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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.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

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POM     Koos, let me start by asking, you're an astute observer of the political scene and we see all kinds of apparent tensions in the ANC, we see a National Party that has lost its identity and in the view of many is embarking on a policy which hasn't got the slightest hope in hell of being achieved, attracting large numbers of black voters, you have the IFP sitting out there with there with the results of the local elections in KwaZulu/Natal and the rest of the country suggesting more than ever that it's becoming a regionally based party with its basis of support in the rural community in KwaZulu/Natal. As you try to look at all of these things and look at your own political future what way do you see the winds blowing?

KVM     Well your summary is very correct because the important factor in the ANC that is strengthening your version of events in the ANC is the fact that Mandela is going next year. We have heard very reliably that he is suffering terminally from cancer, prostate cancer, and that he has at the most a year to go. This is probably why he indicated at the end of next year he will stand down as leader of the ANC and probably also resign as President of South Africa. In other words the Madiba factor is leaving the scene. That adds further confusion to the scenario that you have set, and then also some of the Young Turks that have left, such as Holomisa, and it is not the end of Holomisa, there is also his uncle, the leader of the traditional Xhosas, Contralesa, who is also a Holomisa, and there are a number of others. So the ANC is facing a very, very uncertain future. Professor Laurie Schlemmer recently, about three, four, five weeks ago, said that his indications are that they will probably, if they are lucky, get 50% of the vote in 1999. This means that the ANC is not the logical government at the next election.

POM     Do you believe that? What do your instincts tell you?

KVM     Yes, I think so. Opposition people won't get far but when the magic charisma of Mandela is out you will probably get fewer ANCs coming to the poll, your percentage vote will be lower.

POM     Turnout will be down.

KVM     Turnout will be down. Now remembering that the ANC polled 62% of the vote, if the other parties get their people in a turnout to the polls and the ANC has a problem in getting theirs to the poll then of course their share of the poll will become smaller. All you need then is somebody like Holomisa and others and even Cyril Ramaphosa, you just need some of them taking away 5% - 6% of the vote and the ANC will drop below 50%. So the scenario about the ANC has its fingers into the 1999 elections pointing that they may actually lose the election. The next point is the National Party. The NP does not have an identity. I hear you say the same. Inside the NP at this stage we identify two streams. The one stream is those who feel that they should consolidate. They have a white base, they have a coloured base, they have an Indian base, they have a very small black base, but take that as granted then and build on that. The other stream inside the NP is the one that says no we're going out, we're going to get spectacular black support. We're not going to consolidate around fractions, whites, coloureds, Indians, we're going for the throat, we're going for the jugular, we're going for the black vote. Now these are the two streams and this is a very serious struggle inside the NP. There has been an article in Rapport two or three weeks ago highlighting exactly this problem of the two streams inside the NP. But then in a debate in parliament a few months ago I raised the issue of platform with Mr de Klerk. I spoke in parliament, I said, "Mr de Klerk your party's platform has been separate development, or self-determination, for decades. You fought the system of power sharing. You said that's poison. Then you did the unbelievable thing in 1982, you changed your policy on which you were founded, your platform of self-determination and you took the enemy's policy of power sharing."

POM     That's in 1992?

KVM     1982 when the Conservative Party was founded. And I said, "I have no quarrel with you on this, it's your choice, but you have changed your platform and you have taken the platform of the enemy. Fine. Then you went on and in 1996, this year, you abandoned the second one, the power sharing one, because you've left the government of national unity. So my question to you Mr de Klerk is what is your identity? For many decades you stood for self-determination. You changed that, you took power sharing. After twelve, thirteen years you changed that. What is now your platform? Please, sir, tell us what is your platform?" And he couldn't, he just played around because he has an identity crisis. What is the National Party these days, what is its identity? And this is the problem they have and I also have a feeling, and I base this also on evidence, and this is that people are getting tired of De Klerk. An ex-minister, whose name I won't mention, saw me the other day and he said, "I'm still very high up in the NP but we have to get rid of De Klerk, his days are past." So this is another factor. They also now have this Mhlatsi, their leader in Mpumalanga who said you are fighting the ANC in the wrong way, you shouldn't criticise the ANC as much. And there was an uproar in the NP from the white side about that. So the NP has a lot of problems but basically it has an identity problem and I don't know what is going to happen to them. One of the scenarios is that if another credible party is not formed people will still vote for them.

POM     But it will be the same constituency, they are not going to expand significantly.

KVM     The question is whether they can get significant black support and the answer is very decidedly no. The only other party in South Africa apart from the ANC that has significant black support is the IFP. Now let me just dwell for another few seconds on the NP. There is this constituency of coloured, white and Indian, shall I say, constituents and also a small portion of blacks and if they have no faith in the NP any longer what do they do? Now white people looking at General Viljoen have a big problem because it's 2½ years now and nothing much has been delivered of a volkstaat. Talks yes, a lot of talks, but people wanting to vote for the Freedom Front are asking, well what do I vote for? Do I just vote for a hope of a volkstaat? Now what paralyses the Freedom Front is they have now identified an area, this is the volkstaat, but not one of them wants to live there. I asked some of their MPs, "Are you now moving there?" "Of course not, do you expect me to go there?" They have a problem in that they don't have a credible alternative because they are not succeeding in concretising a volkstaat. It remains words, it remains theories, it remains philosophies. They don't succeed in concretising saying these are the boundaries, this is the constitution, we are moving towards a new state. They also are battling still with the question of the coloureds, whether they accept the coloureds as Afrikaners. They don't want to do that at this stage so it adds to their dilemma because in the area that they have identified the majority of people are brown.

POM     So in a sense they too suffer from an identity crisis as to who in fact is an Afrikaner?

KVM     I don't think they suffer from an identity crisis because they think that Afrikaners are white people speaking Afrikaans and identifying with the ideals of the Afrikaner but their problem is, what they are battling with, is to jump over another hurdle and this is the brown Afrikaners. If they do not accept that Afrikaans speaking brown people are also Afrikaners and that they will enjoy full citizenship rights in the volkstaat then their idea is stillborn because those people are in the majority. If they rather accept that those people are also Afrikaners and together with them at the next election fight and win the Northern Cape, if they then become the government thereof, say these are our ideals, we want to develop the Northern Cape, we want to develop in the direction eventually of a strong federal component and, who knows, eventually an independent state because it's the only way to protect the Afrikaner cultural heritage. If they can get so far then they have an identity. So at the moment what do they have? They just have theories. They are not succeeding in concretising it. Then if you go to the Democratic Party, I think they are finished, really, they will always be there like the poor.

     The other day we sat in parliament and the DP, the big liberals, said something how things should be done and then I posed the following question, I said to them, "Douglas, could you tell us what the black members of your caucus think about this?" They don't have, they don't have any black members in their caucus, not an Indian, not a coloured, nothing, so what the hell are they standing for? They are also standing for a lot of liberal ideas and I think I said this to you before, the DP has on paper the best policy, they have got the best pamphlets, the most beautiful candidates, the most eloquent and people who can articulate. They have got everything in their favour, money, the lot, contacts, they just don't have votes. They are too good to be true. People don't cotton to them, people don't vote for them. They're something that it's too good to be true. I would rather go for people who are flesh and blood people. OK, then the PAC, the PAC is suffering from leadership and also it played its cards incorrectly, wrongly, because it over-killed in the last election. One settler one bullet.

POM     That was in 1994, right? They tried to reverse it in the local elections.

KVM     They over-killed. They thought that if you come in and shoot the bloody whites they will get the votes. They got nothing. Five of them sit in parliament, they just don't get anywhere, or three, I don't even know how many there are. I don't think that they are a factor any longer, especially with their leadership problems. I don't think they are a factor. The ACDP, the other small party, it's a nice group of people, very good Christians, integrity and so on but no votes. Then we come to the Inkatha Freedom Party. We are the only party with a proven black power base, be it then regional. But we have round about two million black people voting for us and no matter how much the ANC try to ...

POM     How many of those are in KwaZulu/Natal?

KVM     It doesn't matter where they are. Let's assume they're all in KwaZulu/Natal, but then still we are the only party apart from the ANC with a significant black base. In 1994 we won 50% of the KZN vote, now we won 45%. It means our support is around 45% to 50% without doubt. That has now been proven. It wasn't just one election, it's two elections and despite all the problems we have that core and this is very significant, it's the only other political party with a significant black support base. Now what the IFP needs is to improve its image. We have been made out by our opponents to be a caricature. We are presented as boycotters, as a regional party, as a party that is violent and so forth. We are given a bad name. Now the IFP is embarking on a very exciting programme with a view to the next election. We are now half way and we have started to work with a view to the next election. We will improve our constitution.

POM     Is this the constitution in KZN?

KVM     It's the party constitution. The IFP is looking at improving our party constitution. At the moment we have various researchers working on what we call 'to fill the policy vacuums'. We are now looking at all the issues in South Africa taking a stand on all of them, that's one thing. We are streamlining our head office. We are trying to move away from the image that the ANC has created of us. We are trying to get funds which I am sure we will. What it will mean is we will from now on move forward with a highly improved image and the image will be one of a strong federalist and pluralist policy. I don't want people to vote for us because they are against the ANC or against the NP. We don't want that type of vote. We want people to vote for our policy. So we will go out and we will finalise the constitution of KZN also and we will simply govern better than the others in KZN. We will present our policy in a better way.

POM     Let's stop at that one for a moment. The government of KZN is regarded as being among the weaker of the provincial governments. Every other day there's at least one story, I mean other than the Eastern Cape which is a basket case, there's a story even today in the papers about internal audits and corruption here, corruption there, mismanagement here, money missing. One could hardly call it a well-governed province.

KVM     40%, it is reported, of overseas investments to South Africa go to KZN. The education results which came out KZN were of the highest. Sure, we also have our little problems but if you carefully analyse you will see that realistically speaking we are one of the better governed provinces and because the press is not Inkatha friendly of course they will hide the many, many examples of corruption in the other provinces and highlight the few that we have. So I would reject the notion that there is more corruption or so in KZN than elsewhere. But eventually we have to move from our black base. Now we have to link on to that blacks in other provinces. We have a programme in Gauteng, you know where we sit here in Gauteng there are 1.35 million people speaking Afrikaans, 1.25 million people speaking English and 1.1 million people speaking Zulu. So there are over a million Zulu speakers in this province. In Mpumalanga there are 1.8 Nguni people with a Zulu base. We are going to target those. So we have our plans. But even at the next election if we only succeed in retaining KZN with let's say 50%/55% then it's still we run one of the provinces and we will have two million votes and we will get more this time because we will be better organised. But I think that the IFP will move with its policy and its black support it will get more support. We will get slightly more white support, we will get slightly more Indian support, I am not sure whether we can get coloured support. But our aim is to establish ourselves at the next election as a proven national party, very strongly based in KZN but with significant support in the other provinces, in particular Mpumalanga and here.

     Another thing which will not surprise me, and this is a very personal observation and also not to be published, at any event just keep it between us for the time being, I have a gut feeling that with the politics being so fluid, as you have described in the beginning, there is another possible scenario and that is that blacks may move closer to each other. In other words Madiba, Mandela and Buthelezi are not on good terms but I believe that Mbeki and Buthelezi are on good terms. Now suppose Mbeki takes over as State President at the end of next year and he feels the problems that he is suffering from his in party and elsewhere, it's not out of the question that he may ditch one or two of his prominent communist leaders and pull in Buthelezi in some way or another making him Deputy State President for the next five years and getting his support for a revitalised or revamped ANC. That's a scenario which will mean that he will definitely then win the next election and that will leave the NP and the Freedom Front as the opposition and you will have a very strong move in the direction of a one-party state because de facto 80% will be ANC/Inkatha and can you imagine if those two cooperate and even throw in the little PAC and the blacks then stand together, then all blacks will vote for them. This is just a scenario that I have a gut feeling for. I don't say it's going to happen and I also emphasise that I haven't discussed this with anybody and I have no proof that it's going to happen but it's a scenario.

POM     Just to move back a little, many people have said to me, yes the ANC is experiencing internal problems, it's not unusual for a party that's in the process of transforming itself from a liberation movement to a political party and a government. But they say two things argue against the alliance breaking up: (i) is the aphrodisiac of power, that aphrodisiac of power makes for very strange bedfellows, sticking together you can disagree but you have the power. If you start splitting up you lose the power. Splitting up plays into the hands of your opponents, that's what they want to happen.

KVM     OK I know the argument but look at who has left the ANC. Ramaphosa is out and no matter what he says he is very hurt. I recall, I may have said this to you before, but I recall in the 1994 election a few days after the election when Mandela was inaugurated in Cape Town, my wife and I went down to some big hall where all the people were sitting and I just looked at all these thousands of people and I knew what was going to happen and I've been to millions of them and I said to my wife, "Let's fuck off, let's go." So we slipped out and we walked up to the Townhouse where there was nobody and we were now going to have a wonderful quiet lunch and watch the proceedings on TV and relax. Who do we find in the Dorphuis with one friend having a beer? Cyril Ramaphosa. Very significant.

POM     This was on inauguration day?

KVM     The inauguration day of Nelson Mandela in Cape Town. Also he didn't take up a Cabinet post. Also he left parliament now. Remember also, I'm going to paint you another scenario.

POM     Mandela was inaugurated in Pretoria?

KVM     What was that then in Cape Town? Yes he was inaugurated in Pretoria but what was the big thing, the day when parliament opened, or whatever, that big thing very close, I think it was when parliament opened when millions of people went down to the Parade and he spoke and it was a big thing. That's true, it wasn't the inauguration. Now just to interrupt myself for a moment to give you another interesting scenario, the firm R & R has operated very thoroughly in South Africa and I think it should not be under-estimated. Now who is the firm R & R? It's Roelf and Ramaphosa. Roelf Meyer and Ramaphosa became big friends during the negotiations, they stood together. Roelf is Secretary General of the National Party, he's young, he's 45 or 48 or so. Ramaphosa is also young. I think the two of them are going to surface in three, four, five years and they think between the two of them they can form a new movement, they can run it. Roelf brings the whites and Ramaphosa the blacks. That's something to watch.

     Now getting back to the scenario, the ANC can say what they want, yes I understand the theory of power. In other words I will take anybody on board, on many occasions, and I'll do it very briefly in order to emphasise what you've said about power. The book Beau Geste was filmed and what happened is there were about a hundred of these gendarmes, these Foreign Legion soldiers in the desert and then ninety of them mutinied and they decided to kill the ten officers at sunrise. One of them went to wake up the Commandant and he said in an hour they are coming for the ten of you, so he said, "Thanks." So he woke up the other ten and they took all the guns and then they woke up the others and they had them against the wall all ninety of them and they had the guns aimed at him and this Commandant was fuming and he walked up and down and he said, "It is six o'clock now you bastards, by now you would have shot me. I hate you, I'm going to shoot you personally. You are hereby sentenced to death, blah, blah, blah. I'm going to shoot you and you and you, you're dying in a few seconds you bloody bastards." Then the guard on top of the big wall shouted, "Commandant, come here." He ran up the wall and when he looked around there were about seventy-five billion Arabs on the point of charging the fort. So he ran down and he said, "Men let's settle our small differences, just look at the enemy. Grab the rifles, let's protect ourselves." Strange bedfellows. When the ANC is threatened this is what's going to happen. Those people are correct, the aphrodisiac of power will keep them together but it is also true that Ramaphosa has a long history of being out and he's officially out now, he's becoming the richest black man, he's going to be extremely powerful. He wants to be the President of South Africa. They also have Bantu Holomisa outside. They basically have Winnie Mandela outside.

POM     Where is Lekota? Does he figure in this equation?

KVM     Not really. I don't think so, I don't think so. I will speak to him when I'm back there. But there are a number of them that are really separated and divorced from them and they are bitter and they have the knives out. And remember they had 62% of the vote and if these people, as I told you, can just take away 5% from them they won't rule again. So the ANC in my book unless they come up with something spectacular like for instance roping in Buthelezi, they have a problem at the next election.

POM     No doubt in your mind about that?

KVM     Yes, unless they come up with something because there won't be a liberation election again.

POM     The media are definitely not what one would say IFP friendly and you have Mandela maintaining that the media are almost vehemently anti-ANC. Are the two true or is this ...?

KVM     You see Mandela is a passing factor. Look, black people go for a leader. If Buthelezi goes today it will be a totally different story in the IFP, they won't get half the votes that we got last time because black people go for a particular leader. They surround a leader. Now when Mandela goes don't underestimate that factor. Thabo Mbeki has not invented dynamite. He is in fact a black Englishman. He lived in England for many years. He's an Englishman, he's not a black South African, he was never part of the struggle and so on. I just feel that there are too many factors pointing at the 62% lead especially if the opposition, if the IFP is not going to find some form of cooperation with the ANC at the next election and our plans get in order we will get more than two million votes. Suppose we get 2.5 million.

POM     That's if you form some kind of partnership?

KVM     No.

POM     If you don't form?

KVM     If we don't, if we remain like last time then it means we will retain what we had and we will get some extras and the NP if they get their act together and Constand and the others, if the opposition parties can get their act together and if all opposition parties can really get a form of cooperation to stand together in a very legitimate or a credible opposition and you even rope in people like Ramaphosa and the others, then it's quite possible that at the next election there's a new government. You imagine Ramaphosa coming out and Bantu Holomisa and those, joining a coalition with Buthelezi, with De Klerk and some others, getting new leaders, getting a new direction to the country, that coupled with the fact that people realise that the ANC is not delivering. You talk to these people, they say they are not delivering, where are the promises? So if Ramaphosa comes out as the leader of the next group then your gas is cooking pal. So if after two years from now Ramaphosa becomes the leader of this combined opposition, he's the leader of a federal political party consisting of the NP, the Freedom Front and all these DP and Buthelezi and those and he leads all of us and he goes out the ANC will find it difficult to get 51% of the vote because they only have 62% and they have people leaving them.

POM     In another way you're saying that Ramaphosa has the charismatic leadership that will bring black votes with him whereas Mbeki doesn't have that kind of rapport with the people.?

KVM     He doesn't have it. The only risk there is ethnicity. Mbeki is a Xhosa and Ramaphosa is a Venda. But if you have Ramaphosa in and if you have Buthelezi in as a Zulu and if you have a person, I won't say he will come, but if you have Terror Lekota in who is a Basuto, if you only need a very prominent Xhosa then you've got it. Then if Ramaphosa is the leader and you have a federal party whereby the IFP concentrates more on KZN and then go for KZN and win it with a 65% vote. Then the opposition can win KZN with a 70% vote.

POM     Now when you say if something happened to Buthelezi, if he were to disappear from the scene, that the IFP could halve, does that not point to some kind of fundamental weakness in the party that it is in fact dependent on its support not because of it's policies or its organisation but because of an individual?

KVM     It's African. It's the same with the other parties.

POM     What happens then when he does go? He has no successor, there's no obvious successor at least.

KVM     There are one or two people who may pull enough - but what will happen is if Buthelezi, if the proverbial big red London bus tops him over today, I think the party will sit down, and they are very clever with this, I think they will probably appoint a new executive that may stop some of the haemorrhage but it will be a very sad blow. You will see the same with the ANC, they have got to adapt to Mbeki. Madiba, yes Madiba, what's his policy? Who cares? Buthelezi, I vote for Buthelezi, what's his policy? I don't know, I vote for him. This is the mass thinking.

POM     Just on that, who on the IFP would you see as potential successors who have some of the drawing power of a Buthelezi?

KVM     It's difficult to say at this stage. There's Dr Ngubane, there's Frank Mdlalose, the senior people. Let me not say they are possible successors but Dr Mdlalose is a very wise type of slow speaking, very eloquent doctor, very pure Zulu. Maybe he can stop the haemorrhage but he's also deep in his sixties. There's Dr Ben Ngubane who is a medical doctor who is not as heavy as Frank Mdlalose although he's very heavy around the stomach like me. And then there's Sipho Mzimela. There are a few but it's like you have a heavyweight and you have some middleweights. You will see the same effect, if you go back into Africa, into Zimbabwe, people voted ethnically for Mugabe or they voted ethnically for Nkomo. They didn't know what the policies were. In South West Africa what was the policy of Sam Nujoma? Who cares? It's liberation, it's our people, it's Sam, I vote for Sam. There is no such think as sitting down like scientists, like you and me political scientists, and discussing these issues. Nothing of the sort.

POM     Just to carry this a little further, what then would account for the catastrophic performance of the IFP in the urban areas in KZN? One seat in Pietermaritzburg, in Durban, Richards Bay, it was a wipe-out.

KVM     OK, it's something that disturbs us but it didn't do much to our power base because in the previous election we got 50% of the vote, now we got 45%, so it's not that disastrous when you look at the number of votes and also the ANC didn't increase much. They pushed up their 33% to 34% or 35% so it wasn't much of a movement. Of course we are concerned and as I said to you in the beginning we've got to work on our image. What I said to the IFP people is the following: the 35 year old Zulu who has a cell phone, who wears a double breasted suit, who has a briefcase, who drives around in a BMW, goes overseas three times a year, has a big business, why is he not in IFP? The up and coming youngsters, the intellectuals, are they with the IFP or not? If not why not? We are addressing that. The quality of our candidates. You see we have started that process now and I am confident that in the next election there is no doubt that we will retain the traditional Zulus, the rural ones because we have all the Amakosi with us. There are about 300 of them and only twelve are not with us, so that power base, the 45%, 50% that's a certainty. It now depends on whether we can reach the other Zulus. If we send out more prominent IFP people, not only Buthelezi, but if we sent out other people, Professor Mvilazi(?), Professor Vilakazi, so-and-so, and they go out and they appear on TV more and they reach out to the others, we can only increase our vote. So we're working on image and the reason why, I think, the reason why we lost in the cities is because our image was one of a rural party and it wasn't a natural home for the modern Zulu.

POM     Well that's the point. What kind of resources are you going to need to change that image since it's a deeply ingrained image and becoming more deeply ingrained?

KVM     I'm not so sure whether it's that deeply ingrained. It's going to be a question of how we tackle it and at the moment we are in the planning stages. On 8th December the Presidential Committee is meeting. Are you interviewing Felgate?

POM     I have interviewed him already a couple of months ago.

KVM     What does he say about image, because he is very much involved in revitalising, re-modernising our head office and so on. But the image is a question of the Presidential Committee sitting on 8th December identifying methods, overseas people are coming, we have some support from overseas from certain foundations, coming out to assist us on this matter, also financially. We're cutting down very heavily on our expenses at head office so that we have money for these things to appoint proper organisers who go along to schools and everywhere, distribute pamphlets, but go there, as I said, with a cell phone, double breasted suit, a briefcase and a BMW car, not coming in there with his traditional weapon. So we're working on that. I don't think it's very deeply rooted, I don't think so.

POM     Just to switch for a moment. When you read now, you yourself, read of the revelations and allegations of Eugene de Kock, of Brigadier Cronje, of General Johan van der Merwe saying on the instructions of Adriaan Vlok he ordered the blowing up of Khotso House and Vlok saying he did it on the instructions of PW Botha.

KVM     PW denying it.

POM     And PW denying it, but this whole string of things coming out about hit squads here and hit squads there. You're an Attorney, as an Attorney does that in your mind, would you give more credence now to Mandela's assertion in the early nineties that there was in fact an organised third force out to undermine the ANC?

KVM     I don't think so. I think it was merely legitimate government in South Africa fighting a communist enemy. The methods that they may have used, if these allegations are proven true ...

POM     This is after there has been a truce.

KVM     No it's not truth yet, who has been convicted so far?

POM     Well we're talking about the eighties.

KVM     What I'm saying is you only have De Kock who has so far been convicted and he has said a number of things but the process has not been through the courts and from that flow two factors. The first is we still have to see exactly what the extent was of the so-called third, by lack of a better description, of third force activities. We have seen only a small version or part of it. We still have to see it in its entirety. But then we also know what the ANC did. We know what they have done. What about the bomb in Pretoria? What about something like 1000 black people being killed during the struggle?

POM     But I'm talking, Koos, now about in the period when negotiations had begun, this is from August 1990 after the Pretoria Minute when violence began to break out.

KVM     When there was a cease-fire.

POM     When there was a cease-fire and then the violence began on the East Rand and then you had continuing violence for the next four years and you had Mandela saying it's a third force, this is organised, you had the people being shot down in trains, you had the horrible violence in Thokoza.

KVM     I know. I'm not going to say that there was a third force and by saying so saying that Mandela is the angel who did nothing wrong, with white hands, who has identified this devil against him. The ANC itself, let me give you an idea of who the ANC is. During the so-called struggle period 19,000 people were killed, 19,000. Of the 19,000 only 300 were white. Now what was the struggle about then? What was the struggle about if out of 19,000 casualties 18,700 were blacks? The fact that 1000 were killed with the necklace method, etc., etc., who are we dealing with? That is the devilish ANC that we're talking about. This is Mandela who now poses as an angel, who before he was sentenced to jail had planned to make 250,000 bombs to just kill white people one after the other. So who's pointing a finger, who is standing there on a high platform saying third force this and third force that. Even today they are killing our people in KZN. We have given a list of 400 and something leadership people killed in KZN. That struggle is not over yet. The ANC, still through uMkhonto weSizwe is trying to eradicate the IFP people in KZN in order to get the political power there. So whether there was a third force or not is part of the question and answer. The other question that goes with it is who is making the allegation and how clean are his hands because during that very period they were busy, the ANC third force, uMkhonto weSizwe was busy killing, maiming in KZN. There are cases that we are pulling out now of how they brought in, in the transition period, how they brought in weapons from KZN, how the police didn't prosecute them. We now have people in Middelburg starting to prosecute them because they were as guilty as, say, Vlok or the others. So there's no such thing, I think my answer should be whatever the one hand has done the other hand is as clean or as dirty as the other one, if not more dirty.

POM     You know for years when I used to talk to either Dr Buthelezi or for that matter King Zwelithini, they both would say, were insistent that the ANC was a Xhosa dominated organisation out to destroy the IFP and dominate the Zulu people. Do you believe that?

KVM     Unquestionably, even today.

POM     Do you still think it's true?

KVM     Yes. We shouldn't be childish about this. It's an ethnic thing, it is a war that has existed between those nations for a century.

POM     In KZN it's Zulu versus Zulu. This is where most of the people are killed.

KVM     Yes it's a lot of Zulu people. There are a lot of Xhosa people who have infiltrated. They have turned a large number of Zulus into ANC people who fight with them but behind everything, I'll tell you this, if Mandela today decides that OK he really wants peace, then he should withdraw his MK soldiers out of KZN and say let the IFP govern it and then the violence will go down as it was in the past, mere tribal fights and so on.

POM     So do you see the peace that exists now, or at least a relatively lower level of violence that has succeeded the local election, do you see that as being temporary, something that's artificial in a way?

KVM     I hope it's permanent, I really hope it's permanent. It could be permanent depending on how the high top echelon leadership settle the matters.

POM     That's in both parties?

KVM     Both parties. The thing is, what you mustn't forget, is this is a type of thing from the Zulu side that will never stop. They won't accept Xhosa domination. They won't accept that. And I think that Mandela is the fly in the ointment and I think if he goes, I say this with respect, if he goes and you get Thabo Mbeki, Jacob Zuma, Frank Mdlalose, Buthelezi and those moving closer to each other, you may get a new deal in KZN.

POM     Is it a paradox that in a certain way Mandela may have served his purpose and that now he's becoming a hindrance to democratisation rather than ...?

KVM     It's putting it strongly but his purpose was to give impetus to the liberation struggle, the liberation election, getting everything settled and in order for the new South Africa and then unfortunately he became too old to take it further. Fortunately for him he lasted until the negotiations were finalised, the elections were won and the new South Africa was on its way and then his petrol ran out. Now he's old and what they should do with him now for the next year is let him kiss babies and shake hands and drink tea and if they can do that and keep him out of things then he won't be an embarrassment. But he's old, he suffers from a degree of, he's a bit senile, senility.

POM     When you say 'embarrassment', in what sense do you use that term?

KVM     I have been told by ANC people that they discussed the question of bringing the vote down from 18 to maybe 16 years and then he stands up and he pleads, he says it must be brought down to 14 years.

POM     He said this before the election.

KVM     Yes but it's a start of it. Then later he also said things which were against because his memory started to go. At this stage you don't see him doing anything important any longer. I don't think he attends the Cabinet meetings regularly. He goes there for a while. Mbeki is running the Cabinet now. He is being phased out. They are worried because he says the wrong things, he forgets what they've told him to say. This is what they tell me, he's old, they love him, they don't want him to embarrass himself or the party.

POM     And yet he makes these extraordinarily strong statements and hauls black journalists in for a dressing down and ...

KVM     Which is wrong. He is getting those people against him. He is getting the intellectuals and the media against him, so he does wrong things. I think they will tolerate him, they will respect him because he's served his purpose and they just have to wait another year and he will be out.

POM     Two questions, one, why does the IFP remain in the government of national unity? If you're going to fight an election it's difficult to fight ...

KVM     You can't fight it against your bed-mate.

POM     Yes, it's difficult to say the government is responsible, it didn't do this, didn't do that, didn't do the other. Oh yes, we were part of the government but we didn't have much influence.

KVM     Firstly I wonder whether this means anything to the mass of black people. You can't explain this to them. You can say to the black people that I'm a minister in the Cabinet, I sit there with them, I can see how stupid they are. I think there you must distinguish between first world politics and third world, but the question is are we going to stand out of it and if so when? I don't know. To me this whole question of a government of national unity is like a hermaphrodite, both sexes in one person, you are both government and you are both also opposition. It's nonsense. This type of thing doesn't work. The NP withdrew but also there is no reason why we should withdraw once De Klerk withdraws. He's not playing the guitar and we sing.

POM     But you have a constitutional right to be there.

KVM     Of course, we have a constitutional right to be there and I think we will be there as long as possible and I'm linking it on to my gut feeling theory in the beginning, it's quite possible that before we withdraw there's a new deal and they remain in and a few more go in.

POM     I was going to say that in the context of if you look at the ANC, say one of the big differentiations between the ANC and the IFP prior to Mandela's release or even a couple of years into his release was that the ANC was perceived as being communist dominated, it wanted to oppose a command economy and the IFP was market-oriented.

KVM     Communist economy and the other one is violence, very important violence. Buthelezi broke with the ANC when they opted for violence. He was a member of the ANC. He never believed in that. He also never believed in harming the South African economy with sanctions and all these things. He said let's fight the fight, let's fight the struggle but not violently, let's not ruin the country's economy. We're going to have the country but let's not harm it in the meanwhile. And also he's a Christian and he is free market. These were the differences.

POM     Now if you look at the ANC today it is now more free market than ...

KVM     It's more free market, it's more federal because I spoke to some of the Premiers in the beginning and I said to them, are you a federalist? No. I said you are going to become a federalist. I said to two or three of the Premiers why. I said you're going to sign ten orders and then your officials will bring it back to you and say, "Sir, these nine you can't sign." "Why not?" "Cape Town must sign them." And every second day you will realise how little power you have and then you're going to say but damn Cape Town, we need the power here to govern on the ground, that's a natural development of federalism. So federalism is growing. One of the Premiers said to me, "Why do you worry about federalism? We're moving in a federal direction." So federalism is coming, it's changing, it's a very interesting thing that we're talking now. The ANC is moving away from its base, from its platform. The centralism that it clings to, whatever they say they are moving towards federalism because the Premiers are there, they want more power, it will move in that direction. Secondly, the economy. Their version of a strong socialist economy is disappearing, they are moving towards free market.

POM     It's gone, they going to cut the budget deficit to 4% next year, the budget Trevor Manual has presented actually provides for a reduction in government expenditure in real terms.

KVM     In other words the ANC is moving on its platform.

POM     So what are the differences between the IFP and the ANC?

KVM     That's the point, that's the point. Now you will see where my gut feeling comes from. There is a slow movement in the same direction and now that the violence is out of the system and all the other differences there needs to be a discussion, let us address the differences between us. We will find that although we are strong federalists they are moving in our direction. As far as the economy is concerned they are moving, so now what are the differences? This is why I said to you with Mandela out, with the movement kicking out one or two prominent communists it's just not out of the question that there may be a closer form of something between Mbeki and Buthelezi.

POM     Would this be even more of a possibility if neither Mandela or Buthelezi were on the scene? So you had new leadership in the ANC and new leadership in the IFP so that the antagonisms that are attached to Buthelezi which reside with ANC ...?

KVM     I don't think there is antagonism against him and I'll give you some examples. When he sits in parliament, for instance in the Senate, it's a smaller place, the other day a Senator told me, "It's amazing when the ANC people go past him they stop and they say 'Shenge'(?)". They honour him, they're different. I would say, "Good day you bastard, I hope we will lick you well and solid today." They would stop all of a sudden as if, "Oh, sayabona Shenge", and bow to him, "How are you", and go past. He's a very prominent Prince of the Zulu nation. They honour him, they go past. And I don't think there is much antagonism against him. There is no antagonism against Mandela but I just think when Mandela moves out it's as if there is an obstruction that is difficult to identify, but when he moves out things may go better.

POM     How about relations between Buthelezi and the King? Are they back on a more even keel?

KVM     I think there are signs that they are coming back. You know Buthelezi, for instance, has never turned his back against the King, despite what the King has done, siding with the ANC and so on. The Amakosi, there are 300 of them, only twelve are with the King. His whole power base, the Amakosi is his power base, Buthelezi is the chairman of the Amakosi and Buthelezi has the power as far the traditional Zulu is concerned, not the King. But he is a monarchist. This is important, he is a monarchist, he wants the kingdom to flourish so Buthelezi would want to restore the position with the King and he would want that wonderful thing of the King coming to the big events and they shout "Bayete" and all those things that make them feel Zulu again. He would want that to be restored and it will happen. There is too much pressure on the King to come home. They say he's in spiritual exile, this is what they say. He will come back. That will improve before the next election.

POM     I think I'm almost done but let me just check. I'm going to ask you the last question. I'm seeing Dr Buthelezi this afternoon.

KVM     Where?

POM     In Pretoria.

KVM     Yes?

POM     At least I hope I am, I was supposed to have seen him yesterday and he transferred it to today.

KVM     No he will see you.

POM     He's the only person by the way, I've seen him every year since 1990, and he is the only person I've seen other than yourself and one of two others, every year but when I write to him asking to see him he actually responds in person on a typewriter and the letter says, "I am under such stress and strain and I've got this horrible agenda", and I'm always looking for the bottom line, 'so I won't be able to see you this year'. And he ends up saying, "So the only time I can see you will be at three o'clock in Pretoria on ..." What questions should I ask him? If you had five questions you wanted to put to him?

KVM     I'd ask him number one, Mbeki. Does he see an improvement in the political relationships when Madiba is out and Mbeki is in? Number two is Ramaphosa. Does he see Ramaphosa surfacing at a later stage to become a power? You mustn't talk to him about succession, any successors of his. That is not discussed. I would talk to him about the King, what is his relationship with the King? Ask him about his position with the Afrikaner because he did the extraordinary thing a few months ago to apologise on behalf of the Zulu nation to the Afrikaner for the killing of Piet Retief and his men by King Dingaan which was a magnificent thing to do.

POM     The killing of?

KVM     Piet Retief.

POM     Yes I remember that.

KVM     He apologised for that. King Dingaan. I think what you must also ask him is does he think that the IFP can improve the image of the IFP to such a degree that the modern urban Zulu will embrace it?

POM     One last one.

KVM     Let me think a little. What else can you ask him? Ask him whether it will be possible before the next election to prove conclusively that the IFP in KZN was the best government of the nine provinces? In other words vote for us because look what we've accomplished in KZN, we are the best at government, we governed our province best of all.

POM     Just a couple of last questions, Koos. One is the IFP returned to the Constitutional Assembly and then it very quickly walked out again.

KVM     No we didn't return, we didn't return, our people merely went there for one or two days to see what's going on and they asked something about the rights of the traditional leaders and it was clear that there is nothing in it for us. So they came back and they reported, no it's no use going back, so we were not back.

POM     Is the Council of provincial leaders, the body that is to take the place of the Senate, will this strengthen the powers of the province or is it designed to weaken it, or does anybody know?

KVM     I don't know if anybody knows but maybe the fact that the Premiers and the people of the provinces now have a more direct presence in the Senate. Maybe that will improve the actual idea of the Senate, namely to represent the provinces because in the past you had the province sitting somewhere in the country and you had the Senators sitting in Cape Town and there was no direct link between them. Those in Cape Town were talking on behalf of the provinces but they didn't really communicate with the provinces and so on. Now the Premier and some of his people will physically sit in the Senate from time to time.

POM     That's no longer, it will be in the Council of Provinces.

KVM     Well we call it the NCOP. They will physically be there so in other words maybe this is a good idea, namely to have an umbilical cord, an existing concretised umbilical cord between the provinces and NCOP.

POM     Would you see it as an improvement over the situation that exists?

KVM     Yes it looks promising. We will have to see how it works but that on the communication side at least may be an improvement.

POM     OK, thanks.

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.