This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
14 Oct 1997: Delport, Tertius
TD. Good evening, I'm Tertius Delport, I'm talking to my dear friend Patrick O'Malley and we're just making small talk. I was telling him and now he wants it recorded, I was telling him about PW Botha's predecessor, as we called him 'Oom John', Uncle John Vorster who was a kind of a bulldog type and of course he was the man who introduced all of the security measures, he was the one who started, shall we say, the war on the ANC and communists. He always talked in very definite measured tones but yet on the other hand he was the one who started the so-called outward policy of moving into Africa, of becoming part of Africa. If you recall he was the one who met with Kaunda and on the bridge and the white handkerchief waving from Kaunda's side, etc. And he was also the one who started the whole concept of you can't have apartheid in sport, we've got to relax the rigid apartheid rules in sport. I listened to him one evening when he was explaining his reasons and he said -
POM. This was when you were a law professor right?
TD. No, I was then a student at Stellenbosch, and he was saying, and I'm going to say it in Afrikaans first, he said, "Ons moet onthou die wêreld word nie wit nie, die wêreld word swart": we must remember or we must bear in mind the world is not getting whiter, it's getting blacker.
POM. He said that?
TD. He said that.
POM. Who recorded that and reported that? And what did he mean when he said that?
TD. What he meant was that we will have to adapt to a world. In other words a hundred years ago the world for all practical purposes, the world as we knew it, was a white world.
POM. Tertius there are two interpretations there. It could be like a warning that -
TD. Well it was a warning in the sense that -
POM. It could be equally interpreted as saying we have to watch what's happening to us because the world around us is becoming increasingly black and unless we learn how to preserve ourselves against it we're going to fail.
TD. Except that he was saying that in the context of defending his sports policy. His policy was to allow, he even did the ridiculous thing of saying we can have blacks in our Olympic team, so it was in that context that he said, "Remember, the world is not getting whiter it's getting blacker."
POM. Can I take you back to Dr Verwoerd to his thesis which he wrote in German. Have you read it?
TD. No, I didn't, I also didn't read Piet Koornhof's which he wrote in English. I believe he did it in - wasn't it Oxford or Cambridge?
POM. One man laid down what was the basis, almost theological basis of apartheid. It was about social engineering, fifteen or twenty years before it became the policy of state. He wrote about it as an academic, about how you can move groups of people around. So I'm kind of surprised that you as - I no longer know how to classify you except as yourself, but as on the verligte and the - which are the two groups?
TD. Verligte and verkrampte.
POM. And you don't fit in either camp. That's what makes you interesting.
TD. Thank you.
X. They think he's a verkrampte here.
TD. That's what they think, I've got a fairly verkrampte image. No, you see Verwoerd's work was not very well known as an academic. He became really known as - I remember he was very young, I think he became Professor of Sociology at the age of 28 or something like that at Stellenbosch. He did most of his work as a politician and before that of course as an editor, a journalist.
POM. I want to come to when I met you first, which was in 1990 I think August at the Town House in Cape Town at 7.30 in the morning, where you had just become the Junior Minister for Provincial Affairs and you wandered over and said, "I'll talk to this crazy Irishman", or whatever. And you moved from that into senior positions, you became the person who was at one time the negotiator for your party and this is probably where I want to pick up the conversation that we were talking about, let's take national politics first; many people saw you as a weakling, as I said to you that Ramaphosa bulldozed you and intimidated you after Gerrit Viljoen - the way conventional history is being written says after Viljoen got sick or whatever that you were thrust into a position of having to negotiate with people who had far greater negotiating skills and they just merely boxed you into a corner and took you to the cleaners.
TD. Do you want my reaction?
POM. Your honest reaction.
TD. My honest reaction is that that is utter nonsense.
POM. I want to ask you, for example, who did you have as a back-up team?
TD. I didn't need a back-up team.
TD. Because I could handle them all on my own.
POM. That's kind of arrogant.
TD. Well I think I can be because -
POM. Since you lost, it's kind of arrogant to say you could handle them all on your own.
TD. No, no, but in that instance I could because I knew what they were trying to achieve, I knew what counter moves we had to make. I was one jump ahead of them all the time and that is why I could advise FW and the cabinet on what stance we should take and they agreed. I convinced them what we needed to do and what we needed to do was to say no thank you to their counter proposal and once you decide to do that the rest is fairly easy in the sense that I could sit there and smile at them and say, "Well if you want to walk out so be it, that's the end of the line."
POM. OK, what happens now between, first of all I want you again on tape to respond to the story in Patti Waldmeir's book about how Ramaphosa decided one day to take care of you because you had a bad cold, you had a cough, you were under pressure and Ramaphosa said, "I'm going to take this guy to the cleaners and I'm going to psychologically destroy him." Now I want you not to look upon it in that way but what was your relationship with Ramaphosa?
TD. Well first of all I respect him, he's shrewd, he can be very mean and he is a very strong personality. He's an exceptionally strong person.
POM. Would you like to see him as president?
TD. I think he would do a better job than Mbeki, looking back now. I was an Mbeki man but Mbeki isn't - I don't think he's producing.
POM. So what has Ramaphosa got?
TD. Ramaphosa has got personality which Mbeki has not got. Mbeki would make an excellent Minister of Foreign Affairs or a diplomat.
POM. But when you looked across the table, I am Ramaphosa and you are Tertius, what does he have?
TD. He's got a bulldog quality in the sense that he comes very well prepared and he is not going to give an inch, he will never give an inch. But you see what makes the whole story about being bullied and taken to the cleaners a little bit even laughable is that so they bullied me into saying no. That's a strange phenomenon. They bullied me into saying I don't accept. That's ridiculous. How can you bully someone into standing up and reacting in the way I did. So it doesn't bother me if that is the perception or if that is what Patti Waldmeir is saying. I think her judgement is very superficial regarding that.
POM. I remember meeting you and talking to you in 1992 where I interviewed you right in the middle, in the cauldron of some negotiations that had been going on, this was in Kempton Park so I suppose it was CODESA, and you were very upset, you were saying we've given the whole thing away.
TD. But we did.
POM. I would like you to retrace what was given away and how, because I want your version of history to appear in your voice because you've a right to reply to a lot of people who have criticised you as being a weak negotiator, that in the crucial cabinet meeting with De Klerk when you told him, "What the Christ are you doing? You're giving all of it away!" He really gave you two choices, you stick with the team or you don't. That's how I recollect some of our conversation. Three, you come back here and you become a main-post of the National Party and you get expelled by the NP, which I find hilarious, and it's only more hilarious that you accepted re-acceptance. Take it away.
TD. Where did you start? What we won by saying no at CODESA 2, we gave away with the Record of Understanding. Now the key feature of the Record of Understanding was the acceptance of a deadlock breaking mechanism. The Record of Understanding started out with a brief, an order by FW to Roelf to put an ultimatum to the ANC, rather come back or. To this day I don't know what the 'or' was. It reminds me of the story that I've often told, well not often told but I think twice in cabinet I said, "What is our alternative?" I remember distinctly saying that after they started the rolling mass action and Jay Naidoo said in public that, "We are prepared to take this country to hell." Those were his words.
POM. This is what was called the Leipzig Option at the time. Remember, the rolling mass action in Europe. Now I interviewed you during that period and you said it's not going to work here, it's having no effect, the government is not responding, they can't overthrow the government here in that way as they did in Eastern Europe. But in cabinet what kind of discussions were going on in reality?
TD. I said there when he said that, I said, "But we need a fall-back position or an alternative." Because all the time we were negotiating on the basis that the interests of the country are of paramount importance and we cannot, we can never under any circumstances allow, for instance, a confrontation, a real confrontation in the sense of a revolution or whatever, shooting starting to break out and that sort of thing. I said it reminds me of the big guy at the bar saying, "I want a whisky or", and then he got the whisky and then the small guy came in and he saw this and he said, "That's interesting", he said to the barman, "The whisky or, or else." The barman said, "Or else what?" He said, "Or else a glass of water please." And that was our position, we were prepared to settle for a glass of water because we had no 'or else'. And that's where I differed and I said there must be an 'or else', and I put on the table in cabinet an alternative which was a whole strategy that I'd worked out. In that sort of atmosphere, the possibility of rolling mass action, the ANC having walked out of the negotiations after Boipatong.
POM. I was in the country.
TD. So you know the atmosphere.
POM. I was talking to you and all the NP leaders were saying this is just a total failure, they've only got about 30% of the people out in the streets, this will have absolutely no effect on anything. In cabinet what was said?
TD. Roelf was given instructions, and FW was fairly adamant about it, "You must now tell them they must come back to the negotiating table." That was his instruction. "You must tell the ANC now that they must come back to the negotiating table."
POM. Was that in September?
TD. I can't remember.
POM. The Record of Understanding, Boipatong was in July.
TD. That was obviously before that, before the Record of Understanding.
POM. Boipatong was the breakdown, that's when everything - then you had the Cyril and Roelf 'channel'.
TD. The channel.
POM. So now you come into September where you have the Record of Understanding.
TD. Now the reason for the Record of Understanding was the brief or order, instructions from FW to Roelf, "You must tell the ANC and you must talk to them now. They must come back to the negotiating table or else, otherwise there's no future for this country." So instead of putting an ultimatum, not an ultimatum but coming through forcefully, Roelf accepted defeat by doing what? By first of all, and I think that was very, very deliberate, getting into the Record of Understanding the ban on traditional weapons. Dear me, my oh my, what percentage of the violence in South Africa was caused by traditional weapons? It was a deliberate insult to Inkatha and Roelf was prepared to put that in without ever consulting Inkatha, without bringing them into those negotiations and that was the end of any sort of a relationship and I don't blame them for it, between Inkatha and the NP.
POM. I've been told by other people that in fact Roelf was despatched to see Buthelezi to advise him of what was going on in the Record of Understanding and that what he did instead was to tell him what the outcome was.
TD. But of course, Roelf never -
POM. But who's ruling. Let me again back up Tertius, because these are crucial events. These are the most crucial events in the history of this country, that you are sitting there in a cabinet meeting, you have alternatives outlined to the cabinet. An instruction is given to a minister, the instruction given to the minister, as I hear you, is that the minister involved was Roelf and he was told to go and tell the ANC that unless they came back to the negotiating table all whatever would break loose. Now the history of how things are being written says the very opposite. The history of how things are being written by people like Patti Waldmeir, whom the ANC by the way don't particularly like even though her book is overwhelmingly pro-ANC, but she begins by saying that here you had FW in February 1990, power, everything going for him, wanted to go for a quick settlement, thought he could break the ANC. Even after he did the referendum he misconstrued what his mandate was. She says, and I almost quote by line, that after the breakdown of CODESA 1 that they all went back to her office, i.e. the journalists, and that FW was in euphoric mood saying, "I'm going to get those guys back to the table." As you said, he was euphoric that time was on his side which is contrary to the first thesis of time being against his side. But her report said he was in a euphoric mood of confidence. This was in May, whenever CODESA 2 was, then you had Boipatong, bang. And by September she reports him, by all her accounts, and I assume she's a good newspaper person, she says that FW would settle for any deal, he didn't give a damn about the content, he wanted to be seen as a peacemaker at any cost.
TD. You see by that time the attitude of Fanie van der Merwe, Fanie had started to permeate, I think, I'm guessing now, FW's attitude and mood and thoughts. Fanie's attitude was that any settlement we can get today is a better settlement than we will get tomorrow. And that is why when Roelf reported back that this is what I can get, the Record of Understanding, when he reported back and I was overseas at that time in the final week because I was sent to brief - first in Washington we had all the diplomats from the northern continent and South America and then to Den Hague where I briefed all the European South African diplomats on the status of the negotiations. Then I got a phone call to come back because on that Saturday morning we would clinch the deal. When I got back -
POM. Clinch which deal?
TD. The Record of Understanding. When I walked in Hernus Kriel kept a seat for me because I was straight from the airport, not even going through customs.
POM. Which deal did you clinch?
TD. Well then I heard the deal was on, that there's a Record of Understanding and negotiations will start again. So I came back that morning straight from the airport in a motor car from the aeroplane, and I walked into Kempton Park and Kriel said to me, "Here's your chair", and I sat down next to him. I said, "What's up?" He said, "This is it", and he showed me the Record of Understanding. I glanced through it, I said, "We're selling out and secondly we've lost Inkatha."
POM. That was in a cabinet meeting?
TD. No, no, that was when in Kempton Park the government delegation and the ANC met with - well Mandela was there, FW, the senior negotiators in other words, about ten on each side, sat to sign the Record of Understanding.
POM. But weren't you as a senior negotiator, weren't you a part of the negotiations that went on?
TD. I was until ten days before that.
POM. What happened?
TD. I was sent overseas. Well long before that it was planned that I would go and brief on the negotiations.
POM. OK but then what happened in those ten days?
TD. And in that time the Record of Understanding was finalised.
POM. But you were the senior minister that time in negotiations.
POM. Why weren't you kept informed as to what was going on? Why didn't you resign and say I can't be a senior negotiator and left out of the process?
TD. You must remember during the negotiations all the time some would be busy on amnesty, others would work on - at that point in time it was my job to go and inform our diplomats, our foreign offices overseas.
POM. But Tertius, here's somebody, this is what I want to get out, this is where history is, is that there's a period in between the breakdown of CODESA and the resumption of negotiations with the Record of Understanding.
TD. The instrument.
POM. Where - and Boipatong is in between and all those things are in between and we all know about them, but as the conventional historians are writing it they are saying that FW went from being quite confident at the break up of CODESA that he would have, as he said to you, "We'll have them back here." OK?
. We were talking that you became (the senior minister in negotiations) at a crucial moment of history, and the end of one phase of history is the collapse of CODESA. That's May. Then you have Boipatong in July, then you have the channel that's been going on that ends up at the Record of Understanding which was hammered out with senior negotiators on all sides. Were you part of that negotiating team?
TD. Basically it was not hammered out by senior negotiators. It was hammered out, if it was hammered out, between Roelf and Ramaphosa.
POM. But who would approve?
TD. Well the full cabinet. All the negotiators were in the full cabinet.
POM. But you're saying that what they hammered out was approved in your absence or you were there?
TD. No, I wasn't there when it was approved.
POM. You were abroad?
TD. I was abroad.
POM. Therefore it was not the full cabinet.
TD. Well - it was the full cabinet but -
POM. No, come on. You were the most senior negotiator they had.
TD. No, no, I wasn't the most senior. Roelf was the leader of the negotiating team. I was one of the negotiators.
POM. How did Roelf get to be the chief negotiator?
TD. Because he was appointed by FW.
TD. Because I think FW liked him and Roelf had the sort of manner that FW liked. He was never aggressive like I was sometimes a little bit aggressive.
POM. So what did FW want?
TD. He wanted a settlement.
POM. At any cost? Almost at any cost?
TD. That is the crucial thing, almost at any cost. The 2nd February 1990's prophecy had to come true. Can you imagine, think for one moment you're FW, I have said, I have steered South Africa on totally uncharted waters, this is where I am leading you, South Africa, and then to say, oh but by gosh it's not the promised land, it's all collapsed, it's gone up in flames, it's blood and tears all over instead of a negotiated settlement. It would have been disastrous to the man, FW. No, not to him, for him.
POM. Since it's been substantially verified that there was in fact a third force operating during all those years when negotiations were going on, you would think that would put him in a position of more power rather than less power.
TD. What, the settlement? I'm not sure. I would be very hesitant to comment really on the role of the third force or on the effect it had on the attitude of various of the negotiators.
POM. What was his brief to you? You were his chief negotiator.
TD. No I wasn't his chief negotiator.
POM. This is crucial as a theory and I'll give you the theory. Why the ANC won or, whatever you want to call them, it could be IFP or ABCDEFG, I don't care, is that they began from a position of having a bottom line which they were not ever going to deviate from.
TD. What was that? Majority rule?
POM. That's right. They said we'll give everything away in between, it's theirs, but we will never lose sight of the bottom line.
TD. And at a stage they were prepared to say we'll do it in phases if necessary, but end of the line, end with this majority rule.
POM. And you guys were coming from a position of confusion. You didn't know quite what your bottom line was.
TD. We never knew what the bottom line was.
POM. So if you didn't know what the bottom line was how do you negotiate?
POM. That was one. Two, since it's said now quite regularly that Roelf was one of the first converts within the NP to majority rule how could he carry out the mandate of a leader of a party which said I believe in power sharing not majority rule, when it's chief negotiator believed in majority rule? That would make the man weak to start with. It's like playing chess.
TD. I agree with you, and once again to go back -
POM. I want you to explain, not agree.
TD. You can't explain it except by saying that at some stage FW must have realised that the ANC will not settle for less than that and he gave Roelf free rein. But then I can't understand on so many occasions, I even have little notes that we shared, I shared with Japie van Wyk and Kriel and Louis Schill. It became sort of a little joke, the expression die uur van waarheid is nou daar, it's the hour of truth. If FW said that once he must have said it a dozen times.
POM. But Tertius, you told me at the Town House in August 1990 at 7.30 in the morning, you said the hour of truth, the hour has come.
TD. Sure. For me.
POM. No, you said this is what's going to happen.
TD. OK, what did I say? We're going to cave in?
POM. No. You said that majority rule was inevitable and that was the way - you were saying that majority was inevitable. We talked about power sharing in between and consociational forms of government.
TD. But that's the point, that's the important point that if we could negotiate - and I think it was within our ability to negotiate a settlement that would have provided for a considerable period of true power sharing, not what we got. We know that that was not power sharing.
POM. Now why did that not happen?
TD. Because the ANC didn't want to give in to us.
TD. So why did we accept what they were going to give? Because FW accepted it. Let me explain a story about power sharing. In the final analysis whenever we negotiated this or that we had in mind, OK power sharing will be in the executive, in other words in cabinet, and for so long we talked about, I personally at one stage with André Fourie and on another occasion with Schutte I think it was, but at least on three occasions we asked for a private meeting to see FW, asking him what about the whole concept of power sharing in the cabinet because that was one of the items referred to Roelf and Ramaphosa to talk about and to negotiate. Then FW said, "I'll speak to him, I'll talk to him, it's important." Yes, he must raise it at the cabinet meeting, whatever. Eventually it stood over as one of the final items that had to be negotiated personally between FW and Mandela. If I remember correctly, and it was reduced eventually to the simple question of how will decisions be taken.
POM. And Mandela told him to go to hell.
TD. Yes. How will decisions be taken in cabinet?
POM. And Mandela said go to hell, a majority is a majority.
POM. Is that correct?
TD. I don't know what he said to him but FW reported back at the cabinet meeting at seven o'clock that crucial day, because the outstanding issues that couldn't be settled by the channel or the negotiations were something about the languages, if I remember correctly, about education, about amnesty, about decision making in cabinet, there were five items.
POM. Decision making in cabinet?
TD. That was the crucial one about power sharing. He presented it as, "Between Mandela and myself we have reached an understanding."
POM. That's Roelf's talk?
TD. Roelf, yes, but FW endorsed it.
POM. Now why?
TD. He said because if we start with a two thirds or whatever majority it means that the cabinet will start on the basis that we are always seeking the necessary majority for decisions and it will cause strife, it cannot work. Rather we will write in that the cabinet will always endeavour to achieve consensus so that a tradition of consensus seeking is built in cabinet, it's far better.
POM. Which means nothing.
TD. It means nothing. That was when Patti had it all wrong.
POM. That was this story of your confrontation with him?
TD. That was when I said I am sorry I cannot agree.
POM. You left the cabinet meeting?
TD. No, what happened, I put certain questions, what about this, what about that. I said, "Mr President, I am afraid I cannot endorse this."
POM. That was at the cabinet meeting?
TD. At the full cabinet meeting. And then FW said, "OK let us stretch our legs", he walked out to his office and I went round, I said to Dawie de Villiers who was my provincial leader, I said to him, "You will realise I cannot accept this." He said, "Then you've got to talk to FW", and I went to his office, I waited there.
POM. What did Dawie say?
TD. Dawie merely said, "Then you will have to talk to FW." That was where I met him, I said, "Yes colleague, I want to see you sir."
POM. I am going to see him two days from now so I'll take part of this conversation back to him.
TD. And in his office, now she reports it as if I grabbed him by the shirt or whatever and I spoke in anger. She doesn't want me to say it, she says a man does not cry. It was highly emotional. I never grabbed him in anger and I think I said to Patti, "And I cried, I said what have you done?" I meant it. I cried like a child. I said you allowed the sissies in the cabinet, the sissies, I used the word sissies (a sissy - a little girl), you allowed the little girls, Roelf and those to give away our country. And then we talked. He talked to me and he said what's going to happen. Well we talked for at least half an hour.
POM. What did he say?
TD. Well he pointed out, he asked how do I see things. I said I will go back to parliament and get the necessary, I think it was seventeen that we needed to vote against the constitution.
POM. That's in your caucus?
TD. In the caucus and that would mean that the new constitution will then not be accepted, not get the two thirds majority. Then he said, "But then you will be the cause of a revolution because if that happens, the very next day we will have a revolution." And I realised the truth of what he was saying and I realised that we were too far down the line then to put on the brakes or say no. There was no alternative at that stage and I accepted it.
POM. What kind of better deal do you think you could have gotten? Taking everything into account in hindsight and whatever.
TD. At that point in time no better deal, but at an earlier stage we could have been much more firm and the big mistake we made was to settle on the easier things and leave the important things.
POM. That's where Cyril Ramaphosa took you to the cleaners.
TD. Of course, of course. You see that was why I say I was one jump ahead of them. I was not prepared to accept the principle of a deadlock breaking mechanism. When I said my final 'so be it', Roelf was sitting behind me and he said, at CODESA 2, he said, "Just accept the principle." I won't tell you what I told him.
POM. Just accept the principle?
TD. Of a deadlock breaking mechanism. Back now to CODESA 2 and to the Record of Understanding. So what I am saying is, they knew once they got that principle in, so they negotiated for the important things first. We negotiated to get - we left our important matters for last.
POM. The two obvious questions are that out of Namibia you came out with a skilled team of negotiators who put the Namibian Accord together, Foreign Affairs. They were completely cut out from all aspects of the negotiating process and Van Zyl Slabbert, among others, just says that you guys were not just simply out-negotiated but in the end that Roelf and Leon Wessels and the rest were just mouth-pieces for the ANC, it was a pushover. Those are the words Van Zyl Slabbert uses, "It was a pushover". They just took you guys to the cleaners.
TD. I agree.
POM. You thought these were guys who deserved medals.
TD. Now I want to ask you a question, what did they achieve in Namibia? What made the Namibian settlement so special? Why were they skilled, what did they achieve? It's easy to achieve majority rule. I think that was what it was all about. Why the long gestation? If we decided -
POM. I want to go back you see, I want to go back, back, back on that. The principle of power sharing, of consociationalism, you're probably far more equipped to deal with than I am, is accepted in divided societies and that the world community made a decision that this was not a divided society, it was a racist society, therefore power sharing among groups was not ever going to be a consideration.
TD. Ah, ah, important. That is the one little thing that stands to my credit, or rather in Viljoen's book, because he always said to me that was the one thing that you brought into our frame of mind. Before I was a minister I said forget about power sharing between groups. That was the old Stoffel van der Merwe approach. Let's talk about power sharing between political parties because in the political party you have freedom of association and that's the only way that we can make it acceptable to the world. Forget about power sharing between groups because that's based on a racist society. It cannot work, not in South Africa. It can maybe work in Ireland or wherever. So I think it was possible once you made that leap to say OK forget about groups, forget about any form of race classification because the moment you've got to have some form of classification if you want to talk about groups, even if you on a voluntary basis enter your name, but you've got classification. With a political party it's not necessary. And that is where we should have homed in on various models and different models, but we were not committed.
POM. Well I like the phrase where you say, "We were not committed", because to me I go back to my analogy about a game of chess, is that you've two teams of players on the opposite side of a board, one team knows exactly what it wants to do and knows precisely how to move its pieces and knows precisely what to give up and is in ruthless pursuit of check. So the other side has no quite clear strategy as to what the hell it wants. It wants to win but it doesn't know what winning is. It wants to get out with doing well but doesn't know what doing well is. So in the end the pure blunder of people who know what they want in negotiations and you as an attorney and as a negotiator would say those who know what they wanted always beat those who don't know what they want.
TD. You see I always thought, and up to a fairly late stage I thought we knew what we wanted, but as we moved on, after Roelf took over from Gerrit Viljoen as chief negotiator, then I realised but we don't know what we want.
POM. Why did that happen?
TD. Because all of a sudden we had no clear idea of are we going for federalism or not.
POM. FW or whom? Where does FW fit in here? I am going to attack him two days from now by saying, confront him by saying, listen, I've talked to a number of your colleagues - I'll identify nobody, I can use any pseudonym I want - they think you began as a brilliant leader and you ended up as a weak leader, at what point did you throw in the towel? When did he throw in the towel?
TD. Well he threw it in when he refused to listen to and to understand our arguments about the Record of Understanding and the implications.
TD. He didn't want to, because he's got the brains. He didn't want to.
POM. This is what I want to go back to. In May he's saying I'll have the ANC on their knees in a couple of months, the breakdown of CODESA is going to work in my favour, they will be coming around like little boys. Three months later it appears this man is desperate for an agreement at any cost. What has changed that makes him psychologically change from saying, "I appear to be ahead of the game", to saying, "I will settle"?
TD. I hope you can maybe tell me. I was there and I cannot understand because whenever we had arguments in cabinet or whatever, FW came out in support of the views expressed by myself, by Kriel, by Jurie and by Schutte. Whenever decision time was there he backed off. I don't understand it and I never will unless somebody can unravel that mystery.
POM. So when you sat down face to face with him that morning in his office, he played chess with you. He said you can move one piece and it will mean a split party and probably maybe civil war, God knows, whatever, so essentially I've boxed you in and I'm a better chess player?
TD. No it's not even that.
POM. Because I've check-mated you. So I want you to try to explain to me the emotion and the circumstance of the meeting.
TD. It was not a chess game. The paradigm was not that of a chess game. The paradigm was that of two men who have known one another for many, many years, of two men from basically the same background with basically the same attitude, both coming through the Broederbond, through verligte Broederbond. Remember I was a member of the Broederbond and in the forefront, before I entered politics, of advocating change and moving away from the PW approach and so on but both coming through the same sort of school and background. He was active in student politics, I was active. He was active in the Junior Rapportryers movement and I was. He's a little bit older than I am but we're from the same background and here we stand at a very crucial time and I am feeling we are selling out and his emotion is that we've got to do this. That is why I say I don't understand. Maybe I was all wrong. You see there was another factor that I must just point out, why I was not - people wouldn't have followed me at that point in time if I said we can't support it. Maybe I could have -
POM. People would not have what?
TD. People would not have followed my lead.
POM. They would not, of course not.
TD. Now they will maybe, now I will get enough people to nail him. The euphoria was: we got power sharing, we got a federal state, we got everything that we really went for, our bottom lines are there. And I said bullshit, we haven't got power sharing, we haven't got a federal, not even the basic elements of a federal state. We didn't get it. But people were carried away at the time with the euphoria of 'we've got a settlement, it's an honourable settlement'. Maybe there was no other way. But then we were deceiving our own people, and we must come to that tomorrow morning maybe, why is the National Party in the situation that it is in now. We've deceived our followers.
POM. It's no place. It's going down the drain so quickly.
TD. Sure. But where did it all start?
POM. My question to you is that the contradiction I see in you, Tertius, as friend, person, as somebody who came across the street and said, "I'll meet this stubborn Irishman at 7.30 in the morning and have a conversation", before any change happened, you talked about ideas. And what I don't understand, I think, is that the power of ideas, the power of power means that majority rule here was an inevitability. To me the questions would be: how do you deal with the reality of that? How do you go about building a multi-party democracy?
TD. But apparently you would want me to say that again, I can't understand how is it possible that a party without a policy, as yet, can according to the latest opinion polls, can have anything up to 3% support in the country. But I think it shows how desperate people are for an alternative, especially in opposition circles. OK, I accept that Holomisa is bringing some support in black circles. They hope that he will become the Father Christmas again that he was when he was dictator of Transkei. He simply wasted, dished out, paid for all -
POM. Paid for by the government of which you were a part. Right?
TD. I was a member and I was in favour to keep the balance, to remain objective, and I was very much against calling back the Air Force when they were already on their way from Durban to take Umtata.
POM. When was that?
TD. That was when, can you remember a time? I don't know when, when our Ambassador was kept hostage in Umtata. Just go back to what point that was. I was in a cabinet meeting when the Air Force was half way to Umtata with the paratroopers to go in and to take Umtata.
POM. Now to take over whom?
TD. To take over the government from Holomisa and lock him up. I was in favour of it. I was against calling them back.
X. But you called them back.
TD. The government called them back. It was FW eventually. I was in favour of taking him out. Now you're coming to the dark side. You see at that point in time my approach was that this man is wasting money, he's not adhering to - you know we had the decision that no promotions would be made in the civil service and we had all the information that he was promoting people and wasting money on a big scale. I said, "Stop him, let's stop him, it will take half an hour."
POM. Why wasn't it done?
TD. Pik, Pik said international incident, international incident. Pik persuaded FW to call them back. They were already airborne.
POM. And you said what? The National Party is dead, the PAC is dead, there's only one party that's alive and despite all its faults, all its blunders, all its inadequacies no-one has been able to mount a credible opposition in policy. In terms of policy what would you say? How many governments have gotten the proportion of the GDP, have brought the deficit down to 4%? In Europe, Germany is still trying it, Britain hasn't achieved it, this is before they go into the Monetary Union. It certainly doesn't have to ever, as they enter national monetary rules - this country is now considered one of the most fiscally disciplined by the World Bank and by the IMF. Do you give credit to that? What do you give credit to and what do you not give credit to?
TD. Well I give credit to the fact that basically the ANC is adhering to the constitution, basically they are sliding towards a modern type of democratic government.
POM. They want that. Do you believe they want that?
POM. Would you tell them that?
TD. Yes of course. What I think our biggest problem at present is, is the lack proper administration. The administration is crumbling in a bad way. The situation is actually far worse than is apparent.
POM. The Eastern Cape is the worst.
TD. It's the worst.
POM. There are two ways of looking at this because I've gone through this with everybody from Zola Skweyiya right down to the person who wrote the - all the way down and I tried to follow up and get all the reports of all the things. Now if you go back to government, I have two proposals that are on board, live proposals, on training and so on, all done through video-conferencing. In other words you set up to train large numbers of people, you can't make a dent by sending two or three selected people abroad to go on a course and come back. What you do is you take information technology as it is, video-conferencing, you zap it in and you can do a course with forty people over six weeks and turn them over and you can train probably two, three or four thousand, it depends upon the capacity at this end to deliver, which would be given by AID anyway. In the North West I've one proposal that's way ahead and in Gauteng I've a second one and I've got a third with Valli Moosa doing all local government training. If you want to change things you've got to understand the difference between tipping the top of iceberg where you chip off something and it makes no difference than where you knock off a block.
TD. It's an answer, it's something that can work provided you accept that you are aiming at, let us say, a 50% or 40% success rate because you're going to have people sitting in on those courses or whatever that will not benefit because they ought not to be there at all. That's why I say as long as you realise -
POM. That's a separate problem. Let's say I could beam a programme into Port Elizabeth on this is what a budget is, this is what financial management is, this is how you reach business, etc., and if you're a part of the administration this is your role in administration and they take notes and they have interactive capacity with people from maybe around a whole range of countries. They would say, well I can ask ... we don't believe your system is a good way to do it, this is why ours works and yours doesn't. My point is that we've got to train people. Now when you're saying who are the right people you want to train, that's a separate issue.
TD. I want to be very clear, it is not about whether a man is trainable or not, whether he has the basic ability or even about whether he has the basic will. Even if he is trained, even if he knows what to do, is he willing to do it, does he want to do it? That is maybe even a serious problem.
POM. You know who you should talk to, and I'm going to give you his number, Marcel Golding. He used to be the Deputy Secretary General of NUM. He went out and became a member of parliament and among all their innumerable committees he said, "Screw this", and he set up a company where there are two major shareholders, one is NUM and the other is the Clothing Workers' Union, Peter Copeland or whatever. They are listed on the Stock Exchange. They began with three million rand, they have leveraged that up, the ownership up, not just in terms of majority ownership but in terms of what it's worth on the market, R1.5 billion. Now how are they doing that? They bought up everything in sight. They have pensions, everything, and they buy, buy, buy horizontally. They said we will buy bakeries, we will buy this because then we can make contact with the unions. Even as we're taking their funds out, their people will supply food to the hospitals and the thing will be it is a company owned by you rather than by 'them'. Now what they do, and it was nice to hear, that they have managed to create a system where the shares or the dividends go back into a trust fund that goes directly down to the workers. So if you're a 65 year old worker who has been in the mines but has no support at all, now you've support out of the union creating wealth. Do you think that's a good idea?
TD. I do, yes.
POM. You should talk to him. He's a terrific, he's a man who eight years ago, he and I were sitting across the table, he was banging the table at me and saying nationalisation. He's now saying the future of this country depends upon entrepreneurs. He's changed. I think you should meet him.
TD. I'd like to.
POM. He's completely into wealth creation. No more nonsense about the old ideas of nationalisation or socialisation. It's like saying, for Christ's sake we all went through that period ten or 15 years ago, that's over, we've grown up, this is the world we live it, we're going to make it or break it. We want to do certain things in certain different ways, like how do we manage assets of unions to the benefit of the members. Do we invest in companies, do we have to go back to our members? He said, "Part of my problem is I've got to go back to hostile union people and say, understand the trade, part of your earnings are taken as savings and put into a pension fund, that pension fund is put into an Insurance Company or Provident Fund. That company takes that money and invests it in companies that appear to make money. So when you strike you're striking against yourself." They're sending that message.
TD. I was smiling all the way when the news filtered through that with the takeover of Johnnic they were going to fund the takeover by NAIL with the unions' pension money. What better can you get than the work force using its security, it's basic security and investing it in the South African economy? What better balance of power do you achieve? Now we're in the same boat. If we suffer, you suffer.
POM. That's what I think you should be out there saying, as a radical politician, that it is the relationship of the economy to each other that ultimately reflects the way we behave to each other. If we all develop an equal investment and start developing mechanisms where we've all equal investments then we can all be on common ground and the best common ground, let's face it, is money. Take on the radical platform for ownership, buy-outs and make it the responsibility of the people that if they go on strike, they string up themselves.
TD. What's the effect going to be on the masses if they realise, and when they realise, and when the news filters through, that in two years time Ramaphosa has become a multi-millionaire. I saw recently in one of the financial -
POM. He's only worth R11.3 million.
TD. R30 million. Is that his name? His shares?
POM. I would say two things, that unless the process - the man who I had a longer and angered conversation about this last week was Moseneke, Telkom and the former PAC guy.
TD. Yes I know him.
POM. I interviewed him when he was just Ernest Moseneke, before he was an advocate. He got angry because of the very point that you are raising. My whole thing is that I am trying to get to, or understand, is what does black empowerment mean? It can mean a couple of things. On the one hand he's saying to me, go to hell, I'm getting rich and there need to be rich people, rich black people and more power to us because we're entrepreneurs and we're learning how to play the market and we're learning how to make deals and we do them in a very capitalistic kind of way. Now if some of us get rich, good for us. Why shouldn't we get rich? I'm with you all the way. As I walked out of the door from him last Friday, he said to me, "By the way I still live in the same township I grew up in." I said, "Good, that's terrific." The masses don't see that structures are in fact being put in place. That's why I'd like you to talk to Marcel Golding. They are saying, or my argument with them was that, OK so you invest, you buy, you take the funds, what do you do with profits? He said, "Well, what we do with them is they go back upstairs into a trust fund and the trust fund sends them back down to the individual miners allocated by whatever - "
TD. So how long will the ANC be in government?
POM. They will be in government until -
TD. Thirty years?
POM. About. You're right. So what do you do?
TD. The future of South Africa, no the history of South Africa for forty years and more was determined by the National Party. For the next thirty years, minimum thirty years it will be determined by the ANC.
X. Do you think so?
X. I don't know. It will be a black government but not the ANC as such.
TD. Even the reforms, changes, came from within the National Party. I don't say it's going to be the government for the good or for the worse or the bad or whatever.
X. But you mean it will be the ANC?
TD. It will be determined by what happens within the ANC, not what happens in the opposition.
POM. Because there is no opposition.
TD. There is no opposition but then for so many years the National Party had only Helen Suzman as real opposition. One person in parliament.
POM. I agree with you completely. I begin by saying the ANC, and most of the assumptions I make come from projections of other people, that the alliance is going to break up.
X. That's what I think. What about alliances?
POM. It will only modify, take a couple of million votes there, take a couple of million votes here. The ethos of being the liberation movement gives you about a thirty year stretch.
TD. A generation.
POM. So you can draw upon being the liberation and the act of liberation is to many people so psychically deep that it doesn't matter whether you produce or don't produce.
TD. Blacks, in terms of their perspective, they're better off than they ever were. They're not afraid of policemen all of a sudden, even black policemen. They stand in queues but not to be told by a black face at five o'clock, one minute to five, to come back tomorrow and the window shut in his face. It is just altogether different even though maybe we can say we built more houses, we did this, we did that.
POM. There is a differentiation, that's all they're getting. They can skip their place in the queue which they couldn't do before but they're not getting any further advanced, the queue is just as long as it ever was. It's like skipping your place in a queue. How do you begin to think about a society which is multi-racial, multi-ethnic but it's going to be one party dominated for about the next thirty years, that's a reality, and then how within that do you create democratic structures of checks and balances that prevent it from turning from a one-party democracy into a one-party state?
TD. What are the chances?
POM. That's your challenge.
TD. It's our challenge. It's going to take a hell of a of guts and commitment and building up.
POM. What happened, with the party? Why were you expelled?
TD. Well you see formally they said, oh where do I start? The basic accusation was that I brought the party into disrepute because they said the facts were, I found out and I'm still maybe basically a professor, my previous secretary found out three months after I left the office as MEC that they were still paying my salary to my account.
POM. You told me that last year.
TD. OK, but that was the basic thing.
POM. You said it was ridiculous.
X. The other thing now is about Manie.
TD. And then the other one is that I was undermining party leadership. You see what basically happened was at the beginning of last year, no that was after I saw you, they had this think tank in Pretoria about the future of the party and that was where the rift started between Roelf and FW, Roelf saying we must disband the party and form a new one. Manie came back, we had a meeting or a dinner with some business people and he said we must disband the party.
POM. Who was this?
TD. Manie Schoeman who is now the leader of the National Party here. And towards the end I got up and -
X. He said more towards November, this was now in July.
TD. No it was in January, February, beginning of this year. He said by November we've got to dissolve the party, disband the party and form a new party. And I got up and I said I have no qualms about forming a new movement. In fact I was the first one to propagate that two years previously that we must, if we want to survive we've got a new movement. I said, "But my problem is what is our strategy to achieve that because if we simply disband the party, then we will find that there is nothing, there is nothing. What is the strategy?" And the businessmen who were there were applauding me. Then it was held against me that I was undermining the Eastern Cape leaders' authority although in my appeal I submitted from one of the big donors of the party, a big businessman and he said that it was a very enjoyable evening and, "Dr Schoeman gave certain perspectives, Dr Delport warned that we must make sure that we've got a well worked out strategy. I think it was very enlightening to be there and it was a wonderful evening." That's how they perceived it, the businessmen. But it was not about that, it was just getting - we say in Afrikaans, we say if you want to hit a dog it's easy to get a stick to hit him with, to get something, to get some accusation. So it was not the substance, it was just an accusation.
X. And they still are going on now with this business again against Delport.
TD. I will go as far as to say that if we had an election now of any kind amongst the National Party public, or let's say even confine it to National Party, to the traditional, even black, but National Party supporters, black, coloured and white votes, I will get maybe 80% of the support, maybe even more than that. But that's what I said, if the system allows people to have unlimited power without any restraints, absolute power corrupts absolutely.
X. That's what's going on here now.
POM. But you're one of the people who framed the constitution.
TD. No, no, but this is National Party.
POM. It must become democratic.
TD. You see that's your problem, whenever you have a democracy within a voluntary association situation, you don't need to belong to the National Party. Now who belongs to the NP? What happened when they ousted me was that one or two areas simply wrote up thousands of members and that gave them majority representation at the congress.
X. And we didn't know it.
TD. Nobody knew about it and it simply was a coup. It was a well planned coup to get rid of me.
X. And still they only did it with five votes or three votes.
TD. Yes, I was ousted by, what was it? Fifty five against fifty two or something like that.
X. We didn't do a thing, we didn't organise a thing. Fifty seven against fifty four or something like that. With all the effort.
TD. Even with those small areas holding nearly a third of the vote.
POM. Why would they want to get you out?
X. We told you, jealousy.
TD. Not the people but it's power play.
X. And they want the NP to disband.
TD. And they wanted to steer the NP with Roelf Meyer, because at that stage their strategy was to put Roelf in a position to oust FW and they said, or we know that they said, "If we want to achieve that we will have to get rid of Delport first."
X. You know after that congress where they out-voted him I told FW De Klerk, "The same is going to happen with you, because it's not against Delport only, it's against the old guard, they want to follow Meyer, and the same people they're going to do the same thing to you." And it happened that way.
TD. Those people that they've used as the basis for their support, they don't support the motives behind it, they never disclosed their own motives.
POM. Did you read Patti Waldmeir's book.
TD. It's lying next to my bed but I don't get around to it to really dig into it. I've read those areas that concern me, yes.
POM. One of a number of theses that she brought up was that after Gerrit Viljoen stepped down and you became chief negotiator that Cyril Ramaphosa decided to more or less destroy you, part of that being that you had a bad cough, that you weren't in full control, that you had to report back to FW all the time and that he had you, in a boxing phrase, that he was closing in on you. He knew that you were there for the kill, not that you weren't your own man but that you weren't your own principal.
TD. First of all I was never chief negotiator. You see, in working group 2 -
POM. But you were in charge of negotiations? (Break in recording)
TD. So I was very active in the working group. Gerrit Viljoen was the leader and when he backed out I continued.
POM. When he backed out that meant that he caved in?