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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

29 Sep 1999: Viljoen, Constand

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POM     I would like to do three things. On my way back after my last trip last year one of my bags disappeared in transit, which is not unusual, I've often opened my bag to find half my clothes rather than all of them, but you had given me some documents and you had also promised me some documents. You had given me one or two.

CV     I plead guilty right at the beginning. I promised you some documents on?

POM     A list of things, I will go through them at the end. There was the accord that was signed between the Freedom Front and the NP on 23rd April, some of them were in Afrikaans but I'll get a translator.

CV     That I can get for you.

POM     There's the FF document on the feasibility of a volkstaat in the North Western Cape.

CV     Volkstaat Council. Let me just make a note.  OK, the first one is?

POM     The accord on 23rd April.

CV     The second one is? Volkstaat Council.

POM     The study on the North Western Cape; the study that the FF did on centralisation and decentralisation in other countries; the brief you had prepared for Nelson Mandela when you first met him in 1993; the document the Rhodesian officers prepared for you on the lessons they had learned from the war in Rhodesia.

CV     I don't think I will be able to get this because the defence force is now no longer in Afrikaner hands and they will not allow me.

POM     OK, I see. Your formal presentations or your oral presentations to the TRC, I think you said you made four written submissions and then there was the question and answer session.

CV     Those things are all in the Cape.

POM     Well I will be in Cape Town.

CV     When?

POM     Not quite sure but I will be there within the next two weeks. I'm here until the middle of December.

CV     That's fine, then we will be able to do it.

POM     The copy of the military paper you wrote in 1960, sorry not the one you wrote in 1960, the submission you made to the cabinet, the first submission you made to the cabinet saying while the military could hold the fort and hold it indefinitely, they should put some more effort into seeking a political solution; whatever minutes you had. You had mentioned the minutes you had prepared for yourself on your first meeting with Mandela. The other was the brief you prepared for Mandela on crime in May of 1997, when he asked you what your views were and you met with him.

CV     I will be able to give you what I call the Executive Summary on that. The other document is a very big one.

POM     OK, that's fine. The other was the 1988 article you wrote for Die Beeld. That's it. What I would like to do today is two things:  ask you some questions about the last year since we last talked. This in a way is my wrap-up. I'm finishing doing interviewing with this trip and I'll get down to the work of trying to put it all together. How I will do that remains a mystery, it will keep me going for some time. I have 16,000 hours of interview material accumulated at this point. What I would like to do is ask you some new questions and then go back to some of the questions I asked you the last time and either have you expand on them or there are follow-up questions I should have asked at the time had I had the time.

     So let's begin with the elections just gone by where the FF lost almost 200,000 votes.

CV     Padraig, can I just correct you? The fact is it's not 200,000. We used to have 640,000 in the provincial vote and it dropped to 127,000.

POM     Well I will let you take it from there. You know the obvious question: what happened? You had said last year you didn't yet represent the majority of the Afrikaner vote but you hoped after this election that you would do so and obviously that hasn't turned out to be the case.

CV     You know what – I have a very expensive opinion poll running at the moment, that is an opinion poll carried out by Professor Lawrence Schlemmer, it cost me about R160,000, for the sake of determining what went wrong in the minds of the Afrikaner with the last election, why did they decide to vote away from their traditional ethnic based politics, or why did they decide not to vote at all. I have good reason to believe that we did lose some people, for example, to the Democratic Party, but the main loss that we have is the fact that people didn't vote.

POM     Why do you think they chose not to vote?

CV     I'm looking for a document that I need. Prior to the 2nd June situation, I went on a very quick, countrywide analysis study as to what went wrong, I interviewed a lot of people and this is my preliminary finding. I've got some final findings too but that was the document I was looking for which I can't find at the moment.

POM     Maybe you could tell me what the findings are and then maybe I could pick it up from you when you go back to Cape Town to parliament, I will be down there at that point.

CV     You said why did we do that badly in the election. Firstly, maybe we had done exceptionally well in the first election, out of proportionally good for specific reasons and that is the very moment that the tension, the reaction of the general Afrikaner people saying to hell with this new SA coming, we've got to find another solution. Here we came and we said the volkstaat is a solution and me personally, having been so involved in the defence force and having been well known right through the world and also in SA, I think the people probably at that stage voted for me and not for the party ideal. Then - I think I had better go according to this otherwise it's very complicated, the whole situation, and if I go through this then I will more or less be able to follow you.

     I've already said now that the first problem was the first election in which we did exceptionally well after a very short election campaign. After five years and as a party not having been able to produce, to deliver on our election stance in 1994, not because of our own fault, well partly because of our own fault too, but because of the ANC refusing to go for self-determination, the people probably got the idea that this whole idea of self-determination, even the volkstaat, is just another Afrikaner manipulation, a political experiment that will never work and they had already decided not to vote for me for that specific reason. But there are certain reasons that I couple to the Afrikaner people: firstly the concept of self-determination is not for a political party, it is for a people, and in 1994 we were mainly situated or located in the right wing part of the Afrikaner people. We have not succeeded in making advancement towards selling our ideas in the more leftish orientated Afrikaner people and that has given the ANC enough reason to refuse us any progress on the issue of self-determination because they kept on saying. "Who do you represent? You're a minority of a minority." So that's the first thing.

     Secondly, in the old SA we used to have the nation-state, so the old SA was a nation-state for Afrikaner people with the odd sprinkling of English speaking and German speaking, but it was white country, mainly white, some Indians and coloureds included since 1983/84, the tricameral parliament, but it was mainly a political situation where the Afrikaner was actually in a nation-state. That nation-state failed because of apartheid at that time. Then the Afrikaner was forced from the nation-state idea eventually into the 1994 negotiated settlement which was all but a nation-state solution.

POM     Sorry which was all?

CV     All but. It was not a nation-state solution, it was a unitary type state. And here I was trying to tell the Afrikaner, your direction is a nation-state, meaning a volkstaat, and the Afrikaners are saying that we just failed on the idea of a nation-state and here you come and you preach the same thing, a nation-state meaning a volkstaat. It will fail for the same reason and we are not looking for another failure. You see what I'm getting at? I'm giving you my ideas, I'm not necessarily saying that I'm right on this point.

     Another point, since 1910 we had been forced into white unity. The whole idea was to make a white country, call it what you want, this idea een blanke nasie, one white nation. From 1910 until 1983 this was the case and here I am now coming and I'm saying to hell with the whites, go for the Afrikaner. Many Afrikaners have become so evolved with the whites that I think there is a problem that the Afrikaner has associated himself more with the idea of white supremacy than with Afrikaner survival.

     I am just giving you the points I will make it available to you. I will also make available the Schlemmer investigation because that will be very important for you because that's a scientific analysis. These are my political consultations.

     Another reason is in the 1999 election we were at the top of the wave regarding liberation of blacks and the black solidarity was so strong that it created tremendous fears among the white minority, so 1999 became a black versus white election. I was attending to a small portion of a portion, meaning Afrikaners but not all Afrikaners, more ethnic orientated Afrikaners. So that was not acceptable because they wanted to counter the big black majority threat through the best possible white solidarity situation. That's the reason why people voted for the DP because they said this DP has always been on the right side, they've always produced good opposition politics and they take the ANC on and they are for white business, etc., and they are the best party to care for the whole situation.

     Then another reason is, whether we like it or not, the propaganda against the Afrikaner worked extremely well. The propaganda against the Afrikaner through the TRC and through the general accusations in parliament and discussions, etc., has started to cause within the Afrikaner a feeling of guilt and the present situation is you get many Afrikaners saying, no, hell, we can't form a laager again, we have to work together with the new SA, we have to solve things together because we have to live together, we have to form one nation together. So there is a swing within the Afrikaner thinking to say – that's especially with the Afrikaner Broederbond type of Afrikaner. Again the point that I have started off by saying, we were concentrating on the small minority of a minority group within the white population.

POM     So when you talk about the ANC campaign of vilification of the Afrikaner, would you consider their continuous references to there being elements of the third force out there is a kind of a code word that the Afrikaners haven't yet given up, that they're still trying to – ?

CV     No not that. I think such an effective vilification or psychological action against the Afrikaner of the past, they have so successfully succeeded in breaking down the pillars of Afrikanerdom of the past that the Afrikaner today when you come to him and you speak again about the ethnic Afrikaner approach they say, no, we've been hurt enough, we won't do it again. You see what I'm getting at?

     Then in the changeover in 1994 we created a lot of expectations because the FF was seen as the only alternative to the ANC approach because the NP was generally regarded as useless, a hopeless lot. That made it possible for us to capitalise on this for the first two or three years and then the Afrikaner himself started failing through the FF by not delivering, as I said, and that had caused a further collapse, and this is the point I'm coming to, a further collapse of the confidence of the Afrikaner in political leaders, including myself. So that the failure of Afrikaner respect that started off – you consider the failure of apartheid, the failure of the tricameral system, the 1992 referendum, the failure of the negotiations, the failure to negotiate within the new SA anything of protection for the Afrikaner, you take all this, then the Afrikaner is very sceptical about what we promised them and I think the Afrikaner has looked at the FF and said, no this is not going to work.

     Another reason, Mandela and the ANC really involved themselves with foul play against the FF. Ever since we started negotiating in 1993 they created expectations, they even concluded the accord and when you read that accord you will see how well it was worded and so on and it must have created the impression that there is something really going to happen about this. But they, apparently, never had the idea to –

POM     Had no intention of living up to what was in the agreement?

CV     Nothing, nothing, and this is the problem that they as a political party have succeeded in creating eventually the perception that we are being led by the nose and that although every time when we looked as if we might get out of hand they come with a new carrot and they make a little bit more expectations and then it never materialises and I think this has created within Afrikanerdom a fall in expectations for the FF and that's the reason why they haven't voted for the FF again.

POM     You had talked the last time that there was a change in attitude towards the FF after 1996.

CV     Yes, that's right.

POM     You talked about there being a cabal or an inner group within the ANC that was still bent on further revolution.

CV     You must bear in mind that up to 1996 we had the constitutional negotiations that went fairly well and they have included in the constitution all the clauses for self-determination but all those clauses were enabling clauses which read that you may not prevent or you may not deny the Afrikaner self-determination, all formulated in a way that, yes, if you want to have self-determination you can have it. But eventually the whole idea about self-determination is dependent on Afrikaner solidarity, of a great Afrikaner scrum, and they're going to say, yes, we want self-determination. That has not happened. This is one of the problems that came forward.

POM     You had said that you thought that Mandela had become an instrument of this.

CV     I think Mandela became a captive of his own organisation. I'm not saying Mandela was dishonest but what I am sure about is that there has never been a real intention within the ANC to accommodate the Afrikaner on self-determination. I think they have fooled around with us and they are playing the fool with us in this regard, but I will have to qualify that to say that they are still carrying on, for example, with Section 185, that's the section on the protection and promotion of the rights, Section 185 of the constitution, protection and promotion of the rights of cultural, linguistic and religious groups. They had a recent conference in Midrand on this and many, many other people in the country are now getting interested in this kind of protection of their cultural linguistic and religious rights. So the point I'm making is they have ignored the Afrikaner and I get the impression that they have no intention whatsoever to move in that direction. You can easily say to me, look here they have just had a very big conference on this whole cause and they're going to establish this whole thing, but let me tell you at the same time that they are dragging their feet on the establishment of this commission, because that was constitutionalised in 1996. Up to now, apart from talking, nothing was done about this whole thing. Again, after the conference a few days ago they gave me the indication that maybe next year on Heritage Day we will be able to start reporting back on the issues that we've been discussing. So they discuss a number of issues and after a year they report back and then after another year they report back, so they have no intention to really move but they do create the impression, they're very clever in this whole situation.

     Then, what you also have to bear in mind is that the Afrikaner ever since 1993 – the Afrikaner went for power. Remember after the Anglo/Boer war we sucked the hind tit for a very long time, we were the people that worked on the mines underground. The English speaking and the other whites were the privileged and we were the hardworking people and this has created within the Afrikaner the feeling that something must be done for himself. Then in 1948 when the Afrikaner gained power they said that we have to use this power for furthering our own interests and then they started with the whole policy of apartheid and in the whole policy of apartheid they resisted the whole idea of accepting the responsibility, the obligation to also care for the constitution vis-à-vis the people because they were working for Afrikaner interests. What is more Afrikaner nationalism had meant to Afrikaner people some advantages, even material advantages, jobs, privileged positions, etc., in the past, and at the moment when I offered the Afrikaner direction towards the idea of Afrikaner nationalism he would look around and say, look here, there's no advantage for me to be an Afrikaner nationalist now, if I'm an Afrikaner nationalist I don't get any jobs because the ANC give them all to the blacks, I'd better not get involved in Afrikaner politics because that will lessen my opportunities.

POM     It's a block to getting ahead.

CV     To, for example, get a contract or some tender allocation and so on.

POM     Just as an aside, you talked about what the Afrikaner did in 1948 which was immediately to look after Afrikaner interests and put Afrikaners in every institution of government down to the parastatals, do you think the ANC in a way are exactly following your example, exactly doing for blacks what you did for Afrikaners in 1948?

CV     Making the same mistakes, repeating the mistakes.

POM     I read this report where they have a Deployment Committee of where they're putting people in strategic positions in parastatals and the private sector and they all report back to the NEC as to what's going on, a different form of the Broederbond?

CV     There is also within the Afrikaner people, also in the FF, quite a big difference of opinion as to what exactly has caused this so when you ask me these things I give you my personal view at the moment. I would suggest to you that we wait until about the end of November, before you go, I will be able to give you a complete report from the Lawrence Schlemmer situation.

POM     OK. I will make an appointment to see you.

CV     It will be much better to wait for that report.

POM     OK. Just like you have gone through, as I understand it, a leadership struggle in the party which was, I assume, over these very issues, but as you stand now in parliament what is your strategy, what are your goals, on behalf of whom do you think you are speaking? Do you have to redefine or re-conceptualise what actually Afrikaner identity is? And more importantly would the ANC be very stupid to interpret the result of the election, or the support for the FF, as an indication that self-determination for Afrikaners is no longer an issue and may be dispensed with?

CV     Yes, there is a real danger that this is the case. It would be a foolish mistake because the Afrikaner is always slow in reacting but once he starts reacting the ANC will be sorry that they haven't done so, so this is a big problem. You have asked me what is my strategy. When I made my first speech in parliament after the election I said, sorry I have to be honest, I can no longer say that I represent the Afrikaners because I have 127,000 that voted for me, I have dropped from 640,000 to 127,000 and there is no way that I can now say that I really represent the Afrikaner people, so I am in a crisis at the moment and that is to determine exactly what is what. For that purpose I went on a countrywide consultation and my party wouldn't accept this, they challenged me – not the whole of the party but one group within the party challenged me and said this is not the case, it's you as a leader that is not acceptable to the people and if you go then we will carry on. I say no, this is not possible. As a matter of fact the whole of the 1994 results were coupled to me as a person because I had four or five weeks to campaign.

POM     People vote for leaders not for parties.

CV     This is part of it, just a very short summary but as I say this is my personal view and I have already within my party many people differing in opinion. You see within my party there is a very definite forming of groups and one of the groups feel that we should have gone all out for the Northern Cape volkstaat. The other group would say no, the Northern Cape volkstaat is all right but what is important is to care for Afrikaner interests and the Afrikaner is not going to trek, he's not going to move to the Northern Cape, he's going to stay where he is at the moment because that's where he earns his living and for us to say to the Afrikaner give up your living here and go to semi-desert and find new accommodation where there is nothing at the moment is foolish. So those are the two groups, the one group saying that if Israel could succeed in the Negev desert then surely the Afrikaners can succeed in the Northern Cape desert. But the problem is how to get the Afrikaners to go there. The other group say no, you'd absolutely silly to do that. So within the Afrikaner there is difference of opinion and quite a big battle at the moment to say who is right and who is wrong.

POM     Do you hope that this survey will give you some guidance as to what Afrikaners believe in this respect?

CV     My idea is – that's the reason why I immediately decided on the survey, to know exactly what was going on. The point I want to make now is this, there is no way that the FF alone will be able to succeed with any of its self-determination concepts because of the size of our support. So the first thing we have to do is to look for bigger support and the best way to do that is to look for some form of amalgamation with other Afrikaner parties, which is something we're considering at the moment.

POM     Would that include parties like the Conservative Party and the AWB?

CV     Yes, AWB, what is left over of the NP and so on, it's not impossible. The concept being that we in this way would at least save the abandoning of ethnic politics for the Afrikaner. So that is our first part, you said what is my strategy, the first part of my strategy is to make sure that we will get a bigger scrum.

     The second part is I have to pay attention to my policy, my political axis that I've taken so far and this is within my party a very, very big bone of contention. I say that you can't as a party, after the fall in support that we've had, think that you can carry on the way you have in the past. You have to analyse, you have to adapt or die and I am still battling with my party in this way. Schlemmer's research is going on now, that will be available hopefully first week in November, after which I hope that we will be able to really get down to some hard fighting, killing each other on the way forward on what to do because that's going to be a battle.

POM     I hope some of you will be left to carry on the war! So at the moment there is no effective voice in parliament representing Afrikaners?

CV     Not at all. Then what is interesting is, you know in the past in the NP government times, the Broederbond played a very, very important role. I would say they dictated to the NP in quite a way on many, many policy issues in the past and they certainly have to take a lot of blame for the folly of apartheid, the Broederbond. Now all of a sudden after the failure of the FF and the AWB, in fact all Afrikaner parties got a hammering in the last election, it's not only the FF, all Afrikaner parties got a hammering, after this has happened the Afrikaner now will have to make a decision which way to go and I think that the Afrikaner and the conservative and the not so very conservative will probably form a joint unity block in order to see whether they can make progress. Even that is not enough. In a way we have to find something bigger.

     Now, you've asked my strategy, my strategy is the moment I have established the Afrikaner unity bloc I want to use this bloc to work with other groups. I have spoken to you before on this, IFP, the Vendas, the Khoisan people, all people that are very interested in maintaining their own cultural and people's identities. If that happens then we will be, I think, making progress towards a joint approach on self-determination. So maybe this is a good thing that the failure of the FF to do something for the Afrikaner whilst the others are not ready might have been counter-productive. Now we are forced to take another route which is longer and that is the route to take along with us, the AWB, other Afrikaner parties, the IFP, the idea of Khoisan, the coloureds, the Griquas and those people they were actually in SA before the blacks or the whites.

POM     It seems they were the first people on the entire planet.

CV     They call themselves the first people, that's right, the first people. Now if we can get those people to all start claiming self-determination then I think we have a hope but at the moment we don't. So that's another part of my strategy, to use this Afrikaner bloc to form alliances with other groups to work in that direction. Let me tell you, Padraig, the whole thing is as fluid as - there is no clarity as to which direction the politics will take.  I am battling within my party, I am battling to survive, not that I want to survive but, hell, I've got a certain idea and I've got a certain group, at least half of the party of the structures on top, support me. I got 23 out of 43 votes in the election for the leadership but at the ground level, the grassroots level, the ordinary Afrikaner on the ground, I still have a lot of support and my problem is I would have loved to say this is the end of my political career, I can turn around and move, I would like to go back farming, but I feel that I can't leave my people in the lurch, such a lot of people waiting for some progress on my side now, I can't because of opinion differences within the FF, I cannot now just surrender and abandon politics.

POM     Just take the IFP for a minute, do you not think the ANC has more or less effectively co-opted them?

CV     Don't treat Buthelezi wrongly. There is a very definite reason, or some reasons, for Buthelezi's position in SA politics as it is and he is working with the ANC for specific purposes. Firstly, because in black culture it's not so strange to work with your enemies. Secondly, in the issue of KZN peace is only possible if there can be real reconciliation and the reconciliation if it's not seen to be taking place at the top level will not take place at the lower level. Everybody is as scared as hell about the KZN situation and the people killing each other by the thousands. So that being so the ANC and the IFP have started to work together at the top level in order to influence the thinking at the bottom level.

POM     Has Buthelezi been able to use this periodic threat of resigning from the cabinet as a warning to the ANC that his walking out of the cabinet could ignite or inflame the situation in KZN?

CV     Buthelezi as far as I know is not using these kind of tactics. I think Buthelezi is very clever and (I must give you one of his speeches – you caught me unawares and I'm not organised in this office, it's the first day in this office, I can't lay my hands on the documents). I should have given you a speech that he made, a very, very important one. This will give you an idea as to Buthelezi's view on the idea of cultural identities and so on, so Buthelezi is very strong in that direction and he is working together with the ANC at this stage because of contingency requirements or pressure, KZN is the first one. Secondly, you must bear in mind that the fact that Buthelezi is a minister and that he figures within the cabinet, to his people it means a lot, to him himself it means a lot. So Buthelezi would be foolish at this stage to completely reject and say go to hell. You must also bear in mind that Buthelezi as a political leader and the IFP were under a hammering, all of them, in the last couple of years. It didn't go well with the political side of the IFP.

POM     They were under? I'm a little bit deaf, you say in the last couple of years Buthelezi was?

CV     Maybe I should put it another way. Buthelezi himself approached the ANC from the viewpoint if you can't beat them join them even if its temporary, and he has joined them in a government of national unity but he hasn't sacrificed his ideas about how to go for self-determination for his people, how to promote his ideas of federalism which he has often advocated. That's another one I should give to you, I should get that one too, the speech of Buthelezi in the Volksraad Council. Buthelezi is a very important factor in SA politics and that speech he made in the Volksraad Council's final conference which is the conference based on self-determination for all the people of SA, he was the keynote speaker, Buthelezi, and in that speech of his he came with the idea and he said let's make SA a country of communities and let us empower the communities in order to make the community strong so that they can then survive and fit as communities in the new SA. So, although Buthelezi cannot afford at this stage to create the impression that he is siding with the whites, he has to side with the blacks at the moment because it didn't go so well with his party, he didn't do well with his party for the last five years. No, in general it didn't go well with him. In fact we were all surprised that the FF eventually got what it arrived at in the election. We were expecting far less support from Buthelezi.

POM     You thought his vote would even be lower than he received? The IFP vote?

CV     We were expecting far less than what we received and we think it is the deep rural areas that again carried him through because those are staunch IFP supporters. The factor of Buthelezi and the ANC is a very complicated one. There's another speech I had to give you and that is a speech he made in his conference. He invited me to Ulundi, but that speech is definitely in Cape Town, he invited me to Ulundi and he made a good speech that day regarding the position of the IFP and why the IFP is working with the ANC. You have to get that speech.

POM     There will be in the IFP a post-Buthelezi era, he's not exactly a young man any more and, again, he looms far larger –

CV     It's possible for another ten years, that's what he said in Ulundi. He said to them in Ulundi that he is available as leader as long as they want him and he thinks he can carry on for another ten years because then that's more or less what Mandela did.

POM     But there's no crown prince.

CV     Another point about Buthelezi is you must bear in mind that Buthelezi himself is at the moment the senior traditional leader in parliament. That gives him the cloak of Madiba, but he can only fulfil the role of the Madiba, of the new era, if he works very closely with the ANC. This is black culture and many white politicians will never understand this, the NP won't understand it, the DP won't understand it. We who have worked closely with the blacks we know this much better and to me what is taking place between Buthelezi and the ANC is not so worrying, it is a temporary phenomena. It will improve.

     OK now I've given you my strategy and I have now deviated off that whole issue of the IFP.

POM     Just to backtrack, what I hear you saying is that there is a two-stage strategy here, that there must be a consolidation of, let's call it, cultural self-determination for different communities and ethnic groups first and after that then you can pursue territorial self-determination but do you think that you can go for territorial self-determination when you can't secure the first one which is trying to leap a fence – if you can't leap one fence you say, OK, I will leap a higher fence.

CV     Can I say one thing further to you and that is if you have proceeded well with the idea of cultural self-determination and thereby causing within SA an amicable culture of co-operation, if that can happen you might never end up with territorial self-determination. The whole idea of self-determination is that the people must claim it and if the Afrikaner people are happy within the new SA they will never claim self-determination in their own area, I don't think so. It is only if living under the new black suppression offends people then they will probably go for external self-determination.

POM     So if they feel that their identity as Afrikaners and their culture as Afrikaners can be adequately safeguarded and protected and expressed within the new SA then they may not feel, or will not feel, or the need to feel territorial self-determination will diminish, just won't be necessary. Looking at that in the context of a Mbeki administration for a minute, you had said before that you enjoy a good relationship with Mbeki, that you respect him and he respects you.

CV     But he doesn't respect my party.

POM     But doesn't respect your party! That's a problem. Then does he respect any party?

CV     I failed to complete my idea about the Broederbond. All of a sudden at the beginning of this year Mbeki started courting the Broederbond. He got the Broederbond to invite him and they arranged a huge big gathering at the Pretoria City Hall and they gave him a reception as never before. Mbeki therefore at the moment is turning towards the Broederbond. I saw Jacob Zuma the other day and I said to him, "Now what the hell are you doing now? How can you regard the Afrikaner Broederbond as a spokes-body for the Afrikaner because they are NP and you have often said the NP is your biggest enemy." You know the Broederbond has got 14,000 members, I have got 127,000 supporters but I'm not consulted on Afrikaner issues by Mbeki, the Broederbond is consulted because the Broederbond has all of a sudden come out and said we will help you with your idea of renaissance and we will support the ANC and we will carry it through, economically we will make a success, etc. So there is an unholy relationship between Mbeki and the Broederbond. Mbeki is very clever and cute in this regard but he's making a big, big, big mistake because the real Afrikaners he will never be able to ignore will be us.

POM     Do you feel that you can raise matters now with Mbeki in a way that he is receptive to them or that he is once again adopting the old tactic of, yes, I am receptive and it will be looked into and there will be a report and after that there will be another meeting and, yes, we're looking into it further, but nothing will ever change, so they think if they keep at that long enough you will simply tire of it, go back to your farm.

CV     No I won't. I have the option now, I can go now. If I go back to the farm then what happens to my people? That means an uncompleted job. We have within Afrikanerdom at the moment a choice, to go purely parliamentary or to go purely extra-parliamentary, outside of parliament – or maybe a choice of doing both. I think we are going for both. What is the good news is that we are at this stage … and Buthelezi's speeches, yes this is his Self-Determination conference, that's very important to read.

POM     So this is the one that you thought was in Cape Town?

CV     No. The other one in Cape Town is the one that I got from Ulundi.

POM     Have you had an opportunity to say to Mbeki, where does the Afrikaner fit in your concept of an African renaissance?

CV     I have, not with Mbeki but Jacob Zuma, I have spoken to him. Mbeki is too busy and too important. He's all over the world, addressing the UN and doing all sorts of things so I haven't had the opportunity to really speak to Mbeki. I did have the opportunity once to meet him for a short while to say look here, we need to talk. Then he said, yes, well we'd better talk. But I've seen Jacob Zuma about two weeks ago, saying to him that I don't accept the outcome of the election of 1999 as a rejection of self-determination, it's not the case. The outcome of the election of 1999 is a direct result of the Afrikaner being fed up with the ANC, looking for that party which gives the ANC most hell, which is the DP, and temporarily rejecting the FF for this specific purpose, but the urge for self-determination will come and then we have to be ready.

POM     When you hear Mbeki talk about the African renaissance do you read it with a sense of there's a place for us in this scheme of things, or do you read it with a sense of - where do we sit here, we don't seem to fit into his conception of what is an African renaissance?

CV     No, no, I have not had the opportunity of … and as Africans we are also concerned about the upliftment, development of Africa and if the idea of African renaissance means the uplifting of Africa, the development of Africa, the advancement of all the peoples of Africa, yes, then we are in this. If it means African renaissance meaning black renaissance, then I say it's not on. I believe there is a need for the upliftment of the underprivileged people but I don't regard that as African renaissance. African renaissance is something bigger, it's statements like 'development in Africa'.

POM     I just want to read you – there are one or two books that have come out analysing the 1999 elections and I want to read a paragraph in this book by Andrew Reynolds Election '99 South Africa from Mandela to Mbeki. He says: -

     "The reality is that electorally at least the white right is ancient history when it comes to modern South African politics. In 1994 the Freedom Front of General Constand Viljoen had been a serious player polling 14% of the white vote and winning nine seats in parliament which brought the bulk of alienated whites into the democratic tent, but by 1999 dreams of a volkstaat had evaporated and conservative whites saw the new style DP as their best bet to restrain ANC power. The Freedom Front lost (he uses the figure) nearly 300,000 votes and all but three of their MPs. Their best showing came in the Free State but even here their vote was cut by two thirds. In ten years the strength of the 'white right' has plummeted from a third of the white vote in 1989 to 8% in the second democracy."

CV     I think that's very accurate. Can I make a copy of this?

POM     I want to step back a bit to our interview last year and on one occasion I may ask you to draw me a map, but that can wait, you needn't do it now but you'll know what I'm talking about when I get to it because we were talking about Cuito Cuanavale and you were mentioning towns here and you had been, I assume, gesturing in different directions but when I saw it all on paper it was like where is this and where is that and where did it fit?

     First, you talked about the NP pretending to change. Do you think they are still in pretence mode of operandi or do you think they're simply lost, they don't really know where they're going any longer? The New National Party, you had said before that the public would make this 180 degree change and become more anti-apartheid than even the ANC had been and it was pretence. Do you think that they are still caught in the jaws of pretence?

CV     They are still living with, I wouldn't call it pretence, I would say with naïve expectations of a huge black swing towards them. You must bear in mind that the 180 degrees that they made was for the sake of gaining power again. The whole idea of De Klerk was to regain power as soon as possible and his first try was to do it in 1994 and the result is well known. Then he felt it would be possible by changing the name from the National Party to the New National Party and he thought it would be possible within five months to see the ANC government collapsing through inefficiency, corruption and so on, and with a lot of blacks swinging towards the NNP so that they could then take over government. Now naturally this has not happened so they are still – I was right in my estimation of them, I said that they are naïve in what they expect, they can never do so.

POM     Not even?

CV     They cannot, as the NP they cannot gain a lot of black support in the country.

POM     It strikes me that if I was the party that was perceived by almost the entire mass of the black population as having been their oppressor for the better part of 50 years, to believe that just because my party, the ANC, didn't deliver a house or was corrupt that I would turn around and then vote back into power the person who had oppressed me, is kind of unreal. It's totally naïve.  Do you see them as being increasingly marginalised, the NP or the DP?

CV     They were terribly marginalised. As you know they have collapsed in total and they are at the moment, I think they are trying to move the Buthelezi way. I see a sudden affinity between the ANC and Marthinus van Schalkwyk. I think what is taking place now at the moment is the ANC believes that the move towards the DP has now taken away all the anti-blacks and has moved them to the DP and I think they think that with what is left over in the NP they might be able to get more whites in the ANC because this is an objective of the ANC to get more whites in and I think they are fishing for whites within the NP, the NNP.

POM     And Marthinus is open to this kind of fishing?

CV     I am sure that there's no doubt about it. You know Marthinus has consistently been rejected in parliament. They referred to him as the kort broek, short trouser boy, he's like a politician and that is now all gone, they are much more lenient towards him and him towards them too. I wouldn't be surprised if he moves the same way, I wouldn't be surprised if Marthinus is fishing for another post in a government of coalition. Possible.

POM     And the DP?

CV     The DP is now the opposition party and they have decided on hitting back and they will probably be able to hit back and eventually achieve nothing because I think he overplayed his part. You see, remember about the DP, the DP is an unreal South African party. The DP is a party more fit for the Westminster parliament than for the SA parliament and now they have achieved a lot of right wing orientated people within the DP and that's going to make their constituency even more difficult. I don't know how Tony Leon's going to handle this.

POM     I wanted to go back to, and I know you had resigned at the time, but the manner in which the National Security Management System worked. It had structures at every level of society down to the lowest tier. Did that result in a militarisation of South African society in the late 1980s, or from the mid 1980s on?

CV     I think we must bear in mind that the situation in SA for a few decades during the liberation war has been very much militarily orientated because we had National Service and virtually everyone was connected to National Service. We had Citizen Force, part time soldiers, etc. Then people such as PW Botha was very much involved with the military before he became president and depended heavily on the military after becoming president. But whether the NSMS, whether that has caused this it's difficult to say. I don't think so. I think what might be the case is that of the different levels of society often you found the military man being more well informed, higher trained on the issue of this kind of warfare, this insurgency warfare, and thereby exerting more pressure towards solutions than the normal, for example, police officer. That might have created the idea of higher militarisation but I don't really think it is the case. What is important also to mention is the concept of a militarised situation in SA was also present within the cabinet. It was as if you had a cabinet and a super-cabinet and the super-cabinet was the more security orientated State Security System. All the ministers sitting in the State Security Council, etc., were in the first team you know, I think so.

POM     What I'm getting at is given the enormous number of structures that seemed to exist during the PW Botha era across the security spectrum, does it really come as a surprise that where there were so many clandestine or covert operations, and in some cases no kind of clear chain of command or accountability, that things would inevitably get out of hand and that you would end up with a situation with De Kocks almost acting as freelancers on their own because there was no clear chain of command as to whom they were responsible to?

CV     I must say I differ with that. I don't think that even De Kock was acting that much on his own. For sure De Kock's superiors should have known about what he was doing. I think it is more a case of De Kock and a number of people deciding to carry on with this kind of war which they believed in for the sake of the country. They saw this as a solution for the country and it is also possible that they by themselves had decided to protect their superiors by not telling them. I don't know. The point is I was never in contact with De Kock. I met De Kock when I was in the Volksfront. When I was in the Volksfront I was considering war, you remember this? I was then deliberating as to how will I get to my own intelligence structures and then a good friend of mine took me to De Kock and two other people and he tried to sell them to me. Fortunately with my knowledge of people I saw through this man so quickly it's just not true and I said, no I won't touch him. Fortunately I didn't do so otherwise I would have been in trouble through him. But De Kock was then still in the police force. I don't think De Kock himself, I think the superiors probably knew about this, I think so, but they certainly have not authorised everything that he did. When you have a big organisation such as the State Security Council, De Kock won't say look here, I want to get rid of so-and-so terrorist, please authorise. That's not how it was done. De Kock has got a mission, the same thing with the defence force, they have a mission. I decided to attack Cassinga and I had a mission to attack Cassinga, that's all. I was given the task, in fact I suggested it. I evaluated the intelligence and I said this base is getting a nuisance for us. All of the attacks for Ovamboland came from the Cassinga base. I said, well instead of waiting for them here and having all the trouble to walk kilometre by kilometre in the bush, hammer the base at the far end and that worked. We hammered the base and we didn't have trouble for a long time after that. But the attack on Cassinga was properly authorised and suggested by me and motivated by me.

POM     There are questions that maybe I will leave until Cape Town on Cuito Cuanavale again, which I want to go back on. I am confused as to, and you had mentioned that I should get in touch with General Geldenhuys. How would I do that? Is he now retired?

CV     He is retired.

POM     How would I go about getting in touch with him?

CV     I will give you the number, I haven't got Geldenhuys's number but I will give you the number of Dirk Marais if I have it.

POM     You had said the last time that it was Mbeki who decided to take the war to the townships. How did you learn that? Where did Mbeki fit in? I never thought of Mbeki as being an operational person, that he was involved in that.

CV     An operational man. Yes he was, very much so. They sent a team from the ANC to Vietnam round about 1983 and then the Vietnamese gave them a change in strategy. Mbeki's words were, this is Tienie Groenewald (Major General Tienie Groenewald from Intelligence) Mbeki himself said, "Look at the situation in SA. We don't have a bush, we don't have a border."

POM     When you say, you used that word quite frequently in the last interview, when you say 'a bush' do you mean literally a jungle, a place to hide?

CV     In order to hide.

POM     Or do you mean an agglomeration of people?

CV     He said, "We can't fight this war as they have done in Angola and as they have done in Zimbabwe."

POM     Mbeki said that?

CV     "Look at the distances, South Africa's heartland is a long way from the border so if we stay outside and we have to operate across the border and before we get to that the efficient defence force will kill us all." Then they said, "There is only one way for us to do it and that is to take the war to the people in the townships." Then they infiltrated in the townships and disappeared in the human bush, meaning that the blacks now formed their own bush and because of them not wearing uniform they hide in the black bush and that made it impossible for the security forces.

POM     Made it impossible for the SADF to operate and you say that's where the police became, or security people acting as individuals, became the –

CV     How far are you? I have a phone call coming through from a radio station in a few minutes time.

POM     Can you do that and talk more or do you wish that we stop now?

CV     I would like to stop now. I would much rather accommodate you later. I have a very heavy programme tomorrow and I have to do some preparation for tomorrow.

POM     OK. I will have Judy call and make an appointment either here or in Cape Town. What I've decided is that, you know I've been interviewing 120 people, now in the book that I'm under contract to do I can't have, if I accommodated all 120 people I would have a paragraph on each person which would come to 620 pages, so I'm concentrating now with certain individuals and selecting them and you're one of those.

CV     Let me tell you, if you really want the story about Cuito Cuanavale then you have to see Geldenhuys. Remember I left in 1985 and the main thrust of Cuito Cuanavale came after 1985.

POM     But I was confused about accounts of the Air Force war. Well we can go through in Cape Town, and the rest.

CV     Let's do it then.

POM     So I'll have Judy ring again and set something up. I really appreciate the amount of time you give me.

CV     I'm completely out of position today because I don't know where anything is. This is a new surrounding, it is as if I can't think well.

POM     Now you begin to sound like the ANC. We'll have a meeting with them, we'll report back and we'll give you the results. But thanks.

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.