all his 4000 people within Bophuthatswana at strategic points or outside it?

KVM     In and outside but there were something like, you can check up with them on the figures, there were something like 3000 already there, assembled, and many others outside waiting 50 kms away and elsewhere, just like they do in a war. And they were waiting to be issued with proper rifles by the Bophuthatswana government and all that.

POM     But do you think the image on television of the AWB running away almost with their tails between their legs, no longer with the bravado ...

KVM     But that was the AWB, yes true.

POM     Conveyed a powerful image of their amateurism and competence?

KVM     Yes, absolutely, but that didn't in any manner affect Constand Viljoen's men. Many people don't even know they were there and what their plans were. Everybody thought it was the AWB people but there were a lot of trash, scoundrels led and talked into it by Terre'Blanche who should really be called to responsibility.

POM     So the reason for Viljoen, just to get it straight, for Viljoen's decision to not mount any military action to reinstate Mangope came down to his assessment that ...?

KVM     No, no, the main reason there was the AWB's interference, this is the way I understand it.

POM     So he said after they went in and began to do their thing, is that essentially, "I don't want to be involved?"

KVM     Then he withdrew. But you should really speak to him about this. I know the facts roughly, he can tell you. But the fact that the AWB went in and just buggered everything up, this is why he withdrew. And I think then he started to realise the time is not ripe, I don't have a clear vision of the future, what to fight for, the people are not ready for what we have to do, we don't have the necessary discipline, I'm passing it this time.

POM     Is Mandela making a very astute decision, he appears to be on the verge of making this astute decision to extend the indemnity cut off date so that many right wingers who are in jail will be released, and something brokered with Viljoen and Viljoen can say to his people, "See I have delivered something?"

KVM     Well he has delivered a lot so far. He has been responsible for pushing the government into accepting as Principle 34 in the constitution of the right to self-determination. He has been responsible for establishing the Volkstaatraad. He has a number of marks on his revolver that he has achieved and this is going to be a very, very big one. He has his Ambassadors appointed, he is involved in politics. I don't think that Mandela would like to alienate him.

POM     And compared to what he has achieved, what would you put the achievements of the IFP as a national party?

KVM     The National Party is achieving nothing.

POM     No, not the National Party, I mean the IFP as a national party, what has it achieved?

KVM     I think what we have achieved is the demonstration of a very effective opposition. We went into the election on the basis of international mediation and they didn't have international mediation so we withdrew. I think we have given a very powerful image of opposition. I think the IFP has the image of a dog that doesn't bark, it bites, whereas the Afrikaners in the past had the image of dogs barking and not biting. When the Zulus say they are going to do something they do it.

POM     How would you rate Dr Buthelezi as a leader within that context?

KVM     Within the IFP he is an absolutely outstanding leader. It's unbelievable, people would get the impression that he battles a little to articulate well and that he is a hard head and so on, I've heard all these things, but inside the party he is a powerful leader. He has restored dignity to the Zulu nation. He is the one in the last forty years, especially when he became the Chief Minister of KwaZulu/Natal, who picked up the Zulu nation again, restored their pride and their nationalism and they honour him for that. He identified where the Princes were and the Amakosi and the Ndunas. He sent people out to go and take them away from what they were doing, lorry drivers and so on, and brought them into the system and uplifted their morale and so on. I've been present where very important IFP people have told him, "Shange(?)", that's his tribal name, "Shange, who is this man Zwelithini? Who does he think he is? You are the real man. We have been around here sir. The last forty years you have restored life to our nation, we have seen that over a period of forty years. You are the man. Nobody else."

POM     Do you think that the government or the ANC, is treating the situation in Natal with the seriousness with which it should be taken?

KVM     No, definitely not, definitely not. They are underestimating the problems there. When the problems erupt in that province it will be disastrous.

POM     And a question I ask most people, if the IFP stays outside the Constituent Assembly, even if the ANC passes the constitution with two thirds, it still would have the capacity to have two thirds, does it mean anything if it is not accepted by the IFP?

KVM     Well it means firstly that it is not an inclusive constitution and it means that a powerful group, 10% of the people, the rulers of one province, have rejected it. It brings in a degree of paralysis into the government. You can't go along that way. The idea was consensus and there is no trace of consensus now.

POM     Well I have been told that Mbeki and people in the IFP were preparing a way for there to be some resolution on the issue of international mediation, and he went to Mandela and Mandela was the person who said no.

KVM     That I don't know. What Mbeki has told me, he said he thinks what should be done now is the IFP and the ANC should have a very serious discussion on those things that must be subjected to international mediation, the list, we want these items mediated. And then, Mbeki says, let's look at them now, after a year and a half maybe there's a lot of movement, there may have been movement on your side and our side, let's look at it again, maybe we can find a way without international mediation.

POM     On the local elections, are these going to be a shambles?

KVM     It will be a shambles, yes.

POM     Will they have any legitimacy?

KVM     It will have African legitimacy, like the election last year.

POM     Will it be something that is ultimately brokered?

KVM     I'm not so sure. The point is that hundreds of candidates have been disqualified. Now whatever the reason is for that, that brings into question the legitimacy because if the National Party and others now just win a lot of wards because the ANC has been disqualified then it's a legitimacy problem. But the shambles is around whether there are going to be lists available to check. How are they going to do the organisation on voting day, because there have been so many problems around the lists and candidates not getting lists to know who are on the lists. In Johannesburg I believe there was one list for the whole Greater Metropolitan. You can ask Gerda Becker about this. Her telephone number is 6621913, she is a councillor. Until three or four days before the candidates had to be nominated they still didn't have a list. Only one. You had to move into the city centre to go and look at the list, all the people of Johannesburg.

POM     You were supposed to have, each candidate ...?

KVM     Must have 200 signatures, but they didn't know who was on the list. They didn't have lists to know who are on the list so as to get the signatures.

POM     So would it be like 200 votes of registered voters?

KVM     Registered voters. Yes. They couldn't have time to canvas those people in time. It was a shambles because the lists are not available. Now this all points towards chaos on voting day.

POM     What kind of repercussions do you think that will have?

KVM     Not much, this is Africa now. Oh, it will be better next time, we've got the people in, let's go on, unless the ANC is losing then they will blame the system tremendously.

POM     That's one. The second question was, as the dominant party in government what should the ANC be doing that it's not doing?

KVM     It should certainly avoid the spreading of violence and crime. Crime they should definitely do something about because they are not addressing it. And then possible violence, they are not attending to the real issues about the mediation in KwaZulu/Natal which is the one area where violence could erupt and they are not addressing that. So, quickly I would say, finalise the mediation so that you avoid problems in KwaZulu/Natal and go vehemently into the question of crime. Where we are sitting now in Johannesburg they hijack an average of 27 cars per day and they don't seem to be able to curb that.

POM     Finally, are there differences in the IFP between where black IFP leaders want to take the party and where white people, like yourself who were brought into the party because you had a high profile and they needed to pull in white votes?

KVM     I think the IFP is still having birth pains. It has burst out of KwaZulu/Natal and there are a lot of birth pains to get into becoming a real national party and we have the capacity and the willingness to adapt and I think more and more the IFP will become a national party instead of a regional party.

POM     The IFP will become a national party rather than a regional party?

KVM     Yes it will grow out of the image of a regional party and become a real national party.

POM     And who is the driving force behind it moving from being a regional party?

KVM     I think it's a self-generated thing because we now have members of parliament in Cape Town, we have some in the Eastern Province, we have some in Johannesburg and all over and they want to do something where they are so there is a natural growth towards that.

POM     OK, I know you've got to run, I've got to run. We can continue, I hope, before I go back, another half an hour, three quarters of an hour or something.

KVM     Sure.

POM     If the elections are not perceived as being legitimate - you had this whole thing in parliament where parliament couldn't raise a quorum even to pass a supplementary budget bill, is this a question more of Whips not doing their jobs, of lack of effective organisation within the parliamentary administrative structure itself, of an overuse of Select Committees where people are on four or five Select Committees and there is no co-ordination between when these committees meet and you may be sitting on four or five of them at the same time, so does it speak of a larger problem or just the rate of absenteeism?

KVM     I'm not concerned about that, I think it's growth pains and I've said so in parliament. We have a new parliament, people don't know parliament. The State President has never been a member of parliament. These members of parliament are totally parliamentarily uneducated. The ministers don't know what to do, they have to learn. The members have to adapt to being away from home to be in Cape Town, to be in parliament, to find their way around, to learn what it is to attend parliament, to attend committees, to get your seats for all your travels, to do all your personal things. It may sound simple to some people but to the vast majority of new parliamentarians it was a very big adaptation and even the Speaker has never been a Speaker before, she hasn't even been a member of parliament. Everybody struggled to get going and eventually it started to improve and I think next year, purely speaking I'm a Chief Whip of one of the parties, of the IFP, I am convinced that it will go better next year because everybody will be better educated, will have rested, will understand the system better and therefore the lack of discipline or quorums and so on I think are signs of a new parliament. I don't think one can transfer that to the broad electorate. The problem we're going to have with the electorate is I don't know whether they will be enthusiastic to vote again.

POM     That's in these elections on 1 November?

KVM     1 November. The whole idea of liberation is exhausted. I am not so sure that there will be a high percentage poll like 90% again or so, it will be very, very much lower and it's going to be interesting to see then the various parties, what percentage of the poll they got and I won't be surprised if the ANC is knocked down a few percent.

POM     When you mean a few percent, would it be significant?

KVM     What they got in the last election was, I think, 62%. They may go down into the fifties, 57%, 58%.

POM     What about the strikes in the public sector?

KVM     This is a sign of disgust with the government. You know what is very interesting, I don't want to sound clever, but the things that we have predicted when I was still in the Conservative Party, the things that we have predicted are all coming out. Lowering of standards, crime, third world and so on, all these things are coming to fruition now. For instance, we said and we have warned against the creation of unrealistic expectations. Before the election there was a TV programme in which the woman has the microphone and she says to some Soweto youngsters, "Who are you voting for?" and they all shouted, "The ANC." "Why are voting for the ANC?" And they said, "Because after the election we will all have houses, jobs, plenty money." And that was the general problem that we warned against, the unrealistic expectations. So what has happened now? There are no jobs, fewer people probably have jobs now. They don't have the houses. Tokyo Sexwale said he will ...

POM     Do 150,000 in ...

KVM     Just by the end of last year. I don't think he has done 150.

POM     He has done 1277.

KVM     OK, so he's done 1% of it, he didn't fail totally, he only lost 99% credibility. So now the strikes are starting. We've never had strikes of these proportions where the people now have posters saying 'BRING DE KLERK BACK', because what they are now realising is this government has made a lot of promises which they can't keep, you can't trust them, they have deceived us. And this is why I said earlier that I think the National Party will get some votes. Whether the disillusioned ANC voters, these nurses and the other, whether they will switch loyalty and jump from the ANC to something else that is a second step. You first, I think in politics, in my book, you first when you get disgusted with your party you probably first abstain, that's your first sign of opposition. You abstain and thereafter you vote for another party. So this is why I said I think the poll will be low and the ANC will drop a little.

POM     Some people I've talked to in the ANC don't show a lot of sympathy with the nurses and other people striking in the public sector. They say that during the days of the liberation struggle these people never came out on strike. The striking that was done was done in the private sector and it was the workers in the private sector who bore the brunt of the struggle in that regard. Now you have these people who never did anything to help the liberation struggle demanding, making those severe demands on it.

KVM     I think that's a lot of balderdash. It's a clever way of getting out of a tight corner. These people have all now called on the ANC to do good their promises. We want better salaries, we want a better life. I can still remind myself of the big posters, 'VOTE FOR A BETTER LIFE, VOTE ANC', so we've done it, we haven't got it; in the meanwhile the gravy train in Cape Town and elsewhere where you bastards are now governing, you are getting 200, 300, 400, 500 and 600 thousand rand per year, massive salaries and we don't even have work. So you have this great polarisation between the suffering by the people and the luxury life of the rulers.

POM     Do you think there's an increasing chasm growing between the governed and those who do the governing?

KVM     I wouldn't say there is a significant chasm growing but there are signs of that. It's in the beginning stage. There are signs that that may appear sooner or later but its at a very early stage, one can't make sweeping statements now and say definitely yes it is so. But what is true is that there are signs that that may follow. The ANC has great problems in establishing themselves as a government. I think this is an important point. They have won the election, they are the government now but they have problems in governing.

POM     OK, we'll talk again next time.

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.