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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
13 Nov 1995: Botha, Pik
POM I would like to cover basically three things today. One is going back in your own past a bit. We had a very long conversation about your entry into national politics and your opposition to apartheid in that your maiden speech in Parliament was in opposition to apartheid and got you into a lot of trouble. I would like to follow up on that a little bit. I would also like to follow up on the arrest of General Malan and what you think the implications for the country and the Truth Commission are. And third I would like to talk a little bit about the results of the local election and where the National Party finds itself at this point in time. So they are the three broad areas. On the first, when I last saw you, you were Minister for Foreign Affairs in F W de Klerk's government. How has your life changed since the transitional government has come into being?
PB Was that the last time we spoke?
POM No, we spoke during the election.
PB Not afterwards?
POM Not after. I haven't talked to you since the election.
PB Are you sure?
POM Yes. I have tried to many times.
PB You've not been to this office then, that'll be the test. You've not seen the minister here.
POM No, but I have tried to but you weren't available for one reason or another. So maybe you would give me a run down from the election, about the government of national unity and how it is working and in what direction you see the country generally going.
PB The government of national unity was of course based, in my opinion, on agreements reached during the negotiations. Those agreements are reflected in certain provisions of the interim constitution. For instance, there has been a misconception that National Party ministers are in government, how shall we put it, at the mercy, by the grace of the ANC which is, of course, totally wrong. We are there because the constitution says that a party is entitled to so many ministers in proportion to the number of votes it received. Of course you must have received, was it 10%?
PB Then thereafter you are entitled to a minister for every so many votes that you get. So we are there not because of a favour that is being done to us by the ANC or anybody else or any other party. We are there in terms of the four million plus votes that we received in the general elections last year. We are, therefore, there by right and not as often happened in Europe where you have voluntary coalitions. This is not a voluntary coalition. This is a mandatory one. It is there and until the constitution is changed that is how the country ought to be governed. The constitution did not provide for rules, guidelines, on how to conduct the day to day business of government which perhaps looking back today is a pity. It is a pity. Soon after the new government started to function the proposal that all of us in the Cabinet accepted was that the two Deputy Presidents ought to meet and work out, let us call it a basis, a framework on how this government should function, guidelines, rules, regulations, what do we do if we differ, what do we do if we have consensus on a matter, how do we handle it, how do we manage it. It is a pity. We would have had with the ANC what is called a bosperaad, which literally means consultation in the bush, it's just another way of saying to meet away from the city, away from offices and staff, that sort of thing, somewhere in a retreat situation. That was scheduled for end of July this year. Unfortunately that was cancelled.
POM That's July 1995?
PB Yes. Because already then guidelines were drafted, and I say it's a pity because I think a lot of the differences that are arising between the National Party and, well for that matter Inkatha and the ANC, can be ascribed to this lack of a framework within which we ought to operate, because once you have a framework and guidelines then you would know how to react if we differ in Cabinet, how do we handle it? If we differ on a certain piece of legislation what does the National Party now do? Do we then after the Cabinet meeting the ANC has it's press conference, we have our press conference and we explain our opposition to the press and say that this is unacceptable to us as a party and we will vote against it? Then in my opinion you would avoid animosity and acrimonious exchanges in public because then it is a pre-agreed arrangement which you are now putting into practice and if we agree on a piece of legislation then there is a press conference and it is explained that we have complete consensus on this matter and it's going ahead, it will now be referred to the Parliamentary Committee but the ANC and the National Party and if Inkatha agrees, Inkatha. If they don't agree they say they disagree, but then your public will know and parliament will know and the media will know where they stand, where the parties stand with respect to matters that are of topical interest in this country be it with a view to passing legislation or policy matters and policy decisions. If we, for instance, disagree on the way crime is to be combated and managed in this country then let us say it.
The problem is this, now you have a discussion in Cabinet, the Minister of Safety & Security he gives a report on what the South African Police Services have now been doing in the past three months, six months, to combat crime. In itself a good report, a positive report with which, of course, everybody can agree because we will always agree that you must fight crime so whatever you do to fight it will be acceptable. But then the question would arise, is that enough? And this is where the misunderstanding arises. If we then go outside Cabinet on public platforms, we the National Party, and say that, look, we think the present government is not doing enough to fight crime, then we do not want that point of view to become a source or a reason for acrimonious exchanges leading to personal attacks and unfortunate debates. Then we would wish the ANC to respond to our views if we come and produce proposals to fight crime, say more funds to be made available to the Police Services, better pay for the police, better service conditions for the police and better pensions for the police.
Coupled with that, say the position of the provinces, local governments as regards safety and security on the street. If we make an analysis of the number of murders, and it is clear to us that it's not decreasing, it is increasing, and then say we want the death penalty to be restored, then we don't want that to develop into again an acrimonious personal exchange between people, the one saying within the Cabinet you agreed, you agreed that Mufamadi's report was right. Yes, of course his report was right but it was not enough, it was not enough. Then the ANC must come forward and say why can't they give more money. And the Minister of Finance must say so and the Minister of Finance is not a National Party member. If we say the death penalty ought to be restored for serious, serious crimes, if severe body injury is inflicted on a person, on a woman where they are raped under circumstances which no person on earth could - well, which is so reprehensible, that the death penalty would seem to us to be the only effective way.
POM I want to get back to the crime issue on the two questions, but I would like to move forward to what the real concern is to me today and that is the crisis developing in the country over the arrest of General Malan and ten other Generals. The Vice President and Roelf Meyer went to see the President on the matter to express your concerns. Now I've a number of questions. One is, this was an indictment not brought forward by the ANC but by Tim McNally the Attorney General in KwaZulu/Natal who could hardly be called a friend of the ANC since they were attacking him just a couple of weeks beforehand for only having one docket I think in 2½ years, about hit squads. He could hardly be called a radical and he could hardly be called somebody with his own agenda. He is regarded as being very conservative by his peers. He himself has said that the evidence he has is very cogent and is based on affidavits, documents from the army that he will make available on 1 December and we were told there was going to be this great backlash from the right wing. Instead what happened during the local elections was that the right wing for all intents and purposes got decimated between them. Here in Pretoria the Conservative Party and the Freedom Front didn't win a single seat and it would seem that the outcry is coming more from politicians than from the public themselves. That's one. Two, General Malan has said, "I'm innocent, I have nothing to hide, I am quite prepared to go before a court, in fact I want General Viljoen not to take the case to the Supreme Court. I want politicians to stay out of it and let the course of justice take its course because I have nothing to fear." Counter to that it's being said that that this matter should be referred to the Truth Commission but the Truth Commission is an instrument set up at which innocent people don't make submissions, people who have something to admit to, admit to it and are then indemnified against what they admit to, in the same way as that when the ANC was coming into the country from exile they had to fill out indemnification forms and they were indemnified against those specific activities they listed on those forms. If they did not list an activity they were not indemnified against it. OK, take it from where you want.
PB Let's just take this last one because our facts must be correct. They did not list in their applications.
POM Did they refuse to?
PB No they did not list specific deeds. The ANC adopted the attitude that all the activities of the ANC, doesn't matter what they are, all the activities of which they might be accused should qualify for indemnification. And this is exactly what the police then tried to do shortly before the election. They also did exactly what the ANC did, some 3500 policemen also completed the forms exactly the same, all their activities from a certain date, no specific case. So neither the ANC nor the police complied with the regulation which I as Acting State President issued. I know a little bit about it.
POM Which was?
PB In April 1992 I think, 1991 or 1992, April was the date, the later part of April. F W de Klerk was abroad. I acted as State President. So in my opinion neither the police legally qualified nor the ANC.
POM Because they didn't conform with the requirement of the law that you confess?
PB They did not conform, neither of them did. They think they have but they haven't. I said so publicly. We've got statements in which I analyse the whole legal situation completely properly in my opinion after having consulted also officials from the Department of Justice who drafted this proclamation which I signed and who was in the thick of things throughout the transitional period. There is a Mr Piet Kleynhans, if you could ever get hold of him you will find him very useful. He is the man in the Justice Department who dealt with these matters. So I just first want to rectify that position, don't be misled about that. But then we developed a second kind of, not amnesty, vrywaring, it's temporary indemnity in this sense that as long as this temporary indemnity is operative no-one can take you to court and it is so wide that the legal effect of the way it was done is simply that if any of those who now enjoy temporary indemnification can commit any offence, at the moment, at the moment they can commit any offence, and no-one can touch them as long as the temporary indemnity lasts. They can break traffic rules, they can kill people, they can ride with a car over you etc., there is nothing you can do as long as the temporary indemnity lasts. And Mr Mandela has renewed this in May for another year at least.
So what is seen here in this country, not so much by the National Party, but by legal people, by legal experts is this, I can almost call it, disproportionate management of this matter. Disproportionate in the sense that the ANC is favoured and no-one else and no-one else qualifies and the ANC comes forward and says, yes it is because they did not specify their crimes. But the ANC also - show me any document where any ANC member has specified what he did, ask them, show me any document where they specified what they did. It's not true. They merely submitted the list of names and said we demand temporary indemnity for whatever they did, for whatever, and Malan did the same. Malan was amongst the 3500 policemen who also asked for indemnity, but I say it's not valid. The indemnity was not valid. Sorry. The letters they received from Mr Kleynhans, Kleynhans also never agreed that they got indemnity, he merely acknowledged receipt of their letters and said that they have received the letters and note has been taken, more or less, of the contents.
So this whole matter, this is the point I'm trying to make to you, we must divorce this matter please from politics. Let us please divorce it from political parties and from the points of view of political parties and see it as an objective clinical legal expert would have handled the matter because, this is the most important element, in the constitution it is written that everyone effectively desiring indemnity will get it, or amnesty. It's there. And the idea was the Truth Commission was the body to give it. The Truth Commission is not yet in existence. There has been delay upon delay upon delay. It has already cost this country over 50 million so far, the various processes. It's going to cost more. And the point I wanted to make is, if you have in your constitution a right, a constitutional right to receive indemnity and you do not produce the body that is earmarked to give the indemnity because court of law can't, it is only the Truth Commission as the law stands, and now you quickly take people to court in between. This is the problem. It's very simple, it's very elementary my friend, you have a constitution giving you a right, thereafter you pass a law to create the body legally speaking but due to your processes that body has not yet come in to being. Whilst this process is proceeding you arrest people and try them. Now my question is this, and no-one in the ANC has succeeded in answering me, if this body is created say in two months, the Truth Commission, and a person has now applied to the Truth Commission for his constitutional right, namely indemnity, while he is appearing before the Truth Commission and the Truth Commission by law is hearing his case, can the Attorney General still arrest people so that he now tries them in his court and the Truth Commission is hearing the man on his application for indemnity?
Theoretically, being a lawyer myself, you can have the ridiculous situation where Mr A is before a court, evidence is led and a stage is reached where the judge says he will give judgment next week. In the meantime this man has been before the Truth Commission and the Truth Commission has adjourned and they say all right they will give judgment also next week, and next week on Wednesday the judge sentences this guy nine o'clock in the morning to ten years imprisonment and by ten o'clock the Truth Commission gives him indemnity. How does this appear to you?
PB Thank you. This is the point I wanted to make to you. And that, my friend, is the factual and legal position at this moment of speaking to you, and what we said as a party, not for political purposes, what we said is we must get clarity on the institutions that are either in place or are going to be in place to deal with this whole issue irrespective of whether you are ANC, whether you were in the police, whether you were in the Defence Force, whether you were in PAC, APLA, Inkatha, AWB, Conservative Party, we don't mind. We only ask for equal treatment before the law of every South African. That is the only point of view we have.
POM General Malan says he is innocent. General Malan would say that there is nothing for which he would seek indemnity, that he will give testimony before the commission but that he is not seeking indemnity.
PB No, but he did apply, he applied last year.
POM And you turned him down?
PB No, no, no. What do you mean you? I'm not dealing with those matters.
POM But you said you issued the order, you were the Acting ...
PB I made a proclamation in terms of which neither the ANC nor the police could qualify for indemnity because they didn't comply with the requirements of the proclamation. I've issued statements and Roland can give you those statements, it might be helpful to you to have them, where the whole legal issue is being dealt with, in my opinion, in a way which everybody could understand. It didn't help me much, neither the police nor the ANC liked me afterwards for having said what I said but the fact is that that, my friend, was the legal position. Now it doesn't matter what Malan says, not at all. What matters is the principle. Even if Malan says, look a thousand times I prefer to go to court, then I still say irrespective of what Malan says that we must get clarity on the procedures to be followed. That is what I am saying.
POM Let me relate that to the headlines that followed the arrests which talked about shock waves going through the ranks of the National Party, of outrage, and yet two or three days later in the local elections none of this outrage was expressed in a political way.
PB No, no, the party cannot be held responsible for a media report to start with. I accompanied Mr de Klerk to Mr Mandela that evening, we had a 2½ hour discussion and during that meeting the party expressed it's views to the President of this country and there was no outrage. So that is the only point of view that you can call the party's point of view. You cannot rely on newspaper reports. If I had to do it last week, Finance Week published a report to the effect that Mr Mufamadi said that De Klerk, Pik Botha, Roelf Meyer would now be prosecuted. It was headlines. Now if you had taken that as your guideline then you would have been in trouble because the next day Mr Mufamadi issued a statement that he never said it. He totally and completely repudiated the report. So let us first get this straight between each other.
We saw Mr Mandela for 2½ hours, we conveyed to him in a calm, firm, but certainly calm and mutually respectful atmosphere our concerns, concerns that I have already expressed to you here. We made it clear to the President that we are not there to interfere with the course of law but we are there to say to him that we must obtain clarity on the structures and procedures and the role of the various structures otherwise we are going to find ourselves in the position where persons applying for indemnity their cases are heard by the Truth Commission while at the same time Attorneys General prosecute them in a court of law. I remember myself saying to the President, "Look, neither in South Africa nor abroad will anybody understand this procedure, no-one will." You cannot create a right and then virtually nullify that right because you still follow the normal legal procedures. That is not interfering with the law. I want the law as it is to be applied. That was the main thrust of our representations to the President. It is true, I accepted the ANC was not behind this move, I readily accept that, I don't think it was a political decision.
POM Yet it's played that way in the media.
PB Well it's played that way, even The Sowetan, go read The Sowetan editorial, it attacked the government. This black columnist in The Star, Kaiser Natsumba he's a well known writer, very independent, don't you know him? I see it every day, every day. He wrote a column attacking the decision and said it's too good to be true coming all of this as it does just in the election period. It gives the impression that this was cooked, that this was intended. And also abroad if you look at the newspaper reporting in Europe and America, they attacked the ANC very severely.
POM The name of the article is 'Don't force the worm to turn' - 1st November, The Star.
PB That man is very independent. He does not hesitate to attack the ANC or the National Party or any party and that is to me the sign of an independent thinker.
POM But the ANC really didn't have anything?
PB I personally believe no, except that the Portfolio Committee of parliament, they did not invite, they virtually summoned McNally to appear before them and tore him too pieces. Whether McNally then got a fright, you had better ask him one day, I don't know, but it is certainly human if you have gone through a roasting of that nature for so many hours. We made a public statement afterwards saying it's a pity that they challenged McNally, it's a pity that they dealt with a law man that way. It should not be done, politicians should not interfere with the decisions of Attorneys General at all and that remains our point of view. I accept that McNally did this, gave the instructions. Whether he has sufficient evidence is not for him to decide with all respect, that's for the court to decide, not for him. I can quote you many ...
POM But you don't query his right to ...?
PB There are many cases in this country where Attorneys General took people to court and where they were found not guilty. Many, many. Winnie Mandela is a case in point where she appealed to the Appeal Court and got her sentence severely, dramatically changed. So I can give you a whole history where Attorneys General went to court, which is their right, I am not questioning, don't misunderstand me, their right. What I am saying to you is be careful not to make too many conclusions. You cannot simply because he thinks or considers that there is good evidence.
POM But you don't question his right to do what he did?
PB Of course not. No, I do not question his right to do what he did. That is the law and I must defend that even if I don't like it.
POM Now can we go back to the rage. The quote I have is that, "There is an understandable swelling of rage in National Party circles because a different set of rules is being applied to members of the previous government and the ANC leaders." There was a statement made by Fanie Schoeman.
PB It's the daily Star. He is a well known man.
POM What's his first name?
POM I'll pick it up.
PB He writes often. He's very well known.
POM The statement I'm using is this statement issued by the National Party spokesperson which talked about the understandable swelling of rage in National Party circles.
PB Yes you must not - that is a spokesperson of the party. The ANC also has spokespeople which say things with which Mr Mandela does not always agree 100% in expressing sentiments at the moment and that was a true reflection. I received here a phone call, all of us received phone calls and messages from all over the country. I can tell you here General Malan is receiving phone calls. He is not using it at all, of persons saying to him he must just mention the word and they will line up, troops by the thousands, by the thousands. So as a factual statement that is correct.
POM Now I was reading an article yesterday about Chile and what happened in Chile after the democratic movement came to power after Pinochet and how still there has only been one conviction no matter what commission they set up for an act of murder committed by a member of the security forces and the military in fact whisked him away to a military base and he has been in a military base for the last fourteen months. The question is that whenever things look tight in Chile the military start making noises saying another coup is always possible. Do you think that if these trials proceed that more senior military personnel are arrested and are prosecuted that there could be rumbling in the senior ranks? I mean you have General Viljoen himself saying, "I will do everything in my power", you have one of the senior people, one of the founding members of his party who is among the accused. Is the groundwork being laid with this kind of action that could induce that kind of result?
PB I don't know.
POM If you were a betting man what would you say?
PB I can't answer that, I do not have those facts. What I know is that there is a widespread dissatisfaction to put it mildly with steps that are perceived to be not even-handed. This is what it is about. It's not so much about General Malan's arrest, it is the lack of even-handedness that comes to the fore here. General van der Merwe, the former head of police was asked by Mr de Klerk not to proceed with prosecutions of over 2000 dossiers which are still there, they are there, of ANC members who committed crimes of a wide variety. for the sake of reconciliation and assisting the ANC members to return to this country to fully participate in the negotiations that led to the interim constitution. It is felt that here is the problem and that is emotional. It is not the law, we are not interfering with the law. I said to you, unless you distinguish these two issues you will not be able to do justice to your analysis of the situation. You must stick to the facts at all times and the facts indicate that a large number of ANC members committed crimes, even in Angola they committed crimes in detention barracks there.
POM Quatro camps.
PB Yes, which is to some extent almost worse because they were not a government or a state with the force of law behind them and they took it upon themselves, therefore, to kill and torture people who did not comply with their political party's views and rules. It's like the National Party setting up a tribunal of its own to judge National Party members who do not behave according to the National Party's requirements. That my dear friend is not to be treated in so light a manner. There are many other cases. There is Sebukulu, this man that was abducted by the ANC, first pushed over to Zimbabwe where he was kept in prison, then on to Zambia in Kenneth Kaunda's days. After Kaunda lost the election I was approached by the new government in Zambia who told me, "Look we've got a South African here in prison who committed no wrong in Zambia and we are worried about Amnesty International and the International Commission of Human Rights", and they said to me that this man even after months of no-one having touched him his face, his body still carried the scars of excessive torture and assault. That is Sebukulu. I received information at the time from a Zambian official who visited Sebukulu in prison and although I cannot now reveal what Sebukulu said it is extremely negative to the ANC and some leaders of the ANC, if that is to be proved in a court of law. So if Sebukulu could make an affidavit, as McNally said he has got some affidavit, there is going to be big trouble.
But again I bring you back to the basic point of even-handedness. Even-handedness. We are looking for even-handedness. If the procedure is chosen that all South Africans irrespective of their party political affiliations, where there is prima facie evidence of having committed murder or crimes, let us then use the courts, put them before the courts, get them sentenced. If that is what must be done let's do it, I would support that. If the idea, however, is that no, the constitution gives everyone, also a murderer, the right to apply for indemnification and amnesty let us decide we will follow that route for everyone.
POM Why hasn't this case already been taken to the Constitutional Court?
PB I don't know, the individuals must take it if they want to go that way.
POM There's no provision for a class action?
PB No, if General Malan prefers that this matter should proceed in a court of law ...
POM But you are saying the principle is more important than really what he thinks.
PB I admire his decision but it still does not resolve the issue of the two-pronged action that there is inherent now in the system. You don't resolve it that way. This is the point we're trying to make. I'm not trying to get Malan to escape from any wrongs that he did. That is simply not true.
POM I know, but my point would be that if you say the principle is the most important thing then an action taken before the Constitutional Court even if it were against the wishes of General Malan would resolve the issue on a legal basis.
PB I say you have a constitutional right, Malan has it too. I can't force him to exercise his constitutional right but that doesn't mean I must forsake my principle.
POM But is there no provision in the law for a class action suit?
PB The government must take the decision.
POM That a group of individuals ...
PB No, no, you don't understand me. There is a principle at stake here in which the government must take a hand, not the individual, because otherwise you will not achieve even-handedness. The government must decide, do we go ahead with the Truth Commission yes or no? We have passed the necessary legislation, what is hanging in the air now is the time that is allowed for nominations and then a committee and another committee. All right, it's transparent, I support that also. What I'm saying is that the government must take a hand in this matter and the government must then say, look we would prefer, we would prefer the Constitutional Court to give an opinion and then take it to the Constitutional Court and get a legal decision not a political one. Get a legal decision otherwise you are going to have tussles of this nature. You now have cases of the media and libel cases where a man is now before the Constitutional Court. They first started in the normal courts where his case went well, then the newspapers took it quickly to the Constitutional Court, now they are arguing what is the correct procedure? Can you take a matter out of the normal legal processes to the Constitutional Court or can't you? I say you must make up your mind. You can't leave the public of this country in this uncertainty. This is what I am saying, but I do not question and you can't blame the Attorneys General, they implement the law as it stands. That's what they do. On the other hand a person relying on the Constitutional Court is also implementing the law as it stands. Somewhere, someone must decide what is the correct procedure. This is the point I'm making.
POM I want to just give you a quotation from The Star then move on to the local elections and the direction of the National Party. In The Star, this is on 2nd November, it says and this is a quote: - "General Malan exerted extraordinary influence on government decisions through the State Security Council, the most powerful arm of the notorious national security management system set up by PW Botha. The system was brought in ostensibly to identify causes of discontent and friction and provide swift official response. In effect it allowed the formation of police and military death squads which began to be exposed from about 1990 onwards."
POM Do you think that's an accurate reflection of the State Security Council which you sat on and the national management security system?
PB The State Security Council was brought into being by a law of parliament. It was a statutory body which prescribed the members and it also could co-opt other members of the Cabinet but on it was also serving all the heads of departments, public servants who are not politicians. It had a secretariat. The decisions are recorded. The discussions are recorded. I reject any notion, any implied or direct charge that the State Security Council ever took decisions to kill people and that sort of thing. It is not true. It is not true, because this will mean that over years some thirty, forty people, public servants who are serving still today in the public service, you accuse them of having connived or having been part of decisions of that nature which is simply not true. It is just not true and that's why I said before the weekend, I wish once and for all they would now come down to a proper investigation, examination of the State Security Council because after each Security Council meeting a full report was made to the full Cabinet and the Cabinet then had to agree to the decisions.
POM Do you make any distinction between a crime that would be ordered by the state, i.e. if the state were to say get rid of individual X, and a crime committed by, say, a member of a national liberation movement against what most people in the world would regard as being an oppressive government? Are they morally distinguishable?
PB No, not in my opinion. Either you adopt the principle that force may never be used to obtain political objectives, if you do not honour that principle you've had it because there is no way after you have abandoned that principle, there is no moral way to allocate guilt. I'm sorry, either you stick to that principle that force should not, cannot, ought not ever to be used to obtain a political objective. That's a principle in which I believe. It applies to the government, to the state, to a political party, to any other organisation. That's where you draw the line and if a government or organisation clinically and cold-bloodedly plans and instructs that a person should be killed that is criminal. It is as simple as that.
POM Let me move to the local election results. Here you had a case of where there was again a lot of speculation that the ANC would not do as well as it would because of its failure to deliver on promises it had made, because of its record on crime, because of a feeling at the grassroots that the ANC were doing too much to alleviate the fears of whites and not enough to help blacks. The conventional wisdom was that the ANC would be lucky to do as well as it did in 1994, yet it did a lot better.
PB Well I'm not so sure about that.
POM OK, that's one analysis. Two, you had the National Party which has opened up and said that the only way to their survival is a multi-racial party and which has tried to encourage blacks to join and has campaigned in places like Soweto where they were not allowed to or unable to campaign before, yet when one looks at at least the preliminary results of the election one sees that there was a significant losing of the Coloured vote in the Western Cape and that this was compensated by a movement from votes which before had been held by the CP, particularly in the Pretoria area, moving to the National Party. So that in a way its vote became more white rather than more multi-racial.
PB No I don't think you can make that conclusion at this stage. Two important local elections must still take place and that is in KwaZulu/Natal with, I think, 25% of the voters of this country, as well as the metropolitan areas of the Western Cape where the votes really are. I would caution that you should not come to conclusions on the basis of the known results at this stage and that we must await this vast number of votes where the ANC do not really have much support, or as much as they have in the rest of the country, so it will be misleading, with respect, to go and base your conclusions now, before those elections have taken place, on the results. You may find yourself in a position where you come to conclusions which may have to be altered. Secondly, I have heard, we can check it, that roughly, just over 50% of the voters participated in the election. That's a long way short of 80%. In the general election I think it was 80% or more. You must be careful. Why didn't they vote?
POM This is typical of local elections all over the world.
PB Maybe, maybe, but the fact of the matter is who can determine this? Who can determine the reason why people abstain? You cannot do so with any degree of accuracy. You cannot do so if you were very enthusiastic about the party that you support. The same applies to us. I am not criticising the ANC. The fact of the matter is that you are drawing conclusions from figures and results which I think cannot be drawn at this stage. First of all you must await the others. Then the National Party didn't put up candidates in a vast number of wards and areas simply because we thought we won't do so well there. Had we put them up they would have attracted votes which we lost because we didn't have a candidate. So how do you determine that figure now? I would just be a little bit careful.
POM So how would you interpret the results?
PB ANC won on the basis of what took place and even in KwaZulu/Natal and the Western Cape after the elections they would still have received the majority of the votes. All I am saying is, let us wait for those elections to take place before we draw conclusions. That's what I'm saying. I don't say your conclusions are necessarily wrong. I say you may need to adapt some of the conclusions you are making. I want to wait for those results before drawing those conclusions.
POM But that's next March.
PB It doesn't matter when it is, whether it's March or June or July.
POM But you're a party that has to make political decisions on the basis of ...
PB No, no, no, you've got to wait for KwaZulu/Natal's election. If the ANC there gets only say 25% of the total vote their percentage countrywide drops six, seven points. I don't know whether you know this? And the same in the Western Cape. If they only get 30% or 35% your conclusions regarding the Coloured vote may be completely misplaced or distorted because you are now dealing with the rural areas which is a far cry from the urban areas with different reactions from people in those areas, particularly in the rural areas where Coloureds felt that not much had been done for them, etc. But it's not the case with Mr Peter Marais' following in Cape Town. It might be a totally different thing and you might have a drop there of another three or four points in the national overall if they do badly there. I don't know how they will do. This is the only point I say I'm not predicting but I am not making conclusions as you are trying to do now from the results as they now stand. I say let's wait for the other results. It's not going to be such that it will change the overall picture in the sense that it will make the ANC the losers. Forget it, they will be the winners. I am saying they may drop quite a number of percentage points countrywide which makes your question then, or the implication in your question totally different. You may have to change your whole approach then.
POM But I suppose what I'm getting at is that you are a political party, you have strategists, between now and next March or April or whenever these elections are held, you will develop political strategies, part of the data bank on which you will base those strategies are the results of the local election, for example in places like Stellenbosch, Worcester, Parow, there is no doubt that there was a swing in the Coloured vote against the National Party. I mean they were just swing votes and they went the other way this time compared to the general election.
PB Have a look at the numbers. You must first determine how many votes do you have in the Western Cape, then you must ask yourself how many voted now. This is what I'm asking you, surely you can just do that before trying to draw conclusions? I am trying to help you. Then you will see that by far the minority voted now. The majority must still vote in the Western Cape. In Natal no vote was taken. On a former occasion they predicted Inkatha would get 3%, they got over 10% countrywide, countrywide. The ANC predicted they would take Natal. They did not. So all I'm saying is let us wait for it, maybe they will take it and even strengthen their position. Then I am the first one to say to you, yes, now we can talk. I am saying to you, let us just wait for all the results to come in. I don't think it's unreasonable of me to adopt that attitude. I'm not prepared to make the reductions that you are making by implication at this stage. I'm not making it. If you take all the empty ANC votes the position hasn't changed much even on the present vote. It hasn't. If you take the 17% plus the more than 4% almost 5% which the DP got and the Freedom Front it's already 10%, that puts you up to 27%.
POM The Freedom Front got 5%?
PB 4%. And if you take the independents then you are approaching already 30%. That was more or less the position in the general elections. So I will be a little bit hesitant to do what you're trying to do now. I would just wait a bit.
POM I'm trying to find out what your party thinks, not what I think about it.
PB Forget what my party thinks. You've asked me a question. I'm saying to you, hang on until you have the full picture.
POM Do you think that one thing the results show is the political demise of the Conservative Party and the Freedom Front?
PB No I don't think so, Conservative Party maybe yes, Hartzenberg's party I think they are finished yes and I think organisations like the AWB they are finished and should not be a factor any more in future politics of this country. But the Freedom Front will continue, in my opinion, to represent the sentiments of a large number of Afrikaners, yes, I think they will.
POM Does it weaken the dream of a volkstaat insofar as they had always regarded Pretoria as the centre of what would be the volkstaat?
PB Certainly. I think the volkstaat, I never called it a dream, I called it a nightmare because even if a majority of Afrikaners, which they don't, supported it, it is still a nightmare. There is no way it could ever work in practice, just no way. There is just no way that those very same Afrikaners - there will be a majority of black people in that area very soon. It doesn't matter which area you take of this country, it doesn't matter which one. I am not talking about a freak like Orania, that funny place that you have there which is a joke. It's not workable. Apartheid tried it, failed dismally. Apartheid tried to compartmentalise this country into various states and homelands in the hope that there would be an area where the white man dominates in numbers. It was impossible because of the economic realities of this country. It's as simple as that and there's no way you can deny a person the right to vote indefinitely if he works in an area, just say just because he's black or Coloured or Indian he can't vote. There's no way that that could ever have survived. I knew it all along. I said it in my career often and made it clear. That is not the point. It's impossible to work. It's impossible that the farmer in this country can be a successful farmer without blacks assisting him on his farm. It is as simple as that. The whites and the blacks of this country need each other more than they would openly admit.
POM One last thing, and thank you for the time, I know always how busy you are. One is, since I am publishing nothing until the year 2000 ...
PB Oh, it doesn't matter.
POM For the record could you give a summary of what went on between President Mandela and F W de Klerk in Hollard Street? I won't attribute it to you.
PB The 100th anniversary of Gencor was about to start in the form of a very dignified dinner, banquet, and he (Mandela) had another engagement later that evening and came to address the guests. As I recall it his opening remarks were statesmanlike, he gave a balanced view of the necessity of economic development and economic growth in this country, when suddenly he put down his prepared notes and spoke off the cuff. Now this is not the first time. I have witnessed on former occasions that not always but often when he deviates from his prepared notes and speaks off the cuff then he often says things which he might not have said if he had considered the occasion and the remarks more carefully. And that was one of those evenings where he then for a long while, I think more than eight or nine minutes, spoke off the cuff and blamed the crime rate of the previous regime, apartheid government, he mentioned there facts and figures which you must deal with very, very carefully. He said he went into a township and there was a black police station and he asked how many cars do you have, how many vehicles? And they said only one. Then he went to a typical white area where he asked them how many, and then they said to him they've got 18 vehicles. The implication of what he said was that in the black township you only have one vehicle. Yes, if, I would say you must ask the police, black and white policemen, whether there is a reason for this, if in a black township the persons there said, well they did not really require more than three or four vehicles because of the nature of policing at a given time in history. Then you must take that into consideration. I don't know whether it is the case. Maybe it is the case. But you cannot for the life of me simply because of figures of that nature suddenly blame the high and growing crime rate completely on the National Party and on apartheid. You can't.
A Nigerian who visited me recently, and he's not a supporter of the Abacha regime, said to me that he thought Lagos was the worst city in the world from a crime point of view until he got to Johannesburg which to him was worse. What I am trying to say to you is there's not been apartheid in Lagos for a long while. You must be careful how you deal with these matters. If President Mandela says that in many respects blacks are paying today the price of apartheid, there's been insufficient education, he's right. If he says that they did not have equal opportunities, he's right, yes. If he says that they should have been paid higher wages he's right. I am one of those who also believe it. Yes, yes. If he says blacks were humiliated, denigrated, he's right. They were kicked out of hotels and restaurants. I myself had an experience where a black friend and I were refused entry in a restaurant where it was as humiliating to me as it was to my black friend. Yes, then he's right, but you must be careful. You cannot simply come and say more houses should have been built. You must first go and work out now, now you must work out, education yes, dehumanising blacks yes, pass laws yes, all those things. There is no way you can justify it. It hampered black development, you can work that out if you want to but you must be careful on crime, you must be careful on crime because blacks suffer more from crime than whites. There are more cars stolen per capita in Soweto ...
POM Than there are in the United States.
PB - than they steal from whites. If you steal from a black man a television set it's maybe two months' salary that he's being robbed of. If it's a white man, I don't treat it lightly, but it's definitely not two months' salary. What I mean is the loss to the black people is greater and that has nothing to do with apartheid. The motivation of a thief has nothing to do with apartheid. He wants to steal whether he steals from a black man or a white man or an Indian or a Coloured, he steals. He breaks in, whether he wants to rape a white woman or a black woman, he rapes them. What I am trying to say to you is you must be careful when you come to crime not to ascribe that and start attacking the former government.
Many blacks believe it was better, the crime rate was better under apartheid so you've got to be careful and you do not resolve the problem. If the President that evening would have said that the crime rate is high because of unemployment, we have a high rate of unemployment, we need more factories, we need more industrial development so that more blacks can be employed and I urge you, Gencor, and the other mining companies and other companies to come and join government so that we can think together. You are not investing enough, you are hesitant, you must invest more, we must attract more investment from abroad so that more black people can get jobs then they will be less prone to become victims of crime. You see what I mean? That's the way, in my opinion, to deal with it.
POM We have to be with Gen. Viljoen in fifteen minutes and he says it will take us half an hour to get there, he doesn't wait around. So in two minutes, what was the exchange?
PB Well what happened then was, I can tell you, I was in the crowd there, and I can tell you very confidentially because this man is a well known black businessman, he was standing next to me and he looked at me and he said to me, "Pik, hell the old man should not have done this." That was a black man, "The old man should not have done this." Then moments later De Klerk called me. I went to him, he and his wife were standing about 6 meters from me, moved through the people and got to him and he was absolutely, yes he was quite emotional about it. He felt bitter and hurt. Then the Chief Executive Officer of Gencor came to him. Mr de Klerk was at that moment considering leaving also the banquet, cancelling his attendance, and the Chief Executive Officer of Gencor said to him, "Look I'll respect your decision, if you feel you must go, go." I then said "No", to Mr de Klerk, I said, "Under no circumstances must you go. This will resolve nothing. This will resolve nothing." Then a bodyguard of Mr Mandela came to Mr de Klerk and said the President is waiting there at the end of the red carpet, just near his car, and would like to greet you before he goes. I immediately said to Mr de Klerk, "Let's go."
We went then the two of us. He greeted the President and immediately Mr de Klerk told the President that he could not accept this attack on him and the National Party and the former government, it was unfair, this is a matter that the two of them can discuss or we can discuss this kind of thing in Cabinet, but to use the 100th anniversary of Gencor for an attack of this nature Mr de Klerk thought was not statesmanlike and it is not proper and will result in negative reporting abroad also. And he said to Mr Mandela also that he can assure him that the guests there were highly, highly embarrassed and he thought that the President of a country should not use occasions of this nature to make political attacks as he did. Mr Mandela then reacted quite fiercely also in saying that, "I have the right as State President to say these things", and they then continued a discussion. Apparently Mr Mandela didn't like the fact that Mr de Klerk wanted to act as mediator between him and Buthelezi so the conversation developed into a further phase. He said to Mr de Klerk, "You have the temerity to offer yourself as a mediator between me and Buthelezi." It upset him. I can't quite recall why. Because Mr de Klerk's, I can assure you, motive there is above board. He wants to get the two leaders together to resolve the KwaZulu/Natal uncertainties. But apparently the President sees in that another motive and so the two went at each other in this way. I then interjected at one stage and said, "You know what strikes me about both of you is that you lack communication with one another and we should look at that. We should look at a way to improve communication between leaders and that would include Buthelezi", I said.
And then Mr de Klerk said yes, he's waiting for Mbeki, Mbeki is never available. He's either abroad or he's not available. Then Mr Mandela said all right, the moment Mbeki returns he will arrange for the four of them, Mbeki, de Klerk, Buthelezi and him to get together. I don't think they have succeeded in making that arrangement. We then said goodbye to him, went back and ironically there was a black choir singing a special song for Mr de Klerk. We then went into the banquet where the atmosphere was strained. It was strained. It was not what it should have been I can tell you. I sat at the table where, unfortunately, all the people were white, but white people with the right kind of attitude, not verkrampte, conservative kind of people, liberal kind of people. They were complaining that the evening was messed up, that things like that should not happen, that a President and a Deputy President should not be like that and they should be able to attend a function of that nature as friends, as colleagues and go through it as colleagues and if they have differences they must sort that out somewhere else, not there. They must not upset their host, they must not upset guests. They must behave better, to put it bluntly.
POM OK. Thank you ever so much. I could spend all day with you.