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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
12 Mar 1997: Mokaba, Peter
POM Minister, let me first of all take you up on where we stopped the last time. Since then there have been rather startling revelations regarding the possible employment of high government ANC officials or even cabinet ministers as informants for the National Party government, even to the extent of allegations by people of the likes of Joe Mamasela that were flown into Vlakplaas to be paid and he went regularly to Botswana and Zambia to debrief people. One, do you believe these allegations to be true or do they come as any surprise to you?
PM I certainly think that during the struggle the enemy did infiltrate us just as we infiltrated the enemy, but what I cannot really confirm is that in the current cabinet there is anybody who I could say personally was part of the enemy network. But as the ANC has already pointed out, those who have got such evidence I think they should approach the ANC or even approach the TRC to put forward that evidence. You would also know that they actually also tried to implicate me for quite a number of times but the only person who is actually running that campaign is a certain Gavin Evans who was working for the Weekly Mail/Guardian. Now in my case that is the only person who has been casting such aspersions against me and he belonged during the UDF days, to a grouping of the cabal within the UDF which was a grouping by the minorities, whites and Indians, who were trying to take over the leadership and control of the mass democratic movement and the liberation organisations in the country and I was at the head of opposing that attempt by the white minority within our organisations. I believed that blacks, Africans, are capable of leadership and of leading the struggle in which they themselves are the victims.
So these individuals actually did a number of things to try and discredit firstly my leadership and my involvement. I was coming from outside as a guerrilla, I had gone to Robben Island and I was released and these fellows lodged a campaign to try and make it difficult for me to operate within the country as an ANC operative. Firstly they tried to expose me to the police in the sense that when I was outside the country they tried to secretly, they actually tried to get other people to speak about the fact that I was outside consulting with Oliver Tambo so that it was blown and I would not be able to come back. At that time I was President of the Youth. When that could not operate because Tambo discovered it and actually sent me back into the country before and the Youth resisted that, then that mission failed and then they tried another thing. The formed a delegation to go out and say to our leadership that we don't think that guerrillas from the ANC, even if they have been released from prison and they are normalised, should participate within our democratic organisations because the government would soon ban our organisation. So they were saying - don't you think Peter would be useful outside the country? But the main issue here was an attempt by the Indian minority in particular and the white left to control our movement. Now of course the Goldstone Commission aided the house of the CCB. The CCB was this secret unit, very murderous unit that was run by De Klerk and among the files that were found there was a file on an operation that was launched and headed by a certain CCB operative called Ferdi Barnard.
POM The operation was called?
PM I forget the operation, but that operation was geared towards discrediting members of MK, actually criminalising some of them and launching slander campaigns against them. It was publicised in The Star. The Goldstone Commission had those documents. Now that exposed that in fact a man like Gavin Evans (oh I'm not saying that he was working for them) but it actually explained the linkages between this grouping that was within the UDF and the enemy strategy to ensure that Africans should not in fact take leadership of their own organisation. So there has been a lot mischief around that.
POM So do you think that many of these allegations are plants by third element forces to discredit senior members in the ANC whose reputations will be tarnished if not destroyed if public revelations are made?
PM In the first place these so-called revelations that are now being made in the press are part of a strategy. One, they would like to hide the real people that they worked with. Secondly, they are attacking whoever they think is in support of the Deputy President in order to weaken his leadership in preparation for the departure of Nelson at the end of the year. It is geared towards, because this is the year of an election and they always come up during this year when the ANC has got an election, it is geared towards influencing people as part of weakening those elements that they think are making it difficult for them to take over control of the movement. We are certain of course that they will never win against that and in fact now we are taking action to ensure that we rout them out of our organisation and that again I am going to lead. It will not be a racist thing because they are very quick to say that you are anti-Indian. We are not anti-Indian, we are not anti-white, who have joined us but some of these people from the minorities are not even representative of the communities from which they come and they have come here for personal gain and nothing else, to ride on the grievance of an African person. We are for a non-racial cause and a non-racial society and the genuine people we want here are those whites who are out there who are not convinced yet about our cause, not the charlatans and the rejects from their society who have got no weight in those societies, which is the type of white person that we have got and the type of Indian that, in most cases, we have got in the ANC. And that position I have held and no matter what they say and whatever campaign they launch against us they will never pass me off from my support, the support of my people. That I am convinced and they know it, they will never do it, they will never win. So I am just saying that it does not mean that we didn't have any infiltrations but these infiltrations I am saying came at a particular time in the struggle. I don't know who might be continuing to do that but as the President has said we will look at each case on its merit and I agree very much with the President and the Deputy President that we should expose these names. This is the era of truth and reconciliation.
POM If it turned out that some senior ministers were in fact acting as informants and this was established what impact do you think that would have on the movement?
PM No I don't think that it will have any impact on the real support of the ANC, everybody accepts that we have been infiltrated and we accept that even at this late hour the enemy is still trying to sabotage our progress forward and that ours will be a very continuous uphill struggle until all conditions of reaction have been removed. So it will simply say to the people that they need to re-dedicate themselves, they need to increase their vigilance like they have been doing in the past. The African people, the white democrats in our country who are people with vision and even the Indians and the coloureds will not abandon the ANC, it is their home, it is an organisation I am convinced that they will defend under any and every condition. That is why they would not be discouraged by the mistake, it won't even be the mistake of the President if the President has appointed anybody and now it is proved beyond reasonable doubt, and it must be remembered that the ANC has got mechanisms to prove anything. We do have systems, we do have the information collection systems that can tell us indeed who is and who is not, so we are not going to listen to the defeated enemy that is now trying to destroy the credibility of our organisation. We are not going to rely on them because that is their main objective. We will rely on our own systems of verification whether somebody has or has not been. Before you are appointed a minister there is a check on you and there has been no such a thing and the President could not have appointed anybody who has had that type of record. As he points out himself if there was anybody with that type of record he will then look into the merit and see whether the information that they gave led to the killing of anybody. If that person has got blood on his hands, certainly he will not be appointed as a minister or a deputy minister for that matter. That's what the President has said. His statement then says that he has checked his cabinet ministers, he has checked his deputy ministers and he is going to be convinced with evidence before him that there is no such a thing.
POM So what you're saying then is confirming in way what I'm suggesting, that this is part of a counter-revolutionary strategy to create division within the ANC and destroy some of its leading members if possible?
PM True. That is so, that is so. Before this we have had revelations like the National Party is still leading a particular grouping of the police, of the journalists who have been on the NP payroll in the past and they are now being galvanised to do everything to destroy the credibility of the ANC and this cannot be outside that particular campaign. The Truth & Reconciliation Commission, the evidence that is coming out of that is damaging to the NP and the NP is trying to find a way of balancing that image problem with the more saintly image of the ANC being tarnished. So that is exactly the strategy. It's part of counter-revolution directed towards weakening the ANC, directed towards dividing the ANC, but it also feeds on petty divisions that once existed in the democratic movement and feeds on careerists, people who have joined us with no real commitment and who would grab on such things and rush to purge their own movement, who have come in with those personal motives and nothing to do with the people, nothing to do with cause.
POM Has the NEC yet taken this matter up?
PM Yes they have already released a statement yesterday to say that we reject all of these things. It was in the press yesterday.
POM I haven't seen that, sorry.
PM You must read The Cape Times yesterday. They reject all of this, they have got confidence in those of us who have been unfairly mentioned and they are not going to budge and that is the last thing that they have released.
POM So as far as the ANC is concerned there will be no further internal investigations?
PM No, there will be no such thing. I am simply taking the matter further to court to sue the papers, to sue the individuals and also to the TRC to expose their further link with the former state security agents.
POM Now they mentioned you as one of the - ?
PM No, they said there was once a rumour, they just said that there was once a rumour that maybe I am - so I don't even take that 'maybe'. I am taking them to court. I was just speaking to my lawyers here that I don't take that nonsense. I cannot afford that my image of struggle, I am proud of every bit of thing that I did in the struggle and I will repeat it if apartheid was to return to our land. I have got no regrets at all for whatever I did and I believe I did it for a good cause and those who were on the other side felt bad but they needed to feel bad and it was my aim to make them feel bad with my actions. But my movement gained, my people gained and I gained also. That is why I guard my record very jealously and for that matter I cannot be told by a small white hobo who has got no constituency here really and who is a reject from his own community in the first place, I shall not allow him to define me, define my future course. So that's why I'm taking them up, this white media which is still very white. The government has changed completely. There are still whites who cannot countenance the fact that blacks are now in government. Together with the National Party, racism is not just confined to them, it is still there in the media, it is still there in the bureaucracy that we are leading, it is there in the police, it is there everywhere, even in business.
POM When you look at the statements made by the NP to the TRC, or the rejection of the TRC by the Freedom Front, in essence by all white parties other maybe than the Democratic Party, I don't know where they stand, but there's no apology when asked, there's no admission of guilt other than for petty wrong-doing, there is no acknowledgement of the evil of apartheid, there is no acknowledgement of the barbarity of the actions carried out on its behalf by the security forces, it's kind of an area we didn't know these things were going on.
PM It's true, they are not doing that. You see the fellows that we are talking about, De Klerk and his cohorts, those members of the NP and those who participated, these are men whose hands are dripping with the blood of our innocent people. They would refuse to ... from the skull of the dead, from our own people and they are not going to regret, they will not regret, it is in their constitution, they are pathological killers and murderers but they are not representative of the majority of whites and even Afrikaners in our country. The stability that we have got today is not due to them but is due to these ordinary men and women on the ground who have accepted and embraced democracy and that is why we really think that they are a dying species. They are actually going to be obliterated by the political and economic developments that South Africa is going to follow. So it's unfortunate that whites do not have leaders beside them, it's very unfortunate, but they do not represent and that we know for a fact. The majority of the ordinary white people who love freedom, who love a democracy, who have embraced Mandela and who would be led by Mandela and they have accepted him irrespective of his colour and his organisation as the democratically elected leadership of this country, so it is unfortunate that some say murderers ... That is why I believe that instead of the TRC we should have had Nuremberg courts. These are people whose crime is not less than fascism, is not less than nazism. These were Nazis themselves. In the things that they did no normal human being can actually do.
POM One last question, and that is I sense among many blacks who say a year or two ago would have been more forgiving that they are less forgiving now as they learn more about the atrocities and murders carried out in barbaric style and know that most of these murderers are going to walk free.
PM I am actually less forgiving also when I even see that instead of repentance these fellows are continuing with their activities. They actually think that they can still continue with impunity. They are making the course of reconciliation very difficult. The hand that we are extending to them is being rejected and they actually think that we are extending this hand out of cowardice and not out of love for and commitment to our country, and that is what is making matters very difficult for us in the political arena.
POM Do you find when you talk to your constituents that they are angry that Cronjé or whatever can get up there and say I murdered ten people, I burnt their bodies, I tossed them out, and do you know what? If I confess to all of this at five past three, I'm going to walk out of here a free man and I'm not going to be prosecuted for anything?
PM Our people get very angry with that type of thing, but that is why I am telling you that they believe in the ANC leadership they will never abandon ANC leadership. And of course we have to hold up there knowing that peace is what will finally deliver development and give them lasting solutions to the problems of the moment. We have to do that, to lead them in these difficult hours to a future that is liveable. We know it is very hard but they are very angry yet we have to provide that leadership.
POM OK, I'll talk to you when I come back in June.
PM Thank you very much.