This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
05 Dec 1999: Malan, Wynand
POM Let me begin with a very open-ended question and that is, is the TRC process over at this point, leaving aside the amnesty hearings and the payment of reparations, or has it still got some kind of self-sustaining existence?
WM I guess the easiest way to answer that is to say some of the other aspects are still continuing at half pace or maybe even slower. It should have been finished, which is still the finding of some victims by the HRV Committee who have a commissioner, Mrs Sooka, who has been charged to complete that. So still a few findings are outstanding, setting up of a data base, but that's about it and the summary writing on each and every victim which was another decision that the community took, the background. We have done it only in a telephone directory style up till now so the original commission wanted a paragraph of each and every one. I'm not sure that that's necessarily so good because you don't know what the basis necessarily was and what the specific findings were when the findings were made that an individual was a victim in terms of the Act. Now researchers and summary writers are doing a paragraph saying this is the background, but as you know that was simply under statements of the victim with very little corroboration. There may be, there will probably be a lot of statements as to fact which really only relate to perspectives of victims. I don't think it can really alter much, I don't think people will really read it except a few of the victims themselves if pointed out to them but they won't be able to buy it as a general rule. I don't really see the purpose.
POM Among your friends, colleagues and the social circles in which you mingle, how many people would you say became 'involved' in the process? By involved I mean somewhere between - I remember in the arrests during the Watergate hearings everybody every day dropped everything and watched television for eight hours a day, nothing was done, nothing was discussed but the evidence people were giving before the Congressional Committee - not going that far but was there any kind of continuous tuning in and absorbing what was going on and talk about the implications, the revelations, what victims were saying, what perpetrators were saying or did people prefer to talk about cricket?
WM No, there was no sort of following a ball by ball commentary as it were, certainly not. By and large with few exceptions people would have noted a trend and certain specific high profile revelations and share their disgust and dismay and their unbelief almost. Did this really happen? That kind of thing, not questioning it but saying how could we have not been aware of it. You have that.
POM Was there a lot of that 'how could we not have been aware of it'?
WM Oh yes, when you talk about specific assassinations and so on, especially in the old order community, it doesn't matter much where you stood, the sheer volume of things is immensely more than people ever in their worst dreams could have expected even if they resisted such accusations or would gainsay it at the time. No, the sheer volume and also the intensity of some of the specific individuals involvement did come as a major shock to most of the people. I think that's also to a large extent true even in the struggle community. Again, in a certain sense both ways, the disclosures of struggle youngsters who took out colleagues and dumped it on the false flag operations type thing which you had on both sides, although it was more sophisticated on the old order side, government side, security forces side. Most of the people if they did comment, it was, "Jeez, at this rate, at this intensity, we didn't know, we could never have believed it."
POM Do you think it has had an impact particularly on the Afrikaner psyche?
WM That's an unfair question because I don't know what the Afrikaner psyche is. No I don't think so.
POM Sense of identity or it's belief in itself as a nationalism?
WM The whole idea of an Afrikaner psyche, if I have to think back, the last that I really had that as something was probably in the sixties and since the sixties at least in my awareness it didn't exist. There were too many compartments within what from the outside would have been called Afrikaner but on the inside more of a disowning of others as part of this Afrikaner. So there was no homogeneity. The shock and the disbelief and the making distance I also find to be more so on the more liberal side business sector, "We were betrayed", whereas on the more conservative side, also on the political divisions, CP, right wing, platteland, taking note, saying, "Jeez it looks bad", but getting it behind and working forward, getting involved with local communities too, working together with blacks in politics, in civics and so on. So a lot of them got really involved and we've had quite a number of amnesty applications from right wingers, not security forces, where the applications were supported by civics from ANC and other political parties within the present communities saying, "Please help this guy, he's Deputy Mayor or he's involved in the Council, he's involved in these activities", so the right wing made its peace very quickly with the new power disposition and I don't think they feel that much of a guilt because they saw them politically divorced from the PW Botha state. They don't have that much of a guilt that they still experience which you find fairly strongly in the business circles, 'Afrikaner' business circles.
POM When you look back at those years and try to look at things from the perspective of those years, the theory or the total onslaught theory which was propagated by PW, to what degree was that successful in convincing whites, particularly Afrikaners, that there was a real communist threat, a communist threat was imminent, that their whole way of life would be undermined, encased by a Soviet style system, that SA was like the last bulwark between East and West, the crown jewel which the Soviets were using all their resources to try and penetrate and overthrow the government here?
WM I would say for the whole of the white population and a very, very large percentage of some others, especially the so-called coloured and Indian community. But let me keep with the whites for the moment, I think it was close to 100% belief, not on the basis of any reason or argument but I would say the brainwashing. There was an enemy, that's all, and that enemy was Moscow and all the forces even in a para-religious sense, quasi-religious sense was orchestrated by Moscow. The devil was only one of the centurions, it wasn't really even the leader, Moscow was the leader. So it was this mix of religion, nationalism, safety, total onslaught thing, also with the rhetoric of especially Botha that his government represents the forces of light and the enemy is representative of the forces of darkness, Christian rhetoric or religious rhetoric, very absolutist. But that was close to 100%.
POM What I want to get at was the identification of the ANC made indistinguishable from the threat of communism or Moscow.
WM Some of the foot soldiers of international communism, yes.
POM Kind of a tool being used by international communism?
WM Unawares, they don't really know what they want, they're just under this control and influence and the brainwashing from Moscow. They were little pieces on a chess board. They were never seen as doing the planning, the ANC was never really seen as the leader. There was a Moscow brain behind it. Very few people, no, I would say there were some people at least who would have said this is really a liberation struggle and the ANC would co-ordinate it, but it would have been small percentages right through till the nineties.
POM What I'm trying to get at might be something very difficult and impossible to answer, is that if black aspirations for a vote and a voice in government had been viewed through the prism of that well they will go into government, that would be no different from the kind of government we have, a capitalist government, a government oriented towards western values ?
WM It wouldn't have been 1% of white society. It would not have been 1% who would have accepted that it could be a similar type structure, frame of government policies, etc.
POM So they always identify the ANC then with - ?
WM Socialism and communism, total control.
POM Which was their greater fear of? Was it fear of black domination or fear of black domination that would introduce a different system of governance that would take away their right to property, their right to their homes, the right to this ?
WM They were inextricably linked but first and foremost with Moscow and that's why you could have had that rhetoric even of De Klerk, "I could change because of the collapse of communism." They were all almost synonymous, Moscow, communism, socialism, control, black government, I don't think people heard different things, they heard the same thing.
POM Even today I have talked to many people and the word communism keeps cropping up as though they haven't quite believed that the ANC are now more capitalist than capitalists themselves. It's like it's all a ruse, they're taking us down a road and after a number of years when we're all comfortably settled in and say things are OK, then they will pounce.
WM I doubt that would be true amongst the business sector. The business sector, I think is more than fairly impressed with this government and especially its discipline and its economic policies, its financial policies, the whole approach of fiscal control. The business sector generally speaking you would hear from them saying it's much better than any Nationalist Party economic and fiscal monetary policies have ever been. They will never change back to a Horwood and a Barend du Plessis. They will stay with Manuel and Erwin and Thabo Mbeki. No, there's acknowledgement for that across the spectrum. I think where you would still hear people saying, "Oh well it's just going to take time and then they will really go for the kill", would be few and far between and it would be people who are not politically aware really or who do not even often discuss politics. I don't think there's at all that fear. The only fear remaining is one for stability and the criminal element and is it going to get worse, is it going to get better, the murders, the hijacks, the robberies and thefts, burglaries, the safety of the individual. But policy-wise, no, I don't hear any.
POM How about the issue of Afrikaans language in particular? I'm relating that to the statement issued recently by the group of 24 Afrikaner academics and poets and writers calling for a charter of minority rights? It was funny yesterday to find Ferdi Hartzenberg drawing on Afrikaner intellectuals to buttress his case for minority rights. Is that still an issue or is it an issue among a small group of people, the issue of language, of culture?
WM It is an issue amongst different groups of Afrikaners but with often very opposing concepts of minority rights in mind. When they on the surface they would seem to be on the same page. They're not. If Ferdi Hartzenberg talks about minority rights he talks about a volkstaat. If Constand talks about minority rights he simply talks about language and schools and cultural rights moving away from the volkstaat and if Breyten Breytenbach and Van Zyl Slabbert would talk about that they would be talking about Afrikaans as a language across the colour bar. Their concept of Afrikaner is shifting to everybody that speaks Afrikaans, more Afrikaans sprekenders. They would want a university and anyone who wants tuition in Afrikaans can go there but then it's only Afrikaans medium. It can be black or coloured or Indian or pink or Chinese or whatever as long as the medium of tuition is Afrikaans, so it's more about the language itself. They would talk about minority rights but they would not be on the same page.
I think generally speaking this whole idea of Afrikaner university, Afrikaner language, again the Breytenbach, Slabbert, even Giliomee line, although Giliomee is more difficult to read, I think he still sees the two nations, a white nationalistic group and a black nationalist group, but let me say the Breytenbach line I think people don't take seriously if at all they understand it and they are not looked upon as leaders of protection of minority rights at all because they are not seen talking with the white Afrikaner groups, they're not seen as legitimate Afrikaner leaders because they never had that interest. That would be the retort always. What is their track record, what have they ever done for Afrikaans or Afrikaners? That kind of line. So to think that something could build around that even with the ATKV and FAK at stages, I think it's very doubtful. Most of the Afrikaners say the rural communities which still have some kind of a traditional cum nationalistic frame have become more materialistic. Their security now is in their job situation or their business, standard of living, it's not any more the group. Exclusivity has gone out of it and where you still have the group thing it's exclusive in the formation of the group but not in their activities so the more conservative, rural, platteland Afrikaner would as Afrikaners work with the black civil society and very actively so.
POM Is this also true of blacks, that there is a burgeoning black middle class? I think just in numbers alone they now exceed the number of whites, not maybe percentage-wise in terms of income levels but in numbers because of just the disparity in numbers.
WM I don't think there is necessarily that reaching out towards working with whites but there's certainly a major shift in terms of a broader economic system.
POM But another thing is really, especially after working with whites, is there any kind of sense that now that we have made it or are in the making class or are the beneficiaries of the change, of the transformation that occurred, that we owe something to our poorer brethren?
POM You see them in Sandton in the malls and in Rosebank in the malls and they've become consumers.
WM No I don't think you will see that within the next 30/40 years. The capitalist frame, the capitalistic frame is still a rudimentary one, it's got no social security component to it. It's still 'there's an opportunity'. The theme is opportunity, the theme is not social net. So it's still focused on the individual making it, it's not looking at societies.
POM So you would see, or of the blacks you know who through merit have moved, because they had university educations and were confident and were able to see opportunity and grab it, do they talk about we've all these unaddressed problems of dealing with our black masses and I am still part of a movement that has an obligation to uplift the masses, or is this ANC rhetoric?
WM No I think it's to a large extent still political rhetoric and it's important. It's more than rhetoric at the political level, it's still an agenda. But I thought you were referring to class of individuals who have made it or you say those who have been uplifted, but if you get to the political agenda it's very much on the political agenda the upliftment, the creating job opportunities, building some social security and education, in housing, in hospitals and so forth.
POM Yes I know that. I'm talking about the people, the
WM At the level of the private sector there is no involvement and there won't be, there won't be not for four, five, six decades.
POM I was trying to raise this point with Essop Pahad in what began as a very argumentative interview but I think he likes arguments so if he does I found the best way to deal with him is to give him one right back then he'll respect you, then you can do business. But my point was that as, and I may have raised this years ago with you because I know I did raise it years ago, that as the black middle class grew the natural inclination would be to get out of the townships and to move into better off areas with better schools, better facilities, better access to services, everything. Also just a symbol of status to do so and that's human and that there would be no
WM Metaphorically speaking they are becoming more active but that was expected. It goes back to my understanding of the world in a sense, or of humankind, that you shift in value systems. I think I've mentioned this to you before, from traditional to modern to post-modern, to simply look at that scale but in the modern you already have a division. You have a division between the fairly absolutist, the right/wrong, black/white thinking, it's a choice between two, it's the only option approach. Whereas once you satisfy those needs you move into the world of opportunity, then you look for best options, but then the individual emerges as the driving force, not the community that you have in a more absolutist frame. Absolutist frames always the group, the Afrikaner, the struggle. When you move to business, capitalist society, it's the individual. I take care of myself, there are winners and losers. Tough shit if the other guy doesn't make it. I'm making it. There is no social responsibility really. The social responsibility emerges when this sense of relation, the need to relate emerges again. That's only once you have achieved in proving yourself, then you talk social responsibility, you move into green thinking, into ecology and to saving the world. That's far off, that's far off.
To think of a social democratic type of system, we can write it off in terms of the private sector's involvement, and I think that was your question or orientation for the next half a century. But the government fortunately, and I especially think with Thabo Mbeki at the helm now, will really drive that upliftment side also in the interest of the achievers. He will drive it because he will govern the spectrum of value systems in his constituency. He has very little option. The ANC has a very wide constituency in terms of value systems, really from traditional and rural to very advanced first world, not those who still want to achieve but those who have achieved in a modern world and even a few almost post-modern thinkers, but they are few and far between. But that's their constituency. If you don't service the whole of your constituency you're bound to have a hive off of part of it and Thabo I think is very much aware of that and I think in terms of his policies, public sector policies, he's doing exceptionally well managing the spectrum.
But back to your question, and as I understood your question, those who make it in the private sector they don't have a guilt trip or a social responsibility sense. You never had it amongst the Afrikaners and the Afrikaner businessmen didn't think they had a duty too uplift those in poverty in the southern suburbs. The guys who came with that were the academics and the old politicians still, not the businessmen. You would very seldom have their participation. It was state policies who did the upliftment, public sector policies. It was never private sector development and involvement. Private sector philosophy is activity, the crumbs off the table, almost the Milton Friedman approach.
POM So for those who make it out of Alexandra -
WM To Bryanston.
POM - there's not exactly a rush to go back there every weekend and visit old acquaintances. They say, "I'm out of there."
WM No, no. They may go visit their Mom and Dad and close family but they would rather invite them over to Four Ways or Sandton or Randburg or wherever.
POM My follow up to that is, under Group Areas, just to say all Africans had to live in a restricted area and among those Africans there would be poor and there would be some who would be well off and there would be doctors and lawyers and professionals, so young people would have role models, so to speak, in their community to look up to, people who had made it, had status, and those people are now going or gone and there's a vacuum where what you are being left with in the townships and squatter camps are just the dregs, the poor, and the only role models they have are gangsters. I went down to the funeral of Fingers Ramaphati 18 months ago, it was extraordinary. This man in the media was a demon, and he was a hero to the community that buried him and that included prominent people and the kids. It was like he had achieved more than a Robin Hood status, it was like that's what they wanted to be in life.
WM Again, I don't think one should deal with it in a too simplistic way. Again, let me take you back to the value systems. The value systems that are in this country represent the continuum. So, yes, if you're in the traditional area, rural area, that's where you've grown up as a kid, even first generation urbanisation, especially to squatter camps, traditions still go with you. They are slowly disrupted and taken out from under you. That's where the individual for the first time emerges because in traditional areas the individual does not count, the organism, the tribe, the family, the group, the clan is the individual. The individual as we know it in a modern sense doesn't exist there. So, yes, when you become aware of your individuality then by definition the Al Capones are your first role models, you idolise them, they assert themselves, they're strong. It doesn't matter whether they do it for good or bad, these become the role models but they are in a sense hedonistic individuals, they do what comes for the moment but they assert themselves. That is almost a second shift on the continuum. Only after that, once the Al Capones create new order under a godfather and you have all five families, to refer to the movie which has recently been shown again, then you come up with a kind of a system again which people have to respect, where you have rules and regulations and you're back to a more absolutist position. These are the yeses, these are the noes, and only after you've establishes that new order do you have the emerging individual into risk taking in a calculated sense into the materialistic, into the success world again. So you will always have role models amongst criminals in any such emerging society from traditional, you will always have it, it's not a problem but it won't only be criminals, it will also be tough, good leaders, the sort of beneficial dictator almost will also be a role model, your benevolent dictator will also be a role model because you identify with those who share the same value system. But it remains a continuum and people almost shift up this continuum, you ratchet up as you achieve but it takes decades to shift from one to another because you need to be exposed to that new world, you need to be able to control the world that you know. Once you can control it only then can you see another world. It doesn't bother me at all. I have not expected it to be different.
POM When Thabo Mbeki spearheads this African renaissance and you have this emphasis on African values versus Eurocentric values and that the country has been driven by Eurocentric values and that's part of the baggage of the past they must rid themselves of and assert the
WM I don't think that's the message, I really don't think that's the message and I've listened to a lot of his speeches and read a lot. Listened to his speeches is a misnomer because only when he's on TV or so, and read what he's saying in the press, read reports about what he's saying in parliament. Mbeki's African renaissance is a way from corruption to democratic systems to a ruled society which produces, talks about productivity and competes economically. That's his renaissance. It's not let's get rid of western values or western structures, it's very much the contrary. Without saying it he is saying let's get order in Africa, let's get order, let's get rid of military dictators. That's number one. Two, let's get rid of corruption. Three, let us become competitive. His African renaissance is really a renaissance as we knew the previous one which is a shift to modernism. His demand of African renaissance is saying let's without hammering traditional values, he's saying let's shift to modern values of discipline, of structures and order, of being part of the international community, of competitiveness, of productivity. Let's do away with what is bad, crime, corruption, criminals, politicians for their own ends, etc.
POM So when intellectuals, and I suppose they would be the ones who would do it, talk about African values, what do you understand them to mean by African values?
WM Let me preface my answer again by what I said earlier about Thabo Mbeki being able to deal with huge complexities, being able to manage this continuum of value systems. If you want to move somewhere you must address the whole spectrum. You cannot address only a segment because then you lose your power base on the rest. So the emphasis on African values would certainly be summarised and captured in the concept of ubuntu which is saying, don't put yourself first, put the society first, don't break out too far; yes achieve, study, make your contribution, do something, get a profession or get a job, do well, but let's get an order. And we know in traditional values that we had respect for elders, we shared, so retain those values. It does not want to disrupt traditional culture where it functions but he's not saying to a modern world, move back to traditionalism. It's simply an emphasis on the good which you find in any traditional society. He's sort of saying, don't break out of that and become gangsters, have respect for systems, have respect for culture, have respect for customs. But no corruption, no crime, democratic systems without juxtaposing them through traditional systems. He incorporates his traditional mindset into democratic structures. I think he's brilliant, I think he's absolutely brilliant as a politician. I've never met his match in dealing with complexities and the range of value systems and cultures. You will very seldom hear anyone reacting negatively to a speech of Thabo Mbeki be it a person traditional or be it post-modern so he addresses the continuum. He's brilliant. I'm very impressed with him.
POM So do you think this government, that he can use that ability to substantially address the problems the country faces in terms of increasing unemployment even though there will be growth next year it could be, will probably be, jobless growth, that the huge masses of the underclass are in many respects, the bottom proportion of them are worse off than they were five or ten years ago?
WM He will manage the worse off component, and they are mainly traditional in the rural areas, tribal areas, he will manage them through traditional loyalties, through the customs, respect, the ubuntu concept, and that's the message they will hear when he talks African renaissance. Yes it's tough but let's stay with what we know. We know how it's been done and how it should have been done. Let's get back to how it has been done in the past. So there will be a managing of worsening situations, of the people in a worse situation. At the same time he will drive the economy to at least increase the cake and at the same time he will go for better redistribution at the social welfare level, again education, health, housing, but jobs he will leave to the private sector, therefore he will stimulate growth. He will not try to create I mean the whole socialist, communist concept is not going to drive that, definitely not. Although I would tend to favour also such programmes I think one must admit in the competitive environment that we find ourselves in internationally and with the large numbers that we're trying to cope with, that such public sector works programmes will have a marginal effect on things. So he's probably right in not driving that harder.
POM Do you think that, this is going a bit backwards in time, if you take just colonial SA where every imperial power dealt with blacks with disdain, saw them as inferior or whatever and certainly inferior to our own civilised or whatever, that that must be taken into account in the manner in which racial attitudes developed in SA, that in many respects they were no different than they were in other countries which had colonial powers in charge but that the difference there was that the colonial power withdrew and left it to the natives to do whatever they wanted to do whereas here there was no place for the 'settler' population to withdraw to and the rationale therefore for separate development became - we will deal with them by every nation, every ethnic group having its own chunk of land and developing within those confines. The thing is that given the attitudes of those times was that an unreasonable proposition for grand apartheid to have put forward as a solution to the differences between ethnic groups and the differences in stages of development and the differences in the difficult progress from tribalism to modernism? Did this enter into did the Truth Commission look at the wider texture of colonialism and the way blacks were treated not just in Africa but in America and other places where there were black populations?
WM No we did not. I think I left a one-liner comment also on colonialism in my minority statement, the background against which apartheid developed, nationalism, the Great Trek, gold and diamonds, the whole Empire involvement, the Anglo-Boer War, the poor whites' question at the time, the droughts and so on. We didn't look into that but they all had their mark in the development of politics here as we found it in the sixties. Then again if one wants to be almost a cynic one can say that was it not for apartheid, one can make an argument for it, I'm not making an argument for it at the moment, but I don't think the question has been answered whether we would now have had a better opportunity or a worse opportunity for the whole nation.
I remember Tutu was very upset with me, but it was on another aspect, it was this whole idea of you need to repent and confess and only then can you expect forgiveness and only once that forgiveness is given is there total reconciliation. This religious paradigm for national reconciliation, which I objected to and I don't believe it's close to reality in any human society, but then I also said that I cannot recall that the British or the English has ever apologised for what they did to the Afrikaner and I haven't overtly forgiven them ever. I have my moments when I still would resent them from the world in which I grew up but if I had to choose between the reality of history including Cecil John Rhodes with his deputising for the Empire, the Anglo-Boer War, the suffering of my grandmother and grandfather in prisoner of war camps and my grandmother in a concentration camp, if I had to choose between having had that on the way here or not have had it I would rather go for history as it stands because it did bring some development which in terms of what I'm experiencing now, also in my relating to the international world, I would probably not have had was there never an involvement of the Empire here. I would probably not have had this.
So that's the kind of making your peace with reality, as I say, including Empire politics vis-à-vis Afrikaner, one could draw a parallel with apartheid politics vis-à-vis black South Africans, and one could make out an argument. That's the only point I'm making at the moment. I'm not arguing for apartheid. But apartheid was a response to a perceived problem, it was not something that was a grand conspiracy out of nowhere. It didn't work and looking back on it, it never had a chance to work and with all the negative shouldn't one also acknowledge the unintended positive left?
POM Did the universities in the Transkei and Ciskei and ?
WM The counter-argument is there could have been a Tukkies or Wits or Ikeys or Bloemfontein or Potchefstroom, yes they could have been there but could the society handle it at the time? I don't know, I don't have an answer and I don't want to be judge on that. I'm only saying we have some things which maybe we might not have had, not because it was so well intended but simply this was the course of history. Would I wish it away? Well some of it I really would if I could but taking all into account I'm quite prepared to just move on from where we are now and I don't want to resent the past, I don't want to resent history, it doesn't make a contribution and fortunately that is in a sense the response of the person. It's saying how do we move forward? And that's that working together with conservative white society and emerging black civic leadership or existing black civic leadership, they really work together.
POM So do you think part of what makes the problem more difficult here is that you have a very highly developed first world sector? I was coming back from Pretoria to Johannesburg yesterday afternoon and I think with the rain the traffic was backed up for two hours in both directions. This is as bad as any place gets in the world on super highways, backed up traffic, culture
WM Financial systems, everything.
POM All of these are as sophisticated as any place in the world and that you have a black society saying that's where we should be because that's where whites are. So they're looking at something that is not attainable in the short run, that it's going to take a long time for the rest of society to be lifted up to that level and perhaps they will never be lifted up and perhaps there will be some coming down from that level and meeting some place in the middle.
WM I don't think it's going to be that way. I think the level of sophistication will keep on increasing whether it's the road system, whether it's the school system and it wouldn't be first world hospitals necessarily but financial sector will not level down, it will spiral upwards.
POM It has to to survive.
WM It has to to survive and it's not achievable for the masses or the bulk but it's achievable daily for individuals, they are moving there. The goal is not to have all the blacks at that level or even the poorer, drop-out whites that we find in increasing numbers today, that's not the goal. The goal is to manage that spectrum so that you can get more of a critical mass moving over to the modern world but it's simply shifting a critical mass, it's not looking at individuals, it's looking at it globally, holistically so to speak, and you manage it by managing the critical mass and shifting it from what is now more rural absolutist, self-assertive to more modern, first world business opportunity. That's the challenge and I think if I read the government correctly and you look at their policies, that's what it's slowly achieving.
POM Am I reading you correctly in saying that in a sense the key to stability, the key to modernisation is to create a critical mass in the black middle class so that the sharp cleavage that is continually drawn between what whites have and what blacks have because of apartheid, disappears because there is a sufficient number of blacks who now have to make the comparison irrelevant?
WM I don't think you're reading me correctly because in my equation white and black is not important. In my equation modern world and traditional world are the mutual enemies and to the traditional world you link the sort of first emerging because they are more destabilising in the modern world than they are they are equally destabilising if traditional societies in the modern world. The challenge is simply to get more numbers into the modern world and it's not important whether they are black or white and it's not important to the blacks whether they are black or white. The only people that can really enter are blacks, by definition, but they don't look at what are the blacks having, what are the whites having. That's never what they say. They say how can we move into this modern world? How can we share in the benefits of a modern world? And they don't resent the whites, it's not my experience. They are simply saying we want to be there and it's not that they see whites, they don't see whites any more, they see a huge number of blacks, as you have said. The black/white divide, there are remnants in rhetoric but it's something of the past. It will never create a real divide ever again, never ever. The white factor is virtually not a factor any more except in a sense for good, but it's not a political factor, it's not a threatening factor any more. The struggle now is between traditional world and modern world. Not a real struggle, the struggle in terms of political management, the challenge. But black and white? It's not an issue.
POM Is that really a struggle within the black community?
WM If you want to see it as a struggle you may see it in the black community, yes. Maybe some people resenting the achievers but I think you will more find them as role models than as symbols of resentment.
POM I want to talk a bit about Anthea Jeffery's book which I went through and which impressed me, impressed me with the depth of its research, how every statement she made was documented and established either from the primary source or what appeared to be a fairly reliable secondary source. Let me just find two bits, I've got them marked. She says:-
"There is, however, a fundamental problem with the TRC's report. It was required to tell the truth in full, instead it has told some of the truth but far from all of the truth. Significant multiple killings have been omitted without explanation. Overall the commission has done as much to distort as to disclose the truth. The distortion arises from two main factors, the methods it used and the aspects of violence it left out. The TRC failed properly to check the allegations on which it relied. It also reached its major conclusions about violations when some 90% of amnesty statements had still to be considered. It never quantified how many political killings had occurred within its mandate period. It left 12,000 or more killings unexplained, notably those that occurred when violence was at its most intense. Its approach was selective rather than comprehensive. Some parts of the report are simply sloppy.
"The commission also went so far as to redefine the meaning of truth and indeed to denigrate the very notion of factual and objective truth. It invented narrative and dialogue and healing truths, tacitly admitting the truth it told was something other than factual. Distortion also arises from what the TRC left out of its account. It failed adequately to probe the revolutionary activities the counter-revolution was supposedly designed to overcome. The conflict, contrary to early predictions about South Africa, was not a race war. One of the major, and for some people, embarrassing problems confronting anyone examining the fatalities that occurred from 1984 to 1994 is that nearly all of the victims were blacks who were killed by other blacks. The depiction of violence as black on black violence is a crude simplification which explains nothing. The real question is why these deaths occurred, can they be explained by rivalry between competing political organisations? This was of course rivalry between the ANC and the IFP. There was also rivalry involving other organisations such as the PAC and the Azanian People's Organisation on a smaller scale, but why was some of the rivalry so violent particularly as between the ANC and IFP?
"Two broad categories have been offered in explanation. One is that the conflict was engendered and continually stoked by a government-backed third force which sought thereby to destabilise the ANC. The second recognises the brutalities of apartheid and the methods used to maintain it but posits that or perhaps even most of the deaths arose in the context of the people's war. The TRC in effect embraced the third force theory though it found that 'little evidence existed of a centrally-directed coherent and formally constituted third force'. It also held that elements in the security forces and the IFP had fomented and engaged in violence with the active collusion of senior security force personnel and the effective condonation of the government.
"It's further findings that the government in collusion with the IFP was responsible for the predominant portion of gross violations also reflects the third force theory. So does its finding that the government deliberately mobilised one group against the other and helped establish hit squads, including the Caprivi trainees, for use against political opponents. It depicted the former government as a criminal state. It also requires an explanation of why the government would embark on a process of fundamental political and constitutional reform and at the same time allow its agents to plunge the country into violence.
"The people's war explicitly targeted not only policeman and soldiers but also local councillors, collaborationists, former and all puppets and agents of the regime. The aim was that the people's war was to render South Africa ungovernable and overthrow all authority but because it relied on the masses to mount an insurrection rather than training guerrillas to fight the police and army, the violence it generated just spiralled out of control. Because it targeted so many in the black community it also provoked a violent backlash from some at least. Once the retaliation began moreover it developed its own momentum and among other consequences it evolved into a civil war between the IFP and the ANC that spread in time from KwaZulu-Natal to the Reef. There was as strong prima facie case for probing the people's war theory as there was for examining the third force theory."
She says that you didn't probe and explore that but rather relied on the third force theory.
WM Let me just say, I have no ownership in the report whatsoever because I disagreed with the approach. The commission cannot claim ownership for itself of its report because it was written by researchers with some input of a few commissioners. I think I told you my objection last time around already and I don't think you will find many commissioners who would say they co-owned the report. They will say, well we've signed it but they had our signatures up front some eight months before publication of the report when it wasn't yet written, before the first chapter was written. They were simply the first chapter to be printed, or the first part of the report to be printed was the signatures, it wasn't the last, it was the first. I don't want to defend that. I haven't read the report yet. I've had an opportunity of reading some drafts, not all of them. I haven't read any chapter as it stands at the moment in the report and I have no intention of doing so because I don't think it makes any contribution as a report, as a document of historical value or scientific value. I don't believe it's there as a whole.
POM It's creating an industry for doctoral students.
WM Yes it's created a huge industry but I think it will disappear within the next decade or so and I don't think the report will ever be talked about as a report. The main positive of the Truth Commission is really its process, simply, and not so much on the content as on its symbolic value. Those that really suffered in this conflict were, again, especially if you look at the statements of victims and the amnesty application, are the more traditional in society, poor, the rural, some urban squatter camps mainly, very few in a first world modern environment. That would explain the cruelty with which people were taken out, especially in the Inkatha/ANC conflict and although there is a lot of evidence of generally the government that was active policy that they favoured Inkatha and the ANC was the enemy, Inkatha was never the enemy. There is a lot of evidence of security forces in the same way to the extent that they did get involved, sided with Inkatha. That was the general perception with the ANC and it couldn't have been different because that was the overt policy.
If you look at the amnesty applications again, any analysis of that will show that most of that conflict did not involve active individuals from third force. It did develop its own momentum, the people's war, yes, because Inkatha were told that they were sell-outs, and then allegiances and alliances, loyalties at the traditional level where Chiefs would side with the one or the other, setting up communities against each other and individuals in those communities then being under threat and responding. Again if you look at most of the amnesty applications you cannot say that any one of them can point to an attack. All of them point to counter-attacks in a sense, follow-up attacks. So it was the spiral, the spiral just continued. So what is termed black on black violence is really violence emanating from divided loyalties and going for dominance, establishing dominance of the one loyalty over the other in large, large numbers. No involvement whatsoever of security.
POM This is, I suppose, the point that I'm trying to get at, that again, I won't say popularised, perhaps propagandised a conventional wisdom notion in the ANC of it as being representative of the majority of the people, is that all this violence was created by the security forces who -
WM If it's 1% it would be high, if it's 1% it would be high in terms of any kind of direct stirring.
POM It's not popular or politically correct to say that.
WM I'll say it anyway and Thabo Mbeki will say it too. Thabo Mbeki will say it's nonsense. Well don't quote him now on that or quote me on him saying so, please, but, no, I think you won't get the third force accusation as being the real menace behind the conflict and especially the deaths, gross human rights violations, from even activists generally speaking and especially not in Natal and on the East Rand. They will say to you, yes there are, but the people, the statement in the TRC's report is a liberal statement, it's not a statement of any of the black guys on the commission. None of them would have subscribed to that, perhaps with the exception of Tutu, especially elevating that to the position of the cause. The experience, let me talk on behalf of the Amnesty Committee, is that yes there were individuals involved where they did come with so-called false flag operations and individual involvement of members of the security forces and especially the Security Branch but by and large it was a conflict which was bound to simply escalate because of the loyalties and especially in the traditional areas. That fight was an all-out one and it escalated to such an extent that a person could be killed simply because of his lenience towards the one or the other. It didn't have to be an activist of any kind. If he was in a dominant ANC area and perceived to be IFP he could have been taken out, and vice versa, and that's what happened on a large scale. Now what do you blame?
It's again a combination of factors. It's certainly the policy which built ANC to devil and IFP to loyal citizens, but it's also the value system at that level, the traditional system of dominance, Chiefs, loyalties, you don't challenge the hierarchy and if you did you were taken out as being if it was an IFP Chief, ANC, if it was an ANC Chief, IFP. Then it was mixed, once you're not seen as being loyal you're either an ANC or a police informer or whatever and you were taken out and the amnesty applications are all on that basis, or very many of them. "We suspected him of being an IFP supporter", "We suspected him of being a police informer", "We suspected him of what, what, what". And on that basis he was taken out. "Or someone said", and therefore he was taken out, on both sides again and it's not a phenomenon which is peculiar to the people's war, it was also the same in the IFP structures, not structures, communities, because there were no structures or very few. I think if you have to go by numbers that's probably the number one villain in the causing of deaths, simply a struggle for dominance.
POM Now is dominance in this sense connected to survival?
WM No. Control.
POM I once asked Judge Goldstone when he was looking into the genocide in Rwanda what could he make of it all and he said one word, fear, the fear that if I don't kill you that things can degenerate to a point where I think that if I don't kill you you're going to kill me, therefore I kill you first.
WM That would hold true where you did work with the killing of activists and that is so: survival then. In other words I had to defend myself is the jargon you will hear here. That guy would have killed me, I had to defend myself, that's why I went out looking for him, killing him. So, yes, that definitely is so but to use that again as the simplistic answer for the violence, that would not account for the majority of those cases. The majority were - he was in our area and he wasn't loyal, we had suspicions that he would pass on information about our activities to the IFP leadership or to the ANC leadership or to the police or whatever. This informer, traitor thing is a major theme but I think the dominant theme is simply - he was IFP or he was ANC. I'm mainly talking Natal but that's where most people were killed. There are so many dimensions really, the causes of gross human rights violations, of which the third force, third force involvement was but a smaller one and probably a very small one in relation to the total numbers, a very small one.
POM Was it politically impossible, was this ultimately, despite what you've talked about, the narratives given by victims and their empowerment by being allowed to tell their stories as being heard for the first time, leaving that aside, is it a political report in the sense that some conclusions were fore-ordained from the beginning?
WM I think all of it. The frame of that report was there before it started, before the work started. One of my objections, and I might have mentioned it on an earlier occasion, is way before we had the bulk of the information, way before we had evaluated, and we never evaluated any of the evidence in terms of qualitative analysis, never ever, there never was a qualitative analysis done, we had a table of contents of the report. It was there, I mean you just read the table of contents and you see the story and then it had to be filled in. Once you read the report you will see discussion, historical and trends based on secondary sources. Secondly, the filling in of what fitted the secondary sources story from our victims' statements, from amnesty statements, and most of the quotes fitted in because it fits what was said or what people wanted to be said. And people were asked, "Look through your documentation, if you have good quotes."
POM You've got a conclusion then you went back through the documents for the quotes that would support that conclusion?
WM Yes. Even, and I'm still talking of drafts, the one on reconciliation I think it is no not reconciliation, there was one chapter written by the guy from Ikeys (University of Cape Town) Don Simpson, he wrote one of the chapters. Excellent, excellent chapter, with no reference whatsoever to sources. He's a psychologist if I'm not mistaken. Excellent chapter and when I got this draft I said it's brilliant and it's right, but it's not based on any of our data. So the next round let us have quotes, we will put some of the quotes in here. So then it's almost stuffed, like a Thanksgiving turkey, with quotes from statements to back up the theory, the theory to which I subscribe. So I think had they really analysed data, this is now my prejudice, they would have probably come to the same conclusion but it was the only chapter which I really thought was well thought through.
POM Which chapter is this one?
WM It was basically on people's responses and how people view it. I think it was the chapter on reconciliation, what is understood by it. I can check.
POM We had the whole thing.
WM I will check and I'll show you before I leave.
POM I'll find it.
WM But very good, very well written except it now looks, simply from scanning the pages, as if it's based on data and it's not. It was his philosophy.
POM His beliefs and he put down his beliefs and said now I've got to find the quotes that will fit in with my beliefs.
WM No he didn't do that. When I criticised it some of the commissioners then said, "Oh yes, we're in trouble, so now we must find quotes", and then the quotes were inserted by the Research Department and maybe to an extent in conjunction with the individual who wrote it, the author of that chapter. Really I don't take the report seriously in terms of the statements and the content and I don't believe any serious student will ever do that. I really don't believe they will take it seriously and it's not going to make a contribution to history based on the contents of the report. The probable contribution to history will simply be the process itself, the learnings from allowing traditional people especially, more than others, just for the first time to be heard, to share, to clear themselves really, almost to wash themselves. Secondly, from the amnesty process especially to learn what happened with their relatives, where their bones are, where the place was that their soul had left and to visit it and to perform certain rituals there again. So really the main value of the TRC process is that it served as a ritual for cleaning and pass-over. The value is not in the modern analysis of the contents of the report. There will never be value in that.
POM One of the incidents that she deals with, it's an incident because to me it appeared at the time and may still appear to be one of those moments when the balance of power shifted in the negotiating process, and that was the Boipatong incident where the ANC immediately said there was police involvement and it was planned. Then they broke off negotiations with De Klerk because that was the final nail in the coffin in terms of the police involvement in the killing of people and, according to her, they came up with bore that out in the TRC even though the Goldstone Commission had found no evidence of police collusion, the UK expert, Dr Waddington whom he called in found no evidence of it and then there were a couple of articles, investigative articles done in the last year or so by Rian Malan and Denis Beckett that have shown that the commission's report was just shoddy in this regard. Then if you compare the HRC report of the incident at the time with the language in the TRC has it kind of plagiarised half the HRC report? Let's put it in. This is what happened. The importance to me of the event was that there was, in the mind of the masses Mandela, well the ANC leadership, whether convenient or not they used this incident to break off negotiations completely, to move to mass mobilisation and it may all have been based on a lie, on something that simply didn't happen.
WM At the time the report was published the Boipatong amnesty hearing had still not taken place. Now I wasn't involved in that hearing but it was a very long one and I haven't read the evidence so I can't even comment on what was resulting from that hearing, the evidence coming to the fore there. But the Boipatong thing is, as you earlier said, more of a spill-over of the Inkatha, if you can call it a spill-over, but it's the same phenomenon to a large extent as we have in KZN.
POM But even Mandela in his autobiography
WM He believed it.
POM He not only believed it but he says that De Klerk never made an investigation and nobody was ever arrested and in his (De Klerk's) autobiography he said Mandela got it all wrong, there was an investigation, we arrested 25 people, 17 were found guilty and were jailed, that it was politicised in a way that had nothing to do with truth at all.
WM That's very close to normal in political activity. I very seldom find politicians being really interested in so-called scientific or factual truth. They're interested in, or they share their understanding of the situation, they're not necessarily lying but it's very often more a community truth or a group truth which is very often tainted by re-dispositions.
POM So how would you distinguish between, if its possible, healing truths, forgiving truths, factual truths and group truths, experiential truths?
WM Collective memory sort of thing? You see I think what they call narrative truth is very closely related to collective memory. A mother lost a son, she wasn't present when the son died but she gets some feedback. Everybody talks about it, they sit, they're in mourning, different people advance different scenarios and somewhere is then born a story as to the factuality of that situation, but it's not investigated and, again, I don't think it's important for the process of reconciliation because people will never reconcile on the basis of fact. There is not a single truth. There is only a perspective of truth. We're not in the field of clinical science, we're in the field of social sciences. If I say clinical science I mean maths or physics or so on, it's not what it's about, and even in physics one can talk about the relative truths. So that's not important but it's important to know how people perceive things to have happened without having to judge about it, without having to say that's true or that's false, by simply saying it's real.
This was my approach, if we can put the different perspectives and say these are the different perspectives, we don't want to judge upon it because once you judge you come with a value judgement. So SA take note, now at least you have an understanding of where the other guy comes from and if you could have popularised the different perspectives without having again to get to some kind of narrow nationalistic true history or real history, but a history of perspectives, then it makes it much easier to get to some consensus. Yes, some people saw it as only a third force responsible for everything. Was there third force involvement? Yes, sure. Was it everything? No it wasn't everything. Is it necessary to quantify it? No, but some people saw this as the reason. Give all the perspectives and then you can say, now what do we do with this whereas if you want to go to exact scientific factual finding on everything, judgmental from within a certain values confine, you're bound to create more conflict not to lessen tension. You're bound to build the conflict. Now, had the report been taken seriously the intensity of the conflict of the past would have increased and they're not going to take it seriously.
POM When you say had they, you mean?
WM The commission, well had the South African society focused in on the report, tried to analyse it and back the findings, it would not have contributed to reconciliation. Now unfortunately the perspectives, what I call the 'perspectible' truth, is again not popularised and shared, so people still don't really understand where the other one came from. That's the loss but the win is fortunately SA didn't take the report seriously. The government certainly didn't.
POM So what happens with the amnesty process at this point, the 200 plus individuals who are named who didn't make submissions or answer?
WM Again that's largely based on prejudice and from some of them there are reviews, others are simply ignoring it.
POM Can you begin a process again where you would selectively prosecute? Of the 200 if you say we're going to prosecute five?
WM In my minority position I said it's daydreaming, it's politically not on. There is no way that the present government can have its structures prosecuting its own liberation fighters. Secondly, there is no way without building a new conflict, and a huge one at that, selectively prosecuting only people in the old order.
POM Only people in the old order?
WM Yes. No way that can be done. So I think what will be done in a few instances people will be prosecuted, like the Wouter Basson thing, also the Eugene de Kock. Had Eugene de Kock been there now he would have been prosecuted. But if you look at Basson and De Kock the bulk of the charges against them are fraud charges, not political, self-enrichment, these are bad guys, then you can add on the political dimension. That's fine, that you can do. But when it was clear cut political, in a different sense 'clean' people, not corrupt people, you won't see prosecutions.
POM Is it true, as was said at Basson's trial last week, that the TRC offered him amnesty in exchange for full disclosure?
WM The TRC as a body certainly didn't offer amnesty but what probably happened is that Charles Villa-Vicencio who is the Chief Researcher responsible for the report had a major interest in the military. He wanted to open up what he perceived to be the real can of worms which he perceived to have been the military. So did Alex Boraine and without having any knowledge about such a meeting the probability is that Boraine, Villa-Vicencio and maybe one or two other researchers had a meeting with Wouter Basson to try and get information and they probably did because this was Alex's line all through. He would say to him, "Apply for amnesty. The Act says if you come clean and it's political you'll have amnesty." Now Basson sees that as an approach to him to say please apply for amnesty, we guarantee you amnesty. That can't be done. Boraine, Villa-Vicencio had no say. The Amnesty Committee in itself is independent, autonomous. They make their decisions from a legal perspective looking at the terms of the Act once they have the hearing, have heard the applicant and whatever oppositional evidence there was, might have been.
But no, the commission as a commission never discussed this. I had no knowledge that he was approached to apply for amnesty. It's probably true that they did approach him wanting to get information and saying to him, spill the beans, you're a foot soldier, we'll hang Constand Viljoen or Georg Meiring or Magnus Malan, we want to get at the big boys. That's probably true because that was the disposition of many of the researchers and especially a few of the commission members. Therefore, too, if you see the findings, the findings always against the government, the National Party, the ANC, PAC leadership. It's a big brush that they're simply painted over with on the basis of certain individuals having done things, therefore all these people had knowledge. Really I think, and maybe in even measure they maltreated some of the old order structures and the ANC liberation movement structures. That's certainly my view.
They came with findings against the ANC which by my value system cannot be substantiated. I don't believe if certain of your members do certain things that that becomes your policy, and that's virtually what they did with the liberation struggle too and that's why the ANC were so upset and I think justifiably so, in the same way as De Klerk was very upset but there they honed in on the individual. Then it was government's police, third force, it was government's policy on the basis of - the London bombing for instance was a cabinet decision, COSATU House was cabinet or government. It never was except if they would come clean and say yes it was PW saying to Vlok do something, Vlok reporting back to PW, PW on the side after a Security Council meeting saying well done. But then it's presented as if it was a Security Council decision and public congratulations of Vlok and the security forces, all members of cabinet having had knowledge of that, De Klerk too, therefore De Klerk lied. I mean that's utter nonsense. And the same holds true for the ANC being found guilty for certain gross human rights violations as an organisation, especially stuff that they did not as a policy accept, because I think they came clean in their submissions. They extensively dealt with their policies and activities and where they could show actions resulting from policies they did so.
POM Two or maybe three final questions. One is, why was there this honing in on De Klerk?
WM My view, and I will put it very briefly, is that I think there was a request out from high offices, and not unlikely so from Mandela himself to Tutu, not to treat PW Botha with any well treat him with dignity, after all he is an ex-president, statesman, so for the sake of reconciliation don't kill him, try and get some reconciliation in a positive sense. On the basis of that there was a reluctance and a refusal to go at PW in the beginning and from the beginning. I tried to put it in there, get PW here so we can start talking at the top about his perception of politics. They didn't want to do it. Then they decided they would go and visit him and Tutu had this public visit and this is all reconciliation, talk nicely to each other, have tea and then some agreement that they would put questions in writing which they then did and they were extensive and he asked for financial assistance and research assistance because he doesn't have all the documentation. It takes much longer than Tutu and Boraine and Villa-Vicencio expected and maybe he didn't do too much too. I think at some stage he didn't do anything because he couldn't afford the legal costs and they had to provide the necessary funds from government or the Legal Aid Board or wherever.
Then in the meantime they needed someone to lynch, symbolically lynch, in terms of their needs, so if PW wasn't the man then De Klerk represents the old order and De Klerk is the anti security man, anti security establishment man. So now they try to pin the sins of the old order onto the one guy that doesn't deserve it. He might have made mistakes but he definitely had no agenda which worked with the security establishment.
POM You mean he was out of that loop?
WM Out of that loop and he would never have gone in, that may be levelled against him, he wouldn't want to get involved. But the moment he got into power he dismantled it and all their power and he went out and he spoke to the top brass and he said, "You do your job as a job, you don't do anything that's political." This is his history. So they wanted to pin something on De Klerk and when they got some headwinds going there they wanted to go back to PW and then this overboard thing at the end to put him on terms and then to lay a charge because he didn't want to give evidence and then the court ruling against it was not in terms of the Act, it was after we had reached the end of our term and so on. It was a total bugger up, but it was really looking for a symbol to lynch and in my understanding of the past
The continuation of that sentence is really to say in my perspective, having been involved and what I know from De Klerk, how I know, the way I know De Klerk, he was done a major injustice by trying to link him to actively being involved and responsible for gross human rights violations, especially the unlawful taking out of activists.
POM Why do you think Mr Mandela then has bought into this so completely?
WM Mandela and De Klerk have come a long way. I think they initially established quite a good rapport and I think Mandela was resented by some of his constituency for trusting De Klerk because the feedback again to the ANC constituency from liberal society would have been that De Klerk is the real verkrampte, not knowing how to distinguish between supporting apartheid and supporting security rule. They don't necessarily go hand in hand. Andries Treurnicht was an absolutist ideologue of apartheid but Andries Treurnicht would never have gone in his frame of mind into assassinations. De Klerk was the same man. PW Botha was not an ideologue of apartheid in that sense. That's why he could get rid of some of the stuff along the way for which De Klerk and Treurnicht resented him at the time, but they had no problem with allowing security licence, security rule licence really, and people were being taken out. He had no qualms about that and Botha's philosophy was, I'm paraphrasing: they are the professionals responsible for our security, they know what they're doing, I won't get involved there. De Klerk couldn't take it, that's why the reversal immediately when he got into power, the unbanning, no state of emergency.
POM Dismantled the whole National Security Management.
WM Dismantled the structure, every piece of it, but he's still lynched. It was turned down along the line when they couldn't prove everything until they got to this court case which is still the subject of some negotiations to try and settle it, but whatever final finding they will agree on resulting from settlement of this court dispute will be very, very toned down to certainly not anything based on malice and actively involved in any of the security activities, or even having knowledge of it probably. But I'm not involved in that.
POM Why, to go back, why did Mandela buy completely into it and turn against De Klerk?
WM My information, and this is now really second hand and third hand and it's perhaps largely also gossip, is that De Klerk once they got into the national unity situation, the joint rule approach, when De Klerk was not chairing cabinet any more but sitting in cabinet, he would lose a fight, an argument, then get into some compromise situation, it's accepted by cabinet and then De Klerk would again make a speech saying why he still believes his idea was better. He wasn't really buying into this consensus process. He had to live with it but he always
POM Wasn't that the approach the NP cabinet used to reach decision making, every side would be heard and then the Prime Minister or State President would say, "I've heard this and I've heard that and I think this is the consensus of what you're saying", and everybody would say yes?
WM At that stage it was much more of an intensive debate and a give and take and a bargaining and a negotiation, getting to a specific position and De Klerk would give in getting to that decision, in the joint situation. Then they would agree on a position and then everybody is thinking now we're going forward, De Klerk would again take an opportunity to speak. I had such feedback from people there. He would again speak and again say well he would just try to make a point again and this annoyed Mandela immensely and their relationship deteriorated and they got to trust each other less and less and there was pressure with the Nobel Prize thing, people pressurised Mandela not to move in and share with him but to renounce it, to say, "I'm not taking it." And a lot of other people put pressure on him again and said, "No, for the sake of reconciliation, think of the beautiful image." I think Mandela was quite relaxed sharing it jointly although there were people who didn't want him to do it.
POM Well Tutu said that if he knew, after the Truth Commission, how De Klerk had damaged himself in the Truth Commission he would not have recommended him for the Prize in 1993, whereas Mandela came out and said he had no problem with doing it at all.
WM I know there was pressure on the ANC not to allow Mandela to do it, or from within the ANC. But yes I'm pretty sure that Tutu did support it at the time. Again, Tutu's response to De Klerk, his reaction to De Klerk rather, I don't want to use the word unjustified, but it's certainly based on a whole misunderstanding of the man. De Klerk and Tutu, he says one should say sorry but he will never say sorry for his reaction after De Klerk gave testimony, when he publicly so much as called De Klerk a liar and wrongly so. He's never apologised for that. De Klerk became some point of contention.
POM There's a certain irony in the fact that the man who probably unleashed the forces that were involved in most of the covert killings was treated with dignity and respect and in the end
POM - sidelined, and the man who said I will jump the Rubicon, I will cross, God knows what's on the other side, has been kind of crucified for it.
WM I think history in time to come will judge De Klerk as a major man in history, certainly a much more major man than Tutu would give him credit for. But then again Mandela has never gone publicly against De Klerk. Mandela is a statesman too. Tutu is Tutu.
POM There are just two last things. From the interviews I've done with people like Niel Barnard and others who were in on the negotiations or talks with Mandela from 1987 or 1988 onwards, they look at PW as being the real initiator, the person who said apartheid isn't working, I've got to find a way of dealing with it and keep my constituency with me and first of all I go in the direction of the tricameral parliament, and then in 1986 in his opening speech to parliament he in a way destroyed grand apartheid by saying everyone, no matter where they live, if they were born in SA is a SA citizen and is entitled to political and individual rights as a South African therefore making it inevitable in some way that there had to be a black dispensation. But in the end, either growing too old or got sick, whatever, couldn't make the final, didn't make the final, didn't want to make the final leap.
WM I will give you my theory. I might have given it to you before. De Klerk was an apartheid man in the image of Dr Verwoerd.
POM De Klerk?
WM Yes De Klerk, Dr Verwoerd, which is an ideological understanding of the world with not the least involvement of the security forces and certainly not licence to anyone. It was in their understanding a civil, constitutional dispensation which everybody would come to accept because everybody lived in ethnic environments. If we as Afrikaners see ourselves as a people then the Zulu will see themselves as a volk, Xhosa will see themselves as a volk, etc., etc., the ethnic policy. That's De Klerk. Botha is a power monger and a power player, he's a bully in his whole make up. Botha is not an ideologue of any sort. Botha couldn't care less for apartheid, Botha cared for power. So Botha, sure, I mean Vorster already started finding himself in certain traps and Botha simply continued it. He brought in Christianity and we must all be nice to each other but Botha never, ever saw the black nominally they could have been called South African citizens but would they ever participate in structures with the whites? Never, never in his thinking. Blacks would certainly not dominate and they wouldn't control. That's why he came with the tricameral and despite heavy discussions and arguments his line was always that the blacks are not part of this future. We'll find something where we will link up with some parliament which will encapsulate maybe some city states like Soweto and others and all the homelands and we will find some liaison with them, but that was a very long term view. Botha couldn't care less for separate beaches really. He had to keep his constituency so when Hendrickse walks on the beach he lashes out at Hendrickse not because he believed beaches should be white but who the hell is Hendrickse to go and walk on what is in terms of law of a white beach while he's sitting in parliament? Now he's challenging my power and my position. That's the man Botha.
People still to today find it very difficult to distinguish between security rule apartheid, power play and ideological understanding of the world and of the society. With some people they merged. You have people who were apartheid ideologues and power players at the same time. Then you have people who were apartheid ideologues but not power players and you had power players who were not ideologues. Botha couldn't care less who guaranteed his power as long as it was his power or then his successor's power which had rather to come much later than earlier if he had his choice. He didn't want a successor.
De Klerk was always in a sense the civilian, the burgerlike, the man playing it by civil rules, his concept of democratic rules, within the group, sure. For De Klerk democracy was never an open thing, democracy was democracy for Afrikaners, democracy for Zulus, democracy for everybody. But for PW it was survival and power of the whites, naked power. De Klerk really believed if he could only sit down and talk to the leaders of the liberation movements man to man on a civil basis they would soon find some kind of an arrangement. Again it's establishing itself on the basis of ethnic groups and structures. That was De Klerk's initial belief and with his unbanning that was still very much part of his make-up and it took him to the end of May 1990 before he made the switch over, saying all right, the individual will be the cornerstone of the new constitution.
POM Do you think when he released Mandela that he
WM He did not believe that it would turn out the way it has.
POM Did he have any kind of strategy laid out? Had he thought through the consequences, saying if I do A, A leads to B, B leads to C, C inevitably to D, D to E and boy! That's majority rule?
WM No. De Klerk when he unbanned them, as I said, he still said to himself, the world is made up of nations, creation is really about nations. Ethnic groups and nations are synonymous in his thinking. So if you would simply acknowledge the dignity of the people you're talking to and their civilian worth, people are generally speaking reasonable and we would find some structure based on the ethnic groups. Now I'm saying that because I had many discussions with De Klerk and you can read his speeches too between February 1990 and the end of May, I think 26th May 1990, where he would say he's rejected apartheid, he does not believe that race can be a basis of classification. But then he was looking for still classification by culture, language, what could we use as a basis for classification of groups within which people could exercise their political rights, coming together in some superstructure, sort of Tricameral approach but now for the first time inclusive of the blacks. So he went beyond Botha but De Klerk's big contribution, not in terms of the fact that it was difficult for him, because it wasn't, it came naturally, was the unbanning itself, the moving and the breaking down of security structures, security control. That was his major contribution. The rest came on the basis of his exposure to different constituencies and the pressure for movement.
[I had many discussions with him since he became elected as leader in September but especially after the 2nd February 1990 and he resented my referring to him as thinking still within apartheid paradigms and he once said to me, "Please stop", (this is not for publication). "Please don't call me a supporter of apartheid or an apartheid thinker. I'm not. I've rejected it." I said, "Well that's not what I see. I see you've rejected race in a sense as the critical element around which classifications continue but I don't see you having rejected classifications and structures still by ethnicity or whatever." He said, "But that's the point, help me, help me find some other nomen, not race, not ethnicity, think in terms of culture, language, help me think of something by which we can build these structures which will accommodate the separate exercise of political rights." And I said to him, "FW ek is bie jammer, ek kan nie so dink nie, I can't think that way any more, I can't help you. If you can think of something and you want to test it with me I'll tell you whether I think it can fly or not but I'm predisposed now to tell you that nothing can fly for the purposes of which you want any kind of classification or group exercise of political rights. Nothing will fly." Then he said again, "But please don't refer to me as still thinking apartheid. I don't, I reject it." I said, "FW I will only acknowledge it once you reject the concept of group expression of political rights as the building blocks of a constitution." ]
Then there was a major raucous somewhere between the 23rd and 26th May 1990. Koornhof was Ambassador in New York, then in Washington, Gerrit Viljoen was on a visit to the United States, FW spoke in his vote in the Budget Debate and he again said something which was the group thing and there was this major international reaction, especially in the United States and then there were calls from Gerrit Viljoen and from Koornhof and two days later De Klerk made a follow up speech in which he said, "I finally reject this whole idea of group expression of political rights, the individual will be the building block." You can read that, I think it's 26th May, the first time he committed himself to an open democratic approach. I think it's 26th May but it was in his vote in the Budget Debate. You can look somewhere between 23rd and 26th May. It's easy to find in Hansard his vote in the budget, the President's Vote. That was his first commitment and it was after this diplomatic response especially from Washington.
POM Barnard gives the impression
WM Yes he says it's PW, and PW did speak but not because PW initiated it, because people like Barnard
POM People like Barnard say they were way ahead of the politicians, they recognised that there was a wasteland ahead. This is another case of everybody trying to say I was there first?
WM No I will not say he's lying. It's true for most of the NP politicians, yes, he was way ahead of them, but the debate in caucus had been going for a long time, even if it was an informal debate, for the release of Mandela. And Botha could have babies so upset he was about that idea at some stage and then he came with all these conditional conditions for release, over a long period, so it wasn't suddenly Niel Barnard taking it up. Niel Barnard got involved, indeed I think it might have been 1987 but I think it's probably 1988, but in that time, but Barnard wouldn't speak to me when I left the NP and when I started talking to the ANC and he wouldn't share anything. He was like a sphinx so there was very little communication with Niel Barnard, but he always had this aura of the super spy. He never speaks, he always listens, was the kind of impression that he left.
But certainly the idea of talking with Mandela and the idea to have him released, initially when PW started to talk about that the idea was to release him into the Transkei because Matanzima and he are in some way related and royalty and he will stay with Matanzima, he will be quiet and that's the condition that he's released. Later that developed to he must publicly renounce violence and then they would start talking about his release and things like that, but it was a long agonising process, it wasn't something that was driven with the idea of getting to results. Certainly not. It was more of a response to international pressure saying, "But of course we will release the man. But would you release someone who's committed to violence and revolution? If he renounces the policies of his party, of his liberation movement, yes then we will release him." Thinking then, well he will be dead in any event, they will kill him, he won't have any effect if he says all those in exile, they're wrong. And that was effectively what would have happened. Had he done it, it would have been disaster. Had Mandela renounced violence on his own, and he never did it, but had he renounced it at that stage it would have been total chaos because there would have been no symbol to lead the changeover.
No, if they say they were far ahead, they were responding to international pressure but not because they had this vision of a democratic society. By no means.
POM Barnard and other people who were on De Klerk's negotiating team, Barnard in particular says that the trouble with Mr De Klerk was that he had no sense of strategy but he was a brilliant tactician. He always thought in terms of tactics, never strategy.
WM It's the old security rule argument. That's probably true. De Klerk was never a strategist, he was a man for the moment.
POM So when he released Mandela from then on it was ad hockery? He never sat down with his party and said if we release Mandela and get into negotiations with the ANC, this is the plan, this is our bottom line, this is what we will aspire to in negotiations, this is what we will find unacceptable under any circumstances and this is our bottom line. These are the instructions for our negotiations, you have your parameters.
WM As I say, he was an ideologue and an ideologue doesn't shift, an ideologue sees the light in a sense. But again he was not an ideologue with security, he was an ideologue of world creation in a structure of nations, tribes, ethnic groups, whatever you want to see. De Klerk couldn't live with security. When I left the NP I had three discussions with De Klerk, two long ones, one-on-one, and the third one with PW Botha present. I had two reasons for leaving. The one was: I cannot live with security rule any more, licence to security people, because they frustrated political objectives by taking out those that you could talk to and simply have them detained without telling politicians. Whilst politicians were negotiating with civic leadership, security people would take them out, detain them without advising the members of cabinet that they were taking out their discussion partners, and this was the extent of their power. That was the one reason.
The second reason was: this ideology of group, I couldn't live with it any more because by then I had become, in that sense, modern where the individual was the cornerstone of any democratic dispensation. De Klerk disagreed with me with the second but on the first he was totally in agreement, he couldn't live with security rule either. And I knew that because I knew the make up of the man. But he could not afford to stand up and pick a fight with PW because he would have lost his position in cabinet and he would never have been in a position to accede to the throne. So De Klerk pleaded with me, he said, "Please stay, please stay, you'll hurt the party but more we will have to bide our time until we can get rid of PW Botha." I'm paraphrasing now, it was very close to the same words. "We cannot challenge him now, he'll kill us politically." And I said to De Klerk, "I buy that, I don't think you will survive an outright attack on PW and security rule but I'm left with Hobson's choice because if we do win that battle I'm still saddled with you with your apartheid thinking." And he said, "But that can never change." This ideologue apartheid, this group thing, for De Klerk was a given of creation, it was God's creation that wouldn't change. And, again, I'm maybe using flowery language, and he said yes, well he accepts then that I leave but he's very unhappy.
POM So with his leap, it was not so much that he released Mandela but that he leaped from group to individual?
WM That's his turnover, that's his turnaround. The release of Mandela, the unbanning of the ANC was no turnaround, it came naturally. His turnabout was moving away from nations to individuals and he did that in a very short time span because he did it really relatively from October or September 1989 till May 1990 and for that reason I refer to him as at least a small miracle, if not a major one. I haven't seen that deep ideologues making that shift to accepting a new basis, because that's a total switch of a value system.
POM But once he had made that switch, one of the theories I've made up and then tried to test, is that at that point did De Klerk know that majority rule was inevitable but that he could never articulate it because to articulate it would either be not to be able to bring his constituency with him or his colleagues in parliament would ditch him and so he was stuck with the problem of how can you develop a strategy for a problem that you can't articulate?
WM But that's when his new articulation was then minority rights and he still wanted some basis, guarantees or maybe vetoes built in on certain things in terms of special majorities and so on. But his switch to majority rule was accepted then, and again it's probably the tradition of the huge strategic thinker. Botha would like to see himself winning the war and not only the battle. De Klerk lived from battle to battle but he knew, once he made that switch, he knew that it would lead now to a takeover and black rule, he knew it clearly, and that's when I went to him and I said I'm leaving politics, I'm telling you now and I will be telling Zach de Beer and Denis Worrall but what I wanted you have now achieved for me.
POM You may not recall but in one of the interviews I did with you, I had just flown in from Nairobi and gone directly to your office and was interviewing you, and you said, "You will be the first to know that this evening I am resigning from politics completely", and that was before it was released publicly.
I could go on for ever and I've taken enough of your time and even though this is my final round it will take me two years to write this and I will probably come back to you again to fill in details. What I would like you to do if you would is if you have an e-mail address and I will have all your transcripts, even though you should have copies of them, e-mailed to you too so that you have them on record so when I start editing them and going through them if I come across things that either don't make sense or that need elaboration or that need context or whatever, I can directly communicate with you and if you say go to interview such-and-such on date such-and-such, page such-and-such, paragraph such-and-such, what did you mean by that? You know what I mean?
WM I'll let you have an e-mail address of the TRC, I don't have one at home.