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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

16 Oct 1997: De Klerk, FW

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FDK     You didn't send me notes which I corrected and then returned or did you?

POM     Yes.

FDK     Did you get it and was it clear?

POM     Yes. And I will send everything before I publish anything. My first point to you was that I was telling your brother that I wanted him to deliver a message to you that you were the reason why I pushed back the reason of my publication by three years because you said, "I will be leading my party into an election in 1999 so why should I be telling you anything that can be maybe misconstrued in some way, shape or form?" When I told my publishers that and they said, "No problem, we'll wait."

FDK     Now I've changed that, but nonetheless I still owe it to my party to be very responsible. I will also maintain close links with the party, they have decided to create a new post called Honorary President and for the first time the National Party will have a sort of father figure, an ex-President, statesman, ex-leader who maintains good relations. In the history of the National Party, apart from Strydom and Verwoerd who died in their shoes while they were in their position, all the former leaders had a fairly strained relationship with the party after their retirement, Malan had it, Hertzog had it, Vorster had it, PW Botha has it, and I am the first one in history who left while everybody still wanted me to stay, it sounds a bit arrogant but it's true, and who has managed his retirement as an initiative in the interests of the party.

POM     There's always a place for patrician characters.

FDK     I suppose so.

POM     That's the least one is due after the kind of effort and intensive change that you brought about. I am trying to define my role in relationship to you because I know you will be writing your own book.

FDK     Yes, which also has an inhibiting effect on me to a certain extent. My book, if we can meet the deadline, we're talking about submitting the first final draft of the manuscript by the end of February, to have it on the shelves by October next year.

POM     You're way ahead of me.

FDK     Well that means that I will have to work very hard.

POM     I will give you all the transcripts that we have done, a copy of them all.

FDK     Yes that would be very helpful for Mr Steward who is co-writer with me, for him and me to work through it.

POM     They are available to you. I see myself as being, as you know, as an academic and as almost social anthropologist and I keep following, following and following the same thing.

FDK     But in finalising your book you should have my book available.

POM     Oh I will.

FDK     Because in that sense you would be able to quote directly where it's relevant to your book what I put on paper.

POM     But I prefer to hear your voice, you see I'm a voice person.

FDK     Well let's go ahead.

POM     The first question is an easy one, why did you eventually decide to call it a day?

FDK     When?

POM     Why?

FDK     Firstly I motivated it giving three reasons. Firstly it was a decision in principle: do I want to fight the 1999 election and then go some time beyond? Having decided, also from a subjective point of view, no, I then had to manage that fact in the best interests of the party. But what contributed to that decision was not just subjective. The strategy of the ANC against the National Party as its most dynamic challenge was to try, and through their propaganda and attacks on me, to make me the symbol of the apartheid past of the NP and thus to keep the image, which is very unfair and untrue but nonetheless the false perception allows that after all the NP has not got rid of its baggage from the past, it's still the apartheid party and can never be trusted. I say it's unfair because I abolished apartheid, not the ANC. The NP removed all discriminatory legislation from the statute book and the government of national unity on 10th May 1994 received a clean slate as far as that was concerned. But, nonetheless, because I served the full period of PW Botha's term as first Prime Minister and then President, because I was still appointed by John Vorster, I have nonetheless become sort of a symbol also of the NP history and by my retirement and by the election, which I didn't influence, it was an instinctive reaction from the party, by the election of a young leader who only entered politics after I made my speech on 2nd February, who never served in any NP government, who never held an executive post, who was never part of former decisions, the NP has rejuvenated itself and my goal was, and I think we are achieving it, was to shift the debate away from the past towards the burning issues of today and tomorrow. I think also that the imminent retirement of President Mandela as President of the ANC at the end of this year will make a further contribution towards focusing the debate on the immediate situation and away from the past. It is clear why the ANC still wants to get the debate focused on the past because that was the cement which held them together, not values and shared principles. You have communists and non-communists and hard line socialists and pragmatists and free market people all in the same party, but they had a common purpose. That cement has been removed and they are trying artificially to get the debate focused on that in order to continue to use that as the binding element of people who should actually not be in the same movement at the same time.

POM     You mentioned something that I have raised with a number of people, you've touched on it in an odd way. Why is it that the Truth & Reconciliation Commission spend all their time trying to paint you as the bad guy whereas whatever excesses took place during the apartheid era took place under PW Botha and there's almost been like an understanding to leave him alone, he's an old man? Then it comes back to the thing of that with Botha and Mandela there was a chemistry of sorts.

FDK     Well there was a chemistry with me and Mandela too until it became strained. I think the simple answer is that I was blocking their way, I was fighting them as leader of the NP and I think the underlying motive was a political motive.

POM     But why go after the good guy? Because you were the person who has transformed everything.

FDK     I asked that question of Archbishop Tutu and he couldn't give me a good answer. I asked exactly the same question of him in a one-on-one discussion.

POM     Did you say, if you want to really haul somebody up here - ?

FDK     I said to him, "I'm not asking of you to prosecute or do anything negative about Botha but I'm asking you, you know and everybody knows and you've given me public credit that I broke down the system, I abolished the securocrat system, I appointed the Goldstone Commission, I played a central part in bringing about the new South Africa, why don't you afford me at least the same courtesy which you are affording to PW Botha? Why don't you treat me with the same deference and the same velvet gloves that you are treating him?" I did not get a reply.

POM     It's a question that I ask a lot of people over a range of opinions.

FDK     Well there's only one explanation and that is that there are forces, there were forces at work because of my leadership position in the NP and because of the democratically speaking aggressive stance of the NP against the ANC, that they used this for party political purposes. I'm not saying Archbishop Tutu, but elements and powers behind the scenes and in the ANC and in the commission.

POM     I want to go back to a book that was recently published, Patti Waldmeir's book.

FDK     I must admit to not having read it, I must still read it.

POM     I've made about 80 pages of notes from her book, but she said some things that I would like your comment on and I can pick out the direct quote or you can accept that what I'm saying as being the substance of what she says. The first thing would be that she quotes Roelf Meyer as saying that you had a conversation on a stoep some place where you said, "We are the liquidators of the firm", and that Roelf interpreted as being that you believed in the inevitability of black majority rule. I've asked him the same question, to comment on that, why did he take that interpretation?

FDK     I can't recall that specific quote attributed to me.

POM     He said, "We are both lawyers", so when you said to him, "We are the liquidators of the firm", he essentially said -

FDK     If I used the term it was we were liquidating a white minority dominated system and exchanging it for a one person one vote system. I advocated throughout that the new South Africa must be a non-racial South Africa in which race will no longer be the determining factor in politics, in which there will be a strong prohibition against any form of racial discrimination, and in that sense of the word I never said that there will be black majority rule because that did not fit in with my vision of the future, namely that we should change the party political system away from race and ethnicity as the cornerstones of politics, however difficult that might be, towards a system where, as in any normal democracy, values and principles and policies determine party political divisions. In that sense I was never an advocate of the concept to say we must now accept black majority rule. I was advocating a system where I said in a multi-party democracy we must accept majority rule on the basis of one person one vote. I then added, and that was the whole philosophy of the party under my leadership and under my predecessor, but we cannot have simple majoritarianism. Because of the complexity of South Africa's, the nation's, composition we need to couple majority, the concept of majority rule with at the same time effective protection of minority rights. Then I am on record as regularly saying for different purposes you define minority differently. Culturally speaking you're looking at linguistic and cultural minorities. Economically speaking who is the minority and who is the majority? The minority are those with the biggest indirect investment in the economy, the employers and the investors, it's a minority. Religiously speaking there are minority churches, minority religions which need to be effectively protected, their freedom and their right to religious freedom. And so minority in a very broad sense of the word.

POM     My point I suppose, Mr de Klerk, is that Roelf would say this is what he understood you to mean.  He's on record in her book and I asked him about the quote and said did he say it? And he said yes he did and I asked him why did he take that meaning out of what you said and his response was, "Well we were both lawyers and we know what liquidation is about." But leaving that aside, my question is -

FDK     But liquidation was not liquidation of the party, was not liquidation of the concept of value based non-racial parties. That is what we became.

POM     But did it ever strike you that Roelf was psychologically oriented to accept in the end simply majoritarianism so that when he negotiated he wasn't actually negotiating his mandate, so to speak, because he had already made up his mind about what the outcome was going to be?

FDK     It's not as simplistic as that. Let me qualify what I've already said now just by one thing. I think there were people who had hoped that somehow or another, notwithstanding moving towards a system of one person one vote, we could build almost minority vetoes into this system for whites and the like. That I accepted was not achievable, was not the right thing and would not be acceptable and would not bring about a full democracy and in that sense of the word I foresaw that in the negotiations we would have to accept the situation where power sharing cannot mean a veto for minority parties whether it's an ethnically based party or not because that would militate against the very essence of a true democracy and that I accepted, and if that is what he meant by his interpretation he would be correct. If, however, he interpreted it to mean that I abdicated on the concept of the effective prevention of the misuse of power by any majority however it is composed, he would be wrong. That the checks and balances to which we committed ourselves should be fought for as hard as possible in order to get checks and balances which can prevent the misuse of power written into the constitution, he would be wrong, and the whole negotiation process was one of, of course, the negotiators reporting back to me, to the Cabinet, to committees and so on, was a continuous renewal of instructions to get the most that we could on issues such as minority protection, protection of cultural rights, protection of concepts like mother tongue education, which has been regarded and continues to be regarded as very important especially for people who feel strongly about their cultural identity like the Afrikaners. That was constantly there.

POM     So when writers write, I am sure you will correct this when you do your own book because I'll give you all of my notes of every conversation I've had where you can even address some of the things that are said by other writers out there, that Roelf was an early convert to the inevitability of majority rule and he reluctantly brought you along?

FDK     No, it would be wrong, it would be absolutely way off the mark. I was not drawn into this kicking and screaming. Roelf only later became Minister of Constitutional Affairs after Gerrit Viljoen's health gave in. In the planning of what I said on 2nd February 1990 it was Gerrit Viljoen and Pik Botha and the then leaders, other leaders of the party who were part of the inner circle and planned the announcements and the strategies and the goals. Already in 1987 when we fought the all-white election, we then had the three chamber parliament, but an election only for the white House of Assembly was called to validate the change of policy of the NP in 1986 when the party at the Federal Congress officially said we drop the policy of separate development. I was then leader of the Transvaal which was the strongest province at that stage. We dropped the policy of separate development, we accepted one person one vote in one united South Africa without any form of racial discrimination but with the effective protection of minorities. That was in essence the 180 degree policy decision taken by the NP when PW Botha was it's leader in chief, when I was one of the four or five most influential people in the party.

     We then went to the white electorate and said the last time you voted for us you still voted for separate development, we ask a new mandate of you. And I campaigned throughout the country and I remember one article in Beeld which said of all the speakers of the NP I went the furthest to say to audiences you must realise what the logical consequences of this policy change means. One person one vote means one person one vote, means that all South Africans including all blacks will in the same election vote and that means that the majority of voters will be black. I spelt it out and this whole thing that I was so conservative and suddenly had this change of mind is wrong. I can understand why it was built around me because I was fighting where the Conservative Party was the strongest and therefore the average audience that I addressed, I had to convince them to vote for us and not to change their support away from the NP towards Andries Treurnicht's party. So I would choose the issues which Treurnicht was using in order to tell people we're traitors and we're sell-outs and they won't have any security, so obviously I was placing the emphasis to say but this policy doesn't mean that you won't have any security, it means that your security will be found not in having exclusive power, not in having more political rights than others but in other ways through a Bill of Rights and in many other ways.

     Secondly, I was at that stage chairman of the White Own Affairs Department, apart from being a Cabinet minister. We then had three Own Affairs Minister's Councils, as it were, and I was chairman and at that stage in 1986/87 I later actually also abolished that. We were still looking at the possibility of protecting cultural rights through 'own' institutions, through having separate, for instance, education departments for white, black, coloured and Indian which we've had historically and we thought that might be part of how you could protect cultural rights and ethnic rights and minority rights in the future. But that also later became clear that it would not be acceptable because it would continue to bring into our system race classification and race as a basis as a dominating factor in our democracy which was unacceptable and which would not work.

POM     So to those who argue and say that you fought the referendum, the last referendum, the whites-only referendum, looking for a clear mandate, the Conservative Party say, well FW -

FDK     We misled the voters.

POM     That's right, he fought on the basis of say no, vote for the NP and say no to majority rule, that was the thrust of the message you were selling. They feel aggrieved that -

FDK     Yes, well, no I think it's unfair because we made it clear, we spelt out what we wanted to achieve in the negotiations and we promised that we will adhere to those things on the basis that we can substantially deliver on each of the items which were mentioned. In the end we evaluated before we finally said yes; did we substantially achieve? And in some instances we got 100% of what we wanted, in some even 110%, in some only 75%, we had to make fairly far reaching compromises but we believed, and I am convinced as I sit here, that we substantially delivered on what we envisaged there and we never advocated that it will be a minority veto or that type of thing. That is a false interpretation of what we were saying.

POM     The Conservative Party still says, and I talk to Ferdi Hartzenberg every six months or whatever, and he keeps coming back to the point that the sell-out was that you fought that election on a false platform. The false platform was that you were saying to whites, vote for me, for my way forward and you are voting against simple majority rule, it's not going to happen.

FDK     On that formulation I never advocated simplistic majority rule. I always advocated a free vote in a united South Africa since the change of policy, a free vote in a united South Africa with limitation on the power of government and with the effective protection of minorities thus saying this is not simple majoritarianism as you have it in Great Britain where with a majority of one in parliament a party can make whatever law it wants to make whether it's good or bad and we substantially delivered on setting up a system which is not a simplistic majoritarian model.

POM     You have Tony Blair trying to chase that very model.

FDK     We have a Bill of Rights, we have instruments, laws and executive decisions must comply with a basic value system. It can and has actually been overthrown by the Constitutional Court and we have substantially delivered on the checks and balances which resulted in a system which is not a simple majoritarian system.

POM     There are sufficient checks and balances in place to ensure - ?

FDK     Well that's an open argument. Some we would have liked to be stronger but that was the result of negotiation and that is why right from the beginning we said in drawing up a sort of manifesto of what we wanted to achieve, to avoid simple majoritarianism, what sort of checks and balances we foresaw, to say we undertake to deliver on this on the basis of a test, not that exactly as we want it will be but that substantially we will get this into the new constitution, that is what you will be voting for. And we, I believe, did substantially deliver on all those issues.

POM     Let me move a little bit back and encapsulate a couple of things again coming out of Patti Waldmeir's book and in a way Allister Sparks' book. I have more respect for, I'll tell you right now, Waldmeir's book than for Allister's book. Hers is a book that tries to have that point of view but it tries to come to its point of view in an honest way rather than a dishonest way. The theory is that after you released Mandela and unbanned the ANC you were riding high, you moved from being a more parochial figure right on to the world stage. I have friends, or people I interview who were part of the Rivonia trial, who referred to you as 'Comrade de Klerk', you were Comrade de Klerk, you were the man, and that your feeling from a strategy point of view at that point was that the quicker you could call an election the better because the ANC were in disarray, you had exiles, inxiles, prisoners, they weren't very highly organised and that as a good politician you jump as quick as you can and take advantage of the opportunity and your popularity was riding very, very high and even at that time Mandela hadn't been out of prison for a long period appeared to be stiff and he hadn't developed the Madiba style. On television he would be almost -

FDK     Fairly rigorous.

POM     This is what came across, that he was rigid not flexible. So the theory goes that a quick election, the quicker you could have had an election the better the NP could have done. We go through CODESA and she reports after CODESA broke down a meeting with you, with other journalists from the Financial Times and maybe other papers, in your office and that you were almost ebullient. That's the word she uses, that you were self-confident, that the ANC is going to have to climb down on some of their demands and "time is on my side". She used that phrase "time is on my side". It seems a direct contradiction of the first part. That's May. Then we had Boipatong. Then she moves to September where she says that at that time you were desperate for a deal, a deal at almost any price regardless of the content and that the Record of Understanding was, she says, "A matter of glee for the ANC, a matter of embarrassment for the government", and Joe Slovo she quotes as saying to her, clapped his hands together and said, "They caved in on everything." And in it she tells the story of where supposedly Mandela established psychological ascendancy over you, where he pushed you on the issue of Robert McBride by saying, "Unless I get these people released, I don't just want them released but I want them released now and, if not, I'm going to walk out of here and declare this whole conference a failure." She quotes him as saying this is where we draw the line with this chappie, and a lot of this came from an interview she had with Mac Maharaj, who I'm seeing after I see you, where he was kicking Mandela under the table and saying, "I think you're going too far", and he said, "No, this is where we draw the line." You remember that?

FDK     Let me start out by saying that as far as an opportunistic approach aimed at a quick election is concerned, I disagree with that analysis because it was our insistence that there must first be a negotiated constitution in terms of which an election should be held. So right from the beginning I foresaw that we would have to go through the whole process of that, of finalising the negotiations about a constitution and that that would take time. Secondly, a quick election would not have resulted in more than 50% of the NP support coming from people of colour. We first had to change the NP to make it a non-racial party, to open our membership and to establish sufficient credibility so that we could attract votes of coloureds, blacks and Indians who were at the receiving end of apartheid and that was a parallel strategy, it's more than a strategy, a parallel challenge which we had to face and we opened up our party in order to change it into a non-racial party. I must go and check the date, it was either August 1991 or August 1992, I announced it at the party congress in Durban of the Natal party. So, no, what I was committed to was to complete this in less than five years and I did it. Then as far as the change from May, June, July 1992 and September is concerned, I also disagree with the analysis. I think that the ANC propagandistically -

POM     So you have no recollection of saying to her - ?

FDK     No, no, let's deal with this. The ANC propagandistically succeeded in presenting it almost as a victory for them but true analysis of the Record of Understanding will show that on the fundamental issue of the new constitution it was merely a recording of the agreements reached when CODESA broke up. It was a resumption without any concession whatsoever of the constitutional negotiations as they stood when CODESA broke up. There is one instance actually where we even got, from our viewpoint, a better formulation in the Record of Understanding than the formulation which was recorded when CODESA broke up making it clear, making a fundamental point clearer, and once again I'll have to refresh my memory, I'll have to have a look at it.

     The issue of how amnesty should be dealt with and release of prisoners was a separate issue, and I'll deal with that now, but the main point I want to make is that the Record of Understanding was primarily aimed at restoring negotiations and bringing it on track again and there was no concession whatsoever from our side on the issue of constitutional issues in the Record of Understanding. The ANC failed, with all their mass action, to make the country ungovernable which they promised when they walked out of CODESA, to bring the country and the economy to its knees and they were as anxious to save face because what they threatened did not materialise.

     I am on record having publicly said that on the issue of the release of McBride and so on I was a very unwilling partner of that decision because it has been my viewpoint that we should apply the Norgarb Principles which were applied in Namibia and that whether it's from the ANC side or whether it's from the government side or whatever side, there should not be amnesty. That was my personal viewpoint and that was the policy on which we negotiated up till then. There should not be amnesty where there was excessive violence applied, where there was cold-blooded premeditation, where we were actually dealing with the type of atrocities that have come to the fore as a result of the Truth Commission's investigations and Goldstone's investigations. The ANC was immovable on this and what I now understand better, people negotiating on my side were not giving me the strong support on this that I would have liked because they were worried about the security forces and therefore saw in a concession on the issue of amnesty and release for people who, in terms of the law as it then was, would not qualify for it, saw in making a major concession that we would then also comply with the wishes of the security forces that there should be a blanket amnesty for whatever has been done. And in that sense of the word I was carried into making this concession almost kicking and screaming, spiritually speaking. I didn't like to do it. It was one of the most difficult decisions I ever had to take and it grieved me when I thereafter had to sign the release of this and it grieved me to think that now, in retrospect, that also atrocious deeds which were performed by people in the security forces go scot-free. Therefore, I complied with what my party also thought then, the broad leadership of my party thought would be in the best interests. I didn't cave in to pressure from Mandela. I actually did something because not only Mandela was asking for it but also people in my party.

POM     So again this story of Mandela, I can pick out the direct quote of him saying, "I want these things done and if they're not done I'm going to walk out of here."

FDK     I can't recall the exact words but he was very aggressive on this and so it's possible that he might have said something like that. But what I'm now telling you is that what actually made me say yes was not Mandela's aggression and that there was no sort of psychological change vis-à-vis a situation where suddenly he gained dominance over me. It was a much more complicated set of factors which brought me to the decision to make that concession, influenced very strongly by what was perceived as also the need to accommodate or rather, let me formulate it this way, the need to ensure that we would be able to effectively clean the slate with regard to political crimes.

POM     Again, I'm just following on the same line because I am sure that these are things that you will explore in your own book far more eloquently that I will ever explore them with you, this notion that you were desperate for a deal by September because things were falling apart and the Mass Democratic Movement's mass action was taking a heavy toll on the economy, but then how was the notion implied, not the implied notion, the explicit statement by at least two books is that you became more concerned about your place in history, being a peacemaker, than in protecting your own people?

FDK     I totally reject that. I totally reject that. I also disagree when it is said that I was desperate but within the framework of what I had committed myself to and what I wanted to achieve and what I believed was in the best interests of South Africa, I was anxious to get the negotiations on track again because without a negotiated solution things would have fallen apart, not for me but for the country and for all the people of the country. So, yes, I wanted to get the negotiations back on track again and I balanced out the fact that we made no concessions on the constitutional side with also face-saving for the ANC after all their threats to actually climb back on exactly the same bandwagon with regard to negotiations that they deserted with a lot of fanfare and threats. And that is how negotiations were.

POM     So there was never a question of, again to quote Joe Slovo, "They caved in on everything"?

FDK     But that's propaganda. That statement of Slovo was part of a strategy to present their return to the negotiation table, not as a climb-down but as a victory. It's policy in marketing.

POM     This is from Van Zyl Slabbert, it's called Comrades in Business and he wrote it with Heribert Adam. He says: - "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."     

     Then he quotes from one of your colleagues, he says one of your colleagues told him in confidence that they thought that you thought they could keep the ANC negotiating for at least five years while the NP governed the ANC support base away from it, that you effectively made sufficient inroads.

FDK     Well that flies, of course, absolutely in the case of what Patti Waldmeir writes.

POM     They said: - "Affluent Afrikaners sold out the poorer Afrikaners because they felt more confident of their ability to either survive in or leave the 'new' South Africa."

     And the last quote: - "De Klerk's negotiators were really a part of Mandela's team in facilitating the transition into majority role. It was a pushover."

     I fundamentally disagree with his analysis. Is that the article that he wrote in Insig?

POM     It could have been an elaboration of it, it's now in a book called Comrades in Business that he published with Heribert Adam who wrote most of it, and he says I had some input but -

FDK     Well firstly, of course, to evaluate that criticism one must ask what did Slabbert always stand for? And if you analyse what he preached when he was leader of the Progressive Party then what he says there comes across as strange coming from him. Secondly, I think I have already replied to the issue of simple majority rule. People who make this analysis make the fault of testing what we achieved against what they thought we wanted to achieve instead of testing it against what we actually wanted to achieve. We never wanted to achieve what they thought we were wanting. They thought we were trying to achieve what Van Zyl Slabbert says. They thought we were trying to lead the ANC and our interlocutors and people that we negotiated with, to trick them into something which would not really be a full democracy. They thought we did not accept really the logical consequences of the new policy of the new National Party and of what I said on 2nd February. They were wrong in that analysis. Now they continue to compound that wrong analysis by testing what we did achieve against the picture that they put against the wall about what we wanted to achieve. The first picture is wrong and therefore the rest of the analysis is also faulty.

POM     Last question.

FDK     I think I've given you a good formulation now on this.

POM     You've given me an excellent formulation and I like your analogy of the pictures, that's a lovely analogy. You can use it yourself when you write your book! But remember you said it here first.

     Just switching to what happened in Bophuthatswana when the AWB went in and messed things up and Viljoen had his men ready to go in and then withdrew. There is an assertion that the TEC had made a decision that the defence forces, the SANDF, should move in, go in and restore order and tell Mangope the game is up, you're out, and that you opposed that decision and that that was another turning point, that you no longer had control of the military, the military went with the decision of the TEC as distinct from your decision.

FDK     Once again it's false. What is true is at that stage in terms of the law the TEC had a role to play and was in place and in terms of the law we had to channel that type of decision through the TEC and we had to make the TEC part and parcel of such decisions. It's not true that the TEC overrode what I wanted and that I didn't want this to happen and that the TEC actually then said, no, it will happen and therefore I had to bow to the TEC. There wasn't that conflict. What is true is that I tried up to the last possible moment to get Mangope to change his attitude and to say that he will participate in the election and that he will come aboard and I actually had an agreement. Cronjé came and for the most part of a day he sat in the anteroom to my office in the Union Buildings, he had the use of another office, he was in constant communication with Mangope. I had a group of advisors there and at one stage he came and said, "Right, there is an agreement, Mangope will make an announcement to participate." In that time either Viljoen or Hartzenberg had discussions with Mangope and Mangope reneged then within an hour or so and the deal was called off again.

     As from that moment then things started to develop very fast. Because we failed in achieving that agreement when things deteriorated there was no option but to go in and I remember that I was asked, the TEC had to be part of it, but formally I had to also authorise it as the President, and in planning what we wanted to do before the TEC took any decisions I had a meeting with the top advisors, Minister of Defence, head of the Defence Force and there were a few other people present at the Waterkloof Military Air Base when I flew in from somewhere and I then authorised that we should send enough people to the area, there was quite a large area of the South African Embassy so that they would be on hand because we then foresaw that it was becoming inevitable and they started, to the best of my knowledge, moving in early that next morning or during the night. As from the moment that the AWB started to kill people there and the shooting started I was fully in favour and gave my full co-operation and I wasn't forced into it, I wasn't threatened into it, I wasn't vetoed in any way, there wasn't a conflict between me and the TEC on what then needed to be done.

POM     So was this whole notion that you were opposed to the SADF going in and essentially telling Mangope, which I think Pik told him, that the game is up, time to go?

FDK     I specifically authorised Pik Botha to go and tell him that. But what is true is that I did until the very last moment try to get Mangope to change his attitude in order to prevent this.

POM     OK, thank you very much.

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.