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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

07 Oct 1997: Buthelezi, Mangosuthu

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POM     Dr Buthelezi, beginning with perhaps the more difficult or the easier questions, but having had an opportunity to examine and observe the proceedings of the TRC over the last 18 months do you think any value is coming out of it? Do you think that it is helping in the pursuit of justice or truth or that it is bringing about reconciliation or that it is, as some people suggest, just a witch-hunt of sorts?

MB     Well it is difficult for me to handle that because my party in the first place decided not to participate in it but nevertheless we did submit a submission to them in September last year and after that they sent a long questionnaire which was very, very difficult to handle because it was not based on any facts and so on, and therefore we have had correspondence with the chairman of the Truth Commission expressing our dissatisfaction with the Truth & Reconciliation Commission and also on the ways, for instance, some cases of the IFP members have been handled. I remember that, for instance, Mr David Dombelo(?) who is a member of the provincial parliament and a member of the National Executive of the IFP, in Maritzburg he was almost killed by members of the ANC, it was a very, very ugly scene and there have also been some very, very glaring examples of lack of even-handedness on the part of the TRC in dealing with some members of the IFP. Speaking for my part here I have not seen that it can be an instrument for bringing about any reconciliation at all or that one can get to the truth that way. We have, of course, nevertheless said that even if the party decided not to participate that our members who would feel that they would like to go before it are free. We don't ban anybody from doing so. The chairman of the TRC speaking to me appealed that we should encourage members and I have tried as much as I could to encourage our members to go and appear before the TRC but they have complained that there are too few members of the IFP who come before them, but that's not my fault of course.

POM     That's up to the individual.

MB     It's up to the individuals.

POM     When you hear revelations from the commission, from senior police officers, senior security policemen with regard to the activities they were engaged in, are you horrified that the state had been engaged in such activities?

MB     It is horrifying because some people they killed were people that I knew, that I worked with, people like Steve Biko who I knew very well and with whom we interacted as political leaders. It is very shocking to find out they were assassinated and so on.

POM     Do you find it, and many people find it, impossible to believe that the political 'masters', or ministers involved, were totally unaware of any of these activities? Some people believe that when these revelations are made they find it impossible to believe that the political seniors like the ministers in charge of the line departments were totally unaware of these activities. Do you yourself find it impossible to believe?

MB     Well, it's a very difficult question because, for instance, there were some members of the IFP that have been convicted of having committed some heinous things but now for anyone to say that I know, I know genuinely that I didn't know, I didn't know details of that apart from the fact that a war of attrition was going on but I didn't know what individual people or groups did. So I would find it difficult then to apply different standards to others.

POM     Could you tell me a little bit about your relationship with Steve Biko, how you developed a friendship with him, how you came to know each other?

MB     He used to come to my place, he was a young leader, he organised meetings. I think in one of my submissions to the TRC there is a letter which he wrote inviting me to come and listen to ... whom they had invited to speak to them as SASO, South African Students Organisation, which was a Black Consciousness Movement development. At least as I say, even to my place and he came to see me.

POM     Do you see a connection with his emphasis on Black Consciousness and, I won't say your emphasis, but your exhortation of Zulupeople to feel pride in their culture and their heritage and their sense of identity as being Zulus?

MB     I don't know why you say that. I am a Zulu and when I talk to Zulus as Zulus I am not separating them from other people. I would say in fact a very prominent ex-member of the PAC, leadership of the PAC, was there and they were saying, for instance, when he joined the IFP they understand it because we are also an Africanist organisation, a Black Consciousness organisation. So I really don't understand the Zulu part  because I don't know why you should say that.  Zulus are black people too and the fact that I was working amongst them you can't say you can compare it with black, as if Zulus are not black.

POM     Sure, no I wasn't implying that, I was implying that you were both in a way emphasising the same thing, to take pride in your heritage and in your culture and where you came from.

MB     In fact I think it's the reason why he came to me. For a long time he wanted me to resign as Chief Minister of KwaZulu because he said he felt that I should be the leader and he would support me. They realised that our philosophy was the same.

POM     That's what I was getting at, that essentially you were espousing the same kind of philosophy for your people.

MB     Quite correct.

POM     Moving to something else and perhaps a little thorny subject, the resignation of Walter Felgate from the IFP and his, at least he allegedly said that he used to belong to the ANC. Had you any prior knowledge that he had?

MB     I don't know if that is true, in fact it's a lie. It's a lie that he was in the ANC first. When I met Mr Felgate, he was introduced to me by Beyers Naudé who had previously worked with him in the Christian Institute, and before that I was involved with him with what they call the RTZ, that is the Phalaborwa company in which he worked and a panel of us were asked to be a panel to look at the working conditions of workers there and that's how I got to know him and then he decided to come and join me. I used to send him to see Mr Tambo with Mr Gibson Thula(?) and sometimes alone, but that he was a member of the ANC actually is not true. Even if he says it now it isn't true.

POM     Did his decision to leave surprise you?

MB     Well for a long time we were not working together with him because definitely a chasm had occurred between us. He was not a very easy person to work with all along and many people, many of my closest relatives and friends didn't trust him from the very beginning and at one time there was a publication, some years ago, more than ten years ago, stating that he was a spy and so on but I ignored it because I didn't know if it was disinformation because he was working with me, but it was a printed pamphlet saying that. So he wasn't a very good person to work with and then of course he was aggrieved. I discovered that when I was given three posts here, ministerial posts, by President Mandela in terms of the constitution based on the percentage of the votes we got in 1994, I learned later that he felt that because he had worked closely with me I should have given him a minister's post which is actually out of the question because there were senior members of the party, some of them who had been ministers with me in the KwaZulu government, and senior members of the IFP and there were only three posts anyway.

POM     People like Joe Matthews.

MB     There were many people deserving it who were not -  Why do you single out Joe Matthews?

POM     I'm just saying he was one of the senior people in the IFP.

MB     Well yes, but surely he was not the most senior, others were more senior than him. And then, of course, later on he actually corresponded with me, in November or so last year, complaining that I hadn't looked after him and so on and that he was bankrupt and so on and complaining that when the contracts with the KwaZulu government, of which he was a research officer, took place I should have provided for him, but I was not involved in the contracts. It was a negotiation between himself and the head of the department in which I was not involved. Then, of course, he decided to leave parliament here to go and work in the KwaZulu/Natal Legislature. I didn't mind. He was very sick, he had two by-passes and I was sympathetic to him and then he went up there but then when he got there Dr Mdlalose promised him a post as a minister if the constitution of KwaZulu/Natal was passed and as it happened that was the constitution of KwaZulu/Natal which in fact was not certified by the Constitutional Court. So then he fell between two stools, so he came very bitter then after that.

     That's when that correspondence took place between us and one thing which really hurt me deeply was that on 15th March last year when that constitution was being piloted through the Legislature of KwaZulu he told a lie in the middle of the night about me saying that I didn't mind if the constitution didn't accommodate the monarchy, if it didn't accommodate the leaders, the Amakosi, the traditional leaders, which was a lie because that was the extent to which he was anxious to have the constitution passed because if it was passed there would be more Cabinet posts and he was going to get one. So by the end of the year it was quite clear that there was a big cleavage between us  a big gap between us.

     Then of course there was an incident which happened in the National Council when in the National Council after the court case about the constitution he was saying that we must go back to the Constitutional Assembly and the National Council almost to a man, except with two or three other whites who were saying that with him, all solidly were opposed to that. Then when he corresponded with me he blamed me, he said that he knows the National Council passed that and yet he said that he could see that I also agreed with them, which surprised me because now he goes about saying that I'm a dictator, but he is now blaming me for bowing before what were the wishes of the majority of the National Council. That's the sort of thing I can say about Felgate. I don't think I would like to say anything more about him.

POM     Are you disappointed?

MB     But I've just told you that we already - how could I be disappointed?

POM     You were talking about traditional leaders, do you think the present set of structures that are being put in place, House of Traditional Leaders and whatever, are adequately addressing the question of the role of traditional leaders in the new South Africa or are they just window dressing of a sort?

MB     It is known that all traditional leaders right across, even those that are ANC, are not satisfied with that. Just this weekend you may have read in the press that there was dissatisfaction. I, myself, had a speech which was read out for me and the President of Contralesa at that meeting expressed that very, very clearly.

POM     Do you see a way towards a resolution?

MB     How can I? I'm not in power. It's up to Mr Mandela and Mr Mbeki to do that. In June Mr Mbeki, the Deputy President, was in KwaZulu/Natal where he talked to some of the leaders there but I wasn't present and he said that this question has to be addressed not only for KwaZulu/Natal but right across. That's the last word that I've heard on the matter from the government side.

POM     President Mandela has appointed you Acting President on a number of occasions, which shows his trust in you and belief in your ability and your capacity to carry out whatever the functions are of the presidency. In view of the relationship that you had in the early 1990s when he would not come to KwaZulu/Natal to see you and the King, the differences that you had over a couple of years at that time, do you see this as an act of reconciliation on his part, as his perhaps trying to make up to you for some of the injury that he did to you during those years that he now regrets and found was unproductive?

MB     That perhaps you can put to him. I can't speak for President Mandela. But I think this thing can be twisted. I am in the government of national unity, it is part of what the constitution dictated, it was not a coalition which was negotiated. I mean the constitution said that I need to be given three posts and he appointed me as one of his ministers, Minister of Home Affairs, in spite of this relationship because the constitution decreed it should be so until 1999 and that is the case. And when people asked him why he appointed me and so on, the press, he said first of all because I am a senior minister and because of my experience and competence. That's what he said. Now these interpretations, people can have their own interpretation, but that is what he said.

POM     Now I know from previous conversations that you don't believe a lot in opinion surveys and opinion polls.

MB     In fact because I am not an expert I have no interest in it because I can't talk about something in which I am not an expert.

POM     But when you see a poll, for example, or if an adviser brings you a poll and says this poll says that we have lost a significant amount of our support in KwaZulu/Natal, do you dismiss that as being hogwash or do you say look into it?

MB     In 1994 they said that I had 2% and I did not even canvass for the elections, as you are aware, but I still get more than 10%. That's my reply to that.

POM     How about among those who say that the base of the IFP is in mostly rural KwaZulu/Natal?

MB     Are people in the rural areas animals? The majority of black people were forced to live in rural areas and the majority of people are in those rural areas and this business of saying rural, rural, I get just sick and tired of it. It's an implication of inferior people.

POM     At this point in time after three years that you have spent in government, going into the fourth year, what are the differences now between the IFP and the ANC in terms of broad policy issues and goals? What would you, as President, do differently in government than what the ANC is doing under President Mandela now?

MB     The policy of the government, the macro economic strategy of the government is the GEAR policy, that is growth, employment and redistribution which is supported, which even the National Party when they were in government were supporting. But the point is that that thing is not moving because the partners of the ANC, the Communist Party and COSATU, are opposing it and even Mr Mandela becomes very ambivalent about it. He was talking to COSATU just a few weeks ago saying that he doesn't think they were properly consulted and so on. He really almost speaks from both sides of his mouth and this is the difference between us because while we support that but quite clearly they are still tied by their alliance partners, tripartite alliance election partners, the SA Communist Party and COSATU.

POM     Just talking about GEAR every year I go to Derek Keys who was the first Minister of Finance in the government of national unity for a little tutorial on the financial affairs of the country and I've spent a lot of my time on my visit here this year talking to people about GEAR, across all parties and, just as you said, almost to a person they say GEAR is not working, that this economy will not generate a 5% growth rate between now and the year 2000, that it might at best get 2% to 2½% a year and when you take into account the rate of growth of population with the same level of income that there is no increase in employment, if anything there may have been an increase in unemployment because of firms down-sizing in response to globalisation; that you do not have huge amounts of foreign investment coming in and you're not going to get them in the future; that the savings rate in the country is abysmally low and can't generate the capital needed for private investment; and that to talk about 5% growth rate and all these jobs materialising and this fantastic social and economic transformation that's around the corner is talking hogwash. It's like the Emperor has no clothes. It's like this policy needs to be fundamentally re-examined and the President to say it's not working and we must realistically adjust our goals.

MB     On paper we didn't see anything wrong with it insofar as many of the Pacific Rim countries, I think, went through the same process, painful process, many countries have gone through the same thing, Lady Thatcher also doing that, privatisation, getting rid of state assets and so on. It's not even shifting forward because those first things that should come first like privatisation are not taking place because it's opposed by the partners of the ANC. But I don't say it's solely depending on that. I agree with the views that are expressed that it's not working.

POM     Many people have said to me that there is a mood of rejection building up among businessmen, that they are less optimistic about the future than they were even 18 months ago.  And I talk to businessmen and they express -

MB     I think that is true. The good example of this is the Basic Conditions of Employment Bill on which there is a complete deadlock which my colleague, Minister Tito Mboweni, the Minister of Labour, has tried to negotiate both with the trade unions and also with business. There was a report to say that some understanding had been reached but both vehemently, both Business South Africa and labour, denied that there was any rapprochement on the issue. So that's a good example which can cause that kind of disillusionment among business people as well.

POM     One of the interesting things I find about it is that in the United States I think the minimum working week is still 45 hours, now most employers use 40.

MB     It's amazing.

POM     The minimum amount of holidays you're due, by law, is two weeks, ten days. Minister Mboweni was telling me, "Well I've upped that to three weeks." And I'm saying, "But you're a developing country!"

MB     Absolutely! In fact we say so, how can a developing country like South Africa want to work for 40 hours when a highly developed country like the United States doesn't do that? And talk about maternity leave and all that, how can we afford it? This is a developing country? How can we?

POM     You're really pricing yourself out of markets all over the world.

MB     Absolutely, absolutely and it's really ironic that we have got brilliant people like our Minister of Labour, Tito is a very brilliant young man, and why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we shoot ourselves in the foot with both our eyes open?

POM     Are there open discussions of this in Cabinet?

MB     Yes, in fact I can say we are not supposed to discuss what is discussed in Cabinet outside of Cabinet, but I can tell you that I did express my strong reservations about some of those things and stated the fact that we are a developing country and said in fact this would destroy jobs. Even the fact that all the things they want agreed for domestic servants, I said what's going to happen is that there will be more robots and so on and I said that there will be less people employed. I think it's a good thing to have basic employment conditions, in principle I support that, but the way we are going about it where we are trying to do even better than developing countries I think really it's madness.

POM     Let me leave that aside for a moment and turn to Mr de Klerk and his resignation as leader of the National Party. Just you as a politician, do you think (i) that that was a good thing that he did that, good for the NP that he at long last made that decision? Many people said he should have made the decision when Mr Mandela became President. (ii) How would you characterise your relationship with him over the years?

MB     Well I would say that I have no right to dictate to any man what he does and when. That is my attitude and even the press were not very happy because I couldn't play along with them to make condemnations of his decision because it's his decision, his right to make that decision even when he was making it. Whether it was, of course, in the interests of the party, well that is another matter, that's a matter which is debatable. Some people said that it was good for the party, that he should, as he put it himself, to get people with what he called less excess baggage than himself. That's what he himself said. So I really don't think that I have more wisdom to share about the pros and cons of his resignation. One thing that I didn't do when there was a short debate, tributes were being paid to him, when some people slammed him here in parliament, my speech was that of acknowledging what he has done in the past, what he has done in this country but at the same time I stated, of course, how he let me down by signing that Record of Understanding where they went into a huddle with the ANC and signed that behind our backs in 1992. I lamented that mistake as something that alienated us, but that was not for me to detract from what the man did in fact contribute towards the new South Africa and also I had to acknowledge that the man was honest enough even on 2nd February 1990 when he released Mr Mandela he mentioned my name that I am one of those who helped him reach that decision, as much as he said to the TRC that what made them, the NP, change their minds was my rejection of independence. He said that is what turned them to decide that they needed to negotiate. So I acknowledged the man's honesty for those things.

POM     But at the same time do you think he not just let you down but betrayed you when he signed that Record?

MB     I've already said that. What did I say?

POM     You said he let you down.

MB     I put it in my own words, why should I put it in anyone's words? I've already said so and I said so openly that I felt let down.

POM     When I talked to him before Mr Slovo died, I talked to him about the Record of Understanding and the role he had played in being one of the key people in putting it together, and he said to me with a broad smile on his face, "They caved in on everything."

MB     Yes, in fact they said so. I think Cyril Ramaphosa also repeated that he was surprised how easily they caved in.

POM     How easily the NP caved in?

MB     Yes how easily the NP caved in.

POM     There's a statement, it's an assessment made by Van Zyl Slabbert and he wrote just last year, he said: - When the chips were down Afrikaners meekly handed over power without even seriously attempting to bargain any special group privileges. They even agreed to simple majority rule. De Klerk's negotiators were really a part of Mandela's team in facilitating the transition to majority rule. It was a pushover.

MB     Quite right. I agree with him.

POM     I know you don't like to speculate but you're also a politician and a very successful and astute politician, why in the end - many accounts say that in the end De Klerk was desperate for a deal, that he would make a deal almost regardless of the content, he just wanted a deal. Why in the end do you think they just rolled over so easily when, as you said, you had people like Cyril Ramaphosa saying, "My God, I thought they would fight a little bit harder?" What do you think when you analyse it?

MB     I think it was the world community, the Ambassadors, the entire world and all sorts of things, Nobel Peace Prize and so on, and once they're in that groove then he couldn't turn back.

POM     So in a way it was the acclaims of world community that became more important than striking a good deal?

MB     Absolutely, in fact earlier this year, I don't know if you have anyone who keeps you abreast, I can't read Afrikaans but there was a most interesting editorial earlier this year whose title was 'Surrender' by Die Burger.

POM     Yes, I got that.

MB     It summed it up, it really summed up the feelings of the Afrikaners about how they feel he betrayed them.

POM     Going back, when I met you first you gave me a huge file which I have kept documented over the years of the manner in which the ANC had attempted to vilify you and to demonise you and to portray you as an agent of apartheid and a collaborator and whatever. Partly as a result of that there was this war in KwaZulu/Natal. Has any senior person in the ANC ever come along to you and said, "Chief we were wrong, we did you wrong and even though we're not quite ready yet to acknowledge it in public, I at least as a senior member of the ANC want to acknowledge that my party did you seriously wrong and that for any of the violence that went on in KwaZulu/Natal we are just as responsible, if not more responsible than any of your supports might have been." Has anyone made that gesture towards you?

MB     How can that be so, Professor O'Malley? How can you even ask a question like that? At this very moment when you talk about Felgate they are even bending backwards now to try and justify their actions because all these things and the use of Felgate and the fact that those 200 Zulus that we sent to the defence force to train when they were going to kill me, something that I am sure you heard. Deputy President Mbeki admitted that there was a plot to murder me and he said of course that the top leadership didn't know about it, but of course there were many plots, but he admitted to the TRC, but without any penitence, not with contrite heart at all. Even now, just a few days ago I was approached by a certain group of people who called themselves Lovers of Peace in KwaZulu/Natal and one of the artists, a songstress, wants to sing a song of peace with me and Mr Zuma, who as you know is the leader of the ANC in KwaZulu/Natal and also the National Chairman of the ANC. So I replied yesterday and said in principle I have nothing against singing a song of peace with Mr Zuma but at present while they are busy using Mr Felgate and so on, you can't expect that they would even apologise now because even now they are still trying to prove that either I was an agent of the regime or that I was a traitor or something, because all these little things they are trying to do is to prove that. So those things, I reply to you when you say has anyone come to acknowledge, because at the same time the big thing in KwaZulu/Natal is the so-called Peace Initiative which involves the leadership of the ANC and the IFP in KwaZulu/Natal, but even that I cannot see how it can get off the ground really. I can't see how it can get off the ground while they are doing all the things that they are doing.

POM     While on the surface there are these efforts being made to deal with the symptoms of the violence, all the tensions that existed are still there under the surface.

MB     Very much there. In fact a few weeks ago The Sunday Times reported my visit to one of the places called Tin Town in Inchanga where in fact while I was there some ANC people across in this section of the town, which is ANC, were shouting obscenities at me and not only ended up there in spite of the strong police and military presence, they started shooting and so on, just a few weeks ago. That's the reality you see.

POM     As 1999 approaches and the elections of 1999 which will be hard fought, are you worried about the violence?

MB     I'm very concerned, I'm very, deeply concerned. But you see on the part of the President, for instance, the President has done certain things. In August we went up together in connection with a special development initiative between Swaziland and Maputo, Mozambique, and us, and they took my arm up and said no-one must get between us and so on and so forth. But unfortunately he left before I could reply to thank him for his response. I said I applaud what the President says, Mr Zuma and other leaders of the ANC of course were there, but I said I applaud it but at the same time while the ANC is still busy when the President says that no-one must come between us, but there is the ANC in KwaZulu/Natal pushing in Felgate between us. What are we talking about? I said so. I'm talking about recent things on the other hand that are happening. The President himself does make gestures like that and utterances to that effect.

POM     Again I'm trying to get things in historical perspective as time goes by, to see how views change or whatever and I recall in one of our first meetings you saying that as far as you were concerned that the object of the ANC, or at least one of their objects was to smash the IFP and to establish a Xhosa-dominated one-party state.

MB     I don't think I ever used the word Xhosa.

POM     OK, just a one-party state.

MB     A one-party state, I did say a one-party state, most definitely I did say that.

POM     So that their gestures towards democracy and talk about democracy, democracy, democracy, are a front because what they really want is -

MB     They are not borne out by their actions, I agree with that. They are not borne out by their actions at all. Because you see even now we have what is called co-operative governance but actually you can see that they want to centralise everything. They are still obsessed with central planning which, as you know, is one of the preoccupations of the communists, even in Russia it was so and in all the states that have collapsed. I think that discourages one. I fear really that as we go towards elections things are really going to be quite - there is no indication why things are not really bad. I have, for instance, gone to the Eastern Cape and on my visit last year there were people there that were intimidated from coming. I had gone there for the celebration of someone that the IFP had assisted to get out of jail. He was involved in a so-called coup in Transkei, but that happened. Then I went Umzimkulu, which is actually on the border of KwaZulu/Natal and Transkei, to form the office of the IFP and there again people have been prevented in front of us from coming by the ANC, from coming to see us.

     You see what is going to be worse this time in these elections I suspect is the fact that the state apparatus is being used as well because even for the murders of some of the IFP people soldiers are being used and some policemen have shot our members and so on because you see the police force today consists also of former members of uMkhonto, MKs, people who have been promoted and given ranks, who know nothing about policing but who in fact on the ground where there is need for maintaining peace these people go there and they do act partially when they kill our members. Now towards elections I suspect that we may have too much, just more of that escalation.

POM     You talked about the Eastern Cape but are there still no-go areas there?

MB     That's what I'm saying that there are no-go areas, there are still no-go areas but I went as Minister of Home Affairs to open an office in Umtata and the reception from the people now, the ordinary people on the ground, was such that one senior official of the previous government of Transkei said to me, "You see the soil is fertile now, you should come and plant." There was such disillusionment, he said, that I could come. And in fact in the last conference we had in July we had delegates from the Eastern Cape as well, members of the IFP Eastern Cape who attended our conference and of course the Western Cape as well and from Mpumalanga.

POM     Do you find that as your support base changes that you are attracting more Africans rather than white people, just to be that crude about it?

MB     It isn't true that we are - in fact if you ask numbers, card-carrying members of whites we haven't got many whites but I have a lot of whites who support me as Mangosuthu Buthelezi, but I don't think that we have many card-carrying members who are whites. We have never done so. We are basically just like ANC, most members are Africans anyway because even when the IFP, you were talking about surveys, there was a survey done by the University of Vryburg which showed at the time that more than 40% were non-Zulu speaking but still people kept on saying that we have a Zulu base and so on in spite of that.

POM     These are like old stereotypes that once they get stuck people never want to change despite the evidence.

MB     No they don't.

POM     Damn the evidence. Once upon a time there was an apparent rift between yourself and King Goodwill.

MB     There was never a rift.

POM     Was that a rift created by the media or a rift created by the ANC?

MB     Both ANC and the media. Because you see there was a perception, in fact the ANC used to accuse me of 'using the King', which was trying to say that the support that I had, particularly amongst the Zulus, emanated from the fact that they saw me near the King which was actually quite false because my supporters support me after a long leadership of more than 40 years working for them, apart from the IFP. It's not surprising, but now they were saying that I was using the King and therefore the very first thing they said they had caught big fish, the King was now on their side, the King was now making utterances to the fact that under the KwaZulu government I enslaved him, which was not true at all of course. In fact he is suffering now more than ever because they promised him heaven and they have done nothing for him.

     You know that I insisted, myself, Mr de Klerk was very difficult, I insisted to Mr de Klerk that two days before the elections, on 25th, right across here parliament was called in a special session of parliament to enshrine the position of the monarchy in the interim constitution. That was done. Then of course we had the ups and downs, as you know them, between us, the IFP and the ANC which at one time caused us to walk out. Then when they finalised the constitution in our absence there is nothing about the monarchy, they removed all that, and of course if you see the basic constitution you see actually how vague it is, it says nothing. So he sees that himself.

     Now you will say to me, but you said there was no rift, because what happened is that as family we have never really been angry, pouting mouths, scowling at each other. It never happened. Whenever we are together I defer to him as my King and he defers to me as his uncle. All along then you see the press will then say, oh there's a big thaw and so on when they see that our relations are cordial and we laugh and chat as we are doing. But of course they have done a lot of harm now because the Cabinet of KwaZulu/Natal has been trying, you remember that two years ago the President imagined that he could sort this out and of course some of us knew that it was not really his business that he could sort it out even if it was their creation, but he imagined that. Then he called for what was called an Imbiso, that big gathering of Zulus, and you remember I insisted that that be preceded by a private meeting where we can talk without the press and talk to each other and unburden each other and sort it out and talk frankly without the press, without playing up to any gallery. Then on 15th March last year there was that meeting at one of the King's palaces which Mr Mandela attended, but President Mandela in the middle of this decided he was going away while we were just starting and we tried to say to the King let's proceed in spite of President Mandela's departure but the King would not want to continue in the absence of Mr Mandela. So the thing ended up there and I asked for another date and he said he was going to give it to me. He never did.

     Then last year he wanted to celebrate his Silver Jubilee because it was 25 years since his installation as King and he wanted to celebrate that. Then I think the Cabinet of KwaZulu/Natal and other people told him that since he had become very alienated, the King himself, from his people it would be best if relations between me and him are put right first. So in October last year, he was going to hold this thing in December, there was a meeting at one of his palaces where members of the royal family, members of the traditional leaders were there and we tried to sort it out. But although we had asked him to bring his family, his wives and children, he didn't do that, so it was decided to postpone it until they are present and he was going to give us a date but on the 15th of this month it will be a whole year. He hasn't given us any date although we have met many times and participated in dinners in Durban together, sat next to each other and so on, but this matter is not sorted out. Even it seems the ANC itself is anxious that it be sorted out. It is in the interests of all parties, ANC, IFP and Zulus generally that we should have that behind us. What is more, it's more in the interests of the King too because you see on 27th we had King Shaka celebrations of last month and he attended that after more than three years that he has not come. He was there. It was clear that although it was applauded but the matter has not been sorted out properly.

POM     Are there people manipulating him?

MB     Quite clearly so. From intelligence sources, my own intelligence sources, I heard that.

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.