This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, 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 It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
16 Oct 1999: Felgate, Walter
POM. You talked on page 2 of voting, the demographic element in voting, of it being a situational phenomenon that people who are in a rural setting they tend to vote for the IFP and if they were in an urban setting they tend to vote for the ANC. Could you point to any specific factors that would bring this about? I say that in the sense that so many lives were lost in that conflict that suddenly to turn from being an IFP supporter to being an ANC supporter simply on the basis of where you lived, having fought so tenaciously for the IFP while you were in the rural areas, having relatives killed, family killed and then moving over or tending to vote for the ANC or being bullied into ANC when you moved into an urban area.
WF. I don't think there is any mystery to it. Firstly you've got the ethnic content of Buthelezi's appeal which has been very successful in the IFP and quite obviously that ethnic call is reinforced by a whole lot of social structures around people in rural areas, in tribal areas, the whole of tribal life hangs together in a totality, a legislative and economic system and the whole culture is of a stamp. In that situation your reference groups or your peer group is one in which conformity is a very high factor as it is in all peasant society. When you go to an urban area -
POM. When you go to an urban area?
WF. When you go to an urban area you are in a different social milieu, your value systems you bring with you are challenged and particularly your aspirations change in moving to one in which you become drawn into a vertical mobility social process. Again, it's a phenomena which is well documented and recorded, where you've got vertical mobility into society, class structures change and your reference groups change, and influences around you determine your personal choices. I think it's not a mysterious thing at all.
POM. You had also talked during the early part of this of the first half of 1990 about Buthelezi's confrontationalism: his confrontationalism with the government, with the ANC, was he being more confrontational with one side than with the other?
WF. There are two patterns of confrontation. With the government there was confrontationalism as there had always been during the whole of the eighties with Buthelezi's belief that his role was needed by government and the government and him would be performing some kind of duet in matters. So the threat of upsetting government plans, thwarting government intentions and going to the people, raising mass objections to what the government was doing was very real, it was real for government. The government believed in the early 1990s that Buthelezi was a key figure and that he was an essential ingredient in the mix of things.
POM. That would be from, say, 1989 beginning with De Klerk?
WF. It goes back further than that. There was a general disillusionment of Buthelezi nationally and internationally after about 1984/85. 1986 I think it was Buthelezi set up an on-going study group or discussion group between the KwaZulu government and the SA government on the obstacles to negotiations, obstacles to a political settlement. That took two forms, the one was a forum of executive leaders, all the homeland leaders were involved, cabinet ministers were involved on an inter-governmental basis. Added on to that there was an IFP, or KwaZulu government/SA government dialogue which ran parallel to that. In that dialogue the stages were set, the agendas were set for the other meeting. So discussion took place on both levels from 1986 onwards. If you read the telephone transcripts, for example, between Buthelezi and De Klerk in which they talk about alliances -
POM. This would be now in 198- ?
WF. No after the World Trade Centre, towards the end of the World Trade Centre.
POM. This is where I'm getting confused between a few things. You mentioned the Negotiating Council, you mentioned CODESA 1, CODESA 2, then you had the Kempton Park talks or the Multi-Party Negotiating Forum which took place after the Record of Understanding.
WF. Prior to the Record of Understanding, after CODESA 2, Buthelezi and De Klerk were still talking between themselves that between them they could win the first election.
POM. This is between CODESA 2 and the Record of Understanding? OK.
WF. Up to the Record of Understanding Buthelezi pursued an active alliance with De Klerk on the basis that the NP government and Buthelezi and the KwaZulu government between them could monopolise sufficient power to win the first election, that they would emerge as the winners. They did not see the ANC as a necessary winner. I suppose to De Klerk it was always a background threat that Buthelezi would withdraw from that alliance, that working relationship between them. After the Record of Understanding the conflict between Buthelezi and the government became greatly aggravated. So you had conflict at two levels.
POM. You had mentioned, this was on page 3, that local government development is going to be the death knell for the IFP. I assume it's a local government structure that vests authority in elected councillors and takes away power from the traditional authorities. Is the government going to address that in its forthcoming white paper or will chiefs always find themselves more or less in a minority situation on local government councils?
WF. If you analyse the power base of the chiefs, remembering you're looking at a pre-literate society in which there is no constitution, there is no written law, the basis of power of a chief very dominantly rests on his control of land. He is a final arbiter of who can use what piece of land for what purpose. While there are hereditary patterns there is a whole network of tribal forces which can alienate people from the land which they've inherited and the chief's control of land and the settlement of people on that land whether it's to be used for grazing for residents or for agriculture. It forms a very powerful set of sanctions against non-conformity.
. When local government takes over you lose that right of determination of the use of land. I think it will be a serious erosion of the chief's power. Chiefs have always been able to immunise themselves and their societies from external developments with economic developments or political developments, they have been able to be insular. In part that's broken down by the developments after 1968 where the government moved to a whole set of structures first you had a tribal structure which for the first time located people in a structure which had a say and for the first time the chief was surrounded by the formalities of formal tribal meetings, minutes were taken, there was a secretary, so that's changed then.
. The next step was regional structures in which tribal authorities were joined together in a regional authority and, again, there was a further erosion of the chief's autonomy because regional matters were decided regionally and regional influences were quite definitely an erosion of the chief's personal power base because where a road went had to be agreed by other tribes, not by your tribe only, where water was laid on, hospitals, schools, bridges, those were all regionally decided. So the chief's powers were further eroded in that sense.
. Then you had the territorial authority in which many of those chiefs from regional authorities found themselves sitting in a territorial authority over the whole of KwaZulu and, again, at a broader level, yet what happened in a bigger tribal area was decided by people further and further removed from the chief himself.
. Then you had the Legislative Assembly in the final step where you had a measure of nominally elected people and tribal chiefs making decisions about tribal society. If, for instance, you look at the question of secession which is an important issue in tribal power stakes, it's an issue which has given rise to numerous villainy, blood feuds, assassinations, murders. Zulu law is such that there will always be more than one claimant for being a successor to a chief. Buthelezi, step by step, brought that under control and then the determination of who would be a chief finally became a line function of a minister in the Legislative Assembly.
. So in many ways there has been this erosion of these factors surrounding the chief's autonomy, but right through that process Buthelezi has been very careful to leave the chiefs sufficient autonomy within their areas and their own jurisdiction over their tribal areas and he's never touched their right to utilisation of land for instance. Now when local government takes place and there are elected local councils we're going to have a situation in which that final erosion of the power base of the chief is going to make a fundamental difference. History across Africa has shown the extent to which the land issue, control of land, has eroded tribal authorities.
. The situation since I last spoke to you has, of course, changed somewhat. In the constitution it is stated, or it in effect says that there shall be an elected municipal structure over every square metre of SA. Then there was the evolution of thinking, a government white paper on local government, the Local Government Structures Act, and the Demarcation Board set to work. The Demarcation Board, for example, in many areas if an area which should have its own local municipality hasn't got the capacity in terms of personnel, in terms of machinery, in terms of expertise, in terms of financial resources, to run its own affairs then it will be run by a District Council. So there will be a number of District Councils and KZN is now divided up into nine District Councils as the present Demarcation Board is seeing things and I think it will be fairly finalised in that form. I don't think the Constitutional Court's findings that part of the Municipal Structures Act is unconstitutional will make a difference to that aspect of it.
POM. Sorry, the Constitutional Court?
WF. Has declared certain sections of the Local Government Structures Act to be unconstitutional in that they erode the powers of provinces. That's a separate issue. But I'm just saying that even that court finding has left the Demarcation Board entirely intact and it's role is still to determine boundaries and that it will do and that will become law. So you won't have, which many of us and government and ANC thought of, each tribal authority would have its own elected municipality. Now that has been changed so you will have a number of tribal authorities living under a District Council and the Demarcation Board could advise the minister at any time when any particular local council or local tribal authority is in a position to convert to a municipal authority. So that's immunised some of the problems that one would have anticipated Buthelezi would face, Inkatha would face. Originally the whole question of am I going into too much detail?
POM. I think that's about sufficient. I wanted to just locate what it means and in summary it's that there is an inexorable process going on that is eroding the authority of the chief and insofar as the support for the IFP comes from areas ruled by, or where chiefs exercise most of the authority, there would be an erosion in support for the IFP so it had a diminishing support base as the constitutional process and the increased migration to cities takes place.
WF. It's not only support. I'm talking about the application of positive and negative sanctions against non-conformity and the power base that supports those sanctions. Those are changing, so the idiom of tribal life would gradually metamorphose into a different kind of animal and we associate those, as I have said with control over land, the siting of roads, dams, bridges, siting of schools, the provision of hospitals, clean water, telephones, electricity. When you as a tribesmen have to go to an elected council to get those great benefits of life and not to your chief or to his indunas, the importance of the chiefs and the indunas start waning and you begin perceiving that your vested interests can be served outside of the domains of the chief and his power structures.
POM. You talk here, and I think you referred to it before, you say: "Take the NP, prior to 1990 there had been ongoing sets of talking about talks, negotiating in fact between a South African government and members of all the homeland governments and it was formally constituted which ran into about nine different sessions over some years. They had no joint plan of action, they had no objectives, the discussions were predominantly discussions of how to evade ANC dictates and when the ANC produced their Harare Declaration that was it, demanding a single phase transition. De Klerk vowed in these meetings I'm talking about to fight to the death and assured everybody that he would never agree to an approach which would create a new government which will write the constitution."So these meetings took place up to and after De Klerk became State President, after he had released Mandela? OK, the Harare Declaration was in? I didn't have my reference book with me.
WF. I think it was 1990, I'm not sure. In the beginning.
POM. But it was before De Klerk assumed power or after De Klerk assumed power?
WF. I'm blank on that date.
POM. But the key point is when the Harare Declaration was issued De Klerk was in power and he assured the homeland leaders at that point that he would never agree, to fight to the death, as you said, any attempt to have a written constitution.
WF. If you read the transcription of his address to the plenary session of CODESA 1 in December of that year, the CODESA plenary
POM. That would be it.
WF. He did the first turnabout.
POM. Did he propose the writing of a constitution? Or he proposed a Constituent Assembly?
WF. Yes. So there was a turnabout on De Klerk's side and there was a subsequent turnabout on the ANC side moving away from the Harare Declaration. The Harare Declaration envisaged an election of a parliament and the new parliament will write the constitution. The Constituent Assembly was a compromise by the ANC and accepted after De Klerk's turnabout on this issue in his address to the plenary of CODESA it must have been CODESA 1.
POM. But when De Klerk was talking about the Constituent Assembly writing the constitution he was doing it within the framework of certain caveats like, for example, there would be an upper chamber that would have veto powers. In other words there wouldn't be really a Constituent Assembly elected by the majority with the sole authority to write a constitution.
WF. You're right.
POM. Here we have you saying: "Pre-CODESA at the peace negotiations which led to CODESA 1, the peace negotiations led to the preparatory conference in November 1991 which established CODESA in December. During the latter part of these negotiations about negotiations, between IFP and the NP, Gerrit Viljoen was axed, Roelf Meyer took over and there was a new ball game altogether. There was a very marked change of NP politics in the negotiations with the IFP. As late as the end of 1992 (that would be after the Record of Understanding) Buthelezi was still calling for an alliance between the NP and the IFP. He was talking about a one and one alliance." My question is that even though Buthelezi felt marginalised by the Record of Understanding, he still pursued the issue of a one and one alliance with De Klerk consequent to that?
WF. Buthelezi at that stage, you remember, moved to establish the COSAG and Freedom Alliance believing that the pressure it could bring to bear could unsettle the Record of Understanding and even in the following year when the first negotiations took place to set up the Multi-Party Negotiating Council, he still believed that he had that pull and that clout and that De Klerk would have to move away from the Record of Understanding to a large extent. He was quite adamant that he retained the support that De Klerk needed and De Klerk couldn't go ahead without him and that the Multi-Party Negotiating Council would fail without him. Even in July that year when he withdrew from the Multi-Party Negotiating Council, Buthelezi was still convinced they would never be able to write a constitution without him. So he thought he was a key factor and had a whip hand and even later that whole experience didn't crystallise in his mind as something which showed that he was wrong. He still believed that he could block the 1994 election. So first there was a phase that they couldn't negotiate without him and then there was a phase they couldn't write a constitution without him and then there's a phase they couldn't have an election without him.
POM. So he made three very big faults.
WF. Fundamental errors of judgement. In our first real tough talks with the ANC in December 1993, January/February 1994, up to those talks the talks had dominantly been, after the IFP left CODESA, left the Negotiating Council rather, talks were dominantly with the NP and I think I mentioned to you before that finally when we had reached a broad consensus between the IFP and the NP it was agreed that we would put this consensus before the ANC and bring the third party in. Cyril Ramaphosa took the document and said this is a non-document.
POM. I have that in here and I will come to it in time, but this consensus between the IFP and the NP took place, or the discussions took place some place after the Record of Understanding was signed but before the Multi-Party Negotiating Forum.
WF. They continued right through. Buthelezi never withdrew from discussions, he threatened to do it on a number of occasions but he never withdrew from those discussions and continued to talk to the NP even through the process of the Multi-Party Negotiating process, he still negotiated with the NP.
POM. So even though on the one hand he was publicly castigating the NP for throwing its hand in with the ANC, on the other hand he was still actively negotiating with De Klerk to reach some kind of consensus or alliance?
WF. If you read Buthelezi's discussion with De Klerk within weeks of the Record of Understanding being signed, at that stage he had no idea of the extent to which there had been ongoing negotiations about details between the NP government and the ANC. He still assumed then that this was something that could be upset, he had no notion of the extent to which that Record of Understanding had deep roots in a whole year's negotiation, since the failure of CODESA. I think I mentioned to you before that the failure of CODESA and the ANC going on to mass action
POM. This is the failure of CODESA 2?
WF. CODESA 2, and the ANC going into mass action in July/August/September and Buthelezi sidelined by that action because De Klerk then really perceived the extent to which the ANC was the power on the ground which could draw mass support and rolling mass action and militant mass action. Buthelezi did not have that capacity and that realisation made De Klerk understand the extent to which he had now to deal with the ANC more seriously.
POM. So, again, to get the sequence of events right: after CODESA 2 came to a halt you had Boipatong where the ANC withdrew completely from negotiations but you had the Cyril and Roelf channel. Then you had a period of a couple of months when the ANC went into its mass action mode. Then you had the Record of Understanding and then you had the Multi-Party Negotiating Forum the following year, in 1993. Now Buthelezi came out of CODESA still believing that he could or did De Klerk come out of CODESA too still believing that he could put together an alliance between Buthelezi and the other homeland leaders and the NP that would outvote the ANC? Did he change his mind on that when he saw the degree to which the ANC could mobilise the forces on the ground and throw his hand in with the ANC after the Record of Understanding or did he for a period try to play both sides, had the record of Understanding on the one side and on the other hand continue negotiations with Buthelezi producing this document that was laid before the Negotiating Forum which Ramaphosa simply threw out?
WF. One could make that kind of statement but then you stand in danger of seeing those events too simplistically, too uniformly in a process. There were a number of processes emerging at the time: De Klerk's realisation of the impotence of Buthelezi's input was a growing thing that emerged particularly during the Multi-Party Negotiating process.
POM. Now we're in 1993?
POM. But I'm going back to that.
WF. I'm saying that started in CODESA 2. The structures of CODESA 2 were up for review and re-determination. It wasn't an automatic following on of CODESA 1 structures. The whole management of those talks in CODESA 1 had angered Buthelezi and in CODESA 2 the IFP attempted to rewrite the structures, the decision making process and the administrative process and attempted to get the NP to support it. That primarily was the cause of the ANC walking out of the talks. They could not proceed with those talks and get their way without Buthelezi's backing. They needed him in on the act.
POM. Who did?
WF. The ANC did.
POM. The ANC did.
WF. So to retain the kind of control that Ramaphosa and Roelf Meyer had developed in CODESA 1 they needed the acceptance by Buthelezi of the same process for CODESA 2 and he refused to do that. So I am saying that there are a number of developments which took place simultaneously or concurrently which led finally to a shifting of De Klerk's position. During these processes there was the CODESA 2 failure, Boipatong I think was the peg on which the ANC hung their departure from CODESA 2 talks but it wasn't the actual reason, the real reason was the monopoly of power between Roelf Meyer and Ramaphosa which they couldn't re-establish and concretise, and the need for the ANC once and for all to put De Klerk in a position where he would have to choose between ANC and IFP. So that process had started emerging way back when Viljoen was axed and Roelf Meyer and Ramaphosa started working together.
POM. Now Viljoen was axed before CODESA 1 began?
WF. Yes. That process of the NP government seeing the power base of the ANC as being superior to Inkatha started way back then. I'm saying these things grew all parallel to each other and finally culminated, it wasn't a clear-cut, mechanical event such as an event, and then De Klerk said, no, this, that and the other. I'm just saying that there's a complex set of parallel developments all of which finally culminated in De Klerk agreeing that Buthelezi could be dumped, which he did in December 1993.
POM. In December 1993?
WF. With the adoption of the first constitution.
POM. November, yes.
WF. December it was adopted in Cape Town.
POM. To go back to a question that's frequently argued about the popular story, or the one promulgated, is that four out of the five Working Groups in CODESA 2 had reached agreement and it was only the Working Group on constitutional issues at that point involving Ramaphosa and Tertius Delport, who at that point was in charge of the NP's negotiations, that it was their failure to reach agreement on the percentages necessary to pass decisions regarding the constitution or the Bill of Rights that led to the breakdown. You're suggesting that the real reason for the breakdown was that the rules were being rewritten so that the ANC couldn't go forward without the compliance of Buthelezi. Is that correct?
WF. Yes. If you remember, starting with the peace negotiations, decisions could be vetoed either by government, ANC or IFP, each had a veto power over it.
POM. This is the sufficient consensus mechanism?
WF. Yes. The sufficient consensus mechanism came in way back to get away from that veto power. Again, there was another stream of developments all interwoven, it was a complex of developing factors which finally culminated in a particular decision by De Klerk but I don't think one must simplistically put that decision down to A, B or C, it was the result of a whole process in which an inter-woven set of determinants which moved him further towards the realisation that he would have to deal with the ANC and Buthelezi was dispensable.
POM. So to whose advantage did the halt in CODESA 2 work? In other words to whose advantage did the postponement of the date of an election, having a later election rather than an earlier election, to whose advantage did that work? To the NP's or to the ANC's?
WF. I think by that time, by the time they got to setting the election date controversy, there was also sufficient concurrence between the ANC and the NP government that it was to the advantage of both.
POM. But in June of 1992 when CODESA 2 came to a halt some people say that the ANC wanted out, that they had lost touch with their grassroots, you had the militants gaining an upper hand, you had talk of the Leipzig option. Others said that within the NP, they thought the NP was giving away too much and it had to step forward to regroup its forces and that one or the other wanted to bring matters to a halt for a period of time. My question is, in your estimation, who would have wanted to engineer a deadlock at CODESA 2 that would have worked to their own advantage?
WF. The ANC quite definitely.
WF. The ANC's problem with the grassroots, the NP's problem with its support base, were factors but when you ascribe any particular major event like leaving CODESA to one of those factors, one tends to be then over-selective in picking particular terms which could have no value unless it co-existed with other determinants, it is the network of determinants in totality which one must look at.
POM. Why do you say it worked to the ANC's advantage?
WF. It put them in a position in which they could demonstrate their power, they could appeal to the international community for support. If you look at Mandela's statements after Boipatong it was to the advantage of the ANC to purge the process of the dominance of Buthelezi and the kind of structure, the negotiation in which things were unnecessarily bogged down as they were in CODESA 1 and would have been in CODESA 2. The Negotiating Council arising out of the Record of Understanding was a different kind of animal, negotiating animal, and that's the move that really the ANC was looking for, the walking out of CODESA because the process was fatally flawed as far as the ANC was concerned. De Klerk would have preferred to go on with it. The IFP would have preferred to go on with it if it could have been rationalised. The ANC's progression from moving out of CODESA through its mass action programme, through to its Record of Understanding, through to the Negotiating Council, was a consolidation of ANC advantages all the way.
POM. So would you call one of the significant turning points the fact that the ANC in August, when they called their mass mobilisation campaign into being, that it was the extent and success of that that brought government to the realisation that it had to deal primarily with the ANC and not with Buthelezi?
WF. Yes, straight after that there was the first real bosperaad between government, NP, and ANC. They went off to the bush and in exclusion spoke about things in a structured way on a broad basis after the mass action process. Very clearly at the end of August, September, De Klerk realised that he had to deal with the ANC.
POM. But at the same time he was still talking with Buthelezi.
WF. Oh yes, he carried on talking with Buthelezi.
POM. And they presented a joint document to Ramaphosa at a subsequent meeting, a document you say which he summarily dismissed and wouldn't even allow to be tabled on the agenda. So the IFP and the NP had reached consensus on the way forward. What did that way forward envisage?
WF. The IFP and the NP government talks during the latter part of 1993 after July revolved around, amongst other things, the position of KZN, the position of the Zulu kingdom, the role of the King, the role of tribal society. It revolved around most of the other key elements in the constitution in broad principle, far reaching, wide ranging talks on those kind of topics.
POM. Did they include the topic of federalism or the powers of the provinces?
WF. De Klerk repeatedly made the point that he supports federalism but it's impolitic to use that name, let's not call it federalism. In talks with Buthelezi he supported the notion of federalism but refused to put the name to it. He said that would be impolitic to do so.
POM. So until the start of the negotiating process in 1993, the Multi-Party Negotiating Forum, was De Klerk still playing 'footsie' with both sides on the one hand realising that he had to deal with the ANC, and dealing with the ANC was the only possible way forward, and at the same time not quite prepared to dump Buthelezi?
WF. I think it's more than playing footsie with both sides. If you look at it the process that led to the Record of Understanding and the Record of Understanding led to the Negotiating Council and the Negotiating Council led to the 1993 interim constitution. That was more than playing footsie with the ANC.
POM. He had thrown his towel in with the ANC. Then why would he still have continued negotiating with Buthelezi?
WF. To diffuse the Buthelezi threat. Both Ramaphosa and De Klerk were very keen to get Buthelezi involved in the support of the interim constitution. It was only in December 1993 after it had been passed by parliament without Buthelezi's participation that the decision was clearly made to dump Buthelezi and to go ahead without him. One might type cause and effect determinants of what happened, it was a multitude of things which finally wove together to produce what actually did eventually happen.
POM. But what I'm trying to do is identify the processes even if they worked in parallel and not in sequence. When you say before CODESA started it was clear to De Klerk that the ANC was a party of consequence and the IFP as a running partner and the battle against the ANC would not be able to deliver the strength that such a partnership would require. Was that before the start of CODESA 2 or before the start of - ?
WF. Negotiating Council.
POM. When you say before the Negotiating Council, you're referring to the Multi-Party which began in 1993?
WF. That's right.
WF. This is a small anecdote, from peace discussions through to CODESA 1 there was the veto right of any one of the three parties.
POM. That's through CODESA 1.
WF. When CODESA 2 emerged the decision making process didn't come under such a spotlight, it was just the structures of the executive and the administration to control the agendas of CODESA 2 which was the issue.
POM. And there the IFP managed to reinsert themselves without their - ?
WF. CODESA 2 could not carry on because the IFP said no to the structures which they needed, both the ANC and the NP needed. The anecdote I want to talk about is in setting up the Negotiating Council, the Multi-Party Negotiating Council which finally produced the draft constitution, IFP delegates were excluded, were not allowed into the room where some of these discussions were taking place, breaking once and for all the notion of the essential participation in everything.
POM. So the notion of sufficient consensus went out the door at that point?
WF. It wasn't formulated then but it went out of the door before the Multi-Party Negotiating Council actually got off the ground.
POM. That's in 1993. So going back to the break up of CODESA 2, in the ANC's analysis this quibbling over percentages and the like would have been a convenient way of bringing matters to a halt so as to unload, to stop CODESA 2, unload themselves of the structures of CODESA 2 and in that way unloading themselves of having to pacify Buthelezi and to move the negotiation more in the direction of a direct negotiating process between the ANC and the government.
WF. The Multi-Party Negotiating Council was in effect putting the Record of Understanding into practice, so I would date this decision not to be reliant on the IFP in any future structures, it dates back to that phase, that's where it originated. The MPNC emerged from the Record of Understanding and it determined the dominance of the ANC and NP and diminishing of the reliance on Buthelezi, attempting to keep him in in every possible way.
POM. So they appeased him but were no longer accommodating him.
WF. Then in December 1993 when he presented the ANC, Ramaphosa, with the IFP's minimal demands, he and Joe Slovo asked for an adjournment of the meeting in Cape Town, adjourned and came back and said, "No, Buthelezi must first commit himself to entering elections before they would even begin talking to us", and they refused to talk about any of our points. They wanted a prior commitment by Buthelezi that he would enter elections. They would then talk about accommodating him. That was a very hard position that was taken in December 1993 and put in effect in January/February 1994. They still wanted to keep him in but they exacted a very heavy price from Buthelezi to remain in and aware that he wouldn't accept their challenge of committing himself to elections, participating in elections and then seeing what he can get as concessions for that submission. It was a very clear political decision that was taken prior to December 1993. That decision had grown in strength and was all over the month of elections.
POM. Who do you think had the more difficult task in managing the various constituencies, De Klerk, the ANC or the IFP?
WF. I think De Klerk by far. The ANC in those times could retain the constituency support and the militant support, for instance, on the uMkhonto issue. The retention of MK, the recognition of MK as an army, the integration process of MK in the defence force, were all things that the ANC used very acidulously to retain the support of their base and even their radical base, so they had that kind of advantage of pushing that kind of thing through because De Klerk supported it. Buthelezi had totally opposed it, in vain of course as events would turn out.
POM. Were the divisions within the NP over the direction that De Klerk was taking greater than the divisions within the ANC over the course that Mandela was taking?
WF. I think they are different kettles of fish in the sense that the NP had always been authoritarian, the nature of NP politics was authoritarian, it ran an authoritarian parliament and there was less grassroots support criticism, rather more around personalities, the verligte/verkrampte division in the NP continued but verligte definitely strategically gained ground all the time.
POM. Let's assume for a moment that agreement had been reached in CODESA 2 on the proposals coming out of the Working Group 2 on constitutional matters and that all five committees put proposals before the plenary session and said we have agreed to all of these things, and then they would have moved on to CODESA 3 or a continuation of CODESA 2 which would have been the implementary stage of proposals agreed in CODESA 2. Would the IFP have allowed that? Would the IFP at that point still have a veto power over any movement forward on what had been agreed at in CODESA 2?
WF. I think during CODESA 1 the ANC and the NP with their control of the executive and of the process, the administrative backing
POM. This is in CODESA 1?
WF. During that process they had already learnt how to get their own way without the IFP concurring. CODESA went on and the process in CODESA 1 was very dominantly in favour of NP/ANC thinking against the IFP thinking. When we got into the Negotiating Council it was the ANC who put on the table the agendas of the meetings. Chaskalson decided what the agenda would be, how they would go about the process, to the strongest possible objections by Buthelezi which were in vain, key IFP documents were never tabled because Chaskalson didn't table them. The whole process was one which consolidated the power advantage of the ANC/NP concurrence on the process.
POM. You say here, "By the time CODESA 2 broke up the NP was aware that Buthelezi would have to be expendable."You said the IFP was vilified by Boipatong as, at least according to the TRC, it would have been justifiably vilified, that it was an attack. Now would an attack like that, they later found that elements of the police were involved, at what level would a decision to carry out such an attack be made or would it be more of a spontaneous event because one couldn't see how it would work to the advantage of the IFP. If one said, how does this work to the advantage of the IFP, how does it advance their interests, there's no up side.
WF. We need to bring another whole discussion of the focus, which is probably out of place here, but if you look at the relationship between the IFP, SADF, the security police, the Bureau of State Security and the Security Council, since 1986 the development of working relationships, the establishment of the Caprivi training and the subsequent long trial, evidence shows that the whole process had started and it was a continuation of that element in government thinking which supported the kind of things which are now coming out at the TRC, the hard line against militant ANC, the desperate action of murdering people, particular opponents. So that element had always been there and that continued as part of the structured thinking of government. Now Boipatong, had it not had the consequences it had politically, was a demonstration of the power of that element of the IFP and the government working together, military and violence approach programmes. So this is another whole discussion, but again there was a parallel development in this weave of things we're talking about, but that's one of the weaves in the things that we're talking about.
POM. So that while De Klerk was preparing or deciding to work hand in hand with the ANC you had still elements within the military, the SADF or the security police or Intelligence or whatever, who were still working with elements within the IFP to destabilise the ANC itself.
WF. You must also recognise that the NP's first discussions with the ANC, serious discussions, date back to probably 1986. In the 1986 1989 period there were a lot of discussions between NP, government and the ANC and during that period there was the growth of military support for Buthelezi, military training, funding of militant action, so it was a parallel development in government. Government ministers who were dealing with the ANC were aware of the other programme. I am quite sure that that was the case. When you talk like that you must be able to back it up with fact and developments and historical events. I was involved in the initial setting up of the Caprivi trainees, I was involved with the personnel of the army, I was aware of the extent to which they were being backed by Magnus Malan. So ministers knew what was happening and the immunity that they're now claiming from all knowledge of those things is quite understandable, they would have claimed that anyway then, but it was there. Government was meeting with the ANC, developing Inkatha, strengthening its militancy, providing military training and funding and diplomatic support.
POM. At the same time while it was preparing to deal with the ANC. So would De Klerk have been aware of what Magnus Malan can you see a situation where De Klerk would not have been aware of what Magnus Malan was up to?
WF. I cannot believe that if you've got the kind of authoritarian structure that you had in the NP, the left hand would not know what the right hand was doing. I don't believe it. This is out of idiom with the whole nature of that government.
POM. So when they still piously say at the Cabinet, not just De Klerk, we had no idea what was going on, this is beyond your capacity to believe?
WF. Truly, and of course the TRC's findings is another matter. But it's my limited window through which I look at these things. The Caprivi trainees, which I know about personally, very clearly show the extent to which ministers were involved and knew what was going on and they knew what the Caprivi training was for and why it was being undertaken and what kind of training was being given and the purpose of the training.
POM. Not that I'm going to use this, because it would be libellous to do so or I can just turn this off?
WF. There again, if you take the role of first Captain and then Major Botha backing IFP militancy and providing money and training and backup for programmes of violence, there again the police force of all forces in the country was authoritarian and I just cannot conceive of a Captain Botha acting out of sync with his superiors. I can't believe that he would have had access to the kind of money he did have access to if there wasn't general backing for what he was doing. He provided hundreds of thousands of rand from his coffers that didn't come from the police budget, it must have come from the SADF as was proved in the end. But Captain Botha wouldn't have access to senior army people to be able to divert that kind of money unless there was concurrence between police at high level and army at high level. The whole question of who knew what is to me very obviously the question that has not yet been answered, but I can't conceive of it other than ministers and senior ranking army and police personnel knowing what was going on. If they knew what was going on I can't conceive that De Klerk wouldn't know what's going on. If senior army, the Minister of Defence, senior police were doing these things, I can't conceive that they would have done these things without De Klerk knowing it.
POM. Just to clarify, the agreements that came out of CODESA 2 and the other four Working Groups were non-binding agreements, like when the MPNF began in 1993 it wasn't bound by any of the agreements that had been reached in the Working Group agreements of 1992, even though it adopted many of their proposals it wasn't bound by them.
POM. When you say: "CODESA 2 had actually never got off the ground. There had been very broad agreement about where we were going at the end of CODESA 1 but CODESA 2 never really got off the ground because of the fights about the executive and administrative control of the process."
. Why I keep getting confused on that point is that of the five Working Groups, four had reached agreement and the plenary session on May 15th, and still on the morning of May 15th, it was only in Cyril Ramaphosa's group on the constitutional matters that there was a logjam, a deadlock and that led not to the break-up but to a postponement of CODESA 2. It didn't go out of existence. But you're saying the matter went much deeper, that even if there had been agreement in all of the five working groups rather than in four of the five, that CODESA 2 was still because of its administrative and executive structure like a tyre around the ANC's neck, that it couldn't unburden itself of the veto power of the IFP and that it needed to do something to shake the IFP out of the picture.
WF. The Working Groups worked on programmes which were presented to the plenary. At that plenary, I had chaired one of the groups on the statement of intent, I finally got concurrence and reached unanimous support for the wording of that. On the eve of that plenary session Buthelezi took constitutional advice and publicly the next day rejected the statement of intent. That was then subsequently put on hold and it was agreed that the rest of CODESA 2 could go on while they continued sorting out the difficulties in that statement of intent. The statement of those Working Groups were statements of work programmes rather than conclusions, they were statements of direction rather than detail and it was in the management of the following process that the question of executive control and of the structure of the administrative system that was the main thing.
POM. So in effect even if the agreements that had been reached had been thrown into the pot in a Constituent Assembly they could have been just as easily thrown back out, there was nothing binding about them?
WF. Nothing binding about them.
POM. I had a question, you said: "De Klerk wasn't negotiating to win the game, he was negotiating to get as much out of the process as he could get." But for a while he was negotiating to win the game, for a while when he thought he could put together a coalition that would involve either Buthelezi alone or a coalition involving Buthelezi and the other homeland leaders, at that point he was thinking of victory.
WF. No he was thinking of victory very definitely. I know for a while he was, in that process on the parallel side, he was in the process of building up militancy in the IFP believing that he could turn the IFP so militant that he could actually put an end to whatever he didn't want.
POM. So, again this comes back to the question, the build up in the militancy of the IFP suited De Klerk whether or not he says he knew about it, knew the details about it or whatever. The fact of the matter is that it suited his own strategic purposes insofar as he had strategic purposes.
WF. Yes. Again, an anecdote in that direction, and I'm probably going into too much detail, stop me if it's irrelevant: CODESA 1 or even in the peace talks it became very clear that the IFP did not have the resources in terms of people backing it, intellectual backing, backing of universities, backing of churches, to produce weighty discussions in the various committees. I was taken to task on a number of occasions by NP people, ministers included, which urged me to jack up the IFP's capacity to negotiate because they were finding it embarrassing in serious negotiations when the IFP delegation would arrive with a document that I had written addressed to Buthelezi and they presented this document. They couldn't speak to it, it wasn't their document, they had no capacity. The IFP delegation would arrive with no pre-meeting caucus, only with the dictates of a document which Buthelezi had given them. So the capacity of the IFP, it's incapacity was reviewed a long time ago.
POM. Was it a decision of the IFP itself to jack up its negotiating capacity by resorting more to militancy and hit squads and the like or was it a decision of the government to say, listen we need a stronger IFP to act as a counterweight to the ANC so we must help them build up this capacity?
WF. Again that's a multi-faceted answer which your question demands and we've gone over much of this. The belief of Buthelezi of his centrality to whatever was happening, his final belief that they couldn't go on without him, his backing of that belief with added militancy forms a pattern of misconception about his role in society and his importance in society.
POM. So he misunderstood from the start his own role in this whole process and the strengths that he could exercise and the role that he could play.
WF. I was involved in many discussions with the Chamber of Industries, with churches and with intellectuals about the need to support what the IFP was doing. Buthelezi from 1983 onwards remained unaware of the basic developments in society. He was unaware of the extent to which he was being marginalised, he was unaware of the extent to which nationally and internationally his stature was diminishing. He always traced this down to bad press, lies and deceptions and he was convinced that the truth would out and show the importance of the role that he played and he was going through a very difficult phase but he had no doubt that in the end he would again have the backing of those people.
POM. This is the end of the hard part. The peace process, this is you speaking, I'm saying: "The Negotiating Council will be part of the peace process as distinct from - " You say, "The peace process, the CODESA 1, then you had the Negotiating Council", but after CODESA 1 you had the Negotiating Council, "After CODESA 1 there was no CODESA 2, CODESA 2 collapsed and then you had the Negotiating Council after the Record of Understanding. By that time the IFP had already written a complete South African constitution which was tabled at the Negotiating Council."
. That would more accurately read that you had a pre-CODESA 1 negotiating process where De Klerk was talking to all the homeland leaders and at the time that the Harare Declaration was issued vowed that he would fight to the death against a written constitution. Then you had the talks between the ANC and the government and the various minutes, the Pretoria Minute and whatever. Then in December 1991 you had CODESA 1 take place. Then you did have CODESA 2 which ground to a halt in May of 1992. Then you had Boipatong and then you had mass mobilisation. Then you had the Record of Understanding and then you had the Multi-Party Negotiating Forum. Is that the correct sequence? And when the IFP went to the MPNF it had at that point concluded a consensual agreement with the NP which it presented to the ANC at the MPNF which Ramaphosa threw out.
WF. That event took place in the latter part of 1993 after Buthelezi had withdrawn from the Negotiating Council. In July 1993 he moved out of the Negotiating Council.
POM. In July 1993 he moved out of the Negotiating Council, the MPNF.
WF. And then set up a round of negotiations with the NP which produced that consensus document which Ramaphosa threw out, I think that was November/December.
POM. So the negotiating document, that document would have been presented to the Negotiating Forum in November/December 1993.
WF. It wasn't presented to the Negotiating Forum, it was never presented to the Negotiating Forum. That document arose out of bilateral discussions between the IFP and the NP government between July and probably October/November 1993.
POM. 1993, OK. And then the document was taken to Ramaphosa?
WF. With the proposals of fine-tuning the interim constitution and getting concessions granted in the interim constitution.
POM. And at that point Ramaphosa just dismissed it, said it wasn't admissible.
WF. The IFP's national constitution, they never tabled it. They submitted it but it was never tabled.
POM. We have here, this goes back to a question I had asked you about a question from our previous interview. You said: "There was clearly no prospect of raising fundamental issues and going back to square one which technically and politically and constitutionally one could have done. I reported accordingly and suggested to Buthelezi that the issue that we should concentrate on was the issue of local government in KZN tribal areas. We ended up with a compromise." The 'we' is who?
WF. The IFP and the ANC.
POM. And Buthelezi rejected the compromise out of hand?
WF. That was in 1996 in the finalisation of the South African constitution after the Constitutional Court had rejected it and found flaws in it.
POM. Now we were talking here about Richmond. "The ANC are aware of the potential that this province (KZN) offers of continuing violence of ugly proportions. What does that mean? Richmond, what's happening in the Port Shepstone area, in the Inanda area, are all harsh reminders of the potential for violence that there is in this province. The ANC are also aware that once you've raised the level of tribal consciousness and the ethnic factor to the extent that Buthelezi has raised it, violence can only take the form of a war of attrition, nobody can win on either side."
. Going back to Richmond now that there are more facts out on it, at one point you had talked about Buthelezi discussing the Sinn Fein/IRA option that you wage a war of attrition, you're not waging it actually to win something that you've set out, you're waging it to eventually make the other side either get weary of the struggle physically, get weary of it in terms of the cost to society or human life or whatever and reach some accommodation with you. After he withdrew from the NegotiatingForum, was his thinking moving in that direction at that time?
WF. I doubt whether at that time Buthelezi's mind was crystallising the situation as you're now talking about it. He had an unshakeable belief that the kingdom of KwaZulu would assert itself and it was an historically necessary process and it would happen whatever else happened. Whatever else happened there would be a KwaZulu kingdom and it's in that context that he made his main statement when I challenged him on the extent to which he was relying on the chiefs of KwaZulu.
POM. OK, I think that's most of the ones that arise out of the last interview. Looking back, is there any kind of strange irony in the fact that despite the hugely antagonistic relationship between the IFP and the ANC and the IFP and the United Democratic Front before that, and the thousands of lives lost in this province, that of all the parties involved in this whole negotiating process over the last 20 years if you like, that the only parties involved as partners in the process are in fact the ANC and the IFP, that they in fact are part of a continuing coalition government both at the provincial level and at the national level?
WF. I don't know whether irony is the right word, you could probably use it. I'm pausing, thinking back on Buthelezi himself. He has a capacity to be different persons, I think it's actually a personality issue, it's not intellectual process alone. He assumes one kind of persona in one situation and another kind of persona in another situation and they co-exist.
POM. In fact what I had down here for a question was that he's a Jekyll and Hyde personality.
WF. When he's in company of international church people or South African church leaders he is very genuine in what he says. When he backs militancy and he congratulates groups of people who have done terrible things he's also very genuine. Part of this concept of self is that he is a principled man who believes in democracy and while Mandela was still in jail he wrote to Mandela saying that he, Buthelezi, would serve under Mandela if Mandela came out of jail and won an election, but he would also expect Mandela to serve under him in those circumstances if he, Buthelezi, won. So the acceptance of the ANC victory in 1994 is an acceptance by part of him that is that kind of person. It's also acceptance, a realisation that he really lost out and that he would be sidelined unless he participated in the developments of the new constitution. Up to the end of 1996 Buthelezi was scathing in his references to the constitution in IFP National Council meetings and talked about it as a threat to everything that we hold dear. The implementation of the constitution is a process which further and further enmeshed him in that coalition government but his joining a coalition government in 1994 was a personal power stakes decision and he despised, he really did despise the constitution and believed it was disastrous for the country.
POM. And the final constitution, how did he feel about that?
WF. Well he refused to participate in the Constitutional Assembly, he withdrew from the Constitutional Assembly and the finalisation process, meeting with the Constitutional Court's demands, he participated in that to some extent and then he withdrew from that participation because he so fundamentally disagreed with the nature of the constitution.
POM. One would assume that at the time you left the party that he still fundamentally disagreed with the nature of the constitution.
WF. He addresses both, in private addresses to the National Council and his public addresses don't reflect the rejection of the constitution from 1997/98 onwards but they did reflect the rejection of the constitution up to 1997/98.
POM. Again, there would have been an irony if as Acting President he rejected the constitution he was temporarily sworn in to uphold in totality. My question I'd written down was that he, and me reading the transcripts of the last of our conversations, that the image that comes across of him is this dual image. On the one hand he sees himself as a freedom fighter who led the struggle against apartheid during the seventies, who refused to negotiate with successive South African governments unless Mandela was released and the ANC was unbanned, refused independence for KZN which would have given an imprimatur of some degree to grand apartheid that it hitherto had lacked. On the other hand he sought to destroy the ANC, or thought the ANC wanted to destroy him. He was described as a collaborationist with the apartheid regime by the TRC, in fact they are quite scathing of I think of any individual, they are most scathing in their report on the IFP and the ANC and its collusion or complicity with the military elements. Who is he? Was he a freedom fighter on the one hand? He was sincere in not negotiating with the government until Mandela was released and the ANC was unbanned and then he turned around and
WF. In understanding of Buthelezi, in understanding of Inkatha, but particularly Buthelezi, you must accept that Buthelezi's leadership works on an amity/enmity level. The IFP is what it is, he is what he is because the IFP is fighting a real enemy in his mind, he's fighting evil. You've got to create that evil as an enemy out there to produce the amity within. The amity/enmity dimension of Buthelezi's personality and thinking is fundamentally important. He would not have mobilised Inkatha unless he presented the ANC as the enemy, the government was the enemy, communism was the enemy, the churches turned out to be the enemy, the trade unions were the enemy. The whole of Inkatha and its adherents were beset by enemies which produced the internal solidarity of considerable proportions and when allied to ethnic appeals produced what Inkatha is. But he always has to have an enemy out there to make sense of what he is doing internally. It's a fighting machine, a militant mindset. If you look at another aspect of Inkatha within that framework of amity/enmity analysis of what he's doing, the leadership that has evolved in Inkatha is very formidable in the internal workings of Inkatha. Inkatha had never ever been threatened by any internal dissent, never been threatened by any division which is a common factor, the PAC/ANC split. Third world politics is filled of schism and continuity. Buthelezi has escaped that. He developed a very strong set of leaders within the context of the amity/enmity world in which he lived and presented to his followers.
POM. So are Buthelezi and the IFP inseparable? Is there life to the IFP after Buthelezi?
WF. The IFP as an organisation would survive Buthelezi, it will become a different animal over a very short period of time. People don't abandon a structure, an organisation, a set of values, a set of mythical charters which has been woven around the IFP and it's fight, people don't abandon those because a leader goes. I don't believe that the IFP is dependent on Buthelezi. It will change its nature.
POM. In what direction do you think?
WF. Very much in a moderating direction. If you take the removal of Frank Mdlalose as Premier and putting Ben Ngubane there and moving Ben Ngubane and then putting Lionel Mtshali there, it's step by step dealing with and getting rid of top leaders who are out of sync with his thinking. Lionel Mtshali mustn't be dismissed because he will do nothing that Buthelezi doesn't want, he hasn't got a mind of his own like Ben Ngubane or Frank Mdlalose had. I had a lot of long discussions with both of them in which we shared our deep concern about Buthelezi and the IFP. You can't do that with Mtshali, he's got no perception of it. Again, if you look at human behaviour and you use it as through idiom with it, if you look at leadership in the animal kingdom and the evolving of that society and the nature of authority, the amity/enmity thing which I borrow as a concept from Robert Ardrey who wrote the book on analysis of a developing society and leadership and what makes people coherently hang together as a distinct group, he points out that, for instance, in baboons the type of leadership is one in which you have a dominant male leader and he's got a whole lot of henchmen around him which actually discipline the baboon troupe, it's coercion and force associated with amity/enmity, but that is sufficiently coherent for baboon troupes to have survived over many, many aeons and in vastly different ranges of terrain. It's a pattern of survival which has evolved in their circumstances and I think Buthelezi's pattern of evolvement is very similar in sociological background. The amity/enmity approach requires that you have got the strong leadership I talked about, the emerging of henchmen around you who cow people into submission if necessary and do the bidding. If you're looking through windows, you talk as though Buthelezi is doing it in that kind of way but it brings together a lot of factors. When you actually analyse Buthelezi, the way he works, it makes a lot of sense by looking at it that way.
POM. But he's now in his early seventies. By the time of the next election he will be in his late seventies. What does he hope to achieve, what does he aspire to achieve in political life?
WF. I'm obviously outdated now on what Buthelezi's current thinking is on these kind of issues but up to 1996 he was absolutely convinced that the Zulu kingdom would arise and re-establish itself and it would take control of the whole of the province of KZN and it would be a Zulu kingdom that existed in this province and if it doesn't come in his lifetime it will come in the next lifetime. It's in that concept that he thinks about Sinn Fein. It will be a war of attrition but eventually history will bring out of the past a restructured, re-emergent Zulu kingdom and he is prepared to die with that not being realised but that it will be realised and he must serve that end even through death.
POM. So he still is as fanatical, if one wants to use that word, about Zulu nationalism and a Zulu nation within SA ruled by a Zulu monarch with all the trappings that come with that as he ever was?
POM. But on questions relating to federalism he has lost?
WF. He doesn't believe he's lost. He believes that the battle has been lost but the war hasn't been lost.
POM. I had asked him on one occasion what was the one thing he would die for and he said he would die for federalism and in the Mbeki administration you see the weakening even of the existing provincial structures with the ANC taking upon itself to appoint Premiers in the provinces it controls, with Director Generals of various provincial departments having to have their contracts made with the President's Office rather than with their respective ministers and from some sources I hear there's even talk of overhauling the entire system and almost going backwards to four provinces and abolishing governors, or abolishing premiers and running everything from the centre.
WF. I think it's an inevitable process. Any government beset as this government is beset with difficulties will seek to strengthen its hand.
POM. When you say difficulties, do you mean the economy, crime?
WF. The economy, crime, joblessness. For the ANC to pursue the ideals of the constitution the economy would have to grow something like 3% to 4% per annum on a sustained basis at least. The next election, 2004 election, in gross numbers there will be a great many more poor, more jobless, more without adequate education and health services, again more people living without potable water. The rate of growth of the SA economy just does not permit making life a better place for the average black South African. Vast communities are going to experience this deprivation and they can blame the government and they will take more and more action against government and the government will more and more tend to centralise power to deal with issues. I think it's inevitable as a process. The process is already set in the ideals of the interim constitution. If you look at the provincial autonomy it's being eroded, if you look at the National Council of Provinces which was conceived of as a mechanism at centre to strengthen provinces, it's not done that, it's become more and more like the old Senate. The powers available to it are not being used by anybody. There is no significant legislation which has originated in the NCOP, which is one of its functions to be an independent originator of legislation which it then presents to the National Assembly. The growth of the President's Office, the various discussions taking place, for example, just small things but part of a wider trend, in housing which is a crucial thing for government, all run by provincial housing boards, the present discussion by MINMEC is whether we should abolish provincial housing boards and run that centrally from central government, the housing minister. All the trends are towards centralisation and it's facing the reality of SA there which has not yet been made a better place for a lot of people.
POM. Now may that kind of centralisation be necessary in the short run in order to bring about the kinds of transformation that the government is talking about?
WF. I think that's idealistic to talk of it in that way. If you look at the development of constitutions nationally and internationally, constitutions are no more than blueprints which evolve over time, constitutional changes are bringing them about, and federal constitutions, perhaps with the USA as one of the possible exceptions, tend towards centralisation of power over time. All federal governments, the Canadian government, the Australian government, federal governments tend towards a process of centralisation of power and the more adverse circumstances government face, part of that process tends to become, and the more insoluble problems it faces, the more that process gathers momentum. So I think it's part of the nature of constitutionalism and mankind rather than - If that's a valid view then it's not conceivable to talk about an interim phase when it should be used and then you give it back, it doesn't happen that way. Once the process of centralisation starts it's an inexorable process which never reverses itself. I don't know in history of any constitution where it has been reversed. I don't claim to be a constitutional fundi but having looked at this particular question over some time in some detail I find no evidence for the reverse process taking place. The centralisation process becomes inexorable once it starts and it has only one end product. You retain federalism as a structure but in reality the centre becomes stronger and stronger.
POM. And this promise to decentralise more power to the local government structures where local government structures have by and large, well many of them have shown themselves by and large lacking either the capacity or the confidence to run things at the local level, it runs contrary to
WF. There again the Municipal Services Act read as a whole does centralise a lot of power, the development of mega-cities centralises power because the funding for development doesn't come from province, it comes from national. The Local Government Act, the formula for funding local government in the new scheme of things can't continue, the old formula can't continue. You must have development of capital brought in from national government. And the Constitutional Court has overturned sections of the Municipal Structures Act precisely because it is taking some of the provincial powers away from provinces which is unconstitutional. So in thinking about the development of local government and particularly its extension into rural areas, the government has tended to take more power to itself and more control to itself. The Constitution Court said, no, no more, that's enough. In whatever you look at there's the centralisation process, education, health.
POM. Is this necessarily a bad thing or is it a necessary thing?
WF. I think in any situation that which works the best under those circumstances is the best. You can't run a country on ideals come what may and you'll go down the drain. Countries don't go down drains on ideals, they go down drains on vested interests.
POM. If I had said to you that in a 'normal' democracy if the ruling party was to go into an election where on all the major issues facing it it had been given the thumbs down by the electorate, whether on the overall performance of the economy, on crime, on provision of housing, on education, on the creation of jobs, most polls prior to the election gave, not most all polls, gave no more than a plurality of voters approving of the government's polices and successes in these areas and yet it fights the election and comes out with a higher proportion of the vote than it had when it went into the election. Is that due to the weakness of the opposition, the absence of an alternative?
WF. Is there not a process which takes place in well run democracies in which there is a growing concurrence between all parties about what should be done and there's disagreement about how it should be done and who should do it? If you listen to a Labour Party spokesman in an election in one part of Britain you would find him saying nearly the same things as a Tory party candidate in another area. I'm not so sure that the difference in the states between your major parties is very much a difference on principle, it's a difference on how it should be done and what should be done and who should do it. In SA there is a huge divergence between political parties in terms of common consensus about what should be done, not how it should be done and there is a swing away now from what should be done to thinking about how it should be done. So that process again is an inexorable process which democracy produces to level the ground for the various players so they can at least have a chance of becoming the government. At the moment the ANC is the only party who can possibly think of becoming a government in 2004. Nobody else can become a government. Other parties will have to start wearing the clothes of the ANC so that they've got the same appeal to people.
POM. In that context, what happened to the IFP? It's share of the national vote went down, even it's share of the vote in KZN went down.
WF. But that went down for very many reasons, one of the reasons is that and this was shown clearly in IFP commissioned research which in effect showed that in the 1996 local government elections the IFP was facing a situation in which there's one pool and the ANC is fishing and the IFP is fishing but they're fishing for the same people, they're fishing from the same boat and that vote is one based on vested interests, job creation, security and provision of health and education services, but that's the demand from IFP supporters and ANC supporters. That demand will gravitate upwards to force parties to start formulating more and more convergent approaches to everything. So the process, I think again, is inexorable when it's started and the IFP, particularly without Buthelezi, will grow very fast in that process of meeting real demands from voters who are the source of your power.
POM. So he is in a sense an obstacle to the modernisation of the party?
WF. If you look at the whole saga of Ziba Jiyane's ousting, it's the saga of modernisation, the sage of putting democracy in a party to work, and democracy in the IFP is not served by meeting these demands. It's served by saying these demands are the wrong demands and these are the demands we should die for.
POM. How does Buthelezi manage the act that De Klerk couldn't, of being part of the government and at the same time in that sense his party being part of the ruling decision making process, and at the same time trying to present itself as an alternative to the ANC?
WF. The whole IFP experience in the KwaZulu Legislative Assembly was one in which the authoritarianism and the prominence of cabinet ministers was very important. Cabinet ministers, the IFP never had an executive, never ever, Buthelezi's cabinet ministers were effectively the executive of the party.
POM. You had been talking about the party and the KZN Legislature.
WF. Yes, I was talking about the need for status symbols. In liberation circles Buthelezi was always despised for driving in a big, black Mercedes Benz. He was always despised for earning big salaries and so on and so forth. The people were wrong in that, Buthelezi's following didn't despise him for his big car, they saw that as a symbol of his power. Ostentatious living is taboo but if you have got power you must have the trappings of power, you must have the aides around you, you must have the motor cars, you must have the system to support you. People come in your office and they see all of this around you it enhances your image as a powerful leader. Now when Buthelezi was faced with his 1994 election results, had he not joined the government of national unity he would have lost enormously in terms of image of power and these trappings. He would have been cast in the image of a provincial leader and an ethnic leader of the province at that. The national role he is playing, and Mandela very astutely capitalised on this, his appointing him as Acting President on so many occasions made a huge impact and bonded Buthelezi to those advantages, to be very much more
POM. Was that very clever on the ANC's side, saying we know exactly what this man wants?
WF. Oh yes.
POM. Feed him what he wants and we'll keep him happy. It's co-option.
WF. But it hasn't done his image any damage, it's done it a powerful lot of good. If he walked out of the government of national unity he couldn't remain on as an ordinary MP, as Tony Leon or anybody else can. He would have enormous difficulty in doing that. He wouldn't be able to do it. He would have to return and become the Premier of KZN just because he can't live without those trappings but that has vast implications withdrawing from a national participational government and relying on a shrinking provincial status.
POM. So I come back to what has the IFP to do being the only 'black' party that is an alternative, in terms of it being black, to the ANC and assuming that the days when a party headed by a white person are over for some time in terms of their winning an election, what kind of a metamorphosis will the party have to go through: (a) can it do it while Buthelezi remains at the helm and (b) if and when he ceases to be at the helm who will emerge since he hasn't exactly built a strong succession basis?
WF. Every now and again I'm asked that question and I tend to point to the fact that Kenneth Kaunda didn't build a succession basis, neither did Nyerere and neither did any of them, they all died, and the tenacity of life of political organisations such as KANU, IFP, AZAPO or any of them, Frelimo, is such that it survives leadership change and a man of the moment does emerge. I don't know how often they've been identified in advance. Nobody in the last days of Kaunda would have recognised the present head of state of Zambia to be one of the people in offering to become head of state. So I don't think the question is it's interesting and it must be asked - but I don't think it can be answered in the sense that you don't have to have a recognised corps of successors to think about the survival of the IFP.
POM. How will it change? How will it suddenly say how will it simply move from being a party with a national base that's shrinking, a provincial base that's shrinking?
WF. The trend is already there. If you look at IFP policy to the extent that it is formulated, it has changed quite remarkably over the last period of time. It accepts the form of capitalism that the ANC accepts. It accepts the basic nature of government that the ANC accepts. On crucial issues it's very silent on the most controversial issues, abortion, rape, death penalty, it doesn't make any of those election issues. It's more and more working within the structures of a South African government which is not a federal government, that participation in government is changing the nature of the real IFP demand for federalism. So that process has already started and will be accelerated with Buthelezi's going. There is no doubt that it will remain the only other party with real mass black support. In the KZN situation is the fate of IFP/ANC co-existence. In that co-existence we already have got a government of provincial unity in which you avoid the basic conflicts that you could develop between the two parties on the policy issues. When it comes to the crisis that we're going through, the Gambling Act for instance, the IFP and the ANC are pulling together and it would be easy for the ANC to really capitalise on this. They made a complete hash of the gambling laws as IFP government, the IFP dictated legislation but the ANC is not doing it, they are not castigating the IFP for making a bugger up of the gambling laws. They are working with the IFP to remedy it. So you've already got a very important beginning to what I mentioned earlier of major parties having common goals and arguing with each other about how to do it and who must do it. That process has already started, it will proceed and I think whoever leads the IFP will be part of that procession and accelerate it if Buthelezi wasn't there and Lionel Mtshali wouldn't continue as a leader. There's Ben Ngubane, there's Frank Mdlalose who could return, so I think leadership that would emerge after Buthelezi would be the one who could offer most in terms of this development towards common cause on major issues.
POM. It would be in effect a leadership that would not be against the ANC's agenda of transformation, simply saying that the ANC has had eight years of trying to, or twelve years or whatever, of trying to transform things and hasn't done very much in terms of real transformation.
WF. There's a backlash taking place. The man in the street, the man in the rural areas, the mothers and everybody, are complaining about non-delivery.
POM. But they were saying this a year ago and they voted the ANC back in with a larger majority than before.
WF. Yes, because no other party has the audacity to claim what the ANC can claim in terms of national support, international acceptance and that weighs heavily in elections. The point I'm making is that the IFP supporters and members are making more and more common ground with ANC supporters and members. I've addressed factory situations where I've addressed workers, ANC and IFP were in one sitting as part of an election campaign and it was very striking how the questions that come from the floor, the demands, why haven't we got houses, come from ANC and IFP. Where's our water? So the demand for a better way of life is bringing people together which will naturally have the effect of swinging policy towards common goals and dispute about who should do it and how it should be done.
POM. Does the IFP have the depth and capacity to provide a platform of a leadership of the calibre of people at the national level, or either premier level in the ANC?
WF. The answer is very definitely no. IFP leadership was moulded in the KwaZulu Legislative Assembly where IFP ministers really didn't act as ministers. The secretaries of their departments and their senior civil servants determined policy, ran policy and they signed documents.
POM. Those secretaries would have been seconded from Pretoria?
WF. Yes, from central civil service. If you look at the cabinet today in KZN, take the Minister of Social Welfare or any of the ministers, they can't present policy statements to cabinet. ANC ministers do because they've authored the document, they work through the senior advisers, it's their document, they know what they're talking about. The IFP cabinet must still advise what to say, advise that this should be done this way, we should deal with it this way or education that way or pensions that way. So there's a notable difference at ministerial level of IFP capacity and that dated back to the fact that the IFP ministers in the Legislative Assembly never had to undertake that role, it was always done for them, they never evolved that capacity.
. The other real phenomena in the structures of the IFP as a political party and the structure of the ANC as a political party, the IFP structures are virtually non-existent, they do not know where the branches are, they do not know which branches are active and they don't know who their members are and who their members aren't. They've got no democracy in the party, and I mean no democracy in the party. There is no elected leadership, there is no elected executive, whereas in the ANC you really do have an elected executive and it's an election that is fought by ANC leaders and it is monitored by senior auditing or legal firms who actually monitor the process and see that it is run according to the rules. So the emergence of leadership in the ANC is growing apace because it's in this lower rung level, the struggle for leadership positions and the evolution of upward vertical mobility through leadership rungs that has produced leaders out of that experience. The IFP doesn't have that structure, it hasn't got that process.
POM. So when Buthelezi talks about democracy what does he mean?
WF. Buthelezi talks about democracy as consensual democracy. It's based on an ideal which sometimes works admirably. In the tribal society a chief presides over a tribal court and he hears cases. Now if you listen to those cases, and I've sat through hundreds of them as a researcher, the question of relevancy doesn't come into it at all. Over time the hours are spent discussing, anybody can talk about anything, and the chief will gradually eventually sum up in his mind what is going to be a popular decision, what's going to be an unpopular decision, what would be a decision that could be enforceable because it would have popular support. Chiefs don't make decisions in those circumstances which they can't enforce because there would be no popular support to support it. That whole process is consensual leadership and democracy. The will of the people becomes clear, the chief articulates what he hears as the will of the people and then everybody goes back to support what the chief sums up the decision to be. Buthelezi claims that the IFP in its Annual General Conference and its National Council has this kind of consensus process which makes for consensual democracy, you don't have to have elections, you don't have to have elected leaders. Leaders act on consensus, what they hear around them.
POM. But you're counter-posing that with, if I'm hearing you correctly or have heard you correctly, with a situation where he hands down an edict to whether it be a minister or a negotiator or whomever, and says this is the edict which has been handed down, this is your basis for negotiation, you can't deviate from it, there's no room to play around with it, you've had no part in the making of it, you've had no part in the discussion that led up to it. It seems contrary to the whole concept of consensual decision making.
WF. Yes, it makes a mockery of it, in reality it's a mockery, there is no consensual
POM. There is no consensualism, so it's Buthelezi.
WF. Now this is something I really know about because for many years I was in the very heart of it, I'd draft a speech for Buthelezi to the National Council, a confidential document on this or that policy matter. I'd also draft all the resolutions that Buthelezi wants to come out of a meeting. He would then brief only three or four people in a cabinet meeting or in a plenary meeting on these issues. He reads his speech, he then invites open discussion and one of the people he's briefed would stand up and support it, another respected leader would stand up and support that support and after three or four such discussions he would then turn to the people and say, "We must have an open discussion, an honest discussion, say whatever you want to say", and the unanimous vote to endorse the resolution is already written a long time ago. Now that process is one which I was co-author of so I know what I'm talking about, it's not hearsay. But he gets normally unanimous decisions on everything he puts to the National Council. National Council members are all appointed, they're not elected to their position, their status in the party depends on how Buthelezi seats them at tables and how he favours them in this situation, that situation, and the whole process, the sophisticated process of endorsing leadership and anybody who wants to aspire to become anything in the hierarchy has got to please Buthelezi and sit at the right place at the right table and be invited to the right functions otherwise you're out. So in a very short space of time he can really drop you into ignominy. When the National Assembly members see which way the top leaders are talking, they talk the same, there's no challenge to Buthelezi.
POM. How will he be remembered in history? On the one hand you would say that he was a visionary of sorts, that he was the first to foresee that armed struggle against the government wouldn't succeed, that you'd have to have a negotiated settlement. He opposed sanctions saying that they would have dire consequences for the economy, both positions that the ANC eventually came around to. He stood alone against apartheid when there was no other credible black leader to stand against it. As I said before, he emerges from the TRC as a collaborationist dictatorial leader who tore the country apart in his own pursuit of power. Are all these things, again, part of the dual personality? There will be a dual legacy.
WF. It also indicates another aspect of Buthelezi. While analytically it's objectively true that sanctions damaged the economy, while it's objectively true that the armed struggle didn't topple Pretoria, Buthelezi's fundamental misconception of the nature of South African society is that people would reject them because they would not work.
POM. Sorry, the people would reject?
WF. Sanctions and the armed struggle because they would not work. He assumed that he would say to people that they won't work and then they would vote for you. But these things which did this damage lionised the ANC and were directly responsible for its landslide victory in 1994 and 1999. He did not believe the average black South African supported those things. He thought the average black South African could be persuaded that they were bad. They were not persuaded that they were bad. They lionised the ANC for introducing them as part of the struggle. His assessment of his own people was very inadequate, his assessment of his voting society was inadequate, his assessment of white society was wrong.
POM. His assessment of white society was wrong?
WF. Wrong in the sense that he could never conceive of the success that an ANC government would have in getting institutionalised support to the extent that it has got it. The communist danger which he threatened white South Africans with, the loss of an economy, was a misconception of what would actually take place. So the body politic was something of his own making in his own mind which wasn't supported by any kind of reality on the ground, black or white.
POM. Did part of this come from the fact that he was a traditional leader, was welded to the notion of a Zulu kingdom, royalty, a non-modern society in a rapidly not just modernising but tumultuously changing world, that he simply doesn't understand the world around him?
WF. What he did understand was his own society.
POM. His own society, that means his rural, the rural - ?
WF. No, urban and rural. If you look back at the history of the Zulu people, King Cetshwayo was beaten in the Battle of Ulundi, he went into exile and was then incarcerated in the fort in Cape Town, made representations to Queen Victoria, was eventually returned to live in exile in Melmoth. The subsequent King, King Dinizulu, involved himself in a rebellion against British colonialism, he ended up in exile in St Helena and in 1910 when the first SA government on the act of Union was formed, the first Prime Minister, General Botha, took him out of jail, exile, and he ended his days on a farm in the Transvaal called Uitzicht under the protection of Botha. When it came to the question of the Bantu Authorities Act establishing tribal authorities, regional authorities, territorial authorities, etc., the Zulu king supported it, the king of the time supported it. Buthelezi did the impossible of gathering around him support on the rejection of these structures, apartheid structures. He did a phenomenal amount of stomping around KZN and played a major role in the consolidation of the Zulu rejection of these things. He still claims that when finally the Bantu Affairs Commissioner from government, the senior government official dealing with tribal authorities, came to him and told him that in this matter he had no choice, the law said that you must do it, he then went to his people and told them, "Look, I've got no choice, we've got no choice in the matter, the law says we must do it", and he was naturally elected as the first leader in the structures they had rejected because they would at least have somebody they trusted.
. Now he built on that objection to apartheid, rejection of racism, he was campaigning for the release of Mandela from within government structures and he got the support he did get within those structures because at least they saw him as a strong man fighting for their best interests in the circumstances. So he's very astute at that, he played a very powerful dominance role, a successful role. In that sense he understood his society, his own Zulu society and the support that he got until the ANC returned was as urban as it was rural. We had the militant groups under UDF and the remnants of the ANC opposing him vehemently. But urban people fought that same battle as rural people against UDF, urban Inkatha people were involved against UDF, not the rural Inkatha people. So in that forefront battle urban supporters backed him to the hilt.
. So it's wrong to think in terms of Buthelezi only having tribal support. It was a tribal power base but the political processes shrunk that process and robbed him from the outskirts of his support base leading with his centre core tribalism. It was a process which has a dynamic of its own and it was Buthelezi's failure to win an election, his failure to emerge as the strong leader in current SA that resulted in his loss of urban support rather than anything else.
POM. Much has been written about, perhaps not enough, the war in KZN from the formation of the UDF in the early eighties right through to the nineties, can one assign 'blame' for who was responsible for this war, who set out to destroy whom, who was the instigator, who was the attacker, who was the defender or, again, was it a confluence of events that made a war of that proportion, of that savagery inevitable?
WF. If you look closely at what Buthelezi says about the ANC over two decades, from 1975 onwards when Inkatha was formed, his presentation of the ANC to Inkatha and to black SA was one of doom to the ANC, it would die in exile, it would never achieve anything, it just involved people as cannon fodder and Inkatha was the natural successor to the ANC in SA. That had a very strong appeal, he flew ANC flags and symbols and resuscitated some reality as an internal political opposition. That process was very carefully handled and very astutely handled and he allied that with an appeal to tribalism and ethnicity, but throughout the period 1975 to 1983 Buthelezi was convinced that the ANC would die in exile and was inconsequential. The London Summit in October 1979 he engineered to be a total failure and he took his whole Executive Council, Executive Committee, with him virtually just to demonstrate to these fuddy-duddies in exile who are they, look at them, see what they're saying.
POM. So his argument that this split with the ANC was over the fact that the ANC essentially said we want you to become our internal organisation and embrace the armed struggle?
WF. Look at what he says. It was Buthelezi thinking that there was a vacuum created by the ANC going into exile and he could fill that vacuum and he would have South African support for filling the vacuum. It was a power struggle between the IFP and the ANC and that was the direct result of the ANC's final 1983/84 escalation of violence, the establishment of the UDF, the establishment of COSATU, establishing an internal presence which led to the conflict. When a pane of glass is broken it's broken on both sides, not only one side. The violence was originated on both sides. The ANC set out to destroy Buthelezi and to destroy Inkatha and used UDF and COSATU to do so. It was a participant in the violent battle to eliminate Buthelezi who they saw as being supported by apartheid and by SADF and by the police as part of the apartheid state, so he was the enemy and the enemy had no colour, no ethnic origin, it was anybody who supported apartheid was the enemy.
. So Inkatha was seen as the enemy and the collaborator, as the betrayer of the struggle and ANC members, if you look at the broadcasts of Radio Freedom in 1982/83/84, over that period, it is worth looking at the BBC extracts and looking at what they actually said about Buthelezi and Inkatha: it was an invitation to kill, it was an escalation of internal violence which any revolutionary would be insane not to do. The destruction of the black municipal structures and the murder of mayors and the attacking of homes of councillors by UDF/ANC/uMkhonto was all part of a process of acting against the structures of apartheid. So it was a war which came from both sides and in the nature of revolution that is standard practice. You soften up the enemy structures by attacking people who support it whether you're looking at Zimbabwe or wherever, if you're looking at Kenya, wherever. The brutality of war isn't diminished because you're the colour black. It's a colourless, faceless war against anything that symbolises the structure of colonial or authoritarianism or apartheid.
POM. Would you say that Buthelezi saw himself as fighting apartheid from within the existing governmental structures and in that sense he saw himself as a struggle person, whereas the ANC saw that once he worked within the structures that in itself made him a collaborationist and a beneficiary of the apartheid state?
WF. If you look at what Buthelezi said to government since 1975 through to 1990 he was absolutely correct in many of the major things he said, that apartheid could not work and would not work, it's self-defeating, and he was convinced that that is the case and by a process of internal democratic opposition he would eventually emerge as the winner because apartheid could not prevail over any length of time. Now in that he was absolutely correct, his summing up of apartheid was phenomenally correct. If you look at government's statement about itself and you recognise that the NP was supported by the best brains in the country at all sorts of levels, whether university level, whether scientific level, economic level, it had solid support which gave it a sense of invincibility, it would win, it would prevail, it would survive the onslaught, the total onslaught. Buthelezi knew that it would not so his observations in that respect were phenomenally correct and if you look at what he says as predicating what actually happened and you look at it carefully you will find that between real political events and presentation of those events in the media in SA is something like a two year gap, it would have been two years behind what was really happening. Buthelezi was ahead of the media in that sense so one mustn't diminish those aspects of Buthelezi because they account for his phenomenal success and the more Buthelezi was proved right the more government found it necessary to listen more and more to what he said so his stature in government circles was enhanced by the same process, there wasn't simply leading some tame 'kaffir' to show the world that they're not all that bad. His rejection of the tripartite constitution was valid, his reasons for rejecting it were valid. Big business supported the tripartite development; Buthelezi slammed them for that and on grounds that proved actually correct and big business then turned against the nature of that government.
. So in his build up of his image, his strength, he mis-assessed black SA. He was very astute in correctly assessing the weakness of apartheid which led him to believe that he was the only one doing that so when apartheid crumbled he would be the only one left because he would be the one who had changed the nature of society. He always claimed that SA would not be changed by revolution but a new SA would have to be legislated into position and he thought he would be at the head of that process. Right up to 1983/1984 there's a very strong body of opinion in this country, black and white, who were quite sure Buthelezi would be the first black president but the escalation of the ANC struggle after 1983, which has roots in the 1976 situation, and it's return to internal democratic opposition was a crucial development in ANC thinking. Up to 1981/82 if you read ANC documentation on this very question they would say you cannot reform SA, you must defeat it and then you can restructure it but you can't reform it. But SA in fact has been reformed with ANC full participation. So, again, the process Buthelezi foresaw was foreseen very correctly, it was just simply the question of his mis-assessment of black political power.
POM. So in a sense his analysis of the way to bring apartheid to an end was correct, that it had to be done through a negotiating process, it would be a legislative process and go through the constitutional organs of SA that existed whereas the ANC's was that you overthrow the government and institute a revolutionary government in its place.
WF. No, no. The ANC was witness to the formation of a Central African Federation and the subsequent break-up of the Federation, establishment of Zambia, the establishment of the Kenyan and Tanzanian governments, all of which were finally resolved around negotiating tables. They were aware that revolution could go so far and then when it became impossible for any side to win negotiation would follow. So the ANC have always accepted that there would be a negotiated settlement. They didn't envisage military marching on Pretoria, shooting everybody and then taking charge as a military government. That was never part of the ANC thinking. I think it's important to understand the extent to which the ANC shed a lot of Buthelezi's analysis that the means towards the end of hastening that final negotiation is in the question. The ANC's analysis was the militancy and threat of ungovernability were the quickest ways of bringing about a situation in which there would be negotiations and, again, this is not a view, I think it's expressing something which is very clearly documented in ANC documentation.
POM. Buthelezi's legacy?
WF. He's not going to go down in history for the positive things that one could say about him. He's going to go down in history as a failure. He's going to go down in history as something he misconceived, the nature of society and his role in it. His legacy is going to be that kind of legacy I think.
POM. Did the ANC offer him the deputy presidency on the grounds that he would trade it for an ANC premiership in KZN?
WF. Off the record now, when the 1999 election results can we switch this off, just for a moment?
POM. I won't report it.
WF. When the election results emerged the IFP had, I think it was a two seat majority, assumed the role of the winner of the elections, the ANC then entered into an agreement with Rajbansi in which Rajbansi
POM. This is in KZN?
WF. KZN yes. So the opening discussions about the forming of a government took place, the constitution demanded that the new premier be sworn in X days after an election. So there was a very pressurised short time, about ten days I think it was, in which the question of the premiership and the executive structure of the province would be determined. I am talking as a very opinionated person
POM. That's fine, that's what makes you interesting.
WF. There are arguments and counter-arguments and there are perceptions, I'm just giving you perceptions but I'm coming across, I think, very opinionated. I apologise for that.
POM. It's the opinionated people who provide the interesting variation in opinion, so to speak. But you were talking about the premiership of KZN.
WF. Yes, OK. So you had to set up a Cabinet, you had an elected premier in a situation in which there was inequality of seats between IFP and ANC with the DP providing the balance of power. The ANC sought an ANC premier, obviously. The IFP sought an IFP premier. There were long rounds of discussion, inter-party discussions, and in those discussions it emerged that the dictate from Tony Leon and National Executive down to provincial level at the Democratic Party was that whatever else they did they must not support any ANC. They were putting themselves into militant opposition, they are now becoming the official opposition and they're not going to support ANC anywhere. Sbu Ndebele had discussions with Roger Burrows that led to a discussion between the ANC and the DP in which the DP undertook to support an ANC premier if it came to a vote because they so despised Mtshali as the other candidate. The DP support for a premier would have put the ANC, this is an ANC assessment, in a position on any issue the DP could have joined forces with the IFP and declared a vote of no confidence in the premier and ousted the premier. So Sbu Ndebele was faced with becoming premier dependent on the DP to whom he would have to be beholden because if he offended them and they went to the IFP they could pass a vote of no confidence and there would be a change of premier, so he decided against that, so he dropped the claim for premier in favour of a written agreement between the IFP and the ANC that there would be a government of provincial unity, that there would be equality of positions in chairmanship of parliamentary committees, numbers that was, polity of members of the KZN Cabinet; there would be an equal number of their members on both levels.
. Buthelezi intervened directly and the compromise after his intervention was that there would be a government of national unity, the ANC would be given one additional seat in the cabinet and that after the next constitution had been written for the province the executive would be expanded to make it possible for there to be an equal number of candidates for cabinet positions. The difficulty the IFP faced was to meet the ANC demands for equality in the number of cabinet positions, they had to dump two cabinet members, and they said politically they couldn't do that. I could see quite clearly when this position was first mooted that it wouldn't work because the whole of the IFP structure and its leadership is based on cabinet positions and if you dump two of the cabinet ministers you would break into the IFP provincial and national support base and power base. So it was agreed finally that we would re-write the constitution and in a re-written constitution we would increase the number of cabinet posts so that we would then have equality in numbers and give increased posts to the ANC.
. In this whole set of discussions prior to Sbu Ndebele withdrawing from the race for premiership, pressure was put on Buthelezi, he was offered the deputy presidency in return for an ANC premier in KZN. He turned that down.
WF. His remaining power base is KZN. He had imported Mtshali as premier prior to the elections to have a premier in the province who would do exactly as he told him, he was a real yes man, has no mind of his own but fanatical in his adherence to Buthelezi's demands. If he agreed to the introduction of Sbu Ndebele from the ANC as the premier he would lose control of the provincial cabinet which he now has got through Mtshali. So it would amount to losing not only a cabinet post or a premiership, it would amount to losing his control over the province because the premier's office is obviously a powerful office. So Buthelezi's control of the provincial cabinet is via the premier. So when he was offered this he had to turn it down, he had no option but to turn it down because to become deputy president and lose his Natal base and start sowing discord in his Natal base was an option he just couldn't contemplate.
POM. But the counter-argument is, saying you're 72, this government has five years to run, you will be 77, you will serve out your last five years in politics as deputy president of the country with all the trappings of power that go with that.
WF. To talk of that, how old was Nyerere when he ceased being a president, how old was Kenyatta? 70 75 is a young age for statesmen. How old was De Gaulle? You can point to all these people and say, well, age is not a factor. He sees himself projecting into politics long past 75.
WF. I'm 70 at the moment.
POM. You are?
WF. I'm 70 and when I look at the future I don't ever think of retirement. You're 75? You can't be thinking of that. You don't think of it. You've got a persona, you've got a set of thoughts and a set of aspirations and they don't diminish with age. Your ambitions don't diminish with age unless you're a civil servant and you're going to sit under a fig tree, which doesn't appeal to Buthelezi and it wouldn't appeal to me. Retirement as such is something I never think about. He didn't think about it, he doesn't conceive of it.
POM. Was this an attempt by the ANC, a clever attempt to dangle a carrot in front of him that they thought he might accept, or did they dangle it in front of him with the knowledge that he would reject it?
WF. This approach originated three years ago, I'm really talking in confidence now as I have said, originated three years ago when Jacob Zuma came to the conclusion that you can't deal with Inkatha, you can only deal with Buthelezi. The need for peace in the province is paramount for the ANC, it's not as paramount for the IFP. For the ANC to make progress they need peace, they need equal opportunity for election campaigning, they need a movement away from the past into a new era. So the ANC has got a greater vested interest in peace than Inkatha has. This obviously led to various peace talks taking place. Peace initiatives had been ongoing for a long time but in 1996 peace initiatives were seized by the KZN cabinet and Jacob Zuma and Mtetwa led the two delegations, IFP and ANC delegations, and in that situation Jacob Zuma went to Mandela and said, "Look, you can't deal with the IFP but deal with Buthelezi. We must get him out of that situation of controlling the provincial cabinet from remote control." And he suggested that peace talks were dependent on a carrot and stick approach, you must have a carrot to dangle before Buthelezi which was sufficiently enticing to remove him as the key factor in the provincial cabinet so that's where the original deputy presidency offer emerged in thinking. It was related to the peace process and getting Buthelezi out of his capacity to indirectly control the cabinet, which he would find very difficult as the deputy president. So it had been ongoing since then. I don't think the ANC ever thought that it would come down to making that appointment but it was the carrot they were dangling in front of Buthelezi to further the peace process and to rationalise and to get a greater ability to talk.
. When this process was concluded at cabinet level, the agreement between the IFP and the ANC, Jacob Zuma and Mtetwa were delegated to go to the Cape Town to report to Buthelezi and Mandela respectively. I was summoned to be at the Cape Town caucus where the support was made and my instructions from Buthelezi were to write a history of the conflict between the IFP and the ANC on the violence in such a way that we undermined the possibility of this peace process actually materialising into something real. At that very meeting Buthelezi asked me to get up and make statements which I did. Then Ngubane stood up, he was then Premier of KZN, and said that a peace process has started, Mtetwa was involved in discussions with the ANC in Swaziland and Mozambique, he wasn't involved in central levels, but let Mtetwa carry this responsibility, don't take it away from him, don't produce a document which undermines him, back Mtetwa because even if he makes mistakes it's better to have the peace process run by a black prominent leader than by Felgate writing documents. So I never wrote that document because my summing up would be that that document would not serve any purpose and if you're really looking at peace let him run with it because it's fundamentally important that there is peace and if that's the most promising way of doing it let it happen.
POM. What year now is this? 1996?
WF. 1996. This whole thing started three years ago. The peace process was then restructured. They had a number of five-a-side meetings. Buthelezi got Lionel Mtshali to table a long list of grievances against the ANC. The ANC must recognise that the ANC and uMkhonto actually had assassination attempts on his own, Buthelezi's, life and had killed quite a few people and that they slammed him from abroad and so on and so forth. They had a long litany of complaints which he said the ANC must rectify before there can be peace. The five-a-side peace discussions broke down and then Mandela and Buthelezi were drawn into an executive dialogue between the two parties on the whole question of peace. That in turn led to one talk shop after another talk shop and didn't result in anything. So when it came to this election the peace process would be served if Buthelezi could be enticed to accept this carrot. He rejected the carrot to give an ANC premier in return for a deputy presidency.
. Thabo Mbeki now, as somebody who has taken over from Mandela, has adopted a much harder line. If you ever see the televised version of the joint government of national unity meeting and celebration in Midrand in Gauteng where the IFP and whoever else were present, to rejoice the successful elections and so on and so forth, Thabo Mbeki in his address was careful to say that the President, ex-President Mandela, had instructed him to have Buthelezi on the platform with him to share this moment of glory but he was careful to say it was Mandela's instruction. Buthelezi was then taken up from the seats down there and brought up onto the stage and then ignored for the rest of the proceedings. So it was a calculated slap in the face and an assertion of a Thabo Mbeki new line, so it was Thabo Mbeki who was faced with Buthelezi's non-compliance with the in-structure demands to become deputy president and has since dropped him and Jacob Zuma is now deputy president and nothing can change it, he's there for a long time. So that's the background story to those events.
POM. I am almost done I think. Afrikaner nationalism, was the performance of the Freedom Front the kiss of death for the volkstaat?
WF. Yes. Mandela was exceptionally astute in dealing with the FF. Viljoen was part of COSAG, part of the Freedom Alliance and late in 1993 when we had bilateral discussions between IFP and ANC he was having bilateral discussions with the FF and the government and the ANC and the NP. The NP persuaded him to accept a situation in which the volkstaat was an ideal which the ANC really understood but it must be concretised and so, I think it was exact terminology, that there would be a separate council or a structure was established to pursue the ideals of a volkstaat. Viljoen was enticed out of the Buthelezi solidarity against the Record of Understanding and against the new constitution and brought into, co-opted into government structures on the understanding that his volkstaat ideal would actually be pursued after the elections. Of course we all knew at the time that that was a very astute move and nothing would ever come of it, nothing has come of it, nothing can come of it. So the FF is now without any real hope, internally, of ever having a volkstaat. It's a lost cause and Viljoen is suffering the consequences of that in Afrikaner nationalism.
POM. Just wrapping up, do you think that De Klerk, and we talked about this the last time, that he didn't have any clear strategy of exactly what he wanted out of negotiations, what he aspired to and what his bottom line was? Do you think that he thought that he could somehow manage the process so that some power or permanent executive power sharing would emerge from the process, that he didn't envisage an outcome where 51% became simple majority rule?
WF. I don't know the answer to that question. I'm not going to attempt an answer. There are a whole host of indications. I don't think De Klerk, I've got no evidence of De Klerk's thinking in all the documentation I know of, all the discussions I've been privy to or reported on in which he had any clear master plan of action. He was fighting fires on all fronts and he tried to gain as much advantage out of each fire he was fighting as possible. I don't think there was more than that.
POM. You had mentioned, this is just to clarify, that after you left the IFP that at one time you were doing a book on Buthelezi and then you quote Ndebele, is that ND E BE L E?
WF. N DE B EL E.
POM. Who was that?
WF. The chairman of the ANC in KZN.
POM. "Introduced me to the Mail & Guardian who want me to do an in-depth exposé of the collaborationist element of Buthelezi's past." Was it Philip Myburgh or was it - ?
WF. Editor of the Weekly Mail.
POM. I thought it was Philip van Niekerk?
WF. Van Niekerk, sorry, not Myburgh.
POM. "And who was going to publish a series of articles in this regard." Did that ever happen?
WF. No. In July last year I had a meeting with Jacob Zuma and the ANC Provincial Executive in which I pointed out that there is a particular rightness of time for that book. The TRC will be publishing its findings. I was privy to most of what it was going to say about Buthelezi. That this would lead to hostile press coverage and there is ripeness of time to produce a set of articles and the book as soon as possible because it would then be released in a climate which would be beneficial to the book. Everybody agreed. Jacob Zuma adopted the point of view that, I think I might have reported this to you already, the more Buthelezi is vilified, the more the ANC has to forgive him about and the more benefit there would be the peace process and the image of the ANC. But the publishing of a book of that kind requires financial backing, it requires a lot of hard work, it requires the employment of a professional writer. When it came to actually backing what I was doing the ANC said, uh-huh, hands off. They tolerate me doing it but they'd have no part in doing it because that would destroy the basis of talking to Buthelezi. So the time was not ripe for it then. I'm moving now towards arrangements with a British publisher and a professional writer to help finalise and edit the document. It's basically written, it could use a lot of work on it. A book, as you know, requires a lot of post-writing work on it. Writing a book is easy but getting it ready for publication is the hard work. So that's in the process, but it hasn't been politically opportune and over time what would have been a hard-hitting political attack on the IFP and Buthelezi is emerging more and more as an in-depth academic analysis of the rise and fall of Buthelezi's power. So the nature of the book is changing and it means a lot of additional work has got to be done on it which I'm busy with at the moment.
POM. Are you still sitting in the KZN Legislature? I think I will leave it at that. I wish I could say something that would console you about Rose but I've now gone through 2½ bouts of cancer and you adopt an attitude of
WF. Now it's my turn. You've had your turn for some years now, now it's my turn.
POM. But it's harder on the people around you, that's what I have found.
WF. What I am saying is I've got some questions I'd like to ask you now about this research, about your overall impressions. Is the overall impression of what I've been saying to you borne out or conflicted by your many other sources? To what extent is it a way-out view or to what extent is it a view that is supportable?
POM. I would say that it's a view that adds insight, that what you have been very good at, and which you apologise for, is in fact the detail, the stream of inter-connections from, I think you said, it was Beyers Naude who introduced you to Buthelezi originally and there was somebody else who introduced you, who is now prominent in the ANC, to Craig Williamson. It gives a better picture of the enormous level of intrigue that was going on on multiple levels.