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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

07 Oct 1999: Van Der Merwe, Koos

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POM     Koos, you had posed the question I was going to concentrate on today, which is our final formal interview, not our final meeting. I have been interviewing you now for ten years, I met you back in 1987 at Williamsburg at a conference in the United States that was attended by Larry Schlemmer, Van Zyl Slabbert, a young black man named Kojak.

KVM     Who died later.

POM     Who was later killed, and a guy called Keys.

KVM     Keys who was a black American.

POM     He's running for President.

KVM     Now?

POM     Yes. He's getting zero, zero, point one percent of the vote.

KVM     OK. But he raised an interesting point at the time. When he was introduced by one of the senior Americans there he said, "Now this is a black American", and Keys said, "I'm not a black American. I am an American." I will never forget that. It says a lot.

POM     At that point you were into a volkstaat, some form of territorial self-determination, you were adamant that the while man would never accept majority black rule. You had been in the NP, you joined Dr Treurnicht, joined the Conservative Party and you were too much of a case for them: they either moved you out or you moved on. You operated independently for a while.

KVM     I've still got a boot mark on my backside to show why I left them.

POM     Then you ended up joining the IFP, became the Whip of their parliamentary party. You enjoy one of the nicest offices in Cape Town.

KVM     Getting all the good overseas trips.

POM     And here you are getting good overseas trips, and here you are ten years later back in parliament, Whip.

KVM     I have myself reflected a lot because very, very fundamental thinking has taken place in this country not only from the white side but let's start with the Afrikaner side. We grew up and it was part of the mother's milk we took in that we are an independent, free nation like the Americans are and the British and the French and the Germans and the Italians, so the Afrikaner is also a free nation entitled to govern itself, entitled to live according to its own value system, reserve it's own culture, it's own language, etc. That is called a volkstaat, a nation state. We never even doubted this, we never gave it a second thought. It was as natural as it was to get up in the morning and eat your breakfast. So when the NP came to power in 1948 and later and they started to concretise how we are going to do this it was automatic that we all supported the NP. They were going to be a mini-Europe here in Africa, the ten different black nations each will be having its own part of the country, it will govern itself according to its own value systems and rules and traditions and we will have a part of SA for the Afrikaner. That was the idea. We never doubted, we never even debated it. As the communists say, we were sure our system will triumph just as sure as we are that the sun will rise. We were as sure as that.

     Now what happened then, and it's extremely interesting to sit and reflect, a very simple thing happened: the realities of the SA situation dawned upon us, the realities which other people could see from outside but which we were blind for because we were brought up, we were as we were. We heard other people, we didn't understand them and we were certain that our system will triumph. Slowly but surely the message started to get through, the message that there's nothing wrong with the principle of self-determination for the Afrikaner, nobody can doubt that, nobody will doubt that, but how the hell are you going to concretise it? How are you going to do it in SA where our people live in the country spread like salt on a mixed grill? Our people do not live in one area, we live all over, so if you then demarcate an area for the Afrikaner what about the non-Afrikaners living there, because nowhere are we in a significant majority.

     Now we had plans for that in the past: don't worry, we Afrikaners will not be run over by other people, we will find solutions and so on. I was fortunate to be the information officer of the Conservative Party and I must have conducted hundreds of interviews and what was amazing is that the trend of all these interviews and the conferences overseas, like the one where I met you at Williamsburg, the uMkhonto weSizwe, the Spear of the Nation, the spear point was you can't do it practically, the numbers are against you, you live in an integrated society. The black people don't want, by a vast majority do not want your model. Eventually the realities overtook us but by that stage many of us, including myself very prominently would have a meeting addressing 1000 people, hit your fist on the platform and shout, "We will never accept a black President in this country!" Like Churchill said in the 2nd World War, "Never, never, never, never." This is what I said, "Never, never, never, never, never will I accept a black President."

     But then slowly but surely I personally was confronted by the challenge of - OK, Koos, you are in charge, you are the President of the country, now do self-determination for the Afrikaner, concretise it. You've got all the power, where are you going to have it? What will the rules be? Wherever I put it, what will the human rights be of the non-Afrikaners living in there? And then, Padraig, slowly but surely I started to get nervous, I started to very skilfully ask questions of my colleagues, "Do you think we can do this chaps? What about this, what about that?" And a very soft and low key discussion started. But at the time you were basically shot not even at sunrise tomorrow but immediately if you doubted the idea that we will have our own state. Very soon I started to become unpopular. At that time, at the height of my so-called popularity in the Conservative Party, because I held many speeches and I can make good jokes, I held most public meetings except for Treurnicht, I was most in demand, second only to Treurnicht.

     Then all of a sudden the message went out, careful of this one. And this was one of the methods they used. They couldn't answer you, my colleagues. You would speak to them and say, "Look, what are we going to do with A, B and C", and they would say, "Ja, well we'll talk about that later." They avoided you and then said, "Be careful of him, he's asking funny questions. He's becoming an enemy." That was a phase that we went through, the phase of people doubting you, casting doubt on you, making you out as – they've called me an enemy, they have said that I'm paid by the CIA and so on, my own people.

POM     Congratulations, I'm paid too by the CIA!

KVM     Yes, because Ambrosini says you are one. OK. So that was a distinct phase. It's part of the phenomena that happened. There was this phase where you started to doubt and ask questions, where your colleagues couldn't answer your questions but they would just wink at one another and they would say, "You see, he's no more with us, he's become an enemy." I remember specifically that when I served in the National Executive of the Conservative Party we were nine running the whole party, there I said, "Gentlemen, I have serious problems. As you know I travel overseas regularly, I am the information head of the party, I am asked questions every day. There are questions I can't answer. They ask me about citizenship in our country. They ask me where will our volkstaat be, they ask me all these questions. I can't answer them." So Treurnicht said, "Well then you must avoid it, you must get around the question." So I said, "I am doing that. When they try to pin me down at a public meeting or in an interview I have the ability to get out of the corner without answering the question, but gentlemen, this is the highest executive of the party, here I now want answers. I am telling you, I am confessing that there are things that I don't know how to answer and this is the place, the highest authority, the nine of us, what must I say about A and B and C?" And always Treurnicht had the interesting habit of saying, "Yes, that's a very good thing, we'll have to talk about that. Next on the agenda?" He side-stepped it. You couldn't get a debate started.

     Then there's another very interesting thing in my experience and that was that you yourself didn't at the time understand the changing world well enough to be able to voice and articulate your problem better with your colleagues. Today it would be easy for me because I've walked the road but at that stage I spoke to my colleagues asking for explanations like an amateur because I myself didn't know the answers, I just knew that I was in a big tunnel, I saw a light somewhere, I was banging against a lot of things trying to find the truth.

     Then it became clear to me that there is something new in the air, totally new, and eventually –

POM     What year would this be?

KVM     I would say in the early nineties.

POM     Mandela would have been released?

KVM     Mandela would have been released, he was released in 1990.

POM     You were still in the Conservative Party.

KVM     Still in the Conservative Party. They kicked me out in 1992.

POM     Your reaction when Mandela was released?

KVM     I didn't know what to say of it. At the time I wasn't sure. I didn't say it was wrong or it was right. I was still in the process of getting out of the tunnel.

POM     But the party position was?

KVM     The party position was it's wrong, he's a terrorist, he's a communist, he should rot in jail. End of the story. Also around that time, 1989 maybe already, I started to make contact (this is a secret now coming out), I started to make contact with Mbeki who is now the President and Van Zyl Slabbert arranged it. He said, "It's time you meet ANC people." I said, "OK I'm ripe for that but it must be done in secret." Then I met Mbeki in Switzerland on the 5th floor in his room and Thabo and I sat there talking for some time. I remember saying to him, "What is the ANC's view on an Afrikaner state?" And he said, "If that were the very last thing in the way to a successful solution seeking process, if that was the last outstanding thing on the agenda and then we have peace, then we can look at a positive reality."

     I just want to stick to the backbone of my walking this road. Actually Cehill Pienaar and I said you come out of a tunnel, you discover certainly that you're in a tunnel and you realise I'm in a tunnel, I'm moving in a direction. Then you start to see the light now and then and then you lose the light again and you see it again and you move slowly and eventually you come out of the tunnel. I'm now out of the tunnel. There are some Afrikaners who are not yet in the tunnel, they're still outside. Then you have some of them who are still in the tunnel, they understand part of it. It's the tunnel process. We were fortunate to get through it. Sometimes today Pienaar and I and others are very shy about the fact that we couldn't see the real situation because that's what happened. No matter what people tried to convince us of, we were blind and deaf. We believed in our own vision, the inheritance that the forefathers have given us our country, we fought for it, the Boer War, 26,000 women and children, Bloukrantz where the Zulus killed on the evening of 14/15th February 1836, where they killed 55 men that night in an hour or two, 55 men, 86 women, 185 children and 250 coloured servants. They killed them that night after they had killed a week earlier Retief and 69 of his men. There are big inscriptions in monuments. Our country was born with their blood. This is how we grew up. It's our country, or part of it is our country. We had the black areas, it was called 'Kaffirland' in the beginning, Kaffraria and so forth, the Kaffirs have their land, we have our land. Now to move out of that was very difficult especially if you are a nationalist like I am. I'm a nationalist. I am very proud to be an Afrikaner, I am very proud of my language Afrikaans, I try to keep my language clean, I don't mix it with other languages. I read history, I'm a very nationalist Afrikaner. And to move away from that position, to get through the tunnel to be eventually here is a massive, massive journey.

POM     Let me just go back a bit, Koos, for a moment. Van Zyl Slabbert arranges this meeting in Switzerland between yourself and Thabo. What were you expecting when you went into that meeting? You must have had an image in your head, some kind of stereo in your mind, of what an ANC person would be like and how they would behave.

KVM     I didn't really have that in my mind. I am soft on inter-personal relationships. There's not much conflict in that for me. I'll meet any person and so on, so to meet those people –

POM     Was this a one-on-one meeting?

KVM     Yes, just the two of us. And later again, a year or so later, Cehill Pienaar and I met Thabo again in an hotel room. We spoke to him, and of course Thabo is a perfect gentleman, he is actually more of a black Englishman, he's not so much of a Xhosa or a black man, he's lived in England for his whole life, he's become a black Englishman, so it's easy to talk to him. I have spoken to him on many occasions, we know each other very well. He's a very nice person, he's a gentleman and so on, soft-spoken, etc. So here was the ANC now and I actually then –

POM     So when he said to you that if the only obstacle that stood between, if I heard you right, you were saying that he said to you that if the only obstacle that stood between peace and a negotiated settlement and an end to conflict was the question of volkstaat then they would look at it positively.

KVM     Volkstaat, then they will look at it positively.

POM     When he said they would look at it positively, did you understand that he meant that they would look at it and possibly could reject it or they could look at it and find a way of dealing with it so that you would have your volkstaat?

KVM     It was close to the last one.

POM     When you came out of the meeting you came out with the impression of what?

KVM     It was definitely not artificial, it was not an artificial bluffing, but also it wasn't an unconditional promise. It was a genuine statement that, OK, then we will look at it seriously, then we can discuss it with open minds. No promise. I remember around that time speaking to Treurnicht in a toilet, you know sometimes you meet a person standing next to you in a toilet. I then checked whether there were other people there, quickly, boom boom, and I said to Treurnicht, "Andries you know what I think we should do? Why don't two or three of us, very, very secretly, go and contact the ANC, some of their leaders and just speak to them and try to establish contact and speak to them? Don't you think we should consider this?" And he almost fainted, he was out of breath, not knowing that by then I had already seen Thabo Mbeki, but there was no way to convince them to do that. Treurnicht was always in the tunnel, well maybe not even in the tunnel. What is amazing is how many of those people are out of the tunnel. I spoke to Willie van der Merwe, who was known, he's about 72 now, Willie was known as one of the very, very verkramp ones, and the other day when I spoke to him I said to him, "Willie, how do you feel these days?", because I hadn't seen him for some time. He says, "Agh, Koos, all those old things are dead. What you people have to do who are still in parliament is try to save something for us like our schools and our community life so that we can have an Afrikaner community on municipal level."

     So there was a process through which you went like a tunnel, you saw the light, some days you didn't see it, you didn't know how to interpret the phenomena, how to interpret the things that are happening around you. You were in uncharted territory, no handbook, no compass. It was difficult, made unnecessary mistakes and you were pushed forward. Eventually I realised that the dream of an Afrikaner state cannot be realised in my lifetime, whether it happens after that I will be sleeping a long sleep. I also realised that the Afrikaner, especially after the 1999 election, the Afrikaner has indicated now at the polls that he does not want to be divorced from the society in which we live.

POM     You came to that conclusion because?

KVM     DP, they voted for them, they rejected the traditional Afrikaner parties, Freedom Front, National Party, they went for the others. The Afrikaner showed in the 1999 election, strongly, that they don't want to leave this so-called integrated SA, they don't want to go to Orania or somewhere. They want to be part of this and therefore the challenge to us politicians is how do we find the political model that can satisfy the Afrikaner inside the integrated SA.

POM     If you were to interpret the results of the elections, looking at the performance of the FF, you would say it was a rejection of FF policies, rejection of General Viljoen's leadership.

KVM     Let me give you a few thoughts on the FF. The FF went to parliament in 1994 with a bang. They had two important characteristics. The first was they had a team of leaders and secondly they had a plan. They had a plan and they had a team. Fantastic! The team was impressive, half a dozen Generals – you remember all the Generals? General Viljoen, General this, General that, and Dr so-and-so and Dr so-and-so, and they had photos of all these magnificent men in their flying machines, this fantastic team. I mean it grabbed you by the scruff of your neck – look at the team, they're going to save the Afrikaner. Secondly, they had a plan: we want a volkstaat, we will have a volkstaat, we will make sure that we concretise it and even if we fight for it but we will have our volkstaat. They got 450,000 votes and in the provinces they got 650,000, so they did well. But from 450,000 they fell down to a mere 120,000. Why? Because the plan wasn't carried through and the team was a bluff. The team was useless and the plan was useless and the voters realised that.

POM     When you say the team was useless, useless in what sense?

KVM     They couldn't deliver. They couldn't perform in parliament. They had in parliament nine members against the seven of the DP. They could never be remotely as good as the DP. The DP went up spectacularly. Tony Leon, Gibson, Mike Ellis and the others, they were very good and there was TV every day from two to four and the DP was excellent at that, and they sat there, the FF like nine bags of dead meat. They couldn't perform, they couldn't perform. The DP performed. People started to say, hell, look at Tony Leon, look at those people, look at how they perform. Where are the Generals? Where are the Dr so-and-so and so-and-so? They did nothing. So the team fell apart, the team was useless. The DP had a team, a fantastic team, three or four of them made it. And then people asked, but where's the volkstaat? What have you accomplished? We know your team has received a yellow card, chase them away, but where's the plan? And nothing materialised of the plan, nothing. The electorate know this, they know that the FF has failed. One of the main reasons why the FF failed is because of the infighting. There's the Pieter Mulder faction and the Constant Viljoen faction and they're just about evenly strong.

POM     The differences between the two?

KVM     The differences, I think, are mostly personal, they hate each other. That hate, you can measure it, it's about two feet six inches thick. And then the Mulder group are more in favour of Orania. Constand is more in favour of the way I think, find something that is acceptable to our people here in the integrated SA. Now that party is gone. I said to Constand the other day, "You've got to split, the party must split. Get rid of those people, the Carel Boshoffs and those, and let them form their own party and propagate Orania and try to get somewhere with that, and you concentrate on giving your people a better life here in the integrated SA. Then you will get votes back." But that party is like an antelope shot through the lungs, it's running but just follow the blood spoor, you'll get it. In an hour or two it will be there, it's going to die.

POM     Why didn't the Afrikaner vote go to the NP?

KVM     No! The NP fell from 20% to 6%/7%.

POM     One would have thought that if one were an Afrikaner –

KVM     You will vote either for the FF or the Nats? They went to the DP.

POM     Yes. How did they perceive the DP that made them do that?

KVM     I'll tell you my theory. It was an extremely clever psychological point that they discovered, the words 'The guts to fight back'. They must have had experts or maybe it was just an idea but what it boiled down to is that describes the inner feeling of the white person in this country. You don't say it and you are a gentleman, you keep your tongue passive, you don't talk, but every day you get hit. Either you're robbed or your car is hijacked or your child doesn't get work because of affirmative action or your language is kicked out, you get hit all over. Deep inside people psychologically the need started to arise to do something about this and then Tony said, "We need the guts to fight back." And that just summed up the psychological state of mind of the white voters in this country and they said yes, this is what we want to do. We must have the guts to fight back. These people have the guts, look for five years how they fought on TV, Tony, Gibson, these people. They have the guts to fight back, let's join them and fight back. It doesn't matter against what, whether we're going to win or not, but just fight a little. That was the psychological thing. This is why they went there. You ask those Afrikaners, I've asked them, are you going to vote for the DP now? Yes, Tony. What is Tony's policy? We're going to put them in their place. Just a moment, what is the DP's policy? Well look I haven't had a document yet, I'll still get to that, but I mean we're going to fight it. They don't know what the policy is. Now there's a big danger in that for the DP because people didn't move to them out of conviction, people didn't go to the DP because they know what their policy is, they understand the policy, they identify with the policy and the whole life of the DP. They didn't go there for that. The moment they find out and something better comes along they will just move. So the DP has a very, very risky power base.

POM     Has it also not permanently put itself in the position of alienating black voters which means that really whatever its voter base is, given the rate of growth of the population it's just going to shrink over time, they're not going to attract black voters.

KVM     The DP cannot get black votes.

POM     So it's a white party.

KVM     It's a white party, it's a white liberal party, it's a white upper class party.

POM     And where do you place the NP?

KVM     NP is becoming a provincial, Cape provincial based party controlled and dominated by coloured people.

POM     So it's known as being a coloured party?

KVM     Yes.

POM     Somebody said to me that the ANC were making overtures to Marthinus, they were treating him with a little less derision than they did after he became leader.

KVM     Maybe, with what in mind?

POM     Co-opting what's left of the NP.

KVM     There's nothing left. What is left is diminishing.

POM     There's no identity.

KVM     What do they stand for?

POM     They don't stand for anything.

KVM     Look, we had an interesting discussion the other day about the Afrikaans newspaper Rapport, two million readers. The previous Editor, Izak de Villiers, had it for eight years, he brought it up to a circulation of 400,000. Then when he left it started to go down. They've already lost 200,000 readers. They revamped it last week, it's a new, beautiful layout and six different parts inside it, fantastic. I spoke to one of the senior journalists at Rapport, and after our discussion the following emerged: Rapport doesn't have a heart any more. When De Villiers was there it had a heart, a beating heart, an Afrikaner heart. You like to read Rapport on Sundays because in some way it fights back, the guts to fight back. When Afrikaners are attacked they would bring in – if Tutu attacks the Afrikaners they would say, 'Koos van der Merwe, an Afrikaner leader, goes for Tutu's throat because Tutu shouts at Afrikaners.' They will bring in the message what Tutu says but they will bring in somebody who puts him in his place, but very nicely, very professionally, not arrogantly and so forth, but as an Afrikaner you felt it's my newspaper. And that heart is out because it's just a newspaper now. So who will buy it? People who are interested – it will just go down, down because there's not a heart. The NP doesn't have a heart any more. Why will I vote for it? Why will I vote for Roelf Meyer? Why would I vote for these people? The FF appealed to people five years ago because it had an Afrikaner heart. The DP appeals, it has the guts to fight back. What do the others have? Nothing, no heart.

POM     When it came after you were shoved, kicked, jet propelled out of the –

KVM     Asked to leave.

POM     Given leave to leave the Conservative Party, then you spent a while as an Independent.

KVM     No, no, no, I was leader of the Desert Party. I was leader, I was Chief Whip, I was Parliamentary Leader, I was everything of the Desert Party, I called myself. I actually took a caucus photo of myself standing in front of parliament with a big sign saying 'Caucus of the South African Desert Party'. I was in the political desert for a year and a half I would say. It's interesting at that stage when it came to the end of 1993 and when parliament was going to dissolve permanently and the new election was to take place in 1994, my wife and I discussed and we thought OK, we've had enough. I've been in parliament now for 17 years, I've got a full pension and all that, let's call it quits because I'll never go to the ANC (careful for the word never – you know we easily say never, I also said I'll never accept a black President, so one must be careful). Joining the ANC was not attractive to me, I wouldn't go to the NP and eventually I said to my wife, "You know what we should do? I still want to remain connected to politics and I think I should join Inkatha. They are not going to participate in the election, then I can go once in three months for meetings, I'll still be somewhere because I'm enjoying it. I'll go to a meeting, I can go to congresses and sit around and just have a feeling of belonging somewhere political." So we joined, but what we did is we vacated. We went to Cape Town, we actually made a movie of where we stayed in Acacia Park, the parliamentary village. We went there, we made a movie, we looked around, we greeted people and we said it was fantastic to have been here for 17 years, we were so privileged. We went to parliament, cleaned out my office, said goodbye to the people and we left. This was now two weeks before the election. OK, I will still be an MP for another two weeks. Then one week before Buthelezi says, "We're fighting an election", and two weeks after we had vacated, I was back there with a bang, asked by Buthelezi to be his Chief Whip. So sometimes you feel as if you are being pushed. I want to go left, I'm being pushed right. So there I am, 22 years in parliament.

POM     So you didn't join the IFP out of conviction?

KVM     Oh yes. At the end of 1993 when I thought I want to be with a party we also looked, my wife and I, at the various parties and what appealed to me about the IFP were three main things: number one, federalism, I've become a federalist; secondly, what is called pluralism, Buthelezi says, "I acknowledge ethnicity, I grant any person the right to remain what he wants to be. If you're an Afrikaner you have the full right to remain an Afrikaner, live according to your value system." Those two elements of a federation and the fact that my leadership makes liebensraum for me as an Afrikaner or for you as an American if you belong to the party, or a Hungarian or a Zulu or a Sotho, it's the only party that comes out strongly for this pluralism. That caught me. And then also the fact that Buthelezi has been a very constant leader who says the same things, consistent, very consistent. All these years he's been a federalist, he stood by the same call for non-violence and so on. So at the time it appeared to me that if I joined the IFP it's out of conviction, the principles of the party are good but also by joining the IFP I will eventually be in a position to achieve most for my people, the Afrikaner. By joining the FF and the others I will get nowhere. I also picked up some lessons in how to – these are old lessons and maybe it smells a little of Machiavelli, but for instance if there's something I want to have done for the Afrikaner today you know how I would do it? I will go and sell it to the ANC in such a way that they're not aware of me selling it to them and then they will propose it and it will get through and we will all cheer the ANC for that good idea. But if I voice it as an Afrikaner they will say, "Isn't he bringing back apartheid?" and it's shot down in the hanger.

POM     So do you think that the ANC even after five years in government, and maybe talking about Mbeki in particular as we're now into his era, that they still fail to distinguish between Afrikaner nationalism and apartheid, that they haven't made the disconnection between the two?

KVM     OK, back benches, yes.

POM     Sorry, ANC back benches have?

KVM     No they will still go for our throats, they are still very racist and so on. But I think what is also something that I should emphasise is the following. In 1994, what arrived there in parliament? There arrived a man called Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela who was going to run the country, who had not one minute of parliamentary experience who had to be the Prime Minister and President. You had a cabinet of 26 of which, OK the Nats at the time had experience, but when they left after two years the only person who had experience was Buthelezi who has been a minister for 20 years. In other words 90% of cabinet didn't have the foggiest idea of how to run a bloody country. It didn't stop there. The Speaker knew nothing, the Deputy Speaker, the Whips, the committee people, nobody knew anything about this new job and they were very hesitant to take advice from the existing apartheid staff or us, the apartheid people. There was a tendency that they would intentionally reject something of the old order because surely it's bad, we must put something better in place. So it was a very difficult first few years. Naturally, not because they're black or they're ANC but they were totally inexperienced. Today it's totally different. Today they've picked up a hell of a lot of experience, parliament is run properly, not always as it should be but it's much, much better. The ministers understand their jobs and so on, the country is being run fairly effectively. I don't think they're running it as effectively as was done in the white parliaments. The cabinet and the President I am told in the old SA were much more  - what time do you have to be?

POM     I have to be in Shell House at 3.30.

KVM     OK, you have another 12 – 15 minutes.

POM     I'll take less. Can I see you in Cape Town?

KVM     Yes.

POM     So we can finish.

KVM     I'll be there on Monday.

POM     I will be going there from the beginning of November.

KVM     OK, now just to finalise this, the black government has become quite well experienced. They're doing fairly well, they are trying to find solutions for crime, they have their own styles, they are slow, they don't take quick decisions, they are very process driven. In other words, 'Let's get the committee to look at this',  and then the committee looks at it, the committee would want evidence and they would want to advertise and it's always process, process, process. You don't quickly come to the end where the decision is made and the work is to be done. But apart from that it's not that bad. If they could succeed with a few of the hurdles such as affirmative action, such as crime, then maybe one can hold out here.

POM     I now recall that getting into ANC, Shell House, now that it's empty, to make a bad pun, a shell of itself, or Albert Luthuli House I should say, takes about 10 – 15 minutes.

KVM     I have a learner Attorney working for me, Chris. Bill Clinton visited us a year or two ago – he's a politician in your country.

POM     In his spare time!

KVM     When he visited us –

POM     That's a nice point to pick up on, what happened to what was considered the biggest threat facing the country, the big fear that existed for years and years and years never materialised. It wasn't there. It makes an interesting sidebar.

KVM     You get out of the tunnel and you look around and say where are the wolves, the crocodiles, the snakes? They are there but they're small, you can fight them.

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.