About this site

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

06 Apr 1996: Gumede, Archie

Click here for more information on the Interviewee

Click here for Overview of the year

POM     So let me start.

AG     I wonder whether we shouldn't get over the part we have already dealt with just to see what was said at that time that applies to today.

POM     Well why don't you talk about that?

AG     No, I've read the transcript but I thought that the person who has not been in the country over this period to what extent it is possible to see how inaccurate or accurate the analysis was because I just see it as an analysis of where one tried to be as objective as possible in regard to reading what was happening.

POM     Well you did pretty good. You did as good as everybody else.

AG     Of course I am just worried because it appears that the sort of problems we were having then are persisting in one way or another so it doesn't appear that people's minds are being applied to finding a solution when the objective conditions are such as they are.

POM     Do you find this in Cape Town, in parliament, that it devotes a lot of its attention to what are not the basic core problems facing the country?

AG     Well I wouldn't say that exactly but to me I wouldn't say that what applies to Natal applies to the rest of the country. I am more concerned and involved with Natal than the rest of the country because I don't see that there is any sort of serious conflict in the other provinces but when one looks at Natal one cannot be happy with what is going on.

POM     The violence just continues.

AG     It does that.

POM     It makes no difference how many different peace initiatives there are. It makes no difference whether Dr Buthelezi and President Mandela meet or have lunch, just violence. Every weekend you read the figures of a massacre here or a massacre there. What must be done, what in your view is the crucial prerequisite to bringing an end to the violence or can it be brought to an end?

AG     Well it can be brought to an end but there must be a will to bring it to an end and the situation is quite clear that some forces believe that it is in their interests to continue in that path but what is really worrying me is that although for instance I have stated my views here I don't think that what I have stated here has been taken into account by any of the people who are in a position to influence the course of events. So it looks as if this is just an exercise in talking and talking which just ends nowhere.

POM     You mean you have access to those people? Have you made your views clear to them?

AG     That's the problem, I don't have access to them. Perhaps if they read in the press some of the statements and if they were able to criticise them and give us a basis for their criticism then one would be in a position to understand what is taking place. You see it is obvious that the - you take this Malan trial, that does not happen by accident, and you take what you referred to in the past, the Trust Feed massacre, you look at those and there are other incidents for instance that were mentioned in criticism of this process that as a result of the last Christmas massacre it was found that there were police who were involved, who are being charged in connection with that. It appears to me that some of the identifiable role players are not being involved in the discussion and in the peace making efforts. I do believe in the so-called Peace Accord but that Peace Accord to my mind takes a very superficial ...

POM     Analysis?

AG     Yes. It doesn't seem to be really getting to the bottom of the problem.

POM     Let's take the Malan trial, you said it didn't happen by accident. Could you just elaborate a little on that?

AG     No, well you have to take that in connection with the Caprivi incident, you can't separate it from that and you have got to take in connection with the Hluhluwe incident and you have to accept that the situation was that there is a need for fulfilment of some agreement between the parties involved and you know who the parties involved were.

POM     What if General Malan and his co-defendants are found innocent? What message will that send to the black community?

AG     If they are found innocent? Well it will depend largely on who has found them innocent in the light of the evidence that has been tendered.

POM     Wouldn't it be the judge who would ultimately make the verdict?

AG     It would then really be whether that judge would have come to the same verdict had he not been who he is.

POM     That's right. So how will the black community interpret it? Would they see it as kind of another whitewash? Would there be rage? Would there be the kind of reaction that I use as an analogy when you may recall a man named Rodney King in the United States who was a black man beaten by the police, it was all video recorded and when the verdict of innocence came in the black community burnt down half of Los Angeles.

AG     There you had a situation of white versus black. Here you have half white and half black. There was a demonstration against the trial of Malan a little while ago, I think you must have seen it in the press, by people who are said to be followers of the organisation that came into agreement with Inkatha with the government to supply training and give it weapons. Now of course I don't think that there will be a situation of that kind without some understanding about what was to happen, what the debt of gratitude would be, how it would be satisfied.

POM     Let me ask you one thing, since we're really getting down to the IFP and Gatsha Buthelezi and their activities in the ANC and at a different level President Mandela. It's accepted that the reason why the IFP came into the elections in April 1994 was because he, President de Klerk and Mr Mandela signed an agreement that there would be international mediation on the issues that they disagreed about, a schedule of those outstanding differences was drawn up and attached to the agreement yet this is one issue the ANC simply won't budge on.

AG     You've seen that schedule?

POM     I haven't.

AG     Neither have I seen the schedule. What I hear, of course I have not seen anything of the kind, but what I hear is that the negotiators who were to prepare for the arrangements for the mediators, what the mediators were supposed to do, Dr Jiyane I think it is and Valli Moosa and somebody else had to decide now these are things that have to be mediated upon, because you remember when the mediators arrived last time they just left without doing anything because they didn't know what it was they were going to mediate. Now the same position then was that what is it we are going to mediate now seeing that we are in agreement about this and this? What is it that is outstanding? Now of course before the Natal constitution was drawn up it couldn't be said what the differences were between the perception of the ANC and the perception of the IFP so you see there is that element to it which has to be taken into account so that it is not just a question of reneging from an agreement but that the agreement was that certain matters were to be submitted for mediation. Now what are those matters?

POM     Walter Felgate says they are clearly spelt out in the agreement that was signed on 19th April 1994.

AG     Yes, well that agreement I believe does say that outstanding issues, I am told it has got that statement. But now you see the position is, what are the outstanding issues? Identify the outstanding issues, and there has been no agreement on that. That is what I am told.

POM     OK. Why does President Mandela not say, "Listen, give him his mediator, let's call in international mediators." They arrive let's say in Cape Town, they sit around the table, they say, "What issues are we here to mediate?" The ANC shrugs its shoulders, the IFP can't come up with a list, the negotiators say, "You don't even know what the outstanding issues are? Well we've come, we've looked at the situation, you guys will have to work out what it is you want to mediate about. We're going home." They catch the plane home that evening and President Mandela can say, "I lived up to my commitment, I lived up to my commitment, I gave a commitment that there would be international mediation, they came, they said there was nothing to mediate so there's no excuse for the IFP not participating in the Constitutional Assembly because we all have kept our agreement."

AG     Of course you see I agree that that would actually be a way to deal with the problem. For one thing I believe that where there is a dispute it's not possible for the people who are party to the dispute to settle their dispute on their own. It's necessary that there should be some help. But my problem is this, the expense of bringing in those mediators has to be taken into account. Is it really worth it having those mediators when there is in fact no point in their coming? However, I do agree that in the interests now of peace, to pay the price is better than losing all the lives that are being lost, to me it would make sense that that line be adopted.

POM     Then you would have an inclusive constitution.

AG     You then have the situation first of all that you have a neutral party who has been agreed upon as being neutral declaring that this party has lived up to its agreement so the point about reneging from an agreement doesn't come into the matter and let's carry on, let's see.

POM     President Mandela comes out to be what he is internationally perceived to be, a man of honour who lives up to his commitments.

AG     That is right.

POM     Why in this particular case is he so inflexible?

AG     No it's not that he's inflexible. The last time I heard him talk about this he came to that point that the IFP has not clearly defined the issues in dispute so I do think that if it is possible to reach him he should be advised not because there is any merit in the claim by Inkatha in regard to its stand but for the sake of satisfying neutral observers that he has kept his word and his word is worth, well, the whole of South Africa.

POM     But this point seems so obvious, at least to an outsider. Here is a man who is devoting the remaining years of his life to trying to ensure that the nation he leaves behind him will be one in which reconciliation has occurred.

AG     I will interrupt you, he has a collective, he keeps repeating that word. Now we have Cyril Ramaphosa, he wants, I take it, to satisfy people that he is capable of solving problems and then you have Valli Moosa also dealing with the same problem. What they advise, I take it, he hears, because you see Cyril Ramaphosa is the Secretary General elected by the nation so he just cannot ignore what that person has offered, the advice from him. But then you see listening to a person who has not won any seat in the National Executive is quite something that he does not appreciate. One thing of course that is of importance is that he may find himself under attack from his own organisation should he adopt a course which is not favoured by the rest of the organisation.

POM     So just to back-track a little, when we last talked it was in 1992, momentous changes have happened in the country since, there have been the first open elections, a freely elected parliament and there have been in the rest of the country local elections outside of KwaZulu/Natal and the Cape Metropole, you now sit in a Legislative Assembly and you're part of the law making process, you sit on parliamentary committees. If anybody had told you even in 1992 that by 1996 all of these things would be in place would you have been sceptical or would you have said, "Of course they will be"? Has the pace of change been ahead of what you thought it might be or is it lagging behind?

AG     Well from 1990 or before that it was clear that there was no possibility of the Nationalist Party being able to reverse the course which had been commenced and that it was totally inevitable that the stage would be reached where there would be this level of freedom, I'll put it that way, and that of course what the individual positions would be was something that would not be but as to who would be where in your house, but it was clear that the status existing at that time was simply not going to remain. Change was inevitable, totally, absolutely, there was just no way. You see as far as I am concerned the forces that were driving the process were not confined to the local organisations. You had almost the whole of the democratic world applying pressure for the acceptance of a democratic situation in South Africa. Being democratic it meant that you can't say who the people are going to vote for until they vote.

POM     So if you had to rate after two years now in parliament, if you had to rate the performance of the government on a scale of one to ten where one would be very unsatisfactory and ten would be really satisfactory, where would you place its performance?

AG     This is an important question. In context, in the South African context I will put it at ten. In the South African context taking what South Africa was and what it is and the obstacles that had to be negotiated I don't have any doubt that nothing better could have been achieved. I mean, of course others may not agree with that assessment, but knowing the country as I do and the level of understanding of the majority of the people one thing of course is that when I talk of the context now I'm talking about applying a democratic society in this situation where the population has not had experience of government by democratic processes at any time in its history. So you are here dealing with a situation where you are at the same time getting people to accept concepts which were totally foreign to their thinking except that if you look at the society of the black people before there were the white colonial structures you will find that it was democratic in the sense that it was a practical democracy in the sense that a leader had to have followers and those followers had to be followers who would trust him and he must trust them, so that he did not owe his position to any sort of force outside the people, it was the people who were his protector and he was their protector. To me that was democracy in practice although you do not have any votes or anything of the kind.

POM     If I said to you two years after the ANC-dominated government has taken over, the poor are as poor as they ever were, the housing situation hasn't improved at all, unemployment if anything has gone up not gone down, the five major conglomerates that control the percent of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange still control the Stock Exchange, the wealth and the privilege that was in white hands before is still securely in white hands. What's changed for the average black person? What's changed for the man in the street?

AG     The man in the street is conscious of the fact that he is now free and it is merely a question of time when the skills which are necessary will be obtained. Insofar as the material aspects of the transformation are concerned the houses, jobs and things of that kind, I think you have been able to see on TV what happens at the religious gatherings and you have seen how the people really show that they are not inhibited in their daily living processes. Now you see, remember, I think you are hearing those voices outside, those ladies talking there. Now, they are in a saloon, a hair saloon. You hear that they are not inhibited, they are just expressing themselves quite freely and they are just doing their job and enjoying doing their job. When you were here last could a thing like that have happened? Just that. You have just got to get on the streets to see the sort of change that is taking place. Of course, you see, what is important to me is the change in people which is going to bring about change in things because unless the people change there will be no change in the material life of the people so that it is possible now to organise them into accepting that certain sacrifices have to be made for the achievement of certain goals. Now as we have said, Mandela for instance, has to really think out whether the price of submitting to mediation is really something that is beyond his means for the sake of the peace of the country.

POM     But unless there is peace in KwaZulu/Natal this air of uncertainty and instability will hang over the whole country.

AG     Yes, as far as that is concerned the need for the KwaZulu/Natal problem to be dealt with is very great. Now you see, Patrick, you have read these transcripts and you know what my understanding of the issues is. Now to what extent do you say that that was wishful thinking? You see you are in a position to say that you know what my attitude has been. Now had that been really handled properly by the people who are in a position to handle it, would the position be what it is now? I am quite satisfied that much of the thinking is uninformed thinking regarding the responses of the people in Natal to the problems that are arising. You have to understand for one thing that you cannot just come from America or come from Robben Island or come from prison and be able to read the sort of urges which result in action in the community. You have to be in that community for a length of time before you are able to see how it is going to end. Now one thing that I find a bit difficult to understand is that you have people like Cheryl Carolus, she is from Western Cape, how do you think she understands what is taking place in Natal? You have a person like Valli Moosa, he is in Jo'burg, I don't say that they are not intelligent or that they don't have the courage, that they don't have these things, but I say that all those things operate on facts and information. Without information you are useless.

POM     So if I hear you correctly, you're saying that the resolution of the problem in KwaZulu/Natal is not in the hands of any one party it's in the hands of both parties and both parties have responsibilities and that both parties are making errors in the way they're approaching the problem or in discharging their respective responsibilities?

AG     No I'm not saying two parties, I'm saying three parties.

POM     The state.

AG     Yes. Not the state.

POM     The government?

AG     The Nationalist Party.

POM     The Nationalist Party?

AG     Well put it that way, when I say Nationalist Party, Terre'Blanche is part of that Nationalist Party, Treurnicht is part of that Nationalist Party.

POM     Where do they come into the Natal situation?

AG     Natal situation? Good Lord, can't you see that Mr Terre'Blanche says the Zulus, he's fighting for the Zulus, he's got an agreement with Khoza, Themba Khoza, with AWB. Can't you see what that means? He knows very well that he just hasn't got the support among the white people to be a force of any nature whatsoever. He knows it. But if he could possibly find himself in the company of others he could create a lot of trouble and he doesn't mind trouble at all.

POM     You don't think he's a spent force, that he's been out there saying the same thing for ten years and that nobody takes him really seriously any longer?

AG     No. The position is that the Afrikaners, those farmers in the Free State who are being murdered and so forth, pin their hopes on him. There are so many white people who may not publicly announce that they are in sympathy with his points of view about having a white homeland.

POM     Looking for a moment at the constitution that was passed at the provincial level here, you had a situation last year of where Arthur Konigkramer was the chief of the negotiating committee and he was dumped by Walter Felgate who thought he was being too soft-line and yet in the final constitution that has emerged many commentators say that in the end the IFP caved in to most of the ANC's demands, that the IFP ended up making most concessions. How do you read the situation?

AG     Well that is what has been said. I don't know what the IFP stand was, what the ANC stand was, I was not connected with those negotiations so I cannot say whether there have been any concessions that have been made, but it does appear that there is agreement and I'm not going to say that the ANC is not happy with those and therefore it would appear that their point of view must have been taken into account in regard to that.

POM     Do you think that the fact that they were, despite the big differences that existed between them, that they were able to hammer out some kind of consensus agreement even though on many issues they agreed to disagree?

AG     To disagree, yes.

POM     Do you think that augurs well for the future or do you think that the legislature and what goes on there is so removed from the grassroots level that it's not getting to the root of the problem which lies at the grassroots?

AG     Well now you are using another expression. As far as I'm concerned I saw in the Mercury today, in this Natal on Saturday, this analysis on Mao and Buthelezi indicating that Buthelezi has placed his stamp on the Zulu nation, or on Inkatha, in the same way that Mao had done so that if you disagreed with Mao you disagreed with everybody else. That is something that you have to take into account, that the grassroots, the grassroots are informed by the middle ground or the top and middle ground. The grassroots is in our situation very much concerned with survival so that it is more engaged in waging that struggle for survival, daily bread, a roof over their heads, whatever can be done for their children and so forth. It takes most of their time to just get up and then they do depend on leadership in which they have confidence. So Buthelezi having built confidence is able to lead the people and if you ignore Buthelezi then you are lost and if you ignore Mandela in certain areas you are lost.

POM     So what you say makes so much common sense that I come back to the question I posed earlier, a little bit of wisdom here. You don't have to be the ultimate wise man to say certain things must be done and at the end of the day they are going to have to be done so why not do them now?

AG     Need to be done. Of course, you see, I don't know. I have been trying for a long while to get to Mandela and find out how much he knows about Natal because he thinks Natal is like Pondoland and so forth. But you see we have not had a leadership like Matanzima who was just kicked out of office and he just did not know what is happening. We don't have it like Gqozo or this fellow Mangope and the rest of them. Our problem took on this national form which did not happen in the other provinces and I don't know whether trying to solve Natal's problems in the same way that you solve the Cape's problems is going to serve the purpose.

POM     That's a very interesting question you raise, like how much does the President actually know about Natal and the history of Natal and it's complex past and the way custom and tribe have all interacted with each other.

AG     Yes, he made a statement and the chiefs laughed at him recently when he had a meeting with the chiefs. He said that they must not place Buthelezi above King Zwelithini and they found that he was joking. And of course I don't think that even now he knows why they are genuinely believing that he just does not know what he is talking about when he compares Buthelezi and King Zwelithini. King Zwelithini for one thing owes his position to Buthelezi so that is what these people know and I don't think that Mandela knows tradition and he says because he is the eldest son therefore he is the one the people should respect. It doesn't go that way. Our history is not like that. For one thing Shaka should never have been King of the Zulus because he was not a legitimate son of the King but he was able through his leadership qualities to wrest that position and to consolidate it and then build it to the position where the Zulu tribe, which was one of the smallest tribes, they were sellers of tobacco, became the name of all the tribes of this province and their language became known as Zulu. You see if you don't understand and don't read that history then of course you keep making assumptions that because a person is the son of so-and-so therefore people are going to regard him then as somebody that is their breed.

POM     So you're saying, if I'm hearing you correctly, that if you take Buthelezi and the King that whereas Mandela is looking at it as a question of titles, King, everyone, the King, it is that the Amakhosi say it's who has displayed the leadership and the man who displays the leadership is the person that you respect first and that Buthelezi has commanded leadership far in excess of anything the King has commanded.

AG     Well let us go to your country. Recently there was a suggestion, or Eisenhower got his position as President because of his achievement as a general, isn't it? Recently Powell was being mentioned as a possible first black President because he was a general and he achieved results which others hadn't achieved. You see there is that to it. You just can't come to a conclusion that because so-and-so is a son of so-and-so therefore, no, that is not the way. In fact our social system is such that if the eldest son in a family is an imbecile he is totally disregarded and the second son takes charge of the family affairs.

POM     So it's not hierarchical.

AG     In the standard because he's the eldest, therefore he inherits.

POM     To me you're putting your finger on some of the most fundamental aspects of the problem. Do you think the President is being well served by the people around him who don't supply him with this kind of information? They're not dumb people, they're just ignorant of Zulu culture?

AG     I challenge anyone to dispute what I tell you, anyone.

POM     Has that got anything to do with the fact that it has always been said about the ANC or the leadership structures of the ANC have been dominated almost exclusively by the Xhosa tribe which has historically had differences with the Zulus and that their mindset is different than your mindset?

AG     No, it has nothing to do with it. The person who the whole nation respects and loves and loved was Chief Luthuli. He was a Zulu absolutely and the executive was what it was. It just happens that when these restrictions and bans and things happened the position changed and having changed that was what has happened.

POM     So as you look to the future do you feel optimistic about the direction in which the country is going or do you have a question-mark about whether some of these fundamental issues can be thrashed out in a peaceful way that will lead to a stable South Africa?

AG     Before you go further let me say, you have heard what I have said, and are you prepared to convey this to somebody who is going to hear you, a person who is going to know that what we are talking about is fundamental to the solution of the problems of this country? For example, the Xhosa people have never been people who are in a situation of producing political leadership which is about the leadership that has been provided by the Zulus. Now I told you about Matanzima, how the people in the Transkei, highly educated as they were, were able to tolerate this Matanzima for so long is something that I can't understand. Then it took this Holomisa to topple him, to topple the Matanzimas. And then you have the Eastern Cape, the border, where you have this survey. Sebe, that Sebe is toppled by Gqozo and Gqozo is a clown, he is just a soldier. And I was in those areas and I found that the people were so thoroughly intimidated by those people. I just can't credit people who would be intimated by such people, with political acumen. I can't.

     The process was this, Mandela goes to Jo'burg, that is where he became politically educated, from Fort Hare. Sisulu was in Jo'burg. Then when the ANC was banned they were the people who were at the head of the organisation and they were of course at the time in the treason trial and of course that treason trial built them, gave them credibility throughout the country. Then the Xhosa was not anything to do with the fact, there were Zulu members in that treason trial but of course Chief Luthuli, who was still alive at the time, had good relations with these people and they were the people, not because they were Xhosa, but being in the Transvaal they played a very important role in maintaining the organisation. Now I am not just saying the Transvaal being in Jo'burg. Now after all that became the political capital of our country. That was where the ANC became strongest. There were problems in Natal but of course they were not - then when the organisation was banned some of the people went overseas, they went into exile and so forth, then of course it was very difficult to do anything in any of these areas. But when you come now to the revival of political activity it did not begin in the Cape, it did not begin in the Xhosa area, it began at the Western Cape, the Coloured area as far as that part was concerned and the Transvaal, anti-SAIC in the Transvaal and in Natal the Indian Congress with black organisations in Durban which were brought together and formed the United Democratic Front. So I don't see that one would really truthfully say that the ANC leadership was Xhosa because those people if they were Xhosa by birth were no longer people who were subscribing to Xhosa custom.

POM     What do you think is going to happen in the local elections? I hear IFP people say they are going to sweep the elections. I hear ANC people say they are going to sweep the elections. What's your own reading of the situation and will the results be accepted by both sides or will it become like the unsettled situation that existed after the April 1994 election?

AG     I think the stand that has been taken by Zuma, that is the elections in the rural areas should not proceed, is about the best that can happen.

POM     There should not be elections in the rural areas?

AG     And well then of course I think the whole of the province should not hold those elections until we do not have any no-go areas. There must be an understanding, a full understanding because it is not just that no-go areas are in the rural areas, there are no-go areas in the urban areas as well, either party just refusing to have anything to do with people who are members of other parties.

POM     If elections are held you see problems?

AG     Strife, strife, strife, absolutely.

POM     So they will add to the strife rather than control it?

AG     Yes it will do it. Unless a settlement is arrived at before the elections.

POM     If I'm interpreting you correctly you are saying that the violence and the strife must first be brought under control and the causes of it dealt with, then you have elections, but you can't superimpose elections on a situation that is violent and strife-ridden and expect that somehow it's going to produce a peaceful solution?

AG     To me I cannot imagine anybody trying to build in the course of an earthquake. On a very unstable foundation what are you going to build?

POM     Patricia was just repeating the story of the houses that were built in Soweto.

AG     You must have a stable foundation before you try to build.

POM     So are you in general pleased with the direction in which the country is going despite the fact that there has not been much tangible delivery of services in terms of houses, in terms of jobs in particular?

AG     I think there are differences. In the Transvaal, as you say those houses shouldn't have been built in the wrong place but there was an effort to meet the demand and they were not finding themselves in a situation of conflict there. The same in the Free State, the same with the Northern Transvaal, they are having problems with the schools there, the education, but other issues are not a problem. Health delivery that is much improved. Now how are you going to say that you are going to be downgrading the achievements that have been made?

POM     So you're satisfied that progress is being made and being made at a rate that is possible?

AG     In the context I don't think that anything better could have taken place.

POM     Let me just finally ask you about the famous Sarafina affair because it has a relationship to the way in which democratic accountability is practised at least in other countries that have different democratic systems. Let's just take the British system, and I hate to take it because it's not my favourite example of what's a particularly good democratic system, but once the details were released on the 14.5 million rand having gone to the playwright for the AIDS play and that was questioned in parliament, under the British system the minister would have resigned, would have stood down, would have admitted to error of judgement, would have taken responsibility and would have stood down. Certainly under the American system if allegations were made that the minister or the secretary of a department had deliberately misled parliament a special committee would be set up within parliament to investigate whether or not the minister had misled parliament and it would issue its findings and if the findings were that the minister had misled parliament then the minister would have to resign, or the secretary would have had to resign. Here you appear to have a situation of where from the beginning the ANC have stonewalled, that they even used their majority last week to prevent the establishment of a Select Parliamentary Committee to investigate whether or not parliament had been misled and that this is sheer majoritarianism operating at its worst. What do you think?

AG     Well that's another matter which is of great interest to us. The people who are making the allegations have been in power and they knew what the effects of HIV or whatever, but what did they do to educate the people who were the most likely victims of that disease? What did they do?

POM     They denied the problem existed.

AG     They did not know, how could they? This is in the eighties, I think the eighties. A friend of mine who happened to be an American said the South African government and the white people, because they were in power, are not doing anything about something which the world over is regarded as a threat to the lives of the people. You see when you have a situation of that kind, I have to say this even to you, we had TB in the States which wiped out the Red Indians. I don't know what happened to the Aborigines in Australia, I do not know what happened. You see now that involved people from Europe who had knowledge of these things and they knew how to prevent them but their people were wiped out. Now when you have a threat like this and people don't go out and inform the people who are most likely to be the victims of that and then later on they come and criticise the effort that is being made, it may be misguided but at the same time something is being done. Now this is being done in a hurry. As far as I am concerned when you look at the person who is supposed to be the beneficiary of this 14.5 million there is no playwright who comes anywhere near him insofar as black communities are concerned. Now for a thing of this nature to communicate to people who are at risk in language that they are going to understand, don't you need to have a person who is experienced in communicating? And what price do you pay? You see when Leon is accused of hypocrisy I agree completely because I don't think he has ever done anything to educate anybody about HIV and he knew, why then how can he dare open his mouth and say anything about that when somebody is trying to do something? It may not be the best way to do it but at the same time nobody doubts that the intention was to convey this message as urgently as possible.

POM     On a general level do you think that the media are acting responsibly in the way they report the activities of government or do you think they have a tendency to act in a destructive and overly critical way?

AG     You've said it. You've said it. In a sense to discredit and in fact to justify the manner in which they handled problems in the country in the past, to say that it was because these people were so inefficient that we were sitting on them all this time so you see now you people who were criticising us for dealing with them in this way we think ... Because unless they have got things of that nature don't they find themselves at the position where people say, "Now just think how you have misused the opportunities you had to build prosperity in this country given the human resources and the material resources which exist in the country, the climate itself is ..."

POM     So do you think the subtle message or the not so subtle message they're trying to get across is that blacks can't do the job, we told you so?

AG     We told you so!

POM     What do you see as being the solution to that?

AG     I think that time is going to show whether the cause adopted has produced the results which were intended.

POM     And finally I'll ask you a political question. I haven't asked you a single political question all afternoon. The Cabinet reshuffle. Were you surprised that Pallo got dropped?

AG     I don't have much knowledge about Pallo and he is one of those people who are really very reserved I would say, so what went on in his department I really cannot say. Perhaps the people who decided to drop him know more about the success or failure of his leadership. One thing I can say is that this telecommunications is something that is going to have to be looked at in one way or another but as far as I was concerned he seemed to be depending on the people who were involved in the departments. Now I do know that there was severe criticism about the sale of some of the radio stations and so forth but then of course I believe that Pallo was in Europe for quite a while and that he had seen the effects of privatisation, particularly I will say of the telephone system, electricity and telephone. I was in Britain when they privatised the electricity, their accounts and telephones, so he may of course - people don't agree with him. I notice that the trade unionists are not quite happy with privatisation but I really question the foresight in this regard because to me the interests of the workers lie in the growth and development of the economy. Now which is the best way to get the economy producing results? Don't you need capital? Where is that capital going to come from? Who is going to be in control of it? I look at it in that way so as far as I am concerned that may have had something to do with it. He may have been criticised by the people who are in COSATU and so forth. As far as I am concerned what he was doing was what I expected him to do.

POM     Now another final political question. The ANC. Is the alliance as strong as it ever was or are there signs of cracks developing that could lead to political realignments after 1999? The issue you mentioned like on privatisation is a very good one of where the trade unions feel very passionately about the issue and the way that other people in the ANC feel passionately different.

AG     I will put it this way that this is a marriage of convenience, there were more than two parties involved. But at the same time these people depend on one another to a very, very great extent. The one without the other may not be able to achieve even the little that has been achieved. I can't think of the Communist Party doing anything at all, anything. I don't think they can do a single thing on their own. And I don't see that COSATU can possibly be able to inspire confidence which is going to attract the capital that is needed for labour to produce anything. I can't see that the ANC can possibly dump COSATU because at the end of the day you need votes.

POM     It's better to hang together than to hang separately.

AG     Absolutely, that's my reading.

POM     A figure that we have come across and has been surprising, because it goes against conventional wisdom, is that you hear repeatedly in the Johannesburg press that the killing fields of Natal, well (i) there are more people killed in Gauteng than there are in Natal. That's one, but even allowing that there are massive levels and unacceptable levels of violence here is that last year KwaZulu/Natal attracted 40% of all direct foreign investment into the country. Now the conventional wisdom says that capital doesn't go to where there is political instability yet most of the capital that's come into the country has gone to the province that is politically the most volatile. Why is that?

AG     That's something that has to do with the composition of the population of Natal and the human resources that are available in Natal which I would not say are - you see here we've got a very industrious Indian population, we have got this technology among the whites and then you have the blacks with labour and so forth. So I am not surprised that people who wish to invest that they should be attracted by the existence of such resources, whereas Gauteng is just gold. You get out of gold you don't have people who are resourceful as the people in this province. Eastern Cape has been regarded more as a dormitory for labour in the Reef. So many people come from there to go and work, Mandela came from there, Sisulu went up there. It's only now that the Eastern Cape is being looked at as a source for development.

PAT     I have a question, just one question. When Patrick interviews many of the men who were in prison for a long time, 25 years of their life, they have very fond memories. In addition to the difficulties of it they talk fondly about the time for thinking and talking and reading and developing their ideas. I wondered if you have similarly fond memories of those days when you were organising the UDF, if you think about how you got people together in that part of the struggle or what you think of when you think of that history that you had?

AG     I think what went on really made life worth living because more often than not what I found was that there was that, I'm going to quote this strange man for you, a man named Shakespeare, "Hope springs eternal in the human breast." With that hope, in spite of all factors that would make people despair, but that hope by making people understand there is a hope and they have got a target, we are not going to be frustrated when we take this target. I think that having problems, for instance, bus fare increases when you resisted bus fare increases, then you had rent increases in the townships, then you had the tricameral parliament excluding the blacks, then the blacks began to see that there was something taking place which was not in their interests so that it was only through unity. Now when I get to parliament sometimes the chaps we were with in the past say, "Apartheid divides, UDF unites." And people saw the point of that unity, let's work for this. And of course through that process it was possible even although there was an attempt to attack us on that ground. You remember the treason trials, the one in Martizburg and the other one in Pretoria, which did not succeed. Well at the one in Pretoria people were convicted but on appeal their conviction was overturned. But then of course being engaged in those, should I say, successful ventures really made life worth living.

POM     Just to put a twist on that. When you're sitting in parliament and there is a debate going on and many speakers are making silly points and they are haggling and they are banging their table or whatever they are doing, do you ever say, "I miss the old days when we had serious discussions, we got around a table, we hammered out a plan, we took action and we went out and we implemented it. What am I doing sitting here listening to all this silly garbage?"

AG     No the problem is this, knowing that I am less - I am admitted to the group that is going to make decisions I am just frustrating myself by allowing myself to be looking at that. I am just waiting for an opportunity to be able to get people to see what they are missing through the mistakes that they have made in organising because if they did think I don't think, well of course I do know that certain people who are responsible for this and that, but the reality is just that you are having people, as I said at the beginning, who were on the Island. Well they had their theorising period, they have come up with some of those theories thinking that they can implement them but they are finding objective conditions totally different from what they thought they were going to find. Then you have the people in exile. Those came here believing that they had all the answers to all the problems but they find that the problems they are coming across, they are unable to solve those problems because they don't have the necessary knowledge now. When I say knowledge I mean experience is the best teacher. They have not been taught by experienced people how life is lived in the country, how it has been lived all this time. [They have been thinking in terms of what ....] We could have reached a position in Natal of peace had we not had the problem.

     You see in 1989 Tambo, Buthelezi, COSATU and I were to have met to discuss the question of violence. Now I think the Nationalist Party suspected that it would be possible that their alliance with Buthelezi could possibly be affected. They decided to release Mandela. Now he wouldn't be party to this, he will start his own process and so forth. So I think that was a very smart way of dealing with it because had we achieved that unity then there would be no need for a government of national unity with the NP. That is my reading of the situation, it may not be correct but I feel that this was done just at the right time to destabilise what was likely to happen had this meeting taken place. It is true that Buthelezi was shilly-shallying out of this because he must have been advised that, listen you are going to be offered terms that you can't refuse so keep out of this thing, keep the Zulus out because you've got this constituency. It's a very important constituency. Now Terre'Blanche has got his eye on this constituency. He's just hoping that Buthelezi is snubbed. All sorts of things happen so Buthelezi he's got the following of the chiefs, but of course that following by the chiefs is not something that has happened by accident. When the NP formed the KwaZulu Bantustan they gave him a constitution and this constitution allowed him to have a large number of chiefs nominated into the Assembly and in a position to get ministries and so forth. So with all these material benefits which these chiefs who up to then were just lucky to be able to get on horseback, found themselves driving Mercedes or being driven.

POM     Having drivers drive them.

AG     Having drivers drive them. So they owe such a great debt of gratitude to the person who made it possible because Buthelezi was criticised for accepting this but of course he had accepted it on the advice of Tambo but on condition that he did not accept independence. But when he took it over he saw that he was going to build a constituency for himself and a strong constituency, anybody can see that he has built a very strong constituency through this government. You see you had the civil service paid by him, you had the teachers paid by him, you had the police paid by him. Now what more do you want for support?

POM     If central government has its way it will pay the Amakhosi. Will their allegiance then shift to the ANC?

AG     But is that not an insult? Is that not an insult to the Amakhosi to say we can buy your allegiance?

POM     Good question. We'll have the answer the next time we come back. Thanks ever so much. It's a pleasure talking to you and you look terrific.

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.