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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

22 Aug 1997: Viljoen, Constant

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POM     General, let me first begin with a little bit of back-tracking to our last conversation. Six months ago I asked you how far you thought the Freedom Front had come in advancing its agenda on a scale of one to ten and you said last March that you would probably put it at about seven and a half out of ten. Since that time would you upgrade the standing or downgrade it or say it's the same?

CV     Was that March 1996?

POM     March 1997.

CV     I think we have fallen back slightly. It is as if the ANC hoped to satisfy us with taking some clauses into the constitution and we get the impression that they thought that they would enter the clauses into the constitution, and that was done by all parties unanimously, but they were still hoping that we would find the new South Africa completely acceptable and we would therefore be happy with just having the clauses in the constitution but no practical aspects coming from that. At the moment since March this year we've had a couple of disappointments of discussions that we were supposed to have with the ANC that never materialised. There might be reasons for that. Mbeki himself is attending the discussions and he is a very busy man and we often felt frustrated by the fact that we don't seem to make any progress in this regard. We had a very good discussion with the ANC round about 8th March and it was then more or less agreed that we have to move in a certain way and Mbeki was the man who showed impatience saying that we've got it all in the constitution, there's nothing wrong, the only problem is how to get on with this now, let's get on with it. That was Mbeki's attitude and yet whenever we started afterwards to start pushing there was disappointment.

     The question is now, or a very important question is, is this a sign of rejection of the idea of self-determination by the ANC, showing that they are not prepared to carry on with this, showing that they would prefer to go for one grey nation with a new nationality and as little as possible nationalisms in it? In other words wishing away ethnicity. Is that the sign? Or, what is the reason for the ANC not making a move in this regard? I don't think the first reason is a valid one, I don't really think the first reason is valid because the ANC can never afford, they can never afford to ignore the demands of self-determination because those demands at the moment are coming from the Afrikaners but they are also saying this already, that the demands will come from somewhere else. In fact what Buthelezi is calling federalism is nothing but self-determination. So when Buthelezi puts up a fight for more powers for KwaZulu/Natal this is in fact a greater form of self-determination which he wishes. When you hear about the brown people, coloureds, when they speak nowadays they say first we've been too black and now we're too white and they are I think frantically scurrying around looking for their own identity. Already some groups such as the Griqua people have approached me. They have said they are interested in the same kind of idea. So the point I'm making is I don't think the ANC can afford to wish away the reality of self-determination.

     That brings me to the second reasoning and that is what would be the reasons for that? Firstly, I would like to say that I don't think that the Afrikaner people are by far united enough, the solidarity regarding self-determination in the Afrikaner people is not well developed. The idea of self-determination as promoted by us was very well received in the more right wing orientated Afrikaner people. Mr de Klerk, with his more left wing Afrikaner people (sorry, I'm using the words right and left but maybe I should use some other terms, I should rather for left say individual rights liberalism and for right say collective rights nationalism, if I can use those words). So the ANC themselves would feel that they don't really have a vision to move until such time as there is sufficient pressure from the Afrikaner people and that lot of pressure can only come after greater solidarity from the Afrikaner people, not necessarily political solidarity but certainly cultural.

POM     There was an HSRC poll released yesterday, which you probably saw, which had the Freedom Front support down from 3% in 1994 to 1%.

CV     Yes there was another poll saying it's from 3% down to 2%. Whether it's down to 2% or whether it's down to 1% the fact is it is down and the reason for why it is down is probably because the more right wing orientated Afrikaners that hitched on to self-determination originally are starting to lose faith in the ability of the Freedom Front to force a quick decision from the ANC. That is probably the reason.

POM     Is this part of the ANC's strategy, that they simply wait you out?

CV     Well I am now reasoning the ANC's attitude and the first point they made is the Afrikaner is not showing strong enough solidarity in this specific case. Secondly, the ANC themselves are fanning the fires of division and when Mandela stood up in the parliament some time ago he said very clearly that you Afrikaners are no longer speaking with one voice, in fact you are a very good example of the rainbow nation. He also said that there is no-one that can really claim that he is speaking for all the Afrikaners and he made a couple of quick remarks in succession showing the attitude of the ANC that they prefer this division because self-determination, as you know, is something that you must plan for the people, not for a political party. So the Freedom Front cannot really make enough progress until such time as we have solidarity amongst the Afrikaner people. The point I'm making is that the solidarity is a big problem and it is in the ANC's favour that this idea of uncertainty amongst Afrikaners exists and I don't think they will really move until such time as there is substantial proof that the Afrikaner has in a very strong majority decided that self-determination is something - and it might even be necessary to introduce some form of resistance because being a revolutionary movement the ANC themselves will not easily give in by just talking but they will probably soon give in when there is some resistance.

POM     So as you move in next year, later on this year and at the beginning of next year, into really an electoral mode, preparing for the elections in 1999, what do you have to show your people?

CV     We have to deliver something. Now we have already delivered the constitution, that was delivered in 1996. Then we delivered the plan, August 1996, in which we the Freedom Front gave our view on the practical implementation of this and now we are working internally in the Afrikaner people to convince all the Afrikaners that what the Freedom Front's plan is is the right plan to go for. In the meantime we are hoping that the ANC will give in to certain aspects of our pressure and it is not impossible that they will do so because I think there can be no doubt that Afrikaners on their language are pretty united and there can be no doubt that the Afrikaners on their identity are pretty united. There is a difference of opinion as to whether we should have cultural self-determination only or whether we should have cultural self-determination, territorial autonomy and the idea of a volkstaat being the highest form of territorial self-determination. There is a difference of opinion on this even amongst Afrikaners. Now our main objective before the election would be to have greater solidarity because no doubt as in the previous election when the provincial votes were counted as part of a referendum to prove that Afrikaners wished for self-determination, no doubt the final position of the Freedom Front in the coming election, 1999, will be a further indication of has this amongst Afrikaners increased or has it decreased?

POM     Is language the most tangible symbol?

CV     Not only language, culture, historical ties, etc.

POM     But would you say that Afrikaans is more protected now than it was in 1994 or is under more threat?

CV     Far greater threat at the moment than in 1994. Afrikaans is under pressure. If you just look at the SABC the use of Afrikaans has been scaled down to about 4% and you must bear in mind that 43% of the people in South Africa can understand Afrikaans. But English is being pushed as the lingua franca and that is going to cause - it can cause a war in South Africa. The Afrikaners are slow in reacting but this kind of thing can cause a war. You take the issue of governmental language, in many, many departments they only deal through English, through the medium of English, and Afrikaans is being pushed out. So there is no doubt in my mind that Afrikaans is under great threat, far greater than Lord Milner in the years that followed the Anglo Boer War, far greater.

POM     So is this an issue around which you can create solidarity or begin to create a solidarity that you talk about that is required?

CV     This solidarity is a new kraal of Afrikaners because we will always find in the Afrikaners those that prefer not to fall back onto their own specific unique characters or identities, Afrikaners that will say we're part of the new South Africa on an individual basis and we accept the complete integration in the new South Africa. I would say a small portion of Afrikaners, difficult to say what percentage, let us say 10%, will probably go for this idea but the majority of Afrikaners will try to have their own identity and will be prepared to take a very strong position.

POM     What about young people?

CV     I was just going to say that what is interesting at the moment is that against expectations the young people are stiffening up their backs. One of the reasons for that of course is the attitude towards affirmative action and the general idea that the colour of your skin now determines as to whether you get work or not and always bear in mind that the young people are at the moment blamed and they carry the punishment for the apartheid of the past. Had they through affirmative action concentrated on the more older people, those that really participated like myself in apartheid then it would have been altogether different, but the young people are really getting fed up and they seem to get more Afrikaner orientated. The moment you put the culture under pressure you get growth and the growth usually starts with the younger people. The older Afrikaners tend to swing back to the idea of racism, not all of them but a certain group certainly swings back towards racism, but the young people are not interested in racism but they are interested in keeping their identity. So the whole concept of self-determination fits in very well with the idea of the young people because self-determination is not apartheid. Self-determination is a way in which you get diversity, co-operating and this is what they are prepared to do.

POM     I don't know whether you've read Patti Waldmeir's book, Anatomy of a Miracle? But she's made a couple of observations that I'd like to get your comments on. She said, regarding talks with General Viljoen:-

     "Mbeki's strategy was simply to keep the Afrikaners talking and the ANC never had any intention of giving Viljoen his homeland but they managed to make him think they were seriously considering it. They hoped to keep him talking right through the elections and beyond, certain that the demand for a volkstaat would diminish once Afrikaners had seen that they would not be victimised in the new South Africa."

CV     Well we are being victimised at the moment, there's no doubt about it.

POM     Through affirmative action?

CV     Yes through affirmative action, through our language and in many other ways, for example redistribution of land, access to capital for business, for agriculture, etc. So we are being victimised at the moment. It's being done in a clever way. But now let me answer your question. It is possible that this had been an ANC strategy. I doubt it because the ANC always quote from their own policy documents such as the Freedom Charter and in the Freedom Charter it said very clearly that all national groups shall have equal rights. Mbeki himself said to me that for national groups read ethnic groups. He himself said that. So, this is the attitude within the ANC but it does not take away from the fact that the strategy, as you put it to me, could have been the right strategy but it is now catching up with them because all over the world nationalisms come forward. We've had it in the USSR, we've had it in Eastern Europe, the whole situation in Bosnia, that terrible area of the world, we've had it in Africa. You have the situation within Ethiopia. Ethiopia had a war of 30 years when the Eritrean Liberation Movement fought for independence, they killed 100,000 people. Eventually Eritrea became a completely independent state, a member of the United Nations. But what is important is what happens in the rest of Ethiopia. In the rest of Ethiopia they decided to move for an ethnic federation and they allowed the ethnic provinces and in their constitution they included the right to secession and they have described the process should they wish to carry out secession. The point I'm making is right through the world this idea of self-determination is catching on and if the ANC had thought that this might be a strategy then they were led into the trap by themselves because the trap of self-determination, the trap of nationalism is right in front of them and they will not escape that ambush.

POM     It's as though you have two countervailing forces operating at the one time. On the one hand you have increasing globalisation and along, parallel with it you have the need or the demand of more and more people for some form of self-determination.

CV     Some form of identity. Exactly, this is so, and the economic forces in the world tend to further the idea of globalisation and the nationalist forces in the world, the identity, the culture, the language, etc. All those are forcing towards the idea of smaller political units. So what we're asking is so very much in mind with the rest of the world and it's such a perfect example of the kind of conflict that will be solved only by self-determination, that had this been their strategy time will catch up with the ANC. There's no doubt about it. It is already catching up.

POM     She said that yourself and Mandela hit it off immediately and developed a bond of trust and that you were probably the only opposition party leader whom he trusted. But if they had no intention of giving you a homeland and they were stringing you along, that would be a betrayal of the very trust that he talks about?

CV     Exactly, but you see the ANC is an organisation of great internal instability at the moment. Remember, me myself, I am a typical indigenous African. Although I am white I am a typical indigenous African in that we've grown in this area, we've built this area, we know Africa and in a way we get along with the black African people much better than the other population groups. So when you say Mandela has a trust in me and me in Mandela I think that trust is purely a relationship of one indigenous to another indigenous and also the fact that we Afrikaners as an indigenous group are very, very straightforward, the part of the Afrikaners that I come from. I'm not talking for De Klerk, that is like a jackal. He has many ways of saying the same thing but when we say that Mandela said to me, myself, if I put my case to Mandela then he knows that it is a serious case, this is what they want. I don't beat about the bush. Mandela himself in the very first meeting said to me that he and his people in a way feel much closer to the Afrikaner people although we have been the apartheid regime in the past, but they feel much closer to the Afrikaner people because we're indigenous, because we know them better, but then he said there is also some great difference and that is Afrikaner people have more heart in them. And he explained to me this idea and he said a farmer would take his bakkie and take the sick child of a farm worker and travel for 60 kms to the nearest hospital and enter the child at hospital and phone every day to find out what the condition of this child is and when the child is finished the hospital treatment and has to come home and he will fetch the child again. He said this kind of ubuntu, you know the word ubuntu?

POM     Yes.

CV     That is the kind of thing which he said is in the Afrikaner. Now I think between me and Mandela we had ubuntu, we had a very perfect - I respected him as a senior black leader, I think he respected me as a straightforward Afrikaner leader and this is where things went right.

     But now coming back to self-determination, if they cheat me it would be an untenable situation. And I don't think they will cheat me but, as I said, the ANC is at the moment in a very unstable situation themselves. They have the instability of the SACP/COSATU/ANC alliance. They have the instability of actually being a de-tribalised organisation. They have the instability of having spent so many years in exile and having lost contact with their own people inside the country and they have the instability of the terrible pressure of a sophisticated government that they had to take over completely unprepared to do so. So there are many excuses or many reasons that I can put forward to explain my idea that the ANC at the moment is not really in a position, is not really fit, is not really ready to make a sensible contribution such as self-determination, not only for us but for other groups too. What you also have to bear in mind is that because of the lesser importance that the ANC attaches to traditionalism, and that is clear from the way they treat the traditional leaders in South Africa, and it's also due to the fact that they have been outside of the borders for such a long period. As I said they have lost contact with their own people. In fact I am more African than I think Mbeki is African. I am more African than he is because I know more about African traditions than he does because he has been in some foreign universities studying, in London, in Eastern Germany, and he has had so many influences on him for the last 30 years that he is no longer really as African whereas I am still an African.

POM     Just talking about Mbeki for a moment, when he talks about an African renaissance what do you think he means by that?

CV     There is a great tension within the ANC that because of their intellectual ability many of the senior posts within government and within the ANC now go to SACP and COSATU elements and the traditional black African feels that he is being left out of the whole situation. In a way, as I've said, they're not prepared for this big task ahead of it. When he talks about an African renaissance I think he refers to the fact that Africa is for the Africans and that within Africa the Africans should wake up, that's where the word renaissance comes from, should wake up and grab the opportunities within Africa. One must always bear in mind that Africa has suffered from colonialism, there's no doubt about it, because the colonialists left South Africa without a political system, or left southern Africa, I am now referring to southern Africa, without a political system, without some form of democracy operating. They left the scene of Africa without any meaningful way of teaching the blacks how to govern and they have left Africa without any meaningful ability to run the economics and to carry on with development and to have sound economic systems and this is the big problem with Africa. And when you talk about African renaissance I think it means Africa for the African and developing the indigenous African in order to wake up and to carry out the functions of government, the functions of the economy, the functions of democracy.

POM     But does that include you?

CV     Yes. Yes, when the new leader of the PAC was appointed, when Clarence Makwetu left the leadership position, he came here and the first thing I asked him is, "Do you regard me as indigenous or not?" And he said, "Yes you are indigenous completely." This is a very important concept. The blacks in Africa have always referred to the Afrikaner as a special sort of colonialism, which is not true, and the blacks are now accepting the fact that we are indigenous.

POM     You were saying that the blacks in South Africa now accept the Afrikaner as being indigenous and this is a monumental shift in attitude?

CV     I think so. I think this is a monumental shift and I think this coincides with the new or the modern political approach by the Freedom Front when we entered parliament. I think I told you the story that when we as a young party after the election, we were only about two months in existence, we considered what position are we going to take up in parliament, what's going to be our attitude in parliament? Are we going to run this party according to the old CP, are we going to run this opposition role of us on the old CP kind of politics or on the Westminster type of idea in Europe? In other words are we going to act as Europeans or are we going to accept that in the new South Africa there is a new African culture also in parliament? And we accepted the fact that this is African culture, this is a completely new system, and we therefore decided also in our actions to take this into consideration and this has certainly paid a lot of dividends and we have certainly as a party moved in getting the support of many black people. I wouldn't say support, but getting the acceptance of many African people that we are part of Africa because there is no doubt within the black communities that the Freedom Front is the one party that will be prepared to co-operate with the rest of Africa. We are very strong in what we demand on our own identity but it's not because of racism, it is because of self-determination. On the other hand we are prepared to live, to stay in Africa which is a very important aspect whereas many of the other whites stand with the one foot in Johannesburg and the other one in Heathrow, London and they are ready to move. We're not ready to move, we are part of this country and we have a very important role to play and I think the blacks realise this and we realise it and the fact that we have now decided that politically we will not play an important role in the new South Africa but that the new role for the Afrikaner is economic upliftment and there is such a great demand for economic upliftment at the moment and this is probably the direction that we will take.

     This is the theory. I sincerely hope that I am right because Africa is slow in moving and we Afrikaners are in many ways still European orientated, we tend to be impatient and we want to move fast, also with self-determination and I, myself, feel frustrated at this very moment on the progress that we have made but I realise that I am from Africa now and this is the rate at which they move, the pace at which they move. It's not a very fast pace. But there's no doubt about the determination from our side and there is no doubt that the ANC knows that we are determined in what we ask. It is not a matter of fooling around and thinking that they will just keep us talking, talking, talking for ever. It's not going to be the case.

POM     One of the most noticeable things about the poll that was published yesterday was the dramatic fall in support for the National Party, down from 19% to 12%. That's almost cutting support by 50% in the space of three years. Has that party outlived its usefulness? Is it so irredeemably associated - was apartheid the glue that held it together and in the absence of apartheid it really stands for nothing?

CV     You're right in saying that it really stands for nothing. I think you're wrong in saying that apartheid kept them all together because it was the reaction to the NP moving away from apartheid that caused the situation of, for example, the Herstigte Nationale Party and those organisations. So I think the apartheid principle of the NP they have given it up themselves but you're right in saying they have no specific direction to go. This is their problem. When they advocate, for example, the creation of a big anti-ANC bloc I pose the question, what for? Because in politics you can't have a philosophy of being anti. Politics is about being pro and the idea is, what are you pro? Then my pro and somebody else's pro is not really the same and that's where the political battle starts. But if you base your policy on being anti-ANC then it serves no purpose. Secondly, what is also catching up with the NP is their total devotion to propaganda. The NP is basically dishonest. They have been dishonest in their approach towards the tricameral parliament system because how can you extend your franchise to Indians who have been in this country for a short while but not to blacks? It's completely dishonest. The same dishonesty came forward in the referendum that was held in 1992. The NP in order to pass their referendum, forget the 68% which they eventually got, made use of propaganda on a very large scale. In fact the NP has been so used to selling something that is wrong for the last forty years that to them it became a sort of a national character. They would sell anything, and this is De Klerk. You go and talk to De Klerk for an hour and you say what has he really said, and you will find that he has said very, very little except for vague political clichés. This is the problem with the NP, they have no clear, honest, positive political philosophy. Their philosophy is to regain power which is not the philosophy. You must base your philosophy on something.

     My philosophy for the Freedom Front is very clear. We have accepted the fact that we're going to live in this country and we've accepted the fact that we will have to share this country with the other indigenous groups of this country, but we say we will do so but we want self-determination. So the whole idea is a political, feasible direction and many, many of the NP people will eventually come in our direction. We must just make progress with the idea of making greater solidarity in the Afrikaners regarding the concept of self-determination. Many of the Afrikaners in the NP believed De Klerk when he said, "Rubbish man, a volkstaat is turning back to apartheid", and De Klerk has in a propagandist way sold the idea to them and they actually firmly believe this. Now those people are now slowly and certainly coming to their senses and what did they do? They come in our direction. We have made a study in the Free State, an opinion poll, our own opinion poll, and we found a swing of about 30% of old NP members towards the Freedom Front within the Free State recently, in the last couple of months.

     So, yes agreed, the opinion poll of the 1% and the 2% that was in February this year but since February there has been such large developments on the political scene in South Africa that that is certainly no longer applicable here but it is a worrying factor, to me it's a worrying factor and I don't take this very lightly. I don't easily talk about this because I have to ask why is this the case and I think the why is because I have not delivered. The ANC, well I would say they have not allowed me to deliver because they have not come under enough pressure from the Afrikaner people to deliver. I might blame the ANC but I should rather blame the Afrikaners themselves, or even my own party for that matter.

POM     I want for a moment to take you back a little just to clear some things up and this is regarding the events surrounding Mangope and when you went to Mmabatho. There's a quote here and you said the same thing to me last year but I have a couple of questions on it. You said:-

     "On the light plane on the way out of Mmabatho that evening I finally decided there was no way out. With the AWB and its discipline I just cannot, I dare not undertake military action and if I did what would be the result? We would not be able to maintain a volkstaat financially and politically, it would be completely isolated in the world. I decided to go for a negotiated settlement and that gave me only one choice, to go through with the elections."

     Surely that couldn't have been the first time that you realised that?

CV     That the AWB was uncontrollable?

POM     (a) That the AWB was uncontrollable; (b) that a volkstaat would be financially and economically non-viable, and (c) that you would be cut off from the rest of Africa?

CV     Yes I could have expanded a lot on the reasons for the decision not to go for a volkstaat but one must bear in mind that at that stage there was a very, very strong political urge within the Afrikaner people, which urge, as I said earlier on, might be coupled to a form of racism, a sort of an escape route.

POM     But you're not the kind of person who allows yourself to be pressurised into making momentous decisions on the basis of other people's emotions. You could sit there and say if I go for a volkstaat it will not be financially viable, it will not be this, it will not be that. In fact, as you say, it wouldn't work.

CV     Can I just correct you. If I go for a volkstaat the violent way then your arguments become right but if I go for the volkstaat the negotiated way the opposite is true because in those days, and that was wrong on the other side, the urge for the volkstaat was very much an escape route. It was a laager mentality to have some withdrawal from the new South Africa. The newest concept of self-determination, including the volkstaat idea, is to be completely part of what it earlier called globalism in Africa, to be completely part as an indigenous group in the new South Africa but in a way that will protect our identity which includes the volkstaat and I think that is perfectly true.

     But now to come back to that decision, you said it was not the first time that the AWB proved themselves to be uncontrollable. Yes, that's true, but bear in mind that I was at that stage strategically thinking, what is the soonest way of getting a volkstaat for the Afrikaner, what is the soonest way, the quickest way in order to find for the Afrikaner a volkstaat and with that also what is the surest way and I was weighing up these two factors. Now what I really had in mind at that stage is if I could, for example, at that stage if I had clarity on which area and if I had a little bit more certainty about the AWB as a military factor then I could have, with my other forces which were very, very good and very well trained, I could have taken an area and I could have marked the area and said, look here to hell with you, this area I reserve for the Afrikaner people, I am prepared to negotiate with you how we work together with the rest of South Africa but this is the de facto situation and if you come here we will fight you. That was the concept of the whole idea. And I still believe that if I could do that in a proper way, in a decent military way and not in the AWB military way, I would have put Mandela and the people under heavy pressure and that would have resulted in further talks starting half way up towards the idea of a volkstaat. I am sure that I could have engineered such a position of tension that in my negotiating I might have been successful. But the reason why I went for the other way is that it was the more surer way because doing that you would probably condemn the whole election and you would be against the grain of the whole of the world, the whole of Africa and the majority of South Africa would be against you. The most important point is if I had taken any military action, and the AWB would have gone killing kaffirs as they wanted, then that would have killed the whole idea of the Afrikaner people as a group and it would have killed the whole possibility of future movement towards some form of self-determination.

POM     The interesting question then that arises is that if the AWB had in fact done what they were told to do, not to go to Mmabatho, then you would have taken action on behalf of Mangope?

CV     No, remember, we went to Mmabatho as a reinforcement for Mangope. That was a few days' undertaking. To me it was a very good test because it was 11th March and 27th April was the election, so to me it was a very important test. It was a test to see whether my people militarily would be able to deal with this and I came to the conclusion that, yes, a certain part will certainly be but what was done good on our side would have been killed by the AWB on the other side and had we fumbled in the military operation, had we carried out any unacceptable military operation it would have backfired on us.

POM     Well let's say you propped him up, you're saving his neck so to speak.

CV     Who, Mangope?

POM     Yes.

CV     No, we saved Mangope's - we didn't save his neck. Mangope wanted to call his parliament on the Tuesday and his intelligence people informed us in that weekend that the ANC was going to start a physical battle in Mmabatho for the sake of toppling Mangope before he could bring his parliament together. So we then decided to give him more troops and he asked me for the troops. He explained to me saying that your Afrikaner forefathers used to fight and live with the Tswanas, and he explained to me when Mzilikaze went through from that area, he was killing right, left and centre towards Bulawayo, we defended, we, our Boer ancestors and the Tswanas worked together militarily in order to protect this area against Mzilikaze. Then he said to me, "Won't you help me by giving me troops?" and I said, "Yes I will bring you the troops, I have the troops available and I will make those troops available to the other command of your troops." It's not a separate Volksfront Action, it is just supplying troops for the purpose of reinforcing Mangope so that he will not be toppled in a weekend by a few gangs of ANC MKs coming in to do the final kill of Mangope. That was it.

POM     Then if his parliament had met what would have been the result of that?

CV     Mangope said to me that he felt sure that they will decide in favour of participating in the election because the issue was participate or not participate. The ANC carried out the operation in Mmabatho not for the sake of, as they said, convincing Mangope to participate in the election but for the sake of killing Mangope as a person so that the ANC could have a bigger election victory in the whole of Bophuthatswana.

POM     So you see the ANC's actions as being aimed at deposing Mangope as distinct from getting rid of his government per se?

CV     No, they wanted to get rid of the government too. They wanted to get rid of the whole political system, the whole opposition of the ANC within Bophuthatswana. And I must say that at that stage I was given information by the people in the Bophuthatswana area in Mmabatho saying that Mangope does not have a lot of support but he can reckon on at least a third. So let us say Mangope still at that stage had about one third support in Bophuthatswana after the pressure by the ANC and the actions at the university and the actions at the nurses' homes, etc.

POM     All of which were instigated by the ANC.

CV     That was the real liberation. The ANC carried through one of the best planned and executed revolutions through the different phases and the weekend on which we moved in was supposed to be the final kill and they were moving a few truck loads of MKs in and they were going to start the shooting over that weekend. That is why the ANC convinced De Klerk to go that weekend with Pik Botha and Mac Maharaj and so on to depose Mangope. So the ANC then actually achieved what they had in mind. They killed the political opposition in Bophuthatswana.

POM     Now she says, and maybe she's wrong, that you registered the FF only minutes before the deadline on March 11th. You were denounced by the CP and the AWB and she says, "The ANC had engineered a white right split at last."

CV     I don't think it was engineered by the ANC, I think this was just a natural development that took place. As a matter of fact I don't think it was engineered by the ANC.

POM     Then she says, "South Africa's Defence Force moves into Mmabatho and overthrows Mangope. De Klerk has opposed - "

CV     No, no, that is not right. Let me tell you, that evening I personally went to the South African Embassy where - no, let me first start off, coming from Pretoria I flew with Rowan Cronje to see Mangope and I told Mangope what had happened, the AWB action, the mutiny within his own forces, police force and defence force, the fact that there were no weapons available to issue to my people and the fact that therefore my people will not be able to - and I said to Mangope, " have returned my people." So then Mangope said, "What do we do?" Then I said to Mangope that I will go and talk to Georg Meiring who is the Chief of the Defence Force. I knew that he was at that stage in Mmabatho, and I will ask Georg Meiring to give you as a government the support which we wanted to give but which now because of the AWB action we couldn't give.  I promised him that I would explain to Meiring the actions of him wanting to gain enough time for calling his parliament together on the Tuesday, which I did. I then flew to the South African Embassy where I saw Meiring and I explained to Meiring the whole idea and he accepted the whole fact and he said, yes, he will do that. And as he was saying that, Rusty Evans from Foreign Affairs was there too, Rusty said, "But before you do that go and talk to De Klerk." So I waited outside and they went in and had a discussion with De Klerk and Georg Meiring came out and he was furious at Mac Maharaj having said something. Mac was in the Embassy too but I didn't see Mac.

POM     This is in Mmabatho?

CV     That's right. I then said to Georg Meiring, "Is that OK?" and he said yes he will co-operate with the Bophuthatswana Defence Force, what is left over of the Bophuthatswana Defence Force, and the Commanding Officer of the Bophuthatswana Defence Force in order to find stability so that there can be a normal meeting of parliament. That was the Friday evening. The Saturday Georg Meiring was in town, in Pretoria, when he was called to the (what is this joint structure that they have called?) Transitional Government and there he was told that it was decided that Mangope will be deposed and he was then commanded to go with Pik Botha and with Mac Maharaj and they flew and they landed at Mangope's home at six o'clock that evening, Saturday evening, and then Pik Botha told Mangope that he is now quit office, he is no longer the President. So it is wrong for Waldmeir to say that the defence force put him off. It's not true. It was Pik Botha and Mac Maharaj. The defence force actually agreed with me that they would stabilise the situation so that there could be a normal democratic decision as to whether they would participate or not.

POM     Was this again a matter of the ANC being able to overrule De Klerk in the TEC?

CV     There's no doubt about it, no doubt about it. But remember, the tragic thing about this is the fact that Mangope was a creation of the National Party and they have now in this way turned against Mangope, and that is the reason why the NP will never make progress in South Africa. The NP must disappear because this blatant dishonesty cannot work in black culture. You know the black people are different. They expect from us to conduct and behave like Europeans and if we deviate from the European culture of honesty, etc., then they don't trust you. They themselves claim for themselves the right not to - or can I say rather to act in conjunction with their own culture, but they expect from you to operate like that and De Klerk and the NP and especially Pik Botha have been so blatantly dishonest in dealing with the situation over that period. They were at all costs just handing over, handing over, getting rid of the whole thing as soon as possible. Why? So that they can, the NP can start to recapture the land and take it over so that the NP could again be in government. And that will never, never happen again, it's completely out of the question. The NP is a spent force, there's no doubt about it.

     Now can I just explain one thing more about the NP. The movement of Meyer out of the NP is the first sign and that's a very good thing. It's excellent because within the Afrikaners of the NP, and they only have an Afrikaans constituency, they have some English-speaking supporters, etc., but most of the English-speaking business people support Tony Leon in the DP but there are some English-speaking, but most of the Afrikaners of the NP those people are actually accepting the fact that they are traditionally conservative Afrikaner nationalist orientated. But you do have the Meyer group. The Meyer group has been in command of the negotiations. They are for individual rights, they are for liberalism. So the movement of Meyer away from the NP is a natural process. It is the first actual good sign of party politics showing some new lines in the South African situation. Meyer has told me himself that he thinks he will take 50% of the NP with him. I think it's a bit high, but let us say he will take 30% to 40% of the NP with him, there's no doubt about it. Where will he go to? The mistake Meyer made was to go for Holomisa. He should not have touched Holomisa. But the fact is Meyer is creating another small party which is an Afrikaner liberal party at the moment and he is trying to find ways and means of gaining voters, black and coloured, etc., so he's creating another small party. So this is not a good way of find one big opposition. It's in fact splintering the opposition. But I'm not concerned about this because I believe that in the young democracy the more parties here the more democracy will start to count and you will be forced to go for alliances which is a runaway of democracy which I believe is the right way.

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.