This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, 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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
09 May 1996: Delport, Tertius
POM. Tertius, let's almost go back a little bit. I remember interviewing you in Kempton Park one evening in the midst of hectic negotiations and you said it can't work. Looking back on that judgement?
TD. It hasn't worked. I think in the eyes of the world it worked, but of course this is a very historical day. As you know today we have announced that we are walking out of the government of national unity. It had to come. It was inevitable because the dice were loaded in favour of the ANC. In the eyes of the world everything was well. We heard the nice sounding words like 'the rainbow nation', 'a government of national unity', but we had no real power, nothing, and Mr Mandela was increasingly isolating, ignoring FW de Klerk. We were in fact, and I don't think my colleagues will really admit it, but in the last round of negotiations now for the final constitution there was no compromise and there was a total unwillingness from the ANC's side to make compromises on the delicate issues. Our last proposal was not even any form of power sharing, it never was. It was a system of co-option but at least we were there and we could voice our opinion. Our last proposal was a totally watered down one in the sense of creating nearly a body, a board, a council of leaders which would be a formal structure to create a forum for the President, the leader of the majority party, to consult at least. Even that was rejected.
POM. I want to go back first and I want to get to those crucial issues. But you have said in 1994 in the midst of the hectic negotiations, "This isn't going to work." What led you at that time to believe that it wouldn't work and do you think that your judgement has been vindicated and why?
TD. Yes I think it was vindicated. I said it wouldn't work because the ANC made some positive sounds, noises rather, writing into a constitution you must first try and get consensus, etc., but there were no teeth. It was only nice sounding words and I didn't trust the ANC. I never trusted them. I don't trust them now. Once again, I say this constitution is not going to work because there is in effect no guarantee to make this a rainbow nation, as it is called, in other words the acceptance of the cultural diversity of the nation. The ANC is going to force us to accept black African culture and we will see there will be a down-grading of standards soon because they are not going to allow single medium education. Soon our schools will be toyi-toyi schools, discipline will disappear, white teachers are opting out, they are taking their packages that are offered to them. We have practically no whites opting for education as a profession any longer. They don't want to be in this ill-disciplined system of education. That's one example. So that is why I said it's not going to work because there are no real guarantees, the ANC had at the time already had the power, what with the acceptance of the so-called deadlock breaking mechanisms, to write their own constitution and we were now forced to accept because if we didn't accept they threatened that then they go to a referendum, go through a process which will eventually put them in a position to write whatever they want, put a far more stringent form of totalitarianism on the table.
POM. But my question would be that at the time the interim constitution was written with these deadlock breaking mechanisms, is that it would appear to me that you lost on agreeing to those deadlock breaking mechanisms, that there was ultimately no way that the ANC wouldn't get 60% of a vote in a referendum?
POM. But that once you agreed to that you had thrown in the ball?
TD. Well I never agreed to it, the majority, it was Meyer persuaded the majority in the Cabinet to accept those deadlock breaking mechanisms.
POM. On what grounds did he persuade a majority who must have been sceptical?
TD. Well I don't know, I think we were in such a bad position at the time to further negotiate. First of all the date for the election had been set and it was a date proposed against the advice of the more, well we were called the hawks, against the advice of the hawks. "Don't let the process", I said more than once, "dictate the date, don't let the date dictate the process." We had to get a solution otherwise there would probably have been some form of a revolution so we were forced and the whole concept of power sharing in the Cabinet was held over, it dragged on and on and nothing happened until the very last night before we had to go to Kempton Park to bake the big cake or to light the candles on the cake. Then it was said OK, and it was a so-called package, you get here and there a little thing on the outstanding issues, but in the Cabinet, that was how Mr de Klerk reported it to the Cabinet, "In the Cabinet we don't want to vote because between you and me, that's Mandela and De Klerk, we will have to lead the Cabinet to wise decisions."
. That was in the morning, we had that meeting at seven o'clock that morning, that was at that meeting that I tendered my resignation. I said, "We're selling out. I can't live with it." I saw Mr de Klerk in his office and eventually he persuaded me that to say no now would mean a revolution and I seriously considered at this stage to muster enough support amongst my colleagues in the National Party to break ranks to vote against the constitution. But then once again I would have taken it on myself and some colleagues to maybe cause, what do you call it, the flame of revolution. It was too late at that stage. Secondly, it would have been on a very, very highly technical issue to explain to people that they are going to write, we put them in because of the deadlock breaking mechanisms we will be in a position in two years time not to have a back-stop, and that was too technical an issue to really gain support. I warned, I warned, I warned, I said that's what we're handing them on a platter, I think it was too technical for Meyer, I don't think to this day Roelf Meyer understands really, I don't think he understands what he did.
POM. It would seem to me, and we again talk about the issues, but this time round where the last time round I was kind of on tenterhooks what's going to happen, this time round I said, "National Party is going to cave in."
TD. Was that your perception? Yes, sure.
POM. That if it was forced to go to a referendum the ANC would say, "Listen these are your options. You either accept what we say, we'll give you a little bit here, give you a little bit there, but if you don't we'll go to a referendum and, by the way, we can re-write the whole thing and put our own constitution in front of the people."
TD. That's right. Exactly. So we had no - I said even in the inner circle, "I want to congratulate the negotiators that they got anything at all", because they had to negotiate with both hands tied behind their backs because we sold out at Kempton Park.
POM. Who was the person who 'sold out'?
TD. Roelf. Roelf Meyer and the corps who ...
POM. FW must be operating, he's the boss.
TD. Who wanted at all costs, you see Roelf was under the influence of Fanie van der Merwe who has said on so many occasions, "Any, but any compromise or offer we can get today is better than the one we can get tomorrow." I was prepared, thank God it never happened, thank God I didn't get it my own way, I was prepared to face a revolution. I was prepared for a short period of grief instead of a very long, drawn out period of grief. But then maybe it's correct to call me a hawk, or reckless, or whatever. So maybe, thank God, FW didn't listen to me.
POM. I find it interesting, without revealing confidences on any things, that after Gerrit Viljoen stepped down and you stepped into the position of the Chief Negotiator many people have said to me you were a weak negotiator, that you had to report to FW all the time and that you weren't your own person, that you were unconfident as to the way to negotiate. And I am asking that in the context of what you said. This division must have existed not just all the time but then nobody was looking down the road.
TD. That was the problem, and as for reporting back even Ramaphosa had to report back. It was a standard expression, "I need time to consult my principal", and even Ramaphosa, even that last day of the deadlock in Codesa 2 we were kept waiting for two hours whilst Ramaphosa and Valli Moosa and Joe Slovo consulted with their leadership. So that was just to give me the blame for something which was vindicated in any event in the series Death of Apartheid, I am not sure whether you watched that? The Death of Apartheid, but you must get hold of it.
POM. What is it?
TD. It's a series of three one-hour programmes on the whole change from apartheid to the interim constitution.
POM. It's done by SABC?
TD. It was done by BBC.
POM. Was this based on Alistair Sparks' book?
TD. That's right he was involved in it. In that, I am also in it and on it, there they admit that they engineered the deadlock because we had negotiated them into a corner, because we had them tied up to a constitution, the principle, we agree on a constitution and that could only be amended by two thirds. That is where they brought in the deadlock thing, but there must be deadlock breaking mechanisms for which I said no because I knew then the whole strategy devised by myself and Gerrit Viljoen would fall apart. And they admit, I think it's Mac Maharaj or Ramaphosa himself, saying on that programme that we had to get rid of Delport and once we got rid of him it was easy going for us. And then he says, that very last night was also his birthday and he had a birthday party and he was watching Roelf, Roelf was dancing in the middle of the floor, and then Ramaphosa says, "And I said to myself, what have you got to be happy about? You got nothing." So that's the story. But I was up against the machine of Roelf and his supporters.
POM. Why did somebody so young in the party, when I met you first you were Deputy Minister for Provincial Affairs I think and we met, you came in the morning over to the Dorp House, what accounted for his ascendancy so quickly that he began as a junior to Gerrit Viljoen then his career just took off?
TD. Why I was taken for that post?
POM. You were?
TD. Is that what you're asking, why I was?
POM. No, no. What happened within the National Party that he ascended so quickly?
TD. Who? Roelf?
POM. You were a deputy minister when he became a deputy minister.
TD. No, no, he was a deputy long before I, he was a deputy even before I entered politics. I was the newcomer. I only entered politics in 1987 and Roelf became a deputy minister in 1986, so he was by far my senior. I think I must be very thankful. I became a deputy to the day three years after I entered politics so I can only say thank you for being brought into the centre of what was happening at the time. But then I must of course say that I didn't come in as a total newcomer. I was fairly well known in many circles. I gave evidence way back in 1980 already before the three chamber constitution was adopted, I was called to give evidence and to put forward some ideas and at a later stage also to a Cabinet Committee on the future of the urban blacks. So I was active and I was a member for seven, eight years of the S A Law Commission which advised the government on law reform. So on the whole issue of reform and constitution and laws, etc., it was not as if I came in totally from the cold. But Roelf was my senior in terms of politics.
POM. What accounted for his ascendancy, his quick rise?
TD. Bad judgement by FW. He is not known. I always said it is obvious that he never ever served on a Selection Committee for the under-11 or under-13 rugby team and even now here he appointed the worst people that you can think of to play this dual role of being opposition and of partners in the government of national unity. Because poor Dawie de Villiers, well, OK, neither Kraai, neither Pik, not one of them.
POM. I'm not publishing anything till after the year 2000. Most of them will be out of politics by then.
TD. I stood up in February 1995, that's how long, at a big national caucus of all central government and provincial parliaments, caucus, and I said to Mr de Klerk, "Mr de Klerk I want to be very frank and open with you, your ministers and deputy ministers are going to sink you because you're the only one, you are expected to make a stand and they don't even support you let alone attacking the ANC, pointing out, putting alternatives on the table and let you then step in as the leader and say OK but let us deal with it in this or that manner." But the whole ambivalence in the National Party was between working with the ANC, moving closer to the ANC and the other part was a stronger opposition role. And that was the argument again this morning in the executive, with names that you can guess, saying we must stay in.
POM. Give me the names.
TD. Well it's Dawie and Roelf and Pik arguing very - and Sheila Camerer for what she's worth, bloody woman, arguing very strongly that we must stay there, and Chris Fismer and then Kriel, Delport, Fourie, Kraai van Niekerk, to his credit, and some of the black guys saying, "But we've got to get out." David Molatse arguing very strongly we've got to get out, and David Shunene(?) who is from Soweto, a black guy from Soweto and one of the deputy chairman of the party, he said "I can't go in Soweto, I know we've got to get out. We've got to be free", he said. But it is not the government of national unity, that was the problem.
POM. I want to come back to that.
TD. It was the way in which the people in those posts, if FW had appointed, oh yes, and the other one was Danie Schutte also saying let's get out. And the new leader in the Free State, Enos Aucamp. So if he had appointed people like Danie Schutte, Piet Marais, Fourie, then it would have been a totally different story. Why is it that I manage all on my own, and I don't want to blow my own whistle, but I manage in the East Cape to be the leader, as I always say I am the leader of the majority of the minority, and I live quite comfortably with that, but I oppose in the Cabinet. I say we are wrong, I said in my very first speech in parliament there, "I will be, Mr. Premier, your loyal opposition, the opposition that will point out where you are going wrong, that will be in the interests, loyal to our province, loyal to the future, but opposition", and they accept me for that.
POM. Were you punished for that? In your Transport portfolio?
TD. I was at one stage, no, no, at one stage I was but there was something different. It's a little bit different. It's because I - you know the 23,000 officials I've got them against me because I had worked out that we need only 5,000 and I said that we can't go on. If the Western Cape can run Agriculture with 1,010 officials why must we have 23,000? If their total budget in the West Cape for Agriculture is R59 million why must we have a budget of R489, nearly R500 million which we are wasting on salaries? So I got them against me. Then I said that I want the others out, I want the landowners in the irrigation schemes to form co-operatives and we will support them, etc., so I got SANCO and the communities then all up against me because I was favouring the farmers, the black farmers for that matter, etc. Those were different reasons. But the point is that I oppose them every day but I never oppose them without offering an alternative. And so many times I say, "This is not what we ought to do Mr Premier, Mr Speaker, there is a better route", and I go public on it and I report it and it has paid dividends. Now I'm in Transport. The other day I had, against all odds I got all the how many taxi organisations together for a two day conference, and when I was introduced by the chairman, who is a staunch ANC man, he said, "We've seen the Premier last week. We're not prepared to go on like this. We're not making progress and we said to him you must now order your Department to support Dr. Delport. We can't go on like this." And then they had a song specially saying, "Tertius Delport, he's our leader, he must live for ever." Taxi people. And he said, "He's a Nationalist, he's a Boer", he said, "But he's straight, he has no favourites. He is our man that can solve our problems." I'm not saying they are going to vote, they will never vote for me but if I could manage to simply by talking on the issues morning, noon and night, why couldn't Dawie have done that? Why couldn't Roelf?
POM. Why haven't they, why don't they do that?
TD. They haven't got the guts. They want to be popular. I am used to being not popular, I am used to being unpopular.
POM. It means you're not a politician really.
TD. No I'm not, I'm not a politician, that may be. And once again it sounds as if I'm using myself as an example, I've gone through it. I have no doubt in my mind that if I now said I'm going out that the Premier will ask me whether I will not please stay on. I have no doubt in my mind. But of course it's not up to me. Either we decide to go out or not and that decision will be taken on Tuesday.
POM. You've now got to repeat this whole thing on a provincial basis.
TD. Well we have a meeting of the full Federal Council which has more representatives from the provinces to decide what we are going to, there the issue is a little bit different. For instance, Natal, the new Natal provincial constitution makes provision for representation of minority parties in the executive. So are we going to say no to that? I say no, we must accept it. Northern Cape they've got a nearly fifty/fifty situation. There they are a force. And then the other argument is of course, here parliament sits for eight months. In our provinces despite what Roelf says we don't have a federal system. We are for all practical purposes administrations not governments. Our parliaments don't have work to do. I'm not sure but I think last year we sat for 31 days, something like that. What happens in parliament here happens in the administration, in other words in the Cabinets there down in the provinces. So to withdraw from the Cabinet there would be tantamount to withdrawing from parliament here. But I don't say we are going to stay on in the provinces. I am not advocating, I am only saying that the situation is totally different.
POM. Will each province be able to take its own decision?
TD. I don't know, I think we must allow it because in Natal it would be stupid to get out and also in North Cape, I think it would be stupid. But if the guys feel that we've got to, right across the board, I'm happy, I'm happy to go, I'm happy to go tomorrow.
POM. I want to go back to what I said to you earlier is that when the four crunch issues kept coming up, and I've now been in this country long enough and interviewed enough people over and over again, that in my mind there was no doubt but that the NP in the end when it came to who had to blink, they would blink. It seemed to me they blinked on every issue. Would you like to go through each issue and say where the NP was and what it actually settled for?
TD. Well we started with real power sharing.
POM. And you threw that in?
TD. Well we threw it in, we didn't even really, Roelf never really pursued it. In fact this morning he said, "But we must remember that by implication when we" - I don't even recall what was said when and where - "by implication we abandoned that concept long ago." It's merely because Ramaphosa said to him we're not going to give it to you. And then he decided on the whole issue of the free market system there is nothing in the constitution that can be remotely construed as laying a sound foundation for a free market system.
POM. So that was not entrenched, which was part of your party's policy from the very beginning?
TD. Of course, of course. Thirdly, the multi-cultural diversity as a given fact and as something that must be accepted and entrenched, is not there because that concept cannot survive unless you entrench it in the schools and that's gone unless we opt for private schools, but I was looking at it, no funding from the state and it must adhere to the standards set by the state. What standards? We always think about standards as high standards, but standards can also be prescriptive in nature. It's a standard not to preach a particular religion for instance. It's a standard that certain songs, certain whatever must be taught or may not be taught. So I don't think that is entrenched in any way. So the important issues, cultural diversity, free market system and some form of participation. Now I want to, on the last score, just say that we never, and I'm on record saying that over and over again, in the press, everywhere, when Roelf and all of them were mad at me, when I said we don't have power sharing, all we got was co-option. Now I said, and I proposed, and nothing came of it, instead of power sharing let's go for the principle of proportionality, entrench that and that was accepted at our national congress at the end of 1994, beginning of 1995.
POM. That would be proportionality in the executive?
TD. Proportionality. Forget about power sharing. Proportionality in all appointments to the executive and in all appointments which government must make so that the periphery or the semi-governmental world, like the board of the SABC, like ambassadors, like whatever, let us try and entrench the principle that in the same proportion parties will have a say to appoint their candidates in whatever boards, managements, whatever, the government must appoint people. That was not even pursued despite a congress, a unanimous, well nobody, I suppose some had reservations, but on the face of it a unanimous support for my proposal. It was not even pursued. I raised it two, three times and every time FW said, "But Roelf, this must get attention. We've been lagging behind on it." "Yes", end of story.
POM. Roelf just suddenly wouldn't pursue it but FW didn't?
TD. Roelf decided long ago we get a Westminster type, except for one difference.
POM. Sorry, he decided long ago?
TD. It's majority rule. Full stop. Except of course the only difference with Westminster is that we are a constitutional state in the sense that the constitution is the highest authority. Who appoints the constitutional judges? We have communists as judges in the Constitutional Court. They have got to interpret the property clause in future.
POM. Talk about the property clause. That's another one I thought that, like years ago when I talked to you and Gerrit Viljoen, I remember asking him what things would there be and one was on property.
TD. Of course, but we were sold out once again. We were four only that voted, when was that? Tuesday, that we ought to vote against the constitution. That's in the Executive. It was myself and Hernus Kriel, and Fourie and Kraai van Niekerk, Minister of Agriculture, because he said, "How can I vote for it if the farmers - they will never, ever have confidence in me again if I were to vote for the constitution without any guarantee." And not a guarantee against keeping your property, all we wanted was a guarantee of fair compensation in the event it is expropriated for the purposes of land reform. I was prepared to make war on that principle. I mean it's a principle that I think all over the world, if I acquired property in good faith, property that's in my family for how many years, 50, 60 years, and it's taken from me am I not entitled to compensation? It's not guaranteed.
POM. So there were four of you who said that?
TD. In the executive, yes.
POM. And how many voted in the executive?
TD. Well you see there were two others that said we're also not happy with the constitution, we would have gone against it but in view of you, because FW then proposed and said, "Gentlemen", that was on Tuesday, "My view is we vote for the constitution because we really don't have an option, it goes to a referendum, this and this and that, but then we go out of the government of national unity."
POM. So he proposed that.
POM. I was going to come back to that. One of the things that has struck me over the years is that you can't wear two hats, you can't be part of, a junior partner in government and at the same time a strong opposition. They are just antithetical and you end up by not being effective in either role and you lost your identity.
POM. So if I asked you today what is the National Party? What is it?
TD. Well it's the junior, up to now it was the junior partner of the ANC, propping up the ANC, trying to create an image of something that is not there in essence in order to give confidence or create confidence in the country by foreign investors, etc. Not that the investors are streaming to South Africa to put their money in here.
POM. I don't think many investors are coming in.
TD. I don't think so. I wouldn't if I was them.
POM. They are too hard-headed.
TD. The risk is too high. We don't know yet what role labour will play. They were prepared, the ANC in those last days, because I was sitting here now Monday and Tuesday, they were prepared to at least give something because they were willing to accept and write in that the existing labour legislation which recognises the lockout.
POM. That's the Labour Relations Act.
TD. Yes. That that legislation and the lockout couldn't be changed without consulting this panel, etc., etc. Sam Shilowa came in and said, "Unacceptable". The ANC came back to us, "Sorry it's out." Labour is strong, COSATU is strong and we don't know what role they are going to play. The other thing is we see it even at local government level, the communists are moving into key positions and that's another red light that I see.
POM. Not, for there to be a pun there.
TD. No I think we are going through a difficult period. I said in my parliament down there yesterday that you must realise that it's now up to the ANC to make this constitution work. It's up to you, because I was anticipating what we were going to do today. I said we will shift into even more of an opposition role and it's up to you now to create the confidence to make it work.
POM. Now that's a very good starting point. When I read the statement that FW made at Hermanus, that the new National Party are going to attract millions of black votes and that ten years down the road you could be the majority party, I said to myself, this is fantasy.
TD. Well it's more than fantasy. In any event it's suicide because if we want to become a majority or even a 40% party or whatever then we will have many more black members than white and coloured members and let's make no bones about it, even the National Party guys, black guys in our party, they are socialists. Then we will not be the National Party or a Christian Democratic or whatever, we will not be a centre right or even a centrist party. We will move centre left, fairly extensively to the left if black people should come in such numbers that they materially start to influence the policy.
POM. They would take over the party.
TD. They would take over the party and then you'll have a tame ANC, you will have then an option between ANC and a tame ANC. That's why I say it's fantasy on the one hand and suicide on the other. I said to him privately at a private function some time ago, "Prepare yourself for your real destiny and that is to play the role of the prophetical opposition, the man that will stand up morning, noon and night to say this is where we ought to go, and keep that flame alive."
POM. Do you think Tony Leon in a way has usurped that right?
TD. To a certain extent yes but you see you've got to have someone, with all due respect, talking from the heart of the Afrikaners because after all that is still the third biggest tribe in South Africa after the Zulus and the Xhosas, then comes the Afrikaners, the white tribe of Africa. And unless you get someone that can really consolidate that as your basis to start, if you consolidate there it's easy, it's a small step to bring in the other Afrikaners and those of a slightly browner complexion, brownish complexion and unless you do that, to make a clear statement to the black people you won't get them. We can get some black people but they are a minority. I refer, for instance, in the East Cape we can, if we change the name, do this or that. The Matanzima clan will join up tomorrow. They will join up because they were in the old Transkei, Kaizer Matanzima was the first Premier or President, whatever, of the Transkei, very close at that time to PW Botha. He is a very conservative, he is a very outspoken Christian.
POM. He's the former President right?
TD. Of the Transkei, the first President.
POM. He figured in the Mandela divorce case?
TD. That's right. He has a long history of an uneasy relationship with Mandela. He is Mandela's senior in terms of their hereditary lines. He is a Paramount Chief, he is a king, although it's now being disputed by the ANC that he isn't a real king. But the point is that we can attract, and then our other natural ally is, of course, Buthelezi but the relationship was soured to such an extent by Roelf, way back with the Record of Understanding when Buthelezi was simply ignored and never even consulted. It's a story in itself, to tell the story of how we drifted apart which would never have happened if Gerrit Viljoen was there because he was on very, very close, he had a very close relationship with Buthelezi and Buthelezi respected him like none other. And they despise Roelf, they don't think he's even got the brains apart from the character.
POM. So how do you see, again if I asked you, what is the National Party?
TD. It's a party in search of itself. Even now with the new vision, I said today our starting point must now be to get from the different role players to get at least one interpretation of our vision. It's our vision to bring about a new political - that's what it says in essence, a new thing based on shared values. The focus point or the thrust of that is interpreted differently by the two factions. The one faction close to the ANC, get closer to the ANC. Roelf Meyer, and now he's denied it since, but he did say that there isn't much difference between the National Party and the Social Democrats in the ANC. And the others say that there are such huge differences let us make that distance between us let's make it real and try and consolidate there, don't try and consolidate here right under the ...
POM. What would you see as the huge differences? Did you ever think that you would ever see the day when you would have the ANC which only six years ago was the party of nationalisation, of everything from the mines to the banks and the break up of the conglomerates, talking about privatisation and that the market must rule? It's a 180° turnabout at one level.
TD. Yes, sure, it is, but then they are not totally stupid are they? They realise, they say, remember since what they said those years when they formulated those policies the takeover here would have been a Communist Party takeover. Who would have had the ringside seats? The communists from Moscow, Cuba and those places and East Germany. It would have been a communist regime. That option for them fell away so it is not that they have in themselves had a Damascus revelation. It's simply that circumstances, reality, and the absence of any back up from those quarters forced them into it.
POM. Do you not think the fact that there is now such a thing as the global village and the global market place that the constraints on the economic, what I would call economic sovereignty, are diminishing all the time and nobody could simply do what they wanted to do?
TD. The reality, and in reality I include the world, the global village, reality is our best ally and the reality is going to force the ANC but at a price because they are going to experiment, they are going to push it to the brink now and then to placate the masses.
POM. Now I want to go back to the NP. It's a party in search of an identity but you can't just create an identity and say we stand for A, B, C, D and E as though they are a set of things you set down on a piece of paper, they have got to emerge from the people who are going to support the party rather than saying ...
TD. Of course that will mainly be dictated, the focus will be dictated by events if in the economy, if that becomes the critical issue then a lot will depend on what is our attitude or we will be forced to make a clear stand on that. You see politics for the past fifty years in South Africa was dictated to by the constitutional issues because even apartheid was a constitutional issue in the sense that the basis for apartheid was, 'We will create your own homelands, your own states'. So right from the very start, from 1948 at least it was constitution and it was constitutional matters that dictated politics, it was the focal point unfortunately because the economy suffered as a result of that extraordinary focus on constitutional issues. Now it's going to change, the parameters are set. There is no way we are going to change this constitution in my lifetime and we've got to work within these parameters now. Now it's going to, I think, go to the root of those things that affect people in their daily lives. It's going to be education, it's going to be the economy, it's going to be law and order in the streets, that's what it's going to be all about. What are the driving forces in American politics at present?
POM. Economics all the time. Every election is settled by the state of the economy. Do you see, and tell me when you have to go so that you're not late or won't be late, are you a party of - do you speak for the Afrikaner?
POM. Does the Freedom Front have that kind of support?
POM. Who has the Afrikaner?
TD. We speak for the majority of the Afrikaners.
POM. But they say they do now.
TD. I doubt that. I don't think they could win an election against us.
POM. What then has the National Party done in two years to protect the interests and concerns and things of most importance to the Afrikaner?
TD. Very little, but the Afrikaners are a strange lot, they don't switch allegiances easily and we have managed to keep some support, not some support, majority support in the Afrikaners for one reason only and that is because the Freedom Front didn't offer a viable alternative. Nobody really believes that the volkstaat is viable, especially not. But I offered them that option so many times. They said, if you really want to get even my support forget about a volkstaat and talk about a regional study and forget about the Transvaal let's concentrate on the West Cape and let's work for a system for instance wherever you live that for your provincial vote you have a choice where you want to exercise it. We motivate and argue that for the Zulu working on the mines his heart is in Zululand. Allow him to vote there if he so wishes and if you decide you're going to come and retire here, and I said it at the time, or when there are no Afrikaans schools left in the Transvaal you want to send your son to Paul Roos Gymnasium in Stellenbosch or whatever, then you say, "I'm going to vote here because this is where I want to retire, this is my homeland." But they didn't want to take it.
POM. Do you believe that you lost on the language issue, single medium mother tongue education?
TD. Yes. Well we're still entitled to it in terms of - you're entitled to mother tongue education but you see it's not merely being educated in your mother tongue. It's about the ethos of a school. Do I teach religion? What are the general standards of behaviour? That's why I say it's not going to be change to black schools or whatever, it's going to be change to toyi-toyi schools. Do you allow the school children to dictate to their teachers? Do you have discipline? Do you play rugby? Do you expect people to take part in sport? Do you allow the little simple and funny or whatever little traditions and things and have debating societies? We inherited a lot from the English and from the Europeans, are you going to allow the Euro-African to really feel free and have his own schools and have his little parties and these things? That's what education is about.
POM. Do you think today was an historic day in terms of your party?
POM. That suddenly it's ...
TD. Well now we've got a chance to survive otherwise it would have been ...
POM. Has this been due to the leadership of FW? Did he ultimately, as you said, make the decision in saying, "I'm going to resign as Deputy President and the rest of you can decide whether to appoint somebody else"?
TD. The decision wouldn't have been otherwise even if he didn't say that.
POM. The drift had gone that way?
TD. Sure. No, there is no doubt about it. One of the reporters afterwards said to me, I don't even know his name, he said to me, "And how do you feel that a year after you first said this in public that it is now coming to fruition?" I said, "I don't even remember that I did say it publicly a year back." No it had to come, it had to come.
POM. What's the way forward now?
TD. The way forward, that's up to the leadership now.
POM. But you are part of the leadership.
TD. Yes, sure. We've got to get clarity on our interpretation of our mission. Our mission says that we want to bring together etc., and I want us to forget about trying to win votes. And I don't want to be involved in the so-called marketing of the party, get the product right first. Come out clearly on the relevant issues, stand up for law and order and discipline, also in our schools and the rest will come, the rest will come. But you can have the best marketing programme but if your produce doesn't sell ...
POM. Who were the losers today? Was Roelf a loser? Dawie de Villiers?
TD. I think Roelf is a loser to a certain extent but to a certain extent only because he got it his way in voting for the constitution and he got it without coming under heavy fire from his own party members. He wanted us to stay in, he wants us to move closer to the ANC. There was a clear message from De Klerk today that he is not prepared to go that route.
POM. De Klerk is still firmly in control of the party?
TD. He is now. He wasn't. There was a lot of uneasiness in the party with his leadership over the past six months. I don't think, had it not been for today, I would have given him not more than six months. Because I was ready to go and tell him. I was ready to tell him it's time for you to go.
POM. Many people say that, and don't say it in a pejorative way but say it in that you did your bit in history, get out.
TD. We will have to see now how we can adapt to a new role.
POM. So who would you see? They say Roelf is the natural inheritor of the mantle.
TD. That will split the party.
POM. That would split the party?
TD. For sure. I'm out. If Roelf becomes the leader I'm out. I'm out as in yesterday, or Dawie, I'm out as in the day before yesterday.
POM. So who are at the head of, I won't say the hawks, but more people who want - Hernus Kriel?
TD. Kriel, I think he has the standing and the base from which to challenge anyone, to challenge Roelf particularly.
POM. Is he a leader?
TD. I think so. There are certain disadvantages especially in the Afrikaner community, they don't like divorces and he's divorced. He is a bit of a street fighter, political street fighter, but it would mainly, and that was once again FW's fault, it would mainly depend on who he will bring into his inner circle to advise him and to guide him and to prop him up and to support him, and that's where FW fell flat.
POM. That's interesting because he had the opportunity to bring in - did he try to do it alone?
TD. He relied, he even appointed Roelf as Secretary General, created the post and appointed him without even consulting one single provincial leader. And I said to him, "How could you do that? You must be very sure of yourself in your position in the party to take that chance." But he got away with it. He won't get away with it again with something similar.
POM. But then if Roelf is not seen as somebody who has to build a new party?
TD. He cannot do that.
POM. He can't do it because as I see it, I can't see going after all these black voters and believing that after five years they will forget all about apartheid.
TD. I would want to know where this idea comes from that Roelf has got a lot of support in the black community. I don't know where this comes from except from his own propaganda machine. No he cannot do that.
POM. Wouldn't it be almost condescending to think that blacks who lived under apartheid for forty years, I find it unbelievable, you know the way memories last. Memories are long, long things and blacks are not going to vote for whites. They don't in any place in the world not even without apartheid.
TD. You see we're back to the point. If we want their votes then they must be able and be put in a position to vote for a black National Party, a black party, a predominantly black party and then we're back to square one. What is that party then? And then I'm back to what I was saying, then you offer them a choice between an ANC and a slightly tamer or tamed ANC, but that it will have to be a leftist party, centre left, left of centre party that's clear. So I think it's a pipe dream. You know the old joke about 'not in my time'? There was the joke that Hendrik Verwoerd had a certain revelation one night and he asked the angel, "Now just tell me, will Mandela ever come out of jail?" and the angel said, "Not in your time." He said, "OK now will this happen?", "Not in your time, rest assured not in your time." And then he finally asked, "Will blacks rule South Africa eventually?" and then the angel said, "Not in my time." OK so the angel was right. But that's just a little joke, not in my time, not in my time in politics will the National Party become a real contender as an alternative government.
POM. Because it doesn't know what it is.
TD. But apart from that, even if we know exactly what and we consolidate, we can't consolidate enough votes to even push us up to 40%. We can't do it.
POM. There's no possibility of an alliance with the IFP?
TD. Yes sure, but on our own we couldn't possibly get higher than 25%.
POM. Is there this belief, I sometimes find that there is this belief among people in the National Party that after the next election the tripartite alliance will split and COSATU, the populists ...
TD. Also not in my time.
POM. That's the angel again is it? And the radicals?
TD. For sure not. They may be in for a rough time when Mandela goes and the next man has got to establish a new unity and a new loyalty, they may go through difficult periods but they can't afford to split up and therefore they won't. We were held together, the National Party, over many, many years. Yes there were splits but not serious. There were splinters going in all directions but what held us together? Power, power. If you go out you're out in the cold. Why would the ANC split up and risk losing power? Never, never, never. Power is a wonderful thing.
POM. As a matter of interest who would you, if you had to make a preference, have liked to see as Mandela's successor, Mbeki or Ramaphosa?
TD. I really don't know. Ramaphosa is bowing out, I think he wants to become, he's decided that he will become the black Oppenheimer of South Africa, the black Rupert or whatever. I think it's between Mbeki and Sexwale from Gauteng.
POM. Who do you think has the most leadership ability?
TD. I don't think Mbeki is a leader. He's not a dynamic leader, he's a diplomat and he would make an excellent Minister of Foreign Affairs. I don't think it's going to be Mbeki. If it comes within the next two years or so, yes probably Mbeki but the longer it takes ...
POM. Sexwale has the charisma.
TD. That's right.
POM. But Ramaphosa has charisma too.
TD. He's from a minority. It's ethnic politics again. I think he's a Venda, you can't have a Venda.
POM. From a minority tribe within Venda.
TD. He's from a minority and not well liked, not even minority but seen as an inferior little tribe, whatever. So Ramaphosa never, never, never.
TD. Has he impressed you?
TD. Oh, he has impressed me for sure. Angered me.
POM. But is he tough? Do you respect him for his ability?
TD. I respect him for his ability, oh yes I respect him for his ability.
POM. Would he make then a good leader if he became the leader, one tough good person?
TD. I think Ramaphosa is, let's forget about his policies, I think he is the outstanding personality in the ANC. He is superior by far to Mbeki, for instance, in terms of the sheer force of personality, the sheer presence. It's Ramaphosa all the way.
POM. I know you've got to run in a minute. When I interviewed you first you were very pessimistic about the future. After several years are you as pessimistic or more optimistic?
TD. No, I'm in a better mood because when you fear what's going to happen you predict certain courses, the course of history and that's worse than when you're in it and you say OK, but these are the parameters within which I live. My son-in-law and daughter that's in Canada, he's a medical doctor, they've been there for three years. In July on my advice they're coming back.
POM. They are? That's terrific.
TD. My other son-in-law and daughter, they've got two kids so I'm a grandfather, very proud grandfather, he's a qualified lawyer but he is farming on my old family farm and we've just bought more land and I'm negotiating for myself to maybe when I get out of politics, maybe soon, to go farming and we are now negotiating to, not with my own money, with the Bank's money, I'm risking my whole future on a bank loan to buy more land. We're here to stay, we're here to live and nobody will get us out. We arrived in 1688 and on that land where my grandchild is now the sixth generation on that land and I want my people to be there for another sixty generations.
POM. This is outside Port Elizabeth?
TD. Sunday's River Valley. You must come and visit.
POM. I want to. Next time we meet I would like to go down and just socialise, not interview.
TD. Sure, come and have a nice weekend and we go down to my little holiday house in Bushman's River Mouth, right on the river and we take the boat and go upstream and we fish and we have a beer and I invite my other friends. I've got a lot of friends with little houses there, and tell them let's all go out for the weekend and you have a Boere party and we braai and we drink a couple of beers and we sing and we enjoy life.
POM. Promise. Thank you.
TD. I look forward to that.
POM. I'll hold you to it.