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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
27 Nov 1996: Buthelezi, Mangosuthu
POM Dr Buthelezi, perhaps we could begin with you giving maybe a short summary of your trip to New Zealand. You were there for a conference on indigenous people I believe and you were one of the principal speakers at the conference. Perhaps you could tell me what conclusions the conference came to, what the outcome of it was and where this movement of indigenous people is going?
MB Actually it was a world Christian gathering on indigenous people and it was mainly a Christian gathering of Christians right across the world, of indigenous peoples from the United States, Canada, the Asian people, us from Africa, etc., and it was concerned only with Christian worship and the extent which indigenous idiom and indigenous language and indigenous forms of liturgy can be used. That was all. It was not occupied with anything more than that so the whole week it was just that and each people from various countries demonstrated their own way in which they are trying to involve their indigenous culture into Christian worship and of course then I merely went to Wellington to see the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister and I had a lunch set up by the chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Portfolio Committee of parliament, that's all.
POM Let me return to things here in South Africa. When the Constitutional Court returned the constitution to the Constitutional Assembly it seemed for a moment that the IFP rejoined the negotiating process and then dropped out of it. Did the IFP formally rejoin the process or did they go back merely to observe whether or not their concerns could be met and why did the party leave so quickly?
MB It really angers me because it was just false propaganda by the press. We never rejoined ever since we left in February 1995. All that happened is that when the constitution was returned some people were tasked to see the ANC to find out whether they were in a mood to try and produce an all-inclusive constitution in spite of the fact that there are so many things about which we are dissatisfied and, secondly, whether they should get out of the time frames in which they locked themselves, that by the end of October this thing was done. So to say that the IFP rejoined, it's cheap propaganda by the media because we never did so. Then it was committee, when they discovered that the ANC was not prepared to do those things then of course we couldn't proceed any further because there was no point. That's all that happened.
POM So once again the ANC weren't prepared to make any concessions regarding the issues that you had constantly raised over the previous 2½ years?
MB Yes, they adopted what I must call a minimalist approach to the whole issue of putting right those things which the Constitutional Court had said should be put right, whereas we thought that they could reopen up issues, it was an opportunity to open up certain issues and actually try and amend more substantially the constitution, the final constitution but they were not in the mood for that. They declined.
POM Did the amendments that they did make in the constitution meet in any substantial way your misgivings and objections to the constitution as it was first formulated?
MB I've already said that they were not prepared to, they adopted a minimalist approach, in other words just to satisfy what in their view was what could satisfy the Constitutional Court. They were not prepared to make the substantive amendments that we needed.
POM It looks at the moment that the Constitutional Court is going to certify the constitution. If it does so what recourses do you have to pursue your constitutional objectives?
MB I really don't know. What happened in America? Once the constitution is produced the subject is final, what can one do? I don't see what one can say about that because this is the final constitution.
POM And you would accept it but accept it ...?
MB It's not a question of accepting it. We will be ruled under constitutions we didn't accept, by ruling parties, but it didn't mean to say that we accepted them.
POM What about this new chamber that's been created, the Council of Provinces? Does this in any way strengthen the role of the provinces in government or do you think it's intended to bring the provinces more under the control of the national government?
MB I think so, yes I think so because in fact it seems to me that it's to put a seal on centralisation, a real seal that they have a centralist, autocratic constitution if that is possible. So there is no doubt about the fact that it destroys any idea that there can be any autonomy of any kind enjoyed by provinces.
POM So it's anti-federalist?
MB It is, it's definitely central, I think central is anti-federalist, it is the opposite of federation.
POM Last year you had talked about the ANC wanting to establish an autocratic state and being an autocratic party. A year later is that still your view? Is it even a stronger view and if it is what would you point to as evidence?
MB I have just said so now that they want to do just that. Nothing has changed at all.
POM Why not take the case of Patrick Lekota because my reading of the constitution, just in my layman's reading, I didn't understand how the National Executive of a party could remove the entire government and Cabinet of a province and secondly how they could perhaps replace the Premier with somebody who wasn't even elected to the provincial legislature at all.
MB In fact that's a very good example because we were all as flabbergasted as you are, we were quite surprised. Speaking also, not being a lawyer, as a layman, I am quite flummoxed about how they could get away with that kind of situation of removing a Premier and of replacing the whole Cabinet because I think that as far as I know in 1994 we had lists, so if anyone resigns or if anything happens to anyone or a person dies you go back to the list. Now, for instance, they mentioned Dr Matsepe-Casaburri as a possible candidate who is not even, I don't think she was on the list even.
POM She wasn't, no.
MB Then I don't know how they can get away with that. It's a mystery to me. I agree with you.
POM Again, and this reiterates in a way many of the things we've talked about before, but no-one has seriously raised these issues. There have been no editorials or opinion makers aren't saying, hey the constitution was not intended to do this, this is not only against the - I don't know whether it's against the letter of the constitution but it's certainly against the spirit of the constitution.
MB I agree entirely with that. It's amazing in this country why in a way the press can be good but I think that ever since the "miracle" took place in 1994 they think anything that portrays a different picture about the so-called miracle and that shows that we are in Disneyland politically speaking, constitutionally speaking, they are trying to suppress. There was an article concerning the Council of Provinces which was in the Business Day I think. I was going to cut it out, I don't know what happened to that paper, where they were actually feeling as you and I do that there was more centralisation and more reduction of provincial powers by setting up a council of that kind. Now as far as the matter of Mr Lekota is concerned, there have been protests, it's obvious that the people want him and yet the National Executive of the ANC have just gone ahead as if there is no protest, they have just disregarded all the protests about removing Mr Lekota and his Cabinet from the government of the Free State.
POM Two follow up questions on that. One is, do you not find it a little bit puzzling or maybe even funny that given the way the IFP is treated in the media and the manner in which you have been treated over the years that President Mandela comes along and excoriates black members of the press for not telling it as it is?
MB I found that development interesting because the same journalists now that he has fallen out with are the same journalists that have been involved in his adulation from the very word go and it's really interesting how when they raise certain matters Mr Mandela then raises the race issue and he says that they seem to be doing this because they are in the employ of conservative whites. It's a very strange thing in itself, that development is most interesting. But I think that it's also interesting from the point of view that the adulation, of course, was not confined to South Africa, all sorts of things have been said about our President being like Christ and being the resurrection of Christ and things like that and being a saint and being the icon and so on. So it's interesting from all those points of view.
POM Do you think it showed on his part a lack of understanding of what a free press should be able to do in a democracy?
MB No I think he was showing his true colours because if you take, for instance, what happened in 1994, which we have discussed hundreds of times with you, when he signed that agreement on international mediation and the disdain with which he treated that, that is the real Mr Mandela, that's how he is really in point of fact. He has got that dictatorial streak in him and that is the reason that because he was leader of a majority party and because of the adulation that he was getting that he could do no wrong, then he treated us with that kind of disdain. What is happening with the press, I don't even think that's as serious as what I'm talking about now. I think what I'm talking about is even far more serious, is far more serious than the way he's treating the press. But the incident where he has treated the press as he has done is interesting insofar as it reveals his true image, the kind of person he really is because I have had many complaints even about how he behaves in the caucus for instance, in the caucus of his party and some people have complained about that and some people, for instance, were saying that it's a good thing that he's retiring and so on, some people, I won't say a substantial number, but some people said so.
POM Is the Mandela that you know of recent years different than the Mandela you knew?
MB Well actually I really don't want to get into family matters but I did once speak to Mrs Mandela about the time that she was removed from government and, of course, we have been friends with the Mandelas for many, many years, and I said that I didn't think he was the man I knew. Her reaction, of course, can be taken as the reaction of someone who was angry, who felt wronged, but her reaction was that there was a coterie of people who were controlling the President. But I don't know of course how valid that allegation of hers is.
POM This raises the question, and I've put it to many people, who really runs the country? Is it the National Executive Committee of the ANC, Cabinet or the executive and parliament together, or are the real decisions taken by the NEC of the ANC and passed down to their ministers?
MB I honestly, a very honest opinion, I think it is actually the NEC of the ANC that's ruling the country and not the executive. I think that whatever they decide in their caucus and what is decided by the NEC is what prevails. Of course even there they are constrained by what is going on, as you can see even in today's paper, there is this problem which has arisen where the tripartite partners of the ANC, as the ruling party, that is the S A Communist Party and COSATU want to call the tune insofar as for instance from the Cabinet's point of view we as a government of national unity decided on this macro-economic strategy to try and build up the economy of the country and so on and to privatise and so on, but in fact both COSATU and the Communist Party have opposed that. So they are still constrained as well by that because although Mr Mandela has spoken very strongly against that development but this is the truth of the matter, that the things are not going as fast as they would have gone taking into account that the Cabinet unanimously accepted this plan but they are obstructing it being implemented.
POM If you had to blame or assess the failure of this government, would it be not a failure now of maybe having the right plans but a failure of being able to execute and implement them?
MB There is a failure to execute them where they are even obstructed from implementing what they have decided, what even I as a party in the government of national unity which is opposed to their policy, have agreed upon because we have agreed on that with them but in fact it is now even President Mandela and the ANC are being overruled by their partners, their election partners, the Communist Party and COSATU.
POM When you, and I know you don't like speculative questions, but as a political party you must look at different scenarios or political scenarios when you start planning for the future, many people say that a split in the tripartite alliance is inevitable, that it's too broad a church and accommodates too many interests and that at some point in time, maybe not before this election but afterwards it will split. Others say nonsense, that power is a powerful aphrodisiac, that if you're going to lose power by splitting you contain your divisions within and keep power rather than give it up. Which do you think is the more likely scenario as you look down the road?
MB Honestly I think the latter, I would prefer the latter because I think while it's quite clear they cannot operate like this ad infinitum, by operating this way which I've just described to you, they actually obstruct, their people obstruct the government and so on. But at the same time I think if their hold to power is threatened I think then they close ranks. That's my own feeling but, of course, as you rightly say, I never really want to be very prophetic about what will happen but I would rather support that view myself.
POM How about the National Party? Here too you have a party that is now embarking on a strategy in the belief that it can attract large numbers of African voters. Now most people I have talked to say this is fantasy, that the idea of large numbers of Africans voting for the NP is just not real.
MB Well, Professor, I don't know. There are Africans who have joined them but I don't know whether they can join them in large numbers. I think of course what they are doing through the Truth & Reconciliation Commission, they are trying to do to us too, where they are trying to rake up the past and so on, I think that is also not going to be conducive to them amassing black supporters, I don't think so, amassing black support. I think that is done by the ANC.
POM Do you see the Truth Commission as (i) an obstacle to reconciliation, (ii) do you see it as being partisan and if it were to operate effectively what would make it non-partisan?
MB Well in fact my party was always opposed to the Truth Commission and I, of course, add that black people in Zimbabwe and people in Namibia there were so-called armed struggles there too but they didn't have to go through this process. I honestly believe myself that it's no more than an apparatus which they use as a witch-hunt against their political opponents and I think that our predictions as far as it is concerned have been proven because you say even yesterday, I'm sure you may have seen, that even the Archbishop himself was quite angered by the fact that some of the commissioners are in fact biased, which is the case. And then last Wednesday also Mr David Ntombela who is a member of the IFP in the KwaZulu/Natal parliament, was almost killed. So it seems to me that it's very unlikely that this commission can bring about reconciliation. I don't think it can.
POM What do you think could bring about reconciliation? What do you think the process must be?
MB Well it's very difficult if one is not a god to say what the recipe is but I think that honesty with each other is the best thing. I don't think that you bring about reconciliation, for instance, by behaving as the ANC did this year when on 15th March this year a constitution for KwaZulu/Natal was voted for by all parties including the ANC, with their support, and then here at national level, here the ANC hired the best lawyers in this country to ensure that that constitution was not certified. You don't build faith, you don't build trust that way and without trust I can't see that you can have real reconciliation. I don't think that's the way to go about it if we genuinely want reconciliation.
POM What kind of concrete steps would you outline if you had to make suggestions to Archbishop Tutu and say, "Listen if you want real reconciliation I suggest you do the following, or you move in the following directions?"
MB I think that Archbishop Tutu himself, I don't know whether he's really in a position to sort this out because he did have the attitude too, I remember that councillor at Uitenhage when they killed him with this terrible thing of hanging a tyre around him and his sons, that they were the same people who wanted for those people who were convicted, they wanted clemency for them and I think the Archbishop was involved in that. And that, of course, flows from the belief that there are two kinds of people, that there is justified anger which justifies a certain wrath which justifies certain action, that the people were angry because they believed that the councillor was a stooge of the apartheid government and therefore people should be shown more leniency because of that. It's the sort of thing that the Premier of Mpumalanga, Mr Matthews Phosa, has said that they are like Moses, they cannot be treated like the people who committed human rights violations who were members of the National Party because they were like Moses who liberated the people of Israel, the Jews from Egypt. And if that is the attitude of the Archbishop too, I don't know whether it is, but I have told you that in the past he tended to support that kind of thinking, that you can treat people differently because some others have some moral cover because they were liberators and others cannot be judged in the same way. As long as you have that, if he hasn't got that, since you say, what can I say to him? If that is actually completely expunged from his judgement of what is going on then I would think that it would be possible to bring some kind of reconciliation but as long as that is the case I don't see how.
POM When you hear the revelations or the allegations of Eugene de Kock at his trial or after his trial and statements of Brigadier Cronjé and General Johan van der Merwe going before the commission and saying that he blew up Khotso House on the instructions of Adriaan Vlok who said he got instructions from PW Botha, and you see other senior police stepping forward to at least make statements, do you think that lends more credibility or more credence to President Mandela's statement in the early nineties that there was a third force, that it was an organised third force and that it was out to destroy and undermine the entire peace process?
MB I really don't know, how can anyone like Mr Mandela who is the founder of the military wing of the ANC, uMkhonto weSizwe which was nothing more than a collection of hit squads themselves, who also planted bombs here in Pretoria and other places which killed people even innocent children, I don't see how one then can pontificate like that because then unless you believe in these judgements where some are more racist than others, I don't see how you can say so because while it's deplorable that the government did those things, I can never condone them, but one must understand that there was a kind of war and that when people are in war - for instance you may ask me when you mention Mr de Kock, there were allegations which he made about some of the IFP people here in Gauteng. Now I didn't know anything about it, about Mr Khoza and so on, I don't know whether Mr Khoza did those things because he denies them, but whether he did them or not if you look at the kind of violence that was taking place here and if you know human nature one can understand that people would take the law into their own hands and do whatever they thought would prevent them from being pulverised by the forces of those who were engaged in the people's war, and the people's war was the ANC war. They declared a people's war, those are their words, "people's war", with the slogan, "Every patriot a combatant, every combatant a patriot", and this war was directed not only against the regime but against anyone that they designated a collaborator and that, of course, included anyone who didn't support their strategy of violence. Now they were involved to that extent themselves, now to come and talk about third forces and so on really it doesn't make sense to me.
POM Let me go back for a moment to your participation in the government of national unity. Now the IFP would be the junior partner in that arrangement. If the situation were reversed and the IFP were the dominant partner in government and the ANC the junior partner, what would you do differently in government than the ANC is doing now?
MB Well, for instance, I think constitution states that we should take decisions by consensus. Even when Mr de Klerk and the National Party were partners in the government of national unity but in fact I think that they have always used majoritarian, made decisions on a majoritarian basis, on the basis of their majority, which I think of course if one is really operating in the true spirit of a government of national unity one would respect that but the ruling party has never respected that at all. They have always, even in the Cabinet, I mean I've objected to hundreds of things since I operated with them in 1994 up to now, but they will always just say to the Secretariat, "Oh please note what the Minister of Home Affairs says", and they just proceed as if I haven't said anything. I think when people are as powerful as the ruling party is they can afford to be gracious and magnanimous. That's all I can say.
POM Do you not find that enormously frustrating, to sit there in Cabinet meetings and have points to make, valid points and just to hear a voice say, "Please take note of what the Minister for Home Affairs has said", and move on?
MB Well I am sure you would find it frustrating yourself as anybody would find it frustrating. I don't see that I have more to say about it.
POM Many people, and many in your party, fairly senior people in your party have said to me that now that the ANC policy-wise is moving more in the direction of the IFP, that it has adopted free market, that the macro-economic plan is predicated on cutting the deficit to 4%, on cutting real government expenditure, on investment by the private sector, that it's been endorsed completely by the World Bank and by the IMF as being the proper course to go, that the socialists are a withering wing in the party, that you both as parties want to bring about a transformation that will take care of the poor and the needy. Are there any real policy differences between the IFP and the ANC that you would point to?
MB I really don't understand your thinking, of course people think differently. But that's not how I think myself. I think the differences between us are very fundamental. The issue of the form of the state I don't think is a bridgeable difference and it seems to me that is more important than our agreements on the macro-economic strategy approach.
POM That's your difference on the form of the state?
MB Yes. Centralisation, we have suffered all these years because the previous regime centralised, of course, and used their enormous powers to force everyone into their way and I don't see that it is different now. While I agree, I have already stated before you put this question, that I agree totally with the macro-economic strategy myself but that is just one aspect but I think that on the whole I would say my difference with them is a difference on, for instance, the form of state insofar as I don't think that even with the macro-economic strategy we are going to be able to deliver if you don't do so through autonomous provinces and the more you strangle provinces you're not going to deliver. That's why the Reconstruction and Development Programme has not really gone very far because one can do that by delivering through the provinces.
POM Do you find it, again, maybe of some amusement in a way that many, or some at least of the ANC premiers, do you not find it interesting that some of the ANC premiers seem to be moving in the direction of looking for more autonomy, looking for more power, that there is in fact a section in the ANC particularly at the provincial level that is tired of control from the centre and are looking to exercise more authority and get things done?
MB This is more theoretical really. I mean where is that happening? Is there any push in the ANC? I haven't seen any revolution about that. I know that, for instance, the Premier of Gauteng, here where we are, wanted autonomy and I think he was disciplined. I have never heard any word about it any more. He used to say, for instance, to some of my colleagues that I was doing them a great favour because I shake the tree, as he put it, and they pick up the apples because I shake the tree. He used to talk like that but I don't think that it would be right for me to give the impression to you or to whoever hears my words here that there is anything that I can point at concretely where these premiers are actually revolting. Yes, before, even Mr Phosa, the premier of Mpumalanga, two or three years ago they were actually very supportive of me but I don't see that one can realistically say, as of now, and say that they are doing anything. What is it that they are doing towards that? They may feel that way, I don't know whether they still feel that way, I don't know. As good party members maybe they have given up. I don't know.
POM Do you think that with Mr Mandela stepping down first of all as president of the ANC and then as president of the country and presumably unless their is a seismic change of some sorts, Mr Mbeki becoming president of both the ANC and perhaps subsequently the president of the country, do you think you could have a better working relationship with him and that might help narrow the differences between the ANC and the IFP on such issues as the form of the state or do you think these are absolute differences that will remain no matter who is in charge of the ANC?
MB No, Professor, I have no evidence myself that it would be different. In fact if I look back a few years ago when this issue of the agreement on international mediation, President Mandela actually passed on the issue to Mr Mbeki to handle it but in fact Mr Mbeki was even more harsh. Whereas in the past we all blamed Ramaphosa for aborting the first international mediation in 1994, but Mr Mbeki actually with the exchanges that we had at that time and his attitude towards international mediation was just not different from Mr Mandela. So I couldn't really, I think it would be childish of me to say that once he is in power it would be different. Yes it is true that I find him very reasonable. I sit next to him in the Cabinet and I have known him for a long time too but I think that as a party leader I don't see that he can be different because if you remember, for instance, there was a document before the last conference of the ANC which was drafted by Mr Mbeki where in fact he was condemning federation, any idea of a federal state in this country. So for me then to say that he will be different I think it would be very childish. I have no evidence to support that view.
POM The local elections particularly in KwaZulu/Natal, an overall victory for the IFP but the vote rooted very firmly in the rural areas, with the ANC taking by large margins Durban, Pietermaritzburg, Richards Bay, the urban areas.
MB That was not all urban areas, those yes, but it's false to say all urban areas, we did win some towns too. But that is true, I'm not disputing that.
POM One, were you disappointed with the results?
MB Well actually if one is analytical, 56% of the voters did not vote, 56%. I don't think in any country, I don't think that one could just ignore that and I believe myself that the majority of those people who didn't vote were actually my supporters. So I was disappointed, yes, but I must look at it against that background. I did feel that the leadership of the IFP could have operated better especially in the Durban metro than they did and I did feel that, for instance, I have said to them that we must do our utmost to ensure that our supporters are actually ferried to the booth. This did not happen so therefore I don't see what more I can say about that. I was disappointed but that was the kind of scenario we are facing.
POM So what's your response to those who say that the results overall indicate that the IFP is becoming increasingly a regional party with its base of support firmly in rural areas which espouse traditional values?
MB Well you are entitled to describe it any way you like.
POM I'm not describing it that way.
MB I'm not now debating all those clever descriptions of describing my party. I'm not going to do that because they are entitled to their own opinions. But even recently HSRC showed just now, although I'm not a person who really believes so much in these surveys, but recently a survey was done which showed that we are the only party that was growing. I don't know, I'm sure you're aware of that. So what can I say to that? These things fluctuate and one can never really pontificate like that and recently I think the ANC did try, for instance when they were getting the overall ... in charge of the whole of KwaZulu/Natal they were trying to foist the Mayor of the Durban metro but in fact they were defeated because we are in the majority in fact as far as that is concerned. They were defeated, so the person in charge is an IFP member.
POM So do you feel that when the party strategises for the next election that it must develop a strategy that will appeal to let's say an educated Zulu with a briefcase, with a double breasted suit, driving the latest model Toyota or Honda or BMW or whatever?
MB All those images, Professor, I'm not prepared to debate against those because I have Zulus like that in the IFP as well, but you actually generalise and say all Zulus of that kind are not in the IFP. I'm not prepared to go into that. I have got some intellectuals, I've got some people like that in my party.
POM No, I'm not saying that, no, Dr Buthelezi, I'm not saying that. What I'm saying is what kind of strategy do you think you need to develop to increase your voter support base nationally?
MB Well that is a matter for the party, it's not a matter for Buthelezi as a person that you can get out of me. I have spoken to the party during the general conference and said we should restructure and position ourselves but beyond that I'm not going to say in an interview like this, "Well I'm going to do this to get the briefcase people or the Mercedes people." I can't really talk like that. It's too petty.
POM How about your relationship with King Zwelithini? Have the strains that existed ...?
MB What strains?
POM Well the strains that have been published for the last two or three years.
MB I have never quarrelled with the King. I think I have told you even before. I think I remember telling you that I never quarrelled with the King but the King was lured by ANC because they believed that he would give them Zulu voters by doing so. So to say there is a strain on my part, it angers me because there has never been one word that I have crossed with the King. But the King is such a person that he can be lured by people when the promise him all sorts of things and this is what Mr Mandela and the ANC did to him.
POM Has he now seen through those ways?
MB Well I don't know, you can ask that from him. All I can say is that there was a meeting on the 15th of last month at his palace where were present ANC leaders and some of my colleagues like Dr Mdlalose were present where they were trying to bring about some kind of rapprochement as far as those rifts which have been created by the ANC are concerned and he was trying to co-operate as far as that is concerned. I think they put him under enormous pressure and if I were him I will be afraid because these people, some of these people are quite capable of doing him harm, personal harm as well. I think that he has put himself in a serious quandary because even the day - as far as that is concerned there was nothing in fact in the discussion of five hours, there was not one bad word that was quoted that I have ever exchanged with him. In fact I said so, I have never said, even some of the spokesmen that he had, there is this pip-squeak called Siphiso Zulu, he was making all sorts of statements abusing me. I never said a word about it, I never retaliated, I never tried to belittle the King in any way because I was not brought up to do things like that.
POM I want to state this the right way. You met with him?
MB I just told you, told you now.
POM Was he receptive to what you had to say?
MB I have just told you now, Professor, I said that he himself participated in that because he himself wanted some rapprochement. I don't know what more can I say? I have just told you so.
POM You did something quite extraordinary some time ago and that is that you apologised to Afrikaners for the killing of Piet Retief by King Dingaan. What is your relationship to the Afrikaner?
MB In fact I think you had better read the submission itself. Unfortunately my secretary is not here, because that submission was actually a speech I had given in 1991 at the Prayer Breakfast in Durban where I said so. I was not prompted by the Truth Commission or anyone. I was talking about reconciliation from my point of view, saying that if there is going to be forgiveness then there should be confession and after confession forgiveness.
POM The submissions to the Truth Commission.
MB The Truth Commission, because we said we are not participating but we would make submissions and Dr Mdlalose, our National Chairman, myself and Ben Ngubane made submissions on behalf of the IFP and then in the submission I actually quoted what I said at the Prayer Breakfast where I apologised for the past and I said that even though it was not in this context, it was in 1838 that that happened, but for everything that was done by my people against the others in the past I apologised. Even though I have never orchestrated violence against the ANC I said also for things that my party did to the ANC I apologise to Mr Mandela. And that was long before the Truth Commission.
POM The constitution as it is provides for a multi-party system of governance in the country. Do you think at the present point in time there is a viable multi-party system in place at the national level or that the country is a de facto one-party state?
MB It's a de facto one-party state, yes.
POM What must be done, if it's in the constitution that there shall be a multi-party system, what should the government be doing, or should it be doing anything to foster the development of a viable multi-party system?
MB Well I don't think it's for me to dictate that. It's for them if they believe in that to behave as if they believe in that. But the behaviour of the past is that not only were our members killed. For instance, what happened last Wednesday, I have already told you, that they almost killed a member of parliament, the ANC people almost killed a member of parliament of my party. That's how intolerant they are. That's why they've killed thousands of my followers because of their intolerance and it's not only IFP members that they killed, they also killed members of AZAPO and others who were not IFP. There was a lot of intimidation up to 1994, there is a lot of intimidation even now. Even now there is a lot of intimidation. For instance, I went to Umzimkulu a few months ago and I was invited there to inaugurate some branches of the IFP and in fact I could see with my own eyes and there was a fence not very far from where we were, some of these people were standing preventing people from coming to my meeting, just a few months ago. If you want a multi-party you don't do that, you believe that people are going to be attracted by your philosophy and join you because they are convinced that that is the way they want to go.
POM I was going to ask you that, that since the local elections there has been a diminution in the level of political violence, do you think that is so?
MB I have just told you about the member of parliament, that they almost killed him. It was on television throughout the country, you didn't see it? I don't know. Because it was on television where they almost killed him.
POM I'm not saying that political violence isn't occurring, I'm saying that the level is not the same as it was before.
MB The level is not there, but the fact is that people are still dying even now. People in the Midlands, in the KwaZulu/Natal Midlands until a few months ago, now and then people get killed there, even now, even if it's not as intense as it was last year, for instance.
POM Is it an uneasy peace?
MB It is an uneasy peace because they have been standing off occasions where there was the leader of the ANC in KwaZulu/Natal, Mr Zuma and Dr Mdlalose as the National Chairman and Premier where people were almost clashing, where the police were there in big numbers. Those are things that happened just this year, not last year, just this year. So it's no use, we should be grateful that there are not so many people dying every day but not pretend that everything now is fine because it isn't.
POM Are there many no-go areas where IFP supporters simply can't come out and either vote or declare their support for the party?
MB Richmond where recently one of the leaders of the Midlands, Mr Nkabinde was given the freedom of Richmond, there it's a no-go area for us, it's an area where even the police dare not go, even the police are afraid to go there as we speak now.
POM Do you find the police in KwaZulu/Natal to be impartial or do you think that with the restructuring that many former members of the uMkhonto are now members of the police force in particular and that they are biased or partisan in what they do and what they pursue?
MB In KwaZulu/Natal many members of the IFP were killed by some members of the army and some were killed by policemen, even in places like Escourt there were definite cases there, some which were in court, I don't know whether they were ever finalised, where policemen were killing our members.
POM So in the run-up to the next election, are you fearful that violence will break out again on a large scale and what must be done and who must do it to try to bring the situation permanently under control?
MB Well I wouldn't say I'm fearful but where people are still losing lives now I am apprehensive about that. I can't pretend that I am at ease about it because deaths of people concern me and I don't think that it can be said that the situation in 1999 is going to be different. I have no evidence to show that. There are many things that happen even now between us in the IFP, even the case of Malan for instance. The way that they say some things must be taken to the Truth Commission and yet they try to scratch around for cases where they think that would put me and the IFP in bad light, they scrap around for those cases. The case in point is that of General Malan where a member of my party and an office bearer was charged and when he was acquitted by the judge the ANC made a lot of noise, including Archbishop Tutu. Where can I say, therefore, in these circumstances that one is likely to see a different story because that shows that they actually have not changed?
POM So you, again, in KwaZulu/Natal even though you enjoy majority?
MB Even here, even here I think that probably I will look for a report here which you can read at your leisure of a judge, a judge's report here in Gauteng where members of my party, United Workers Union of South Africa, UWUSA members were killed and some Zulus now even one who was even a member of the ANC but being a Zulu there is still some ethnic cleansing even now and there is a report here which I can show you which is not more than two or three months old. Those things are happening, even if the press is now crowing about them but they are there, they are happening, they are the reality as distinct from what wishful thinking is.
POM When you look at the reality, what is the reality of South Africa to you? You have the marketeers going abroad saying the country is slowly normalising, it's a good place for foreign investment. I know that KwaZulu/Natal gets - I think 40% of all foreign investment last year went to KwaZulu/Natal despite the fact that it's supposed to be a dangerous place or there is a level of violence. But what is the reality of South Africa to you, of the new South Africa to you 2½ years after the "miracle" of 1994?
MB This morning I was reading the first page of the paper that a man was strangled to death last night and his wife was shot at or assaulted. That is every day if you pick up the paper like that and read that, that is the ugly reality of what we are living in and that's the reason why people are constrained from coming irrespective of the fact that we are marketing our country, we do want our country to really attract investments so that our unemployed people can get jobs, but that is the reality that the crime in this country has never been worse than it is now.
POM Are you worried about the future of democracy in the country?
MB In these circumstances what can one say? All the things that we have been talking about with you all this time, surely there is no democratic culture here as I understand it anyway. I don't think there is any democratic culture.
POM Just one or two last questions. One is, who can you work with on the ANC side to say we've got to get a grip on this violence because if we don't our people are just murdering each other?
MB Well let me show you, there's a peace initiative which was started in May in KwaZulu/Natal which started in the legislature of KwaZulu/Natal which was brought down, which both Mr Mandela and I endorsed. But even that has not really brought about lasting peace in KwaZulu/Natal. In fact you cannot ask me who can I work with, because I try, even now even though we are alienated from each other, I try to work for peace. Even on Saturday we had a meeting of the IFP National Council and we even passed resolutions there saying that we were committed to peace.
POM You're still trying to work with President Mandela?
MB What choice do I have? He's in charge and I have to try to work with him as best I can however difficult it may be.
POM Do you find that he is receptive to your approaches and efforts?
MB If a person cannot fulfil an agreement, how can I say that? He has not fulfilled the agreement we made with him, he has not shown that he is a man of his word, so what can I say?
POM Finally I just want to talk about the government of KwaZulu/Natal. When you compare it to the governments in the other provinces how do you think it compares? Would you think it's among the best, average?
MB I've never done a calculation but I just know that provinces will not deliver as long as they are not autonomous. I don't think that there is anything more, except that in terms of propaganda in the press, they are always in the press and so on compared with the government of KwaZulu/Natal and I know that the government of KwaZulu/Natal being an IFP government the ANC now controlling all the powers of state like the police and so on do their damndest to ensure that we don't, that the IFP government doesn't succeed.
POM On that I will leave it and thank you once again for taking the time and I look forward to seeing you next year in good health.