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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
12 Nov 1995: Hartzenberg, Ferdi
POM Dr Hartzenberg, let me ask you as a first question, is the Conservative Party sorry that it did not contest the elections in April 1994?
FH No, not at all. That was exactly the right thing to do because we objected against the unitary state, the centralised political system and dispensation and right from the beginning, from the negotiations at Kempton Park we advocated decentralisation of power and we advocated the fact that we are not only individuals in South Africa but we also are dealing with various nations that must be recognised and provision must be made in the constitution and in the dispensation for that fact. It was totally rejected and for that reason we didn't participate in the election because it was the only way that we could register our opposition. In the second instance that has been proved as the right thing because in Namibia also the Reheboth people were promised before the election that it was not necessary for them to become independent because before the election and before the adoption of the new constitution they requested to become independent and they were pacified by the South African government and SWAPO and all the other powers to participate and their case will be attended to after the elections. The same thing happened with the Inkatha Freedom Party before these 1994 elections. It was agreed upon on international mediation and also in our case we had discussions with President Mandela and before the election he said he recognised that the Afrikaner people must get self determination but it cannot happen before the election, it must happen after the election. [In the case of the people of ...]
POM If you got a firm commitment from him?
FH Yes on that one, a firm commitment. But then after the elections we entered into negotiations, we had five meetings. He said he stands by his point and his promise but when we made proposals how to implement it then there was no reaction. The same thing happened with the Inkatha Freedom Party when then insisted on international mediation the ANC said there is no need for international mediation. But in Namibia the same thing happened. After the election the Reheboth people said, look you promised us that we can become independent, now let us put it in practice and then it was refused. Then they went to the international court and the court said, look you participated in the election, you therefore accepted the dispensation and you have not a case in the international court, you must go to the courts in Namibia. They went to the court, the same thing was said that as a result of the fact that you participated you have no case. And that proves that we have done the right thing not to participate in the election and therefore registered the fact that we do not accept the present political and constitutional dispensation.
POM But do you not think that you would have been in a better position to argue your case if you were in or had representation at the Constituent Assembly?
FH No I don't think so. I think the fact that you clearly and unequivocally registered your opposition is the most important thing. If we have been in the House of Assembly you can argue as much as you want but they take the decisions and what has the Freedom Front achieved in the Assembly? In many cases they voted with the ANC and they are now not opposing the ANC, they are now co-operating with the ANC much more than for instance the Democratic Party and the IFP. So I don't think to be there, that argument that you can raise your voice, that you can do, but when the decisions are taken you are overruled and you can raise your voice outside Parliament.
POM Since I have come back, and I have been back three or four times since I talked to you last, I see increasingly fewer and fewer references to the Conservative Party in the media. It's as though in a sense that by your non-participation you have marginalised yourself.
FH That is not as a result of non-participation. That is as a result of the fact that the newspapers and the SABC has decided to ignore us. That has deliberately been done. I have had discussions and interviews with newspapermen and I challenged them and I said, look, but there is a blackout on news on the Conservative Party and they admitted that it is so. So the fact that we have refused to participate, they really know that the Conservative Party, what we stand for, namely self-determination and freedom is a principle that nobody can ignore and it is an internationally accepted principle and for that reason the Conservative Party must be ignored otherwise it will be a problem for the ANC if we get too much attention.
POM How would you and the Freedom Front differ on your interpretation of what self-determination is?
FH Well there is a tremendous difference. Self-determination of the Freedom Front is not really self-determination, it is more a kind of minority rights because they now advocate cultural self-determination, not real sovereign self-determination of a nation. We have attended the conference of the United Nations on indigenous peoples in July in Geneva and that conference was attended by delegations of between 170 and 180 nations, indigenous nations from all over the world and they have adopted a draft declaration. That draft declaration has also already been accepted by higher authorities in the United Nations, namely the Sub-Commission of the Human Rights Commission and the Human Rights Commission is now dealing with that draft declaration, but in that declaration it is stipulated specifically that indigenous peoples are entitled to determine their own political status themselves. That must be recognised and it is recognised by that conference. It was adopted unanimously and also by the working group and other higher authorities.
Our attitude is we must determine what our political status must be; independent or cultural independence or whatever you want. But if you cannot yourself determine what your status must be then it is not self-determination, then somebody else decides for you and that is the difference between us and the Freedom Front. The Freedom Front has signed an accord and in that accord it was stipulated that the Volkstaatraad, the Volkstaat Council, would be appointed by the Freedom Front but that Council has only advisory capacity and the Constituent Assembly will decide on the status of the Afrikaner nation. That is the difference. In the meantime they act according to that accord. The Volkstaat Council has published their first report, in that report they said that only a tenth province, that is exactly the same as we have at the moment. That doesn't mean self-determination. And they have published a second report and that is really not a report it is only minutes of the meetings that have taken place and people who testify before the commission and a lot of annexures. But in that second report there is also a legal opinion of the Department of Justice and they confirm that the Volkstaat Council has only advisory powers and they cannot take a decision, the decision will be taken elsewhere, in other words the Constituent Assembly and that means the ANC. That, of course, is the difference between us. They have also submitted proposals to the Theme Committee where they said they don't ask for sovereign independence, just cultural self-determination. Now that is the difference between us.
POM But many people would say that what they are being is realistic, that the idea of a sovereign Afrikaner nation is simply not realistic given the dispersion of the Afrikaner population in particular and the inability to choose a particular geographic area that would define the boundaries of the nation.
FH Well the fact is that I don't think it is realistic, on behalf of the Afrikaner nation, to propose something that is not acceptable to the Afrikaner nation. That is unrealistic. The definite ultimate aim of the Afrikaner nation that was so in our whole history was fully sovereign independence and we will settle for nothing less than that. If in the meantime if we get something that will strengthen our position we will take it but everybody, the whole world will know that that is not our ultimate aim, that is only one step in that direction. The ultimate aim is fully sovereign independence and for that reason I don't think the Freedom Front will represent the real aspirations of the Afrikaner people.
POM How would you define, like when you said you put proposals before President Mandela, how sovereign independence for the Afrikaner state could be implemented?
FH We made proposals to him and in those proposals what we suggested is that there should be a referendum amongst our people in the first instance to determine the support for sovereign independence and then we must, before the time, decide how many votes must we get that will represent an indication that the majority is in favour of self-determination. Secondly, that specific referendum must be used to identify where are the people living who want to be sovereign and independent and that must form the basis for negotiations in order to determine the boundaries of the state.
POM So if there are pockets of Afrikaners across the country?
FH But you see I don't think it will be really only pockets. If you take into consideration previous elections where the Conservative Party has done very well then you will see it is in the Free State, it is in the Transvaal, and that is where the majority of people who support self-determination, where they are living and they are not living in pockets, they are living more or less in areas that are adjacent. But if there are certain pockets outside who want to vote in favour of that then that must form the basis for negotiation because the people who are living outside South Africa and the Afrikaners who are living outside those areas, those areas where the majority indicate that they want independence, also there must be a dispensation to connect them with this state as far as education and other things are concerned. Simultaneously, if the same principles are applied to people who are living in the Afrikaner state but who are not Afrikaners, but to give them control over their own affairs then you can have a dispensation which is not discriminatory, which applies even-handedly and equitably to all peoples but that will satisfy the need for self-determination and in that way you can have peace and stability and you can have economic growth which we do not have at the moment because we have violence, we are the most violent country in the world, people are not investing in South Africa and everything is deteriorating. The whole state structure is collapsing at the moment as a result of certain policies followed by the African National Congress. I think the most important reason is, you see after the election and after the negotiations with President Mandela, when we came to the final conclusion that the ANC has no intention of granting self-determination to any nation in South Africa, that their aim is a more centralised government and their actions since then have proved it because they took away certain powers from the provinces and the provinces in South Africa have very limited powers.
POM Such as?
FH Such as that was decided upon yesterday in parliament when the power that was vested in the provincial government to determine the boundaries and the wards for local elections, now they have changed it. In the first instance they have changed the law on local government by enabling the president through a proclamation to decide on those matters. It was not a decision by parliament, it was a decision by the President and the ministers concerned that by a proclamation he can change the law. But when he has done that he took away powers from the Western Cape government which is controlled by the National Party. Then the Constitutional Court said it was unconstitutional and now they use parliament to do it, but the fact that it was a negotiated agreement that was written into that law and now unilaterally they change that agreement in their favour and they took away powers from the province, that means they are centralising power in the central government. At their congress last year they have decided that there must be more centralisation and that after the next election there will not be power sharing, the winner will take all. So that is clearly the intention of the ANC to centralise control in South Africa so that the ANC control every inch of this country and every person in this country. Of course that is a disaster. For that reason we have appointed this commission, the Volks Republiek Working Committee, and they have produced this report, it is a lengthy report and it covers eighteen areas of life, namely religion, politics, education, health, agriculture, economics, manpower, all those things.
POM What is this called?
FH The Volks Republiek Working Committee. The fact is that the starting point for this commission was, we are not going to get it from the ANC, it is not going to happen on its own, we must design plans and the strategy how to achieve it through hard work and positive steps. That is the difference between the Conservative Party and the ANC. The ANC achieved control over South Africa not by positive acts and positive steps where they build the country and where they were inspired by patriotism, they achieved what they have achieved through mass action and the destruction of schools and boycotts and all those type of things. And the fact is that now while they are in control they have created that monster deliberately since 1976 when they said 'Education after Liberation'. And the nurses that are now striking they are the products of 1976 and after that the destruction of schools and strikes because they achieved what they have achieved through destructive measures. The people who are striking now in the civil service and in the private sector they are the products and now that the government, that the ANC is in power, now they want the people to be constructive and now the nurses say, "Away with Madiba because we want to strike, we want high salaries because you put the example, you are on the gravy train, you don't pay the rent for your houses in Cape Town when you are in parliament and we also want to be on the gravy train and we don't want to pay taxes." And now they cannot control that monster.
The fact is that if they want to make a success of this country there must be a total change of attitude and they are not able to bring about that change. Our attitude is a totally different one. We realise and we, of course, as a result of the fact that we have had the lion's share in the building of this country, we are not going to destroy this country because we regard it as our own and you don't destroy your own things. We realise that through hard work we will achieve our freedom and for that reason we have appointed this commission because we realise that South Africa is deteriorating and it goes the way that we have foreseen it will go. We expect nothing else. As a matter of fact it happened a little bit faster than we thought. For that reason in the first instance you must take measures to protect yourself against this phenomenon that is taking place because we will not be satisfied to create a generation of our children with the slogan 'Education after Liberation'. They must be educated now properly so that they can compete with the best in the world and our children must be educated and the education policy of this government, what they are going to implement next year, it is totally in opposition with the declaration of the indigenous peoples of the United Nations where in that draft declaration it is stipulated in one of the articles that indigenous children are entitled to their own education in their own institutions, in their own language, in their own religion, in their own cultural background and the state must make provision for the financial sources so that they can finance their education. In this country it is not the intention of the government to do so.
For that reason we are convinced that what we are advocating is the right thing because, for instance, education, if you want to develop in this 21st century, the next century, then you need technology, you need highly qualified and highly trained people and the right way to do it is to train a child under circumstances that will allow the maximum development of his potential and that means it must be in his own language, it must be in circumstances that are similar to what he is experiencing at home. And if you are going to put all the languages in one school and you say the mother tongue will be English, not that we are against English, we think there must be English schools, but if all the Zulu children and all the Xhosa children and all the Tswana children, all the Afrikaans children must be trained in the medium of not their mother tongue then they will not develop to the maximum of their potential and it will not be for the benefit of the country.
POM Now when one looks at opinion polls or whatever, or, again, reads the media or follows events on a day to day basis, the call for an Afrikaner state doesn't appear to be any place on the national agenda.
FH No, because the ANC is not prepared to treat it with the necessary seriousness.
POM But how do you then develop the necessary ...?
FH We must work for that. We must prepare ourselves.
POM The constituency that - well, do you not think that operating within the system may be more effective an operation?
FH We are going to operate within the system but we are going to use the system to change the system to get out of the system. That is actually what we are going to do and the most important thing is that - the fact is that the system has been imposed upon us, not with our co-operation, against our will and now it has been forced upon us we are in the system. That is so. We didn't opt for it but we are in the system and now you must use the system to oppose it and to change the system and that is actually what we are doing, that's why we participate in the municipal elections, to get a mandate for freedom and self-determination, to control ourselves as far as local government is concerned, to work for that and to maintain decent standards as far as local government is concerned. We cannot have all these people who are, I don't know what the correct English word is, but who strike and they turn the cities into ash heaps and that is, of course, we must oppose it and for that reason the mandate that we are looking for is equal treatment. If you use electricity and water then you must pay for it. That culture must be established. Of course Masakhane was advocated by the government and the fact is that have official figures from the local government of the Gauteng Province, local government and housing, which indicates that from May to July the people are paying less for the services that they are consuming. They are paying less. In a place like Soweto in May they have paid 31% of the consumption and in July it was 3%.
FH 3%. I have got the figures. I can give it to you.
POM I'd like to see it before I go.
FH I have got the figures. In a place like Mamelodi it has decreased from - it was fairly high in May but it was 2.3% in July, and the total arrears in this province for levies on water and electricity and services is 1.7 billion rand and that of course is totally unacceptable because people, now that they are liberated, feel that they can utilise these things but they don't have to pay for it and the consequence is that somebody else will have to pay for it.
POM But the ANC is out there saying to people, you must pay for services.
FH They say you must pay for services but the example that they are putting as ministers in Cape Town is not paying their own rent and their own housing and over the years they have told the people, since 1976, not to pay for it in order to force the government to capitulate. Now that the people are liberated the ANC says, yes, now you must pay. And they say why must we pay now? We are liberated and we must get some benefit from the liberation. And now it is deteriorating so Masakhane is a total failure.
POM You refer to ministers in Cape Town not paying rents, etc.
FH And members of parliament as well.
POM But that's no different than it was in the old days is it?
FH No, no, my friend. In the old days you had to pay for the homes that you rent there and we have done that. I was a member of parliament myself and every cent you have had to pay because you as a responsible citizen and a member of parliament realised you cannot use a home and not pay for it. You cannot occupy a house in Pretoria or anywhere in South Africa or in the United States where you say, look I am now a liberated man so it is not necessary to pay for it. You cannot just occupy something and the spirit that is prevailing in South Africa, you have listened to the Agenda programme two days ago where one of the editors of the newspapers said they not only want to become editors of newspapers, they want to become owners, but they don't want to buy it or to work for it or to earn it, they just want to get it. Ownership. Now, my friend, can I claim ownership of this instrument of yours just because it is unfair that you have this instrument and I don't have an instrument? I mean it is totally laughable, but I cannot go to the United States and say, look I am a poor man, I am a farmer and now I want ownership of a farm. There is no such principle anywhere in the world. But you have listened to the responsible people, they said we now want ownership of this thing and people say we want ownership of land and of houses and of things and where the hell will it come from if you don't work for it?
POM There's a lot of talk about the gravy train.
FH The gravy train, yes. You see if you can earn a gravy train people think you can earn a home and you can earn electricity and you can earn a high standard of living because nobody worked for the gravy train, it was just created and it was there and people jumped on the gravy train.
POM What would you point to as evidence of the existence of this gravy train?
FH Well the first thing that this government has done when they came into power is they increased the salaries of ministers, of members of parliament, tremendously. Secondly, they created posts for advisors and they paid them tremendous salaries. You have noticed the one chap that has been appointed in the Eastern Transvaal to investigate certain corporations, R15,000 a day he was paid and when it was discovered then they have decided that he must pay back R800,000. Well if nobody discovered it then it was R15,000 a day. Now the ordinary man in Soweto he says, hell man, that man inherits R15000 a day, I also want to inherit something without earning it, because the ministers they've got these salaries, they've increased them, their advisors get it, the people who are appointed as civil servants as a result of affirmative action, without experience they get all these benefits. So everybody thinks it is there, you must just get it.
POM Do you think that you are shut out by the SABC, that on programmes such as Agenda - how often in the last year have you been invited to participate in a programme or a member of your party?
FH Yes, on very few occasions we have been invited to participate.
POM Do you complain to them about this?
FH Yes of course we complain to them but as I have said the fact is that we are not afraid to criticise them and to point out the facts, these things that I have told to you they don't want to hear it on television and that the nation must hear it.
POM Now in contesting the local elections, this represents a change in strategy, like a recognition that you must fight from within rather than fight from without.
FH The fact is that the system was forced upon us and the system is there. What you must now decide is you fight from outside but where it is possible to use the system you must use the system, and we are in the same position as our predecessors at the beginning of the century. When the British government instructed the Transvaal and the Free State to surrender their sovereignty they refused to do it and then they used force against them and they resisted and they fought, but when they were subjected by force, the system was there, then they started to use the system to get out of the system. But they didn't, out of their own free will, accept the system. And that is exactly what we have done. We didn't accept it but now that it is forced upon us we use the system to get out of the system.
POM Are you contesting these elections on a selective basis?
FH We don't put up candidates in every ward of course. No party has enough support in every ward all over the country. So we put up candidates and as a result of the fact that the people are psychologically affected by this whole thing at the moment, we could have put up more candidates, but people are not very interested in local government elections in any way because that is not a very important thing and the additional factor is that people know this is a total mess, this unitary state, and they can see how things collapse and so they are not very anxious to participate but we have put up a lot of candidates in I think more or less 50% of the wards outside the townships because we look for a mandate for Afrikaner self-determination, so you cannot try to get votes which do not represent Afrikaner self-determination.
POM How would you have to do in the election to regard it as a victory for the Conservative Party, a victory for what you stand for?
FH The fact is that if we do well then it will be an indication that there is a desire for self-determination and freedom and you know in the United States they say the newspapers report significantly after an election, not before an election. So I think we can afford to wait three weeks and see what the outcome will be but I am very confident that it will be a good show that we are going to put up.
POM Would you put a figure on what you call a good show? Like a range of ...?
FH No, we will have to see what happens in those areas where we have put up candidates, say for instance Pretoria, Pietersburg and important places where we have put up candidates. That will immediately give you an indication what is the support for the Conservative Party.
POM If you got 20% of the vote you wouldn't regard that as being significant, would you?
FH Well 20% will be ...
POM 20% of the Afrikaner vote.
FH Of the Afrikaner vote. Well I definitely hope that it will be more than 20%, but 20% under these circumstances will be an indication that there is a substantial number of people who don't accept the thing despite all the propaganda, all the circumstances, there is a substantial percentage of people. Because with this blackout on propaganda and attention to the Conservative Party in the media, I think if you still get 20% it will still mean, it will be a significant thing. But I am convinced that there are much, much more than 20% of the people who are in favour of self-determination and freedom.
POM As I've gone around the country and asked political leaders and people in senior positions in the civil service or government departments, no two people seem to agree on what the election procedure is.
FH Oh it's a mess.
POM Could you give me your interpretation of what it is?
FH I think this election indicates two things. The one thing is that there is multi-party and there was and it is still going on, multi-party negotiations, all parties and then they decide on procedures. That is agreed upon. And then the government, the ANC, unilaterally changed the agreements. Now, today, they said that people must be allowed, who have not registered, to vote on election day. It was agreed upon that there must be a voters' roll and people have had time to register, it was published, everybody knows if you don't register before that time you will not appear on the list. Then the ANC was not very successful with their registration campaign. They extended it unilaterally. There was a complementary voters' roll. So agreements mean nothing to them. There was a law and it was negotiated at Kempton Park, the Transitional Government Act, something like that, and the whole election must take place in terms of that Act. On their own they decided that the President can change the Act by means of a proclamation and they have done certain things in terms of that proclamation. They took away powers from the provinces and then the Western Cape took them to the Constitutional Court and the Constitutional Court said it was unconstitutional. So they have no respect for a constitution and for laws and things like that. Now they passed a bill through parliament yesterday which rectified the mistakes that they have done through the President but it is still unilateral. So agreements mean nothing to them.
The second thing that is being demonstrated by this is the inability to arrange an election. They are not able to arrange a proper election because at this moment in Pretoria you don't know where the polling stations will be and who will be the polling officer. And candidates were already nominated and at that stage they didn't proclaim the election, it was not proclaimed as the law stipulates. At a certain date the election must be proclaimed and then certain steps must follow. They didn't even proclaim the elections, so there is a total inability to do a thing properly and in the civil service and in the whole set up there is nobody really who can tell you what is going on.
POM What's your understanding of how the voting system itself works in terms of how many votes you have, whether you are voting for an individual or a party?
FH Of course in some cases you will have two ballot papers, one for the candidate in the ward and then for the party on the proportional list and in the metropolitan councils there will be a third ballot paper for the metropolitan structure, also on a proportional basis.
POM OK, that's a clearer summary than I've gotten heretofore. I just want to go back to some remarks that Mr Mandela made on the occasion of his 500th day in office and this is a quotation, I think, from The Argus. It said, "He blamed the media for the impression that most of his attention was given to whites, saying white editors and owners glossed over his work for the majority and focused on gestures of reconciliation towards conservative whites." Would you agree with that?
FH Do you know what is the reason for that? It is because he is playing a double role. He said to Afrikaners, "Don't worry about your language. It will be protected." But the SABC is planning to scale it down to less than 2% of viewing time. The actions that are taking place are totally different. So he wants to say to Afrikaners, "Don't worry, we will protect you", but in the meantime he is doing totally the opposite thing. He said to me personally, and he has stated it publicly on television, that there will be equal treatment as far as amnesty is concerned. So far nothing of that sort. All the APLAs and MKs they got amnesty but the other people like Clive Derby-Lewis they are still there. The fact that they fixed the date at 6 December is in itself a discriminatory thing. He visited the widow of Dr Verwoerd to pacify Afrikaners but in the meantime Terror Lekota in the Free State is pulling down his statue. You see? So you get this phenomenon that President Mandela is promising everybody anything but in the meantime they follow another programme and that is why he cannot always fool all the people and people will get angry, and that's why the black people say, "Look, you pacify the Afrikaners what about us? Where's our gravy train?"
POM When he says, "One must take into account that the media is controlled by whites and the element of racism is still there"?
FH Bloody nonsense, bloody nonsense. These newspapers, they have advocated the transformation. Papers like The Star, The Business Day, they have attacked the National Party all the years and they have advocated the whole transformation process but now that the ANC is in charge and they are making mistakes the newspapers, they want them to keep silent, not to mention the mistakes that they are making and I think that is not freedom of the press.
POM So if you had to rate President Mandela on his performance after 18 months in office on a scale of one to ten where one would be very unsatisfactory and ten would be very satisfactory?
FH I will give him two for smiling very nicely, kissing all the kids, going around the country. But where is he when the constructive things must happen? Is he in his office? Is he burning the candle until 12 o'clock at night for the people or is he travelling the whole world and is merely a liaison officer? I think as a liaison officer he will get his two points, but as a man who works for the country and who serves the people I don't see any sign of that.
POM So in your view the last 18 months has seen a vast deterioration in almost every level ...
FH Yes of course. In almost every level. Yes.
POM - of life so that you would say that South Africa is going the way of the rest of Africa?
FH Definitely. The two Attorneys General of this province have testified before the Parliamentary Commission. They said the police cannot do the necessary work to prepare the dockets for the Attorneys General. Even if they get a docket, the Attorneys General haven't got the trained personnel to apply law and order so that the law can go its way. So crime has increased in South Africa and violence has increased. The number one state official, the Auditor General, said that the civil service is collapsing, it's like the Titanic and we are heading for a disaster. If the civil service is deteriorating like this, the hospitals, what is happening in the hospitals, what is happening at the municipalities, what is happening at the postal system, Telkom? How long must you now wait for letters to be delivered? There is no efficiency and if the civil service and the parastatals are inefficient it is not possible for the private sector to act efficiently because you must wait for certain things and it is necessary to act immediately and fast. So everything is deteriorating. You cannot show me any area where things have improved.
The only area is that we are accepted is on the international sports fields and in the international chambers but that does not have anything to do with the real stability, peace and progress in South Africa. No investment. I listened the other night to one of these industrial giants of the world on television when they ask him, "Are you now going to invest in South Africa?" He says, "No because in Europe one man does the same work as five in South Africa and it is too expensive to invest in South Africa. The taxes are too high and we are going to invest not in South Africa." And there was an international firm, Ernst & Young, who made a survey and they came to the conclusion, it was a questionnaire sent out to all the multi-nationals, South Africa was last on the list of countries in which they are going to invest. That's not a very promising thing.
POM OK. Thank you ever so much.
FH Mr O'Malley, I see you next year.
POM You will indeed.