About this site

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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

24 Mar 1997: Pahad, Essop

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POM     Essop, just looking around me at the splendour of the circumstances we're sitting in, this beautiful room, the furniture, the view, and I recall meeting you first in a shabby office in downtown Johannesburg where you could hear the noise from the streets ricocheting through and you were sitting there in a leather jacket and open shirt and one desk and a phone that didn't work too good, how has your life changed in the last several years since those days when I first began to interview you until today March 1997?  What changes in yourself and in your lifestyle have you seen?

EP     I agree the furniture has changed and the view has changed but I don't think anything else has really changed, certainly not as far as my own personal views are concerned and my political position, they haven't changed at all, not one single bit. I will come back to that question of what are the responsibilities of governance but obviously there is a great deal more stress and strain upon one when one has responsibilities that one didn't have before. Secondly, we are in a situation in which we have parliament sitting in Cape Town and the administrative capital in Pretoria and my constituency office in Klerksdorp and my family home in Johannesburg. It's a bit difficult to do all of these things at the same time. So in that sense, yes, things have changed, things are a little bit more difficult in the sense that you're doing a lot more travelling, there is much greater stress and strain in terms of the work. As you know I became Deputy Minister last July it was announced but before that I was a Parliamentary Counsellor to the Deputy President. It's basically been, since 1994, in most cases been a seven day week, 14 - 16 hour day but it's a very serious challenge and I am enjoying the challenge so I'm not complaining.

POM     Tell me, if Chris Hani were alive and well today and he looked around South Africa and what has happened since the time of his assassination, what do you think he would think?

EP     Let me say, I suppose depending on who you talk to and there are lot of people who make a lot of claims about knowing Chris Hani so they will say different things depending on presumably their perspective, I would certainly imagine that if I were sitting now and discussing with Chris basically Chris would be very satisfied with what has happened. As you know one of the things that interested Chris a great deal was rural development and when you have electrified a million homes and you have taken clean water to 750,000 people and in terms of the plans of the Minister of Water Affairs at least five million over the next five to six years are going to have access to clean water, when we have for the first time in our lives in this country a primary health system where 1000 new clinics have been built over the last two years, we're in a situation in which the welfare system, run incidentally by a minister who was his PA, so I am sure he would be very happy that his PA has now become a minister, Geraldine Fraser was Chris's PA when you came to see me in the office at that time, she is now Minister of Welfare. I think she is doing some tremendous work with regard to broadening the base of pension availability to African women in the rural areas who have not necessarily been getting their pensions, especially child benefits. It's basically the way the system works that the biggest beneficiaries were coloured women in the Cape and here, yes, and then white and Indian women in terms of the child benefits. She's changing it. Now I think Chris would be very happy with that.

     I must say with the housing programme none of us have  been satisfied but at least now I am very confident that Minister Sankie (Mtembi-Nkondo) has got the things in place and we are really going to see a boom in the house building industry and a great number of our people are going to get housed.  So I think in many respects Chris would have been very happy with what has gone on. I think he would have the same, well not so much unhappiness, but concern really, which all of us have, that we have not been able to do as much as all of us would have liked, especially with regard to job creation although I must say I don't accept the figures of the Central Statistical Services necessarily although they are my political responsibility because I think it's very difficult to determine that kind of job creation on the basis of the figures that they use. But quite clearly there haven't been enough jobs created to make a serious dent into the unemployment figure. Quite clearly the extent of poverty hasn't been really dealt with as yet but I don't think anybody in their right mind would have expected us to make a serious dent in 2½ years. I am on record, and I will go on record again with you, that I don't believe I have seen another government, never mind anywhere in the world who have done as much for their people in similar circumstances as we have done in 2½ years in this country and I would be very happy if somebody can produce another example of the amount that we've done in 2½ years.

POM     You're talking about poverty and what I remember about Chris, I suppose, is his dedication to just poor people. What do you think he would have made of the event on Robben Island last Friday, R250,000 a couple, the best of wine, the best of food, the best of everything flown in for the elite of the elite? What do you think the average person living in a shack thinks when he sees something like that?

EP     I don't know what Chris thinks unfortunately. I will tell you what I think. I think first of all that it's basically your white middle class who get upset about it by and large. I am not saying there are not blacks and some of the black middle class, Jon Quelane and that. The masses are not upset about it. Just last week during this constitution week I have spoken to near on 2000 people including school children. Now that's a hell of a lot of people I've spoken to, in deep rural areas of the North West Province. Those issues don't arise for them. They're worried about their local bread and butter issues. Let me say this, obviously this is a very sensitive and delicate issue and I don't think it's a matter of right or wrong, I don't think the people who are critical of it are wrong to be critical of it. I think there is a justifiable feeling among some people that you might be lowering the whole ethos now of Robben Island but people have to answer certain questions. We have political prisoners some of whom are destitute so they are not going to get money because you pontificate in newspaper articles about where you raise the money. Robben Island Museum, to create a museum, and that is going to require money, it's not going to come from nowhere.

     Now if an individual had benefited from such an event of course I would, with the rest of the people, condemn it. It is no individual that has benefited from this. It is the political prisoners who are going to benefit and can anybody object to the political prisoners deriving some benefit from an event held on Robben Island. If you had the same event at the Mount Nelson Hotel you might not have been able to attract the people and fundraising, I am afraid, is fundraising. As long as the fundraising does not demean the President, does not demean the political prisoners and does not lead to the enrichment of an individual or a small group of people, I see nothing wrong personally in them going to the Island and them sitting there eating food - if they didn't eat this food on the Island they would have eaten it at home, we are not saying they mustn't eat luxurious food in their own houses are we? They are eating luxurious food in their own houses, what the hell are we going on about? And they eat much better food in their own houses than they had on the Island so I don't think we should be misled by long menus and everything else and personally I don't even like those menus, I prefer my curry and rice. But the thing is that the essence of it is that it is designed to raise funds for political prisoners and their families and I think it's a perfectly legitimate thing to do and if people who have money are prepared to give money because they want to meet somebody else, well that's fine. If the beneficiaries are going to be the political prisoners and Robben Island then that's fine, but no one individual must benefit from that. That I am very clear. Then it would be totally wrong.

POM     Why the reluctance then to release the list of people who actually attended? In the interests of transparency shouldn't that at least be made public?

EP     Oh it's a lot of rubbish. The South African newspapers are bloody crazy. If you go to Kathrada and ask him, I don't know, I haven't asked Kathy, you could ask Kathy the question. I suppose Kathy would have said no, I can't give you the names until the people who were there agree. There's nothing secret about it. Those journalists if they were at all investigative journalists could have gone from where the bloody helicopter takes off, the helicopter didn't take off from some secret place, it took off from some airport or some military base and you could have seen who got on to the helicopter, you could have seen who got on to the ferry. Now they had no problems getting the names, they had no problems in some of the people speaking to them. Some people didn't speak to them. I think they are just making a mountain of a molehill but they are newspapers, they need a front page story so the front page is 'We have the names'. So what? Did it matter in the end that you are able to say that so-and-so was there and so-and-so wasn't there? I suppose maybe it matters that those who weren't there might feel a tinge of  jealousy and next time they will want to go. I just think that it's a waste of time but it's journalism, newspapers need to sell and I quite accept that it's the newspaper's right to make their headlines. They want to sell their newspaper, that's fine. I don't think it's a big deal.

POM     Talking about newspapers I want to try to combine three things together. One is this allegation that there are senior people in government and even in cabinet, ANC members, who worked at one time or another as police informants, allegations that there was a wider conspiracy regarding the murder of Chris Hani and then the death 'accident' last week of Radu on his way to Durban to see Jacob Zuma. Again intelligence sources saying that he was carrying information relating to both the possibility of opening a docket on the Chris Hani case and files containing the names of possible or suspected ANC informants. What is this whole thing about?

EP     First of all let me tell you, you had better go and ask those newspapers who claim to know all of these things who their sources are. I don't know what the chap was carrying in his car and that's a matter for our Intelligence Services to investigate so I can't comment on this newspaper speculation, it may or may not be accurate. But let me say this about Chris, I don't know why this media is behaving in this way. From the very first time when Chris was assassinated, in the party, in the ANC we said there is a conspiracy here, there is a right wing conspiracy, there is a right wing conspiracy to destabilise this country, therefore we appeal for calm. Chris's assassination, murder in fact, was not the work of one individual. We said that even after they arrested Walusz. Why are people coming and pretending that this is something new?

POM     But they are saying that the elements that were involved were elements within the ANC itself.

EP     But that's a lot of bullshit and they've quoted, and I'm repeating bullshit, they quoted Winnie and Winnie has denied that she ever said that. Now why are they trying to change this thing to the ANC when we know it's a right wing conspiracy? We know it's a right wing conspiracy, why are you trying to find out whether somebody in the ANC was behind it, because you're diverting from the fundamental feature and we had said before that the way De Klerk and them were behaving, the way they were attacking the party, the way they were attacking Chris, that they were creating an atmosphere and an environment in which you would then make it possible for people to carry out that assassination. What are they looking for in the ANC? If there were informers in the ANC who gave them information those ones are also part of the right wing conspiracy, they are not part of an ANC conspiracy. There is no ANC conspiracy to eliminate Chris. The conspiracy is a right wing conspiracy and we maintain that if Walusz and them if they are at all to get amnesty, I hope they don't, but if they are then it must be on the basis of full disclosure and the full disclosure must be to tell us who was behind them. How can this chap, whatever his name is, Derby-Lewis, right wing leader, well connected to the right wing in this country, connected to the right wing internationally, you can't tell me that he was involved just on his own. Now we need that information. Why are they diverting us from the fundamental feature of a right wing conspiracy to destabilise this country. Bombs were going off all over the place before the April 1994 elections. Viljoen and them are now saying that at one time they had really thought that they were going to form an army of destabilisation. That's where the investigation must lead us to. This business of saying that there might be informers, yes of course there have been informers in the ANC, we ourselves have said so and we are saying now the people who know are their handlers. The people who may know are the previous NP ministers. Why are they not coming clean? Why are they not saying, we know, we were in the National Intelligence Agency, these were all the handlers we had.

POM     There was a report given to Mandela.

EP     What nonsense is that? De Klerk is just talking a lot of rubbish. Mandela has said over and over again that reports were given to him and when he asked them to bring evidence they did not bring evidence. You can't just go and say so-and-so is a police informer without bringing evidence. You've got to bring evidence otherwise anybody can go and say anybody is a police spy and when you ask for evidence and they don't produce evidence how can you take it further? So it's not enough to say they have given Mandela names. Why don't they bring the names of their handlers? They know.

POM     Two follow up questions. One, the allegation that there may be up to five senior cabinet ministers who worked for the police at one time or another. One, is the NEC satisfied that this allegation is untrue? Two, is the planting or the bandying about of whether this whole thing about there being informants in the ANC part of an almost counter-revolutionary strategy? Is it being planted in a way to divide the ANC, to send it on a witch-hunt against it's own members? And thirdly, and more importantly, this goes back to the case of a man named Solly Smith who was the ANC's representative in London in the eighties who confessed when he came back that he had been working for the government and was allowed to continue on as a Regional Chairman until 1993, how do all these things fit together? If it were true is there a point at which it could become damaging to the national interest for such information to be known? What do you do if there were five ministers? I'm just saying hypothetically if there were five ministers, do you fire them, does it destabilise the organisation, does it make you wonder are there moles still throughout the organisation, people still working for the NP or its agencies?

EP     Fortunately I'm not the President of this country so I don't have to make the decision with regard to that. But it's what I said earlier, it's mischievous to say there are five. Why are they not naming these five? I mean those same people who go the newspapers and I suppose go to Africa Confidential and say there are five, why are they not naming them? Then why are they not producing the evidence? You see the evidence is very easy, every agent was paid, presumably they signed from time to time for receiving the payment otherwise the NIS would not have known that they were being paid. Where is this evidence? I said earlier, where are the handlers? Why don't they produce the handlers to say, I handled so-and-so, I met so-and-so at such-and-such a time, here are my books. So-and-so, when they were a member of the NEC gave me the following information about an NEC meeting? Why are they not saying this? That's demonstrable proof that so-and-so was an agent of the other side. They are not doing that, they are just bandying five, no names, nothing, then leave it up to the newspapers to speculate who it might be. I think that's mischievous to the nth degree here.

POM     Who is behind the mischief?

EP     Well that's what I'd like to know. I personally believe, but it's my personal belief not the view of the ANC or the party necessarily, that some of the old agents are behind it. I think the NP has something to do with it. The NP doesn't know how to operate in an open, clean political environment. Its entire political life has been in the sewers of politics. I don't think they've been able to get out of the sewers of politics and so they know they can't defeat the ANC in a free and fair election. I think the NP, certainly not the party as a whole possibly but certainly elements within the NP are behind it. We don't know how many of them were working for the NIS. So I am saying again and again if they say so many people are - let them produce the evidence. Without evidence it's impossible to deal with the situation. Then the President can decide what to do. From the point of view of the ANC and the party quite clearly if somebody had given information which led to gross human rights violations, which led to the deaths of our people, I cannot see how such a person would continue to serve in the highest offices in this country where that information directly led to the deaths of people. Where there might be people who broke under torture and became unwitting agents, well then you'd have to look at the case and see to what extent the information they had given was under such compulsion and force that they could not do otherwise. Well of course then we would take that into account, we would take into account the fact that quite a lot of our people died. Pila Ndandwe(?) her body has been found and they are sending -

POM     This is?

EP     The woman, our MK Commander who was kidnapped in Swaziland and she was shot because she wouldn't work for them. Now we have had great heroes and heroines in our struggle, so all of those have to be taken into account but right now I don't believe, talking to you on this day, that it will do the ANC any good to go on any kind of witch-hunt because you don't know who the witches are that you are hunting. Who are they? And it would be wrong, it would be disruptive and I think it would play into the hands of those forces that want to be disruptive and I repeat again and again, and I will say so now and I will say tomorrow and I will say so next year, as far as I am concerned people have got information. Yes we know that they had infiltrated agents in the ANC, we know that, of course we know that, we've said so publicly before. We know that quite a number of people broke under torture, we know that too, it's not a secret. Let the handlers come and give us information and let them come with concrete information. Why are the handlers holding on to this information? For what? And I lay you your bottom dollar now that before the 1999 election they are going to start using this. It's all designed for the 1999 election to weaken the ANC.

     Let me lastly say with regard to this thing that as far as I am concerned if people had been giving information to the other side of course you must look at the extent of the information and the depth of it because they might have been misinforming the other side too. Of course it's difficult to work with them because you don't know if they are not still working for the other side. Now they are useful to the other side as long as they are not exposed, that's why I'm coming back to this question about why don't they expose them because once you expose them they are useless. I mean what's the point? You can't blackmail them and they can't get information for you because they may no longer be sitting in the structures that they might be sitting in so they hold on to them and soon after the - in fact some months after the elections in 1994 a senior police officer, whom I can't name, said to me, "You know Essop what we should do is we should shred the files." So I said, "What for?" He said, "But you know it can affect some people very high up in your organisation, the government." I said, "That's precisely why you are not to shred these bloody files. How do you want to shred these files?" I think that senior Police officer was trying to be mischievous in the same way. When I then confronted him and said, "Why don't you take the files to the President? Don't bring them to me, I don't deal with informers but the President is the commanding chief, take all the files to the President. Why are you threatening to shred them?" I never heard from that chap again.

     So I come back to this issue, they have gone to the President, let them go back to the President and let them go with concrete information, concrete evidence, and I am saying some of them don't want to do so because then they will lose the control they exercise over those who are really agents of the old apartheid regime. And that is the problem, so all this mischief making - insofar as the ANC is concerned I think what is important is the unity and cohesion of our movement, it's the discipline of our movement. In 1999 I am very confident we are not going to get any less than 1994 and that's what the NP knows and that's what the old security agents know and I think that this is a whole destabilisation process under way now, indeed a counter-revolutionary process under way in which the prime target is the undermining and weakening of the ANC.

POM     Now who is behind it? So there's still in your view a third force out there that is consciously trying to manipulate and undermine the ANC government?

EP     Well I'm saying there might be a third force, I'm not sure to what extent it operates in the way the earlier third force operated because the earlier third force operated, never mind what De Klerk says, with the sanction of the state. I mean they had state resources at their disposal to do what they were doing. All these horrific murders and everything were carried out using state vehicles, state arms, all of these things paid for by the state. Now obviously the state is not there to support those third force elements now so somebody is supporting them, they are getting their money from somewhere. There is a third force element, yes, they haven't been disbanded completely. We know that, I think everybody knows that. And I am saying that it could include elements from the old security, it could include elements from the old police force, elements from the old defence force, elements from the old military intelligence, I believe elements from the NP, old or new, who are engaged - they might not necessarily all work together in a conspiratorial manner where they sit down and conspire, no, but I think that each one of them has different interests. Some of them have common interests and the common interest is the undermining and the weakening of the ANC. Then you have got your ultra right wing groups who have not been able to accept the changes that have occurred in South Africa, who don't want to really allow a democratic South Africa, a non-racial, non-sexist South Africa to flourish, who still pose a serious threat to security in this country.

     So we've got to take all of those things into account and I don't think you can neatly package it in one little basket and say this is it. No, I think it's a much more complex phenomena and a more complex web of intrigue that's taking place. The critical issue is will the ANC be able to withstand this onslaught and I want to say to you today, yes, the ANC and its allies will withstand this onslaught, we will withstand anything they throw at us. We withstood them when we were in exile and in the underground and we will withstand them now and there is no way in which they are going to destroy the African National Congress. I say this with my head on the block, there is no way in which they are going to destroy the ANC.

POM     Just to move to something else that has been controversial in the last couple of weeks and has drawn a lot of reaction both from all opposition parties and from all sections of the press including sections of the black press and that is the return of Allan Boesak, Dullah Omar's endorsement of him, I even heard last night on SABC that the Deputy President had said that after the ANC had conducted its investigation it found no evidence of wrong-doing, and Boesak's statement that this was a trial not about what he did but it was a trial about the struggle.

EP     Let's just set the record straight and differentiate different elements here. I don't know what the Deputy President said but he couldn't have said what you said he said. What he would have said, if he did say anything on it, is that his legal adviser, Mojanko Gumbe, at that time, which is over a year ago now and this South African horrible media by the way just are ignoring that, they keep on reporting this lie that she said and the Deputy President said that Boesak was not guilty, she said on the basis of the available evidence, it was the same evidence that Danaid Church lawyers had, you could not say that Allan Boesak is guilty, equally you could not say that he is not guilty. The evidence was not conclusive either way and therefore it was wrong to find Allan Boesak guilty on the basis of the available evidence. Secondly, on the basis of the available evidence, Allan Boesak might have lost some of his personal money because of the way the bookkeeping was done by Steenkamp. That's what she said. We had a press briefing here, some of the very journalists that we spoke to in the press briefing pretend as if we've never had the press briefing in which we made these two points and we made a third additional point. We said to them, central to a democratic South Africa and an independent judiciary is the presumption of innocence and it's wrong for the media to find this man guilty. The media was finding him guilty before the trial had taken place. They are forgetting this themselves, the media.

POM     But is it incorrect for the Minister for Justice - ?

EP     I'm coming to that. What I want you to do, because I want you to understand what the sequences are, because you repeated that the Deputy President said something and I had to correct that and the South African media is refusing to correct that. I don't know how many times we've told them this. So the first thing you need to get right is what is it that Mojanko Gumbe actually advised the Deputy President, what is it that the Deputy President actually then said?

POM     You should have somebody check out what they did on the programme that goes on at ten o'clock on SABC last night where they quoted the Deputy President.

EP     Yes I know but they might quote one part because he would have certainly said - so I am putting the record straight with regard to that. Secondly, there is not a single journalist in South Africa who has had at least the gumption to ask the question, why has it taken the Office of Serious Economic Offences more than a year compiling, I don't know, more than 80 to 100,000 more documents before they could recommend to the Attorney General that he should prosecute? Does it not show that the earlier evidence was not sufficient for prosecution? Does it not tell you that? Obviously they have taken a year longer, obviously Mojanko was right that the evidence at that point was not sufficient and therefore they didn't prosecute. But why is it that in the South African media this is killed? Why? So that's the second part that needs to be examined. Thirdly, the Minister of Justice acquiesced to them going to the United States at least on two occasions as far as I know to go and interview Boesak. They went there on state expense sanctioned by the Minister of Justice. Now the issue then arises, has the Minister of Justice intervened and interfered in due process of law? He has not. In fact he facilitated the due process of law in terms of the investigation of the allegations against Allan Boesak by sanctioning that trip overseas. Now they had gone to the United States, come back and then said they wanted to go back, he sanctioned it again, sanctioned the fact that, well, it's not up to him but the Office of Serious Economic Offences when there is so much corruption in this country, huge corruption running into billions of rand.

     Sometimes I ask myself, it's a personal thing I'm making now, why are they not spending the same amount of time, effort, energy, drive to uncover that corruption, uncover the corruption of the old state machinery in this country, that they have spent trying to accumulate enough evidence against Allan? OK, it's their business, they are an independent thing, they must do their own investigation but I think the question needs to be asked: if you have limited resources which you say you have, why are you not using the limited resources to investigate some of the huge, huge corruption  we are still confronted with today in this country? All right, they have done the thing, they have said they will charge Allan Boesak and due process must now take its course.

     Now coming to Dullah, of course as you know there is mixed reaction to this thing, there is even a mixed reaction even to some extent even within ANC circles so I am going to express a personal view, but I think it's the view of certainly the President and the Deputy President who were well aware of what Dullah was going to do. I think Dullah was perfectly in his right as the chairperson of the ANC in the Western Cape to go and welcome Allan Boesak and to make a statement about Allan Boesak. You might quibble about the words he used, about whether he should have said well, there is struggle bookkeeping. I can't comment on that because I didn't see the exact statement Dullah made. The media is only quoting one line. Dullah might have contextualised that particular sentence which the media has ignored and I know my own experience has been, it's not the fault of the media they are looking for sound bites, they are not looking to contextualise things, their readers are also looking for sound bite pieces so I am not blaming the media. I am just saying that I would have imagined Dullah would have contextualised it but I don't know what statement he made so I don't want to get engaged in whether or not he should have particularly said it was struggle bookkeeping. We are talking about the principle of it. In terms of the principle of it I think Dullah was well within his rights.

     Me, personally, I fully agree with what Dullah did. He was expressing a view as chairperson of the ANC, he was expressing solidarity with an outstanding freedom fighter in this country. There are other people who disagree with me even inside the ANC too and I accept that and I respect their point of view. If Dullah's position in any way interfered with the due process of law I would have been opposed to it. I believe Dullah himself would have been opposed to it but Dullah I do not believe interfered in the due process of law. He didn't. The case is going to go on, the prosecutor must prosecute, Allan's defence must defend him and in the end the judge must come to a conclusion on the basis of the available evidence in front of him. What Allan Boesak says is what Allan Boesak says. If Allan says that the whole anti-apartheid struggle is on trial, well that's Allan's view. It's not my view. I don't believe necessarily the whole anti-apartheid movement is on trial. But I mean, you know, don't keep to people's words at the time when they are expressing them in a meeting, there's a highly emotionally charged meeting and so on and so forth.

     But I would not use the same words that Allan used, but in some ways of course there is an issue which has to come up to some extent in the trial. There is nobody in this country, there is no church organisation, there is no legal organisation that can give you actual records and documents about how they utilised money that was coming from abroad. You couldn't do it because it was against the law. We had to use different conduits to get money into this country. How do you think the UDF survived here? On water and bread? The money was coming from outside. How do you think our underground operatives were able to continue to function? Money was coming from outside which we had organised. But you had very strict exchange controls here, you had to find different ways and means to get money into the country and different ways and means for this money to be distributed and you couldn't ask people for a receipt. You were having a big mass demonstration and people wanted money to hire buses, you didn't say here give me a receipt, they would say you're mad. And I am sure that in the course of it money was stolen. I am sure of that. There is no way in such a situation that money wouldn't go missing.  But I am saying that we need to take that into account, so it depends on what the actual charges against Allan are going to be because there are a whole lot of things that he had to use money for, I think, which he will not be able to account for. There might be others that he would have to account for but let us see what emerges in the actual trial itself and what the evidence is. So coming back to Dullah, I would say personally, and I speak for myself as Essop Pahad, personally I think Dullah was right and I think Dullah was right to stand by Allan as chairperson of the ANC in the Western Cape.

     There is a broader issue here now that has been raised which I think will be with us for some considerable time, it's not necessarily a Dullah issue. It's a broad question here, we say in our constitution, and it is written that we are a multi-party political system, it's one of our founding principles, proceeding from a multi-party political system we say it's a political party that exercises power. It's different from the American system, it's more akin to the British system. So any of us who are ministers and deputy ministers are representatives of our political party. We are not there because we are Chris Liebenberg. We are there because we are members of the African National Congress. That's how we got to parliament in the first place. If we were not in the ANC we would not be sitting in parliament and therefore we have a party political responsibility too. Does it mean that from now on we are going to say every time there is a contentious issue we must not speak? And then to say no, we are only saying the Minister of Justice. I say, no we have to deal with the broader issue here. We have to deal with the responsibility cabinet ministers have to the political party to which they belong and Dullah Omar belongs to the ANC and more than that he is chairperson of the ANC in the Western Cape Province. Now, therefore, he has a responsibility to speak in the name of the ANC in that province. If anybody else spoke it would not carry the same weight. If an ordinary PEC member of the ANC said that it would not carry the same weight as the chairperson who happens to be Dullah Omar and therefore I think there's a larger question that we need to discuss, we need to debate, we need to look at.

     Again I come back to it's not a question of right and wrong. I'm not saying those people who are critical are wrong. I have a point of view which I think is correct, somebody else thinks their position is correct but I am saying we need to discuss this matter and we must not be in a situation in which we begin to silence our ministers from speaking on party political matters. They tried to do the same thing with Tito when he was sent  by the NWC to the Free State to head the ANC team in the Free State. But he is Minister of Labour, he is Minister, why is he interfering? But he's a party political animal first. You are only a minister or deputy minister or whatever else second. First you're a party political animal and we can't lose sight of the fact that in a party political system this will always happen and we must be able to speak, in my view, in our capacity as representatives of our political party.

POM     Does Allan have a point when he says that here he is, somebody who laid his life on the line for the struggle for so many years in all kinds of situations and he is really being prosecuted over what is in the end a petty amount of money in the larger scale of things, while on the other hand you actually have the murderers of children and women applying for amnesty and walking free?

EP     My view is that Allan, of course, is at liberty to say what he wishes and I don't want to get involved in whether what Allan says is correct or what Dullah says is correct. I want to deal with the principles of the question. You see I have said earlier I thought that there are far more things for these people to have investigated but they chose to investigate, that's their independent right, that's why they're there. The Attorney General has chosen to charge Allan Boesak and let's see what happens in the actual court. If Allan is found guilty of misappropriating money then he must take the necessary action to redeem himself for that purpose. What I thought I was saying in broad terms, not speaking about what Allan is saying, is that quite clearly even in our country we must be able to distinguish between depth and extent of crimes. It is true as the ANC a number of things happened in our camps which were bad. It is true we have said before that a number of people were tortured, where sometimes our intelligence operatives thought these people were agents of the other side. We were in a war situation in Angola. It's not comparable to apartheid crimes and I am nauseated when people want to compare it to apartheid crimes and that's what the defenders of apartheid want to do. That is what the NP wants to do, who have been the proponents and implementers of the apartheid regime. They want to put the crimes of apartheid at the same level of what the victims of apartheid have done. I think it's appalling. I couldn't think of anything worse in this world and in that sense, if that's what Allan is saying, that you cannot compare the level, the depth and the extent of the crimes of the one against the other, sure, but which sane person can say that that's wrong? I mean really, what sane person can say that it's wrong?

POM     Well the perpetrators of these ghastly crimes are going to walk free.

EP     No, the comparison. No, but we have said there is a Truth & Reconciliation Commission. We set up the TRC, not the NP. We have given responsibilities and tasks to the TRC and they must carry it out and if the Amnesty Committee decides on the basis of the evidence in front of it that they are giving somebody amnesty that's fine, then we must accept it because we have set these people up as an independent body to do that, because we have said it's in the interests of this country that we must have reconciliation. People keep on saying it's Mandela, it's not only Mandela. Of course Mandela is the President of this country, is President of the ANC, it's a policy of the ANC this policy of reconciliation. It's not a policy of one person  because as an ANC we have understood that it is in the best interests of this country and of the people of this country and the future of this country that we must have reconciliation now and not have Nuremberg trials. We were discussing this long before we came back from exile, we were having intensive debates and discussions about whether or not we should have Nuremberg trials. We eventually came to the conclusion that in the interests of this country and in the interests of the future of this country let us not have Nuremberg trials because it could exacerbate existing tensions and conflicts. Let us go for a situation in which we can have reconciliation so that we can lay the foundation for a truly peaceful and stable South Africa and that is our position and that remains our position.  So if there are murderers who will go free because the Amnesty Committee has decided to give them amnesty so be it, we will have swallow on the thing but we will have to accept that that's a decision of the Amnesty Committee.

POM     Given the revelations of the last couple of weeks before the TRC, the existence of death squad farms, the exhumation of bodies, the various explanations that were given for the disappearance of people that have proven to be lies, is there any doubt in your mind, I'm talking about your mind, you personally, that De Klerk (i) didn't know what was going on, (ii) that he did know but couldn't do an awful lot to stop it, or (iii) that when he says that his hands are bloodless that he is telling the truth?

EP     Let's start with the last one. How can any cabinet minister's hand be bloodless? In all seriousness, the man was a cabinet minister, he was indeed a Minister of Education in this country. Indeed it's true that in the beginning he was known as a verkrampte, as leader of the NP in the Transvaal, old Transvaal, he was supportive of PW Botha. How can these people say that they didn't know? Did they not ask questions when Ahmed Timol was killed? Did they not ask questions when people were disappearing? Did they not ask questions when the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group thing was scuttled with the bombing in Botswana? Did they not ask questions when Ebrahim was kidnapped from Swaziland? Did they not ask questions when a member of our NEC was killed in Mozambique? Did they not ask questions when Joe Gqabi was killed in Zimbabwe? If they didn't ask questions there's something wrong. Why didn't they ask questions? They were sitting in cabinet. Presumably they got some intelligence briefings. It's very difficult to believe. I'm not saying that they knew everything that happened. I'm not saying they sanctioned every vile act of the old apartheid regime, no. But surely in such a situation you would have asked questions. I mean Joe Gqabi was no small fry. He was released from prison, he was a leader of the ANC, he was assassinated in Zimbabwe and what do they put out? They say this was an internal ANC battle. When Ruth First is murdered what do they say? They even get the Johannesburg Star to publish that nonsense that Joe Slovo was behind the murder of his wife and then they had to pay Joe Slovo damages. What is this? Why didn't they ask then the questions that needed to be asked about what people were doing in defence of this apartheid system? That's the first point I want to make.

     The second point I want to make is he says he set up the Harms Commission. Well he set up the Harms Commission and hand-tied the Harms Commission by restricting it in terms of its investigation. Thirdly, he says that he set up Goldstone. It wasn't himself, that's absolute rubbish. It was we who made the demand that there should be an independent judiciary as part of our discussions in the Peace Accord. It's true they agreed to it but it wasn't just him on his own deciding out of the goodness of his heart. He had no choice. Again, Goldstone was limited in what he had to investigate. You can ask Richard today he will tell you what the limitations of his investigation were. But even after Richard talked about the third force, and he kept on denying the third force, if you remember - go back to the statements, they denied there was such a thing as the third force even after Goldstone said there was a third force. Let them produce evidence that they carried out the most thorough investigation to uncover who was behind the third force, where were they getting their arms from?

     Now I am saying if they didn't know then they were really derelict in their duty. Two, if they didn't know they should have asked some questions in order to get some information to begin to do something about it. Three, if they did know they must be honest with us and tell us exactly what they did know. So I accept that, I am sitting here as a deputy minister, I don't know what the NIA agents are doing now and so on and so forth but at least if I know that somebody has been murdered I think it's our responsibility to say we must try to find out and get as much information as possible, and they didn't.

     Now De Klerk, at the time when he approached President Mandela and said Joe Slovo must be removed from the ANC negotiating team, he based his demand on the fact that they had all the information about Operation Vula and that on the basis of the information they had, which they said was impeccable information, Joe Slovo was at a secret meeting at which it was said that the SA Communist Party was not in agreement with the negotiations and they said some other things about the party. Some of us denied it then and we said it's absolutely not true. Now De Klerk was either lying then or is lying now because if he had enough information to go and ask Mandela to go and remove Slovo from the ANC's negotiating team then obviously he's had some information with regard to Operation Vula, he must have had some information to sanction the arrest of Mac Maharaj and then the whole search that they had for Ronnie Kasrils. They knew that Mac Maharaj was a leading member of the ANC and Ronnie was a leading member of the ANC. At that time both were leading members of the party who were sitting all together in the leadership structures of the party. They knew these people were leading political office bearers. Now, why don't they then produce the evidence to say on what basis they arrested these people? So either De Klerk knew then or he didn't know then and if he didn't know then he was lying then and if he knew then he is lying now, but both ways you can't escape from the fact that he was lying at one point or the other at least in terms of what happened with Operation Vula. And that's the reality of it.

     And now Vlok says, and I believe Vlok if he says well he said to parliament what he said on the basis of what the police told him. The question I'm asking is why did Vlok on Stanza Bopape, why did Vlok not ask a simple question that a ten-year old child can ask to say how does a handcuffed person run away while you are changing a wheel? You mean to say you didn't handcuff him to a tree or something? I mean, really, and now you discover that Stanza was killed and then his body thrown into the river? But Vlok just goes to parliament and talks the same kind of rubbish that he's given by his police agents. Why didn't he investigate it at that time? Why didn't he say to the police that I can't accept this information, this sounds too false to me, go and bring me a better report? He didn't do that. What did it then mean? It meant they were prepared to accept the word of their own police. Well to me that's some form of complicity in allowing people free rein to do what they wanted to do because you never bothered to ask them what they were doing with the money you gave them, what they were doing with the arms you gave them, why were their reports like that and why didn't you interrogate the reports you were making.

     So a lot of these people who now claim to have been anti-apartheid - this is where I have to end because I've got another appointment.  The obscenity of it all is that is that De Klerk will claim that he got rid of apartheid. I've never heard such bloody nonsense in my life. The obscenity of it is that they don't even have the courage to stand up and say we are sorry, we were wrong, we were sorry for the murders. They stand up and say, well maybe apartheid was wrong, it was bad, it was misplaced. The obscenity of it is that even at this stage in time they keep on looking for excuses to say I didn't know, or I knew, I'm going to sue. Well let him sue Mac Maharaj and Ronnie Kasrils and then let us see what happens in the court.

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.