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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

19 Apr 1996: Van Der Merwe, Koos

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POM     It just struck me on the way walking in here that when I first met you in 1987 in Williamstown and in our first meetings after that you were convinced that if South Africa ever came under black rule that it would in fact go the way of the rest of Africa, that is downhill, deteriorating standards, bad management, widespread corruption, no real possibilities for the future. After two years now working very closely with what is to all intents and purposes a black majority government at this point and seeing the way in which they have taken over existing structures, tried to restructure them, tried to get new programmes off the ground to deal with social inequities, tried to follow the discipline of the market in terms of economic policy, what's your evaluation?

KVM     I think I was right at the time, I was right in 1987 when I said that when a black government takes over in South Africa and they have all the power in a centralist manner then these things that I predicted will happen. I still believe that. And after two years in the government of national unity, or in the new South Africa, there is evidence, very clearly, that I was right because standards are in fact dropping.

POM     What would you point to?

KVM     Oh I'll point for instance to standards at universities and at schools. You will see that in the next few years those people who will shortly qualify as medical doctors and other professional people their certificates will not be easily accepted after five and ten years by the outside world without them passing extra examinations. The same in schools that there is a general drop in the standard in schools, there is a drop in standards at hospitals, badly managed at hospitals, there is a drop in standards in the civil service and so forth. There is also a drop in the rand. In other words there is a general lowering of standards.

     Now what I have experienced, and this is why I've joined the IFP, is that you can to some degree curb this backward trend by combating central power. In other words when you have a federation where you have nine provinces in the country and where there is genuine federalism in the country then that can be curbed. If you look at the history of KwaZulu/Natal you will find that there was practically very little corruption and the standards were fairly high and at the last matric examinations last year the results by the KwaZulu/Natal schools were highest of eight provinces. It was only the Western Cape that was higher.

     So to summarise it at this stage I still maintain that when you have this central autocratic type of power of a black government that we all were against in the sense that we were expecting an ANC/communist takeover, that that was correct and that standards are in fact dropping and the government is not coming to terms, the ANC government is not coming to terms with the problems of the country. The RDP is not getting off the ground. You really don't have an effective government in the country. There is a lot of planning, there is a lot of spending but you go out - how many houses have been built? I believe 6000 in two years after they have made a promise that they will build a million houses in five years and incidentally recently the Economist in South Africa ran an article saying that the only politician in late history, or shall I shall recent history, the only politician who promised to build a million houses and who did it was Verwoerd. Verwoerd built a million houses they say. Now if you judge the ANC by the election promises they make and you give them marks they will fail dismally and this is where it counts. The rand is now at R4.25. People can tell me what they want to tell me but since the rumours came out and Manuel was appointed the rand started to run from R3.65 against the dollar to R4.25. You can fool a lot of people but you don't fool businessmen who have to lose money. So this is how I feel.

POM     So what impresses you with what the government has done?

KVM     What impresses me? Well I think to really think what impresses me is a difficult exercise. Maybe you can ask me specific questions and then I can reply to that but I can't think of something that really impresses me because if we start at the most important one, that is the constitutional plans for the future, let's start there because it concerns the constitution. It's a shambles because on exactly that level Mandela not only made a promise but signed a document that he will invite international mediation and he has just broken his word. The IFP then left the Constitutional Assembly, we are still outside, he's just going ahead to make a constitution no matter whether the IFP is inside or not. The constitution that they are making is moving backwards towards socialism, it's a bad constitution, and I think you had an interview with Dr Ambrosini, so they are failing as far as the constitution is concerned. They are failing as far as the economy is concerned because the RDP is not getting off the ground and the rand is running away. They don't get massive foreign investment, there is nothing of the kind. So they are failing as far as a constitution is concerned, they are failing as far as the economy is concerned.

     They are failing with reconciliation. They are not getting good honest, pure reconciliation because they have created the Truth Commission. The Truth & Reconciliation Commission is aimed at establishing reconciliation in the country and it operates through three mechanisms. The one mechanism is amnesty, there's a committee that will grant amnesty. The second committee will grant reparation, financial reparation to damages sustained in the past because of apartheid. And thirdly a committee which will expose gross violations of human rights. Now behind this is a drive from the ANC to keep apartheid alive for party political purposes. What do I mean by that? In the last week I believe another Nazi was apprehended by the Jews for alleged atrocities committed 51 years ago and they are keeping the Nazi thing alive. It's a similar exercise that we're looking at. The ANC has put up an office in Johannesburg, or in their office in Johannesburg they've created a structure that will get, I can assure you, thousands of affidavits from people who have allegedly been prejudiced in the past, violations of human rights and so on, and the commission itself has appointed sixty, six zero, people to go out and take affidavits. Now what they're going to do is they're going to amass thousands of affidavits of people who have allegedly been involved in violations of human rights in the past, apartheid, so and so and so, and then once the commission stops at the end of two years or so, after they have regularly exposed great atrocities in the past, they will then say, fine the time for amnesty has gone, from now on we will start to prosecute. And we can expect that for the next ten or twenty or thirty years they will continuously prosecute people under the old apartheid scheme.

     Why are they doing this? They are doing so to keep the apartheid corpse alive for party political purposes so that at every election, every by-election more atrocities will be exposed so that the people can once again be assured of the fantastic saviour they have in the ANC. There is no hope of getting reconciliation that way. They have arrested the Generals. Twenty people in that court case at the moment, General Malan and others, for murder. Their own people are not being tried. They have committed worse atrocities in Quatro camps and elsewhere, they are not being tried. They have been involved, they have been the power behind hundreds of necklacing murders. Nobody is being prosecuted for that. They are hiding their own atrocious past and they are hitting out at the others. There is no reconciliation at that.

     So I started by saying I am not impressed because there is no progress in constitutionalism, there is no progress in the economy, there is no progress as far as reconciliation is concerned. As far as the general upliftment of the people is concerned nothing really is happening. No real houses are building. But if you walk around parliament there is a bustling going around, people running up and down with files, fighting for higher salaries, etc., etc. So for me as a political realist not much is going on.

POM     Just going back to the constitution, let's assume, since it seems likely at least at this point that this constitution is going to go through the Constitutional Assembly with the necessary two thirds majority with or without the IFP, but the IFP does not participate. Where does that leave the IFP in relationship to the constitution? Does it accept it as the constitution of the country? Does it accept it as being legitimate? Does it find a way to challenge it in terms of the principles of the interim constitution before the Constitutional Court? Where do you stand?

KVM     It's a fluid situation at this stage. First of all we have not seen the last of it, we have not seen the final constitution, it has not been passed yet. Secondly, the party has not yet discussed that so that I am not sure what the way forward will be. If I in my personal capacity can give my personal opinion, I think the party will probably accept the constitution as the constitution of the country but it will deny that it's a legitimate constitution but it will probably be obedient to it but that it will keep on pressurising the government to eventually have the international mediation and if that international mediation comes about, let's say in a month or three months or six months time, we'll never abandon that, and if it does take place and from that flows certain new principles that were positions that were taken by the international mediators, it may lead to amendments of the constitution in a year or two which will bring it more in line with IFP thought. There may be new thinking in the ANC as progressively they come in contact with the reality of governing, the reality of having to budget, the reality of marrying reality. For instance, Tokyo Sexwale, he says, "I'm going to build 150,000 houses this year." He doesn't know what he's talking about. I believe that if you put all efforts together in South Africa, if you take all the builders, the individual persons, the masons and the carpenters and everybody and if you have millions of funds you can build something like 100,000 houses per year, or per month, no it's per year. It's a massive thing to do that. They don't know what it means to govern. They are not in contact with reality so that maybe if they are slowly getting exposed to reality there may be a softening on their side and in the long run the IFP may get the amendments to the constitution that we would like to have.

POM     But when you look at the constitution passed in KwaZulu/Natal, the provincial constitution, now a lot of observers said afterwards that the IFP had simply really at the last moment caved in to most of what the ANC wanted. You had those who said that it was not a constitution, it was really a wish list, that only four of the fifteen schedules come into operation, nine of them are up for more negotiation or interpretation.

KVM     It's the best we could do in the circumstances. We could have elected to go another path, the path of confrontation, the path of a more negative approach, but it's clear that the leadership decided that it's better than we had, not much better but it's better, it's progress, and let us not be called boycotters and people who don't wish to cooperate. We are a step higher on the ladder and we kick off now. In three years time there will be another election. After that election we may be able to amend the constitution again with a greater majority and we may then more easily get the things we want. I think one must look at South Africa as an excellent example of processes. We have a process. It's a very dynamic growing process. A process in KwaZulu/Natal, a process here of growing, getting better and better as we go.

POM     But there's this kind of peculiarity if you like when after the constitution is drawn up and agreed upon some people have said to me in your own party the differences between the ANC and ourselves on this agreed constitution are unbridgeable and there is so much difference between how we interpret one thing and the other. The second point would be that it says that the constitution's adoption ultimately is conditional upon it not being found to be inconsistent with the final constitution over which you have no input at all.

KVM     Let's say it's accepted, we now have a new constitution, surely many of us, maybe the whole party as such, find the new constitution totally unacceptable but that is merely the position, shall I say that's the situation, but the question is how do you deal with it. Do you make war? Do you walk out of parliament for ever? How do you deal with it? And the way we have dealt with it is to show to the world that we want to be out of it because the State President has broken his word, he is not honouring the international mediation, but we have participated in parliament. We are here, we make very valuable contributions by being inside. So once the final constitution is out I am personally fairly certain that we won't for instance withdraw from parliament. We won't boycott the constitutional processes. We will voice our concerns from platform to platform but we will be part of the processes.

POM     So you will fight the constitution from within parliament?

KVM     I think so yes, and outside but we won't leave parliament. I don't foresee that.

POM     You have talked about the performance of the ANC in government. The IFP is one of the major opposition parties to the ANC and a multiracial party. It's performance in the local government elections outside of KwaZulu/Natal and the Cape Metropole where elections weren't held were abysmal. It got 1.7% or less of the vote.

KVM     Yes that's true. That strengthens the allegation that we are a regional party only from KwaZulu/Natal but we say differently. We say that as a result of many factors our organisation was weak, we didn't get the TV coverage, we had lack of funds, we had a lot of problems during the election. What we say is our strength lies in our policy of federalism, strong federalism and pluralism and for a highly plural country like South Africa our pluralism means that everyone can be the same. If you're an Irishman or an Afrikaner or a Zulu or a Sotho or a Portuguese living in this country you have the right, says Buthelezi, and he will defend that right, to remain yourself. So we know that the right policy is on our side and we will grow. As I sit talking to you here a few offices from here there are consultants from England that we have brought in. We are paying them, this is not to be quoted, two million rand to get our whole organisation and our structures in order. They are going right through the country. We are revitalising the party outside because we deserve not to be called a regional party but we are a real, true, full-blooded national party and at the next election that will be proved. In this very election in the Western Cape we are launching our campaign on Sunday. We expect to have at least 1000 people at our meeting in Cape Town.

POM     Does the party expect to win a majority of the councils?

KVM     In KwaZulu/Natal? We are expecting to win more votes than we did last time. In 1994 we won round about 50 point something, between 59% and 51%. We are confident that we will improve on that and probably push it up to 55%. Whether we lose councils here or there is not the yardstick, the yardstick is in the end how many people voted for us in general. We think we're going to improve. We think the National Party will probably remain the same at around 9%, we think the ANC is going to take a little knock. They will probably come down from 33% to 30% or 29% or so, that's the feeling that we have at the moment.

POM     Now do you think that even with those elections if they are successfully carried off that they will do anything to alleviate the level of violence in KwaZulu/Natal or is that something that almost exists separately and has a life of its own independent of mainstream politics?

KVM     I think that which gives life to the violence in KwaZulu/Natal is politicians. I think that the ANC is bent on getting KwaZulu/Natal under its heel. Why is it so strange that there is no real violence left anywhere except there where the ANC is not in power? They also want to have the power in KwaZulu/Natal and we are resisting that. So we think that the violence comes from the ANC politicians, that as long as they don't have the power there, there will be violence. From our side we say we will defend what is ours, so it's a political issue, the violence is a political issue.

POM     Now you are an urban person yet you are involved with a party where traditional custom plays a very large role and where the Amakosi both as part of the Zulu nation and their role in the IFP are significant factors in the political equation. How do you find yourself reacting to traditional Chiefs, the role they should play?

KVM     Oh very easily, I say vive le difference. This is the way they want it to be done, let them do it that way. When in Rome do as the Romans do. What right do I have to tell the traditional people, not only Zulus, the Amakosi is as alive as the Zulus in the Transkei. The Xhosas have exactly the same system and they prefer it that way and they have a well organised society there. The Amakosi is a traditional chief, he looks after their affairs and who am I to come and tell them, look in Johannesburg we have a municipality and we elect and we do it this way, you must do it the same. I am not going to do that.

POM     But do you see this as a change in your political belief system or do you think it's entirely ...?

KVM     It's exactly as I used to think, namely, that other people must govern themselves in the way they deem fit and in this case black people, not only Zulus and Xhosas, others also have certain traditions and I have respected that since the day I was born. I have known some of these people in the past when I was younger and even now. We have two Zulu Princes in our caucus and three other Amakosi and we respect them for what they are. They are like Prince Charles and those people in England who are highly respected. Why not the Zulus? If Queen Elizabeth can be the Queen of England and Charles and Diana and all those can run around, why not King Goodwill Zwelithini and his Princes and Amakosi? It's an international system and I respect it.

POM     Let's talk about the Afrikaners for a moment.

KVM     The Afrikaner at the moment is leaderless and visionless. We have had a history that unfortunately at one stage we governed by way of power, we didn't understand that we were governing on power. We didn't really listen to other people very deeply. We would listen to people and then say, OK I've listened to you but we're going to do it my way. And now that the Afrikaner has no power he's like a fish on dry ground and we will have to adapt to the new situation where we will have to rely on our intellectual and spiritual capacities and no longer on power. We are therefore in a transition phase. The Afrikaner is growing into the phase where he will have to stand up and win on arguments not by implementing the power of the state which we have had for too long a time. So we sit without power, we have no power at the moment. De Klerk is crazy if he thinks that him being Deputy State President and we have a few ministers there that he can achieve anything for the Afrikaner. He can do nothing for the Afrikaner because what Mandela says goes. I personally believe, and at a later stage I will give you my theory about that, that in fact there's no real power sharing in the world. It's nonsense. It's like the golden rule, I bought a cartoon in England which says, "What is the golden rule? The golden rule is he who has the gold makes the rule." There is no power sharing. He who has the power decides on how to do it. The Afrikaner therefore is confused, he doesn't have a leader, he doesn't have a vision, he doesn't know how to tackle the future.

POM     So where does that leave Constand Viljoen?

KVM     I'm coming to him. Constand Viljoen is the only leader in parliament who says, "I'm here on behalf of the Afrikaner." That distinguishes him from the others, "I'm here primarily on behalf of the Afrikaner." De Klerk says, "I'm here on behalf of everybody." This is the difference between them. Constand is trying his best for a volkstaat, for this, for that and the other. I don't know what he's going to achieve because the ANC is going to give him nothing. I said to him if you want to be successful against the ANC in negotiations you must have some or other what I call AK47 under the negotiation table, you must have something on which you can blackmail them, push them or not blackmail, shall I say exert power to get them to see it your way otherwise they will just do what they want to do. He doesn't have the answer. De Klerk doesn't have the answer. We're waiting on new Afrikaner leaders with visions.

     We must not forget that the Afrikaner is still the strongest single nation in Africa. We have not lost anything. We have lost the power yes but we still have the most university graduates in the country, we still have the most people in the civil service, we have thousands of people who are military trained, almost a million of them. We are in all spheres of South African society, we are teachers, we are university professors. Collectively the Afrikaner has more power, outside political power than any other nation and it's going to take a leader with a vision to get the key to unlock that. We don't have that leader at the moment. I am just concerned that because we don't have our own country any longer and because they are trying to kill our language at the moment, it's being pushed out of the SABC, it's being pushed out of schools and so on, that if a nation doesn't have its own country and if its language is in trouble what remains? You are killing that nation. I think that realisation will grow amongst Afrikaners that we have never really been in such a crisis.

POM     Is the issue of language potentially far more explosive than the issue of the volkstaat?

KVM     The volkstaat is not an issue that is explosive at all. I don't think so. You see 99% of Afrikaners feel that a volkstaat means that you've got to sell your house and go somewhere into the desert so they don't even understand it, it doesn't appeal to them. But what does appeal to them is if he takes his children to the school and they say your children can't be educated in Afrikaans, that's very close to his skin. That's where the problems will start, at schools.

POM     Do you think to this extent that the ANC simply don't understand the importance of language to identity?

KVM     I think they understand it, they understand it very well but they have no respect for it. You see black people in general in South Africa have accepted English. They are happy with the following: at home and in the social environment they talk Zulu or Xhosa or Sotho or whatever, but when they go to school or to business it's pure English. That's the way they prefer it and they are quite happy with it so for English to become the lingua franca of South Africa they are quite happy with it, they prefer it that way. They like to watch TV in English and talk in English and so on. When they go home it's Afrikaans. We as Afrikaners prefer to be educated in our own language, mother tongue, and to preserve the values of the language in particular. I don't want to be educated in English or in French or in Portuguese or Zulu. I'm an Afrikaner and that's the difference. So progressively English will become the only language in the country. It's the only language that we really speak in parliament at the moment. So there is pressure on the Afrikaner. I think in a few years time provided that the government is stupid enough to put more pressure on us there will be problems. If the government was clever it will just play around with the Afrikaner, keep them cool and, shall I say, anglicise their children in school and make it a 30 year process to eradicate the Afrikaner. They can do it that way, but if they really create problems in the next five or ten years then enough Afrikaners may stand together and still cause them a problem. In the very end a bloody conflict in the country is surely not ruled out.

POM     It's not ruled out?

KVM     It's not ruled out.

POM     To this extent, again, does the ANC think they have overcome the threat of the right, are they making a severe threat?

KVM     Yes, they have extracted the poisonous tooth of the Afrikaner but there are only three real groups in the country.

POM     Have they?

KVM     No they haven't. It's the government, the ANC, then it's the Zulus and the Afrikaners. These are the main groups and the ANC may have been successful in taking over all others but it's a different thing when it comes to the Afrikaner and the Zulu, especially the Zulu. I have said it on many occasions, the Afrikaner likes to bark, a Zulu doesn't bark he bites. They bite, they go out, they go and do things. The Afrikaner has to be pushed further, the Afrikaner has to suffer more, he has to be pushed out through affirmative action out of his work environment. He must sit at home without work, he must lose his house, his language must be taken away from him on a large scale, his children must be victimised at school. He must feel, oh hell, I've lost everything, what the hell is going on now? He must awake and see where he is. His backside must feel the flames. Then they will rise and then there will be hell to pay. You see I've said this many times, to really cause disaster in the country you don't need a million men or 100,000 men, you need two or three people, five people, ten people, people who know. You know it's unbelievable how many people there are in Afrikaner circles who are capable of doing monstrous things as far as war is concerned. They can do too much and you only need two or three of them to really get pushed too far. Maybe it'll never happen but I think that if the ANC does not foster respect for cultural values like language, religion, traditions of particular people, what we call in the IFP pluralism, if they don't cultivate that they are in fact brooding on a time bomb.

POM     The acrimony between what would be called white liberals and the ANC, how do you interpret that?

KVM     Racism. Nothing else than racism. Who has fought harder for the black people than the Progressive Party, the DP as it is at the moment, Helen Suzman? She sat in this parliament for 12 or 15 years as only one woman fighting the whole National Party establishment for the poor blacks. She fought for them. Later the others, Eglin and all those, not one of them is acceptable to the ANC, they don't want them.

POM     Why?

KVM     Racism, they are white, and also apart from the racism the liberals, I don't know if you are one, but liberals, and I've said this about the Democratic Party, they have a few characteristics, they have all the answers. On paper they have got the most beautiful answers on all policy issues, they have got the most beautiful letterheads, their candidates smile the best, their women are the most beautiful, they have got most money, they have got absolutely everything. Everything they have got except votes. This is liberalism. They have got everything, the best, except votes. I have said this to my colleagues. They have got the best. When we raise points of order they are the best, they are always the best, except they don't get votes. The blacks reject them because there is still an inherent racism very much alive from black quarters. You take Tony Yengeni, he said in parliament the other day that the wealth that white people have got they stole. I have got a Mercedes or two, I've stolen them. The wealth that white people have they have stolen, it must come back to the black people. That's obviously not a good statement, it's rubbish. But that's behind it. Therefore the liberals, there is racism in that they are mostly white and secondly they are too high and mighty and clever, they are too clever even for me. I would rather go for a person who has blood in his veins.

POM     Going back to De Klerk, where does this leave the National Party?

KVM     De Klerk doesn't have a plan.

POM     Is the National Party falling apart?

KVM     Slowly, but they don't have a plan. You see, I think I have said this before, that the difficulty that the Afrikaner has is that he never understood the difference between theory and practice, philosophy and concretisation. I discovered this a few years ago in the Conservative Party. I said to Andries Treurnicht, "Andries, sure we have the best philosophy, theory, namely that we are a nation, a volk, that a nation has a right to govern itself, that we can prove that we are a nation. We can take our lead from the United Nations and all over from the text books quoting that a nation has a right to govern itself. That's a theory, but how do you concretise it?" There is a distinct second step, namely the concretisation of the philosophy and this is where the Afrikaner is failing. Treurnicht, "We will govern ourselves. We will not allow another nation to govern us. We have the right to be a nation." Yeah, Dr Treurnicht, we agree with you. And then when I ask him, "But Dr Treurnicht, how do we do it? What do we do with citizenship? Where is our country? What about this and this and this?" And then he would look as if he has just eaten a sour lemon and say, "No we can talk about that later." He never understood that. He never understood that there is a second phase, namely the concretisation of it. That would come automatically he thought.

     Now the CP failed because there was no way in which they could concretise their beautiful philosophy of self-determination for the Afrikaner because there was no way to do it, which I also discovered. We don't have a land that is only ours in which we are in the majority. We don't have structures and so on like the Zulus for instance. The Zulus, everybody in the world knows about the Zulus and Zululand. Traditionally for a century or so they have lived in a certain area, they have got a King, they have got structures there that are internationally accepted. They can easily secede or become a sovereign nation on their own but the Afrikaner is spread over the whole of South Africa like salt on a mixed grill. Where is our country? Where are our structures, etc? So these are the concretisation part and this is why the CP failed because we couldn't concretise its beautiful philosophies because they were theories.

     Now De Klerk is falling into exactly the same trap. He only has theories and philosophies, cooperative self-determination, we are going to share power, we will fight for values. Just listen to the rhetoric, it's all very beautiful rhetoric, it's philosophy, but if you then ask de Klerk, "How do you concretise it? The form of so-called power sharing that you have at the moment is nonsense", because if Mandela says we're going to write off the billion rand that Namibia owes us, De Klerk says, "We're not going to do it. I'm taking this to the Cabinet." They take it to the Cabinet, Mandela says, "OK what does Minister de Klerk have to say?" "I say we're not going to do it." Then Mandela says, "Can we please raise our hands, those in favour, those against? Thank you. We will do it. Next point on the agenda?" He can't concretise it. So the Afrikaner sits with beautiful theories but he can't concretise it and we're waiting on a leader who will come with a vision to concretise the Afrikaner's position.

POM     Do you think this kind of "vision" that he has of a new National Party, that is a multi-racial party?

KVM     Beautiful idea again.

POM     Can you see any time in the future, and by the future I mean the foreseeable future not the long term, when a significant number of black people would actually turn around and vote for the National Party?

KVM     Of course not.

POM     So is that fantasy?

KVM     It's fantasy, it's theory, it's philosophy. He has thought out a beautiful thing, now he has to concretise it, put it into operation which he can't. Let me give you an idea, the National Party has white leaders on top. The National Party, the words National Party and these individuals were the creators of apartheid, they are the creators of the atrocities of the past, they have that load on their thin shoulders. How the hell do they expect the masses to vote for them? They are simply right in the target of the people shooting at them. The ANC goes out and says, "Who instituted apartheid? The National Party. You want to vote for them? Of course not." So what they have to do is dismantle the National Party, forget about the name, forget about De Klerk himself and Dawie de Villiers and all these and let other leaders come out and take over and really credible black leaders come into the system. But maybe they should just disband it and take that party and throw it in the dustbin because it is infected with the apartheid image. How can they get away from that? So what they will do is, maybe they will get 5% of the black votes, they will get that, but the masses, forget it. A black person when he really has to sit back and think, I can vote for De Klerk, the old National Party, De Klerk, the apartheid people, Buthelezi or the ANC? If he doesn't like the ANC he will vote for Buthelezi. I am talking about the masses. No hope. A fantasy. A pipe dream.

POM     Isn't there a kind of a certain condescension to it? It says even though we had the black masses under the yoke of apartheid for 40 or 50 years within ten years they are going to turn around, forget it and vote for us.

POM     It reminds me of the Australian wedding where a man runs in and he says, "I've got bad news for you." 500 Australians sitting there waiting for the beer at the wedding. "I've got bad news for you. Somebody has stolen the beer and a miner has raped the bride." And there was pandemonium. And a few minutes later the same man runs in with a big smile and he says, "Stop it, don't break everything down, I've got good news. We have found the beer and the miner has apologised." The ANC will make sure that any National Party attempt to cover its tracks will be compared to the Australian wedding, "We apologise, we are very sorry but we have raped the bride." So we need new leadership, new vision.

POM     Just following on that, I'm going through the parties for a particular reason. The PAC is it out of it or does it just need ...?

KVM     I think it's out of it. I don't think it can be saved because like you have with broadcasting, you have a certain number of frequencies, you only have so many frequencies. Your platform is just that big. Now you have the ANC, the IFP, the National Party, the DP, the Freedom Front, you have a few parties and the frequencies are becoming fewer. Now what is the frequency the PAC will broadcast on? What is their frequency? They only really had one because the ANC had taken the rest and the IFP is taking the federalist one. The ANC has taken, we look after the people, restoration of your rights and so on. The PAC came with the question of land. The white people have stolen our land, it's our land, we want the land to go back to our people. White people are settlers, one settler one bullet. Send the whites out, let's take our country back. It boomeranged. Black people know it's bullshit. This is why they didn't vote for them. What did they get? 3% of the vote.

POM     Well in the local elections they got less than 1%.

KVM     They got bugger all. And then they don't have leadership. So they don't have a frequency to broadcast on, they don't have a platform because the ANC has a lot of those frequencies, most of them.

POM     The Conservative Party kind of falls into the same position.

KVM     The Conservative Party has successfully sidelined itself as I warned them.

POM     Very successfully.

KVM     Yes they have been extremely successful in that. They have fucked themselves. They are out. They are out in the desert and there is no route back for them because they haven't changed since I wrote the document and I told them, this policy has failed, in order to achieve something for our people let us devise a new strategy and let us understand what it means to concretise. We must concretise something, a new vision. They have just stuck to the old one. They stuck to the old one until today. So their frequency is also nothing. Very few people would tune in to that frequency. It's very old, it's like listening to old Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. You like to do that once a year for ten minutes.

POM     The ANC. Many people have said it's a broad church. Will it remain that and keep its members inside the church?

KVM     Probably, I think so to a large degree.

POM     That people who believe it's going to split and there are going to be all kinds of new alliances, again that's wishful thinking?

KVM     I think it's wishful thinking. I think the ANC in general, all of them know that their power, their only power and their only hope for survival lies in unity. They have struggled for 100 years to get the power, they are not going to let it go because of petty things and they will stick together. You will get here and there a little problem. They won't split up and if they do split they will still get their 50%. They are the power for a very long time.

POM     That's what I'm getting at. If you have a National Party that's in disarray and has lost its sense of identity, you have a Conservative Party that's technically gone, you have the PAC almost gone, you have the DP gone.

KVM     To 1%.

POM     Which leaves the IFP and the ANC.

KVM     The IFP has a strong 10%, 12% or 15% maybe. National Party around 20%, ANC in the sixties.

POM     So in that sense you're moving very close to a one-party state.

KVM     Yes. That's the next thing. Exactly. There's an automatic move towards that. The signs are there, the signs are there that in a natural way we're moving towards a one-party state. Nats around 20%, we around 10%, that's 30%, there's 70% left and the ANC is almost that. That already is a one-party state. If one party has two thirds it's a one-party state. What does it help? Buthelezi tells us how frustrating it is. They have told them that the Cabinet will work on a consensus basis and then when he raises the matter and he says, "No, I object to this very strongly", Mandela or Mbeki or whoever is in the chair will say, "Will the Cabinet Secretary kindly note the strong resistance of Minister Buthelezi. That point now being taken what is the next on the agenda?" So we already have a one-party state. They do what they want to do.

POM     Do you see signs that the party, that the National Executive Council, the NEC of the ANC, makes policy and is really using government to execute policy?

KVM     In other words, where is the real power? In parliament or in the National Executive? It could be in the National Executive at this stage but it will shift. You see the National Executive have, I hear, overruled Mandela on some occasions, but it normally shifts. My knowledge of political parties, I have done an honours degree in it, I vaguely have a recollection that as a party becomes in power and as there is no real struggle any more that the outside structures tend not to be so strong any more and because those people in the structures of the party outside are accommodated in positions they all become part of the big system and there is a shift of power from outside in the National Council Executive, a move towards the Cabinet around the President and his cronies there. It will move there. The effective power base lies there.

POM     As you look to the future, just again the next couple of years, you expect that the IFP will do better in KwaZulu/Natal in terms of percentage of the poll than they have done before. How about the issue of the King and the Zulu nation as distinct from the IFP? The violence in KwaZulu/Natal is between Zulu and Zulu. The Zulu nation is the Zulu people as a whole and this continuing disagreement and breakdown of communication between Chief Buthelezi and the King is this a potentially dangerous situation?

KVM     I think the danger is over because Buthelezi has successfully won that round. The King has been with the government of KwaZulu which still happens to be the IFP, it has sided with the government of KwaZulu for many years and then after the election it crossed, the King became an ANC man and that alienated him from the Amakosi and from his people. Of the about 300 Amakosi, the Chiefs that make up the Zulu nation, about twelve support the King. Now therefore the King has no real power. The power lies in the Amakosi and Buthelezi as the senior one of them, he is the chairperson of the Amakosi and he plays a magnificent role this, Buthelezi. Magnificent. He would continuously honour the King and say we've got to re-conciliate. He plays a beautiful role. So I think there is not much danger there. The King has been castrated, power is not with him. He wants to call an imbiso. The Amakosi say no, if you want to have an imbiso let's just clear the deck first, what about A, B, C, D, E. And they say, Mr Mandela what the hell have you got to do with an imbiso of our people? You're a Xhosa, just get out of it. We will settle our differences here in the country. Buthelezi has won that round.

POM     OK, Koos, I'll leave it there.

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.