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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

28 Jul 1998: Buthelezi, Mangosuthu

Click here for more information on the Interviewee

POM     Dr Buthelezi, when I first began to interview you back in 1990, I can't believe that's eight years ago, at that time you were convinced that the ANC were out to destroy the IFP, that they wanted to create a one-party state, that they were continually mounting personal attacks on you including putting out the idea that you had been an agent of the apartheid government over the years. You talked about when Nelson Mandela was released he was going to visit you and the King and go to King Shaka's grave and how he was prevented from doing so by the ANC in Durban. He said he would be throttled if he went there.

MB     It was nothing to do with King Shaka's celebration. You are mixing up two things. When he said he thought he was going to be throttled, he said that himself in Umtata when some of the Amakosi there, the traditional leaders asked him why he hadn't seen him and he said that some of the ANC leaders almost throttled him when he suggested coming to see me. It's a separate thing from King Shaka's Day.

POM     What has changed in the meantime?

MB     Nothing, nothing much has changed. The fact that President Mandela has applauded the fact that in the government of national unity we have survived up to now to work together is something that, of course, is commendable and that in KwaZulu/Natal the ANC and IFP in the IFP government have worked together successfully. It is to be applauded in spite of our differences. But to say that anything has changed, for instance, all the things that you say that I said they were going to destroy, they were saying so themselves, they were marching on Ulundi, they were saying so, they were talking about marginalising me, they were talking about destroying the IFP. They were making utterances that it won't last, it was going to be destroyed, so they were saying so themselves.

     As far as what has happened since we last spoke, I would say that that utterance has been made by President Mandela and of course in parliament in February I actually thanked him, agreed with him for saying so. And then there has been a lot of talk about people saying there is going to be a merger between the ANC and the IFP which, of course, is neither here nor there, but even President Mandela was asked by the press and he said he would welcome that. But then in parliament in February I replied to that and said, "Thanks very much for your thought but I don't agree with that, the IFP has not made any decision to merge." Then there was a minister of the IFP who kept on advocating the merger, saying that we should merge and so on. The party tried to discipline him, in fact restrain him from saying so, but it didn't until they passed a vote of no confidence in him and now I think we are only waiting for his removal as minister, which of course is the prerogative of the President. But on our part the party has passed a vote of no confidence in him.

     Now as far as even this morning, at six I was speaking to President Mandela, speaking to him because some of our leaders in the KWZ Midlands were shot at in Richmond and he was talking to me at six this morning about it. So if you say something has changed, I don't know what has changed. It is true that one must regard as fact that we have worked together until now and to say that, of course, Mr Mbeki is the Executive Deputy President and I have worked very well together with going to the extent of acting together internationally, visiting countries like Botswana and the Republic of Congo together when he had bilaterals there and so on and I was supposed to go with him to Nigeria too but I had a meeting of my party and I said I wouldn't go and I apologised. So I think I've answered that question.

POM     The Deputy President was a guest at your annual convention?

MB     Just as much as I was supposed to be a guest at the very conference where Mr Mandela was speaking. I was invited there but I was not able to go personally but one of my senior colleagues, Mr Mtshali, the Minister of Arts, Culture & Science, who is an IFP minister in the government of national unity, attended and delivered my message there. So that was reciprocal.

POM     If the tensions between the partners in the alliance moved to a point of where there was a break between the ANC and the SACP and COSATU, what would be the difference between, in terms of policy, between what would be left of the ANC and the IFP?

MB     Well the tensions between the SACP and COSATU and the ruling party itself is over the ideology, because we as IFP agree with the macro-economic strategy of the government, the acronym of which is GEAR. We are agreed to GEAR with them but it is in fact their partners, the Communist Party and COSATU are against it, so we had that difference but we have had other differences. You know all these years we have always advocated a more federal system which we've argued that even in the mother of all unitary states which is Britain, even there Mr Blair even now has even further given more powers to Scotland and Wales and we say now that's a unitary state, and we have terrible problems in this country I think as a result of the centralisation, the provinces which are an imitation of a federation which is not a federation, which have no power, which are just implementers of the policies of central government and when they don't deliver then they are blamed but in fact when they have no autonomy, they have no powers and so on. So we still have that difference with them.

     Just now there is an amendment, the constitution can be looked at every year, so the minister in charge of the constitution, Mr Moosa, suggested in Cabinet that if there are any people with any suggestions they should bring them. So our committee, our study group for constitutional affairs made some proposals which we have submitted to them. But personally I am not hopeful that they will consider them because they suggest a bit more devolution. For instance, we tried during this year to put up a bill for the decentralisation, regionalisation of the police force and they opposed it. So the differences are not just between the role of COSATU and the SACP only, we do have other differences such as that which are quite fundamental differences.

POM     Do you think that the lack of decentralisation of police authority and the inability of the provincial police to have their own autonomy and to act independently severely undermines the fight against crime?

MB     We are convinced, we have said so even to parliament. I am convinced and my party is convinced that it is so.

POM     So how would you like to see the police force in the provinces structured?

MB     Just like in Germany, the States and so on.

POM     Should each city - should Pietermaritzburg have its own police force? Durban has it's own. So should it be set up like that?

MB     Well I wouldn't really to the last line dictate how it should be as long as it is autonomous and is able to act. I wouldn't give details of it now. All I mean is, just like in Germany and the United States and other places, it should be like that because no two places are quite alike.

POM     You say that one of the things that you support, or the IFP supports, is the government's macro-economic policy, GEAR?

MB     Yes we do.

POM     But if one looks at the facts one would see that GEAR has failed to meet all its objectives, that the rate of growth this year will be around 1%, per capita income has fallen.

MB     Quite so, that is as we anticipated, yes.

POM     Do you not think that rather than President Mandela saying GEAR is government policy and it won't be changed, 'over my dead body' I think is the phrase used, do you not think it's time to examine some of the assumptions that were behind GEAR?

MB     If you look at my addresses in parliament, even at the conference in my address there, I actually said that it was a minimalist sort of approach but I have always expressed reservations about whether in fact GEAR can create more jobs. I always said so. I accepted it but always expressed reservations.

POM     Still, that 130,000 were lost last year? So rather than creating jobs it's done the opposite?

MB     Absolutely.

POM     So how do you go about this being probably the most important problem facing the country? How do you go about creating jobs?

MB     Well the government now, I wouldn't invent the wheel, because the government, it went through the Cabinet, there is going to be a Job Summit, so I can't really struggle to say how it's going to be done because that is meant to do just that, to find out how.

POM     But have the IFP a policy on how it goes about creating jobs in KZN?

MB     Well as far as housing, for instance, Gauteng is better than all provinces in creating housing and work, KZN comes second to that, number two in that respect. We have always believed in ourselves that there is no way that this country, taking into account the population growth, that we can create an industrial job for every young person that is catapulted into the labour market. We have always said so, we have always believed in self-help and self-reliance for this reason, that people must help themselves and we try to inspire people to do so and that the government should help people with projects and things like that because while it is a priority to create jobs we don't think there will come an ideal time when every young person has an industrial job. It's just not possible. We say people must not expect that the government has a panacea and that therefore the pillars of our philosophy in the IFP have always been self-help and self-reliance for that reason.

POM     Going back to Richmond for a moment, there you have a very dangerous situation in terms of the violence between the UDM and the ANC, and the UDM has called for the ANC to sit down with it and to try to develop some kind of programme to diffuse the situation and the ANC has refused to do so on the grounds that it would only be giving political stature to the UDM.

MB     Professor, you have been observing the situation in this country for quite some years now, it's really remarkable, and you yourself will remember that even in the IFP they kept on saying so. It's exactly the same thing that they did.

POM     That's right. So what I'm saying is, is this not kind of déja vu, they wouldn't sit down with you and in the end they had to?

MB     Because there is no other way.

POM     And in the end they will have to sit down with the UDM.

MB     Absolutely, absolutely, there is no other way. In fact we have said so. In fact I don't know whether you had arrived in this country, about two weeks ago the Provincial Minister for Safety & Security together with the Portfolio Committee of the legislature of KZN tried to organise a meeting like that but the ANC walked out of it because they said they wouldn't sit with the UDM.

POM     Isn't that remarkably short-sighted?

MB     It is amazing that in this country we have reached the stage where I am in the government of national unity precisely because people sat down, because there is no other way. People had to sit down and negotiate and people are praising SA all over the place saying that we are a very good example. It's amazing that they should adopt that stance at this stage when they are being praised for the fact that negotiations in SA prevented escalation of bloodshed and brought us where we are.

POM     Do you think that when elections take place next year that the situation on the ground between supporters of the IFP and the ANC are sufficiently solid at this point that there won't be outbreaks of communal violence or could you have a repeat of what happened in the early nineties?

MB     One would like to be an optimist, one wouldn't like to be a prophet of doom, and therefore in this case I don't want to be that either. At the same time I think it's too optimistic to say that the situation on the ground is so solid that one can rule it out. One can only pray that doesn't happen but already, as I tell you, last weekend - this morning at six am I could have still been enjoying a snooze but the President was going somewhere else and I tried to phone him last night when I got the message but he was already asleep, at nine he was fast asleep, and then I was told this morning, I tried to phone him this morning and he was discussing this very thing because he himself is worried about it. This actually could be the beginning of that because truly speaking, even in my speeches you will see I have stated when Mr Mbeki was our guest, I said that in fact violence between members of the IFP and ANC while they were reduced but they have never really stopped, they haven't stopped. Political violence between the IFP and the ANC has been happening sporadically, not in the same way in which we were in a low intensity civil war, but there have been cases here and there and one cannot therefore know beforehand whether it might escalate or not, but it could very well do so.

     I explained in my speech at the conference to Mr Mbeki and all those who were present that in fact while there is a rapprochement between leaders of the ANC who are involved in the national government here, in other words who are ministers, and the IFP, but in KZN I don't think that I see the same rapprochement between the ANC and the IFP. You see the ANC leadership in KZN they have really soiled the nest in the sense that they have, for instance, had two cases in court. They took this very House of Traditional Leaders, of which I am chairman, they tried to have it abolished, dismantled but, of course, they later withdrew the case because they had no change. Then they took another matter to the High Court again about membership of traditional leaders in regional councils. They wanted traditional leaders to be just ceremonial figures without any vote, but in terms of the old interim constitution they had ex officio status so the High Court in KZN dismissed their case and they took it even to the highest court, the Appellate Division, the last court in the land, and they lost. So you can see that those wounds are still bleeding. I don't see really that, trying as we are doing to heal that at the level of KZN there is going to suddenly, just in a few months, going to be some sweet brotherhood between the leadership there and the leadership of the ANC and on the ground the ANC and the IFP. I don't think so. I'm very worried about it.

POM     So what you're saying is anything could happen? The whole situation could if it isn't carefully managed -

MB     Well one cannot say everything could happen because everything is happening. This morning, I'm telling you, this morning I spoke to the President because some of our leaders were shot at. Of course we don't know who shot them but it's clear that it was members of the ANC.

POM     Was he able to acknowledge that?

MB     No I didn't ask him to acknowledge that but I am sure he assumed it. The reason why he worried - but he himself thinks that it is a third force. Even last time, you remember, he always stressed that. He stressed this morning, the President, that he thought it was a third force.

POM     The speech he gave at the 50th Congress lashed out at everybody. He lashed out at all - the only party he didn't lash out at was the IFP whom he commended for their -

MB     But we are working together in the government of national unity. Here I am sitting with you as a minister in his government, in spite of all the differences I have articulated to you. So what would he lash out at us for? At one time when we were unveiling Biko's - I attended, I was invited, and then he tried to upstage us - there were tens of thousands of people there, especially young people, and he said "These people", and he called me, the leader of the PAC, the leader of AZAPO and we all came to the stage where he was, he said, "Why is it that these people don't work with me?" And of course he was getting acclamation from the youth and the crowds there. He was saying, he was really putting us on the spot, so I reminded him that I was his minister and everybody laughed.

POM     Do you think that a third force does exist or that it sometimes becomes a convenient way of not dealing with the problem?

MB     It may exist but I don't know, I am not convinced that if it exists that it is solely responsible. I think that we may be trying to shed our responsibility because if you look at the utterances of some of the spokespersons of the ANC, some of their utterances when they speak about UDM and so on and their leaders, really they are speeches that cannot be expected to bring about any reconciliation or any decent politics between them. Also when we launched our new logo as IFP, I quoted this at the conference to Mr Mbeki and everyone, that their spokespersons there really indulge in what -  When we met, you remember, for the first time in 1991 in Durban with the ANC, the very first meeting that I had with Mr Mandela since his release from jail, you remember there was one thing that both the ANC and IFP agreed about and that was what we called 'killing talk', the kind of talk that inevitably results in killing and we said that from that time we must eschew killing talk, we must stop using killing talk. But even now some of the spokespersons of the ANC really use that. Now to then say that it is only the third force that creates problems is not credible. If you indulge in such talk and expect people not to be angry and to take up arms and fight, I don't think that it's credible.

POM     Do you still believe that the aim of the ANC is to eliminate political opposition and establish a one-party state?

MB     I don't know, but the idea of saying that we should merge in fact does, to me, amount to the same thing of creating a one-party state. And the fact that the Secretary General of the ANC has said publicly that in the next election they want to have two thirds, that, to me, shows tendencies in that direction.

POM     That means they could amend the constitution?

MB     Yes. You see, as you and I can realise, they have enough majority in government to pass any legislation really. They have a comfortable majority. But to aspire to have two thirds is a tendency in that direction.

POM     My impression is that the ANC is far more keen on there being some kind of merger between the ANC and the IFP than the IFP is?

MB     No, definitely that is correct.

POM     That all the wooing is coming from their side?

MB     That is correct. And certainly, of course, some of them remember my own past, which all these years you have been coming have been denying, as you yourself saying, the hurtful thing of saying I was an agent of apartheid, when my credentials as a liberator of this country are just as impeccable as anyone else's. But you know they were demonising and vilifying me all these years, saying that I was an agent. But all of a sudden now they have not come out to do it in one function to the satisfaction of my members, but now in fact - yesterday I was Acting President, that was the tenth time. In fact this morning he was thanking me for acting for them as President for the tenth time yesterday. Tenth time. Now if I was all those things, like the agent for apartheid, I am sure that they will enter heaven for being so forgiving, for forgiving this agent of apartheid so much and wash away his sins so suddenly and suddenly he is whiter than driven snow.

POM     How would you classify your relations with President Mandela now as distinct from what they were when he was released in 1990 and he didn't go to Natal?

MB     He was actually a captive, because that prompted me at the time, if I may recall, to say that he was now more of a captive than he was in jail. He was more a captive of his party, but of course that doesn't exonerate him because no leader should allow himself to be that. What is a leader? He is a servant of his party but I don't think that any leader should actually allow himself to be kept captive to that extent as he was to say 'they almost throttled me' and so on. I was very disappointed because I had a very long friendship and relationship, as you know, with Mr Mandela, a very close relationship, a close friendship, that he allowed the party to do that to him. When the UDF emerged, one must put it against the background of the UDF, when the UDF was formed here in Cape Town in 1984 their very first statement, which I think I have repeated to you before, was that they would welcome affiliation by any party, any black organisation except Inkatha. And then in 1985 the fight between our members and the UDF started, the killing started in 1985, and these were the people who were actually preventing him then, apart from the old ANC itself, but the UDF leaders were the ones who were saying so. Just recently, was it at the end of May, I conferred as Chancellor of the University of Zululand, I conferred an Honorary Doctorate on Mr Mandela on behalf of the university. Now he was awarded that doctorate at the same time, more than a year ago, with Mr de Klerk, but he wouldn't receive it because, as we learnt, some of the members of the ANC were saying, no, their leader cannot receive a degree from me, coming out of course of the vilification, but of course he decided this year to come and receive it.

POM     Do you still think he is a captive of the party or that he has 'freed' himself?

MB     It's very difficult. Of course, as you know, we all revere him, Mr Mandela, for the 27 years that he was in jail and everybody has been calling him a saint and an icon and so on and more, but he is still a human being. We should not really now blame other people so much as if he has no right to make decisions himself, because even if he is a captive of his party that still condemns him because he must still exercise leadership. Now I would say, for instance, I remember at the time when he said he was not going to give KZN province money, you remember? And his own people told him that that was unconstitutional and he said he would amend even the constitution to do it. That was not anybody forcing him to say such things. Even now with the Richmond thing, he is the one who has given respectability to this idea of not sitting down. How can he do so when he himself, when he was in jail he was already talking to the apartheid regime, negotiating privately, which of course is a good thing. They are condemning me for talking to the government here. They were even saying that to drink tea with them, but Mr Mandela was already drinking tea with them behind the scenes, which I don't condemn myself, but they were condemning me for that. Even now, he now says that no-one must sit with the UDM and then he says he will use other methods to stop the violence, but that violence has not stopped. He has sent the army there and so on, it has not stopped. Do you remember what Mr Mandela used to say about the violence? He used to say that Mr de Klerk has the capacity, he is in charge of all the security forces, if he wanted to stop the violence in SA he would stop it. Do you remember that?

POM     Yes.

MB     Well he's now in charge, he has the capacity too but the violence has not stopped.

POM     Do you think that he, in the accusations he has made against Mr de Klerk as being behind all the violence, just as you said, as having the capacity to be able to stop it if he wanted to, was being unfair to Mr de Klerk?

MB     I wouldn't say it was unfair because he was in charge. But, for instance, it's not this government of Mr Mandela that we started complaining to, we complained to Mr de Klerk where we had just memoranda and figures and facts of killing of our members.

POM     But he never acted?

MB     No, he never stopped it nor did he solve any of the problems, never solved any of the cases who killed them. We still don't know who killed our leaders.

POM     And that has never been investigated by the powers of reconciliation?

MB     Neither the present government nor the past regime ever investigated it. It's difficult therefore to say to Mr Mandela that there was no justification for him to say that because when you hear some of the things that are said in the TRC even if - as you know I have a stand-off attitude towards the TRC - but some of the things that are being said there about creating quarrels between black people themselves or exacerbating the quarrels, there was that as well, but we cannot say it was solely because of that but there was an element of that.

POM     So the quarrel existed and they just threw more fuel and lit the flames, so to speak.

MB     Quite.

POM     I know your complaints against the TRC as being biased, all its membership is nearly drawn from the ANC.

MB     UDF, the Tutus were patrons of the UDF and so on, and many other priests who were all involved in the UDF.

POM     Now they have never looked at - you have submitted, I believe, a list of 470 or 430 of your top officials who have been assassinated?

MB     In fact we complained to the Public Protector. No, the Public Protector himself has not given a report but we complained. Our chairman, Dr Ngubane, complained to the Public Protector for this treatment but it was last year already and nothing concrete has as yet come out of it.

POM     Do you think that any reconciliation will emerge out of the report of the TRC or that it will be so one-sided that it will probably - ?

MB     Just take a little example like this, it is true that when the ANC people were there to present their case great friendship was shown, great warmth took place. When the NP complained that they were not treated the same way, that is true, they were not treated the same way. Mr de Klerk was not treated the same way. Mr Mandela, it must be recalled, is the founder of MK, which is the military wing of the ANC. He is its founder and its Commander in Chief, but he has not been asked to account. Let me tell you a simple example, for instance, when those people, including the Deputy President, were given blanket amnesty; the Act says that one must actually account what he did, give an account of what he did, but they gave them a blanket amnesty which of course has been withdrawn now. But even that shows extreme bias to do a thing like that. Then Archbishop Tutu's son, Trevor, who even now is appearing in court for reckless driving and so on and has asked the magistrate to recuse himself, accusing him of being a racist. You can see he's a prankster of sorts. He decided, whether he had drinks I don't know, but he decided to create a bomb scare in the plane and that was just a criminal offence but now they have given political connotations to it and they give him amnesty. It's ridiculous.

POM     So when you approach the election next year, the IFP as a national party, will you not find it difficult to - you are part of a government of national unity from which you will have to, in a way, distance yourself to say they didn't do this, this wasn't done or that wasn't done, and people will say, well Dr Buthelezi, you were a member of the government, so -

MB     But the majority, we don't vote in the Cabinet. I've made this very clear.

POM     You don't vote in the Cabinet?

MB     No. They always say it's consensus. Then, of course, that means that if the majority feel that way - I mean originally the aim was that there should be consensus but it is never decided on the basis of real consensus but just when the majority feel that way that's it. I have publicly, even in parliament I have said that I put my objections in Cabinet even in the form of a memoranda, which is on record, to some of the things which they have decided to put the IFP point of view. I have done this openly and I have spoken about it publicly in SA, in response to that query you are saying you are part of the government. But that's that. I have never really - we still criticise and distance ourselves from some of the things that they have decided and done. You see some of the things have been what the English call the 'curate's egg', some of them have had good things but there have been very bad things, but have some good things. For instance, some laws address some of the sufferings of our people, the poorest of the poor who are the majority, who are black, but at the same time there are some very bad things in them. Then you are placed in a very serious dilemma because, if we say no, then they say we don't want to do this A, B and C for your people, we are suffering. We have had those dilemmas as well.

POM     So in Cabinet do you make your voice heard?

MB     Definitely, even in the form of memoranda which is not the usual thing.

POM     But when it comes to taking a vote you will not vote?

MB     I will state my point of view.

POM     Yes, but you won't vote when it comes to a vote in the Cabinet?

MB     No, but also I have stated my point of view. There is no voting, how many hands, there is no showing of hands. That's how we decide.

POM     So essentially even though there's a 'government of national unity', the ANC really does what it likes?

MB     What it likes, absolutely, I agree.

POM     You have the NEC, you have the National Working Committee and you have the Cabinet. Who makes the real decisions about what the policies of the country will be?

MB     I think it is the NEC.

POM     The NEC.

MB     I think so, it's my view.

POM     So in a sense an organisation that promised transparency takes most of the decisions that affect the country behind closed doors?

MB     Quite so, I agree. That is my view, I would agree with that statement.

POM     How do you see the IFP, I know this is difficult to project, but how do you see the IFP doing in the next election? Do you see it increasing its share?

MB     There is no reason why we shouldn't but I wouldn't know precisely. But one really goes to elections because one expects to win. You have misunderstood my statement when I said that when I was speaking at the conference saying that we are a party of goodwill and one mustn't .... part of goodwill to be in the opposition benches, then they have said that I mean that I will still be with the ANC. But in fact any party, however small, expects to go to elections because they want to win, they want people to accept their manifesto and what they stand for and to vote for them. But then, of course, it is the electorate that decides.

POM     Do you foresee a situation where after the next election the IFP could still be part of the government?

MB     There is a new constitution which says that. I am denying that very thing that some people are drawing the wrong conclusions about that, the wrong conclusions. When I say that, they say I mean to say that I will be with the government, but it doesn't. Surely I'm talking to the party that we should not just aim to be opposition, we must aim to be the government. And now they try to read something they like out of it.

POM     This is from the Sunday Times of last week, it says, "The IFP courts the idea of jumping into bed with the ANC." That's just the imagination of the writer?

MB     Can you imagine that I would say a thing like that myself?

POM     No.

MB     I have no further comment about it.

POM     What I have here, it just gives, "Switching to Zulu as the IFP President does when he feels it important to address his own constituency rather than the media."

MB     That is rubbish to say that. The majority of the people there are Africans and the whole speech had been delivered in English to the dot and when I speak in Zulu now, because there are many people who don't understand English there, to say I'm doing it just as a trick it's just utter rubbish to say that. It annoys me actually.

POM     It says, "Chief Buthelezi gave the analogy of a man who proposes love to a woman to the amusement of his Zulu audience."

MB     Zulu? I mean Zulu is the most spoken language even in Soweto, by all people. To say I am then in an organisation which is not just Zulu, to say to amuse my Zulu audience, it's just rubbish. Zulu and Xhosa are the same, they are both Nguni languages, we understand each other. When I speak they interpret in Sotho because Tswana, Sotho and Pedi understand Sotho, Southern Sotho, and I speak in Zulu because the Xhosas, Swazis, Ndebeles understand Zulu. Even that is rubbish to say that I was doing it to amuse my Zulu audience.

POM     It said, just to finish it, "He said the merger talk was putting the cart before the horse. You don't start off by jumping into bed, he said, that is the last act. First you talk. Chief Buthelezi's implication was clear."

MB     Implication? I don't speak by implication. I am a very forthright person. Why do they read implication? What I am saying is straightforward and they say it is implication. All these mediocre journalists saying that he meant, when I have expressed myself in simple English then they say he meant - then they give their own interpretation.

POM     Do you find the standard of journalism, of political reporting very low?

MB     It's very low, very low in SA. It's extremely low.

POM     Do you find it biased in favour of the ANC?

MB     Very biased.

POM     In favour of the ANC?

MB     Of course they are.

POM     And yet the ANC complains all the time that the media is being unfair to it.

MB     I wish you could read Zulu, for instance, because I could show you just now a Zulu newspaper which I have got for some of my staff who are here in Cape Town.

POM     This is Ilanga?

MB     Yes. You see now, for instance, this chap here he has been in charge of Zulu Radio, the Zulu Radio is so popular that it is one that backs up the SABC financially. It is the most successful, the most viable, the most profitable of all their channels. Now this chap is in charge of the Zulu Radio news all along but now all of a sudden he has admitted now, as we suspected, that he all along was an ANC man. That's what happens. It's not my surmise. This is what is happening in this country.

POM     So more and more positions are being packed with supporters of the card carrying members of the ANC whether it's the Federal Reserve Bank or Zulu Radio?

MB     Quite so. This is going on all the time. The Director of Prosecutions which was just another appointment last week, Director of all prosecutions in South Africa is in fact the Deputy Chairman of NCOP and a long standing activist of the ANC.

POM     Is NCOP working?

MB     I don't know. Of course it depends on those who set it up whether it's working.

POM     But from the point of view of your province?

MB     In fact my province has been commended as the most, small as it is being one province, being very influential in what is going on there.

POM     So to that extent is it working to the benefit of your province?

MB     Well in fact, should I say, they are very effective, shall I say, they are very effective even though they are a minority but a very effective minority.

POM     How do you think a Thabo Mbeki government will differ from a Nelson Mandela government?

MB     That makes me amused and smiling because, Professor, you are very knowledgeable about SA. You know very well that when Mr Mandela jokes and says that, "I am merely the de jure President", in fact that is the truth. When he says that the de facto President of SA is Mbeki that is the truth. Mbeki has been running the country since 1990. He presides over the Cabinet, he makes most of the many decisions as head of state, in the name of the head of state. So how can I then say it will be different because it will be the same man running the show?

POM     Would you like to see the constitution amended in a number of ways?

MB     Well my committee, as I say, it's getting late now, as I stated earlier, has made amendments, has proposed amendments. Whether they will implicate -

POM     That's regarding the policing?

MB     That is a parliamentary committee here.

POM     So, 25 years from now where do you think SA will be?

MB     I don't know. For years now you have interviewed me and I have always said these projections, I am not a prophet really. I don't indulge in that. But I don't know and I sincerely say I don't know. There are people who are crystal gazers, I am not one of those.

POM     Do you think it's possible now for all the political parties in SA after four years to put the struggles of apartheid behind them and to start addressing the real issues?

MB     I wish it were so, ideally, but human beings being human beings and Africa being Africa, these conflicts, I have already described, I can't go back to them. But it is a fact, you know that they exist, people are dying and so on. But ideally I wish that it was so. When Mr Mbeki talks of our national consensus I agree with them that we need a national consensus.

POM     How should SA restore confidence in the rand?

MB     Really I don't know, I wish I knew because I would have told Mr Manuel already if I knew.

POM     When you go abroad and people talk about investing in SA, what do they bring up as being the chief reason why they are reluctant to do so?

MB     I think there are two things as I see it, one thing is the labour legislation and secondly, the crime.

POM     The labour legislation is some of the most liberal.

MB     In SA, I think that even in the United States you got away from that some years ago, in the thirties maybe. But here we are in the same position before the Thatcher regime where the unions were the tail that wags the dog. You remember that things in Britain were put right by Lady Thatcher when she slapped down Scargill. Unless that is done I think we are in trouble, we will still be in Queer Street.

POM     So, just one or two final things, and thank you for the time. Do you think it will be better for the country even at this point to abolish the TRC?

MB     I don't know because it exists now and I think that that the companionship between the ANC and Archbishop Tutu is such that I would make myself ridiculous if I imagined that they would do anything that would demean Archbishop Tutu in any way. So I couldn't - it's just impossible.

POM     My last question would be, and you've answered it but I want this kind of forthrightness so that if people ask me I can say, well I've heard it from the horse's mouth so to speak. When you have commentators and political analysts and whatever out there talking about the possibility of a merger between the IFP and the ANC?

MB     Even Mr Mbeki is not in favour of a merger. He is the President of the ANC and I am President of the IFP and I am not in favour of a merger.

POM     So neither of you are in favour of a merger?

MB     We talk about a national consensus which is a different thing altogether, that in certain things we address the problems of our people and we should co-operate for the sake of the suffering masses. That's a different matter altogether from merging.

POM     Would you see part of that kind of national consensus as the IFP participating if it were asked to in - ?

MB     No, I wouldn't jump the gun because I don't know about that, because it's the party that decides, not Buthelezi who decides the policy of the party. It's decided by the National Council and also by the conference of the party and I can't jump the gun and say it will mean this and that when it has not been decided by the party.

POM     Well thank you very much. I appreciate, as always, the time you take from your schedule and I must also pay you one other compliment, and that is that every year I write to over maybe 140 people looking for interviews and you are the only person who every year has replied to me in person.

MB     But really I regard your work as very important for this country, very important. Also our life is ephemeral, we pass, but these things will be there generations after we are dead.

POM     Well I appreciate it.

MB     And I suffer so much from the cheap journalists like this one, that to have a serious academic like you doing a mammoth task of this kind it's only natural, if I am responsible as a leader, to co-operate with you.

POM     Well I hope that co-operation continues for a long time.

MB     It will continue, most definitely. We have travelled a long way already.

POM     We have!

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.