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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
05 Apr 1996: Shabalala, Thomas
POM Thomas, it's been quite some time since I saw you last, it was before the elections and you had just built a house on the ridge for your second or third wife. Do you remember?
TS That's my personal thing, yes. I won't agree that after the elections I build a house. I had houses before that.
POM Sorry, this was before, and you took us all around the crafts and activities you were putting together to create employment in the area. Could you quickly give an update of what has happened to your life since you went from being 'an outsider' to being an insider member of the provincial legislature and what that entails, what it has meant to your life and the fact that, as I think I read in the paper recently, a certain number of people in the IFP wanted to expel you because you shot up some of their executives with regard to a taxi war. How does everything fit together?
TS I am happy with the questions you have asked. First of all let me start after the elections. I must stand guard once more because everybody in South Africa never knew what was going to be the outcome of the elections, whether there was going to be violence, how many people were going to die, but it was peaceful in fact even if we had a few incidents of violence here and there but everything was calm in South Africa and the elections, where we had our elections.
POM Do you believe that the ANC stole votes during that elections?
TS Definitely, I have no doubt on that one even if they are also accusing us, well we can do that. I think voting for blacks was a new thing, we were not familiar. The ANC was too good because many of their leaders have been abroad, have seen how to go about elections, how to campaign, this and that, but there I have no doubt that they did steal some of our votes. Even now the elections that we are coming to we have proved that. We have gone through looking at our areas, complaints that have come where our house numbers have been stolen, people have been allocated as if they are residents of our areas. You find in one house a number of certain particular persons having said that 200 people are living in that particular number, 400 people in a particular number, and every day people have made evidence to show that they don't know those people in their houses, they are not part and parcel of their relatives. That is happening even now. We fear that as we in KwaZulu/Natal we are having our elections last after the other regions that the ANC will transport people from other regions to come and vote in our areas. That will happen definitely.
POM That the ANC will import people?
TS Definitely, even from Gauteng and other areas, we know that they will do that. We had Premier Sexwale saying that they will come down to assist in all means in these elections in KwaZulu/Natal and he only quoted KwaZulu/Natal, not other areas. Then to us it appears that he will transport people from Gauteng because if you look at our voters' roll now, especially in my area, there are people that we don't know whose names appear in our house numbers.
POM But since you control the province and therefore in a sense the electoral machinery how can this happen?
TS It can happen. It has. There are so many complaints that are launched now with the City Council which some have been taken to the Constitutional Court or Electoral Court, whatever it is, but there are those complaints even if you can go and meet our Mayor tomorrow, our Mayor is in town now, our councillors, they will tell you about these irregularities which I am saying now that there is something happening that is not right. We are finding names of people that we don't know allocated in other people's houses and people have made affidavits to the police, to the courts, saying I don't know these people, this is my house, why are they using my house number?
POM Well how does that happen? What I am saying is that in your area, for example, you are in control of it, right, in Lindelani? So you would know everybody who is on the voters' role or who should be on the voters' roll so if names appear that you don't recognise or that you don't know or that your neighbours don't know then you as a member of the provincial parliament have the right to raise it in parliament to find out how those names got on?
TS We have brought the names forward, as I am saying we have investigated that, we have gone house to house particularly in my area. We have found these names and we have taken the matter up with the higher authorities. It's there now. We have reported the matter that these are the people we don't know. Computer, we find their names are in. It is difficult to stop them because if somebody pinches the house numbers of any area, it can be Johannesburg or anywhere, pinches any house number and allocate people there and put it in the computer it's difficult even for the lady who is working there to say no, I don't know this person. But we as leaders can come out and say we don't know these people who have done that and we are waiting for the outcome.
POM So you are already saying that you believe that the votes are being rigged already before the election?
TS Yes, definitely.
POM But it's being rigged in a province where the IFP have control?
TS Definitely, especially KwaZulu/Natal.
POM There's a contradiction there. One would expect that the ruling party in a province would be able to do the rigging if rigging was being done, but not the opposition party?
TS No, no, they can do it and they are doing it even now because we as the ruling party we are not scared of the voting, we know that we will win definitely no doubt about it even if there is that rigging because we have reason to say that. Promises that were made to the people, free houses, jobs, this and that, that hasn't taken place. The RDP hasn't moved an inch, they haven't delivered anything, they are only shouting and telling us a big lump sum of figures, how much they have this and that but it hasn't gone to the people. So we feel on our side we have a big chance to win with a majority now, we as the IFP because we made no promises to the people.
POM So you feel confident?
TS Confident, we do feel confident.
POM How confident? How many, 60%, 55%?
TS I cannot predict exactly but we feel confident. Why I say we feel confident is because the last time we didn't have enough time to campaign. You will remember that we went into elections when it was less than five days but this time we had enough time to campaign so we feel really very, very confident.
POM How in what you do in your area, how does that relate to what you used to do in terms of being a community leader or whatever and what you do in parliament? What's the relationship between the two?
TS I am still the leader of my area.
POM That's first.
TS Yes, that's number one. That comes first besides being a member of parliament. I work very closely with the people on the grassroots and I love that more than anything because I am still there, I work with my people like I used to work before I was elected as a member of parliament and I like to also be a member of parliament so I can reach even other areas, not only to concentrate on my area because I would love to assist all South Africans. So that gives me an opportunity to work with anybody even out of my own area where I live because I'm a member of parliament.
POM But at the same time you're under a degree of censure by your party with regard to the shooting incident where it was alleged you wanted to wipe out half the South Coast executive?
TS That doesn't bother me, what has happened the censure, this and that, because I know in my heart that I am not guilty. Nobody can prove me guilty. You cannot take a decision without going and investigating the matter. Whoever feels that, some members from my party who were trying to paint me with a black paint they will not win because I know in my heart that I am not guilty, I am not involved in those incidents. The people who were involved in those incidents are arrested already. Some of them have appeared in court, my name is not there, I haven't appeared, I am not arrested because I have done nothing wrong. I think it was sad for me that some people used that, they tried to hit back at me those maybe who were hating me, maybe in my party or maybe some who were jealous about my performance, with my leadership, because I felt that on that particular day of that incident I will still even say they owe me an apology or to praise me for saving those buses which could have got burnt that particular day if I didn't arrive on that spot when other leaders ran away, even those who are accusing me, they didn't go to stop that violence. But I was brave to go there and stop that violence on that particular day and then they turned around and started using that against me to say I am the cause of that violence. I want to put the record straight here, the taxis have done nothing wrong, nothing at all. It's not a taxi war as you have just questioned me now, it's not a taxi war, not at all. The taxi owners they want more buses to run in that area, that's all. They have got nothing to do about fighting between the community and the bus owner, the bus operator, so the taxi owners have done nothing wrong. Instead they are the ones who are calling for more buses or more operators to operate in that area because that is a very big area with nearly half a million people so the taxis can never cope and they will never without the bus companies. They have their hands open for any bus operator to come in. The dispute between the community and the bus operator, which is PUTCO, has got nothing to do with the taxis.
POM Why are people in the IFP, including senior elements in the leadership, like the Secretary General, out to get you?
TS Well it is very difficult for me to say why, that is the question I am also asking him, why? Because if there was a problem which he had from other sources or other people he should have come to me and asked me straight, this is what I hear, not to take a story from one side. But he never did that and secondly I still say they should have a commission to go and find out from the people at the grassroots what happens, why is this fighting, who is the instigator of this fighting? Not for the Secretary General to just come out and accuse me without getting my side of the story and the story on the side of the community of the area, even the taxi guys, those who are being mentioned just listen to the bus operator's side, that was unfair.
POM How or what is your relationship with Dr Buthelezi? Is that still a good relationship, an excellent relationship? Do you have access to him when you want to have access to him or are party structures cutting you off?
TS No, no, I am still free. I'm a member of the National Council, still a member of IFP. Dr Buthelezi has got nothing against me. I am not talking about him, but to say do I still have an access? Yes any time. Even now I can go to his home. He is still my leader and he will always be my leader. He will always be, for the rest of my life.
POM How do you distinguish between your allegiance to him and your allegiance to the King?
TS The King is my King also. I am a Zulu man so the King is my King.
POM Who comes first in terms of your allegiances if you has to pick between one or the other?
TS No we don't have to pick, we don't have to pick. There is no competition here. We mustn't use that, who must I pick. I am a Zulu man, I know my tradition. The King comes first. Dr Buthelezi as our leader of our party and he is our Premier in the Zulu - we treat him as our - he is always there, we know our protocol. The King is a King, that's it. Dr Buthelezi is Nkosi of the Buthelezi clan so he is our leader on the IFP side, he is the Zulu Premier. So that will never change, so there is no pick and choose who comes first who comes second. We don't work like that.
POM But yet there is this division between the two of them.
TS There can't be a division.
POM There has been since September 1994, for 18 months.
TS A division hasn't been there as people are quoting it.
TS Let me go ahead, the division can be there. I do have division with my wives, I do have a division with my family or my relatives, but it doesn't mean that we as Zulus have to pick who comes first and who comes second. The King is the King, Dr Buthelezi is our leader. Nobody will change that. We still respect the King as our King.
POM But in the final analysis if the rallying cry came from the King that I am calling upon you as a Zulu and I am King of the Zulus to follow and endorse a course of action that I want to take and if a different call came from Dr Buthelezi saying I oppose the King on this matter and I disagree with him, I think he's wrong, where would you stand?
TS First of all let me correct that because I don't think such a thing will ever happen or it can happen where there will be a competition, where a King can propose certain things and Dr Buthelezi can come out on his own and say, no I am against that. We have never worked like that in the past as Zulus and I don't think that will ever happen. Those who think like that are those who like to see the dispute between the Zulus. We have our protocol as Zulus, we have respect. We've had many Kings before this King, we have many people who are serving below those Kings. We had Amakosi who also come below the King. The King cannot make any such an announcement without consulting with Amakosi, Dr Buthelezi and all the other Zulu structures that are there, the Royal Family itself, then he can make such an announcement, then everybody will have a word according to our way of working, the Zulu, the Royal Family, Amakosi, Ndunas, then we who are on the grassroots, the ordinary Zulus, the leaders, then the word would come out. They don't just come out and say, I as a King I am saying this must happen, and then Dr Buthelezi will say, I say that mustn't happen. They get it from us, we as the Zulus, we are followers.
POM The war, if you want to call it that, since the last time I saw you between Zulu members of the IFP and Zulu members of the ANC, which is kind of a civil war between the Zulu people themselves, is picking up steam again and gaining momentum as the elections approach. You used to tell me that you sat on so many Peace Committees and you would reach agreement with your ANC counterparts about this and about that and about the other, yet three years later the level of massacres as distinct from individual killings is increasing not diminishing. What's happened?
TS I think first of all you must separate the two. If we talk about politics we must talk about politics and different organisations or parties that are there. As you know for many years, as you are asking for so many years, we talk, we sit down and talk, we try to bring peace, we come up with these peace structures, this and that, that is a different issue. So if you talk about the Zulus in the IFP and the Zulus in the ANC that's a different issue. Those issues don't mix. Where we don't see eye to eye, I am trying to come out with the difference, where we don't see eye to eye with the ANC, meaning us the IFP, is not through that you are a Zulu in the ANC or the ANC says you are a Zulu in the IFP, that is not the issue. The issue is party politics here, we are fighting over power I can say. There is no tolerance between us. I can say many of our members they are not using that, especially we blacks we are still learning about that.
POM Tolerance between Zulu and Zulu?
TS No, I'm talking about politics now, not Zulu/Zulu, I'm talking about politics between the ANC and the IFP there is no tolerance between those parties.
POM But Zulus belong to both of them.
TS No, leave the Zulu, I said we must separate the two, just forget about Zulu. We have Zulus in the PAC, we have Zulus in AZAPO and other organisations but they are not fighting with us, to prove that this is a political thing I'm talking about and Zulu, just put it aside, forget about it, I will explain it to you further. I say here between us, the IFP and ANC, it's only politics that we are fighting about, who has more power in a certain region, who is going to dominate, this is a no-go area, you mustn't go, this is my stronghold, that's your stronghold. That is where it is. The Zulu thing has got nothing to do between us, it's far out that one. You will only very rarely find people commenting about that, I'm a Zulu I'm going in the ANC, I'm a Zulu I'm in the IFP. That is not a problem, this is only politics, that is what I am trying to explain to you that our people, our followers, we have to do a lot of work to educate them, to say look if the man is an ANC he's your brother or your sister, if the man is an IFP he is your brother and sister, bring these parties together. If you lose you lose, if you win you win, but get together. Not the Zulu thing, just forget about it. We have to educate, our leaders have to come together, have rallies together, go to our people on the grassroots, talk to our people. We have to have many workshops to educate our people because I believe even the whites in our country before we came into politics, we blacks, because you know how difficult it has been in South Africa even to understand politics for blacks through apartheid, so we still have to educate our people what is politics that you can choose whatever party you feel like joining whatsoever it is. That is a problem. Our people, let's say an IFP guy when he sees, I'm talking about grassroots now, he says an ANC guy, he thinks that's my enemy. The ANC guy if he sees an IFP guy says that's an enemy. I, for instance, if I shake hands with somebody from the ANC our followers on the grassroots sometimes they will say, hey what is this man, is he selling us? Even on the ANC side the same will happen. But we, the leadership on the top, they do understand that we understand politics, we have to sit together, we have to go out together, go and work together but the problem is with our followers on the grassroots so we have to educate them. The Zulu thing it doesn't worry me.
POM What happened over so many years, it doesn't worry you?
TS It does worry me, it does. We have to spend a lot of money, even the RDP if it does have money to me it goes parallel with the RDP spending funds to build houses for people, houses that will get gutted tomorrow because there is no unity amongst the people. I think violence is the priority number one. We have to concentrate, all the leaders have to get together, go for violence first.
POM Now you said that three years ago.
TS We've been saying it but it's not happening. We've been calling for rallies. We are saying to Dr Mandela as our President he must go out with Dr Buthelezi, Makwetu.
POM Well he has. Hasn't he talked to him, they've had lunch?
TS No, lunch doesn't mean anything. They understand politics, again as I've explained, they understand politics better than our followers on the grassroots. We are saying they can have lunch, they can have meetings on their own but they must go to the grassroots together, have rallies, joint rallies together. That is what I'm calling for and I believe the violence will calm down although we have a problem with these criminal elements which also must be addressed because they are also having a chance to see that these parties are fighting, let me join that party, let me join that party. So they have a chance of winning on their side, I am talking about the criminals now.
POM How would you perceive yourself? You said first of all you represent Lindelani and the community there which you were so gracious to show us around before with the different projects that you had set up and the little craft shops and workshops and whatever. That's your territory. Now, do you allow ANC people to actively operate within that community or do you say, I'm not letting them in here under any circumstances?
TS Why must I say that? No, if they are good in canvassing or if they have got supporters they must come forward and carry on but I will never stop them.
POM Would they come in or would they think that you are going to never see them go out?
TS How many times have they been into my house personally from now? We work together, we have joint committees now, we have forums, for instance the Development Forum. It includes Lindelani people, it includes IFP, ANC, Tzuma(?) and other areas, we have one committee. We see it in my office with the people of the ANC. Now it's not like before.
POM Is there somebody in the ANC who is running for election in Lindelani?
TS Even if I cannot show you the person but listen to me carefully ...
POM Is there?
TS I haven't met the person who is running for elections but I have met the ANC, they have said they have people who are running for elections in Lindelani, which is their right. We will prove to them whether they have got support or not.
POM But you haven't seen the person?
TS I haven't seen the person.
POM The person hasn't turned up in the area, the person hasn't campaigned in the area?
TS Nobody. Maybe they are campaigning at night. I don't know but we haven't seen them. They have never had any rally where they said they are coming to campaign today. No they haven't done that. But what I was still saying is that, and you cut me out, I was saying that we are having forums where we work together now. The situation has changed, it's no more like the past. The ANC, the IFP in Tzuma is totally different. We have committees where we work together. We have Community Policing Forums where all parties are represented, as I say the Development Forum, we have on education, we are together on sports we are together. They come freely to my offices to talk about whatever they think we must do together and we go freely to their area in Tzuma and talk about development together. That's how we work now.
POM If structures in the IFP who have been critical of you come to you and say as a loyal member of the IFP you must surrender your territory to the IFP as distinct from it being your territory that you've stamped your mark on, territory where you have exercised leadership, territory where you have brought the people together, what would you say to them?
TS First of all let me tell you that I wasn't elected by party structures, that's one. I was not elected or appointed by my party structures, the ones you are commenting about. I was elected by the people of my area so if they say that, my structures say that, I will agree but we will go to the people. If the people say yes we agree with those structures you must step down, then I will. But the people will talk on the grassroots in my area, the people who have elected me.
POM Do you think that there are significant elements in the IFP at senior level that are out of touch with the grassroots?
TS No I don't think so because I have had many meetings with the grassroots, many, many, many.
POM Not you, I mean ...
TS I'm trying to answer, I heard your question. I don't think they have consulted with anybody on the grassroots and I don't want this to be taken as if it was such a big dispute between our leadership and I. No, it's just that single incident which happened that day which they themselves would never make such a blunder or a mistake to say, Shabalala you rather step down. They will never say that. I know that because they know what work I do for them and for the people in the area. It hasn't gone so far, it's not so bad. If we resolve this and we are still going to resolve it and it's going to come to an end peacefully.
POM So you represent Lindelani. There is somebody from the ANC running for the local elections who purports to be representing the people of Lindelani. You don't know him, he hasn't appeared in the district, he hasn't held a campaign rally, he hasn't shown himself. Is that right?
TS Yes. Can I just assist you there. If you talk about Lindelani it's not just one part area just like that one we just called Lindelani, where we live there are no sections or wards. Lindelani has been cut according to the Demarcation Board. It's no more an area like you might think just Lindelani, it's no more like that. It's been cut into three pieces. There is Section A which is Ward 1, there is Section 2 which is the second ward and there's Section 3 which is one ward but there are two sections which are C and D. In section B for instance, which is part of Lindelani, for years it has been divided. A quarter of that section has been ANC, it's an ANC stronghold. We are linked together, and just say about two roads from here it's the ANC but it's in Lindelani there is that stronghold. They are very few. They are about less than 3000 but they have been living there for years and there are only two roads or say about two kilometres away, no, one kilometre between us. I am trying to clear that. Then in Section A there is only IFP which is Lindelani/Richmond Park. There might be some elements of ANC but they are not out strongly where you can see them like in Unit B where I said it is Lindelani but a quarter of that it's ANC. We have been living together for years. We've had problems in the past, fighting each other and we brought them together, fighting again the following year but now it's over. We live just like that, we know it's an ANC there, it's an IFP there, we visit each other you see. They have their candidate for that area definitely who is going to stand for that section which is Section B even if I don't know his name because I will see the lists on Tuesday, so I am not aware of Unit A who stands for them, I don't know in Unit C and D who stands for the ANC, but I know who stands for IFP. But on Tuesday, this coming Tuesday, I will be aware of the candidates of all wards.
POM You talked about the violence being a product of the struggle for political power, do you expect the violence to increase between now and May 18th or 29th?
TS No, no, I'm not expecting that although on the other side I cannot predict what will happen. But if the leaders are really honest in all areas just to contest the elections peacefully, talk to their followers, no don't go for violence it won't help us, what we are going for is not for anybody's benefit but it's for all of us because we need these councillors, I think that will help. Not to go and say to the people, look because we have no power in that ward we must force our way in, let's go and fight, go and kill those who are standing for their parties. That is very bad. We must say to our followers, look, whoever wins, we have experienced this, we have heard this interim council we had where they were mixed together, it was a new thing to our people, but the way they have done it was excellent. No matter who was running the region but they worked together. It is a saying, the elections will come, they will go. The people will remain working for us. What is very important is what will they deliver? The people, those who will be elected, will they deliver to the people? They mustn't say, look I deliver more to my area because that area is an ANC, they mustn't divide people. When we elect them whether they are ANC or IFP, PAC or what, when they are sitting here they must work for the people, leave their party politics on one side and work for the people.
POM One hears about no-go areas, four or five different at least no-go areas. Are there no-go areas where the IFP can't go because it's an ANC stronghold or can't campaign there and vice versa?
TS Yes. The only solution which I think was good is that where there are no-go areas it will be very difficult to have somebody living in that area to stand and come out if it's a stronghold of an ANC to have somebody living in that area and come out and say I'm standing for the IFP as a candidate. That person will be killed. It has happened in L Section KwaMashu. I think one or two people have been killed now. I think they were standing for IFP, I'm not quite sure. I think that will be dangerous.
POM Would the opposite happen too?
TS Both sides.
POM If somebody within an IFP stronghold came and said, "I'm a candidate for the ANC"?
TS Came out, I'm a candidate for the ANC, it is dangerous. Definitely it would be dangerous. But what is good, what the parties have decided when they were busy negotiating is that they will have party candidates. That is very good because nobody will know who is standing in that ward, whether it is a stronghold of an ANC, whether it's a stronghold of an IFP, but each and every party is allowed to put a party candidate in any ward. It can be my stronghold, it can be the ANC stronghold. That is very good. But on the candidate side to just come out and say we must go and vote, I am standing for a certain organisation, that is dangerous. There are two ways here, there are people who come out as candidates for any party in any area where there is a stronghold of the IFP or ANC, then we have another team, other people who will go in automatically as party candidates where there is a stronghold of ANC or IFP, those people will be appointed by the parties to go and stand there as a Councillor, but no voting, automatically become a councillor, party candidate. That is what I pray is that whether you like it or not, whether I like it or not in Lindelani, according to the constitution that ANC can put their party candidate in my area, which I'm happy.
POM Now when I met you first I remember the trip well because we went into Lindelani and you were good enough to spend an afternoon with us, that's before you became famous and important and a member of parliament and got on the gravy train, OK. You used to treat us just like ordinary human beings.
TS We need a gravy plane, no more train. Gravy train is no good because you find we are losing money, 14 million given there, this and that, we need gravy plane.
POM But you travelled with a bodyguard with you, shotgun across, double-barrelled shotgun across his knee. Do you still travel that way?
TS No, no more I don't. Even now if you come to my car you will find my wife and I only the two of us. I don't believe, no I don't like it, it's just the times were so difficult at that time. I don't like carrying a gun. I feel everybody in South Africa should come together and say get rid of goods, there will be peace only.
POM Do you carry a gun?
TS I do just to protect myself, but I don't like it. To be quite honest I don't like it. Why am I carrying that gun? Not to shoot a buck or something, a lion or something. I am just there to protect myself when somebody attacks me I must shoot. That particular person is my brother, so why must I carry a gun? Why must I fear somebody who is God's creation? I think really this violence must go.
POM Where do you go that you feel - in Lindelani you certainly don't feel that you need a gun when you walk around among your own people, do you?
TS No I don't feel I must carry a gun.
POM Where do you go where you feel that you need to have a gun?
TS Let's say if I'm driving in town, going out in other area, driving on the road from here to Ulundi. I might be attacked on the road. But sometimes I do go without a gun.
POM But you think you're a target of potential assassination by the ANC?
TS It can be anybody. I cannot just say it's the ANC but they come one because I believe they are my opposition party.
POM They don't like you.
TS No not all of them, many of them like me, many of them I have helped them, mainly school kids even in the strong areas, I don't pick and choose this is an ANC child he's looking for a school, wants to go to train as a teacher. I help anybody and I am used to that and I like that. I like it, it works very well. The more you help anybody, you become neutral, the more the people trust you.
POM Do you keep security around your homes? Do you move around still?
TS No I don't keep security any more in my house.
POM Which wife are you living with now?
TS All of them.
POM All of them at the same time?
TS No, no.
POM That would require a number of security guards!
TS No, Patrick, no. I go house to house, I have a timetable of which house I'm going to sleep today or tomorrow or so many days in that one, so many days in that one. I am a Zulu man, the Zulus live that way. That's our culture. As you see our King how many wives does he have?
POM If Magnus Malan and the Generals are found guilty, is this going to have repercussions in KwaZulu/Natal particularly among IFP supporters or will they simply accept the verdict?
TS We will accept it, why must we go - and we are happy if there is anything, even myself if I am accused of something I must go to court, the law must take its course. So we've got nothing, I, for one, I've got nothing to do with that Malan case. Whether somebody is convicted or not convicted I have got nothing to worry about that.
POM Dr Buthelezi has called the whole thing a farce, a scapegoat trial on the part of the ANC to entrap and get members of the IFP convicted.
TS Definitely you can say that, it is correct. He is correct to say that. But you were talking about the outcome of the case, so what Dr Buthelezi is saying is correct because the people know, the ANC knows that the elections are on the way and they start coming up with these things. Let's wait and see what will be the outcome of the case because so far it seems as if those people who are there, I'm not judging the case, but to me I feel going the other way round, but let's wait and see.
POM If Khumalo is convicted?
TS Oh well if he has done it he has got to be convicted. Why should he do such a dirty thing?
POM Well if he is will that have a reaction among your followers?
TS No not at all, it would be Khumalo, he will be black painted because he has done such a bad thing.
POM Will people believe it, will they think he was set up by the ANC?
TS He wasn't sent by our followers. If I go and kill people now and get charged and go to jail and be sentenced, it's got nothing to do with my followers and the IFP itself. It's Shabalala who has done that. I must face my music. That is what will happen with Khumalo. If he is being charged and if found guilty we will accept the verdict.
POM Now you have been in the past painted as one of the most notorious warlords, in fact you have been written about. Even members of the ANC before they would even go into an area that was controlled by you or to which you had access, they would put muti on them because they were afraid of confronting this legendary figure. Can you say that you have not been involved in violence at all?
POM Or do you think that in years to come, and I'm publishing nothing until the year 2000 so everything will be way over by then, would you make a submission to the Truth & Reconciliation Commission saying simply to protect my people this is what I did?
TS No ways. I have done nothing wrong. I will never submit anything to the Truth Commission. I have been tried in courts, I came out clear there, an innocent man, and the ANC, as you are saying correctly, they used to give me those names, warlord this and that. I think you must be surprised now you don't hear that any more because I proved to them that I was not a warlord, I was a peacemaker. So there is nothing that I can submit to the Truth Commission because there is nothing I have hidden except that I will always protect anybody. I don't like violence. If people attack people's homes, people's shops, to start robbing, there I will go and stop those people. I don't like criminals, I don't like violence and I will protect myself. As you are saying from now to the year 2000 I don't know what will happen, they might maybe plan something, maybe on their agenda say let's attack Shabalala's house next month, then I will protect my property in my area. I will defend myself any time from now to the year 2000 or any year.
POM Not just defend yourself, you'd have your community help you defend yourself.
TS Not only me, I'm not talking about myself, I'm talking about the community, my community. I'm talking about anybody. If you will recall that the ANC had a problem with people who were returned exiles, their own people, and others, I wonder if you have met them, I had to protect them because they are human beings but I never said to them, join my party to be safe and stay in my area. I said, look you are saying you have nowhere to go, you lost your parents, you lost your homes, now the ANC wants to attack you, come here, stay here, but you must be one side. I know you are ANC, stay there. And then they turned around to say we want to go and defend ourselves to the ANC because this is what they have done to us, this and that. I said, no ways, not from my area, it's there, it was published all over in South Africa. I said not from my area. I only gave you a shelter to stay. If you think this is the base and my people must help you to pay revenge to the ANC I am not going to work with you. So they decided to leave my area. I said, you can go peacefully. That is where I say I will defend myself, I'll defend any citizen of South Africa from anybody who is attacked. For instance, let's come to these massacres. I don't care where they come from, both sides, but if I hear there are people who are going to massacre people, innocent children and women or men in a certain area, if I've got power and I've got the information I will go and defend those people. It can be anybody because I don't want any people getting killed like this. That is the difference I'm talking about. Even outside here I see an ANC guy, he has got his T-shirt showing that he's an ANC but he's being attacked by people outside here, it's my duty to help him.
POM So your grassroots, you're on the ground, you're in touch with your people. There must be people on the ANC side who are grassroots in touch with their people. Then what makes it so difficult for Dr Buthelezi and President Mandela to get together and tackle this problem as one that is common to both parties without assigning blame to one side or the other?
TS That is my question, that is what I am asking, that is what I am praying for every day, that God will make these two strong leaders to come together one day and say, "Brother, you are a brother, let's go together, let's go and talk to our people on the grassroots." I'm praying for that every day, I am praying for that and I think God one day will help us. I really say they have to come. I know what is on the grassroots maybe better than them as leaders on the top. Even on the ANC side I believe there are people who can come out and say exactly what I'm saying, but then you find that there are hidden agendas maybe or maybe there are structures who are saying, no you mustn't go there. I remember clearly when Dr Buthelezi agreed when we told him on the National Council that you go with Dr Mandela, we are releasing you as the National Council. Go with him, have rallies with him, meet the people at the grassroots. He agreed and he publicised that, it was on the news, and Dr Mandela agreed and there came Harry Gwala, the late, who said, no he will never go there. And Mandela made a statement, if I'm not mistaken, to say people said they will cut his throat if he does go. And we are saying to those people that they must release him, let him go. They mustn't cut his throat. Let him go, they mustn't cut his throat, let him go, talk with Dr Buthelezi to the people and the violence will stop. I know the violence will stop.
POM Now how is President Mandela perceived among, say, the people of Lindelani who are mostly IFP supporters? Do they look up to him as President? Do they respect him, revere him or do they see him more as a political party figure?
TS No, no, we do respect him because I don't think if we respected Mr de Klerk at his time, at the time of apartheid where things were so difficult, although we knew he wasn't from our party and how things were at the time, the apartheid, but we respected him also. Even Mandela, we do respect him although there are people who still feel that he is not our President because he talks this and that, he fires back at our party, he shouldn't talk like that as a President, but we respect him because his party won the elections so we have to respect him.
POM So if you had to rate his performance as President since he began on 8th May 1994 and where one would be a very unsatisfactory performance as President of the country and ten would be very satisfactory performance, excellent performance, where would you just as an individual rate him?
TS I don't believe in those voting this and that and time has been short. He hasn't done his work so much as far as I am concerned. The promises he made to the people and us, I'm one of them because I'm also a resident of South Africa, are not being fulfilled. Even the signing where you have a man like a President who must be trusted you must honour your words, signing of the international mediation to me that under-graded him, so I under-grade him as that he's not a man who keeps his word. I don't trust him for that.
POM If all the things were true why did the IFP do so poorly in the November elections that were held outside of KwaZulu/Natal and the Western Cape? You didn't emerge as a national party, you emerged with one percent of the vote.
TS First of all we have a problem with finance. The other parties are far richer than us. The ANC is one, they have got a lot a lot of funds. They get help from abroad, all over. The National Party has been running this country for years, they have got a lot of funds. So the lack of funds, we couldn't go out to our people and educate them properly how to go about the elections, what to do, what is required. Even now here in KwaZulu/Natal we are starting now to do this exercise which is so late. What is the problem? It's lack of funds. So that is what was the problem, number one, not going to educate our people, training them properly, show them how to be a party candidate, to be a candidate to stand what you must do, how you must go about house to house. The ANC has got funds, their candidates went house to house, made braais, paid something to the people, went to the discos, this and that. You need funds so we didn't have all that. Some of people felt that if you elect this man to be a candidate of the ANC in this area we can see there are so many people maybe who will support him, we rather stay away, don't vote, boycotted the elections. Those are the reasons of us doing so bad. But I believe the next elections will do better because this is new to us, as I say. The ANC, most of their leaders and most of their people have been in countries where there have been elections, where there have been things like this, they have attended workshops. We couldn't have workshops here in November as they are saying. They had so many workshops because they had funds. We didn't have funds. We couldn't educate our people, what is this election? Some of the people don't even know what to do. The ANC have been abroad, here and there, they have seen these things. They know how they go about these things.
POM So in 1999, going out on a limb, first of all within the local elections in May are you quite convinced that the IFP will secure a substantial majority of the councils?
TS Yes, quite sure. I'm convinced. I'm confident on that. I wish we were voting tomorrow.
POM In 1999 do you think you will be a party of national significance?
TS Yes I think so because now we have learnt, we have enough time. We can still say that we as the IFP, we fought apartheid inside the country. Most of the ANC people went out and have learnt many things, more than our people. But in 1999 I think we stand a chance because the National Party has been the government, now the ANC came in and everybody said, phew we've got a real government now, and the promises that were made to the people nothing has materialised. So I think in 1999 people will say, no let's look for another party, and I think that is the IFP.
POM When you look at the constitution that was just passed by the Provincial Legislature, are you pleased with it?
TS The provincial one?
POM Do you think that your party got most of what it wanted?
TS I don't think if we say we are a government of unity we can be the central one on this one, we must push forward that I want my party to get everything that it wants. That is no good, we must change, everybody must change that attitude. We must go for give and take. I am happy on what happened on this constitution although some of the things are still hanging, especially the powers of the regions and the matter of the monarchy, all those things. But I think if people go around the table and sit with an open heart and open mind and say what we are doing we are doing for everybody not just for my party, I think we will get somewhere. So I am happy with the job they've done because I think even the national one is learning from what we have done now because I saw on the TV yesterday where they were saying what we don't agree on we have still got it on one side but we must go forward. So we taught them a lesson that was very good for our province.
POM I know you're rushing and getting anxious. Number one, your allegiance is to the King?
TS As a Zulu man, yes.
POM Before party, before anything else?
POM And if the King made the first call on you as a Zulu you would rally to his side, period?
TS No that's not the protocol of Zulus. The King doesn't make a call. He has his subjects, he has Amakosi, he has Dr Buthelezi there, he is the one who makes a call, not the King himself. The King tells the Amakosi and the Chiefs and he tells Dr Buthelezi and he tells all the structures of the Amakosi, his Ndunas, and then the thing can be announced, not himself that he can wake up tomorrow and go to the radio and say, "I as the Zulu King I am saying you all must come to Kings Park, I want you there." It doesn't work that way. That's not the protocol of the Zulus.
POM The protocol is that it must be passed through the Royal Council?
TS That's right, there is no Royal Council according to the Zulu protocol. There is a Royal House, then you have Amakosi, we have Dr Buthelezi, we have the Royal Family, the Royal Family, I repeat. Dr Buthelezi, Royal Family, Amakosi.
POM The King is number one.
TS Yes then the Royal Family comes second.
POM Who is number two?
TS The Royal Family.
POM Where is Dr Buthelezi?
TS He is also there as a Premier of the Zulus, he is also from the Royal Family.
POM Is he superior to other members of the Royal Family?
TS When it comes to the Royal Family there is no one superior in the Royal Family, they are all together as a Royal Family, not the National Council, what do you call it? The Royal Council, it's a new thing to us as Zulus, we don't know that. We know a Royal Family. They themselves on their own can say this is our superior. Then how it goes about, it goes by saying that who is the Premier of the Zulus, which is Dr Buthelezi as far as we know as Zulus, then it comes to Amakosi, then it comes to his Ndunas, then the Zulus themselves.
POM If I told you that I had seen a poll conducted by an international firm where they had gone into the rural areas of KwaZulu/Natal, conducted person to person interviews?
TS No guarantee, you cannot say they were person to person. They always say that but even if they haven't done it, they just go and see three people in an area and say we've gone house to house.
TS Carry on.
POM If I said out of that it emerged that only 4% of the people approved of the job being done by the Amakosi, what would you say?
TS As I said, it seems as if I was guessing correctly when I said to you I don't guarantee that poll that people went house to house because I can take you while you are here, you give me the areas they said they want to. Maybe we'll go into ten houses they'll tell you they've never seen those people. That is politics, they always see one person in the area or two or five and then they go abroad and tell the people overseas that according to our poll we went house to house, this is a percentage. That is not correct.
POM Just a cell telephone.
X He is very popular with everyone, even the ANC. He is very popular with the ANC.
POM Is that why he's in trouble with the IFP?
X No, no. I believe in one thing, whether you are IFP or ANC, even if you are in IFP if you are talking something which is nonsense I talk straight, I don't take sides. If you are right you are right, if you are wrong you are wrong. That is one of the things which I said that if people can go into that parliament and see how IFP and ANC debate issues and actually at times shout at each other but when they walk out of that parliament, that is the only thing, when they walk out of that parliament together it's always nice. On the first day when we went to Ulundi everybody was sceptical but on the very same night after the opening we went to Holiday Inn and had a braai, something that no-one could believe it. Don't get confused about what you read in the paper.
TS You heard that? I go anywhere by myself, it's not like in the past. The attitude has really changed.
POM Yet the massacres are still occurring with increasing frequency.
TS They must be properly investigated. That is just to bring more division to the people.
POM Who is behind them?
TS We don't know. That will be published when people get arrested because really, as I say, as he was telling me now, everybody is trying to come closer more than how it was in the past. These massacres are worrying us a lot and these people who come out with polls and surveys go and tell you that this is a survey, this was most people, that's blue lies, it's blue lies. If you go house to house you will find a different story, not to go and see five people in the area and say that the people of that area this is what they are saying. No. And most of the press is letting us very down, trying to divide people more instead of unifying people with the stories that they write. You just heard it from the ANC.
POM Do you think that's what called the 'white liberal' press playing its own agenda?
TS Definitely. I cannot say white because there are also some Indians and some blacks who are also contributing in this division and this violence by writing things that are not correct, so I cannot say white. It's just those individuals who work for the press and say, look we've got a chance now, let's do this. The more they see that people are trying to come closer they make stories and put false stories, or maybe it's a minor thing, make it such a big thing, put colour photographs, "Somebody killed by the ANC", "Somebody killed by the IFP." I don't say they mustn't show that but if there is something good done by the IFP and the ANC together, like we were together now, and the press man is there he will never take a photograph of that. He will say this will bring unity among the ANC and IFP, they will never do it. Where we get together, we come here, we sit for an evening, we have meetings together, the leaders we talk this and that, they just put a small story in the corner of the paper or somewhere hide it. Where there is real conflict they say, "We're going to see fireworks today."
POM Do you know Jacob Zuma?
TS Yes, very well.
POM Do you get on well with him?
TS No problem, he's my minister. I must respect him in my parliament. We get on very well, I have no problem with him, I like him.
POM Do you have chats with him?
TS Oh I wish he would come in now and you see, we will sit together and talk and joke like anything. As I say, you heard the man say from his mouth, from the ANC, he said I am so popular with these people now. That's why I said to you the word 'warlord' never use it again because they will feel very upset. I'm a peacemaker. Even they themselves when they have quarrelled sometimes, themselves with their own, maybe in the parliament, I call them together and say sit down here, you sit down here, don't talk, maybe one member from my party and the ANC I bring them together. We talk and at the end of the day we go and sit together. It's over. I believe in that.
POM The King can't call the imbiso, is that correct?
TS Yes he can call it, not on his own.
POM He has to go through the Amakosi?
TS That's right. They are having their meetings now and they have to agree and agree on what they are going to talk about there. As you know once they agree then they can tell us, the ordinary people.
POM But the King doesn't have the unilateral power to call a press conference tomorrow morning and say he is calling an imbiso?
TS Without the agreement of the Royal Family.
POM Without the agreement of the Royal Family and the Amakosi.
POM It won't work, he cannot do that, that's not the protocol.
PAT What happened at the pre-meeting to the imbiso? Were you there when Mr Mandela came?
TS No I wasn't.
PAT What did you hear about it? What did the Nduna think about it?
TS Even if I'm not the spokesman of that meeting, according to our protocol whatever the King has called to talk to them like that imbiso, that meeting, I personally as a Zulu man am not allowed to comment about what the King has been saying and what has been said at that meeting because the King does have his spokesman, so if I talk about that it is trouble for me. Leaving politics on one side, as a Zulu man I am not allowed to comment on any meeting which was called by the King.
POM Sealed, this is the first time his mouth has ever been sealed!
TS Not the first time.
POM You did it.
TS If it concerns the King about what was said on a meeting where he was I cannot talk, but if he just talks generally about what do you feel about the imbiso, this and that, I can talk on that but not the particular meeting which was called by the King. You understand what I am saying?
POM So just to sum up very rapidly. You will never go before the Truth & Reconciliation Commission?
TS No because I have nothing that I have hidden so long, that I can go and confess at the Truth Commission. I have got nothing that I can go and say. I have been charged, people have said that I was involved in murdering children or a child, this and that. I proved myself innocent which I still even now, even in front of God, I knew that that was just false and even the ANC today I believe they can come out clearly and say no that was false because they know that they were just black painting me. So I feel very happy inside because I didn't commit anything, I have got nothing that I can go and stand in front of the Truth Commission, not at all.
POM You believe that General Malan and his co-defendants will be found innocent?
TS I don't know, it's the court will find them, but if they have done that I go with the law that if they have killed people they must be charged. They must be charged, 100%, I agree. If they have done nothing wrong they must be acquitted.
POM That would include your own Deputy Secretary General?
TS Anybody, anybody. I am saying it again, if you have committed a crime you must be sentenced. But not people to do what they have done to me where I had to spend so much time and so much money for false accusation.
POM Are you happy with what you're doing?
TS Very, very happy.
POM Do you see a new South Africa emerging?
TS I'm enjoying it in my heart. It's only that we have to put more pressure to some people, educate more people who don't see eye to eye, that we will always be like this, maybe don't see eye to eye, but we must tolerate each other, we must educate our people on the grassroots. Those are the main people we must educate, they must come together. Look at the ANC man who was here, I feel happy after seeing him. I last saw him about two or three months ago but I like him, I have no problem, I can walk with him outside here right through, walking down, I don't fear him. I have got nothing against him. He likes me, I like him now. That is the spirit we must build with our people on the grassroots. I was the same. If you told me this was an ANC man I don't want to talk to him, this is an ANC woman, no, because we never knew what politics were. It was a new thing to us as blacks. Even for him on the ANC side, even himself, he didn't like me in the past but today he goes anywhere with me. That is what we must learn. Come together but believe in your party, whatever party you believe in, but don't fight each other, don't kill each other. I believe in that.
POM OK. What we would like to do on election day, when the local elections are going on, is that we would like to spend the day with you, come out and go round and just spend the whole day with you as you go around.
PAT In the very early morning.
POM Like people who come up the night before.
TS Do you have a vehicle?
TS I don't mind.
PAT Last year in the 1994 elections we went up into northern KwaZulu/Natal and so we wanted to spend it in the metro area with you, KwaMashu.
TS I like that one, it's been my job for the past - although we had one election but I enjoy it because we are working with these peace structures wherever there are rallies, this and that, ANC one, or IFP, they always include me going all over and seeing what is taking place. On this one I am geared for it and I want to go all over if I can make it on that particular day to see and pray with the people that no violence must take place. I would love to go all over if I can do it but I know I will only do a few areas but I will go. I know that these structures will say to me, join us and go, I will go.
PAT So we can call you the night before and plan to meet?
TS Any time, any time. Yes. I know God will help us, it will be peaceful. We have this fear and everything but I think it will be peaceful.
POM Thanks for the 40 minutes!