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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
04 Apr 1996: Moodley, Strini
POM To start off, here we are approaching the second anniversary of the government of national unity, the ANC swept the local elections where they were held in the rest of the country last November, the parties you have empathy with, AZAPO, which didn't contest the elections, the Black Consciousness Movement and even the PAC showed signs of terminal decline, in all your years in political activism and with that as a backdrop, what have you to show for your efforts?
SM If the question is posed to me as an individual I think when we look at the results of the elections, when you look at in fact everything that has happened in this country it didn't happen in a vacuum, it happened in the context and with a background and a history to it all and a part of that, and I think a large part of it, must be attributable to the beginnings of real revolution in 1968 with the formation of the Black Consciousness Movement, and even beyond that.
POM Why do you say that was the beginning of real revolution as distinct from the announcement of the armed struggle by the ANC in the early sixties?
SM If one critically analyses what is called the armed struggle, there was nothing like an armed struggle in this country. Anyone who wants to tell me that there was an armed struggle in this country is obviously either being romantic or just being plain untruthful. There was no such thing as an armed struggle in this country except in word and claims by the ANC and the PAC that there was an armed struggle. A couple of bombs set off here and a couple of shootings there and that was the sum total of it all. But the reality is that there was no armed struggle in this country. The reality is that before 1976 the ANC and the PAC did not exist except in name, a large number of them sitting in the capitals of Europe and the Americas and talking revolution. It is only after 1976 that the ranks of the ANC and the PAC swelled and that only because of the work of the Black Consciousness Movement so that by the time you come to the whole change and the emergence of the government of national unity and the elections we need to look a little more critically at those elections and my own calculation is that for as many people that voted an equal number did not vote.
POM This is in 1994?
SM In 1994. An equal number did not vote. You can go and do a calculation on the basis of even the figures that are supplied by the government, you can count up all the votes that were cast and you won't come anywhere near a total of approximately 16 million, you get closer to about eight or nine million, which means between seven and eight million people did not vote in this country. And if that is the case we need to ask ourselves why. Why did half the voting population in this country not vote? When you go to the local elections it gets even worse. In terms of the percentage of voting people it drops even lower than it was in the national elections. I don't think I want to hold a grudge or anything of that sort against anybody but I think the media and particularly the international media had to make South Africa successful and so there was no real critical examination of the elections in the same way that there was for Aristide in Haiti.
POM So in your critical examination what do the turnouts and the voting patterns suggest to you?
SM It suggests first and foremost to me that at least 50% of the population of this country has no identification with the so-called government of national unity.
POM Is that no identification because of ignorance or because of apathy or because of what?
SM It will be a combination of apathy and ignorance, but I think above all disappointment with the performance of the liberation movement as a whole in that the liberation movement allowed the negotiations to emerge on the side of sustaining the status quo and at the expense of changing the lives of the black people in this country.
POM So in that sense you would think that the government negotiators out-negotiated the liberation movement negotiators?
SM Of course. I think at its basic or superficial level the winners were clearly the Nationalist Party and that sounds crazy but that is the truth, the winners were the Nationalist Party because essentially they ensured the success of white people being able to maintain their standards of living, their comforts, their security, all of those things were sustained and that is a mark in favour of the Nationalist Party. It has to be.
POM So when Cyril Ramaphosa said the Nationalist Party simply caved in he didn't realise that in fact he had been taken to the cleaners?
SM Of course, and I think Cyril knows that when he says the Nationalist Party just caved in he is lying to the public in the same way that if you look at the record now where the truth is beginning to emerge and anyone who reads Nelson Mandela's book gets a rude shock to realise that actually the ANC was talking to the NP long before it became public, that Nelson makes no bones about the fact that today his whole purpose is to ensure reconciliation to the point where he even instructs people that you will maintain the Springbok as an emblem and that is like the cherry on the top of all the, I don't want to say selling out, but all the things that the ANC has done to ensure the continued survival of white people in this country.
POM Yet with all his talk of reconciliation the one person that he will not reconcile with is Gatsha Buthelezi. Why is there that utter intractability between the two? Why can he not say you in fact have a legitimate grievance, we did agree to international mediation, we did sign an agreement and we will call in the international mediators? Now they may sit down and say there's nothing to mediate and we're going home, but at least we will have honoured our commitment. Why won't he, as a man who portrays himself as the ultimate man of honour, why won't he honour what was in fact a written agreement agreed to by three parties and recently commented on by the person who put it together saying that at least in this case the IFP had the moral upper hand?
SM I think very few people have realised that insofar as Buthelezi and Mandela are concerned, or let me say Buthelezi and the ANC are concerned, the ANC was responsible for Buthelezi creating Inkatha and that's on record. Why did the ANC ask Buthelezi to form Inkatha and instruct him to go into what was then called Bantustan politics? I think when the Black Consciousness Movement emerged and when it began to demonstrate its popularity within the black community the ANC saw Black Consciousness as a major threat to its own existence and therefore needed to create an alternative and that alternative was Buthelezi and Buthelezi will say that that is what he was instructed to do. Obviously with time Buthelezi began to realise that, "Why do I need the ANC? I don't need the ANC, I can do it entirely on my own." And so the Inkatha Freedom Party emerges as a contender for power alongside the ANC so that today the war between Mandela and Buthelezi has nothing to do with the ideology, it has nothing to do with matters of principle, it has nothing to do with matters of policy, it has everything to do with a naked, raw struggle for power between on the one hand Buthelezi and on the other hand Mandela. That is why Mandela, because he knows he is fighting a battle for power with Buthelezi, does not see the need to honour any agreements written or otherwise. His purpose is to destroy Buthelezi, to crush Buthelezi.
POM So when Buthelezi says, as he does frequently, that the ANC are out to crush the IFP essentially he is correct?
SM Of course he is. And the ANC would be lying if it says it didn't want to crush the IFP because in terms of what we would call parliamentary politics the IFP is in the best position to actually best the ANC. So the ANC will do everything to crush the IFP, including crushing Buthelezi.
POM So would the ANC treat any similar power base in a similar way?
SM Of course. There is no difference between the tactics of the ANC in this country or a lot of other political parties in Africa and other parts of the world.
POM So the ANC in your view is inherently anti-democratic?
SM Of course, without a doubt. It doesn't need for me to say it.
POM What would you point to as specific examples of its anti-democratic behaviour even as it goes through this exercise in putting the new constitution together?
SM Well, I take the very, very basic examples. The argument with regard to the use of the Springbok as an emblem in rugby, the instruction that Mandela gave that you people will maintain the Springbok as an emblem, and everybody caved in. The instruction Mandela gave with regard to the whole question of Afrikaans, the Afrikaans language, there was no debate, there was no democracy in that. It was a decision that Mandela said, "We will ensure the maintenance of Afrikaans because we need to sustain the programme of reconciliation." It had nothing to do with democracy, nothing to do with the wishes of the majority of the people in the country. The whole question of the maintenance of private schools for the maintenance of Afrikaner culture, there's another instruction that Mandela gave. The agreement by the ANC to give the Afrikaner people the opportunity to have their own state, their own province. And the list goes on. The dismantling of the Reconstruction & Development ministry without consultation with anyone by Mandela and the ANC. There are so many other examples if you look back on it.
But I think at the nub of it all what we must understand is that to speak about democracy in the same way that the United States speaks about it and the same way that the United Kingdom speaks about it is one thing but to actually demonstrate it, there is nowhere else in the world that a minority group has to affirm a majority except in this country and it is being sustained by the ANC up until now. The concept of affirmative action, how do you have affirmative action entrenched in a country where the minority has to affirm the majority and where the majority has to ensure that the standard of living, the privileges and the security of the minority is uppermost, where the creation of the Reconstruction & Development Programme is slashed at one stroke? And that is an indication of the undemocratic nature of the ANC.
POM Where in that context would you put the brouhaha around the Sarafina 2 affair? In a 'normal' democracy Dr Zuma would have had to resign, in fact would not even have been asked to resign, she would have resigned. Here you appear to have a case of misrepresentation to parliament. Here you have the ANC majority blocking the setting up of a Select Committee to investigate whether or not there were misrepresentations made to parliament. Here you have the European Union saying, "We want our money back", and yet life goes on because the ANC has the majority and is simply exercising its muscle as the majority party.
SM All of what you've just said is an addition to the whole nature of the undemocratic capacity of the ANC because if you look back on it in the old days the National Party would have done exactly the same thing and the ANC is beginning to emerge as a kind of replica of the National Party. Mandela says, "Leave Dr Zuma alone, don't touch her, R14½ million is nothing", and in a sense he is right, he is right because the ANC and this so-called government of national unity if we are to examine the expenditure on bureaucracy in government , I don't know, I was sitting and calculating it the other day in terms of salaries for ministers and the perks and all of those things that go on, it actually takes up a major slice of this country's entire budget. A major slice goes towards paying off these ministers and Cabinet ministers, the guys in the SABC and the South African Airways and Telkom and you will be amazed by the amounts of moneys that are being paid out. If you look at the Truth & Reconciliation Commission, the Constitutional Court, the Human Rights Commission, all these commissions and committees and what have you that have been created have actually expanded the bureaucracy in this country and that is why they have had to close down the RDP office because you can't put 45 million people on to a gravy train. And I think it's an admission by Mandela and the ANC that the gravy train is full, we can only pay for so many people, for the rest of you we don't care a damn.
POM Do you really believe that Mandela doesn't care about the poor, the disadvantaged, the left-out?
SM If he did he would not have created the kind of bureaucracy he has around him today. In the same way that in the days of apartheid you had the Community Chest and you had all these liberal organisations which gave blankets and presents at Christmas and during winter to the poor, if Mandela has a concern for the poor it is no different from the President of the Community Chest or some other welfare organisation. His commitment to the poor is the same commitment that a person with a guilty conscience has who walks out of his comfortable home and sees a beggar on the side and takes out twenty cents and puts it in their hand. That is Mandela's concern for the poor.
POM So, let's switch things round. You're President tomorrow morning, you inherit this entire structure, what do you do? What do you do to say I'm going to put this country on the path to truly liberate it knowing that you're going to have to do it in the context of a global economy where you are constrained by outside influences, that you're not free to do exactly what you want?
SM I probably first would restrict all government salaries to a maximum of say R80,000 a year, including the President. I would go to every major corporation in this country and do a full accounting of their books during the era of apartheid and then ask them to pay reparations for all the profits they made off the sweat, off the back of apartheid.
POM Now at that point what do you think happens, as a consequence of that what do you think one has to do to keep a meaningful flow of foreign investment at all?
SM I think the greatest mythology is that foreign investment is going to solve the problems of this country, and we all know that's a lie. There is no such thing as foreign investment solving the problems of this country or any country for that matter. The Japanese will tell you foreign investment did nothing to solve their problems. The Japanese solved the problems as Japanese by sheer dint of their own initiative, their own hard work, their own commitment to the work ethic, their own commitment to building their country on their own sweat and their own blood and their own tears. And I think what I will do if I were President tomorrow is I will tell every South African that if you want to be a citizen of this country you will take responsibility for it and you will not sit and say to yourself that foreign investment is going to solve the problem or somebody is going to hand out money to me as a present and I will say to people that we've got to work for it. This country has the natural resources, we have human resources and we can build ourselves up but in building ourselves up it does not mean that we must all commit ourselves to living the extravagant life of having two garages and three cars and a house, a holiday home here and living with all kinds of luxuries that aren't necessary. Those can come later, those can come for our children or our children's children. Our duty now is to reconstruct this country and that I think was the original intention of the ANC when it came up with the so-called Reconstruction & Development Programme, but all that fell by the wayside and last week's announcement that they are closing the RDP office down was the final nail in the coffin of the ANC's concern for the poor and the homeless.
POM So you've gone to every major corporation and you've had them do an accounting for the profits they made during the apartheid years on the backs of apartheid, you have them pay reparations and they respond by saying, "Sure, what we're going to do is to downsize, lay off people, invest more in technology not in jobs", so that you have this phenomenon which you already have of economic growth without any increase in employment, and that's their answer to you.
SM I would tell them, "You do that and I will introduce a tax system in this country that makes it impossible for you to do that. You will be taxed in the way that will make it impossible, it becomes unprofitable until if it means the closing down of monopoly corporations in this country I think it must be done.
POM But the monopoly corporations are multi-nationals so that overnight they can move their capital and their assets, particularly their capital, from wherever it is in South Africa to any place in the world and you have no control over it, it's gone.
SM I know because of that kind of technology that can be done. Let them move, let them move. I bet you, Patrick, I bet you they will come back crawling. They won't move, they can't move. There is too much in this country for them to move. They won't move. The problem with the ANC is that it's too terrified to do that kind of thing and largely because they have been brainwashed into believing in the economic analysis as defined by international capital. They can't see the economy in a new way, they can't see that in the supposed attempt to destroy Cuba that there is a country that lives and survives despite everything that attempts to be done to it by the United States and the rest of the world. Cuba continues.
POM So you've gone to the corporations.
SM I've not only gone to corporations, I've gone to every person and I've said to every person, "You will work." If there are people who don't work then they will be drafted into the army, into the people's army, they will be drafted into work camps. There is no such thing as won't works and don't works, there's no such thing as hoboes and beggars. Every person works. It's an era of reconstruction, it's an era in which you have got to get people off their backsides, you've got to get rid of that complex of inferiority, that complex of helplessness and mea culpa and you've got to get people working.
POM Just even in that context the Masakhane campaign has been a distinguished failure to say the least.
SM Well what did you expect? For anyone to come into the political arena and say, "I will give you a home, I will give you peace, I will give you jobs, I will give you this, just vote for me", and say to them "I believe in you, you are the most oppressed human being, everything must be done for you, etc., etc., etc." And before that you said to those people, "Help us to make this country ungovernable and as a consequence of that we will pay you back." And the day after you get into power you go back to those same people and you say to those people, "Please pay your electricity bill, pay your rent, pay this, pay the other", and yesterday you were saying to those same people, "You don't have to pay your rent, you don't have to pay your electricity bill because the places in which you are staying are owed to you." And tomorrow because you're in power you go back to them - who do you think you're fooling? So the Masakhane project must fail, it must fail. As a consequence of that today the ANC is finding itself moving more and more towards an authoritarian programme.
POM But at the same time if you look at the performance of the minority parties in the local elections campaigns where they were held outside of KwaZulu/Natal and the Cape metropole, their performance was even more dismal than it was in 1994. The PAC in particular ran on the slogan of "Don't make the same mistake twice", and the voters responded by cutting their 3.4% to 1.7%. The Black Consciousness Movement didn't figure in the equation at all. Where do you see the development in the next ten to fifteen years of an effective organised black opposition to the ANC that presents the masses in the country with a vision they can identify with and want to work for?
SM There are several parts as to what you've just asked me. The first part is the whole question of the local elections. I would ask you to first of all conduct an exercise, go to any local election, local borough or ward and get hold of the voters' roll and compare that voters' roll with the number of people in that area. The only people who voted and the only people who registered as voters were either ANC supporters or National Party supporters and I will ask you, Patrick, please go and conduct that kind of survey and you will actually find that the percentage of people that voted in 1994's national elections has dramatically dropped and that drop sees an increase in the superficial percentage of voters for the ANC. That's the first part of the question. The second part of it is, will a credible opposition emerge? I suspect that with each passing day the disillusionment grows apace and there will emerge a credible opposition. Whether that credible opposition will be afforded the opportunity to voice itself, to express itself, is another question because my suspicion is that within five years we will have a black national party, the ANC, which will use all manner and means to snuff out opposition in the same way that it is attempting to snuff out the opposition of Buthelezi and the IFP so that any credible opposition that emerges is going to be dealt with in the harshest possible fashion by the ANC. The moment Mandela is gone, dead and gone, there will be no need for them to hold back. In the same way that the ANC brooked no opposition when it was in exile it will do the same thing, it will put people in prison, it will torture, it will maim, it will do all of those things.
POM You talk in a way, Strini, of the ANC as just being almost a black counterpart of the National Party?
SM Of course it is. I have written a piece now which is going to appear in The Sunday Tribune shortly in which I have said that the time has come to tell the President he has no clothes. We have to start now pointing to the excesses and criticising Mandela for what he is. He is a black counterpart of F W de Klerk, for all his pretence at democracy, kissing and hugging babies and that kind of bullshit, he is a black counterpart to F W de Klerk.
POM Let me just switch, you're talking about a black national party. First of all I hear you saying that the next ten to fifteen years you don't see any effective black opposition emerging to the ANC, that it will be snuffed out before it has an opportunity to get off the ground or it will not have the resources to get off the ground. So in that sense you're saying South Africa is moving towards a one-party democracy or a one-party state?
SM Yes. It is already that.
POM To follow up in that and to switch slightly, there has been this emphasis recently on the need for transformation, at least the word is used, and restructuring and the example I want to use is of the Makgoba affair; how do you interpret that? And let me put in a context that might make it easier, if he were lying about his CV, that it contained false statements, should he have been required to resign or resigned voluntarily or is that a peripheral issue, that it was simply used as an excuse to stall the process of transformation?
SM OK let's first of all deal with it. Wits University would have got the CV long before they appointed the man. If they claim to be who they are would have been jacked up enough to investigate the claims made on Makgoba's CV and if they discovered that there were falsehoods with regard to the CV they would not have appointed the man. My belief, my feeling is that they discovered the falsehood in the CV and still appointed him and when he didn't do the bidding of the liberal establishment at Wits University, and the bidding of the liberal establishment at Wits University is to sustain the status quo, to ensure that we as the liberals are in power and that there will be no such thing as transformation and the standards of the liberal establishment must be maintained. And when Makgoba flouted all of that and said, "I am going to do it my way", that is when they came out and said this man is a liar, his CV has got these kinds of exaggerations and so they started a campaign to get rid of him because he was going to rock the liberal boat. Now I am not surprised by that, I have never been surprised by that. I believe that liberals are living in their own heaven now. This is a liberal, South Africa now is a liberal heaven.
POM Can you expand on two things, (i) what you mean by the standards of the liberal establishment and ...?
SM The standards of the liberal establishment are to be able to mouth the tenets of democracy and yet ensure that you maintain power in your own hands.
POM How would you distinguish that from, say, the standards of Afrikaner nationalism or the National Party?
SM In the final analysis there is actually no difference. The only difference between the Afrikaner Nationalist and the white liberal in South Africa has been that the white liberal will smile at you and pretend that you are his equal and the moment you turn your back he will stab you. The white Afrikaner Nationalist will stab you while you are looking at him. That's the only difference between white liberalism in South Africa and Afrikaner nationalism. That's the only difference and that is why I prefer the Afrikaner nationalist any day.
POM Just again within this context, do you not think a dangerous tendency is developing that any critique made of the ANC, the government, the Human Rights Commission, whatever, any criticism made by a 'white liberal' is immediately labelled as being racist, which precludes debate, precludes openness? Are all their objections, are all their critiques ultimately motivated by latent racism or do they have a point? On the one hand you are saying that South Africa is becoming a one-party authoritarian state and on the other hand many white liberals would say the very same thing. Would you not find that common ground? Now the ANC would say if white liberals say we are becoming a one-party authoritarian state that that is simply a racist remark. If it comes from you it's not a racist remark.
SM I would think that, you see this is the complexity, the confusion of it all is - first of all let's take as an example the battle between Barney Pityana and Dennis Davies. My own belief is that Barney over-reacted to Dennis Davies. I would have expected Barney not to begin his attack against Dennis on the basis of him being a racist but to route his attack on Dennis on the basis of the concept of the Human Rights Commission and the qualities of the people that were on it. But the reality of it is that actually when Barney thinks about it seriously the whole conception and the existence of the Human Rights Commission in this country is a liberal creation and so Barney's only resort is to call the person a racist and that is the difference between Barney and me and that is also the difference between Dennis and me. When I say you're a liberal I attack you for your conception, for the way in which you build your principles, the foundation of your whole existence and the foundation of the government of national unity, the Truth & Reconciliation Commission, the Human Rights Commission, all these committees, these commissions, they are liberal conceptions. Then Barney accepts the job and then stands back and accuses the man of being a racist when he himself is a part and parcel of it. And that's my attack on Barney. I am not a part of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission, the Human Rights Commission, the government of national unity, and I am not a part of it because it is all a liberal creation. It is what is destroying this country, it is destroying black and white people alike because we are not confronting one another.
POM What kind of confrontation are you talking about?
SM If you come out of 300 years of racism you have to undergo some kind of psychiatric treatment, black and white alike. Until and unless we undergo that kind of treatment we're never going to be able to deal with each other on a basis of equality, on a basis of mutual respect and understanding. It's never going to happen.
POM Do you not think that the aim of the TRC is to administer that kind of medicine and come up with the appropriate kind of healing?
SM No, no. There is a difference between truth and reconciliation and a Nuremberg trial and what this country needs is a series of Nuremberg trials. That is a form of psychiatric treatment this country needs because you've got to deal with the overbearing superiority complex of whites in this country and you've got to deal with the overbearing inferiority complex of blacks in this country. That has to be dealt with and you can't deal with it with a wimpish liberal Truth & Reconciliation Commission. It's a sop, it's a farce and we're spending millions on a farce. I would rather scrap the TRC, scrap the HRC and take all that money and build houses because the TRC is, I promise you, going to do nothing.
POM In that context where would you place the trial of Magnus Malan and what amounts to the military establishment of the key days of apartheid?
SM It's a part of the negotiated deal. Mandela begged and pleaded for some show trial to be able to hoodwink the voting cattle, the black voting cattle, into believing that the ANC had a victory and this is a show trial and Magnus Malan will be found not guilty or if he's found guilty it will be a sentence that's suspended in perpetua.
POM What if he is found not guilty and the generals are found not guilty, would the men who actually carried out the actual shooting, the ground troops as they were, the fodder, they are found guilty, would that have a backlash in the black community or will they simply shrug their shoulders and say we expected no more?
SM They are simply going to shrug their shoulders. I don't think in any event that the black community is showing any marked interest in the trial.
POM I'll give you an example, two examples. One was the Rodney King trial in the United States. The video of a black man being beaten by the police shown around the world over and over and over again. The jury finds them not guilty. The people in the ghettos of Los Angeles take to the streets and burn half the city down in an act of spontaneous violence of which the trial was just symptomatic of more underlying causes. You had the O J Simpson trial where whites were overwhelmingly of the opinion that he was guilty as sin and blacks were of the opinion that he got a fair trial and he was found not guilty and that was due process. Marked difference, a very marked difference. Now here you have a racial situation that is far more divisive and the cleavages are far greater and you wouldn't expect that the black community would regard a verdict of innocence as some kind of absolute travesty of justice or that they would be passive enough just to shrug their shoulders?
SM I don't think it's a question of passive enough. I think first of all a large percentage of black people in this country don't even know that that trial is going on. The percentage that does know is going to wait for the reaction of the ANC and the ANC's reaction is going to be, "No, we have put those men through the due process and the law has come to its conclusion and that must be accepted. That is the way of justice."
You see the difference between the Rodney King, O J Simpson on the one hand and the Magnus Malan trial is that the comparative percentage of media coverage comparing Simpson's trial with the Malan trial, the Malan trial would probably account for about point five percent of media coverage as compared with the O J Simpson trial. So that in a sense there is a deliberate effort to say as little about the trial as possible. You know, you're not having the TV cameras in the courtroom presenting itself every day, you're not having that kind of media hype which takes it into the homes of the people.
POM Would the people watch it?
SM I would think so, if I were supposedly the Attorney General I would ensure that that happens and I would do as much as is possible to demonstrate my attempt to find the man guilty. And I wouldn't make him Accused Number - I think he's Accused Number Ten or Number Eleven, he was supposed to be Accused Number One and that is where it begins. He is not Accused Number One. Magnus Malan is Accused Number Eleven and nobody is saying that if you take the charge sheet and you look at the charge sheet the actual counts against Magnus Malan are minimal as compared with the number of counts against Accused Number One. And Accused Number One nobody knows who he is. Do you know who Accused Number One is in the Magnus Malan trial? I don't know. Nobody knows who is Accused Number One. I think that in itself points to an attempt by the bureaucracy and the status quo in this country to have the showcase trial, to keep it as quiet as possible and in the end make sure you find Magnus Malan not guilty. That's all.
POM How would you structure something like what you would call a Nuremberg type trial as against the way the trial is being structured in Durban?
SM Well Accused Number One would have to be F W de Klerk, Accused Number Two would have to be Pik Botha. I would look at all those National Party members who have been in the government from 1948, past and present, and they would all go on trial. They would be the first people you put on trial because apartheid was a crime against humanity and that is what they must be tried for. It doesn't need for me to go into deep investigation. There is a declaration internationally that apartheid is a crime against humanity. The architects and the exponents and the policemen of apartheid have been F W de Klerk, Pik Botha, I would make it the biggest trial possible. I would bring evidence from the person who has been a victim of apartheid to an international analyst of racism and apartheid to give evidence about what apartheid has done to black people in this country.
POM But do black people care about what apartheid has done to them?
SM Of course they do.
POM Or do they simply want their house, their water, their electricity, the delivery of services?
SM They want all that, any human being wants that. It's not as if black people are some kind of unique species that for them all that they require in their life is services, houses and food. That is what any human being wants. But beyond that black people want reparation. Black people want to see that their struggle to free themselves has been vindicated.
POM But in any number of surveys that have been carried out both countrywide and within KwaZulu/Natal, particularly in KZN in recent months with the upcoming local elections, this issue doesn't surface at all, it simply doesn't surface.
SM I can go around tomorrow and I can pose a series of questions in a survey which will never allow that to surface but if you and I go around tomorrow and we ask any black person, "Would you like to see the people who created this whole system of apartheid put on trial?" Go round and do a survey asking that question and come back to me and say, "All black people said no we don't want them put on trial, we're not interested in that."
POM So this idea that's promulgated by people like Archbishop Tutu, by President Mandela that the black community is a forgiving community and wants an acknowledgement of the sins of the past by the former regime but are not interested in any kind of retributive punishment is really mythology. People are interested in revenge of a kind.
SM Patrick, any human being anywhere in the world if harm has been done to that human being would want retribution. The Jews want retribution, the Croats and the Muslims want retribution. You go anywhere in the world.
POM Why is that denied here?
SM It's not denied, it's not denied. It is that Mandela and Tutu are a part of the liberal establishment and the liberal establishment wants us to wish away that part of it.
POM OK moving slightly, I am, say, part of the liberal establishment, I am getting foreign investment pumped into the country, I am raising the growth rate to 5%, 5½%, I am getting the bureaucratic act together, houses are being built, schools are being built, teachers are being paid better, we're getting a better grip on crime, the international community looks upon us not only favourably but increasingly sees us as the engine that will drive economic growth in all of southern Africa. Does that matter more than this question of liberal values, Africanisation, Black Consciousness?
SM If you were able to do that Patrick it would be a miracle of miracles, but if it happened I think there would be a moment and it would happen, I believe it would happen if that by doing that you would actually raise the expectation to now that we have all of this we must Africanise, we've got to have a real transformation, you would increase those expectations. Obviously when you decrease or when you make it less possible for people to have the basic needs satisfied then things like that would obviously rescind. It doesn't become as an important priority as the fact that I must have clothing and food and a house. But when you give those things then people are going to demand Africanisation in greater numbers which doesn't mean that because I want a home and I want shelter and I want food that I don't want Africanisation or I'm not interested in reparation or I'm not interested in retribution or I'm not interested in people being put on trial. It doesn't mean that at all, it just means that I have more important things that I have to deal with.
POM Do you think that what is now an increasing emphasis on what might be called cultural self-determination is a code word for racism?
SM It's more like ethno-centricism which has the inherent problem of racism in it. Obviously to be racist you have to have power but to be racial, yes there is the element of racialism or I think it's more like ethno-centricism that is creeping into some of Africa today. Yes we've got to give the Afrikaners their rights and we've got the Sothos and the Zulus and the Xhosas and what have you, so that is what is creeping in, this so-called cultural self-determination and I think it's actually a revisiting or a re-stating of the old Bantustan policies and statements.
POM So if I am an Afrikaner should I have the right to say I want my children to be educated in their mother tongue, I want them to know their history, I want our traditions and our customs to have parity of esteem with other traditions and customs whether they belong to the majority or other minorities?
SM Yes you can feel free to do that but you pay for it. You don't expect the state to do that. The state will deal with the writing of, or ought to, an education system which is liberating in the first instance, which takes you out of your narrow blinkered vision of yourself into a recognition of yourself as a part and parcel of a global community and your neighbourhoodness, your neighbourliness, your relationship not just with the person in the same street as you, not in the same village as you, not in the same province as you, not only in the same country as you but in the same continent as you and in the same world as you. And that is what our education system must do. And that is what I think the state's education system must be based on, to be able to give people in this country, to see themselves in a global context, to bring people up to speed with the technological developments in the world, to bring sufficient amounts of training for us to be able to run our own lives, to control our own lives and to be able to participate in the international community equally.
POM Look at the trend in the United States where multi-culturalism has become the vogue of the day. You have very strong and successful movements in many states where education must be conducted bilingually. The Spanish community say we want our children educated in Spanish, that to educate them in English or subject them to the English system of education as such puts them at a disadvantage in many respects so we want, as a right, our children to be educated in their own language and paid for by the state. Do minority groups here have the same right?
SM Obviously if we look at it objectively in the context of this country's constitution as it has been devised by the ANC and the others, in that context, yes, I would assume that the minority groups would have the right to have that kind of thing paid for. But whether that is the right thing to do is another question.
POM So to put it in the context of the United States for a moment which for years was built on the theory of the melting pot, everybody came in, everybody sacrificed their language and learnt English and assimilation happened in that way over a long period of time suppressing ethnic differences or setting up sufficient mechanisms that allowed tensions between them to be dealt with. Now the movement is towards multi-culturalism where every group has a right to it's own particular language, it's own particular custom, it's own particular educational system. You, it would seem to me, go the melting pot route rather than the multi-cultural route?
SM Yes, yes I would because I think at least in the context of this country and given the stage in which we find ourselves to date, the stage of reconstruction and development and we have no time now to indulge the luxuries of the minority in the same way that I don't think that we have time to indulge the fantasies of ethnic groups that want to live in their own dream world. I think it's idiotic and stupid to have an ethnic language as the major language in this country given the fact that we have become part and parcel of the technological revolution that is going on in the world. I think it would become important for all young people to learn English and French and then we can talk about other things and we would in that context have - if you want to learn Zulu or you want to learn Spanish or you want to learn whatever, if the opportunities present themselves then that's fine, that can happen but I don't think the state is going to pay to indulge the wishes of a minority at a time when we need to be concentrating all our efforts on reconstruction.
POM Just a few last things about KwaZulu/Natal. One hears continually about the killing fields of KZN and one gets statistics every Monday morning of the number of people killed over the weekend yet ironically Gauteng has a higher murder rate, has a higher assault rate, has a higher rate in almost every serious category of crime than KZN yet one doesn't hear about the killing fields of Gauteng. Why do you think that is not played up? The impression conveyed is that this is a province at civil war and if it is at civil war then the level of death resulting from that civil war is less than the level of death in a province that regards itself as being part of the first world.
SM There are several reasons for it. First and foremost inept journalists and inept journalism. Secondly, it is a political ploy on the part of both the ANC and the IFP who are seeking political credibility and it is always in their own interests to highlight the killings in KZN because it has a political mantle to it and it's used by the ANC and the IFP in the battle of political wills that is going on between them and I think it is actually a demonstration of the nature of the country itself. KZN is and has always been the centre, the political heartbeat of the country has been in KZN, irrespective of the fact that Gauteng is seen as the centre of South Africa but the political heartbeat is in KZN. If you capture KZN, you capture the country.
POM When you say if you capture it, what do you mean?
SM Well in political terms if I capture KZN I capture the country and that is the war that is going on.
POM Could you just explain that remark? You capture the country in what sense?
SM In political terms in the sense that if the ANC wins in KZN it wins the country and the fact that KZN continues to be regarded as the killing fields of South Africa is a demonstration of the continuing political battle for power in this country, that the battle for power was not concluded on the completion of the elections on 27th April 1994 and that that battle still goes on. Those killings that occur here are not just killings in the criminal, mindless sense that goes on in Gauteng but it is killings related to a battle for political power.
POM Is part of that battle, again, a value battle between traditional values and what might be called ...?
SM No, no it's got nothing to do with that. There is no difference between the IFP and the ANC.
POM So throwing the Amakosi in there is like a red herring?
SM It's cannon fodder, that's cannon fodder. Yesterday, prior to the elections the King was the puppet of the IFP. Today after the elections the King is the puppet of the ANC. The Amakosi continue to be puppets of the IFP but they are all cannon fodder in the battle for political power. Buthelezi cares a damn for the Amakosi in as much as he wants political power. The ANC cares a damn for the King but they want political power and it suits them to use the King for their purposes in as much as it suits the purpose and suited the purpose of Buthelezi to use the King and the Amakosi in their battle for political power.
POM Looking at the provincial constitution that was recently passed here, was the constitution really passed?
SM Has it been passed? I don't know about it.
POM It has, right? In KZN?
PAT About two weeks ago.
SM I remember reading something about it.
PAT A lot of the issues were sent to commissions for resolution.
POM Well the question might be irrelevant because I was going to ask you who stepped down? Many political commentators say that in the end the IFP stepped down on most of its demands because it wanted a provincial constitution in place that could be certified before the constitution being prepared by the Constitutional Assembly was completed on 8th May.
SM I quite honestly haven't read that constitution. I haven't followed the debate closely. I would assume, and I'm making an educated guess here, I would assume that when you read the constitution closely that the IFP would not be unhappy with it and it would be a reflection of just how close the ANC and the IFP are actually to each other in ideological terms.
POM The Shell House killings and the Truth Commission. President Mandela has said in parliament that he ordered the shootings, ordered them to protect the building and if that meant shoot to kill then they were to shoot to kill. He prevented the police from entering the premises in the aftermath of the shootings so that would amount to obstruction of justice in the legalistic sense. Under the rules of the TRC should he not have to go before that commission and say, "I ordered these killings and I ordered an obstruction of justice", just like everybody else?
SM Obviously the question is rhetorical because obviously he would have to go but it's not going to happen and your description now of the Shell House killings takes us back to my analysis of Mandela is that he is a dictator and that would have been one of the key examples I would have given to demonstrate that. I don't think, the TRC won't have the guts to call Mandela to come and give evidence on that issue.
POM Just, again I think we've covered this, but what has been called Africanisation, is this a necessary ingredient of freeing black people from the legacy of apartheid?
SM I think it's freeing black people.
POM Or ... the inherited tyranny of the oppressor?
SM I think this is an African country despite what everybody believes in their own minds internationally, this is an African country and I think we owe it to the people of this country to give them back their country and to give it back to them in every respect so that the definition of this country, the whole concept of this country must be determined by the majority in this country and the African people. If Africanisation means that, then yes it's the way we need to go. We need to go that route in order to be able to restore to people their self-respect, their dignity and to give them the opportunity to be mutually respectful with other people. You've got to give them the right to have their own dignity and that is why you would have to Africanise. It's not a freakish thing if you don't want to visit, if you don't want to artificially alter the nature of the country. The nature of the country is African. It has been artificially altered to make it appear to be English or European, which it is not.
POM So you give South Africa back to the majority, the Africans. OK. But the Africans have chosen, at least at this point in time, to throw their support in huge numbers to one political party which you would call an undemocratic party which doesn't encourage the development of multi-party pluralistic democracy. Does that matter if that's the wish of the people?
SM No, no, no, I think we need to get in perspective a couple of things here. One, if I say to you that we need to unweed, we need to eliminate the artificial Europeaness of this country, it must be eliminated and thereby give the majority of people the opportunity to rediscover themselves, to develop their own dignity, to have self-respect and having done that you restore the country to those people. But if those people make an identification with the African National Congress as you have said, those people when they looked at the African National Congress, looked at it because they believed that in it there was hope for them, there was a promise to them by that party for peace, for homes, for jobs, for security. There was a promise by that party in the way in which it presented itself, that it is an African nationalist organisation and that is why the people who voted, voted for it. They didn't vote for the African National Congress because they believed the ANC believes in a one-party state, that the ANC believes in multiplying the democracy and paying itself huge, exorbitant salaries and creating a gravy train to support its large band of hangers on. They didn't vote for that ANC, they voted for the ANC that said to them, "We're an African organisation, we're an organisation that believes there must be peace, we're an organisation that believes there must be jobs for all, we're an organisation that believes there must be homes for all." That is what that percentage of people voted for.
POM Come 1999 do you expect the ANC to be returned to power with 60% or so of the vote?
SM It would depend, it would depend. If there is a party, a political party that is able to develop the resources, is able to capture the media and is able to reach out to the people and that presents a credible alternative then the ANC will lose the next elections.
POM Where is that party?
SM It's there, it's somewhere out there and I suspect it will emerge within the next 18 months.
POM Just finally to wrap up on the elections in KZN on 29th May, if you had to make a prediction as to what the outcome would be?
SM What I would like to see happening is that first of all we do a thoroughgoing analysis of the voters' rolls and make a comparison between that and the actual population figure in KZN. As to who will win, I think you're going to have much the same result as you had the last time in KZN, a kind of split down the middle.
POM Many would say that the results of the last time were a kind of a brokered result.
SM Of course, it's going to be brokered again.
POM In favour of?
SM I think probably it will be in favour of the IFP. That is why the IFP supposedly backed down on the constitution. I give in on the constitution, you give in on the elections.
POM Will this do anything then to stop the violence?
POM What will stop the violence or can it be stopped?
SM For the time being it cannot be stopped. I don't know if you've been in the townships, if you've sat and listened to people, if you've felt the anger. It's not going to stopped, not overnight. This has to be a long, complicated, tortuous healing process. It's like taking a person who has undergone a major mental breakdown, the person doesn't get over it quickly.
POM Again a last question, why does this not surface more in the media including the black media? You don't get a sense of that anger being there.
SM I would think that largely because the media is a part and parcel of the problem and will not allow that kind of evidence to emerge because it will do so many negative things, foreign investors, tourists and all of those kinds of things.
POM So do you see this as a media really controlled by a white privileged minority?
SM Of course. There's no black media. Where is there black media in this country? The Sowetan is now on the face of it supposedly owned by black people but that's not true, it's still largely controlled by whites.
POM Just a word on each of the following as I run through them. As you watch the ebb and flow of events what do you see happening with regard to the ANC? Is it going to retain its monolithity or is it going to inevitably crack under the strain of its own internal tensions?
SM I think what will happen is that the ANC will, as I said it's the black counterpart of the National Party, it will obviously from time to time undergo changes, it will have cracks, it will have splits, it will have all kinds of things happening. But the ANC will be maintained primarily because it is a party that is there to protect the interests of capital.
POM That includes the SACP component of it?
SM The SACP is a non-existent element. It's there in name.
SM COSATU is in my own view a destroyed organisation and it's going to turn into the next best thing to a sweetheart union that will be there to force labour to kow-tow to the economic programme of the ANC.
POM The National Party, has it a future or is it a party lost out there in the wilderness?
SM No, the National Party in the next five years will be dead.
POM The IFP?
SM The IFP is the right-wing militarist opportunity waiting to happen. If there is a coup in this country it will be a coup conducted by the IFP and which will put this country back in the hands of the right-wing, your mad right-wing.
POM The PAC?
SM I think the PAC doesn't exist any more as far as I'm concerned.
SM AZAPO remains an organisation outside of the political mainstream. It won't get involved in constitutional or parliamentary politics although there are efforts to move it in that direction and that decision will probably be taken at the end of the year finally whether the Black Consciousness Movement will participate in parliamentary politics.
POM Would it become as irrelevant as the PAC?
SM I doubt it. I think what will happen is that if there is any potential for a party with a new message that is where it lies, within the ranks of the Black Consciousness Movement, and I'm talking about it in its broadest possible sense.
POM The King? King Zwelithini? Is he just a pawn in a game or is he beginning to assert himself as a power to be reckoned with?
SM He doesn't have the power to do that, he doesn't have the charisma nor the intellectual capacity to do that. He will remain a pawn as kings have been for many decades in this country. Since the turn of the century so-called Zulu kings have been pawns in the hands of the political players and it will continue to happen.
POM The constitution that finally emerges out of the Constituent Assembly, will it be more federal than the interim constitution or more centrist?
SM I think it's going to be federal and that largely because the present position of the provinces themselves is in the direction of "We want more power" and it's not just here in KZN. Mpumalanga, North West, Gauteng, the Free State, all of them want more power. The ones that want it centrist are the poorer ones, the Northern Cape, the Eastern Cape and they are going to be out-numbered.
POM Policing. Is policing in KZN an essential ingredient of the problem of violence and if it is how do you get around it or can you get around it?
SM Not just in KZN but the whole country the policing system has for so many decades been based on the theory of search and destroy without any commitment to intelligent policing. It's going take a long time for us to develop that kind of policing [so that essentially the KZN position is going to be a police system that will ...] so that the policing system here will not contribute to solving the problem.
POM Should policing be a state function?
SM It ought to be a state function. Whether it succeeds as such is dependent upon the capacity of the state to introduce a new psychology within the whole concept of policing and that is why you have the emergence of so many private security companies who are doing policing in this country.
POM Violence. Do you see in the near future any significant dip in the level of violence or will it just get exacerbated at the rate of urbanisation increases and the resources are not there to meet the masses coming in from the countryside?
SM My own view is that in KZN at least is there has been a dip in the degree of violence.
POM Would that be violence outside of political violence or violence including political violence?
SM Violence including political violence and where there is political violence that is a deliberate, actually my analysis is that it is conspiratorial and that whoever the conspirators are, and I don't want to make any comments as to who they are because I don't have sufficient evidence to prove that, but whoever it is, is doing it in order to sustain the nature of destabilisation or the sense of destabilisation in KZN.
POM Redress of fundamental inequalities. Five years from now will there be any significant change in the distribution of income or of resources?
SM Not in a general sense. I think probably you will find, as there is happening now in a particular sense in some quarters, more black people earning more money, being given bigger perks and that kind of thing. But that is not a general occurrence. In general terms the standard of living of black people continues to drop.
POM And the emergence of a pluralistic democracy? Has it any relevance in the context of just sub-Sahara or are there more important issues to be addressed?
SM I'm never sure about that kind of what is called pluralistic democracy but I think the nature of the country at the moment lends itself primarily because of its history to the sustenance of a kind of one-party system although de jure it might be multi-party, but de facto it is going to be one-party.
POM And finally, there was a poll recently done by IDASA which purported to show that people thought the present government was more corrupt than the previous government. Does that surprise you?
SM I suppose the only reason people think that this government is more corrupt than the previous one is that the media is having a go at the present government with a lot more alacrity than it did the previous government when it came to things like corruption and what have you.
POM Do you think that the media are by and large playing a positive role or a negative role as the country heads in or tries to head in to the process of transformation?
SM The media in this country is aiding and abetting the maintenance of the status quo and it's criticisms of the government is designed primarily to sustain the status quo so that the media at the present time is not being constructive, constructive in the sense of working towards actual transformation. I think with regard to the whole question of transformation the media is playing a destructive role.
POM The continuation of what would be called western style liberalism?
SM I think we're going to have a lot of that, we're going to be saddled with that for a long time to come and that's largely because western style liberalism is in control of the systems of information.
POM Pat? Do you have anything?
POM So you think western style liberal values are a part of the problem that this country has to get around. But yet so many of its institutions are being modelled around western style institutions.
SM I agree with that.
POM You have the opening of parliament and you want to laugh. It's like going up Westminster, these guys with all their uniforms and their sticks and their bowing and their to-ing and their fro-ing.
SM The crux of the problem lies in that, that we're incapable of making the break with that kind of past, the trappings, the ceremony and the display of western liberalism.
POM Where are the powerful black intellectuals who one would expect to be speaking out continually on these issues?
SM The black intellectual continues to speak out but the black intellectual's voice is not given the opportunity to be aired in the same degree that you will find - if you make a comparison between the amount of space given to government and its spokespersons in a newspaper as compared with black intellectuals. I think it's something like 95% to 5%.
POM Do you see the SABC as becoming the organ of the state or will it manage to maintain its independence?
SM No the SABC will continue to do what it has always been doing, work on behalf of the state. The SABC worked for the state before, the SABC works for the state now and the SABC will continue to work for the state and that's why they pay Zwelake more money than is paid to the President, to ensure that that happens.
POM And finally, since I usually ask this, is Mandela still the glue that keeps things together? Will this country move in a significantly different direction after his death or retirement?
SM I think Mandela is the myth that keeps this country together but the truth of the matter is that this country is not together, it is very far from being together. Although the impression is being given that it is together it is actually not together and it's about time that we started to tell the President that he is walking around without any clothes because everyone is allowing Mandela to believe that he is the saviour when in fact he is not. He is actually contributing to the problem.
POM OK Strini, thank you.