This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
28 Feb 1997: Konigkramer, Arthur
POM. Arthur, to begin with the most obvious question, that you don't have time any longer to enjoy the good things in life and this should be a time when you ought to be enjoying the good things in life, what's the contradiction?
AK. I don't have that time, it's unfortunate. I think it's actually bad because if you look at this beautiful table and the lovely bead work I set these things up when I still had time to really do good things. I don't have that time any more.
POM. What's happening in KwaZulu-Natal since I talked to you last? Looking over the span of the last three years just taking a broad picture, do you think things have improved generally, that things are going in the right direction or that there are still serious outstanding problems that need to be faced and addressed?
AK. I think first of all we've definitely got violence under control. There are going to be outbreaks of violence, there are going to be flash points but I think in general we've got violence under control. There is a new spirit of reconciliation between the IFP and the ANC and I think there is now from the ANC side a very refreshing change. They have not only privately, but one can see it in their speeches that they have accepted that the IFP is a force which cannot be wished away, that it's here to stay and therefore one has to co-operate. So there is a commitment from both sides. The old stance of first of all destroying the IFP, destroying the Chief's leadership which started in 1979, has gone. For the first time now publicly there is a recognition that it's not going to go away and it's demonstrated in things like Mandela making Buthelezi president even if it was only for two days. So, yes, I think from that point of view we have got violence under control so I think that's going to inspire confidence.
. There is also every indication now that the ANC have given up their quest to manipulate the King and they had him firmly in their pocket, to quote Deputy President Mbeki's words. That's no longer the case. They have now conceded I think, well first of all I think they realised that they saddled a horse which they couldn't ride. Last week there was the official opening of parliament and it was very amicable. Buthelezi was there and during the lunch he sat with the King for more than an hour and a half or so. Those are all very good signs. I think that's going to mean two things. First of all on the ground I think that grassroots people are going to understand that the days of conflict are past. They are weary of violence anyway. Secondly I think it's going to instil business confidence in the province and those are good signs but there are many other problems but not in the field of violence.
POM. Talking about economic development, do you find that being one of the two provinces that is not ANC led that when it comes to the promotion of economic development that you get full co-operation from the central government or less co-operation perhaps than you would get if you were an ANC run province?
AK. I think one has to look at that from a different perspective. First of all we've now got the new constitution in place whether we like it or not and that's in my judgement a very centrist constitution. For example, in police affairs they have effectively taken away the policing powers of the provinces and that's going to be bad news because there are signs, although what I said is correct in terms of peace, but there are definitely signs that certain elements in the central government are manipulating the police, particularly specialised units they have created to foment trouble in particular areas which is designed to try and get the ANC footholds, particularly in rural areas, and now that's part of that old agenda of the ANC, on the one hand you've got the diplomatic side and on the other side you've got the military side and so it's difficult to know whether that is actually overtly supported by the senior leadership but it certainly is happening. So in that sense in KwaZulu-Natal if it were an ANC led province would have been treated differently.
. However, I think one of the great interesting facts about South Africa now since we've come into the transition is that there are essentially three economic poles in South Africa. You get the economic heartland, the real motor of the economy which is Gauteng, which is obviously ANC controlled, but again that's very interesting because you've got a Premier there who doesn't really like interference from the centre. Secondly, you've got the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, those are the two economic poles, or three economic poles. Now KwaZulu-Natal I think, and the facts show this, is outstripping the other areas in terms of economic growth and the reasons for that are not only that it's got a government, as I've indicated to you before, that is basically well disposed towards free enterprise and doesn't interfere in the economy, and I've said some harsher things about that in the past which I remember well but I won't say them again. Secondly, KwaZulu-Natal has got natural advantages. South Africa has got to export to survive in the new world of competition now that the markets are being opened up and clearly KwaZulu-Natal is the province because we are a maritime province, we've got the biggest ports in Africa, we're on the trade routes between the east and the west, we've got the infrastructure, we've got the water, we've got the people, we've got a great asset, which I think I've mentioned to you before, in the Indian people that saw to it during the apartheid years that they are very well educated so we've got a very big skill of blue collar skilled technicians. So all the elements of growth are in our province.
. The Western Cape is a different scenario. I think it's well run, one must give credit to the Nats for that but it also has great advantages and mainly in the economic sphere, in the field of tourism because it is an exceptionally beautiful province. Table Mountain and Cape Town are really great cities and so their economy is going well. I think it's not so much what the central government chooses or doesn't choose. It's really that those two provinces have got natural advantages.
POM. Just following up what you said earlier, would you say now that the ANC which for many years members of the IFP believed have given up on their attempts to smash the IFP, or do you think they have accepted that the IFP exists and will continue to exist in KwaZulu-Natal but really won't be much of a factor in politics in other provinces?
AK. No I don't think so. Despite the fact that the IFP has got enormous weaknesses particularly outside KwaZulu-Natal, if the fundamental problems were sorted out, particularly those of leadership, it would have an enormous impact and the ANC knows that. So I don't think, they are not foolish enough to think that the IFP is just going to be confined to KwaZulu-Natal. As you know the whole country is in a state of enormous turmoil at the moment politically. In opposition politics there are very, very serious attacks on the leadership of the National Party which I think will culminate in the removal of De Klerk. Now that's going to bring about -
POM. What's behind that, that particular situation?
AK. Well I would say, and this is where I think one must give the IFP credit, we warned the NP and the whole world and South Africa at the time that the Record of Understanding was a recipe for disaster, which it is and which it was and still is. I think the Afrikaners have now finally come to realise that they were out-manoeuvred and that that was a fatal mistake and somebody has got to pay for it and it's going to be De Klerk.
POM. So you accept the allegations by Hermann Giliomee or Die Burger that essentially De Klerk surrendered?
AK. Yes, but I don't have to accept that, we've said that, we've said it since the Record of Understanding was signed in September of 1993. We said it then and we have consistently said it all along and I think even people like the Democratic Party and certainly even the minorities, the Indians for example, have now begun to realise that although the constitution ostensibly guarantees minority rights effectively what is happening is that more and more you're getting into a situation where through patronage and through manipulation of the system minorities are being squeezed out and the Afrikaners in particular, we warned them about that. For example look what's happened to their language, it's been removed from the SABC, it's been downgraded everywhere, there are attacks on their schools. You see this sort of thing if you look at our province, just to digress again for a moment, we in KwaZulu-Natal right from the time of the KwaZulu government, although this is a completely from a black point of view, almost completely Zulu province, but we've got some Sotho schools in our province and we've had them since the days of the KwaZulu government where people are taught in Sotho. Now that is the difference between our policies and those of the central government where nation building has got nothing to do with trying to create unity. It is trying to create hegemony, to try and subserviate all cultures into one. Now that cannot work, never will work and the whole of Eastern Europe demonstrates what is going on there.
POM. So when you hear Mandela continuing to put so much emphasis on reconciliation, you're saying in one sense he's not talking about reconciliation, he's in a way talking about absorbing other minority groups into a single vision.
AK. To neutralise them.
POM. Yes neutralise.
AK. Which is what he did to De Klerk in the government of national unity but it was too late, the Nats got out but they had already been completely out-manoeuvred and what he's trying to do now is exactly what he did to the Nats and it looks as if the Democratic Party may be foolish enough to go into that poisonous embrace.
POM. What's his strategy? He's trying to pull in the DP, he's trying to pull in the PAC. As you said he made Buthelezi president for a couple of days which was a gesture towards the IFP.
AK. I think that's a different thing. That's a recognition that the IFP is here to stay and they really want to bring about peace in KwaZulu-Natal because I think they too have recognised that if we don't have peace in KwaZulu-Natal the economy of the country is not going to grow. That's a different thing than what he's trying to do. He knows, Buthelezi is in the cabinet, he knows that the IFP is the only really dissenting voice in the cabinet. It does not simply go along with government policy and it consistently notes its opposition to legislation. I think that's a slightly different one but certainly with regard to the PAC and the DP I think he's going to attempt to absorb them.
POM. Absorb in which sense? In a way he's invited them to join the government of national unity of which the IFP is already a part, so come 1999 how can you run against the ANC as a government, as an ANC-dominated government? It's the same problem that the Nats had.
AK. No, no, it's totally different. You see first of all we happen to be black and that's a big difference. Secondly, as I say, it depends on your style of doing things. We consistently make our point clear. We have on many occasions opposed legislation in both the Senate and in the Houses of Parliament which the Nats don't do. I think essentially first of all they misread the signs but secondly I think there is another big element of it which the IFP didn't have and that is that the Nats had great difficulty in giving up the fruits of office, being able to live in Groote Schuur and they really thought that those sorts of things would carry on and then when it didn't happen disillusionment started setting in. I think they are different. But anyway there is no doubt in my mind that the NP is going to disintegrate. It cannot be a force in South African politics and I think I've said this before that it's naïve to think that a party which is white led and essentially white in character can be a significant factor in South African politics.
POM. I know I've asked you this before but an update on this whole idea of Roelf Meyer being sent in to a room with a desk and told to develop a strategy to come up with a new movement that would be cross-racial and attract votes -
AK. Roelf Meyer is correctly being identified as the real sell-out and De Klerk knows now that he's baggage and he's trying to get rid of him in order to survive himself but it's not going to work. Roelf Meyer should go into the ANC, that's where he belongs because he's thinking like that and he's completely sold out on his principles and it would be naïve in the extreme to think that Roelf Meyer could ever become a leader of a basically Afrikaner dominated party. That's a nonsense. He sold his soul.
POM. Even an Afrikaner dominated party would only attract a proportion of the vote that would leave them small.
AK. Yes but then an Afrikaner party which has large numbers of Afrikaners in it could be part of either another party or an alliance which is black led which would be a real force. I mean that's the fundamental error that De Klerk made. When he signed the Record of Understanding what he was effectively doing is throwing in his lot with the ANC and thinking that the IFP and other opposition forces were no longer relevant. Up until the Record of Understanding their vision was to create a new alliance that could effectively challenge the ANC and he decided against that and threw his lot in with the ANC and, as I said, history has shown now that he made a catastrophic mistake.
POM. Why did he make that decision?
AK. First of all I think he was misled by people like Roelf Meyer, but secondly in history there are very few precedents of reformists surviving. His job was to reform South Africa and when he reformed it he should have got out and let new people take over but he didn't do that and as I say I think one of the reasons was hankering after the trappings of office and he's paid the price.
POM. Let me talk about the IFP for a moment. Since I talked to you last a number of things have happened. You've had the resignation of Ziba Jiyane, you've had the retirement or the impending retirement of Frank Mdlalose, you've had the sidelining through bad health of Walter Felgate.
AK. No that's not accurate.
POM. OK. Where is the IFP itself? Where is it going in terms of trying to broaden its base and move from being still perceived as a regional party to being perceived as a national party?
AK. No I don't think that's what's motivated it. I think what has happened is that there is a realisation that unless there was a radical shake up and a radical change of direction, change of emphasis, change of style, that the IFP was heading for electoral defeat. I think that's what the motivation was. Now certain steps have been taken and I don't believe they are adequate because they haven't addressed the problems.
POM. What steps would you take?
AK. The political reality is apart from one's own political gut feel and one's own political feelings, the hard reality is that the local government elections have shown that the IFP and the ANC are roughly equally poised now in terms of voter support, although contrary to what many people believed the ANC actually shed more of its support to the IFP than the other way around. We've got very accurate research now to show that. But be that as it may what has effectively happened is that the IFP and the ANC are now roughly equally poised and there are huge amounts of undecided voters. I would imagine, well the research seems to indicate, up to about 25%, it could be as high at 25%. What the IFP has done, certainly it has shed virtually all its support among whites, it has shed substantial support among Indians and it has shed substantial support among urban Africans. Now one must of course remember that the local government elections are about local government issues, they are not the same as a national election so it's very difficult to know that given a choice that the electorate of KwaZulu-Natal may not again do the same thing, in other words split their votes, in other words that they may not again come to the party believing that there is a need for a very strong counter-balance to the ANC to stop centralisation. Nobody knows what will happen there. However, there is no doubt that the IFP has been inordinately stupid in the way it's gone about it's politics and it continues to do so. It is consistently beating a Zulu ethnic drum and it is alienating white voters and Indian voters and the political reality is that if you go down that road you're heading for defeat because unfortunately now for the IFP, from an IFP perspective, is that the minorities actually hold the balance of power and so unless you modernise the party, unless you actually begin to address the fears and the aspirations of people other than rural Zulus you're going to get defeated. That's the reality. Now the loss, for example, of Frank Mdlalose, I don't really want to go into what happened there, but I think it's going to cost the IFP very dearly although it's got a new Premier who is very urbane and very modern but he doesn't have the respect of very large sectors of the white population who see Frank Mdlalose as a very statesmanlike, very benign, very urbane, very middle of the road, non-confrontational, a man of compromise. We will pay a price for that.
POM. Could you just talk a little bit more about that. As I said nothing is being published until at least the year 2000 when most of it may be irrelevant anyway.
AK. Well he was effectively removed from office, that is the bottom line.
AK. Well, that is a very difficult question to answer, but he indicated his desire to step down as National Chairman of the IFP but indicated that he would be happy to stay on as Premier until 1999 and he was simply removed and I don't think it was a smart decision personally.
POM. Would he have been one of the architects of trying to move the party in the direction you were talking about?
AK. No I don't think it's got anything to do with that. I think it's got to do with the style of leadership of certain people and I think it became more and more evident that he was his own man, that he did things his own way and it didn't wash.
POM. So would you see the IFP as being able to remain in the government of national unity right through 1999 and still effectively run against the ANC?
AK. Yes I believe so. You see there is another relevant point which many people don't understand and that is that although the IFP is essentially a modern party now, there are of course strong traditional elements, but it is also a very African party and Africans have a different style of politics to whites. One of their definitions of democracy is that differences disappear in consensus so they are quite happy to sit and argue and argue and argue and argue until some form of compromise is reached which is why they would, as Africans, be able to endure much longer in that situation in the cabinet whereas among whites, well let me just say among western democracies there it's always a very stark thing, you're either for or against and you eventually put your hand up and you vote and then the majority wins. It's not quite like that in African politics, it doesn't work that way, so I think because of that alone, there are other advantages of staying there. De Klerk made the fundamental error apart from the earlier ones I mentioned, he made a similar error although it's different in type but it's very similar in consequence, as to what PW Botha did when he resigned from the National Party and thought he could stay on as president and then was absolutely horrified when they just cut his legs off. Well De Klerk I think also made the fatal mistake of moving out of the government of national unity and not realising that a lot of his power and influence came from that position as Deputy President. So I don't think the IFP would make that mistake.
POM. Where do you see Hernus Kriel existing in this?
AK. That sort of nonsense has been talked about, people like Allister Sparks who I think is very shallow in his analysis, and he's playing party politics and he's essentially sort of an ANC supporter and he's trying to create division within the party. I am quite convinced that Hernus Kriel doesn't even begin to feature in these debates. That is an intellectual debate which is taking place in the sort of circles that formerly represented the Broederbond. Those are intellectual decisions that have been taken, they are not taken by party politicians. So Hernus Kriel is essentially a small town politician but those decisions have been taken in the inner circles of Afrikanerdom, that there's a mistake and you needed to get rid of the man that caused it. Hernus Kriel doesn't even feature in that and he's not capable anyway, he doesn't have the stature. What you're going to have to have in the new Afrikaner leadership is not people that have been Ministers of Police in the past governments, you're going to have to have intellectuals, people who can understand that the rules of the game have changed and that Afrikanerdom's survival doesn't revolve around, for example, Constand Viljoen is another one. You cannot seek your survival in volkstaats and that. That's a nonsense. It's going to be to make common cause with people of other racial groups like the Zulus that share similar ideals, free enterprise, liberal democracy, fragmentation of power rather than centralisation of power. So there is going to be a new crop of leaders coming up.
POM. Would you distinguish between the National Party as a white party and Afrikanerdom?
AK. Yes. If you know your way around black politics I can tell you that there are vast numbers of people, vast numbers of black people, who strongly support the National Party. And I'll tell you why, it's very simple, there are two elements to it. The first one is the grassroots people.
POM. That support the National Party?
AK. Yes. Now there are two elements to it. First of all you get the grassroots people, the ordinary people, and it's patently obvious to them that things have got worse since apartheid has left. There might not be discrimination but nothing works any more. The police doesn't work, the hospitals don't work, the postal services don't work. Nothing works. So they see in their daily lives that things have got worse. So they are looking for delivery and quite frankly they couldn't care two hoots, they haven't got an ideological or an emotional attachment to black leaders. They want delivery and in South Africa these people have got the experience that things actually worked and they don't work now. Secondly, among the African elite they too are sick and tired of car hijackings, of the rapists and muggers getting off, of the abolition of the death penalty. In their perception we've now got democracy and it doesn't make any difference whether the leaders are black or white. What they want is they want law and order and they want things to work. I think people are going to get a rude shock in 1999. If the Nats play their cards right and if there are new eminent leaders, not Roelf Meyers and that sort of nonsense because they don't command the support of the Afrikaner people, but new people that will come up, they will do well.
POM. There is this kind of a contradiction in a way between what you're saying, what you saying on the one hand is that the NP is just going to shatter and will no longer be a force in South African politics.
AK. In its current form.
POM. In its current form, but then if it reorganises itself?
AK. That's what I'm saying, that's why I'm saying it's going to disintegrate as a party but what will happen, and this is why they are groping around and they know these things. I can tell you that in our province there are areas, for example in the local government elections, where the Nats got more votes than the IFP. That's a reality and the reason they got them is because some of their leaders who are farmers and very fluent Zulu linguists and help enormously in the local communities, they help them build schools and so on, and they actually, in their minds these people have delivered. So it's not a contradiction. What I'm saying is that in its current form it's going to disintegrate. Maybe I was wrong to say the Nats will get more votes, it's the forces they represent that will get more votes. I think this is where the political ferment is going to take place and if they reorganise themselves and if they get credible black leaders, which I think they will, then they are going to garner the votes.
POM. So do you see the head being on the chopping block is Roelf Meyer's head and not De Klerk's?
AK. And De Klerk.
POM. Both have to go.
AK. I think De Klerk, already he's gone, he won't survive this. No Afrikaner leader can survive those sort of attacks. When the major main line newspapers turn on you in that fashion and people of the stature of Hermann Giliomee and so on you've got no chance, you're going to go.
POM. How would you see, trying to look at the realignment of political forces on the one hand you have the NP struggling to redefine itself in a way where it can attract the black voters you are talking about, you've got the IFP sitting there unaligned with anybody, a force in its own right, you have the alliance which shows increasing signs, at least deep fissures if not open cracks, do you see fundamental realignment of South African politics not before 1999 even though it seems to be -
AK. No it will happen after 1999. I think it's completely unrealistic to anticipate that the ANC is not going to be in government with a fairly substantial majority. It will be reduced but it will be substantial and given also the fact that in the new constitution there is no provision for a government of national unity, it's going to be essentially a winner takes all situation so the ANC will be the government, there's no doubt about it.
POM. One could form voluntary coalitions.
AK. You could form that and this is what Mandela is trying to do right now but for different reasons. There are so many variables now. As I said it's really in a state of turmoil. Roelf Meyer has got to go, De Klerk's got to go. If new people come up and there are lots of very, very competent Afrikaner leaders that could emerge and lots of young leaders that could emerge, that will be able to bridge the divide, that will be able to reassure Afrikaners as I think the IFP did before the Record of Understanding where De Klerk actually sold out, that they saw their survival in alliances with like minded people. The Zulus are very accommodating and they have demonstrated this over a long period of time in the old KwaZulu government. So that I think is what is going to happen. You're going to have a window of opportunity which De Klerk had in 1994 and blew and if you look very carefully at what the Afrikaners are saying, if you look at the Die Burger editorial in essence what it was saying, and I think this is in answer to your question about De Klerk and Roelf Meyer, in essence what it was saying is that he had sold out and there was no hope of salvaging the situation from the current political leadership and this would have to come, in their words, from civil society which is what I am saying to you, that there are going to be new forces that are going to emerge that recognise that the protection of the Afrikaner doesn't lie in volkstaats and separatism but by joining forces with like minded people. I think that is actually what's going on in the Afrikaner mind at the moment.
POM. So could you envisage a situation where as a result of the internal debate in the NP, a redefined NP emerging with the leadership you are talking about?
AK. It won't be a National Party, it will be a new party.
POM. A new party but without the Roelf Meyers and the FW De Klerks.
AK. And Leon Wessels.
POM. Would you see that party then perhaps in a position to talk to the IFP about let's talk about coalition, voluntary coalition?
AK. Yes but it happened in 1994. You remember when the IFP formed the alliance, now there's a lot of debate as to whether that was smart or not but they served, when they created the Freedom Alliance with fairly conservative Afrikaners, but essentially that was the raison d'être behind the whole thing, to get people of like minded thinking together. Now I think mistakes were made, some of those forces were too conservative and they didn't have the support of Afrikaners and so therefore it failed. Yes, definitely that is going to happen and if you look at the IFP under the chairmanship of Ben Ngubane, now Ben doesn't have the stature of Mdlalose but he's a man very much in a similar mould, he's a man of compromise and he's very urbane, yes, so that is a distinct possibility but it will not be subsumed in a new organisation. The IFP will go forward into the election as the IFP but in terms of alliances, yes, I think that's what will happen.
POM. But in a way it would be an alliance where the IFP would be the senior partner if only because it represents blacks?
AK. No, no, but hold on, you must be careful about that because the reality is that the NP garnered 20% of the votes and the IFP 10% so it's not only black, it's more than that. The NP in its current form could bring more voters to the party than the IFP.
POM. Let's take the best case scenario that somehow a coalition of the IFP and this restructured NP were able to form a new government.
AK. I don't think that will happen.
POM. Not this time round.
AK. But the next time round.
POM. The State President would have to be black.
AK. Oh yes.
POM. There are certain things that are given.
AK. Oh yes there's no doubt about that because at the end of the day 80% of the population is black and this is Africa so I think you will have an amalgam of forces but certainly the State President and most of the senior leaders will be black for sure. But I think in my judgement there is a possibility that - I think the new formation which will come out of the NP and the other parties have a very good chance of getting, say, up to between 40% and 50% of the vote, now that's substantial, in the new election and I think, in my judgement, what will happen after 1999 is that's when the real political ferment will take place because then I think certain leaders are going to disappear from the scene and you're going to get a whole new ball game and so come 2004 that's when I think the ANC could face defeat.
POM. Do you think that the ANC is moving increasingly, and I hate to use the word, but in the direction of Africanisation? I've read a number of things over the last couple of weeks where Thabo Mbeki has no white advisers, they are all African and there is an increased emphasis on the theme of being African and that's driving a further wedge between people. Again, it's not reconciliation, it's division.
AK. This is one of the main reasons that I say the major ferment will come after 1999 because Mandela will completely dominate the political scene in the country until then and the magic of Mandela will still be there but after 1999 when the change comes that's when people will begin to realise what he actually stood for. There are already strong indications; first of all Mbeki is a communist, a very committed one, secondly, he's an Africanist. I know for example that he is very close to the Chief and he has on a number of occasions said that we need to stand together and show these people that we can actually govern without whites, because he was stung by criticism from the international community that since De Klerk went things have gone to pieces. So, yes, there is that tendency. Mandela is a man in a much bigger mould, he doesn't need that sort of thing. So that is going to exacerbate tensions, yes, and so I think you're right.
POM. How about the Truth & Reconciliation Commission? We've talked about it before. Do you think it's still a witch-hunt against - ?
AK. Yes even more so. It's a witch-hunt and it's patently failing in its duty, in its objectives. Quite frankly I don't think that it is taken seriously any more. I can demonstrate to you empirically now that it is a witch-hunt. For example, the hearings in Pietermaritzburg which were a disaster and where we took a certain stand and we have now got a written acknowledgement from the Truth Commission itself that the actions of its people were partisan and completely unacceptable. Now this at this stage is still confidential in the sense that this has only been done in writing to the Chief, but they are about to launch an investigation in Durban on 26th March into the Caprivi trainees and I can tell you that is going to be a disaster because they are going to end up with even more mud on their face and having failed to achieve their objectives in the Malan trial they are now trying to, and they openly said it to the newspapers, they now want to achieve the objective of trying to portray the IFP as violent and as the source of all the trouble and the third force and it's an attempt to try and rewrite history and exonerate the ANC and its policies of violence and assassination and that won't work.
POM. In this sense then there is still a concerted effort to use the TRC, in your view, to undermine and destroy the IFP?
AK. Yes but you remember the open clashes between the TRC and Jacob Zuma when Jacob Zuma launched this peace initiative in Natal and he made a public statement saying that there was going to be special amnesty for leaders in KwaZulu-Natal and then he was shot down by the TRC. I don't know whether you remember that? Now what does that tell you? It tells you that Jacob Zuma, who is the National Chairman of the ANC, has recognised that that commission is no longer relevant and that it's actually going to create division. Now one mustn't be naïve enough to expect that given that realisation that suddenly the TRC is going to be abolished, you can't do that, but I think there is a recognition not only among the more sober elements in the ANC but certainly outside that it is actually not very helpful.
POM. I'm into it because I'm doing a paper on this for a conference in Ireland on Themes of Reconciliation and how one goes about it, and I suppose one of the things that has struck me, and I may have said this to you last time, that my impression has been that the white community in particular really pays no attention to the TRC.
AK. No, not any more.
POM. The list of atrocities and violence has just become - they switch channels.
AK. It's black people as well. You know in the Maritzburg hearings it was so patently obvious where large numbers of radical unemployed youth were bussed in by the ANC and created huge amounts of steam but the average man in the street just ignores it, he doesn't go there. No it's a witch-hunt and it's meaningless. People on the ground know, for example, I'm going to wear a very partisan hat, they have these investigations into massacres in Maritzburg and massacres down the South Coast but what's happened to the 400 IFP leaders? People know these things and the thousands of IFP leaders that were murdered, the massive smuggling of guns into this province which is well documented. Why isn't that the subject of an enquiry? Now it is naïve in the extreme to think that you can get away with that. It can't work, it can't work.
POM. So is it in this sense that it's anti-reconciliation, is it damaging the NP in the sense that -
AK. You mean the ANC?
POM. No, is it damaging the National Party in the sense that its leaders say well we didn't know these things were going on?
AK. No it's a straightforward attempt which is very well known in the communist world of trying to rewrite history and portray in other words that nobody internally brought about change, it was this revolutionary army that came in here and that's what it's all about and to try and denigrate, to blame all the violence and all the evil on others, everybody but the ANC. That is just absurd and it can never work.
POM. How would you reconcile your statement that Mbeki is a committed communist and at the same time he is somebody committed to wholesale privatisation?
AK. Isn't that being forced on him by the west? Unfortunately you see, Mugabe is also a committed communist and he too has learnt some fundamental lessons. So at the end of the day, and you must remember the western investments in this country are very substantial, so if you don't pursue correct policies, I think the GEAR policy is actually quite good and this is why the labour unions are opposing it. If you look at the student hotheads at the moment at the University of Natal that are wreaking havoc on the campus here they have come up with exactly the same thing, that they demand that the GEAR policy be undone. That's what it's all about. Now Mbeki I am quite sure is not following policies of his choice but where is the Soviet Union? Where is the lifeline? The realities are now that the global economy is driven by the western economies and by free enterprise economies from the east, Singapore and Malaysia. If you want to try and fly in the face of that you must be an inordinately stupid man.
POM. So when you talk about somebody being a committed communist, what does being a committed communist mean any longer in (a) a global context and (b) a South African context?
AK. The reality is I happen to have some friends that were very, very influential communists and who know what went on inside the ANC over 30 years and I know for example that Thabo Mbeki was one of seventeen selected leaders, very, very carefully hand-picked that went to the most elite communist schools in Moscow. And you don't get in there unless you're a committed communist. We know it from people who know him intimately. Yes, what relevance does it have? Well I think that's a question you must ask Mr Mbeki, not me. Maybe they are like Joe Slovo who said, "I acknowledge we made big mistakes but we won't make them again." Maybe they believe in the classic communist theory that you must exploit capitalism and then when capitalism flies it will result in socialism. Maybe they believe those things, I don't know. But the reality is that the government now, our government is actually in a pincer movement by the democracies of the west that will not allow socialism. Isn't that so?
POM. Very much so. I've never seen a country in seven or eight years that moved from so much sloganeering about nationalisation to an equal amount of sloganeering about privatisation.
AK. Yes, well it's amazing what responsibility does to one's perceptions of the world. It's easy when you don't have responsibility to mouth platitudes.
POM. Do you think the average person, average African in particular, feels better off or worse off than three years ago?
AK. Worse. Worse without a doubt.
POM. But do you think that will change, that their resentment or whatever at the lack of change or the lack of delivery will translate into a change in voting patterns?
AK. No that will persist until 1999 for a number of reasons. First of all you must remember that black people have lived under fairly, although the economy might not have been that bad, but for the rest it was really horrendous oppression. Now that can't be wished away in five years, so the loyalty will still be there. But there are two issues that I think will influence how they vote and that is that if for example a new force emerges which is credible, black and white led, a lot of people will go in there for the first time. They won't unseat the ANC but there will certainly be a shift. The second one is that you mustn't forget that the ANC has now woken up to the fact that it's got to deliver and no doubt it's going to use state resources now to try and deliver on a massive scale and if it succeeds in doing that, and it seems to now have learnt that the state is incapable of providing resources from the centre. This is why they are now more and more beginning to realise that they are going to have to rely on the provincial administration, the provincial governments and local governments to deliver and, secondly, for the private sector to do so. If they can get their act together then they will certainly be able to arrest the level of the loss of support. But there is no doubt whatsoever that the ANC will come in with a very, very comfortable majority.
POM. When you look at national government and provincial government do you think that provincial government is performing better than the national government?
AK. It is in certain sectors but it's not in others. For example, if you look at KwaZulu-Natal, again I don't like to have to say this but it's a fact, that we in KwaZulu-Natal had the best run white education system in the country, the Natal Provincial Administration, the old Natal Education Department was by far the best education in the country, by far. Secondly, as I've indicated to you before, the Indian people are not only very industrious but they were very clever in the way they exploited what was available to them to educate themselves so we had a very, very effective and very, very efficient education system. And then thanks to the KwaZulu government for 15 years because of the whole philosophy of self-reliance, not any of this nonsense about liberation now education later, the instillation of discipline in the schools, it's an historical fact that KwaZulu out-performed all other areas in terms of results. So therefore we had an incredible base to build on. Unfortunately the IFP has failed dismally to build on that and education has to a fairly substantial degree gone backwards. So, yes, in some sectors we have but in others we have failed.
POM. So where is the locus, or what is blocking the IFP from making the strides that you think it is capable of making in terms of provincial performance?
AK. Bad strategy.
POM. On whose behalf?
AK. Well who devises strategy? It's not done by the people on the ground is it? It's done by the leaders isn't it? That's the answer.
POM. But after three years there is no awakening happening.
AK. There's the realisation that we're staring defeat in the face but the correct steps haven't been taken to remedy it.
POM. Will those steps be taken or ingrained in the structures?
AK. I doubt it.
POM. You doubt it. So you were saying, that's what I like about our conversations is that you say things that are ambivalent, ambiguous and sometimes contradictory and therefore interesting because they feed into each other in different ways.
AK. What will happen in my judgement, as I said to you right at the beginning, is that you have a situation right now that the ANC are now roughly equally balanced. They are balanced in terms of support. So therefore the balance of power is now held by the whites and the Indians and certain elements in the African urban elites. Now it depends on the party that is able to mobilise that. Now let us look at the reality. Again, the Nats in our province have got, I think, 10%, no they've got more actually, they've got nine seats in a parliament of 81 so it's more than 10%. Now some of their people are very, very competent, the sort of people I was mentioning to you. They're not competent in the sense of being great intellects but they are people, salt of the earth people who are good Zulu linguists, who help rural communities with school building and help them on the issue of violence and so in KwaZulu-Natal, it depends on what the party does, but in KwaZulu-Natal I don't think that the Nats are going to lose all that much. They will lose on the national level but they will not lose it to the same degree in KwaZulu-Natal.
POM. So you're saying this restructuring that they must go through won't happen before 1999?
AK. Well no, I think in KwaZulu-Natal they very wisely will leave things alone. I may be wrong but I don't think they are going to interfere with that. You see the NP in KwaZulu-Natal has always been different anyway, like everything in KwaZulu-Natal essentially politically. You know there's the experience of the Joint Executive Authority which the centre resisted but where the old Natal Provincial Administration which was run by the Nats and the KwaZulu government created the first multiracial government in South Africa. Many people forget that, conveniently, the Joint Executive Authority. The people of KwaZulu-Natal have got that history of that so it's not going to be measured the same as what happens to De Klerk and so on. I think the Nats, a lot of the people will still vote for them here. Now if the IFP was smart and if it changed its leadership style and its strategy it could take a lot of those votes away. I don't think it's going to happen. So what will effectively happen is you're going to get a hung parliament in KwaZulu-Natal and it could be either one. And knowing the leaders as I do, even although there is no possibility of a government of provincial unity in terms of the constitution but say for example the IFP were to get 31% or 32% and the ANC a similar amount, then how are you going to govern? Now you can do one of two things. You can either form a coalition with the biggest minority or you could join up with the minority parties and form a government. Now that is going to be the interesting things to watch. Will the IFP, for example, if that parliament will be hung which I think it will be, will it go in with the Nats and the DP and other forces or will it say let's try and do a similar deal as we have done now with the ANC. So that's going to be very interesting, but it's definitely going to be hung. I am sure of that.
POM. Just a couple of final questions. As you look to the next six months, do you feel better about the country now than you did three or four years ago or do you still harbour the same kind of doubts that things are just simply not getting done in a way that they must be gotten done if South Africa is to realise its potential? Foreign investment is still not flowing in at any appreciable rate.
AK. Except into our province which is reasonable. OK let me answer the question. As you said in a very perceptive observation, that is in many of my replies I might sound contradictory. Now what I said to you is that in our province we are heading towards peace and I don't think that's going to be upset. We have got all the natural advantages so, yes, we've got everything in place. However, there are huge minuses. The government is incompetent. That's a terrible thing to admit but it's a fact. The Education Department is in a total mess. Now that is very, very distressing because if you haven't got a good education system the chances of the economy growing in the medium to longer term are zero. Now that is an extremely distressing scenario. The tragedy is that the senior leaders know this but they are not prepared to do anything about it or they are unwilling to do anything about it. Those are the really depressing things. The leaders talk to me about these things and they know what the problem is but they don't do anything about it. Now that's distressing.
POM. Now when you talk about that in the NP there is a crop of young leaders there capable of forging new vision for Afrikaners and for the party itself capable of making alliances perhaps or coalitions with other parties, is there a similar crop of young leaders in the IFP or is there a leadership vacuum.
AK. There's a leadership vacuum.
POM. In the long run that doesn't augur very well for the long term existence and viability of the party, not the existence.
AK. Yes that is correct but again the political reality in KwaZulu-Natal is that the IFP has got an iron grip over the rural areas and that's not for political reasons, it's just for philosophical and other reasons, the way people do things. So that support is not going to go away. Therefore I come back to the point where I said there is going to be a hung parliament. You cannot as a political party survive in the longer term unless you've actually got middle management and we don't have that. I think we're going over old ground again. If we were to adopt policies which could influence the swing voters, which as I said are between 20% and 30%, we could become the force in the province. It's not going to happen. Those leaders aren't there. We can't build teams that's the problem, we've been through that ground before.
POM. Thanks a million again for seeing me, I always enjoy it.