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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

17 Aug 1998: Konigkramer, Arthur

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POM     We spent the last four days in Richmond looking at the situation.

AK     Can you tell us what's happening?

POM     I was going to ask you. I met the notorious Mr Nkabinde who is a very impressive person.

AK     Why do you say he's notorious?

POM     Notorious in the neutral sense, not in the way -

AK     He's a man of exceptional intelligence.

POM     He came across that way.

AK     A very, very astute individual.

POM     He came across as straight, as honest, as non-evasive, as answering every question as directly as one possibly could answer a question and it was a very good meeting. I also met with the Mayor, met with the Superintendent, the new Commissioner Engelbrecht.

AK     Bushy Engelbrecht?

POM     No not Bushy, his name is Riaan. And with Superintendent Pretorius and another Superintendent who was very helpful - McEverly. He took us out one night in one of their nine-ton trucks to see what measures they were putting into operation. I don't know whether we came away any wiser as to what the root cause of -

AK     It won't stop.

POM     It won't stop?

AK     No.

POM     Who is it between? One of the questions that I asked people, that is supporters of Mr Nkabinde, was, is your loyalty to Mr Nkabinde or is it to the UDM and invariably everyone answered it was to Mr Nkabinde.

AK     There's no doubt about that. As we agreed he's a man of enormous intelligence and he's also a very charismatic leader. But I don't think it's worthwhile to argue as to who the fight is between, what parties. At the end of the day what's happened at Richmond, it goes back to the arming of those people in the 1980s and the ANC allowing the SDUs to run riot for more than a decade and covering it up and then of course when they started fighting among themselves then they wanted to try and keep it under the covers for a while and that didn't work and at the moment it's still the same thing. By removing the police there all they are doing effectively is trying to put a cover on the past and it won't work. Those people who were responsible for arming those groups must own up. They know who they are, it's exactly as we're discussing with Gerry Adams. Gerry Adams knows who those terrorists are as do the ANC know who those people are. They know exactly who they are, they know their names, they know what weapons they gave them and that's the only way. If they want to solve that problem it's no good taking the police out, you've got to take those people that you armed out. That's the only thing that will stop that problem.

POM     One thing where I fault the ANC is their refusal to talk, by saying this is just criminal.

AK     But you know we've spoken about this so long. I took part in an enquiry there for 18 months, for 18 months the ANC protected Nkabinde with everything they had including Becky Cele in parliament who used every trick in the book, John Jeffrey who's an Attorney used every trick in the book to stop that enquiry, protecting Nkabinde. So why now all of a sudden is he now enemy number one?

POM     To protect him from?

AK     What we were asking for was a Commission of Enquiry into Richmond which they resisted for 18 months because they knew it was Nkabinde and those people in the SDUs who were doing the killing and who were destabilising that area. Then when that enquiry got to the point where they realised the truth was going to come out they tried to solve the problem by expelling Nkabinde and then all of a sudden he becomes enemy number one and they won't talk to him. And that's not going to work because in fact Nkabinde has got more support there than the ANC, for that reason alone it won't work because he can't be wished away. I don't particularly like Nkabinde, he's done the most horrible things, but the reality is that he is a man of huge influence and the only way is to talk to him. There is no other solution. He's not going to go away, that's the reality.

POM     He was very clear in saying that he didn't blame the ANC as an organisation for the massacres.

AK     Well who does he blame?

POM     Well besides the third force there is a new phrase in the lexicon, it's called 'sinister forces'.

AK     It's all the same. I've told you before if there is a third force in Richmond its name is the African National Congress and if there is a sinister force it's the African National Congress. That is a reality and it can be proved empirically. Bantu Holomisa two weeks ago revealed in the Sunday Tribune that he had armed the ANC there through Jeff Radebe, the current Minister of Public Works. Chris Hani armed those people including Nkabinde. Now until such time as you've got the moral courage to come out and say we armed those people and it was wrong and you remove those people there, whom they know, it will not go away.

     You remember last time we discussed Bob Ndlovo who has now been convicted of murder and is in jail but the police were looking for him for more than a year. There was a R300,000 price on his head and yet the SANDF were meeting with him all the time. So one arm of the security forces said he's the most wanted criminal in KwaZulu/Natal and the other half is meeting with him. When I wrote to Ronnie Kasrils, three times, he refused to answer. Eventually he wrote me a letter, which is one of the things I will treasure, he wrote a letter to me saying, "We don't reveal our sources." Now what's that got to do with it? All I asked him was, did your officers, did they or did they not meet with Bob Ndlovo? Now what's that got to do with protecting your sources? It's either yes or no, what's it got to do with sources? But the reason is quite simple because the man that was meeting them was a man by the name of - there were two people there, there was Skhosana and - his name will come to me in a moment.

POM     Yes, his name came up yesterday.

AK     It was him and Captain Shaba. Now both those people are former officers of the Transkei Defence Force and those are the people that armed all the SDU members in there and the reason Shaba and Skhosana were meeting with Bob Ndlovo, who was an SDU commander, is because they were trying to cover up that whole network because they armed them, they knew exactly who they were and yet he refused to acknowledge. Now I can understand his refusal because it's actually breaking the law, that's why. Because you can't have the police saying this is the most wanted criminal and put a R300,000 price on his head and yet the SANDF, which is the army of the country, is meeting with the man. I mean it's absurd but that's what was happening and it happened over months. So it's just been covered up and until they know exactly who the people are - I could go on, we've been through this all before. If there's a third force then why did the ANC give Nkabinde the freedom of Richmond. Did the third force give him the freedom of Richmond or did the ANC do it? Becky Cele who is the Chairman of the Portfolio Committee he was personally present so is he a member of the third force? It's ridiculous, it's absolutely ridiculous.

POM     Now he says that the UDM or his supporters and the IFP work very closely together, that they're free to move about in his stronghold in Magoda.

AK     Yes, that is a thing - as I said I led a parliamentary investigation into Nkabinde for 18 months so he's no friend of mine, in fact what I was trying to do is to bring out their role in the violence. But what I must say, and one's got to hand that to Nkabinde whether you agree or disagree with him, is that he has sat down and said look this has got to come to an end and he did begin peace talks with the IFP and remember it was him and his people who were killing the IFP, dozens and dozens of them. That is a positive move. That's why we as a party, wearing a political hat, and this is why we have consistently said and have placed advertisements to that effect, that we believe that the ANC must talk to each other. That's the only way that will stop it. And it's no good, again, they now say, "We don't talk to gangsters." Well why did they give a gangster the freedom of Richmond? You can't have it both ways. It's ridiculous.

POM     In his house he's got all these citations from the ANC.

AK     Jacob Zuma personally, under his own signature, appointed him to the Peace Committee. Now if this man is a gangster then is Jacob Zuma a member of the third force? No, really, they test your patience.

POM     One of his theories to explain his 'predicament' is to lay the blame on Jacob Zuma and say that he was becoming a power on his own in the province, that he was a hard-liner, one of the last of maybe Harry Gwala's protégés.

AK     Are you telling me that Jacob Zuma isn't a hard-liner?

POM     Well I don't know. He said he was increasingly standing up to Zuma and Zuma started to unload him.

AK     Well that may or may not be so but that's not the issue and that's internal politics. But the issue is, who was responsible for the violence? That's the issue, and they protected Nkabinde for 18 months.

POM     While you were conducting your enquiry?

AK     Yes.

POM     Is your report on -

AK     Yes, I think we've given those to you. It went on for 18 months.

POM     Can I get hold of that?

AK     There was a report, a one or two pager calling on the government to appoint a Commission of Enquiry but the ANC again, and this is not a matter of opinion, go to the record and you will see it, they consistently opposed that and then they argued that KZN never had the constitutional power to appoint Commissions of Enquiry. This is their formal point which they put in writing. And to this day there has been no Commission of Enquiry into it. Why not? Why has the national government, if the national government - they kept saying it must be referred to the Police Directorate and so on, which is all part of a cover up.

POM     What does this mean, looking at the larger picture in terms of elections coming up next year?

AK     You mean Richmond?

POM     Not just Richmond but is Richmond a flash point? Are there many other flash points?

AK     No there are many, many other flash points but I don't think that's the issue. You know there are already attempts by the ANC that we strongly condemn S'bu Ndebele has issued a statement saying that if there are no free elections in KZN there will be no elections. Now that's a direct threat and we know why he's making it, because he knows he's going to lose the election. It's as simple as that. Given the situation as it is in SA today you're not going to have elections that are completely free of intimidation. We haven't reached that stage yet, it's happening everywhere, but it will be like 1994. I think in general it will be conducted peacefully and the real issue with regard to Richmond and other areas in KZN, and I think this is why the ANC is putting so much energy into it, is that the UDM are going to take a very substantial slice of the vote. I would estimate at least 10%. Now that's bad news for the ANC.

POM     That's in KZN?

AK     No I think nationally.

POM     Nationally?

AK     In KZN they may even take - well it will be somewhere around there. Now if you remember that the ANC got I think 31% of the vote, 26 seats, so you take 10% that will reduce them to maybe about 25 members of parliament and I think that's what's going to happen.

POM     I was down in Port Elizabeth just before I went to Richmond and the sentiment for Holomisa was really quite astonishing.

AK     Oh yes, they're going to take the Eastern Cape. There's no doubt. That's the man's stomping ground.

POM     They've now pulled in Sam de Beer which is almost the end of the Nats.

AK     But they were a spent force anyway. De Beer is just a phenomenon, I don't think he has any special -

POM     But it's symbolic.

AK     Oh yes, we've been through that before. But the NP really is - it will be nothing more than a footnote in history. It's probably going to end up with about 14%, 15% of the vote. Maybe even less. But the next time round it will be less. It has no capacity to grow.

POM     Let me move back a little bit, the last time I talked to you or the time before, you were very disillusioned with what was going on in the IFP and the internal intrigue and the way you were being treated and where at that point you were even considering just throwing the towel in and getting out of politics altogether. Now you sound totally different.

AK     No, no, that doesn't change. I'm not talking about my own - I can have my own perspectives on what's happening in politics without involving myself. No, I don't wish to stand again in elections, that hasn't changed.

POM     You're not going to stand again?

AK     I don't think so unless there's something very dramatic, no. There's nothing changed.

POM     Nothing's changed.

AK     It's not my game anyway, I don't like it. I don't like politics. There are much more meaningful things to do in life.

POM     Well you've made your contribution.

AK     Yes, maybe, small as it might be. No I think there are bigger things. I've said these things before, at the end of the day in SA unless you get this economy moving there will be no future, it doesn't matter what political party you belong to.

POM     GEAR isn't working.

AK     GEAR isn't working and it won't work. I think you cannot build a democracy with 30% of the people unemployed. It's impossible and particularly if you graft that on to huge expectations, correct expectations after 1994 and I think that's what's going on in the country. Now unless you get a government that is prepared to actually face the economic realities and not protect people in sheltered employment in government and people in the trade unions, a sort of labour aristocracy that's just looking after itself, what's happening is that you're getting the economic cake which is not growing, in fact it might even be shrinking and you get fewer and fewer people taking ever more of the cake. Now that can't work. The only way to promote growth is you've actually got to grow the economy and I think in a very small way, I don't have any delusions or illusions, but if I went out into the private sector and created thirty jobs, that's meaningful because it means that thirty people who haven't got a job have now got a job and if other people did that then you would begin to see real progress.

     For example, let's look at the informal sector, I simply cannot - I've spoken about this in parliament so often - I can't understand what our government and the national government are doing because the informal sector, which is one of the great phenomena of our times, where probably between 20% and 30% of the people that are now in formal employment work in the informal sector. In other words they've helped themselves to ...  and this is the real tragedy, is all these people are doing is they are engaged in either selling, in other words in retailing, and if you look carefully, go on the street, go outside Ilanga and have a look and I do it very often, every morning I go and look at the labels, and you will see it's made in Taiwan, made in Korea. And there's a smart businessman around town who is (a) breaking the law and importing stuff without authority, he's not paying his tax and he's actually cheating because those poor people down there, they don't have any options. So it's that, the one is in retailing and the other sectors are in the provision of services, fixing shoes, cutting hair, that's superb but they're not growing the economy.

POM     No jobs being created.

AK     What you need to do, what we as a government need to do is to go to those ladies down there and we should take those people off the street, we should take them into training, we should teach them how to make dresses because they have demonstrated an ability to run a business. So if you just went one step further and taught them how to sew, taught them how to cure leather, then you're beginning to really grow the economic cake and then things will start moving but this is just an ever diminishing cake and ultimately, as you well know, look at what's happening, if you keep fleecing the rich and the enterprising all they will do is they'll just go, that's all. And then what?

POM     Let me ask you, if the NP is becoming a footnote in history and the ANC remains the ascendant party for the foreseeable future -

AK     No, no, I think that's a bad choice of words, it's not going to be an ascending party. It's going to decline. It will get less.

POM     But it will still be the -

AK     Yes but that's not ascending, that's descending. It will be the leading party.

POM     The ascendant, not ascending.

AK     Bad choice of words.

POM     That it's going to be the  majority party for a considerable period of time.

AK     Not necessarily.

POM     Well without the break-up of the alliance where do the IFP fit into this?

AK     No, no, I think it is perfectly conceivable that the ANC in 1999 could get less than 50% of the vote, that could happen. That's not impossible. That means that the combined opposition has got the same amount of votes. Now that has very serious political implications for the ruling party because it means one thing, that if you don't change the next time round you're going to have even less and with a real possibility of being unseated. So in my judgement if you look carefully - why do you think, for example, Thabo Mbeki is courting the IFP? That's the reason. He knows, the main reason is, he knows that given the fact that he may end up with 50% of the vote he would like to be able to count on the IFP to form a government of national unity which I think is going to happen. So he's actually, I think, acting very intelligently. Now if he doesn't make fundamental shifts in policy after 1999 he will be thrown out and it could well be before the five year period is up because I really don't believe that unless the government engages in a radical transformation which will cause the economy to begin to grow I think they are going to find it increasingly difficult to manage the security situation and they certainly will find it very difficult to manage - I mean already you have situations where they are unable to pay the pensioners and the reality is in our hospitals today you can go to the hospitals in the rural area, people are being turned away, there's no medicine. That's a fact. You know it. And no people will put up with that indefinitely.

POM     Let's go back to the IFP and the ANC and this courting of the IFP by the ANC. In a way to me it looks almost like a form of co-option or attempted co-option, the hand is out to Chief Buthelezi that you may be Deputy President, you're going to end your career as a statesman, travel around the world, stand in for Thabo and make all kinds of statements and your stature as a national figure is finally stamped with the seal of approval. What pressures exist within the party to entertain the idea of some kind of, if not merger, post-election alliance?

AK     No.

POM     It won't happen? Why?

AK     There are elements in what you're saying which I am sure people may think and maybe there's a measure of truth in it but that's not the real issue. The real issue is that the ANC is staring defeat in the face. It knows that's the reality. It's not co-option. The ANC knows that it has a real chance of getting less than 50% of the vote and the next time round, as I said, it will get even less. So it's not a question of co-option, it's a question of survival.

POM     But at the same time the IFP in most opinion surveys, its national support is diminishing, not increasing. It's increasingly perceived as a regional party, the party that -

AK     That's what they said in 1994 as well.

POM     Well in 1994 the ANC, to this day when I talk to people in the ANC, they passionately believe, passionately believe they won, that the election was stolen and that it will not happen again.

AK     That of course is hogwash. If anything they got more votes, they were given more votes than they actually had. We have been through this, if you go through the files. In the north of KZN for example Judge Kriegler awarded the votes on the basis of generality. In other words it wasn't the real figures. You remember? If you go back - and in many of those areas the IFP won up to 90% of the vote, so that is nonsense. Look, I will put my head on a block and I will tell you that the ANC are going to get a thrashing in 1999 in KZN. You saw this morning's article in the Natal Mercury?

POM     No, we just drove from Richmond.

AK     They say that the IFP slipped from 51% to 47% but that the ANC has slipped by more than 10%, which I think is accurate. In my judgement I would say that the IFP will get between 55% and 60% of the vote and the ANC will end up with maybe 24%, 25% thereabouts.

POM     That's in KZN. Nationally what do you think?

AK     It's early days yet. On the national level things are so fluid that if I had to hazard a guess I would say that the IFP will come out with the same, 10%, 12% thereabouts.

POM     What they had before.

AK     Yes.

POM     Now if the NP falls to 14% or 15%, the DP is -

AK     The support will go to them and the Freedom Front and the IFP will pick up some of those votes.

POM     And the UDM?

AK     The UDM will take, I believe, 10% nationally and they will take that at the expense of the ANC.

POM     So that would leave the ANC with less than -

AK     50%. Well they will be in that area, they will be around the 50% mark. Last time they got 62%. So they would probably get 52%, 48%, 49% in that area. Let's say 48% to 62% I think.

POM     So under what conditions, if the announced intention of the ANC is to secure more than two thirds of the vote?

AK     That is an inordinately stupid thing to have said because if anything is going to cost them votes it's that, and that among all South Africans.

POM     Because it would allow them to amend the constitution almost at will.

AK     But if they can't manage the country now then manifestly they have failed to do it, what right minded person is going to give them even more power. It's illogical, it won't happen.

POM     One could say, if one looks at the government of KZN and compares it to the performance of the national government on about every index the performance of the government here would be poorer than the national government.

AK     No, I don't believe that. There are huge problems, let's admit that, but no I wouldn't accept that.

POM     On what basis?

AK     Let's just take the main ones.

POM     Education?

AK     OK, and who has caused the problems in education?

POM     Well one wants to blame Bengu but on the other hand -

AK     Exactly. No, it is. There are problems in KZN but the main problem lies with the national government that wants to dominate and dictate everything from Pretoria. That's the reality. You must also remember that we in KZN had more problems than anybody else in the field of education and the reasons are very simple. First of all we are the most populous province. Secondly, we had a very, very powerful department of Indian education because 90% of the Indians in SA live in this province. We had a very powerful Department of Coloured Education, we had a very powerful Department of National Education, in other words the old apartheid government we had, I think, a fairly effective KwaZulu - so you had five education departments and to marry those has been really a nightmare. No other part of the country had problems of that magnitude. So there are reasons for that. Secondly, there is no question about it that education in KZN is under-funded, there's no doubt, and the signs are there, empirically you can see the fact that 92% - 93% of the budget goes on salaries and wages. Now how can you improve education under that scenario given the fact that - ?

POM     Can't the government in KZN take action to just retrench half the teachers?

AK     That's easier said than done.

POM     I know. But the problem doesn't just apply to KZN.

AK     But hold on, let's just look at the facts. The facts of the matter are that in terms of the constitution and in terms of the agreement which was reached the civil servants were guaranteed their jobs so you couldn't retrench. Well you could if you had a package. So in other words in order for KZN to retrench teachers it would have to have the means, which is the financial means, which would have to come from the centre so it cannot do it. But now you're touching on a thing which I said to you earlier on, unless all government's in SA have the will to actually retrench the civil servants and to begin to spend money on productive expenditure -

POM     That's provinces, provincial -

AK     All of them, but essentially that has to be driven by the centre. Now in KZN, speaking now as a member of the IFP, we have just adopted a formal programme in terms of which we have instructed our government and I can assure you that they're going to be monitored, we've instructed the government to retrench 7½% of the civil servants.

POM     Over?

AK     Well they have to do it, how they're going to do it is what we want to see. They have to devise a programme. Now if you looked at our budget which is about R16 billion, if you retrenched 7½% of the civil service it would free up about R1.5 billion which you could then use for productive expenditure. So I think the time has come that we must actually begin to - and it doesn't mean, you know retrenching a person doesn't mean you are hard-hearted, that you're putting people out of a job. Those people must go into productive employment. You must train them, you must provide the means for them to actually - they must use their skills to generate more jobs, whereas at the moment all they're doing in the government is consuming, they're not generating anything, they're just consuming. All right, now you said by all accounts we've failed. I don't think so.

POM     No. Well in the report issued last year on the state of the administration in the provinces -

AK     Yes but there are - look I don't want to -

POM     It was rated as one of the poorer states.

AK     Which of course it is.

POM     Poorer states in terms of administration.

AK     No, no, no. We are the only province that took immediate steps. Look, there were problems and I will go into them, we are the only province that has taken real steps and I can show you the banking figures. We had run up a deficit of R1.5 billion which is unacceptable but it was corrected immediately and it is now under control. We are in credit. And it's illegal in any event apart from being undesirable to finance through debt.

POM     Just let me ask you something on that, if you finance through debt it means you've got to borrow from the banks, banks give you the money. In the event of, say, a province being unable to pay the money back or to meet its repayment schedule, who is responsible for repayment of the loan?

AK     Well first of all let's go through the legal steps. It is illegal for a province to finance through loans.

POM     Yes but banks are lending all the time.

AK     Yes but the reality is that it is illegal.

POM     But the reality is that it's happening.

AK     No but we've put it right. We have now, as I said to you, we are now -

POM     I'm not just talking about KZN.

AK     But I'm talking about KZN. But you said we were one of the worst. I'm saying to you we are not and I will give you some of the reasons. What we have now done is we have now got our finances under control and we are not in debt. Yes we had to get a R900 million bail-out from the central government but it's done under strict conditions and we are confident that we've now got that under control, which you can't say, for example, for particularly the Eastern Cape which is completely bankrupt because they are unable to get it right. We have got it right. But now one of the main reasons for KZN's, although I don't want to sweep it all under the carpet, there was a lack of control. The cabinet had correctly recognised the problem, issued instructions that there was a moratorium on employment. However, junior managers disobeyed those orders and continued to employ staff. I think we took another 16,000 staff, that's what caused the problem. But that's been fixed. Now one of the main reasons for KZN going into the red to that extent was unfunded mandates from the central government. In other words we have to carry out services on the instructions of the central government which we do all the time but no funds are transferred with those responsibilities. That is a very serious problem. Anyway, I think enough said about KZN. Its administration is not inefficient.

POM     OK. Let me pose a broader question. The IFP would certainly like to see the constitution amended in certain ways, greater powers devolved to the provinces and you said Mbeki is playing his hand quite smartly in courting the IFP for whatever reasons he is doing so and that you believe there will be a government of national unity, the IFP and the ANC after 1999. Will the IFP extract a price for that by saying, OK, if we become part of a government of national unity, if we manage between the two of us to kind of shove you over the 66% mark, therefore it will only be done on the following conditions, on more devolution of powers to the provinces?

AK     Oh yes, but I think it's rather uncouth the way you're putting it, if I may say so, 'extract a price'. No. We have a political programme in terms of which we believe in federalism, we believe in devolution of power. And obviously if we are in government that's what we're going to strive to achieve all the time but it's certainly not going to be on the basis of blackmail. In other words, unless you do this we will not go along with you. No.

POM     But why not? That's the way politics is run. You drive a hard bargain. You say you want us to be part of a coalition with you, this is our list of demands to become part of a coalition. Now you want to bargain about the demands, that's fine, but this is our list of demands.

AK     We have placed on the agenda a comprehensive list of constitutional changes which are with the cabinet at the moment and that is done in terms of it is obligatory in terms of the constitution for the constitution to be reviewed once a year. It doesn't mean that you have to change it but you have to look at it. Now in terms of that review process we have made a number of suggestions, all of them centring around the devolution of power and getting the country more towards a free enterprise orientated form of enterprise.

POM     Where is it not free enterprise? Here you have a government that five years ago was preaching socialisation, nationalisation, but is not cutting the budget every year, cutting social services, cutting expenditure on health, cutting what anybody on the left or left of centre would decry as almost neo-Thatcherite, adopting a neo-Thatcherite -

AK     I think you're over-exaggerating. It hasn't been done. You see there are still substantial sections of the economy that are not free. Secondly, let me draw your attention to things like the amended labour laws which are anything but - that's real dangerous stuff and that's certainly not free enterprise. To compel people to have racial quotas in their businesses and to submit to government controls in terms of salaries, to have to reveal the salaries of executives and directors, that to me is not free enterprise. That's more than socialism, that's communism. So I don't think you're right in this statement you make that it's almost Thatcherite. No. What it is being forced to do, unpalatable as it may be, the government is simply running out of money. It's not doing these things out of choice, it's doing it because it has no options. The reason it has no options is because the economy is not growing.

POM     Are you not now in a situation where the new SA emerged just at the time when the global economy hit its stride and that the economic planners within the country can draw up all the plans they like but they are now subject to outside constraints over which they have no control whatsoever. So the best laid plans are just -

AK     No, that I think is right.

POM     And you don't have a hell of a lot of control over it. The fact is you don't have a hell of a lot of control over what happens in your economy. You're just in a world economy, you're a blip.

AK     That is correct but you have, as I've said, they've just introduced amendments to the labour laws.

POM     What is the government doing wrong?

AK     Well those sort of things.

POM     OK, the labour laws.

AK     The labour laws, interfering in the economy at every level, not proceeding sufficiently fast with privatisation.

POM     What's the difference between the IFP and the ANC on privatisation, leaving aside the fact that the ANC is not proceeding fast enough? What would the IFP do with the funds that are generated?

AK     We would certainly privatise most of the state assets apace because we have always said, and we believe fundamentally, that governments cannot create wealth and they never will. Many of the state corporations have become a safe haven for jobs for pals, political pals, and it's not working. So you'd have to free up most of the state enterprises, you'd have to begin to retrench the civil service on a massive scale to free up money for real development.

POM     Let's just take that, let's go back. One of the sectors where trade unions are at their most powerful is the public service unions and it seems to me that the government has absolutely no idea how to deal with public service unions at all and it ends up by ultimately -

AK     How many votes have they got, Padraig? How many votes have the civil servants got in terms of SA overall?

POM     I don't know but I would say what they could do is they can bring the government to a halt.

AK     I don't think so. But what you are admitting to is that the government gives in to threats, which I would agree, it does.

POM     So you close down one department after another and you don't call that bringing the government to a halt?

AK     You mean the trade unions - with at least 30%, very conservatively, of the people unemployed, you will not be able to sustain that because the people will take over those jobs.

POM     Who?

AK     People will be employed. People will do it. Look at the petrol stations.

POM     Already people say because of affirmative action the level of competence and efficiency in the public service sector has fallen.

AK     No, no, but now you're now mixing it all up. The trade unions that make these threats are on the extreme left and certainly it's not their people that are sitting in management positions in the public sector. Those are the lower rungs who have no capacity.

POM     When they had this strike at Bara Hospital three or four years ago they closed the hospital, patients died there. They had to bring in the army.

AK     OK. And do you think that's going to win votes?

POM     But they won their demands.

AK     Look what happened to the chemical - when they tried to shut down the petrol stations. It caused inconvenience for two or three days and then alternative arrangements were made and it all went back and the labour unions soon learnt their lesson.

POM     So you believe that -

AK     You need tough government to stand up to the trade unions.

POM     OK.

AK     That is a fundamental - and we would do it.

POM     Now, you are part of a government of national unity already.

AK     A very junior one.

POM     You're saying in a way that the balance won't change very much if there's another one?

AK     Oh no, no, that's not what I said. I said to you that the ANC last time - the reason we are in the government of national unity is because of the constitution, not because of an ANC choice. The ANC didn't give us seats in parliament, they didn't give us seats in the cabinet, the constitution did, the voters did. Now we're in a different situation altogether because after 1999 there is no forced coalition.

POM     It's voluntary. So if they want you in - that's what I went back to, a list of demands.

AK     The point is that it is possible, it is conceivable that if all the opposition got together the ANC could actually be voted out of power. If they get less than 50% of the votes in the Assembly the budget, for example, could be voted down.

POM     What do you think would be the consequence of that happening in the country? You've a national liberation movement that for 40 years, or 300 years depending upon your view of history, fought to free the people, after four years a coalition of parties with only 50% of the vote -

AK     With only 50% of the vote. So exactly the same as the government.

POM     - overthrows that government. Do you not think that would be, given the nature of revolutionary struggles, a prescription for a second revolution?

AK     No.

POM     No? Do you think democracy has taken that kind of hold already?

AK     No but you must remember there are two sides to that. If you lose, what you are saying to me is if you lose then you resort to arms. Then the counter-argument is that the other side can also say enough is enough and now we're going to throw them out militarily. That's what you're saying.

POM     What I'm saying is that in a growing democracy where the roots are still very fragile and very tender and need to be nurtured all along the way, that for a movement that is associated with national liberation somehow to lose an election four years after it is overwhelmingly voted in by the people would raise cries of fraud, would raise revolutionary banners.

AK     I don't believe so.

POM     You don't think so?

AK     You see, I think, Padraig, you're making a fundamental mistake that I think the ANC makes. It thinks it is the custodian of democracy and that what it decides will happen. It won't. Like in this province they're going to get defeated whatever they say. That's a reality and that's why they're beginning to threaten already. Now they may not like that but that's the way it is. They're going to lose and exactly the same - why should the ANC be the custodian of democracy?

POM     Well is it not then in their interests to, I go back to Richmond, if that's the case and they begin to recognise that in a serious way, why is it not in their political interest to create a more tense atmosphere in KZN where the edge of violence begins to move the parties?

AK     That's what they're trying to do. They have already announced mass action. Yes, but it's not going to get them anywhere.

POM     But the possibility of there being violence, maybe not on the level there was in the early nineties, but of violence happening again is a very real possibility.

AK     Yes, yes.

POM     And that even though there is this kind of 'peace' between members of the IFP and ANC it could be an illusory peace, that the underlying symptoms of what caused that violence in the first place are still all there and have not been dealt with in the last four years.

AK     That's true.

POM     Now is anybody concentrating both on the IFP side and on the ANC side on that question or is the ANC using Richmond as a kind of almost a laboratory to experiment on how this works, a kind of controlling - ?

AK     I think so. The violence in KZN from the 1980s onwards always came out of the Midlands. That's where it all started. So nothing's changed. But of course the things that have changed, and I think we're losing ourselves now, prior to 1994 it was the declared objective of the ANC to destroy the IFP. They failed. Today you have the President of the ANC going to the IFP general conference in Ulundi. That's a sea change and so therefore it's not the same as 1994 because today, certainly at the senior leadership level, they have accepted that the IFP will not go away and they have come to terms with it. In fact they want it as a partner in government. That's what their declared policy is. But there are very many other elements in the ANC that don't agree with that. As I said, there are indications, publicly announced indications, that the ANC is going to embark on mass action and I believe you are right there. That is an attempt to destabilise the province because they know that they're not going to win it.

POM     So they are playing two games at the one time.

AK     I think so.

POM     Have a dual strategy on the one hand, woo on the other hand.

AK     It's always been like that.

POM     So what should make the outcome significantly different this time round?

AK     Well it would make it different because of the level of the players. Thabo Mbeki is not only the de facto leader of the government but he is the President of the ANC and if he goes to Ulundi and says, "We need you in government", that carries a lot of weight.

POM     How is that being entertained by the IFP? In other words what I suppose I want to get at is that when you run nationally in the next election you are running both as an opponent of the ANC and also as a party that participated in the government of national unity and therefore gave your stamp of approval to the policies of the government.

AK     No.

POM     How can you have it both ways?

AK     We can have it both ways, that's badly put. We make our policy differences with the government well known and at the end of the day, as I say, we are a minority form of the government and at the end of the day although you don't vote in the cabinet, it's a question of reaching consensus, but our positions where we disagree are put on the table and they are minuted and we say so outside that we do not agree with these decisions and we have publicly criticised the government for many policy initiatives which we believe to be wrong. So there's nothing irregular then in going out to the electorate and saying, yes we are part of the government of national unity but we are not there, as we keep saying, we are not there because of the whim of the ANC, we're there because of the constitution, because we are there to protect the interests of the people who put us into power.

POM     That's a very sophisticated argument to put to a very unsophisticated electorate. This takes a number of perhaps to reason through.

AK     I think you underestimate the intelligence of the ordinary voter. They're not stupid.

POM     I'm not saying they're stupid. I'm saying that in any country if you went from step A to step B in gaining a vote or establishing your position, a party would have problems with the message, it must be simple and direct.

AK     Let me give it to you in a nutshell. I don't think a voter would have any difficulty in understanding the IFP's policy positions. He would have no difficulty.

POM     How do they differ essentially from the ANC's?

AK     We've been through it.

POM     I know, GEAR you're against but you're for -

AK     No we're not against GEAR, we are for GEAR but it's not being implemented, which is different.

POM     For GEAR. OK. That's different. So you say you would implement it, they haven't.

AK     We have publicly announced that we would not accommodate the SACP and the trade unions in terms of GEAR. We would implement those and not every time those two coughed that the whole thing would splutter to a standstill. We would implement it.

POM     Thabo Mbeki and Nelson Mandela lectured -

AK     And what have they done? What have they done?

POM     They've gone abroad, trying to solve foreign conflicts.

AK     Essentially those policy differences are very fundamental.

POM     When it comes to, when you say implementation, the structure that is there for implementation is a structure that you will inherit.

AK     You're talking now a different thing altogether again. If we were the government, that is different, but I don't think that's realistic politics.

POM     So you're going to be part - a more powerful voice in the government where you can insist on certain things being done if you are to remain part of that government.

AK     Correct. And I keep coming back and saying to you that there is a real possibility of the ANC getting less than 50% of the vote, which is from their point of view, a very serious political crisis.

POM     So you hold the balance of power?

AK     Correct.

POM     Now at this point in time, gazing into that crystal mirror, is that your projection of what the outcome will be?

AK     Well I said to you we will win KZN and we will get 10% of the vote nationally and the UDM will take 10% and there will be growth particularly among the DP. There will be a dramatic decline among the Nats. There will a growth in the Freedom Front and the ANC has a chance of getting less than an overall majority.

POM     So who do you think will end up as the 'official opposition'?

AK     That depends on many things. That depends, for example, on if we garner the sort of vote that I think we would and we went in as a coalition partner on our terms, then obviously we could not be the official opposition and my sense is that it could well be the UDM. I think they could actually - it depends how far the Nats slip, but certainly they would be the most credible opposition because of the calibre of its leaders and because of the fact that it's essentially a black-based party.

POM     So how about the average IFP voter? Is his allegiance to Chief Buthelezi or to the IFP?

AK     The Chief. The Chief has got huge support. The foundation of the IFP is its rural support and Buthelezi is like a colossus over that.

POM     So the answer is that the primary loyalty would be - ?

AK     No I think there would be both, but what I'm saying to you is that I think the other leaders would probably attract a lot of support from outside of the IFP's core area where because the Chief has been so maligned he may lose some of the support he traditionally had in the urban areas which other leaders would pick up.

POM     Is the IFP going to become more African, or is it becoming more African? Are whites within its leadership structures being marginalised?

AK     It's lost a lot of its white members, yes, and they've been replaced by black people.

POM     And those white members are going to the DP?

AK     No, I think they've just stepped out of politics.

POM     Stepped out of politics altogether. So what the IFP is developing into is more and more of an African party and what the ANC is developing into is more and more an African party?

AK     Yes. I think the IFP probably had an over-representation of whites in 1994 for technical reasons. That's the one aspect. So they were disproportionately represented in the party. But there is another side to it and I think it has become more African which is, I suppose, quite natural.

POM     And the ANC is becoming more African?

AK     Yes. But I think that's for different reasons. That is a rebelling against the SACP and a couple of individuals that have had an inordinate influence over policy.

POM     It won't happen any longer under a Mbeki government.

AK     Yes I think so.

POM     So how do you see a Mbeki government being different from a Mandela government?

AK     As I indicated to you, the first thing he's going to have to contend with is that he won't have the majority that he had, obviously it's got it's own political imperatives. From a question of style I think that he is going to be probably quite a lot more ruthless than Mandela was. I think he's more of a hard political street fighter than Mandela was.

POM     Mandela never really reshuffled his government in four years.

AK     Although you mustn't underestimate his toughness but it's the role he's had to play with reconciliation and all that he didn't - I think he was playing - the parameters were different and also he's an older man which brings its own style. He will be tougher, I think. He's going to be forced through political circumstances to have policies more rooted in reality, not in wishes.

POM     Let me ask you, I know now you're running out of time, take crime. Now you don't have to be a rocket scientist to recognise that crime is eating away at the fabric of the society and is inhibiting economic growth, is inhibiting foreign investment to the extent that the international reputation of the country is one of being one of the most crime ridden in the world. There are a lot of intelligent people in the government, a lot of them are very, very talented, not all but a lot are. Why have they been unable to come to grips with the whole question of law and order and curbing crime?

AK     I think we've been down this road before as well. You cannot call for a country to be made ungovernable. You cannot call on people to murder policemen and murder town councillors up until 1994 and then all of a sudden turn round and say, sorry chaps, it was the wrong policy. It doesn't work that way; as we warned. But that's going to have to happen. The only way that you're going to have to stop this is the ANC is going to have to admit to its own folly and admit that it was wrong to do what it did. No, the other issue is this, when you've got large numbers of uMkhonto weSizwe in the police and the defence force who were told to make their own country ungovernable, who has been behind all the bank heists? Isn't it uMkhonto weSizwe? Now why is that? That's not because they're inherently evil. That's because that's what they were told to do. Now you can't change that overnight.

     But let me bring you back to what I said about Richmond. The ANC knows who the people are that caused all that mayhem there because they put them there. You're not going to solve the problem by withdrawing the police and putting a blanket over it. You're going to have to take those people out. You're going to have to physically remove them from there. Then it will stop. And that's exactly the same way with the country as a whole. You're going to have to make sure that people that are guilty of crime when they're in government are punished. What's happened to Nkosazana Zuma over, for example, the corruption with Mbongeni Ngema? She just got promoted. The President himself has just ever more elevated her. Now those are the sort of things. It's not easy, it's like calling for international sanctions. It's not something you'd switch on and switch off and think that the world is going to listen to SA. As you correctly said, SA is not even a blip in the international economy and quite frankly they couldn't care two hoots. So you call for international sanctions and then when you change your mind say, OK guys now we want your investment. It doesn't work like that. So it's going to be a long, slow process.

POM     Do you think Mandela has played Buthelezi like a violin? Making him President for a day and - ?

AK     No, no, I think that's very unkind to make a statement like that. I think it's a recognition of the man's stature and it's a recognition of his ability. I think this is why Mbeki also - Mbeki knows that he needs Buthelezi's wisdom. Buthelezi is known throughout the world and trusted over twenty, thirty years. Am I right? So whether you may agree or disagree but that's a fact and obviously with a man like Buthelezi in a senior position in government that instils trust in people. So I think it's a very bad choice of words. What I would say is that what the government is doing is using his talents and it knows it needs them. He's a stabilising influence.

POM     So you see as of now, 1999, a voluntary coalition?

AK     I think there's a very real possibility that Buthelezi will be President of South Africa.

POM     You do? Fifty/fifty or sixty/forty?

AK     I think there's a very real possibility.

POM     In 1999?

AK     Yes. That's my sense, that Buthelezi will become President of South Africa and that they will amend the constitution and that Thabo Mbeki will be the Prime Minister. That's my sense.

POM     Could you see just the opposite scenario?

AK     No.

POM     Mbeki as President and - ?

AK     No and I'll tell you why. It's impossible, well not impossible, but it doesn't make constitutional sense. You can't have a man who commands 50% of the vote being a non-executive President. It doesn't make sense. The real political power will lie with the ANC, obviously, because they have got the majority of the vote. I think Buthelezi, I sense that they will amend the constitution, the President will become a non-executive President and that there will be a Prime Minister who is the de facto political leader of the government on a day-to-day basis and then Buthelezi will become the State President.

POM     So he will fulfil the role that Mandela in a way in his latter years is filling, of being the symbol.

AK     Yes but I think it's more than that because Buthelezi certainly won't be visiting Arafat and Libya and so on. I think it will be a totally changed style. I think you would then find he would be more in Wall Street and London.  So that would be different. But that's my sense. I think that's where we're headed.

POM     And you're getting out of it all.

AK     Yes, I don't want to be part of politics. I want to enjoy life and I want to get involved in business.

POM     What's happening with the airport? It had a setback?

AK     Yes it has.

POM     Is it dead?

AK     No I don't think it's dead but I think it's been badly managed, but that's another story. When you come back after 1999 I'll tell you why.

POM     That's what people keep saying to me, "When you come back after 1999 I'll tell you the real story." What about the development of the harbour? Is that progressing?

AK     Part of the problem with the harbour, as I indicated to you, is that there are too many political decisions made by people that don't have the necessary knowledge and those ports should be totally privatised and put in the hands of people that know what they're doing and are not there by political appointment but they are there because they have business sense. We in KZN, particularly Durban handles about 70% of the value of all imports and exports into SA. Now to use your terminology you don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand that that is one of the greatest assets this country has and therefore it should be in the best hands and there has been huge incompetence and graft and fraud and corruption in those parastatals. It's succeeding despite the leadership, not because of it.

POM     OK, I will leave you be. As always it's stimulating to talk to you and I'm sorry for being late. Richmond was interesting in terms of just observing the command structures down there. It's quite clear that the, well it seemed clear to us by just observation, that the police are supporting, playing a supporting role to the SANDF, not the other way around.

AK     Yes, which is exactly why it won't work.

POM     Two, that they have brought in police and SANDF from all over the country who don't speak Zulu so that there is communications problem with the population, they can't talk to them.

AK     It will never work.

POM     And three, they have this belief, and I can speak out of personal experience because I've been stopped enough times in Northern Ireland by police patrols, no matter who you are if you're stopped by a police patrol you just get into a kind of - you know -

AK     "What are you doing here?"

POM     It's like you've got to produce your license. You don't go away from it feeling more enthusiastic about the police. You go away feeling more pissed - not pissed off but just annoyed. It's an intrusion. And they believe that if they have a visible presence on the streets and they stop people that they will then gain people's trust whereas I would say the very opposite is going to happen.

AK     It won't work. Absolutely. That's what I said to you right in the beginning. They haven't got a hope in hell of sorting that out. It won't work.

POM     Well if it doesn't work then what is the prognostication for KZN next year?

AK     The ANC will lose even more votes, that's the prognostication. It will lose even more votes.

POM     Just again, when I asked you the question about Buthelezi and the IFP, I asked it in the context of asking supporters of Nkabinde to whom was their primary allegiance, to Nkabinde or to the UDM?

AK     Nkabinde.

POM     That was absolute. If he moved over to the IFP tomorrow morning, let's say he did, he would take everybody in his stronghold with him to the IFP.

AK     He would. Yes, and that's another story. He wanted to join.

POM     He did? Come on, sit down for a minute. You can't stop the conversation on that line, you really can't.

AK     No, I've got to go.

POM     I know but you -

AK     That's a story for another day.

POM     Give me five minutes, please.

AK     No I've got to go.

POM     You're a terrible man! Well I'll be back. You see I'll write that down, I'll make a point of coming back to follow that up.

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.