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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
23 Jan 1998: Van Der Merwe, Koos
POM Koos, to start with, just a general overview, whither the IFP?
KVM Whither the IFP is an extremely interesting question today because as I'm talking to you confidentially the position is that I personally am busy with an initiative, nobody knows about this, I'm telling it to you in academic confidence. I am busy trying to procure support for the IFP as follows, trying discussions with senior members of the National Party, of the Freedom Front, of the Conservative Party and maybe even the Democratic Party, to all of them to enter the IFP and accept Buthelezi's leadership. The basis for that is the following, even if all the white people and all the coloured people stand together with a limited percentage of black support, then they are still nowhere, then they may have 10%, 12%, 15% of the country's vote. It's insignificant, it gives you no political power. So even if those dreams become reality that all the whites and the right-wingers and everybody stands together it's useless for them, no political power. They have to, all these parties have to side with a black political leader who has significant black support. They have no choice. If they want to be a force in South African politics they have to side with a black political leader with significant black support. They have a choice between one of two. They either fall in with Thabo Mbeki or with Buthelezi. That's their choice, it's limited to that. If they do side, all these, with Buthelezi under his leadership then the percentage, the current percentage of support in parliament will shoot up with these combined parties to something like 33%, 35% which then immediately makes Buthelezi a Deputy State President and at the next general election the electorate will have to vote between one of the two black Deputy State Presidents. This way I think, if this happens, it doesn't have a big chance, but if this materialises then we will immediately have the support of over 30% and in the next general election possibly over 40%. If you say whither the IFP, this is the one possibility. The other possibility is that the IFP joins with the ANC but this has been ruled out by Buthelezi. What is then left is for the IFP to go it alone. We also have interesting plans then on how to go it alone and we may be able to increase our support from the current 10% maybe to 12% or 15% or so.
POM But a number of recent surveys show that, well my God, these are two surveys that were conducted in October, one was by the HSRC and the other was by IDASA and both showed that nationally support for the IFP was down to about 4% or 5%. The Sunday Tribune poll said that the IFP may have even lost up to 40% of its support in KwaZulu/Natal and confidentially I've just seen a focus group conducted by an NGO which was among rural residents of KwaZulu/Natal and their disillusionment with the government is almost absolute. It said that if you asked these people who would they vote for tomorrow they would say they're going to vote for nobody.
KVM Can you tell me who is the NGO or is that confidential?
POM That's NDI, Patricia's organisation, but it was done by an independent research group.
KVM What it says is that the IFP has insignificant support?
POM Not insignificant, no, these were the HSRC poll which was in October, the IDASA poll which was also in October and The Sunday Tribune poll that was in November and both the HSRC and IDASA had nationally the IFP around 5% and The Sunday Tribune said that the IFP could have lost up to 40% of its support in KwaZulu/Natal. Then the focus group support group said, which was conducted only in rural areas which is the base of IFP support in KwaZulu/Natal -
KVM Is that NDI? OK. Look you must bear in mind that before the last general election we had the same interesting phenomenon that the polls showed that we had 4% to 5%. I don't say that they are incorrect. What I say is that the IFP, between you and me, has something to prove in the 400 days leading up to the election. It has to improve its image, its public image, its national image, its international image. It has to in KwaZulu/Natal deliver. People on the ground must feel they are getting something so that we can combat the feeling that people have expressed on the rural level, if it is true, but I think it must be addressed. So I think despite these things when the election wheels get into motion I think we will probably get more than last time because the NP is losing support and we may get some support from them and we have some initiatives. So if we go it alone then I think we will probably remain at 10% or maybe 12% or maybe 15% but not more than that. If the other initiative works then I think it will also improve the IFP's image tremendously. If all the other parties combined with the IFP I think that will tremendously improve the image of the IFP, it will take away the apathy and I think we will regain whatever support we have lost.
POM I don't know whether you listened to or read Mandela's speech at the 50th Congress of the ANC?
KVM I was in Australia.
POM Well he was extremely harsh to put it mildly, he excoriated the media as a force opposed to the ANC. He said the NGOs had no popular base, that they were working to corrode the influence of the liberation movement. He said they were trying to pin everything on the ANC that it was responsible for everything, that they were even involved in the commission of crime to make the country ungovernable, that they were hooked up with elements of the third force, that they want to undermine and destroy the ANC, so did the DP, so did every white party and he continually referred to white parties as being out to destroy the ANC and were in collusion with elements of the third force. He dismissed Roelf Meyer and Bantu Holomisa as being a party where gangsters had attended the opening of their conference. He said they would infiltrate agents into the ANC to try to destroy it. He said that there were agents within the ANC itself, members of the ANC who had fallen -
POM - kind of pawns trying to destroy the movement.
KVM Panic. Can't you hear the panic in his voice? All that you've been saying to me now confirms the reports that the ANC itself is losing significant support because it is not delivering. It has the same problem that the IFP has in KwaZulu/Natal. People are disillusioned with the ANC and Mandela clearly knows about this and he's panicking.
POM The interesting thing about this speech is that on very reliable sources, Mandela's official biographer is a British journalist named Anthony Samson who wrote a number of books years ago about South Africa and about the oil crisis and is very well respected, but he wrote in the London Guardian that the speech had been written by Mbeki but that Mandela insisted on delivering it in order to endorse its sentiments.
KVM Oh, but then this is extremely interesting because if you had a party that's been struggling to come into power for a millennium or two like the ANC and they get into power and around them it looks as if they are failing, it looks as if they are down to about 52%, 53%, they see the other parties gearing up, they know that there is a possibility, no matter how big, but a serious possibility that they may dive below 50%, they don't want that. Now they blame everybody around them. It is a typical mannerism of African states to blame all other people except yourself. It shows panic, it shows panic on the side of the ANC and I'm not so sure whether the threats, especially against the whites, are not window dressing talk at a party congress. You know normally at a party congress you say things to try to show muscle and show how you will put your enemies in place and so forth.
POM But this is the great reconciler who is almost specifically emphasising white parties are out to undermine the state and white parties want to maintain their privilege, white parties have nothing constructive to offer, white parties only criticise but don't offer any policies.
KVM It is because he's trying to take away the attacks on his party, he's trying to divert it onto the white parties. Instead of him being under attack for non-delivery he now diverts those attacks which are aimed at him against the whites knowing that the whites are to be blamed, according to them, for the situation in which we are and it's very easy for the man in the street to believe that. So it is a method to try to recover from a crisis and the crisis is that there is a significant chance that they can dive below 50%. This is what they are trying to shield.
POM On the other hand in his speech he went out of his way to praise the contribution that the IFP had made to the implementation of the RDP and the programme of national reconstruction and so on, floating these ideas of a merger between the two parties with possibly a deputy presidency for Buthelezi.
KVM I see it as follows, the ANC is scared stiff of diving below 50% and the insurance policy they must take out to ensure that they do not dive below it is to get the IFP in. If they have the IFP with 5% to 10% of the vote at least then there's no risk of the combined party diving below 50%. I think there is a crisis and I think this is the insurance policy they are trying to take out to prevent them diving below.
POM How would a Mbeki government, do you think, differ from a Mandela government?
KVM Nothing, because we are in an Mbeki government. You know four years ago Mandela started, this is my information, he started to run the country but he's an old man, he's will over 70, he was stronger four years ago than he is now, but very soon he started to become extremely, shall I say, burdened with the task of the head of state. If you see the minutes and the agenda that they have to work through week after week, the cabinet, it's frightening. Now that old man cannot read through all that, cannot then sit in a cabinet meeting and run the cabinet meeting properly as can younger men and very soon he lost taste for this and he said to Thabo and De Klerk at the time, chair the bloody thing, and he started not to attend cabinet meetings. And very soon, I'm not sure how long, let's say after six months, it became an Mbeki government because as from then the old man just sort of now and then visited cabinet. So we have had an Mbeki cabinet for three and a half years. The government that we have in the country is an Mbeki government. It appears to be a Mandela government because he is the leader but Mbeki is running the country so once Mandela goes the only thing that goes is Mandela and his charisma and all that but the style of government, everything around government is Mbeki, it has been for the last few years and will simply continue to be that.
POM Well without the presence and the charismatic image that Mandela has managed to not only achieve but to maintain throughout South Africa -
KVM And internationally.
POM - and the world, without that kind of charismatic presence that is the glue that supersedes the ANC itself, will things be much more difficult for Mbeki to do? Will he have a tougher time?
KVM Of course, this is what I said. Yes, he's going to continue to run the country and govern this South Africa except that Mandela with his charisma goes. Now the next factor to consider is what is the significance and the value of a Mandela charisma. It is overwhelming. I don't think so much in the international world where you have leaders sitting down and talking scientifically, I don't think the Americans and the British and the French and those people, the question is if we're quantifying the charisma of Mandela and take it out of the Mbeki government what happens? Firstly internationally I don't think much because when those people sit down it's hard business, they are professionals, they don't care so much about Mandela's charisma, they care about issues and so on so I don't think internationally it will do much or in Africa. But in South Africa the voters, especially the black voters and the other voters, they simply won't be taken on board as easily with Mbeki. I mean Mbeki wasn't remotely close to the place where dynamite was invented. Mbeki is not an impressive speaker. Mbeki is just not Mandela and of course it will negatively impact on him, especially on his support. And again this adds to what I see as a crisis that the ANC is facing. They see they are losing support, they know that when Mandela goes whatever happens then they will take another few percent dive, apathy, people staying away and so on. So this is why you have the outburst by Mbeki who wrote it, blame it on the whites, blame it on the press, blame it on the others, and also the courting of Buthelezi. It all comes into the same pattern of the crisis which will increase once Mandela's charisma disappears.
POM Now the IFP is part of the government of national unity so it's part of the government, so insofar as services are not being delivered people are disappointed or disillusioned or whatever, you are part of a government that stood behind those policies and were part of making those policies. How do you - ?
KVM The flip side of that coin is that the same applies in KwaZulu/Natal where the ANC is also part of the government of national unity. Now I don't think this has a very serious impact on the voters, shall I say the less sophisticated voters of the country. Well, it's I'm IFP or I'm ANC. So I don't think the fact that the IFP is inside has a significant impact.
POM If with all your discussions with various IFP leaders over the last three and a half years, if there were an IFP government or an IFP led government in South Africa what would it be doing differently than what the present government is doing?
KVM First of all we will move strongly towards federation, we will devolve power.
POM But the constitution wouldn't support this.
KVM We will amend the constitution.
POM But you'd have to have 67%.
KVM OK, we will then strive to do it.
POM But let's say you're not going to do that because you're not going to get 67%.
KVM OK but it will be on the agenda. There will be a proposal, there will be a proposal tabled in parliament that we want to move in this direction and we will pursue that as far as we can. Secondly, while we're waiting on that we will pursue free market economic policies.
POM But this is as free market as you can get.
POM Why is this not a free market economy? You're one of the few countries in the world where the budget deficit is less than 4% of GDP.
KVM You know I don't believe this. I'll tell you what I don't believe. It's like buying a second-hand motor car and taking the car back to the salesman and saying just tell me about this good car again. People tell me that it's going well with South Africa's economy.
POM The economy isn't going well but the budget finances, they're cutting government expenditure.
KVM In the end it's not working. In the end the bloody rand is now five rand to a dollar. In the end prices are still going up. In the end you have a major unemployment problem. Whatever they are saying they are window-dressing.
POM So everyone admits GEAR isn't working, unemployment in fact probably is increasing after you take in the downsizing companies have to go through because they're now part of a free market international economy.
KVM There's a lot of artificial things going on. You have blacks taking over South African Airways and Denel and all that, black people moving in there. I have a feeling that the affirmative action programme is to some degree to be blamed for the fact that things on the economic field are not going well enough. They are pushing this far too quickly. They want to achieve affirmative action overnight. They are throwing white people out of positions. This must hurt the economy. What we are aiming for is also to take away, I'm not sure exactly how, but to play down the power of the trade unions, COSATU and these.
POM That would be a major confrontation between an IFP led government and the unions.
KVM Yes, and we are also busy creating unions for the confederation of trade unions for the IFP.
POM But how would you take on say -
KVM I don't know.
POM - an operation like COSATU who would say, listen you try to curb our powers or our rights under existing labour legislation and we're going to resort to rolling mass action once again?
KVM That's right.
POM We're pulling everybody else and the international investors will say, there goes South Africa again.
KVM I don't think so, I think you're exaggerating a little. But the point is that the trade unions have far too much power and are playing too prominent a role. This is why you need a new attitude, you need a new government attitude. The attitude of the present government is blame it on apartheid. Whenever they're in a corner they shout 'racism', they go for affirmative action, they still have the communists around them, they still adhere to socialist economic policies. So that is an attitude, a general attitude of a government which must be changed, changed away, forget about the struggle, forget about the Truth & Reconciliation Commission, forget about this attitude, this whole comprehensive attitude of the past. Go into the new South Africa with a new attitude, an attitude of federalism, an attitude of real free market, of slower affirmative action, of realising the value of white people and first class people, keeping them there, the value of acknowledging languages in the country. At the moment Afrikaans is just being pushed out. Real reconciliation. We need a new spirit, a new attitude which must be imbued out into the country and this is what we will do.
POM But the ANC has singularly failed to create that new attitude of we're all in it together and we've all got to make sacrifices for the future if we're ever to get to a future and people just want things now.
KVM They can't get it now. You must also be honest with the people. You must go out to the people and say look, there has been an ANC government in power now for the last five years, we have discovered that they have failed not miserably as we thought but miserably, miserably, miserably in toto, because we've now established the following. This means that the ANC has hurt you so much that we have to embark on a ten year programme before we really get delivery and if you're cross about that blame it on the ANC and go out with strong political propaganda, but there are no handouts. If you don't work you don't get paid. If you work you get paid accordingly, no handouts. We must go for production, productivity, a new spirit, a new attitude into South Africa, because there is also another factor and this is white people leaving South Africa. I went to Australia, New Zealand during the holiday time the last few weeks, there are thousands and thousands of them there. I have spoken to them about the trauma of emigrating, about the process of emigration and why and so on and on what threshold do you go and I go and so on. And what it boils down to is it's the new South Africa, it's insecurity of the future, it is crime, it is affirmative action, it is a destruction of the value system that the whites have enjoyed, not the privileged one but just an ordinary position. You are threatened, there is no future for your children, there is no future for you so they leave, doctors, lawyers, thousands of them. I am going to try to establish exactly how many. You cannot establish that from the South African department side. Why not? Because they cannot tell you. There are hundreds of thousands of people maybe who have already left South Africa but they are merely on holiday. South Africa only has proof of those who have emigrated, which is 1% maybe of them. I am going to try to establish from reliable sources on the other side, from the Canadian, the Australian and the New Zealand government on how many permits they've issued and so on. But some people say that in Auckland alone there are 26,000 South Africans.
KVM Now there are thousands, you know on New Year's Eve I was invited to three big Afrikaner parties. Three big ones in Auckland only. I went to one. We had an Afrikaner New Year's Eve party until four o'clock in the fucking morning, as Afrikaans as here. I spoke to them, I went from one to the other and they said they have various reasons. The one would say well it's affirmative action, the other one would say schools, the other one would say this and this and that, but the umbrella reason is the new South Africa it offers us nothing, let's go. They say the price that is to be paid, the sacrifices that are to be made to establish yourself in New Zealand or Australia, those sacrifices are less than the adaptation to a new South Africa. It's easier to adapt there than to live in this country any longer.
POM Why is it that despite the difficulties that the ANC has had and experienced that the IFP has been unable to project itself as a viable national alternative government?
KVM I think to a degree the IFP suffers from the same problem as the ANC. The ANC is not succeeding as we had hoped. The IFP is not succeeding. I think, and this I say with great respect, it concerns human material. These people are parliamentary uneducated, governing uneducated. They don't know how to govern, they don't know how to run a country, both the ANC and the IFP. If you do have an influx into the IFP, for instance, of a large number of DP and NP and Conservative Party and Freedom Front organisers, party political animals who come in and sit down, fifty or a hundred top organisers will change it. If this happens there will be a new image, it will be really something extraordinary if that could happen.
POM You said you must also remember the manyana, manyana?
KVM I said you must remember that as far as black people are concerned the manyana, manyana, tomorrow, tomorrow, is applicable. There is no urgency. If we have an agenda people will just gatecrash into that agenda continuously. We have to discuss the following also, and you sit there for hours and hours and you don't really get somewhere with the discussions and we continue tomorrow and next week and so on, and if it's not finished it's not finished. I was told that Chris Heunis would move into a meeting with black leaders and he would be finished in 15 minutes, but they hated him. Piet Badenhorst who was deputy minister of Chris Heunis at the time, they loved him the black people because when they started at two o'clock Chris Heunis would say, "It's two o'clock gentlemen, this is the agenda, what do we do here, what do you say? Do you agree? Any objections? Agreed to. Next point." Twenty past two he would leave. Badenhorst would arrive at two o'clock and say, "Ah my brother, how are you? Tell me has it rained in Pietersburg, how is it in Pietersburg?" and they have a discussion about things. And then he would see the next one and say, "My friend from Nongoma, how are the cattle there?" And he would conduct this discussion for 45 minutes and the officials would get nervous by now and then he would say, "I think we will have to start, these people are getting nervous", and then they would talk and talk and talk until seven o'clock that bloody night and then they would pass the same resolutions but the blacks would be on board. So there is lack of urgency, there is a different style. Maybe their style is the correct one but we western people -
POM You're saying at least the deputy minister was bringing the blacks on board?
KVM Yes, like I can do now because I also understand them much better now after four years.
POM So Chris Heunis - they hated him.
KVM Because he was applying western standards on them.
POM But you have to apply, you have to adapt to their standards.
KVM That is the word, I was going to talk about adaptation now. There is a meeting of different cultures, let's say white and black cultures. It cannot co-exist, there must be adaptation. It cannot come from the black side, maybe 1% or 2%, it must come from the white side. They cannot adapt, it's too soon for them, it's too foreign so we have to adapt. And the Chris Heunis's and those don't understand this language. So the urgency is out, it's different, we'll do it tomorrow, we'll do it next year, we just continue the same way.
POM So when you're dealing with your black colleagues in parliament as Chief Whip how do you stroke them and move them?
KVM Maybe this is interesting to you. When we started four years ago I carried myself like a white Chief Whip would do in, for instance, the NP. I would do things quickly because there was very limited time. I would run out in the corridor, I have to put in seven speakers tomorrow, I'd look around and if I see you I would say, listen that land debate tomorrow you've got four minutes, OK? Right. Next one, next one. And I would pick them off and run and just hand out the instructions. I met Professor Ngubane, the female, and I said, "Harriet, that land debate tomorrow you've got seven minutes. Are you OK? Thanks." Next one, next one, next one. Three hours later she called me out of parliament, she was standing outside, she was hovering up and down like a helicopter. "I just want to tell you Mr van der Merwe, I've never been so humiliated in my whole life. You talk to me in the corridors about me speaking in parliament. You tell me I've got seven minutes tomorrow. I want to tell you I'm not speaking number one, and number two if ever you want to discuss something like that with me again make an appointment and come and see me in my office. Goodbye", to the Chief Whip. So I said to her, "Goodbye you also", and I put somebody else in. But I was wrong, I was wrong all the way and eventually it led to a special debate one evening which lasted until two o'clock in the morning in the IFP caucus where we talk these things out. And then I started to realise that I can't perform my duties as Chief Whip of the IFP according to the style of a white party, not because it's better or worse, the one is good the other one is bad, it's different. So I adapted and today it's going very smoothly, very well, I've learned a lot about style and so on. We don't get things done as quickly as we could but this is their country and 90% of the people of this country are black, it's their country, we must do it their way.
POM What about Walter Felgate?
KVM OK Walter Felgate, I'll tell you. Walter Felgate tried to move out and do something. He was aggrieved for some period for a number of reasons. Number one, he wanted different things to be introduced into the IFP, more modern style and so on, for which maybe we have sympathy. But then the way in which he tried to achieve this was totally wrong. Now then he got frustrated because the small things that he wanted to do he didn't achieve because his style was wrong, he was confrontational and so on and he doesn't work.
POM He doesn't work? Or his style doesn't work?
KVM His style didn't work. I can't come to you in a wrong way. If you phone me up and say Koos van der Merwe I don't have any other time, either you see me at three o'clock this afternoon or you don't see me, then I'll go and tell you to go and jump in the fucking lake. So his style was wrong and he started to lose. Also because with his long illness of six months he started to get away from the centre of the fire, he went slowly into the cold. He didn't have a proper position in the party any longer and he came more and more frustrated. Then he tried to sabotage Buthelezi because Buthelezi was now his public enemy number one. So he resigned, went to the ANC and thought he would sink Buthelezi. But he carried with himself the seed of his own destruction, namely that he has been with this party for 25 years, he has lived with it, he has been a poisonous opponent of the ANC. Now he turns, and do you know what happened? Nobody believed him. They said he's an opportunist. The Afrikaans press, Finans & Technik and all those just wrote him down as an opportunist. How can you be with Buthelezi for 25 years and now all of a sudden you find out that he's nothing? So his scheme didn't work. You can't resign from a party and think that you will bring down the temple. So what happened with him, he destroyed himself.
POM There's a quote that I'm interested in.
KVM The quote was the democracy.
POM He said the IFP's lack of democracy was - he said he wrote the speeches and framed the resolution in advance.
KVM Well sometimes he did. What happens is, and I think he also liked the style, Buthelezi normally has a speech and he says as leader of the party I think we should move in this and this and that direction.
POM Who writes the speech?
KVM Well Buthelezi has various speech writers. He uses Felgate, he uses Ambrosini and others, but he tells them what they must write. He doesn't have the time to sit down and type it, so he tells them what he wants, then they write it and they send it back to him and he chops and changes it. I've seen these documents, they look like spiders webs. Then eventually when he's happy with it he now delivers it but then simultaneously they sometimes draft draft resolutions and then when the groups discuss they say, fine the leader thinks as far as, say, police powers are concerned, he thinks that police powers should be devolved to the provinces and he has motivated this, and then he says if you agree with me then I think we should have the following resolution that this National Council calls upon the central government to amend the constitution to devolve political powers to the province. Then many times those resolutions are amended and some are deleted and new ones come in. It's the working method. I like that working method because if you tell me why don't we go on a trip through Africa then I say give me a memo and give me a draft resolution of what we should do.
POM What about this suggestion that's also been floating that the IFP and the ANC in KwaZulu/Natal would form a single ticket? Is that under serious consideration?
KVM It's not under consideration. There are lots of talks going on at the moment but there is nothing formal, nothing has come to National Council. In fact tomorrow night I will be in Ulundi and on Saturday and Sunday we will be talking, we will be discussing and I think inter alia the whole question of Dr Mzimela will be discussed. Dr Mzimela is the Minister of Correctional Services who pleads in public that we should join with the ANC. I think he will be on trial. So very different to -
POM He's actually quite close to Mandela isn't he?
KVM Yes. I'm not sure. I can tell you also that I hear fairly confidentially that Mbeki has complained to Buthelezi that Mzimela is not doing his work as a minister, he's not such a good minister. So I'm not so sure if the IFP ditches him whether the ANC will take him. I don't think they will. I think if the IFP ditches him it's goodbye. He may become an ambassador somewhere, that's the golden or the silver or the copper handshake. That's it. What else?
POM The political violence is it now in KwaZulu/Natal under control? Is it a situation where come next year and you get into an electoral mode that the same kind of violence could start again? Is this under the surface, that it's not a real peace?
KVM No, and I don't think the leadership can really control that. People do what they want to do. They go out, a few hundred of them, and go and attack another village, massacre and come back. The leadership knows nothing about it. The ANC supporters would come and do it, the IFP supporters would come and do it, so we're not rid of that. But I do think that if a genuine reconciliation is achieved between the IFP and the ANC then it may curb the violence a little more because then we will say, look we are brothers now.
POM What must be done to bring that reconciliation about?
KVM I think the ANC must become honest. I think if the ANC firstly now call for international mediation, because the Zulu people, the black people, do not forget these things. Buthelezi was faithfully promised by De Klerk and Mandela with Mandela's signature that there will be international mediation. He broke his word, finish and klaar, he broke his word. There is also Buthelezi's problem with the ANC about the past. This is a very significant thing that I didn't really evaluate properly. Buthelezi says when we discussed the question of violence and sanctions and disinvestment I told you don't do it, twenty years ago, don't do it, we are going to harm the country. You didn't listen, you've done it. The fact that we have this large unemployment today that we have all these problems is mainly a result of your policies, you didn't want to listen, I'm not forgetting it. So it's that part, the violence, the disinvestment, the sanctions, it is the breaking of the word. It is the unwillingness of the ANC to go for a proper full blooded federation and style of government and so on. I think these form, shall I say, hurdles which will not be immovable hurdles in the road between them. Now if the ANC would, for instance, say to Buthelezi, OK we also now think we were wrong about the past, international mediation let's go ahead immediately, federation, OK let's devolve some powers, the TRC kick it in the teeth, close it down, a few things like this. Let's go for real reconciliation, we'll make you the Deputy State President, things like that. That can solve it. We agree with the monarchy, we agree with the traditional leaders, the things that are very important to the IFP. We agree with a policy of pluralism.
You see where the IFP, I didn't mention this in the beginning but this is very important, one big difference between the ANC and the IFP is that the ANC wants to create a rainbow nation, a melting pot, we are all going to become little rainbows whereas the IFP and the NP also and the others are in favour of pluralism. In other words if you are here as an American you remain what you are. If you are a Venda or an Afrikaner or a Portuguese or a Greek living in this country the government will do its utmost best to assist you to remain that. In KwaZulu/Natal the constitution which was kicked out by the Constitutional Court, there was provision for councils, group councils. If you are a group of a religious or ethnic or whatever of more than 30,000 then the government is obliged to finance and assist you as far as they can to establish a council elected by the 30,000 plus people to properly look after their interests, culture, religion and so forth, so that you can remain what you are, so that I as an Afrikaner feel welcome in this country because there are living areas for me. This is an extremely important thing.
The ANC laughs at that and says we're all South Africans now, we're going to speak English, forget about the other things, that's for the rural people. We go ahead, melting pot. I'm very, very much against that. You and I have known each other for ten years but I don't want to become an American, I don't want to be transformed into being a little rainbow or a Zulu or an Englishman or an Australian or nothing. I want to remain an Afrikaner, and the IFP is the one that guarantees that. Buthelezi said on 7th July 1993, he said, "As far as pluralism is concerned I wish to state that I acknowledge ethnicity. I do not only acknowledge it, I am prepared to defend it, the right of a person to remain what he is." The ANC does not. That's very important. Now that I've been overseas and I've seen what happens with those who are emigrating I know why I can't emigrate, because then I will lose what is Afrikaans to me.
POM You don't want to lose your own sense of identity?
KVM Yes I can't do that. Then shoot me. How the hell can I become anything else than an Afrikaner?
POM Do the Afrikaners who emigrate, did you find that they live in enclaves and keep to themselves?
KVM Yes. Well they keep to themselves in the sense of groups. They have more social life, social traffic, there than they had here. They hang around with each other, drink coffee with old so-and-so, see so-and-so, get together for a braai, a barbecue and have a party and all that. It's a very warm and friendly inter-Afrikaner relationship there. They also move out to the others but there in one week I had more tea drinkings and coffee drinkings and braais than I have here in six months.
POM But they're not yet cheering for the All Blacks?
KVM They cannot do that. You see these are the type of important hurdles. How the hell can you cheer for the All Blacks? They should be fucking destroyed man! I used to live in Pretoria where the Blue Bulls are, the Northern Transvaal, and then when we moved 20, 25 years ago to Johannesburg I said, well mind over matter, I used to be a Blue Bull, I almost played for them, but I am now in Johannesburg, from now on I'm shouting for Transvaal. And if I live in Natal I shout for Natal and if I live in the Western Cape I shout for Western Province, I mean mind over matter, what is this provincialism shit? So we went for the first match, Transvaal my new team against the Blue Bulls. We went there and the Blue Bulls ran out and I stood up and I even had red on me, I am now a Transvaaler, and the Blue Bulls ran out, Louis Smit, Jaap Bekker, a few of those old ones, and when the fourth one ran on to the field I couldn't control myself, I just grabbed this red fucking thing from my throat, threw it down and shouted, "Come on the Blue Bulls", until today. I will die a Blue Bull. That's that sense of identity and it's beautiful. I mean if you shout for the Chicago Bullshitters, you'll be a Chicago Bullshitter until you die unless you didn't take it seriously.
So on the immigration thing I want to write an article about my experience there. I need a few days to ponder and meditate about that. There is a lot of easiness. You see we've had these exits. In 1836 it was the Big Trek and then in 1902/3 some of the Afrikaners, hundreds of them left, they didn't want to be under the English, they went to South America, and now we have this one again. But this one is extremely easy because when you go to Australia you even drive your car on the same side of the road, they speak the language, they wear the same clothes, they talk the same bullshit, they play cricket, they play rugby. It's as if you're moving to another suburb of Johannesburg. It's all the same. Communication between there and South Africa is easy on the Internet, it costs you nothing, you can get everything. It's very easy to emigrate these days but there are certain things. There's a feeling inside of you - I'm too far from home.
POM You never get that sense of belonging.
KVM Me no, very, very difficult. OK, what else?
POM Does the IFP as part of the government of national unity exercise real influence in the cabinet?
POM It does?
KVM Oh yes. Buthelezi is very well respected. I've seen him sitting in parliament and then ANC people passing him and when they see him they stop suddenly, they stop, they turn to him, fold their hands and bow and say something in Zulu. Good day Prince, I hope you're well. And then he says hamba kahle and they go. He is very well respected and they don't want to cross swords with him. They respect him. I don't think he pushes unnecessarily. It's a very good lifestyle, not to ask too much. If I come to you two or three times a year for a favour or with a request it's easy for you to grant all three but if I'm there every week and there are fifty or sixty you start to say no, no, no, that's bullshit, no, no, no.
POM Last question is this, what I find a peculiar relationship between Mandela and PW Botha, that Mandela has a respect for PW Botha, he rings him on his birthday every year, he has even made special provisions for the payment of his lawyers in his court case which he didn't make for other people and yet he despises De Klerk, or not despises him but doesn't particularly like him. Why would he have this regard for the man who really kept him in jail for 17 years, or the better part of 17 years between being Minister of Defence and then State President and oppressed the people more than anybody else?
KVM Can I try an opinion? PW Botha has been a strong leader until now at the age of 83. He says to Tutu go and jump in the lake, I won't bow my legs before you, put me in jail. That's power. That is strength and they admire this. De Klerk was a weakling. Go back to CODESA. Now what happened there is De Klerk was sitting there and Mandela went out and he gave him a tongue lashing like nothing. We were now starting the negotiations, De Klerk is still the State President. Mandela goes out and he gives him a tongue lashing that is unbelievable. PW Botha if he were the next speaker, De Klerk was the next speaker, PW would have walked up there and said I will not tolerate this, as far as I am concerned negotiations are suspended, I am going home, goodbye, we're calling it off, and he will walk out. And if they come with rolling action he will put out the defence force. And you remember Buthelezi throwing out Siphiso Zulu out of the SABC in Durban? Buthelezi walked in there, he and his support staff threw out this man who was on a living programme of the SABC. Buthelezi sat down, put the microphone on and took it over and said fuck him, blah, blah, blah. That's strength. He later apologised and said he's prepared to resign, which wasn't accepted. The black man in the street laughs at this. He says he did his strength and then just look how he bamboozled them. He said I'm sorry, I'll resign. He laughed at them. Buthelezi is the strong one who throws a man out of the SABC on a living programme. They would have looked at PW Botha as a strong man if he had done that and said before you don't give me an apology, no further negotiations, end of the story.
Now De Klerk moved up to the forum and this is what he said: Mr Mandela has attacked me as a person, he didn't discuss principles, he attacked me as a person. Now it has never been my style to attack anybody as a person so I will ignore what he says and go on with the job. So everybody laughed at him. They said just look how De Klerk has been humiliated by Mandela and he just takes it. He's a weakling in their eyes, they don't trust him, he's lied to them on a number of occasions. They don't trust him, they don't like him. He's a weak man. He's a mediocre politician. He can articulate well but eventually he had nothing. He and his colleagues took South Africa into the new South Africa and they left us at the door of the new South Africa, inside the door, with all these challenges to face and they all absconded. They're rats moving out of the ship. De Klerk is gone, Pik Botha is gone, Fismer is gone, Wessels is gone, Kraai van Niekerk is gone, the whole lot of them. They are leaving it to a youngster to take us into this new desert. What a lot of bullshit it is. And this is what the Nats see, and they see the big crocodile saying to them, put me in jail at the age of 83, and tomorrow you will see how many people will be there showing support for the old man.
POM Last, very last. Your own future in the IFP?
KVM A white man's future in a black political party is extremely uncertain. If Buthelezi still wants me I will continue as Chief Whip for the next year until it's over. I haven't decided finally whether I want to be part of the new parliament if they give me a chance. I doubt it. I think I've had enough after 21, 22 years. But if things change, if a new scenario opens then maybe I will remain. But I've delivered my share, I've done my share of fighting and others can resume the fight and take it further.
POM OK Koos, thanks.