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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

04 Oct 1999: Van Zyl Slabbert, Frederik

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POM     This was a column that was written by Motsada Tsedu.

VZS     Oh yes Tsedu, he's the Political Editor of The Star.

POM     This is on the question of amnesty that we talked about: -

     "This is precipitated by Kobie Coetsee on the whole question of amnesty.  You see there was a time when the ANC insisted on blanket amnesty. You must go and have a chat with Constand Viljoen because there's a deep disillusionment that set in there from the right military. The ANC offered the government complete amnesty for everybody, including themselves. Kobie Coetsee hung out and said no and the whole thing became a huge political football."

     Now what is your source for saying that the ANC, because they adamantly deny - ?

VZS     Penuell Maduna, you can go to a public TV show that I had in which I interviewed him and talked about the issue of amnesty. He was part of the panel. If memory serves me I put it to him at that stage, "What do we do now?" And he said, "We are in favour of a blanket amnesty." I remember he said something like, "Let's start afresh, let's forgive."

POM     What year, when would this have been?

VZS     You know I started that programme in the nineties, 1991, 1992. I am sure I can find out for you from the SABC archives or whatever. I still have some of the tapes that were taken. I don't know if I've got that particular tape. But the rest I would say I've picked up talking to Roelf, talking to – who was it? With CODESA.

POM     I've talked to Kobie Coetsee quite a lot. In fact I spent days with him and he still goes around and around and around.

VZS     That's my man, that's my man.

POM     But he is insistent that he and Jacob Zuma had in fact agreed on an across the board amnesty, that for him later to be vilified as the one who made amnesty an issue after the Record of Understanding was simply not where he stood at the time.

VZS     I must say I'm talking even before the negotiations really got going, I'm talking even before CODESA 1. There was that period between the Pretoria Minute and the Groote Schuur Minute and that's the time I was talking about, they were all fresh. I'm talking of the ANC side.

POM     They had all been given indemnity to come back into the country.

VZS     Yes they had been given indemnity and then the question of what are you going to do now? I asked Maduna that, then he said they're in favour of an amnesty, blanket amnesty. It's pretty sure it was on that tape. I put the question specifically: what do you do? And the whole question of do we start with a clean slate or don't we start with a clean slate. But, of course, you can argue, and I think quite rightly, that it wasn't official ANC policy, that he was speaking in his personal capacity but he was pretty vociferous about it, really up-front about it.

POM     You mentioned that you talked with Viljoen on this, I just talked to him last week but it was on other issues which we'll get to. Was he part of - ?

VZS     Viljoen is still part of kind of backroom discussions with Mbeki and others, maybe Zuma, on how to settle the position of the military and if I follow the argument, the argument depends on a particular interpretation of war, if the ANC and the Generals agree on that particular interpretation which they are going to use to circumvent the amnesty provisions of the TRC so that both the ANC and the Generals will not have to apply for amnesty.

POM     Where would that leave the SAPS or former members of the SAP? Would they be covered by the same thing?

VZS     Yes. When you say SAP, South African Police? Same thing, that they would be covered. Those who were involved in military action, I'm not talking about criminal action, they are agreed that criminal action can be prosecuted and pursued outside of the general definition, that the ordinary foot soldier would be covered. But look, I'm talking now, the guy who sits in on these things is a fellow called Jurgen Kögl, he's a very close friend of mine, he will be here in a moment's time. I'm going to get him to talk to you.

     Let me take you a little bit back, what happened was, I think I may have mentioned it in one of our discussions, he came to see me also with Braam Viljoen who is the brother of Constand. Braam went along to the Dakar Conference. Braam said in the run-up to the 1994 elections …   Braam then came to see me to get some money to set up meetings to persuade the right wing with Constand at that time to enter into discussions. They were sort of out of it, they didn't want to have anything to do with it, they were not going to participate in the elections. They formed the Freedom Alliance but they sought common cause with Buthelezi and with this and that and so on, Oupa Gqoza and all that. Then it happened to be the case they went to Germany and I managed to raise some money from a well known foundation and they had a number of meetings. Old Jaap Marais of the HNP the other day wrote a piece exposing this whole conspiracy to undermine the Afrikaner and I was at the forefront and I got foreign money to set up meetings between the ANC and Constand.

     In any case, from that a series of meetings developed between Constand and Jacob and Maduna and at that stage I think also Thabo. That liaison has been carrying on ever since 1994 and one of the critical issues, one of the very critical issues was amnesty, what are you going to do? The argument being from the military that they were not going to apply for amnesty, you can take us to prison, you can do whatever you want to do but we're not going to apply for amnesty because the whole argument was that we were just doing our job, the guys who should really apply for amnesty are the politicians, they're a bunch of thugs and so on. That was a very strongly held view by both the police and the military. By the way I'm sure you've talked to Van der Merwe and he will make the same point.

     Then the whole question started getting pretty tough around Magnus' trial and they were cheesed off because Magnus got off and this set a bad example but it raised the whole issue of what do you do with all the others. Viljoen admitted, "Yes, I led the raid on Casinga. Yes, I did kill people. I take the full rap for every one of my men." So the meetings then continued and they were trying to find a way to resolve the issue of amnesty for the SADF. Now there I am not quite sure to what extent the SAP were involved, I really am not sure although they were at one stage in on some of the discussions. But certainly on the SADF Viljoen and others carried on with the last guy who was in charge, I've forgotten his name now, Meiring.

     In any case this year, earlier some time this year, there was an informal agreement that a way would be found to circumvent the amnesty provisions of the TRC and that would revolve around the definition of what constituted war. Was that a war that they were involved in in Angola and Namibia? Was the ANC involved in a war? And if both sides agree then the Geneva Convention and the whole damn lot, I'm just repeating what the story is, would apply and this means that they didn't have to apply for amnesty.

     That's a long way away from the kind of off-the-cuff statement by Maduna on the TV interview that the ANC would favour a blanket amnesty. I just wish I could remember who the other guys were on that panel, not Willie Esterhuyse.

POM     Would that have applied to agencies of the SADF like Military Intelligence and the Directorate of Covert - the CCB?

VZS     Yes Concerned Citizens Bureau. I don't know, I really don't know. I just know that it involved the SADF. But even then Viljoen said, "Look, if you can find any criminal action, anything that went beyond duty as a soldier, prosecute. You're entitled to prosecute." So the kind of Wouter Basson thing would not be covered by it, the kind of Ferdi Barnard and Slang van Zyl and Chippie Maree and that lot, Lubovsky's lot and Webster's lot, that would not be covered by it.

POM     Did you read the story on the Lubovsky files in the Mail & Guardian?

VZS     Yes, I know exactly where that story comes from. Yes I read the story. Guinon is a very, very interesting character. There's long been a suspicion that he works for the French Military Intelligence and he's involved with arms and so on and he was very close to Winnie, without I'm sure her knowing that he bank-rolled Winnie for quite a while before the negotiations. Guinon was the guy who befriended Lubovsky. Guinon was the guy who set up that furniture shop and helped to launder SADF money through Anton Lubovsky's account. It's a messy business.

POM     So Lubovsky didn't die for liberation?

VSZ     Anton I knew well, I don't think Anton was – he was in financial difficulties for sure because he had given up his practice to work full time for SWAPO and he thought these were legitimate deals and he was going to get a genuine commission and that would help him to survive because basically he was looking after the payments of SWAPO. He died because the guys wanted to get rid of him, he was not going to play ball, he wasn't going to make things available that they wanted and they thought they had him, they thought they would compromise him to such an extent and he was just going to blow the whistle so they bumped him off.

PAT     That article suggests that he asked Geingob -

VSZ     Geingob didn't want to talk about it. That's the fascinating thing about the Lubovsky matter. SWAPO never wanted to play ball with it, they never really wanted to say, well open up the thing, come and do it, let's see, they just wanted it to go away, didn't want Anton's death to be investigated. It's an extraordinary thing. He was a sort of Gucci revolutionary, make no mistake. Anton was an extraordinary character.

POM     Just since you mentioned CODESA, the last time you had talked quite a bit about De Klerk's biography in quite a withering kind of a way.

VZS     Still do. We had a bit of a thing about De Klerk in the last interview if I recall, that you said De Klerk had known long before that he was going to hand over power, that in fact Fanie van der Merwe said the same thing, and I said, well, I doubt whether they were all that clear in their minds. Fanie is adamant that he was there when the date was set and the date was set before the constitution had been negotiated. In any case I'm interrupting you.

POM     You have even Roelf saying that, and was quoted I think by Patti Waldmeir, saying the time has come and De Klerk saying to him, "The time has come to liquidate the firm", which he took as being we're out of business.

     My question would be, this ongoing argument about when CODESA 2 came to a stop over the impasse on the majority or the percentages that would be used for reaching decisions on the Bill of Rights and passing major decisions or just decisions in parliament, that (a) it was engineered by the NP, that they wanted to bring CODESA 2 to a stop at least temporarily, and (b) that it was engineered by the ANC, by Cyril. One question is: would an early election or a later election, assuming that De Klerk knew that he had to have an election by 1995, that is there would be an all-white election called for under the constitution, assuming that he accepted that as the end of his deadline one way or another, would an early election have suited him better than a later election? Did he stand to gain from - ?

VZS     The one argument was that the longer he could draw out negotiations the weaker the ANC would become. That I picked up from a number of Nationalists. I think I referred you to the name Tjol Lategan, he's still on the Northern Province Legislature but he was an MP and then he resigned, he was pretty high up in the NP hierarchy and apparently he claims to be quite close to De Klerk. When I asked him once, "What the hell are you guys trying to do?", and now we're talking the beginning of negotiations, his argument was, "No, we pulled him in, we pulled him in", and then to take an Afrikaans expression, take 'dooierus', when you rest your gun and take careful aim, you take dooierus for ten years.  Yes, the implication being that the longer you can draw out these fellows and the better you can govern, the weaker they become and the more likely it is that they will lose support. That was really the argument. So if that was a fairly common view in the top echelons a later election would have suited him better than an earlier election. I think so.

     Quite frankly, even if you take his biography, I don't think he had a post-election strategy of any real consequence. It was a fatal mistake to move out of the government of national unity for the NP. It was a fatal mistake for him to resign as leader. That was the only bloody asset they had, was De Klerk, for better for worse. So he resigns, so he's out. What does this indicate? Does this indicate somebody who had a clear view of what kind of role he and his party were going to play in a post-election period? That he was going to give a certain flavour to a government of national unity? I don't think so. My view is that De Klerk really never - he had lost the plot, he had lost the plot once the election date had been set and the constitution had been signed off, he lost the plot, he didn't know what he really wanted. That's my view.

POM     This is the interim constitution?

VZS     Interim constitution, sure. If you can ask Marthinus today would he rather be part of the government of national unity, he would say, "Yes, sure, I'd rather be part of the government of national unity." When you talk to some of the guys, I mean Thabo Mbeki himself told me, the day De Klerk moved out he said either to De Klerk or to somebody in the NP, "You have destroyed your party", when he moved out of the government of national unity because from then on it was a matter of what kind of role do you play, where are you? You're out there and Marthinus reflects the problem.

POM     Do you think it's an unfair criticism of De Klerk or the NP or the negotiators that they tried as hard as possible to cling on to as much power as possible through some consociational power sharing agreement that would guarantee them a place in the Executive, perhaps in perpetuity or whatever, that this is what normal negotiators would do in a situation of divided societies, look for power sharing rather than majoritarianism? It's an accepted principle that majoritarianism is not the best form of rule for divided societies, so in a way he was following the road of many respected international academics in looking for some form of consociational solution but that it was so tied up with the issue of race that everything was viewed through the racial prism, i.e. through the prism of yes, he wants power sharing but only to maintain white privilege and power rather than to participate as a –

VZS     To constrain majoritarian sentiments.

POM     Yes.

VZS     There was an interview I had again with that same programme with De Klerk in the Union Buildings when he was still President and I think it was just after the Potchefstroom by-election, and he went around telling the voters there – not Potchefstroom, when he called the referendum.

POM     He said if you don't want majority rule –

VZS     Vote for me. That's right. So I then said to him specifically on that programme, "Now how are you going to prevent this? What are you going to do?" He said, "No, you can constitutionalise a minority veto." Now remember the minority veto was an old PFP policy that I had actually written into the damn thing to get rid of the qualified franchise, you had to soften the blow as it were. So you get rid of the qualified franchise, bring in a minority veto but the minority veto is dependent not on race but on a certain percentage of the electorate that feels that they want to vote. It was all rather clever and sleight of hand business but it helped us through a difficult time. Now De Klerk used the concept of a minority veto and I said to him, "But you know people like Lijphart and others who have done their bit on consociational democracy, the one thing they're adamant about is you cannot constitutionalise the arrangement because the problem is the moment you try and constitutionalise it, you assume that you can, as it were, freeze the dynamics of politics into a constitution. In other words that the minority that you want to constitutionalise will always be that minority, and you can't. So what do you do? If you have a deeply divided society like the Dutch were when consociation was used with the pillars there of the different Zuiler, that reflected a de facto situation and that de facto situation informed politics, not a constitution, it was an arrangement. Now if De Klerk was preparing to go into an arrangement, if Meyer found a far more willing response on the other side than if he wanted to constitutionalise, because I just didn't know how you do that, I don't know how you write a formal constitutional consociational democratic constitution. These are the arrangements. For example, even if you take the Pinochet example or the Jarozelsky example, Pinochet bargained authoritarian enclaves quite blatantly. He said, "I will remain in charge of the army. I demand five or six of the key mayoralties in the country." Those were authoritarian enclaves, it had stuff all to do with a constitution and the Bill of Rights. He was saying, if you want a deal you make that concession. Now my argument is, De Klerk had the power to demand some concessions. He could have done it on education, he could have done it on the civil service. He didn't think it was necessary. He thought the dynamics of politics would play itself out. He seriously thought he was going to get a much higher level of support in the 1994 election.

POM     About 30%.

VZS     Yes he was going to get about 30%. That even in companies, private sector companies, that's a controlling minority. If you have 30% there's very little the top guys can do because you've got them by the short and curlies. So in that sense you could say De Klerk was hoping that the dynamics of politics would play itself out in such a way that he would have a de facto veto position in any case. He never made any specific arrangements in that regard and if you look at the interim constitution from the right perspective, from the right, it was a sell-out, it was a betrayal, it was a handing over. And this is what Viljoen and all the other guys were saying, he said the guy when he says the firm's going into liquidation, how can he do that? On whose behalf? On behalf of all the shareholders? Certainly not, he's doing it on his own behalf. He's saying, I'm going to go out of business and everybody else is going to come with me, and that's what the other guys said, you just can't do that.

     I was reading the other day, De Klerk and Gorbachev both reached a position of leadership in their respective societies that they could sign off the whole damn country like that, without being accountable to anybody. The structure of the NP was such that De Klerk could make that speech, he could do those things and nobody could say, but you can't do that. Nobody. Nobody could say, hey, what are you doing here? You're not allowed to do this. They just said, shit, he's written the country off.

POM     Well in the same way could he take a decision to release Mandela?

VZS     Exactly what he did. Who decided Mandela should be released? De Klerk, De Klerk and maybe six or seven other guys, or do you think this was caucused in the NP and through the rank and file of the party and talked through with the military? Maybe he talked it through with Niel Barnard or a few top guys in MI or MIS, I don't know. You know as well as I do that if he had done that it would have been common knowledge, it would have been in the press, there would have been speculation and accusations and counter-accusations, all of that. It didn't happen. It was boom boom, the Berlin wall fell in October 1989, 2nd February he made the speech, and it was the end of October so it was November, December – in the silly season, that's when it happened.

POM     So when De Klerk argues throughout his book that it was he who wanted the early election and it was this squabbling and conflict between the ANC and the IFP and internal divisions between the left and the ANC and the more moderate wing and the Leipzig option and all of that, this is all, in your view, a form of self-justification?

VZS     I wouldn't deny that there was a lot of division, a lot of uncertainty, even a lot of apprehension in ANC ranks about going into the election. From the very outset if you read Shubin's book now A View from Moscow, Shubin makes it quite clear that the ANC although they were always talking about a negotiated settlement from the late eighties on, were never really quite prepared for what it would entail. I don't know if you've read Shubin's book, it's very interesting, it gives you a very clear insight into the relationship between the SACP, the SUCP and the ANC, (the SUCP – Soviet Union Communist Party) and how they worked very closely together in that whole critical period when Gorbachev, according to Shubin, lost the plot and then the ANC moved into negotiations. So the point I'm making, the ANC itself didn't know exactly how to deal with this situation for understandable reasons. So you could say maybe they were unaware of what would happen, but I would find it extremely surprising if De Klerk was going to say it was basically because of dissension in the ranks. If it was dissension in the ranks he could have had an even earlier election if he wanted to, he could have pushed through the whole thing. He could have said come on, you're holding back, whereas I think the resistance he was picking up, the reaction he was getting when he started moving in that direction, was from his own rank and file, people saying but what are you doing? Where are you moving to? What are you doing with the country? I would be very surprised if De Klerk had a clearly worked out strategy, early election, I will get a hell of a lot of support, I will undermine them. The impression I had, he was going to try and whittle away as much support, show them up for what they were, people tied to the apron strings of Moscow, that they were communists and now that communism has fallen do you want me to – you know, that whole story.

POM     And tie them in to the violence.

VZS     Well now it transpires that there was (if you read Jeffreys, Anthea Jeffreys is now anathema from the ANC side or point of view), but Jeffreys makes the point that the violence in Natal was not just IFP, it was ANC and there was a lot of tenseness there and tension.

POM     She documents that quite comprehensively in her other book, The Story of Natal, about 1500 pages, something fairly compelling.

VZS     I think it's brave stuff. It's the same with the TRC, I haven't read it, I've got the TRC book, I haven't read it, but I suspect that 90% of the people who react hysterically about it haven't read it either, they just decide on principle she's a baddie because she's associated with the Institute of Race Relations. I'm quite happy to give her the benefit of the doubt and to read the book. I haven't had a chance, I've just finished Shubin's book.

POM     This brings up a point, and I think we had touched on it on a number of occasions, and that is that the manner in which the ANC plays any criticism of it or its policies or actions in the past is in a sense to play a racial card, to say that if you criticise us or criticise what we're doing you either in some way supported apartheid in the past or in the present you are anti-transformation and are trying to preserve the status quo.

VZS     Yes I think it's the kind of cheap shot available to petty politicians. I don't think it's the kind of thing that Mbeki really believes or the top leadership of the ANC believes but it suits them in that cut and thrust of parliamentary mutual abuse to let them do that, show Tony Leon for being a white elitist, racist and all of that kind of stuff. So it's part of that. It's the same thing that happened under the NP, if they really wanted to rubbish you in the Afrikaner vote they would question your Afrikaner credentials, look where he sits, where he comes from, that kind of thing so I have no big dilemma with that. Where I do have a problem is I draw, I've just written a book in Afrikaans where I devote a chapter to what I call 'the struggle', and the struggle is an interesting phenomenon, not everybody who opposed apartheid is accepted as a member of the struggle. To become a member of the struggle you have to qualify. If you tried to become a member of the struggle in the seventies and eighties you had to be a communist, you had to join the Communist Party if you were white. That was the route into the struggle. That condition softened considerably with the UDF period because I think the ANC to a large extent were caught unawares by the extent of popular mobilisation inside the country. Certainly they were caught unawares by the 1976 riots of the children, Soweto riots and so on. But what I try and get my head around if I now, having read Shubin again and looked at my own experience, there certainly was a leadership cadre that decided your credentials for qualifying as a member of the struggle. You didn't really get into that inner sanctum. You could be a foot soldier, sure, you could be out there and you could be useful but to actually qualify and be part of that inner group, and I'm not saying that's a fixed inner group because there were a lot of tensions and it comes out in this work of Shubin's clearly around the Kabwe conference in 1985 for example, a lot of tensions about should you negotiate, shouldn't you negotiate, should you go for soft targets, shouldn't you go for soft targets. Is Thabo talking with permission, is he talking without permission, has he got a mandate from the Central Committee or hasn't he? All of that, but they were all part of that group that decided and, of course, by definition liberals or people who belonged to any opposition party in parliament, this is what I experienced when I went out – while I was still there you were persona non grata, when I went out the trend was that you had to become part of it, join up and become part otherwise you simply are not serious about your opposition to apartheid. So in that sense I think that there was, there still is now that Thabo has won the battle, a kind of line that divides those.

POM     They won the battle.

VZS     For the leadership of the ANC. That they will decide who's persona non grata and who's persona grata and so on and it works through. It's the rule of law of circulation of elites. The new elite will decide those who qualify and form part of it. Now that, that phenomenon, links into the question of race. That I agree with you. It's a very convenient way of eventually just rubbishing somebody that is not compliant, that is not accepting your point of view or questions your authority. But I don't think it's a matter of deliberate policy, it's politics.

POM     General Viljoen is insistent, and our time ran out before I got to him to say give me the source – well he did, he said it was Military Intelligence, that it was Thabo who decided, was the one at least who convinced the ANC leadership in Lusaka that this infiltration route of trying to infiltrate ANC cadres into the country was really a waste of training time and money since the route was too long and they were picked up immediately they came into the country and that they ought to take the war to the townships, so that in a way he was the strategist who brought about the fundamental change in the nature and formed the struggle. Does that strike you as far-fetched?

VZS     No I don't think it's far-fetched but I do think that one has to keep in mind that in 1990 Maharaj and Ronnie Kasrils were deployed into Operation Vula from outside and Operation Vula was hatched up outside the country in Moscow, according to Shubin, that Mac Maharaj -  What happened was when we were at that Dakar conference old Mac was walking around with a walking stick and we asked him what was it, he had been tortured and his kidneys had been stuffed up and he's got to go to Moscow for a long period of hospitalisation. We all felt so bloody guilty and terrible about it. He now tells you, Shubin, and Mac also subsequently, it was all just a charade to create an impression that he was going to hospital whereas he was going to come in and Vula. And Ronnie Kasrils was getting certain treatment for an ailment and had to go to hospital, they flew his wife over so that she could give credibility to the story and old Ronnie was sneaking in. Now the point is they were going to come in from the outside as it were and try and prepare the people for the revolution. In any case you know that Vula got exposed soon after that and so on. So I would say it's a mixture of both. I certainly think that towards the end of the eighties the kind of pilgrimage to Lusaka was gathering momentum so once that went on and the people came back the idea of making the townships ungovernable and all – I mean you can go back to 1983 with the Koornhof Bills and so on and the whole question of ungovernability in terms of the excluded status of urban blacks from the tricameral constitution, but all of that played a role. So I would imagine that Thabo's idea of mobilising, mass mobilisation which is one of the four strategies of the Kabwe conference, does not exclude external cadres coming in but it comes out very clearly in Shubin's book that the ANC was so heavily infiltrated in many respects, either in Tanzania or Angola or even in Moscow, that the guys were sitting there waiting for them the moment they came in, just picked them up.

POM     Does this exchange in - I can remember his second name but not his first, he's now I think editor of the New York Times, Joe Lilieveld, who tells the story of being told by a General in Pretoria, "We can infiltrate the ANC well, it's really no problem" so he got to Lusaka and got to see Tambo and he raises the question with Tambo. He says Tambo said, "Gee, he's dead right. Every other person who comes through here is an infiltrator and we put them through all kinds of screens and they're still in there. In fact some of our best people, some of our most disciplined members, some of the people doing the best work are infiltrators."

VZS     I think Shubin also makes the point that the Military Intelligence hopelessly overstate their prowess in that regard, it's not as simple as that. We go back to Ludi, does that name ring a bell? Gerhard Ludi who worked for the Security Police and went to Moscow and of course he was part of the Williamson outfit, you remember Craig Williamson? That kind of thing. I think there were cases like that but what often happens is they come back having been exposed and then they are instant authorities, they know everything that's going on in the Soviet Union, in Russia and of course they start talking nonsense. So I think whereas it's true that there were a number of people who infiltrated and were informers, they were always under suspicion. You know one of my old friends there who died the other day, Marius Schoon, the play that Fugard wrote about him, he was an Afrikaner in the ANC, he died the other day, his wife was Jennie Curtis, she was blown up by Craig Williamson's outfit in Botswana, killed the daughter. You know who I'm talking about? He, even until he died, he said that they never quite accepted his credentials.

POM     They never accepted his credentials because he was - ?

VZS     They thought he was an informer. But look, one's life depended on that kind of thing I suppose.

POM     Well you had that whole thing a couple of years ago where there were twelve members, some of them in parliament, who were supposed to have been police informers at one time or another.

VZS     You mean Patricia de Lille's story?

POM     No, this is quite far back. Peter Mokaba was mentioned, Pallo was mentioned.

VZS     Oh yes. Well Pallo sat in the clink almost for a year because they suspected he was an informer. Peter Mokaba definitely, there was a strong rumour spread that he turned when he was in prison for a while. I know, he phoned me, Peter did. He said, "Do you know anything about this?" I said, "I know as much about it as you do. I hear that you're an informer. I don't know whether you're an informer."

POM     Would considerations like that, or lingering considerations like that, account in some way for the fact that in Thabo's government they both lost their positions?

VZS     No I don't think so. I think, not both of them. I think that in the case of Pallo there was genuine antipathy between them. They just didn't like one another, and the little bit of exposure I had to them between 1987 and 1990 at various conferences outside the country you could almost see it, there wasn't much love lost between them. So I don't think it's got anything to do with suspecting Pallo, plus other contributory factors. In the case of Mokaba there's a strong smell of corruption there somewhere, so I'm told, and that becomes a liability if you want to start with a clean slate. Although he ran into the Umhlanga affair and didn't perform too well I don't think that played a role.

POM     Judge Goldstone, whom I talked to the other day, says that he believes that De Klerk did not have a handle on the violence that went on in the nineties, that these covert activities were in fact going on in the face of his specific instructions that all such activities were to cease. He believes his bona fides in that regard and he says he had nothing but full co-operation from De Klerk, that whenever he brought anything to De Klerk's attention De Klerk took action. But he says there's no way that he couldn't have known what was going on in the seventies and eighties.

VZS     Well I share that. I actually think that De Klerk was cut out of the kind of security loop even when he was on the State Security Council. What I gather –

POM     This is a point made by – not to anticipate what you were going to say, but a point made by Dan O'Mara in a book called The Last Forty Years which is on the bookshelves here.

VZS     Dan O'Mara is Afrikaner Volkscapitalisme but I haven't seen that one.

POM     He's a Canadian?

VZS     No he was South African, he was married to my cousin.

POM     He makes the point that from 1986 on, why he picks 1986 I'm not particularly sure, that it was really Botha and the Generals and the inner loop of the National Security Council were making all the decisions and that even people like De Klerk didn't know what was going on, they were just cut out.

VZS     According to my information that's absolutely correct.

POM     So would you 'exonerate' ministers like De Klerk from knowing what was going on from about that period?

VZS     No I wouldn't exonerate them. I don't think they made an effort to find out, number one. Number two, what Goldstone says I think is correct. You will read De Klerk's autobiography and you will not find one mention of Helen Suzman, not one word, not one word of Helen Suzman! And what she did meticulously for the thirty years she was there was document cases of abuse, cases of torture, cases of police dirty tricks. It's all there and he sat there, he sat there and you want to tell me that he thought all along the line she was some demented old witch sitting there and just putting this out without any documentation? Did he make any effort to find out? It's absolute nonsense that he didn't know what went on but he preferred not to know, he just cut himself off from the whole damn lot and when he was out of that loop that Botha had set up, and by the way it goes straight through to JR, his PA, J Roux, that was the line, not that formal meeting with the State Security Council, Botha, JR, Generals, outside even of the State Security Council because, understand, the Security Council was De Klerk –

POM     JR is?

VZS     JR he was of the President's Office, so that was the link through. He ended up being Ambassador in Tokyo.

POM     If Roux was the Secretary of the SSC –

VZS     That's why I'm saying he didn't – he says he wasn't in on it, he didn't know about it and so on so I have to credit that's maybe the case but I find it extremely difficult to believe that they couldn't have said, hang on, there's really something going on here and we can try and find out. And to appoint a judge like Harms, I mean Harms was lied to through the teeth of those guys. I saw Harms' wife the other day, she is still traumatised by the way the cops lied to him, the guy who is sitting now, De Kock and others, to the Harms Commission with rehearsed stories just lying through their teeth. So it's not good enough to say I appointed a judge here and I appointed a judge there, you've got to show that you're serious about trying to find out what went wrong and there's not even the slightest sign of that in his whole autobiography. There's a lot of self-justifying crap as far as I'm concerned.

POM     Does that apply to other ministers who were in the government at that time and contenders for Botha's position, like Barend du Plessis?

VZS     Well I've seen a great deal of Barend the last couple of years. In fact he's in this building somewhere. He says he didn't know anything.

POM     Confronted with a situation of where in higher echelons of power there's not a single person who says they knew anything.

VZS     But this is so crazy. Barend is the guy who signed the cheques, for goodness sake, so you at least have to say, well where does that money go to and what happens there and how is this possible? I don't know, I just find it quite extraordinary and therefore I have a kind of enormous lot of sympathy with the Constand Viljoen's and the soldiers and the cops even. In a funny, funny kind of way, don't misunderstand me, I have sympathy for De Kock. He goes there and he says, "But, shit, fellows, this is what I did for you and where are you guys now? Do you think I could have done it on my own?" And you can't find them for dust. Wouter Basson, even Constand in his day will say that was a good soldier, that was a great soldier. And there sits Botha, senile and demented there in the Wilderness, scot free, all of them just scot free, Magnus Malan, the whole damn lot. They're all gone, you can't find them for dust. Everybody is suddenly so respectable. I even see old Wynand Schlebusch when he fainted at this theatre performance of Antjie Krog's in Potchefstroom the other night and the Afrikaans press sort of said he couldn't stand the exposure of Afrikaner cruelty or NP cruelty. He says, "It's not true, I was one of the first architects of reform." Can you believe this? It's amazing. The kind of self delusion that operates here.

POM     Will there be an arrangement made with regard to amnesty do you think?

VZS     I have a very strong suspicion that you will find some kind of arrangement. You see the last amnesty case has to be heard by the end of this year, so they say. How it's going to happen?

POM     There are about 5000 left.

VZS     Exactly. I don't know how you do it but that's the story, or you extend the life. But I've asked people, I said now how long? Who did I talk to, somebody pretty close to the exercise? But where's Tutu? He's a professor somewhere in America, my good friend Alex is professor in New York. There's no follow through to see what you do about reparations or amnesty or all of that. Everybody's gone.

POM     In fact they're already having demonstrations about -

VZS     Nothing, no attempt. People say where is the stuff, what are you doing? The whole thing is just - get this out of the way, that's what I say. Just get it out of the way.

POM     Now if there is a general amnesty, would that have to entail that people who were denied amnesty now get amnesty?

VZS     I don't know. I don't know the details. That I certainly don't know.

POM     Wouldn't it be unfair to say - ?

VZS     The whole argument of the other side who refuse to come and ask for amnesty is precisely saying, hey there, look at those guys. They went and asked for amnesty and now they're going to prison or they're now liable to criminal prosecution. You think I'm going to indemnify myself like that? There's no way I'm going to do it. So you have that kind of catch-22 situation.

POM     Do you think there are any circumstances under which Buthelezi would be prosecuted?

VZS     No.

POM     Even though the TRC is absolutely – I think they spend more space damning him than any other individual in the entire report. Is there any situation in which Winnie Mandela would be prosecuted?

VZS     No.

POM     So if you take those as two kind of pillars and you don't prosecute those?

VZS     But you can go on, is there any way in which Botha will be prosecuted? Is there any way in which Vlok who has now received amnesty, Magnus – well he was prosecuted and he was absolved. I don't see politicians going to suffer but I can tell you a lot of cops and possibly some military types like Wouter Basson they will end up in the clink for sure. For sure they will end up in the clink. But the guys there who call the shots, not a damn. I suppose it's part of a negotiated transition, part of the culture of compromise up to a certain point and when you compromise there you've got to find somebody to blame down there. That's what I think.

POM     Viljoen takes great pride in being a military man and great pride in the SADF and its professionalism and whatever. One gathers the impression that when he was going to mount his 'insurrection' and seize a part of territory and declare it as a volkstaat that there would be defections from the SADF to his side because of the respect in which soldiers held him, but wouldn't he regard that as being treasonous?

VZS     I don't know. He said to me himself that at one stage – well there were two incidents that I can recall: the first one we talked in the run-up to the elections and he said that he had 30,000 men under arms if he wanted them tomorrow. I don't know how you check that out. I simply listened very carefully because if it was true and he started getting jumpy you've got yourself a nice little mess here. The second time I reminded him of this, it was at Jurgen Kögl's house, there was a private little dinner and the two Mulder brothers were there and Constand Viljoen and Lawrence Schlemmer and the current chairman of the Stock Exchange, Loubser, an English Afrikaner because he had difficulty following Afrikaans, but in any case we sat around the table and I said at one stage, "You know you said to me that you had 30,000 men under arms." He says, "I've got more than that now." That was last year. Again, how do you know this, how do you check it out? There's an extremely critical letter from Boshoff's son, Carel Boshoff, volkstaat, his son tears old Constand apart and says, "You know you're a useless leader, you haven't managed to hold the troops together. There you sit in parliament more interested in your position than actually leading any kind of a revolution or whatever." You know young Boshoff, that guy? Young Carel?

POM     No. The father yes.

VZS     Is the Freedom Front still salvageable, can it still be saved? The support plummets but Viljoen remains on. What I am really saying is this, he said last year he's got more than 30,000 men under arms, what's his electoral support? And then I saw him, if you will forgive this, it was rather crude, I saw him for a cup of coffee about a month and a half ago, the DP asked me to come and talk at their caucus meeting. I'm not a DP member. So before I went Viljoen said he would like to have a cup of coffee and we had a cup of coffee out there in Midrand. He said, "Let me ask you a very simple question, why did my supporters walk right past my polling booth and go and vote for Tony Leon?" So I said, "Well, Constand, I don't really know. I've heard them say that this guy, Leon, is putting up a better fight than you are." He said, "You know that's true. One of my constituents said, 'That Jew is going to fight harder against the Kaffirs than you Constand, that's why we're going to support him'." They still talk like that! So I said, "Yes, I can imagine, I can imagine where they come from and why they talk like that." So I laughed, I joked and I said, "You know a friend of mine said the other day that when the old PFP had an Afrikaner as leader all the Jews voted for him but now that the DP has got a Jew as a leader all the Afrikaners vote for the Jew." But he was genuinely shaken. I said to him that I think the reason is simply that you've always over-estimated the kind of Afrikaner ethnic vote, it was never as strong as you thought it was. It was a racist vote, it had very little to do with a cultural sense of identity of Afrikaners, everything to do with their position of privilege, the monopoly of power.

POM     Do you think, I just picked up a couple of articles in the last month or so, maybe it was coming up to Heritage Day, but this whole question of identity is one that should be by and large buried in this country or that it would (a) be a mistake for the ANC to interpret the vote for Viljoen's party as the death knell of Afrikaner nationalism, and (b) that there are still other ethnic and linguistic undercurrents that simply haven't come to the fore yet but that the government should keep its eye on?

VZS     I tend to go for the latter idea or latter way of thinking. I think, yes, a certain brand of Afrikaner nationalism is dead. That is the old style that clings to power and privilege and race and so on. What is happening now is on a very practical level, people feel themselves disadvantaged because language as a medium of instruction is increasingly being neglected, not only for Afrikaners, for Tswana, Xhosa, Zulu in the rural areas and there has been a revival of the Pan African language thing where they are simply making demands on the constitution which promises equitable treatment for all the eleven official languages. I've always thought it rather exotic to have eleven official languages but nevertheless there we are. But where it does become critical is commercially and in education and you may very well find that it goes much wider than just white people who speak Afrikaans. Most of the people in the North West, a substantial number of people even in Namibia and in the Western Cape speak Afrikaans. That's the language in which they converse with one another as families. So you can push it up to a level but I personally don't think that the structure of a liberal democracy lends itself to resolving minority problems through conventional party political participation. You will have to find a cause outside of parliament. You will have to say let's focus on education. That's why I find it interesting that Mbeki would go and talk to the Broederbond rather than go and talk to the New National Party or even to Constand in parliament. He will go and seek out the Broederbond, he will seek out Afrikaner organisations, discuss with them, tell them you have a role to play and so on, whereas the rules of the game in parliament are such that an excluded minority can really not have any influence. That's why Buthelezi is so clever. Buthelezi plays Zulu politics to perfection. He says, "OK, kick me out of the cabinet, prosecute me, kick me out of parliament if you want to. See what you'll get in Natal."

POM     It's a form of blackmail.

VZS     Of course it is. No question. And Zuma knows it, Jacob knows it.

POM     I suppose the point I would make is that to talk to people like Niel Barnard, the first thing he will say to you is - I want you to know I'm an Afrikaner nationalist, I've never forgotten the Boer War, and it reminds you of, you may raise your eyes, but like Serbs who would say I'm a Serb nationalist and I remember the battle of 1399 and that's my starting point. It's been transmitted through generations almost genetically. Is there any kind of residual feeling left among Afrikaners that they were an oppressed people who are once again being oppressed, that it's touching on the domination by the ANC particularly with regard to linguistic and cultural rights? It's the emasculation of their sense of identity.

VZS     I think it's a hellishly complicated thing to reply to. I think there are a lot of Afrikaners who feel very strongly about the language and certainly cultural values, who feel deeply ashamed by what has been revealed by the TRC process, who feel that this was done in their name and that they feel that they cannot mobilise on the old terms. There are those who will begin to argue more and more that the way in which the Boer War has been interpreted has been self-serving, as comforted a small elite. There's a new book on hensoppers and joiners which is very interesting.

POM     Which is it?

VZS     Hensoppers were people who joined the British, Afrikaners who joined the British. And there's quite an interesting story about them, it's the first time they're really named.  Hensopper is hands-up. I was a hensopper, when I went to parliament, I joined the wrong side, it had become so politicised into the kind of apartheid politics. For Niel Barnard to put his hand on his heart and say he's an Afrikaner Nationalist has a slight hollow ring for me. I can't see him depriving himself of the goodies. If anything he might end up a voluntary émigré like so many of the others have who have had the good life and the power. I'm not saying it because I think he's – he would like to think he is sincere about that. The people who really battle about being the kind of Afrikaner nationalist are the Jaap Marais' and some elements in the Broederbond, some elements in the church but they are powerless so I don't see that kind of Serb background, Serb-ism or whatever being available to the Afrikaner. It's too complicated. I can see something new developing. When Jakes Gerwel starts talking of we've got to try and preserve Stellenbosch as an Afrikaans language university and for a variety of reasons, one of them is also very strongly commercial, that people – I taught at UWC in 1987 and it was a very tense period. I had just resigned from parliament and the hard left called me 'Botha's bomb', I was planted there to subvert the struggle, all that kind of stuff, and I gave my lectures in Afrikaans. I then had a request from the class that would I in future not lecture in the language of the oppressor. So I said, "Sure I will give you the lecture in English if you want it." I lectured in English and then they sent a deputation, some of them, and asked would I repeat the lecture in Afrikaans, they didn't understand any English.

POM     This is again from last year. You said: -

     "The fascinating question with Mbeki is he maintains a liberal democratic constitution but he is imposing rather undemocratic practices on the party itself. He's capturing control of the party, and if I can use two phrases, the one is he has to decide between democratic instability which you get in poor countries that are too democratic or undemocratic stability which is the way I think he's drifting. He's drifting certainly within the ANC to a situation of more and more undemocratic stability. The question is what for? Is he doing it so that he can go to the populist route, impose some kind of populist control over everything or is he doing it to become more market friendly? You capture control of the dominant party and once you've got that you govern from the President's office."

     That was in February.

VZS     I think that's largely happened.

POM     So after his 100 days?

VZS     Then I have no doubt now that he's gone market friendly, that's the route he's chosen. For me the threat of instability, there are many sources of instability. Crime is one of them, a weak state, incapacity to delivery, but if you look at it from the political perspective, political instability, it was always there as a threat that if you had to take politically unpopular steps to promote economic reform how were you going to cope with that? So the challenge was, how do you manage the political costs of necessary economic reform? It's always been my fascination because there is a facile assumption that economic growth and liberal democracy are compatible in deeply unequal societies. There aren't many compelling historical examples. More often than not you have high growth and low democracy or you have low growth and low democracy and you have low growth and some democracy for a short time but then it becomes unstable. I'm just repeating the popular paradigms. So in this case you've got a case where he understands that you've got to keep a liberal democracy. It gives you Brownie points internationally speaking. He's just gone out to Africa and he said that. But at the same time he's got to stick to a growth path and I think he's been extremely astute in the way he's dealt with it. Effectively you have communists now propping up the free enterprise system in SA, Alec Erwin, Minister of Trade & Industry; Trevor Manuel, former communist, Minister of Finance; Jeff Radebe looking after privatisation, on the Central Committee; Fraser-Moleketi looking after Public Works, and he's deployed them like that but he's done so after he's brought them on board and said this is where I am going to go and this is what I want you to do.

     Given the way in which they've dealt with the labour unrest in the public service is a clear indication of where he's going to go, the way they're dealing with hawkers in central Jo'burg is another way that they're going to get tough. But how can he do that without creating enormous political volatility? Control the ANC, control the public sector and the people that you have around you and, as I said, govern from the President's Office. This morning again there's a big complaint, although it was on the cards for a long time, where the DP moaned that he's got too many people in his office.  "DP lambastes Mbeki over increase in staff. The DP criticises President Thabo Mbeki for increasing the size of his office staff. DP Chief Whip Douglas Gibson said the Manager of the Department … boost efficiency and make a reduction in staff. He was responding to Mbeki's Director General Frank Chikane who explained that the increase was intended to build capacity. Gibson said Mbeki's office now had 38 more people than those employed by the former President Nelson Mandela and Mbeki as Deputy President, before the June election there were 334 people on the payroll in the President's Office." That seems like a nice little infrastructure to govern from and I think he will have more. Blair has got about 600, I don't want to think how many Clinton's got.

POM     Clinton's got a couple of thousand, most of them under 21 years of age. It just so happens it turned out that way. If on the one hand you have an Mbeki propensity to centralise both the state and the party machinery and at the same time you have a diminished opposition in parliament and no government of national unity, therefore less restraint on what government can do, and most of the major legislative instruments of transformation in place from the last parliament so you're moving from parliament to delivery and implementation and most chairmen of the portfolio committees are loyal Thabo people who are less likely to haul their ministers before their committees and kick ass, is there a chance that the parliament as a legislative branch will become highly diminished in importance and the executive branch become - ?

VZS     Let me start by saying that I think that parliament isn't usually, whether it's Westminster or a European parliament or wherever, is usually hopelessly over-valued in terms of its impact as a legislative and executive body. It doesn't work like that, it simply doesn't work like that. Parliament can be a source of vigorous public debate, you can put points of view, challenge them and so on, but normally speaking the Executive runs the show, so I don't see any difference here, number one. Number two, you could argue that in an emerging kind of democracy such as ours a one-dominant party is a source of transitional stability, enables the country to get through a very difficult time.

POM     I was thinking of that yesterday with the election in India. Was India better off when Congress Party ran the show?

VZS     Now you've got a 24 party coalition. That doesn't mean that you're in favour of a one-party state. That's why I'm saying precisely because internal to the ANC there's greater centralisation because of the dominance of the ANC as a political party in parliament, he doesn't have to change the constitution. I never bought this argument about the two thirds. Why should he change the constitution? The constitution suits him perfectly. He's acting constitutionally, he's doing everything according to the rules. He's not denying anybody any freedom or clamping down on rights or denying parties from organising, so in that sense he achieves the best that he could possibly get. He's got control over the dominant party, he maintains the constitution intact and he can pursue the correct sort of macro economic policies from his point of view. I happen to agree with those macro economic policies. I think it's got the right blend between state co-operation and entrepreneurial independence. The only bloody problem is nobody wants to invest.

POM     How are you for time? Am I pushing you?

VZS     No, 4.30 I've got to be where that other office is, so maybe I've got about 15 minutes.

POM     If I were to ask you what was the single most important challenge issue facing the country as it enters the next decade?

VZS     Seeing employment through market driven growth. That's the biggest single challenge that I see.

POM     Now Patricia is tired of hearing me say this so I'm going to say it again. Why would you not say AIDS?

VZS     Oh well, you sound like Ken Owen. It's a challenge that faces the country and I think it's an extremely serious challenge, in fact it might be the most important. But I was thinking of what positive challenge is there to get the place going. In that sense AIDS has the ability to cut through the most productive part of our society like a knife through butter. There is no question about it. We may have an explosion of orphans and old people in our society.

POM     This is why I asked the question. There is no-one that I have - in fact the only person I saw say it was the priority of priorities was Kader Asmal last week.

VZS     They all will say that and I think they mean it too. The ANC as a government I think has comparatively speaking devoted a fair amount of attention to AIDS. Thabo wears the thing, he talks about it, Essop has got this as a special thing for him. I think it is accepted as the major threat that faces the country, I certainly do, but what do you do about it? You have to mobilise public awareness, you've got to go through an educational campaign to make people aware of it. It's like saying population growth in the old days was the big problem, if you had population growth without economic growth and so on, but it was one of those problems if you identify it that just paralyses you. Yes, let us mobilise society's resources but if we do that, if we manage to overcome it, and let's hope we do, then you're still faced with the fact that if we do you're going to have people needing jobs. It's not just a South African dilemma, it's a southern African dilemma. In Swaziland 25% of the population is supposed to have AIDS. I don't know how you check something like that.

POM     I was in Lusaka at a conference on AIDS and it was distinguished by the fact that not a single head of state turned up, including Chiluba himself. In fact at that very time of the conference was opening, he was receiving the body of his friend in the government who died of AIDS and it was blacked out. There was no coverage at all in Zambia of what this man had died of.

PAT     We had to come back here to find that he had died of AIDS.

POM     He could have opened that conference with a powerful statement that as we open this conference one of my closest colleagues, AIDS knows no boundaries, but instead he blacked it out. Yet two million people die of AIDS, not a single head of state turns up to comment at your conference on AIDS. 200,000 people die in conflicts of various types and you've got heads of states rushing all over the place trying to broker solutions and accommodations and whatever. Why is there this enormous lack of political will?

VZS     I think it also has to do with problems of traditionalism, the stereotype of women, of the dislocation of migrant labour. There are so many things that come into it. I spoke to somebody from Swaziland, a woman who's on the Board of the … Institute for Southern Africa, we as a sort of donor agency gave them some money to combat AIDS, she says that there are sangomas in Swaziland who still spread the story that if you sleep with a virgin you can cure yourself from AIDS. A two-year old baby girl was raped, it's just unbelievable. A two-year old baby girl was raped. Where do you tackle something like that? Do you say to the King, who is the traditional leader, you put sangomas in jail who spread word like that? Do you want to try and do that? See what happens to Swaziland. I believe that's what you have to do.

POM     Is that not prevalent in SA too?

VZS     Helen Suzman had a letter in the newspaper last week in which she said –

POM     We heard quite early on that this was prevalent. So where do I sign off on an issue like this? Who is the best person in the country to talk to? Do you know of any institute or university that is doing research on the social and economic effect of AIDS?

VSZ     Yes, Whiteside, Professor Whiteside at Natal University. He's the foremost AIDS researcher in the country.

POM     He's not a scientist, he's a social – I'm looking at it from if there's anybody making calculations as to if the projections regarding life expectancy.

VZS     He's done a lot of projections. He's done a lot of it.

POM     If these hold up then what will be the effect on the economy.

VZS     He's done a lot of that and if he hasn't got it himself he will certainly put you in touch with someone. Professor Whiteside.

     (break in recording)

POM     Would you interpret Maduna's action as punting some kind of – ?

VZS     He's politically unpopular with Trevor Manuel and Maduna, it's as simple as that, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they don't want to fight corruption. So it's a difficult one. I think it's a great pity, I think he should get more money and carry on doing what he's doing, he should get more help. But there is an argument to be made that the guy is based in East London or in the Eastern Cape and he has to operate from there and therefore why not create more and more Heath Commissions rather than overload the one guy, which is what Maduna is really saying. The counter-argument is why don't you allow Heath to become a national figure and then a counter-argument to that is, but you don't need one national person, you need to tackle it on a broad front. So it sends a very bad signal, let me put it this way, it sends a very bad signal but it doesn't mean that by going for Heath you necessarily are not prepared to tackle corruption. I don't buy that.

POM     Last, just a quick evaluation of the Mandela years, the positives and the negatives. My own feeling is that history will be slightly more harsh on him than –

VZS     I think so but I also think that the one thing that can never be taken away from us is that if one has to single out one individual that has saved the country from a racial catastrophe I would say it's Mandela, he played an enormously conciliatory role. He played a very important role in setting an example of inclusive tolerance, of how you go about being forgiving, all of that. So on the level of symbolism, of value-driven change I think he's played an enormous role. In this book I wrote which Jakes Gerwel has reviewed I actually said that Mandela will not be remembered for his administrative brilliance and that the Mandela era wasn't exactly an era that focused on efficiency and delivery. But Jakes went apoplectic because he happened to be Mandela's Director General so he indirectly feels I'm criticising him, but that's my honest reason.

POM     That's why he got nasty at me the last time!

VZS     Did he go for you as well?

POM     Kind of. The last time I saw him I raised these questions and his attitude became  suddenly much more defensive. Over the years he had been very co-operative and open and everything and suddenly be became highly defensive.

VZS     Well that comforts me a great deal because he's an old friend of mine but he's now very angry with me. If you can take the Ncholo report and you take the PRC report, Presidential Review Commission, they tell you, and they were commissioned by the ANC, that it was chaotic, absolute chaos and they were all over the place. This was really what Mbeki inherited and had to work on.

POM     Is Jakes back at UWC?

VZS     He's got an honorary sort of Professor of Humanities, 30% of his time UWC, 30% UCT, and 40% of his time spent making money I think.

POM     How is the best way to get in touch with Maharaj?

VZS     First Rand Bank, on the Board of First Rand Bank. I have lost track of him as well but you can always phone First Rand Bank and ask them.

POM     Good place for a communist to be.

VZS     Not bad, not bad.

PAT     Did you ask Van Zyl about Mandela's current role? His current role as sort of philanthropist and how does Thabo feel about that?

POM     It struck me if I watched the news every night, and I'm Thabo, and I see Madiba here, Madiba there, Madiba everywhere, I'd say why hasn't he gone back to his retirement home for God's sake?

VZS     I think he quietly enjoys all of us, he loves it. So he's not going to go away. In fact I share – I've got to introduce him tomorrow night at the Open Society Annual Lecture in Cape Town and he loves these kinds of things. I just hope Jakes hasn't written his speech.

POM     You mentioned consociation.

VZS     Lijphart's thing?

POM     That it can't be written into a constitution. In a way that's what they've done in Northern Ireland. The parliament can only operate on the basis of there being –

VZS     No, you can try. It can be a convention. I don't think it can be a constitution.

POM     But everyone had to agree to it.

VZS     Yes they have to agree to it. It's a convention. The kind of arrangement you'll have in Belgium between the Flemish and the French, I think the same thing would be to a certain extent an arrangement. It was like the arrangement they had in Cyprus before it blew up and it was the same kind of arrangement they had in Lebanon before it blew up, that you had to have a Christian Marranite President and a Sunni Muslim this and a Druse that and so on, it's a convenient arrangement but the moment you constitutionalise that for time and eternity it's a farce.

POM     That's why in the long run I don't think it will work. I've had my doubts since that treaty was signed and then I decided that for a year I would keep my mouth shut. Having been a nay-sayer for 20 years I decided there was at least one year where I shouldn't be. But now I'm back in business.

PAT     What ever happened to Leadership? I thought this was Leadership.

VZS     It still comes out.

PAT     The last time it had Tony O'Reilly's picture on it.

VSZ     There's one after that. There's one more.

POM     I love it, Tony O'Reilly is on the cover and the article written by his biographer Ivan Fallon.

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.