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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

12 Aug 1998: Delport, Tertius

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POM     Let us start with probably the take off point of your expulsion from the National Party, the circumstances under which that occurred, why it occurred, and your decision to join the Democratic Party. A lot of people were surprised that you chose the DP, though I don't see what many alternatives there were. So let's take it from there.

TD     First of all I had good reason to join the DP because it was in fact the only alternative left. I couldn't join the Freedom Front, I am a good friend of General Viljoen's but their whole policy is based on an ideal that they must realise by now will never be achieved so their significance as a political party is nil because they are pursuing something they must know, and I know, they will never achieve. The UDM of Bantu Holomisa and Roelf I couldn't possibly support because at the time and even now they have no clear policy and I cannot join personalities, I must join at least policy and principle. In any event over and above that I have seen what Holomisa did to the Transkei when he was in charge and I wouldn't - well to put it bluntly I would rather be governed by Thabo Mbeki than by Bantu Holomisa. I don't think Roelf will be any influence, he never was a significant influence on the decisions reached at Kempton Park so why would he now be a significant influence on Bantu Holomisa?

POM     Just to check that, who were the people of significance at Kempton Park?

TD     Ramaphosa and the ANC. He was never able to really influence Ramaphosa or the ANC so I doubt his ability to be a real influence. Roelf Meyer is a process man. As long as the process is acceptable whatever the outcome he will accept. That's not Bantu Holomisa, he's a mass man in terms of politics. As long as he's got mass support he will do what they want and provide what they need whatever his own policy or principle may be.

POM     But do you not think that his, if you want to call it, mismanagement of the Transkei, if he were in his heart of hearts a supporter of the ANC that in fact by wasting government money at every opportunity he was in fact helping the ANC since he was helping to bankrupt the government?

TD     He was helping to bankrupt the government but he was running a very important part of South Africa into the ground. It's one thing to say SA also had a large debt, the old Republic of SA, but look at the other side, the assets that we had in terms of infrastructure. A lot of money was wasted and a huge debt accumulated in the Transkei but look at the other side of the coin, no assets left. In fact what he inherited was run into the ground by him. If you look at the parastatals, the state owned irrigation schemes, agricultural ventures, when the new government took over there was nothing, nothing but debt and debt. So he was a bad governor, he couldn't manage the Transkei. Either he was afraid to do so and simply let go. It may have been deliberately done but I wouldn't even like to ascribe to him that it was deliberately done because that would make him a very bad man. I don't want to call him a very bad man because to do that to people, to leave them eventually without any income, with nothing, with no proper health care, with nothing, he must have been either very bad or very incompetent.

POM     But yet he has a significant base of support in the Transkei.

TD     Yes, that's a good thing because at least he will take away from the ANC votes and he will play a major role in not allowing the ANC to get a two thirds majority although with Holomisa as an additional factor the ANC won't get 55%, let alone 66% majority. Yes he's popular because he dished out - you know there's one example, I think I may have told you that on one of these agricultural farms where there were thirty plus tractor drivers for five tractors, people were simply put into jobs and that is how state money was spent, so they were given jobs and all of those jobs were simply empty jobs. It was just a means of getting money into people's pockets, not by doing anything productive, by building up the country.

     So he was out and that left the DP and it was surprisingly easy for me to join the DP because of Tony Leon and as I call them, his magnificent seven in parliament. Those guys did a good job. They were the first when we were unsure, I say 'we', the De Klerk party, the NP led by De Klerk, we were unsure how to deal with a situation as opposition, he was the one that took the lead in standing up and without fear, condemning whenever something was unacceptable, supporting where it was worthwhile to support, but he became the opposition leader and recent polls show that he is now by far the most acceptable, supportable (if there is such a word) opposition leader. The NP, even if I had not been expelled, I would have lost interest.

     I think in earlier versions, in earlier contacts with you I may have spelled out how I saw the need for a greater co-operation, consolidation of opposition parties; that was never accepted. At one stage I proposed in the executive of the Federal Council of the NP when we were still in the government of national unity for De Klerk to give a cabinet post, one of our posts, to Viljoen and one to Tony Leon without them joining the NP. I said, "Make this gesture, we are the leaders, we are the strongest opposition party, bring them in, tell them I don't ask you to become a member of the NP but I want you to sit in in cabinet, we've got to consolidate as opposition." Some found it laughable to bring in a small white elitist, rich party and one of them was Roelf Meyer who said the DP would make us more white, and the racists, Constand Viljoen. Another time I proposed at an East Cape conference, I said the time has come for the NP to be willing to sacrifice its name and existing structures to create a new consolidated opposition. Various other proposals were never accepted. In fact it was held against me and the fact that I was not always prepared to toe the line and be silenced whenever the powers that be felt like that. I had come to the end of the line in any event and we have seen today that even, you have probably heard about De Beer, the leader of the NP in Gauteng.

POM     What about him?

TD     He resigned today.

POM     He did?

TD     He did, he resigned from the NP. He said there's no future for the NP, he can't go on giving out that there is a future and asking people to vote for them and support the NP whilst he knew that the NP's days are numbered and he's joined the UDM, he's joined Roelf Meyer. And that's the leader of the NP in Gauteng. The DP, I feel at home, the DP was in the past very English, had the image of the rich and the very elitist party. I myself said to them whenever they attacked the NP, I made a little joke, I said, "I'm not taking you seriously, you are excellent political consultants but you're not a political party." We've now become a party. When I joined earlier this year the DP in the Eastern Cape had six branches, active branches of the party. We now have 67 branches. We are now fighting a by-election, a municipal ward in Port Elizabeth and at present, that was a NP held ward, the NP hasn't put up any candidate, they are supporting the previous candidate of the Conservative Party who is now standing as an Independent and he's standing against the DP, a young school teacher, 36 years old, Jan Brand, Afrikaner and we're going to win that seat. The last election, NP votes 2500 plus, Conservative Party 1500 plus, DP 47 votes. I am predicting after last night when I started canvassing, assisting, I think we've got at least a fifty/fifty chance to win that seat for the DP. In Uitenhage when I left the NP the majority of NP councillors crossed the floor to the DP. They had not one member, they are now the official opposition in Uitenhage where DP was non-existent up to now. In Despatch I've established a branch of the DP. Two previous Mayors of Despatch, previous chairman of District Council of the NP, they're all in the DP. The DP is becoming the home of the Boere now. We've had a very successful seminar on cultural rights and language rights organised by the DP in Johannesburg some time ago. I feel at home, I've got no problem.

     You see I must maybe tell you how I see what is my evaluation of SA at present. Civilisation is at stake, civilisation is at stake. I may be stupid but I see civilisation and not civilisation in the sense of the fine arts and whatever but the technologically oriented western civilisation which then gives breathing space also to the fine arts and all that. The technologically orientated western civilisation is based on a number of pillars but I think I've come to the conclusion there are three very basic pillars. Those three pillars I'm going to put very simply and that's what I'm talking about when I talk to ordinary people in the street. Respect for rules. Now let your mind wander about rules, discipline, respect for the law, respect for judgements by the court. What have we seen today? Mandela and this Minister of Sport, Tshwete, criticising, rejecting Judge de Villiers judgement of evaluation of the Mandela evidence. I think Mandela shamed himself by his appearance in court and the way he reacted and how he attacked; it was bad, it was a low point in his presidency. Respect for rules and respect for discipline. We don't see it in our schools. We have more and more coming through, no examinations, pass one, pass all. Respect for rules. Secondly, looking at schools - respect for books, research, expertise, respect for expertise, merit, appointments on merit not on the colour of your skin. Respect for books is under threat. Without it no civilisation. Finally, respect for money. The rand is not made simply by machine, it expresses a value, it gives expression in terms of its international value the way this government is dealing with the budget, this government is dealing with corruption and with its own money, the productivity of this country, the confidence.

POM     Just on the third point, Tertius, many people would give the government, even its critics, a lot of credit for its maintenance to fiscal discipline and pulling down the budget deficit as a proportion -

TD     Are they? Are you sure of that? I doubt it. I have sat in this East Cape government. Where does the money come from when we have a deficit at the end of the year of three billion rands, when we end the year with more than one billion rands overdraft and we are not even allowed as a provincial government to have an overdraft?

POM     But you borrow, this is one of the questions I've been asking people, provincial governments borrow from the banks who are quite willing to lend to provincial governments and the side bar question is, who in the end is responsible for the repayment of that money?

TD     You see what they do is they roll it over into the next financial year and then in the next financial year they pay back and then they start with not being able to pay. Here we don't, even in the East Cape they don't even - every now and then they can't pay, they cannot pay the pensions, they cannot pay the electricity accounts of schools then the electricity is switched off. That's what we're experiencing. They've got no respect for money this government. They don't know how to handle money, they don't understand the basic concept of money. I say civilisation as you and me know it is under threat. Now what to do? That is now at a certain level and because we are going through this very difficult period which places maybe too much emphasis on politics, because in a well run country and with a sound economy you have minimal or minimum government, that's the ideal. We've got maximum government, increasing government, even in sport they want to govern, they want to have a say. So politics is unfortunately, or the political battlefield, or arena, not battlefield, the political arena is unfortunately too important, it has become very, very important. So you've got to have people who are willing to stand up, support where you need support, oppose vigorously, with courage to oppose, and thirdly to steer if it's a step in the right direction, to support and steer, but you can only do it on the basis of certain principles, policies. You can't do it because you like this man or he's our leader, you've got to do it irrespective of whatever.

     I was asked in the East Cape to translate into Afrikaans, I'll give it to you tomorrow, the DP's constitution. It ended up by me re-writing the constitution. I started it with a preamble that this party is based on the vision that we want to create a SA in which there is freedom, economic freedom, freedom of this, freedom of that and setting out in the constitution some ten basic, basic principles which is our vision. I am not prepared to even be in a political party which does not forget about everything else except the principles and propagating and working for the principles that will assist and guide SA to survive the misconceptions in the ANC about what a state is all about. That's why I'm in the DP. The NP was not a vehicle any more in terms of principle.

POM     How did it come about that you were expelled from the party?

TD     It was a long story, there was a commission, I insisted on a commission, the commission came up with a political -

POM     Commission because?

TD     Because of the accusations against me.

POM     Which were?

TD     That I accepted a double salary, what happened when I moved out when I was not a minister any more. That's typical of the East Cape. They carried on paying my salary. I was getting an ordinary parliamentarian's salary. At one stage my previous secretary informed me, he was in Bisho looking at post and there was a pay slip for me. Now I am one of those - you won't believe it but I never open my bank accounts, it's always bad news, so they were still paying three months after I left the office of MEC, still paying into my bank account every month my salary. So publicly, I stood up in parliament there, in the legislature, I said I really want to thank the ANC for the high appreciation they had instilled in donating to me every month, so I was now informed, they are still donating my salary to me. And then I started the long quest for getting a statement. I said I want to know what do I pay back? Do I get my correct tax certificate? Nothing happened. Then my opponents in the NP said, ah! I'm corrupt, I'm not paying back. So I said I'm not paying back before I get a proper statement of account. Eventually to pacify them I paid back every cent that they paid into my account. We are now busy dealing with it, they are now claiming from me another R32,000, they said, "But we also paid into the medical aid fund and we paid to the pension fund." I said, "You must be joking, I never got that, I will not get any credit for erroneous payments you made. My medical fund was paid from my new salary, what have I got to do? You paid it in. You get it back. It's not my responsibility." But they say, "No, you pay it back to us and then you can claim it back." I said,  "On what grounds can I claim it back legally? I never paid them." Now this may land up in court but I doubt it. They are now threatening they will sue me and I said you jump in the lake. But my own people used that as a corruption charge against me. That's the type of thing that happened. Then there were other charges. You see when I was ousted Donald Lee -

POM     That's as MEC?

TD     No, as leader of the party in the East Cape. And when I then didn't resign but stuck to my guns and said I'll come back, then they started all these other accusations. But they also ousted one of my strong supporters who was a member of parliament, Donald Lee who is a so-called coloured man, because I'm very popular in the coloured areas with my wife. I have their support. In fact all of the coloured ward councillors resigned from the NP when I resigned and crossed over to the DP, all of them. But then they also ousted Donald Lee as the Deputy Leader in the province, he was not Deputy, he was chairman of the party. Then they decided but no, then we are going - because it was a planned thing - we are going to enrol more coloured members to give us a bigger say because it works so many members, so many representatives in congress. Then these guys simply said when they presented some 12,000, I can't remember, membership lists, they rejected the lists. Then there was a commission of enquiry into allegations against me, allegations from the other side that these lists were proper and were illegally rejected. The commission came up with a political solution that I'm too controversial, I should be expelled from the party and the position stabilised. Then the National Executive said they will expel me for one year but I retain my seat in Bisho in the legislature and they postponed the congress and this and that and then I said, "You do that to me? No go. If you don't want me then I go, then I resign." And I said it to them, "Then I will break the National Party in the East Cape", and I have. There is nothing left here. So maybe that was a little bit vicious of me.

POM     Was this under the leadership of De Klerk or under Marthinus?

TD     No it was under Marthinus. There was a delegation of mostly municipal councillors from here, from elsewhere, that saw De Klerk just on the eve of a weekend here in the East Cape where he usually goes hunting once a year on one of the East Cape farms. So this delegation saw him at the airport where he landed in East London. Over that weekend one of the MPs had maybe one or two too many that evening and said to him in front of, and it was in the newspaper, in front of newspaper men, other colleagues, public people that were on the hunt with him, he said to him in Afrikaans, "Keep your nose out of our affairs in the East Cape otherwise you will see your arse", translated directly. OK that was the Saturday and on the Tuesday he resigned. Now if the little man, the very small man that told him not to interfere in the East Cape, I think if I had been the leader and that sort of talk came to me or was said I would have either hit him or I would have walked away from the office that I occupied because it's not a man of any repute, that specific MP.

     But, OK, so that is to your question was it in De Klerk's time, that was where he ended and then Marthinus took over and then I made an appointment with Marthinus and said to him, "Marthinus, I'm asking for you to intervene, to appoint a commission of some sort because we can't go on like this in the East Cape. The party is falling apart." He said, "Now what is your intention, Delport's intention?" I said we go to the congress in October, I know the people that voted me out. They didn't really represent the broad community. I know now the brown people, the coloured people will now rally and they will now really become members of the party. I am going to take back the position of leader, I want Donald Lee, a coloured man, as Deputy Leader and we're going to decide at that congress that there's another special congress in three months time and there will go out a resolution that the party in three months time will have another congress but with all other parties and other people that would like to join in and we are going to form a new East Cape based party, new opposition party. Oh yes, I said the first decision will be to divorce ourselves, I said, "Marthinus, we're going to divorce from the federal National Party structure to become the independent East Cape National Party." And then I said to him, "To save the NP we have got to kill the NP and form a new, a new vehicle for opposition politics."

POM     Which in a way is not very different from what Roelf Meyer was saying.

TD     It's exactly the same thing that Roelf said, exactly the same thing.

POM     Roelf reminds me when he was given the assignment by FW to come up with something new of a little boy who was put in a room with a piece of paper and a pencil and you sit there for hour after hour.

TD     But you see where they made a very fatal mistake was to say up front, he said, "We're going to disband, I'm in favour of disbanding the party", instead of having a strategy to come to that point. I said to Marthinus, "But I'm not going to say what I want to end up with. I want you to know that this is the route I propose for the whole of the NP but forget about - I'm only concerned with the East Cape and there I know we can do it because I have already spoken to Eddie Trent and to other parties, to other leading individuals also in the Freedom Front and I have also spoken to some PAC members who are not radical PAC but of the original school of black nationalists and I can give you their names. They are good people here in the East Cape. There are some very good excellent people who would not associate themselves with a radical 'one settler one bullet' sort of approach."

POM     I want to go back to something.

TD     That was not where we ended.

POM     That had to be where we ended.

TD     No. We ended on a different note. It was about the negotiations I think, Kempton Park.

POM     When I came here first in 1989 I used to interview a wide spectrum of people in the NP. The only one left in the NP now who I began interviewing in 1989 or 1990 is Sheila Camerer.

TD     Sheila will follow De Beer.

POM     Well she talked about De Beer.

TD     Of course, she is a Roelf Meyer man, she is a De Beer man, because De Beer was only sort of a caretaker for Roelf. He was a very staunch supporter of Roelf and Sheila will go. Now the only ones that can really go are people like Paul de Beer, not Paul - what's his name? I'm always mixed up because Paul de Beer, leader of Gauteng, now UDM, is the younger brother of a man who was the Master of Ceremonies at my wedding so I know the De Beer's for many years. I was Chairman of the SRC, President of the Student Union at Stellenbosch when his elder brother was President of the Student's Union at Tukkies, at Pretoria University, so that's how I got to know the De Beer family. But the only ones that can really change - either you've already got a full pension from the previous regime, pre-1994, or you're financially independent. Now Sheila is financially independent. I expect Sheila to do the same. So then you will have nil.

POM     I asked, I had never bothered because I had interviewed him in the NP, I had never heard of Marthinus until he was elected leader of the party and one still doesn't hear about him very much. There's no strong projection.

TD     Marthinus by his very nature and his ability is what I would call a typical executive, not even executive secretary, secretary of operations or whatever, a back-room man that can do the back-room work. He is not a man with any kind of a visionary approach or a real leader. Even though old AWB leader Eugene Terre'Blanche at least he's got personality and whether you like him or not or whether he's stupid or not he's got presence but Marthinus hasn't even got presence unfortunately so it's bye bye National Party. The same thing is going to happen that happened to - what's that party in Canada?

POM     The Conservative Party. It's gone.

TD     It's gone. One moment it's there. Well there it was the governing party, here it's going to be the opposition party. I said today too I predict a 2% support for the NP in the next election, and I've still got to correct that figure, that's outside of the Western Cape. There people may still vote NP not to support the NP but because they see it as an instrument at least to keep out the ANC.

POM     Which is also very short term because by the year 2004 or 2005 the Africans are going to be in the majority in the Western Cape.

TD     We'll see how far we get with that because it needs to be explained to the people that you can't keep the ANC from obtaining a two thirds majority by voting NP, you must simply not vote because we've got a proportional system, you must simply not vote ANC. You must vote, number one, and number two you mustn't vote ANC. Whether you vote DP or UDM or NP is immaterial but people coming from the old system of you must not split the vote, all that you will do, as you well know, you will force a coalition government to keep the ANC out and that will be a good thing. Don't we say what we want in SA is multi-party democracy? What better is a coalition government? It's the best example of multi-party politics.

POM     I asked Jakes Gerwel this morning whether the constitution made provision for a strong multi-party system and he corrected me, he said it made provision for a multi-party system because my point was if that is one of the fundamentals of the constitution then there's an obligation on the government to help weaker parties become stronger so that you develop a stronger viable multi-party system rather than a one-party dominant democracy, because there are other parties but their influence is so little that they don't have any influence over policy. So if there are nine or ten parties in parliament so therefore we have a multi-party system it kind of evades the real question. Is it a viable system in terms of - ?

TD     Of course your idea is, in a multi-faceted society such as ours, you should strive to the position where no party gets 50%, where you have a coalition government because that's your best checks and balances in a diverse society.

     May I come back to one point? When I predicted the ANC won't or will hardly get 50%, will struggle to get 55%; point number one, we're not going to see the corruption that we had last time. I would estimate, I would guesstimate that the ANC obtained between 500,000 and one million illegal votes in the last election. We can go into the reasons why I say that. One example, we opened ballot box after ballot box here in Port Elizabeth coming from the black areas, I think 35 in total.  Well that was after they started calling me whenever they opened it and you found the ballot papers neatly stacked. I said, "How come?" Then they explained, they said that every now and then the Election Officer would put in a long ruler and do this - because you know you fold it and you put it into the box. They say they work it with a ruler and that causes the ballot papers - I said, "OK, so you do this through the slit?" And then they all jumped one onto the other, "Don't talk nonsense to me." That sort of thing. They found days after the election date in the Transkei something like 30,000 to 40,000 ballot papers, voted but not folded. There was no time to fold it to put it into the ballot box. That sort of thing. Now this time at least from Tsolo or wherever you can't have 100,000 votes if there are only 30,000 people on the voter's role. So there's a check. Secondly, you've got to have your ID. I hope, I hope they don't change the rule. You need your ID.

POM     It looks as though they are though.

TD     Yes. Thirdly, the UDM will be there where we never had access, or any other party ever had access, to check on what's happening at the ballot. Last time we had no access, so they will be there. Fourthly, many black people are going to stay away and the percentage is going to - here in the East Cape anything up to 20% will vote UDM. Maybe I'm too optimistic. I think so because there's a disillusionment in the black community and you find, you will find that reaction whenever you talk to the ANC now. I predict that they will not be very open, not be very frank. You see the realities have hit SA, also the ANC. They have come to realise that all the nice talk about the new free South Africa - as I always say, you can't eat, make a sandwich out of a ballot paper, you can't eat freedom, you can't live in a ballot box. It's not a very comfortable home. So the realities of SA have started to take its toll also on the ANC.

POM     What's interesting about what you say is that I have taken a number of foreigners to see Bantu Holomisa and they all came prepared to think that this was a tin pot dictator and they all came away impressed.

TD     Oh yes, of course, I know him very well. He's a very affable fellow.

POM     We were at a reception for a trade commission and about half the cabinet were at this reception in Pretoria and the Ambassador was bringing the minister round and introducing the minister, the visiting Irish Minister, to each of the South African ministers fairly quickly and they got to Bantu and Bantu just put out his hand and said, "I am the bodyguard", and the Irishman simply shook his hand and moved right on. He's got this self-deprecating sense of humour that is very appealing as though he never takes himself too seriously.

TD     I agree with you. As a person I like him. You know there's one thing that at this stage I'm telling you on the record but specifically it's not for publication. Eventually I think it will be for publication but not at this stage because it's sensitive to me. Roelf Meyer told Tony Leon recently, about six months ago, "As long as Tertius Delport is in your party I'm not talking to you, we're breaking off all talks." Now I'm not going to let personal animosities -

POM     Why would Roelf say that?

TD     Because we don't like one another. He thinks I'm an extremist and whatever and I think he's a weakling, so we don't like one another. I had dinner recently with his brother Tobie, his elder brother who is my age, he was also a Deputy Minister in the central government and when I was leader in the East Cape he was Deputy Leader of the party here in the East Cape and we're very close friends, we're like brothers. So I said to Tobie, "I'm going to write a letter to Roelf because we cannot, because of personal animosities, put important things at stake." I'm going to tell him, Roelf let's close the book on the past. I hope I will still be able because I'm finalising now what I think will be, maybe I'm over-estimating myself, a very, very interesting lecture on negotiations entitled 'Lessons from Kempton Park'.

POM     Do you have a draft of it?

TD     No, I've got drafts, but I start with - my first transparency is the scrum half and the glass of water. It's about the story, I was a scrum half in rugby, it's usually a not too big guy who is very agile and who puts the ball into the scrum, passes it this way, that way, break around the scrum. It's a story about the scrum half, the small guy, and the very big guy, the lock forward who is normally huge. The scrum half after the rugby match walked into the bar and he saw the big lock saying to the barman, "Listen old chap, a whisky or else", and he got his whisky. And the scrum half walked in and he said, "That's too nice, listen old chap a whisky or else", and the barman said, "Or else what?" He said, "Or else a glass of water." So what's your bottom line, what's your fall-back position, what do you do if the other party says no? Do you say then I'll take a glass of water or do you say then you go to hell? Or then I'm going to fuck you up. The point I'm making, at the negotiating table the government never had an 'or else', we were willing to accept a glass of water because when the ANC went publicly, when Jay Naidoo said, "If we don't get what we want we will take this country to hell", those were his words, what did we say? "No we don't want this country to go to hell, we must find a solution." And that's where Fanie van der Merwe said, who was the Chief Adviser as you know, "Any agreement we can reach today will be better than the agreement we will reach tomorrow." We were never prepared. OK, I'm carried away by myself now.

     The point is in negotiations what's your bottom line and what's your 'or else'? Or are you a scrum half that will settle for a glass of water? If you negotiate with trade unions what's your bottom line? Are you prepared to say then I'm going to shut out, I'm going to close down if the worse comes to the worst because I have a bottom line? If you haven't got a bottom line don't go into negotiations. If you're not prepared to call your opposing party's bluff don't go into negotiations, give them what they want now because you will settle for something less later. OK, that's what I'm now preparing, a lecture along these lines and then I want to illustrate everything that I'm saying. The second thing is don't go in if you haven't got a grand strategy. Know what they want, know what you want and then that revolves around what we talked about last time when the Gerrit Viljoen/Delport plan of negotiating something with an interim government and this and that, how we structured it, and how the ANC then had to block that because they felt they've gone one step too far on this road and they had to stop it at CODESA 2 by putting up demands that we couldn't accede to, to get out of that agreement. So I am busy preparing that now, I'm working on it by illustrating every little thing. The whole question of what is the importance of the agenda? What do you deal with first and what do you leave for later? The deadlines, the importance of deadlines. That's the sort of thing and then I want to illustrate it so if ever you want to have a look at it, you want to invite me to come and visit you I will come and give that lecture at your university.

POM     OK, that's a deal made.

TD     Because it's going to be very interesting. I've spoken to Willie Esterhuyse, you know Professor Willie Esterhuyse, the man who wrote the book years ago, 'Goodbye to Apartheid, Farewell to Apartheid', who is a close friend of Thabo Mbeki?

POM     He was one of the intermediaries who -

TD     Yes.

POM     Yes. I don't know him personally.

TD     But he's a very close friend of mine. In fact we were at one stage, no we were never room mates, we were table mates, we spent six years in the hostel together at the same time and I was Master of Ceremonies at his wedding and we still have close contact.

POM     Where is he now?

TD     He's just retired as Professor of Philosophy at the University of Stellenbosch, although in the last three, four years he was at the Business School. What do they call it? Business School something at Stellenbosch where he taught or lectured on Business Ethics. He has now been appointed at University of Cape Town as a consultant to their Business School.

POM     I'd like to meet him.

TD     You must. I can give you his telephone number or maybe I should just, because he's still very busy, but he is a very, very interesting man.  OK, I spoke to him, he said you must finalise that thing and I think it would be interesting to business people to hear not only the biggest practical exercise in negotiations in SA in a hundred years but also to know more about what were the intricacies of the negotiations at Kempton Park.

POM     That's what I want you to go back through in the last transcript and I might come down one day and take all the transcripts with me and go through them with you and fill in gaps because it's very important, since you will be one of the very important players in my book, that it is correct, exact, precise.

TD     Last time you were very interested, I remember now last time about exactly what happened at CODESA 2 and why was the deadlock and what was the background. Now you see that was a prime example of a grand strategy which the other party did not really understand where we were going. Then they found out and they took certain measures to counter that grand strategy and how they got out of the corner that they were in at the same time blaming us then for the collapse or for the deadlock by giving out it was about something else than the real reason.

POM     That showed that despite all the governmental apparatus and propaganda machinery they, in a way, were better.

TD     They outsmarted us because we had no - we only had a glass of water. We should have told them there, if you walk out here it's the end, but we were not prepared to do that.

POM      put that in quotes, that the NP made in negotiations and, two, did it or does it make any real difference since in a way there was an inevitable outcome and the inevitable outcome was going to be majority rule whether it happened today, tomorrow?

TD     The first and maybe dominant mistake was, and that has got nothing to do at all with the outcome of the negotiations, but our deceit, giving out, asking in a referendum support from our supporters and white South Africa for our reform which was then already in writing, the booklet that I drafted setting out certain principles and we deviated radically from those principles without going back, giving out then after the negotiations that we have achieved, we have succeeded in getting (and there was even a little document the NP produced) we achieved power sharing, we achieved protection for this and protection for that, which was not there. Those items that we listed were not there, creating the perception that we are so happy, now we've got SA, SA will now be the winning country in the world because we have achieved, the new era that we have worked for is there. Prosperity, peace, security, this is it. And then the truth, which has a way of being a judge, a very fierce judge, the truth judged the NP very harshly and where the NP is today, which is somewhere between nowhere and nothing, is a direct result of the fact that we did not acknowledge and tell SA, "I am sorry we couldn't do better, it's not what we promised but we had no other option." I think we had an option, another option that would have been a very harsh option, that would not have been a glass of water in terms of my little anecdote. I think we could have done better but it's not a question of whether we did well or fared badly but we created after the negotiations, we achieved, we set out with these wonderful ideals of a new SA of equality, etc., all the nice things, prosperity, and now you're not safe on your farm, you get murdered every second day, our economy is not doing well, there is more poverty than ever before and we can go on. We don't know what's going to happen to water rights in this country and water is a tremendously important thing.

POM     You're saying you don't know what's going to happen to water, you mean?

TD     Well Kader Asmal has now for all practical purposes in a new law expropriated all water rights, even your private borehole on your farm is now basically state water, it's not yours. But I don't want to get involved in that.

POM     What were the strategic mistakes?

TD     I think I've got to insist that you invite me to your university to come and tell you that. I must keep back some -

POM     Oh come on, I've spent too many hours with you!

TD     - some secrets that I can sell.

POM     No! If you tell me the secrets I will invite you.

TD     No, the strategic mistake was to deviate from the big strategic plan and that is to keep control of the process of constitution making because - all right, that on the one hand, but maybe an even more fundamental mistake was not to accept the inevitability of majority rule and rather bolstering the position of multi-party, federalism, position of opposition parties. I just mention one little thing, access to the cabinet information, to the leaders of the parties, let them sit in. That's a detail but that sort of thinking would have put democracy in a stronger position, would have bolstered democracy better than trying to achieve so-called power sharing which we in any event abandoned. After 1994 I was the first one to say we have co-option, not power sharing, we're co-opted into government and sit there like puppets with no real influence whatsoever. Well influence but not power, influence but not power. It was protection of influence and influential position. In Afrikaans there's a better word, I said not power sharing but 'maak inspraak', power as a contribution, you're in a position to where power lies to make an input, input protection but not power sharing.

     So I would say the strategic end result was not realistic or should have been, once we realised and if we deliberately abandoned the concept of power sharing and opted for something lesser but strengthening opposition position, we would have done better but we never consciously, never deliberately decided OK we can't achieve power sharing, rather go for this. We bluffed ourselves that we are achieving what we wanted to do and the poor souls like myself that said we're not achieving it, we're reaching agreements that maybe in terms of our interpretation may look like we're achieving but on an objective interpretation it's not that, it's not there.

POM     There are just two other things. You referred the last time, and this is why I want you to go through the manuscript again now, sit with you and just go through it. You read it and go through it - it's very important that it's accurate. You talked about hostages being held in Umtata and the airplanes being on the way to take Umtata and knock Holomisa out. Who were holding the hostages?

TD     The Holomisa government.

POM     Now this is post - what time was that?

TD     That was, oh I'll have to check on that, I'll have to determine that. It was during the time of the so-called rolling mass action.

POM     Chris Hani was still alive?

TD     Yes, yes he was.

POM     Because he used to hang out in Transkei.

TD     It was shortly after or before but round about the time of the Bisho so-called massacre, the Bisho shootings, just before.

POM     We need to check on that to get solid dates on that. The other thing, two things, Tobie Meyer is the older brother of Roelf and he is - what position does he hold in the NP or is he still with the NP?

TD     No he resigned. You see after 1994 he became Deputy Minister for Land Affairs under Hanekom. I think Tobie expected to be made Minister of Agriculture but then he was made Deputy Minister of Land Affairs and then months before we went out of the government of national unity there was a reshuffle by De Klerk of his posts in the cabinet and Tobie was left out and replaced by Schoeman, not Renier - the other Schoeman, what's his name, but with another MP, NP man.

POM     So is Tobie out of politics altogether?

TD     I saw him a week or two ago, we had dinner together the two families, he and his wife and myself and Ansie. No he's a member of the UDM but he says he's not going to play an active role. He's retired, he sold his farm. Tobie is very well off, he sold his farm for something like R7 million, he's retired, he's got a lovely place at Bloubergstrand in Cape Town and he's enjoying life.

POM     Roelf always portrays himself as a poor farm boy. Was he?

TD     Maybe. I don't know.

POM     Didn't anybody do background profiles on the people who were negotiating?

TD     No, no.

POM     No? No psychological profiles?

TD     No. You won't believe it, no.

POM     I thought you guys were masters at this kind of thing.

TD     We were novices, we were novices. We had to survive on - and that's why many of us didn't survive - on basic intellect and maybe some, hopefully, basic sort of skills or whatever. I don't know. Roelf maybe grew up -

POM     That whole thing about when you said the planes were in the air and Pik persuaded FW to call them back, the planes were already airborne. That's important so that should be - it's never alluded to in any literature or whatever. You also said, I asked you had you read Patti Waldmeir's book and you said, "I read the bits about myself", which everybody does in any book. But you said that at one place she got it all wrong and I just wanted to check on that. It says, and this comes back to decision making, that was the crucial one about power sharing, she presented it as this is FW saying, "Mandela and myself have reached an understanding." Then my question is, "That's Roelf's talk." And you say, "Roelf, yes, but FW endorsed it." Now why? He said because if we start with the two thirds or whatever majority it means that the cabinet will blah, blah, blah - we've gone through that before. And I said, "Which means nothing, we'll build a tradition of consensus which means nothing." And you said, "It means nothing, that's when Patti got it all wrong." What did she get wrong?

TD     As I read her story I was very aggressive in the cabinet meeting. That's totally, totally incorrect.

POM     That you were?

TD     Aggressive or emotional in the cabinet meeting. What happened was, and I'm very, very clear on that, that was one of the most important days of my life, I realised and I said to myself what we worked for is lost so I questioned, I took part in the discussion, I questioned some of the aspects, I asked for some clarification, then there was discussion. It was clear to me nobody is going to really support me in the objections I had. I was practically the only one that questioned some of the agreements reached. Then FW got up and said, "OK let's break for a minute or two." He went out to the toilet or whatever, but to his office which was 20 yards down - you go through to the one side - and I stood up and I walked to where Dawie - OK I'm a junior minister so I'm sitting down, Dawie de Villiers, senior man, he was my provincial leader. I passed Hernus Kriel and didn't say anything. I went to Dawie, I said, "Dawie, you will realise that I cannot stay on in the cabinet under these circumstances." He said, "Then you'd better talk to FW." I said I'm going to. I went out, I stood with his secretary. She said he was in his office. I waited there and when he came out he said, "Yes Colleague?" I said, "I'd like to see you Mr President." I went back in and we were standing and that's when I turned to him and I said, "My God, FW what have you done?" I said, "You've given away our country to the ANC."

     I'm not sure whether I should be ashamed of telling you that the emotion that that - maybe she misunderstood me when I said I was very emotional, maybe she thought I was aggressive because that's what comes through in the book. I was not aggressive, I cried, I cried like a kid. I cried that day. I said, "You sent in the kinders, the children, you sent in the children, you allowed the children to negotiate and they've given the country away. Why did you allow that?" That's how it started. Then eventually we first sat here in easy chairs, then we got up again, then he sat behind his desk and then he was sitting behind his desk when he asked, "What are you going to do?" I said, "I'm going down to Cape Town, we're going down to Cape Town, I will seek support, I tender my resignation from cabinet. I cannot agree to this."

POM     That's when you said you had the 17 members that you could muster?

TD     I said I will muster support not to give you the necessary majority. I need 17 members, I'm not sure, I'll have to check on that number.

POM     We'll check on all these things.

TD     Or maybe I didn't even tell him 17, I'll get the necessary number of votes from our people to vote down the constitution. I have to do it. Then he sat for some time and he said, "But I have already committed myself, colleague, to Mandela, I have accepted these proposals. This is the deal. You've got to accept it. There is no turning back." Then I said, "Well that's the hard decision I have to take." I am now trying, I'm condensing of course because, I don't know, but that discussion at the very minimum it was thirty minutes but the essence was that he then said, "But then I've accepted it, we're going to accept it at CODESA. Then if it's voted down in parliament then you must surely realise that we will have a revolution in this country the very next day and that bloodshed will be on your hands." He said that and I realised that how do I persuade people that what I think will happen eventually will indeed happen? How do I - ?

POM     Which was?

TD     How sure am I that there's not going to be a glorious, wonderful end of the rainbow ahead of us? Who am I, Tersh Delport from Kirkwood, a small town in the Eastern Cape, to say that this is the grand mistake we make? Am I willing to, not to gamble, but to put at risk the future? It may be a wonderful future. I realised that should I accept and that's where I acquiesced and I accepted. Then we went down to Cape Town and in the caucus many people were waiting and expecting me to make some sort of a stand. I said nothing to him and in the caucus I got up, and that's the one little piece of paper - I had three or four points quickly written down because it was an emotional moment - but I remember distinctly that my first point was that I am not happy with this constitution, there are points that I'm not happy with. The second point was that we have accepted this constitution and the whole world was a witness, all the countries of the world were witnesses to the acceptance at Kempton Park. The third point, it would be a disaster now not to accept the constitution. Fourthly, there is a very great challenge ahead of us within the framework of this constitution that we have accepted to now make the best of the situation. Those four points were the main thrust of my little speech in the caucus of the party and that was the end of any possible reaction to or rejection of the constitution.

POM     How do you think FW will be remembered in history? Will history be kinder to him than the present?

TD     It's very difficult to say it will depend on what will become of SA. Are we going to become a typical African state or will SA really be the catalyst to take Africa out of its doom and gloom? Or is Africa not doom and gloom? Am I maybe wrong? Maybe it's a wonderful place, I don't know. I look to the north and I say heaven forbid that we become a typical Uganda or whatever. Maybe I'm wrong.

POM     I asked Jakes Gerwel today what of this administration, what should it be most proud of or what had been its biggest contribution to change in SA? He kept coming back to the constitution and saying we have a constitution that is among the best in the world, we have a bill of rights, we have a Constitutional Court, we have checks and balances that are in place and we have managed to take what was a very unstable situation in 1992/93 and turn it into a nation building exercise where there is stability, where the rule of law is the rule of law, where nobody need be afraid of the abuse of the law, but most importantly that we have put in place a constitution that we are all bound by and in that we are probably unique in SA, particularly in the detail in which the constitution is written even though most constitutional lawyers I talk to say a short constitution is the best constitution, you don't spell it out in every detail on 68 pages where it means everything can be challenged at every level. Do you regard stability, constitutionality, the fact things go before courts, can be challenged and openness as real gains for SA?

TD     It's not about abuse of law, it's about abuse of people by criminals. Despite the very nice beautiful constitution guaranteeing me all sorts of rights, even the right to life, people are murdered in their beds. Mandela sets free as a birthday gift, he sets free umpteen criminals and then they murder a farmer and his wife and other people in the most brutal way, some of those. I would like to take you - abuse of law? Go to our courts here in Port Elizabeth. I was speaking to one of my students the other day, he's now a very senior Regional Court Magistrate, he still calls me Prof. He says, "Prof. Tersh, our system of criminal justice is going to collapse totally. You don't get proper files from the police, you don't get the witnesses to attend court, you can't charge them. Eventually all you can do is withdraw the case or as a magistrate, if it comes up after five months for the seventeenth time the prosecutor asks to postpone, you say, I can't postpone the matter, case dismissed." He says, "We don't have the capacity any more, our police force is a disaster. There is no discipline, they don't come up with the support for the justice system that we need, in other words the witnesses there, the statements for the prosecutors." So, so much for the rule of law. The rule of law pre-supposed a system. The system is collapsing so where comes - is he from another planet Mr Jakes Gerwel? He must live on Mars or somewhere.

POM     What I want you to do if you would -

TD     I've taken one example now, the rule of law and you know it's shambles.

POM     This time round I have talked to George Fivaz for, I think, 1½ hours.

TD     Yes and he will say nothing.

POM     By the way we got into - I decided I would deal with him very aggressively and it became a funny kind of a conversation because after I went on the offensive right off the mark he began to halfway through change tone and, I don't know whether he was playing bad cop good cop, but I said this guy is going to take me to the cleaners because he's a professional.

TD     Who? George Fivaz?

POM     Yes.

TD     But he never says anything. I listened to him on the radio about the farm murders, what does he say? He says we've got to deal with the problem, we are really doing this. He says nothing.

POM     I'm going to see Sydney Mufamadi next week. Could you put down for me ten questions that you would think the most pertinent ten questions to ask him?

TD     But not now!

POM     Not now but fax them on to me before I see him.

TD     I can do that.

POM     In return for my asking those ten questions and giving you the ten responses to his questions you will give me a draft of the lecture that you're doing.

TD     My lecture!

POM     Negotiation, you see.

TD     Lessons from Kempton Park, South Africa.

POM     I would love to see that. I will never use it until, again, I publish something - you know that, you know me by now.

TD     I want to start lecturing, I want an invitation. That's the only prize I want for all the work that I've put in. I want to tell people about it. No, I want to talk about what I personally experienced and learnt from being thrown into top level negotiations with no experience, nothing, as a one-time academic now looking back on my own experience. What have I learnt? What can I tell? And illustrate it with the issues that were at stake at the time.

POM     I thought I was trying to draw that out of you all the time.

TD     Yes I know you were.

POM     I guess I haven't.

TD     OK, you've got it spread out but it needs to be, from that perspective it needs to be put in order.

POM     It's very necessary for you to go through the transcripts and in fact for me to be here to spend a day, if I come back even around Christmas, not to interview you again but to take the transcripts and they are all available to you.

TD     Now are you coming back in December?

POM     I will come back at Christmas or in January probably and then I will come back.

TD     Now what we do, we go out to Bushmans River Mouth where I've got my little holiday house right on the Bushmans River on the coast and we go there for two or three days, we go for four days, we work 12 hours and the rest we talk and we intellectually debate what we've done and then we have four bottles of red wine and enjoy it.

POM     That's good, on that you must have the last word. Now I've got to do my second job. At the University of Massachusetts it's now just six in the evening so now I've got to start another job to do over there, so now I start now for the next couple of hours. It's always an enormous pleasure to talk to you.

TD     Well I enjoy it because you force me - you know I've got to get on with my ordinary job all the time. Either I was in government or coping with this or that, now I'm a lawyer and a part-time politician, but you force me to think about what happens and I like that.

POM     Well I'm glad I've been able to force you, not through coercive means.

TD     I gave all my notes and papers and everything I donated to the University of the Free State.

POM     You did? OK, that's interesting. Their History of Contemporary - that's right. I went down and saw that, magnificent collection.

TD     Did you see my papers there?

POM     No I just went through, I just walked, Kobie Coetsee took me there. Which brings me now to maybe my last question. Where did Kobie end up in this whole equation? He was the person who kind of opened the door to Mandela and he feels that, again, the way he's been written about has maligned him or that he is portrayed as -

TD     Kobie is a very unlikely person to be a politician. His whole personality, everything, doesn't - well who am I to judge? But I wouldn't see him as a politician but he was a politician. Now he gets the blame for not getting complete amnesty for everyone, closing the book on the past. It was not Kobie's fault. No, it was his fault because of his way of dealing with things. Kobie didn't accept the fact that we were working on the self-imposed deadlines, that we accepted that the process will not determine the dates but that it was the other way round. So Kobie was thinking and sometimes he would be inaccessible for a week and he would be not in the office but working from home, planning, doing I don't know what, but Kobie was to the bitter end - he said we must have a general amnesty but it was taken from him. There was a big report, I wonder whether I've still got it somewhere, well I'll get it from Kobie, in the Sunday Times, I think in the Sunday Times where they said on the whole question of the amnesty and the political prisoners and whatever, that was at a very, very late state of the negotiations, they were on the verge of reaching a compromise between Roelf and Ramaphosa and Leon Wessels I think and whoever was this committee that had to negotiate, and they made certain proposals and then Kobie wrecked the negotiations. The heading was 'AMNESTY NEGOTIATIONS WRECKED BY COETSEE', because he insisted on a general amnesty for everyone including the security forces. So he gets the blame, but that whole thing it was not his doing because, remember, instead of the amnesty came the Truth & Reconciliation Commission. I was also against it. Who are the commissioners going to be? Who is going to be on the receiving end? Do we really think that everything will be exposed? From a practical point of view how can you imagine in ten years time with a permanent commission you can really go back thirty years in history and expose everything and get to the truth? As all of us who have been and are involved in court cases know that you need hours and hours of cross-examination of witnesses to come to a simple conclusion. The best this commission can achieve is to come up with some generalisation and then to pick on certain issues and certain people because remember it was - bear in mind it was said specifically they've got to finish the job, I think originally they said within one year. A Supreme Court case can drag on for more than a year and they want to examine South Africa's history and all the wrongdoings on whatever side also in a year. Two years, three years, it cannot be done.

POM     So you think he's being maligned?

TD     Yes.

POM     So what's his reputation? You said he's vocal. Vocal is a nice word. You sound almost Irish. We choose a word that can mean many things to many people, it depends upon how you interpret it.

X     Some of the leaders, especially when the leading party, the majority party is so big and everybody gets scared and sits down and they get quiet and they don't voice their concerns. They are quiet in their objections. It's not good but they are drifting along with it.

TD     So I was vocal, I was not silent.

X     You were not silent and that was good especially when we were outside and see some of the things that were done and without objection and people will tend to be like Mangope and they will build their own houses and renovate their own things and forget about us. But it's better if there is somebody who will raise the alarm and if there is something nasty going on to say it, they did that and they did that and then we know, because when they are outside and they seem to be more like - they are heroes - and we don't expect them to do other things but they did on our behalf on the other side.

TD     There is an important thing that you have now said. Are you saying it's good to have an opposition?

X     It's good to have an opposition, especially somebody who is not quiet because they may do things that we voted for them to do the good things for us but there are things that they are doing that we don't expect them to do and if the opposition party keeps quiet about those things we will never know and when somebody says to us it's them who did that and we will say no they would never have done something so bad. But if somebody then can be vocal and he heard it's good.

TD     But that's a very sound principle of democracy that he's now enunciating without having been trained in the niceties of democracy.

POM     How far is Motherwell? How far out is it?

X     When you come in with the N2 there is a Caltex garage.

TD     It's about, I would say about - from the centre of town.

POM     If you go home tonight, do you drive home?

X     Yes I go home, it's 30 minutes drive.

POM     30 minutes drive, OK.

X     If you drive 60/70.

POM     If you drive safely?

X     Yes.

POM     Another very, it's like the word 'vocal', if you drive 'safely'. Thank you very much.

TD     So that was a short interlude.

POM     Covering many of the same points. I want to go back a little bit to - well first what role do you expect to play in the Eastern Cape in the development of the DP?

TD     I don't know. I'll do it by instinct. I'm definitely not into -

POM     How do you and Tony Leon get along?

TD     Very, very well, very well. In December last year when I decided I'm going to resign from the NP I phoned him. I said to him, "Tony, I'm going to resign, that decision stands. Now either I just disappear from politics or if you want me I would like to offer you what little bit of experience and expertise I have, I'd like to join the party if you want me." And he flew down from Jo'burg two days later, spent the whole day with me, and we took the opportunity to cover a very, very broad range of questions, of policies and whatever and then after that the decision was made and we waited for the right time because I was talking to quite a number of city councillors and other prominent people and when I resigned they defected with me, so I brought over about 30 prominent NP members, very prominent, when I resigned and crossed over to the DP. I mean prominent here in Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage, the immediate area. Shortly afterwards Rina Venter also joined the DP.

POM     Who is she?

TD     She was Minister of Health in the De Klerk cabinet.

POM     In the provincial administration, she was an MEC?

TD     No, she was national.

POM     Under the De Klerk administration?

TD     Yes, yes, in the De Klerk cabinet. About three weeks, I don't know, but shortly after I joined she, I don't want to say followed, but she also resigned and joined the DP. She's from Gauteng, Pretoria.

POM     Well I would think that Sam de Beer's resignation would send shock waves through what's left of the NP.

TD     Absolutely.

POM     I mean this is a major stronghold of the Transvaal saying I'm shifting. I can't find anybody in the NP to interview any more, there's no-one left.

TD     Nobody from the old school.

POM     But nobody from the new school either.

TD     No, there the leaders were of course De Klerk himself, Barend du Plessis, Leon Wessels, he's not there, Roelf is not there, Olaf van Zyl at provincial level he's not there, now Sam de Beer. Sheila?

POM     Sheila's my last one. I did this marvellous interview with her last year when she was torn between what moves she was going to make and she knew naturally that she was on the side of Roelf and Sam. It was like she was trying to be loyal to De Klerk who had given her opportunity. So she's got to decide, I told her the other day, between high ambitions in a party that's becoming irrelevant or shift mode if you want to be relevant.

TD     Yes, she wants to.

POM     Now I want to go back to what we were saying, once again deal with the past, and one is that when you talked about the Record of Understanding and you saw the Record of Understanding as a sell-out, what particular items in the Record of Understanding did you regard as the NP caving in to the ANC?

TD     The whole Record of Understanding was about one thing only, that was the principle, accepting the principle of deadlock breaking mechanisms. Let's go back to CODESA 2, what was our grand strategy, let's call it the Viljoen strategy. We said, OK you as ANC, we are now here, you want we close down the parliament, we elect the Constituent Assembly. That's the last act and a Constituent Assembly will draw up a new constitution. Now we knew who was going to be the majority, the ANC. So what we were then saying, ANC what they wanted, draw up the new constitution in the Constituent Assembly. So we argued and I argued this specifically as our defence with Joe Slovo for hours, I said you're creating a vacuum because there will be period where we will not have a constitution. So we came up at CODESA 1, De Klerk proposed our plan to bridge that vacuum. We said, OK let this parliament draw up, enact, we have CODESA, we agree on a constitution, this parliament puts into operation a constitution, that constitution is an interim constitution, the new parliament elected is also the Constituent Assembly but then you don't have a Constituent Assembly in a vacuum without any constitution. It is part of the constitution, it is within the parameters of a constitution. Then that interim constitution they can amend, they can change it.

     Then we got to the numbers. OK, let's accept a two thirds majority, 75% majority, we agree by consensus in CODESA on an interim constitution which is then enacted by parliament and then in that Constituent Assembly which is also parliament, elected in terms of this, you will need - and then we argued about 75%, 70%, two thirds majority to change that constitution and we were on the verge of accepting, we were playing with 75%, 70%, two thirds, when the ANC realised, listen carefully, that they would need a two thirds or whatever majority to change it, not to make a new constitution. Yes, to make a new constitution, but making a new one would be to change the constitution because that one will stand, that interim constitution that was brought about by consensus, until you have a two thirds majority to change that interim constitution and there is a vast difference between having nothing - now for everything I want in I need a two thirds majority. So if I want in my bill of rights to protect ownership I need a two thirds majority for it whilst if we agree by consensus I will not give consent here in CODESA unless, I'm just taking ownership as an example, ownership is protected. So I get ownership in because I withhold my consent unless it's in. Now it's in, now whoever wants to change that and take it away needs a two thirds majority.

     Look at it the other way around, the ANC reasoning, you have nothing, you have only an Act that says there will be a Constituent Assembly. A Constituent Assembly is elected, now I stand up and I say I want ownership in, protection of ownership. OK my boy, you need a two thirds majority to get it in, so we don't get it in because we don't have a two thirds majority in favour of ownership. So out of the window with that one. So we want in some way to protect the right of language and culture and whatever. OK, is there a two thirds majority? No. Out of the window. Back to what our grand strategy said, we persuaded them with other arguments about a vacuum but we agree on a constitution, then it can be changed by two thirds only. And when the ANC realised that, I have the admission in writing and it was later on this programme of the BBC, they also admitted. They said in so many words, we had them in a corner because we would have enshrined an interim constitution, as they put it, from which there would have been no escape because they would never get a two thirds majority, well they doubted whether they would have a two thirds majority to change anything, that we by withholding consent we got in. So our grand strategy was once you've got consent, we have the power to withhold consent so we only consent to what we find acceptable, thereafter they need a two thirds majority to change it.

     So then they proposed at CODESA 2, and I'm covering the same ground again, six months after this new parliament sits as a Constituent Assembly and they don't reach agreement by two thirds, then there must be deadlock breaking mechanisms, then there's a deadlock. We said, no not a deadlock, then you've got a constitution, you need two thirds to change it. They said, no, then there's a deadlock and then there will be deadlock breaking mechanisms which they then proposed, then there's a new election and thereafter you write it by a simple majority. So that whole CODESA exercise was about who was going to write the final constitution. It was not about enshrining this and that and that. It was an interim thing in terms of - so we said so be it, we don't accept that two thirds majority then deadlock breaking mechanism. That was the deadlock in CODESA, stalemate. I said, then so be it, then you walk out, that's the end of it, do your damnedest.

     Then the Roelf/Ramaphosa, so called 'channel' started, and what was the important outcome and the sell-out, one of the points was it was accepted in the Record of Understanding that there will be deadlock breaking mechanisms. They accepted it, but the principle - we said if you can't get two thirds we stay as we are, we stay with this concept. They said if we don't get two thirds acceptance within six months or whatever then there's deadlock breaking. I said what will this deadlock breaking mechanism, what's it going to be? Eventually it was agreed, and I knew the moment you accept deadlock breaking mechanisms the whole grand strategy is undermined, it's gone. So I asked in our deliberations, an election and then this and that, once again what's your bottom line? If you don't agree, if you don't take what you can get you go to an election? No, yes, election and if you still don't agree then you go to a referendum. I said, OK, and you must achieve then two thirds. Now they up a constitution without protection of minority rights, of ownership and now we have to go out there and argue, this is a wonderful constitution but please people don't vote for it because ownership of the rich is not protected. We haven't got a snowball's hope to by way of a referendum keep away or undermine a two thirds majority acceptance by referendum. So then I knew, the final whistle has blown, you know what you do against thunder, it's goodbye, you must take the best you can.

     So what was my approach and what's my approach now? After 1994, the importance of the constitution has shifted to the role of political parties within that constitution. What can I do now within that constitution, within that constitution to bring about good governance? And I say I don't like the ANC for the way in which they're running the country so I am out to assist bringing about, within that constitution, not by force of the constitution, but by making use of the popular vote to bring about multi-party democracy.

POM     Did FW make a mistake when he walked out of the government of national unity?

TD     I think he was forced to. It was a desperate attempt to regain some credibility. I was in favour of walking out, not because I think in principle it was the right thing to do but because he had surrounded himself in the cabinet with -

POM     That's in the government of national unity cabinet?

TD     Yes in the government of national unity. But the NP representatives were people that were not up to it too and they did not stand up. In the meantime Tony Leon was standing up but they were just playing footsie-footsie with the ANC and people like Dawie de Villiers, I've yet to hear Dawie de Villiers today speaking out against anything that the ANC government did. And Pik, who is Pik? I need not comment any more than saying Pik is Pik, Pik Botha. He's a survivor. We had nothing, nobody in that government of national unity with any - and Roelf was in any event, as he was called in ANC circles 'Ramaphosa's boy', and some other deputy ministers, they had nobody, nobody that really showed any backbone or any appreciation for the fact that we had to be the guardians of some basic principles.

POM     Is it not that three of your major negotiators on the NP side, that would be Gerrit Viljoen, Barend du Plessis and Stoffel van der Merwe, all quit? Did they quit by accident or as it was said, 'for reasons of health'?

TD     Viljoen was health, no doubt about it. I think Barend de Plessis was health but as a result of - please this is off the record.

POM     I know there were some scandals.

TD     [It's not scandals, it's just that he had a very difficult family situation, you know they divorced later, in later years, and do you know his wife after the divorce, recently she married Adriaan Vlok. She's now Mrs Vlok. You do find it somewhat amusing don't you? I think there was a lot of pressure on Barend. He became a minister at a very young age and I think the pressure on his family, as he said to me when he resigned, he said to me, "I haven't even watched my son my playing rugby now for three, four years." I think family pressure was part of the pressure on him and he couldn't cope eventually with that sort of pressure.]

POM     I see him every year, I still talk to him since he was Minister of Finance and when I met him when he was Minister for Finance he was what in American terms would be called 'the most stressed out person' you could meet. He was uptight and defensive in his answers, even about finance and now he's most relaxed, amicable. It's just a complete change not just in personality but in the way he sees and thinks about things. He and Van Zyl Slabbert do a lot of business together.

TD     Yes they're doing business.

POM     But that's interesting that his ex-wife is now Mrs Vlok. I love these inter-ties because the same thing operates on the ANC side, on the relationship between the Buthelezi family and the Luthuli family and how Gatsha was a protégé of Dr Luthuli and was like somebody being nurtured for the highest and the best positions. Sometimes I think this whole thing is all about family arguments.

TD     To a certain extent.  But Stoffel was in fact axed. There was no pressure or health problems, he was just removed, like I - I was not removed. You know people think that I was the chief negotiator. Viljoen was the chief negotiator. I was in that particular study, in that particular group, I was his understudy, his assistant and when he collapsed I simply continued because in any event at that stage he was not - he played a more back-room role because each negotiating group had an executive and he preferred me to sit in on the executive, the sort of day to day hard negotiations that sat for hours and hours and then report back and so on. So I was in that position and I was just fortunately or unfortunately in that position, that was where the whole crisis about the deadlock arose.  But, yes, I think at that stage most people in the NP at any event accepted that I was sort of in charge, although I was never in charge. What they thought was going to happen was that I would take the chair but then it was given to Roelf. That's where our ways parted because even that day when I said no, with the sanction of the whole cabinet Roelf was egging me on and said, "Accept the principle of - "

POM     That's when you said no to?

TD     To this deadlock breaking mechanism thing.

POM     OK, yes. This was at CODESA 1, just  before Boipatong

TD     CODESA 2. And Roelf was saying, "Accept the deadlock breaking mechanisms." I reacted in very strong terms because I had the full cabinet, De Klerk, Botha all said, after I explained to them, they said, "Say no, say no."

POM     Was that the full cabinet? They said no?

TD     Yes. I mean I didn't say no on my own, we rejected it. I was still a deputy minister, I was not even a full minister. Or was I a minister? I'm not sure, can't remember.

POM     What was the role of Fanie van der Merwe in this whole process?

TD     Fanie was a facilitator, he was not a negotiator. He was Chief Advisor to the government, Chief Constitutional Advisor. Fanie's attitude was: I will sum up with two statements both off the record. Both in the jet that used to take us up and down between Cape Town and Kempton Park, the President's jet, small jet, the one was that when he said one night - because often we would sit until ten o'clock and then go to the airport and we would fly down to Cape Town to be in a cabinet meeting the next morning and come back - one night he said to me, and I can't recall who were the others present as we were flying, you know we would get to the plane at eleven o'clock maybe and get on to it and in the air and then they would serve a late supper and coffee or whatever, he said what this country now needs is a strong ANC government, it's the only way to go forward. The other important thing that I remember that's typical of his approach was, was any agreement we can get today will be better than what we can get tomorrow. Fanie was also instrumental, very much so, in advising for setting dates. He proposed we must now take the initiative and set dates. I did believe it that those were the ANC, never our initiative, because my attitude was and I said it three, four, five, ten times, the process must dictate the dates, the dates must not dictate the process. But we set the dates, we fell for that trap every time even setting a deadline, even an election date was set when the most crucial issues were still outstanding. That was one of the things that I learnt that I'm including in my, hopefully, lecture, is the importance of guarding against or doing it from your side, taking out the crucial issues, getting agreement on all the soft issues, then leaving the hard issues, including in them, let us say, six hard issues, include three where you are willing to compromise and then you come up with a so-called, right in the end, with a so-called package deal. I offer a package to you, I give you these three and I take these three, and that was exactly what happened right in the end.

POM     So which were the soft three?

TD     Well it was power sharing, the hard one, I'll have to get back to you, I can't even recall what were the outstanding, all the outstanding issues. I know amnesty was the one. Secondly, there was the whole concept of power sharing in the cabinet. There was one on the languages. That I would say was a soft one. The hard ones were no doubt amnesty and power sharing. The languages - you know I will have to think hard.

POM     OK I'll come back to you, because you and I have got to at some point go through all these interviews where you've got to spend a day because it's history and it's got to be correct. If it's not correct then it's dismissed as being this is what he half remembered and he got half of it wrong.

TD     But I'm so glad, I think many of these things are on record in your interviews but I will have to check and re-check them.

POM     I will go through doing that, going through every sentence I want to use and saying is this accurate in terms of the way you said it or was there a word mis-transcribed or were you actually saying this when it came out the other way. It's deadly important. Just a couple more things and I will let you go. This is on your meeting with FW. It says that at the cabinet meeting it was reduced eventually to how decisions would be made and you had a meeting with De Klerk, the crucial last cabinet meeting, and you said, "That was the crucial one about power sharing. He presented it as 'between Mandela and myself we have reached an understanding'."  My question then to you, "That's Roelf's talk". And your answer was, "Roelf, yes, but FW endorsed it." And I said, "Now why?" You said, "Because if we start with a two thirds or whatever majority it means that the cabinet will start on the basis that we are always seeking the necessary majority for decisions and it will cause strife and it can't work. Rather we will write in that the cabinet will always endeavour to achieve consensus so that a tradition of consensus seeking is built in cabinet and that's far better." Now when he said, "Myself and Mandela have reached an understanding", the question I wrote down this evening was: do you think Mandela reneged on that understanding or that FW misunderstood what the understanding was? Many believe that De Klerk believed, many people I've talked to believe that De Klerk believed that even as Deputy President he would still be able to manage things from behind the scenes, manage the process and he would still be able to control Mandela when in fact Mandela was miles ahead of him.

TD     He played with him. Mandela played with him, he toyed with him.

POM     Can you say that so I can hear it on the tape rather than having Judy strain and strain and strain her ears to say, "What did he say, what did he say?"

TD     But I don't want that to go on record.  [Off the record I think Mandela toyed with him.] FW was so anxious to get a settlement that's acceptable and that will be in the interests of SA and he was so idealistic that he never even gave it a thought. What if Mandela died the next day? Who is the successor? It could be anyone. It could be someone that kicked him out, that reneged on any promise. I thought he was very unrealistic but I think he was so pressed to believe that everything will go well, so I think he would have believed anything.

POM     Do you think he misunderstood Mandela?

TD     I'm not sure, I don't know because I wasn't present when they talked but I don't know whether he misunderstood him. I don't know whether there was mutual misunderstanding. One could imagine Mandela saying that we will run this country, in the same vein that he would say to Willem De Klerk, Wimpie De Klerk, there is no problem joining the ANC and we will all be happy, one big happy family. In other words we will together, we will run the country, we will decide, of course you will support me in my decisions. I think Mandela's concept of the role he saw for De Klerk differed radically from what De Klerk thought. FW thought that he was, as you've put it, he would be able to manage things behind the scenes. Mandela thought De Klerk would support him, De Klerk would come around to realise that he has no option and I will treat him nicely and listen to him and he will see things my way.

POM     But he's also my Deputy President and as my Deputy President he must -

TD     He is my assistant.

POM     That's right and therefore he must accept my decisions rather than -

TD     Yes, than trying to manipulate me. I don't think Mandela ever gave it a thought that De Klerk may well be trying to manipulate him or, not manipulate maybe, but steering him in a certain direction. He saw De Klerk as his deputy and in fact he made it clear at a very early stage 'my junior deputy, my second Deputy President', because he gave the unofficial title to Thabo as First Deputy and De Klerk was Second Deputy President. After all the Second Deputy, you can't imagine for one moment the Second Deputy to be a real force. So I think there was maybe a mutual misunderstanding stemming from, coming from two totally different worlds. They were worlds apart in terms of how they saw the future.

POM     I'll let you go in a couple of minutes because I know you're tired and then you have to pick me up in the morning. I can get a taxi, you don't have to come - be honest about it.

TD     No, I won't allow that.

POM     Again, this is one of things I want to clarify with you and maybe when you get the transcript and read it, the last transcript, this is when you said you've allowed the little sissies to take over, we talked for half an hour or whatever, and I said, "What did he say?" He says, "Well he pointed out, he asked how do I see things. I said I will go back to parliament and get the necessary, I think it was 17 votes, that we needed to vote against the constitution." Was that 17 votes?

TD     In the NP.

POM     Within your party, within the caucus.

TD     I will have to check on the exact figure. I think it was 17.

POM     That's important, but, again, the exactitude of those things are important. Is it 17 votes within the caucus of the parliamentary NP?

TD     It may have been 15 or 13, but it's 17 or thereabouts, but within the NP caucus.

POM     You talked about Viljoen's book, what book is that? You said, "There's one thing that stands out to my credit, or rather in Viljoen's book, because he always said to me there was one thing that you brought into our - "

TD     Oh, in Viljoen's mind. It's an expression, that's in Afrikaans, in my boek, in my book, in my view, in my perception. That 'book' is an Afrikanism, it means in his perception.

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.